Liturgical books of the Roman Rite

Liturgical books of the Roman Rite

The liturgical books of the Roman Rite at the beginning of the twentieth century, writings designed to specify the way the religious services of that liturgical rite of the Roman Catholic Church were then held, are described in this article. For later information on them, see the articles on the individual liturgical books.


Convenient compendiums - the Roman Missal, Breviary, and others - were formed only at the end of a long evolution.

In the first period (lasting perhaps till about the fourth century) there were no books except the Bible, from which lessons were read and psalms were sung. Nothing in the liturgy was written, because nothing was fixed. Even after certain forms had become so stereotyped as to make already what we should call a more or less fixed liturgy, it does not seem that there was at first any idea that they should be written down. Habit and memory made the celebrant repeat more or less the same forms each Sunday; the people answered his prayers with the accustomed acclamations and responses -- all without books.

It has been much discussed at what period we have evidence of written liturgies. Renaudot ["Liturgiarum Orientalium Collectio", 2nd ed., Frankfurt, 1847, I, pp. ix and xi.] thought that no books were written even by the fourth century. He argues this from a passage in St. Basil (died 379), who distinguishes between the written teaching of the Apostles (in the Bible) and the unwritten tradition, and quotes liturgical functions as belonging to this: "Who", he asks, "of the saints has written down for us the words of the Sacred Invocation in the consecration of the bread and chalice?" [De Spir. Sancto, c. xxvii, in "Patrologia Graeca", XXXII, 187.] . Another argument is that no mention is made of liturgical books in the acts of martyrs (who are required to give up their holy books, that is, always, the Bible), or in the quarrels about the books with the Donatists in the fourth century. Daniel ["Codex liturgicus", IV, Leipzig, 1853, pp. 25-32.] argues against this opinion at length, and defends the view that liturgies were written down at the beginning of the fourth century. Probst ["Die ältesten römischen Sakramentarien und Ordines", Münster, 1892, pp. 1-19.] tries to establish that there were liturgical books back to the time of the Apostolic Fathers.

As for the Donatists, there is, on the contrary, evidence that both they and the Catholics had liturgical books at that time. Optatus of Mileve, writing about the year 370 against them, says: "You have no doubt cleaned the palls" (linen cloths used in Mass), "tell me what you have done with the books?" ["De schism. Donat.", V, Vienna edition, 1893, p. 153.] . What were these books? Both palls and books had been taken from the Catholics, both were used in the liturgy (ibid.). The books were not the Bible, because the Donatists thought them polluted (ibid.). So there were other liturgical books besides the Bible. Augustine too reproaches the Donatists with being in schism with the very churches whose names they read in the "holy books" [epp. lii and liii.] . So also a synod at Hippo in Africa (in 393) forbids anyone to write down the prayers of other Churches and use them, until he has shown his copy to the more learned brethren [can. xxv; Hefele-Leclercq, "Histoire des Conciles", II, Paris, 1908, p. 88; cf. Probst, op. cit., 13-14.] .

That some prayers were occasionally written down from the first age is evident. Prayers are quoted in the Apostolic Fathers ["Didache", ix, x; Clement, "First Epistle to the Corinthians", lix, 3-lxi.] . This does not, however, prove the existence of liturgical books. Probst thinks that the exact quotations made by the Fathers as far back as the second century prove that the liturgy was already written down. Such quotations, he says, could only be made from written books [op. cit., 15-17.] .

A more solid reason for the existence of a written liturgy at any rate by the fourth century is the comparison of the liturgy of the eighth book of the Apostolic Fathers with the Byzantine Rite of St. Basil. Proclus (died 446) says that Basil (died 379) modified and shortened the liturgy because it was too long for the people. There is no reason to doubt what he says. The liturgy shortened by Basil was that of Antioch, of which we have the oldest specimen in the Apostolic Constitutions. A comparison of this (especially the Thanksgiving-prayer) with that of St. Basil [Brightman, "Eastern Liturgies", pp. 14-18 and 321-3.] shows in effect that Basil is much shorter. It does not seem likely that, after Basil's necessary shortening, anyone should have taken the trouble to write out the discarded long form. Therefore, the liturgy of the Apostolic Constitutions was written before St. Basil's reform, although it is incorporated into a work not finally compiled till the early fifth century [Funk, "Die apostolischen Konstitutionen", Rottenburg, 1891, p. 366; Probst, op. cit., 12-13.] .

Evidently one of the first things to be written was the diptychs containing the lists of persons and churches for whom prayers were to be said. These diptychs were used liturgically - the deacon read them - in all rites down to the Middle Ages. Augustine's argument against the Donatists refers to the diptychs [epp. lii and liii above.] . The diptychs were two tablets folded like a book; on one side the names of the living, on the other those of the dead were written. They have now disappeared and the names are said from memory.

But the Byzantine Rite still contains the rubrics: "The deacon remembers the diptychs of the departed"; "He remembers the diptychs of the living" [Brightman, op. cit., 388-9.] . No doubt the next thing to be written out was the collection of prayers said by the celebrant (Sacramentaries and Euchologia), then indications for the readers (Comites, Capitularia, Synaxaria) and the various books for the singers (Antiphonaries, books of Troparia), and finally the rubrical directions (Ordines, Typika).

History of the Roman liturgical books

So far the development went on in parallel lines in East and West. When we come to the actual books we must distinguish between the various rites, which have different groups and arrangements. In the Roman Rite the first complete books we know are the Sacramentaries (Sacramentaria). A Sacramentary is not the same thing as a Missal. It contains more on the one side, less on the other. It is the book for the celebrant. It contains all and only the prayers that he says.

At the time that these books were written it was not yet the custom for the celebrant also to repeat at the altar whatever is sung by the ministers or choir, a custom that remained in force until after the Second Vatican Council. (The one exception was the Gospel, which the priest listened to as the deacon sang it, without himself reading it independently, as he did for the Epistle sung by the subdeacon.) Thus Sacramentaries contain none of those parts of the Mass, no Lessons, no Introits, Graduals, Offertories and so on, but only the Collects, Prefaces, Canon, all that is strictly the celebrant's part. On the other hand they provide for his use at other occasions besides Mass. As the celebrant is normally supposed to be a bishop, the Sacramentary supplies him with the prayers he wants at ordinations, at the consecration of a church and altar and many exorcisms, blessings, and consecrations that are now inserted in the Roman Pontifical and Ritual. That is the order of a complete Sacramentary. Many of those now extant are more or less fragmentary.

The name Sacramentarium is equivalent to the other form also used (for instance, in the Gelasian book), "Liber Sacramentorum". The form is the same as that of the word Hymnarium, for a book of hymns. Gennadius of Marseilles (fifth cent.) uses both. He says of Paulinus of Nola: "Fecit et sacramentarium et hymnarium" [De viris illustribus, xlviii.] . The word sacramentum or sacramenta in this case means the Mass. "Sacramenta celebrare" or "facere" is a common term for saying Mass. So Augustine of Hippo (died 430) remarks that we say "Sursum corda" "in sacramentis fidelium", that is at Mass [De Dono Persev., xiii, 33.] , and two schismatics of the fifth century complain to the Emperor Gratian and Theodosius I that Pope Damasus (366-84) will not let them say Mass; but they do so all the same, because "salutis nostræ sacramenta facienda sunt" [Faustinus and Marcellinus, "Lib. prec. ad Imp." in "Patrologia Latina", XIII, 98; cf. Probst, "Die ältesten röm. Sakram.", 20-1.] .

A number of Sacramentaries of the Roman Rite are still extant, either complete or in part. Of these the most important are the three known by the names Leonine, Gelasian, and Gregorian. Their date, authorship, place, and original purpose have been much discussed. What follows is a compilation of the views of recognized scholars.

The so-called "Sacramentarium Leonianum" is the oldest. Only one manuscript of it is known, written in the seventh century. This manuscript was found in the library of the cathedral chapter of Verona, was published by Joseph Bianchini in 1735 in the fourth volume of his edition of Anastasius Bibliothecarius, and was by him attributed arbitrarily to Pope Leo I (440-61). On the strength of this attribution the book was included by the Ballerini brothers in their edition of Leo [Venice, 1753-7.] , and still bears the name Leonine. It was reprinted by Muratori in his "Liturgia Romana vetus" [Venice, 1748.] . Now the best edition is that of C. L. Feltoe [Cambridge, 1896.] . The Leonine Sacramentary represents a pure Roman use with no Gallican elements. But it is not a book compiled for use at the altar. The confusion of its parts shows this. It is a fragment, containing no Canon nor Ordinary of the Mass, but a collection of Propers (Collects, Secrets, Prefaces, Postcommunions, and Orationes super populum), of various Masses with ordination forms, arranged according to the civil year. It begins in the middle of the sixth Mass for April, and ends with a blessing for the font "In ieiunio mensis decimi" (i. e. the winter Ember-days). In each month groups of Masses are given, often very large groups, for each feast and occasion. Thus, for instance, in June we find twenty-eight Masses for St. Peter and St. Paul, one after another, each headed: "Item alia" [Feltoe's ed., pp. 36-50.] ; there are fourteen for St. Lawrence, twenty-three for the anniversary of a bishop's consecration [123-39.] , and so on. Evidently the writer has compiled as many alternative Masses for each occasion as he could find. In many cases he showcarelessness. He inserts Masses in the wrong place. Many of his Masses in "natali episcoporum" have nothing at all to do with that anniversary, and are really Masses for Sundays after Pentecost; in the middle of a Mass of St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian he has put the preface of a Mass of St. Euphemia [p. 104.] , a Mass for the new civil year is inserted among those for martyrs [XX item alia, p. 9.] ; Masses for St. Stephen's day (26 Dec.) with evident allusions to Christmas are put in August [pp. 86-9.] , obviously through a confusion with the feast of the finding of his relics (3 Aug.). Many other examples of the same confusion are quoted by Buchwald ["Das sogen. Sacramentarium Leonianum", Vienna, 1908.] .

That the collection is Roman is obvious. It is full of local allusions to Rome. For instance, one of the collects to be said by a bishop on the anniversary of his consecration could only be used by the pope of Rome ["Lord God ... who, although Thou dost not cease to enrich with many gifts Thy Church spread throughout the world, nevertheless dost look more favourably upon the see of Thy blessed Apostle Peter, as Thou hast desired that it should be most exalted, etc." (p. 127).] . The Preface for St. John and St. Paul remembers that they are buried within "the boundaries of this city" [p. 34.] ; the Masses of the Patrons of Rome, St. Peter and St. Paul, continually allude to the city [So the preface in the twenty-third Mass: "who, foreseeing that our city would labour under so many troubles, didst place in it the chief members of the power of the Apostles", p. 47.] , and so on continually [cf. Probst, op. cit., 48-53, etc.] .

Louis Duchesne [Origines du Culte Chrétien, 129-37.] thinks that the Leonine book is a private collection of prayers copied without much intelligence from the official books at Rome about the year 538. He arrives at this date especially through an allusion in the Secret of a Mass placed in June (but really an Easter Mass), which refers to a recent deliverance from enemies [Feltoe, p. 73.] . This allusion he understands to refer to the raising of the siege of Rome by Vitiges and his Goths at Easter-time, 538 [See his other arguments, pp. 131-2.] . Muratori considered that the book was composed under Pope Felix III ["Liturgia rom. vetus", diss. xxvii.] . Probst answers Duchesne's arguments [Die ältesten röm. Sakram., pp. 56-61.] ; he attributes the allusion in the Secret to Alaric's invasion in 402, and thinks that the compilation was made between 366 and 461. A later theory is that of Buchwald [Das sogen. Sacram. Leon., 62-7.] , who suggests that the book is a compilation of Roman Masses made in the sixth or seventh century for use in Gaul, so that the composers of Roman books who were at that time introducing the Roman Rite into Gaul might have a source from which to draw their material. He suggests Gregory of Tours (died 594) as possibly the compiler.

The "Gelasian Sacramentary" exists in several manuscripts. It is a Roman book more or less Gallicanized; the various manuscripts represent different stages of this Gallican influence. The oldest form extant is a book written in the seventh or early eighth century for use in the abbey of St. Denis at Paris. This is now in the Vatican library [Manuscript Reginæ 316] . It was first published by Giuseppe Maria Tomasi in his "Codices Sacramentorum nongentis annis vetustiores" [Rome, 1680.] , then by Muratori in "Liturgia romana vetus", I. Other versions of the same book are the Codices of St. Gall and of Rheinau, both of the eighth century, edited by Gerbert in his "Monumenta veteris liturgiæ alemmanicæ," I [St. Blaise, 1777.] . These three (collated with others) form the basis of the standard edition of H. A. Wilson [Oxford, 1894.] . The book does not in any old manuscript bear the name of Gelasius; it is called simply "Liber Sacramentorum Romanæ ecclesiæ". It is much more complete than the Leonine Sacramentary. It consists of three books, each marked with a not very accurate title. Book I (The Book of Sacraments in the order of the year's cycle) contains Masses for feasts and Sundays from Christmas Eve to the octave of Pentecost (there are as yet no special Masses for the season after Pentecost), together with the ordinations, prayers for all the rites of the catechumenate, blessing of the font at Easter Eve, of the oil, dedication of churches, and reception of nuns [Wilson, ed., pp. 1-160.] . Book II (Prayers for the Feasts of Saints) contains the Proper of Saints throughout the year, the Common of Saints, and the Advent Masses [ibid., 161-223.] . Book III (Prayers and the Canon for Sundays) contains a great number of Masses marked simply "For Sunday" (i. e. any Sunday), the Canon of the Mass, what we should call votive Masses (e. g. for travellers, in time of trouble, for kings, and so on), Masses for the Dead, some blessings (of holy water, fruits, trees and so on), and various prayers for special occasions [224-315.] . An old tradition [Walafrid Strabo, ninth century, "De rebus eccl.", XX; John the Deacon, "Vita S. Gregorii", II, xvii, etc.] ascribes what is evidently this book to Pope Gelasius I. Gennadius [De vir. illust., xcvi.] says he composed a book of Sacraments] . Duchesne [op. cit., 121-5.] thinks it represents the Roman service-books of the seventh or eighth century (between the years 628 and 731). It was, however, composed in the Frankish kingdom. All the local Roman allusions (for instance, the Roman Stations) have been omitted; on Good Friday the prayers read: "Let us pray for our most Christian Emperor [the compiler has added] or king" [p. 76.] , and again: "look down mercifully on the Roman, or the Frankish, Empire" [ibid.] . There are also Gallican additions [Duchesne, 125-8.] . Dom Baumer ["Ueber das sogen. Sacram. Gelas." in "Histor. Jahrbuch der Görresgesellschaft", 1893, pp. 241-301.] and Bishop ["The earliest Roman Massbook" in "Dublin Review", 1894; pp. 245-78.] maintain that it is much earlier than Duchesne thinks, and ascribe it to the sixth century, at which time the Roman Rite entered Gaul. Buchwald [Das sogen. Sacr. Leon., ibid., p. 66.] agrees with Duchesne in dating this Sacramentary at the seventh or eighth century, and thinks that its compiler used the Leonine collection.

We know most about the third of these books, the so-called "Gregorian Sacramentary". Charlemagne, anxious to introduce the Roman Rite into his kingdom, wrote to Pope Adrian I between the years 781 and 791 asking him to send him the service-book of the Roman Church. The book sent by the pope is the nucleus of the Gregorian Sacramentary. It was then copied a great number of times, so that there are many versions of it, all containing additions made by the various scribes. These are described by Probst [Die ätesten Sakr., pp. 303-13.] . The first edition is that of Pamelius [In his "Rituale SS. Patrum Latinorum", II (Cologne, 1571).] . The standard edition is Muratori's ["Liturgia romana vetus", II.] . This is based on two manuscripts, both written before 800, now in the Vatican Library [Cod. Ottobonianus and Cod. Vaticanus.] . Migne [P. L., LXXVIII, 25-602.] reprints the edition of Nicholas Ménard [Paris, 1642.] . Probst maintains that this is rather to be considered a Gelasian book, reformed according to the Gregorian [Die ältes. Sakr., pp. 165-9.] . In any case the elements are here completely fused. The original book sent by Adrian to Charlemagne is easily distinguished from the additions. The first who began to supplement Adrian's book from other sources (Pamelius says it was a certain Frankish Abbot named Grimold) was a conscientious person and carefully noted where his additions begin. At the end of the original book he adds a note, a prefatiuncula beginning with the word Hucusque: "So far (Hucusque) the preceding book of Sacraments is certainly that edited by the holy Pope Gregory." Then come (in Pamelius's edition) two supplements, one (according to Pamelius) by Abbot Grimold and the other by Alcuin. The supplements vary considerably in the codices. Eventually their matter became incorporated in the original book. But in the earlier versions we may take the first part, down to the prefatiuncula, as being the book sent by Adrian. How far it is that of Gregory I is another question. This book then has three parts:

* (1) The Ordinary of the Mass;
* (2) the Propers for the year beginning with Christmas Eve. They follow the ecclesiastical year; the feasts of saints (days of the month in the civil year) are incorporated in their approximate places in this. The Roman Stations are noted. There are still no Masses for the Sundays after Epiphany and Pentecost;
* (3) the prayers for ordinations.

There are no votive Masses or requiems. For these reasons Duchesne considers that the "Sacramentary" is the "pope's book", that is the book used by the pope himself for the public papal services [Origines du Culte Chrétien, p. 117.] . Is its attribution to Pope Gregory I (590-604) correct? That Gregory did much to reform the liturgy is certain. A constant tradition ascribes such a work to him, as to Gelasius. John the Deacon (eighth century) in his life of Gregory expresses this tradition: "He collected the Sacramentary of Gelasius in one book" (we have seen that the two sets of Propers in the Gelasianum are fused together in the Gregorianum), "leaving out much" (this too is verified by comparing the books; numbers of Gelasian Prefaces and ritual elaborations are omitted in the Gregorian book), "changing little, adding something" [II, xvii.] . Pope Adrian himself, in sending the book to Charlemagne, says that it is composed "by our holy predecessor, the divinely speaking Pope Gregory" [Letter in Jaffé, "Cod. Carol.", p. 274.] . That the essential foundation of this "Sacramentary" goes back to St. Gregory, indeed to long before his time, is certain. Nor need we doubt that he made such changes as are claimed for him by his biographer, and that these changes stand in this book. But it is not his work untouched. It has additions made since his time, for instance his own feast [12 March, in Migne's edition, P. L., LXXVIII, 51.] and other feasts not kept at Rome before the seventh century [Duchesne, op. cit., 118.] . Evidently then the book sent by Pope Adrian has gone through the inevitable development; succeeding centuries since Gregory have added to it. It represents the Roman Rite of the time when it was sent - the eighth century. For this reason Duchesne prefers to call it the "Sacramentary" of Adrian [op. cit., p. 119.] . We have said that, when it arrived in the Frankish kingdom, it began to receive supplements. It must be remembered of course that the writers who copied it had not in view the future needs of students. The books they made were intended for practical use at the altar. So they added at the end of Adrian's "Sacramentary" whatever other Masses and prayers were wanted by the churches for which they wrote. These supplements are taken partly from the Gelasian book, partly from Gallican sources. We have also noted that the additions were at first carefully distinguished from the original book, eventually incorporated in it. Dom Bäumer sees in these additions a compromise made in carrying out Charlemagne's orders that only the book he had received from Rome should be used [Baumer, "Ueber das sogen. Sacram. Gelasianum", 295-301.] . He also thinks that the first additions and the prefatiuncula were made by Alcuin (died 804). Between the ninth and eleventh centuries the book so composed returned to Rome, took the place of the original pure Roman Rite, and so became the foundation of our present Roman Missal. Besides these three most important Sacramentaries there are other fragments, the "Missale Francorum," written in the seventh or eighth century, the "Ravenna Roll" of doubtful date (sixth to eleventh century?), etc. [See Duchesne, "Origines", pp. 128-9, 137-8.] .

At the same time as the Sacramentaries, books for the readers and choir were being arranged. Gradually the "Comes" or "Liber Comicus" that indicated the texts of the Bible to be read developed into the" Evangelarium" and "Lectionarium". The homilies of Fathers to be read were collected in "Homilaria", the Acts of the martyrs, read on their feasts, in "Martyrologia". The book of psalms was written separately for singing, then arranged in order, as the psalms were sung through the week, in the "Psalterium" that now forms the first part of our Breviary. The parts of the Mass sung by the choir (Introit, Gradual, Offertory, Communion) were arranged in the "Liber Antiphonarius" (or Gradualis), the Antiphons and Responsories in the Office formed the "Liber Responsalis", or "Antiphonarius Officii", as distinct from the "Antiphonarius Missæ". Two early collections of this kind, ascribed to Gregory I, are in P. L. [LXXVIII, 641-724, and 725-850.] The same tradition that attributes to him the Sacramentary attaches his name to these [e. g., John the Deacon, "Vita S. Gregorii", II, vi] . Throughout the early Middle Ages such collections were copied with local modifications all over Western Europe. Hymns (in our sense) were introduced into the Roman Rite about the fifth or sixth century. Those of the Mass were written in the Gradual, those of the Divine Office at first in the Psalter or Antiphonary. But there were also separate collections of hymns, called "Hymnaria", and "Libri Sequentiales" (or troponarii), containing the sequences and additions (farcing) to the Kyrie and Gloria, etc. Other services, the Sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Marriage, Extreme Unction), the Visitation of the Sick, the Burial Service, all manner of blessings, were written in a very loose collection of little books called by such names as "Liber Agendorum", "Agenda", "Manuale", "Benedictionale", "Pastorale", "Sacerdotale", "Rituale", the predecessors of our Ritual. As examples of such books we may quote the "Manuale Curatorum" for the Diocese of Roeskilde in Denmark [ed. by J. Freisen, Paderborn, 1898.] and the "Liber Agendorum" of Schleswig [ed. J. Freising, Paderborn, 1898.] . Their number and variety is enormous.

Finally there remained the rubrics, the directions not about what to say but what to do. This matter would be one of the latest to be written down. Long after the more or less complicated prayers had to be written and read, tradition would still be a sufficient guide for the actions. The books of prayers (Sacramentaries, Antiphonaries, etc.) contained a few words of direction for the most important and salient things to be done -- elementary rubrics. For instance the Gregorian "Sacramentary" tells priests (as distinct from bishops) not to say the Gloria except on Easter Day; the celebrant chants the preface "excelsa voce", and so on [P. L., LXXVIII, 25.] . In time, however, the growing elaborateness of the papal functions, the more complicated ceremonial of the Roman Court, made it necessary to draw up rules of what custom and etiquette demanded. These rules are contained in the "Ordines" -- precursors of our "Cærimoniale Episcoporum". Mabillon published sixteen of the Ordines [In his "Musæum Italicum", II (Paris, 1689). These are reproduced in P. L., LXXVIII, 937-1372.] They are of different dates, from about the eighth to the fifteenth century. The first of them ["Ordo Romanus primus", edited apart by E. G. C. Atchley with notes, London, 1905.] , which is the most important, was probably drawn up about the year 770 in the reign of Pope Stephen III (768-72), but is founded on a similar "Ordo" of the time of Gregory I (590-604). The "Ordines" contain no prayers, except that, where necessary, the first words are given to indicate what is meant. They supplement, the Sacramentary and choir-books with careful directions about the ritual.

Since Mabillon other "Ordines" have been found and edited. A famous and important one, found in a manuscript of the church of St. Amand at Puelle is published by Duchesne in the Appendix of his "Origines du Culte Chrétien" (pp. 440-63). It was composed about the eighth or ninth century.

During the Middle Ages these books were rearranged for greater convenience, and developed eventually into the books we know. The custom of Low Mass changed the Sacramentary into a Missal. At Low Mass the celebrant had to supplement personally what was normally chanted by the deacon and subdeacon or sung by the choir. This then reacted upon High Mass, so that here too the celebrant began to say himself in a low voice what was sung by some one else. For this purpose he needed texts that were not in the old Sacramentary. That book was therefore enlarged by the addition of Lessons (Epistle and Gospel, etc.) and the chants of the choir (Introit, Gradual, etc.). So it becomes a "Missale plenarium", containing all the text of the Mass. Isolated cases of such Missals occur as early as the sixth century. By about the twelfth century they have completely replaced the old Sacramentaries. But Lectionaries and Graduals (with the music) are still written for the readers and choir. In the same way, but rather later, compilations are made of the various books used for saying the Divine Office. Here too the same motive was at work. The Office was meant to be sung in choir. But there were isolated priests, small country churches without a choir, that could not afford the library of books required for saying it. For their convenience compendiums were made since the eleventh century. Pope Gregory VII (1073-85) issued a compendium of this kind that became very popular.

First we hear of "Libri nocturnales" or "matutinales", containing all the lessons and responses for Matins. To these are added later the antiphons and psalms, then the collects and all that is wanted for the other canonical hours too. At the same time epitomes are made for people who recite the Office without the chant. In these the Psalter is often left out; the clergy are supposed to know it by heart. The antiphons, versicles, responsories, even the lessons are indicated only by their first words. The whole is really a kind of concise index to the Office, but sufficient for people who said it day after day and almost knew it by heart. Such little books are called by various names -- "Epitomata", "Portiforia", and then especially "Breviaria divini officii" (Abbreviations of the Divine Office). They were used mostly by priests on journeys. In the twelfth century the catalogue of the library of Durham Cathedral includes "a little travelling breviary" (breviarium parvum itinerarium). In 1241 Pope Gregory IX says in a Bull for the Franciscan Order: "You have (the Divine Office) in your Breviaries" [See Batiffol, "Histoire du Bréviaire", chap. iv, especially pp. 192-202.] . The parts of these Breviaries were filled up eventually so as to leave nothing to memory, but the convenient arrangement and the name have been kept. It is curious that the word Breviary, which originally meant only a handy epitome for use on journeys and such occasions, has come to be the usual name for the Divine Office itself. A priest "says his breviary" that is, recites the canonical hours.

The development of the other books took place in much the same way. The Missals now contained only the Mass and a few morning services intimately connected with it. Daily Mass was the custom for every priest; there was no object in including all the rites used only by a bishop in each Missal. So these rites apart formed the Pontifical. The other non-Eucharistic elements of the old Sacramentary combined with the "Libri Agendarum" to form the later Ritual. The Council of Trent (1545-63) considered the question of uniformity in the liturgical books and appointed a commission to examine the question. But the commission found the work of unifying so many and so varied books impossible at the time, and so left it to be done gradually by the popes. The Missal and Breviary were reformed very soon (see next paragraph), the other books later. The latest work was the production of the "Cærimoniale Episcoporum". John Burchard, Master of Ceremonies to Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84), combined the old "Ordines Romani" into an "Ordo servandus per sacerdotem in celebratione missœ" (Rome, 1502), and arranged the rubrics of the Pontifical. Other editions of the rubrics were made at intervals, till Clement VIII (1592-1605) issued the "Cærimoniale Episcoporum" (in 1600). All the books have been constantly revised and re-edited with additions down to our own time.

Contemporary liturgical books (early 20th century)

The official books of the Roman Rite are seven -- the "Missal", "Pontifical", "Breviary", "Ritual", "Cærimoniale Episcoporum", "Memoriale Rituum", and "Martyrology". These contain all and only the liturgical services of this rite. Several repeat matter also found in others. Other books, containing extracts from them, share their official character inasmuch as the texts conform to that of the original book. Such secondary liturgical books are the Lectionary and Gradual (with musical notes) taken from the Missal, the Day Hours (Horæ diurnæ) of the Breviary, the Vesperal, Antiphonary and other choir-books (with notes), also extracted from the Breviary, various Benedictionals and Ordines taken from the Ritual or Pontifical.

Roman Missal

The "Missale Romanum" as we now have it, was published by Pope Pius V by the Bull "Quo primum" of 14 July, 1570. A commission, opened by the Council of Trent under Pope Pius IV (1559-65), consisting of Cardinal Bernardine Scotti, Thomas Goldwell, Giulio Poggi, and others, had then finished its task of revising the book. Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605) formed a new commission (Baronius, Bellarmine, and others) to restore the text which printers had again corrupted, and especially to substitute the new Vulgate (1590) texts for those of the Itala in the Missal; he published his revision by the Bull "Cum Sanctissimum" on 7 July, 1604. Pope Urban VIII (1623-44) again appointed a commission to revise chiefly the rubrics, and issued a new edition on 2 September, 1634 (Bull "Si quid est"). Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) again made a revision in 1884. These names stand for the chief revisions; they are named on the title-page ["Missale Romanum ex decreto SS. Concilii Tridentini restitutum S. Pii V Pont. Max. iussu editum, Clementis VIII, Urbani VIII et Leonis XIII auctoritate recognitum".] .

Continual addition of Masses for new feasts goes on. There are few popes since Pius V who have not authorized some additions, made by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, to the Missal or its various supplements. T

The Missal begins with the Bulls of Pius V, Clement VIII, and Urban VIII. Then come the approbation of the bishop in whose diocese it is printed and a few of the most important decisions of the Sacred Congregation of Rites. A long explanation of the Gregorian Calendar follows, containing much astronomical information. This is headed: "De anno et eius partibus". The two Paschal tables follow (Julian and Gregorian), a table of movable feasts for a number of future years and the Roman Calendar of feasts. Then come three sets of rubrics, first "Rubricæ generales Missæ", containing the more general rules in twenty paragraphs (these were made by Burchard, revised by the commissions of Pius V, Clement VIII, Urban VIII); then the "Ritus servandus in celebratione missæ", in thirteen paragraphs or chapters. This latter gives exact directions for High or Low Mass, whether celebrated by a bishop or priest. Third come the directions about what to do in case of various accidents or defects, headed "De defectibus in celebratione missæ occurrentibus", in ten chapters. A private preparation and thanksgiving for Mass follow "to be made at the opportunity of the priest. The prayers said while vesting come at the end of the preparation. Lastly, figures show the way to incense the altar and oblation. Shorter and special rubrics for various occasions are inserted (in red) in the text.

Then follows the text of the Missal. The first part contains the "Proper of the time" ("Proprium temporis") from the first Sunday of Advent to the last after Pentecost. The Proper of each Mass is given in order of the ecclesiastical year, that is the Masses of each Sunday and other day (vigils, ember-days, feriæ in Lent) that has a proper Mass. Only Christmas and its cycle of feasts (to the octave of the Epiphany), although fixed to days of the civil year (25 Dec., etc.). come in this part. Certain rites, not Eucharistic, but connected closely with the Mass, are in their place in the Missal, such as the blessing of ashes, candles, and palms, all the morning services of Holy Week (except the Vespers of Thursday and Friday). After the service of Holy Saturday the whole Ordinary of the Mass with the Canon is inserted. This is the (almost) unchanging framework into which the various Propers are fitted. Its place in the book has varied considerably at different times. it is now put here, not so much for mystic or symbolic reasons, as because it is a convenient place, about the middle where a book lies open best. The eleven proper Prefaces, and all changes that can occur in the Canon (except the modifications on Maundy Thursday), are printed here, in the Ordinary. Then follows Easter Day and the rest of the year in order. The second part of the Missal contains the Proper of Saints ("Proprium missarum de sanctis"), that is, the feasts that occur on days of the civil year. It begins with the Vigil of St. Andrew (29 November), as occurring at about the beginning of Advent, and continues (leaving out Christmas and its cycle) regularly through the months to the feasts of St. Silvester and St. Peter of Alexandria (26 November).

The third part is always paged anew in brackets, [I] , etc. It contains the Common Masses ("Commune Sanctorum"), that is, general Masses for Apostles, Martyrs and so on, that are very commonly used for saints of each class, often with proper Collect Secret, and Postcommunion. Most saints' days give the rubric: "All of the Common of a Confessor Pontiff (or whatever it may be) except the following prayers". A collection of votive Masses of various kinds follows, ending with the Mass for a wedding ("Pro Sponso et Sponsa"), then thirty-five sets of prayers ("Orationes diversœ") that may be used on certain occasions in Mass, according to the rubrics. The four Masses for the dead come next, then twelve sets of prayers for the dead. Then the rite of blessing holy water and the Asperges ceremony. Eleven forms of blessings (Sacramentals) used by priests, blessings of vestments, altar-linen, and the tabernacle or ciborium (used by bishops and by priests having a special faculty), and the prayers (Collect, Secret Hanc Igitur, Postcommunion) said at ordination Masses end the old part of the Missal. There follow, however, the ever-growing supplements. Of these first come a collection of votive Masses appointed by Pius IX for each day of the week, then special Masses allowed for certain dioceses ("Missœ aliquibus in locis celebrandœ"), now forming a second Proper of Saints nearly as long as the old one; and finally with the Missal is bound up another supplement (paged with asterisks, I., etc.) for whatever country or province or religious order uses it. The Missal contains all the music used by the celebrant at the altar (except the obvious chants of Dominus vobiscum, Collects, etc., that are given once for all in the "Cærimoniale Episcoporum") in its place. The new (Vatican) edition gives the various new chants at the end.

The Lectionary (Lectionarium Romanum) contains the Epistles and Gospels from the Missal, the Gradual (Gradule Romanum), all the choir's part (the Proper, Introit, etc., and the common, "Kyrie", etc.) with music. Religious orders that have a special rite (Dominicans, Carmelites, Carthusians) have their special Missals, arranged in the same way.

The Pontifical

The "Pontificale Romanum" is the bishop's-book. It was issued by Pope Benedict XIV (1740-58) on 25 March, 1752, and revised by Leo XIII in 1888. It has three parts and an appendix. Part I contains the rites of Confirmation, the tonsure, the seven ordinations, the blessing of abbots, abbesses, nuns, coronation of kings and queens, and blessing of a knight (miles). Part II contains the services for laying foundation-stones, consecrating churches, altars, chalices, many episcopal blessings (of vestments, vessels, crosses, statues, bells, weapons, and flags), the seven penitential psalms, and the litany. Part III contains the publication of movable feasts on the Epiphany, the expulsion of public penitents on Ash Wednesday and their reconciliation on Maundy Thursday, the order of synods, degradations from each order, excommunication and absolution from it, of the journeys of prelates (prayers to be said then), visitation of parishes, solemn reception of bishops, legates, emperors, kings, and such people down to a "Princess of great power", the old episcopal scrutiny, a ceremony for the first shaving of a clerk's beard, and a little rite for making or degrading a singer (psalmista or cantor). The appendix of the Pontifical contains the various rites of baptism by a bishop, the ordinations without music, marriage performed by a bishop, the pontifical absolution and blessing after the sermon at High Mass, the "Apostolic Benediction", and a blessing of Holy Water to reconcile a church after it has been execrated (polluted). A supplement adds the consecration of a church with many altars, of an altar alone, and of a portable altar -- all without the chant. A number of extracts from the Pontifical are made, the ordination rites, consecration of a church, and so on. These are not specially authorized; they are authentic if they conform to the original. The revision of the plain song has not yet touched the Pontifical. When it does, this will necessitate a new edition.

The Breviary

The "Roman Breviary" contains all the Divine Office without chant. It has been revised by the same popes (Pius V, Clement VIII, Urban VIII, Leo XIII) as the Missal. It begins with the Bulls, the chapter about the calendar, the paschal tables, tables of movable feasts, calendar, like the Missal. Then follow the general rubrics (Rubricœ generales breviarii) in thirty-six chapters, giving full directions for the recital of the office, occurrence of feasts, and so on. Further tables of occurrences, prayers to be said before and after the office, and a table of absolutions and blessings end the introductory matter. The actual text begins with the psalter, that is the psalms arranged for the week, with their normal antiphons and hymns. First come Matins and Lauds for Sunday; then Prime, Terce, Sext, and None, then Matins and Lauds for each weekday. After Lauds for Saturday follow Vespers for each day, then Compline. This ends the Psalterium. The offices for each day follow, arranged exactly as in the Missal (Proper of the season, Proper of saints, Common of saints, votive Offices and Offices for the dead, the supplement for certain places, and a local supplement). After the Office for the dead some extraneous matter is inserted, namely the Gradual psalms, litany, prayers for the dying, blessing for the dying, grace at meals, and prayers for clerics on a journey. At the end of the whole book come the prayers before and after Mass and two private litanies (of the Holy Name and of the Blessed Virgin).

As the Breviary, in spite of its name, is now a very large and cumbersome book, it is generally issued in four parts (Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn). This involves a good deal of repetition; the whole Psalter occurs in each part, and all feasts that may overlap into the next part have to be printed twice. The first volume only (Winter, which begins with Advent) contains the general rubrics. It is now also usual to reprint the psalms that occur in the Common of saints instead of merely referring back to the Psalter. Many other parts are also reprinted in several places. On the number and judicious arrangement of these reprints depends the convenience of any particular edition of the Breviary. Already in the Middle Ages the countless manuscripts of the Breviary are fond of promising the purchaser that he will find all the offices complete without references ("omnia exscripta sine recursu", "tout le long sans recquerir"), a statement that the writer, after examining a great number of them, has never once found true. The chief book excerpted from the Breviary is the "Day Hours" (Horœ diurnœ breviarii romani), containing everything except Matins, which with its lessons forms the main bulk of the book. For singing in choir various books with music exist, representing still more or less the state of things before Breviaries were invented. The complete "Liber Antiphonarius" contains all the antiphons, hymns, and responses throughout the Office. From this again various excerpts are made. For the offices most commonly sung in churches we have the Vesperal (Vesperale Romanum), containing Vespers and Compline. The monastic orders (Benedictines, Cistercians, Carthusians, etc.), the Dominicans, Franciscans, Premonstratensians, and several local dioceses still have their own Breviaries. For the various attempts at replacing our Breviary by a radically reformed one (especially that of Cardinal Quiñónez in 1535) see the histories of Baumer and Batiffol.

The Ritual

The "Rituale Romanum" contains all the services a priest needs besides those of the Missal and Breviary. This book especially was the least uniform in the Middle Ages. Almost every diocese had its own Ritual, or Agenda. Paul V issued in 1614 a book meant to be used everywhere; Benedict XIV revised it in 1752. The Roman Ritual contains ten titles (tituli) and an appendix nearly as big again as all the rest. Title I gives general directions for administering Sacraments; II gives all the forms for baptism; III for penance; IV for the Holy Eucharist, V for extreme unction and the care of the sick; VI relates to funerals and gives the Office for the dead from the Breviary; VII relates to matrimony; VIII contains a large collection of blessings for various objects; IX deals with processions; X with exorcisms and forms for filling up in the books of the parish (the books of baptism, confirmation, marriage, the state of souls, and the dead). The appendix (paged anew with asterisks) gives additional directions for the sacraments, some decrees and prayers and a large collection of blessings, first "unreserved", then those to be used only by priests who have a special faculty, those reserved to certain religious orders, and many "newest blessings". There is still a great want of uniformity in the use of this book. Many countries, provinces, and dioceses have their own Ritual or "Ordo administrandi Sacramenta", etc.

The Ceremonial of Bishops

The "Caeremoniale Episcoporum" in spite of its title contains much matter needed by other people than bishops. It is entirely a book of rubrical directions, succeeding the old "Ordines Romani". Much of it is already contained in the rubrics of the Missal, Pontifical, and Ritual. It was first issued by Clement VIII in 1600, then revised by Innocent X (1650), Benedict XIV at various dates (finally 1752), and Leo XIII (1882). It has three books. The first contains general directions for episcopal functions, and for the bishop's attendants (master of ceremonies, sacristan, canons, and so on). Then come full directions for everything connected with Mass, the altar, vestments, ceremonies, etc.; finally the order of a synod. Book II is all about the Divine Office, its chanting in choir and all the ritual belonging to it, as well as certain special functions (the blessing of candles, ashes, palms, the Holy Week services, processions, etc.). Book III is about various extra-liturgical functions, visits of bishops to governors of provinces, solemn receptions and so on, finally conduct for cardinals. The book continually gives directions, not only for bishops but for priests, too, at these functions. It is also here that one finds some of the most ordinary chants used by any celebrant (e. g., the Dominus vobiscum, Collects, I, 27; Confiteor, II, 39). The "Cæremoniale Episcoporum" is thus the official and indispensable supplement to the rubrics of the Missal, Breviary, Ritual, and Pontifical.

The Memorial of Rites

The "Memoriale Rituum" or Little Ritual (Rituale parvum) is the latest of these official books. It gives directions for certain rites (the blessing of candles, ashes, palms, the Holy Week services) in small churches where there are no ministers (deacon and subdeacon). The Missal always supposes the presence of deacon and subdeacon at these functions; so there was doubt and confusion about them when carried out by a single priest. Benedict XIII (1724-30) published this book in 1725 to remove the confusion in the smaller parish churches of Rome. Pius VII (1800-23) extended it to all small churches of the Roman Rite in 1821. It is therefore the official norm for all such services without ordained ministers.

The Martyrology

The "Martyrologium Romanum" is an enlarged calendar giving the names and very short accounts of all saints (not only martyrs) commemorated in various places each day. The earliest known martyrologies go back to the fourth century. In the Middle Ages there were, as usual, many versions of the book. Our present Roman Martyrology was arranged in 1584 by Cardinal Baronius under Gregory XIII, and revised four times, in 1628, 1675, 1680, and (by Benedict XIV) 1748. It is read in choir at Prime.

Books of other Rites

The other two surviving rites in the West (of Milan and the Mozarabic Rite) have gone through the same development as the Roman -- from Sacramentaries, Lectionaries, Psalters, and Antiphonaries to Missals, Pontificals, and Breviaries. Editions of the Milanese (Ambrosian) Missal, Breviary, Ritual etc., were published by Giacomo Agnelli at the Archiepiscopal Press (tipografia arcivescovile) at Milan.

The classical edition of the Mozarabic books is that made by order of Cardinal Ximenes, Archbishop of Toledo 1495-1517). The Missal (Missale mistum [for mixtum] secundum regulam beati Isidori dictum Mozarabes) was printed at Toledo in 1500 [Reprinted in P. L., LXXXV.] , the Breviary ("Breviarium Gothicum") reprinted (with Romanizing additions) at Toledo in 1502 [P. L., LXXXVI.]


For more recent information see

*Cæremoniale Episcoporum
*Liturgy of the Hours
*Gospel Book
*Roman Martyrology
*Roman Missal
*Roman Ritual

ee also

*Texts used in the Roman Rite of Mass

Bibliography (1880-1910)

*Louis Duchesne, "Origines du culte chrétien" (2nd ed., Paris, 1898);
*Ferdinand Probst, "Die ältesten römischen Sacramentarier und Ordines" (Münster, 1892);
*____, "Die abendländische Messe vom 5. bis zum 8. Jahrhundert" (Münster, 1896);
*F. Cabrol, "Introduction aux Etudes liturgiques" (Paris, 1907);
*Bäumer, "Gesch. des Breviers" (Freiburg, 1895);
*Battifol, "Hist. du Bréviaire romain" (Paris, 1895);
*Weale, "Bibliographia liturgica. Catalogus missalium ritus latini" (London, 1886);
*Ebner, "Quellen u. Forschungen zur Gesch. u. Kunstgesch. des Missale Romanum" (Freiburg, 1896).

For the other rites see, besides the editions quoted in the text, the Introduction of Brightman, "Eastern Liturgies" (Oxford, 1896). Other works are quoted in the text.

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