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production of special prayers which were incorporated into the public worship. In the Roman province of Africa this was carried to such an extent as to incumber the service, and, if we remember aright, was abated by a council. The matter was settled on the general agreement that provincial churches should use the liturgy of the metropolitan church.
These rituals differed greatly among themselves in order of parts, and the manner of celebrating them, and to a certain extent in the devotional matter introduced into them. The apostolical constitutions prescribe a service of which the following may give some idea.
(a.) Psalm 63.
(b.) Prayers for the catechumens, energumens, competentes and penetentes.
(c.) Prayers for the faithful, the collect for peace, and for the whole estate of the church.
(d.) A short "bidding" prayer for preservation in the ensuing day.
(e.) The Bishop's commendation or thanksgiving.
(f.) The deacon then bade the congregation bow their heads and receive the Episcopal benediction, which was itself a short prayer.
(g.) And, finally, the deacon dismissed the congregation with the form (posλders Ev siphvn) depart in peace.
Bingham quotes from Basil the following account of what was done in his churches on other days of the week than Sunday:
"With us the people, rising early, while it is night, come to the house of prayer, and there, with much labor and affliction, confess their sins to God. This done, they rise and dispose themselves to psalmody, sometimes dividing themselves into two parts, one answering the other, or each singing alternately. After this they permit one alone to begin the Psalm, and the rest join in the close of every verse. With this variety of psalmody they carry on the night, praying betwixt whiles or intermingling prayers with their Psalms. At last when day breaks they all in common as with one mouth and one heart offer up to God the Psalm of confession, every one making the words of the Psalm to be the expression of his own penitence."
In the time of Augustine this was a form for the communion service:
Priest-"Lift up your hearts," (sursum corda).
Then followed the consecrating prayer, the Lord's Prayer, and the salutation pax vobiscum, to which the response was, et cum spiritu tuo. After this was the kiss of peace; men saluting men, and the women sitting together on the other side saluting each other at the same time. This done, they received the sacrament.
In another place the same Father divides the whole liturgy into five parts: Psalmody, Reading of Scripture, Preaching, Prayers of the Bishop, and the Bidding Prayers of the Deacon. We proceed to remark on these points of the service, adverting first to Psalmody.
The Psalms of David are an unmistakable monument of that "service of song in the house of the Lord," to which the Jewish people were accustomed. And it could not be that a church whose root was in Judaism, and whose members had learned there to use and to enjoy sacred melody, would consent to be without it herself. Or if these considerations had not been sufficient to introduce this mode of worship into the Christian service, the example of Christ could not have failed to achieve that result. Among the tender memories of his passion was the hymn which he sang with the disciples at the close of the first holy supper, and we cannot believe that an age which sought to imitate his example even more literally than we do, could have forgotten this.
But apart from such reasoning it is known that the apostles in their practice made use of "sacred melody," and at least one of them gave solemn admonition to the church to "walk circumspectly, speaking to themselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in their hearts to the Lord." (Eph. v, 19.) This verse has the additional interest of enumerating the three kinds of religious song practiced in the church-" psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." The psalms which compose the collection now known as the seven penitential psalms, (vi, xxxii, xxxviii, li, cii, cxxx, cxliii),
and many others, particularly the twenty-third and the ninetieth and ninety-first, were used in the manner described by Basil; "each one making them the expression of his own penitence." At a later date, psalmody was interspersed with prayer and reading of other scripture; while still later, the method of singing in responses, or antiphonally, as it was called, was invented. Sometimes the priest commenced, and the people answered, in bursts of common song; or, again, they would divide into parts, and reply to each other. The litanies were constructed to be used in this way, and there can be no doubt that, as early as the fourth century, such methods of praise prevailed.
Of the hymns to whose use in the primitive church the apostle alludes, good examples are furnished by the New Testament in the song of Mary, (Luke i, 47). "My soul doth magnify the Lord," or the Magnificat, as it is called; and by the song of Simeon, commencing "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace," which is now known as the Nunc dimittis. Another, though not as anciently used, by any means, was a portion of the thirty-fourth psalm, commencing, "O taste and see that the Lord is gracious," which was applied to the communion, and is now referred to as the Gustete et bibite. By "spiritual songs," the apostle may be regarded as referring to a species of extempore and rapturous utterance of Christian feeling, in song, which has been happily described by a recent German writer, as a musical gift of tongues. It was a γλώσσαις λαλεῖν in melody.
The primitive Church did not admit musical instruments to their worship. At length, however, against unremitting opposition they made their way into the choirs. The debate about them continued even after the seventh century. At that time the organ, which has been well said to be worthy of having been the invention of a saint who had listened to the minstrelsy of angels, was brought to Italy from Greece. We have sometimes permitted ourselves to imagine that this instrument came into the world to utter the praises of the one hundred and third psalm. In the present form, it is the product of Christian worship, and, as it never had been pro
faned by worldly use, seemed to have been constructed so that it never could be. But organs, choirs, their sacred songs, and all the ritual, declined, under the rising abuses of the Church; till, at length, the Council of Trent, in attempting the reformation of the Church, gave its attention to the corruption of her music. How great that abuse had become, may be gathered from two sentences in Cardinal Wiseman's Lectures on the Holy Week: "When Nicholas V," he relates, "asked Cardinal Dominico Capranica what he thought of his choir, he boldly answered, with a comparison, not as elegant as it is expressive, that it seemed to him 'like a sack full of young swine, for he heard a dreadful noise, but could distinguish nothing articulate."" The second sentence is a quotation from Biani, (Vol. II, p. 104), who records that in 1549, Cirillo Franchi wrote to Ugolino Gualterruzzi, of the singers of his day: "It is their greatest happiness to contrive, that while one says Sanctus, the other should say Sabbaoth, and a third Gloria tua, with certain howls, bellowings, and guttural sounds, so that they more resemble cats in January, than flowers of May."
The primitive Church music must have been choral and congregational. As a fine description of what it was in its spirit, and of what Church music should ever be, we quote, again, a few sentences from the work just referred to, in which the author is speaking of Palestrina's composition: "It," says he, "is essentially choral, as all Church music should be. A plain litany, sung by an untaught multitude, with all the earnestness of devotion, will affect the soul more powerfully than all the artificial divisions of a modern performer. The music of the Temple was evidently choral, sung by troops of Levites, and supported by the sound of trumpets. Wherever the Scripture mentions music in heaven, it is always of this character. Four spirits, the number of perfect harmony, unite in the song of 'Holy, Holy, Holy.' Countless multitudes sing together the magnificent canticle To the Lamb that was slain,' in a voice as the roaring of the sea; and the virgins who sing a song, known to none else, are forty thousand in number. (144,000?) The music of the Church should be in
the same spirit, and, as it is performed in the name of the multitude of the faithful, knitted in the accord of charity, it should be, so to speak, multitudinous and harmonious."
We proceed now to mention some of the Christian songs which were not derived from scripture.
The most ancient of these is the Gloria in excelsis Deo. This title is a Latin translation of the first line of a far more ancient Greek composition, of about twenty-eight lines in length, which, by common consent, is the oldest uninspired Christian hymn, and can be traced into the third century. It is generally believed that Hilary made the Latin version of it, though the Romanists, slow to surrender the authorship of so fine a hymn to the Eastern church, have sometimes claimed that version as the original, and attributed it to a bishop of their own, in the second century. This ancient hymn has provoked much English rhyming; but none of these productions are equal to the unversified rendering in the Book of Common Prayer. The Germans have succeeded better, in their familiar hymn, Allein Gott in der Höhe sei Ehre.
In connection with this, is the Tersanctus, another hymn which comes to us from the shadows of immemorial antiquity.
The Te Deum was probably composed in the Gallican church. The traditions at Rome, with respect to its authorship, are both interesting and characteristic. One represents Ambrose as its author; another, Augustine; while a third is, that when Ambrose baptized Augustine, the two, seized with sudden inspiration, broke out at the font, in those sublime praises to God. A more impartial study, after traversing the whole ground, remains in doubt whether Hilary, of Poictiers, (355), Hilary, of Arles, (440), or Nicetius, of Treves, (535), composed it.
Hymns in metre originated in the east, and were brought into Italy by Ambrose, about 374. He is said to have made hymns celebrating the Trinity, and taught them to the Milanese, to preserve them from the Arian heresy. A book of hymns is also attributed to Hilary in 355, and the improvements of church music by Pope Gregory, about 590, are well