Gregory Di Pippo, Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961: Part 4 – 1629: The Hymns of Urban VIII


angels-singing

Der Schreiber dieser Zeilen schämt sich nicht zu gestehen, dass er manchmal dichtet und er auch recht viele Gedichte oder Verse als Dichtung in seine Muttersprache übertragen hatte. Eigenes hat er auch geschrieben und beides war recht gut, was man ihm auch von kompetenten Seiten neidlos zuerkannte. Daher weiß er, dass ein jeder Dichter oder Literat bei Lektüre eines Textes denkt: “Ich kann es besser! Das klingt nicht”. Und manchmal kann man es wirklich besser. Daher ist es nicht weiter verwunderlich, dass Urban VIII, seines Zeichens ein Literat und Klassizist, dachte, dass man die alt-erhrwürdigen Hymnen verbessern kann und er selbst es besser kann. Aber Liturgie ist keine Schöpfung, sondern Überlieferung. Das Beste kam anonym zu uns, damit die Autoren vor Stolz nicht ausrasten. Deswegen  wurden auch die Hymnen von Urban VIII. auf die lange Sicht nicht angenommen, weil sie eine Neuerung darstellten. Ob sie wirklich technisch und rhythmisch besser waren als die Alten bedarf einer eigenen Untersuchung, aber Kirchenlatein ist kein klassisches Latein, auch wenn sich die Klassizisten sträuben. Die Kirche hat den kleinen Ego-Trip eines Papstes recht gut verkraftet bis das Brevier von 1970 kam, in dem die meisten Hymnen von einem gewissen Dom Anselmo Lentini, O.S.B. stammen, der die alten Hymnen schlicht rauswarf und eigene, nachkonziliaren Kompositionen einführte. Während Urban VIII literatisch nicht unbegabt war, so war Lentini es nicht. Ohne Verneinung bedeutet es: er war unbegabt und diese Hymnen hören sich nach Nichts an. Als der Schreiber dieser Zeilen noch in seiner Studienzeit mit diesen latenischen Hymnen zusammen traf, so wunderte er sich insgeheim über ihre Banalität. Ganz im Gegenteil zu Vexilla Regis, Conditor alme, Adoro devote etc. Er rechnete sich diese Gedanken als Sünde an, da er nichts über Brevierreformen wußte und dachte, dass auch die Lentini-Hymnen alte, überlieferte Hymnen der Kirche darstellen. Wie banal sind doch die neuen Lieder der Gotteslobs, wie dünn und spärlich, wobei die alten, wie die von Pater Spee, immer mehr politisch-korrekt zensiert werden. Sollten jemand kein Latein können, dann kann er dasselbe bei seinem Gotteslob beobachten. Aber welch ein Stolz, Dünkel und Überheblichkeit müssen doch diesen Dom Anselmo Lentini, O.S.B.  geritten haben, dass er so etwas gewagt hatte! Wie die übrigen Liturgiereformer ja auch. Urban VIII hat ja nur ein wenig den Rhythmus und Stil verbessert, Lentini gleich das Meiste selbst geschaffen. Da die meisten nicht das nachkonziliaren Brevier auf Lateinisch beten, so hält sich der Schaden in Grenzen, aber die landessprachlichen Übersetzung der Hymnen sind ja auch schwach. Keine Dichtung, kein Schönheit, wenig rhythmisch und trocken. Es verhält sich wirklich so, dass die literarische und dichterische Begabung und Frömmigkeit wirklich selten Hand in Hand gehen und diejenigen, die es tun, schreiben ja keine liturgischen Texte für die ganze Kirche! Dem hl. Thomas von Aquin war es gegeben, dem hl. Ambrosius und Augustinus auch. Aber es war selten! Es ist wirklich wenig verwunderlich, dass viele ihr nachkonziliares Brevier nicht beten wollen oder es mit viel Selbtsüberwindung tun, wie sie auch die Neue Messe besuchen, weil das neue Brevier dermaßen literatisch und spirituell dürftig ist. Das Auge und das Ohr beten ja mit! Dabei finden wir besonders im Tridentinischen Brevier kleine literatische Kleinodien der patristischen Literatur. Denn der hl. Augustinus, Hieronymus, Gregor der Große oder Leo der Große haben nicht nur klug und fromm geschrieben, sondern auch sehr gut. Dieser Rhythmus, diese rhetorischen Mittel, welche manchmal nur im Lateinischen machbar sind, es ist wirklich ein Genuß! Es ist wirklich kein Wunder, dass alle, die früh Latein lernten, auch in ihrer Muttersprache einen besseren Stil hatten, weil sie einfach auch unbewußt guten Vorbildern nacheiferten.  In der Alten Liturgie kommen auch Ästheten auf ihre Kosten und der Schreiber dieser Zeilen traf auch Atheisten, welche von der Schönheit der Sprache dermaßen fasziniert waren, dass sie die Kirchenväter studierten. Und heute haben wir nur Häßlich und Banalität und der Teufel freut sich.

 

Part 4 – 1629: The Hymns of Urban VIII

Dokument2(1)In the context of the Divine Office, ‘hymnus’ means a metrically composed song, arranged in strophes, or ‘stanzas’ in the modern musical terminology derived from Italian. They are relative late-comers to the public worship of the Church; they were not accepted into general use in the Office at Rome until the 13th century, and were never adopted into the oldest forms of the Divine Office, Tenebrae, Easter, and the Office of the Dead. However, the complete rejection of them by the Council of Braga in 563, for example, or by Agobard of Lyon in the mid-9th century, is clearly a minority opinion. The approval of them by Saint Benedict in his Rule guaranteed that they must eventually become a constituent part of the Office, and one of the chief criticisms of Cistercians made in their earliest days was precisely the fact that they made notable changes to the well-established corpus of hymns.

Saint Benedict’s term for a hymn is ‘ambrosianum’, because it was Saint Ambrose who introduced their use into the West, in the famous episode of the Portian Basilica. (See the Confessions of Saint Augustine , book 9, chapter 7, and Paulinus’ Life of Saint Ambrose, chapter 13.) For this reason, a very large number of the commonly used hymns of the Office are attributed to him, while others were said to be the work of Saints Hilary of Poitiers or Gregory the Great. The great hymns of Passiontide are the work Saint Venantius Fortunatus, composed for the reception of some relics of the True Cross which his friend, Queen Radegund, received as a gift from the Byzantine Emperor and installed in the monastery of the Holy Cross at Poitier, where Venantius was bishop. The Vesperal hymn of Saints Peter and Paul, Aurea lucis was long attributed to Elpis, the legendary first wife of the philosopher Boethius, but this attribution, like so many others, is now rejected by the majority of liturgical scholars, (in the specific case of Elpis, because she did not exist.)

Poetry in the Latin and Greek classical tradition is not based on rhyme, which was considered a defect by the ancients, but on the length of syllables. The earliest Christian hymns in Latin, beginning with those of Saint Ambrose, were mostly composed in a meter called the iambic dimeter. The iamb consists of a short syllable followed by a long one, and is used in pairs; the first short syllable in a pair may be substituted by a long one. Other substitutions are also possible, making the dimeter, i.e. two pairs of iambs, quite flexible within a constant length of eight syllables. Other meters, such as the sapphic stanza, (named for its inventor, the poetess Sappho,) are also used. Each stanza of the iambic dimeter and the sapphic has four lines, as do most other meters, although a few have six.

Each hymn is concluded with a doxology, on the analogy of the Great Doxology “Glory be unto the Father”, which is sung in the Office at the end of every psalm and canticle. By the time of the Tridentine reform it had become the universal custom of the Western Rite to change the doxology according to the season, and feasts of the Virgin had a special doxology as well. Thus, for example, from Christmas day to the vigil of the Epiphany, the common doxology “Praesta, Pater piissime,” was everywhere substituted by “Gloria tibi, Domine, / qui natus es de Virgine.” (Glory to you, O Lord, that wast born of the Virgin.)

The medieval Church produced a truly vast number of hymns. A German-produced catalog of hymns written from 500 to 1400 A.D., the Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi, was printed in 55 volumes over the course of fourty years, 1886 to 1926; the first volume, containing hymns written in Bohemia from the 13th to 15th centuries, has over 200 entries. However, the Church of Rome, as mentioned before, took a long time to accept the use of hymns in the Office, and in its habitual liturgical conservatism, adopted fewer of them than other medieval Rites. The hymns of Prime, Terce, Sext, None and Compline are the same every day of the year. Each of the great seasons, such as Advent or Lent, has three proper hymns, one for Matins, one for Lauds and one for Vespers. Many major feasts, however, such as Christmas and the Epiphany, have only two, the hymn of either Vespers or Lauds being sung also at Matins.

A similar conservatism is found among the hymns of the Saints. Of the 39 Saints named in the Roman Canon, (apart from the Virgin Mary) only John the Baptist and the Apostles Peter and Paul have their own hymns; all the rest have hymns taken from the common offices. Of the seven common offices of Saints, only that of Several Martyrs has a separate hymn for each of the three major hours. The Virgin Mary’s common office, adapted from the Office of the Assumption, also has three hymns, which are used on nearly all of Her feasts, in the Saturday Office, and in the Little Office as well.

As a result, some of the finest gems of medieval hymnody are not found in the historical Roman Rite, such as the Christmas hymn, Veni, Redemptor gentium, the Easter hymn, Chorus novae Jerusalem, the hymn of the Assumption, O quam glorifica, and the hymn of St. Stephen, Sancte Dei pretiose; all of these are commonly found in most other medieval breviaries. The use of Sarum, which predominated in pre-Reformation England , has four more hymns for Lent than the Roman use: a proper hymn for Compline, sung throughout the season, and different hymns for Matins, Lauds and Vespers of the third and fourth week. Greater variety of this sort is typical of non-Roman breviaries before Trent.

It would be unfair, however, to ascribe the relative paucity of hymns in the Roman Breviary to mere laziness or lack of interest. Any medieval collection of hymns, whatever its size, is in the final analysis highly repetitive; a limited corpus of hymns makes them easier to learn by heart, no small matter in an age in which books were not cheap to produce. The two hymns of the Common of Apostles, sung on all of the Apostles’ feasts, originated in Rome as hymns for the feast of the Roman Church’s founders, Saints Peter and Paul. By singing these hymns on the feasts of all of the Apostles, the Church signifies the unity of their evangelizing work, and the unity of the peoples throughout the world brought by them to Christ.

The corpus of hymns in the breviary of 1529 is carried over into the Pian breviary almost identically; as with the antiphons, the exceptions are mostly cases where the entire office of a particular feast is changed. Such is the case with the feast of the Holy Trinity, for which one Office was substituted with a different, earlier Office, and with the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, which had four proper hymns, (Matins, Lauds, and both Vespers), but was removed from the Calendar by St. Pius V. It may seem, therefore, all the more remarkable that in 1629, Pope Urban VIII appointed a commission for the revision of the hymns, and after three years of work, promulgated a new hymnal for use in the Roman Breviary, the last substantial revision of the Breviary until the reform of the Psalter in 1911.

Dokument3(2)Prior to his election to the papacy in 1623, Cardinal Maffeo Barberini had been well known as a scholar and a Latinist; a book of his Latin poems written before his election was published in 1637, and the Latin epigrams on the bases of two of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculptures are also his work. As Pope, he personally composed the hymns of Saints Hermenegild, Martina and Elizabeth of Portugal, all in various classical meters, rather than in iambic dimeters. To him, as to many Latinists of the Renaissance before him, the simple diction of the traditional hymns, their disregard for the rules of classical metrics, and especially the large number of later Latin words not used by the great classical authors such as Virgil and Horace, or even an occasional non-Latin word, could only seem as blemishes on the public prayer of the Church. The job of the commission, therefore, was to conform the hymns to the vocabulary and metric forms of classical Latin poetry.

The commission consisted of four Jesuits, three Italians and a Pole, but Pope Urban appears to have done much of the work himself, although the precise degree of his contribution has been disputed. In the course of their work, hardly a single hymn was left untouched, notwithstanding their antiquity or the sanctity of their authors. The hymns of St. Ambrose, to whom far more were attributed at the time than modern scholars will now grant, had been in more or less continuous use in the Church for over 12 centuries. Even the magnificent Passiontide hymns of St. Venantius were substantially reworked.

In his History of the Roman Breviary, Msgr. Pierre Batiffol gives an example of the reformed text of the hymns, the very first hymn of the ecclesiastical year, Conditor alme siderum, placed side by side with the revised version of the same, without commentary. Following his example, it may be beneficial to examine a few of the specific changes made to this hymn, as examples of the work of Pope Urban and his commission.

The first stanza of the original reads:

Conditor alme siderum,

Aeterna lux credentium

Christe, Redemptor omnium,

Exaudi preces supplicum.

(Kindly creator of the stars, / Eternal light of believers, / Christ, redeemer of all, / Hear the prayer of your suppliants.)

The revised version of the same stanza reads:

Creator alme siderum,

Aeterna lux credentiuum,

Jesu, Redemptor omnium,

Intende votis supplicum.

The change of cónditor, accented on the first syllable, to creator, accented on the second, is more in keeping with the classical form of an iamb; it also avoids all possibility of misreading the word as condítor, although we may safely hope that few people in the preceding centuries thought they were addressing the “kindly embalmer of the stars”. The change of Christe to Jesu likewise conforms the verse to a more classical understanding of the iamb, although Christian poetry had always been much more flexible about the arrangement of syllables. Intende votis in place of Exaudi preces is also a metrical correction, and could not be a more perfect example of the exchange of a Christian Latin expression for a Ciceronian one.

The penultimate stanza of this same hymn begins with the words “Te deprecamur, Hagie, / Venture Judex saeculi,” – “we beseech Thee, o holy one, / judge of the world that art to come.” Hagie is Greek for sancte, the vocative of sanctus, and was commonly used in medieval Christian Latin. It is here chosen because its extra syllable neatly finishes the eight-syllable line of the iambic dimeter. The unknown 9th century author probably did not know, and certainly would not have cared if he did, that all three syllables of Hagie are short, where the fifth syllable of an iambic dimeter should, according to the classical rules, be long. It is a Greek word, the use of which is peculiarity of the Greek-born Christian tradition, alien to the prose of Cicero and the poetry of Horace and Ovid. The two verses are therefore revised to read:

“Te deprecamur ultimae / magnum diei judicem,” –

“we beseech Thee as the great judge of the last day.”

Examples of this sort could be multiplied at great length; apart from its doxology, the new version of Conditor alme siderum alone changes all but 15 words of the original sixty-four, and half of the 15 are in the first stanza. All together, there are several hundred metrical corrections in the hymnal, and some hymns, such as the two of the Dedication of a Church, and the three of Eastertide, were so drastically rewritten as to constitute entirely different works. The hymn of Saint Michael’s day, Tibi Christe, splendor Patris, was completely altered in both text and meter.

Although the new hymns became the standard text of the Roman Breviary, and remain so to this day in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, they were not everywhere received. The chapters of many major churches retained the use of the older hymns, not least among them that of Saint Peter’s Basilica itself. None of the religious orders which retained the use of their proper breviaries after Trent, such as the Premonstratensians, ever adopted the new text, nor did any of the monastic breviaries. Less than twenty years later, in 1647, the Cistercian abbot-general Claude Vaussin brought about a thorough revision of his Order’s liturgical books, but rejected the new hymns; this, despite the fact that his reason for reforming the books was to stave off a movement within the order to abandon the Benedictine use altogether in favor of the liturgical books of St. Pius V.

Since the days of Dom Guéranger, liturgical scholarship has been as unsparing in its criticism of the Urban VIII revision as the religious orders were unwelcoming of it. Msgr. Batiffol calls the new hymns “deformed”, likening them to the broken ancient statues discovered in Rome, which “the Barberini … and many others restored …, attaching to them new limbs which are a greater disfigurement to them than all the mutilations inflicted on them by the rude hand of time.” (p. 221) Fr. Adrian Fortescue is equally, characteristically severe. In the preface to a 1916 collection of Latin hymns and English translations by Alan G. McDougall, he writes (p. 27-28) “Whatever good the Renaissance may have done in other ways, there can be no question that it was…disastrous to Christian hymns. There came the time when no one could conceive anything but the classical meters and classical language. So they wrote frigid imitations of classical lyrics… There is nothing to be done with this stuff but to glance at it, shudder, and pass on. … (T)hose absurd Renaissance people did not realize that, because an original is beautiful, it does not follow that a bad imitation will be.” But not even Fr. Fortescue’s barbs can match the oft-quoted witticism of Pope Urban’s contemporaries, many of whom were less than impressed by the new hymns: “Accessit latinitas, recessit pietas. – Latinity came in, piety went out.”

The 1970 Liturgy of the Hours

There is a popular misconception that the new Liturgy of the Hours promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970 restored the hymns to their pre-Urban VIII text. This is only very partially true. It is true that the older text was the basis of the reform, and that most of what was done under Pope Urban did not find its way into the post-Conciliar version of the hymnal. In this sense, the criticism of Msgr. Batiffol and Fr. Fortescue, among many others, have been amply vindicated. However, a very large number of changes were made to the older texts by the committee responsible for a new selection and revision of the hymns.

In the year 1984, Dom Anselmo Lentini, O.S.B., the head of the committee published a very informative dossier of its work called Te decet hymnus, noting in the introduction that, of the numerous committees that produced the new liturgy, his was almost the only one to publish a complete record of its activities. The hymns are arranged in an order similar to the order in the Breviary itself: hymns of the Psalter, of the liturgical seasons, the Proper of the Saints, and the common offices. Each hymn is accompanied by a critical apparatus, indicating its author and age, if known, its meter, the critical editions of the hymn, where available, and the breviaries in which it was used after the Tridentine reform, where applicable. There then follow notes on the changes to the original text made by the committee.

As in the work of Pope Urban VIII, metrical corrections abound in the newest version of the hymnal; as a general rule, they are less intrusive than those of the 17th century, and the modern revisers clearly had a better understanding of medieval poetry. Many of the corrections are justified in the critical notes as rendering the hymns easier to sing; for example, a verse of the Christmas hymn Christe, Redemptor omnium, is changed from “Memento, salutis auctor” to “Salutis auctor, recole.” I cannot say from experience that this does in fact render the line easier to sing. It is perhaps worth noting, however, that the original version was sung five times a day every day for centuries in the hymn for the minor hours of the Little Office of the Virgin.

The vocabulary of the hymns is also retouched, although with much less severity, and much better taste, than in the 17th century reform. The line cited above from the Vesper hymn of Advent, “Te deprecamur, Hagie”, is re-written “Te, Sancte, fide quaesumus,” a metrical correction that eliminates the use of a Greek word branded “exotic” in the critical notes, although it was still being used by the Benedictines, Dominicans and others even as the committee did its work. Some of these changes are motivated by external factors. With the suppression of the Church’s discipline of Lenten fasting, the Latin word for fasting, ‘jejunium’, is removed from the original text of the traditional hymns of Lent, substituted by ‘abstinentia’.

Many of the hymns are shortened by the elimination of entire stanzas, “for the sake of brevity”, as the critical notes state repeatedly. The Christmas hymn Veni, Redemptor gentium is added to the repertoire of hymns for Advent, but without its fifth strophe. In the recording of this very beautiful hymn by the Schola Gregoriana Magyar, this strophe is sung in 17 seconds; in the Dominican chant, it takes a full 28 seconds.

The repertoire of hymns is very considerably expanded. For example, the new Liturgy of the Hours has nine proper hymns for Lent, two each for Matins (now known as the Office of Readings), Lauds and Vespers, and proper hymns for the minor hours of Terce, Sext and None. (Prime is of course suppressed in the new Office.) The great defect of Te decet hymnus is that it indicates which hymns or versions of hymns were used in post-Tridentine, non-Roman breviaries, but does not say anything about the pre-Tridentine sources from which hymns which have been added. The three Lenten hymns of the minor hours are noted as “author unknown, at least of the 8th century”, but no indication is given as to where and when they were actually used, if anywhere.

This rearrangement of the traditional order of the hymns is the origin of a number of oddities. Veni, Redemptor gentium was in use in four surviving proper breviaries in 1961; it had been used in almost all pre-Tridentine breviaries as well. In almost all of them it was sung at Vespers of Christmas, not in Advent. The three classic hymns of the Virgin Mary originated in the ancient Roman Office of the Assumption, from which the common Office is derived; in the Liturgy of the Hours, they are found in the common, but not on the Assumption. O quam glorifica was used on the feast of the Assumption by those churches which had it; it is now placed on the feast of Our Lady’s Queenship, and the Assumption has three completely different hymns. The hymn Agnoscat omne saeculum, traditionally attributed to St. Venantius, was used in some German breviaries and in Liège as a hymn of Christmas; it is now assigned to the Annunciation, which is no longer a feast of Our Lady.

There are also a very large number of new compositions; in several cases, they were made even where a welter of ancient hymns was ready available to chose from. The hymns of Christmas Matins, of the feast of the Holy Trinity, (which has two proper hymns in the Dominican Breviary) of Lauds of St. Bernard (who has three proper hymns in the Cistercian Breviary) are all newly made especially for the Liturgy of the Hours. As mentioned before, the hymns of the common of Apostles began as Roman hymns for the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, and were used on the feasts of all the Apostles. In the new breviary, each Apostle, apart from Peter and Paul, gets a new proper hymn at Lauds; with the sole exception of Saint Andrew, they are all new compositions.

The very last thing in Te decet hymnus is an index of the authors; the single most represented author, by a margin of four-to-one over second-place Prudentius, and almost five-to-one over third-place St. Ambrose: Dom Anselmo Lentini, O.S.B.

— Copyright (c) Gregory DiPippo, 2009

The next two installments in our series of considerations of the reforms to the Roman breviary will consider the neo-Gallican Parisian breviary and its psalter.

For terms and their definitions, please see the associated Glossary which accompanies this compendium.

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Gregory DiPippo, Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961: Part 3.2: 1529 versus 1568


sisters at night

Warum soll man zum Nachgebet der Matutin aufstehen? Hauptsache, um den Teufel auszutricksen, der als Macht der Finsternis in der Finsternis buchstäblich mehr Macht hat. Sehr viele besessene oder umsessene Menschen berichten, dass sie gerade gegen 3 Uhr oder genau um 3 Uhr Somme-oder Winterzeit aufwachen und von Alpträumen geplagt nicht aufwachen können. Warum gerade dann? Weil es die diabolische Verkehrung der Sterbestunde Christi ist. Deswegen, um dem Vorzubeugen, hielten schon die Wüstenväter Nachtwachen oder standen um 3 Uhr auf.  Es ist auch die praktische Möglichkeit alle 150 Psalmen am Tag zu beten oder den schwierigeren Teil bei einer absoluten Ungestörtheit zu beten.  Sollten Sie manchmal um diese Zeit aufstehen, so werden Sie merken, dass Sie wirklich hellwach sind und für eine kurze Zeit über eine sehr hohe Konzentration verfügen. Deswegen wachten manche Orden für die Matutin auf und legten sich dann schlafen, andere wachten frühmorgens auf und beteten mit der Matutin auch die Laudes. Auch heute wird es so gehandhabt. Es ist das ungestörte Gebet für die Welt, welche meistens gerades in der Nacht sündigt. Die Matutin mit ihren drei Nokturen im Tridentinischen Brevier stellt das zeitlich umfangreichste Gebet dar. Sie dauert zwischen 40 Minuten und 60 Minuten beim zügigen Beten ohne Gesang. Gerade dort gibt es die schönsten Lesungen und die wervollsten Kommentare der Kirchenväter. Diese Texte bleiben auch länger hängen, weil sie zuerst gebetet werden. Denn dann kommt der Tag mit seinen Zerstreungen und Eile. Daher die Matutin in der Nacht oder frühmorgens beten.

Part 3.2: 1529 versus 1568

Matins readings of the pre-Tridentine Breviary

In the Breviary of 1529, as in other medieval Breviaries, the readings are arranged in various ways according to the various liturgical days and seasons. On Sundays, the readings of the first nocturn are taken from the Sacred Scriptures; the order in which the books are read (Isaiah in Advent, St. Paul after Epiphany, etc.) dates back to the 7th century. In Advent and Lent, the second nocturn has readings from the Church Fathers appropriate to the season, but on most Sundays, the Scriptures of the first nocturn continue into the second. In the third nocturn, a homily from the Fathers is read on the Gospel of the day. On the ferias, the office of Matins has only one nocturn, and the readings are taken from the same Scriptural book (or group of books) that was read on the preceding Sunday. The exception to this is Lent, when every day of the week has its own proper Mass and Gospel; each of the Lenten Gospels has its own homily at Matins, and therefore, no Scriptural readings are provided for the weekdays of Lent.

On most feasts of the Lord, on the other hand, there is no Scripture in any of the nocturns. Instead, a sermon on the feast is begun in the first nocturn, and continued in the second, followed by a homily on the day’s Gospel in the third. In the Breviary of 1529, only Christmas and Epiphany are exceptions, having readings from Isaiah in the first nocturn. The octave of Epiphany, and the other feasts of the Temporale, (Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity and Corpus Christi, as well as their octaves) all have sermons and homilies, without any Biblical readings at all at Matins.

Some major feasts of the Saints, such as the Assumption, follow the same arrangement as the feasts of the Lord, with a sermon in the first and second nocturn, and a homily in the third. On most of them, however, the life of the Saint usually provides all three readings of a minor feast, and at least the first six (out of nine) on a more important feast. If there are six such readings from the life of a Saint, a homily on the Gospel of the feast is read in the third nocturn, but in very many cases, the life of the Saint occupies all nine of the readings at Matins. If the feast has an octave, the same pattern is generally observed on all eight days of the feast. The office of the Nativity of Mary is a very unusual exception; on the feast itself and each day of its octave, the Canticle of Canticles is read in the first nocturn.

Since the practical effect of this is that the Scriptures are rarely read at Matins at all, being displaced by sermons and the lives of the Saints, the 1529 Roman breviary provides very few readings from the Scriptures. For example, only one reading from the book of Isaiah is given for the ferias of the first week of Advent, and only one for the second; more readings are provided for the third and fourth week, since there are far fewer Saints to impede the ferial office. From Christmas Day to the octave of the Epiphany, only Christmas itself, the feast of St. Stephan and the Epiphany have readings from the Bible in the first nocturn. A similar situation holds for the time between the octave of Corpus Christi and Advent; the Scriptural readings provided for this period occupy a mere 37 pages of a 1460 page volume. In short, the pre-Tridentine Roman Breviary is heavily focused on the lives of the Saints and readings from the Church Fathers, and very much less focused on the Bible.

It is not, however, typical of pre-Tridentine breviaries. In other usages of the Middle Ages, the arrangement of readings provided for Matins was identical to that of the Roman use, although the readings themselves varied tremendously from one place to another. I have compared the 1529 Roman Breviary with roughly contemporary breviaries of Braga, Beauvais, Sarum, York, Salzburg, Bamberg, and the Dominican and Trinitarian Orders. Despite the fact that they all use the same system, in which the Biblical readings were frequently supplanted by other material, it is normal for a complete set of Scriptural readings to be provided for each day of the week.

Matins readings of the Tridentine Breviary

In the Pian Breviary, the most far-reaching change introduced is the new arrangement for the readings at Matins. Every office of nine readings, whether a Sunday or a feast day, is to have three from the Sacred Scriptures in the first nocturn. Scriptural readings are provided for every single day of the year, following the same ancient system present (in a much attenuated form) in the Breviary of 1529. The exceptions are ferial days which have a proper Gospel, such as those of Lent; on these days, no Scripture is provided, and the ancient custom of reading a homily at the nocturn is maintained. The very first rubric of the Pian Breviary indicates how notable such a change was; its fifth sentence reads, “In the first nocturn are read those readings occurring from the Scripture, which in the Office of the season has been distributed in such wise that some of it is read every day, even in an Office of the Saints.” (my emphasis)

Most Saints’ Offices borrow the readings of the first nocturn from the feria; if the feast is a simplex, having only one nocturn, at least the first reading, and usually the second as well, are taken from the daily Scriptural readings. Many feasts, including all those of the Lord, and all of the most important Saints’ feasts, have proper readings in the first nocturn, rather than those of the feria. This necessitated the creation of a whole new corpus of such ‘proper’ readings. In several cases, they are simply a longer version of the Epistle of the Mass; on the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the first major feast of the year, the Epistle is Romans 10, 10-18, and this same passage is now lengthened (verses 4-21) to provide the readings of the first nocturn.

Although this arrangement had been used but rarely on feast days before the Tridentine reform, this change cannot be called a radical break with tradition. Rather, the well-established system of readings for major Sundays and a few major feasts is simply made the general system for the whole breviary. All Sundays are now to have a sermon from the Church Fathers in the second nocturn, commenting on the Scriptural readings of the first nocturn; this also necessitated the creation of a whole new corpus of readings from the Fathers. The ancient custom of having a sermon on the Gospel of the day in the third nocturn was left unaltered.

It should be obvious that this new arrangement is created as part of the Catholic Church’s response to the Protestant Reformation, which, at the time of the first promulgation of the Pian Breviary, had been going on for just over half a century. The early Protestants rejected the idea of tradition as a source of Christian belief, and claimed that all of the Church’s teaching should be grounded in Scripture alone. The breviary of 1568, based on a very ancient traditional model, everywhere associates the reading of the Sacred Scriptures with the great feasts of the liturgical year, the teaching of the Doctors of the Church, and the lives of the Saints, emphasizing the Catholic context in which alone the Scriptures can be properly understood.

Certain modifications to the corpus of sermons and homilies are also made in response to the new theology of the reformers. The most obvious example is the homily of the first Monday of Lent, on the Gospel of the day, St. Matthew 25, 31-46, in which Christ describes the rewards of the just and punishment of the unjust at the end of the world. In the 1529 Breviary, a passage is read from a homily falsely attributed to Saint Augustine, speaking of the joys of Heaven and the pains of Hell. The Pian Breviary substitutes for this a genuine passage from Saint Augustine’s book On Faith and Works in which the great Doctor (of whom John Calvin boldly stated “he belongs entirely to us,”) rejects the notion of salvation by faith alone. The substitution was also most likely motivated by awareness of the fact that the homily was not really by St. Augustine, which brings us to another problem in the revision of the breviary.

Many sermons and Saints’ lives which were well-known to and loved by the men of the Middle Ages, and inserted by them into the public prayer book of the Church, are not in fact the historical documents they purport to be. In the 16th century, a homily labeled as the work of a particular Saint, and discovered not to be genuinely his, was thought of only as a fraud, and as such could easily be attacked by the reformers. A classic case of such a ‘fraud’ is the sermon Cogitis me, in which Saint Jerome expounds his belief in the Assumption of the Virgin Mary to his friends Paula and Eustochium; in the breviary of 1529, it provided the lessons for the first and second nocturns of the Assumption and its entire octave, and it was read in almost all other medieval breviaries as well. The Dutch humanist Erasmus had demonstrated in his 1516 edition of Saint Jerome’s works that Cogitis me was not written by him; after much debate, it is now generally attributed to Saint Paschasius Radbertus. (786 – ca. 860) In the Breviary of 1568, it is substituted by passages from Saints Athanasius, John Damascene and Bernard, whose feast occurs during the octave of the Assumption. (Ironically, the sermon of Saint Athanasius chosen for the feast day itself is also not authentic, and was removed from the next edition. In a Wednesday audience last year, the Holy Father gave an interesting explanation of the problem of such falsehoods which is very much worth reading: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20080514_en.html).

What does constitute a notable break with tradition, however, is the new arrangement of the readings from the lives of the Saints on their feast days. These readings are now conformed to the pattern of the Sunday nocturns; those of the first nocturn are always to be lessons from the Bible, and those of the third are always to be a homily on the Gospel of the Saint’s Mass. The lives of the Saints, which in earlier breviaries frequently occupy all nine lessons, are now confined to the three lessons of the second nocturn. If the feast is a simplex, it may have one or two readings from the life of the Saint, but never three, since at least the first must be given over to the Biblical lessons of the day.

To fit the lives of the Saints into the new arrangement required that nearly the whole corpus of them be completely reworked. This was in point of fact done, and not only by simple abbreviation of the earlier text. The humanistic scholars of the Italian Renaissance had long discussed possible revisions of the Breviary to correct its rough, late-antique and medieval Latinity; there were even cardinals in the early 16th century who read parts of their breviary in Greek or Hebrew, so as to avoid praying in the non-Ciceronian Latin of Saint Jerome. The Pian reform gives no space to such concerns in the other parts of the Breviary, but the Latinity of the Saints’ lives is dramatically changed.

In an anonymously written historical lesson on the Dedication of a Church, the 1529 breviary reads:

Constantinus… alios ut suo hortaretur exemplo, in proprio Lateranensi palatio ecclesiam in honorem Salvatoris mundi fabricavit, et basilicam appendititiam juxta in honore beati Joannis Baptistae.

(Constantine, in order to urge others on by his example, built a church in his own palace of the Lateran, in honor of the Savior of the world, and a basilica added on next to it in honor of blessed John the Baptist.)

This sentence is rewritten thus:

Constantinus… non solum edicto, sed etiam exemplo ad sacram aedificationem est cohortatus. Nam, et in suo Lateranensi palatio ecclesiam Salvatori dedicavit, et ei continentem basilicam nomine sancti Joannis Baptistæ condidit.

(Constantine, not only by edict, but also by example urged (them) on to sacred building; for in his palace of the Lateran, he dedicated a church to the Savior, and founded a basilica next to it in the name of Saint John the Baptist.)

‘Est cohortatus’ rather than ‘ut hortaretur’, ‘condidit’ rather than ‘fabricavit’, and especially ‘continentem’ rather than the very odd ‘appendititiam juxta’, are all improvements, if the Latinity of the ancient Romans is the criterion by which a text is to be judged, as it was for the scholars of that era.

By the 16th century, scholars were also aware of the fact that many of the Saints’ lives rested on rather shaky historical foundations. As has already been mentioned, the feasts of Saints Anne and Joachim, along with the Presentation of the Virgin, were dropped from the Calendar of 1568 altogether, since they derive from an apocryphal Gospel. St. Barbara, one of the fourteen Holy Helpers, was widely venerated in the Middle Ages as the patron Saint against sudden death. In the breviary of 1529, her legend transplants her native city, the one-time imperial capital of Nicomedia, from Asia Minor to Egypt, where she is converted to the Christian faith by the “most wise priest, Origen of Alexandria.” In the Tridentine breviary, she is reduced to a mere commemoration, although her feast continued to be celebrated on local calendars. The legend of Constantine quoted above states in the original version that the basilica in honor of John the Baptist was built “in the place where, having been baptized, he merited to be cleansed of leprosy.” This story of Constantine’s leprosy was already known to be quite untrue in the 16th century, and in the rewritten version of 1568, he is cleansed in baptism “from the leprosy of unbelief.” (In reality, Constantine was baptized on his death bed in Constantinople many years after leaving Rome.)

Such revisions are not entirely confined to the readings of Matins. A medieval legend of uncertain date attributes the foundation of the church of Saint Mary Major in Rome to a miraculous snowfall on the fifth of August, which indicated to a rich patrician named John where the Virgin wished a church to be built in Her honor on the Esquiline hill. The prayer of the pre-Tridentine Breviary and Missal which referred explicitly to the snowfall is dropped, in favor of a generic prayer from the Little Office of Our Lady, although the legend of the snow remains at Matins in a much rewritten form.

In an even more interesting example, the medieval antiphon of the Magnificat at first Vespers of Saint Agatha reads “Mentam sanctam spontaneam, honorem Deo, et patriae liberationem.” (A holy and willing mind, honor to God, and the liberation of the nation.) This antiphon is a grammatical fragment, consisting of 3 nouns in the objective case and their modifiers, with no verb and no subject. According to her legend, a marble plaque with these words carved upon it was laid on the newly-martyred Saint’s grave by a young man dressed in silken garments, who remained nearby until the sepulcher was closed, and then was never seen again, “whence there is no doubt that he was an Angel of God.” In the Middle Ages, these words were frequently carved on church bells, which were rung in times of danger, in honor of Saint Agatha, who has on numerous occasions saved the Sicilian city of Catania from the eruptions of Mount Etna. In the breviary of 1568, the Angel, the plaque and the antiphon are all removed.

The problem of historically false statements in the lessons of the Breviary was not tackled in full by the Tridentine reform, nor by the successive revisions of it. As noted above, the story of Constantine’s leprosy was allegorized, while the inaccurate account of his baptism remained. Until 1941, the Roman Breviary continued to repeat the late and manifestly false identification of the first bishop of Paris with Denis the Areopagite, who was converted by Saint Paul in Acts 17, and to acknowledge him as the author of the 5th century corpus of writings which passed as authentically his throughout the Middle Ages. (The discourse of the Holy Father linked above deals specifically with the problem of Saint Denis.) In the post-Tridentine period, false legends of the Saints multiplied endlessly in local breviaries in France, giving rise to the famous French expression, ‘mentir comme une deuxième nocturne,’ – to lie like a second nocturn, the equivalent of ‘to lie like a rug.’

Writing a propos of later, more radical proposals for the reform of the Saints’ lives in the breviary, Fr. Pierre Batiffol offers the following quotation from his esteemed contemporary, the liturgist Dom Alexandre Grospellier: “It is, in my opinion, to form an erroneous idea of the breviary to require in it the scientific strictness of a collection of critical hagiography. Certain legends have become the inheritance of Christian tradition, not by virtue of their historical certitude, but because of their expression of lively and fervent piety in regard to the saints: they have influenced the way of thinking, feeling and praying, on the part of our forefathers, and they come to us charged with a spiritual life which is indeed sometimes characterized by simplicity, but often full of power, and almost always able to touch the heart. These legends, therefore, belong to the history of the Church just in the same way as legendary lays and ballads belong to the history of nations. It would be something like vandalism to banish them altogether from the book of public prayer, even as it would be vandalism to break the painted windows of cathedrals or tear the canvases of early masters, on the ground that the representations in those windows or pictures are not accurate historical documents like a charter or a monumental inscription.”

— Copyright (c) Gregory DiPippo, 2009

Gregory DiPippo, Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961: Part 3.1: 1529 versus 1568


council of Trent

Auch das Tridentinische Konzil führte eine Liturgiereform durch. Sie war aber sehr behutsam und diente der Bewahrung und nicht der Zerstörung. Warum? Weil man den Wert der Routine kannte. Deswegen erlaubte das Konzil alle westlichen Messriten, die älter als 200 Jahre waren und somit nichts mit Protestantismus gemein haben konnten. Ebenso die monastischen Breviere vieler Orden. Nichts wurde zerstört, sondern vieles bewahrt. Es ist unwahrscheinlich, dass der Schreiber dieser Zeilen in den Erwerb eines monastischen vortridentinischen Breviers kommen wird, da es sich hierbei um extrem wertvolle Altdrucke handeln würde. Aber der Vergleich zwischen tridentinisch und vortridentinisch lässt sich bei divinum officium einsehen. Vortridentinisch ist zwar mehr, aber auch nicht viel anders. Warum sind die Reformen des Tridentinischen Konzils weitgehend gelungen? Weil es davon ausging der Kirche mehr Heiligkeit zu geben und nicht sich der Welt anzugleichen, wie das letzte Konzil. Die tridentinischen Konzilsväter würden sich doch im Grabe umdrehen, wenn sie von der deuterovatikanischen Prämisse hörten die Kirche „der Mentalität des modernen Menschen anzugleichen“. Die Mentalität eines jeden Weltmenschen ist sündig, da gibt es nicht anzugleichen! Der Mensch wird durch die Welt verformt und von Gott ferngehalten: ein wenig anders in der Antike, ein wenig anders im Mittelalter, ein wenig anders in der Neuzeit etc. Aber die menschliche Natur ist diegleiche, Gott ist dergleiche und die Dämonen sind diegleichen. Es ändert sich also nichts! Verstanden?!

Part 3.1: 1529 versus 1568

The Breviary reformed in the wake of the Council of Trent was promulgated by the authority of Pope Saint Pius V in 1568, and is for this reason often referred to as the Pian Breviary. The history of how and why the Tridentine reform came about is not the subject of this particular article; those who wish to read about such matters in greater detail should consult the interesting book of Msgr. Pierre Batiffol, The History of the Roman Breviary. (Translated from the French by Atwell Baylay; Longmans, Green and Co., London, 1912) My concern here is simply to compare the Breviary of 1568 with its immediate predecessor, the Breviary of the Roman Curia of 1529, and explain the changes made by the Pian reform.

The 1568 reform is, unsurprisingly, a very conservative reform indeed in almost every respect. In comparing the two breviaries, one sees immediately that nearly the entire body of material which has proper musical notation, namely, the invitatories, hymns, antiphons, and responsories, has been carried over from the earlier Breviary into the Pian. The same holds true for most of the chapters, versicles and prayers, parts which have no proper notation.

The exceptions are mostly instances where the entire Office of a particularly feast day has been replaced with a different Office. Such is the case on the feast of the Holy Trinity, where a 13th century office Sedenti super solium, (named for its first antiphon) is replaced with the much earlier Office Gloria tibi Trinitas. In the case of the Visitation, the proper Office granted to the whole of the Western Church in 1389 by Pope Urban VI was suppressed; in its place, the Office of Our Lady’s Nativity was to be said, replacing the word ‘Nativitas’ with ‘Visitatio’, and with proper readings at Matins. However, a new office with many new propers was soon granted for this feast by Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605).

A number of minor adjustments are made, but few genuinely notable changes. The unusually lengthy psalmody of Sunday Prime is redistributed though the days of the week, the first time the distribution of the psalms was changed since the days of Pope St. Gregory the Great. In the preces of Lauds, psalm 50, which is already said at the beginning of the hour, is replaced in the Pian Breviary by psalm 129; the preces of Terce, Sext and None are reduced to a new form which retains only very end of the preces of Lauds. The obligation to recite the Little Office of Our Lady, the Office of the Dead, and the Gradual and Penitential Psalms is mitigated, although not to the prejudice of local customs. The rubrics throughout are made much shorter and infinitely clearer; for example, the bizarrely complicated rubric of the 1529 Breviary which governs the end of Advent, and which occupies 3 and a half pages, is reduced to a mere twenty lines. A new general rubric, succinct and well-organized, is placed at the beginning of the book; in the original edition of 1568, it occupies only seven pages.

There are a few significant changes made to the Calendar of Saints. Perhaps most noteworthy is the suppression of the Presentation of the Virgin (November 21), and the feasts of both Saint Anne and Saint Joachim; this was done because the history of the Virgin’s parents and Her early life is not recorded in the canonical Gospels, but rather in the apocryphal Proto-evangelium of Saint James. (St. Anne was a favorite target of Luther’s scorn.) However, the devotion to them was so strong among Catholics that Saint Anne’s feast was swiftly restored by Saint Pius V’s successor, Gregory XIII, in 1584, the Presentation by Sixtus V the following year, and Saint Joachim by Gregory XV in 1622. A few other saints whose written lives were known to be at best untrustworthy, such as Saint Juliana of Nicomedia (February 16) and Saint Leonard of Noblac (November 6), were also removed, but the great majority of the popular saints of the Medieval church remain in their traditional places. One octave, of the feast of the Visitation, was suppressed, although it continued to be observed on many local calendars.

Many Saints, however, are knocked down a grade or two in the Tridentine Breviary, greatly reducing the number of Saints’ offices of nine readings; certain other Saints of the ‘unreliable’ category, such as Saint Barbara, were reduced to mere commemorations. One notable change is made to the celebration of the lowest grade of feast, the ‘simplex’; in the medieval breviaries, the single nocturn of such a feast had the nine psalms from the appropriate common office of a Saint, but in the Pian, the ferial nocturn of twelve psalms is now said. The psalmody of semiduplex and duplex feasts is not changed.

A change is made to the manner of keeping vigils in the Office, conforming the Breviary more closely to the Missal. A vigil is the day before a major feast, on which a Mass of penitential character (in purple vestments, without Gloria in excelsis or Alleluja) is celebrated after None, in preparation for the feast itself. In the Roman use before Trent , most such vigils, e.g. that of the Assumption, consisted solely of a Mass between None and First Vespers, and had no presence in the Office. In the Pian Breviary, vigils are given a full office, occupying the whole of the liturgical day from Matins to None. The office is mostly that of the feria; however, a homily on the Gospel of the Vigil Mass is read in place of the Scripture lessons at Matins. The ferial preces are said at all hours, and the prayer of the vigil Mass is said at Lauds, Terce, Sext and None. Although rare elsewhere, this was a common custom in Germany even before Trent.

The one aspect of the Breviary which is extensively changed in the Pian reform is the corpus of readings at Matins, which is almost completely re-worked from beginning to end.

We continue with the third part of our series on the compendium of reforms to the Roman breviary. This is the continuation and conclusion of the third part, begun yesterday.

For terms and their definitions, please see the associated Glossary which accompanies this compendium.

Gregory DiPippo, Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961: Part 2: Some Further Observations on the Medieval Office


Dokument7(2)

Im Tridentinischen Brevier und den vortridentinischen Brevieren ist wirklich alles durchstrukturiert und jeder Unterschied in der Rangordnung der Feste wir liturgisch angegeben durch die Unterscheidung zwischen den Simplex, Semi-Duplex und Duplex festen. Es geht darum, ob man vor dem Psalm eine ganze Antiphon oder eine halbe betet. Warum? Damit der Beter unterscheiden und ein wenig Abwechslung haben kann. Wenn man betet, lebt man in einem ganz anderen Kalender als die Welt. Die Hierarchie der Duplex oder Simplex-Feste, die Oktaven, die Vigilien und Quatembertage geben den Rhythmus an. Warum? Weil die Kirche nicht von dieser Welt ist und im himmlichen Rhythmus lebt oder es wenigstens bis zum letzten Konzil und seiner unseligen Kalenderreform tat.  Die Menschen feiern dies und das, wir aber begehen bsw. den dritten Oktavtag von Fronleichnam. Ist das nicht schön? Denn was ist das Ziel unseres irdischen Lebens? Uns dermaßen Christus anzugleichen, damit wir im Himmel mit anderen Heiligen ihn anbeten können. Also je himmlischer man hier lebt, umso leichter der Übergang und kürzer das Fegefeuer. Je irdischer, desto schlimmer.

Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961

by Gregory DiPippo
for publication on the New Liturgical Movement

Part 2: Some Further Observations on the Medieval Office

Apart from the readings of Matins, which will be discussed in detail in the following article, the most variable part of the Office is the corpus of antiphons which are sung with the psalms of the various hours. At the minor hours (Prime, Terce, Sext, None and Compline), the psalms are all sung under a single antiphon. In the office of Sunday and on feast days, the psalms of Matins are sung with nine antiphons, and on ferias, with six, two psalms per antiphon. At Lauds and Vespers, each psalm usually has its own antiphon, but Lauds of Sunday often has only three. On feast days, the antiphons of Lauds are often said also at the minor hours and Vespers; but some feasts have one set of antiphons for Vespers, and another for Lauds, while a few, such as Christmas, have one set of antiphons for first Vespers, another for Lauds, and yet another for second Vespers.

The antiphons vary greatly from season to season and feast to feast, and their texts come from many different sources, both Biblical and non-Biblical. Many derive from the psalm or psalms with which they are sung at a particular hour, or from the life of a Saint; many others are ‘ecclesiastical compositions’, such this antiphon from the Office of the Assumption: “Assumpta est Maria in caelum: gaudent Angeli, laudantes benedicunt Dominum.” (Mary has been taken up into heaven; the Angels rejoice, with praise they bless the Lord.) In Eastertide, the psalms of each nocturn are usually sung with only one antiphon, the exceptions being Easter itself, the Ascension and Pentecost, with their octaves.

The Roman classification of feasts is much simpler than that of other usages; feasts are called duplex, (double, the highest grade), semiduplex (semidouble) or simplex (simple), a system which refers to the doubling or non-doubling of the antiphons. ‘Doubling’ the antiphons means that the antiphons are sung in full before and after the psalm or canticle to which they belong; ‘semidoubling’ means that only the beginning of the antiphon is sung before the psalm or canticle, and the full antiphon after it. On a duplex feast, all of the antiphons are doubled at Matins, Lauds, and both Vespers (never at the other hours); at Matins there are three nocturns. A semiduplex office (which includes all the Sundays), also has three nocturns, but none of the antiphons are doubled. On a simplex day (which includes all ferias), the office has only one nocturn, and likewise, none of the antiphons are doubled.

Compared to other usages of the Western Rite, the Roman Office is unusually generous in the matter of doubling the antiphons. In most other usages, (e.g. that of Sarum) the normal practice is to double only the antiphons of the Magnificat and Benedictus, and only on the most important feasts. In some usages, such as that of the Cistercian Order, doubling the antiphons is simply never done.

In the Middle Ages, the Divine Office was everywhere supplemented by a series of other prayers, which were regarded as no less a part of it than the principal office, (also called ‘canonical’ office.) The oldest of these is the Office of the Dead, which had only three of the hours; Vespers of the Dead was said after the canonical Vespers, Matins and Lauds after the canonical Lauds. The great devotion to the Virgin Mary which was so universally present in the Middle Ages also lead to the creation of a daily Office in Her honor, now generally called the Little Office of the Virgin Mary. It has each of the eight (or seven, if you prefer) hours, but the material chosen for them renders it altogether much shorter than the main office; in most breviaries, it varies very little or not at all from day to day or season to season. These offices were accompanied, at least in theory, by a daily votive Mass in honor of Our Lady in a special chapel dedicated to Her within the greater churches, and at least one daily Requiem in a chapel dedicated to the Cross. In addition to these, the seven Penitential Psalms, the Litany of the Saints, and the fifteen Gradual Psalms (for the benefactors of the Church, local and universal) were also appointed to be said at regular times.

Outside of Advent and Lent, the feasts of Saints were very frequently allowed to displace the Office and Mass of Sunday, and likewise, most feasts took precedence over most ferias. There was also a notable tendency to increase the number of octaves; apart from those which form part of the Temporal cycle, the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Ss. Peter and Paul, the Visitation, S. Laurence, the Assumption and Nativity of the Virgin Mary, and the feast of All Saints were generally kept with octaves. Most local churches and religious orders kept the feasts of their patrons and canonized Saints with octaves as well; the Franciscans added six octaves to those kept by the Church of Rome, the Dominicans added five.

For many decades, it has been fashionable among liturgists to attribute the medieval preference for the offices of saints and octaves to the fact that they were much shorter than the office of the Sunday or feria, as well as the fact that the supplementary offices (the Office of the Dead, the Little Office of the Virgin Mary, etc.) were omitted on many feast days. While there is certainly some truth to this, such an explanation does not take sufficient account of the importance of devotion to the Saints in the life of the medieval Church. The French art historian Émile Mâle writes (in a chapter of The Gothic Image which can only suffer from the necessities of abbreviation),

“The people never wearied of seeing their protectors and friends… (nor) of hearing them spoken of, and famous miracles and illustrious examples from the lives of the saints were commemorated in poems in the vernacular, in popular drama and in sermons. The Church was the faithful depository of almost all this endless history. Each cathedral or monastery kept the Acts of the saints of the diocese, and solemnly read them on their festivals, … For centuries the saints lived in the memory of the Church through the lectionary.” (The Gothic Image – Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth century, p. 272, Harper 1958)

The ‘lectionary’ of which he speaks here is the corpus of readings from the lives of the Saints for Matins. If the overly busy and the less devout were content to recite a shorter office in honor of a Saint, rather than the longer office of Sunday or a feria, we may trust that in due course, the Saints thus honored interceded for their deficiencies; but it is quite unjust to our ancestors in the Faith to attribute to them all such a simple and unworthy motive for their manner of keeping the Divine Office.

Gregory DiPippo, Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961: Part 1 – The Basic Structure of the Divine Office


mediaval breviary

Die Grundstruktur des Officium Divinum haben wir mehr als einmal angegeben. Es ist eine feste Struktur. Wie jemand sehr treffend sagte, gibt keine schlimmeres Gift für das geistliche Leben als die ständigen „neuen Impulse“. Im geistlichen Leben soll man in die Tiefe gehen, wachsen, sich verwurzeln und nicht ständig mit Neuheiten angestochen werden. Der feste Rahmen, die Routine, die Wiederholung. Die stabilitas loci – Beständigkeit des Ortes der Benediktiner, welche nicht nur im Sinne des Verbleibens an einem Ort interpretiert werden kann, sondern auch im Sinne des Verbleibens bei einer Gebetspraxis. Diejenigen, die die ignatianische Methode kennengelernt haben, werden gleich einwerfen:

Aber uns wurde beigebracht, dass wir eine Methode oder Praxis verwerfen können, wenn sie uns nichts bringt!

Dies ist zwar richtig, wenn es sich um die Meditation, nicht aber um das mündliche Gebet handelt. Das mündliche Gebet des Breviers ist die Pflicht, die Meditation ist die Kür und zwar nur für manche Seelen. Wie treffen Pater Poulain SJ schreibt, haben die Menschen früher so viel gebetet, dass sie sich gar nicht die Fragen nach der Methode stellten. Oder versuchen sie es selbst und beten alle 150 Psalmen am Tag. Die Beständigkeit also schafft die Tiefe.

Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961: Part 1 – The Basic Structure of the Divine Office

by Shawn Tribe

We begin our series on the reforms to the Roman breviary with two introductory parts which focus on the historical structure of the Divine Office itself.

The following is the first of those two parts.

Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961

by Gregory DiPippo

for publication on the New Liturgical Movement

Part 1: The Basic Structure of the Divine Office

The structure described below is that of the Divine Office as it stood throughout the Middle Ages and, with certain adjustments, the post-Tridentine period, until the reforms promulgated by various Popes in the 20th century. The changes made after Trent and other reforms will be described later in their own articles.

The first hour of the day, Matins, begins with Psalm 94, Venite, exsultemus Domino, followed by a hymn. The psalm is divided into five parts; a verse called the Invitatory is repeated twice before the psalm, once again after each of the five parts, and twice more after the doxology. (On three of the repetitions, only the second half of the Invitatory is said.) The Invitatory verse frequently contains the words ‘venite, adoremus’, e.g. ‘Regem Apostolorum Dominum, venite, adoremus.’ (Come, let us worship the King of the Apostles) for the feasts of Apostles. The text of this psalm used in the Breviary is older than St. Jerome’s last revision of the Psalter, the so-called ‘Gallican Psalter’, which was adopted as the liturgical Psalter of the Western church in the time of Charlemagne.

The second part of Matins is the nocturns, of which there are three on Sundays and the more important feasts, but only one on minor feasts and ferial days. (By a special exception, Easter and Pentecost also have only one nocturn.) The nocturns of Sunday and the ferias run through the psalms in order from 1 to 108, omitting those which are said at other hours. They are as a result very long; the first of Sunday has 12 psalms, as do those of each feria. The remaining nocturns of Sunday have three psalms each, for a total of 18.

On feasts of the Lord and Saints’ days, however, Matins is considerably shorter than on a Sunday or feria, a fact which will have a great impact on the history of the Office generally. There are only nine psalms on feast days; these are divided 3 per nocturn on the greater feasts, but all nine are said together on a feast of one nocturn. The psalms for Saints’ days are generally among the shorter ones in the Psalter; for example, on the feast of a Martyr, they are psalms 1-5, 8, 10, 14 and 20.

Regardless of the number of psalms, each nocturn also has a versicle and a response after the last antiphon, and then the Lord’s Prayer is said silently. There follow three readings from the Sacred Scriptures, the Church Fathers, or the lives of the Saints; each reading is preceded by a blessing of the reader, and followed by a ‘prolix’ responsory, so-called in distinction from the shorter responsories of the minor hours.

(For an excellent example of a Matins responsory, the seventh of the office of the Holy Trinity, see the following: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcWAOH9krw8)

In the Roman Rite, the last reading is not followed by a responsory, but by the hymn Te Deum laudamus, on any day when Gloria in excelsis is to be said in the Mass (i.e. Sundays outside Advent, Septuagesima and Lent, all feasts and octaves, and all of Eastertide.) This custom is found only in the use of Rome; in all others, the last reading is also followed by a responsory, and the Te Deum, when it is to be said, is added after it.

The hour of Lauds follows immediately upon Matins. The Roman Breviary, like all medieval breviaries, simply assumes that the two hours are said together, and treats them as a unit; the office was thus often regarded as having seven Hours, rather than eight. In chapter 16 of his Rule, Saint Benedict refers this practice to verse 164 of Psalm 118, “Seven times a day I have spoken praise to Thee,” and comments, “And this sacred number of seven will be fulfilled by us, if in the time of our service we perform the offices of Matins, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline.”

Lauds begins with 5 psalms and their respective antiphons. The first of these is psalm 50, the penitential psalm par excellence, on every day but Sunday, when the first psalm is the 92nd. (Psalm 50 is also said, however, on the nine Sundays from Septuagesima to Palm Sunday.) The second psalm varies from day to day. The third is actually two psalms, 62 and 66, said together as if they were one, and with only antiphon; these are said every day of the week. The fourth psalm is really a canticle from the Old Testament, which changes each day of the week; the selection of canticles found in the Roman and other Western breviaries is extremely ancient, and most of them are also used in the Ambrosian and Byzantine Rites. The fifth psalm every day is psalms 148, 149 and 150, also said together as if they were one, and with only antiphon. The custom of ending the psalmody of Lauds with these three psalms is generally held to be a pre-Christian custom of the synagogue, and is found in every historical Christian rite.

The psalmody of Sunday Lauds is also used at Lauds of every feast, whether of the Lord or the Saints, and of whatever degree of solemnity. These psalms are clearly more appropriate to the joyful character of feast days, and, it must be noted, are as a group rather shorter than the psalmody of the ferias.

After the fifth antiphon, there follows a short reading from Scripture, called a chapter. In the Roman use, the chapter of Lauds is very often repeated at Terce and both Vespers of the liturgical day; there are, however, many exceptions to this, and many medieval offices had a much greater variety of chapters than does the Roman. The chapter is followed by a hymn, a versicle with its response, and the canticle of Zacharias, the Benedictus, with its antiphon.

On most days, after the Benedictus, the collect of that day’s principal Mass is said, preceded, as at Mass, by ‘Dominus vobiscum’ and ‘Oremus’. On the ferial days of Advent and Lent, however, a litany called the preces, (simply ‘prayers’ in Latin,) is added before the prayer; this consists of a series of invocations and responses, mostly taken from the psalms, and ending with psalm 50. There are also very often commemorations of other offices which occur on the same day, but which yield in precedence to a more important office; these consist of the impeded office’s antiphon at the Benedictus, the versicle, response and prayer of the same office. At Lauds and Vespers, there are also votive commemorations called suffrages; medieval breviaries have a huge variety of these, but they are generally omitted on the more important feast days.

It should also be noted that custom of the Roman use is to have the collect of the Mass as the prayer of Lauds, Terce, Sext, None and both Vespers, while the prayers of Prime and Compline do not vary from day to day. However, some other breviaries have a much greater variety of prayers, and may change the prayers even at Prime and Compline.

Prime begins with the same hymn every day, Jam lucis orto sidere. On ferias and all feast days, there follow the same three psalms every day, the first being psalm 53, Deus in nomine tuo. Psalm 118, Beati immaculati, the longest in the Psalter, is divided by the Roman Office into 11 sections; the first two are said every day at Prime after Deus in nomine tuo, and the other nine are evenly distributed between Terce, Sext and None. There follow a chapter and a short responsory, so-called because it is both shorter and more repetitive than the long (or ‘prolix’) responsory of Matins. Prime also has a series of preces, different from those of Lauds, which are supposed to be said every day except on greater feasts; these prayers are longer if the day is a feria. After these, or immediately after the short responsory, is said a collect, which as mentioned before, is the same every day in the Roman Rite.

In the Office of Sunday, Prime is lengthened considerably by the addition of six psalms (21-25 and 117) and the Athanasian Creed, a total of 171 more verses. The only change made after Trent to the arrangement of psalms was to shorten Sunday Prime by redistributing psalms 21-25 over the days of the week, reducing it to a more manageable length. The ferial psalmody of Prime was also said on every feast day, even if it occurred on Sunday; it should also be noted that in many medieval usages, the Athanasian Creed was said much more frequently than in the Roman.

The hour of Prime is supplemented by the Chapter office, originally an exercise of cathedral chapters or monastic communities before the beginning of the day’s work. This consists of the reading of the Martyrology, a series of versicles and prayers which do not vary from day to day, and a short reading. Originally, this final reading was taken from the rule under which a community lived, as it still the case in the Benedictine use; in the Roman Breviary, it became the custom to simply read the same chapter which would later be read at None.

The hymns of the remaining minor hours, Terce, Sext and None, also do not vary from day to day, although as with all hymns, they might be sung on a variety of melodies. The psalmody is likewise invariable, as stated before, being the various parts of Beati immaculati every day; as at Prime, there follow a chapter, and a short responsory. If the preces have been said at Lauds, they are repeated in the same form also at these hours; at the end of each hour, the collect of Lauds is also repeated.

The order of Vespers is the same as that of Lauds, beginning with five psalms and their antiphons. The psalms of the Sundays and ferias run in order from 109 to 147, omitting those which are said at other hours; those of Sunday are very often said on the feasts of Saints, although the fifth is usually substituted with 116, the shortest of the whole Psalter. There follow a chapter, hymn, versicle and responsory, and the canticle of the Virgin Mary, the Magnificat. The preces are said on the same days as at Lauds; the prayer, commemorations and suffrages follow the same order as well.

Compline begins with a short reading, the same every day, the versicle Adjutorium nostrum, and the Our Father; the Confiteor is then said as at the beginning of Mass. The psalmody is invariable from day to day, being Psalms 4, 30 (the first six verse only), 90 and 133, which are chosen for their reference to the hour of they day, and the traditional medieval association of Compline with the burial of Christ. In the Roman use, the hymn, chapter, short responsory, and the antiphon to the canticle of Simeon Nunc dimittis (in that order) hardly vary at all from day to day, although other medieval uses introduced a very great number of variations. Preces are said on the same days as at Prime, and the collect Visita quaesumus also does not change from day to day. At the end of the day, one of the four major antiphons in honor of the Virgin Mary is said, with a versicle and responsory.

http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2010/10/compendium-of-reforms-of-roman-breviary.html

We continue with the second part of our series on the compendium of reforms to the Roman breviary. This second part concludes the introduction to this series. Following this introduction, part 3 will begin our considerations of the reforms proper.

For terms and their definitions, please see the associated Glossary which accompanies this compendium.

Shawn Tribe, New NLM Series: Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961


 Dokument3Da sicherlich einige unserer Leser über nicht ausreichende Englischkenntnisse verfügen, um diese Beiträge zu lesen, so können sie sich übergangen fühlen oder gar zurückgesetzt, wie Kinder denen man die Süßigkeiten höher stellt, damit sie selbst nicht ran können. Es ist uns zwar wirklich nicht möglich all diese Beiträge ins Deutsch zu übertragen, vielleicht kann sich einer unserer Leser im Geiste der Sühne, Buße und der Verkündigung dieser Sachen annehmen, wir wollen dennoch jedem dieser Beiträge  ein Vorwort voranstellen, welches die Inhalte zwar nicht nacherzählt, aber ähnliche Thematik anschneidet.

Warum diese Brevier-Fixiertheit?

Diese muss man sich sicherlich stellen lassen, da die Geschichte des Breviers oder das Breviers selbst in unserem Blog sehr präsent ist.

Weil wir herausfinden wollen, warum die Kirche im Laufe der Jahrhunderte ihre Heiligkeit immer mehr verloren hat.

– Hat sie das wirklich?

– Schauen Sie sich Papst Franziskus und das jetzige Rom an. Sonst noch Fragen?

Wir wollen einfach die These untermauern, dass

  1. seit dem Mittelalter immer weniger gebetet wurde
  2. und somit einerseits die Beters sich immer weniger heiligten,
  3. durch diese die Kirche immer weniger geheiligt wurde
  4. und dadurch immer weniger Gnaden von Gott erbetet wurden.

Denn Gnaden müssen in einer Gott genehmen Weise erbetet werden und zwar durch die, die dazu qualifiziert sind, also reine, heilige, Gott geweihte Menschen, auch Geistliche genannt.

Obwohl die unten angeführte Darstellung erst richtig nach dem Tridentinischen Konzil beginnt und wir mit unserer Geschichte des Breviers, mit welchem wir die Zeit bis dahin abdecken wollen, noch am Anfang stehen, so wird auch aus der Darstellung von Gregori DiPippo deutlich, dass vor dem Tridentinum viel mehr gebetet wurde und dass das Tridentinische Brevier eine Verkürzung der bisherigen, monastischen Gebetspraxis darstellte. Der große Vorteil dieser Reform lag daran, dass für die ganze Kirche auch für die Weltgeistlichen ein einziges Brevier vorgeschrieben wurde.  Warum kann es denn vorher zu der Kirchenkrise? Weil das Vorgeschriebene nicht gebetet wurde. Dennoch trug gerade dieses Tridentinische Brevier zu einer Entwicklung der Kirche. Es bleibt aber zu bedenken, dass alle nachtridentinischen Orden, also diejenigen Kongregationen, die nach dem Tridentinischen Konzil begründet wurden, nur das einfache tridentinische Brevier beteten, statt des umfanreicheren monastischen Breviers. Nach dem Tridentinum wurden von den Ungeschuhten Karmeliten und Karmeliterinnen, soweit wir es wissen, keine Mönchsorden gegründet, welcher nur dem Gebet für die Welt dienten. Oder es waren viel weniger als die tätigen, missionarischen Orden. Es begann also damals schon der Aktionismus, dass zwar viele missionierten, aber durch wenige im Gebet unterstützt wurden oder auch selbst weniger beteten. Am Besten sieht man diese Entwicklung beim Jesuitenorden, welcher zum Breviergebet eigentlich erst gezwungen werden musste. Die großen Heiligen waren starke Beter. Vom hl. Petrus Canisius wird überliefert, dass er acht Stunden am Tag betete, vom hl. Patrik, dass er täglich alle 150 Psalmen betete, was aber in seiner Zeit auch die Norm war. Kein Wunder, dass sie so dauerhaft erfolgreich waren. Wie der Input, so der Output. Vor der Reformation lebte, so schätzt man, 1/3 der Bevölkerung in Klöstern, auch wenn nicht alle heilig waren, so war doch dieses Gebetspensum enorm.  Aber schon nach dem Tridentinischen Konzil (1545-1563) trat eine Reduktion ein, welche sich bis zum Vatikanum II fortsetzte und unsere heutige Katastrophe herbeiführte. Gebet wirkt, Gebet öffnet die Augen, Gebet gibt den Glaubenssinn, Gebet zeigt uns die Perspektive Gottes. Jedes Gebet? Leider nicht, nur das alte, traditionelle, vorgeschriebene Gebet. Der Schreiber dieser Zeilen hätte es auch nicht für möglich gehalten, aber er hat es erfahren und erfährt es jeden Tag neu. Bei seinen nachkonziliaren Gebeten und dem nachkonziliaren Brevier war es nicht der Fall. Die Art des Breviers macht also etwas aus.

New NLM Series: Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961

by Shawn Tribe

Many of our readers will recall the series which the NLM ran from March until May of this year, the Compendium of the 1955 Holy Week Revisions, which was guest written by Gregory DiPippo, an American who lives in Rome.

The NLM is pleased to announce a new series of guest articles by the same Gregory DiPippo, this time considering the reforms to the Roman Breviary between the 1568 and 1961 — and as many are likely to ask, this will indeed mean the the reforms to the breviary under Pius X will likewise be considered.

However, rather than belabouring you any further with my own introductions, let me allow Gregory to speak for himself to the series in question:

The purpose of these articles is to examine the changes made to the Breviary of Saint Pius V from the time of its promulgation in 1568, until its last reform before the Second Vatican Council in 1961. I shall begin with an examination of the 1568 Breviary, compared to an example of its immediate predecessor, the “Breviary of the Roman Curia” published in 1529. The second article in the series will describe the revision of the hymns under Pope Urban VIII. The third article will describe the so-called neo-Gallican breviaries of the later 17th and 18th centuries, which would provide a model for subsequent reforms of the Roman Breviary. The fourth article will describe some of the cultural and social changes in the post-Tridentine Church and in the world which had a serious impact on the position of the Divine Office in the Catholic spiritual life. The series will conclude with articles describing the changes to the breviary made in the 20th century by Popes St. Pius X, Pius XII and Bl. John XXIII.

It is beyond the scope of these articles to describe the breviaries of the great medieval cathedrals and religious orders, such as those of the see of Liège or the Dominicans, which continued in use in the Tridentine period. I will make only a few rather cursory references to them, and to pre-Tridentine breviaries such as that of the Use of Sarum. I wish however to define a few terms as part of this introductory article, which will also offer a description, in very general terms, of the pre-Tridentine Roman Breviary. This description has been written specifically as a reference for those who may not be familiar with the historical rite of the Roman Office, and will be linked at the beginning of each article.

The Divine Office of every Western diocese and religious order, except of course that of the Ambrosian and Mozarabic rites, derives from the ancient rite of the city of Rome. Throughout the Middle Ages, however, there was a tremendous amount of variation in the texts of the Divine Office, and in the ritual accompanying it; so much, in fact, that it has become common to speak of proper usages as ‘rites’, as in, ‘the Dominican Rite’ or ‘the Sarum Rite’. This is a highly misleading way of speaking, and I intend to avoid it, for the sake of precision, in these articles. Despite the many variants, the basic structure and a very large amount of the text of the Office is common to all of the local ‘rites’, which ought properly to be called usages. To express the matter in practical terms, a pilgrim traveling from London to Rome for the Jubilee of 1500 would not have been scandalized or surprised by the liturgical variety he encountered in the various churches along the way, anymore than an American participant in the annual Chartres pilgrimage feels that the French style of dalmatics belong to a different rite from what he is used to at home.

However, it should also be clear that as a result of such variation, much of what is written here about the Roman Office does not apply to such other usages, whether pre- or post-Tridentine. For example, it was a more or less universal custom of the Middle Ages that at the first Vespers of some Sundays and many feasts, a responsory from Matins was sung between the chapter and hymns. This custom was never incorporated in the Roman Rite, and is therefore not mentioned in the description of Vespers given below. Likewise, the changes which I shall describe in the first article to the readings of Matins in the Roman Breviary were not made to the Breviary of the Carthusian Order.

A second point concerns the use of the term ‘medieval’, a word which is in many ways too broad to be very useful in a number of fields. In reference to liturgical books, I shall use it herein as a shorthand way of saying ‘pre-Tridentine, originating in the Middle Ages’, and apply it to works printed in a period which is in nearly all other respects entirely post-medieval, such as the Roman Breviary of 1529, when the Italian Renaissance was already starting to come to an end.

„Geist willig – Fleisch schwach“ – das Rebloggen fremder Artikel


sleeping apostels

Die Liturgie des Gründonnerstag ruft uns den Ausspruch des Heilands in Erinnerung mit dem er selbst seine schlafenden Jünger entschuldigt: „Geist willig – Fleisch schwach“. Ja, so ist es wirklich, dass das Fleisch – sprich unsere körperliche Konstitution, auch wohlgenährt, ausgeschlafen und trainiert, die Mühen des Geistes – spricht der intellektuellen und geistigen Anstrengung nicht verkraftet. Der Schreiber dieser Zeilen macht seit einigen Wochen auch diese Erfahrung, dass er von einer Infektion in die andere schlittert und zwar seit er sich vorgenommen hat die besten Stunden des Tages seiner eigentlichen intellektuellen Aufgabe zu widmen, nach der er leider keine Kraft mehr hat wirklich theologisch ausgearbeitete Blog-Beiträge zu verfassen. Denn nach einem Triathlon vormittags, spielt auch niemand 90 Minuten Fußball. Vielleicht geht die Frühjahrerschöpfung irgendwann einmal vorbei und es wird besser sein, aber zurzeit ist es so, wie es ist.

Um dennoch unseren Lesern etwas Wertvolles zu präsentieren, was sich nicht so leicht woanders finden lässt, so wollen wir hier nach und nach eine kurze Reihe über die Reformen des Breviers präsentieren, welche ab dem Jahr 2009 in New Liturgical Movement veröffentlicht wurde. Diese Darstellung zeigt ausschließlich die äußere Entwicklung und geht theologisch nicht in die Tiefe, wie es Dom Guéranger oder Pater Bäumer es tun oder bei aller Bescheidenheit auch wir hier versuchen. Sie verschafft aber einen ersten Überblick und verschafft eine erste Orientierung allen, die einer solchen bedürfen.  Sie ist auf Englisch verfasst und wird auch in dieser Sprache präsentiert, sodass alle, die kein Englisch lesen leider das Nachsehen haben werden. Die Sprache ist dennoch recht einfach und den Inhalten ist auch mit einfachen Schulenglisch beizukommen. Wir werden vielleicht, falls uns die Zeit und Gesundheit erlaubt, das eine oder andere kommentieren, dennoch scheint uns dies eine gute Idee zu sein diesen Blog in absehbarer Zeit fortzuführen und die Zeit zwischen eigenen Beiträgen auszufüllen.