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substance has always been the same. In many of the ancient Missals, the words which the priest says now in a loud voice, viz. Orate fratres, is all that was marked, whilst others entered more fully into the explanation of the object of the prayer. In the liturgy of St. Chrysostom, the celebrant and deacon mutually said: “May the Holy Ghost descend upon you, and in the liturgy of St. James, the celebrant continued his prayer at the altar, and just before the preface the assistants prayed as in the liturgy of St. Crysostom. In others the celebrant gave the invitation, and the people prayed without giving a special answer; but the present order has been generally established in the Latin church during 800 or 900 years.
The prayer exhibits the progress of charity and the communion of the faithful : after seeking the praise and glory of the Lord, we then desire our own benefit, and then that of the whole church; showing that we must first love God above all things, even above ourselves, then loving ourselves, and our brethren as ourselves for the love of God.
The celebrant then reads the prayer or prayers called the secret or secrets, the number of which corresponds to the number of Collects. This prayer has been differently called, sometimes Super oblata “ over the oblations.” This needs no explanation, for now the oblations we.e on the altar. This is found in the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, and in that of Pope St. Gelasius. They are more generally called Secreta or Secrets. Some authors say that this name was given because they were said in a low voice; however, we have seen all the prayers since the offertory, and find that with the exception of the preface, and the Lord's Prayer, all the other prayers to the end of the Canon are said in a low voice. The compiler of this essay is therefore more inclined to the opinion of the great Bishop of Meaux* that this
* Bossuet Explicat De la Messe, parag. ii.
prayer was called Secreta, because it was said over ihe part of the offerings of the people, which was to be consecrated after the Secretio or separation had been made. This explanation appears the more natural as being at the same time founded upon a fact, and having the very same meaning as super ob- • lata the other title of the prayer.
During the repetition of the secret prayers the celebrant is supposed to have so thoroughly imbibed the spirit of devotion, that he no longer can contain it within, and he therefore concludes them by repeating or singing the latter words per omnia Secula Seculorum, " World without end" aloud; the choir answers * Amen." The next salutation is that of Dominus vobiscum which has been already explained. Then Sursum Corda, “ Lift up your hearts, " to which he is answered Habemus ad Dominum, “ We have lifted them up to the Lord.” Then the celebrant says or sings, Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” And is answered, Dignum et Justum est, 66 It is meet and just,” after which he says or sings the preface, which is so called, because itimmediately precedes the canon of the Mass.
Formerly, in some churches, immediately after the Orate fratres the sanctuary was enclosed in curtains, and the celebrant was not seen, hence it was useless for him to turn towards the faithful in saluting them during the canon, or immediately preceding it: but even where there were no curtains, as at present we have none, the solemn occupation of the celebrant prevents his turning round. The most ancient litur. gies contain this invitation to lift up our hearts to the Lord, and it is so general through all the first writers and early documents, as to be evidently of Apostolic introduction. It is found in the constitutions by Clement Lib. 8. c. 17. St. Cyprian. fer. 6. de orat. Dom. Cyril of Jerusalem. Cat. Myst. 5. divers places in St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine, &c. The invitation to give thanks to the Lord our
Ciod is equally ancient, and the preface is found in ev-ry liturgy which has been discovered.
'The Greeks have only one preface, but the Latins have had a vast number, almost every principal festival of the great mysteries or of any distinguished saint, having a proper preface: but about the year 1050, they were reduced to ten, and all the others abolished. Those retained, are the same that were enumerated as fully sanctioned by the church, about the year 580, by Pope Pelagius II, in his answer to the Bishops of Germany and France. They are the common preface, and those of Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, the Trinity, the Apostles, and the Cross. Pope Urban II, in the year 1095, approved of that of the blessed Virgin in the councils of Plaisance and Clermont. Though the decree be not found in the acts of the councils, it is quoted by Gratian fifty years after. Those form at present the body of prefaces of the Roman Missal.
Nothing can be more appropriate than for man who aspires to a heavenly country, to lift up his heart and seek for it. His thoughts and his desires should be in heaven, for where his treasure is, there also should his heart be; he desires to join with the angels in glory, then should he also join with them here below in praising their great Creator. And nothing can surely be more just, nor more necessary than that we who have received all things fron his bounty, and who have so often experienced his mercy, should give him thanks therefor; but at no moment should our gratitude be more strong, nor our feelings more lively, than wlien we contemplate the Son of God slain for our transgressions, and now expect him upon the altar to be under the sacramental veils, at once our victim, and our sustenance.
Our praises are given to God, through our Lord Jesus Christ; and in giving them, we behold him, surrounded as it were by the whole heavenly court, from the most humble angel, :he most ardent seraph, who rapt in the fire of love, burns in extacy and blazes in glory near the throne. And they rest not day and night, saying hoLY, HOLY, HOLY, and giviny glory and honour and benediction to him that sitteth on the throne. (Apoc. iv. 8.) In the fervour of the moment, the celebrant invites his flock to join with them in the sacred canticle, and the choir and people unite in their jubilee of exultation.
In saying those words, Holy, &c., the celebrant joins his hands, and bows down his head, in humble adoration, whilst he repeats to the “ Lord God of Sabaoth, the heavens and the earth are full of his glory: Hosanna in the highest; blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord ;” and he makes the sign of the cross, to exhibit the source of blessing to fallen man, and repeats 6 Hosanna in the highest."
This hymn is found in all the most ancient liturgies.* St. Gregory of Nyssa, in his address to the Catechumens, urging them to accelerate their preparation for baptism, “Why do you not hasten to receive baptism, that you may be able to sing with the faithful the canticle of the Seraphim ?" And St. John Chrysostom asks the faithful how they can sing indecent songs with those mouths which have chaunted Holy, Holy, Holy to the Lord. It was formerly omitted on fast days, and in Masses for the dead; but the second council of Vaison, in 529, at which St. Cesarius was present, ordered it to be said at all Masses, “even in Lent and for the dead." This cus tom soon became general.
The hymn is found in the first place in the sixth chapler of the prophet Isaias, where we read the very words, as sung by the seraphim, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Sabaoth, or of armies, or hosts; the heavens and the earth are full of his glory. For the reason which has been previously given, the church retains ibe original Hebrew word Sabaoth, instead of taking
* Sec Le Brun, part iv. parag. 4.
jis translation. St. Ambrose says, the triple chaunt is in honour of the Trinity;* and this great Lord is called the God of armies or of hosts; for he is that Ancient of days described by Daniel, † from before whom a fiery stream issued, and thousands of thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times hundreds of thousands stood before him. Tertullian says, that the church causes us to repeat it here below,} that we may be associated with those in whose company we hope to rest for eternity.
But now coming more directly to the specific object of the sacrifice, the church contemplates him who reconciled us to his Father, and beholding his near approach, she puts into our mouths the Hosannas to him who comes in the name of the Lord. The son of David, not now entering Jerusalem to be mangled upon the cross, but preparing to descend upon our altar to immolate himself as the victim of his own love and our salvation. Hosanna is not only an ejaculation of praise, but also a prayer for mercy. It was the cry of the Jews at the feast of Tabernacles, and of the multitudes, who strewed their garments in his way, and accompanied Jesus into Jerusalem, bearing branches in their hands, and crying out, Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. Matt. xxi. 9.
The various other additions to the preface on the occasion of special feasts, or observances, are sufficienily explanatory in themselves, such as the shedding of that ray of divine light upon us by the birth of the Saviour, which is alluded to in the preface, proper for christmas. His appearing manifest in our fesh, in that for Epiphany. The object of the fast in Lent; the effect of his crucifixion in the preface of the cross; his sacrifice, by which he is our Pasch, and his resurrection at Easter; his conversation wiih
• Lib. xxx. C. 18, de Spir. Sanc. tvii. 9, &c. 1 De orat. iii.