Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Under this name we understand all the books, published by the authority of any church, that contain the text and directions for her official (liturgical) services. It is now the book that forms the standard by which one has to judge whether a certain service or prayer or ceremony is official and liturgical or not. Those things are liturgical, and those only, that are contained in one of the liturgical books. It is also obvious that any church or religion or sect is responsible for the things contained in its liturgical books in quite another sense than for the contents of some private book of devotion, which she at most only allows and tolerates. The only just way of judging of the services, the tone, and the ethos of a religious body, is to consult its liturgical books. Sects that have no such official books are from that very fact exposed to all manner of vagaries in their devotion, just as the absence of an official creed leads to all manner of vagueness in their belief. In this article the liturgical books of the Roman Rite are described first, then a short account is given of those of the other rites.

I. THE FIRST TRACES OF LITURGICAL BOOKS

Our present convenient compendiums -- the Missal, Breviary, and so on -- were formed only at the end of a long evolution. In the first period (lasting perhaps till about the fourth century) there were no books except the Bible , from which lessons were read and psalms were sung. Nothing was written, because nothing was fixed (see LITURGY). Even after certain forms had become so stereotyped as to make already what we should call a more or less fixed liturgy, it does not seem that there was at first any idea that they should be written down. Habit and memory made the celebrant repeat more or less the same forms each Sunday ; the people answered his prayers with the accustomed acclamations and responses -- all without books.

It has been much discussed at what period we have evidence of written liturgies. Renaudot ("Liturgiarum Orientalium Collectio", 2nd ed., Frankfurt, 1847, I, pp. ix and xi) thought that no books were written even by the fourth century. He argues this from a passage in St. Basil (died 379), who distinguishes between the written teaching of the Apostles (in the Bible ) and the unwritten tradition, and quotes liturgical functions as belonging to this: "Who", he asks, "of the saints has written down for us the words of the Sacred Invocation in the consecration of the bread and chalice ?" (De Spir. Sancto, c. xxvii, in P. G., XXXII, 187). Another argument is that no mention is made of liturgical books in the acts of martyrs (who are required to give up their holy books, that is, always, the Bible ), or in the quarrels about the books with the Donatists in the fourth century. Daniel ("Codex liturgicus", IV, Leipzig, 1853, pp. 25-32) argues against this opinion at length, and defends the view that liturgies were written down at the beginning of the fourth century. Probst ("Die ältesten römischen Sakramentarien und Ordines", Münster, 1892, pp. 1-19) tries to establish that there were liturgical books back to the time of the Apostolic Fathers. The argument from St. Basil may be dismissed at once. He is only explaining the well-known distinction between the two sources of revelation, Scripture and tradition. Tradition is distinct from Scripture ; it may include other written books, but not the Bible . By "saints" he means only the writers of Scripture, and therefore his statement is that the Eucharistic Invocation is not in the Bible . As for the Donatists, there is, on the contrary, evidence that both they and the Catholics had liturgical books at that time. Optatus of Mileve, writing about the year 370 against them, says: "You have no doubt cleaned the palls " (linen cloths used in Mass), "tell me what you have done with the books?" ("De schism. Donat.", V, Vienna edition, 1893, p. 153.) What were these books? Both palls and books had been taken from the Catholics, both were used in the liturgy (ibid.). The books were not the Bible , because the Donatists thought them polluted (ibid.). So there were other liturgical books besides the Bible . Augustine too reproaches the Donatists with being in schism with the very churches whose names they read in the "holy books" (epp. lii and liii). So also a synod at Hippo in Africa (in 393) forbids anyone to write down the prayers of other Churches and use them, until he has shown his copy to the more learned brethren (can. xxv; Hefele - Leclercq, "Histoire des Conciles", II, Paris, 1908, p. 88; cf. Probst, op. cit., 13-14).

That some prayers were occasionally written down from the first age is evident. Prayers are quoted in the Apostolic Fathers ("Didache", ix, x; Clement, "First Epistle to the Corinthians", lix, 3-lxi. See LITURGY). This does not, however, prove the existence of liturgical books. Probst thinks that the exact quotations made by the Fathers as far back as the second century prove that the liturgy was already written down. Such quotations, he says, could only be made from written books (op. cit., 15-17). This argument does not seem very convincing. We know that formulæ, especially liturgical formulæ, can become very definite and well-known before they are put in a book. A more solid reason for the existence of a written liturgy at any rate by the fourth century is the comparison of the liturgy of the eighth book of the Apostolic Fathers with the Byzantine Rite of St. Basil. Proclus (died 446) says that Basil (died 379) modified and shortened the liturgy because it was too long for the people. There is no reason to doubt what he says (see CONSTANTINOPLE, THE RITE OF). The liturgy shortened by Basil was that of Antioch, of which we have the oldest specimen in the Apostolic Constitutions . A comparison of this (especially the Thanksgiving-prayer) with that of St. Basil (Brightman, "Eastern Liturgies ", pp. 14-18 and 321-3) shows in effect that Basil is much shorter. It does not seem likely that, after Basil's necessary shortening, anyone should have taken the trouble to write out the discarded long form. Therefore, the liturgy of the Apostolic Constitutions was written before St. Basil's reform, although it is incorporated into a work not finally compiled till the early fifth century (Funk, "Die apostolischen Konstitutionen", Rottenburg, 1891, p. 366; Probst, op. cit., 12-13).

Our conclusion then is that at any rate by the middle of the fourth century there were written liturgies, and therefore liturgical books of some kind, however incomplete. How long before that anything was written down we cannot say. We conceive portions of the rite written out as occasion required. Evidently one of the first things to be written was the diptychs containing the lists of persons and churches for whom prayers were to be said. These diptychs were used liturgically -- the deacon read them -- in all rites down to the Middle Ages. Augustine's argument against the Donatists refers to the diptychs (epp. lii and liii above). The diptychs were two tablets folded like a book ( dis and ptyche ); on one side the names of the living, on the other those of the dead were written. They have now disappeared and the names are said from memory. But the Byzantine Rite still contains the rubrics : "The deacon remembers the diptychs of the departed"; "He remembers the diptychs of the living" (Brightman, op. cit., 388-9). No doubt the next thing to be written out was the collection of prayers said by the celebrant (Sacramentaries and Euchologia ), then indications for the readers (Comites, Capitularia, Synaxaria) and the various books for the singers (Antiphonaries, books of Troparia), and finally the rubrical directions (Ordines, Typika).

II. HISTORY OF THE ROMAN LITURGICAL BOOKS

So far the development went on in parallel lines in East and West. When we come to the actual books we must distinguish between the various rites, which have different groups and arrangements. In the Roman Rite the first complete books we know are the Sacramentaries ( Sacramentaria ). A Sacramentary is not the same thing as a Missal. It contains more on the one side, less on the other. It is the book for the celebrant. It contains all and only the prayers that he says. At the time that these books were written it was not yet the custom for the celebrant also to repeat at the altar whatever is sung by the ministers or choir. Thus Sacramentaries contain none of those parts of the Mass, no Lessons, no Introits, Graduals, Offertories and so on, but only the Collects, Prefaces, Canon, all that is strictly the celebrant's part. On the other hand they provide for his use at other occasions besides Mass. As the celebrant is normally supposed to be a bishop, the Sacramentary supplies him with the prayers he wants at ordinations, at the consecration of a church and altar and many exorcisms, blessings, and consecrations that are now inserted in the Pontifical and Ritual. That is the order of a complete Sacramentary. Many of those now extant are more or less fragmentary.

The name Sacramentarium is equivalent to the other form also used (for instance, in the Gelasian book), Liber Sacramentorum . The form is the same as that of the word Hymnarium , for a book of hymns. Gennadius of Marseilles (fifth cent.) uses both. He says of Paulinus of Nola : "Fecit et sacramentarium et hymnarium" (De viris illustribus, xlviii). The word sacramentum or sacramenta in this case means the Mass. Sacramenta celebrare or facere is a common term for saying Mass. So St. Augustine (died 430) remarks that we say "Sursum corda" "in sacramentis fidelium", that is at Mass (De Dono Persev., xiii, 33), and two schismatics of the fifth century complain to the Emperors Gratian and Theodosius that Pope Damasus (366-84) will not let them say Mass ; but they do so all the same, because "salutis nostræ sacramenta facienda sunt" (Faustinus and Marcellinus, "Lib. prec. ad Imp." in P. L., XIII, 98; cf. Probst, "Die ältesten röm. Sakram.", 20-1). A number of Sacramentaries of the Roman Rite are still extant, either complete or in part. Of these the most important are the three known by the names Leonine, Gelasian, and Gregorian. Their date, authorship, place, and original purpose have been much discussed. What follows is a compilation of the views of recognized scholars.

The so-called "Sacramentarium Leonianum" is the oldest. Only one manuscript of it is known, written in the seventh century. This manuscript was found in the library of the cathedral chapter of Verona, was published by Joseph Bianchini in 1735 in the fourth volume of his edition of Anastasius Bibliothecarius, and was by him attributed arbitrarily to St. Leo I (440-61). On the strength of this attribution the book was included by the Ballerini in their edition of Leo (Venice, 1753-7), and still bears the name Leonine. It was reprinted by Muratori in his "Liturgia Romana vetus" (Venice, 1748). Now the best edition is that of C. L. Feltoe (Cambridge, 1896). The Leonine Sacramentary represents a pure Roman use with no Gallican elements. But it is not a book compiled for use at the altar. The hopeless confusion of its parts shows this. It is a fragment, containing no Canon nor Ordinary of the Mass, but a collection of Propers (Collects, Secrets, Prefaces, Postcommunions, and Orationes super populum), of various Masses with ordination forms, arranged according to the civil year. It begins in the middle of the sixth Mass for April, and ends with a blessing for the font "In ieiunio mensis decimi" (i.e. the winter Ember-days). In each month groups of Masses are given, often very large groups, for each feast and occasion. Thus, for instance, in June we find twenty-eight Masses for St. Peter and St. Paul, one after another, each headed: "Item alia" (Feltoe's ed., pp. 36-50); there are fourteen for St. Lawrence, twenty-three for the anniversary of a bishop's consecration (123-39), and so on. Evidently the writer has compiled as many alternative Masses for each occasion as he could find. In many cases he shows great carelessness. He inserts Masses in the wrong place. Many of his Masses in natali episcoporum have nothing at all to do with that anniversary, and are really Masses for Sundays after Pentecost; in the middle of a Mass of St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian he has put the preface of a Mass of St. Euphemia (p. 104), a Mass for the new civil year is inserted among those for martyrs (XX item alia , p. 9); Masses for St. Stephen's day (26 Dec.) with evident allusions to Christmas are put in August (pp. 86-9), obviously through a confusion with the feast of the finding of his relics (3 Aug.). Many other examples of the same confusion are quoted by Buchwald ("Das sogen. Sacramentarium Leonianum", Vienna, 1908). That the collection is Roman is obvious. It is full of local allusions to Rome. For instance, one of the collects to be said by a bishop on the anniversary of his consecration could only be used by the pope of Rome : " Lord God. . . who, although Thou dost not cease to enrich with many gifts Thy Church spread throughout the world, nevertheless dost look more favourably upon the see of Thy blessed Apostle Peter, as Thou hast desired that it should be most exalted, etc." (p. 127). The Preface for St. John and St. Paul remembers that they are buried within "the boundaries of this city" (p. 34); the Masses of the Patrons of Rome, St. Peter and St. Paul, continually allude to the city (so the preface in the twenty-third Mass: "who, foreseeing that our city would labour under so many troubles, didst place in it the chief members of the power of the Apostles ", p. 47), and so on continually (cf. Probst, op. cit., 48-53, etc.).

Mgr Duchesne (Origines du Culte Chrétien, 129-37) thinks that the Leonine book is a private collection of prayers copied without much intelligence from the official books at Rome about the year 538. He arrives at this date especially through an allusion in the Secret of a Mass placed in June (but really an Easter Mass), which refers to a recent deliverance from enemies (Feltoe, p. 73). This allusion he understands to refer to the raising of the siege of Rome by Vitiges and his Goths at Easter-time, 538 (see his other arguments, pp. 131-2). Muratori considered that the book was composed under Felix III (483-92; "Liturgia rom. vetus", diss. xxvii). Probst answers Duchesne's arguments (Die ältesten röm. Sakram., pp. 56-61); he attributes the allusion in the Secret to Alaric's invasion in 402, and thinks that the compilation was made between 366 and 461. The latest theory is that of Buchwald (Das sogen. Sacram. Leon., 62-7), who suggests that the book is a compilation of Roman Masses made in the sixth or seventh century for use in Gaul, so that the composers of Roman books who were at that time introducing the Roman Rite into Gaul (see LITURGY) might have a source from which to draw their material. He suggests Gregory of Tours (died 594) as possibly the compiler.

The "Gelasian Sacramentary" exists in several manuscripts. It is a Roman book more or less Gallicanized; the various manuscripts represent different stages of this Gallican influence. The oldest form extant is a book written in the seventh or early eighth century for use in the abbey of St. Denis at Paris. This is now in the Vatican library (Manuscript Reginæ 316). It was first published by Tommasi in his "Codices Sacramentorum nongentis annis vetustiores" (Rome, 1680), then by Muratori in "Liturgia romana vetus", I. Other versions of the same book are the Codices of St. Gall and of Rheinau, both of the eighth century, edited by Gerbert in his "Monumenta veteris liturgiæ alemmanicæ," I (St. Blaise, 1777). These three (collated with others) form the basis of the standard edition of H. A. Wilson (Oxford, 1894). The book does not in any old manuscript bear the name of Gelasius ; it is called simply "Liber Sacramentorum Romanæ ecclesiæ". It is much more complete than the Leonine Sacramentary. It consists of three books, each marked with a not very accurate title. Book I (The Book of Sacraments in the order of the year's cycle) contains Masses for feasts and Sundays from Christmas Eve to the octave of Pentecost (there are as yet no special Masses for the season after Pentecost), together with the ordinations, prayers for all the rites of the catechumenate, blessing of the font at Easter Eve, of the oil, dedication of churches, and reception of nuns (Wilson, ed., pp. 1-160). Book II ( Prayers for the Feasts of Saints) contains the Proper of Saints throughout the year, the Common of Saints, and the Advent Masses (ibid., 161-223). Book III ( Prayers and the Canon for Sundays ) contains a great number of Masses marked simply "For Sunday " (i.e. any Sunday ), the Canon of the Mass, what we should call votive Masses (e.g. for travellers, in time of trouble, for kings, and so on), Masses for the Dead, some blessings (of holy water, fruits, trees and so on), and various prayers for special occasions (224-315). An old tradition (Walafrid Strabo, ninth century, "De rebus eccl.", XX; John the Deacon , "Vita S. Gregorii", II, xvii, etc.) ascribes what is evidently this book to Pope Gelasius I [492-6. Gennadius (De vir. illust., xcvi) says he composed a book of Sacraments ]. Duchesne (op. cit., 121-5) thinks it represents the Roman service-books of the seventh or eighth century (between the years 628 and 731). It was, however, composed in the Frankish kingdom. All the local Roman allusions (for instance, the Roman Stations) have been omitted; on Good Friday the prayers read: "Let us pray for our most Christian Emperor [the compiler has added] or king " (p. 76), and again: "look down mercifully on the Roman, or the Frankish , Empire" (ibid.). There are also Gallican additions (Duchesne, 125-8). Dom Baumer ("Ueber das sogen. Sacram. Gelas." in "Histor. Jahrbuch der Görresgesellschaft", 1893, pp. 241-301) and Mr. Bishop ("The earliest Roman Massbook" in "Dublin Review", 1894; pp. 245-78) maintain that it is much earlier than Duchesne thinks, and ascribe it to the sixth century, at which time the Roman Rite entered Gaul (see LITURGY). Buchwald (Das sogen. Sacr. Leon., ibid., p. 66) agrees with Duchesne in dating this Sacramentary at the seventh or eighth century, and thinks that its compiler used the Leonine collection.

We know most about the third of these books, the so-called "Gregorian Sacramentary". Charlemagne, anxious to introduce the Roman Rite into his kingdom, wrote to Pope Adrian I between the years 781 and 791 asking him to send him the service-book of the Roman Church. The book sent by the pope is the nucleus of the Gregorian Sacramentary. It was then copied a great number of times, so that there are many versions of it, all containing additions made by the various scribes. These are described by Probst (Die ätesten Sakr., pp. 303-13). The first edition is that of Pamelius in his "Rituale SS. Patrum Latinorum", II (Cologne, 1571). The standard edition is Muratori, "Liturgia romana vetus", II. This is based on two manuscripts, both written before 800, now in the Vatican Library (Cod. Ottobonianus and Cod. Vaticanus). Migne (P. L., LXXVIII, 25-602) reprints the edition of Nicholas Ménard (Paris, 1642). Probst maintains that this is rather to be considered a Gelasian book, reformed according to the Gregorian (Die ältes. Sakr., pp. 165-9). In any case the elements are here completely fused. The original book sent by Adrian to Charlemagne is easily distinguished from the additions. The first who began to supplement Adrian's book from other sources (Pamelius says it was a certain Frankish Abbot named Grimold) was a conscientious person and carefully noted where his additions begin. At the end of the original book he adds a note, a prefatiuncula beginning with the word Hucusque: "So far (Hucusque) the preceding book of Sacraments is certainly that edited by the holy Pope Gregory." Then come (in Pamelius's edition) two supplements, one (according to Pamelius ) by Abbot Grimold and the other by Alcuin. The supplements vary considerably in the codices. Eventually their matter became incorporated in the original book. But in the earlier versions we may take the first part, down to the prefatiuncula , as being the book sent by Adrian. How far it is that of Gregory I is another question. This book then has three parts:

  • (1) The Ordinary of the Mass;
  • (2) the Propers for the year beginning with Christmas Eve. They follow the ecclesiastical year; the feasts of saints (days of the month in the civil year) are incorporated in their approximate places in this. The Roman Stations are noted. There are still no Masses for the Sundays after Epiphany and Pentecost;
  • (3) the prayers for ordinations.

There are no votive Masses or requiems. For these reasons Mgr Duchesne considers that the "Sacramentary" is the " pope's book", that is the book used by the pope himself for the public papal services (Origines du Culte Chrétien, p. 117). Is its attribution to St. Gregory I (590-604) correct? That Gregory did much to reform the liturgy is certain. A constant tradition ascribes such a work to him, as to Gelasius. John the Deacon (eighth century) in his life of Gregory expresses this tradition: "He collected the Sacramentary of Gelasius in one book" (we have seen that the two sets of Propers in the Gelasianum are fused together in the Gregorianum), "leaving out much" (this too is verified by comparing the books; numbers of Gelasian Prefaces and ritual elaborations are omitted in the Gregorian book), "changing little, adding something" (II, xvii). Pope Adrian himself, in sending the book to Charlemagne, says that it is composed "by our holy predecessor, the divinely speaking Pope Gregory " (letter in Jaffé, "Cod. Carol.", p. 274). That the essential foundation of this "Sacramentary" goes back to St. Gregory, indeed to long before his time, is certain. Nor need we doubt that he made such changes as are claimed for him by his biographer, and that these changes stand in this book. But it is not his work untouched. It has additions made since his time, for instance his own feast (12 March, in Migne's edition, P. L., LXXVIII, 51) and other feasts not kept at Rome before the seventh century (Duchesne, op. cit., 118). Evidently then the book sent by Pope Adrian has gone through the inevitable development; succeeding centuries since Gregory have added to it. It represents the Roman Rite of the time when it was sent -- the eighth century. For this reason Duchesne prefers to call it the "Sacramentary" of Adrian (op. cit., p. 119). We have said that, when it arrived in the Frankish kingdom, it began to receive supplements. It must be remembered of course that the writers who copied it had not in view the future needs of students. The books they made were intended for practical use at the altar. So they added at the end of Adrian's "Sacramentary" whatever other Masses and prayers were wanted by the churches for which they wrote. These supplements are taken partly from the Gelasian book, partly from Gallican sources. We have also noted that the additions were at first carefully distinguished from the original book, eventually incorporated in it. Dom Bäumer sees in these additions a compromise made in carrying out Charlemagne's orders that only the book he had received from Rome should be used (see LITURGIES; and Baumer, "Ueber das sogen. Sacram. Gelasianum", 295-301). He also thinks that the first additions and the prefatiuncula were made by Alcuin (died 804). Between the ninth and eleventh centuries the book so composed returned to Rome, took the place of the original pure Roman Rite, and so became the foundation of our present Roman Missal. Besides these three most important Sacramentaries there are other fragments, the "Missale Francorum," written in the seventh or eighth century, the "Ravenna Roll" of doubtful date (sixth to eleventh century?), etc. (see Duchesne, "Origines", pp. 128-9, 137-8).

At the same time as the Sacramentaries, books for the readers and choir were being arranged. Gradually the "Comes" or "Liber Comicus" that indicated the texts of the Bible to be read developed into the "Evangelarium" and "Lectionarium" (see GOSPEL IN THE LITURGY and LESSONS IN THE LITURGY). The homilies of Fathers to be read were collected in "Homilaria", the Acts of the martyrs , read on their feasts, in "Martyrologia". The book of psalms was written separately for singing, then arranged in order, as the psalms were sung through the week, in the "Psalterium" that now forms the first part of our Breviary. The parts of the Mass sung by the choir ( Introit, Gradual, Offertory, Communion) were arranged in the "Liber Antiphonarius" (or Gradualis), the Antiphons and Responsories in the Office formed the "Liber Responsalis", or "Antiphonarius Officii", as distinct from the "Antiphonarius Missæ". Two early collections of this kind, ascribed to St. Gregory I, are in P. L., LXXVIII, 641-724, and 725-850. The same tradition that attributes to him the Sacramentary attaches his name to these (e.g., John the Deacon, "Vita S. Gregorii", II, vi). Throughout the early Middle Ages such collections were copied with local modifications all over Western Europe. Hymns (in our sense) were introduced into the Roman Rite about the fifth or sixth century. Those of the Mass were written in the Gradual, those of the Divine Office at first in the Psalter or Antiphonary. But there were also separate collections of hymns, called "Hymnaria", and "Libri Sequentiales" (or troponarii), containing the sequences and additions (farcing) to the Kyrie and Gloria, etc. Other services, the Sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Marriage, Extreme Unction ), the Visitation of the Sick, the Burial Service, all manner of blessings, were written in a very loose collection of little books called by such names as "Liber Agendorum", "Agenda", "Manuale", "Benedictionale", "Pastorale", "Sacerdotale", "Rituale", the predecessors of our Ritual. As examples of such books we may quote the "Manuale Curatorum" for the Diocese of Roeskilde in Denmark (ed. by J. Freisen, Paderborn, 1898) and the "Liber Agendorum" of Schleswig (ed. J. Freising, Paderborn, 1898). Their number and variety is enormous.

Finally there remained the rubrics, the directions not about what to say but what to do. This matter would be one of the latest to be written down. Long after the more or less complicated prayers had to be written and read, tradition would still be a sufficient guide for the actions. The books of prayers (Sacramentaries, Antiphonaries, etc.) contained a few words of direction for the most important and salient things to be done -- elementary rubrics. For instance the Gregorian "Sacramentary" tells priests (as distinct from bishops ) not to say the Gloria except on Easter Day ; the celebrant chants the preface excelsa voce , and so on (P. L., LXXVIII, 25). In time, however, the growing elaborateness of the papal functions, the more complicated ceremonial of the Roman Court, made it necessary to draw up rules of what custom and etiquette demanded. These rules are contained in the "Ordines" -- precursors of our "Cærimoniale Episcoporum". Mabillon published sixteen of the Ordines in his "Musæum Italicum", II (Paris, 1689). These are reproduced in P. L., LXXVIII, 937-1372. They are of different dates, from about the eighth to the fifteenth century. The first of them ("Ordo Romanus primus", edited apart by E. G. C. Atchley with excellent notes, London, 1905), which is the most important, was probably drawn up about the year 770 in the reign of Pope Stephen III (768-72), but is founded on a similar "Ordo" of the time of Gregory I (590-604). The "Ordines" contain no prayers, except that, where necessary, the first words are given to indicate what is meant. They supplement the Sacramentary and choir-books with careful directions about the ritual. Since Mabillon other "Ordines" have been found and edited. A famous and important one, found in a manuscript of the church of St. Amand at Puelle is published by Duchesne in the Appendix of his "Origines du Culte Chrétien" (pp. 440-63). It was composed about the eighth or ninth century.

During the Middle Ages these books were rearranged for greater convenience, and developed eventually into the books we know. The custom of Low Mass changed the Sacramentary into a Missal. At Low Mass the celebrant had to supplement personally what was normally chanted by the deacon and subdeacon or sung by the choir. This then reacted upon High Mass, so that here too the celebrant began to say himself in a low voice what was sung by some one else. For this purpose he needed texts that were not in the old Sacramentary. That book was therefore enlarged by the addition of Lessons (Epistle and Gospel, etc.) and the chants of the choir ( Introit, Gradual, etc.). So it becomes a Missale plenarium , containing all the text of the Mass. Isolated cases of such Missals occur as early as the sixth century. By about the twelfth century they have completely replaced the old Sacramentaries. But Lectionaries and Graduals (with the music) are still written for the readers and choir. In the same way, but rather later, compilations are made of the various books used for saying the Divine Office. Here too the same motive was at work. The Office was meant to be sung in choir. But there were isolated priests, small country churches without a choir, that could not afford the library of books required for saying it. For their convenience compendiums were made since the eleventh century. Gregory VII (1073-85) issued a compendium of this kind that became very popular.

First we hear of Libri nocturnales or matutinales , containing all the lessons and responses for Matins. To these are added later the antiphons and psalms, then the collects and all that is wanted for the other canonical hours too. At the same time epitomes are made for people who recite the Office without the chant. In these the Psalter is often left out; the clergy are supposed to know it by heart. The antiphons, versicles, responsories, even the lessons are indicated only by their first words. The whole is really a kind of concise index to the Office, but sufficient for people who said it day after day and almost knew it by heart. Such little books are called by various names -- "Epitomata", "Portiforia", and then especially "Breviaria divini officii" (Abbreviations of the Divine Office ). They were used mostly by priests on journeys. In the twelfth century the catalogue of the library of Durham Cathedral includes "a little travelling breviary " ( breviarium parvum itinerarium ). In 1241 Gregory IX says in a Bull for the Franciscan order: "You have (the Divine Office ) in your Breviaries " (see Batiffol, "Histoire du Bréviaire", chap. iv, especially pp. 192-202). The parts of these Breviaries were filled up eventually so as to leave nothing to memory, but the convenient arrangement and the name have been kept. It is curious that the word Breviary, which originally meant only a handy epitome for use on journeys and such occasions, has come to be the usual name for the Divine Office itself. A priest "says his breviary " that is, recites the canonical hours.

The development of the other books took place in much the same way. The Missals now contained only the Mass and a few morning services intimately connected with it. Daily Mass was the custom for every priest ; there was no object in including all the rites used only by a bishop in each Missal. So these rites apart formed the Pontifical. The other non-Eucharistic elements of the old Sacramentary combined with the "Libri Agendarum" to form our Ritual. The Council of Trent (1545-63) considered the question of uniformity in the liturgical books and appointed a commission to examine the question. But the commission found the work of unifying so many and so varied books impossible at the time, and so left it to be done gradually by the popes. The Missal and Breviary were reformed very soon (see next paragraph), the other books later. The latest work was the production of the "Cærimoniale Episcoporum". John Burchard, Master of Ceremonies to Sixtus IV (1471-84), combined the old "Ordines Romani" into an Ordo servandus per sacerdotem in celebratione missœ (Rome, 1502), and arranged the rubrics of the Pontifical. Other editions of the rubrics were made at intervals, till Clement VIII (1592-1605) issued the "Cærimoniale Episcoporum" (in 1600). All the books have been constantly revised and re-edited with additions down to our own time.

III. THE PRESENT ROMAN LITURGICAL BOOKS

The official books of the Roman Rite are seven -- the Missal, Pontifical, Breviary, Ritual, Cærimoniale Episcoporum, Memoriale Rituum, and Martyrology. These contain all and only the liturgical services of this rite. Several repeat matter also found in others. Other books, containing extracts from them, share their official character inasmuch as the texts conform to that of the original book. Such secondary liturgical books are the Lectionary and Gradual (with musical notes) taken from the Missal, the Day Hours (Horæ diurnæ) of the Breviary, the Vesperal, Antiphonary and other choir-books (with notes), also extracted from the Breviary, various Benedictionals and Ordines taken from the Ritual or Pontifical.

(a) The Roman Missal

The ( Missale Romanum ) as we now have it, was published by Pope Pius V by the Bull "Quo primum" of 14 July, 1570 (see LITURGIES and ROMAN RITE). A commission, opened by the Council of Trent under Pius IV (1559-65), consisting of Cardinal Bernardine Scotti, Thomas Goldwell, Bishop of St. Asaph (one of the last two English bishops of the old Catholic line), Giulio Poggi, and others, had then finished its task of revising the book. Clement VIII (1592-1605) formed a new commission ( Baronius, Bellarmine, and others) to restore the text which printers had again corrupted, and especially to substitute the new Vulgate (1590) texts for those of the Itala in the Missal ; he published his revision by the Bull "Cum Sanctissimum" on 7 July, 1604. Urban VIII (1623-44) again appointed a commission to revise chiefly the rubrics, and issued a new edition on 2 September, 1634 ( Bull "Si quid est"). Leo XIII (1878-1903) again made a revision in 1884. These names stand for the chief revisions; they are those named on the title-page of our Missal (Missale Romanum ex decreto SS. Concilii Tridentini restitutum S. Pii V Pont. Max. iussu editum, Clementis VIII, Urbani VIII et Leonis XIII auctoritate recognitum). But the continual addition of Masses for new feasts goes on. There are few popes since Pius V who have not authorized some additions, made by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, to the Missal or its various supplements. The reigning pope [1910], Pius X, has issued the chants of the Vatican edition in the Gradual. As far as these affect the Missal they have again produced new editions of it. Moreover a commission now sitting is considering a further revision of the text. It is believed that when the commission for restoring the text of the Vulgate has completed its work, that text will be issued in the lessons of the Missal, thus making again a new revision. But, in spite of all these modifications, our Missal is still that of Pius V. Indeed its text goes back to long before his time to the Gallicanized Gregorian "Sacramentary" of the ninth to eleventh century, and, in its essential characteristics, behind that to the Gelasian book of the sixth century, and so back into the mist that hangs over the formation of the Roman Rite in the first centuries.

The Missal begins with the Bulls of Pius V, Clement VIII , and Urban VIII. Then come the approbation of the bishop in whose diocese it is printed and a few of the most important decisions of the Sacred Congregation of Rites. A long explanation of the Gregorian Calendar follows, containing much astronomical information. This is headed: "De anno et eius partibus". The two Paschal tables follow (Julian and Gregorian), a table of movable feasts for a number of future years and the Roman Calendar of feasts. Then come three sets of rubrics, first "Rubricæ generales Missæ", containing the more general rules in twenty paragraphs (these were made by Burchand, revised by the commissions of Pius V, Clement VIII, Urban VIII ); then the "Ritus servandus in celebratione missæ", in thirteen paragraphs or chapters. This latter gives exact directions for High or Low Mass, whether celebrated by a bishop or priest. Third come the directions about what to do in case of various accidents or defects, headed "De defectibus in celebratione missæ occurrentibus", in ten chapters. A private preparation and thanksgiving for Mass follow "to be made at the opportunity of the priest. The prayers said while vesting come at the end of the preparation. Lastly, figures show the way to incense the altar and oblation. Shorter and special rubrics for various occasions are inserted (in red) in the text.

Then follows the text of the Missal. The first part contains the "Proper of the time" ( Proprium temporis ) from the first Sunday of Advent to the last after Pentecost. The Proper of each Mass is given in order of the ecclesiastical year, that is the Masses of each Sunday and other day (vigils, ember-days, feriæ in Lent ) that has a proper Mass. Only Christmas and its cycle of feasts (to the octave of the Epiphany ), although fixed to days of the civil year (25 Dec., etc.), come in this part. Certain rites, not Eucharistic, but connected closely with the Mass, are in their place in the Missal, such as the blessing of ashes, candles, and palms, all the morning services of Holy Week (except the Vespers of Thursday and Friday). After the service of Holy Saturday the whole Ordinary of the Mass with the Canon is inserted. This is the (almost) unchanging framework into which the various Propers are fitted. Its place in the book has varied considerably at different times; it is now put here, not so much for mystic or symbolic reasons, as because it is a convenient place, about the middle where a book lies open best (see CANON OF THE MASS). The eleven proper Prefaces, and all changes that can occur in the Canon (except the modifications on Maundy Thursday ), are printed here, in the Ordinary. Then follows Easter Day and the rest of the year in order. The second part of the Missal contains the Proper of Saints ( Proprium missarum de sanctis ), that is, the feasts that occur on days of the civil year. It begins with the Vigil of St. Andrew (29 Nov.), as occurring at about the beginning of Advent, and continues (leaving out Christmas and its cycle) regularly through the months to the feasts of St. Silvester and St. Peter of Alexandria (26 Nov.).

The third part is always paged anew in brackets, [I], etc. It contains the Common Masses ( Commune Sanctorum ), that is, general Masses for Apostles, Martyrs and so on, that are very commonly used for saints of each class, often with proper Collect Secret, and Postcommunion. Most saints' days give the rubric : "All of the Common of a Confessor Pontiff (or whatever it may be) except the following prayers ". A collection of votive Masses of various kinds follows, ending with the Mass for a wedding ( Pro Sponso et Sponsa ), then thirty-five sets of prayers ( Orationes diversœ ) that may be used on certain occasions in Mass, according to the rubrics. The four Masses for the dead come next, then twelve sets of prayers for the dead. Then the rite of blessing holy water and the Asperges ceremony. Eleven forms of blessings (Sacramentals) used by priests, blessings of vestments, altar-linen, and the tabernacle or ciborium (used by bishops and by priests having a special faculty), and the prayers (Collect, Secret Hanc Igitur, Postcommunion ) said at ordination Masses end the old part of the Missal. There follow, however, the ever-growing supplements. Of these first come a collection of votive Masses appointed by Pius IX for each day of the week, then special Masses allowed for certain dioceses ( Missœ aliquibus in locis celebrandœ ), now forming a second Proper of Saints nearly as long as the old one; and finally with the Missal is bound up another supplement (paged with asterisks, I., etc.) for whatever country or province or religious order uses it. The Missal contains all the music used by the celebrant at the altar (except the obvious chan


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
11 "For the Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I myself ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 23:1-2, 2-3, 5, 6
1 [Psalm Of David] Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 25:31-46
31 'When the Son of man comes in his glory, escorted ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
20 In fact, however, Christ has been raised from the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 23rd, 2014 Image

Bl. Miguel Pro
November 23: Born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Agustin ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter