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Here beginneth the noble History of the Exposition of the Mass.
For heart devout to understand what it is to say mass, also to conscrate the body of our Lord, the precious sacrament of the altar, it is to know that the mass may be comprised in four parts principal. The first part dureth from the beginning of the mass unto the offering, the second dureth from the offering to the Pater Noster said, the third part dureth from the Pater Noster unto the perception, and the fourth part dureth from the perception unto the end of the mass. As touching the first part, that is, the beginning of the mass unto the offering, it is to understand that the priest, which is as he that showeth the way of God to the people, ere he revesteth him with the chasuble, he beginneth and saith a psalm that is in the third nocturn of the psalter, the which psalm beginneth: Judica me deus et diseerne, and in the same psalm he asketh four things. The first is that he may be parted from all evil company, the second is that he may be delivered from all evil temptation, the third is that he may be of the Holy Ghost enlumined, and the fourth is that Jesu Christ give himself to be consecrated by him. And to the entent he may the more surely and devoutly consecrate the said sacrament, he confesseth himself generally of all his sins, saying his confiteor, by the which confiteor he showeth four things. First, he showeth himself worthy of redargution or rebuke, secondly, he showeth himself plein of contrition, thirdly, he requireth aid of them that are about him, that he may have remission of his sins, and fourthly, he demandeth of our Lord very absolution.
The priest, after, kisseth the altar, the which kissing signifieth unity and direction in showing how our Lord would unite or join our humanity to his divinity by great love, and take the church for his own spouse, wherefore the holy church may say thus: Quasi sponsam decoravit me corona, et quasi sponsam ornavit me monilibus. That is to say, that our Lord as his proper spouse, hath adorned or clad me with things precious.
The priest, after that, draweth him to the right part or side of the altar, signifying how God when he had taken our humanity, after his passion, by the virtue of his resurrection he translated him on the right hand of the Father, and there the priest beginneth the introit of the mass, the which signifieth the coming of our Lord Jesu Christ, how he would come into the world, the which coming the ancient fathers, prophets, and patriarchs, and the faithful people of our Lord desired much ardently, and for that they cried with a high voice and said: Emitte agnum domine dominatorem terrae; saying thus to God the Father: Sir, we pray thee that thou wilt send the sweet lamb, having domination in all the earth. And to God the Son they said thus: Veni domine et noli tardere, that is for to say: We pray thee that thou wilt come hastily and tarry not. Secondly, the said introit signifieth how the priest oweth to enter the service of God. And for this followeth a verse of the psalter after the said introit, such as appertaineth to the day, the which verse signifieth how we ought to put our hands jointly, praying to him devoutly, for he is made as our proper brother in taking our humanity for to show us the way of truth. After, followeth: Gloria Patri, the which signifieth praising and laud to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for after good works ought to follow lauding and praising. After that the priest repeateth the introit of the mass, to the end that the desires of the ancient fathers, prophets, and patriarchs may the better be showed.
After, the priest beginneth and saith three times: Kyrie eleison, that is to understand to the Father, and three times Christe eleison, to the Son, and three times Kyrie eleison to the Holy Ghost, calling upon the mercy of God to the end that holy church be accompanied with nine orders of angels reigning in the company of God, and this showeth the signification of these words before said. For when men say Kyrie eleison, that is: Lord, have thou mercy on us, and that is to understand the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are called by these words only, Kyrie eleison, for cause that they be of one nature, and the misericorde of God the Son is called by this other word here, Christe eleison. For howbeit that the Son, as touching the divinity be of one nature with the Father and the Holy Ghost, and not that withstanding he would take with this nature another nature, that is our human, for us to give the life perdurable.
After that, the priest beginneth: Gloria in excelsis, the which giveth witness of the nativity of our Lord. For when the angels of God had knowledge that God was born, then they all together enjoyed thereof, crying with a high voice: Glory and laud is in heaven to the Trinity, and also peace is in earth to all creatures that are of goodwill. For before that, all creatures were in no peace, for this, that then war was betwixt God and creatures, betwixt the angels and creatures, betwixt creature and creature. The inobedience of Adam caused the first war, of that he had offended God, whereof followed the two other wars. Therefore he that is very peace would be born in the earth for to show and set among us very peace, and therefore all the company of the angels of paradise sang with a high voice, Gloria in excelsis sit inter angelos, that is to say, Glory and lauding be among the angels in heaven, peace and concord be in earth betwixt creatures and God. For therefore he would take nature of God and man, for to render us peace and to him be reconciled. Therefore creature may, and oweth, to say of good heart to the ensample of angels of paradise these words following: Laudamus te, benedicimus te, glorificamus te, that is to say: We laud thee, we bless thee, we glorify thee, and for thy great glory we yield to thee graces and thanks. Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of God the Father, thou that takest away the sins of the world have mercy on us, thou that takest away the sins from the world wilt receive our prayers, thou that sittest on the right hand of the Father have mercy upon us, thou that art holy thou alone art Lord, thou only art highest, Jesu Christ, in the glory of God the Father with the Holy Ghost. And all these laudings doth the priest with his prayers in saying: Gloria in excelsis, etc., for all holy church.
After, when the priest hath said: Gloria in excelsis, he turneth him toward the people and saluteth them saying: Dominus vobiscum, and that signifieth salut which our Lord gave to his apostles after his blessed resurrection, when he appeared to them and said: Pax vobiscum, that is to say: Peace be with you, and for this, in that representing, he salueth the people, saying: Dommus vobiscum, to the end that the creature have his thought towards God; and the people answer: Et cum spiritu tuo, signifying that we ought for to pray for him that hath to say the orison, and that prayeth for us, to the end that his orison may be heard of God and enhanced.
Then returneth the priest towards the altar and sayeth: Oremus, that signifieth how yet again he inciteth us to pray, for in such manner did our Lord to his disciples, saying: Orate ne intritis in tentationem, that is to say: Honour and pray to God the Father to the end that ye enter not in evil temptation; and after, the priest goeth and prayeth, saying the orison for all creatures for the which he entendeth and hath in memory to pray for, and for this that our Lord hath said in the holy Evangel, all that ye shall ask of my Father in my name ye shall have. And after, the priest saith at the end of his orison: Per dominum nostrum Jesu Christum, as he would say: This that we pray thee of, we pray in the name of our Lord Jesu Christ, reigning with the Father and the Holy Ghost. And it is to wit that sometimes the priest also saith an orison the which signifieth unity of faith or unity of sacrament. Sometimes the priest saith three orisons to signify the Holy Trinity, or else for this, that our Lord in his passion honoured and prayed to God the Father three times. Sometimes he saith five orisons, in signifying the five wounds of our Lord.
Sometimes he saith seven, in signifying the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. And oweth every one to wit and know that as many as the priest saith of orisons at the beginning of the mass, as many he saith in his secret, and as many at the end of the mass, and for this same cause, as it shall appear more plainly at the second part.
After these orisons the epistle followeth, the which is as much worth as a message sent to some other by letter, and it signifieth the doctrine of the apostles of our Lord, the which were sent to our Lord for to teach and endoctrine the people unto the way of truth. It may be said also that this epistle signifieth the predication of S. John Baptist, the which was sent of God for to announce the coming and doctrine of him. In which lore he saith thus: Penitentiam agite, appropinquabit enim regnum celorum. That is to say: Do you penitence for the realm of heaven shall come nigh to you. And of his sweet coming saith yet S. John: Ecce agnus Dei, etc., that is to say: Here is the Lamb of God, here is he that taketh away the sins from the world. This same epistle may also give us testimony that our Lord will descend unto the precious sacrament of the altar for to sacrifice, as it shall appear in the second part of the mass, for after this that S. John had taught in his predication that we should do penitence for to acquire and have the realm of heaven, followeth the grail that may signify lamentation and embracement of penance. And after that the creature devout hath heard the predication of God, he oweth to put the hand to the works and to do after his power. For this grail here came out of Greek tongue, and signifieth how a creature oweth to mount or go up before God from degree to degree, by virtue of humility. And it is to wit that betwixt the octaves of Easter and Pentecost the grail is not said, for this that the grail signifieth, penance and lamentation or mourning. And in this time of Pasque our mother holy church ne doth but joy and maketh solation for the resurrection of Jesu Christ, and therefore is then said: Alleluia, which signifieth joy and consolation, for after that creature hath done penance by virtue of humility in weepings and lamentations he must lead after, joy and very consolation. For our Lord saith thus: Beati qui lugent, quoniam ipsi consolabuntur, that is to say: Blessed be those that weep by contrition, for they shall have very consolation. And it is to wit that this word alleluia is expounded in four manners after four doctors, the first is S. Austin, which exposeth it thus: Alleluia, id est, salvum me fac domine, Sir, save thou me. S. Jerome exposeth it thus: Alle, id est cantate, lu, id est laudem, ye, id est deum vel dominum, that is to say: Sing you lauding to our Lord Jesu Christ. S. Gregory exposeth it thus: Alle, id est aeter, lu, id est filius, ye, id est spiritus sanctus. That is to say: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Or thus he himself exposeth it: Alle, id est lux, lu, id est vita, ya, id est salus. Alleluya then, by the same exposition, is as much for to say as light, life, and health. Fourthly, Master Peter Antissidorensis expoundeth it much well, and saith thus: Alle, id est, altissimus levatus est in cruce, lu, id est, lugebant apostoli, ya, id est, jam surrexit. lt is as much for to say: The right high is lift on the cross, for the which thing the apostles have wept, and soon after he is risen. In the which exposition three things are showed to us. The first is the cruel passion of our Lord Jesu Christ. The second is the sorrow and anguish of the apostles, and the third is the mirth and joy of us, for he saith that our Lord is risen, and in tokening of that men sing, Alleluia. After this Alleluia, he saith the verse which signifieth all sweetness, and virtuous work, by the which men return to very jubilation, and therefore he repeateth the Alleluia after that the verse is said: for by good work men return again to very consolation, and it is to wit that from the Septuagesima unto Easter day, men owe not to say Alleluia, and instead of it they say the tract, the which tract signifieth weeping and lamentation, for the passion of our Lord Jesu Christ, that cometh nigh that time, that is to wit the holy time of Lent, and therefore a creature devout with all his heart, oweth to draw to think on that same holy passion; and during that time men say no sequence, for the sequence signifieth joy and consolation. And that time of Lent ne signifieth but mournings, and it is to wit that the sequence is said after Alleluia, and it is said specially on holy days and solemn, in signifying the plenty and the multitude of mirths and consolations that is signified by the said Alleluia and sequence. For inasmuch that the day is more solemn than other days, the more oweth creature to lead and make greater joy in lauding the holy Trinity.
After all these things, the priest translateth his book to the sinister part of the altar, for to say the evangel, in signifying how our Lord when he came down in earth for to expose the holy Evangel to all creatures, he drew him to the sinister part, that was toward the Jews, for to announce to them the holy Evangel, for at that time the Jews had drawn themselves to the left side, and for this the priest in that place may represent our Lord preaching and announcing the law. And to the end that he may exercise or do that office more perfectly, at the beginning of it he saith softly an orison that beginneth thus: Munda cor meum, etc., in the which orison he prayeth our Lord that he will make clean his heart, for to announce his predication. After that he demandeth the blessing of our Lord, saying: Jube domine benedicere, that is as much to say: Lord command thou that I may have thy blessing, and anon he, as lieutenant of our Lord, answereth and saith thus: Our Lord be in my heart and in my lips so that I may worthily and competently announce the holy Evangel of God in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
And after, the priest saluteth the people saying: Dominus vobiscum, for two causes. The first cause is to the intent that the people be the more incited to hear the word of God, and therefore the people draweth toward the Evangel and standeth on their feet after the ordinance of Anastasius, then pope, and signifieth that the people ought to be ready and apparelled to sustain the faith of God and very love.
After, for this, that yet the people be more incited to hear the Evangel of God the priest representeth the place of God and saith: Sequentia sancti evangelii, et cetera, in making the sign of the cross to the end that the enemy may not empesh him. Then the clerks and the people answer: Gloria tibi domine, in glorifying God that hath sent to them the word of salute, saying: To the Lord be lauding given by thy word to us showed.
Then the priest saith the Evangel, the which signifieth, as said is, the predication of our Lord God, the which finished and said, the priest warneth himself with the sign of the cross, to the intent that the enemy may not take away from the creatures hearts the word of God.
After followeth the creed, that is as the testimony and confirmation of the foresaid Evangel, the which was made and composed by the apostles of our Lord Jesu Christ, in signifying that this that the apostles said, firmly they believed, and believing announced it. And it is to wit that, the creed is said on the holy days of them that composed it, that is the apostles of our Lord Jesu Christ, and on the holy days of which mention is made within the same creed, that is to wit, all Sundays of the year, Christmas-day, Epiphany or twelfth day, Shere-thursday, Easter-day, Whitsunday, Trinity Sunday, and also in all holy days of our Lady, and of many others of which men make mention. And this may suffice as to the first part of the mass.
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