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A Commentary On The Psalms From Primitive and Mediæval Writers Volumes 1 To 4 by Rev. J.M. Neale D.D.

1. “IF we keep vigil,” says S. John Chrysostom, “in the Church, David comes first, last, and midst. If early in the morning we seek for the melody of hymns, first, last, and midst is David again. If we are occupied with the funeral solemnities of the departed, if virgins sit at home and spin, David is first, last, and midst.1 O marvellous wonder! Many who have made but little progress in literature, nay, who have scarcely mastered its first principles, have the Psalter by heart. Nor is it in cities and churches alone that at all times, through every age, David is illustrious; in the midst of the forum, in the wilderness, and uninhabitable land, he excites the praises of GOD. In monasteries, amongst those holy choirs of angelic armies, David is first, midst, and last. In the convents of virgins, where are the bands of them that imitate Mary; in the deserts, where are men crucified to this world, and having their conversation with GOD, first, midst, and last is he. All other men are at night overpowered by natural sleep: David alone is active; and, congregating the servants of GOD into seraphic bands, turns earth into heaven, and converts men into angels.” Nothing can more admirably shadow out the feelings of the Church to her everlasting heritage, than these words of the great Doctor of the East. The love, the veneration, the delight which she has ever expressed for the Psalter, have almost turned it into a part of her own being. It is not only that, from the beginning till now, the whole book of Psalms has been weekly recited by so many thousand priests, but that the spirit of the Psalter permeates and kindles every other part of the service; that its principal features have received a new and conventional character, have been transfigured from the worship of the synagogue to that of the Church; that, to use the mediæval metaphor, the trumpets of the tabernacle have given place to the Psaltery and the New Song of the Christian ritual.1

2. The Church of the primitive and of the Middle Ages, then, adapted the Psalter to her own needs; she employed all the luxuriance of her imagination to elicit, to develope,—if you will, to play with,—its meaning. There is, to use the word in a good sense, a perfect treasure of mythology locked up in mediæval commentaries and breviaries,—a mythology, the beauty of which grows upon the student, till that which at first sight appears strange, unreal, making anything out of anything, perfectly fascinates. The richness and loveliness of this system of allegory have never yet been done justice to in our language. Commentaries indeed we have, many of them valuable in their way, but neither calculated nor indeed professing to do more than to explain difficulties, to develope the historical and literal meaning, and in some of the very plainest passages to point out a possible reference by David to the Son of David. Take, for instance, that commentary which enters more deeply than any other into the mystical and allegorical meaning of the Psalms, Bishop Horne’s. Earnestly desirous as was the pious author of seeing CHRIST everywhere, and acquainted to a certain degree, as he certainly was, with the writings of the Fathers, how many and many a clause, pregnant with the richest meaning, does he pass in silence! How often does he seem incapable of discovering the delicate shades of meaning which depend on the conventional use of phrases, or the order of sentences! The Commentary which the reader is about to peruse, however short it may fall of its design, is intended, at least, to supply an acknowledged want in our Ecclesiastical literature. It has been virtually the work of nearly twenty years; I do not mean that its composition was begun so long ago (though that was commenced thirteen years since,) but that its materials have been in course of collection, and the authors from which it is compiled constantly perused for that period. Of the sources whence it is drawn, I shall have occasion to speak at greater length towards the conclusion of the Introduction; but it is well to state thus early, that scarcely any one of the interpretations given, either in the present essay or in the work itself, are my own. They have every one been handed down to us with greater or less authority; they have been taught to many generations of those to whom every sentence of the Psalms was a household word; and when they shall appear most strange and most fanciful, the reader will do well to remember that the life-long study, not of an individual, but, if I may use the expression, of the Church, directed to one subject, is likely to disclose mysteries and to develope beauties which cursory perusals would utterly fail to discover.

3. The first thing that strikes us in the primitive and mediæval use of the Psalter, is the large proportion of time which its recital employed out of the whole period disposable by ordinary human strength for the service of GOD. To say that the Psalms were weekly recited by every ecclesiastic, falls far below the truth. For, additionally, the 119th Psalm was said daily: three of those in Lauds scarcely ever varied; while the four at Compline remained unchangeable. The decrease of devotion and the increase of worldly business, necessitated, as we shall see, a rearrangement, so that each Psalm should be said once, but only once, in the course of the week. But from the sixth century to the sixteenth, it is scarcely an exaggeration to assert that a portion of Psalms equal in bulk to twice the whole Psalter, was hebdomadally recited. In the Eastern Church it is well known that were the Mesoria, as they are called, that is, the half-way prayers between every two of the Hours, repeated with the Hours themselves, at only a moderate speed, it would be absolutely impossible to get through the services of the day within the space of the day.

4. And as was naturally to be expected from this so frequent recital, and from the scarcity of books, it was no unusual thing during the first twelve centuries that its committal to memory should be enjoined on Ecclesiastics. So we find that S. Gennadius,1 Patriarch of Constantinople, in the fifth age, refused to ordain any clerk who could not repeat “David” by heart. S. Gregory the Great declined to consecrate a Bishop who had not learnt the Psalter, and his refusal was enjoined on others by the Second Council of Nicæa. The Eighth Council of Toledo2 (653) orders that “none henceforth shall be promoted to any ecclesiastical dignity who do not perfectly know the whole Psalter, and in addition to that the usual Canticles and Hymns, and the Formula of Baptism.” In like manner the Council of Oviedo (1050) decrees that “the Archdeacon shall present such clerks for Ordination at the Ember seasons as know perfectly the whole Psalter, the Canticles, the Hymns, the Gospels, and the Collects.” So thoroughly did they carry out S. Augustine’s exhortation with respect to the Psalms.3 “It is better for us to seek the path of praise, the Scripture of GOD, that we turn not aside from the way either to the right hand or to the left. GOD hath praised Himself that He might be properly praised by man; and because He hath deigned to praise Himself, therefore have men found how to praise Him. For it cannot be said to GOD, as it is to man, ‘Let not Thine own mouth praise Thee.’ For man to praise himself is arrogance: for GOD to praise Himself is mercy.”

5. And of a recitation of the Psalms far more frequent than weekly, we have many examples in Church history. I will not insist on the beautiful description which S. Jerome gives to his dear Paula, of the employment of the husbandmen in Palestine; “The labourer while he holds the handle of the plough, sings Alleluia; the tired reaper employs himself in the Psalms; and the vinedresser while lopping the vines with his curved hook, sings something of David. These are our ballads in this part of the world: these (to use the common expression) are our love songs.” Nor will I relate as an historical fact, the legend of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste; how, when they were cast into prison before their exposure to the frozen pool, they commenced their psalmody at sunset, and continued it till midnight; and how, as they were about to desist, our LORD Himself encouraged them to persevere with the words, “You have begun well: but it is he that endureth to the end who shall be saved;” and how they continued their Psalms till morning dawn. But to speak of certain history: we find S. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, reciting the Psalter daily in the fifth century: S. Kentigern, Bishop of Glasgow, in the sixth, performing the same task every night. In the same age S. Merulus never during his waking hours desisted from their recitation except for prayer or preaching, or some active work of mercy; and S. Maurus, the celebrated disciple of S. Benedict, usually said the Psalter daily. In the seventh century the Scotch monk, S. Egbert, when seized with the plague, made a vow to recite it daily, and on his recovery did so to the end of his life. S. Alcuin, the famous preceptor of Charlemagne, tells us that in his youth, he grudged the time bestowed on psalmody: but in his old age, he too went through it every day. The numerous labours of S. Leo IX. could not hinder him from the same observance. It is a pretty picture which is drawn by the biographer of Marinus and his disciple S. Romuald in the tenth century: they had embraced the life of hermits in Lombardy, and would wander forth in the fine spring and summer mornings and recite twenty Psalms under the shade of such a tree, thirty more from the brow of such a hill, twenty others by the side of such a stream, till the whole number was complete. It is sad to see the custom of daily recitation degenerate into such taskwork as that of S. Dominic the Cuirassier. His ordinary day’s employment was to recite two Psalters, taking the discipline all the time; but in Lent he always said three, and often more, and once informed his biographer, S. Peter Damiani, that he never remembered to have spent such a day before, as he had recited eight. The curious computation of years of penance by Psalters, one Psalter with the discipline counting for five, may be seen in the same biography.

6. I turn to a more edifying subject: the method in which the Psalter was divided for recitation in Divine service; or, to use the primitive expression, in “the work of GOD.”

It will be convenient to speak: first of the Western, then of the Eastern Church.

In the Western Church I shall confine myself to

(1.) The Roman Use, as finally arranged by S. Gregory.

(2.) The Monastic scheme, as first developed by S. Benedict.

(3.) The Mozarabic, as the only surviving example of the ancient Gallican rite.

(4.) The Ambrosian, as deriving its peculiarities from the great father of Psalmody.

(5.) The various schemes which characterised the different Gallican reforms of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

7. First then of the Roman use. Its general synopsis would be this: (I use the word Psalm for that which counts as a Psalm, even if only a portion.) Matins: on Sundays (after the Invitatory Psalm) three Nocturns. The first of twelve Psalms: the second, three: the third, three, all varying. On Week-days: one Nocturn; twelve Psalms, all varying. Lauds: four Psalms (or their equivalent,) and one Canticle; three of the Psalms fixed, one, and the Canticle, varying. At Prime: four Psalms; one varying. Tierce, Sexts, Nones: three Psalms, fixed. Vespers: five Psalms, varying. Compline: four Psalms, fixed.

The recitation of the Psalter commences at Matins on Sunday. In the first Nocturn, after the 95th, which always commences the service, and of which I shall presently speak at great length, twelve Psalms are said, namely, 1 to 15 inclusive, with the omission of the 4th, which belongs to Compline, and of the 5th, which is given to Lauds. In the second Nocturn, three Psalms: 16, 17, 18. In the third, three: 19, 20, 21. At Lauds, five Psalms, or rather that which reckons as such: 93, 100, 63 and 67 together; Benedicite; 148, 149, 150, together.

At Prime, four Psalms. The first, always 54; the third, Ps. 119:1–16; the fourth, Ps. 119:17–32. The second Psalm is, on Sunday, the 118th; Monday, 24th; Tuesday, 25th; Wednesday, 26th; Thursday, 23rd; Friday, 22nd; while on Saturday, as a Festival, there is no varying Psalm.

At Tierce three portions of Ps. 119, (each consisting of two letters.)

At Sexts three portions.

At Nones three portions.

At Vespers (taking up the Psalter from where, as we shall see, Matins has left it) five Psalms; 110 to 114 inclusive.

At Compline four Psalms, 4, 30, ver. 1–7, 91, and 134.

On Monday. At Matins, commencing where the Sunday Matins left off, twelve Psalms, namely, 27 to 38 inclusive.

At Lauds, five Psalms: namely, 51, 5 which was left over from yesterday, 63 with 67, the Song of Isaiah (Isaiah 12) Psalms 148, 149, 150 together.

The Week-day Lauds have in fact a kind of framework, which never varies; the insertions within that frame changing daily. The first, third, and fifth of the Psalms are constant: the first is always the 51st Psalm, the second is always the 63rd with the 67th, the third is always the 148th, 149th, 150th. (The reason of this I shall presently explain at length.)

Tierce, Sexts, and Nones, have always the same Psalms as on Sundays.

At Vespers, Psalm 115 (English Version 116, ver. 10–11 to end) down to 121 inclusive, omitting 119.

Tuesday. Matins, twelve Psalms; 39 to 52 inclusive; omitting 43, which is said at Lauds, and 51, as recited daily.

At Lauds, the varying Psalms are 5, and the Song of Hezekiah. (Isa. 38:10–20.)

At Vespers, five Psalms; 122 to 126 inclusive.

Wednesday. At Matins, twelve Psalms; 53 to 68 inclusive; omitting the 54th, as said at Prime, and 63, which belongs to Lauds.

At Lauds, Psalm 65, and the Song of Hannah. (1 Sam. 2:1–10.)

At Vespers, five Psalms; 127 to 131 inclusive.

Thursday. At Matins, twelve Psalms; 69 to 80 inclusive.

At Lauds, Psalm 90, and the Song of Exodus, (Ex. 15:1–18.)

At Vespers, five Psalms; 132 to 137 inclusive.

Friday. At Matins, twelve Psalms, 81 to 97 inclusive; omitting the 90th, which was said yesterday at Lauds, the 91st, which belongs to Compline, the 92nd, the very title of which, A Psalm or Song for the Sabbath day, appropriates it to Saturday, and of course the 95th.

At Lauds, Psalm 143, and the Song of Habakkuk. (Hab. 3:2 to end.)

At Vespers, five Psalms; 138 to 142 inclusive.

On Saturday. At Matins, twelve Psalms; 98 to 109 inclusive.

At Lauds, Psalm 92, and the Song of Moses. (Deut. 32:1–43.)

At Vespers, Psalm 144 to 147, thus joining on to the three Psalms which form the usual conclusion of Lauds.

This arrangement was the secular system of the Latin Church from the earliest known Roman ritual till the various reforms of the sixteenth century. One alteration, however, has been made: the 51st Psalm was said at all the Hours till the time of Pius IV.; (as we find it to have been in the Sarum.)

8. Now we may notice: (1.) That the arrangement is, for the most part, in the numerical order of the Psalms: beginning at Matins on Sunday, it goes, almost regularly through the Psalter to Psalm 109: there it is taken up by Vespers, and so by them concluded. At Lauds, the order is somewhat disturbed: 93, 5, 43, 65, 90, 143, 92. But, granting that these seven Psalms were to be the Laudal Psalms, (and we shall presently see why they were to be,) the disturbance is less real than apparent. For 92 is by its Hebrew title fixed for the Saturday: while 93 is so extremely applicable to the Resurrection that it could hardly be separated from Sunday: and, with these two exceptions, the order is complete. (2.) That the ferial recitation of the Psalter depends almost entirely on Matins and Vespers: Lauds contributing only thirteen Psalms to it; Compline only one (the 4th); Prime six; and the other Hours together only one, the 119th.

9. It will now be proper to give the spiritual explanation of the arrangement: if highly fanciful, also superlatively beautiful. The writers who dwell most fully on the subject are Durandus,1 Bishop of Mende, in his Rationale: Sicardus, Bishop of Cremona, in his Mitrale; and John Beleth, a Theologian of Paris. Durandus wrote in 1286; Sicardus about 1190 or 1200; Beleth was contemporary with the latter. The host of mediæval expositors who have treated the symbolical explanation of the Divine Offices, have confined themselves almost entirely to the Missal: thus, in the celebrated Micrologus, and in the admirable treatise of Rupert of Deutz, de Divinis Officiis, the reader would vainly seek for any detailed explanation of the Breviary and its Psalter.

10. To begin with the Sunday Nocturns. The ritualists remind us of the three night watches of a besieged city, and thence deduce the triple prayer of a city which, like the Church, is never free from the assaults of her spiritual enemies. More fancifully they make each Nocturn to represent respectively the patriarchal, the legal, and the Christian dispensations. The first Nocturn, divided by its antiphons (as we shall presently see) into three portions, or, as they are technically called, “distinctions,” sets forth the threefold division of the Patriarchal period; that before the flood; that between the flood and Abraham; and that between Abraham and Moses. In each of these divisions they discover four principal Saints, to each of whom in consequence they attribute one of the Psalms. In the first period, Abel, Enos, Enoch, and Lamech. “Blessed is the man,” says Abel, “that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly:” thus setting forth the distinction between himself and Cain. “Why do the heathen so furiously rage together?” exclaims Enos, in whose time the grand division between polytheists and the worshippers of the One true GOD took place. “Thou art my worship, and the Lifter up of my head,” exclaims Enoch,—lifted up, indeed, when translated, that he should not see death. “O LORD, rebuke me not in Thine indignation,” is the Psalm of Lamech, who was blessed by God with a son, the preserver of the human race from the indignation that destroyed the world. I need not explain how, in the same way, they make the four Psalms of the next distinction to signify Noah, Shem, Heber, and Terah, nor the third to set forth Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The second Nocturn, as we have seen, has three Psalms: and these are referred to the three epochs of the legal dispensation: the Priests, the Judges, and the Kings. They are respectively set forth in the sixteenth Psalm: when the Priest says, “The LORD Himself is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup:” in the seventeenth, where the Judge prays, “Let my sentence”—that is, the sentence I shall pronounce—“come forth from Thy Presence;” and the eighteenth, where the Monarch declares, “Great prosperity giveth He unto His King.” In the same way, the dispensation of grace may be divided into three epochs,—that of Apostolic preaching, that of persecution, and that of peace. Apostolic preaching is set forth by the 19th Psalm, which, as we shall see in its proper place, has always been applied to the Apostles. The epoch of persecution, and therefore of the martyrs, is expressed by the 20th Psalm, “The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble.” The time of peace is represented by the 21st, “Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and hast not denied him the request of his lips.” The appearance of Antichrist is prophesied towards the end of that Psalm; “Thou shalt make them like a fiery oven in the time of Thy wrath:” and then the promise of final felicity; “Be Thou exalted, LORD, in Thine own strength, so will we sing and praise Thy power.”

With such holy ingenuity did mediæval writers explain their “Daily Service.” In like manner, if we proceed to the one Nocturn said on ordinary weekdays, we shall find that its twelve Psalms, braced two and two together by their Antiphons, are explained of the six works of mercy: for the addition of a seventh,—that of burying the dead—is a later invention. It appears that, in many churches, each two and two of these Psalms were not only said with one Antiphon, but under one Gloria: a trace of which exists in the present use of reciting two portions of the 119th Psalm to one doxology.

11. The office of Lauds has received a not less ingenious explanation. The first Psalm on Sundays, “The LORD is King, and hath put on glorious apparel,” requires but little symbolizing to set forth to us the Resurrection, and was probably, bonâ fide, appointed on that account. The 51st, which always occupies the first place on week-days, sets forth that repentance by which only we can pass from the night of sin to the day of righteousness, just as we are, while reciting that office, in the physical passage from night to morning. The six varying Psalms which occupy the second place on week-days, have all some manifest reference to the morning. Thus, the 5th, on Monday, “My voice shalt Thou hear betimes, O LORD; early in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.” In the 43rd, on Tuesday, “O send out Thy Light.” In the 65th, on Wednesday, “Thou that makest the outgoings of the morning.… to praise Thee.” In the 90th, on Thursday, “In the morning it is green.” In the 143rd, on Friday, “O let me hear Thy loving-kindness betimes in the morning.” In the 92nd, on Saturday, “To tell of Thy loving-kindness early in the morning.”

12. In like manner, in the six varying week-day Psalms and six Canticles of Lauds, they see a mystical reference to the six states of the Church. That of the Primitive Church, set forth by “My voice shalt Thou hear betimes, O LORD;” “Lead me, O LORD, in Thy righteousness,” &c., in the Psalm for Monday; and with reference to the Nativity of our LORD, and the wrath of GOD thus turned from the world, the “O LORD, I will praise Thee; though Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away,” in the Canticle. On the Tuesday, the epoch of persecution expressed by the prayer, “Defend my cause against the ungodly people,” of the Psalm: and the “I said, in the cutting-off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave,” of the Canticle. On the Wednesday, the overthrow of heathen persecutors, in the “Who stillest the raging of the sea, and the noise of his waves, and the madness of the people,” of the Psalm, and the Song of Hannah, the Church’s triumph over her persecutor, which forms the Canticle. Briefly, on Thursday we have the Conversion of the Jews; on Friday, the LORD’S Passion; and on Saturday, the true and eternal Sabbath.

13. The most difficult portion of Lauds is the explanation why the 63rd and 67th Psalms are taken together. It has been so from the beginning; but the reasons alleged are but unsatisfactory. Because, it is said, Thirst after GOD is set forth in the one,—the doctrine of the Trinity, by which alone that thirst can be satisfied, in the other. Or again; because the first expresses love to GOD, “O GOD, Thou art my GOD, early will I seek Thee:” the second, love to our neighbour, “Let the people praise Thee, O GOD.” Or, again, because the first speaks of human misery, the second, as its correlative, of eternal felicity. In all probability, however, the true reason of this conjunction has yet to be learnt.

14. It would be too long to go through all the Offices in the same way. One ingenious observation, however, must not be omitted. The trespass-offering of the poorest Israelite consisted of two pigeons. In like manner we, poor, indeed, of good works, offer daily the 22 portions of the 119th Psalm for that ELEVEN which is the symbol of all transgression: because this number is the first which oversteps that of the Ten Commandments. The mystical meaning of the position of these Psalms in Divine worship, will be found in the Commentary.

15. Thus we have glanced at the Ferial arrangement of the Latin Psalter: let us now see what was its Festal type. It is to be observed, that we are only concerned with Matins; except on very rare occasions, the Little Hours remain unaltered, whatever be the solemnity of the day, and Lauds and Vespers usually substitute the Sunday for their own Psalms: a somewhat jejune arrangement, which has not escaped modern animadversion. I will give the Gregorian, as distinguished from the modern Roman. The latter has, in some respects, deviated from the more ancient form. I translate from the “Distribution of Psalms for the work of GOD” published by Thomasius in his second and also in his third volume.


At the Vigil,1 in the beginning or twilight of night. No Invitatory Psalm. I. Nocturn, Psalm 2, 19, 24. II. Nocturn, Psalm 45, 87, 96. III. Nocturn, Psalm 97, 98, 99. In the same holy night, in the Vigils of the Cock-crow. I. Nocturn, Psalm 2, 19, 45. II. Nocturn, 48, 72, 85. III. Nocturn, 89, 96, 98. At Vespers on the holy day, Psalm 110, 111, 112, 130, 132.


No Invitatory Psalm. I. Nocturn, Psalm 29, 47, 66. II. Nocturn, Psalm 72, 86, 95. III. Nocturn, Psalm 46, 96, 100. (The modern Roman use, on the Epiphany, but not during the Octave, omits the Invitatory Psalm, placing it, however, first in the III. Nocturn, not, as above, last in the II.)


No Invitatory Psalm. I. Nocturn, Psalm 69, 70, 71. II. Nocturn, Psalm 72, 73, 74. III. Nocturn, Psalm 75, 76, 77. At Vespers, Psalm 116, 120, 140, 142, 144.


No Invitatory Psalm. I. Nocturn, Psalm 3, 22, 27. II. Nocturn, Psalm 38, 40, 53. III. Nocturn, Psalm 59, 88, 94. At Vespers, as yesterday.


No Invitatory Psalm. I. Nocturn, Psalm 5, 15, 16. II. Nocturn, Psalm 24, 27, 30. III. Nocturn, Psalm 54, 76, 88. At Lauds, as on ordinary Tuesdays.


I. Nocturn only, Psalm 1, 2, 3. Monday, Psalm 4, 5, 6. Tuesday, Psalm 7, 8, (9, 10.) Wednesday, Psalm 12, 13, 14. Thursday, Psalm 15, 16, 17. Friday, Psalm 19, 20, 21. Saturday, Psalm 23, 24, 26. (According to others, 24, 25, 26.)


I. Nocturn, Psalm 8, 11, 19. II. Nocturn, Psalm 21, 30, 47. III. Nocturn, Psalm 97, 99, 104.


In the First Vigil. No Invitatory. Psalm 48, 68, 102. (The other Matins the same as ordinary Sundays: this last is a remarkable peculiarity.)


No Invitatory Psalm. I. Nocturn, Psalm 3, 4, 6. II. Nocturn, Psalm 23, 25, 27. III. Nocturn, Psalm 40, 41, 42. (Otherwise, 35, 40, 42.) Lauds: Psalm 51, 65, 63, with 67, Song of Hezekiah. Psalm 148, 149, 150. Vespers: Psalm 116 (1–9), 120, 121, 130, 138.


In the Vigils of the First Cock-crow; I. Nocturn, Psalm 8, 19, 45. II. Nocturn, Psalm 48, 72, 75. III. Nocturn, Psalm 79, 96, 98.


I. Nocturn, Psalm 8, 19, 24. II. Nocturn, Psalm 45, 46, 87. III. Nocturn, 96, 97, 98.


In the Vigil, at Twilight. No Invitatory Psalm. I. Nocturn, Psalm 19, 34, 45. II. Nocturn, Psalm 47, 61, 64. III. Nocturn, Psalm 75, 97, 99.

In the Vigils of the First Cock-crow. I. Nocturn, Psalm 1, 2, 3. II. Nocturn, Psalm 4, 8, 11. III. Nocturn, Psalm 15, 16, 20. Vespers, Psalm 110, 113, 116 (10–11 to end,) 126, 139.


I. Nocturn, Psalm 8, 29, 45. II. Nocturn, Psalm 76, 84, 87. III. Nocturn, Psalm 89, 97, 104.


I. Nocturn, Psalm 1, 2, 3. II. Nocturn, Psalm 4, 11, 21. III. Nocturn, Psalm 96, 97, 98.


I. Nocturn, Psalm 5, 8, 11. II. Nocturn, Psalm 15, 19, 24. III. Nocturn, Psalm 96, 97, 104.


I. Nocturn, Psalm 19, 34, 45. II. Nocturn, Psalm 47, 61, 64. III. Nocturn, Psalm 75, 97, 99. Vespers: Psalm 110, 113, 116 (10–11 to end,) 126, 139.


I. Nocturn, Psalm 1, 2, 3. II. Nocturn, Psalm 4, 8, 10. III. Nocturn, 15, 16, 20.

16. This seems to be the oldest classification of the Psalms appropriated to the “Work of GOD.” I shall have occasion, in treating of the Psalms themselves, to dwell on the peculiar reason for the assignation of each to its peculiar position. I will give one or two lists, which appear not later than the fourth or fifth centuries, of the adaptation which may fix certain Psalms to certain purposes.

A very ancient “diurnal Canon” of the Psalms assigns them as follows:1

              1              a.m.

              2              a.m.

              3              a.m.

              4              a.m.

              5              a.m.

              6              a.m.

              7              a.m.

              8              a.m.

              9              a.m.

              10              a.m.

              11              a.m.

              12              noon


Psalm 30.

Psalm 1.

Psalm 42.

Psalm 51.

Psalm 71.

Psalm 70.

Psalm 85.

Psalm 112.

Psalm 141.

Psalm 100.

Psalm 121.

                            1              p.m.

              2              p.m.

              3              p.m.

              4              p.m.

              5              p.m.

              6              p.m.

              7              p.m.

              8              p.m.

              9              p.m.

              10              p.m.

              11              p.m.

              12              midnight

              Psalm 75.

Psalm 30.

Psalm 55.

Psalm 6.

Psalm 4.

Psalm 41.

Psalm 52.

Psalm 81.

Psalm 88.

Psalm 96.

Psalm 22.

Psalm 57.


Here is another list, principally composed from the Epistle of S. Athanasius to Marcellinus, and not without its use.

Prayer. Psalm 17, 68, 90, 102, 132, 142.

In prayer, with supplication for deliverance. Psalm 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 16, 25, 27, 31, 35, 38, 43, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59, 61, 64, 83, 86, 88, 140, 141, 143.

In supplication for deliverance alone. Psalm 3, 26, 69, 70, 71, 74, 79, 80, 123, 130, 131.

In confession of sins. Psalm 51.

If thou desirest to render thanks to GOD for His many marvels, or on the accomplishment of some good work. Psalm 8, 81.

If thou desirest to know how others praise GOD. Psalm 113, 117, 125, 146, 147, 148, 150.

If thou desirest to stir up thyself to bless GOD. Psalm 103, 104.

If thou desirest to praise GOD. Psalm 92, 105, 106, 107, 108, 112, 136, 138.

If thou desirest to sing to GOD. Psalm 93, 98.

If thou desirest to remember the mercy and justice of God. Psalm 101.

If thou desirest to exhort to faith and obedience. Psalm 41.

If thou desirest to show to others of what kind is the man who is a citizen of heaven. Psalm 15, 24.

If thou desirest to ridicule heretics or Gentiles.2 Psalm 76.

If thou beholdest heretics gathering together against the House of GOD. Psalm 83.

If thou desirest to convince heretics. Psalm 87.

If thou desirest to remember the benefits of the redemption of man. Psalm 8, 87, 116 (ver. 10–11 to end.)

If thou desirest to admire sermons, and the grace of the preacher. Psalm 19.

If thou wouldest remember the Incarnation of our LORD. Psalm 45, 110.

If thou wouldest remember the LORD’S Cross. Psalm 22, 69.

If thou wouldest sing of the Resurrection. Psalm 16, 66.

If thou wouldest remember the Ascension. Psalm 24, 47.

If thou wouldest call to remembrance the future judgment. Psalm 50, 72.

If thou wouldest commemorate martyrs. Psalm 79.

If thou wouldest praise GOD on Festivals. Psalm 81, 95.

If thou wouldest sing on Good Friday. Psalm 93.1

If thou wouldest sing on Saturday. Psalm 92.

If thou wouldest return thanks on Sunday. Psalm 34, 119.

17. We now turn from the secular to the monastic use, deriving its origin immediately from S. Benedict, but remotely, and with considerable alterations, from the Egyptian ascetics. Its principal differences from that which we have been considering, are these:—

(1.) The Sunday has indeed three Nocturns; but the first two have six Psalms each, and the third, three Canticles. Each of the Nocturns, moreover, has four lessons instead of three.

(2.) On week-days there are always two Nocturns, with six Psalms each; and a complex system of lessons which it would be foreign to our present purpose to explain.

(3.) There are five Psalms at Lauds, but the framework is different. The first is always the 51st; the last is always the 148th, 149th, 150th. The second and third are always varying Psalms, and the fourth a varying Canticle.

(4.) The difference of the Little Hours will be best seen at more detail presently.

(5.) Vespers have four Psalms instead of five.

18. The arrangement of the Psalms is as follows:—

The recitation of the Psalter commences at Prime on Monday, and is continued through the week-day Primes in this manner:—

Monday.              Psalm 1, 2, 6. Psalm 3 is omitted for a reason to be presently mentioned; 4 as said at Compline; 5, because given to Lauds on Monday.

Tuesday.              Psalm 7, 8, 9. Psalm 9 and 10 are, of course, in the Vulgate, one Psalm: it is here divided, half belonging to Tuesday, half to Wednesday.

Wednesday.              Psalm 10, 11, 12.

Thursday.              Psalm 13, 14, 15.

Friday.              Psalm 16, 17, 18 (to ver. 20.)

Saturday.              Psalm 18 (ver. 20 to end,) 19, 20.

The course is now taken up by Matins. These commence with the 3rd Psalm, (a monastic peculiarity,) and the 95th; and then continue the series, thus:—

Sunday.              First Nocturn. Psalm 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26.

Sunday.              Second Nocturn. Psalm 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32.

Sunday.              Third Nocturn. Three Canticles: (1.) Isaiah 33:2–12; (2.) Isaiah 33:13–19; (3.) Ecclesiasticus 36:14–20.

Sunday.              Lauds. Psalm 67, 51, 118 (or 93, 100,) 63, Benedicite: 148, 149, 150, as one.

Monday.              First Nocturn. Psalm 33, 34, 35, 37 in two divisions, 38: (36 is omitted, because said at Lauds.)

Monday.              Second Nocturn. Psalm 39, 40, 41, 42, 44, 45: (43 is omitted, as said at Lauds on Tuesday.)

Monday.              Lauds. The variable Psalms are: 5, 36, Song of Isaiah (Isa. 12)

Tuesday.              First Nocturn. Psalm 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 52: (51 is omitted, as occurring elsewhere so frequently.)

Tuesday.              Second Nocturn. Psalm 53, 54, 55, 56, 58, 59: (57 is omitted, as given to Lauds.)

Tuesday.              Lauds. The variable Psalms: 43, 57, Song of Hezekiah.

Wednesday.              First Nocturn. Psalm 60, 61, 62, 66, 68 (in two parts: (63 and 67 are omitted, as having been said on Sunday.)

Wednesday.              Second Nocturn, Psalm 69 (in two parts,) 70, 71, 72, 73.

Wednesday.              Lauds. The variable Psalms: 64, 65, Song of Hannah.

Thursday.              First Nocturn. Psalm 74, 75, 77, 78 (in two parts,) 79: (76 is omitted, because said at Lauds on Friday.)

Thursday.              Second Nocturn. Psalm 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85.

Thursday.              Lauds. The variable Psalms: 88, 90, Song of Exodus.

Friday.              First Nocturn. Psalm 86, 87, 89 (in two divisions,) 93, 94: (88 is omitted, as said at Lauds yesterday.)

Friday.              Second Nocturn. Psalm 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101.

Friday.              Lauds. The variable Psalms: 76, 92, Song of Habakkuk.

Saturday.              First Nocturn. Psalm 102, 103, 104 (in two divisions,) 105 (in two divisions.)

Saturday.              Second Nocturn. Psalm 106 (in two divisions,) 107 (in two divisions,) 108, 109.

Saturday.              Lauds. The variable Psalms: 143, and the Song of Moses (in two divisions.)

Vespers continue the Psalter to the end.

19. The Gregorian Psalter, then, was said by the secular Priests of the Latin Church, till the Council of Trent: that is, nominally. But, in point of fact, the principle on which it was framed—that of a weekly recitation of the Psalms—was almost forgotten. As we have seen, the festival Psalms were only nine in number; whereas those for ferial use were twelve. And not only so: it so happened that the festival Psalms were, comparatively speaking, short; whereas the others of course were, in the nature of things, of average length. Hence the natural disposition of avoiding trouble would lead to the substitution, wherever it were possible, of the former for the latter. Thus, by degrees, the greater number of week-days were robbed of their own Psalms; the Office of the Saint supplanted the Ferial rite, and not half the Psalter was recited in the course of the week. The Council of Trent, to remedy this evil, recommended the retrenchment of Festival Offices, so that a far larger proportion of week-days should have their own Psalms. But this wise provision was, in point of fact, again swept away by Clement X.; who, by the example that he set of making almost every new festival a double, opened the door to the re-entrance of the old abuse. It is on this account that the Ultramontane Guéranger calls him the author of a true liturgical revolution. But not content with this, the Roman authorities contrived an ingenious expedient for getting rid of the longest Psalms, which would sometimes occur in spite of the multitude of festivals. The heaviest Matins, as the idleness of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries called them, are those of Thursday and Saturday: the former, because it contains the immensely long 78th Psalm; the latter as embracing not only the 102nd to the 107th Psalm, all of them long, but also (at Lauds) the Song of Moses, forty-four verses, for the most part of considerable length. Hence the introduction of offices of so-called devotion for those two nights: that of the Blessed Sacrament for Thursday; that of S. Mary for Saturday. By this contrivance, the former, instead of having 421 verses, has only 197; the latter, instead of 452, only 208. It is manifest that if any day of the week could claim the prerogative of an office of devotion, it would be Friday; but the Friday Psalms happened to be by no means long, and that day has therefore been left without any distinctive honour. Again: as doubles take precedence of ordinary Sundays, the eighteen Psalms of the latter have generally been replaced by the nine of the former; and even on those Sundays which are of the first or second class, dispensations have not unfrequently been allowed, to skip the alternate Psalms. Thus, in point of fact, according to the practice of the modern Roman Church, a Priest is in the habit of reciting about fifty Psalms, and not more; these fifty being on the whole the shortest of the Psalter.

20. It was to remedy this abuse, and at the same time to equalise the daily portion of the Psalms, that Cardinal Quignon undertook his revision of the Breviary. Root and branch he did abolish it; but in reforming much that needed reformation, he lopped away much that was beautiful. His Ferial Psalms were never supplanted by those of any festival. If Christmas-day fell on Friday, its Psalms were the same with those of Good Friday. Maundy Thursday and Ascension day were so far undistinguished from each other.

21. The first edition of Quignon differs in some respects from the second. Both on account of their extreme rarity, their importance as the source of our own Prayer Book, and their intrinsic value, deserve a particular notice here. The first was printed at Rome in 1535 or 1536.1 The editions which I use are the reprint, even more rare and curious, of Paris, by Jehan Le Petit, 1536, and of Antwerp, by the widow of John Stelsius, 1566. The Psalms are thus arranged by Quignon: the difference, it will be observed, between this and any previous order is extremely great.


Matins. Psalm 95, with the Invitatory: the latter said once at the beginning, and once at the end; but not in the middle. Ps. 1 (9, 10,) 18.

Lauds. Te Deum, Ps. 66, 96, Benedicite.

Prime. Ps. 54; two portions of the 119th Ps.2

Tierce. Three portions of the 119th Ps.

Sexts. Ditto.

Nones. Ditto.

Vespers. Ps. 110, 111, (114, 115.)

Compline. Ps. 4, 31:1–5, 91.


M. Ps. 31, 35, 105.

L. Ps. 98, 104; Isa. 12.

P. Ps. 23, 24, 25.

T. Ps. 14, 19, 20.

S. Ps. 39, 62, 116:1–9.

N. Ps. 80, 99, 126.

V. Ps. 77, 116:9 to end, 143.

C. Ps. 7, 15, 125.

P. Ps. 8, 27, 28.

T. Ps. 92, 93, 108.

S. Ps. 50, 75, 123.

N. Ps. 36, 83, 101.

V. Ps. 132, 137, 146.

C. Ps. 46, 47, 48.


M. Ps. 37, 44, 109.

L. Ps. 95 (according to the Gallican version,) 145, Song of Hezekiah.

P. Ps. 5, 17, 26.

T. Ps. 21, 29, 32.

S. Ps. 53, 72, 121.

N. Ps. 90, 97, 127.

V. Ps. 34, 41, 113.

C. Ps. 11, 16, 30.


M. Ps. 49, 59, 78.

L. Ps. 81, 135, Song of Hannah.

P. Ps. 6, 118, 131.

T. Ps. 43, 45, 60.

S. Ps. 42, 65, 122.

N. Ps. 82, 87, 94.

V. Ps. 33, 84, 112.

C. Ps. 40, 120, 134.


M. Ps. 68, 73, 89.

L. Ps. 100, 103, Song of Exodus.

N. Ps. 61, 70, 74.

V. Ps. 138, 139, 142.

C. Ps. 13, 86, 141.


M. Ps. 22, 69, 71.

L. Ps. 149, 150, Song of Habakkuk.

P. Ps. 2, 12, 51.

T. Ps. 3, 38, 56.

S. Ps. 57, 64, 140.


M. Ps. 55, 106, 107.

L. Ps. 117, 150, Song of Moses.

P. Ps. 63, 67, 136.

T. Ps. 52, 58, 88.

S. Ps. 76, 79, 124.

N. Ps. 102, 128, 133.

V. Ps. 144, 147.

C. Ps. 85, 129, 130.

22. It is to be noticed that, in this arrangement of the Psalter, the numerical order is entirely given up: that Quignon appears to have selected the Psalms for Wednesday and Friday with some reference to the Betrayal and Crucifixion, but to have allotted those for the other days without any definite principle, only taking care that the Psalms for Matins should be the longest. In the two first editions there were no Antiphons whatever; in the third there is an unchangeable Antiphon for each of the lesser hours; while the principal Feasts have also one for Matins and Vespers: the latter on Feriæ and ordinary Sundays are not provided with any. To use the author’s own words: “It must be understood that, when we say, To-day the Office is of such a Festival, it is the same thing as if we said that at Matins the Invitatory, Hymn, Antiphon, and Third Lesson,—at Lauds, the Antiphon and Collect (which also is said at all hours except Prime and Compline,)—at Vespers, the Hymn and Antiphon,—are said of that Feast; and in the change of these alone consists the diversity of the Office.”

Whatever corruptions were swept away by Quignon,—however the Scripture lections resumed their suitable prominence, and the weekly recitation of the Psalter was carried out,—yet the intolerable monotony of such an Office, which made no difference in the Psalms between Easter, Christmas, and Good Friday, can scarcely be imagined; and our own Reformers, however unpoetical were their minds, found it necessary to deviate from their prototype in this respect. It might be partly in consequence of this Breviary having been the origin of the English Prayer Book, that it was rigidly suppressed by Pope Pius V.

23. The reformers of the Parisian Breviary struck out, it seems to me, the happy mean between the two extremes. I do not say but that it had been better to preserve the venerable use of twelve hundred years, and to say daily the same Psalms which S. Leo and S. Gregory had on that day themselves said; but experience had shown that love and devotion had waxed cold; that the Clergy would not recite the longer portions of the Psalter; that means would be devised for the omission of the “heaviest” Matins; and that, if the Ferial recitation of the whole Psalter was to be insisted on, the whole Psalter must be rearranged. The first thing to be done was to substitute, like Quignon, the varying, for the till then fixed, Psalms of the Little Hours and of Lauds. This relieved the Clergy, at a stroke, of more than half the burden. The next thing was to divide the longer Psalms into two or more portions, each treated and counted as a separate Psalm. Next, except on the very highest Festivals, the Ferial Psalms were recited; and the result of the whole was, that, with a very much abbreviated Office, the whole Psalter was regularly said weekly.

24. Another important alteration was the abandonment of the principle of recitation according to numerical order. The Psalms were distributed or an entirely new principle; each day being appointed to some special subject, round which the Psalms of that day were, so to speak, grouped. Thus Sunday was consecrated to GOD’S praise, and connected with His gift of Holy Scripture; Monday to the benefits, spiritual and temporal, He bestows on man; Tuesday, to love; Wednesday, to hope; Thursday, to faith; Friday, to the remembrance of our LORD’S Passion; Saturday, to general thanksgiving.

25. From the Parisian Breviary a host of imitations sprang up. In the beginning of the eighteenth century, every Bishop of more than ordinary talents or learning seemed to consider it necessary to signalise his accession to his see by the promulgation of a new Breviary; till at length there were almost as many Office-books as dioceses. It is for the retention of these symbols and badges of a national Church that Gallicanism is now striving against the overbearing, oversweeping Ultramontanism of the present day. When the Parisian Breviary fell, the death-blow was in that, I fear, given to all.

26. Conspicuous among the countless families of French Office-books are three: those of Paris, Rouen, and Amiens, which far surpassed the rest in the beauty of their Antiphons, the happy arrangement of their Psalms, and above all, the loveliness of their Responses. I have studied these three with considerable care; and, in my opinion, the Rouen, as edited by the Archbishop De Lavergne de Tressan, excels all. But as the Parisian has obtained so far the wider circulation, and is regarded as possessing the most authority, it is this that I will give now, as the keystone to a synopsis of the three:—









1 Noct. Ps. 1, 2, 3.

2 Noct. 18 (in 3 div.)

3 Noct. 28, 30, 66.

              The same as Paris.

              M. The same as Paris.


Lauds. 63, 70, 100, Benedicite, 148.


              L. 63, 93, 100, Benedicite, 150.


Prime. 118, 119:1–32.


              P. The same as Paris.


Tierce. 119:33–80.


              T. The same as Paris.


Sexts. 119:81–128.


              S. The same as Paris.


Nones. 119:129 to the end.


              N. The same as Paris.


Vespers. 110, 111, 112, 113 (114, 115.)


              V. The same as Paris.


Compline. 4, 91, 134.


              C. The same as Paris.



M. 104 (in 3 div.) 105 (in 3 div.), 106 (in 3 div.)

L. 92, 136 (in 2 div.,) the Song of Exodus, (or on Festivals, Ecclus. 39:14–20,) 135.

P. 9, 77 (in 2 div.)

T. 25 (in 2 div.,) 96.

S. 47, 98, 99.

N. 53, 73 (in 2 div.)

V. 116:1–9, 121, 124, 126, 137.

C. 6, 7 (in 2 div.)



1 Noct. 104 (in 3 div.)

2 Noct. 105 (in 3 div.)

3 Noct. 106 (in 3 div.)

L. 92, 136 (in 2 div.,) Song of Exodus, (or on Festivals, 1 Chron. 29:10–19,) 135.

P. 5, 25 (in 2 div.)

T. 20, 43, 96.

S. 21, 27 (in 2 div.)

N. 53, 73 (in 2 div.)

V. 116 (i.e., in the Vulgate, 114, 115,) 120, 121, 122.

C. 6, 7 (in 2 div.)



1 Noct. 8, 33 (in 2 div.)

2 Noct. 102 (in 3 div.)

3 Noct. 104 (in 3 div.)

L. 19, 136 (in 2 div.,) Song of Hannah, 148.

P. 82, 90 (in 2 div.)

T. 74 (in 2 div.,) 96.

S. 92 (in 2 div.,) 97.

N. 103 (in 3 div.)

V. 138, 139 (in 2 div.,) 144 (in 2 div.)

C. 6, 7 (in 2 div.)



M. 15, 19 (in 2 div.,) 72 (in 2 div.,) 101, 107 (in 3 div.)

L. 24, 85, 97, Song of Hezekiah, (or on Festivals, Ecclus. 36:1–13,) 150.

P. 35 (in 3 div.)

T. 26, 50 (in 2 div.)

S. 37 (in 3 div.)

N. 109 (in 3 div.)

V. 120, 122, 133, 141, 142.

C. 13, 32, 79.



1 Noct. 9, 19 (in 2 div.)

2 Noct. 76, 77 (in 2 div.)

3 Noct. 107 (in 3 div.)

L. 36, 47, 65, Song of Hannah, (or on Festivals, Tobit 13:1–8,) 150.

P. (9, 10) (in 3 div.)

T. 29, 85, 149.

S. 37 (in 3 div.)

N. 58, 94 (in 2 div.)

V. 123, 124, 125, 126, 127.

C. 11, 12, 13.



1 Noct. 62, 80 (in 2 div.)

2 Noct. 105 (in 3 div.)

3 Noct. 106 (in 3 div.)

L. 107 (in 3 div.,) Song of Moses, 135.

P. (9, 10) (in 3 div.)

T. 20, 23, 54.

S. 57, 94 (in 2 div.)

N. 44 (in 3 div.)

V. 120, 121, 124, 125, 127.

C. 11, 12, 13.



M. (9, 10) (in 3 div.) 78 (in 6 div.)

L. 5, 36, 65, Song of Isaiah, ch. 12, (or on Festivals, Tobit 13:1–8,) 147:1–11.

P. 31 (in 3 div.)

T. 42 (in 2 div.,) 43.

S. 21, 103 (in 2 div.)

N. 82, 94 (in 2 div.)

V. 123, 125, 127, 130, 131.

C. 11, 14, 16.



1 Noct. 24, 33 (in 2 div.)

2 Noct. 68 (in 3 div.)

3 Noct. 97, 98, 99.

L. 44 (in 3 div.,) Song of Judith, (16:2, 3, 13–16; or on Festivals, Ecclus. 39:19–25,) 147:1–13.

P. 102 (in 3 div.)

T. 50 (in 2 div.,) 54.

S. 101, 103 (in 2 div.)

N. 109 (in 3 div.)

V. 128, 129, 130, 131, 133.

C. 14, 15, 16.



1 Noct. 37 (in 3 div.)

2 Noct. 78 (in 6 div.)

3 Noct. 78 (in 6 div.)

L. 68 (in 3 div.,) Baruch 4:1–5; 147:12 to end.

P. 5, 34 (in 2 div.)

T. 29, 50 (in 2 div.)

S. 49 (in 2 div.,) 53.

N. 73 (in 2 div.,) 74.

V. 128, 131, 145 (in 2 div.)

C. 14, 15, 16.



M. 20, 33 (in 2 div.,) 68 (in 3 div.,) 89 (in 3 div.)

L. 81, 108 (in 2 div.,) Song of Hannah, (or on Festivals, 1 Chron. 29:10–13,) 147:12–20.

P. 67, 90 (in 2 div.)

T. 27 (in 2 div.,) 84.

S. 23, 34 (in 2 div.)

N. 80 (in 2 div.,) 93.

V. 116:10–19, 138, 145 (in 3 div.)

C. 12, 39 (in 2 div.)



1 Noct. 78:1–39 (in 3 div.)

2 Noct. 78:40 to end (in 3 div.)

3 Noct. 89 (in 3 div.)

L. 81, 108 (in 2 div.,) Song of Isaiah, (or on Festivals, Isa. 26:1–12,) 147:12 to end.

P. 67, 90 (in 2 div.)

T. 42 (in 2 div.,) 84.

S. 23, 34 (in 2 div.)

N. 79, 80 (in 2 div.)

V. 132 (in 2 div.,) 137, 138, 142.

C. 32, 39 (in 2 div.)



1 Noct. 45 (in 2 div.,) 46.

2 Noct. 65, 77 (in 2 div.)

3 Noct. 85, 143 (in 2 div.)

L. 21, 72, 98, Song of Isaiah, 147:1–12.

P. 25 (in 2 div.,) 61.

T. 42 (in 2 div.,) 43.

S. 81 (in 2 div.,) 84.

N. 89 (in 3 div.)

V. 116, 10–19, 123, 126, 132 (in 2 div.)

C. 32, 39 (in 2 div.)



M. 52, 55 (in 2 div.,) 59 (in 2 div.,) 61, 69 (in 3 div.)

L. 54, 71 (in 2 div.,) Song of Habakkuk, (or on Festivals, Isa. 26:1–13,) 146.

P. 44 (in 3 div.)

T. 40 (in 2 div.,) 58.

S. 102 (in 3 div.)

N. 22 (in 3 div.)

V. 129, 139 (in 2 div.,) 140 (in 2 div.)

C. 38 (in 2 div.,) 56.



1 Noct. 52, 55 (in 2 div.)

2 Noct. 59 (in 2 div.,) 61.

3 Noct. 69 (in 3 div.)

L. 70, 71 (in 2 div.,) Song of Habakkuk, (or on Festivals, Wisd. 10:17–21,) 146.

P. 35 (in 3 div.)

T. 26, 40 (in 2 div.)

S. 22 (in 3 div.)

N. 31 (in 3 div.)

V. 139 (in 2 div.,) 140 (in 2 div.)

C. 38 (in 2 div.,) 56.



1 Noct. 52, 55 (in 2 div.)

2 Noct. 59 (in 2 div.,) 64.

3 Noct. 69 (in 3 div.)

L. 70, 71 (in 2 div.,) Song of Habakkuk.

P. 35 (in 3 div.)

T. 26, 40 (in 2 div.)

S. 22 (in 3 div.)

N. 31 (in 3 div.)

V. 129, 130, 140 (in 2 div.,) 142.

C. 38 (in 2 div.,) 55.



M. 41, 49 (in 2 div.,) 62, 64, 75, 76, 83 (in 2 div.)

L. 17 (in 2 div.,) 57, Song of Moses, (or on Festivals, Song of Judith,) 117.

P. 88, 143 (in 2 div.)

T. 29, 45, 149.

S. 46, 48, 87.

N. 60, 74 (in 2 div.)

V. 128, 132 (in 2 div.,) 144 (in 2 div.)

C. 51, 86 (in 2 div.)1



1 Noct. 41, 49 (in 2 div.)

2 Noct. 62, 64, 75.

3 Noct. 82, 83 (in 2 div.)

L. 17 (in 2 div.,) 57, Song of Moses, (or on Festivals, Song of Jonah,) 117.

P. 88, 143 (in 2 div.)

T. 45, 72 (in 2 div.)

S. 46, 48, 87.

N. 60, 74 (in 2 div.)

V. 144 (in 2 div.,) 145 (in 3 div.)

C. 51, 86 (in 2 div.)



1 Noct. 17 (in 2 div.,) 24.

2 Noct. 27 (in 2 div.,) 36.

3 Noct. 47, 48, 87.

L. 58, 67, 76, Song of Moses, 117.

P. 41, 99, 108.

T. 88 (in 2 div.) 150.

S. 101, 109, (in 2 div.)

N. 60, 79, 83.

V. 115, 122, 133, 137, 141.

C. 51, 86 (in 2 div.)


27. The Ambrosian Rite, still in use in the province of Milan, and deriving its ground-work from the great Father who is the glory of that Church, but its details in a considerable degree from S. Simplicianus, Archbishop of that See, is, as will be at once seen, entirely and perfectly different from the Roman Use. Into its other peculiarities I have not now to enter: its Psalter is, in some respects, the most singular in existence. In the first place we must observe that the Psalms said at Matins, i.e. as in the Roman Rite, 1 to 109 inclusive, are divided into ten Decuriæ. These Decuriæ are as follows:

The first contains

The second contains

The third contains

The fourth contains

The fifth contains

The sixth contains

The seventh contains

The eighth contains

The ninth contains

The tenth contains

              Psalm              1

Psalm              17

Psalm              32

Psalm              41

Psalm              51

Psalm              61

Psalm              71

Psalm              81

Psalm              91

Psalm              101











              Psalm 16

Psalm 31

Psalm 40

Psalm 50

Psalm 60

Psalm 70

Psalm 80

Psalm 90

Psalm 100

Psalm 108












2nd. That the Psalms are not recited every week, but every fortnight.

3rd. That Saturday and Sunday have a Matins entirely different from, and not reckoned in the same order with, the Matins of other days.

28. We shall now be in a condition to understand the general arrangement. Every Matins begins with the LORD’S Prayer, the usual Versicles, a Hymn, and part of the Song of the Three Children. (In our Version, verse 29–34.) This Psalm concludes every verse on Festivals with “Laudable and glorious for ever:” on ordinary days with “And laudable” only. There is no Invitatory Psalm.

Matins, (after this commencement,) has on Sunday three Nocturns:

1st Nocturn.              The Song of Isaiah (26:9–20) only.

2nd Nocturn.              The Song of Hannah only.

3rd Nocturn.              The Song of Habakkuk only.

On Monday of the first week, the first Decuria, in three Nocturns, containing eight, four, and four Psalms respectively.

Tuesday of the first week, the second Decuria in the same way: and so on, with the following days of the week.

Monday of the second week, the sixth Decuria, &c.: so that the tenth Decuria is said on the Friday of the second week.

On Saturday of the first week, the first Nocturn has the Song of Exodus only: the second Nocturn, Psalm 119:1–48; the third Nocturn, 49–88.

Saturday of the second week contains in its first Nocturn, the Song of Exodus, as before: in the second, Psalm 119:39–128: in the third Nocturn, 129 to end. This resemblance of the Saturday to the Sunday Office is very curious, and shows how the Milanese ritual was borrowed from, and approximates to, the Eastern. The Decuriæ of the Ambrosian recall the Cathismata of the Eastern rite. Every one will remember how S. Monica, spending her time between Milan and Rome, was puzzled by the different observances of the Saturdays and Sundays; in the former, as a Festival, inferior only to Sunday; in the latter, as a day of abstinence, yielding only to Friday.

29. The disposition of the Lauds is most singular. On ordinary week-days the Psalms are: first, Benedictus; then Psalm 51; then Psalms 148, 149, 150, and 117; then a varying Psalm called the Psalmus directus, because sung right through by the choir, and not antiphonally; then (a most peculiar use) a Psalm called the four-versed Psalm, because only the first four verses are said: this also varies every day. As this Office is very curious and very short, I will give an example of it, and will take the Thursday of the first week:

O GOD, make speed, &c.;

Antiphon. From the hands of all.


Antiphon. From the hands of all that hate us, deliver us, O LORD. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr. (The Ambrosian abbreviation of the Kyrie Eleison; sometimes written also K. K. K.)

Secret Prayer. Have mercy upon us, Almighty GOD, according to the mercy of Thy loving-kindness, that the deep calamity of our sins may be remedied by the assistance of Thy deep mercy: [aloud] through our LORD JESUS CHRIST, Who liveth and reigneth

. Together with the HOLY GHOST, for ever and ever.

. Amen.

. The LORD be with you;

. And with thy spirit.

Antiphon. Turn Thy face.

Psalm 51.

Antiphon. Turn Thy face, O LORD, from my sins. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr.

. The LORD be with you;

. And with thy spirit.

Collect 1. GOD, Which scatterest the darkness of ignorance with the light of Thy Word, increase in the hearts of Thy servants the virtue of that faith which Thou didst give them: that the fire which was kindled by Thy grace, may not be extinguished by any temptations. Through.

. The LORD be with you;

. And with thy spirit.

Antiphon. O ye mountains and hills.

Psalms 148, 149, 150, 117.

Chapter. Praise the LORD, ye servants, O praise the Name of the LORD. (This Chapter is always taken from some Psalm or Canticle.)

Antiphon. O ye mountains and hills, bless ye the Name of the LORD. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr.

. The LORD be with you;

. And with thy spirit.

Psalmus Directus. 113.

Hymn. “Thou Brightness of the FATHER’S ray.

(This Hymn is said on every ordinary Sunday and weekday of the year.)

Kyr. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr.

. The LORD be with you;

. And with thy spirit.

Response in the Baptistery. Let the Name of the LORD be * blessed for evermore.

. Praise the LORD, ye servants, O praise the Name of the LORD, * blessed for evermore.

Collect 2. Vouchsafe, O LORD, to hear those that call upon Thee; that Thou mayest deliver us from the deep of iniquity. Through.

Antiphon. O GOD, Thou art my GOD.

Four-versed Psalm. 63.

Antiphon. O GOD, Thou art my GOD, early will I seek Thee.

Complenda. I will bless the LORD at all times: * His praise shall ever be in my mouth. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr.

Collect 3. Behold, O GOD, our Defender; and grant us to serve Thee for evermore. Through.

. The LORD be with you;

. And with thy spirit. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr.

. GOD bless and hear us.

. Amen.

. Let us proceed in peace;

. In the Name of CHRIST.

. Let us bless the LORD;

. Thanks be to GOD.


. The Holy Trinity save and bless us evermore. Amen.

30. The Psalmi Directi and four-versed Psalms are as follows:

Psalmus Directus.

Monday of both weeks,

Tuesday of both weeks,

Wednesday of both weeks,

Thursday of both weeks,

Friday of both weeks,

Saturday of both weeks,








The Four-versed Psalms.

Monday of the 1st week,

Tuesday of the 1st week,

Wednesday of the 1st week,

Thursday of the 1st week,

Friday of the 1st week,

Saturday of the 1st week,







              Monday of the 2nd week,

Tuesday of the 2nd week,

Wednesday of the 2nd week,

Thursday of the 2nd week,

Friday of the 2nd week,

Saturday of the 2nd week,








The Sunday Lauds have, instead of the 51st Psalm, the Song of Exodus and of the Three Children: the Saturday Lauds, Psalm 118: the Psalmus Directus on Sunday is 93. The four-versed Psalm varies with the Sunday.

The other Hours are clearly very much borrowed from the Roman Use.

Prime. Psalm 54, 119 ver. 1–32, followed by an Epistoletta. The Creed of S. Athanasius: Psalm 51.

Tierce. Psalm 119, ver. 33–80.

Sexts. Psalm 119, ver. 81–128, 57.

Nones. Psalm 119, ver. 129 to end, 86.

Vespers, so far as the Psalms are concerned, are the same as the Latin use: so is Compline, with the addition of Psalms 117 to 134.

31. This may suffice for the Ambrosian; I now turn to the Mozarabic rite. Into its most complicated system I shall not enter at full length, since to do so would require a volume: a general idea is all that I can attempt to give.

The Mozarabic Hours are nine: Vespers, Compline, Matins, Lauds, Aurora, Prime, Tierce, Sexts, and Nones.

At Vespers, no Psalms are said: their place is, to a certain extent, supplied by the Sonus and the Lauda, each composed from the Psalter. Thus, the Lauda for many martyrs is:

. There is sprung up a light in the darkness for the true of heart.

. The LORD is long-suffering, and merciful, and righteous.

. He hath made straight the path of the just, and hath prepared the way of the saints.

. The LORD is long-suffering, and merciful, and righteous.

The Sonus is:

. The salvation of the righteous cometh of the LORD, and He shall deliver them. Alleluia. Alleluia.

. Because they have hoped in the Living GOD.

. And He shall deliver them. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Matins are very short, and contain no Psalm but the 51st. Lauds commence with a Canticle, have also part of the Song of the Three Children, (ver. 29–34,) and Psalm 17.

Aurora has four varying Psalms. This Office in point of fact is only said in the Mozarabic chapel at Toledo on high Festivals.

The four other Hours are as follows:

Prime. Psalm 67, 145 (in two divisions,) 113, 119, ver. 25–48 (in three divisions.)1

Tierce. Psalm 95, 119, ver. 49–72 (in three divisions.)

Sexts. Psalm 54, 119, ver. 73–96 (in three divisions.)

Nones. Psalm 146, 122, 123, 124.

The excessive beauty of Compline demands a longer notice. After a part of the 4th and the 134th Psalms, there follows this short Canticle:

Blessed art Thou, LORD GOD of our fathers: laudable and glorious for ever.

Vouchsafe, O LORD, this night: to keep us without tribulation and sins.

O LORD, have mercy upon us: have mercy upon us.

Because Thou art my help: into Thy hands I commend my spirit.

Thou hast redeemed me, O LORD: Thou GOD of truth.

Then the Hymn, Sol Angelorum respice, and Psalm 91.

After which follows this Canticle, which strikes me as singularly lovely:

His truth shall be thy shield: thou shalt not be afraid of any terror by night.

If I climb up into my bed: remember me, O LORD.

If I give sleep to my eyes, or slumber to my eyelids, or suffer the temples of my head to take any rest: remember me, O LORD.

Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty GOD of Jacob: remember me, O LORD.

Glory and honour to the FATHER, and to the SON, and to the HOLY GHOST, for ever and ever, Amen: remember me, O LORD.

If I climb up into my bed: remember me, O LORD.

I beseech Thee, O LORD, Source of Light, leave me not, but: remember me, O LORD.

Then follow the Hymn Cultor Dei memento and the usual Collects and prayers.

32. We now turn to the arrangement of the Psalter which has been adopted by the Church at Constantinople. It is divided into twenty sections or cathismata as follows:

              I.              contains

              Psalm 1


              Psalm 8



              II.              contains

              Psalm 9


              Psalm 17



              III.              contains

              Psalm 18


              Psalm 24



              IV.              contains

              Psalm 25


              Psalm 32



              VI.              contains

              Psalm 33


              Psalm 37



              VI.              contains

              Psalm 38


              Psalm 46



              VII.              contains

              Psalm 47


              Psalm 55



              VIII.              contains

              Psalm 56


              Psalm 64



              IX.              contains

              Psalm 65


              Psalm 70



              X.              contains

              Psalm 71


              Psalm 77



              XI.              contains

              Psalm 78


              Psalm 85



              XII.              contains

              Psalm 86


              Psalm 91



              XIII.              contains

              Psalm 92


              Psalm 101



              XIV.              contains

              Psalm 102


              Psalm 105



              XV.              contains

              Psalm 106


              Psalm 109



              XVI.              contains

              Psalm 110


              Psalm 118



              XVII.              contains

              Psalm 119





              XVIII.              contains

              Psalm 120


              Psalm 132



              XIX.              contains

              Psalm 133


              Psalm 143



              XX.              contains

              Psalm 144


              Psalm 150



Each of these cathismata is divided into three “staseis;” and at the end of the latter only—not of each Psalm, as in the Western Church—the Gloria is said. The word “cathismata,” in this sense, must not be confounded with the “troparia” so-called.

33. The general arrangement for the lection of the Psalms is as follows: In the weeks of the Apocreos and Tyrophagns (Sexagesima and Quinquagesima,) two cathismata at Matins, one at Vespers; so that the Psalter is said through once a week. In the six weeks of the Great Fast the quantity is doubled, the Psalter being repeated twice in each week. In Holy Week it is said once, but finishes on the Wednesday. From Maundy Thursday till the Eve of the Anti-Pascha (Low Sunday,) it is not said at all. At the first Vespers of Low Sunday it begins again, and, till the 20th of September, two cathismata are said at Matins and one at Vespers. From the 20th of September till the Vigil of the Nativity, three cathismata in Matins: one, namely the 18th, at Vespers, together with the 133rd and 136th Psalms. Thence, to the Octave of the Epiphany, two at Matins, one at Vespers. Thence, till the Saturday before the Apocreos, one at Matins, one at Lauds, and two at Vespers.

The arrangement, however, of the Hours is as follows: Matins. Psalm 51, 119 (this is said in a first “stasis” from verse 1 to 72; a second from 73 to 93; a middle stasis from 94 to 131; and a third stasis from 132 to the end:) Psalm 121, 134. Lauds. 3, 38, 63, 88, 103, 143.

Prime. Psalm 5, 90, 101.

Mesorion of the First Hour. Psalm 46, 92, 93.

Tierce. Psalm 17, 25.

Mesorion of the Third Hour. Psalm 30, 32, 61.

Sexts. Psalm 54, 55, 91.

Mesorion of the Sixth Hour. Psalm 56, 57, 70.

Nones. Psalm 84, 85, 86.

Mesorion of the Ninth Hour. Psalm 113, 138, 140.

Vespers. Psalm 104, 141, 142, 130, 117.

Great Compline. Psalm 4, 6, 13, 25, 31, 91, 51, 102, 70, 143.

Little Compline. Psalm 51, 70, 143.

Matins on Saturday. Psalm 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70.

The above table will give the reader a general idea of the arrangement adopted by the Eastern Church. Just as the Magnificat is the Canticle round which Latin Vespers arrange themselves, so the 141st Psalm occupies the same place in the East and the Stichoi, &c., ordered to be said εἰς τὸ Κύριεἐκέκραξα answer to the varying Antiphons to the Magnificat.

34. We now turn to an entirely different branch of our subject. Hitherto I have spoken of the constant and frequent repetition of the Psalms in Ecclesiastical offices. The same Psalm was said at Christmas, said at Easter, said in Lent, said at Whitsuntide said on the Festivals of Martyrs, said in the Office for the Dead: it could not, at all these seasons, be recited with the same feelings, in the same frame of mind. Its different emphases required to be brought out; the same sun-ray from the HOLY GHOST rested indeed, at all times on the same words, but the prism of the Church separated that colourless light into its component rays: into the violet of penitence, the crimson of martyrdom, the gold of the highest seasons of Christian gladness. Hence arose the wonderful system of Antiphons, which, out of twenty different significations, definitely for the time being fixed one: which struck the right key-note, and enabled the worshipper to sing with the spirit and to sing with the understanding also. Ancient as is the alternate chanting of Psalms in the Church, it may be doubted whether that of antiphons is not of even more venerable antiquity; and the relation of Socrates about the vision of S. Ignatius, and his introduction into the service of the Church on earth, of that which he had heard in the Church in heaven, more probably refers to this system than to that of responsory chanting. An Antiphon, then, in the original sense of the word, was the intercalation of some fragment or verse between the verses of the Psalm which was then being sung: one choir taking the Psalm, the other, the intercalated portion. Into this subject I propose to enter at some length, since it has not, to the best of my knowledge, as yet received any notice from English scholars.

35. Take an example of the primitive Antiphon in its plainest and most unadulterated shape, from the Mozarabic Office at Prime.

First Choir. The LORD said unto Me: Thou art My SON, this day have I begotten Thee.

Second Choir. The LORD said unto Me: Thou art My SON, this day have I begotten Thee.

First Choir. Why do the heathen so furiously rage together: and why do the people imagine a vain thing?

Second Choir. The LORD said unto Me: Thou art My SON, this day have I begotten Thee.

First Choir. The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together: against the LORD, and against His Anointed.

Second Choir. The LORD said unto Me: Thou art My SON, this day have I begotten Thee.

36. Or take another example, from the Lauds of Septuagesima Sunday, as said in the Ambrosian Office:—

. In Thy hand, O LORD, lie all things, and there is none that can resist Thy will. For Thou hast made everything; heaven and earth, and that which is under the heaven: Thou art the LORD of all things.

Antiphon. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr.

. In Thy hand, &c.

Antiphon. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr.

. In Thy hand, &c.

Antiphon. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr.

. In Thy hand, &c.

Antiphon. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr.

. In Thy hand, &c.

. Glory.

. In Thy hand, &c.

. As it was.

. In Thy hand, &c.

. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr.

37. We know that this intercalation was in use among the Arians, who inserted the clause, “And now, where are they that worship the Trinity in Unity?” between the verses of their Psalms. And nothing is commoner in the Greek ritual than to find the Antiphon thus said at the present day. For example, on Christmas Day we have the following:

Antiphon. In secresy wast Thou brought forth in the earth; but the sky, O SAVIOUR, heralded Thee, as a mouth to all, employing the star. And the wise men, adoring Thee in faith, brought gifts to Thee: with whom have mercy upon us.1

Her foundations are upon the holy hills: the LORD loveth the gates of Sion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

Antiphon. In secresy wast Thou brought forth, &c.

Very excellent things are spoken of thee: thou city of GOD.

I will think upon Rahab and Babylon: with them that know me.

Antiphon. In secresy wast Thou brought forth, &c.

Behold ye the Philistines also: and they of Tyre, with the Morians; lo, there was he born.

Antiphon. In secresy wast Thou brought forth, &c.

And of Sion it shall be reported that He was born in her: and the most High shall stablish her.

Antiphon. In secresy wast Thou brought forth, &c.

The LORD shall rehearse it when He writeth up the people: that He was born there.

The singers also and trumpeters shall He rehearse: All my fresh springs shall be in Thee.

Antiphon. In secresy wast Thou brought forth, &c.

38. Or again: take the following from the Office for Pentecost. (I should observe that the Antiphon is technically called the Prokeimenon; each verse of the Psalm, Stichos.)

Prokeimenon. Who is so great a GOD as our GOD? Thou art the GOD that doest wonders.

Stichos 1. Hath GOD forgotten to be gracious: and will He shut up His loving-kindness in displeasure?

Prok. Who is so great, &c.

Stichos 2. And I said, It is mine own infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most Highest.

Prok. Who is so great, &c.

Stichos 3. I will remember the works of the LORD: and call to mind Thy wonders of old time.

Prok. Who is so great, &c. And so on.

39. Two more examples shall suffice; both from the same Festival. Three Psalms,1 with their Antiphons, are said here, as in all Liturgies, before the little entrance. They are here the 19th, 20th, and 21st. The 20th Psalm is thus recited:

The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble: the Name of the GOD of Jacob defend thee;

Antiphon. Save us, O Good Paraclete, who chant to Thee, Alleluia.

Send thee help from the sanctuary: and strengthen thee out of Sion;

Antiphon. Save us, O Good Paraclete, who chant to Thee, Alleluia.

Remember all thy offerings: and accept thy burnt-sacrifice;

Antiphon. Save us, O Good Paraclete, who chant to Thee, Alleluia.

Glory be to the FATHER, and to the SON, and to the HOLY GHOST.

Antiphon. Save us, O Good Paraclete, who chant to Thee, Alleluia.

Both now and ever, and to ages of ages.

Antiphon. Save us, O good Paraclete, who chant to Thee, Alleluia.

Psalm 21.

The King shall rejoice in Thy strength, O LORD: exceeding glad shall he be of Thy salvation.

Antiphon. Blessed art Thou, O CHRIST, our GOD.

Thou hast given him his heart’s desire: and hast not denied him the request of his lips.

Antiphon. Blessed art Thou, O CHRIST, our GOD.

For Thou shalt prevent him with the blessings of goodness: and shalt set a crown of pure gold upon his head.

Antiphon. Blessed art Thou, O CHRIST, our GOD.

He asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest him a long life: even for ever and ever.

Antiphon. Blessed art Thou, O CHRIST, our GOD.

Glory be, &c.

Antiphon. Blessed art Thou, O CHRIST, our GOD.

Both now and ever: and to ages of ages.

Antiphon. Blessed art Thou, O CHRIST, our GOD.

40. A variation from this use of the Antiphon, in which the verses of the Psalm are intercalated by a clause different each time,—in fact, to borrow a term from mediæval architecture, when two Psalms or Canticles interpenetrate each other,—frequently occurs. The following is an example from the “Encomia” on the “Great Sabbath.”

Blessed are those that are undefiled in the way: and walk in the law of the LORD.

Thou, O CHRIST, our Life, wast laid in the tomb, and the armies of angels were struck with astonishment, glorifying Thy condescension.

Blessed are they that keep His testimonies: and seek Him with their whole heart.

How dost Thou die, O our Life, and how dost Thou dwell in the tomb: It is that Thou art paying the tribute of death, and raising the dead out of Hades.

For they who do no wickedness: walk in His ways.

We magnify Thee, O JESU, our King, and honour Thy sepulchre and Thy Passion, by which Thou didst save us from destruction.

Thou hast charged: that we shall diligently keep Thy commandments.

Thou that didst establish the foundations of the earth, O JESU, King of all, dwellest to-day in a narrow tomb; Thou That dost raise up the dead from the tomb.

O that my ways were made so direct: that I might keep Thy statutes.

O JESU CHRIST, the King of all, why didst Thou go down to those that were in Hades? was it that Thou mightest free the race of mortals?

Thus the whole 119th Psalm is gone through in three stations: the first choir taking the first and third; the second, the second.

41. Another, and that a very beautiful, example occurs on Easter Eve. I am not aware that so perfect an example of interpenetration is to be found in any Western Office.

In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. Alleluia! Alleluia!

My soul doth magnify the LORD.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the LORD descended from heaven. Alleluia! Alleluia!

And my spirit hath rejoiced in GOD my SAVIOUR.

And came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. Alleluia! Alleluia!

For He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. Alleluia! Alleluia!

For He that is mighty hath magnified me: and holy is His Name.

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. Alleluia! Alleluia!

And His mercy is on them that fear Him: throughout all generations.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek JESUS, Which was crucified. Alleluia! Alleluia!

He hath showed strength with His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the LORD lay. Alleluia! Alleluia!

He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek.

And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee. Alleluia! Alleluia!

He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich He hath sent empty away.

There shall ye see Him; lo, I have told you. Alleluia! Alleluia!

He, remembering His mercy: hath holpen His servant Israel.

Be not affrighted: Ye seek JESUS of Nazareth, which was crucified: He is risen; He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him. Alleluia! Alleluia!

As He promised to our forefathers: Abraham and his seed for ever.

And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Glory be to the FATHER, and to the SON: and to the HOLY GHOST.

And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? Alleluia! Alleluia!

Both now and ever, and to ages of ages.

42. I need scarcely point out to the reader the extraordinary beauty of this intercalation. But this kind of intercalation approximates as nearly to a “Farce” as it does to an Antiphon. A Farce, as is well known, is the insertion in a Gospel, Epistle, or Canticle, such as the Gloria in Excelsis, of intercalated sentences, intended to have the same effect as an Antiphon, and to fix a determinate sense for the time being, on the composition so farced. But the clauses thus inserted became in process of time thoroughly jejune and miserable; sometimes, in fact, utterly absurd. Hence, from the ludicrous character of the intercalation, the word came to be applied to anything ludicrous: whence its present use.

43. But of all the antiphons retained, after the ancient manner, by the Eastern Church, that is by far the most remarkable which forms a part of the Great Apodeipnon; that is, Compline on the highest festivals. It clearly dates from a time when heathenism, though overthrown, was only just overthrown, and when a change of succession in the line of emperors might have involved the renewal of such a persecution as that of Decius or Diocletian. It is said immediately after the 91st Psalm, and in the monotone, except (singularly enough) in Lent. And thus it runs:—

GOD is with us; hear it, O ye nations, and be ye subdued.

For God is with us.

Hear it unto the uttermost bounds of the earth.

For God is with us.

Having been mighty, be ye brought under.

For God is with us.

And if ye, shall again become mighty, again also ye shall be brought under.

For God is with us.

And if ye shall devise any counsel, the LORD shall scatter it.

For God is with us.

And if ye shall speak any word, it shall not remain in you.

For God is with us.

And we will not be afraid of your fear, neither will we be troubled.

For God is with us.

But we will sanctify the LORD our GOD, and He shall be our fear.

For God is with us.

And if I trust in Him, He shall be to me for sanctification.

For God is with us.

And I will trust in Him, and I shall be saved by Him.

For God is with us.

Behold I, and the children whom GOD hath given me.

For God is with us.

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.

For God is with us.

They that dwell in the land and the shadow of death, the light shall shine upon them.

For God is with us.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.

For God is with us.

And the government shall be upon His shoulder.

For God is with us.

And of His peace there shall be no end.

For God is with us.

And His Name shall be called the Angel of the Great Counsel.

For God is with us.

The Wonderful Counsellor.

For God is with us.

The Mighty GOD, the Potentatc, the Prince of Peace.

For God is with us.

The Father of the age to come.

For God is with us.

Glory be to the FATHER, and to the SON, and to the HOLY GHOST.

For God is with us.

Both now and ever, and to ages of ages.

For God is with us.

GOD is with us; know it, O ye nations, and be ye subdued.

For God is with us.

44. It is clear that the repetition of the Antiphon after every verse must have rendered the services nearly twice their actual length. While the Canons of Cathedral and Collegiate Churches lived, as their name implies, by a certain rule, and in common, and while they thus had more time to devote to “the work of GOD,” the old system remained in force. When Amalarius published his invaluable work, De Divinis Officiis, which was about 830, it was still carried out. Yet almost at the same time, we find an anonymous author addressing a work De Benedictione Dei to Batheric, Bishop of Ratisbon (elevated to that see in 814,) and expressing himself thus in the preface: “In my travels through different parts, I have frequently heard the Divine Offices celebrated in a hurried manner, and without anything to gratify the sense of hearing. There are some who go to church merely for the sake of keeping up appearances, and that they may not be considered idle by men, and who negligently perform GOD’S service, without any Antiphons, and with all possible celerity,—active enough though they may be in the business of this world. They know not that the holy doctors and teachers of the Church, full of the HOLY GHOST and of the grace of GOD, instituted that most excellent modulation, the repetition of Antiphons or Responses; to the end that the soul, excited by their sweetness, might be more ardently inflamed in the praises of GOD, and in the desire after the celestial country.” From this time it would seem that the abbreviation of antiphons continued rapidly: for in the tenth century we read, in the life of S. Odo of Cluny, that the monks of that religious house, having a singular devotion to S. Martin, intercalated the Antiphons on that Festival (for the Matins, remarks the writer, are short, and the nights are long,) between every two verses. This clearly shows that by that time the original practice was obsolete.

45. The first change was undoubtedly the repetition of the Antiphon before and after each Psalm only. A still further abbreviation shortly took place. It was now, on ordinary occasions, said only so far as the mediation at the commencement; and repeated entire at the end of the Psalm. Festivals were distinguished by doubling the Antiphon: that is, saying it whole before as well as after. And then came the last step, the binding several Psalms under one Antiphon. The first edition of Quignon’s revised Breviary went further still, and destroyed the Antiphons altogether. The mediation of an Antiphon sometimes elicits a singularly beautiful emphasis. Thus: that in Wednesday Matins for Psalm 55 and 56 is simply the word FOR; that for the 7th Psalm, as recited in the Office for the Dead, LEST; the two being respectively parts of, “For my soul trusteth in Thee,” and “Lest he devour my soul like a lion, and tear it in pieces.” The only Psalm in which the ancient use is at all retained is the 95th, when the Invitatory—which is simply an Antiphon—is repeated, not indeed after every verse, but nine times. The present use was already ancient in the age of Durandus, 1216; for he gives its mystical explanation. The Invitatory is repeated six times at full length, according to him, because six is the first perfect number; and the sixfold repetition, therefore, sets forth the perfection with which we should endeavour to perform the service of GOD. Three is an imperfect number; and therefore the imperfect repetition takes place three times.

46. I now proceed to offer some remarks on the general spirit

(1.) Of the Invitatory.

(2.) Of Antiphons generally.

The Ferial Invitatories of the Gregorian use are simply clauses of the 95th Psalm itself, taken in order. Thus:—

On Monday the Invitatory is, O come * let us sing unto the LORD.

On Tuesday: Let us heartily rejoice * in the strength of our salvation.

On Wednesday: In Thy hands, O LORD * are all the corners of the earth.1

On Thursday: Let us worship the LORD * our Maker.

On Friday: Let us worship the LORD * for He made us.

On Saturday: The LORD our GOD * O come let us worship.2

47. I will give the principal Invitatories during the course of the Ecclesiastical year:—

Advent: The King, the LORD that is to come * O come let us worship.

The Vigil of the Nativity: CHRIST shall come to us: * O come let us worship.

The Nativity: CHRIST is born to us: * O come let us worship.

The Epiphany: “To-day,” says the ancient rubric, “we sing no Invitatory, but begin at once.”

Sunday in the Octave: The LORD is a great GOD, and a great King above all gods.

Third Sunday in Lent: O come let us worship, and fall down before the LORD: let us weep before the LORD our Maker.

Fourth Sunday: People of the LORD, and sheep of His pasture: O come let us worship the LORD.

Passion Sunday: To-day if ye will hear the voice of the LORD: harden not your hearts.

Palm Sunday: They did not know My ways, unto whom I sware in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest.

Easter Day: The LORD hath risen indeed. Alleluia.

In Eastertide: Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Whitsun Day: The most ancient usage is varied. Some have “Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia;” some (which is the modern use,) “Alleluia. The Spirit of the LORD hath filled the world: O come let us worship. Alleluia.” Others: “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing, mighty wind, Alleluia.”

The Common of Apostles: The LORD, the King of Apostles * O come let us worship. And so of other Saints. For virgins there were originally two Invitatories: that for those to whom most honour was paid was, “The Lamb, the Bridegroom of the virgins;” that for those of less celebrity, “The LORD, the King of the virgins,” &c.

48. Having thus considered the Gregorian Invitatories, I will proceed to another form of the same Versicles; that, namely, which they assumed in the great Gallican reformation of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Of these I will take six specimens: the Breviaries of Paris, Rouen, and Amiens, which are, as it were, the heads of their various families; and to these I will add three others of considerable beauty, those of Coutances, Blois, and S. Omer. The interval from the beginning of Lent till Whitsuntide will give us a sufficient idea of their general arrangement. In these, as in every Response and Antiphon, the compilers confine themselves to the exact words of Holy Scripture.

49. The Sundays in Lent. Here the Amiens and Rouen have: “O come let us worship, and fall down * and weep before the LORD our Maker.” The others: “O come let us return unto the LORD * and He will heal us.” In this last, observe the beauty of the reference to the sheep of His hand, taken in connection with that one sheep that went astray in the wilderness, and could not return till the Good Shepherd went to seek it. In the week-days of Lent, while the others merely repeat the Sunday Invitatory, the Amiens very beautifully has it: “The GOD that calleth sinners to repentance * O come let us worship.” In Passiontide, the Amiens and the Rouen have: “The Son of Man, about to be betrayed into the hands of sinners, * O come let us worship.” The others: “CHRIST, Who suffered for us, * O come let us worship.” On Palm Sunday, while the Rouen merely continues the former Invitatory, all the others have: “CHRIST JESUS, Who gave Himself a Redemption for all, * O come let us worship.” On Easter Day the Amiens has: “Alleluia. CHRIST, Who was crucified, hath arisen: * O come let us worship.” All the others: “Alleluia. The LORD is risen indeed: * O come let us worship. Alleluia.” On Ascensiontide, all agree in giving: “Alleluia. JESUS going into heaven, * O come let us worship. Alleluia.” This is rather an amusing example of the determination of the Gallican compilers to keep close to Scripture; “CHRIST ascending into heaven” being, for this reason alone, transformed into “JESUS going into heaven.” In the Octave of the Ascension, the Amiens rite differs, and very nobly, from all the others, by substituting: “JESUS, the Great High Priest, Who for us hath entered into the heavens, * O come let us worship. Alleluia.” On Whitsun Day, all agree in: “Alleluia. The Spirit of the LORD hath filled the world: * O come let us worship. Alleluia;” except the Amiens, which has: “Alleluia. The Spirit of Truth, Which proceedeth from the FATHER, * O come let us worship. Alleluia.”

50. We will now proceed to the Common of Saints. That of Apostles is very differently given. Thus the Amiens and the Blois: “The Master and LORD of Apostles * O come let us worship.” The Coutances, S. Omer, and Paris: “The LORD, the Head of the Church, His Body, * O come let us worship.” The Rouen: “JESUS, the Apostle of our Confession, * O come let us worship.” In the Common of Martyrs, the Amiens: “CHRIST, Who giveth to him that overcometh the hidden manna, * O come let us worship.” The Blois and Rouen: “The GOD of patience and consolation * O come let us worship.” The others: “The LORD, Who crowneth those that strive lawfully, * O come let us worship.” For Bishops, they all agree in: “CHRIST, the Chief Shepherd, * O come let us worship.” For Doctors, all have: “The LORD, the Fountain of wisdom, * O come let us worship;” except the Amiens, which gives it: “The Fountain of wisdom, the Word of GOD, * O come let us worship.” For Abbats and Monks, all have: “GOD, Who is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, * O come let us worship;” except the Rouen, which has: “JESUS, Who was led into the wilderness, * O come let us worship.” For a righteous man, all agree in: “The LORD That loveth the righteous * O come let us worship.” For a virgin, all again are agreed: “The Lamb Whom the virgins follow * O come let us worship.” For a holy woman, S. Peter supplies the Invitatory to all: “The GOD in Whom holy women have trusted * O come let us worship.”

This may serve as an example of the manner in which those Reformers dealt with their Invitatories. I have examined more than eighty different French uses; but to enter into further details would be uselessly to swell an essay already too long.

51. We will now take some examples of the method in which the different meanings of the same Psalm are educed by its different Antiphons. The 1st Psalm is said in the ordinary Sunday service, in the Common of one Martyr, in the Common of many Martyrs, in the Common of a Confessor and Bishop, on Easter Day, and on Whitsun Day. In the first we have this ordinary, every-day duty of a Christian: “Serve the LORD in fear, and rejoice unto Him with reverence;” eliciting no peculiar sense from the Psalm, but leaving it appropriate to the duties of common life. In the Common of a Martyr: “His delight was in the law of the LORD, day and night;” that is, according to the mediæval interpretation, not only in the day of prosperity, but in the night of adversity, even such adversity as the pains of martyrdom; and then immediately, “the way of the ungodly,” “the seat of the scornful,” “the unrighteous who shall not be able to stand in the judgment:” all speak of the unrighteous tribunal at which the martyr stood. Or in a still higher sense, take that Psalm as recited on the day on which I now write—Passion Sunday: how magnificently it then sets forth to us the Man That walked not in the counsel of the ungodly, when “the chief Priests and the Pharisees gathered a council, and from that day forth they took counsel for to put Him to death;” nor stood in the way of sinners, of Caiaphas and his crew; nor sat in the seat of the scornful, of Pilate, who asked, What is truth? and went out without waiting for the answer. The tree planted by the rivers of water is CHRIST Himself on the Cross, Whom every sufferer for the truth is in some sort like; and the fruit in due season sets forth how the blood of the martyrs became the seed of the Church. The Common of many Martyrs gives us the Antiphon, “By the rivers of water he planted the vineyard of the just, and in the law of the LORD was his delight.” Here, with the same general bearing, their sowing in tears, that they might reap in joy, is more prominently brought forth. The Common of Confessor and Bishop directs us to another verse: “Blessed is the man who doth exercise himself in the law of the LORD. His will remaineth day and night, and all things whatsoever he doeth shall prosper,”—thus referring the Psalm to the study and doctrine of the saint whom the Church commemorates. At Easter: “I am That I am: and My counsel is not with the wicked; but in the law of the LORD is My delight. Alleluia.” Here the whole is boldly taken, no longer of the Martyrs and Confessors of the LORD, but of the LORD of the Martyrs and Confessors. He is the Man That is blessed; That exercised Himself in the law of the LORD, when with the threefold answer He overcame the threefold temptation; Whose leaf shall not wither, because the leaves of that tree are for the healing of the nations; and look, whatsoever He doeth—whatsoever, even though it be the laying down His life in shame and agony—shall prosper. On Whitsun Day, in ordinary Breviaries, the Antiphon is: “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind. Alleluia. Alleluia.” But in some German provincial uses (with, to my mind, far greater beauty,) it is “Whatsoever He doeth shall prosper:” thus applying the Psalm no longer either to our LORD or His followers, but to the HOLY GHOST Himself. S. Thomas’s Antiphon for Corpus Christi is, “The LORD gave His salutary fruit to be tasted in the time of His death:” thus riveting the sequence of thought to the institution of the new Sacrament.

52. The 51st Psalm, again, is one that requires, more than any other, the emphasis of an Antiphon. Remember that, according to Gregorian use, retained in the Sarum, though dropped in the Roman Breviary, it was said in an ordinary week forty-two times. In the ordinary ferial service at Lauds, the Antiphons run on in sequence, according to the favourite practice of the Church:—

Monday. Miserere mei Deus. (Ver. 1.)

Tuesday. Dele iniquitatem meam. (Ver. 1.)

Wednesday. Amplius lava me ab injustitiâ meâ. (Ver. 2.)1

Thursday. Tibi soli peccavi. (Ver. 4.)

Friday. Spiritu Principali confirma me. (Ver. 12.)

Saturday. Bene fac Domine in bona voluntate tua Sion. (Ver. 18.)

But in this Psalm, as recited in the Office for the Dead, the one leading idea is, “That the bones which Thou hast broken”—or, as the Vulgate more appropriately gives it, “humbled”—may rejoice: thus magnificently bringing out the “Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; sown in dishonour, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power,” of the Apostle. On the Wednesday in Holy Week, “Deliver me from blood-guiltiness,”—or, as it is in the Vulgate, “from the bloodthirsty man,”—“O GOD, and my tongue shall sing of Thy righteousness,” refers the Psalm to Him against Whom bloodthirsty men did indeed rise up, and Who did truly sing of the righteousness of the FATHER, when He said, “As the FATHER hath sent Me, even so send I you.” On Maundy Thursday we have, “That Thou mightest be justified in Thy saying,”—He Who had so often prophesied that He should be delivered to the Gentiles, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on, and put to death, and that He should rise again the third day,—“and clear when Thou art judged;” according to Pilate’s confession, “I find no fault in this man.” On Good Friday, the ordinary Antiphon is simply borrowed from the New Testament: “GOD spared not His own SON, but delivered Him up for us all.” But I have seen a Dutch Breviary which, with the wonderful devotion to the Passion that characterised the good men of that Church in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, gives a far finer one in the Psalm itself: “Then shalt Thou be pleased with the Sacrifice of righteousness.” The same Breviary employs for this Psalm on Easter Eve, instead of the usual “O death, I will be thy death; O grave, I will be thy destruction,” the Antiphon of the Office for the Dead; and, to my taste, with very fine effect.

53. The last three Psalms, the Laudes of S. Gregory, have, of course, a vast variety of Antiphons. In the ferial use, the same rule obtains as that mentioned under the 51st Psalm:—

Sunday. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. (Ps. 148 ver. 1.)

Monday. Laudate Dominum de Cœlis. (Ps. 148 ver. 1.)

Tuesday. Omnes Angeli ejus, laudate Dominum de Cœlis. (Ps. 148 ver. 2.)

Wednesday. Cœli Cœlorum, laudate Dominum. (Ps. 148 ver. 4.)

Thursday. In Sanctis ejus, laudate Deum. (Ps. 150 ver. 1.)

Friday. In tympano et choro, in cordis et organo laudate Deum. (Ps. 150 ver. 4.)

Saturday. In cymbalis bene sonantibus, laudate Deum. (Ps. 150 ver. 5.)

That on Wednesday in Holy Week, is singularly happy; “To bind their kings in chains, and their nobles with links of iron;” the reference being to the “Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their cords from us,” of the 2nd Psalm. Again, in the Office for the Dead, the very exact verse to harmonize the solemnity of the service with the joyousness of the Psalm, is the last: “Let every thing that hath breath”—or as the Vulgate has it, “Let every spirit”—“praise the LORD.”

54. Let us now turn to the Benedicite, which, from the fact that the Sunday Laudal Psalms are those of all Festivals, is repeated again and again. That of a common Sunday is as colourless as any Antiphon can well be: it is thoroughly Greek, as we shall presently see; “The three children were cast at the command of the king, into the burning fiery furnace, fearing not the flame of fire, but saying, Blessed be GOD.” On the Epiphany the Antiphon is: “O ye seas and floods, bless ye the LORD: O ye fountains, sing a hymn to the LORD,” with reference to our LORD’S Baptism. On Septuagesima, “Blessed art Thou in the firmament of heaven, and laudable for ever, O our GOD;” where the allusion is to the work of Creation, the subject of that day’s lessons. On Christmas Day, as if in developement of that verse in the Benedicite, “O ye angels of the LORD,” &c., the Antiphon is, “And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising GOD and saying,” &c. On Whitsun Day: “O ye fountains and all that move in the waters, sing a hymn to GOD, Alleluia:” a beautiful reference to—“The Spirit of GOD moved upon the face of the waters,” and to our own reception of spiritual life at Baptism.

55. As we have had occasion to refer so often to the Office for the Dead, it may be worth while to point out the magnificent manner in which, the keynote having been once pitched, the Psalms fall into their proper place. Take for example the 65th. The Antiphon is, “Thou that hearest the prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come:” come, that is, when “all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the SON of GOD, and they that hear shall live.” The first verse shows us the praise of GOD commenced in the earthly Sion, and the vow completed in the heavenly Jerusalem. Next the Psalm tells of the blessedness of them that die in the LORD: “Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest and receivest unto Thee; he shall dwell in Thy courts, and shall be satisfied with the pleasures of Thy house, even of Thy holy temple.” Then, looking forward to the greatest of all wonders, the general Resurrection, and the promise of GOD, engaged to bring it to pass, “Thou shalt show us wonderful things in Thy righteousness, O GOD of our salvation: Thou that art the hope of all the ends of the earth”—of the countless corpses, scattered, as it were, over the four quarters of the globe—“and of them that remain in the broad sea,”—“looking for the resurrection of the body when the sea shall give up her dead.” And still with reference to the same hope, “Thou visitest the earth”—at that great visitation in the Last Day,—“and blessest it;” (“Come, ye blessed children of My FATHER:”) “Thou makest it very plenteous”—when every churchyard shall bring forth its abundant crop of life. “Thy clouds”—“when the Son of Man shall come in the clouds of heaven,”—“drop fatness: they shall drop upon the dwellings of the wilderness,”—the unknown and lonely resting-places of so many of GOD’S Saints: “and the little hills”—the graves of the earth—“shall rejoice on every side.”

56. Or again, take the 63rd Psalm. The Antiphon is: “Thy Right Hand hath upholden me:” the protecting and providential care which, through the lapse of ages, and amidst all the organic changes of matter, nevertheless preserves, and will bring together again, the bodies which having been sown in corruption shall be raised in incorruption. And in this sense how beautiful is the “Early will I seek Thee,” taken in connection with “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first Resurrection!” “My flesh also longeth after Thee”—while waiting its reunion with the soul. Once more: “Have I not remembered Thee in my bed, and thought upon Thee when I was waking?” (Compare “When I awake up after Thy likeness, I shall be satisfied with it”) “Those also that seek the hurt of my soul, they shall go under the earth.” So in Zechariah: “The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan.… is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” “But the King shall rejoice in GOD.”

Manus mites dum expandit,

Rex cœlorum cœlos pandit;

Et cum multis illìc scandit

Unde solus venerat.

57. The 67th Psalm, as we have seen, follows without a Requiem eternam. And still the same idea is carried on: “That Thy way may be known upon earth”—the way by which our LORD, having conquered death, ascended to the FATHER, and by which He will come to bring His people with Him: “Thy saving health” (for “He is the SAVIOUR of the body”) “among all nations.” So again in its full sense: “Then shall the earth bring forth her increase,” as in those noble lines of Prudentius:

Now take him, O earth, to thy keeping,

And give him soft rest in thy bosom;

I entrust thee the generous fragments

And lend thee the frame of a Christian.

Thou holily guard the deposit;

He will well, He will surely require it,

Who forming it, made its creation

The type of His Image and Likeness.

58. Taken in this sense, it would seem as if these two Psalms were written for, and could apply to nothing except, a funeral Office; let us now take them with other Antiphons, and examine what meaning they may then bear. On the Epiphany the Antiphon is, “When they had opened their gifts they presented unto Him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Alleluia.” Then the “Early will I seek Thee” will apply to the general expectation of the King That was to be born, and Whom the star in the east heralded. “The barren and dry land where no water is,” to the heathendom of those distant countries from whence the wise men came. “Have I not remembered Thee in my bed, and thought upon Thee when I was waking?” will well set forth those watches of the night in which the astronomer-kings must have beheld the new star. “Those that seek the hurt of my soul,” to whom should that refer, but to Herod and his court? “The King shall rejoice in GOD,” will tell of the new kingdom set up on earth, of which the following Psalm speaks more fully. “GOD be merciful unto us and bless us, and show us the light of His countenance,” well expresses His manifestation to the Gentiles. “That Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health among all nations;” tells the end and aim of His Epiphany, that the earth may be “full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” So even more remarkably the doubly repeated prayer, “Let the people praise Thee, O GOD,”—the people, hitherto the LORD’S only people—but now from this day forward, that shall not be enough—“yea, let ALL the people praise Thee:” in other words, “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.” “Then shall the earth bring forth her increase;” the true increase, the harvest with which the fields were white, even in the time of our LORD. And the Psalm ends well with a prophecy of that day when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our LORD and of His CHRIST, “all the ends of the world shall fear Him.”

59. Again: let us completely change the Antiphon, and observe how the signification will be altered. I never thus notice the way in which the Psalm, so to speak, obeys its Antiphon, without calling to mind that verse, “Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, yet are they turned about with a very small helm whithersoever the governor listeth.” On Good Friday, the Antiphon is, “Saith the thief to the thief, We indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this Man hath done nothing amiss. LORD, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.” Then “the barren and dry land, where no water is,” becomes the Cross with its agony of thirst. “Thy power and glory,” the manifestation of both when, from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. “As long as I live,” tells firstly of the few brief hours which still remained for suffering; and secondly, of that better life when the promise should be fulfilled, “To-day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” “And lift up mine hands”—stretched out as they were on the Cross,—“in Thy Name,” the Name set over the LORD’S Head, “JESUS of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” “Have I not remembered Thee in my bed,”—the hard bed of that tree. “These also that seek the hurt of my soul,”—the soldiers and Chief Priests, who through their impatience that the bodies should be removed from the Cross, brake the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with Him. And then the 67th Psalm tells of that conversion of the Gentiles which began from the Cross on Calvary, and of that judgment,—“Thou shalt judge the folk righteously,”—which was prefigured when the penitent thief was set on the right hand, and the impenitent on the left.

60. The rule for the ferial Antiphons of these two Psalms is the same that we have noticed before. Thus we have on

Monday. Deus, Deus meus, ad te de luce vigilo. (Ver. 1.)

Tuesday. Ad te de luce vigilo. (Ver. 1.)

Wednesday. Labia mea laudabunt te in vitâ, meâ, Deus meus. (Ver. 4, 5.)

Thursday. In matutinis meditator in te. (Ver. 7.)

Friday. Illumina, Domine, vultum tuum super nos. (Ps. 67:1.)

Saturday. Metuant Dominum omnes fines terræ. (Ps. 67:7.)

61. But in no instance is the power and beauty of the Antiphon so clearly shown as in the case of Benedictus and Magnificat. These have a distinct Antiphon, not only on every Sunday and Festival, but in the Feriæ of Lent and Advent; I will now give some examples of the method in which these two evangelical hymns are thus emphasized.

The theory of the Antiphons is this. Those of the first Vespers of Sunday are usually from some verse of the Old Testament lections for the succeeding week; that of second Vespers and Lauds, from the Gospel for the day.

Let us take some of those which are appropriated to more ordinary Festivals. As for example: on the Third Sunday after Trinity, the Antiphon to Benedictus is, “JESUS went up into the ship, and there He taught the multitude. Alleluia.” See how beautifully this applies to the “He hath visited and redeemed His people:” visited them even by the Lake of Gennesareth; redeemed them not only by His precious Death and Passion, but also when He made the fisherman of that sea a “fisher of men.” “As He spake by the mouth of His holy Prophets,” that Galilee of the nations, the people that walked in darkness should see a great light. That to Magnificat on the same day is, “Master, we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing: nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net:” and here compare the “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O LORD,” of S. Peter, with the “For He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden,” of S. Mary: and again, the miraculous draught of fishes with that saying, “He hath filled the hungry with good things.” Or take again the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, where the Antiphon to Benedictus is: “Saith the Lord to the steward, What is this that I hear of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship. Alleluia.” Where first notice that these words are so turned as now to be applicable not less to a blessed than to an unhappy rendering in that account. And in the former sense, when the warfare of any faithful soul is accomplished and the iniquity pardoned, see how nobly those clauses apply, “He hath visited and redeemed His people, He hath raised up a mighty salvation for us; that we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.” Or take again the Ninth Sunday after Trinity, and its Antiphon to Magnificat: “This man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted,” and compare it with the rich sent empty away, and the hungry filled with good things. Or once more: the Antiphon to Benedictus on the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity is, “When JESUS passed through a certain village, ten men that were lepers met Him, who lifted up their voices and said, JESUS, Master, have mercy upon us:” refer it to the mighty salvation raised up, the light given to them that sat in darkness and in the shadow of death. It would be perfectly endless to go through all such allusions and adaptations, by which the Gospel or Epistle of the day is so ingeniously bound into its ordinary hymn of praise. It happens, however, sometimes, that these Antiphons are original: as, for example, that to Benedictus on Thursday after Low Sunday: “My heart is on fire; I desire to see my LORD; I seek and find not where they have put Him. Alleluia. Alleluia.” And sometimes they are in verse: as for example, the Antiphon to Magnificat on Monday after Low Sunday:

Crucem sanctam subiit

Qui infernum confregit;

Accinctus est potentiâ;

Surrexit die tertiâ.

62. It will not be uninteresting to compare the Antiphons for one week—let it be Passion Week—both in the older and in the Gallican form:







JESUS said unto the Jews and to the Chief Priests: he that is of GOD heareth GOD’S words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of GOD.

              JESUS said, I seek not Mine own glory: there is One That seeketh and judgeth.





In that great day of the feast JESUS stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.

              If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.





My time is not yet come; but your time is alway ready.

              Go ye up to this feast: I go not up to this feast, for My time is not yet full come.





My sheep hear My voice: and I the LORD know theirs.

              My sheep hear My voice: and I give unto them eternal life, and no man shall pluck them out of My hand.





The Master saith, My hour is at hand: I will keep the Passover in thy house with My disciples.

              Her sins, which are many, are forgiven: for she loved much.





Now the feast of the Jews drew nigh, and the Chief Priests sought how they might slay JESUS, but they feared the people.

              [The Compassion of S. Mary.] To what shall I liken thee, daughter of Jerusalem? To whom shall I compare thee, O virgin daughter of Sion? Thy breach is great as of the sea, who can heal thee?


63. The Greek Antiphons, which at first sight might indeed be easily overlooked, hold a very inferior position to that which they occupy in the Latin Church. They are said only at the end, and not at the beginning, of each Psalm, and are prefaced by the words: And again. Thus, at Prime, at the end of the 3rd Psalm, we have, “And again: I laid me down and slept and rose up again, for the LORD sustained me.” At the end of the 38th Psalm: “And again: Forsake me not, O LORD my GOD; be not Thou far from me; haste Thee to help me, O LORD GOD of my salvation.” After the 63rd: “And again: Early will I seek Thee: because Thou hast been my help, therefore under the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice. My soul hangeth upon Thee: Thy Right Hand hath upholden me.” After the 88th: “And again: O LORD GOD of my salvation, I have cried day and night before Thee: O let my prayer enter into Thy Presence: incline Thine ear unto my calling.”

This may serve as an example of the Eastern use of Antiphons. I may remark that they are always taken from the Psalm which precedes; never, as in the Western Church, from other sources.

64. We now turn to another branch of our subject: the employment of the Psalms in the various compositions, let them be called by what name they may, Introits, Tracts, Graduals, Communions, Psalmelli, Sonos, Matutinaria, which form a part of the Missal or the Breviary. And it will not be amiss to say something of each of these, taking them in order, and beginning with the Roman Church.

65. There are four methods in which the Psalms have been ecclesiastically sung. The first, when the whole Psalm is sung by the whole choir without any response or variation. This was called the Cantus Directus, or Directaneus: and hence one Psalm at Lauds in the Ambrosian Breviary is, as we have seen, called the Psalmus Directus. Beroldus, who composed the ritual of the Church of Milan about the year 1130, thus gives one of his rubrics: “The Collect being ended, the choir sings in a low voice, and almost to themselves, the Psalm Qui habitat as a Psalmus Directus.” In this way in the most ancient times, the Gloria in Excelsis used to be sung, the Agnus Dei, the Domine ad adjuvandum, &c.

The second method of singing is the Antiphonal: when the choir, divided into two sides, sings alternately.

The third method is where the Psalm is sung alternately between the precentor and the choir; and this is the Responsory method.

Lastly, the fourth way is when the whole Psalm or Anthem is sung by a single voice; and this is called the Tract. It is needless to observe that the present Tract of the Roman Missal has retained the name only, but not the character of its predecessor.

66. I have spoken largely of Antiphons: it now remains to speak of Responsories. “Responsories,” says S. Isidore,1 “because, when one sings, the chorus responds in unison.” And this may be practised in two ways: the precentor may sing a verse, which same verse is immediately repeated by the choir; may then go on to another, which is in like manner, to use the technical expression, succented by them; and so on: or the precentor may sing his verse, and the choir repeat it; the precentor then go on to a second verse, and the third, and so forth, the choir always repeating the first, and none other, after each. The former method was more in use in primitive times; the latter in after ages. To the Psalmus Responsorius, or Psalmi Responsorium,—for it was called by both names,—we have many references in the Fathers. One of the sermons of S. Peter Chrysologus begins: “Responsorium quod hodie Prophetâ supplicante cantavimus.” And Alcuin, in one of his poems, thus writes:—

“Hymnos ac Psalmos, et Responsoria festis

Congrua, promemus subter testudine templi.”

67. The ancient method, as it obtained in the fourth century, was this. The reader in the first place gave out the title, a Psalm of David; and in Africa, at least, as appears from many passages of S. Augustine’s sermons, read the title of the Psalm. He then precented the first verse; the whole congregation, together with the Bishop and Clergy, succented whatever had to be succented, whether it were that first verse, by way of Antiphon, or any other Antiphon, or whether they repeated each verse as the reader precented it. A very curious example of this method is given in S. Augustine’s Exposition (the second) on the 22nd Psalm. He is reasoning against the Donatists; and speaking on the 27th verse, as we have it now, he says, “Do they give ear to this, think ye, when their reader says, ‘All the ends of the earth shall remember themselves, and be turned unto the LORD?’ Well, perchance it was but one verse: thy thoughts were elsewhere; thou wast talking idly with thy brother when he spoke thus. Mark how the reader repeats it, and knocks at deaf men’s ears: ‘And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Him.’ He is still deaf; he does not hear; let the knocking be repeated: ‘For the kingdom is the LORD’S, and He is the Governor among the people.’ Remember these three verses, brethren; to-day they have been sung even among them.” From this very curious passage two other points are clear: the one that the earlier division into shorter verses than our own was in vogue as late as the time of S. Augustine; the other, that the same Psalms were appropriated to the same Festivals by the Donatists as by the Catholic Church. It is manifest, from other passages in S. Augustine, that the Responsory Psalm was gone right through to the end: thus, in treating of the 26th Psalm, which has twelve verses, he alludes to the ninth as having been sung; and in his second exposition of the 19th, which has fifteen verses, he quotes the thirteenth. It would appear that the ecclesiastic who precented the Responsory Psalm was generally of the order of readers; though we do find instances where a deacon undertook that office. Thus S. Gregory of Tours, in his Lives of the Fathers: “One morning, when S. Nicasius had risen to Matins, he went into the sacristy; and while sitting there, the deacon began to chant the Responsory Psalm.” The place whence it was sung was at first the middle of the choir; afterwards, when ambones were introduced, it was probably recited from their steps. Hence by degrees it acquired the name of Responsorium Graduale, or Gradale, from those very steps. And they would also appear to have occupied the same position in the service that the Gradual now holds in the Missal. Thus S. Augustine, in one of his sermons: “We heard the first lesson from the Apostle, ‘This is a faithful saying,’ &c.; then we sang the Psalm; after this, the Evangelical lection set forth to us the cleansing of the ten lepers.” I may add, that an ancient, but anonymous author, quoted by Cassander, says: “The Responsory which is said in Mass is, for the sake of distinction from other Responsories, called the Gradale, as being sung on the steps.” But Beleth, who wrote in the twelfth century, tells us that in his time it was only so sung on the principal Festivals. “The second book,” says he, “is the Graduarius, so called from the steps; because on Festivals the reader ascends the steps of the ambo to chant it. For on ordinary days it is sung before the steps of the altar, in the middle of the choir.”

68. The original Roman Introit has become so much shortened, that it will be better to give both it and the modern method of recitation. The example shall be from the First Sunday in Advent:


Antiphona ad Introitum:

Unto Thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul: my GOD, I have put my trust in Thee: O let me not be confounded; neither let mine enemies triumph over me.

Unto Thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul: my GOD, I have put my trust in Thee: O let me not be confounded; neither let mine enemies triumph over me.


Show me Thy ways, O LORD, teach me Thy paths.

Unto Thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul: my GOD, I have put my trust in Thee: O let me not be confounded; neither let mine enemies triumph over me.

Glory be to the FATHER, and to the SON; and to the HOLY GHOST;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

Unto Thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul: my GOD, I have put my trust in Thee: O let me not be confounded; neither let mine enemies triumph over me.

Versus ad repetendum:

Lead me forth in Thy truth, and learn me: for Thou art the GOD of my salvation; in Thee hath been my hope all the day long.

Unto Thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul: my GOD, I have put my trust in Thee: O let me not be confounded; neither let mine enemies triumph over me.

              MODERN ROMAN.

Ad Missam Introitus:

Unto Thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul: my GOD, I have put my trust in Thee: O let me not be confounded; neither let mine enemies triumph over me.

Psalm: Show me Thy ways, O LORD, teach me Thy paths.

Glory be to the FATHER, and to the SON: and to the HOLY GHOST;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

Unto Thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul; my GOD, I have put my trust in Thee: O let me not be confounded; neither let mine enemies triumph over me.


The Versus ad repetendum, in other MSS., both here and throughout the year, is of a totally different character, and, to my mind, presents far greater beauty. For example, here:—

. Thou That willest not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted, and live, hear my prayer: for

Unto Thee, O LORD, &c.

. We know that the FATHER hath not left Him, because He cried and said,

Unto Thee, O LORD, &c.

The Antiphona ad Introitum, or Introitus, was unknown till the time of S. Celestine, who borrowed it from the Church of Milan. It was less properly, in one Roman Ordo, edited by Mabillon, called the Invitatory.

69. We now turn to the Ingressa of the Ambrosian rite. This, so far as appears from the Missal itself, or from the Rubrics, is said entirely by the Priest, and without repetition: otherwise in form it does not seem to differ from the Roman. For example, the Ingressa for the Second Sunday in Advent is:—

Remember us, O LORD, with the favour that Thou bearest unto Thy people. O visit us with Thy salvation: that we may see the felicity of Thy chosen, and rejoice in the gladness of Thine inheritance.

So, again, on the Circumcision:—

In the sight of the Gentiles fear ye not, but worship and fear the LORD in your hearts: for His Angel is with you; a compilation from the Second Book of Kings, and from Baruch.

70. The Ad Missam Officium, which is the Mozarabic name for the Introit, is more complicated, and resembles the original Roman Introit which I have lately quoted. Take, for example, that on the First Sunday in Advent:—

Behold upon the mountains the feet of Him that evangeliseth peace, Alleluia, and announceth good things, Alleluia. Keep thy solemn feasts, O Judah, Alleluia: and pay unto the LORD thy vows. Alleluia.

. The LORD gave the Word: great was the company of the preachers.

Psalm: And pay unto the LORD thy vows. Alleluia.

. Glory and honour be to the FATHER, and to the SON, and to the HOLY GHOST, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm: And pay unto the LORD thy vows. Alleluia.

Priest: To all ages of ages.

. Amen.

This is the general norm of all the Mozarabic Introits. Thus, again, on the First Sunday in Lent:—

Behold, now is the accepted time, Alleluia: behold, now is the day of salvation, Alleluia.

. The LORD is King, and hath put on glorious apparel: the LORD hath put on His apparel, and girded Himself with strength.

Psalm: Behold, now is the day of salvation. Alleluia.

. Glory and honour be to the FATHER, and to the SON, and to the HOLY GHOST, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm: Behold, now is the day of salvation. Alleluia.

Priest: Through all ages of ages.

. Amen.

71. The next Anthem, or by whatever other name it may be called, is the Psalmellus in the Ambrosian, the Psallendo in the Mozarabic, rite. This immediately follows the Prophecy, and therefore bears the same reference to that, which the Gradual does to the Epistle.

The Psalmellus consists of a Verse and Response; the latter often taken from a clause of the Psalm preceding that of which the former consists. Thus, for example, that for the First Sunday in Advent is:—

. GOD shall manifestly come, our GOD, and shall not keep silence.

. The LORD, even the most mighty GOD hath spoken, and called the world.

Or, again, on the Sixth Sunday in Advent:

. Look down from heaven, and behold: show Thy face, and we shall be saved.

. Give ear, O Thou Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep: show Thyself also, Thou that sittest between the cherubims.

The Psallendo of the Mozarabic rite has another clause. Thus, for example, the First Sunday in Advent:—

Psallendo: He giveth snow like wool, and scattereth the hoar frost like ashes: He casteth forth His ice like morsels: who is able to abide His frost?

. He sendeth forth His Word, and melteth them: He bloweth with His Wind, and the waters flow.

Psalm: Who is able to abide His frost?

Or, to take another example, the Psallendo on Christmas Day is:

Psallendo: The LORD said unto Me, Thou art My SON: this day have I begotten Thee.

. Desire of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.

Psalm: This day have I begotten Thee.

72. We next come to the Responsorium Graduale, of which I have already spoken. Its form is generally of this kind. I take that for S. John the Evangelist:—

Gradual: Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet JESUS said not unto him, He shall not die.

. If I will that he tarry till I come, follow thou Me.

. Alleluia. Alleluia.

. This is the disciple that testifieth of these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

Or, again, take this example for the Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity:—

Gradual: Behold, how good and joyful a thing it is, brethren, to dwell together in unity.

. Like as the ointment upon the head that ran down unto the beard: even unto Aaron’s beard.

. Alleluia. Alleluia.

. Ye that fear the LORD, put your trust in the LORD: He is their Helper and Defender. Alleluia.

There is nothing in the Mozarabic Missal which answers to this; but in the Ambrosian its place is occupied by the Alleluia or Cantando, which is always of this form. The example is for Christmas Day:—


. A Child is born to us to-day in Bethlehem, and His Name is just and terrible. Alleluia.

In Lent, when it is called the Cantus, it is sometimes of this form:—

Cantus. If the LORD Himself had not been on our side, now may Israel say: if the LORD Himself had not been on our side.

. 1. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowler: the snare is broken, and we are delivered.

. 2. Our help is in the Name of the LORD: Who hath made heaven and earth.

73. The next Antiphon which we have to consider is the Antiphona ad Offerenda, or, as it is now usually called, the Offertorium. Here, again, we find the original form very much abbreviated. Take an example for the Third Sunday in Advent. Here, in the Gregorian Antiphonary, the Offerenda stands thus:—

LORD, Thou art become gracious unto Thy land, Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob: Thou hast forgiven the offence of Thy people.

LORD, Thou art become gracious unto Thy land, Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob: Thou hast forgiven the offence of Thy people.

. 1. Thou hast covered all their sins: Thou hast taken away all Thy displeasure.

Thou hast forgiven the offence of Thy people.

. 2. Show us Thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us Thy salvation.

Thou hast forgiven the offence of Thy people.

In the present Roman form, the verse stands as it stands in the Psalter:—

LORD, Thou art become gracious unto Thy land: Thou hast forgiven the offence of Thy people.

74. The same position in the Mozarabic Office is occupied by two anthems. The first is the Lauda. The general form is always this. The example is from the Third Sunday after the Epiphany:—


. I will praise the Name of my GOD with a song, and magnify it with thanksgiving.

Priest: Alleluia.

But the fuller example seems to be, as we have it on the First Sunday in Lent, this:—


I will praise the Name of GOD with a song, and magnify it with thanksgiving.

. Let heaven and earth praise Him: the sea, and all that therein is.

Priest: Alleluia.

The other is the Sacrificium, which indeed, correctly speaking, alone answers to the Roman Offertorium. Take, as an example, that for the Second Sunday after Epiphany:—

And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

. And GOD spake unto Noah, saying: Go forth of the ark, thou and thy wife, and thy sons and thy sons’ wives with thee. Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, that they may breed abundantly and multiply upon the earth. And Noah went forth.

Priest: And offered burnt-offerings on the altar.

75. In the Ambrosian rite we have in this place the Antiphona post Evangelium, which, for the most part, is not taken from the Psalms. Its form is perfectly simple. Thus, on the Feast of the Christophory:—

O praise the LORD, all ye Angels of His; praise Him, all ye virtues of His; praise Him, O ye sun and moon; praise Him, all ye stars and light.

So, again, on the First Sunday in Lent:—

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Let us commend ourselves in much patience, in much fasting, by the armour of the righteousness of the virtue of GOD.

76. Next, in the Roman rite, we have the Antiphona ad Communionem, now generally called the Communio. This, in its full form, was as follows. I again take the First Sunday in Advent:—

The LORD shall show lovingkindness: and our land shall yield her increase.

The LORD shall show lovingkindness: and our land shall yield her increase.

Psalm: LORD, Thou art become gracious unto Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.

The LORD shall show, &c.

Glory be, &c.

Versus ad repetendum: Show us Thy mercy, O LORD: and grant us Thy salvation.

The LORD shall show, &c.

This, in the present Roman books, is simply given: “The LORD shall show lovingkindness, and our land shall yield her increase.”

77. In the Mozarabic Rite, in like manner, there is an Antiphona ad Confractionem Panis, in some of the more important missæ; but by no means universally: this on Maundy Thursday may serve as an example:

The LORD JESUS sent His Disciples and said unto them, Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat: for with desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.

II. And while they were at supper, JESUS took bread and blessed, and gave to His Disciples, and said, Take, eat, for with desire I have desired to eat this Passover before I suffer.

And also, He took the Chalice after supper, and gave to His Disciples and said, Take ye all of it: for this is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins: I will not drink it henceforth till I shall drink it new with you in My FATHER’S kingdom.

Priest. For with desire I have desired, &c.

In like manner, on some Festivals, there is an Antiphona ad Accedentes. Let this be an example; it is also for Maundy Thursday:

. Be mindful of us, O CHRIST, in Thy kingdom, and make us worthy of Thy resurrection.

. With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.

. Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.

. Before I suffer.

. Behold, as ye enter into the city, there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: him follow into the house whereinto ye shall enter; and say ye to the good-man of the house,—

. With desire I have desired.

. The Master saith, My time is at hand: where is the guest-chamber, that I may keep the Passover with My disciples?

. Before I suffer.

. And he shall show you a large upper-room, furnished: there make ready.

. Before I suffer.

. And the disciples went into the city, and found as JESUS had told them, and they made ready the Passover.

. With desire I have desired.

. And when even was come, JESUS sat down and the twelve with Him, and He saith unto them:—

. With desire I have desired.

. For I say unto you, that I will not eat it henceforth, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of GOD.

. With desire I have desired.

78. In the Ambrosian Office, we have the Confractorium and the Transitorium: let these be examples;

The Confractorium, on the Octave of the Epiphany: The LORD hath made known His salvation. Alleluia.

On Septuagesima: O LORD my GOD, in Thee have I put my trust, save me from all them that persecute me and deliver me.

The Transitorium, on the Third Sunday in Advent. The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent taketh it by force.

On the Fourth Sunday in Lent. The LORD made clay of His spittle and anointed my eyes, and I departed and washed, and saw and believed GOD.

These may suffice as an example of the short antiphons, composed for the most part from the Psalms, and employed in the various Liturgies of the Western Church. It would be easy to swell the examples almost indefinitely; but enough has, perhaps, been said, to give the reader a general idea of the subject; and I must remember that I am writing not on the Missal, but on the Psalter.

79. Before concluding this Dissertation, a few words remain to be said on another subject. There are but few examples of what may be called composite Psalms: by which I mean, Psalms pieced together with different verses, selected from various parts of the Psalter. Yet it is too sweeping an assertion to say, as it has been said, that such compositions as those which replace the Venite in the State services of our Church are altogether unknown. There are several such in the Mozarabic Office book: take the following from Matins, in the Office of the Dead:

Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes: O Thou that dwellest in the heavens.

Unto Thee will I cry, O LORD, and get me to my Loud right humbly: what profit is there in my blood when I go down into the pit?

Shall the dust give thanks unto Thee: or shall it declare Thy truth?

Unto Thee will I cry, O LORD my strength, think no scorn of me: lest if Thou make as though Thou nearest not, I become like them that go down into the pit.

Our fathers trusted in Thee: they hoped in Thee and Thou didst deliver them.

I will call upon Thee, when my heart is in heaviness; O set me up upon the rock that is higher than I: for Thou hast been my hope, and a strong tower for me against the enemy.

Unto Thee will I cry, O LORD, and early shall my prayer come before Thee: early in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee and will look up, for Thou art the GOD that hast no pleasure in wickedness.

Unto Thee, O LORD, will I lift up my soul; my GOD, I have put my trust in Thee; O let not mine enemies triumph over me: for all they that hope in Thee shall not be ashamed.

I flee unto Thee to hide me: teach me to do the thing that pleaseth Thee, for Thou art my GOD.

Unto Thee, O LORD, will I lift up my soul: deliver me from my enemies.

The LORD give thee eternal rest: and light perpetual shine upon thee for ever.

It must be confessed that this is rather a poor composition, though I see no reason to doubt its being coeval with the original book, and the work of S. Isidore or S. Leander. Here is another, from the same Office, and curious, from the way in which each verse commences:

Thou, O LORD, art gracious and pitiful: and of great mercy to all that call upon Thee.

Thou, O LORD, art full of compassion and mercy: long-suffering, plenteous in goodness and truth.

Thou, O LORD, hast holpen me: and comforted me.

Thou, O LORD, art my defender: Thou art my worship, and the lifter up of my head.

Thou, O LORD, shalt keep us: and preserve us from this generation for ever.

Thou, O LORD, be not far from me: let Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth alway preserve me.

Thou, O LORD, shalt give: Thy blessing unto the righteous.

Thou, O LORD, hast brought my soul out of hell: Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back.

Thou, O LORD, shalt destroy the wicked: and shalt laugh all the heathen to scorn.

Eternal rest, &c.

80. It will here be proper to say something of the Canticles, which, together with the Psalms, have been employed in the Ritual of the Church. The largest and most complete collection of these is to be found in the Mozarabic Breviary.

1. The Song of Deuteronomy. Antiphon. The LORD hath appeared from Mount Paran, and ten thousand Saints with Him. Deut. 33:2–4, 17.

2. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. The Mighty GOD shall sit upon the throne of David, that He may confirm it for ever. Isaiah 8:16–9:7.

3. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. The Root of Jesse, Which shall stand for a sign to the people, unto Him shall the Gentiles seek. Isaiah 10:32–11:10.

4. Song of Isaiah. Isaiah 30:18–33.

5. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. Behold, our GOD shall come and save us. Isaiah 35:3–10.

6. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight the paths of our GOD. Isaiah 40:1–9.

7. Song of Isaiah. Behold, the LORD shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him. Isaiah 40:10–17.

8. Song of Isaiah. Isaiah 42:10–16.

9. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. The LORD hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon the poor. Isaiah 49:7–13.

10. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. My salvation shall be for ever, saith the LORD, and My righteousness from generation to generation. Isaiah 51:4–12.

11. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace; that publish salvation; that say, Thy GOD reigneth. Isaiah 52:1–8.

12. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed. Isaiah 56:1–7.

13. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. Say ye to the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy salvation cometh. Isaiah 62:8–12.

14. Canticle from the Gospel according to S. Luke. Antiphon. He that is mighty hath magnified me, and holy is His Name; and His mercy is to all generations. Magnificat.

15. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. Let the earth be opened, and bud forth the SAVIOUR, and let righteousness rise together. Isaiah 45:8–25.

16. Canticle from the Gospel according to S. Luke. Antiphon. But I will glory in the LORD. I will rejoice in JESUS my GOD. Nunc Dimittis.

17. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. Shine, O Jerusalem, for thy Light is come. Isaiah 60.

18. Song of Jeremiah. Jer. 31:15–23.

Here begin the Canticles to be said in Lent.

19. Song of Isaiah. Isaiah 58:1–9.

20. Song of Jeremiah. Lamentations 5:1–18.

21. Prayer of Nehemiah. Antiphon. Have mercy, O GOD, great and terrible, Who keepest the covenant and mercy to them that love Thee and keep Thy commandments. Nehemiah 1:5–11.

22. Prayer of Manasseh the King.

23. Song of Tobit. Tobit 13:1–6.

24. Prayer of Jesus the Son of Sirach. Ecclus. 36:1–17.

25. Song of Azarias. Antiphon. Whatsoever, LORD, Thou hast done unto us, Thou hast done with true judgment, and all on account of our sins. Song, 3–22.

Here begin the Canticles on the betrayal of the LORD.

26. Song of the Maccabees. Antiphon. LORD, LORD GOD, Creator of all things, terrible and mighty, just and merciful, gather together them that are dispersed; set free them that are slaves to the Gentiles. 2 Macc. 1:24–29.

27. Song of Jeremiah, Antiphon. Like a meek lamb I was led to the slaughter. Jer. 11:18–20, and 12:1–3.

28. Song of Jeremiah. Jer. 15:15–21.

29. Song of Jeremiah. Jer. 18:19–23.

30. Song of Jeremiah. Antiphon. Let them that persecute me, O LORD, be overthrown and become weak. Jeremiah 20:7–12.

31. Song of Jeremiah. Jer. 23:9–12.

32. Song of Micah. Antiphon. Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide. Micah 7:5–10.

33. Song of Ezekiel. Antiphon. I will pour upon you clean water, saith the LORD, and ye shall be cleansed from all your filthiness. Ezek. 36:24–28.

Here begin the Canticles on the Resurrection of the LORD.

34. Song of Genesis. Antiphon. To the prey, O LORD, Thou art gone up. Thou didst stoop down, Thou didst couch as a lion, and in Thy virtue Thou didst rise up. Gen. 49:8–12, and 24–26.

35. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. Consider ye not the things of old: behold, I will do a new thing, saith the LORD. Isaiah 43:10–20.

36. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. My Eight Hand saved Me, and My Righteousness it upheld Me. Isaiah 63:1–6.

37. Song of Jeremiah. Antiphon. Upon this I awaked and beheld, and lo, My sleep was sweet unto Me. Jer. 31:23–28.

38. Song of Hosea. Antiphon. After two days will the LORD revive us, and the third day He will raise us up and we shall live. Hosea 6:1–6.

39. Song of Zephaniah. Antiphon. Wait ye upon Me, saith the LORD, until the day of My Resurrection, for My determination is, to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms. Zephaniah 3:8–11.

Here begin the Canticles concerning the Saints.

40. Song of Jesus the Son of Sirach.

41. Song of Judges. Antiphon. Let them that love Thee be as the sun when it goeth forth in its strength. Judges 5. A selection from.

42. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. Everlasting joy shall be to My elect when I repay their works in truth. Isaiah 61:6–9.

Here begin the Canticles for one righteous man.

43. Song of Jeremiah. Jer. 17:7–18.

44. Song of Jesus the Son of Sirach. Ecclus. 51:13–30.

45. Song of Isaiah. Isa. 42:1–4.

46. Song of Zacharias. Antiphon. Thou, Child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the Face of the LORD to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation unto His people. Benedictus.

Here begin the Canticles for Virgins.

47. The Song of Jesus the Son of Sirach. Ecclus. 39:13–16.

48. Song of Isaiah. Isa. 61:10; 62:6.

49. Song of Zephaniah. Zeph. 3:14–20.

50. Song of Zechariah the Prophet. Zech. 2:10–13.

51. Canticle for the Dedication of a Church. Antiphon. Let Thine eyes be opened upon this house. 2 Chron. 6:14–21.

52. Canticle for the Restoration of a Church. Tobit 13:11–18.

53. The Song of Balaam. Numbers 23:7–10, and 19–24.

54. Canticle for an Apostle. 1 Tim. 6:12, and 4:12–16.

Here begin the daily Canticles.

55. Song of Moses. Exod. 15:1–19.

56. Song of Isaiah. Isa. 5:1–7.

57. Song of Isaiah. Antiphon. My soul desireth Thee in the night: from the morning, O LORD, I will watch unto Thee. Isa. 26:1–10.

58. Song of Isaiah. Preceptum.1 Antiphon. Thy dead men shall live; together with My dead body they shall arise. Isa. 26:12–20.

59. Song of Isaiah. Isa. 33:13–22.

60. Song of Jonah. In two Antiphons. I will pay that I have vowed to Thee, O LORD, my SAVIOUR.

Another. Thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of the sight of Thine eyes: dost Thou think I shall behold Thy holy Temple? Jonah 2.

61. Antiphon. Have mercy on those, O LORD, who have not the riches of good works. 2 Esdras 8:20–36.

62. Song of Moses. Exaltabo. Deut. 32:1–12.

63. Song of Hannah. In deserto. 1 Sam. 2:1–10.

64. Song of David. Exitus. Antiphon. In Thine Hand, O LORD, is power and might, and in Thine Hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. 1 Chron. 29:10–18.

65. Song of Isaiah. Illuminet. Antiphon. Thine anger is turned away, and Thou comfortedst me. Isa. 12.

66. Song of Isaiah. Illuminans. Isa. 33:2–10.

67. The Prayer of Mardocheus. Antiphon. Have mercy, O LORD, upon Thy people, and despise not Thine heritage which Thou hast redeemed. Esther 4:9–11, 15–17.

68. Song of Jeremiah. Et ego. Antiphon. Give us not to confusion, for Thy Name’s sake, O LORD. Jer. 14:17–22.

69. Song of Deuteronomy. Sit splendor. Deut. 9:26–29.

70. Song of Jehoshaphat. Bonum est. 2 Chron. 20:6–12.

71. Song of Isaiah. In matutinis. Isa. 25:1–9.

72. Song of Isaiah. Exurgam. Isa. 37:16–21.

73. Song of Isaiah. Deus Dominus. Antiphon. Thou shalt chasten Me, O LORD, and Thou shalt quicken Me. Isa. 38:10–20.

74. Song of Jeremiah. Prevenerunt. Antiphon. He that made all things is GOD Himself, and Israel is His inheritance, and the LORD of Hosts is His Name. Jer. 51:14–19.

75. Song of Ecclesiastes. A vigilia. Eccles. 11:9; 12:7.

76. Song of Job. Auditum. Job 19:25–27.

77. The Song of the Angels at the Nativity of CHRIST. Gloria in Excelsis.

81. I have thus endeavoured to sketch out, as briefly as the subject permits, an account of the manner in which the Psalter, while it has been employed in, has itself modified, the Services of the Church. Those who study it as Churchmen, can hardly enter into it as they should do, until they have been taught to consider it in the light in which it has been the aim of this essay to set it before them. I heartily wish that it were more perfect, and less unworthy of the subject; but I have been all along fearful of entering too deeply into minutiæ,—interesting, indeed, to Ecclesiastical students, but not necessary in and by themselves to the study of the Psalms. I shall hereafter have occasion to direct the reader’s attention to a subject which will, perhaps, be more widely interesting—the general question of mystical interpretation: which I leave for the Third Dissertation in this work. I can only hope that the blessing of GOD may have been bestowed on what has already been said, and may still accompany that which we yet have to observe.



I NOW proceed to give a brief notice of the principal Commentators on the Psalms, both those who have written in Primitive and in Mediæval times. I have already said that scarcely any portion of the following Commentary is my own. The works which I am about to enumerate have formed a principal part of my study for many years: and the more remarkable among these writers have never left my side during the compilation of that exposition which the reader is about to peruse. Before, however, I proceed to commentators, I must say a word, in the first place, of the different versions of the Psalms which the Church has employed. The two put forth by S. Jerome, both from the LXX., claim the only especial notice. Of these the one was prepared at Rome at the instigation of S. Damasus: the other, in Palestine, at the solicitation of S. Paula and her daughter S. Eustochium. The former, known as the Roman or Italic, was at first employed all over Europe. But S. Gregory of Tours, having introduced a copy of the second, or corrected version, into Gaul, led by the weight of his authority to its introduction there, whence it obtained the name of the Gallican. Thence it found its way into Germany, where it was struggling for mastery as early as the time of Walafrid Strabo: in Spain it intruded when the Roman Ritual supplanted the Mozarabic, in that of S. Gregory VII. It shortly invaded Italy itself; for we find S. Francis enjoining on his order the use of the Roman Office, except the Psalter. Under Sixtus IV. the Italic use survived only in the city of Rome itself, and the suburban district, marked out by a radius of forty miles from the capital. By the Council of Trent it was abrogated; but the Canons of S. John Lateran fought so strenuously for its retention, that Pius V., probably not unwilling to dispense with a decree of the Council, sanctioned their wish; and by them it is used to this day. Those Spanish Churches which have retained the Mozarabic use have also retained this version. The modern Roman Breviary employs it in many versicles and responses, and from it the 95th Psalm is always recited, except on the Epiphany. Hence that Psalm exhibits some marked differences from the Vulgate, as when it gives, “Forty years long was I near this generation,” instead of “was I grieved with this generation.” And where it introduces the curious addition: “For the LORD is a great GOD, and a great King above all gods; for the Lord will not cast out His people, because in His hands are all the corners,” &c. In this version the famous text is still retained: “Tell it out among the heathen, that the Lord hath reigned from the tree.” In this, also, occurs the passage which was received as a token of providential interference in approval of the election of S. Martin to the Episcopate,—“That Thou mightest destroy the enemy and the defender:” Defensor having been the name of the prelate who chiefly opposed the consecration of that great saint.

So again: in Psalm 17:14b, instead of “They have children at their desire,” the Italic version gives us, strangely enough, “They have swine’s flesh at their desire.”

Both these versions are printed in parallel columns, and with the various readings of the principal MSS., in the second volume of the collected works of Cardinal Thomasius: a book almost indispensable to the student of the Psalter.

I will first mention those authors who have written on the whole Psalter, and then the most valuable among such as have treated on particular Psalms.

(1.) The expositions of S. Augustine on the Psalms form one of the most valuable works of that great Doctor (+ 430.) Second only to his Commentary on S. John, they are, with that one exception, unrivalled. At the same time they must be acknowledged to be extremely unequal and dissimilar. They are sometimes, it is evident, mere extempore expositions, taken down by some zealous and affectionate auditor, and perhaps corrected subsequently by the great master himself. At other times they are laborious and well reasoned treatises against some particular heresy or schism, more especially Donatism: in essence, a controversial essay: an exposition of the Psalm merely in outward appearance. Frequently we have two different commentaries,—the one simpler, the other more elaborate. Notwithstanding the imperfections arising from the composition of a book at such different times and with such varied objects, it is indeed an everlasting heritage to the Church. No commentator ever surpassed S. Augustine in seeing CHRIST everywhere;

“Him first, Him last, Him midst and without end.”

It has been well said that where we, after considerable study, are able to discover some distant reference to our Blessed LORD, S. Augustine begins boldly; “This Psalm breathes altogether of CHRIST.” Let any one, for example, study for himself the introduction to Psalm xxxiv., written when David feigned himself mad before Achish, and trace his likeness in that action to CHRIST,—and then let him turn to S. Augustine, and admire the wonderful richness and force which he throws into his exposition. The English Church is deeply indebted to the Oxford translators of this invaluable work; and I have delighted rather to quote from them when referring to this Commentary, than to give an inferior translation of my own for the sake of being original.

(2.) The next commentator is Cassiodorus (+ 560.) Far inferior to S. Augustine, he is yet deeply indebted to him. His work has the advantage of being all of one texture: each separate exposition written with the same object, and of the same comparative length. The most striking of the observations of Cassiodorus are given by B. Bruno of Wurzburg (+ circ. 1053) in his commentary on the Psalms; and an ordinary reader may be satisfied with this compilation.

(3.) Venerable Bede (+ 735.) Under his name we have a diffuse commentary on the Psalter, which however is principally taken from Cassiodorus. His exposition of the Titles is reprinted by Thomasius, and I have made great use of it in the following pages.

(4.) Remigius, of the Abbey of S. Germanus, (+ 900) has left a commentary on the whole of the Psalter, which has been of great use to me. Having perused the larger part of it in 1843, I found my opinion of it greatly exalted by a second perusal in the autumn of last year. Deeply indebted to his predecessors, and above all to S. Augustine, the good monk frequently strikes out a path of singular beauty for himself; and many a scattered hint which he has dropped has been expanded by me in the following pages. His commentary is printed in the Lyons Bibliotheca Maxima, Vol. xvi., pp. 1045–1800.

(5.) B. Bruno of Wurzburg (+ circ. 1053) has left a compilation from the works of S. Augustine, Ven. Bede, Cassiodorus, S. Gregory, S. Jerome. I have constantly consulted it, but have not often found new light thrown on any difficult verse by it. It is given in the Bibliotheca Maxima, Vol. xviii. 26–330.

(6.) S. Bruno of Aste (+ 1120) has left an exposition of considerable ability on the Psalms, given in the twentieth volume of the Bibliotheca Maxima. It has this peculiarity, that the text is the Roman, not the Gallican. In his Preface, he says: “When I was yet a youth, I expounded the Psalter according to another translation, which in many passages differs so widely from the present translation used by the Roman Church, that the aforesaid exposition is of no use in explaining this version. That translation (i.e. the Gallican) has found many commentators: I know not of any who have expounded this. Asked therefore by my friends, and more especially by the venerable Abbat Peregrinus, I have taken pains that this version, as well as the other, should have its own exposition. He that will read it through, will not judge it superfluous, and will easily see what a distance there is between my first and second commentary. For I am not ashamed to say that which blessed Paul the Apostle and master of the Gentiles was not ashamed to say, ‘When I was a child, I spake as a child, I thought as a child, I understood as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.’ ” It is this peculiarity which gives his especial value to S. Bruno: but there is a freshness and naïveté in his exposition, which renders it extremely interesting—more interesting perhaps to read than valuable to quote.

(7.) Euthymius Zigabenus (+ 1125.) This Monk of Constantinople, who was a court favourite, and appears to have been an able man, has left a longish Exposition on the Psalms, the more valuable to us, as getting out of the beaten track of Western exposition, and reflecting the teaching of the great Doctors of the East. I know not that the original has ever been published: I use the Latin translation in the nineteenth volume of the Bibliotheca Maxima, and have derived great advantage from it.

(8.) The “Golden Commentary” of Gerhohus the Great (1093–1169) is of unspeakable value. Prior of Reichersperg, its author was the most celebrated German theologian of that latter age; and he flings himself on its horrible corruptions with a vigour and force which render him a worthy follower of S. Gregory VII., and S. Peter Damiani. Like S. Augustine against the Donatists, he turns the Psalms against the flagrant vices, and especially the Simony, of his own age, in a way which imparts great novelty, as well as great earnestness, to his words. His Commentary, a folio volume of 1100 pages in double columns, was first printed by the indefatigable Pez, the same whose life was sacrificed to the intensity of his study. His exposition of Psalms 46–51 has been lost by the partial destruction of the MS. When we come to Psalm 79, we read the following:

“Having finished the 78th Psalm, we ought to begin the exposition of the 79th, were it not that ‘the night cometh, when no man can work.’ We must therefore leave a gap from hence till the 119th, which we have heretofore expounded, as GOD gave us the power, and carried on that Commentary to the end of the Psalter. But now, by the powers of darkness, we are compelled to intermit that work.” He alludes to the tremendous struggle between the See of Rome and the German Empire, in which he played a distinguished part. These gaps are, by Pez, filled up with the unpublished exposition of Honorius of Autun, (+ circ. 1140,) the celebrated author of the Gemma Animæ: a Commentary, the beauty of which, in the extracts presented to us, makes us wish for the whole work.

The first written part of the actual Commentary of Gerhohus (Psalms 119–150) is inferior in quality to, as well as shorter than, the latter portion (Psalms 1–78.) This last is eminently beautiful and original: not so much a compilation from earlier authors, as the composition of Gerhohus himself. This is the consequence of his frequent application of his text to the circumstances of the times; and is nowhere more conspicuous than in his Commentary on Psalm 65, a complete theologico-political treatise, addressed to Eugenius III., the substance of which is comprised in the lines, quoted by the author:

“Romam vexat adhuc amor immoderatus habendi,

Quem non extinguet, nisi Judicis ira tremendi.”

The twelfth century saw the old battle between Nestorianism and Eutychianism fought out in Germany: Gerhohus distinguished himself among the assailants of the former heresy: he did not always so entirely escape the charge of the latter. His comments on Psalm 8, ver. 2; and 13, ver. 1; and 56, ver. 4; require to be read in a judgment of charity. Take for example the following passages on Psalm 56: “Non ita potest a Christi humanitate separari ejus Divinitas, quia et humanitas ejus divinita, et divinitas humanata est: factumque est unum electrum de duabus et in duabus existens Naturis, unius tamen fulgoris aurei: quia humanitas assumpta conglorificata et conclarificata est assumendo se clarissimæ Divinitati.”

I am bound to point out the singular beauty of the application of the Gloria Patri at the end of each Psalm, to its circumstances, and to its teaching. All this part of my own work is drawn entirely from Gerhohus.

(9.) S. Albertus Magnus (+ 1280.) His commentary on the Psalms forms the seventh volume in Jammy’s edition of his works. In this, as in all the Saint’s writings, his perpetual reference to, and grasp over Scripture—in which he was not excelled by any doctor of the Church with the exception of S. Anthony of Padua,—render his exposition extremely valuable. It is almost entirely Biblical, and very little indebted to any of its predecessors. It is right to say that I did not begin to use this work regularly, till I had completed the 21st Psalm; and the reader may observe that the longer I have been acquainted with it, the more I have drawn from it.

(10.) From Ludolph the Carthusian (+ circ. 1350) we have a Commentary on the Psalms, which I cannot but think unworthy of the celebrated and pious author of the “Life of CHRIST.” It seems chiefly compiled from S. Jerome, S. Augustine, and Cassiodorus: the sentences are broken: and there is but little of warmth and life in the exposition. I employ the Spires edition of 1491: a black-letter folio, double columns, pp. 464.

(11.) To my own mind the Commentary of Michael Ayguan (+ 1416) is on the whole, the best of those that have been contributed to the treasury of the Church; though wanting the unction of Gerhohus and Dionysius, and the marvellous Scriptural knowledge of S. Augustine. To me it has been, as it were, a dear companion for the last fifteen years: during that period I have read it through three times, and each time with a higher admiration of its marvellous depth, richness, and beauty. While he draws unsparingly on the treasures of those who preceded him, more especially on S. Augustine, S. Jerome, Cassiodorus, S. Gregory, and Venerable Bede, he has much that is original,—surprisingly much, considering how many authors have devoted themselves to the same task. I employ the Lyons edition of 1673, a noble folio, of more than 1100 pages in closely printed double columns. The work long went under the title of that of the Author Incognitus: its writer being unknown. Michael Ayguan, a native of Bologna, was born about 1340, and entered at an early age into the Carmelite Order, of which he subsequently became General. In the Great Schism he was a strenuous supporter of the party of Urban VI., and, after a long and laborious life, died in the place of his birth, Dec. 1, 1416. Fully two-ninths of the following pages are derived, directly and indirectly, from this great work.

(12.) Dionysius the Carthusian (+ 1471.) This exquisitely beautiful writer excels himself in his commentary on the Psalms. It is wonderful that so voluminous an author should have been, in this exposition, so little indebted to other commentators; but he is one of the most original, vying even, in this respect, with Gerhohus himself. Of each Psalm he gives two expositions: that which he calls the literal, referring it to our LORD; and the tropological, which understands it of the faithful soul. In the latter explanation I have borrowed largely from him: though I only began to use his work at the sixth verse of the 22nd Psalm. I use the Cologne edition of 1558, folio, double columns, pp. 780. I owe this book to the kindness of my publisher.

(13.) Jacobus Parez de Valentia, Bishop of Christopolis. His expositions on the Psalms are heavy; and have but little either of novelty or of grasp over former commentators. They must have been popular however, for I employ the third edition, that of Jehan Petit, Paris 1518. It is a folio of 616 pages. This work I did not begin to employ till the end of the 22nd Psalm.

These are the primitive and mediæval writers on the Psalter whom I have used. Of those who have written since the revival of letters, the two following have been of the greatest assistance to me.

(14.) John Lorinus, who lived from 1569 to 1634, a Jesuit Priest, left a Commentary on the Psalms which has been more than once reprinted. I quote from the Cologne edition of 1619, in three folio volumes, double columns, with an average of 900 pages in each. He treats very fully on the literal and grammatical sense of the Psalms: the mystical interpretation, though by no means forgotten, is given in such a manner as to be far less valuable. He would appear to have studied most laboriously the writers of later centuries; and it is in this point of view that he is especially useful. On the whole, this is the best of the learned commentaries on the Psalms; and I owe very much to it.

(15.) Balthazar Corderius (he lived from 1592 to 1650,) also a Jesuit Priest, has given us, in three volumes, an Expositio Patrum Græcorum in Psalmos. He discovered in the library of the Elector of Bavaria a Greek Commentary on the Psalms, which he afterwards learnt, from a Roman MS., to be the composition of Theodorus of Heraclea. This Theodorus, who died in A.D. 355, was a leading Bishop among the better sort of Semi-Arians, and one of those who, afterwards, when the final choice had to be made, returned to the Church. His work on the Psalms has been much and deservedly praised by S. Jerome, and other ecclesiastical writers. Besides this, Corderius availed himself of one or two other Greek MSS., containing Catenæ on the Psalms from various Fathers. His work is thus arranged: each Psalm has first the LXX. Version, with a paraphrase of Theodorus; then a commentary of the same writer; then a valuable Catena, in which Theodoret, Eusebius, Didymus, Origen, and Ammonius, are the authors principally cited; and lastly, a commentary of Corderius himself, very excellent, and especially useful from its quotation of detailed passages from Primitive and Mediæval writers, bearing on particular verses, but not included in distinct commentaries on the Psalter. The life and unction of these notes are very edifying.

These, then, are the commentators on the whole Psalter whose works I have, in the following work, employed. Those from whom I have made the most frequent quotations are referred to in the side-notes by the following initials:—

A.              S. Augustine.

Ay.              Michael Ayguan.

B.              S. Bruno of Aste.

C.              Cassiodorus.

Cd.              Balthazar Corderius.

D. C.              Dionysius the Carthusian.

G.              Gerhohus.

H.              S. Hilary.

L.              Lorinus.

Lu.              Ludolphus.

P.              Parez.

R.              Remigius of S. Germanus.

Z.              Euthymius Zigabenus.

Of those commentators who have written on select Psalms only, these have been my chief guides:—

(1.) S. Hilary (+ 368) has left a commentary on Psalms 1, 2, 10, 14, 15, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 92, 119, 120, 121, &c., to the end. These expositions are well worthy the reputation of that great Father. The fault which S. Jerome imputes to him, of sentences too long and involved, and a style too florid and intricate, is more noticeable here than perhaps in any other of his works: nevertheless, the exposition is truly valuable; and its frequent allusions to the Divinity of our LORD, so natural in one of the pillars of orthodoxy against the Arians, add greatly to its importance. If fewer references will be found to it in the following pages than its intrinsic merit would seem to demand, the reason is that subsequent writers have, in copying from S. Hilary, developed and improved upon his meaning; and I have thus alluded to them rather than to him.

(2.) S. Cyril of Alexandria (+ 444.) Mr. Philip Puscy, who is engaged on that desideratum, an edition of the whole works of this saint, sent me, with the greatest kindness, the proofs of yet unpublished fragments on the Psalms. The commentary embraces Psalm 85, 87, 89, 91 to 106 inclusive, and a few further fragments.

(3.) S. Prosper (+ 463) has left a commentary on the last fifty Psalms. The hyper-Augustinianism of this author agrees but ill with the overflowing and superabounding grace of the Psalms; and I do not think that any commentator will derive much advantage from the study of this.

(4.) S. Gregory the Great (+ 606.) His exposition of the seven penitential Psalms is most beautiful and touching. Would that he had thus treated the whole Psalter!

(5.) S. Alcuin (+ 804,) on the Penitential and Gradual Psalms. Not of very much value.

(6.) Walafrid Strabo (+ 849.) Though chiefly a compilation, yet his exposition on the first twenty Psalms is well put together, and well repays study.

(7.) Erchempertus (+ 890.) His commentary on some few of the Psalms combines so much pathos and earnestness, as to make one wish that this good monk had extended his labours in the same field.

(8.) Oddo of Aste (+ 1120.) This pious monk has left a commentary on Psalms 1 to 44, and 86 to 110, written at the instigation of, and dedicated to, S. Bruno of Aste. It is to be found in the Bibliotheca Patrum, vol. xx., p. 1816 to 1871. Though it has constantly lain at my side, I cannot say that it has afforded me more assistance than one or two pithy remarks, acknowledged in their place.

(9.) Hugh of S. Victor (+ 1130.) He has only left an exposition of the most obscure verses of the Psalter; but that is so truly valuable, as to make one regret that he did not extend his labours to the whole book. Perhaps, in proportion to its size, no commentary has yielded so much to the following pages as that of this great light of the Abbey of S. Victor.

(10.) S. Bernard (+ 1157.) His exquisite commentary on the 90th Psalm leads one to wish that this great Father had laboured on the whole Psalter.

(11.) S. Thomas Aquinas (+ 1274.) The commentary on the Psalms of this great doctor of the Church does not extend beyond the 50th: it was perhaps interrupted by his premature death. I have frequently consulted it; and when I read it through in the year 1843, was very much struck with the additional proof it gives of what we know from other sources to have been the case,—the exceeding popularity of S. Thomas in preaching to the poor. This exposition, thrown into modern language, and with a modern turn to its illustrations, would, I doubt not, be exceedingly relished by an earnest but illiterate congregation. The depth of many of the observations, and the perspicuity and accuracy of the doctrine, is, as one should expect, fully worthy of the Angelic Doctor.

(12.) Pierre D’Ailly (+ 1420,) and

(13.) John Gerson (+ 1429,) both wrote on the Penitential Psalms; and both with an unction and a fervour which contrast strangely with their hard, polemic, harassed lives. Many a beautiful thought have they furnished for the following pages.

These, then, are the principal authors who have professedly commented on the Psalms, to whom my own pages are indebted; but it is needless to add that I have availed myself in no small degree of the detached remarks of Primitive and Mediæval writers, generally quoting them in the margin when I have done so.

Greater help, however, even than from these, has been derived from the Office-books of those various branches, both of the Eastern and Western Church, to which the title-page refers. The various Antiphons, Responses, Hymns, Odes,—Anthems, under whatever name, are so completely based upon, and so thoroughly explanatory of, the Psalter, as to become its most valuable commentators, and often to suggest, in one brief touch, more than half a page of formal Commentary might furnish of illustration. The books on which I have most depended are, (the Roman it is needless to particularise:)

In the EASTERN CHURCH:—The Pentecostarion, (Venice, 1837,) the Triodion (Venice, 1839;) the Menæon, (Venice, 1820,) and the Anthologion (Venice, 1838.)

In the SYRIAC CHURCH:—The offices, as given in Assemani’s Codex Liturgicus; and the hymns of S. Ephraem, as translated in the “Library of the Fathers.”

In the MOZARABIC:—The Breviary, as edited by Archbishop Lorenzana, (Madrid, 1773:) the Missal, as edited by Arevalus, (Rome, 1804.)

In the AMBROSIAN:—The Breviary, (Milan, 1841:) the Missal, (Milan, 1780.)

In the GALLICAN CHURCH:—Mabillon, De Liturgiâ Gallicanâ, (Paris, 1675,) and the edition now in course of publication by Mr. Forbes and myself, (Burntisland, 1854.)

Of Modern Gallican Breviaries,—whence many and many a beautiful idea is to be gleaned in their parallelism of the Psalter with the New Testament: principally that of Paris, (1758:) Rouen, (1728:) Amiens, (1746:) Saint Omer, (1785:) Blois, (1737:) Coutances, (1741.)

In the Arguments, Arg. Thomas. means the collection of arguments published by Thomasius, tom. ii. p. xlvi., gathered from different MSS. by himself. Many of them are of extreme antiquity and value; and I have preferred to give them entire, though some few of the allusions I do not understand.

These may be considered the principal sources whence the following pages are derived: may the many happy hours spent over them by the writer be not altogether without their profit to the Reader!

As the Collects subjoined to the Psalms have, for the sake of brevity, their conclusions marked by figures, it is proper here to give the correct terminations: adding to each the numeral by which it is referred to subsequently.

If the Collect be addressed to GOD the FATHER, the proper ending is: Through JESUS CHRIST our LORD, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the HOLY GHOST, One GOD, world without end. Amen. (1.)

If our LORD has previously been mentioned; Through the same our LORD JESUS CHRIST, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the HOLY GHOST, One GOD, world without end. Amen. (2.)

If the HOLY GHOST has been previously mentioned: like (1.) or (2.) as the case may be, only, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the same HOLY GHOST, &c. (3.) (4.)

If the prayer be addressed to GOD the SON: Who livest and reignest with the FATHER and the HOLY GHOST, ever one GOD, world without end. Amen. (5.)

If mention have been made of the HOLY GHOST: Who livest and reignest with the FATHER and the same SPIRIT, &c. (6.)

A variation of (5.) when heaven is mentioned at the end: Where with the FATHER and the HOLY GHOST, Thou livest and reignest, ever one GOD, world without end. Amen. (7.)

A variation of (6.): Where with the FATHER and the same SPIRIT, &c. (8.)

When the prayer is addressed to the Blessed TRINITY: Who livest and reignest, one GOD, world without end. Amen. 9.

In exorcisms and benedictions (where the SON is mentioned:) Who shall come to judge the quick and dead, and the world by fire. Amen. (10.)

The Mozarabic ending is—at the conclusion of the prayer, without any other termination: Amen. Through Thy mercy, O our GOD, Who art blessed, and livest and governest all things, to ages of ages. Amen. (11.)

The Ambrosian: Through JESUS CHRIST, Thy SON, our LORD:

Who liveth and reigneth with Thee

R. And the HOLY GHOST, ever one GOD, world without end. Amen. (12.)


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