Cabrol F. Chapter VI-2. The Pre-Mass, or Mass of the Catechumens.
THE MASS OF THE WESTERN RITES By the Right Reverend Dom Fernand Cabrol
THE MASS IN SPAIN
THE PRE-MASS, OR MASS OF THE CATECHUMENS
PREPARATION.--The "Missale Mixtum" contains a Preparation for Mass which is given after the Mass for Easter (P.L., Vol. LXXXV, cols. 521-522). It comprehends a number of rites and prayers, washing of hands, four Ave Maria, prayers for the amice, the alb, girdle, maniple, stole, and chasuble, an "apologia," the psalm "Judica me" with the anthem "Introibo ad altare Dei," the confession of sins, the absolution, the prayer "Aufer a nobis," the signing of the altar with the cross and kissing it (which was formerly the kissing of the Cross present on the altar), and the prayer on extending the Corporal upon the altar and on the preparation of the chalice. Some of these rites and prayers are ancient, as may be seen by a comparison with the Gallican rites; others are of recent introduction. The preparation of the chalice and the Corporal formerly took place at the Offertory (cf. P.L., loc. cit., col. 339, and Lesley's notes on these passages).
INTROIT.--The Mass begins with the "Officium," called by the Gallicans "Antiphona ad praelegendum," in the Ambrosian rite, Ingressa, and at Rome, Introit, or "Antiphona ad introitum." It is composed of an anthem, the verse of a psalm, and a doxology, and is taken either from Holy Scripture or from the "Acta" of the Saint whose Feast is that day celebrated (cf. Tommasi, "Disquisitio de antiphona ad introitum Missae," and Lesley's note, P.L., col. 234). The doxology differs from that of Rome, and the "Semper" of "Per omnia" is also a feature of the Mozarabic rite. But in outline the Mozarabic "Officium" is closer to the Roman "Introit" than is the Ambrosian "Ingressa."
GLORIA IN EXCELSIS AND COLLECT.--The "Gloria in Excelsis" is enclosed at beginning and end by "Per omnia semper secula seculorum." It was sung in this rite on Sundays and Feast Days, as the Fourth Council of Toledo says (canon 12). Etherius and Beatus also state it (Ord. Elip., I, I; cf. also Lesley's note, P.L., loc. cit., col. 531). Later the Mozarabites omitted this hymn on the Sundays of Advent and Lent. It was also sung by the Gallicans, as may be seen by the Missal of Bobbio, and was followed by two prayers. In the Mozarabic rite, after the final "Per omnia," the Deacon cried "Oremus," and the Priest said a prayer. Later on this acclamation of the Deacon was suppressed, but not the Priest's prayer, which varied for the Sundays of Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and for the Feasts of Saints. The text of these various prayers will be found in the "Missale Mixtum," P.L., Vol. LXXXV, col. 531 seq. The text of the "Gloria" here given is the same as usual, but other forms do exist. (On this point see the discussion between Lebrun and Lesley, P.L., loc. cit., col. 33; and also Dom German Prado, "Una nueva recension del hymno Gloria in Excelsis" in "Ephemerides Liturg.," 1932, PP. 481-486.)
The Collect, here called "Oratio," is often directly addressed to Christ, as in the Gallican liturgies. Very often it is a paraphrase of the "Gloria in Excelsis." As a rule it has not the sobriety, the precision, nor the rhythm of the Roman Collect. Often it is merely a kind of pious effusion. We may take as a chance example the prayer for the Feast of St. Stephen (P.L., loc. cit., col. 190). After the oratio the Priest says:
"Per misericordiam tuam, Deus noster qui es benedictus: et vivis et omnia regis in secula seculorum. Amen. Dominus sit semper vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo."
READINGS.--On Fast Days in Spain the "Officium" was shortened, and Mass began with the Lessons, as it did formerly at Rome. St. Augustine, too, tells us that in Africa Mass began on Sunday with the reading of Holy Scripture. We have one Lesson from the Old Testament, one from St. Paul, and the third is the Gospel. The first is called the "Prophecy," the second the "Epistle," or "Apostle," the third the "Gospel." But this order was not invariable. On Sundays the Prophecy was omitted, while during Lent and on Fast Days there were four Lessons, two from the Old, two from the New Testament. Again, from Easter to Pentecost the first Lesson was taken from the Apocalypse, that from the Old Testament being suppressed. The Gallicans had almost exactly the same custom with regard to their Lessons. At Rome, on the contrary (cf. Chap. IV), the readings were usually two in number, as they are to-day. St. Isidore tells us that the Prophecy was read by the Lector ("Epist. ad Ludifrid. Cordubensem." As to this custom, cf. Lesley's note, P.L., loc. cit., col. 251). After the first prayer the Priest saluted the people, and the Lector from a high place announced the title of the book, "Lectio libri Exodi," the people responding "Deo Gratias," making the sign of the Cross, and listening to the Lesson. After it was over they answered: "Amen" (St. Isidore, "Offic.," I, I, c. x., and I, II, c. xi.). The Priest added, as he did after the prayer: "Dominus sit semper vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo."
PSALLENDO.--After the Prophecy is chanted the Canticle of the Three Children, with the first verse of the psalm "Confitemini," as was also the custom in the Gallican liturgy. The Lectionary of Luxeuil says: "Daniel cum benedictione", as also does the author of the Letters of St. Germain. The same order is recalled by the Fourth Council of Toledo (can. 14). After the "Benedictus es" the Priest began to intone the Psalm "Confitemini," which was continued by choir and people (see the "Missale Mixtum," P.L., loc. cit., col. 297 and note). According to the MSS. the "Benedictus es," which was sung in responses, shows a large number of variations. The "Psallendo," which comes next, is a responsory sung by the Precentor from a pulpit. St. Isidore calls it "responsoria," while in Gaul it was called "Psalmus responsorius "(St. Isidore, "Offic.," Gregory of Tours, "Hist. Franc.," I, VIII, c. iii). It has sometimes been confused with the Roman Gradual, but it differs from this in certain characteristics (cf. Lesley, P.L., loc. cit., col. 257).
TRACT.--The ancient Mozarabic books contain a Tract, "Tractus," which was sung from the ambone by the Psalmist. Like the Roman Tract it had neither repetition nor interruption, and was sung to a very simple melody. It differed from the Roman Tract, because that of the Gregorian rite follows the Gradual and takes the place of the "Alleluia," while the Mozarabic Tract holds the place of the "Psallendo" (Lesley, col. 306. Cf. Tommasi, "Responsoralia et antiphonaria Romance Ecclesiae," p. 32 seq., Rome, 1686).
DIACONAL PRAYERS.--The "Missale Mixtum" contains a rubric after the "Psallendo," requiring the Priest to prepare the chalice by putting in wine and water, to place the Host upon the paten and put that upon the chalice, and, lastly, to say the "Preces: Indulgentiam postulamus." But this is a recent rubric, and according to St. Isidore (Epist. ad Ludifr. Cordub.) it was the place of the Deacon to prepare the chalice and to say the "Preces" (cf. Lesley, loc. cit., col. 297). In his note Lesley confuses these "Preces diaconales" with the "Prayer of the Faithful," which is quite different. These diaconal prayers have great interest for the student of liturgical history; they are a relic of the past, still preserved in the Eastern liturgies, but of which but few traces have survived in that of Rome. They will be found in the "Missale Mixtum," loc. cit., col. 297.
The Priest then says a prayer in a low voice. The following is the text of that which comes after the diaconal prayer:
"Exaudi orationem nostram, domine: gemitusque nostros auribus percipe: nos enim iniquitates nostras agnoscimus . et delicta nostra coram te pandimus tibi Deus peccavimus: tibique confitentes veniam exposcimus. Et quia recessimus a mandatis tuis: et legi tue minime paruimus. Convertere, Domine, super servos tuos quos redimisti sanguine tuo. Indulge quaesumus nobis: et peccatis nostris veniam tribue: tueque pietatis misericordiam in nobis largire dignare. Amen. Per misericordiam tuam Deus noster qui es benedictus et vivis et omnia regis in secula seculorum. Amen."
In the Gallican liturgies this prayer is called "Post Precem."
EPISTLE.--After the singing of the "Psallendo" and the Diaconal Prayers the Priest commanded silence, "Silentium facite," and the Lector read the Epistle, usually called the Apostle, as in Gaul, Italy, Africa, and other countries. He first announced the title, as, for instance, "Sequentia epistolae Pauli ad Corinthios," to which the people answered "Deo Gratias," and signed themselves. But as far back as the time of St. Isidore it was no longer the Lector, but the Deacon, who read the Epistle. The reading ended, the people responded Amen, and the Deacon descending from the ambone, carried the book back to the sacristy (cf. Lesley's note, col. 268). The text was not always read in its integrity, and the Mozarabic books contain examples of Lessons where texts are combined or fitted together. (Thus, P.L., loc. cit., cols. 622 and 278.)
GOSPEL.--Like the Epistle, the Gospel was at first read in Spain by the Lector. Then this function was reserved for the Deacon, "ad diaconum pertinere praedicare Evangelium et apostolum" (St. Isidore, "Ep. ad Ludifr."). This also was the case in Gaul (Gregory of Tours, "Hist. Franc.," I, VIII, c. iv. IV). The Deacon first said the prayer, "Munda cor meum corpusque et labia mea," etc., and then went to receive the Bishop's blessing: "Corroboret Dominus sensum tuum," etc. Having returned to the altar the Deacon said: "Laus tibi," clergy and people responding: "Laus tibi, Domine Jesu Christe, Rex aeternae gloriae." He then ascended the ambone, with the book, preceded by those who bore candles, and perhaps incense, and announced the reading: "Lectio sancti evangelii secundum Lucam," to which the people answered: "Gloria tibi, Domine," making the sign of the Cross, and responding "Amen" at the end of the Gospel, which they stood upright to hear. The Bishop kissed the book of the Gospels when this was presented to him, saying: "Ave, verbum divinum, reformatio virtutum et restitutio sanitatum." (P.L., Vol. LXXXV, col. 269.)
As in the case of the Prophecy and the Epistle, the Mozarabic books do not scruple to omit verses of the Gospel, or to rearrange its text. After the reading the Priest said: "Dominus sit semper vobiscum. "Et cum spiritu tuo."
In private Masses the Priest recited a prayer before the Gospel: "Comforta me, Rex sanctorum," etc., and also the "Dominus sit in corde meo," etc., the Deacon saying the "Munda cor meum" (cf. loc. cit., col. 528). But these prayers are of a later age, and are probably borrowed from the Roman liturgy.
LAUDA.--The "Lauda," which follows the Gospel, is composed of the "Alleluia" and a verse taken generally from a psalm. This place was assigned to it by the Fourth Council of Toledo (cf. also St. Isidore, "Offic.," I, I, c. xiii.). In the "Missale Mixtum" it is followed by "Deo Gratias," but it would not appear that this is primitive (P.L., loc. cit., col. 536). The "Lauda" is sung by the Cantor. This custom of singing a verse after the Gospel is found in other liturgies.
At this point there was formerly (at least on certain days, especially in Lent) a prayer for the penitents, and their dismissal, as well as that of the catechumens (cf. P.L., loc. cit., cols. 307, 308). Here the Pre-Mass ended. We see that its principal features are very much the same as those of the Gallican, and even the Roman, Pre-Mass. But the Mozarabic rite has preserved more memories of the primitive liturgy.