Etymology. The word Matins is derived from Matuta, the Latin name for the Greek goddess of morning. The word used in the Roman Breviary is matutinum (i.e., tempus). It is the old name for Lauds, Laudes matutinae. The word was also used to denote the office of Vigils. Hence, the word was used in three senses, to denote the nocturns and lauds, to denote Lauds only and to denote the vigil office. In liturgical study the word was confusing, and sometimes it is the context only which gives the author's meaning. This, the principal Hour of the Church's public prayer, was, in the early days of Christianity, said at night, and was called Nocturnum and Vigiliae.

Origin. The night office of vigils dates from the very earliest days of Christianity. It derived its name from the vigils or night watches of the soldiers, who divided the night, from six o'clock in the evening to six o'clock in the morning, into four watches of three hours each. The nightly meetings of the Christians came to be called by the name vigils, but the meetings were not begun at the stated hours of military vigil and did not finish with them. Why these meetings of Christians were held at night, and in what their religious exercises consisted in, both in matter and form, is an unsolved problem. But it is certain that they resembled the services of the Jewish synagogue in the readings from Scripture, psalm-singing and prayers, and differed from those services by having readings from the Gospels, the Epistles, and from non-canonical books, such as the Epistle of St. Clement. The Eucharistic service always formed part of them. Indeed, the very name, Synagogue was given to these assemblies of Christians, as we see from the Pastor of Hermes. In their common prayer, they faced towards the East, as the Jews did towards Jerusalem. They had precentors and janitors as in the Jewish rites. Their services consisted of the readings from the Mosaic law, from Gospels and Epistles, exposition of Scripture, a set sermon, long and fervent "blessings" or thanksgiving and psalms. Before there were any written gospels to read, we gather that the reading of the Old Law, of the Prophets and the Psalms, was followed by a set sermon on the life and death of Christ (Bickel, Messe und Pascha, p, 91). From St. Basil (fourth century) it is concluded that two choirs sang the Psalms. Cassian writes that the monks of the fifth century celebrated the Night Office with twelve psalms and readings from the Old and the New Testaments. Hence, "we find the same elements repeated, the psalms generally chanted in the form of responses, that is to say, by one or more cantors, the choir repeating one verse which served as a response, alternately with the verses of the psalms, which were sung by the cantors, readings taken from the Old and the New Testaments and, later on, from the works of the Fathers and Doctors; litanies, supplications, prayers for divers members of the Church, clergy, faithful, neophytes and catechumens; for emperors, travellers; the sick; and generally for all the necessities of the Church, and even for Jews and for heretics. It is quite easy to find these essentials in our modern Matins" (Dom Cabrol, Cath. Encyclopedia, art. "Matins").

Matins on account of its length and position in the Breviary is the most important part of the daily Office. And, on account of the variety and beauty of its elements, is considered the most remarkable.

The prayer Pater Noster begins the Office. It is the Lord's prayer, divina institutions formata, when Christ told His Apostles "Sic vos orabitis" (St. Matt. vi. 9). It is the most excellent of all prayers, being most excellent in its author, its form, its depth of meaning, its effects. The prayer consists of a preface, "Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." And in the body of the prayer are seven petitions—three for the honour and glory of God, in and by ourselves, and four for our own wants, spiritual and temporal. Very excellent matter on the greatest of prayers is to be found in the Catechism of the Council of Trent (translation, Duffy, Dublin) and in A Lapide (St. Matt. vi.). Writers on liturgy say that the recitation of the Pater Noster as the opening prayer of Matins was not obligatory until the beginning of the twelfth century. It is said that the monks were wont to say a Pater Noster at each altar in the church before entering their stalls for Office recitation. This practice delayed the beginning of the Office in choir, and a rule was made that those who wished to say this prayer must say it in their stalls, in a low tone. Of course, in the Breviary of Pius V. (1568) this practice became obligatory on each person bound to read the Hours.

Ave Maria. This is a leading prayer amongst the great prayers of the Mass and the Office. It, too, is excellent in its authors, its form (clear, short devotional), in motive (in honouring Mary, Mother of God, and in begging her intercession). It is divided into three parts, the words of the angel, of St. Elizabeth and of the Church, Devout thoughts on this prayer have been penned by countless clients of Mary in every age. Priests are familiar with many such writings, great and small, but A Lapide (St. Luke I.) bears reading and re-reading. The prayer, as it stands in the Breviary to-day, is not of very ancient date. "In point of fact there is little or no trace of the Hail Mary as an accepted devotional formula before 1050.... To understand the developments of the devotion, it is important to grasp the fact that the Ave Maria was merely a form of greeting. It was, therefore, long customary to accompany the words with some external gesture of homage, a genuflexion, or at least an inclination of the head.... In the time of St. Louis the Ave Maria ended with the words benedictus fructus ventris tui: it has since been extended by the introduction both of the Holy Name and of a clause of petition.... We meet the Ave as we know it now, printed in the Breviary of the Camaldolese monks and in that of the Order de Mercede C. 1514. ... The official recognition of the Ave Maria in its complete form, though foreshadowed in the Catechism of the Council of Trent, was finally given in the Roman Breviary of 1568" (Father Thurston, S.J., Cath. Encyclopedia, art. "Hail Mary.")

Credo. The Apostles' Creed is placed at the beginning of Matins, because Matins is the beginning of the whole Office, and faith is the beginning, the principium of every supernatural work. St. Paul teaches us that it is necessary for us to stir up our faith when we approach God, "For he that cometh to God must believe that He is." In reciting the Creed we should think of the sublime truths of our faith, and our hearts should feel, what our lips say, "For with the heart we believe unto justice; but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom. x. 10). We should remember too, that this formula of faith comes to us from Apostolic times and that it has been repeated millions of times by saints and martyrs; their sentiments of belief, of confidence in God and love of God should be ours.

Domine labia mea aperies. The practice of this beautiful invocation dates from the time of St. Benedict (480-553). In his Office it stood after the words Deus in adjutorium. These words Domine labia mea aperies, taken from the Psalm Miserere, remind us of God purifying the lips of Isaias His prophet with a burning coal, of how God opened the lips of Zachary to bless God and to prophesy. "And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke blessing God" (St. Luke, i. 64). Very appropriately, does the priest reciting the Divine Office ask God to open his lips, to fortify his conscience, to touch his heart.

Deus in adjutorium. These words, the opening words of Psalm 69, were always and everywhere used by the monks of old, says Cassian, who called this short prayer the formula of piety, the continual prayer. The Church repeats it often in her Office. St. John Climacus says it is the great cry of petition for help to triumph over our invisible enemy, who wishes to distract us and to mar our prayer. It should be said with humility and with confidence in God. In repeating these holy words we make the sign of the Cross; for, all grace comes from the sacrifice of the Cross; and besides, it is a holy and an ancient practice to begin all good works with the sacred sign.

Gloria Patri. This little prayer indicates the purpose and end of the recitation of the Office, the glory of the Holy Trinity. "Bring to the Lord glory and honour; bring to the Lord glory to His name" (Psalm 28). The many repetitions of this formula in the Church liturgy shows the great honour which she pays to it, and the trust she places in its efficacy. It was especially loved by St. Francis of Assisi, who said that it contained all wisdom.

This form of doxology, "Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost," was adopted to repel Arianism, by giving to the faithful a compact theological formula by which they could end every dispute. Some authors quote St. Ephrem (circa 363) as the originator of this much-used prayer. The form would seem to be of Syrian origin, translated into Greek and later into Latin (Dom Cambrol, Dictionnaire d' Archeologie Chretienne, I., 2282, et seq., word Antienne, Liturgie; Month, May, 1910).

Invitatory. Venite Adoremus.... The cry of the Church calling on all to adore and praise God, Who has done all for us, Who is the Great Shepherd, and we, the sheep of His fold, should not harden our hearts as did the ungrateful Jews. We should pray for all, Catholics, infidels and sinners.

"A message from the saints. Let us imagine, like St. Stephen at his martyrdom, we are privileged to see the heavens opened, and before our eyes the City of God, with its twelve gates all of pearl, and its streets of pure gold, as it were transparent glass, is laid bare, and that we see the angels in their legions, and the redeemed of the Lord around the throne of God. Thousands of thousands are ministering to Him," as St. John tells us, "and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stand before Him," and we hear the voice of God, as the noise of many waters in company with that great multitude which no man can number, out of every tribe and nation, clothed in white robes, with palms in their hands, coming into Sion with praise, with everlasting joy upon their heads, for from their eyes God has wiped away all tears, and sorrow and mourning have fled away.

"There are the white-robed army of Martyrs, holy Confessors, too, men of renown in their generation, and Virgins, the Spouses of Christ: there are those who have come through great tribulation, who once, perchance, were far from God, but have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and are now numbered among the people of God, sitting in the beauty of peace and in the tabernacle of confidence and in wealthy rest. Let us bring them all before us in vision. They have overcome the beast and are standing by the sea of glass, having the harps of God; the Prince of Pastors has appeared to them and they have received a never-failing crown of glory and by the Lamb of God they have been led to fountains of the waters of life." Let us listen as they sing their canticle to God, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, who is and who was and who is to come"; let us listen as they sing to us, for we are fellow citizens with them, and where they are we also must be if we remain faithful to the end. What do they sing, "O come let us praise the Lord with joy; let us joyfully sing to God, our Saviour" (Sing ye to the Lord, pp. 94-95–Rev. R. Eaton).

The authorship of this psalm—which is said daily in Matins—is attributed to David in the Septuagint and Vulgate. Its Latin form in the invitatory differs slightly from the Vulgate text. The Breviary retains here the text of St. Jerome's revision and the Vulgate contains the second and more correct revision.

Hymns. The hymn is an answer to the invitation given to us in the invitatory, to praise God and to rejoice with Him. It is a song of joy and praise. Hymns were introduced into the Divine Office in the Eastern Church before the time of St. Ambrose (340-397). To combat the Arians, who spread their errors by verse set to popular airs, St. Ambrose, it is said, introduced public liturgical hymn-singing in his church in Milan, and his example was followed gradually through the Western Church. (See Note A, infra.)

The final stanza of a Breviary hymn is called the doxology ([Greek: doxa] praise, [Greek: logos] speech), a speaking of praise. Hymns which have the final stanza proper, the Ave Maris stella, Lauds hymn of the Blessed Sacrament, Matins hymn for several Martyrs, the first Vesper hymn of the Office of Holy Cross, and the Vesper hymns of St. Venantius and St. John Cantius, never change the wording of the stanza.

But, where the metre of the hymn admits such a change as possible in the last stanza.

(a) From Christmas to Epiphany Jesu tibi sit gloria, Qui natus es de Virgine is inserted in all hymns, even on saints' offices.

(b) From Epiphany till end of its octave, Jesu tibi sit gloria, Qui apparuisti gentibus.

(c) From Low Sunday till Ascension Thursday, on Pentecost Sunday and its octave, all hymns end in Deo Patri sit gloria, Et Filio qui a mortuis.

This is the ending for all hymns of saints' feasts in Paschal times, excepting those hymns mentioned above.

(d) From Ascension to Pentecost (except in the hymn Salutis humanae Sator) the doxology is Jesu tibi sit gloria, Qui victor in coelum redis.

(e) Feast of Transfiguration has Jesu, tibi sit gloria, Qui te revelas parvulis.

In all other hymns the doxology is read as it is printed in the Breviary.

Antiphons. Antiphon, coming from Greek words meaning a re-echoing of the sound, is a chant performed alternately by two choirs, and was used in pagan drama, long before the Christian era. At what date it was introduced into Church liturgy it is difficult to determine. Some say it was introduced by St. Ignatius, second Bishop of Antioch. It is certain that it was used by bishops and priests to attract, retain and teach the faithful during the Arian heresy. In church music, the lector ceased to recite the psalm as a solo and the faithful divided into two choirs, united in the refrain Gloria Patri.

With us, the antiphon generally is a verse or verses from Scripture, recited before and after each psalm. "The verse which serves as the antiphon text contains the fundamental thought of the psalm to which it is sung and indicates the point of view from which it is to be understood. In other words, it gives the key to the liturgical and mystical meaning of the psalm, with regard to the feast on which it occurs" (Cath. Encycl., art. "Antiphon").

Psalms. In the Breviary, before the recent reform, twelve psalms were recited in the first nocturn of Sundays and on ferias. This recitation of twelve psalms was, Cassian tells us, caused by the apparition of an angel, who appeared to the monks and sang at one session twelve psalms, terminating with Alleluia. The event was mentioned at the Council of Tours, In the new reform, nine psalms are recited at Matins; they should, the old writers on liturgy tell us, remind us of the nine choirs of angels who without ceasing sing God's praise.

In the new Psalter, the Psalms have been divided into two large divisions, Psalms I.—CVIII. being assigned to the night Office, Matins; and Psalms CIX.—CL. for the day Offices, Lauds to Compline. From this latter division has been made:–

(1) a selection of psalms suitable by their character and meaning to Lauds (vide infra, psalms at Lauds);

(2) a selection of psalms suitable to Compline;

(3) the psalms long used in the small Hours of Sunday's Office;

(4) the first psalms assigned by Pope Pius V. to Prime on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The remaining psalms are divided into seven groups, in simple numerical order. The psalms of Matins generally come first, and are followed immediately by the groups of psalms for the day Hours.

In the new Breviary, seven new canticles are added to the ten, which stood in the older book. The ten taken from the old and from the new Testament are Audite coeli (Deut., chap. 32) in Lauds for Saturday; Benedicite (Daniel, chap. 3) Sunday's Lauds; Cantemus (Exod., chap. 15) Thursday's Lauds; Confitebor (Isaias, chap. 12) Monday's Lauds; Domine audivi (Habacuc, chap. 3) Friday's Lauds; Ego dixi (Isaias, chap. 38) Tuesday's Lauds; Exultavit (I. Kings, chap 2) Wednesday's Lauds. From the new Testament we have Benedictus, Magnificat, Nunc dimittis. To these are now added Audite verbum (Jeremias, chap. 31), Benedictus es (I. Paralip., chap. 29), Benedictus es (Daniel, chap. 3), Hymnum cantemus (Judith, chap. 16), Magnus es (Tobias, chap. 13), Miserere nostri (Ecclus. 36), Vere tu es Deus (Isaias, chap. 45). (Cf. The New Psalter, Burton and Myers, pp. 51-52).

"The psalms retain the accentuation of the Latin words, which was inserted at the request of Pius V. in the Reformed Breviary of 1568; and also the asterisk, which was introduced to mark the division of the verses of the Psalms in Urban VIII.'s Reform in 1632." The verse division of the psalms do not, in the Breviary, always coincide with those of the Vulgate—e.g., Psalm X.:–


Dominus in templo sancto suo Dominus in templo sancto suo Dominus in coelo sedes ejus Dominus in coela sedes ejus: (v.4). Oculi ejus in pauperem respsiciunt; palpebrae ejus interrogant filios hominum (verse 5).

The present verse divisions of the Vulgate were introduced by a Calvinistic printer of Geneva, who used them in an edition of the Greek new Testament published in 1561. Formerly, biblical chapters were, for sake of reference, divided into seven sections denoted by letters of the alphabet a, b, c, etc. In the older breviaries, the reference to the little lesson at Compline stood, I. Pet. v.c. The new Breviary has adopted the modern form of reference, and we now read I. Pet. v. 8-9. It is sometimes confusing to find reference made to the psalms by non-Catholic writers. This arises from the different method of numbering which is used by them. In the Greek version of the old Testament—the septuagent—the Psalter is arranged differently from the Hebrew. Psalms 9 and 10 are counted as one and so are Psalms 114 and 115, but 116 and 117 are divided into two, leaving the complete number 150, as in the Hebrew version. The Vulgate and the Douay version follow the Greek, and Psalm 9 contains 21 verses, not 38 as in the English Authorised Version. The English revised version follows the numbering of the Vulgate.

"Our Latin version of the Psalms is that of the old Itala; it was not made directly on the Hebrew original ... it is then a translation (the Greek). By the time of St. Jerome, it had become very faulty, owing to the very many transcriptions which had been made of it; and this great scholar revised it, about 383 A.D., on the request of Pope Damascus. His corrections were not very numerous, because, he feared to upset, by too many changes, the habits of the faithful, most of whom knew the psalms by heart. This first version is known as the Roman Psalter. It was soon deemed insufficient. St. Jerome once more set to work between 387 and 391, and published a second edition, more carefully and more extensively corrected, of the Italic version of the Psalms; it is called the Gallican Psalter, because it was adopted by the churches of Gaul. When he, later on, translated the Old Testament from the Hebrew, he published his third edition of the Psalms, the Hebraic Psalter. This version was a good one, but the faithful were so familiar with the old Itala psalter that the Church, in her wisdom, thought best to keep it in the editions of the Vulgate according to the Gallican form.... Our official version of the psalms is then in many ways defective. It is frequently incorrect and barbarous in style, obscure in places, and even fails at times to give the exact sense of the original. Although our Vulgate is not perfect, it possesses admirable strength and conciseness, joined to an agreeable savour which gives it the greatest value and causes the words of the sacred singers, under this form of the Latin spoken by the people, to strike the mind and become engraved upon the memory much better than if they were clothed in all the elegance of a modern tongue" (Vigouroux; Manuel Biblique, tom. ii., 663-664).

The following replies by the Biblical Commission (May, 1910) may not be deemed out of place:–

I. Whether the appellations, Psalms of David, Hymns of David, Davidical Psaltery, employed in the old collections and in the Councils themselves to designate the Book of the one hundred and fifty Psalms of the Old Testament, as well as the opinion of many Fathers and Doctors who held that absolutely all the psalms of the Psaltery are to be ascribed to David alone, have so much force that David must be regarded as the sole author of the entire Psaltery?

ANSWER: In the negative.

II. Whether it may rightly be argued from the concordance of the Hebrew text with the Alexandrine Greek text and other ancient versions, that the titles prefixed to the Hebrew text are older than the version known as the Septuagint, and that therefore they have been derived if not from the authors themselves of the Psalms at least from the ancient Judaic tradition?

ANSWER: In the affirmative.

III. Whether the said titles of the Psalms, as witnesses of Judaic tradition, may be prudently called into question when there is no grave argument against their genuineness?

ANSWER: In the negative.

IV. Whether, considering the not unfrequent testimonies of the Sacred Scripture concerning the natural skill of David, illumined by the gift of the Holy Ghost, in the composition of religious canticles, the institutions laid down by him for the liturgical chant of the Psalms, the attribution to him of Psalms made both in the Old and New Testament and in the very inscriptions which have been prefixed to the Psalms from antiquity, and in addition to all this the agreement of the Jews and the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, it can be prudently denied that David is the principal author of the canticles of the Psaltery, or that it can be affirmed that only a few of the canticles are to be attributed to the Royal Psalmist?

ANSWER: In the negative to both parts.

V. Whether, specifically, the Davidical origin can be denied of those psalms which both in the Old and the New Testament are cited expressly under the name of David, among which are specially to be reckoned Psalm II., "Quare fremuerunt gentes"; Psalm XV., "Conserva me Domine"; Psalm XVII., "Diligam te, Domine fortitudo mea"; Psalm XXXI., "Beati quorum remissae sunt iniquitates"; Psalm LXVIII., "Salvum me fac, Deus"; Psalm CIX., "Dixit Dominus Domino meo"?

ANSWER: In the negative.

VI. Whether it is possible to admit the opinion of those who hold that among the Psalms of the Psaltery there are some, either of David or of other authors which on account of liturgical or musical reasons, the carelessness of amanuenses or other unknown causes, have been divided or united; and also that there are other Psalms such as the "Miserere mei, Deus," which in order that they might be better adapted to the historical circumstances or solemnities of the Jewish people have been slightly revised or modified, by the omission or addition of a versicle or two saving, however, the inspiration of the whole sacred text?

ANSWER: In the affirmative to both parts.

VII. Whether the opinion can with probability be maintained of those among more recent writers who have endeavoured to show from merely internal indications or an inaccurate interpretation of the sacred text that not a few of the psalms were composed after the time of Esdras and Nehemias, or even after the time of the Macchabees?

ANSWER: In the negative.

VIII. Whether from the manifold testimonies of the Sacred Books of the New Testament, and the unanimous agreement of the Fathers, as well as from the admission of the writers of the Jewish people, several prophetic and Messianic psalms are to be recognised, as prophesying concerning the coming kingdom, priesthood, passion, death and resurrection of the future Redeemer; and that therefore the opinion is to be absolutely rejected of those who, perverting the prophetic and Messianic character of the Psalms, twist these same prophecies regarding Christ into merely a prediction regarding the future lot of the chosen people?

ANSWER: In the affirmative to both parts.

On May 1, 1910, in an audience graciously granted to both Most Reverend Consultors Secretaries His Holiness approved the foregoing answers and ordered that they be published.

Rome, May 1, 1910.



Consultors Secretaries.

The Psalms were always dear to the hearts of Christians. Our Lord died with the words of a psalm on His sacred lips: "Into thy hands I commend my spirit" (Psalm 30, v. 6). Millions of dying Christians have repeated His great prayer. On the Church's very birthday, when St. Peter preached the first Christian sermon, he had three texts and two of them were from the Psalms (Acts II.). To an educated and rigid Pharisee like St. Paul they were a treasure house of teaching. To the early Christians the Psalms were a prayer book, for there was no Christian literature. It was twenty-five years after the Ascension before the first books of the New Testament were written. Hence St. Paul and St. James tell their fellow Christians to use the Psalms in worship (Ephesians, v. 19; Colos. iii. 16; I. St. James 5-13). Some of the greatest of the early Christian writers and saints, Origen, St. Athanasius, Hilary of Poitiers, St. Ambrose, St. Chrysostom, Bede, and St. Augustine all studied the psalms deeply and wrote learned commentaries on them. The works of later saints abound in happy and beautiful quotations from these religious poems. With them, too, as with those holy people of whom St. Chrysostom wrote, "David is first, last and midst." For many years no priest was ordained who could not recite the whole Psalter without the aid of a book, This veneration of the inspired words deserves respect and imitation. The learned Calmet (1672-1757) writing of the universal esteem and study of the Psalms, said that then there existed more than a thousand commentaries on them. Since then, the number has been doubled; so great and universal is the reverence and esteem in which this book of Scripture is held. To conclude this very long note on the Psalms I quote the quaint words of a mediaeval poet. It shows how the saints of old found their Master in the songs of His great ancestor:–

Rithmis et sensu verborum consociatum Psalterium Jesu, sic est opus hoc vocitatum, Qui legit intente, quocunque dolore prematur, Sentiet inde bonum, dolor ejus et alleviatur; Ergo pius legat hoc ejus sub amore libenter, Cujus ibi Nomen scriptum videt esse frequenter.

Versicle and respond are placed after the psalms and before the lessons to rouse the attention which is necessary before all prayer, and the lessons are a noble form of prayer. These little prayers are of very ancient origin and were dealt with by Alcuin (735-804) in his recension of the Gregorian books for use in Gaul. His pupil, Amalare, also studied them, so that a meaning should be found in what was sung, and that the truncated repetitions should be avoided. He retained what was traditional and ancient, introduced versicles and responds taken from ancient Roman books and from books belonging to Metz, selected passages from the Gospels which seem to fit in with the antiphons and added them to what he found in the Roman books, made alterations in the order here and there and gave completion to the whole by adding some offices for saints' days proper to the Church of Metz (Baudot, The Roman Breviary, p. 88). Amalare had been administrator of the diocese of Lyons during the exile of Agobard the Archbishop. The latter, with learning and bitterness, attacked the reforms of Amalare, but, "in spite of all, the reform of Amalare held its ground in Metz, and then in the greater number of the churches north of the Alps" (Baudot, op. cit.). Much of the work of Amalare stands in our Breviary.

Pater Noster is said to beg from God, light and grace to understand the doctrine contained in the lessons. In choir, a part of the Pater Noster is said in common and in a loud voice to recall the Communion of saints.

Absolutions and Blessings. "The custom of giving a blessing before the lections was already in existence in the fourth century. The ruler of the choir, who gave it in the beginning, gave also the signal for the termination of the lesson by the words, 'Tu autem' (scil, desine or cessa), to which the reader responded 'Domine miserere nobis,' while the choir answered Deo gratias. In the palace of Aix-la-Chapeile, it was by knocking, and not by the words Tu autem, that the Emperor Charlemagne gave the signal for the conclusion of the lections, while the lector recited himself, Tu autem, Domine miserere nobis. The Rituale Ecclesiae Dunelmensis, containing fragments of the Roman liturgy from the end of the seventh to the ninth and tenth centuries, includes forms of blessing for the different festivals, sometimes three, sometimes nine. In the latter case each lesson was provided with its own form of blessing, which correspond with the mystery commemorated by the festival. The absolutions, Exaudi Domine and A vinculis peccatorum did not appear until the succeeding period" (Baudot, op. cit., p. 74).

In offices of three and of nine lessons, the lessons are preceded by the absolutions and blessings as they stand in the ordinarium, except in the Office for the Dead and Tenebrae Offices when they are not said. The Absolution is said immediately after the Pater Noster which follows the versicle and response under the third, sixth or ninth psalm. The first benediction is said immediately after it, and the second and third at the conclusion of the responses after each lesson and in reply to the words Jube Domine benedicere. The three words are to be said (when only one person recites the office) before the short Lesson at Prime and Compline.

In an office of nine lessons, the absolutions and benedictions in the first two nocturns do not vary; but in the third nocturns the eighth benediction may be, if the office is of a saint, Cujus festum, or if of two or more saints, Quorum (vel quarum) festum. The ninth may be Ad societatem or, if the ninth lesson be a gospel extract with homily, Per evangelica.

In offices of three lessons the Absolution Exaudi is said on Monday and Thursday; Ipsius, on Tuesday and Friday; A vinculis, on Wednesday and Saturday. But the benedictions vary. Thus, when a gospel extract and a homily are read, the three benedictions are Evangelica, Divinum, Ad societatem. When with the three lessons, no gospel extract is read, the benedictions are Benedictione, Unigenitus, Spiritus Sancti. In an office of a saint or saints, where the total number of lessons to be said is three (e.g., the Office of SS. Abdon et Sennen, 30 July), where first two lessons are from Scripture occurring and last lesson gives lives of these saints, the benedictions are, Ille nos, Cujus (vel Quorum aut Quarum) festum, Ad societatem.

Lessons. In the early days of Christendom, the Divine Office consisted in the singing of psalms, the reading of portions of Sacred Scripture and the saying of prayers. The principle of continuous reading of the books of the Bible bears an early date. Later were added readings from the acts of the martyrs, and later still, readings from the homilies of the Fathers. Till the seventh century the ferial Office had no lessons and the Sunday Office had only three, all taken from the Bible, which was read in its entirety, yearly. In the seventh century, ferial Offices received three lessons. About the time of St. Gregory, (died 604) the Office for Matins was divided into three parts or nocturns, each having lessons. The lessons for the second and third nocturns were not taken from the Bible, but from the works of the Fathers. These extracts were collected in book form—the homilaria. The collection of extracts made by Paul the deacon (730-797) and used by Charles the Great (742-814) in his kingdom, form the foundation of the collected extracts in our Breviaries. The scripture lessons in our Breviaries are generally known as "the scripture occurring," and are so arranged that each book of scripture is begun at least, except the books, Josue, Judges, Ruth, Paralipomenon and the Canticle of Canticles. Quignonez arranged in his reform that the whole Bible should be read yearly. But his book was withdrawn by Pope Paul IV. in 1558.

Although the ecclesiastical year begins with Advent, the beginnings of the Bible are not read till March. Hence, we begin the lessons from Genesis, after Septuagesima Sunday, and not, as we should naturally expect, at Advent, the beginning of the ecclesiastical year. The order in which the Scripture lessons are read does not follow the order in which the books of the Bible stand in the sacred volume. Thus, the Acts of the Apostles begin on the Monday after Low Sunday and are read for a fortnight; The Apocalypse begins on the third Sunday after Easter and is read for a week; then the Epistle of St. James begins, and so on, with special regard to the feasts of the time, rather than to the order of the books of the Bible.

The lessons of the second nocturn are generally commemorative of a saint or some episode of a saint's life. They have been much, and often ignorantly criticised, even by priests. The science of hagiology is a very wide and far-reaching one, which demands knowledge and reverence. Priests wishing to study its elements may read with pleasure and profit and wonder The Legends of the Saints, by Pere H. Delehaye, S.J., Bollandist (Longmans, 3s. 6d.). "Has Lectiones secundi Nocturni ex Historiis sanctorum, quas nunc habemus recognitas fuisse a doctissimis Cardinalibus Bellarmino et Baronio, qui rejecerunt ea omnia, quae jure merito in dubium revocari poterant et approbatus sub Clemente VIII." (Gavantus). And Merati adds "quod aliqua qua controversia erant utpote alicujus aliquam haberent probabilitatem, ideo rejecta non fuerant sed retenta eo modo quo erant cum falsitatis argui non possent, quamvis fortasse opposita sententia sit a pluribus recepta" (Merati, Obser. ad Gavant, sec. v., chap. xii., nn. 10 and 16). The words of these learned men and the writings of the learned Bollandist mentioned above are worthy of consideration, as sometimes priests are puzzled about the truth and accuracy of the incidents recorded in those lessons of the second nocturn. They should be treated with reverence. The ignorant flippancy of a priest in an article (in a very secular periodical) on St. Expeditus gave great pain to Catholics and gave material for years to come to scoffing bigots.

"Legends, i.e., narratives, were based upon documents of the nature described above, and worked up by later writers, either for the purpose of edification or from the point of view of the historian. The writings, however, differ endlessly as to their value, according to the knowledge and authority possessed by the writers, and according to their nearness to the events described. There were many martyrs whose sufferings were recorded in no acta or passiones, but were imprinted on the memory of men and became part of the traditions handed down in the community, until they were finally committed to writing. The later this took place the worse for the authenticity. For it was then that anachronisms, alterations in titles, changes in the persons and other similar historical errors could more easily creep into the narrative, as we know in fact they have done in many instances. The historical sense was unfortunately lacking to the Franks and Byzantines, as well as all idea of sound criticism.

"A false kind of patriotism and national pride often go along with credulity, so that we find here and there in literature of this kind, even downright fabrication. After the introduction of printing, by which literature became more widely diffused, and comparative criticism was rendered possible, it at once became evident among Catholics that error was mixed with truth and that a sifting of the one from the other was necessary, and, in many cases, possible" (Kellner, Heorlology, pp. 209-210). "It was not the intention of the Church or of the compilers and authors of the service books to claim historical authority for their statements. And so, the Popes themselves have directed many emendations to be made in the legends of the Breviary, although many others still remain to be effected" (Dom Baumer, Histoire Du Breviare Roman). Cf. Dom Cabrol, Le Reforme du Breviare, pp. 61-63.

Responsories. (Title XXVII.). In the new Breviary the responsories to the lessons have been restored to their place of honour. They are of ancient origin, but "how they came to have a place in the Divine Office, who was responsible for their composition, what was the process of development until they reached their present form, are questions upon which liturgical writers are not quite agreed" (Rev. M. Eaton, Irish Eccles. Record, January, 1915). Amalare of Metz found them fully formed and placed. The rule of St. Benedict, written about 530 A.D., mentions them as a recognised part of Matins. In solemn vigils, in the early Church, the congregation took part in the psalm singing, and hence we find psalmi responsorii mentioned, and we still have a typical instance in the Invitatory Psalm of our Office. Probably, some similar practice existed in the readings from Sacred Scripture. "At those primitive vigils, then, after the reading of the Sacred Scripture, the responsory was given by the precentor and the assembled faithful took up the words and chanted them forth in the same simple melody. Next, a verse was sung frequently echoing the same sentiment, and the choir again, as in the psalmi responsorii, repeated the refrain or the responsorii proper. Frequently other verses were added according to the dignity of the festivals, and after each the faithful struck in with the original refrain.... At first those responsories would probably have been extempore ... left to the genius or to the inspiration of the individual chanter, but gradually, by a survival of the fittest, the most beautiful ones became stereotyped and spread throughout several churches.... Later they were carefully collected, arranged and codified by St. Gregory or one of his predecessors and passed into all the books of liturgy" (Rev. M. Eaton, loc. cit.). Monsignor Battifol (History of the Roman Breviary, Eng, trans., p. 78) says that these parts of the liturgy, in beauty and eloquence rival the chorus dialogues of Greek drama, and quotes as an example the Aspiciens a longe from the first Sunday of Advent.

Rubrics. The responsories, as a rule, are said after each lesson of Matins. When the Te Deum is said after the ninth lesson, there are only eight responsories. At the end of the third, sixth and eighth lesson the Gloria Patri with a repetition of part of the responsory is said. It is said in the second responsory in offices of three lessons only. In Passiontide the Gloria Patri is not said, but the responsory is repeated ab initio. In the Requiem Office Gloria Patri is replaced by "requiem aeternam." In the Sundays of Advent, Sundays after Septuagesima until Palm Sunday, and in the triduum before Easter, there are nine responsories recited.

Perhaps an explanation of the rubric may not be useless. The asterisk (*) indicates the part which should be repeated first after the verse and immediately after the Gloria Patri. The Gloria Patri should be said to include the word sancto, and sicut erat should not be said. Some responsories have two or three asterisks, and then the repetitions should be made from one asterisk to another and not as far as the verse ending. Examples may be seen in the responsories for the first Sunday of Advent and in the Libera nos of the Requiem Office. The responsories of the Requiem Office—which is almost the only Office which missionary priests have an opportunity of reciting in choir—are highly praised for their beauty of thought and expression. They were compiled by Maurice de Sully (circa 1196), Bishop of Paris.

Symbolism of the Rubric. The responsories are placed after the lessons, the old writers on liturgy say, to excite attention and devotion, to thank God for the instruction given in the lessons, to make us realise and practise what has been read and to teach us that "Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it." Again, those writers knew why the chanter said only one verse and the worshippers replied in chorus—to show that all their souls were united and free from schism.

Te Deum (Title XXXI.). Author. In the Breviary prior to the reform of Pius X., this hymn was printed under the words "Hymnus SS. Ambrosii et Augustini." However, "no one thinks now of attributing this canto to either St. Ambrose or St. Augustine" (Battifol, op. cit., p. 110). Formerly, it was piously believed to have been composed and sung by these saints on the evening of Augustine's baptism. The question of the authorship of this hymn has led to much study and much controversy. Some scholars attribute it to St. Hilary, others to Sisebut, a Benedictine; others to Nicetas, Bishop of Treves, in the year 527. To-day, the opinion of the learned Benedictine, Dom. Morin—who follows the readings of the Irish manuscripts—that the hymn was written by Nicetas of Remesiana (circa 400 A.D.), is the most probable. This opinion has been criticised by several Continental scholars (V. Cath. Encly., art. "Te Deum").

Rubrics. The Te Deum is always said at the end of Matins, unless in Matins of Feast of Holy Innocents, of Sundays of Advent, and from Septuagesima to Palm Sunday, and ferias outside Eastertide (from Low Sunday to Ascension Day).

The Structure of the Hymn. In this wonderful composition, there are probably two hymns connected, and followed by a set of versicles and. responses, which might be used with any similar hymn. It is probable that the first hymn (Te Deum ... Paraclitum Spiritum), lines 1 to 13 of Te Deum are older than the second part, which was written probably as a sequel to the early hymn. The rhythm of the hymn is very beautiful, being free from abruptness and monotony. Students of poetry may note that seven lines have the exact hexameter ending, if scanned accentually, as voce proclamant; Deus sabbaoth, etc. Seven have two dactyls, as laudabilis numerus, laudat exercitus; one ends with spondees, apostolorum chorus. The other six lines have a less regular ending.

This hymn of praise to the Blessed Trinity is divided into two parts and seems to be modelled on the lines of the Psalm 148, Laudate Dominum de coelis (see Sunday Lauds I.). The verses 1 to 6 of the hymn, like the opening verses of the psalm, record the worship and adoration of the angels. The second part of the hymn records the worship of human beings living or dead—Apostles, Prophets, Martyrs. The second hymn, Tu Rex gloriae Christi, etc., is a prayer to Christ, the God Incarnate, the Redeemer now in Glory, to aid His servants and to aid them to be of the number of His saints in everlasting glory.

The third part of the hymn, vv. 22-29 (Salvum fac ... in aeternum) is considered by scholars to be simply versicles, responses and prayers; the verses 22-23 (Salvum fac... usque in aeternum). being the versicle, and verses 24-25 (Per singulos dies... saeculi), verse 2 of Psalm 144 being the response before the beautiful verses of prayer "Dignare Domine die isto sine peccato nos custodire," etc. "Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day from sin; O Lord, have mercy on us," etc., etc.

This hymn has a special interest for Irish priests, as the Irish recensions of it, found in the Bangor Antiphoner (to be seen in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin) are of the greatest value to scholars engaged in critical study. They date from the tenth century, and give Nicetas as the author. The wording in the old Irish Antiphoner differs in some verses from the text given in our Breviary. Thus, in verse 6, the Bangor text has, universa before the word terra; again, in verse 18, the Breviary reads "Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes," Bangor, and probably more correctly, reads sedens. Verses 26-29, "Dignare Domine... confundar in aeternum" are not found in the Irish book. Those who wish to study these old Irish MSS. may receive great help from Warren's Bangor Antiphoner (II., pp.83-91) and light comes too from Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology (pp. 1120-1121).


"Matutina ligat Christum qui crimina purgat." "Although I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee." "And in like manner also said they all." "Pray, lest you enter into temptation," "And being in agony He prayed the longer." "Friend, whereunto art thou come?–" "And they holding Jesus led Him away"—the Garden. "Art thou one of His disciples?" "My kingdom is not of this world"—Before the High Priest.

General Intentions:-Exaltation of the Church; the Pope; the Mission to the heathen; Christian nations; the conversion of the heretics, infidels and sinners; the Catholic laity; the Catholic priesthood.

Personal Intentions:-Lively faith; a greater hope; ardent charity.

Special Intentions:-For parents; for benefactors; for those in sorrow; dying sinners; deceased priests of Ireland; for the conversion of England; for vocations to the priesthood.


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