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grace or blessing in connexion with the Epistle or
Gospel, or with both of them. It is peculiar to the
Western Church." The Collects that we still use have
for the most part a venerable antiquity, the greater
number of them having been translated from those in
the Missals of the English Church. Many of them are
in the Sacramentary of Gregory the Great, bishop of
Rome, and therefore date at least from A.D. 590; while
some are still older, and are found in the Sacramentary
of his predecessor Gelasius (494). Moreover, these
ancient Sacramentaries have the general appearance of
being an arrangement of previously existing materials,
rather than a composition of new forms of prayer.
The observation of Advent, as a season of preparation
for Christmas, cannot be certainly traced to an earlier
date than the sixth century,” at least in the West: and
even then the Eastern and Western Churches did not
agree in a uniform period for its celebration.” The
Nestorians in the East were the first who changed the
commencement of the year from Easter* to Advent;
and we find this change adopted in Gaul in the sixth
The Collects for the first and second Sundays were
composed in 1549, being formed from the Epistles: that
for the third Sunday was substituted at the last revision
1 No Eastern Communion Office contains any trace of such a prayer: Mr. Freeman (Principles, I. pp. 141 sqq.) considers that the exaporteilaria, or hymns of praise and meditation derived from the Gospels, may have been the origin of the Collects, which were probably introduced (circ. 420) when Cassian and others imparted to the Latin Church some acquaintance with the Eastern rites.
* See Guericke, p. 176.
* In the Orthodox Greek Church, since the sixth century, Advent has begun on St. Martin's Day (Nov. 14), and has included six Sundays and a forty days’ fast, called the Quadragesima S. Martini : ib. p. 177, note.
* The Easter month was naturally adopted as the trpáros usiv (Euseb. A. E. VII. 32), from the Jewish reckoning of the year from the month AWisan.
* Guericke, ‘Remarks,” p. 178.
Advent. for a translation of the old Collect. The following are the Collects in the Sarum Missal:— 3. Excita, quaesumus, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni: ut ab wnday. imminentibus peccatorum nostrorum periculis te mereamur protegente eripi, te liberante salvari. Qui vivis. Second. Excita, Domine, corda nostra ad praeparandas unigeniti tui vias : ut per ejus adventum purificatis tibi mentibus servire mereamur. Qui tecum. Third. Aurem tuam, quaesumus, Domine, precibus nostris accommoda ; et mentis nostrae tenebras gratia tuae visitationis illustra. Qui vivis. Jourth. Excita, quaesumus, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni: et magna nobis virtute succurre: ut per auxilium gratiae tua: quod nostra peccata praepediunt, indulgentia tuae propitiationis acceleret. Qui vivis. Christmas. A Feast of the Wativity of Christ” is only to be found
obscurely hinted at before the fourth century. Towards the latter part of that century the Roman Church had fixed it to the 25th of December;” and a little later we
also find it in the East, and kept on the same day.”
The mediaeval Offices contained Masses for the Vigil
and the early Morning, as well as for the day itself of
* Festum matalis dominici, mata-
litia Christi, juépa yewé0Atos, ord
2 In Rome from the very first,
and in the whole of the West also
from a very early period, this day
was looked upon as the Saviour's
actual birthday; a view which must
have had some historical tradition
to rest upon: the chronological
correctness of this date is defended
by St. Chrysostom, Homil, eis rov
wevé0Atov juépav, Opp. II. p. 354.
Guericke, p. 168.
* See Guericke, pp. 167–172.
* In vigilia Mativitatis Domini;
In galli cantu ; In Aurora ; and
/n die Mativitatis Domini. Beda has
And in 1549 two Communions” were
homilies for these Services, Off. VII.
pp. 298 sqq. Three Masses for
Christmas Day are found in the
Roman rite as early as it can be
traced. The Gallican and the Moz-
arabic Offices provided only one.
Forbes, Ancient Liturgies of the
Gallican Church, p. 34.
5 The Collect at the first Com-
munion was taken from the Mass
In vigilia: “Deus qui nos redemp-
tionis nostrae annua expectatione
laetificas; praestaut unigenitum tuum,
quem redemptorem laeti suscipimus,
venientem quoque judicem securi
videamus;’ the Epistle and Gospel
from the Mass In galli carttu.
appointed for this day: the Epistle and Gospel of the
High Mass, with a newly composed Collect, which were
used at the second or principal Communion, are retained
in our present Service.
The first Lessons' contain prophecies of the coming
of Christ in our nature; and the second Lessons, Epistle,
and Gospel point out the completion of those prophecies
in the history of the incarnation. In the Collect we pray
thrt we may be partakers of the benefit of His birth;
and the Psalms are expressive of praise and thanksgiving
for the revelation of this mystery. The words of Ps. xix.,
The heavens declare the glory of God, &c., are applicable
to the circumstances of the birth of Christ, when a new
Star appeared, which so plainly declared His glory, that
the wise men came from the East to worship Him: Ps.
xlv., a marriage song upon the nuptials of Solomon with
the daughter of Pharaoh, is mystically applicable to the
union between Christ and His Church : Ps. lxxxv. has
always been applied to the redemption of man by the
coming of Christ: Ps. lxxxix. is a commemoration of
the mercies performed, and promised to be continued
to David and his posterity to the end of the world; the
birth of the Messiah being the greatest of those mercies:
Ps. cx, is a prophecy of the exaltation of Christ to His
kingly and priestly office: and Ps. cxxxii., composed
upon the occasion of the building of the temple, recounts
the promises of God to David that Sion should be the
dwelling-place of the Lord Himself. All these Psalms
were appointed in the Breviary.
After Christmas Day immediately follow the three
Holy Days of St. Stephen, St. John, and The Innocents.”
* The Morning Lessons had been was the ‘Little Chapter,’ read ‘ad read among the Lections at Matins. vi.’ Part of the second Evening Lesson * The first express mention of
St. Stephen was the first martyr; St. John was the disciple whom Jesus loved;” and the slaughter of the children at Bethlehem was the first result of the Saviour's
‘Martyrdom, love, and innocence are first to be
magnified, as wherein Christ is most honoured.’
Da nobis quaesumus Domine imitari quod colimus; ut discamus et inimicos diligere: quia ejus natalitia celebramus, qui novit etiam pro persecutoribus exorare Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum
Ecclesiam tuam quaesumus Domine benignus illustra: ut beati Johannis apostoli tui et evangelistae illuminata doctrinis, ad dona
perveniat sempiterna. Per.”
Deus cujus hodierna die praeconium innocentes martyres non loquendo sed moriendo confessi sunt : omnia in nobis vitiorum mala mortifica; ut fidem tuam quam lingua nostra loquitur, etiam
The Rubric directs the Collect of the Nativity to be
these four connected commemorations, as forming one common fostizal, is found in Bernard, Homil. de Quatuor continuis sol/emniţatibus, Opp. 1.787, ed. Bened. Guericke, p. 184, nose. Beda has homilies upon them, as on successive days: Off. VII. pp. 31O sqq. 1 The festival of St. Stephen (Dec. 26) has been kept since the fourth century. The idea of the Church in its institution is expressed by Fulgentius: “Natus est Christus in terris, ut Stephanus nasceretur in coelis;’ int. Opp. Augustin. V. in Append. Serm. 215; Guericke, pp. 182 sq. * The festival of St. John is not of so early a date as St. Stephen. The Mozarabic Missal is the first that gives a prayer for this day. Guericke, p. 183. 3 The festival of the Innocents was originally, and even as late as the fifth century, associated with
said after the Collect of the day, on all these days and
o: of the Epiphany: Guericke, p. Iö4. * Missal. Sar. In die S. Sežani Protomartyris, col. 61. The Collect until 1661 was, ‘Grant us, O Lord, to learn to love our enemies, by the example of thy martyr Saint Stephen, who prayed for his persecutors, to thee which livest, &c.” * Missal. Sar. Zu die S. johannis Evangelista, col. 65. The words, “may, so walk in the light of thy truth,’ were added in 1661. * Missal. Sar. In die Sanctorum Innocențium Martyrum, col. 67. The Collect until 1661 was, ‘Almighty God, whose praise this day the young Innocents thy witnesses have confessed and showed forth, mct in speaking, but in dying: mortify and kill all vices in us, that in our conversation, our life may express thy faith, which with our tongues we
do confess; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
until the Eve of the Circumcision. In the old Offices,
the Collect of St. Stephen was followed by Memoria de
Mativitate; and the Collect of St. John by Memoria de
Mativitate et de sancto Stephano; and the Collect of the
Innocents' Day by Memoria de Mativitate: de sancto
Stephano: et de sancto johanne.
According to this Rubric, the Sunday which falls
after the 25th of December does not require a special
Collect, being within the octave of the Nativity. The
Sarum Missal contained an Office, Serta die a Nativitate
Domini, sive dominica fuerit, sive mon: the Epistle for
this intervening Sunday is taken from this Mass; and the
Gospel from the Mass in vigilia Nativitatis, shortened
at the last revision by the omission of the genealogy.
When the feast of the Nativity became settled, its
Octave, falling on the calends of January, was for that
reason not observed ; and still further to preserve Chris-
tians from joining in the licentious indulgences of the
heathen Saturnalia, the Church of the fourth century
made it a day of penance, prayer, and fasting. In early
writers the day is simply noted as Octava Domini: it
was treated also as a memorial of the Circumcision about
the sixth century." As such it commemorates the obe-
dience of Jesus Christ to the law in the fulfilment of a
The first Morning Lesson gives an account of the
institution of Circumcision;
1 Concil. Turon. II. (567), can. 17, De jejuniis. ‘Et quia inter natale Domini et Epiphaniae omni die festivitates sunt, itemque prandebunt : excipitur triduum illud, quo ad calcandam gentilium consuetudimen patres nostri statuerunt privatas in kalendis Januarii fieri litanias, ut in ecclesiis psallatur, et hora octava in ipsis kalendis circumcisionis missa
and the Gospel, of the Cir
Deo propitio celebretur.” Mansi, ix.
796. See Guericke, pp. 173—176 :
Forbes, Ancient Liturgies of the Gal-
Iican Church, p. 45. The modern
New Year's Day is no Ecclesiastical
festival. The commencement of the
year of our Lord, the year of grace,
centres about Christmas, or the An-
nunciation. Cf. Blunt, Annotated
Arayer Book, p. 83.
The Sunday after Christmas Day.