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The Service of the Church of CHRIST has ever consisted of two distinct and separate parts: the one Divine, and instituted by CHRIST Himself on the eve of His Passion, the core of which is one and the game in every branch of the Catholic Church throughout the world, nor can be materially altered without risk to the validity of the rite; the other human, (so far as that can be called human which is in its essence probably of Apostolic antiquity,) and liable to adaptation and change in its details, according to the requirements of time or place.
The former of these, the Eucharist, is commonly called by us the Holy Communion; by the rest of the Latin Church, and by us traditionally, “the Mass,” and by the Greek Church the Liturgy," _a title of Scriptural origin : the book containing it being called in the Roman Church “the Missal.”
The latter is generally entitled the “Hours of Prayer.” Throughout Christendom they have ever been seven in number, and are contained, according to the use of the Roman Church, in the service-book called the “Breviary.”
At the Reformation both underwent translation and revision. With regard to the former--the Missal or Office-book of Holy Communion-we have no call to speak now. But it is necessary to enter somewhat at length into the subject of the latter before we can understand fully what is the true position occupied by the Primer.
The Breviary offices are the full forms, of which
THE Service of the Church of CHRIST has ever consisted of two distinct and separate parts: the one Divine, and instituted by Christ Himself on the eve of His Passion, the core of which is one and the same in every branch of the Catholic Church throughout the world, nor can be materially altered without risk to the validity of the rite; the other human, (so far as that can be called human which is in its essence probably of Apostolic antiquity,) and liable to adaptation and change in its details, according to the requirements of time or place.
The former of these, the Eucharist, is commonly called by us the Holy Communion; by the rest of the Latin Church, and by us traditionally, “the Mass,” and by the Greek Chureh “the Liturgy,”—a title of Scriptural origin: the book containing it being called in the Roman Church “the Missal.”
The latter is generally entitled the "Hours of Prayer » T h ut Christendom they have ever beer
and are contained, according to
in Church, in the service-book hoth underwent translation
former- the Missal
We have no call enter somewhat or before we can osition occupied
orms, of which our Matins and Evensong on the one hand, and our Primer on the other, are abridged editions. Neither of them are compilements, in any sense of the word. They are simply and solely the Breviary offices printed as they stand, with a revision and re-adaptation of certain portions here and there ; Matins and Evensong for daily public worship,—the Primer for private use in the household or the oratory. Most singularly, however, the revisions are entirely independent of one another; and (what is exceedingly remarkable) though the Primer underwent revision even later than the Common Prayer itself, it ever keeps pearer to the original offices than the Book of Common Prayer has done.
The fact is and this is a point hardly sufficiently noticed by our ritualists—that each is an abridgment of very similar yet distinct offices in the Breviary itself: the Matins and Evensong of the Common Prayer being a revision of the seven great Canonical Hours of Prayer which make up the substance of the Breviary; the Primer being a revision of the short, unvarying offices,—unvarying, because principally for private use of the laity,-called respectively “ Officium Parvum B. V. M.," " Hours of the Virgin," " Sarum Hours," or sometimes “Enchiridion.”
The first of these offices is that which is found in the Breviary. It is closely akin to, but not identical with, the full office of the B. V. M. on festivals. This Officium Parvum is of the most remote antiquity : how remote cannot be ascertained with certainty ; but it is known to have been in use in the seventh century, and can therefore boast of a pedigree of two centuries over a millennium. It underwent revision at the hands of Peter Damiani in the eleventh century. It would appear, therefore, that we possess it now in the shape which it finally attained a little before the Norman conquest.
The number of the Hours of Prayer--the “ Canonical” Hours as they have been generally called has ever been seven in the Church of CHRIST; and this not only in the Latin Communion of the West under
the Patriarchate of Rome, but in the vast, unchanging Eastern Church, with its innumerable offshoots, both orthodox and heretical. Into the subject of the Apos. tolic antiquity of the Hours of Prayer this is no place to enter. The inquirer will find the question most ably handled in Mr. Freeman's Principles of Divine Service, and other first-class liturgical works. A useful summary of Patristic notices is given in the preface to the Hours in Bishop Cosin's Hours of Prayer, a book which, as an edition of the Seven Canonical Hours, was exceedingly popular till the close of the last century. I myself possess a copy of the tenth edition, which I picked up for ninepence the other day at a bookstall in the market-place of a country town, dated 1719.
The names of the Seven Canonical Hours are as follows:
1. Matins and Lauds, before daybreak.
7. Compline (“Completorium," i.e., winding up of the day), bed-time.
These Seven Hours are coincident with the Acts of the Passion; as is well expressed in these lines of Durandus, translated, I believe, by Dr. Neale :" At Matins bound, at Prime reviled, condemned to death at
Tierce, Nailed to the Cross at Sext, at Nones his Blessed Side they
pierce; They take him down at Vesper-tide, in grave at Compline
lay, Who thenceforth bids his Church observe her sevenfold
Hours alway.” Over and above this commemoration of the Passion a special and independent significance has ever attached to three of the Hours. (1.) To Matins, as being the service whose voice shall be rising to heaven when the feet of the Bridegroom shall be heard.