صور الصفحة
PDF

of morning prayer; and have now only to add, that the evening office terminated with a benediction in the eastern church, about the fourth century”; and also in the patriarchate of Constantinople, then, or not long after". The council of Agde, Benedict, and Amalarius speak of the same in the west"; and it appears in the offices of the church of England during the period antecedent to the Norman Conquest".

* Apost. Const. lib. viii. c. lib. iv. c. 45. “Oratio et be- nedictio semper in fine fiunt.” y Goar, Rituale Graec. p. 46. * Officium Anglo-Sax. in * Concil. Agath. can. 30, ut nocte, ad finem completorii; supra. S. Benedict. Regula, see Appendix to Hickes's Letc. 17, Amalarius de Eccl. Off. ters, &c.

36

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

THE word litany has been used in so many different senses by ancient writers, that persons who were not sufficiently aware of this variety of application, have fallen into great errors in attempting to trace the antiquity of various things which have all borne the same name. At first, this term was applied in general to all prayers and supplications, whether public or private. Thus Eusebius speaks of Constantine's custom of retiring to his tent before a battle, and there propitiating God with supplications and litanies"; and he also says, that shortly before his death, Constantine entered the church of the martyrs at Helenopolis, and there, for a long time, offered supplicatory prayers and litanies to God". In the fourth century, the word litany became more especially applied to solemn offices which were performed with processions of the clergy and people. Basil observes to the clergy of Neocaesarea, that

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

litanies which they then used had been introduced after the time of Gregory Thaumaturgus". The term here seems to mean processional supplications, which could only have come into use after the season of persecution had passed by, and therefore not until after the time of Gregory. On the other hand, we have reason to think that supplications in the church without public processions were more ancient. I think it is therefore not unreasonable to interpret the litanies spoken of by Basil to mean processional litanies. It appears that very shortly after litanies of this kind came into use at Constantinople. Socrates relates, that in the time of John Chrysostom, the Arians of Constantinople, being obliged to perform divine service outside the walls, were accustomed to assemble themselves within the gates of the city, and sing anthems and hymns suited to the Arian heresy for great part of the night. And early in the morning, singing anthems of the same sort through the middle of the city, they went out of the gates, and proceeded to the places where they celebrated their worship". Chrysostom, fearful that his people might be induced to join the Arians by these processions, established them on a greater and more splendid scale in his own church. By the liberality of the empress Eudoxia, the people were furnished with silver crosses, bearing wax lights, which were carried

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

before them". Such processional offices were called litanies, as appears from the life of Chrysostom by Palladius, where it is said, that the people celebrated their litany in the fields, carrying the cross on their shoulders'. The emperor Arcadius shortly afterwards forbad by an edict” the heretics to make their litany within the city. As the word litany was applied to the complex idea of a species of worship connected with public processions: so it was sometimes given to the persons who went in procession; thus Gregory the Great directs seven litanies to proceed from seven different churches". The service performed on these occasions was also called by the same name. Thus in ancient manuscripts we find the whole office termed litany. Walafridus Strabo says that we are not to call merely the part in which the saints are invocated, the litany, but likewise all the rest of the service'. Again, we find parts of the office thus termed. For instance, in the sacramentary of Gregory, the prayers which anciently followed Kyrie eleēson are spoken of as the litany"; and Benedict and others speak of the Kyrie eleēson alone, as a litany". In later times, when the invocation of saints occupied a large portion of the office of the western litanies, the part that contained this invocation came to be spoken of as the litany. Amidst so many different meanings for this word, it is not easy to preserve the present subject from confusion. I will, however, attempt to elucidate it, by considering, first, the antiquity of special public supplications in the Christian church, and secondly, the nature and rites of those supplications after they became a distinct office.

e Socrates Hist. Eccl. lib. vi. c. 8, p, 313, Sozomen. lib. viii. c. 8, p. 768, ed. Walesii.

f Palladius Vita S. Joannis

* “Notandum autem, litanias non tantum dici illam recitationem nominum, qua sancti in adjutorium vocantur

Chrysostomi, p. 58, tom. xiii.
Oper. Chrysost. ed. Benedict.
Montfaucon.

& Codex Theodosian, lib. xvi. Tit. 5.

* “Litania clericorum exeat ab ecclesia sancti Joannis Baptistae, litania virorum ab ecclesia sancti martyris Marcelli,” &c. Joannes Diaconus Vita S. Gregorii, lib. i. c. 42, p. 37, Oper. Gregorii, tom. iv. ed. Benedict.

infirmitatis humanae; sed etiam cuncta quae supplicationibus fiunt, rogationes appellari.” Walafrid. Strabo, de Reb. Eccl. c. 28.

j Sacramentar. Gregorii, a Menard. p. 1. “Quando vero litania agitur, neque Gloria in excelsis Deo neque Alleluia canitur.” Compare Bona, Rer. Liturg. lib. ii. c. 4, No. 3, p. 337.

SECTION II.

ANTIQUITY OF SPECIAL SUPPLICATIONS.

It is difficult to determine the period, when the custom of public supplications to God, under circumstances of peculiar urgency and importance, was introduced into the Christian church. We are indeed well aware that from the beginning, it has not only been the habit but the duty of Christians, to apply specially to the throne of grace, when calamities are to be deprecated, or benefits implored, for themselves or for their neighbours. During the captivity of the holy apostle Peter, prayer was made to God for him by the church; and as he found them all assembled together, and praying, on his delivery from prison, it is not improbable that they may at that very time have been met together to offer up

* S. Benedict. Regula. “Post de ecclesia cum omni ordine hos—supplicatio litaniae, id est sacerdotum, letania cantentes, Kyrie eleison,” c. 9. In an an- hoc est, Kyrie eleison, usque cient MS. cited by Martene, dum perveniant ad fontes.”

describing the rites of baptism, Martene de Antiq. Eccl. Rit. it is said; “Procedit pontifex lib. i. c. 1. art. 18. p. 175.

« السابقةمتابعة »