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Prophets, or from some other part of the Old Testament. Justin Martyr mentions this custom, in his second Apology, Turtullian, in chap. 39 of his Apologetic, and Denis the Areopagite, in the 3d chap. of the Eccles. Hierar. The custom was generally supposed to be derived from the Jews, who on every Sabbath read the law and the prophets in their synagogues, (Luke iv. 16. Acts xiii. 15, 27.) and which custom they still retain. The Epistle is, as Pope Innocent III. states, taken sometimes from the old law, and sometimes from the new law, because it as it were brings them to meet, the prophecies of the Introit being found fulfilled in the Gospel, which follows soon after the Epistle, and frequently the Epistle contains the prophecy, the fulfilment of which is found in the Gospel, as may be seen in the Mass for the feast of the Epiphany: hence, he says, the person who reads or sings the Epistle, may be said to represent St. John the Baptist, the precursor who closed the line of the prophets, and pointed out distinctly that Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. St. Bonaventure says, that the Epistle very properly follows the collect, for it is after having put up our prayer to the throne of mercy, when we may find grace in seasonable aid, we should receive that instruction which the holy Scriptures contain. The Church desires that we may prepare our hearts by prayer to receive the seed of the word of God, which being sown in good soil, thus prepared, will bring forth fruit an hundred fold. But she has too often to regret, that it is lost on the way side, or, falling upon the stony ground, or amongst thorns. becomes altogether unproductive. (Luke viii. 11.)

At a solemn Mass, the Epistle is chaunted by the sub-deacon, standing with his face towards the altar, on the lower platforin or floor of the Sanctuary, at the south side, or that on his right hand, which is thence called the Epistle side of the Chancel, of the Sanctuary, and of the altar. After he concludes, he makes

his reverence to the altar, which represents Christ, by going to the centre of the Chancel and bending his knee; then he goes to the celebrant who has continued at the book, reading in a low voice, and kneeling obtains his blessing; he then delivers the book which he has used to the deacon, who remained standing near the celebrant, and removes the book which the celebrant has used to the other side of the altar, whilst the deacon lays the book which he has received upon the altar.

The tone of this Epistle-chaunt is very ancient, it was in this tone the Greeks chaunted their solemn recitations on days of public meeting-having been received from them in many parts of the East, upon the establishment of their games and festivals in Asia, after the overthrow of Darius, and the Macedonian conquests, and having been introduced into the West when it become fashionable in Rome to import her customs from Greece, it was quite prevalent at the time of the establishment of Christianity: and thus was at the earliest period, introduced into the solemn service of the Church. The Jews had a sort of solemn chaunt in their religious offices, but it has no resemblance to this chaunt of the Epistle, nor to that of the Gospel, which those skilled in ancient music, unhesitatingly pronounce to be Grecian; and indeed most of our Ancient Church hymns are evidently derived from the same source-such for instance as the Hymn for the festival of St. John the Baptist, which is one of our oldest.

Ut queant laxis reasonare fibris
Mira gestorum famuli tuorum,
Solve polluti labii reatum,

Sancte Joannes.

This is evidently fine lyric Poetry, and was the foundation of the Gregorian notes, as may be perceived by comparing the sound of the notes, in the Gamut, Ut re mi fa, sol la as found in this verse and

si, as found in the word promissi in the third verse, with that of the syllables in the proper singing of this hymn.

The inferiority of his order, and his not being authorized to preach the gospel, are the reasons why he stands on the lower platform, and does not turn towards the people. Some authors add the mystic reason of showing that the prophecies were but indistinctly understood, as they were but obscurely given in the old law: the people indeed hear the voice as they did at Sinai, but do not see the face of him who speaks.

The seventy whom Christ sent to prepare the way for him, returned with joy to him after the discharge of their duty, (Luke x. 17.) So the sub-deacon, after having prepared the way for the Gospel, comes to the celebrant for his benediction, and having received this, he transfers the book to him who is to publish the Gospel.

After the Epistle, the choir performs, and the celebrant reads a few verses, which are called, the Responsory, the Gradual, the Alleluia, the tract, the sequence or the prose, the verses are differently called according to their nature or the occasion on which they are sung.

They are called responsory, either because they were the answer of the Choir to the Epistle, or because one person began, and was answered by the rest of the choir. The first verse was called the Gradual, because it was sung whilst the deacon was ascending the steps (gradus) to where the Gospel was formerly sung, which was generally the Ambo. The Gradual was sung in a slow solemn manner, as Pope Innocent III. informs us, in his work on the mystery of the Mass, book ii. c. 31-"The Gradual follows, which insinuates the lamentation of penance.***They do more correctly who do not express the gradual in festive modulated tones, but who rather, merely sing it in a grave and rough chaunt of lamentation.

The Alleluia, which signifies, "Praise the Lord," is sung or said after the Gradual, except on days of penance; as the same author says, c. 32, "After grief, consolation follows; therefore, the Alleluia is sung after the Gradual.*** The canticles of joy after the lamentation of penance." And Remig of Altissodor, in the treatise on the celebration of Mass; "Alleluia signifies Praise the Lord,*** as St. John says, And after this I heard as it were the voice of much people in heaven, saying Alleluia: (Apoc. xix. 6) and as we know that by this word the angels praise God in heaven, we believe the Lord is pleased with this sound of praise; hence we sing it, to show that on earth we adore the same God, whom the angels adore in heaven. It is frequently repeated in times of great joy; such as Easter, the Paschal time, &c., and the Tract is then omitted, as it is adapted for times of Penance. The Alleluia is particularly omitted from Septuagesima Sunday to Easter, which is a time of Penance; and as Pope Innocent III. says, represents the seventy years of the Jewish captivity, during which the children of Israel would not sing a canticle of joy. By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, and we wept, when we remembered Sion. On the willows in the midst thereof, we hanged up our harps; because then they who led us away captives, asked us for the words of our songs, and they who took us away, sing for us a hymn of the Canticles of Sion. How shall we sing the Canticles of the Lord in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten. (Psalm cxxxvi.) In times of penance, the sinner. calls to mind that he is a stranger, banished from the mansion of his father. He longs to return to peace, and to forgiveness. He cannot sing the canticles of joy in a strange land; but his words flow slowly and solemnly along the lengthened tones of the Tract, which has its name from being drawn out (tractus) in a melancholy note. The last part is called the sequence, because it follows (sequitu) the entire. It

is also called the prose; and is a sort of hymn, used on the most solemn occasions of Easter, Pentecost, and Corpus Christi.

The custom of singing between the Epistle and Gospel, is very ancient amongst the Greeks, as appears from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom; but in the Latin church it was not so generally received, as we find it prohibited in some places by the 4th council of Toledo, in the 11th canon; nor was the time for singing or omitting the Alleluia fixed with accuracy, until the 7th or 8th century. The 10th canon of the above mentioned council forbids it to be sung in lent, and it is thought the canon was made in consequence of some persons having introduced the forbidden custom. St. Augustine, in the 15th chap. of his 119th Epistle, says that it was sung only from Easter to Pentecost; and on Sundays, to celebrate the resurrection. Pope St. Gregory, having been blamed for having ordered it to be sung at Mass, except from Easter to Pentecost, stated that the law was only published by him; but that the custom was introduced under Pope Damasus, by St. Jerome.*

The celebrant, bowing down before the altar, repeats the prayer, "Cleanse my heart," &c.; which is sufficiently plain to shew its object, and to impress upon our minds the necessity of having pure hearts to receive the truth, and pure lips to announce it. The allusion to the cleansing of the prophet's lips, (Isaias vi. 7,) is beautiful: He then reads the gospel at the north side, or that at his left hand side, when he faces the altar.

In a solemn Mass the deacon kneels on the lower step of the platform, and prays: "Cleanse," &c. ; then goes to the celebrant for his blessing, which he asks on his knees, at the epistle side; the celebrant bestows it, in the following words: "May the Lord be in thy heart and on thy lips, that thou mayest an

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Lib. vii. Ep. lxiii. to John Bishop of Syracuse.

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