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Cabrol F. Chapter XI. The Mass, from the sixteenth to the twentieth century: what it is today — recapitulation


By the Right Reverend Dom Fernand Cabrol



There is no lack of witnesses for this period. Here, as elsewhere, the invention of printing brought about a revolution. Not that the second state of things destroyed the first, but it must be remembered that up till then the Missal and all other liturgical books had been copied by hand. Each copy was private property; and thus very often underwent some modification in the course of time. However, these liturgical MSS. were the models copied by the first printers, who drew inspiration from the calligraphy of the copyists and religiously respected their text, especially during that first period from the middle of the fifteenth up to the sixteenth century. The original printed books are imitations of these MSS.; their very characters singularly resemble that Gothic writing then generally in use.

The earliest printed copies, up to 1600, are "incunabula;" and the most precious amongst these precious books are the liturgical volumes, Psalters, Missals, Breviaries, etc.

But these first printed books usually reproduced the text of the MS. exactly as it was written; no attempt being made to correct it. The multiplication of copies of the Missal, for example, brought out very clearly the differences and variations of its text according to the province in which it was used. This point was noted at the Council of Trent, and it was resolved to reduce all these texts to one. The Fathers began with the Breviary and the Missal; and to Pius IV was confided the task of correction and unification. But this great work was not finished until the days of St. Pius V, who in the Bull "Quo primum" of 29th July 1570 announced a Missal with an invariable text. Clement VIII and Urban VIII caused new editions to be made; but the only changes were the addition of some new Feasts and the modification of a few rubrics.

This Missal of 1570 itself reproduced without much alteration one more ancient, the first precious original Missal of 1474. This in its turn conforms to a great extent with an MS. text of about 1200, which was perhaps written or inspired by Innocent III himself.[1] The text, "Incipit ordo Missalis secundum consuetudinem Romane Curie," is itself a revelation. The title of the existing Missal is, simply, "Missale Romanum." That of the "Curia Romana" was the book used by the Court of Rome from the twelfth- fourteenth centuries; it differed on several points from the Roman Missal used in the Roman churches, notably at St. Peter's and the Lateran. The same may be said of the Breviary used by the Curia, also slightly different from that of the Roman churches. The Missal and Breviary of the Roman Curia were adopted by certain Religious Orders, especially the Franciscans, as was stated in a previous chapter; and these Friars were the chief factor in their diffusion throughout Christendom.

We may therefore consider the text of the Roman Missal, especially as regards the Ordinary of the Mass, as fixed from the end of the sixteenth century: if a precise date and official example be asked, by the Missal of St. Pius V in 1570. Thus it seems opportune at this point to give a chronological table of the Mass in which can be seen, at least in some degree, the different states in which it existed from the fifth-twentieth centuries, distinguishing the different epochs as far as possible.

5th-9th CENTURIES   9th-13th CENTURIES        13TH-20TH CENTURIES
Station (7th cent.  Prayer of prepara-
says Mgr.Duchesne.  tion.
5th-6th, Dom Morin  "ApologiAe sacerdo"
and others.         Ps. xlii. or others.
                    Confiteor (10th 
                    cent.). Versicles.
Greeting of the     "Aufer a nobis" 
officiating Priest. (Leonine, 5th cent.).
Pax vobis, or Dom-
inus vobiscum.
Kissing of altar.
                    Oramus te (11th 
                    Censing of altar.
Kyrie Eleison and   Tropes of "Kyrie"
Litanies (5th-6th   (1Oth, 11th cent.).
"Gloria in excelsis Tropes (10th--11th
Deo."               cent.).
Pax vobis, Oremus   Many collects from
Collect.(One only.) 11th cent. onwards.
Epistle (Apostolic
Gradual (respons-
orial Psalm, 5th 
Alleluia(5th cent). Proses: "Victimae
Tract.              (11th cent.).
                    Proses: Veni 
                    Sancte (11th cent.).
                    Proses: Dies irae 
                    (13th cent.).
                    Proses: "Lauda Sion
                    (13th cent.).
                    Proses: "Stabat            Only inserted in
                    (14th cent.).              18th cent.
Gospel              "Munda Cor meum"
                    (11th cent.).
"Dominus sit        "Sequentia sancti ev.       "Per evangelica 
in corde tuo.       (9th cent.) (in Gaul).      dicta," after 1570 
                                                (in MSS. of 12th and 
                                                13th cent.).
                    "Gloria tibi Dne:
                    Dominus vobiscum (13th)
                    Censing of Book  (cent.)
                    Pax tibi
                    "Credo" (about 1012-
                    1024, at Rome), but
                    from 7th cent. else-
Diaconal litanies,  Suppressed.
dismissal of cate-
chumens, penitents,
and others 
(7th cent.).
"Dominus vobiscum.
Collect "super      Suppressed.
Prayer of the       Suppressed.
Kiss of Peace?      Suppressed.
Offertory chant
(5th-7th cent.).
Offering (leavened  Unleavened.
bread and wine).
Water mixed with    Offering of money
wine (2nd-3rd       (10th cent.).
                    Kissing of altar
                    (13th cent.).
                    Censing of obla-
                    tions (11th cent.).
Ablution (7th
cent.).             "Per intercessionem
                    Incensum istud."
                    Lavabo (11th cent.).
Secret Prayer.      "Suscipe"     "Sancte
                    "Deus qui humanae
                    "Offerimus tibi."
                    "In spiritu."
                    "Veni sanctificator"
                    (in Stowe, 7th-8th
                    "Per interc."*      *Not of Roman origin.
                    "Suscipe sancta"*
                    "Trinitas" (9th cent.).*
                    "Orate fratres(9th
                    Suscipiat (11th     "Orate pro me fra-
                    cent.).*            tres" (1474).
"Dominus vobiscum."                     Preface of the
"Sursum corda," etc.                    Blessed Virgin.
                                        Addition of Pre-
Sanctus(? 5th cent).                    faces in 20th cent.
"Benedictus qui
venit (? 5th cent.).
"Te igitur." Memen-
to of Living. "Com-
municantes.2 (5th-6th cent.)
"Hanc igitur obla-
tionem." (5th-6th cent.)
"Quam obla-
tionem." (5th-6th cent.)
Additions by St.
Leo and St. Gregory.
"Qui pridie"        Elevation of the 
                    Host, about 1200.
                    Elevation of the
                    chalice (14th cent.).
                    Other cermonies
                    (13th-14th cent.).
"Unde et memores."*
"Supra quae"*
"Supplices.*   *4th-5th cent.
Memento of the
Dead (probably 
later than preced-
ing prayers, at 
least, in this place.
"Nobis quoque(aloud)
(7th cent.).
"Per quem haec      Signs of the Cross
omnia               at this moment
                    (? 10th cent.).
Fraction (5th, 6th
Prologue of "Pater"
Embolism of "Pater".
Fraction, Commix-   "Haec Commixtio."
tion. Kiss of Peace.
"Agnus Dei (687-    Reduced to three
701.).              invocations with "dona
                    nobis pacem."
                    "Domine J.C.*
                    "Domine J.C.*
                    "Perceptio."* *Numerous variations.
Communion an-
thems (6th, 7th cent.).
"Domine non sum
"Corpus D.N.J.C."
"Quid retribuam."
Collect, or "Ad com
plendum, or Com-
munion prayer.
(Quod ore). Leon-
"Corpus tuum."                               Purification with
                                             wine and water (14th 
                    "Agnus Dei."             For the Commun-
                    "Domine non sum          ion of the faithful
                    dignus."                (13th cent.).
                    Communion under
                    both kinds till the
                    13th century and
Prayer, "Super po-
pulum" (?6th, 7th 
"Ite, Missa est(6th-                         Kissing of the
8th cent.).                                  altar, 1570.
                    "Placeat" (10th, 
                    11th cent.).
Bishop's blessing                            "Benedicat vos., after Mass.     
                                             Last Gospel, 1570.
                                             Prayers at end of
                                             Mass. (Leo XIII).

The foregoing table presents a synchronism of the Roman Mass as it was about the fifth-ninth centuries, with the additions received until the twentieth century. We shall now show the existing Mass with its divisions; a table which will make it easy to understand the whole, as well as the dependence of the different parts.



A. Introduction, or Prelude.

Preparation in the sacristy.
Prayers at the foot of the altar, sign of the Cross, Psalm xlii. 
"Confiteor," versicles, and prayers at the altar. (Censing of altar at  Solemn Masses.)

B. Chants, Prayers, Lessons.

Introit, "Kyrie," "Gloria in excelsis."
Reading of the Epistle.
Gradual. "Alleluia" (Tract or Prose).



C. Offertory and Offertory Prayers.

Offertory chant. Secret. Preface.

D. Canon.

Prayers of the Canon, Consecration, Prayers of Canon continued, and final doxology.
"Pater," Fraction, Immixtion.

E. Communion.

Communion Prayers, "Agnus Dei," singing of Communion, Post-communion.

F. Close of Mass.

Last Gospel. 
Prayers after the Mass. 
Thanksgiving in sacristy.

Lastly, as the fitting conclusion of this exposition, we shall give a few explanations as to some of the more recent portions of the Mass from the sixteenth-twentieth centuries, the other necessary explanations being found in the various chapters of this book.


Except in the case of Pontifical Masses, when the Prelate recites these prayers on his throne, reading them from a special liturgical book, the Canon of Bishops and Prelates, the "Preparatio ad Missam" takes place to- day in the sacristy. St. Pius V gave a place to these prayers in his Missal, and the words which follow the title, "Pro opportunitate sacerdotis facienda," indicate that they are not of obligation, but are left to private devotion. This preparation is fairly ancient; it is found, with variations, in MS. Missals from the eleventh century onwards. The devotions chosen by St. Pius V consist of Psalms lxxxiii., lxxxiv., lxxxv., cxv., and cxxix., followed by the "Kyrie," "Pater," some versicles, and seven prayers. This form of prayer conforms to the use of the ancient Roman or monastic psalmody. It is almost the same as that primitively adopted for the Little Hours. A long prayer follows, divided according to the days of the week; and then two others, one of which is attributed to St. Thomas. The prayer "Summe sacerdos" held an important place in the history of private devotion in the Middle Ages; it was called the "Prayer of St. Ambrose," but has been claimed as the work of Jean de Fecamp (twelfth century).1

PREPARATION OF THE CHALICE. — For Low Masses it is usually the Priest himself who prepares in the sacristy the chalice, Corporal, paten, Host, and the veil of the chalice; and who carries them to the altar at the beginning of Mass. At Solemn and Pontifical High Mass it is the Deacon who spreads the Corporal on the altar, and places the chalice and Host upon it, as we have seen was the custom in the seventh century (cf. p. 60).

In the Eastern and Gallican rites this preparation is made at the altar or credence at the beginning of Mass. It is also the custom of the Dominicans and other Orders.


The "Ordo Missae" is to-day united to the Prefaces and Canon: the whole, for the convenience of the Priest, being placed towards the middle of the Missal between Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday instead of at the beginning. This "Ordinary of the Mass" is, taken as a whole, the same as that of the seventh century, as it has been described in Chapter IV, with the exceptions of the additions which have been pointed out as made between the ninth-twentieth centuries.

PRAYERS AT THE FOOT OF THE ALTAR. — Psalm xlii., "Confiteor," versicles, "Aufer a nobis," "Oramus te," and censing(cf. p. 172).


Introit (cf. Chap. IV). 
"Kyrie" (Chap. IV). 
"Gloria in excelsis" (Chap. IV). 
Collect (Chap. IV). 
Lessons (Epistle and other Lessons) (Chap. IV). 
Gradual (Chap. IV). 
"Alleluia" (Chap. IV). 
Tract (Chap. IV)
Proses (Chap. IX). 
Gospel (Chap. IV). 
Credo (Chap. VI).


PREFACE (Chap. IV). All the Prefaces and special "Communicantes" are given at this place in the Ordinary of the Mass.


"Te igitur" (Chap. IV). 
Memento (Chap. IV)
"Communicantes" and other prayers (Chap. IV). 
Consecration (Chap. IV). 
"Anamnesis" and other prayers (Chap. IV). 
Memento of the Dead (Chap. IV). 
"Nobis quoque" up to doxology (Chap. IV). 
"Pater" (Chap. IV).
Fraction, Commixtion (Chap. IV). 
"Agnus Dei" and Kiss of Peace (Chap. IV). 
Communion of the Priest and the faithful (Chap. IV).


"Quod ore." 
"Corpus tuum." 

CLOSE OF MASS. — Dismissal. "Placeat tibi." Blessing. Last Gospel. Prayers after Mass.

When withdrawing, the Priest repeats the canticle "Benedicite."


The Thanksgiving which in the Missal follows the Preparation is also said in the sacristy. Like the latter it is contained in the "Canon of the Prelate," and at Pontifical Masses is said at the throne. It is composed of the canticle "Benedicite," of Psalm cl., and of three prayers. There follow, at choice, a prayer of St. Thomas, another of St. Bonaventure, and the "Adoro Te." (As to this last, cf. Dumoutet, "Revue Apolog.," 1931, p. 121 seq.)


The Gallican liturgy spoken of in Chapter II, which was as orthodox as the Mozarabic liturgy, must not be confused with the neo-Gallican rites, which are on the contrary a "liturgical deviation." It has been said how the Roman had taken the place of the Gallican liturgy in the times of Pepin and Charlemagne. Ancient Gallican customs, however, remained, and the Roman books, Missal, Breviary, Pontifical, and Ritual underwent a certain number of modifications in Gaul from the ninth-fifteenth centuries. But in substance the Roman liturgy was preserved, and Rome, far from protesting against these new uses, accepted a great many of them, as we have also seen.

In the sixteenth century the Council of Trent, greatly concerned to note the liturgical differences, and even errors, which had slipped into certain Missals and Breviaries, entrusted to the Popes the care of a general revision of these books. The names of St. Pius V Gregory XIII, Clement VIII, Paul V, and Urban VIII are attached to this reform. The Bull "Quod a nobis" (1568) imposed the corrected Breviary on all churches which could not claim a use of at least two hundred years; the Bull "Quo primum" (1570) imposed the Missal on the whole Church under the same conditions. The other liturgical books, Ritual, Pontifical, Ceremonial, Martyrology, were also corrected during the following years. France gladly accepted these directions, and took part in the reawakening of liturgical studies. It was only later, in the last third of the seventeenth century that the movement, justly called "the liturgical deviation," began to take shape.

Certain Bishops, inspired by their Jansenist or Gallican sentiments, desired to reform the Missal, Breviary, and other liturgical books contrary to the law obtaining at that time. The Ritual of Alet, the Breviary of Vienne the Missal and Breviary of Paris and of other dioceses were remade, and, unfortunately, in more than one case, Jansenist or Gallican errors slipped into these books. Another disadvantage was the introduction of notable differences in the liturgy in different dioceses, and at the time of the French Revolution the confusion was at its worst. It was Dom Gueranger, Abbot of Solesmes, who in 1830 began the war against these liturgies, and who showed that, without speaking of the errors they contained, they were all illegitimate from birth. This struggle was crowned with success, and little by little the different dioceses came back to the Roman liturgy The Bull "Inter multiplices," published in 1853 by Pius IX, may be considered as the last act in this history.

1 This famous "editio princeps" has been recently reprinted by the Henry  Bradshaw Society (London, 1899-1907).
2. On the silence of the Canon and the signs of the Cross, cf. Excursus,  Chap. XII.
2. "Communicantes" under Symmachus, "Memento" in 416.
3. Changes introduced by St. Gregory, cf. Chap. IV.
4. All these prayers are of Gallican origin and present variations.
5. Dom A. Wilmart, "L'Oratio S. Ambrosii du Missel romain, R. bened.,"  XXXIX, 1927, P. 317 seq. See also DACL, "Apologies."


On the original (first edition) Missals, BOHATTA-WEALE, "Bibliographica liturgica. Catalogus missalium ritus latini ab A. 1474 impressorum, Londini" (Quaritch, 1928). Cf. also "Books of the Latin Liturgy," in which (p. 151) we give a notice of other works on the ancient Missals. Cf. also p. 156, and the works of DELISLE, EBNER, LEROQUAIS, and others mentioned in Chap. XII.

On the Neo-Gallican liturgies, besides the great work of Dom Gueranger, "Les institutions liturgiques," ed. I, Vol. II, cf. "Liturgia," p. 872, where other works on this subject are mentioned. The Abbe Bremond takes up this question in his volume "Prieres de l'ancien regime," and, with his well-known talent, gives it new life. What must be regretted is that the reform was effected with so little intelligence in too many dioceses. Many of the Proses and ancient rites might have been allowed to survive, even by the desire of Rome. But for lack of competence, all the old rites and prayers were swept away, even those which could claim an antiquity of many centuries. Thanks to the use of Propers granted to the dioceses a part of this destruction may perhaps be repaired.

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