(Latin Missale from Missa , Mass), the book which contains the prayers said by the priest at the altar as well as all that is officially read or sung in connection with the offering of the holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the ecclesiastical year.
The present Roman Missal, now almost universally used in the Catholic Church wherever the Latin Rite prevails, consists essentially of two parts of very unequal length. The smaller of these divisions containing that portion of the liturgy which is said in every Mass, the "Ordo Missae" with the prefaces and the Canon, is placed, probably with a view to the more convenient opening of the book, near the centre of the volume immediately before the proper Mass for Easter Sunday. The remainder of the book is devoted to those portions of the liturgy which vary from day to day according to feast and season. Each Mass consists usually of Introit, Collect, Epistle, Gradual and Alleluia or Tract, Gospel, Offertory, Secret, Communion, and Post-Communion, the passages or prayers corresponding to each of these titles being commonly printed in full. The beginning of the volume to the "Ordo Missae" is devoted to the Masses of the season ( Proprium de Tempore ) from Advent to the end of Lent, including the Christmas cycle. After the "Ordo Missae" and Canon follow immediately the Masses of the season from Easter to the last Sunday after Pentecost. Then come the proper Masses of the separate festivals ( Proprium Sanctorum ) for the ecclesiastical year; while these are often printed in full, it may also happen that only a reference is given, indicating that the larger portion of each Mass (sometimes everything except the collect) is to be sought in the Common of Saints ( Commune Sanctorum ), printed at the conclusion of the Proprium Sanctorum (Proper of Saints). This is supplemented by a certain number of votive Masses, among the rest Masses for the dead, and a collection of sets of collects, secrets and post-communions for special occasions. Here also are inserted certain benedictions and other miscellaneous matter, while appendixes of varying bulk supply a number of Masses conceded for use in certain localities or in certain religious orders, and arranged according to the order of the calendar. To the whole book is prefixed an elaborate calendar and a systematized collection of rubrics for the guidance of priests in high and low Mass, as also prayers for the private use of the celebrant in making his preparation and thanksgiving. It may be mentioned here once for all that the collection of rubrics now printed under the respective headings "Rubricae generales Missalis", "Ritus celebrandi Missam", and "De Defectibus circa Missam occurrentibus" are founded upon a tractate entitled "Ordo Missae" by John Burchard, master of ceremonies to Innocent VIII and Alexander VI, at the close of the fifteenth century. They are consequently absent from the first printed edition of the "Missale Romanum" (1474).
The printed Missal of the present day, reproducing in substance the manuscript forms of the latter part of the Middle Ages, has resulted from the amalgamation of a number of separate service books. In the early centuries, owing to the lack of competent scribes, the scarcity of writing materials, and various other causes, economy had greatly to be studied in the production of books. The book used by the priest at the altar for the prayers of the Mass usually contained no more than it belonged to him to say. It was known commonly as a "Sacramentary" ( Sacramentarium ) because all its contents centred round the great act of the consecration of the sacrifice. On the other hand those portions of the service which, like the Introit and the Gradual, the Offertory and the Communion, were rendered by the choir, were inscribed in a separate book, the "Antiphonarium Missae" or "Graduale" (q.v.). So again the passages to be read to the people by the deacons or rectors in the ambo (pulpit) -- the Epistle and Gospel, with lessons from the Old Testament on particular occasions -- were collected in the "Epistolarium" or "Apostolus", the "Evangeliarium", and other lectionaries. Besides this an "Ordo" or "Directorium" (q.v.) was required to determine the proper service. Only by a slow process of development were the contents of the sacramentary, the gradual, the various lectionaries, and the "Ordo" amalgamated so that all that was needed for the celebration of Mass was to be found within the covers of one volume. The first step in this evolution seems to have been furnished by the introduction of certain smaller volumes called "Libelli Missae" intended for the private celebration of Masses of devotion on ordinary days. In these only one, or at most two or three Masses, were written; but as they were not used with choir and sacred ministers, all the service had to be said by the priest and all was consequently included in the one small booklet. A typical example of such a volume is probably furnished by the famous "Stowe Missal". This little book of Irish origin of which the leaves measure only five and a half by four inches, is nevertheless one of our most priceless liturgical treasures. The greater part is devoted to a single Mass of the Blessed Sacrament , in which the Epistle and Gospel are inserted entire as well as a number of communion anthems, the private preparation of the priest, and other matter including rubrical directions in Irish. Thus, so far as Mass was concerned, it was in itself a complete book and is prolix ably the type of numberless others -- fragments of similar Irish "libelli Missae" are preserved among the manuscripts of St. Gall -- which were used by missionaries in their journeys among peoples as yet only half christianized.
The convenience of such books for the private celebration of Mass where sacred ministers and choir were wanting, must soon have made itself felt. When one thinks of the many hundreds and even thousands of Masses which in the eighth and ninth centuries every large monastery was called upon to say for deceased brethren in virtue of its compacts with other abbeys (see details in Ebner, "Gebets -- Verbrudernugen", Ratisbon, 1890), it appears obvious that there must have been great need of private Mass-books. Consequently it soon became common to adapt even the larger sacramentaries to the use of priests celebrating privately by inserting in some of the "missae quotidianae votivae et diversae", or sometimes again in the "commune sanctorum" such extracts from the "Graduale", "Epistolare", and "Evangeliarium" as made these particular Masses complete in themselves. Examples of Sacramentaries thus adapted may be found as early as the ninth century. Ebner for instance, appeals to a manuscript of this date in the capitular library of Verona (No. 86) where in the "Missae votivae et diversae" the choral passages are written as well as the prayers. Whether the word Missalis liber was specially employed for service books thus completed for private use there seems no evidence to determine. Alcuin writing in 801 certainly seems to contrast the term "Missalis libellus" with what he calls "libelli sacratorii" and with "sacramentaria maiora" (see Mon. Germ. Hist. Epist., IV, 370); but the phrase was older than Alcuin, for Archbishop Egbert of York in his "Dialogus" speaks of the dispositions made by St. Gregory for the observance of the ember-days in "Antiphonaria cum missalibus suis" which he had consulted at Rome (Haddan and Stubbs, "Councils", III, 421), where certainly the language used seems to suggest that the "Missalia" and "Antiphonaria" were companion volumes separately incomplete. Certainly it may be affirmed with confidence that what was afterwards known as the "Missale plenum", a book like our present Missal, containing all the Epistles, Gospels, and the choral antiphons as well as the Mass prayers, did not come into existence before the year 900. Dr. Adalbert Ebner, who spent immense labour in examining the liturgical manuscripts of the libraries of Italy, reports that the earliest example known to him was one of the tenth century in the Ambrosian Library at Milan ; but although such books are of more frequent occurrence from the eleventh century onwards, the majority of the Mass-books met with at this period have still only an imperfect claim to be regarded as "Missalia plena".
We find instead a great variety of transition forms belonging to the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries which may be referred in particular to two distinct types. In the first place the sacramentary, lectionary, and antiphonary were sometimes simply bound up together in one volume as a matter of convenience. Codex lot in the library of Monza offers an example of this kind in which the three component elements are all of the ninth or tenth century, but even earlier than this in an extant notice of the visitation of the Church of Vicus (Vieil-St-Remy) in 859 by Bishop Hincmar of Reims we find mention of a "Missale cum evangeliis et lectionibus seu antiphonario volumen 1". As a rule, however, the fusion between the original sacramentary and the books used by the readers and the choir was of a more intrinsic nature and the process of amalgamation was a very gradual one. Sometimes we find sacramentaries in which a later hand has added in the margin, or on any available blank space, the bare indication, consisting of a few initial words, of the Antiphons, the Epistles, and the Gospels belonging to the particular Mass. Sometimes the "Commune Sanctorum" and the votive Masses have from the beginning included the passages to be sung and read written out in full, though the "Proprium de Tempore" and "de Sanctis" show nothing but the Mass prayers. Sometimes again, as in the case of the celebrated Leofric Missal in the Bodleian, the original sacramentary has had extensive later supplements bound up with it containing new Masses which include the parts to be read and sung. In one remarkable example, the Canterbury Missal ( manuscript 270 of Corpus Christi, Cambridge), a number of the old prefaces of the Gregorian type have been erased throughout the volume and upon the blank spaces thus created the proper Antiphons from the Graduale, and sometimes also the Epistles and Gospels for each Mass, have been written entire. In not a few instances the Gospels may be found included in the Mass-book but not the Epistles, the reason probably being that the latter could be read by any clerk, whereas a properly ordained deacon was not always available, in which case the priest at the altar had himself to read the Gospel. Regarding however this development as a whole it may be said that nearly all the Mass-books written from the latter half of the thirteenth century onwards were in the strict sense Missalia plenaria conforming to our modern type. The determining influence which established the arrangement of parts, the selection of Masses, etc., with which we are familiar in the "Missale Romanum" today, seems to have been the book produced during the latter half of the thirteenth century under Franciscan auspices and soon made popular in Italy under the name "Missale secundum consuetudinem Romanae curiae" (see Radulphus de Rivo, "De Canonum Observatione", in La Bigne, "Bib. Max. PP.", XI, 455).
Although the "Missale secundum consuetudinem Romanae curiae" obtained great vogue and was destined eventually to be officially adopted and to supplant all others, throughout the Middle Ages every province, indeed almost every diocese, had its local use, and while the Canon of the Mass was everywhere the same, the prayers in the "Ordo Missae", and still more the "Proprium Sanctorum" and the "Proprium de Tempore", were apt to differ widely in the service books. In England espe-cially the Uses of Sarum and York showed many distinctive characteristics, and the Ordinary of the Mass in its external features resembled more the rite at present followed by the Dominicans than that of Rome. After the invention of printing a great number of Missals were produced both in England itself and especially at Paris and other French cities for use in England. Of the Sarum Missal alone nearly seventy different editions were issued between that of 1487 (printed for Caxton in Paris ), and that of 1557 (London). After Elizabeth's accession no more Missals were published, but a little book entitled "Missale parvum pro Sacerdotibus in Anglia, Scotia, et Ibernia itinerantibus" was printed two or three times towards the beginning of the seventeenth century for the use of missionary priests. Its size allowed it to be carried about easily without attracting observation, and as it contained relatively few Masses, only those for the Sundays and the principal feasts, it recalled in a measure the "libelli Missae" of the Anglo-Saxon and Irish missionaries nine centuries earlier. Even at this date the peculiarities of the Sarum Rite were not retained and the Canon and Masses of this "Missale parvum" were all Roman with the exception of one special Mass of the Holy Name of Jesus which is described in the 1616 edition as "taken from the Missal according to the Use of Sarum". Moreover, just as the Roman liturgy came in this way to prevail In England, so in France and throughout the rest of Europe the local uses have for the most part been surrendered by degrees, two of the principal influences at work being no doubt the advantage of uniformity and the authority and relative purity of the Roman Missal, as authoritatively revised and improved after the Council of Trent.
The first printed edition of the "Missale Romanum" lately republished by the Henry Bradshaw Society in two volumes (1899 and 1907), was produced at Milan in 1474. Numerous editions followed, but nothing authoritative appeared until the Council of Trent left in the hands of the pope the charge of seeing to the revision of a Catechism, Breviary, and Missal. This last, committed to the care of Cardinals Scotti and Sirlet with Thomas Goldwell (an Englishman, Bishop of St. Asaph , deprived of his see upon the accession of Elizabeth), and Julius Poggio, was published in 1570. St. Pius V published a Bull on the occasion, still printed at the beginning of the Missal, in which he enjoined that all dioceses and religious orders of the Latin Rite should use the new revision and no other, excepting only such bodies as could prove a prescription of two hundred years. In this way the older orders like the Carthusians and the Dominicans were enabled to retain their ancient liturgical usages, but the new book was accepted throughout the greater part of Europe. A revised edition of the "Missale Romanum" appeared in 1604 accompanied by a brief of Clement VIII in which the pontiff complained among other things that the vetus Itala version of the Scripture which had been retained in the antiphonal passages of the Pian Missal had been replaced, through the unauthorized action of certain printers, by the text of the newly edited Vulgate. Another revision bearing more especially upon the rubrics followed under Urban VIII in 1634. In the early part of the nineteenth century, owing largely to the exertions of Dom Guéranger, the Benedictine liturgist, a number of the dioceses of France which had up to this persistently adhered to their own distinctive uses upon a more or less valid plea of immemorial antiquity, made a sacrifice to uniformity and accepted the "Missale Romanum". The last authoritative revision of the Missal took place in 1884 under Leo XIII . It should be noticed finally that the term Missal has been applied by a loose popular usage to a number of books which, strictly speaking, have no right to the name. The "Missale Francorum", the "Missale Gothicum", the "Missal of Robert of Jumièges ", etc., are all, properly speaking, Sacramentaries.
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