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But, instead of this, He gives to them a form of words, to the height of which the spirit of man has never attained, and to the depth of which the spirit of man has never yet penetrated.
A form, of course, may be used as a mere matter of form, just as an extempore prayer may be made the vehicle of anger, wrath, and blasphemy; but there are forms to the full spirit of which the soul of man here on earth can scarcely hope to rise; such is the prayer which Christ taught, and such is the simplest of all forms, the angelic hymn, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts. What tainted soul can ever hope to rise to these words as the pure spirits do, from whom we have learnt them ?
We have no specific directions in the Acts or in the Apostolical Epistles respecting the conduct of public worship.
Stated meetings of Christians for joint prayer and praise, as I have shown on page 183, are not alluded to more than six times throughout the whole of the New Testament, and from three or four of these notices we gather that the chief object for which these assemblies came together was the celebration of the Eucharist.
The conduct of public worship is, in fact, in the same position as the keeping of the Lord's Day, respecting which we have not a hint in the New Testament.
But what is the inference which we are to draw from tho fact that the order of public worship is nowhere laid down in the New Testament? An inference of the most preposterous character has been gravely drawn from it by the great majority of English Ultra-Protestants, viz., that because we have no particular directions laid down, therefore each assembly of Christians is to commit its public intercourse with God to one man, so as to adopt his thoughts as their thoughts, and his words as their
words, when they come together as a Church to worship God.
Such must of necessity be the case if no forms are allowed. Forms are essential if the congregation are to take any orderly part in public worship beyond the repetition of the single word " Amen” at the end of prayers.
The various Ultra-Protestant bodies of this kingdom and America who reject the use of Liturgies, are obliged to adopt forms to enable their congregations to join in the praises of God; for what is a hymn but a form of praise ? A metrical hymn, too, must be, from its very nature, in a certain sense, more formal, because cast into the “form" of rhyme.
To return. Did, then, the Apostles debar Christian congregations from the use of forms, compelling them to adopt the devotions of one man as their own, and so to forego taking any part themselves in the service ?
1 The Presbyterians of Scotland till lately went farther still. The only part of the service in which their congregations were permitted to join was the singing, and in this they were confined to a metrical version of the Psalms, and a few metrical paraphrases of certain passages of Scripture. Latterly, however, the General Assemblies have authorized the use of books of Hymns, some of which are taken from Catholic sources.
Let it be, however, freely confessed that in this matter of metrical Psalms, the Church of England has descended to a level miserably below that of any other body. It seems a just Nemesis for a Church, of whose services the Psalter forms the chief part, and whose theory is that the Psalter should be chanted as of old, to have been given up to Sternhold and Hopkins, and then to have sunk so low as to permit the use of Brady and Tate in her sanctuaries, and this because she virtually left the ancient use of the Psalter to a few nirelings in her cathedrals, and because, too, having recognised tie use of ancient hymns in her ordinal, she has taken no pains as a Church to get them rendered into decent English verse suitable to congregational singing.
The evidence of all Christian antiquity on the subject of ancient Liturgies puts it beyond all doubt that the Apostles themselves ordained the use of certain forms in the Service for the Administration of Holy Communion, which both Scripture and antiquity unite in testifying to have been the leading service of the Church when gathered together on the Lord's Day.
By these forms the lay people, as priests of God, were enabled to co-operate in the most sacred parts of their most sacred service.
There are now in existence (and some of them have been translated and published)' a considerable number of
1 The reader will find the anaphoræ or more sacred parts of tdi of these Liturgies, translated by Dr. Brett, in his collection of Primitive Liturgies.
Mr. Neale has also translated the whole of five, viz., those of St. Mark, St. James, the Clementine, St. Chrysostom, and Malabar, in a small volume (published by Hayes, Lyall Place, Eaton Square), but the fullest information for the English reader will be found in Neale's “History of the Holy Eastern Church: General Introduction,” pp. 380—710. Here the anaphoræ of eight (viz., St. Chrysostom, Armenian, St. James, St. Basil, St. Mark, Coptic St. Basil, Mozarabic, and Theodore the Interpreter) are tabulated, so that he will be able to compare at a glance the corresponding parts of each.
The anaphora of one of the oldest of all, viz., the “ Apostles,” is omitted by Neale, for, I think, a very insufficient reason. The reader will find it translated in Etheridge's “Syrian Churches, their Early History, Liturgies, and Literature,” p. 221 (London • Longmans).
The reader will find much information in the first volume of Palmer's “Origines Liturgicæ.” I confess, however, that when I read this book as a student, his observations were all but unintelligible, simply because he gives no example of a Liturgy. Much information also on this subject, of a popular character, is to be found in Bates' “ Lectures on Christian Antiquities and the Ritual of the English Church,” pp. 158-161 (London: J. W. Parker).
Liturgies, which have been in use from the remotest period in Churches scattered over all parts of the world.
The use of these documents reaches to a time when there was no central ecclesiastical authority recognised all over Christendom-such as the Pope to recommend to distant Churches the adoption of any form used by his own Church, and when there was no union of Church and State to compel obedience to any ritual.
These Liturgies, whilst in some respects differing from one another very widely, all agree in certain remarkable features. They all contain particular forms of words, which are in substance the same, and the most noticeable of these are forms which the people either use wholly, or in which they take their part along with the celebrant by response.
I have given above (page 204) the Hymn of the Seraphim as it is embodied in six Liturgies used in all parts of the ancient world.
I would now particularly draw the reader's attention to the fact, that the hymn itself, though always prefaced by words used by the priest, is invariably sung or said by the people.
In the Clementine Liturgy there is a specific direction : “ And let all the people say with them (i.e., with the angels), Holy, Holy, Holy," &c.
The reader will also find the Mozarabic Liturgy discussed in a review by (I believe) Mr. Neale, in the “Christian Remembrancer" for October, 1853. This is, or ought to be, the most interesting of all to us, as it in all probability contains the substance of the Communion Service used in this country before Augustine and the missionaries from Rome superseded it by the Roman. The writer shows that tho groundwork of the Mozarabic is coeval with the introduction of Christianity into Spain; that it cannot be derived from the Roman or Eastern rites, that it is closely allied with the Gallican, and he pronounces it to be “the richest, the fullest, the most varied of all known Liturgies."
In all the ancient Liturgies (as translated by Brett and Neale) there is a rubric directing that this hymn of praise should be said by the choir or people. In the Liturgy of St. Mark the priest says a fuller or rather longer form, and the people respond with the shorter “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord.”
In Brett's translation of the Mozarabic, which is an independent rite, and, according to Neale, represents the ancient Celtic Liturgy, we have a direction, “Let the chorus answer, Holy, Holy, Holy,” &c.
The Seraphic Hymn, then, is a form put up peculiarly by the people.
Again, the more sacred parts (or anaphoræ) of these Liturgies begin with forms of words similar to those in our Liturgy, in which the priest calls upon the people to “lift up their hearts," and the people respond.
These forms slightly differ, but are all substantially the
I give four examples.
From the Liturgy of St. James
“The love of the Lord and Father, the grace of the Lord and Son, the communion and gift of the Holy Ghost, be with us all.
People.-And with thy spirit.
People. It is meet and right. “ Priest. It is verily meet and right, fitting and due, &c., to praise Thee,” &c.
From the Liturgy of St. Mark, used in Egypt