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The various readings of manuscript sacramentaries are supposed to render it impossible to determine the text as it stood in the time of Gregory; but on examining these difficulties, it will be found that they do not prevent us from ascertaining the liturgy: for all the variations, interpolations, and uncertainties of these MSS. relate to the individual missæ. In these I readily admit that a great variation, both of words and sentiments, may be found; and it is therefore a matter of some difficulty to decide which of the missæ are as old as the time of Gregory. Such doubts and difficulties, however, do not extend to the number and order of the prayers in each missa, nor to the canon. On the contrary, we find in all the same number of prayers, arranged in the same order, and designated by the same titles. The canon, or invariable part, preserves the same text in all MSS. The only difference that occurs is the introduction of some short prayer, or of the name of some person to be commemorated : but such interpolations are very rare, and when found are easily detected; and in no case is the canon itself either mutilated or altered. We can therefore ascertain both the invariable and the variable parts of the Roman liturgy. This agreement of MSS. in one common order and text derives strength from a consideration of the different ages and countries in which they were written. Manuscripts of Italy, of England, Germany, and Gaul, whether written at the same period or not, all furnish the same order of prayers and canon. To this evidence we may add the writings of various liturgical commentators in the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries; which, though composed in different countries, all concur in establishing the same facts as the manuscripts.
It appears, then, that there is no difficulty in ascertaining what the Roman liturgy was in the time of Gregory the Great. It may however be inquired, whether Gregory is to be considered the author of that liturgy. To answer this question, we must have recourse to ancient history. We are there informed with minuteness of the amount of Gregory's alterations and improvements. He collected, arranged, improved, abbreviated the collects of the individual missæ. He inserted a short passage (which is known) into the canon. And he joined the Lord's Prayer to the canon", from which it had previously been separated by the breaking of the bread. All this amounts to positive proof that Gregory was the reviser and improver, not the author of the Roman liturgy.
An attempt has been made to prove that the Roman liturgy was composed between the time of Vigilius and Gregory. The former, who lived fifty years before the latter, speaking of the canon, said,
b “ Gelasianum codicem de Eccles. lib. ii. c. 1. Compare missarum solemniis, multa sub- Menard. Sacramentar. Gregorii, trahens, pauca convertens, nonnulla vero superadjiciens-in d ' Orationem vero Dominiunius libri volumine coarcta- cam mox post precem dicimus, vit.” Joannes Diaconus in Vita quia mos apostolorum fuit, ut Gregorii Magni.
ad ipsam solummodo oratioC“ Sed et in ipsa missarum nem oblationis hostiam consecelebratione tria verba maximæ crarent." Gregorii Mag. Epist. perfectionis plena superadjecit: ad Joannem Syracusan. Epist. Diesque nostros in tua pace xii. lib. ix. edit. Benedict. disponas, atque ab æterna dam- (olim 64.) natione nos eripi, et in electo- e Brett's Collection of Lirụm tuorum jubeas grege nu- turgies, part ii. p. 331. merari.' Ven. Bedæ Hist. VOL. I.
“ that they had received it from apostolical tradi“tion . Gregory spoke of the canon extant in his time, as having been composed by a scholastic, or learned man It is argued, that if the canon in Vigilius's time had been received from apostolical tradition, and if that in Gregory's time had been composed by a scholastic, the canons of Vigilius and Gregory must have been different, and the latter must have been written since the time of Vigilius.
I reply, first, that Gregory and Vigilius may very well have spoken of the same canon ; for even if a scholastic had composed the canon, yet he might be supposed to have received its order, and substance, and principal expressions, from apostolical tradition; and therefore the canon so composed might be said to have come from apostolical tradition. It has been answered, “ that this is no proof that the scholastic “ lived before Vigilius h.” It certainly is not; but
" on the other hand, there is no proof from what Gregory says, that the scholastic lived after Vigilius. Gregory does not hint when he lived. The scholastic may have lived five hundred years before Gregory or five only, as far as his testimony goes. But that the author of the Roman canon did not live within fifty years before Gregory the Great, may be considered certain from the silence of all antiquity on the subject. While ancient writers speak repeatedly of the care of Gregory, and of many of his predecessors,
Quapropter et ipsius rium vel Profuturum Episcocanonicæ precis textum di- pum
Bracarens. reximus subteradjectum, quem & Gregor. Magnus, lib. vii. (Deo propitio) ex apostolica epist. 64. traditione suscepimus." Vigil. h Brett, ubi supra, p. 332. Romanens. Epist. ad Euche
in regulating the Roman liturgy, they never speak of any author of that liturgy, who lived between the time of Vigilius and Gregory. To this argument may be added the improbability, that a form which Vigilius declared to have been derived from apostolic tradition, should in the course of a few
years be exchanged for another, composed by a person, whose name and character have been ever since unknown. These arguments, and the total absence of all proof to the contrary, impel me to the conclusion, that the Roman liturgy was substantially the same in the days of Vigilius, as it was when Gregory was raised to the patriarchal chair of Rome.
Vigilius, patriarch of Rome, wrote in A.D. 538 an Epistle to Profuturus, bishop of Braga, in Spain, in which he says, that they had received the text of the canon from apostolical tradition. He also speaks of the various prayers which were used along with this canon, which he calls “capitula” and “ preces."
6 “In these,” he says, “ they made commemoration of “ the holy solemnity, or of those saints whose nati“vities they celebrated.” The whole description which Vigilius gives, coincides accurately with the Roman liturgy in subsequent times'. The canon
i“ Ordinem quoque precum memorationem sanctæ solenin celebritate missarum nullo nitatis, aut eorum facimus, nos tempore, nulla festivitate quorum natalititia celebramus. significamus habere diversum, Cætera vero ordine consueto sed semper eodem tenore ob- prosequimur. Quapropter et iplata Deo munera consecrare. sius canonicæ precis textum diQuoties vero Paschalis, aut reximus subteradjectum, quem Ascensionis Domini, vel Pen- (Deo propitio ex apostolica tecostes et Epiphaniæ, sancto- traditione suscepimus. Et ut rumque Dei fuerit agenda fes- charitas vestra cognoscat, quitivitas, singula capitula diebus bus locis aliqua festivitatibus apta subjungimus, quibus com- apta connectes, Paschalis diei
and order of prayers were therefore esteemed very ancient in the time of Vigilius, A.D. 538; and the correctness of this opinion is in fact supported by the testimonies of various writers. Symmachus, bishop of Rome before Vigilius, is said by Walafridus to have appointed the hymn Gloria in excelsis to be sung on Sundays and the nativities of the saints, before the liturgy'. Here is nothing of a newly composed office or canon. It is related that Gelasius, patriarch of Rome A.D. 492, performed a work somewhat similar to that of Gregory the Great. He ordained prayers or collects, and prefaces composed with caution"; and these he arranged in a sacramentary, which in subsequent ages commonly bore his name'. Gelasius, however, did not alter the canon, or order of
We do not read of any such alteration being made by him. Modern times have brought to light an ancient sacramentary ", which is with good reason considered by learned men to represent the Roman sacramentary as regu
preces similiter adjecimus." Chronic. Abbat. Centulens. Vigil. Romanens. Epist. ad sive S. Richerii apud Dacherii Profuturum Bracarens.
Spicileg. tom. iv. j Walafridus Strabo, de Reb. m The sacramentary of GeEccl. c. 22.
lasius was first published from sacramentorum a manuscript of great antiquity præfationes et orationes cauto in the queen of Sweden's lisermone.” Anastasius, Biblio- brary, by Thomasius, in his thecar. in Vita Gelasii.
work entitled “ Codices SacraIn a list of books belonging mentorum,” &c. Romæ, 1680. to the abbey of S. Richerius, Muratori in his "Liturgia RoA. D. 731, the following pas- mana vetus," &c. tom. i. ed. sage occurs: “De libris sacra- Venetiis, 1748, reprinted this rii, qui ministerio altaris deser- sacramentary, as did Assemani viunt, Missales Gregoriani tres; in his “ Codex Liturgicus,"
; Missalis Gregorianus et Gela- tom. iv. Its authenticity is sianus modernis temporibus ab acknowledged by Mabillon, Albino ordinatus ; Missales Muratori, Cave, and other emiGelasiani xix." Lib. iii. c. 3. nent critics.