MEMOIRS OF THE LUTHERAN LITURGICAL ASSOCIATION

Volumes I-VII. Published by the Association Pittsburgh, Pa., 1906.

Copyright, 1906, by The Lutheran Liturgical Association.

[These volumes have been scanned and proofread, but may still contain errors. Original pagination has been indicated throughout.]

 

Volume VI

VI 1 Contributive Influences Noted in the History and Structure of the Liturgy (W. A. Lambert)

VI 17 Remarks on Some of Our Liturgical Classics (E. T. Horn)

VI 23 Preaching and the Day (P. Z. Strodach)

VI 41 Christian Worship in the Apostolic Age (C. M. Jacobs)

VI 65 The Liturgical History of Confession and Absolution

VI 77 The Sacramental Idea in Christian Worship (A. Spaeth)

VI 89 Paraments of the Lord’s House (G. U. Wenner)

 

CONTRIBUTIVE INFLUENCES NOTED IN THE HISTORY AND STRUCTURE OF THE LITURGY.

 

ANY attempt to trace in a brief paper the influences which have contributed to the formation of our Common Service, and which left their mark upon it, must of necessity be imperfect. Influences are extremely subtle and might be discovered where, least expected, perhaps in an innocent rubric. Then too the influences are so varied in character that it becomes difficult to classify them: some belong to a school, some to an age, some to a person; some arise from doctrinal questions, others from practical or aesthetic needs. A further difficulty is met in the possibility that what might seem to be the working-out of an old influence may be an independent return to an old form.

Imperfect as the attempt may be, it may yet be of interest, and perhaps not without value. Our Common Service, it need hardly be mentioned here, is not a modern invention, but the result of a historic development. Into this development have entered many elements from the days of the Apostles—or even earlier—until the present day. Even now modifications in rubrics and rendering, if not in text, are suggested and made, the tracing of which to their sources is most interesting. In such a long period of development we cannot expect to find one direct line of evolution. In a certain sense of course the line is easily traced from the Liturgy of the Apostolic Constitutions through the Roman Mass, Luther’s Formula Missae and Deutsche Messe, the Kirchenordnungen of the Sixteenth Century to the Common Service. But a glance at comparative tables such as are given in Köstlin’s Geschichte des christlichen Gottesdienstes will convince any one that these have not evolved one from the other without undergoing many modifications due to local, doctrinal or practical influences. Yet since there is a development of one from the other it would be marvellous indeed if traces were not left of the


Page 2

 

older as well as of the more recent influences. These traces are of interest as showing the connection of the most modern Service with the whole history of the Church: they are like the scars of battle and of age upon some historic building. They are also of value: by them we can estimate the meaning and importance of those features of the Service marked by them, their permanent value or relative indifference.

Like Christianity itself, Christian worship had two lines of preparation for itself in the ancient world, so that we must reckon with two pre-Christian influences, the Jewish and the Gentile. Of these the Jewish is naturally the more direct; yet in many points the two coincide so nearly that it is difficult, if not altogether impossible, to distinguish them. In modern times there has been a tendency to exaggerate both, in connection with the wider attempt to reduce Christianity either to a Jewish sect or to a Greek philosophy.

 

JEWISH INFLUENCES.

The Jewish influences may be distributed into two classes, those directly derived from the Old Testament Scriptures, and those due to the later Synagogue and Temple worship. To distinguish these is not an easy matter, for many features have been modified in passing through the Synagogue, yet are purely Old Testament contributions.

From the Old Testament comes first of all a group of words retained in their Hebrew form: Amen, Hallelujah, Hosanna.

The Amen has its liturgical use in the O. T., but entered the Christian Church from the Synagogue. “From I Cor. 14:16 it is seen that the use of the Amen as a response in benedictions came into the Christian congregation from the Synagogue, as also that the adoption of the word into Christian usage is connected with this.”* For Jew and Christian the Amen is the confirmation and appropriation of the prayer, expressing “the confidence of the hearers that the prayer will be heard.”† Of the Amen Ainsworth says: “The Hebrew word is used in the Greek, English and all other languages, to betoken unity of faith and spirit.”

Footnote: * Cremer, Woerterbuch.

Footnote: † Meyer, on I Cor. 14:16.

 


Page 3

 

The Hallelujah also has its liturgical origin in the O. T. evidenced by the retention of the Hebrew form in the LXX, and its occurrence in Rev. 19:1,6. It is first mentioned in Christian liturgies in the Lit. Basil and Chrysost.*

Footnote: * Rietschel, 366.

 

The Hosanna is usually derived from Ps. 118:25.† Hence Luther gives the form Hosianna which is found in the Kirchenbuch. The difficulty of deriving the shorter form from the longer, and the change of meaning from the “Save now” of the Psalm to the “Hail” of the N. T., has led Thayer to make the Strange suggestion that the Hosanna was not consciously borrowed from the Psalm, but is an independent form.ŗ Drews however connects the liturgical use of the Hosanna with the singing of Psalm 118:25ff after the paschal meal of the Jews.§

Footnote: † So also Rietschel, 379 and Drews, PRE3 11:552.

Footnote: ŗHastings, BD, II: 418f.

Footnote: § PRE3 II: 552.

 

To the O. T. we further owe the Psalms, which appear in various forms in the Service: Versicles, Introits and entire Psalms. The liturgical use of the Psalms is derived from the Temple and Synagogue Services, although “there is no evidence that the entire Psalter was used in the public worship of the Jewish Church.”¶ As some of the Psalms are evidently written for responsive use we may trace a responsive Service to the O. T., (it certainly is found in the later Jewish Services), as also the participation of the laity in the Service can be traced at least to the Synagogue, in which the lessons were read by members of the congregation and the sermon could be preached by any one capable of edifying the people.

Footnote: ¶ Kirkpatrick, Psalms, XCIX.

 

The Sanctus we owe to Isaiah 6:3 and Psalm 118:26, but its liturgical use comes not from the Jews, but from the Greek Christians. The Sursum corda is referred by Brightman to Lam. 3:41, and the “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God” “reminds us of the prayer used by the Jews at meals, also at the Sabbath meals.”¶¶

Footnote: ¶¶ Rietschel, 379 Cf. 251 ff.

 

The Benediction (Num. 6:24-26) comes directly from the O. T., although it was used also in the Synagogue, even with the added peculiarity that “in the absence of a priest in the congre-

 


Page 4

 

gation, the Benediction was not bestowed, but implored by a member of the congregation.”*

Footnote: * Schuerer, Geschichte, II, 382.

 

Some additional details might be referred to Jewish influence. For example, the leader in prayer turns toward the sanctuary, his back to the people, but in blessing the priest faces the people; the attitude of prayer is standing.†

Footnote: † For the Jewish Service, cf. Schuerer, Geschichte, 27, and Edersheim, Life of Jesus, 1, 439ff.

 

One important point is open to much discussion: whether the institution of the Lord’s Supper is connected with the “Cup of Blessing” of the Passover, and so the Jewish influence be seen in that central feature of our Service. Köstlin so maintains with Keim and Seyerlein against Heinrici.ŗ Bickell and Skene have even gone so far as to derive the entire liturgy of the later Eucharist from the Passover rite, an attempt characterized by Rietschel as “an artificial construction without every historical basis.”§

Footnote: ŗGeschichte, 12.

Footnote: §Liturgik, 234.

 

GREEK INFLUENCE.

Christianity had its origin among the Jews, hence we expect a long list of traces of Jewish influence in its worship. Both Jews and Christians were opposed to Heathenism and would not willingly adopt its forms. We need not be surprised, therefore, to find fewer traces of Greek influence, nor wonder that some of these are debated. But inasmuch as Christianity soon gained a foothold among Gentiles who were unacquainted with Jewish forms, and yet found among Gentile Christians expression of its life in similar forms, we may grant at least the possibility that in spite of the similarity the forms may have an independent origin.

To the Greek language, although it is the Greek of the N. T., we owe at least one expression which, retained in the Kirchenbuch, has fallen out of the Church Book,—the Kyrie.

Edwin Hatch, making perhaps a one-sided study of the influences of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church,¶ says that Greek Rhetoric “created the Christian sermon.” He refers, however, to the character of the sermon as an oration,

Footnote: ¶ Hibbert Lectures, 1888, p. 113.

 


Page 5

 

which has its proto-type as well in the methurgeman’s sermon of the Synagogue.*

Most of the Greek influences, those due to the Mysteries and Religious Associations, have been lost in our Service. Hatch finds a survival of them: “In the splendid ceremonial of Eastern and Western worship, in the blaze of lights, in the separation of the central point of the rite from common view, in the procession of torch-bearers chanting their sacred hymns,” but rightly says: “The tendency to an elaborate ceremonial which had produced the magnificence of those mysteries and cults, and which had combined with the love of a purer faith and the tendency towards fellowship, was based upon a tendency of human nature which was not crushed by Christianity” (p. 309). In the revival of such tendencies we need not see the influence of Greek Heathenism, human nature will explain them far better. We may say this also of the one trace left of the arcana disciplina, especially in German and Church of England Churches, the withdrawal of non-communicants before the Communion Service.

 

NEW TESTAMENT INFLUENCE.

The New Testament is by far the most important influence pervading the whole Service and modifying the elements received from earlier sources. It furnishes first of all the principles of worship, requiring that it be a worship in spirit and in truth.

From the N. T. we therefore derive that protest against formalism and lip-service which is constantly renewed and needs to be persistently emphasized in connection with even the most perfect liturgy. It may be worthy of note that the N. T. ascribes worship to a charism, so that it was directly a gift of God; and while it would be unreasonable to look for a renewal of the N. T. charisms in the N. T. form, it is most reasonable to expect for all times that those who are set apart to lead the worship should be not only specially prepared, but specially gifted as well.

The N. T. has provided the principles, and also the chief elements of the Service. The reading of Scripture,—of the use of the N. T. writings there is a trace—the singing of Psalms and spiritual songs, the sermon as a living message to men, above all the Lord’s Supper and Baptism as sacraments, the former especially as a part of the worship, are directly to be attributed to the

Footnote: * Cf. Edersheim.

 


Page 6

 

N. T. The Lord’s Prayer, the Nunc Dimittis, the Apostolic Benediction, the Kyrie, the Hosanna, the Hallelujah, the Lessons, the Words of Institution, the Agnus Dei, are all directly taken from the N. T., while some of the Introits, Responses and Sentences are at least in part so derived, and the Collects, the Declaration of Grace, the Gloria Patri, the Gloria in Excelsis, the Creed, and even the General Prayer, are based upon N. T. promises and expressions. So extensive is the influence of the N. T. that it can hardly be classed among contributive influences—it is practically the source of our Common Service.

 

GENTILE CHRISTIANS.

To the influence of Gentile Christians may be traced especially the time for worship—the Sunday, which among the Jewish Christians was celebrated alongside of the Jewish Sabbath, but among Gentile Christians was set in contrast to the Sabbath.

 

ANCIENT CHURCH.

The Church before the Middle Ages, known as the old Catholic Church, presents a transition period, from the simplicity of the Apostolic Age to the ceremonial richness of the later Catholic Church. It is marked by a growing emphasis upon the office of the minister, due to the claims of Montanism of a revived prophecy. The Bishop becomes a priest, the bearer of an Apostolic grace, the Service partakes of the nature of a sacrifice, and the Service of the Word is simply introductory to the Service of the Sacrament. In the mention of these points we note influences revived in modern liturgical movements. The restriction of absolution and benediction to the ordained minister, the insistence of some that the Service is incomplete without the Communion, the emphasis sometimes laid on the office and acts of the minister, point back to the Old Catholic Church, or may flow from similar opposition to modern Montanistic conceptions of a revived prophecy independent of the organized Church.

Among the elements of the Service derived from the Old Catholic Church we note the Preface to the Communion Service,* the Response, “The Lord be with you,” “And with thy spirit,” the Apostolic Benediction in connection with the sermon, the Sanctus, Gloria in Excelsis and Hosanna, the latter two as saluta-

Footnote: * Found in the Ethiopian Lit. and Apost. Const. VIII.

 


Page 7

 

tion of the invisibly present Lord, the sentence as the form of closing the Service, “Depart in peace,”* the General Prayer.†

Footnote: * Ethiopian Lit.

Footnote: † See the parallel with the General Prayer of the Morning Service in R. M. Smith, Sources, in MEMOIRS of the Lit. Assoc., I, p. 53.

 

To the early Church can also be traced the custom of standing during the reading of the Gospel,¶ the Response Deo Gratias after the Lesson,§ the responsive use of the Psalms between the Lessons¶¶ the custom of lighting lamps or candles during the reading of the Gospel,** and the Bidding Prayer.** In connection with this Bidding Prayer occurs the interjectional use of the Kyrie by the congregation, which has its parallel in the “Erhöre uns, lieber Herre Gott” of the Kirchenbuch.

Footnote: ŗ Apost. Const., II, 57.

Footnote: § Augustine, Sermo, 60. Rietschel, 299.

Footnote: Found in Tertullian, Apost. Const., II; Augustine; Rietschel, 366.

Footnote: ¶¶ Fourth Cent., Jerome, Rietschel, 139.

Footnote: **Apost. Const., VIII.

 

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

In attempting to trace the influence of the Catholic Church, we meet with many complications. We must note first of all the general influence of Catholicism, then the particular influences, if such can be traced, of Greek and of Roman Catholicism; but each of these has again been influenced by mediaeval extra-ecclesiastical affairs and by heresies. The last would be of special interest, could the influences of heresies be traced in detail: we have already seen that the growth of the priestly and sacrificial View of worship was influenced by the Montanist revival of Prophecy; later extravagances and errors left similar impress up-on the Church.

It may be well first to note the general distinctive characteristic of Catholic worship, and look for traces of its influence in our modern Service. The specifically Catholic element is the “high and excessive estimation of the act of worship itself as such, the conception of the cultus as a service ordained in fixed, objective form by God, and therefore in an objective sense holy.”†† Wherever we find a tendency to legalism in the Liturgy or its use, or to the opus operatum idea of a service not in spirit and in truth, we have an out-cropping of the Catholic influence,

Footnote: †† Koestlin, 58.

 


Page 8

 

unless we prefer to lead this also back to its source in human nature. In our Liturgy such worship without the heart is well provided against, but in practice it will always break through, and needs special attention, especially because some perfectly correct and proper forms, e. g., the Baptismal Service, are in themselves liable to such misinterpretation.

To Catholicism is due the tendency to excessive symbolism, carried out with thoroughness in the Greek Church and connected with the separation of the active worship from the congregation. Connected with the opus operatum idea this finds its modern result in opposition to the Liturgy, a timidity of the people to take part in the worship, a tendency to see in worship the work of the minister, which has a meaning, but a meaning often but dimly understood. On the other hand it may produce services so elaborate and ceremonials so symbolic that the congregation cannot take part or is unable to appreciate the symbolism. The sacrificial view of worship, though not in the gross form of a bloodless sacrifice, but rather in the form of a meritorious value ascribed, to the sacrifices of prayer, praise and thanksgiving, has found large foothold in Protestantism. Even the silence of the Word of God is only partly overcome, for Protestant Churches have to some extent, by substituting orations and lectures for the preaching of the Word, fallen back into a new kind of Catholicism.

The distinction between the Greek and the Roman Catholic worship may be stated thus: The Greek Church sees in its worship a symbolic drama, which is meaningless without a congregation as spectators, although because of its intricacy meaningless also to the congregation: the Roman Church has in its worship a real drama, which needs no spectators.* Protestants are not apt to be tempted to return to the Roman real sacrifice without a congregation, but there is a growing temptation to multiply forms and symbols in the fashion of Greek Catholicism.

Footnote: * See Koestlin, 61 ff.

 

GREEK CHURCH.

To the Greek Church we owe the use of the Creed in the regular Service, introduced by Petrus Fullo, Bishop of Antioch (about 471) to combat Eutychianism, by Bishop Timotheus in Constantinople in 511. Again we note the influence of heresy.

 


Page 9

 

A similar influence is seen in the modification of the Gloria from the original “Glory to the Father in the Son and the Holy Spirit” to “Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” and the addition “As it was in the beginning” etc., in the conflict with Arianism.*

Footnote: *  Rietschel, 355.

 

To the Greek Church we owe the development of Church music. “It was especially the Antiochene Church that exerted a decisive influence upon the development of liturgical song. Here it is said that Ignatius (†116) already introduced responsive choirs, that form of holy song which Ambrose transplanted to the Occident.”† But antiphonal singing “existed already among the heathen in the arrangements of the Greek chorus. It was practiced with much elaboration of detail in the Psalmody of the Jews, as appears from the account which is given of the Egyptian Therapeuts. Its introduction into the Christian Church, therefore, was a matter of course almost from the beginning.”ŗ

Footnote: † Koestlin, 89.

Footnote: ŗ Lightfoot, Epistles of Ignatius, p. 31.

 

ROMAN CHURCH.

The strongest pre-Reformation influence traceable in the history of the Liturgy is that of the Roman Church, and naturally, so, for the Reformation grew up within the Roman Church, and inherited its Service as far as it could be used; and that Roman service was the ripe fruit of a liturgical development which bad absorbed much from the provincial liturgies it had superceded. Some of these provincial influences can still be traced, but many have been sacrificed to the uniformity of the Roman Church and can now be traced only to Rome.

Among the peculiarities of the Gallican Liturgy which have modern parallels, we may mention the self-communion of the priest (approved by Luther in the Formula Missae, else where disapproved by him),§ and the reception of the bread into the hand—which is found already in Cyrill of Jerusalem.¶ Special mention is made of the single cup, in distinction from the Arian usage which allowed the king a separate chalice.¶¶ “In Rome the receiving of the host with the hand was done away already

Footnote: § Cf. Daniel, Cod. Lit., II, 88n.

Footnote: ¶ Rietschel, 287.

Footnote: ¶¶ Ibid. 315f.

 


Page 10

 

in the middle of the sixth century. … The change in distribution was very probably influenced by the fear of the easier profanation of the elements.”*

Footnote: * Rietschel, 391 ff.

 

Roman influence is to be noted not only in various features derived from the Mass, but in the structure of the Liturgy itself. The threefold distinction of an introductory confessional Service, a Service centering in the Word, and a Service centering in the Sacrament, is clearly derived from the Mass, although each of these parts has undergone great modifications: the introductory Service is now congregational, in the Mass it belongs to the Priest; the Word Service reaches its climax not in the Gospel, but in the sermon. This in spite of the fact that the “Sermon is the application of the Word that is read,”† and that “a number of our Orders provide for this (the sermon) under the direction: ‘Explanation of the Gospel.’”ŗ In theory the Word of the Gospel is still the climax, in practice the Sermon is that climax. Daniel§ referring to Luther’s suggestion that the Sermon precede the Mass, says: “It can rightly be said that the entire worship of our Church would have entered an entirely different way if this opinion of Luther had always and in all places been approved among all. For we should not have been entangled in that pernicious error according to which the Sermon forms not only the chief part of worship, but, that I may so say, the only.” The Sacrament is no longer an objective sacrifice, but a Communion.

Footnote: † Dr. Jacobs, “The Lutheran Liturgies” in Christian Worship, p. 167­

Footnote: ŗ Dr. Jacobs, Lutheran Movement, P. 302.

Footnote: § Cod. Lit., p. 85 n.

 

The following elements of the Common Service are taken from the Roman Mass:

The Invocation, the Versicle (Ps. 121:2), the Confiteor (much modified), the Introit, the Gloria Patri in its use as a N. T. crown to the Psalms, the Kyrie as a separate prayer, the Collects, the Pericopes (with numerous changes), the Responses: Glory be to Thee and Praise be to Thee in connection with the Gospel. it is note-worthy that in the Communion Service proper the Common Service has returned back of the Mass and used forms long and widely used in the Christian Church or added newer forms grounded in or taken from Scripture. The Agnus

 


Page 11

 

Dei is found already in the Liturgy of St. James in connection with the breaking of the bread, was ordered to be used in the Mass by Pope Sergius (†701); the three-fold repetition can be traced to the twelfth century, with the miserere nobis also the third time; the dona nobis pacem, according to Innocent III was added to the third member of the Agnus in time of great tribulation, but may be connected with the older rite, in which the kiss of peace followed the Agnus Dei. *

Footnote: * Rietschel, 388.

 

THE REFORMATION.

The Reformation influence is seen primarily in a return to N. T. principles, and the rejection of the Catholic conception of an ex opere operato worship. Hence followed a recasting of the Liturgy into the older form of a congregational Service, its translation into the language of the people, and a modification of the various elements into conformity with Scripture. As the reformation of the Liturgy also fell to Luther, there are a few features traceable to his influence.

 

LUTHER.

Chief among these is the use of the Aaronitic Benediction, (Num. 6:24ff), which “until then had never been in ecclesiastical use except in a peculiar manner in the Mozarabic Liturgy.”† Daniel calls it: “Pulcrum sane ecclesiae Lutheranae, peculium et verum cultus divini incrementum.”ŗ Of great importance also are the addition of the Church Hymn and the revival of the Sermon. The Hymn has its liturgical position in the Deutsche Messe as an opening Hymn. The Creed as a confession of the people and the singing of a Hymn in the intervals of the Distribution also come from Luther, while the Prayer of Thanksgiving after the Communion. is his composition. Beyond this Luther’s influence was far-reaching, since his liturgical writings developed principles rather than formulated liturgies, and these principles affected the form of other liturgies.

Footnote: † Ibid. 402.

Footnote: ŗ Cod. Lit., II, 89, n. 5.

 

LUTHERAN CHURCH OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.

In the Preface to our Common Service we have this statement: “The Rule prescribed by the three General Bodies afore.

 


Page 12

 

said, according to which those charged with the preparation of this Service were to be guided, and by which all questions arising were to be decided, was: ‘The Common Consent of the pure Lutheran Liturgies of the Sixteenth Century; and, where there is not an entire agreement, the Consent of the largest number of those of greatest weight.’” The consensus of the Sixteenth Century Liturgies is therefore the decisive or normative influence in the formation of our Common Service, through which all the older elements have been transmitted. But new elements have also been added by these Liturgies. For example, the rubric requiring the consecration of additional elements should they be required, the formula of distribution, the Nunc Dimittis after the distribution, (which does not belong to the consensus, however), etc.

The use of the Words of Institution as the means of consecration present an interesting history. The indispensableness of the Words of Institution Luther bases on Augustine’s saying: “accedit verbum ad elementum et fit sacramentum,” which Augustine applied to Baptism, and there not to the Words of Institution, but to the Gospel in general.* Luther’s first conception was that these words were a declaration to the congregation, a conception found in a number of the Sixteenth Century Liturgies, in the Form. Concord., Chemnitz and Gerhard.† But in the Form. Missae, 1523, and later, Luther conceives of the Words as a benediction or consecration, and as such they have come into the Common Service, just as they are in the Roman Mass. This has necessitated the rubric above mentioned, which the Roman Church, having no danger of exhausting the elements, did not need.

Footnote: * Drews, PRE 5:411, quoted in Rietschel, 301.

Footnote: † Rietschel, 433.

 

REFORMED CHURCH.

The influence of the Reformed Church has been felt in two ways, It is still in many places very evident in the lack of all liturgy, and an opposition to liturgical forms as savoring of Romanism. But the Reformed influence very early exerted itself upon the Liturgy itself. The Apostles’ Creed was substituted for the Nicene first by the Reformed Churchesŗ and came into

Footnote: ŗ Zwingli, 1525, but also in Doeber’s Messordnung of the same year.

 


Page 13

 

modern liturgies as late as 1821.* “The reading of the Service in a colloquial tone was a species of mutilation and iconoclasm introduced by the Reformed type of theology, and quite on a par with its other vicious attacks upon Ecclesiastical Art.”†

Footnote: *Prussian Agende.

Footnote: † Archer and Reed, The Choral Service Book, p. xix.

 

To Reformed influence some might be tempted to ascribe the interpretation of the so-called Declaration of Grace as an Absolution, and the use of the General Absolution. But in view of the fact that the Declaration confessedly has the form of an Absolution, and in the Sixteenth Century Liturgies is called an Absolution, and is retained as such in Nürnberg, 1533 by Osiander who there rejects the “Offne Schuld” after the Sermon, there seems good reason to reconsider the matter. Osiander rejects the “Offne Schuld” on the ground that coming immediately after the Sermon it obscures the absolving character of the preached Gospel, The same objection will not hold against the Absolution at the opening of the Service nor against the General Absolution in a special Confessional Service. Or, if the objection be supposed valid, then equal objection could be raised against various repetitions in the Liturgy, in which the same blessing is repeated or the same confession made, as if the first were not valid. On the other hand if the objection to the General Absolution as such holds in one place it holds in all, and the Lutheran Church, which retains the Confession for the sake of the Absolution, has no Absolution in connection with the Confession.

 

CHURCH OF ENGLAND.

It would seem most natural that a German people in transferring their Liturgy to the English Language would be strongly influenced by a Church, once considered the English Lutheran Church, which has a Liturgy somewhat similar, and, as Dr. Jacobs has shown, largely derived from Lutheran sources. It is somewhat surprising therefore to find how limited is the influence of the English Book of Common Prayer, being limited virtually to the beautiful translations of the Collects, (where the same Collects occur), and some Collects of English origin.

A question of considerable obscurity will always be the determination of the extent to which the liturgically developed

 


Page 14

 

worship of the Episcopalian Church has influenced the revival of liturgical taste and customs in the American Lutheran Church.

 

PIETISM.

To the Pietism of Spener’s time may be ascribed the end of Private Absolution, although this might with equal correctness be ascribed to corrupt practices connected with the Private Absolution itself. With the cessation of Private Absolution the introduction of General Absolution became necessary. If the form adopted can be traced to Reformed sources, the idea, as we have seen, was found early in the Lutheran Church, and extends beyond it to the Middle Ages.

To Pietism may also be traced the large development of Free Prayer, substituted for the General Prayer, for which room is left in the rubrics of the Common Service only under the heading of “any other suitable Prayer,” which would rule out many “free Prayers.” If Luther thought it wise to prescribe the “Postille” for the preacher in the Deutsche Messe of 1526, “weil der geistreichen Prediger wenig sind,” we may certainly approve of the prescribed General Prayer on the ground that there are few “geistreiche Beter.”

 

RATIONALISM.

While there may be evidences of some influences of Rationalism left in our Liturgy, they must be so minute as to have escaped notice. The custom of singing a “Hauptlied” with direct bearing on the sermon—Predigtlied—dates from the Eighteenth Century, and may possibly have come from such influence. Except in a purely formal rendering of the Service, the only loophole for rationalistic influence now lies in the sermon,—and then it must be a sermon out of all harmony with its setting if it can be rationalistic.

 

AMERICAN LUTHERAN CHURCH.

To the American Lutheran Church as represented in the three General Bodies must be ascribed the production of our Common Service in the English Language. But in preparing the Service no mere translation; nor even a compilation of Sixteenth Century Liturgies sufficed. There are elements which, appear in none of the latter. The Offertory (from Ps. 51:17-19 and Ps.

 


Page 15

 

51:10-12) is new, the suggestion being found in Schöberlein.* The arrangement of the parts of the Service might also reveal independent work on the part of the Committee, which could be discovered only by a detailed comparison with all the materials. The Common Service as a whole, especially in its English form, is due to an American influence, differing as it does from all German Liturgies, especially in the removal of local peculiarities: in its German form it bears as distinctive an American influence, extending even to the new translation of the Collects, made with special reference to their probable use with music.

Footnote: * R. M. SMITH, Sources, P. 52.

 

PRESENT DAY INFLUENCES.

Looking at the liturgical work of to-day we may roughly sum up the influences as follows: There are two forms of critical influence, one of which criticises to reject, the other to reform. A third tendency occupies itself with developing the Liturgy as it is by archaeological and historical study of it, and a revival of its musical and aesthetic rendering.

 

W. A. LAMBERT.

Saltsburg, Pa.

 


Page 16


Page 17

 

REMARKS ON SOME OF OUR LITURGICAL CLASSICS.

 

RECENT studies and discoveries have thrown light on the history of the Lutheran Service. Luther’s Formula Missae, of 1523, following his treatises of 1516-1523, was evoked by a demand for a revision of the Service. His criticisms on the Mass had been eagerly and widely accepted. In accordance with his teaching the idea that it was a propitiatory sacrifice was rejected, and the demand for a Service in the language of the people, in which fuller instruction in the Word of God should be given, was continually growing. Many had attempted translations of the prayers and offices of the Church, and among these have been preserved “Orders” for the use of those who felt themselves, or actually were, shut out from the Communion but desired to participate in it. Carlstadt had tried to put Luther’s principles into practice in 1521. Thomas Muenzer at Alstedt celebrated a German Mass and afterwards published it. Kantz at Nordlingen published the first “Evangelical Mass.” Almost of the same date as the Formula Missae, is Nigri’s German Mass at Strassburg, the startingpoint of the Strassburg type of Service. The principles of the Formula Missae were soon combined with Kantz’s work, as in the Pseudo-Bugenhagen of 1524, and Kantz’s with Nigri’s, and these again with the Formula Missae, at Nuremberg. All this is evidence of the widespread and insistent demand for a reformation of the Service and the provision of a German Mass. Luther’s Formula Missae, is therefore to be regarded as a compliance with it is demand. When it was published, Kantz’s and Nigri’s Masses were in existence. It professes to tell how the Service was at that time performed at Wittenberg. Nigri’s and Bucer’s principles were cotemporary with it. It is to be regarded then as in some sense a critique on what had already been undertaken, as well as on the old Mass; and reasons must be found

 


Page 18 

 

why Luther did not accept and applaud the work already done. On the other hand, he ignored or rejected it.

We are not ready to admit Smend’s suggestion that Luther did not accept these attempts at reformation for something like vanity, or the desire to arrogate to himself a sole leadership. Smend himself shows that the Strassburg Orders ran a course of their own in spite of a subsequent influence of the Formula Missae. He is able to detect that influence in several easily distinguishable parts. The Nuremberg Service derived from them certain divergencies from the Strassburg type. This is enough to show that Luther was not wrong in scenting another spirit.

On one point Luther’s motive was clear. While he wished for a German Mass, he was afraid that his disciples would go too fast. He wished to retain as much of the old Service as he could in accordance with evangelical principles. He even did not wish to give up the use of the Latin tongue altogether, so far as it might be retained to edification. Bugenhagen shows some annoyance in the letter he wrote complaining of the Kantzian Mass that had been published under his name, because adherents of the forward movement called the Latin Service retained at Wittenberg with German Lections and Sermon no German Mass at all. Luther put a high value on the traditional music of the Service and could not think it possible to use it to literal prose translations. I do not think this ever has been done successfully in the German Churches. To translate a Service of Worship it is not enough to set down the meaning of sentences so that they shall be clear to an attentive mind. This is the fault of the majority of the versions of German Hymns which have been incorporated into our Church Book. It is interesting to note that Dr. Beale Schmucker felt the same hesitation in regard to the Matin and Vesper Services: he doubted whether they were possible without the traditional music and whether the traditional music could be set to any available translation. Every language has a genius of its own; and the genius of a language is the genius of the people whose utterance it is. It is not enough even to transfuse the thoughts into German words and idioms. No, the Word of God must be wrought into the German people and evoked from them again. And the new texts thus born, reproducing the substance of the old, but in a form as unlike the old Latin forms as the German worshipper is unlike the Latin, as

 


Page 19

 

Luther was unlike Aeneas Sylvius, as the Latin forms were unlike the Greek, must have a musical setting of their own. What would we Americans have done with the Lutheran Service if it had not been Englished for us by centuries of use? And Luther was not far wrong when he put the sacred texts into German rhymes as freely as the forty-sixth Psalm was rendered in Ein’ Feste Burg. Of course he missed the mark sometimes, as in Jesaia dem Propheten das geschah; but not often. His translations of the Collects show that he alone of the Germans can be ranked with Cranmer for liturgical sensitiveness and command of the language of devotion. Luther revolted from the harsh, inartistic wooden, impossible versions of the first attempts at a German Mass. Of some of the earliest attempts to put the material of worship into German Smend says, “The prayers breathe a glowing mysticism and a deep tremulous longing utters itself in the meditations. Nor is it seldom we perceive a play upon words and notions such as marks a very leisurely worshipper and is far from simplicity.” They speak of the Zarten Fronleichnam und Edlest Blut, of the Rosinfarbes Blut, of Christ. It is interesting to compare their prose versions of the Gloria in Excelsis which never found a place in German worship, and perhaps occasioned the readiness with which Luther adapted himself to the traditional permission to use or omit the Gloria in Excelsis at the will of the minister. Luther and Bugenhagen were impatient of the notion that it was wrong to have the Service in Latin. They were not willing to force upon the people a change that would be felt by every one, and would be offensive to sober people of good taste as well as to those attached to the old Order. At the centre, they also felt all the difficulties besetting their work more than their eager imitators could. Luther therefore would have “put the brakes” on the reform. But he was driven by it. And, finally, the German Mass showed the utmost he was able to accomplish in that time and the way he thought it ought to be done.

Another reason for the rejection of these immature essays at liturgical construction lay in a well-grounded distrust of their principles. Our first impulse on reading the Masses of Muenzer. is to admire the courage and taste shown and their evident respect for the ancient form. He was a respectable hymnist. We are told that the musical setting of the parts is not without mer-

 


Page 20

 

it. He shows considerable liturgical knowledge. Yet Luther is certainly to be pardoned for suspecting anything from Carlstadt’s or Muenzer’s hand. We do not know whether he ever gave to these concepts any attention. But lest we may condemn the great reformer for rejecting the work other men were doing, who were eager to work out principles for which he had contended, let us look at Muenzer’s Masses more closely.

Here we find traces of a pantheistic mysticism. For instance, in comment on the Sanctus Muenzer says: “We sing the Sanctus that we may know how a man should be prepared in order to receive the Supper without injury to his soul. He should and must know that God is in him; he must not imagine that He is a thousand miles away from him; but as Heaven and earth is full, full, of God, and as the Father continually begets the Son in us, and the Holy Ghost does nothing else than glorify the Crucified in us.” He seems to make the validity of the Sacrament depend on the faith of the participants…. In one place he says that only patient men are worthy of the Saviour of life. … Muenzer exhibited his liturgical knowledge in a free combination of materials from many Masses. He practically rejected all the Services for the days of the saints. The Project of Kantz has many points of divergence from the Order suggested in the Formula Missae. The latter begins with the Introit. The former (and indeed all these early forms) has a Confession of Sins and an Absolution, answering to the Confiteor of the Mass. It has been discovered that the pre-Reformation Service at Wittenberg had a Confiteor. Luther’s omission of this, in spite of these apparently unobjectionable forms, must have been due to an unwillingness to admit anything that savoured of the old distinction between the priest and the other worshippers. Kantz does not retain much of the old Order, while the Formula Missae, evidently aims to keep all it can. But in one point Kantz goes further in this direction than Luther would allow. Here we find after the Sanctus this prayer of Consecration: “O most Merciful Father, help that this bread and this wine may become and be to us the true Body and the innocent Blood of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, Who on the day before His Passion, etc.” After the Agnus Dei is said, “O Lord Jesus, Thou eternal Son of the Father, Thou Saviour of the world, Thou true and living God and Man, redeem us through this Thy


Page 21

 

holy Body and rosy (in other editions, precious) Blood from all sins.” After the Priest receives the Sacrament, he takes a Host in his hand and shows it to the communicants, saying, “See, Beloved, this is indeed the holy Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who suffered bitter death for you. Receive and eat it that it may feed and nourish and keep you unto eternal life.” … With the Cup he says, “See, this is indeed the precious treasure of. the costly Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, wherewith ye are redeemed. Receive it and divide it among yourselves to the washing away of your sins.” The Nunc Dimittis is added, to be said on bended knee.

It is easy to detect the doctrinal elements which render this immature performance objectionable.

When we come to the Strassburg Masses, we find many questionable features. Nigri’s form, as might have been expected, is little more than a translation of the Missal in use in the Latin Service. There is here also an insistence on the idea of our own Offering of our bodies as a living sacrifice. The traditional pericopes are discarded, and hand in hand with this is a gradual abandonment of the Church Year. The disuse of the traditional pericopes was advised by Muenzer also. An early project of a German Mass ascribed to Oecolampadius chooses lections intended to make the Lord’s Supper no more than a commemoration of the Death of Christ. When he wrote the Formula Missae Luther was not averse to the change from the traditional pericopes but was not prepared to take the step; but in the interval between then and the composition of the German Mass (1525), he had decided to standby the old Order. He was also unwilling to give up the celebration of the Feasts of our Lord. As the Strassburg reform proceeded, the Holy Supper was more and more relegated to a second place in the worship of the Congregation, and everything was made secondary to instruction in the Word of God. Luther in his German Mass seems to intimate that those who always are seeking some new. thing, are already getting tired of the new Service, and expresses a dread of the use enthusiasts may make of the liberty of teaching it grants them.

The Strassburg scheme had no influence at Wittenberg. But at Nuremberg it had. It came to Nuremberg combined with the proposition of Kantz. It has been said that the Nuremberg

 


Page 22 

 

reform of the Service belongs to the Strassburg type. Its divergence from the Wittenberg Order was recognized. The Wittenberg Reformers declined a proposition to consult with reference to a uniform Service. It did not seem to them desirable that Christian liberty in such matters should be covered up by uniformity in worship. The separate development at Nuremberg finally made itself felt in the Saxon series of Orders through the Mecklenberg Order of 1552, the Mecklenberg Order of 1540 having been based on Brandenburg-Nuremberg 1553. To the earliest Nuremberg Order we owe the Exhortation in the Communion Service, probably the composition of Osiander, and to the Orders of which we have been speaking, coming to Nuremberg by way of Strassburg, our Confession of Sins and Declaration of Grace, and the Nunc Dimittis.

It would not be just to say that the German Mass of 1526 represents Luther’s final conclusion on the Service. The Wittenberg Order of 1533 is far more ornate, and the Saxon of 1539 is more characteristic of the Normal Lutheran Liturgy.

 

EDWARD T. HORN.

Reading, Pa.

 


Page

 

PREACHING AND THE DAY.

 

DOES the Day influence the Sermon, or is the Sermon independent of the Day? Is the Sermon something distinct from the rest of the Service or an integral part, and as such influencing or influenced by the other parts? Is our Worship an harmonious whole or made up of indiscriminate acts having no inter-relation or bearing no effect upon each other? Is this Worship which is such a great part of the Church’s life, based on a distinct plan with a definite object in view or simply an outpouring of the momentary emotion, or an expression of personal thought, will or experience? If based on a distinct plan does this leave any imprint on the structure of the Service and does this seek and demand expression?

Let us keep these questions in view and let them guide the of the subject.

There is such a thing as a Lutheran Cultus. The Lutheran Church observes the Ecclesiastical Year. It is the Ecclesiastical Year in which the Cultus thrives. But neither the Cultus nor the Church Year are of distinctly Lutheran manufacture; nor do they date simply from the Reformation era. While there are many things that may be brought forward as marks of the Reformers, as results of their thought and touch, still there is nothing that has not come from a former age, that does not trace its foundation to earliest times and date from the days of the pure and unadulterated orthodox practice. However there is such a thing as a Lutheran standard from which we must consider all matters and a Lutheran point-of-view; but these are nothing more than the standard and view-point of the Early Church. Lutheran Cultus means Christian Cultus. Lutheran practice means Christian practice,—Apostolic, post-Apostolic, Greek or Latin, early or later Roman, or what you will. Therefore any

 


Page 24

 

question which we consider, based on our Cultus or Church Life of the present day, must also consider the pure antecedents from which it sprang and which it acknowledges as source and standard. The Lutheran Church is in the hereditary line of the Ages, and whatever they brought forth that is not contrary to the Word of God and pure practice, is hers by hereditary right.

Christian Worship or the Cultus, from the earliest times, whether expressed in simplest form or grandest ceremonial, has always expressed itself harmoniously, as a dignified, unified, logically progressing act. The various parts which contributed to the structure, were so arranged that they would either eloquently and pointedly express their messages to, or act as guides for, the people. One step followed the other preparing for, and leading to, the climax, and therein the Office ended. The Apostolic admonition: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (I Cor. 14:16), as well as the Apostolic examples were faithfully followed;* and this admonition is the essence of all liturgical, structural law and necessarily means harmony. This is borne out by the remains of the earliest traces of a Christian Liturgy† and has never been forsaken by the Church through all her centuries of growth even amid innovations and false doctrines.

Footnote: * Neale while granting the non-Apostolic authorship of the Early Greek Liturgies, nevertheless claims that they are based on Apostolic forms. “These liturgies,” he says, “though not composed by the Apostles whose names they bear, were the legitimate development of their unwritten tradition respecting the Christian Sacrifice, the words probably, in the most important parts, the general tenor in all portions, descending unchanged from the Apostolic authors.” The General Introduction to the History of the Holy Eastern Church. p 319.

Footnote: † See Greek Liturgies. Renaudot, Liturgiarum Orientalium. 2 ed. 1847. Daniel, Codex Liturgicus. Vol. IV. Neale and Littledale, The Lits. of St, Mk., St. Jas., etc. 3 ed. ’75. Englished also by Neale and Littledale and in Ante Nicene Fathers. Vol. VII.

 

Christian Church Life was, first of all, a simple outpouring of the momentary emotion, but this very thing was the basis of the structure of the Christian Year. By “momentary emotion” nothing is meant that might convey the slightest suggestion of certain practices of the present day. The expression of the Worship was limited to the one plain, pre-eminent Fact. It was simply the Day and its memory that engaged their thought; and these days were limited to a weekly cycle; and that was their atmosphere, Every Lord’s Day brought to them the memorial of the Day of

 


Page 25

 

Resurrection; and soon with that, the fourth and sixth days (distinguished as feria) assumed the character of memorials of the Suffering, and the Crucifixion and Death of Christ, making in itself a harmony and following a distinct purpose.* Starting from this, but never forgetting or forsaking it, the yearly recurrence and remembrance of the Great Days and their Facts gradually grew into a set celebration. And as the Lord’s Day was the first day observed, weekly, so that Day which celebrated that Fact was the first festival to be celebrated annually; but it does not stand alone, any more than did the Lord’s Day. The events closely related to it appear with it, making a season of preparation for, and following it with a season wherein its particular spirit was brought home and applied. Then soon another Day and its groups of lesser dependent feasts (a distinction which was made even in earliest times) arises, until after but a few centuries of Church life, we find the Christian Year celebrating the great central Days with their pre- and post-, seasons, observed throughout the Church with greater or less fidelity. This is a matter of simple ecclesiastical history.

Footnote: * Rietschel, Lehrbuch d. Liturgik, p. 166 § 18.

 

The one had its effect upon the other. True, it was but dual, but nevertheless it was powerful. Hymns† are found celebrating the facts of the Great Days; Homilies by the Early Fathers, setting forth Christian life in the light of these Events; these even before we have any remains of a complete Liturgy.ŗ The earliest Service-book that has come down to us, the Roman Sacramentary known as the Leonianum,§ points very plainly to an harmonious structure and makes ample provision for the changing spirit of the great Seasons, of course in no wise as fully and completely as later Sacramentaries. Yet it is interesting to note that this, the oldest of Roman liturgical antiquities, does not

Footnote: † On Early Hymns Cf. Bennett, Christian Archaeology, c. 8, p. 272 seq.; Augusti, Denkwuerdigkeiten, V, 234; Alt, Christ. Cultus, I, 421.

Footnote: ŗ We speak of the Western Section of the Church, since it is the Roman antics more particularly, that are to be considered as antecedents to our use.

Footnote: § Muratori, Liturgia Romana, Vol. I; published separately by Feltoe, Sacramentarium Leonianum. Cambridge Press. ’96. Probst, Die aeltesten roem. Sacramentarien und Ordines erklaert, for criticism. The Gelasianum is published by Wilson. Oxford Press. ’94. And with the Gregorian may also be found in Muratori, which also compares and gives the others mentioned. The Mozarabic is published by Migne. Paris. 1850.

 


Page 26

 

limit its variables to one set for a particular Day or occasion; but frequently provides two and even more sets, all of which bear upon the one fact of the Day.

A little later we come upon a group of Sacramentaries, Antiphonaries and Lectionaries, out of which we can construct a complete and detailed structure in which not only the great Days are illuminated by special observances and appointments, but the feria, the passage from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day, are emphasized and provided for in much the same manner. We speak of the Sacramentaries of Gelasius and Gregory; the Ambrosian, Mozarabic and Gallican Office-books; the Antiphonary ascribed to Gregory* in various forms and others† and various manuscript Lectionaries.† The oldest of these MSS goes back as far as the year 700; Probst § would give the Gelasianum an even greater age; and since most of these MSS are not much younger, (the 9th Century at latest), we have a rather high age for a completed fabric.¶ We said these MSS contribute a complete and detailed structure. How is this shown? In the Propria¶¶ and other variables; and the richness and variety as well as aptness, of Introits, Collects, Lections, Antiphons, Graduals, Responsories, Offertories, Collects ante-, and post-, nomina, Prefaces, Post-communions, Hymns, etc., are abundant proof of the fact that the Christian Year did have an effect, and that not a weak one, upon the expression of the Worship, and that those who composed the variables and appointed them did so under this influence. What more natural, than that Feast and Fast centered in the life of

Footnote: * Bruno Augiensis, (†1045) Says in his de rebus ad miss. pert., c. 1: that Gregory was the “ordinator libri Sacramentarum et Antiphonarum.”

Footnote: † Rancke, Das Kirchliche Pericopensystem. p 116 seqq.

Footnote: ŗ Ibid. p 126 seqq.

Footnote: § Probst, D. aelt. Roem. Sac., etc. p. 156 § 34.

Footnote: ¶ Rancke recognizes it as a complete system by 9th Century. Pericopensystem. p. 406. Thesis 14.

Footnote: ¶¶ It is to be noted that the completeness of the Propria etc. in these earliest liturgical remains presupposes their use in an earlier period. In other words, if a Sacramentary, coming to us from the early part of the 8th Cent. contains full Propria, it is not presumptuous to suppose that they were in use the latter part of the 7th Cent. or earlier. They would not necessarily come into use for the first time with, and be a complete and personal work, as a whole, of the one editing the Sacramentary. He, no doubt, drew from older sources. Then it follows that some earlier minds embraced the idea of an harmony in structure, at least, and so expressed it in the dress of the Service.

 


Page 27

 

Christ and His teaching, should influence and express itself in the worship of that Christ and about His gift to His Church, the Sacrament.

The structure of the Service proper has undergone many changes. There seem to have been two Services or a twofold Service in Apostolic times. One a purely preaching Service, missionary and catechetical in its character,—simple yet unified; the other celebrating the Supper. This custom was followed in the early post-Apostolic period; but gradually the two were welded into one, till we find the Chief Service embracing both, the Liturgy of the Mass resulting. Yet while they had become one, the distinction was not lost. There were other, lesser Services as well on week-days which had as their purpose instruction in the Word; and for the clergy-though attendance on the part of the laity was urged as well-there was the arrangement of the day-the Canonical Hours;* and these again were appointed with reason.†

Footnote: * Rietschel, Lehrbuch, p. 169. Battifol, History of the Rom. Breviary. c. 1— “The Genesis of the Can. Hours.”

Footnote: † “Offer up your prayers in the morning, at the third hour, the sixth, the ninth, the evening and at cock-crowing - in the morning, returning thanks that the Lord has sent you light, that He has brought you past the night and brought on the day; at the third hour, because at that hour the Lord received the sentence of condemnation from Pilate; at the sixth, because at that hour He was crucified; at the ninth, because all things were in commotion at the crucifixion of the Lord, as trembling at the bold attempt of the impious Jews, and not bearing the injury offered to their Lord; in the evening, giving thanks that He has given you the night to rest from the daily labors; at cock-crowing, because that hour brings the good news of the coming on of the day for the work proper for the light.” Cons. Apos. Bk. VIII, c. 34.

 

The earliest liturgical remains while uniting the two, still mark the distinction by dividing the Service into the missa catechumenorum and the missa  fidelium,—but the structure is such that the progress from the one part to the other is not attended with a distinct break but leads up to the Celebration as the final and climactic act. The first part is the Service of the Word in which the reading of the Word and the preachingŗ by the Bishop or Presbyter appointed by him, is the height reached; the second, the Celebration not separate but as a logical advance.  In the first the Word is declared generally; in the second applied indi-

Footnote: ŗ Various passages lead us to suppose that the lection contributed to the text of the sermon.


Page 28 

 

vidually. The first part did not suffer for lack of attention or honor, nor did they fail to appreciate its true and great value. The rich remains of homilies by the Fathers of those days show us how active they were in the preaching of the Word and how they looked upon this as one of the highest acts of worship.

With the growth and introduction of the doctrine of the “Sacrifice of the Mass,” the Service is made to feel its effect. It changed the view-point, brought a foreign spirit into the worship, which evinces itself in the ideas of “propitiation” and “merit”; and the edifying of the people is sadly neglected. Yet the structure remains unchanged, becoming more and more settled on the outlines of the past, until in the time of Gregory the Great, it reaches its own climax.

It was Gregory who filled out the earlier structure which had already been enriched by Leo and Gelasius,* providing a complete set of Propria, by adding to the treasure of the past. He is the acknowledged father of the present system. In his work the influence of the Church Year is very apparent. It was strong in Gelasian times. It was evident in Leonine times. It shows itself far earlier in no indistinct manner.

What is there to show for this?

To go back all the way—there are a number of passages in the New Testament which speak of the “First Day of the week”—“the Lord’s Day”—in such a manner as to allow the supposition that it was observed as a day of special worship.† Following this, in post-Apostolic times, this observance can be recognized as a settled institution,ŗ and a stated time for the assembling of the people for worship. In these evidences the character of the Day is also made evident. Almost as old is the observance of the week, in particular the Stational Days,§ reasons being given for this custom as well. As early is the growth of the daily hours

 

Footnote: * Walafrid Strabo, De Rebus Eccl. c. 22. M. S. L. 114, p. 946, quoted at length in Probst, De aelt. Roem. Sac. p. 148, note 2. John the Deacon, Life of Gregory, II, 17, for which see Duchesne, Christian Worship, p 126, n. 5. For a criticism of these pp see Probst, p 148 seq. and 301 seq.

Footnote: † Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2.

Footnote: * Justin Martyr, (†166), Apol. c. 67. For text see Hering, Huelfsbuch zur Einfuehrung in d. Lit. Studium. p. 7. (Tertullian, de cor. mil. 3. Ante N. F. III, 94, de fuga. A. N. F. IV, 125.) Pliny’s Letter (111-113). Hering, p 3. Rietschel, 154 § 17. Bingham, Bk. XIII, c, 9, § 1 seq.

Footnote: § Rietschel and Bingham as above.

 


Page 29

for prayer, tracing the inception of their observance to Apostolic times* and very early accompanied with the reason for their use.

The Festivals followed; and again we note that the oldest and—almost from the earliest times—the most widely observed is that which celebrates the Fact which marked the observance of the First Day, the Pascha. There appear to be evidences of it in Apostolic times. In a few years it is found all over the Church. Soon differences arise over its proper date as early as 160 A. D. between Polycarp of Smyrna and Anicetus of Rome. Pentecost and the festival season of the inter fifty days come into being soon after. The Feast of the Ascension appears in the 4th Century; that of the Epiphany is found in the Eastern Section at the end of the 3rd. The Nativity in the Fast is observed earlier still, in the West it is authorized by Julius of Rome (337-352).† And these are mentioned as Festival groups.

In the meantime the Service is developing, becoming a dignified and expressive Ceremonial. Prominent in it is the place the reading of the Word assumes. At first the number of Lections varied, embracing the “Law and the Prophets” with the writings of Evangelists and Apostles;ŗ then Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel,§ and then confined to two¶—Epistle and Gospel. And although at first the choice of these lections is dependent upon the will of the Bishop,¶¶ yet from the earliest times the Festivals and Lessons exerted an influence in this direction which was not resisted. Set Lessons are placed on these Days. There is an appointment in Origen** for the Passiontide, another by Ambrose.†† In Augustine we note the very marked passage wherein he tells of how the congregation in one of the Churches evinced its displeasure when the Passion was read according to St. John instead of that customary according to St. Matthew;ŗŗ and that

 

Footnote: * Acts 3:1; 2:46. Bingham, XIII, 9, sec. 8. Rietschel, 149. Battifol as above.

Footnote: † For the Festivals see Rietschel, 172, 19 seq.

Footnote: ŗ Const. Apos. VIII, 5. Tert., de praesc. heret, 36. For text, Rietschel, 224,

Footnote: § Const. Apos. II, 57.

Footnote: ¶ Augustine, Ser. de Verb. Apos. 176. “Apostolum audivimus, … evangelium audivimus.”

Footnote: ¶¶ Augusti, Denkwuerdigkeiten, VI, 106. Cf. V, 239, 240.

Footnote: ** Origen, In Jobum, lib. I. Cf. Augusti, VI, 111.

Footnote: †† Ambrose, Ap. 33. Cf. Augusti, VI, 111.

Footnote: ŗŗ See Nebe, Evang. Perikopen. I, 6.


Page 30

there were lections that were customary is adduced from a number of passages from the writings of the same Father.* Basil† in one of his homilies on Baptism in Lent, notices the lessons which were read that day and mentions them. Maximus Tauriensis in one of his Epiphany homilies mentions the appointments for that Festival.ŗ From the writings of Chrysostom, we gather that the people knew what the Lections would be, since he urges them to read them beforehand.§ And Augustine tells us that “some lessons were so fixed and appropriated to certain times and seasons that no others might be read in their stead;”¶ and mentions in particular, in referring to the Festival of Easter, when for four days successively the Resurrection History is read according to the four Evangelists.¶¶ On the day of the Lord’s Passion, the history of His sufferings was read according to St. Matthew;** and for the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost, the Acts of the Apostles were appointed.††

Still more to the point, these Lections were preached upon; and we possess homilies from various sections of the Church on the same texts, which were read for like occasions. Of these Lections not a few remain in use to-day. For example: An homily by Athanasius is based on the Gospel for the Nativity (Lk. 2;) one, also by Chrysostom, wherein he mentions that the celebration of this Festival, though but lately introduced in their midst, had “long been celebrated from Thrace to Spain.”ŗŗ There are also five by Ambrose on the same Text. On the Gospel for the Epiphany (Matt. 2:1-12) there is one by Basil in which he describes the history, and four by Ambrose on the two texts (Matt. 3:13-17 and John 2:1-11—the account of the baptism of Christ and the first miracle) used together. On the Palm Sunday Gos-

 

Footnote: * Augusti, VI, 108 seq. Nebe, I, 6.

Footnote: † Basil, Hom. 13 de Bap. and in Hom. 21 in Lacisis. Bingham, Bk. XIV, 3.

Footnote: * Bingham, XIV, 3. Maximus Tauriensis, Hom. 4 in Epiph. The lessons are: Isa. 60; Matt. 2; John 1.

Footnote: § Chrysostom, in John 11, also 58. M. S. L. 59.

Footnote: ¶ Augustine, Expos. in I Joan, in Praefat. See Augusti, VI, 108-9 for text.

Footnote: ¶¶ Text given Augusti, VI, 109. Augustine, Ser. de Tempore, 139, 140,

141, 144, 148.

Footnote: * Nebe, Evang. Perikopen. I, 6.

Footnote: †† Augustine, Text, Tract VI in Joan, in Augusti, VI, 109.

Footnote: ŗŗ This with the fact that the Gospel used was Lk. ii. might allow us to deduce that this was the Lection as widely used.

 


Page 31

 

pel, one by Epiphanius who also has one on the Epistle for the Ascension (Acts 1:1-11). For Pentecost, there is one by Gregory Naz. on Acts 2:1-13, used in such a manner that there can be no doubt as to its use as the Festival Lection,*

Is it possible to show whether the various Lessons had any relation to each other, or to the Day or Season?

Augustine says in Ser. 165 de Verb. Apos.: “We have heard the Apostle, we have heard the Psalm, we have heard the Gospel,—all the Divine lessons agree”† (consonant). Again he uses the lessons together: “We have heard the first lesson from the Apostle,—then we have sung a Psalm,—after this came the lesson from the Gospel, we will discourse upon these three lessons, as far as time permits.”ŗ Chrysostom devotes an entire homily to the reason for the use of Acts between Easter and Pentecost.§

We do not adduce these evidences as proof of the existence of a set Lectionary arranged thematically, but we believe there is sufficient evidence here for us to recognize, 1st, that the idea of harmony between Day and Lesson, or Season and Lesson—wider still—the Service, was strong; and 2nd, the beginning, in these appointments, of what very soon after takes the form of the System of Pericopes.

The earliest Lectionary remains bring this very important part of the Service to us in a system of Epistle and Gospel appointments for the entire year, and these are known as Pericopes. A Pericope is a particular portion of Holy Scripture chosen for an especial purpose, considered complete in itself and used as a Service Lection.¶

The most interesting of the antiquities is the so-called “Comes” of Jerome (†384), known to us however, in a number of recensions only. In other branches of the Church traces of

 

Footnote: * Many ancient homilies are given in Augusti, Vols. I-Ill.

Footnote: † Apostolum audivimus, Psalmum audivimus, evangelium audivimus, consonant omnes divinae lectiones, quoted from Palmer, Origines Lit. Vol. II, 47, note “o.” Ser. 165 de Verb. Apos. Benedic. ed, V, 796.

Footnote: ŗ Primam lectionem audivimus Apostoli—Deinde contavimus Psalmum—post haec evangelica lectio. Has tres lectiones, quantum pro tempore possumus, pertractemus. Ser. 176 de Verb. Apos. V, 839

Footnote: § Chrysostom, Hom. 63, Cur in Pente, Acta legentur. See Bingham, Bk. XIV, 3, where a resume of the homily is given.

Footnote: ¶ Augusti, Denkwuerdigkeiten, VI, 197.

 


Page 32

 

other and independent Lectionaries are found. Claudianus Mamercus (c 450) prepared one for the Church at Vienna.* Gennadius† tells of another prepared by Musacus of Marseilles (c 458) and the passage referring to it is of extreme interest because it shows that the opinion then prevalent was that the Lection was not an independent part of the Service but something demanded, and depended upon, by the entire Office. One idea permeated the Service. It was an harmonious, united whole. It further shows these Lections to be the appointed texts for preaching.

Walafrid Straboŗ (9th Century) believed the Pericopes to have been in use in Apostolic times, but this is chimerical. Binterim§ carries them back to the 3rd Century and agrees with Bona¶ that the system was completed by Jerome.

As proof for this, there exists a “prologue” reputed to have come from the hand of Jerome,¶¶ which is generally accepted as genuine, and which deals with the subject of the Pericopes. Further, the recensions of the Comes, which are all second-hand or more.**

Jerome gives two reasons in his prologue for calling the work the Comes. First it carries this name for the clerus because it is the companion and manducator through the year’s Offices. Second, it is to be the guide and adviser for every Service, and since the work (as it is believed) consisted simply of Epistle and Gospel, appointments for the various Days, it is easy to see what is meant. He adds still more pointedly: it is to have caput causamque rationabilem,†† in mentioning the choice and arrangement of his Lections; and instead of beginning with Septuagesima or the Passion, it seemed more logical to begin at the beginning. So he breaks with custom and begins with the Vigils of the Nativity—the first definite recognition of an order or sequence in the Church Year. This might be the caput! Now the causa rationabilis—no Pericope was to be loosely connected with the other. They were to be as members of each other, a living organism, and comprise a rounded-out and harmonious system. Further, everywhere

Footnote: Augusti, VI, 143.

Footnote: † Ibid. Also Nebe, I, 11.

Footnote: ŗ De reb. eccl. c, 22. For text see Augusti, VI, 199.

Footnote: § Binterim, Denkwuerdigkeiten, IV, 1, 228-230; 2, 323.

Footnote: ¶ Bona, de reb. lit. III, c. 6, p 624. Augusti, VI, 200.

Footnote: ¶¶ Rancke, Pericopensystem. Appendix, I, Cf. p 259.

Footnote: ** Ibid. p 126 seqq.

Footnote: †† On this compare Nebe, I, 8 and Rancke, 260 seq. Nebe’s is the later work.


Page 33

 

there was to appear a reasonable basis for the choice, why this certain Pericope and not another was used. He observes with great care, the ecclesiastical Season. He tells us he sought: “singulis festivitalibus, quod aptum vel competens esset, … quae lectis praesenti festivitati congruat.” The rule he laid down for himself seems to have been: “Omnia secundum tempus esse legenda.

This is all the more of interest to us, if the recensions of the Pericopes are connected with Jerome, since these recensions embody our present system to a great degree.*

We have quoted these simply to show that the Ecclesiastical Year influenced a very important part of the liturgical Structure to no slight degree; but now is this influence felt in other parts of the Office, or have the Pericopes any effect on the remainder of the Liturgy?

We have a very ancient use in the Lections and the Lectionary, and a central and weighty point of the Office affected by them. It is the reading of God’s Word to His Church. It is put upon the highest plain and observed orderly and systematically and with imposing ceremonial. We have the evidences of their influence as well. The Office of the Word is no weak, unclothed, senseless act. From the Word read as centre, in the spirit of the Day or Season, the Service was filled out and equipped with its other variables. Introit precedes it; Collect, Gradual, Responsories, Sequences, Tractates surround it; other follow it; and their rich and apt relation are not only proof of the influence but of the harmony in the Structure.

The use of the Introit is carried back to Pope Coelestin (422-432),† who is supposed to have appointed the one hundred and fifty Psalms to be sung on the various days, and from this time forward they assume special reference to the Day. Leo, the Great (440), adds to and arranges the Psalmody. In 583 Pope Vigilius writing to Bishop Profuturus, sending the Ordinary of the Mass, notifies him that it was customary to add to it in various places formularies peculiar to the solemnities of the Day.ŗ

With reference to the Collects many of which are of great

 

Footnote: * The recensions are given with other lectionary antiquities in the Appendices to Rancke’s Pericopensystem. See also Tables in Nebe, I, 102 and Cf. Wiegand, Das Homiliarium Karls des Grossen. 1897. p 17 seq. also 75.

Footnote: † Duchesne, Christian Worship, p. 115. Lib. Pontif. I, 230, 231. Rietschel, 357.

Footnote: ŗ Duchesne, p 97

 


Page 34

 

antiquity,* their contents is the greatest proof of their aptness of appointment. Among other reasons given for the use of the term “Collect” is that of Pseudo-alcuin who gives this: “collecta dictam est a collectione, eo quod ex auctoritate Divinarum Scripturarum sit collecta quae in ecclesia legantur,” and Daniel agrees with this.† They are variously described as being “composed generally out of Epistle and Gospel taken together or with some reference to them;” as “the very quintessence of the Gospel;” as “reflecting the spirit of Epistle and Gospel;” and the weekly Collect is looked upon as “the means by which the ordinary Office is continually linked to the Eucharistic.”ŗ

From the earliest times the Lections are accompanied by the singing of Psalms and verses.§ We find the Hallelujah and Gradual variously applied; sung only in seasons of joy, and displaced in Advent and Lent by other selections (Tractates, etc.). Rupert Tuitensis speaking of the Psalms as Responsorii says they derived this name from this: “that they answered to the Lessons, being sung immediately after them.”¶

Then with Offertories, Prefaces, Post-Communions, Benedictions, all varying with the occasion, there is an abundance of evidence of an influence and the Service made to express it.

We have seen that many homilies remain, based on the lections, dating from the early centuries. Leo the Great leaves many more; a still richer supply descends from Gregory; and we cannot refrain from mentioning the so-called Augustinian “Sermones de Tempore,” many of which are not Augustinian but of later date—(by some attributed to Caesarius of Arles); but whoever wrote them used many of these lessons and did not fail at times to bring out a very pointed reference as to their connection with the Day. And we find that these Pericopes are not cast off with the passing of the years, but on the other hand are more and more widely adopted; and when the sermon is conspicuous only by its absence, what is left to do the preaching but these Propria and their aptly chosen companions!

 

Footnote: * Probst, Lit. des 4ten Jahrh, 459, carrying some of the prayers of the Leonianum back to the time of Pope Damasus (366).

Footnote: † Cod. Lit. I, 26.

Footnote: ŗ Freeman, Principles of Divine Service, I, 144-5; I 367.

Footnote: § Cf. the Lit. of Cbrys. in this connection.

Footnote: ¶¶ De div. off. I, 15.

 


Page 35

 

In the time of Charles, the Great, we enter a period and section of the Church that brings the matter closer home to ourselves. It is well known how his father Pipin and he dispossessed the old Gallican Order and introduced the Roman throughout their domain, and showed his deep interest in the advancement of all matters relating to learning and the Church. He orders in his “Capitulare Aquisgranense” c. 4, in the year 801, “Ut omnibus festis et diebus dominicis unus quisque sacerdos evangelium Christe praedicet;”* and that there should be no excuse or failure to comply with this law, he provides for the issuing of an “Homiliar” in which every Pericope is covered by an homily from one of the Fathers; and later, orders them translated that they may be preached in the linguam rusticam and understood by the people; and we note in this that it is not the Lection that is chosen but the homily for the existing Lection, and that again in many cases they contain special reference to the spirit of the Day. Allowing this, is to suppose that a consideration of such matters guided the compiler, Paul the Deacon; nor would the spuriousness of such passages militate against this, since it would show that, no matter whose hand had written them, the Day was considered.

From our own liturgical antiquities we know that the Lections of the Homiliar of Charles the Great, as published in Luther’s timeŗ is the basis of his Kirchen Postille, and that he followed their Order which varied in some respects from the Roman; which fact accounts for the variations in the two systems at the present day. However there is a strong word to be said in favor of the Homiliar in this, that one of the recensions of the Comes, that known as the Pamelian, based on an 8th-9th Century MS. agrees with it in many places; and this recension is valued very highly by critics.

To come to the Reformation Period. Luther retains the old Lections and though at times, he expresses himself very forcibly against certain appointments, never makes any change. We also read very frequently in the introductions to his Postilles, his opin-

 

Footnote: Quoted by Nebe, I, 18.

Footnote: † Cf. Ibid. I, 19 seq.; and in particular, Wiegand, Das. Hom. K. d Gross.

Footnote: ŗ Rancke, 132. The comparison between the editions of the Hom. of Luther’s period and the earliest MSS. is made by Wiegand, p 75, showing a number of divergences.

 


Page 36 

 

ion as to the purpose or choice of the Lesson for the particular Day.

In Von Ord. Gottesdienst in d. Gemeyne (1523)* he writes: “Des Sonntags aber soll solch versamlung für die gantzen gemeine geschen… und da selbst wie biss her gewonet Messz und Vesper singen, als dass man zu beider tzeytt predige der gantzen gemeine, des Morgens das gewolich evangelium, des Abents die Epistel.” The Reformation KOO that do not appoint the Gospel for Mess Predigten are the exceptions. Kliefoth gives resumes of the schedules of many of the Orders, and this is the case, Gospel always appointed.†

Gerber’s History of Ceremonies in Saxony (in many respects, a very remarkable book though instructive) states “die Texte zu unsern Predigten sind die verordneten Evangelia et Episteln, etc.”ŗ

Later Orders reconstructed or newly composed, while leaving the matter more to the choice of the clergy, nevertheless emphasized the old custom, and that this was no slight influence, the many works and Postilles on the old Epistles and Gospels witness. We have digressed, but with the desire to find, if possible, some evidence of the appointment of the Gospel as preaching text for the Chief Service, before we endeavored to touch upon our other question: “Is there any influence exerted by the Gospel: is it the centre of any harmony?”

A quotation from Rupert Tuitensis is pointed here: “Sanctum evangelium principale est omnium, quae dicuntur ad missae officium, sicut enim caput praeminent corpori et illi cetera membra subserviunt, sic evangelium toti officio praeminet ut omnia, quae ibi leguntur vel canuntur, intellectuali ratione illi consentiunt.”§ With this another from Nebe: “Wie kein Punkt unseres Lebens ein Atom ist und am allerwenigsten in dem inneren Leben des Geistes irgend ein Atomismus angenommen werden darf, so müssen auch die Gottesdienste, in welchen das geistliche Leben seine Höhepunkte erreicht, ein ander die Hand bieten und ein lebendiges Ganze bilden Die rothe Faden, welcher alle Gottesdienst Durch-

 

Footnote: * Daniel, Cod. Lit. II, 79.

Footnote: † Kliefoth, Lit. Abhandlungen, 4, (7) 475.

Footnote: ŗ Gerber, Kirchen Ceremonien in Sachsen. (1732) p 406, § 9.

Footnote: § De div. off. I, 37.

 


Page 37

läuft und dadurch die einzelnen Perikopen zu einem Systeme an eniander reiht und die heiligen Feiertage zu einen heiligen Cyklus vereinight, ist die Idee des Kirchenjahres. Die Idee ist der regulative Faktor der Perikopen;”* and if so and the sermons are based on them, the least that could be expected would be, that they should show some little of the spirit of the Day.

For such a conception of the Year and its Lessons we need not come to modern times. Such commentators on the Mass as Sicard of Cremona, Amalarius, the Pseudo-alcuin, Berno v. Reichenau, Micrologus and Durandus all claim it and in connection with various Days and Seasons show it,† and draw on all the Propria, especially the Collect, for this purpose. Rancke, to satisfy himself as to the truth or falseness of the idea of an harmony in the Propria, in the third Part of his work on the Pericopensystem (p 264 seq.) takes up one Day after another examining the Propria in detail, comparing Introits, Antiphons and Verses with Collect and Lections and arrives at the conclusion that in many cases a very strong harmony exists and that the Propria and variables were chosen to this end. The Lenten Season lends itself to this very readily (p 332 seq.) as do all Festival Periods; but in the long Trinity Season (with but few exceptions when an important Saint’s Day is met or at the Embers) he finds very faint traces.  Schöberlein however finds this latter cycle very pointed and complete,ŗ and covers the entire Year in this manner.

Other moderns have applied the expression of this directly to the work of the Sermon. Among them are Lisco, Strauss, Alt, Matthäus, Werner, Nebe, Schöner.§ There are a number of works in English, though not of our Church, which, while not

Footnote: Nebe I 31.

Footnote: Sicard of Cremona, Mitrale, IV. M. S. L. 213, 191. Text in Rietschel, 217. Amalarius, in connection with Advent and the Nativity, de ord. antiph. c 76. M. S. L. 105, 1312. Rietschel, 214, in his de off. eccl. I, 37, speaking of the Litaneia Maior Amalarius gives the reasons for its celebration and bases them upon the Lections and Prayers of the Mass. On the Sabbat. vacat. I, 9. Alcuin, on Septuagesima, de div. off. c 9; also Amalarius, de eccl. off. I, 1. Ven. Bede sees a deep purpose underlying the number and choice of the Lections for the Ember Days, quoted by Rancke at length, P 273, notes. Amalarius, de eccl. off. also. Rancke, 274, n. 3. Durandus, Rationale, IV, follows Sicard of Cremona.

Footnote: ŗ Schöberlein, Lit. Ausbau. 295 seq.

Footnote: § Lisco, Kirchenjahr. Strauss, D. Evan. Kirchenjahr. Alt, Christlichen Cultus, v. II. Matthaeus, D. Evan. Perikopen d. Christlichen Kirchjs. Werner, D. Logik. d. Christlichen Kirchjs. Schomer, Das. Evan. Kirchenjahr. Cf. Agenda fuer d. Evan. Luth. Gemeinden in russichen Reiche, (1898) p. 6o, for “group Introits” arranged thematically for Trinity Season. Cf. Nebe, Introduction to Ev. Peri.


Page 38 

treating the Church Year thematically, consider the Lections and Collect in the light of their harmony.*

We have tried to show through the citation of these various antiquities, that the development of the Christian Cultus tends to an united and harmonious whole, the mode adopted to express the Church’s worship. Then, that this Church in her life endeavored to live so that in her Year she would set before the eyes of her children, all the Facts and Events in the Work of Salvation; not in the form of a dramatic Service, as that of the Greek Church, but in detail living close to the Days and their memory; and gathering therefrom their import, their lessons, anew. Then the endeavor was to show the influence of one on the other, and how it seemed to centralize and crystallize itself in the Lections; the Lections marking the Day and the Days forming the structure of the Year, the Year that brings out the Facts of the Lord’s work for the Church and the Church’s life in the Lord; then the Lessons would be the connection between the Service and the Year, and with the other variables dependent upon the Lessons for their choice or composition, we have a definite, purposeful relation established. Now if these Lections are what they seem to be, not weak but of such tremendous import; if they have a purpose in view and are not placed there simply because Scripture must be read and these passages seem as good as others, but are the liturgical lessons; is the Church faithful that does not attempt to reproduce this experience and gain the riches they hold, and live her life in their light, not an empty and weak one, but one inspired by a Year’s harmony and fullness of God and His work and our salvation? And of the many places where this way be, and is, shown; what is better adapted to express this than the Sermon, where the entire harmony may be brought out? Here is the liturgical Gospel, set on such a Day of such a Season. Surely that Day or Season brings its emotions. We do not experience

 

Footnote: * Doane, Mosaics or Harmony of Col. Ep. and Gos. Kyle, The Collects, where in the introduction to each he shows the thought running through the Propria. Coxe and Whitehead, Thoughts on the Service. Also commentators on the Book of Common Prayer, c 9. Proctor; Evan. Daniell, cf. the sections on “Collects,” “Epistles and Gospels.”

 


Page 39

the joy of the Nativity in the Passion Season; and how quickly the deep thoughts and feelings of that Period give place to the Easter spirit. in such atmosphere that Lesson stands, and about it, its Introit with its announcement and answer, its Collect with its crystallized petition, its Responses, its Hymns, etc., all of which depend upon it. Then should the Sermon be a stranger to it? What better announcement of the Fact than the Divine Word? What better comment upon it than Word illuminating Word (Introit); than Word echoing Word (Verses, etc.)? What better application of it than in the use of the Prayer? The Sermon is not an independent part of the Service, but has its logical place; and the unfolding of the Service demands its presence. It is part and parcel of the Structure, part of its harmony, which would be no more unbroken without it than with it, treating something at odds with the rest of the Service.

If the Church would live her Year, bring it home to her children, there is no half-way position, she must live it to the full. She must live it as she has it with everything capable of expressing it in active service.

Preaching and the Day? Preach the Day and all that illuminates it, and Christ will be preached for He is Centre of it all. The Fathers did not neglect Him when the Service was founded, nor when the Lections were chosen, nor fail to show His Church daily, that “of Him and through Him and unto Him are all things.” “To Him be the glory forever! Amen!”

 

PAUL ZELLER STRODACH.

Easton, Pa.

 


Page 40

 


Page 41

 

CHRISTIAN WORSHIP IN THE APOSTOLIC AGE.

 

The endeavor to form a clear idea of the worship of the first Christians is one which has often been made, with but indifferent success, for all the difficulties which beset the path of the historian of the Apostolic Age show themselves in double measure when we come to the study of one of the small problems that are bound up with the larger ones. Not the smallest of these difficulties is the inability of the investigator to divorce himself from preconceived ideas of what Christian worship in the Apostolic Age ought to have been. When we find that our sources are of the scantiest, that the author of the book of Acts is more intent upon preserving the facts which connect with the growth of the Church and the means by which that growth was brought about, than with the details of the life within the communities that arose in the Roman Empire as a result of the preaching of the new faith; that St. Paul was more concerned in preventing the inroads of false doctrine and false moral ideas among his converts than with the determination of the forms of their congregational life; and that for all information on such subjects as that which is the subject of the present investigation we are dependent upon occasional, often indirect, and seldom more than casual allusions in the New Testament, it becomes evident at once that the tendency of the writer to find one form of worship or another in these earliest days will have the widest scope, and that the most divergent conclusions can be given at least a semblance of probability. We need not bring forward as examples the contrast between the Roman Catholic and Anglican authorities, who seek in everything to justify later practices by Apostolic usage, and the evangelical school, whose attempt is to prove that the Services of the Reformation time in their own Churches conformed to Apostolic precedent, nor between both of these and the modern destructive

 


Page 42 

 

critics who would relegate not Christian worship itself, but every form of Christian worship to a period subsequent to the Apostolic Age; for the same kind of a contrast is observable even between men who occupy essentially the same dogmatical ground, like Th. Harnack* and Kliefoth.† To criticise the results of these researches is, however, not the purpose of this paper, except in so far as it may be necessary to an understanding of the subject which is before us.

The sources with which we have here to deal are, in the main, the writings of the New Testament, though illustrative matter and corroborative evidence for some of the results obtained therefrom may legitimately be drawn from the earliest writing of the post-Apostolic period. The congregations concerning which we have the fullest accounts in the New Testament are those at Jerusalem prior to the death of James, and that at Corinth about twenty years later.ŗ Our information concerning the first of these Churches is derived from the early chapters of the book of Acts; concerning the second, from the Epistles to the Corinthians. In both we find definite references to the congregational worship, which seems in the two congregations to bear a very different character. The question therefore arises at once—Are we to regard the procedure in these two instances as types, the one of the Jewish-Christian, the other of the Gentile-Christian worship, and collate with the first the cultic ideas of the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Epistle of James, with the other the traces of liturgical usage which we find here and there in other Pauline letters, or are we to consider their relationship as one of antecedent and consequent and conceive them as differing as earlier and later forms of the same services? The former is the opinion of Th. Harnack, the latter that of Kliefoth. The present writer would endorse neither view wholly. There can be little doubt that the service of which we can form a fairly consistent picture from I Cor. xi-xiv, was typical for the Pauline congregations and eventually for the Church in the Roman Empire; the setting

 

Footnote: * Th. Harnack, Der Gemeindegottesdienst im apostolischen und nachapostolischen Zeitalter. Dorpat. 1854.

Footnote: † Kliefoth, Ursprungliche Gottesdienstordnung. Schwerin. 1858. (Liturgische Abhandl. 1-5.)

Footnote: ŗ For an admirable presentation of conditions in the latter congregation, v.

Footnote: Dobschurtz, Die Urchristlichen Gemeinden. Leipzig. 1902. pp. 17-64.

 


Page 43

 

which it gives us for such passages as Eph. iii, 16 and Col. iii, 16, as well as the correspondence of its elements with what we find in the Didache and the epistle of Pliny, would seem to establish this fact beyond dispute. Neither can it be denied that the service in Corinth must have had some things in common with the service in Jerusalem, or that Jewish usages were influential in the forms of each. On the other hand the worship of the Corinthian Church contains elements that could not have existed in Jerusalem and other elements which rest upon conceptions Pauline in their origin and never, so far as we know, current in the congregation there. It is therefore fair to treat these two forms of Christian worship as types of Jewish and Gentile Christian congregations, if we also bear in mind that the terms Jewish and Gentile Christian stand simply for phases of development, and are mutually exclusive only in their extreme expressions—in Ebionism and Gnosticism.

Coming more directly to the subject in hand it is necessary, first of all to determine what it was that transpired in the Services at Jerusalem and at Corinth. We begin naturally with the Services in Jerusalem.

A. THE CHURCH IN JERUSALEM.

In Acts ii, 46 we have our first clear reference to stated assemblies of Christians and that verse forms the starting-point for discussion of the worship of this congregation. It reads as follows:—“And day by day, continuing stedfastly with one accord in the Temple,, and breaking bread at home, they did take their food with gladness and singleness of heart.” From this it is aimed that there were in Jerusalem two distinct assemblies for worship, and that these assemblies were held daily.† The first of them was in the Temple, where they took part in the service, attending especially on the Scripture readings and prayers, but not on the sacrifices, which they conceived to be done away in Christ. The other was held at the house of one or another of the disciples. At this first service they were present in a body

 

Footnote: * Quotations are from the Revised English Version.

Footnote: † Kliefoth, Op. Cit. p. 237 ff adduces grounds for the belief that of these assemblies only one was held daily, the other once a week, on Sunday, but his position seems to be untenable. The theory advanced by Drews, PRE3 V, 560ff and Rietschel, Liturgik, I, p. 232, that the Lord’s Supper was instituted not as a Passover meal, but a Sabbath meal would lend support to this view.

 


Page 44

 

(oJmoqumadovn) and must have distinguished themselves from the other attendants on the service by some peculiarities of worship. Moreover we are told expressly (Acts v, 42, comp. v, 20 and iii, 11 ff) that “every day in the Temple and at home, they ceased not to preach and to teach Jesus as the Christ.” The question now is:—Were these gatherings in the Temple really Christian services or were they something else, the evidence perhaps that the first Christians regarded themselves still as Jews? Harnack and Kliefoth have expressed the former opinion, and of the two Harnack is the more decided. He maintains that they were public missionary services, concerned with prayer and the teaching of the Word. If the claim could be substantiated it would give us an early and interesting analogy to the “service for edification” in Corinth, the precursor of the later Missa Catechumenorum, but unfortunately this very fact seems to have led the historian astray. The oJmoqumadovn alone proves nothing, and though the passages quoted make it clear that the Christians did frequent the Temple, and used it, as Christ had used it, for a place of instruction, thus making it a kind of missionary center, that fact dare not be pressed so far, in the absence of all definite proof, as to make of the devotions of those faithful Jews, who now believed that the Messiah was really come, a distinctly Christian service. It is, on the contrary to the other assembly, that which met “from house to house” that we must look for the distinctly Christian practices.

“They broke bread at home.” This was the assembly at which presumably none but Christians were present, in which the idea of the community (koinwniva) of the brethren found its highest expression. The Greek does not suggest that this meeting was always held in one house, or that all the members were present together, or that each Christian family had its own daily assembly for the breaking of bread. It is to be understood as meaning that the members of the Church assembled in as many private houses as were necessary to accommodate them and there partook together of a common meal. As to the procedure which was followed in these assemblages we are left practically in ignorance. It is true that most historians* see in the passage Acts ii, 42, an

 

Footnote: * Among others Harnack, 1. c.; Kliefoth, op. cit.; Lechler, Apostolisches Zeitalter, pp. 284ff, Cf. also Karl Weizsaecker, Apost. Age, (Eng. Trans.) II, p. 247.

 


Page 45

 

indication of what transpired there. The verse reads thus—“And they continued stedfastly in the teaching of the Apostles and in fellowship and in the breaking of bread and in the prayers.” Here some earlier writers of the last century like Mosheim and Olshausen would find a complete liturgical order. The “teaching of the Apostles” was the preaching of the Word, and included the reading of the Old Testament Scriptures, especially the prophets; the fcoiyawi6 refers to the offerings later known as “collections” (I Cor. xvi, 1, 2),* or still later as “oblations;” the “breaking of bread” was the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and the whole procedure was accompanied and closed with prayer. It is needless to point out that such an interpretation does violence to the whole context in which the passage stands. What the writer is describing—and the description is highly graphic—is the spirit that pervaded this first congregation of Christian believers and the way in which that spirit found impression. That one form of that expression would inevitably be “liturgical,” i. e., would connect with the worship in which all the believers participated, is undeniable, but the terms here of the widest interpretation and only two of them—breaking of bread and prayers—can apply directly, to the worship of the Church. Nor are we justified in confining the meaning kla'si" tou' a[rtou to the formal celebration of the Lord’s Supper. To be sure it has that meaning in the Pauline Epistles (I Cor. x, 16; xi, 24), but even then and until the first quarter of the II Century the Lord’s Supper was invariably connected with a common meal of the congregation,† and we cannot go far astray in regarding the breaking of bread here mentioned as standing for the whole of the common meal. The idea of the community of the brethren was overwhelmingly strong in these first Christians, and the common meal was the symbol and assertion of that idea. No less strong was their conviction that in this intimate fellowship with one another they were in the enjoyment of an equally ate fellowship with their risen Lord. Jesus had associated with them as one family, He had compared the blessings of the Kingdom of Heaven with the familiar intercourse of a family meal, more than once after His Resurrection. He had made Himself known to them as they sat at meat, and had they not His

 

Footnote: * So also Kliefoth, op. cit.

Footnote: † The Agape—name first found in Jude 12.

 


Page 46

 

promise:—“Where two, or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them?” Even without the institution of the Lord’s Supper they would have had sufficient motive for assembling to the breaking of bread. But that the Lord’s Supper was actually celebrated in these assemblies there can be no doubt, though we cannot be sure just how it was regarded. In his Gottesdienst im ap. Zeitalter, Th. Harnack maintains that the Christian community saw in it “a new common service of sacrifice in spirit and in truth, for it consisted essentially in the daily repeated, sacramental celebration of the single complete and eternally valid sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, the Crucified, and Risen One, by which every expiatory sacrifice is abolished; and at the same time a spiritual sacrifice of faith and confession, a sacrifice of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving on the part of the congregation.” To sustain this view he quotes the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is scarcely necessary to call attention to the fundamental fallacy of an appeal to a writing so much later in date than the primitive Church whose views he is attempting to describe, and to point out the fact that for such a conception of the Lord’s Supper there is, in the only source we have for this period, not a shred of evidence.* On the contrary all the evidence seems to contradict the idea that the death of Christ was at this time regarded as a sacrifice at all, and the Lord’s Supper could, therefore, be neither a repetition of that sacrifice nor a substitute for the Temple sacrifices. When Peter and Stephen refer to the death of Christ (Acts ii, 23; iii, 13 ff; vii, 52) they use it only as an argument to show the guilt of the Jews in the crucifixion of Him in Whom prophecy was fulfilled, and the resurrection was to them chiefly a vindication of Christ’s Messianic claims. When Stephen first raised the question of the necessity of the Temple to the life of true religion his words were the signal for the beginning of a persecution that was the real starting-point for the sharp distinction between Christian and Jew. His opinions were the first-fruits of reflection upon the meaning of the life of Christ. Further reflection, under the guidance of Christ’s Spirit, led to the conviction that the Old Covenant had

 

Footnote: * The analogy of the death of Christ to the O. T. sacrifices found in Hebrews is the application of the Pauline idea of the Atonement. The view of the Lord’s Supper as a repetition of that sacrifice is the root of the Roman doctrine of the Mass, and has no Scriptural warrant.

 


Page 47

 

passed away, but in these earliest days, when men were still under the influence of vivid impressions of great events, the full meaning of those events had not dawned upon them, was not fully, to dawn until Paul should carry his premises to their conclusion, and even then they involved him in the charge of preaching false doctrine. The most that we can say therefore concerning the meaning that attached to the breaking of bread is that it was 1, an expression of the community (koinwniva) of the believers; 2, a religious act in which those who participated entered into a real communion with the Risen Saviour; 3, the Lord’s Supper, which formed its culmination, was a memorial of the death of Christ, observed according to His command, “This do in remembrance of Me.”*

The fact that our sources give us no hint of what transpired at these meetings for the breaking of bread would seem further to indicate that no great importance attached to the following of any prescribed order, though the daily repetition of the common meal would naturally fix an order of some kind at a very early period. The elements of the service must have been, however, the singing of one or more hymns or Psalms, and, for the Supper, the repetition of some one of the forms of the of Institution.† To these Kliefoth adds, on the basis of Acts v, 42, with which compare Acts vi, 2-4, preaching by the Apostles, and the bringing of offerings for the poor (Acts iv, 32–v, 6). We have no evidence to show when these meetings were held nor is there a trace of any special observance of Sunday though it would naturally have arisen in this time.

There remain three other passages to be noticed before we go onto the discussion of the service as we find it in Corinth. y are Acts i, 15; ii, 1-4; iv, 23 ff. The first refers to the assembly in which Matthias was chosen to fill up the number of the Twelve, the second to the gathering on the Day of Pentecost, the third to the company to which Peter and John returned after examination before the rulers. They have sometimes been taken to be assemblies for purposes of prayer; we would rather regard them as the ordinary private meetings of the congregation. For the purposes of our investigation the third of them, that of Acts iv, 23 ff, is of special interest because of the prayer of the

 

Footnote: * See Explanatory Note at the end of this article.

Footnote: I † On this point, however, see below p. 62.

 


Page 48

 

congregation which has been there preserved. We are told that on the return of Peter and john “they lifted up their voice with one accord to God” in the prayer that then follows. Commentators agree that this prayer came to Luke from one of the earliest sources which he used. Even if we admit, however, with Von der Goltz, that this prayer is a literary composition of Luke himself, it would still be of the greatest value to us as a type of the earliest prayers of the Church. It is remarkable rather for its form than its content. The latter is what we might expect from the circumstances in which it was offered, the former is that of prayers that have come down to us from the earliest liturgical the beginning of the post-Apostolic age. It begins with an address to God under the name despoth",* used of God only in this place, in Luke ii, 29 and Rev. vi, 10; in the first instance clearly a liturgical use, in the second possibly so. The address is then enlarged by an ascription of power and the citation of a Psalm which applies to the special circumstances in which the congregation now finds itself. This is followed by a brief petition, and the prayer then ends abruptly without doxology. The form, except for the absence of the doxology, is almost identical with the Collect of the Catholic Period. If the words “they lifted up their voice with one accord are to be taken literally we should be forced to one of two conclusions. Either the congregation was moved by a special inspiration to use the same words at the same time, or, the more natural supposition, this was a fixed prayer, known to the whole congregation and used regularly in its stated assemblies, which they now repeat in unison from memory. The present writer is not inclined to push the literal interpretation quite so far, and prefers to see in this Prayer the free utterance of one of the members, praying in the name of the congregation; but even so the passage is highly significant, for it furnishes us with an example of the earliest form which the common prayer of the Church assumed,  derived, possibly, from the Jewish synagogal prayer,† and which has come down to us as a type in the Collects of the Church.

Our survey of the sources has, therefore, brought us only the following positive results. 1. There was a daily assembly

 

Footnote: * The regular address in the early Greek Liturgies.

Footnote: † A comparison with the Shemoneh Esreh (for which see SCHUERER, Hist. Of the Jews, Eng. Trans. Div. I, Vol. II, p. 85f) is instructive.

 


Page 49

 

of the Christians at Jerusalem. 2. This assembly was held privately. 3. It was the occasion of a common meal. 4. The meal was accompanied by prayer, hymns, preaching or teaching and the celebration, in some form, of the Lord’s Supper. 5. It was probably the time when the offerings for the poor were made. 6. We have also found a common prayer of the congregation dating from this time.

 

B. THE LATER DEVELOPMENT IN THE GENTILE CHURCHES.

It is to the Pauline Epistles that we are indebted for our first tolerably clear idea of a Christian service, and our chief source of information is I Cor. xi, I; xiv, 4o. Other passages in the New Testament books, especially in the Revelation, as well as in the Didache and other post-Apostolic writings may be used to complete the picture.

1. The day of assembly is no longer every day, as in Jerusalem, but Sunday. Doubtless there were congregations in which Jewish Sabbath, and perhaps other Jewish festivals were observed,* but their observance was regarded as essential only by Judaizing opponents of Paul. Definite statements as to the observance of Sunday are infrequent until a comparatively late time, but we have every reason to believe that the custom was not  only very old but very general.† In I Cor. xvi, 1, 2 Paul the Corinthians to lay by their offerings “on the first day of the week,” as has been ordered also in Galatia; we learn from Acts xx, 17 that the Christians in Troas gathered together to break bread also “on the first day of the week;” the day of the vision (Rev. i, 10) is “the Lord’s Day,” and evidently the regular day of worship; while the Gospel of John (ch. xx, 26) would seem to point to a still earlier beginning, though it may have been only one of the daily meetings of the Twelve at which Christ appeared. These are however the only references in the New Testament to any special observance of the day. The direct testimony of the earliest post-Apostolic period, while sufficiently definite, is also scanty. The Didache prescribes “the Lord’s Day of the Lord” as the day for coming together; Barnabas testifies ch. xv), “Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day;” Ignatius

 

Footnote: See LECHLER, op. cit. p. 350

Footnote: † On the whole subject see ZAHN, Skissen aus den Lehen der alten Kirche. 160 ff.

 

 


Page 50

 

(ad Magn. ix) speaks of “living in the observance of the Lord’s Day;” and Justin Martyr (Ap. I, ch. 67) describes the service held “on the day called Sunday.” This completes the list of our sources, for the reference of Pliny (ep. x, 96 to Trajan) usually quoted in this connection, is only to “a (or the) stated day” on which the Christians are wont to meet. That the Day of Resurrection determined the choice of the first day of the week as a special observance is testified by Barnabas, Ignatius and Justin Martyr (cf. also John XX, 26).

II. Assuming, then, that Sunday was the day of meeting, we find that in the period we are discussing there were two services or assemblies held on that day. Pliny, writing about 112 A. D., declares this expressly, and though by the time of Justin Martyr the two have evidently been united, traces of the older custom are to be found in the distinction between the missa catechumenorum and the missa fidelium which first appears with Irenaeus and Tertullian. With such a definite statement* to guide us, we find in I Cor. xi-xiv not one, but two assemblies described. The one is eij" to; fagovn— “for eating”—the other is for edification. At the former of these services none but Christians, members of the congregation, were present; to the second were admitted not only idiotai, but even unbelievers (I Cor. xiv, 16, 19). The custom of holding both meetings on the same day may well have been Apostolic usage.ŗ

III. We turn our attention, therefore, first to the service for edification. In I Cor. xiv we have the rules which Paul laid down for the avoidance of abuses in this public service, and from the abuses which he corrects and his manner of correcting them we can form a fairly complete idea of the elements that entered into it.

Before entering upon a discussion of these elements in detail it is first necessary that we should get a conception of the meaning and aim of the service as a whole. At the very outset we notice that there is no desire on the part of the Apostle to limit

 

Footnote: * It may be well to quote Pliny’s statement. Christians whom he has caused to be arrested and examined have confessed: “quod essent soliti stato die ante lucem convenire, carmenque Christo quasi deo dicere secum invicem—quibus peractis morem sibi discedendi fuisse, rursusque caeundi ad capiendum cibum, promiscuum tamen atque innoxium.” The full text of the letter is given in Mirbt’s Quellen. 2nd ed. No. 12.

Footnote: † In the Greek mysteries the idiotai were the uninitiated.

Footnote: * See HARNACK, LECHLER and especially WEIZSAECKER, 11. p. 249 ff.

 


Page 51

 

active participation in it to any special individuals, or office-bearers. The women alone are prohibited from taking more than passive part (I Cor. xiv, 34, cf. I Tim. ii, 12). With this exception the right to share in the proceedings is open to every one. One limitation is recognized, however, by all, and that is the possession of a proper gift or charisma. We are too liable to forget how fundamental to the whole life of the early Church the idea of charismatic endowment really was. As a matter of fact there is not a single institution of the first Century that can be thoroughly understood without reference to this idea.* In the passages, Rom. xii, 5-8 and I Cor. xii, 28-31 Paul gives us a sort of catalogue of these charismata with an estimate of their comparative value. We learn that he classes as most desirable those which are calculated to make their possessor most useful to the Church. They are first Apostles—i. e. missionaries—then prophets and teachers; then come the more practical gifts, which enable their possessors to work miracles and to heal the sick, then the “helps;” lastly, speaking with tongues and the interpretation of tongues. Those who had these gifts were “spiritual” (I Cor. xii, 37), but the idea that any Christian could be totally ungifted as wholly foreign to Apostolic thought.

Bearing this in mind we understand that the whole public service was the free expression of the powers which the Spirit, had bestowed by the way of charisma on the members of the congregation. As respects form and content it was a “free service,” by the “gifted” in which those whose gifts did not fit them for active participation were auditors, or responded with the Amen (xiv, 16). The first limitation was, therefore, charismatic, set by the Spirit Himself.

Owing to the very natural but very false idea current in the Corinthian Church, that the greatest gifts were those that were, or seemed to be, the most miraculous—a misconception to which we shall return later—Paul found it necessary to set a second limitation. It lies in the very purpose for which the service is held. “Let all things,” he says, “be done unto edifying.” The aim of the service is therefore not the making of converts, though

 

Footnote: * In his Kirchenrecht, I, Leipzig, 1894, Sohm would base the whole organization of the early Church upon this charismatic idea alone. Though we cannot agree with him fully, a mere cursory reading of the book is enough to convince the reader that the importance of this phase of the subject has been too much neglected.

 


Page 52 

 

it might result in that if an unbeliever should happen to be present (xiv, 24 f), but primarily the building up of the faith of those who were already Christians. The carrying out of this idea renders it necessary that “all things be done decently and in order” (xiv, 36), that certain gifts be subordinated to others which are better calculated to edify the congregation, and that restrictions be put upon the number of those who take part in any given assembly.

It remains for us therefore, to take up the elements given us in ch. xiv, 26 and determine the meaning of the terms there used. The verse reads as follows:—“When ye come together each one hath a psalm, hath a teaching, hath a revelation, hath a tongue, hath an interpretation.” The elements are therefore, 1) Psalm, 2) Teaching, 3) Prophecy, 4) Tongues and their Interpretation, and in the absence of any more definite information we may fairly assume that the order would be that here indicated, especially since a comparison with the context shows that this order is not that of their relative importance. We shall now proceed to take them up in detail.

1). The Psalm. This term is not to be understood as applying in this passage exclusively, or even primarily, to the canonical Psalms of the Old Testament. That many of the latter were used in the service there can be no doubt, but as it was only the gifted who had the right to bring a Psalm to the assembly, that which he chose for use was considered as chosen and used under the direct influence of the Spirit. It might be a Psalm of David, or one of the so-called Psalms of Solomon, evident traces of which are not uncommon in the early literature, or it might be—and that is what is evidently contemplated here—a free composition of him who used it, in other words a Christian hymn. But the Psalm was from the very beginning closely connected with Christian prayer, so closely that we may regard it almost as a constitutive part of the prayer itself (cf. Acts iv, 23 ff), and this was merely the Christian adaptation of a custom already prevalent in the Jewish synagogue. We may therefore assume that in the verse before us the “Psalm” included also the element of prayer.* It was the prayer with which, the service began; it was also the Hymn of the Church.

 

Footnote: * The connection of yalleivn with proseuvcesqai (public prayer) in I Cor. xiv, 15, strengthens the hypothesis.

 


Page 53

 

a). The Prayer. In I Cor. xiv, 14 ff there is a clear indication of the mode of prayer in the congregation. One member offered it, in the words which the Spirit put into his mouth, and the rest responded with the Amen (v. 16). So little was this prayer bound to any fixed form of words that it might be the mere ecstatic utterance of one who had the gift of tongues and wholly unintelligible to those who heard it, hence the admonition to pray not only with the spirit but with the understanding also (v. 15). It seems, however, to have contained one element that would early assume a fixed form, and that is the eujlogiva, (v. 17), which we take to refer to the doxology with which the prayer began or ended, and which was followed by the Amen of the hearers. Early examples of such doxologies meet us in such passages as I Tim. vi 16; Rev. i, 6; iv, 8; v, 13; vii, 12; xix, 1. The doxologies, so frequent in the Pauline writings other than that just mentioned, would also be taken up very early into the prayers of the assembly.

A somewhat more developed idea of the common prayer of the Church is found in I Tim. ii, 1-3. Here we find the various kinds of prayers differentiated according to their content, but all prescribed. as the solemn duty of the congregation. The possibility of the ecstatic, unintelligible prayer is not contemplated at all, and yet there is no indication that the Apostle is desirous of introducing anything that is new. He is merely insisting upon the observance of an already established custom. Moreover the objects of the prayers are defined. It is to be prayer “for all men, for kings and all that are in high places.”

It is quite obvious that such prayers as are here described would inevitably assume a fixed form, or at least develop a comparatively constant type. The gradual disappearance of the special charismata with the corresponding tendency to delegate the spokesmanship for the congregation to a small number of men, the ever-present contrast between the needs of the entire congregation and those of the individual worshipper, the relative sameness of the former in all times and under all circumstances,—all these things would tend toward a fixation of the prayer in respect both of form and content, and we should be justified in assuming that such a fixation actually occurred even though we should be without concrete evidence to support the assumption. Fortunately, however, we are not left to mere conjecture. In the

 


Page 54

 

concluding chapters (59-61) of the first Epistle of Clement we have an example of such a prayer dating from the last decade of the first Century (A. D. 96 circ.) Whether it is the reproduction of a fixed formula used in the Roman (or Corinthian) Church, or an original composition on the same general lines as the free prayers in use in those churches, or one of them, is a matter of controversy which will probably never be settled.* It is, at most a matter of merely secondary importance. We gain from it in either case a clear idea of how the earliest common prayers were constructed and what they contained. The prayer consists of 1) a solemn address to God, with ascriptions of holiness, power and wisdom; 2) petitions for help in tribulation and distress; 3) for forgiveness of sin and the common good; 4) supplication for the welfare of the state and those in authority; 5) a doxology. The limits of this article unfortunately prevent the insertion of the prayer, and preclude more extended discussion.

One more point calls for our attention, however, before closing this brief and sketchy survey of the public prayer. There is no direct evidence, and little of any other kind, to show that the Lord’s Prayer was used in the worship of the Church in the Apostolic Age, either in the public service for edification or the private assembly for Agape and Communion. In fact the whole literature of the ancient Church is singularly barren of clear allusions to the Lord’s Prayer. Von der Goltz† finds none earlier than Polycarp,ŗ if we are to except the phrase, “Abba, Father,” in Rom. viii, 15; Gal. iv, 6.§ Despite this fact we may be sure that it was known and used by all Christians in accordance with the command of the Lord, Matt. vi, 9; Luke xi, 2. That is not to say, however, that it was used by the congregation. We would naturally expect to find it in the Eucharistic service, but the first post-Apostolic Communion order that we have—that of the Didache—makes no mention of it, while, on the other hand, it is there prescribed as the form for the private devotions of the

 

Footnote: For arguments on the one side see Lightfoot, Clement of Rome, Vol. 1, ed. 2, 1890, p. 382 ff; on the other see Von der Goltz, Das Gebet in der aeltesten Christenheit, Leipzig, 1901, p. 192 ff. Both give full analyses of the prayer itself.

Footnote: † Op. cit. p. 189.

Footnote: Ad Phil. vi. 6.

Footnote: Chase’s list of N. T. references to the Lord’s Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer in the Early Church, 1891, is artificial and unconvincing.

 


Page 55

 

Christians, by whom it is to be repeated thrice daily (Did. viii). This fact combined with the absence of all traces of the prayer in the Epistles and the Revelation, would lead to the conclusion that it came into the service after the writing of the Didache approximately the middle of the second Century.*

b). The Hymns. In Eph. v, 19 and Col. iii, 10 “hymns and spiritual songs” are mentioned along with “psalms.” We have seen that the singing of hymns or psalms was probably a part of the private worship at Jerusalem; that the antiphonal singing of hymns was customary at the Christian meetings in the beginning of the second Century is witnessed by Pliny (carmen Christo… sibi invicem dicere). As in the case of the prayers—these hymns might be the free utterances of the “spiritual,” and taught even be “in a tongue,” but they were not necessarily so. On the contrary the tendency to fixed forms, either canonical psalms or Christian hymns, fixed by tradition and familiar to the whole congregation, would be even stronger than in the case of the prayers, for a hymn, to be a hymn of the congregation, would require the use of words in which those present could join, and passive participation by the response of Amen would not long be deemed sufficient.

Of such Christian hymns the New Testament offers us a number of examples. The Magnificat, the Benedictus and the Nunc Dimittis are typical, and the Gloria in Excelsis (Luke ii, 14) was doubtless the basis of later hymns. There is no reason for dissenting from the opinion of the many scholars who find in I Tim. iii, 16 a fragment of a very ancient hymn to Christ, current in the Church when that Epistle was written, and the book of Revelation is especially rich in material of this kind.† The new song” of Rev. v, is one of our best examples. If we assume that the Heavenly service of the prophetic vision bore at least some resemblance to the earthly services with which the prophet was familiar, it gains a still greater significance as showing the manner in which the hymns were used in those services. We will run the risk of overstepping our limits and insert the hymn in full.

It begins with the song of the elders (ch. iv, 11):—

 

Footnote: * The antiquity of the variant readings seem to be the only argument which would militate against this view, but these may be due to other than liturgical causes.

Footnote: † TH. HARNACK Calls it the “psalm-book of the N. T.”

 

 


Page 56

 

Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God,

To receive the glory and the honor and the power;

For Thou didst create all things,

And because of Thy will they were, and were created.

 

Next the four cherubim take up the hymn, singing with the elders (v, 9-10):

Worthy art Thou to take the book

And to open the seals thereof:

For Thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with Thy blood

Of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

And madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests.

And they shall reign upon the earth.

To which those in Heaven respond (v. 12):

Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain,

To receive the power and riches and wisdom and might

and honor and glory and blessing.

Then all God’s creatures take up the refrain and sing (v. 13):

Unto Him that sitteth on the throne,

And unto the Lamb,

The blessing and the honor and the glory and the dominion

Unto the ages of the ages!

Similar to this are the “song of Moses and the Lamb” (ch. xv. 3 ff), and the “nuptial ode of the Lamb” (ch. xix, 1-8).

It is unfortunate that so few examples of the hymns of the second and third Centuries have come down to us. There is but one extant (from the writings of Clement of Alexandria,)* though there is considerable evidence of their existence. Those to which we have referred are enough to show what the nature of these hymns was. In their structure they were Hebraic and must have been chanted, not sung to metrically arranged melodies; that the rendering was antiphonal is indicated by the letter of Pliny already quoted and the hymn just given; their terminology is largely drawn from Jewish sources, and their prevailing tone is that of joyful and hopeful thanksgiving.†

2). The Teaching. After prayer and hymn follows a didactic address delivered by one of the members of the congregation who was endowed with the gift of teaching. It was a sermon for the edification of the congregation and not as in the case of the various speeches that are preserved in Acts, a missionary

Footnote: Given by Von der Goltz, p. 138.

Footnote: † For a discussion of this whole subject see Weizsaecker, II, pp. 259 ff; Von der Goltz, 134 ff, 183 ff.

 


Page 57

 

address, and it included both the “word of knowledge” and the “word of wisdom” (I Cor. xii, 8).*

The instruction was probably, after the analogy of the sermon in the synagogue, preceded by the reading of a passage of Old Testament Scripture. To be sure we find in the New Testament no express statement to that effect. There is a reference to this public reading in I Tim. iv, 13, where we find ajnavgnwsi" enjoined along with “exhortation and teaching.” This word passed later into the liturgical language of the Church as the regular term for the public Scripture-reading. It occurs in two other places in the New Testament, each time referring to the reading of the Law in the Jewish service (II Cor. iii, 14; Acts xiii, 15). Further evidence for the custom is furnished by the extensive use that Paul makes of the Old Testament in Epistles to congregations that must have been composed largely of Gentiles. He presupposes a knowledge which could scarcely have been theirs unless they had been accustomed to hearing the Old Testament read (e. g., Gal. iii, 6 ff; iv, 21 ff; Cf. II Cor. 7 ff; Rom. iv).

It was no doubt in, or in connection with, this teaching that the facts of Christ’s life were narrated and His words applied to the lives and circumstances of the hearers. That in the time of the Epistles to the Corinthians these narrations were already based upon a body of tradition is clear from I Cor. xi, 23; xv, 3. When this tradition ceased to be transmitted orally and assumed a written form is uncertain, but all the evidence seems to point to a time earlier than the writings of Paul. The time when the written Gospels came to be taken up in the public service for regular reading alongside the Old Testament is equally uncertain.

The reading of Apostolic letters in the congregations to which they were addressed (I Thess. V, 27; 11 Cor. i, 13) and the exchange of letters among congregations (Col. iv, 16), was the origin of the reading of the Epistles in the service. That they were regularly read at the stated meetings in the Apostolic Age is improbable, though under circumstances that rendered it advisable to remind the congregation of the Apostolic teaching it may have occurred. The emphasis laid upon the Apostolic origin of the Church’s doctrines in the fight against heresy, that began with the closing years of the first Century, was a powerful

 

Footnote: * For a discussion of the terms. See Weizsaecker, III pp. 262 ff I and commentaries in loc.

 


Page 58 

 

motive for the regular use of the Epistles in the services, and one of the chief causes that led to the recognition of their authority as Scripture.*

3). The Prophecy. Upon the teaching follows now the “prophecy,” the exact nature of which it is difficult to determine. Prophets were men who were endowed with a charisma which made them the most highly honored members of the congregation. They held in the Church the second place after the apostles who were not properly members of the congregation at all, but wandering missionaries who became the congregation’s guests from time to time. In Rev. xviii, 20, prophets and apostles are named together and in Eph. ii, 20 they are spoken of as forming with the apostles the foundation of the Church of which Christ is the chief corner-stone. In I Cor. xiv, 1, Paul speaks of this gift as the one which the Christian should desire above all others. The words of the prophet came to him by “revelation.” This does not mean that he was so carried away by a religious institution as to lose control of his intellect and become the mere mouthpiece of the Spirit. On the contrary he spoke with all his faculties under full control, for the spirits of the prophets were subject to the prophets (I Cor. xiv, 32). The content of the prophecy was, under normal conditions, “edification, and comfort and consolation” (I Cor. xiv, 3) and was calculated to work the conversion of an unbeliever by laying bare the secrets of his heart (I Cor. xiv, 24). It may therefore be described as the subjective side of the “teaching” above mentioned. That was, however, only one manifestation of the prophetic gift. It might express itself in prayer, in fact the right to pray “as much as he will” is reserved to the prophet even as late as the Didache. Again the prophecy might take the form of a prediction of future events (Acts xxi, 10, cf. ch. xx, 23) or it might be “apocalyptic” in character dealing with the last things. The book of Revelation is an example of this last kind of prophecy.

The very fact that the prophet spoke under the direct influence of the Spirit inevitably opened the door for the entrance of many abuses. It was therefore necessary to discriminate among the alleged prophetic utterances (I Thess. v, 21, Cf. I Cor. xiv,

 

Footnote: * The discussion of this subject belongs to the history of the N. T. Canon. For literature see Hastings, Bible Dict. Vol. III, p. 542 f and RE3 Vol. IV, p. 768.

 


Page 59

 

29) and Paul gave a general rule for the testing of a prophecy in I Cor. xii, 3; cf. I John iv, 1-6. In the Didache (ch. xi, 7-12) further tests are prescribed for determining the genuineness of the prophetic calling of those who speak “in the Spirit,” and the nature of the tests that are to be applied shows that the Church had had unfortunate experiences with men who professed to possess the gift. Even in the service at Corinth abuses connected with the prophetic speeches had sprung up and Paul found it necessary to limit the number of those who should participate in any one service to two or, at the most, three, who were to speak in the order in which the Spirit moved them* (I Cor. xiv, 29).

4). Speaking with Tongues. The greatest confusion had arisen in Corinth because of the over-estimate that the Church in that city had put upon the possession of the gift of tongues. Among all the charismata this was the one that had the greatest appearance of supernatural origin, and, naturally enough for people of their time, still under the influence of heathen ideas, it was the most coveted. As to the exact nature of this, in many ways the most remarkable phenomenon of the Apostolic Age, there has much dispute. This is neither the time nor the place for an exhaustive discussion of the subject, for what concerns us chiefly is the part which the speaking with tongues had in the public service. From the comments and directions which Paul gives in I Cor. we gather that it consisted in the ecstatic utterance, under intense religious excitement, of broken sentences, or parts of sentences, unintelligible or half-intelligible, which needed the services of an interpreter to make their sense clear to those who heard them. This fact combined with the loss of self-control which necessarily accompanied the manifestations of this gift, made them worthless for purposes of edification and would lead an unbeliever to the conclusion that they who spoke were mad (I Cor. xiv, 23f). Paul regarded this ecstatic speech as a real manifestation of the power of the Spirit and claimed that he had this gift himself in greater measure than others (I Cor. xiv, 13), although he puts it last in his list of charismata (I Cor. xii, 28) and held it so lightly that he preferred to speak five words with his understanding rather than ten thousand words in a tongue (v. 19). He does not wish, therefore, to banish the speaking of

 

Footnote: * The services of the Society of Friends suggest themselves as a possible parallel to this part of the Apostolic service.

 


Page 60

 

tongues from the assembly, that would be to “quench the Spirit” and contrary to his express principle (I Thess. v, 19), but to make them subservient to the purpose for which the assembly is held, i. e., to edification. With this end in view he limits the number of those who are to speak to two or at most three, as in the case of the prophets, but with the additional provision that they are only to speak if one is present who can interpret their utterances, and thus give them a practical value (I Cor. xiv, 27-29). On this condition he allows it to retain a place in the worship of the Church.

5). Conclusions. Our results may therefore be summed up as follows: We have found two services held on Sundays. The first of them is a service for the edification of the congregation and comprises:—a) Prayer; b) Hymns; c) Teaching, combined with Scripture-reading; d) Prophecy, probably hortatory or admonitory preaching; e) speaking with tongues and interpretation of tongues. Of these elements the last, belonging, as it did, to the first enthusiastic period of faith, would soon fall away of itself; in fact it is doubtful whether it could survive within the Apostles’ limitations. The “prophecy” would eventually combine with the “teaching” and form the sermon, and the reading of the Scripture would soon make for itself an independent place.

IV. The Meeting for the Lord’s Supper. Rursusque coeunt ad capiendum cibum, promiscuum tamen et innoxium. So Pliny briefly describes the second Sunday meeting of the Christians in Bythinia. It was a meeting in every way distinct from the one just characterized, and held later in the day, possibly in the evening, which would often be the most convenient time and would always seem the most appropriate, for it commemorated Christ’s last evening-meal with the Twelve. For information concerning the procedure at this meeting in the Apostolic Age we are dependent exclusively on the notice of Paul in I Cor. x, 16 ff and xi, 17-34

The purpose of the meeting was the eating of the Lord’s Supper (xi, 20) and with this object in view the whole congregation (xi, 18) came together and partook of a common meal. The significance of the common meal for the disciples in Jerusalem has already been indicated. The same motives would explain its existence in Corinth, but here we find a new conception coming into prominence. At Jerusalem the Christians met for the daily

 


Page 61

 

satisfaction of daily hunger; in Corinth the meal was not an every-day occurrence and bore more of the marks of a special act of worship admitting of comparison, or contrast, with the heathen sacrificial feasts (x, 16ff). The significance of the latter consisted, however, solely in the fact that the viands there consumed had first been offered to an idol, whereas Paul finds it necessary to insist upon the sanctity of the act itself, not as the eating and, drinking of consecrated food, but as the communion of the body and blood of the Lord, and therefore’ not to be regarded as the ordinary partaking of nourishment for pleasure or for the sustenance of life.

The question now arises:—When Paul spoke of the Lord’s Supper was he referring to the whole common meal or is his term to be understood in a narrower sense, as applying only to a part of what transpired at this meeting? The former view has become quite prevalent in recent years;* the latter is older and still has the support of many scholars.† The weightiest arguments in support of the former opinion would seem to be the comparison of the “table of the Lord” with the heathen feasts in ch. x, and the abuse mentioned in ch. xi, 21 (cf. v, 33), where each is said to “take before the other his own supper,” thus making the Lord’s Supper impossible. This would then be interpreted to mean that some began to eat before the blessing of the food, which was essential to the celebration. Without entering into a discussion of the arguments adduced, it must here suffice to say, that they are not convincing and that the older view still seems to coincide more fully with the scanty facts that are at our disposal.

We may picture the proceedings somewhat as follows. At the appointed time the Christians assemble, each bringing his own food. Some will have more, some less. The eating and drinking begins in an irregular disorderly way and even if the attempt is made to have all share alike, it is unsuccessful. One man goes hungry, his neighbor gorges or drinks to excess. When the time comes for the act which is most sacred, the very communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord, they are not in physical or mental condition to participate. In some cases it is

 

Footnote: * It is advocated by Drews, RE3 Vol. V, pp 560 ff, where the literature is indicated. See also Rietschel, Liturgik, I, p 240.

Footnote: † Among them A. Harnack and Zahn. Weizsaecker, (Apost. Age, II, p. 283) declares it “altogether indisputable.”

 


Page 62

 

actually impossible to have the Lord’s Supper at all, and even where the abuse has not gone so far, many partake unworthily. These are the conditions with which Paul has to deal. He attacks them by reminding his readers of the solemnity of the act in which they engage, and the serious consequences to themselves that result from unworthy participation. He does not attempt to prescribe any new mode of procedure, but his emphatic distinction between the Lord’s Supper and all ordinary eating and drinking was a step toward the total separation of the common meal from the Communion which occurred almost a century later.*

As regards the rite itself it consisted apparently in two simple acts,—the consecration of bread and wine and the reception of the consecrated elements. The consecration consisted, not in the repetition of the Words of Institution, but in the eucharistic prayer by which the elements were blessed (eujcaristiva or eujlogiva) and set apart for their sacred use. So Christ had consecrated the bread and wine at the Institution and Paul speaks of the Communion as “the cup of blessing which we bless” (ch. x, 16). The order of consecration is uncertain. At the Institution it had been, first the bread and then the wine; I Cor. x, 16 f, seems to reverse the order and in the Didache the inverted order seems to be prescribed. It is quite certain that the consecratory prayer was, from the first, extempore, and offered by a prophet, for the oldest formal prayers that we have for this service are those of the Didache (ch. ix) and even there the right to pray “as they will” is still reserved to the prophets (ch. x, 7). It is to be noted, however, that these prayers of the Didache are the oldest prescribed forms of prayer which the Church possesses. Although the Words of Institution were not essential to the consecration, and although we cannot prove by direct evidence that they were even used before the time of Justin Martyr,† we are, nevertheless, perfectly safe in assuming that they had a place in the service and probably preceded the distribution. In fact the performance of an act which derived its meaning and its justification from the words of Christ would be quite inconceivable without invariable reference to the event which it commemorated and the command on which it was based.

 

Footnote: See Zahn, RE3 Vol. 1, pp. 234ff­

Footnote: † The contention of Drews (l. c.) and others that the usage cannot be proved from I Cor. xi, 23-25 is correct.

 


Page 63

 

This practically exhausts our information. That there may have been preaching at this service, at least in the form of prophecy, is possible; that hymns were sung is probable from Matt. xxvi 30 and Mark xiv, 27; that the Kiss of Peace* had a place in the rite is pure conjecture; that the Maranatha (I Cor. xvi, 22) is part of an old liturgical formula has the support of the Didache (ch. x, 6), which is also the earliest witness to the custom of confession of sin preceding the Communion (ch. xiv, 1).

This ends our survey of the customs of worship in the Apostolic Age. We have found that, along with elements that belonged exclusively to that first period, there were present all those other elements which we regard essential to Christian worship. Forms are not yet regarded as of any great importance, for it is the age of the charismata, but here and there we find influences at work- that are sure to lead to formulation. A new period in the history of the liturgy was to come in with the second quarter of the second Century. Its outward signs were to be the delegation of the right of active participation to the office-bearers the separation of the Communion from the common meal and the consolidation of the two meetings into one. Its inner meaning was to lie far deeper, in the new idea of the Church to which the second Century gave birth.

 

Charles M. Jacobs.

Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, Pa.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTE.

When the statements of pages 45 ff were read before the Liturgical Association they gave rise to considerable discussion and the question was raised of their bearing on the correctness of the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. The points at issue are two, viz., 1). Is the death of Christ to be regarded as a sacrifice? 2). Is the Lord’s Supper more than a memorial celebration?

In regard to the first point the testimony of Christ Himself as to the sacrificial value of His death is clear, and would be clear even though we had only the Words of Institution of the Lord’s Supper. That Paul, in his

 

Footnote: * See V. SCHULTZE in RE8 Vol. VI, p. 274.

 


Page 64

 

references to the atoning death of Christ, is developing and explaining the Master’s own ideas, that the sacrificial conceptions of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Revelation and Epistles of St. John are the elaboration of fundamental elements of the teaching of Christ Himself;—these things seem to the present writer unquestionable. The only question which he desires to raise concerns the view that was held of Christ’s death among the very first disciples in Jerusalem. It has been pointed out that the references to Christ’s death in the speeches of the earliest chapters of Acts never touch on its sacrificial aspect and Philip’s use of the LIII Chapter of Isaiah points primarily to the Messianic office of Jesus. Moreover the fact that Jerusalem remained for a long while the seat of the party which insisted on the circumcision of converts and thereby betrayed its belief in the continued validity and necessity of the Old Covenant, points to a lack of understanding of the full meaning of Christ’s atoning death at a time when Paul’s convictions on this subject had become perfectly clear. If it be objected that the Apostles after the day of Pentecost could not any longer have failed to understand these things, we must remember that when Peter and Paul were together in Antioch Peter himself had not yet come to the full conviction that the Old Covenant had been done away.

As regards the second point,, there can be no question that Christ intended the Lord’s Supper to be something more than a memorial meal. just as little have we reason to doubt that Paul thought of it as involving a real presence of the Risen Saviour, and here again it is evident that Paul was the correct interpreter of Jesus. But the meaning of the Sacrament is so closely bound up with the meaning of the death of Christ that the one must in every case be explained by the other. This is not to say that the earlier view contradicts the later, on the contrary, the Pauline views of the Sacrament and of the Atonement were sure to develop out of the ante-Pauline conception. What concerns us here is only the historical fact that Paul was the first, in this as in so many other respects, to arrive at the correct interpretation of Christ’s ideas. It is significant that in the later history of the Church the Pauline conception of Atonement was for a long time practically lost to view, though Paul’s terminology was retained, and the meaning of Christ’s life made to depend chiefly upon the fact of the Incarnation, while the Pauline idea of the Lord’s Supper, embodied in the ritual of the Church, was gradually distorted under the influence of new ideas of the Church and the priestly office, into the belief that the Eucharist was the repetition of the sacrifice of Christ, and made the basis of the Roman doctrine of the Mass, to which the Pauline terminology, And especially the terminology of the Epistle to the Hebrews was then applied, and with the exception of the crude theory suggested by Irenaeus, and elaborated by Origen, all attempts to formulate a doctrine of, the Atonement are subsequent to the time of Cyprian, and rest upon more or less inadequate interpretations of Paul.

C. M. J.

 


Page 65

 

THE LITURGICAL HISTORY OF CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION.

 

ACCORDING to the declarations of all of our ancient Lutheran Church Orders, Confession consists of two parts. The one part treats of the deed of the Confessor who complains of his self-acknowledged sins and desires consolation and the renewal of his

The other treats of the work of God, Who through the Word, laid upon the lips of a fellow man, absolves and frees the penitent from his sins. Absolution is nothing else than the promise of the Gospel of God’s Grace, and the forgiveness of sins, through faith, according to the will of Christ. This is indeed the essence and object of all preaching, although one point of difference must be noted. In the sermon the Gospel promise is general and is offered and appropriated to all believers. In the Absolution the same promise is specific, directly and personally applied to him who through and with the Word appeals for the same.

Although the old Orders connect this service with the Lord’s Supper, as a preparation to a worthy reception of the same it was yet treated as a distinct service and often spoken of aside of the Sacrament of the Altar and Holy Baptism. In modern times it bas degenerated to a simple service preparatory to the Lord’s Supper and nothing more. This undervaluing of so important a service is a direct undervaluing of our Lutheran Reformation, since it had its origin in the very cloister cell where Luther received the absolution and consolation for his soul from the aged monk. The Reformation was really a restoration of Confession and Absolution from the ashes of ever sinking degeneration.

The form which the Lutheran Church gives to Confession and Absolution at present resembles that of the beginning of the thirteenth century more than that which obtained in ancient

 


Page 66

 

times. We also see it constantly drawn, more and more, into the inner life of the Church, especially during the Pietistic period and the time of territorial and rationalistic movements.

The service means an intensely personal transaction, which points out one of the principal faults of modern liturgical forms and practices. We are apt to deal with a cold form (Agende) instead of one person with another, the penitent with the minister. The liturgical form is simply a guide to both, so that nothing, either in the Confession or the Absolution be omitted.

Kliefoth divides the History of Confession and Absolution into five periods:

I. The Period of the New Testament.

II. That of the Ancient Church to St. Augustine.

III. From St. Augustine to the Reformation.

IV. The Period of the Reformation.

V. The Modern Period, beginning with Spener.

 

I. [The Period of the New Testament.]

Lutheran and Roman Catholic theologians agree that the institution of Confession and Absolution did not occur in the New Testament period. It was not instituted by the Lord, nor His Apostles, but was a later development of the Church. But these theologians are also agreed that the essence of that which the Church developed appears in the New Testament, not simply as Word of God, Law and Gospel, but also as dealing in a concrete manner with the individual soul.

Jesus does not simply preach forgiveness at the repentant, but He really absolves them with clear and distinct words. He even absolved one sick of the palsy without a formal confession, since He knew what was in the man, and knew his thoughts. Nor does the forgiveness of sins on earth cease with the ascension of the Son of Man, but whilst the Lord commissioned the office of the ministry which He had hitherto fulfilled, to His disciples and they in turn to their successors, He also conferred upon them the power and duty to bind and to loose; which is the Office of the Keys, “As My Father hath sent Me so send I you.” The Divine commission confers discriminating authority and power on the Apostles who are cautioned not to cast pearls before swine, etc., and assures them that all sins can be forgiven except the sin against the Holy Ghost.

 


Page 67

 

The congregation shall take upon itself the sins of those for whom it prays, and strive for their release by prayer and fasting as though they were its own. Open sins shall be openly rebuked. Heretics shall be repeatedly rebuked, and if they will not cease they shall be delivered unto Satan and the Means of Grace denied them. If they will still not repent Christians shall not receive them into their houses. If however they repent they shall be received and prayers made for them. In the Church, one shall confess his fault to another. The sick shall confess to the presbyter and he shall pray, and forgiveness shall follow.

 

II. [That of the Ancient Church to St. Augustine.]

What the Apostolic Church taught by her life in the Word of God, the early Church developed into Dogmas. Heresies and schisms caused much bitterness and strife wherefore it was but natural that the matter of Confession and Absolution played the first and most important role in liturgical developments. Many who had strayed in bitter moods returned again and sought pardon.

Since it worketh forgiveness of sins the form of Baptism, especially adult Baptism, presented the first Order of Confession and Absolution. The Montanists taught the heresy that a baptized person can not, or dare not sin. The Shepherd of Hermes declared that it is possible for one still living in the flesh to sin; but if he do so in weakness or ignorance he can receive Absolution by coming to God through the Church, and by seeking reconciliation through an honest confession.

According to Tertullian the sermon was intended to bring one’s sins to consciousness whereupon an opportunity was given all repentant ones to come forward to confess and receive the Absolution. He reasoned that man consists of body and soul and he who sins sins with both. The body must share the sorrow of the soul and so submit to physical punishment which led to the practice of paying penance fines. He taught that sins against man man can forgive, but those against God only God can forgive. And if one repents all his life he can not be fully assured of forgiveness until he enters the future world. Cyprian insisted that a man must stand in organic connection with the Church, the body of Christ, before he can expect forgiveness through Him. He presents the following form of Confession: “Lord,

 


Page 68

 

Thou great, strong and terrible God, Thou that keepest Thy covenant, and art merciful to those who love Thee and keep Thy commandments, we have sinned, we have done evil, we have been Godless, we have transgressed Thy law and forsaken Thy commandments, we have not given audience to the word of Thy servants, the prophets, who have spoken in Thy Name to our kings and to all nations and to the whole earth. To Thee belongs glory and righteousness, but to us shame.” Now the bishop laid his hand upon the penitent, absolved him and admitted him to the Lord’s Table.

St. Augustine strenuously opposed the Donatists who believed that the Church held and exercised arbitrary authority and power in the bestowal of the Absolution. St. Andrew supported him in this position. Fasting was looked upon as meritorious. Some taught that he who could not fast sufficiently in this life could supplement it in an intermediate state and then enter the Heavenly rest. This was the beginning of the doctrine of Purgatory, but this became monstrous when it was held that he who had not received the Absolution from the priest at death could never be released from purgatory.

 

III. [From St. Augustine to the Reformation.]

Some Latin priests heard private confession and then divulged the facts to the public, thus exposing many shameful things. Pope Leo therefore insisted that all Confession and Absolution be private. This gave the priests another opportunity to insist that Absolution can come solely through the priest, and not through any other Means of Grace. Leo counselled leniency and yet permitted the priests to continue in their impositions on the people.

The Council of Arles, 451, forbade marriage and all matrimonial alliances to the penitent, and in many cases forbade husbands or wives to return to their own. Many were forced into Monasteries or Nunneries. Gregory the Great believed one could retain much in mind and so need not expose himself to the above punishment, and then by his own good works atone for many of his sins. This supported the doctrine of the semi-Pelagians. It followed that if a man did works of super-erogation (viz., more than was required) he would have authority over many below him. To attain to this the Lord Jesus was frequent-

 


Page 69

 

ly offered in the Mass. Mass was repeatedly read from now on.

Penitential books were published in the twelfth Century by Wasserschleben, based on the material or Vinnians of Ireland, 450 A. D.

According to a number of the Canons (e. g., 34th, 35th etc.) a penitent could merit much by paying vows, fasting, saying prayers, singing Psalms, and especially making offerings to the priests. The second chapter of the Canones Hibernenses says: a three days’ penitence can be concentrated into a day and a night if the penitent does not sleep, nor sit down, and continues chanting Psalms, bowing the knees twelve times an hour and extends hands in prayer to Heaven.

The practice of Excommunication (every penitent was excommunicated from the Church) and Redemption now arose. The principal requirement to redemption was a liberal offering. A poor man could have a friend intercede for him. If he died before he could be redeemed it was made possible for friends to provide for prayers for his soul by bringing offerings to the Altar. Thus began the practice of praying souls out of Purgatory.

Every trifle was made a pretext to compel men to confess and pay.

Following is a form of prayer for the Bishop about to hear Confession: Almighty Lord and God, be merciful to me a sinner, that I may thank Thee worthily that Thou in Thy mercy hast made me a servant of Thy priestly office, and hast set me up, a plain and humble one, as intercessor, in order that I might plead and intercede with our Lord Jesus Christ for penitent sinners. And therefore, Lord, Thou Who willest that all men shall come to the knowledge of the truth and be blessed; Thou Who desirest not the death of a sinner, but that he repent and live, receive my prayer which I offer in the presence of Thy Grace, in behalf of Thy servants who are come hither to repentance, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. Confession being made priest and penitent go to the Altar, kneel, read Psalms 38, 103 and 51, and pray: O God, before whose eyes every heart heaves and every conscience trembles be merciful to the sighings of all, and heal the wounds of all, so that as no one among us is free from guilt, none shall be a stranger to forgiveness, through Jesus Christ, etc. Now both arise and the Absolution is pronounced. A form is given: Almighty, eternal God, remit this Thy confessing servant

 


Page 70

 

his sins according to Thy goodness, in order that the guilt of conscience, as punishment, may do him no more harm, and the indulgence of Thy goodness is valuable to his pardon. Through Jesus Christ, etc. The form of Absolution is deprecative not declarative.

Wasserschleben published an Order of the ninth Century which was used as a preparation to the Lord’s Supper. Some people made pilgrimages to Rome to be absolved by the Pope. In some instances people were lashed for their sins and made to say a number of Pater Nosters, Ave Marias or Kyries. Large offerings were made for a Mass, for living or dead. Deliverance was also purchased by some people. This was the beginning of Indulgence sales.

Following is a form of Confession used (tenth to twelfth Century): I confess to God, the holy Mary, the holy archangel, Michael, the Holy Baptist John, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, etc., and to you father (priest) my guilt, my guilt, my guilt. I have sinned through vanity, in my many evil and bad thoughts, defilements, temptations, lusts, endorsements of, evil in word and deed, perjury, adultery, defaming holy things, murder, theft, false witness. I have sinned with my five senses. I implore the holy Mary and all the saints, named and otherwise and you, father (priest) to intercede for me with our Lord, Jesus Christ.

The post-Carolinian period has produced no new forms nor any improvement of conditions. Public Confession is altogether abandoned. The priests monopolized all authority. The Name of God was used simply as a suppression of the penitent. This was indeed a period that loudly called for a Reformation.

 

IV. [The Period of the Reformation.]

We have seen before that the Reformation is born of the true spirit of repentance and Absolution. This accounts for Lutheran theological and ecclesiastical productions being essentially soteriological.

Confession and Absolution in the Lutheran Church are the antitheses to the Roman Sacrament of Penitence. The practice of the Sacramentum Poenitentia was much worse than the doctrine. Luther declares it impossible for the popes to present the proper doctrine on Repentance since they do not understand sin. They

 


Page 71

 

deny original sin and therefore teach that a man may free himself from all sin by his own penance. They know not that sin has blinded their minds so that they can not even reason what might be correct penance. God alone knows, says he, and must be heard and obeyed. A man must be regenerated (baptized) and after that constantly renewed through God’s own Means of Grace.

It is the gift and grace of God that leads a man to attrition and then contrition. The Holy Ghost operates through the Word of God, which by its legal force produces not simply a formal contrition, but a real, subjective true evangelical balm wherein is the healing and forgiving power of God, offered through and for Jesus’ sake. Herein lies the second element of Confession: Faith in Jesus.

God does not look on how much penance one has done, but on His Word and how faithfully you have believed it. No man can even know all his faults, much less tell them. The Lord commands the Church to bring forgiveness to men and not to punish them. This does not prevent a man from unburdening his conscience to the pastor who is to hear and comfort him with the Word of God. In a private colloquium the pastor instructs the penitent to better examine himself, as St. Paul exhorts.

The first Order noticed, the Lippish, 1538, is divided into three parts. 1) The Divine, because confession is made directly to God, as David did, Ps. 19, 23, 32, 51, 69, etc. 2) Confession to men, into which enters the influence of the Gospel ministry, St. Matthew 16, 18 and St. John 20. 3) Fraternal: a man confesses to his brother, and in turn receives fraternal forgiveness, St. Matthew 15, 17 and St. Luke 17, also James 6.

In 1528 a special Order was directed to pastors requiring them to instruct and admonish people to come to and practice an intelligent confession. Preaching confers a general Absolution, but private confession is also Scriptural and should be urged since it brings a more direct operation of the Word and Grace of God the individual soul.

The Brandenburg-Nürnberg Order of 1535 clearly states that Christ instituted Baptism for those who wish to become Christians; the Lord’s Supper for Christians who are and live in faith; and the remission of sins, or Absolution, for the fallen who are unworthy of the Body and Blood of Christ, but seek through 

 


Page 72

 

confession to be absolved and reunited with the living members of His Body. Thus one is constantly returned to the innocence of his baptized estate. The Calenberg Order says that the Absolution depends entirely upon the obedience of Jesus Christ, which becomes a Divine gift to penitent and believing man.

The Brandenburg-Nürnberg Order of 1533 says: The pastor shall move the people with the greatest diligence to seek absolution from their sins, before they come to the Sacrament of the Altar; for Christ has instituted and ordained such an Office, not without reason when He said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whosesoever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them, etc.” He knew that we are in need of such consolation, even though we ourselves do not thus comprehend it.

The Lüneburg Order, 1645, directs that no one shall come to the Lord’s Table who has not presented himself to the pastor, confessed his sins and his faith and has received the Absolution.

Lutheran Confession does not simply mean the preaching of the Word but also the personal application of the Word upon the individual soul. It is not only a part of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, nor of the Lord’s Supper, but a distinct function of the Word of God.

Bugenhagen presents the following: The pastor shall say, make confession with me, and acknowledge your sins to God, that He be merciful unto us, “God be merciful to me a poor sinner. My faith is wanting. I do not love the Lord with my whole heart, nor put all my trust in Him in my temptations, and all my bodily and spiritual wants. I ought to fear God alone, and keep Him before my eye in all things, but now I fear men. I am afraid I might lose my property, honor, friendship and my body. I exercise unchristian concern for nourishment, and seek in all things mine own but not what is the Lord’s. I do not place my confidence for salvation in Jesus, His only begotten Son, given for us. Charity is also wanting in me so that I do not love my neighbor as myself. I deal with my neighbor with evil suspicion, evil communication, in words and deeds; and can not bear a single word spoken by him against me. And I can not heartily forgive him in anything, though I am in duty bound so to do. My conscience is especially burdened with these temptations. Therefore, Almighty God, forgive me all my sins, and

 


Page 73

 

illumine my heart with Thy truth, that I may own Thee as my merciful Father and my neighbor as my brother without any offense, according to Thy Word, through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen. Jesus Christ is our eternal salvation. Amen.”

The Kalenberg Order, in the beginning of the seventeenth Century, bears a very close resemblance to that found in our Church Book, both in the Confession, the Absolution, and the Retention. Many other Orders contain substantially the same thing.

Lutheran Orders contend faithfully against Reformed influences which hold that by one’s faith he can largely free himself from sin. They claim that faith is the first thing damaged by sin. If the true faith were there sin could not come. Therefore one must first hear the preaching of the Word which restores and renews faith and thus God frees from sin and not man. They also contend against Roman influences which set apart special days and seasons as Confession and Absolution times, making special mention of Communion periods. Confession should be and remain a distinct service and should be open to burdened souls at all times. In practice the Lutheran Church has however yielded to some influences around her but it is not her teaching.

According to the Lauenburg Order the minister must assure himself that the penitent 1) is truly sorry for his sins, believes and has an earnest purpose to live a better life; 2) recognizes God’s wrath against sin—, 3) apprehends the Gospel of Jesus concerning the forgiveness of sins; and 4) fears and loves God and I will strive to remain in faith until death. He must keep all things in strict confidence so that the penitent may not hesitate to confess freely. He must also instruct, admonish, and examine, and yet not so as to drive the penitent into fear and despair.

Most of the Orders of Absolution of this time did not include the form of Retention. The minister laid his hands upon the penitent and thus absolved him wherefore the retention was not necessary, since he did not lay hands on any one whom he considered impenitent. The Absolution was declarative. The absolved one did not immediately leave the church. He spent some time in prayer and thanksgiving and then quietly departed. An offering was always made.

 


Page 74

 

V. [The Modern Period, beginning with Spener.]

The thirty years’ war disrupted the churches and their worship. People grew more hardhearted through their experiences, and therefore more indifferent and independent toward the inner life of the Church. Private confession was looked upon as an imposition and a burden, and even some ministers called it a martyrdom. It was made a public service, attached to the Communion service and often conducted but once a year. A low state of morals followed. Some authorities endeavored to restore the old Order of Excommunication and Restoration, but with poor success.

Theophilus Grossgebauer, 1661, complained bitterly against this state of affairs in a book, called, “Watchmen’s Voices from Ruined Zion.” He held that a penitent has God’s forgiveness whether a man pronounces the Absolution or not; and that when a confitent returns to the Church he must be received. The pastor has no say in this matter at all. The Church as a body regulates all these affairs. The result was strife without end.

Spener regretted these conditions very much and insisted that confitents should come to private confession as in former years. But many people refused to come. They went over to the Reformed Church which ran along in the current of the times, and did not require private confession, and indeed very little public confession.

The Lutheran conception of Absolution is that it confers grace and a blessing upon the penitent, and a curse upon the impenitent. As the unworthy eat and drink damnation in the Lord’s Supper, so here. And therefore a minister should be very careful in the matter of absolving any one. Spener disagreed with this and held that the Absolution upon the impenitent neither benefited nor injured him; that it simply remained ineffective. This was another addition to the indifference of people to the Church and her authority.

Spener also denied the Divine element in Confession and Absolution. The Divini juris he called humani juris. He also contended against the form of confession which the Church had adopted, saying, “every man may confess in his own words, and in whatever form he pleases.”

He also held that since the offering displeased so many, and since therefore it is a hindrance to devotion and often a burden to the poor, they should be discontinued.

 


Page 75

 

The pietism of his day was inclined to protest against private Confession, and held that no Absolution is potent except the minister has the Holy Ghost. It often considered itself too good to become a confitent.

On the other hand, rationalism considered itself far above and beyond Confession and Absolution, and so trifled over and neglected it.

Thus the Church passed on into our own day. There are constant efforts at restoration, revival and renewal, but the many worldly and material tendencies will keep progress at an extremely slow pace if there can be much hope for progress at all.

 

James F. Lambert.

Catasauqua, Pa.

 


Page 76

 


Page 77

 

I. THE SACRAMENTAL IDEA IN CHRISTIAN WORSHIP.

 

The Church of Christ is the congregation of Saints in which the Gospel is rightly taught, and the Sacraments rightly administered.* It is, in its historical origin as well as in its constant preservation, the work of the Holy Ghost, Who calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies all Christendom (die ganze Christenheit) on earth and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the true faith.† What makes and marks the true Church must likewise make and mark the Service of the true Church. Thus we find it in the Apostolic Church whose Service is briefly, but comprehensively, described in Acts 2, 42. “They continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayer.” The Christian Service is simply the actualization of the existing communion of grace and faith with God in Christ. In it the edification of the Church and the glorification of God’s grace in Christ are identical, as the principal aim and end of all Christian Cultus. There can be no individual Christian, nor a congregation of Christians, without faith. This faith is the gift and work of God Himself through the means of grace. To obtain it we must have the offer of Divine grace in the Gospel. And to abide steadfastly in this faith and, through it, in union with Jesus Christ, we must have the constant offer and appropriation of Divine grace through the Word and Sacraments.

Since the fall of man his true communion with God presupposes reconciliation, atonement. All human efforts to establish such reconciliation are essentially pagan or judaistic. In the Christian religion alone the assurance of that atonement as an objective accomplished fact is the foundation of all true worship. The message of atonement is the Gospel, proclaiming, offering

 

Footnote: *Augsburg Confession, Art. VII.

Footnote: † Small Catechism, Third Article of the Creed.

 


Page 78

 

and conveying all that God has done and is doing for the salvation of man. It presents the one great sacrifice which God has made for us in Christ, the fullest exhibition of His love to His fallen creatures, by which they are redeemed and saved. Over against this offer and presentation of God there is nothing for us to do but to accept it, to grasp it with the hand of faith as it is presented. God serves us by His grace, we serve Him in our faith.

The communion between God and man being thus established by the free and sovereign act of God’s grace, there results from it a constant reciprocity between God and man. God gives, man receives; and having received the blessing of God man gives what he is able to offer to his reconciled God in the sacrifice of a pure and reasonable service. But this latter is altogether based upon the former. That which establishes and preserves the communion between God and man, that which provides, appropriates and seals our salvation is altogether the gift and act of God, the ordinance and testament of God. Now, all the gifts of God, and all His acts. toward our salvation, culminate in the unspeakable gift of His Son. And the gift of His Son culminates in the propitiatory sacrifice on Calvary, where God set Him forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood. This New Testament of the body and blood of Christ is most beautifully and perfectly comprehended, offered, appropriated and enjoyed in the Sacrament of the Altar. The Lord’s Supper, not as a work or performance of man but as the very heart and height of all the saving gifts and acts of God, is the real centre and culmination of all Christian worship. Everything else is grouped around this point and leads up to it. Thus it was in the Apostolic Church. The Service of those early Christians consisted in the reception and fruition of the Divine gifts, in the Word and the Sacrament, (the teaching of the Apostles and the breaking of the bread) and in the offering of their spiritual sacrifices (Prayer). There was God’s own Word and Sacrament coming to man, with all its solemn warning, admonition, rebuke, threatening, and all its blessed consolation, speaking peace to the troubled heart, offering and conveying forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. And there was man’s word addressed to God, praising Him, blessing Him, worshipping Him, glorifying Him, giving thanks to Him for His grace and His great glory. These

 


Page 79

 

two sides of Christian worship have, from ancient times, been distinguished as the sacramental and the sacrificial, the sacramentum including God’s gifts and acts in the Service, the sacrificium covering all human acts of confession, praise, prayer and thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, the mediaeval Church did not preserve this pure Scriptural and Apostolic idea of the Christian Service with its important distinction between the sacramentum and the sacrificium. At the beginning of the third century already we discover the first traces of a marked deviation from Apostolic doctrine and practice in this respect. Two factors were particularly influential in bringing about a gradual deterioration. In the conflicts of the Church against strong sectarian tendencies the authority and dignity of the office of the ministry was more and more exalted, until it was ultimately represented as a singular order distinct from the common Christian people, priesthood in the hierarchical and mediatorial sense of the word, on which the whole communion between Christ and His believing people depended. And the idea of the sacrificium, the human act in the Service, assumed such a preponderance that even the Testament of the Lord’s Supper was considered merely from its sacrificial aspect, a service done to God, and not a gift of God bestowed upon His people. Tertullian already, in speaking of the Communion Service uses the term “Sacrificium offertur” in distinction from the preaching of the Word, “Dei sermo administratur.”

Cyprian describes the administration of the Sacrament of the Altar as a “Celebrare Sacrificium.” Even in its most ideal aspect this conception of the Service was a retrograde movement toward the Old Testament with its priesthood and sacrifices, judaizing, legalistic; over against the Sacramentum of the New Testament, as a purely Divine act of communicating and conveying grace upon the participant. In its later consistent development the Romanism of the Middle Ages turned the Service of the Christian Church into a meritorious performance offered to God by the priest in behalf of the congregation with an effect that was essentially magical, not ethical or spiritual. The celebration of the Lord’s Supper becomes the culmination of all human offerings and sacrificial acts, the unbloody sacrifice, with propitiatory power for the living and the dead, the greatest of all human acts and performances in the sphere of religion.

 


Page 80 

 

The Lutheran Reformation of the sixteenth century distinctly declared that it is not necessary, “that human traditions, rites, or ceremonies instituted by men, should be everywhere alike.”* But while thus referring all matters concerning the outward form of the Christian Service to the sphere of liberty it could not ignore the great principles underlying the ceremonies of the mediaeval Church which were, indeed, matters “concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments” and as such “necessary to the true unity of the Church.” The Reformation is essentially the restoration of the Gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace. It sets forth and emphasizes the Divine initiative in the whole plan and work of our salvation. It ascribes all power and honor exclusively to God’s grace, over against any work of man. God comes, God works, God gives; His are also the means and methods by which He has chosen to work out our salvation, the means of grace and ordinances which are objective Divine realities to offer and convey God’s saving grace to the individual. God first loves, He makes known His love to man, and, being assured that we are beloved, we believe, our faith itself being altogether God’s own work, God’s gift. From this point of view the spirit of the mediaeval Service had to be examined and judged by the Reformers. Consequently Luther in his treatise on “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church,” one of his three great Reformation-Pronunciamentos of 1520, attacks the very centre of the Roman position in its doctrine concerning the sacrifice of the Mass. He finds in it the greatest of all offenses, and a point of such far reaching importance that the whole nature of the Church and her Service was thereby affected, and a radical change was made necessary. In the same year, in his “Sermon vom Neuen Testament, d. i. von der Messe”† he enters into a fuller treatment of the underlying principles. “In all the dealings of man with God,” he says, “the proper way and order must be this: Not that man should begin and lay the foundation, but that God alone, without any effort or endeavor on the part of man, must come first (zuvorkommen), and give His word of promise. This Word of God is the first thing, the foundation and rock on which afterwards all words and thoughts of man are built. This word must be thank-

 

Footnote: * Augsb. Conf. Art. VII.

Footnote: † Erlangen Edit. Vol. 27.

 


Page 81

 

fully received by man, confidently believing the Divine promise, not doubting that it is and will be done even as He promises. Such faith is the beginning, middle and end of every work and righteousness of man. For inasmuch as man giveth the honor to God, taking Him and confessing Him to be true, he thereby finds a gracious God Who, in turn, will honor him and confess him. It is therefore impossible that man by his own reason and strength should ascend into Heaven with works of his own, and prevent God and move Him to be gracious,—but God must come before all works and thoughts of man, and must give a clear and distinct promise of His word which man is to grasp and to hold in firm faith” … After a brief survey of the Divine promises of grace and salvation in the Old Testament, Luther comes to the “Testament” of the new covenant, the Sacrament of the Altar, in which he sees “a brief summary of all the miracles and graces of God, as fulfilled in Christ. A testament is a Beneficium datum. It bestows a benefit upon us, it does not receive a benefit. Who has ever heard that a man who receives a testament is doing a good work? He simply takes a benefit to himself,—appropriates it. Thus in the Mass (Lord’s Supper) we do not give anything to Christ, we only take from Him. Likewise in Baptism, which is also a Divine Testament and Sacrament, no one gives anything to God, but receives from Him; so also in the preaching of the Word. There is no work of man in all this, but simply the exercise of faith on the part of man. There is no Officium but Beneficium, no work or service, but only fruition and benefit.”

Likewise Melanchthon in his Apology of 1531 discusses the general idea of the Sacramentum as over against the Sacrificium, in the relation between God and man, and their dealings with each other. In the 24th Article De Missa he answers the questions:Quid sit Sacrificium et quae sint sacrificii species? Quid patres de sacrificio senserint? De Usu Sacramenti et de Sacrificio. The great importance of the distinction between Sacramentum and Sacrificium is emphasized. Both may be comprehended under the generic name of ceremonia, holy rites, (Opus Sacrum). Sacramentum est ceremonia vel opus in quo Deus nobis exhibet hoc quod offert annexa ceremoniae promissio, ut Baptismus est opus, non quod nos Deo offerimus, sed in quo nos baptizat, viz., minister vice Dei, et hic offert et exhibet Deus remissionem peccatorum, juxta

 


Page 82

 

promissionem (Marc. 16, 16). Econtra sacrificium est ceremonia vel opus quod nos Deo reddimus et Eum honore afficiamus.” The sacrament, accordingly, is a Divine act, exhibiting, offering and conveying Divine grace. On the other hand the sacrificium is a human act rendered to God by man to give Him His due honor.

Some forcible statements of Luther on this point may be added from his treatise “Vom Anbeten des Sacraments des Heiligen Leichnams Christi” (On the adoration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body) addressed to the Waldensian, Bohemian and Moravian Brethren whose doctrine concerning the real presence appeared somewhat doubtful and unsatisfactory to Luther.* “The principal thing in the Sacrament is the Word of Christ, when He says, Take, eat, this is My Body; Take, drink, this is the cup of the New Testament. All depends on these words. Every Christian must know them and guard them against any other doctrine, even though an angel from Heaven should bring it. These are words of life and salvation, and whosoever believes in them has, by such faith, forgiveness of all his sins, and is a child of life, having overcome hell and death. It is unspeakable how great and powerful these words are. For they are, indeed, the sum of the whole Gospel. They are really more important than the Sacrament itself. And a Christian ought to accustom himself to pay more attention to these words than to the Sacrament itself, though the false teachers have so perverted the truth that these words have been slighted and even hidden before the people, while the act of the Sacrament has been exclusively emphasized. Thus it is that faith has come to nothing, and the Sacrament was turned into a purely external work without faith…. The most pernicious error and heresy introduced by the Pope is this, that the Sacrament has been turned into a sacrifice and good work…. To guard against this abominable error you must cling to the words: Take, eat, this is My Body, etc., which words contain the whole Gospel. You can clearly see and apprehend that they do not speak of a sacrifice or work but of a gift, offered and presented by Christ, which we are to take, to grasp and keep by faith. He commands you to take and to keep, and you want to give and to sacrifice? How can you say to God: I give Thee Thy Word?—instead of saying: My Lord, as Thou sayest that Thou art giving it to me, I take it cheerfully with

 

Footnote: * Erlangen Edit. Vol. 28, p. 388-421.

 


Page 83

 

thanksgiving! As little as you can turn the Gospel itself into a sacrifice or work, you can do so with this Sacrament; for this Sacrament is the Gospel. … It would be a great shame to ascribe to the Sacrament no more than to any good work of man, inasmuch as no good work can ever deliver us from sin, nor give us grace, life and salvation. But this Sacrament does give grace, life and salvation, for it is the very fountain of life and salvation.”

On the basis of these principles the reconstruction of the Service of the Church of the Reformation was conceived and carried out. No true and correct Service was to be thought of without the administration of the means of grace, that is the Word and Sacrament. “Let this be the sum and substance of our Service that the Word have its proper place in it. Everything else might rather be omitted but the Word. And nothing better can be handled or used in the Service than the Word. For it is an everlasting Word, everything else must perish.”* No single Service ever ought to consist of purely sacrificial acts, but it must always contain something of a sacramental character, that is, something belonging to the ministration of the Word and Sacrament. And these indispensable sacramental features must always hold the first place, as to dignity and importance, in the Service of the congregation, while the Eucharistic sacrifices of prayer, confession, thanksgiving and offerings, compared with the former, have a secondary, subordinate position. A clear distinction between the two sides, and their respective merits, is thus insisted upon. But this distinction does not mean a separation of the two. They are, indeed, combined in almost every act of the Service. The reading of the Word, the distribution of the elements in the Sacrament of the Altar, and the Benediction might be called purely and exclusively sacramental, inasmuch as the attitude of the congregation is simply receptive in those acts. And on the other hand, the prayer of the congregation might be called a purely sacrificial act. But otherwise the sacramental and sacrificial are constantly blending in the true Christian Service. For instance, the preaching of the Word by the minister primarily and pre-eminently sacramental, as the exposition and application of the Divine Word, spoken for the salvation of our souls. But there is, at the same time, a sacrificial side even to

 

Footnote: *_Luther, in Ordnung des Gottesdiensts in der Gemeine. Wittenberg. 1523.

 


Page 84

 

the sermon. It is the joyful, solemn testimony of the congregation of what God in His mercy has done for it, proclaimed through its official mouth-piece, the pastor. Again, when the congregation lifts up its voice to sing its precious hymns, it does, indeed, offer its sacrifices of prayer, praise and thanksgiving, but, at the same time, it participates in the sacramental side of the Service, in setting forth the great deeds of God for our salvation. The songs of the congregation proclaim the Gospel itself. This is particularly true of those objective hymns of the Church which embody the great facts of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Passion, Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost. Even in one and the same hymn the sacramental and the sacrificial way be united, the presentation of the Gospel truth, and the prayer and praise for this precious gift, as offered by the congregation. Even in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper the Service is by no means confined to sacramental features. These are, of course, the fundamental and central parts of this Service, in the Verba Testamenti, and the Distribution of the consecrated elements. But the very act of participation on the part of the communicants, as a confession of their crucified and risen Lord, is of a sacrificial character. And so are the prayers and hymns which precede, accompany and follow the administration of the Sacrament proper, the Preface, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, with the Thanksgiving.

Thus it is manifest that the sacramental parts of the Service are not exclusively confined to the Minister, nor are the sacrificial parts exclusively confined to the congregation. A distinction between the participation of pastor and people, respectively, in the Service, on this basis of assigning the sacramental parts to the former and the sacrificial to the latter is inadmissible. We have seen that the congregation engages in the sacramental parts of the Service in proclaiming the saving facts of the Gospel in their hymns; and we know that the pastor takes part in the sacrificial acts of the congregation joining with them and leading them in their prayers. A significant and appropriate expression of a clear distinction between the two sides of the Service the Sacramental and the sacrificial, is the change of position on the part of the officiating minister at the altar, as prescribed in many of our old Agenda. In all the sacramental parts of the Service, when the minister has to deliver a Divine message to the congre-

 


Page 85

 

gation, he faces his people. In all the sacrificial parts, when he speaks with and in behalf of the congregation, he stands, as the other members of the congregation, facing the altar.

It is hardly necessary for us to go over the Service of our Lutheran Church, as presented in the Church Book, (Communio, Matins and Vespers) and to point out in detail the sacramental features in their distinction from, as well as in their combination with, the sacrificial elements. To any one who will take the pains,—-or I should rather say, the pleasure—of entering into a study of those beautiful Services, the relation of those parts must be perfectly clear in every case. The only real difficulty that may possibly present itself in this connection is in the consideration of the Introit. Its structure is evidently that of the Psalmody, with Antiphon, Psalm-Verse and Gloria Patri. As such we would naturally take it to be one of the sacrificial elements of the Service. The fact that under the regulations of the Roman Church the priest had to face the altar during the Introit might be taken as an additional evidence that the Introit was considered as a prayer, offered to God in behalf of the congregation. But the correct view seems to be this, that in the Introit also we have a combination of the two elements, the sacramental and the sacrificial. The Antiphon, its first and principal part, represents an objective sacramental word which, as a herald’s call, sets forth the main fact or idea of the respective Sunday or Festival. This Divine act or gift calls forth the prayer, praise and thanksgiving of the congregation in the subsequent Psalm-Verse with Gloria Patri. In the liturgical rendering of the Introit, it seems to us, this twofold character would best be brought out if it were assigned to the Choir. Unfortunately, the rubric in our Church Book makes no reference whatever to this most appropriate form of using the Introit.*

In defining the position of our Lutheran Church concerning the sacramental side of the Service we have, thus far, presented it chiefly in its antithesis to the Church of Rome and her manifest tendency to exalt the Sacrificium above the Sacramentum, the human work or performance in the Service over against the Divine act and gift of grace. But there are features also in the Protestant denominations around us which indicate that with

 

Footnote: * Compare on this whole question C. Cracau, The Introit, in Siona of 1879, January to March.

 


Page 86

 

them also the proper balance between the sacrificial and sacramental is frequently disturbed, and that the former is being exalted at the expense of the latter. The sacraments themselves are almost entirely stripped of their proper sacramental character, and turned again into sacrificial acts of man. They are chiefly considered as human acts of profession. God is no longer seen in them as the principal actor and giver. Man is acting, presenting himself, making a profession of faith. From this position results the common widespread indifference toward Infant Baptism, even among those Protestant bodies which are still Pedobaptist according to their theological standards. Consistently carried out this view leads to the final rejection of Infant Baptism altogether. We may also point, in this connection, to the modern prayer meeting in which prayer itself is treated as a means of grace, a kind of sacramental power is ascribed to it, while in its innermost nature it must always be pre-eminently sacrificial.

This whole tendency results from the failure of Reformed Protestantism, ever since Zwingli and Calvin, to appreciate the Word and Sacraments of God as real objective and efficacious means of grace, by which and through which the Holy Ghost Actually offers, conveys and appropriates saving grace to the individual. We are one with the Reformed in denying the expiatory character of the sacrifice of the Mass, and in believing that Christians have no other sacrifices to bring before God but the Eucharistic offerings of their prayers and good works. But when we come to the important question: How does the Lord communicate, convey, appropriate and seal to man the benefits of His atoning sacrifice? our ways do part. On this point Reformed Protestantism fails to apprehend that the true character of the Church’s Service must primarily be that of the Sacramentum, that is, the distribution and appropriation of God’s gifts of grace through the Divinely ordained means of grace, in behalf of God, and as an act of God Himself.

In his Ratio Fidei (Reckoning of Faith), submitted to the Diet in Augsburg, 1530, Zwingli says: “I believe, yea I know, that all the sacraments are so far from conferring grace that they do not even convey or distribute it…. For as grace is produced or given by the Divine Spirit so this gift pertains to the Spirit alone. Moreover, a channel or vehicle is not necessary to

 


Page 87

 

the Spirit, for He Himself is the virtue and energy whereby all things are borne, and has no need of being borne; neither do we read in the Holy Scripture that perceptible things, as are the sacraments, bear certainly with them the Spirit, but if perceptible things have ever been borne with the Spirit, it has been the Spirit, and not perceptible things, that has borne them. … Therefore the Spirit of grace is conveyed not by this mersion, not by this draught, not by this anointing; for if it were thus it would be known how, where, whence and whither the Spirit is given. For if the presence and efficacy of grace are bound to the sacraments, they work where these are conveyed; and where these are not applied all things languish. … From this it is inferred, … that the sacraments are given as a public testimony of that grace which is previously present to every individual. … By Baptism, therefore, the Church publicly receives one who had previously been received through grace. Baptism, therefore, does not bring grace, but testifies to the Church that grace has been given for him to whom it is administered. I believe, therefore, that a sacrament is a sign of a sacred thing—i. e., of grace that has been given. I believe that it is a visible figure form of invisible grace—viz., which has been provided and given by God’s bounty; i. e., a visible example which presents an analogy to something done by the Spirit. I believe that it is a public testimony.”*

It is manifest that such views completely destroy the idea of any real, objective means of grace. It is not denied that there are real treasures of Divine grace obtained for man through Christ’s mediatorial work. It is claimed that these treasures are appropriated to and by individual men. But it is denied that this appropriation is effected through certain means which the Lord Himself has appointed and ordained for His Church, and to which He has bound Himself with His solemn promise that thus and there He will be found by us. It is, on the other hand, contended that the appropriation of grace is effected directly from God to man, as from Spirit to Spirit, in some mysterious manner, without any medium or instrumentality whatever. Those that are, in fact, believers in consequence of some inscrutable Divine operation or decree have nothing left to them, whenever they meet for worship, but to demonstrate this their faith by acts of

 

Footnote: * Jacobs, The Book of Concord, etc. Vol. II, pp. 168 ff.

 


Page 88

 

public profession. Thus every feature of the Service becomes, of necessity, simply an exhibition of existing faith. When the Word is heard and the Sacraments are partaken, it is not the Lord Who is thereby carrying on His gracious work, but it is the assembly of believers that demonstrates its Christian faith and life. The Sacramentum, in its own true sense, has no place in this Service. It is all Sacrificium. On the other hand our Lutheran responsive Service, with its rich liturgical and hymnological treasures, requiring the active and whole-souled participation of the congregation, proves that the emphasis which our Church lays on the Sacramentum, instead of overlooking or crowding out the Sacrificium, rather develops, enriches and beautifies the sacrificial parts of the Service to an extent unknown to Reformed Protestantism.

 

A. SPAETH.

Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, Pa.

 


Page 89

 

PARAMENTS OF THE LORD’S HOUSE.

 

PARAMENTS is an unusual word in English. It is defined in the Standard Dictionary, “rich and ornamental clothes and furniture.” Webster cites this line from Chaucer which indicates its ancient meaning: “Lords in paraments on their coursers.” It is derived from paro, to prepare, through the later Latin paramentum. In English it refers usually to the ornamental hangings and furniture of state apartments, and the clothing of royal and other exalted personages. In German the word has an ecclesiastical meaning. Paramentics is the art of church decoration. Narrow use confines it to textile fabrics. Wider use applies it to all forms of church decoration and furniture. Among Protestant writers on the subject are Meurer,* Beck,† Schaeferŗ and Buerkner.§ The sainted Löhe, amid all his labors for the sick and the poor, and his world-wide missionary work, found time to promote its study and development in the churches. In England and Germany a knowledge of the art is required of those who build or reconstruct churches. In America word and thing were until recently almost unknown. Hence so many of our churches look more like drawing-rooms or theatres than houses of God.

The subject is worthy of greater attention than it has received. Ministers of the Lord’s House should know something of its furnishings, and intelligent laymen would take a new delight in their house of worship if they understood the art of decorating it in a fitting manner. As George Herbert quaintly says:

 

Footnote: * Altarschmuck. Ein Beitrag zur Paramentik in der Evangelischen Kirche von Lie. Moritz Meurer. Leipzig, 1867.

Footnote: † Soli Deo! Ein Wort zu Nutz und Ehren der evangelischen Paramentik. Von Martin Eugen Beck. Leipzig, 1885.

Footnote: ŗ Ratgeber fuer Anschaffung und Erhaltung von Paramenten. Berlin, 1897.

Footnote: § Kirchenschmuck und Kirchengeraet. Von Richard Buerkner. Gotha, 1892.

 


Page 90

 

“They who love God’s house will like His household stuff.” Luther, with all his hostility to the mummeries of Romanism, its vestments, its caps and its bells, at a critical time in his career, forsook the protection of the Wartburg in order that he might put a stop to the ravages of the iconoclasts. “I do not believe,” said he, “that art is to be overthrown by the Gospel, as some hyperspiritual people maintain, but I should like to see all the arts placed in the service of Him Who made them.”

When we see a private house furnished with good taste, with tapestries, carvings and pictures, and when we accompany the family to its place of worship to find there an absence of art, or else a superfluity of decoration, and that too of a secular character, does it not recall the words with which David reproached himself: “See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.” In the vision of the epiphany, as given in the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah, we are told not only of the Gentiles who shall come to His light and kings to the brightness of His rising, but also “The glory of Lebanon shall come unto Thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of My sanctuary, and I will make the place of My feet glorious.”

Whatever the style of architecture may be, the house of worship should bear the impress of the purpose to which it is dedicated. It should distinctly say to him who enters “This is the house of the Lord.” The earliest style of buildings, after Christianity emerged from the obscurity to which the persecutions of the first three centuries condemned it, was the basilica. The name expresses the conviction of the Christian conscience that the house of the Lord must be a royal house, a house of beauty.*

Löhe, in his plea for the beautification of the church, shows how sin, proceeding from man, affected all created things. “The whole creation groaneth.” But since God has begun in Christ to heal humanity, it is the mission of sanctified man to sanctify

 

Footnote: * Mr. Ruskin says that those who built the Gothic churches really believed they were building dwelling-places for Christ, and they wished to make them as comfortable and beautiful for Him as they could. The facade of Amiens bears out this idea, for the central figure in it is Christ, called “the good God of Amiens,” Who welcomes all who come to enter its portals and gives them His benediction.” Larned’s Churches and Castles of Mediaeval France.

 


Page 91

 

the creature, and to bring it back again to holy uses, so that it may also be delivered from the curse and restored to a beauty exceeding even that of the primal Paradise. The whole earth shall be full of His glory. In the meantime the Church establishes stations on the way, habitations of peace, wherein we may be reminded how fair shall be that Paradise in which our eyes shall see the King in His beauty. This is the secret purpose of the Church when she builds and adorns her sanctuaries. From an inexhaustible store of truth she finds a thousand ways of confessing her faith, not only in the spoken word and the harmonies of music and poetry, but also in architecture and sculpture, in painting and embroidery.

Architecture does not belong to the scope of this paper. For it no apology is needed. It is when we come to the interior of many modern churches that our hearts grow heavy. Large sums of money are wasted for decorations that are incongruous in design and secular in spirit, and therefore convey to the eye and heart no message of sanctity and religion. Sometimes it is an ambitious churchliness which constructs altars and chancels with appurtenances which mean nothing to the Protestant worshipper. Again, the spirit of imitation leads many congregations to sew patches of ecclesiastical decoration on the garments of antiritualistic simplicity, without regard to the fitness of things.

There may be a wealth of display in the carpets and windows and furniture, but if the decoration is not in harmony with the place, it produces an atmosphere that is foreign to the spirit of devotion.

The present era of prosperity is marked by the erection of many new houses of worship, and the reconstruction of old ones. An improved churchly taste is manifest. This is gratifying. But unfortunately the only available models of churchliness are taken from a denomination whose canons differ somewhat from those of our Church, and it is humiliating to find that a new Lutheran church is nothing but a second edition of an Episcopal church, not revised and improved. While there is an improvement on the unaesthetic simplicity of the past it is much to be regretted that pains are not taken to produce a more truly Lutheran style of church decoration. This style will be found in the via media between Roman Catholicism and Reform. Our fathers accepted the Roman Catholic churches as they were, only

 


Page 92

 

removing the most objectionable features. But in building new churches we should not merely repristinate with moderate criticism, we should reconstruct along the lines of our liturgical canons. These canons are:

1. Historical conservatism; 2. Adaptation to modern conditions; 3. Expression of Lutheran principles of worship.

A small handbook on this subject would prove of great value to intending builders of churches.

Articles of church furniture in general use are the pulpit, the reading desk, the table and the font. Some churches have the pulpit only. In this case the church is an auditorium. The preacher stands in the focus of all eyes. He is the chief actor, the dominant figure.

No one denies, the paramount importance of preaching. Nevertheless congregations worshipping in an auditorium suffer a distinct loss. There is a dramatic value in the action involved in the use of the lectern, the table and the font. From the reading desk the minister delivers to the people the Holy Scriptures, the inspired Word of God. From the pulpit it is the voice of the herald or messenger. From the table and font are distributed the sacramental gifts. For sacrificial purposes the table becomes an altar where the minister, in the name of the congregation, presents the sacrifices of prayer, praise and thanksgiving. These are valid distinctions in acts of worship and their value and significance are worthy of consideration on the part of the advocates of extreme simplicity.

The earliest Christian altars were simple tables made of wood, specimens of which may still be found among the treasures of the churches in Rome. The oldest of all, at which the Apostle Peter himself is said to have ministered, is a simple slab mounted on a single pedestal. The New Testament speaks only of the Table of the Lord, (I Corinthians 10, 21), although the symbolism of the Supper is also presented in this passage.

The change in the form of the altars was brought about by the dogmatic delusion which transformed the Lord’s Supper into the Sacrifice of the Mass, and still more by the relation which the altar was made to take to the graves of the martyrs, The form of the altars, as the Reformation found them, was to a great extent the expression of a doctrinal system which Protestants repudiate.

 


Page 93

 

Nevertheless Luther proceeded in a conservative manner, being more concerned about the preaching of the Gospel than questions of ritual. He made no changes that were not absolutely required. “We must bide our time,” he said.

But the Renaissance, a secular movement running parallel with the Reformation, produced important changes in the structure of the altar, and its work was for the worse. With no religious principle to guide it, it gave free play to its aesthetic impulses in designing friezes and architraves and facades of colossal dimensions. Even the Romanists were outdone in obscuring the original significance of the Lord’s Table.

What is the significance of the altar? The altar is first of all the Table of the Lord. Any other view of it is alien to our doctrine. For this reason, Löhe, whom some regard a very high churchman, says “The location of the altar is higher than the nave, in order that the congregation may be witnesses of all that takes place at the altar. But Protestants have no interest in placing the altar too high, because they repudiate the Sacrifice of the Mass and the worship of the Host, and because they cannot admit that there is a line of separation between the place of the sacrament and the priestly congregation.”

In the second place the altar is the place of prayer. The acts of prayer which the minister performed in the name of the congregation were formerly intimately connected with the Communion Service. Hence also the acts of the benediction, such as confirmation, absolution, marriage and ordination, are properly performed at the altar. Here too may be presented the offerings, as “an odor of sweet smell, a sacrifice well-pleasing to God.” (Phil. 4, 18; Heb. 13, 16).

In a figurative sense it is therefore not improper to speak of the Table of the Lord as an altar, and it is in this sense that Protestants use the term.

The chancel rail is found almost everywhere in American Lutheran churches. It marks a separation between ministers and people which the teaching of our Church does not recognize. Take it away.

With this review of the history and significance of the altar, to which neither the highchurchman nor the most radical antiritualist can justly take exception, we are prepared to inquire as to its, proper place in the arrangement and decoration of the church.

 


Page 94

 

On the one hand our altar will not be the high structure which our Episcopal and Lutheran brethren inherited from Rome and the Renaissance. Nor will it on the other hand be the little stand in front of the pulpit, resembling a piece of parlor furniture, serving on Communion days for the vessels and elements of the Sacrament, and on other days as a convenient receptacle for the hats and overcoats of the brethren.

Whether a celebration takes place or not, it is the Lord’s Table in the Lord’s House, and is therefore the most fitting symbol of the koinwniva, the fellowship that characterized the earliest Church and that still binds believers together. It symbolizes also those sacrificial acts which are an essential part of all true worship. It should therefore be of goodly size, made of substantial material, and should occupy a prominent place in the choir, in sight of the whole congregation. It should be covered at all times, that is at every Service, with a white linen cloth. If the Table stands free, the cloth should project over the four sides. If it stands against the wall, the cloth should project over the front the width of a span, and over the ends a greater length.

As to the decorations which may be placed upon the altar, there is a difference of opinion. It is not very important and the discussion may be deferred. It is a question whether flower vases should be placed upon the table, but artificial flowers are unquestionably forbidden. In some churches the front and sides of the altar are covered with a costly cloth, suitably embroidered, known as the antependium. If the altar is made of sculptured stone, this is not necessary. But in any case a so-called antependium strip is a favorite form of decoration. It is made of wool or silk, is one-third as wide as the table, and covers the entire depth of the table and hangs for a considerable distance over the front. Its purpose is to tell in color and design the story of the particular Season in the Church Year.*

 

Footnote: * The limits of this article forbid, or we might speak of numerous, objects related to the altar, believing that many reforms are needed here in our church practice. One is the substitution of the ciborium for the paten. It looks better, has ancient usage to warrant it, and is better for practical reasons. Another is the banishment of the velum. At present its use is almost universal not only in Lutheran but also in Reformed Churches. It is a remnant of the Romish superstition in regard to the mysterium tremendum, and illustrates the persistence of custom even where the dogmatic foundation has long ago been taken away. Some writers speak of the symbolical importance of the corporal and the palla, but these are superfluities with which we can easily dispense. The lavabo cloth is seldom seen, and yet this has hygienic and aesthetic value. Its general use might forestall the introduction of the individual Communion cup.


Page 95

 

The church colors ordinarily used in Lutheran churches are five in number: white, red, green, violet and black. White, according to Luther, “the color of the angels and the saints,” is used on the Festivals of Christ, from Christmas eve to the end of the Epiphany, and from Easter to Ascension (Exaudi). Red, the majestic color of fire and blood, is the color of the Church. In garments of red she clothes herself on Whitsunday, the anniversary of her baptism by the Holy Ghost, and also on all Church anniversaries and mission festivals. Violet is the color of solemn meditation and preparation and is used during Advent and the Passion Season. Black is used on the anniversary of the Crucifixion. Green, the every-day and universal color of nature is used at other times.

As for the pulpit, its location is more important than its decoration. The great gulf that often separates the preacher from the people ought to be closed up. For textile fabrics on the pulpit there is little need. The pounding of the pulpit cushion is an unsanitary proceeding. But for wood carving or for metal work there is a wide field for the artist. The draught of fishes afforded a suggestive subject for a carving on an oaken pulpit.

The lectern is sometimes regarded as an innovation in our American churches. Few German churches in this country have it, and it looks as though we had borrowed it from the Episcopalians. But such is not the case. They are a survival of the ancient ambo, and at least in Middle Germany are to be found in many of our churches. Where they have disappeared, I am inclined to think it the result of carelessness and neglect. Where the lectern is not used the minister uses the altar-table instead, a practice which is undesirable but not altogether indefensible.

Lecterns should be graceful in form and not so high as to hide the reader’s head. The “eagle” is only one of many forms that may be used. As in the case of the pulpit, it is not necessary to deck it with textile fabrics, nor does the rule of color apply to the decoration of the lectern or pulpit.

The font is an object which has not yet received a settled home in our Lutheran churches. The liturgists have not yet reached an agreement upon its proper location. The weight

 


Page 96

 

of authority seems to be in favor of the administration of baptism in the presence of the whole congregation, and hence the font should be placed outside of the choir, at the head of the middle alley of the church so that the officiating minister may be seen and heard by all.

Space will not permit me to enter into details or to speak of the numerous minor objects of the church edifice. I shall simply allude to the walls, the windows and the floors. Each of these is worthy of careful study. We should reject the eccentric, the unaesthetic, the gross, and should endeavor to treat these objects in harmony with the sacred, uses of the house which they are to serve. These may seem to be unimportant things for a minister, but is it unreasonable to believe that He Who made this beautiful world and Who is Himself the author and source of beauty, should be unable to speak to us through the eye as well as the ear. As Gregory of Nyssa said: “It is not enough to be led to the knowledge of God by hearing only, the sight must so be a teacher of exalted ideas.”

Mosaics, frescoes, sculpture and wood carving are possible only for the richer churches. But where the price can be paid, these are desirable forms of church decoration. We need only recall the frescoes of Kaulbach in Berlin to appreciate the value of mural painting. Examples of fine wood carving are to be found both in the ancient and modern churches of Europe.

The art of embroidery deserves mention, because in it the deft hands of the women of the congregation may be employed to such great advantage. In the Christian era, the art of embroidery as applied to church decoration, is traced to Helen, the mother of the first Christian emperor. But eighteen centuries earlier, when Moses erected the tabernacle, “all the women that were wise-hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, the blue and the purple, the scarlet and the fine linen.” There were men also “whom God filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work of the engraver and of the cunning workman and of the embroiderer.” (Exodus 35).

The progress of the art of embroidery in Christian history can only be briefly indicated. In the seventh century it was cultivated in the British Isles with such success that “opus Anglicum” became proverbial. And if to-day the merchants of the world have to send to St. Gallen for their finest embroideries, it

 


Page 97

 

is because more than a thousand years ago the clerics of that little town in Eastern Switzerland cultivated this art as they did other arts to the glory of God.

The Crusades brought back to Europe not only a wealth of new material, but also of new designs, against some of which Bernard of Clairvaux protested with ascetic earnestness. The climax of excellence was reached in the fifteenth century, not in Italy, but in the lowlands of Germany and along the Rhine, and even in Scandinavia. The Reformation greatly reduced the sphere of the art while the Renaissance corrupted its spirit, substituting the classic forms of heathendom for the sacred symbols of Christianity. The closing decades of the nineteenth century have witnessed a revival of the earlier and purer art.

The antependium affords a fitting place for the embroiderer’s designs. The simple Chi Rho, X P, the monogram of Christ, or the common Alpha and Omega, A Ĺ, tell of Him Who is the first and the last in Heaven and on earth. The flowers and leaves of the thistle wound around the cross tell how Christ suffered for a guilt that was not His own. If roses are used, they tell of the Divine love that brought Him to earth. Five in number, they remind us of the wounds in His hands and His feet and His side. The ears of grain and the clusters of grapes speak of Him Who is the Bread from Heaven and the life of the world. That primeval innocence has been restored by the death of the sinless God-man is indicated by the lily, while the cross and the palm leaves proclaim the final triumph of the Crucified One.

Pictures, emblems and symbols have from the earliest times been favorite forms of expression, although the Puritans and all the Reformed Churches repudiated them. The justification of pictures and emblems is found in the fact that religion, occupying the field of the supernatural, must find means of expressing unseen realities by means of visible things. Goethe said: “All things transitory are but parables.”

Among the commonest emblems are the hart, the serpent, the anchor, the lamp, the ark, the sickle, the fish, the pelican, the rainbow and the rose. Types are often an effective method of illustration. Thus in a church in Freudenstadt the wood carvings on the gallery panels represent Creation and the Nativity, Jonah and the Resurrection, Manna and the Supper, Sodom and the judgment. Types form an important part of the Passion

 


Page 98

 

Play of Oberammergau. They should be used in moderation and should come within the ready comprehension of the congregation. –

Do you object to these pictures in church? Luther himself was a smasher of idols. But when Carlstadt quoted to him “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,” Luther retorted at once “Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them.” “You cannot help making images,” said he, “not with your hands, then with Your imagination, in your mind and heart.”

But for those who object to pictures, there is still left a wide field for edifying decoration in the use of Scripture texts.

Art cannot take the place of religion. If art is in the church for its own sake, whether in preaching, or in the singing of the quartet choir or in church decoration, it is not an aid but an obstacle to religion. The work of decoration must follow the religious life. We decorate not for its aesthetic value, but because our faith therein finds expression. Where religion precedes, art may follow and by its aid expression may be given to spiritual truth in a multitude of subtle and suggestive forms. As Michel Angelo said “True decoration is the shadow of the hand with which God decorates.”

But paramentics has its limits, and there is another point of view which we cannot but respect. The iconoclasts of the eighth and ninth centuries made legitimate protest against perverted forms in which the idol had taken the place of God. And we cannot ignore the spiritual earnestness of their followers in the sixteenth century, the Reformed Churches of Switzerland, Holland and Scotland, who saw in these things the trappings of the great whore, and therefore banished them from their services. These protests must not be overlooked. History warns us of perils. There were periods in the Church when religion declined as ritual advanced. in our day we have a striking example in the Greek Church of a perfected system of symbolism and ritual, along with what seems like the absence of a spiritual religion. such, at least, is the verdict of Harnack in his graphic picture of the Greek Church in Wesen des Christentums.

In view of such facts it behooves us to inquire whether art really is the handmaiden of religion. The Saviour teaches us that the characteristic of true worship is spirituality. Forms of

 


Page 99

 

worship are admissible only in so far as they conduce to edification. If art has any relation to true worship, it must be in harmony with these truths. It is not enough to show that there has been a historical connection, we must prove that there is no real antagonism between them.

The oft-quoted apothegm of Goethe throws some light on the subject. He calls art “a preliminary redemption, a Gospel of the natural man, a human introduction to the Gospel of grace. It is the province of art to separate the spiritual, the permanent and the real from that which is material and transitory.” It is this faculty that distinguishes the painter from the photographer. Another consideration is the fact that as soon as religion finds expression in worship, there is not only a field for art but also a necessity for it. Hence we conclude that St. Paul’s injunction as to “whatsoever things are lovely” is not to be ignored in our treatment of the House of the Lord.

In the church of St. Sebald in Nürnberg, there is a famous sacramentary, towering sixty feet from the floor. While the sculptor was finishing with scrupulous care some ornament near the top, he was asked why he was so careful, no one would see it. He replied, “God will see it.” Of the neighboring church of St. Lorenz Luthardt says: “I heard there many a sermon which I have forgotten, but there is one sermon which I could never forget, the “sermon in stones,” which the edifice itself preached to all that worshipped there. The spirit of piety which made these buildings so beautiful has made them permanent witnesses of religion. And yet the simplest interior, even though it may be only a hired hall in the city street, or a sod church on the prairie may reflect a spiritual message as truly as the Gothic arches of St. Sebald and St. Lorenz.

 

G. U. Wenner.

New York.