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The Litany

at what time to be said.

&c., which was formerly connected with the penitential Psalms, the singing of which frequently preceded the litany.

4 Many suffrages have been added, which our reformers met with, in their diligent collation of the various liturgies of the East'.


They took from the oriental and African rituals the following particulars, not to be found in the Western litanies: namely, the petitions against plague, pestilence, famine, and battle; the prayer for the strengthening of such as do stand, &c.; that for the succour of those in tribulation; that for travellers, &c.; and that for the forgiveness of our enemies.' They have added,' as Mr Jebb observes, 'what are found in no other rituals, the prayers against hypocrisy, envy, sedition, privy conspiracy, &c.; the obsecrations by our Lord's temptation, agony, and bloody sweat; and the awful clause, which places in juxtaposition the time of our tribulation, and the time of our wealth.'

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The Litany was originally intended to be a distinct office, apart from both matins and the Communion-service; and the rubric, which appoints it to be sung or said after morning prayer,' does not determine the time for its

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1 Jebb, On the Choral Service of the Church.

celebration. Our present practice may, however, be referred back to the time of Queen Elizabeth. In 1559 injunctions were issued by her authority, directing that on Sundays the Litany should immediately precede the Communion-service, and that on Wednesdays and Fridays 'the curate should, at the accustomed hours of service, resort to the church, and cause warning to be given to the people by knolling of a bell, and say the Litany and prayers.' In 1571 it was ordered by the injunctions of Archbishop Grindal that the minister was 'not to pause or stay between the Morning Prayer, Litany, and Communion, to the intent the people might continue together in prayer, and hearing the word of God, and not depart out of the Church during all the time of the whole divine service.'

The Litany is still performed separately at the universities on certain days of humiliation, e. g. on the 30th of January; and as the rubric authorizes the bishop to order it at such times as he thinks it proper, it is frequently used at confirmations. When it is thus used as a distinct service, we are better able to appreciate its solemnity and beauty, its comprehensiveness, its well-wrought climaxes, its plaintive and pathetic appeals to the throne of grace.

In what part of the church.

The injunctions of Queen Elizabeth referred to above, appointed the Litany to be said by the priests and choir in the midst of the church, at a low desk, anciently called the falled stool. And this custom is still retained in many cathedrals; in allusion, probably, to the passage of Joel ii. 17, which may also have suggested the first use of litanies in times of public mourning; 'Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, &c.'

After invoking the three persons of the blessed Trinity separately and collectively, we address our suffrages first to the Son, and then sum them up, and address them to the Father in the Lord's prayer, and in the collect, 'O God, merciful Father, &c.' Then the Gloria Patri recalls us to the contemplation of the Trinity. In the versicles which follow, we address ourselves again to the Son in a still more plaintive tone than before; and these petitions we also lay before the Father, in the collect, 'We humbly beseech thee, O Father, &c.' We once more turn to the Son in the prayer of St Chrysostom, and conclude by invoking the blessings of all the three Persons of the Godhead.

The opening invocations, and the prayer, 'Remember not, &c.,' which was formerly used as an anthem after the penitential Psalms, and before the Litany, are as follows in the breviary of Sarum:

Pater de cœlis Deus, miserere nobis.

Fili redemptor mundi Deus, miserere nobis. Spiritus Sancte Deus, miserere nobis. Sancta Trinitas, unus Deus, miserere nobis. Ne reminiscaris Domine delicta nostra vel parentum nostrorum; neque vindictam sumas de peccatis nostris. Parce Domine, parce populo tuo, quem redemisti precioso sanguine tuo, ne in æternum irascaris nobis.

We pray that God will not remember the offences of our forefathers, so as to visit them upon us, as he has threatened to do in the second commandment.

In the second part of the service, the deprecations, we speak of 'blindness of heart,' meaning thereby a state of spiritual insensibility, a different thing from 'hardness of heart,' which is afterwards deprecated, and which consists in obstinate resistance to the will of God.

By the words ' deadly sin,' we do not allude to the distinction which the Romanists make between mortal or unpardonable, and venial

sins, but we mean such as are called presumptuous sins in the Psalms, i. e. very wilful and heinous offences, as opposed to 'negligences and ignorances.' 'From sudden death,' ab improvisa morte, in the Latin; i. e. death unforeseen, and not prepared for.

The words rebellion and schism were inserted in 1662, being suggested by the subversion of Church and State which had recently taken place. After privy conspiracy, in both Prayer Books of Edward VI. followed, 'from the tyranny of the bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities;' but this was wisely omitted in the revision under Elizabeth.


By the mystery,' &c. This and the next petition are called obsecrations, where in addressing the Saviour we urge his own sufferings as a plea in our behalf. A similar mode of expression is found in the epistles of St Rom. xii. 1. Paul, who beseeches his disciples by the 'mer2 Cor. x. 1. cies of God,' By the meekness and gentleness of Christ,' &c.

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'By thine agony.' 'By thine unknown sorrows and sufferings,” (δι' ἀγνώστων κόπων καὶ Baoárov) was an obsecration of the ancient Greek Church.

"We sinners do beseech thee,' &c. The

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