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§ 66. Parts of Worship.

1. The reading of Scripture lessons from the Old Testament with practical application and exhortation passed from the Jewish synagogue to the Christian church. The lessons from the New Testament came prominently into use as the Gospels and Epistles took the place of the oral instruction of the apostolic age. The reading of the Gospels is expressly mentioned by Justin Martyr, and the Apostolical Constitutions add the Epistles and the Acts.379379    BK. VII. 5.79 During the Pentecostal season the Acts of the Apostles furnished the lessons. But there was no uniform system of selection before the Nicene age. Besides the canonical Scripture, post-apostolic writings, as the Epistle of Clement of Rome, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Pastor of Hermas, were read in some congregations, and are found in important MSS. of the New Testament.380380    The Ep. of Clemens in the Codex Alexandrinus (A); Barnabas and Hermas in the Cod. Sinaiticus.80 The Acts of Martyrs were also read on the anniversary of their martyrdom.

2. The sermon381381    ̔ομιλία, λόγος, sermo, tractatus.81 was a familiar exposition of Scripture and exhortation to repentance and a holy life, and gradually assumed in the Greek church an artistic, rhetorical character. Preaching was at first free to every member who had the gift of public speaking, but was gradually confined as an exclusive privilege of the clergy, and especially the bishop. Origen was called upon to preach before his ordination, but this was even then rather an exception. The oldest known homily, now recovered in full (1875), is from an unknown Greek or Roman author of the middle of the second century, probably before a.d. 140 (formerly ascribed to Clement of Rome). He addresses the hearers as "brothers" and "sisters," and read from manuscript.382382    § 19, ἀναγινώσκω ὑμῖν. But the homily may have first been delivered extempore, and taken down by short-hand writers (ταχυγράφοι, notarii). See Lightfoot, p. 306.82 The homily has no literary value, and betrays confusion and intellectual poverty, but is inspired by moral earnestness and triumphant faith. It closes with this doxology: "To the only God invisible, the Father of truth, who sent forth unto us the Saviour and Prince of immortality, through whom also He made manifest unto us the truth and the heavenly life, to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen."383383    Ed. by Bryennios (1875), and in the Patr. Apost. ed. by de Gebhardt and Harnack, I. 111-143. A good translation by Lightfoot, S. Clement of Rome, Appendix, 380-390. Lightfoot says: "If the first Epistle of Clement is the earliest foreshadowing of a Christian liturgy, the so called Second Epistle is the first example of a Christian homily." He thinks that the author was a bishop; Harnack, that be was a layman, as be seems to distinguish himself from the presbyters. Lightfoot assigns him to Corinth, and explains in this way the fact that the homily was bound tip with the letter of Clement to the Corinthians; while Harnack ably maintain, the Roman origin from the time and circle of Hermas. Bryennios ascribe, ; it to Clement of Rome (which is quite impossible), Hilgenfeld to Clement of Alexandria (which is equally impossible).83

3. Prayer. This essential part of all worship passed likewise from the Jewish into the Christian service. The oldest prayers of post-apostolic times are the eucharistic thanksgivings in the Didache, and the intercession at the close of Clement’s Epistle to the Corinthians, which seems to have been used in the Roman church.384384    Ad Cor. ch. 59-61, discovered and first published by Bryennios, 1875. We give Clement’s prayer below, p. 228 sq. The prayers if the Didache(chs.9 and 10), brought to light by Bryennios, 1883, are still older, and breathe the spirit of primitive simplicity. See § 68.84 It is long and carefully composed, and largely interwoven with passages from the Old Testament. It begins with an elaborate invocation of God in antithetical sentences, contains intercession for the afflicted, the needy, the wanderers, and prisoners, petitions for the conversion of the heathen, a confession of sin and prayer for pardon (but without a formula of absolution), and closes with a prayer for unity and a doxology. Very touching is the prayer for rulers then so hostile to the Christians, that God may grant them health, peace, concord and stability. The document has a striking resemblance to portions of the ancient liturgies which begin to appear in the fourth century, but bear the names of Clement, James and Mark, and probably include some primitive elements.385385    See vol. III. 517 sqq., and add to the literature there, quoted, Probst (R.C.), Die Liturgie der 3 ersten Jahrh., Tüb., 1870; C. A. Hammond, Ancient Liturgies (with introduction, notes, and liturgical glossary), Oxford and Lond., 1878.85

The last book of the Apostolical Constitutions contains the pseudo- or post-Clementine liturgy, with special prayers for believers, catechumens, the possessed, the penitent, and even for the dead, and a complete eucharistic service.386386    Ap. Const., Bk. VIII., also in the liturgical collections of Daniel, Neale, Hammond, etc.86

The usual posture in prayer was standing with outstretched arms in Oriental fashion.

4. Song. The Church inherited the psalter from the synagogue, and has used it in all ages as an inexhaustible treasury of devotion. The psalter is truly catholic in its spirit and aim; it springs from the deep fountains of the human heart in its secret communion with God, and gives classic expression to the religious experience of all men in every age and tongue. This is the best proof of its inspiration. Nothing like it can be found in all the poetry of heathendom. The psalter was first enriched by the inspired hymns which saluted the birth of the Saviour of the world, the Magnificat of Mary, the Benedictus of Zacharias, the Gloria in Excelsis of the heavenly host, and the Nunc Dimittis of the aged Simeon. These hymns passed at once into the service of the Church, to resound through all successive centuries, as things of beauty which are "a joy forever." Traces of primitive Christian poems can be found throughout the Epistles and the Apocalypse. The angelic anthem (Luke 2:14) was expanded into the Gloria in Excelsis, first in the Greek church, in the third, if not the second, century, and afterwards in the Latin, and was used as the morning hymn.387387    Const. Apost. lib. VII. 47. Also in Daniel’s Thesaurus Hymnol., tom. III, p. 4, where it is called ὕμνος ἑωθινός(as in Cod. Alex.), and commences: Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις θεῷ. Comp. Tom. II. 268 sqq. It is also called hymnus angelicus while the Ter Sanctus (from Isa. 6:3) came afterwards to be distinguished as hymnus seraphicus. Daniel ascribes the former to the third century, Routh to the second. It is found with slight variations at the end of the Alexandrian Codex of the Bible (in the British Museum), and in the Zurich Psalter reprinted by Tischendorf in his Monumenta Sacra. The Latin form is usually traced to Hilary of Poictiers in the fourth century.87 It is one of the classical forms of devotion, like the Latin Te Deum of later date. The evening hymn of the Greek church is less familiar and of inferior merit.

The following is a free translation:

"Hail! cheerful Light, of His pure glory poured,

Who is th’ Immortal Father, Heavenly, Blest,

Holiest of Holies—Jesus Christ our Lord!

Now are we come to the Sun’s hour of rest,

The lights of Evening round us shine,

We sing the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost Divine!

Worthiest art Thou at all times, to be sung

With undefiled tongue,

Son of our God, Giver of Life alone!

Therefore, in all the world, Thy glories, Lord, we own."388388    Daniel, l.c. vol. III. p. 5. Comp. in part Const. Ap. VIII. 37. The ὕμνος ἑαπερινόςor ὕμνος τοῦ λυχνικοῦ, commences:
   Φῶς ἱλαρὸν ἁγίας δόχης

   Ἀθανάτου πατρὸς οὐρανίου.

An author towards the close of the second century389389    In Euseb. H. E. V. 28.89 could appeal against the Artemonites, to a multitude of hymns in proof of the faith of the church in the divinity of Christ: "How many psalms and odes of the Christians are there not, which have been written from the beginning by believers, and which, in their theology, praise Christ as the Logos of God?" Tradition says, that the antiphonies, or responsive songs; were introduced by Ignatius of Antioch. The Gnostics, Valentine and Bardesanes also composed religious songs; and the church surely learned the practice not from them, but from the Old Testament psalms.

The oldest Christian poem preserved to us which can be traced to an individual author is from the pen of the profound Christian philosopher, Clement of Alexandria, who taught theology ill that city before a.d. 202. It is a sublime but somewhat turgid song of praise to the Logos, as the divine educator and leader of the human race, and though not intended and adapted for public worship, is remarkable for its spirit and antiquity.390390    In the Paedag. III. 12 (p. 311 ed. Pott.); also in Daniel’s Thesaurus hymnologicus III. p. 3 and 4. Daniel calls it "vetustissimus hymnus ecclesiae", but the Gloria in Excelsis may dispute this claim. The poem has been often translated into Cierinan, by Münter (in Rambach’s Anthologie christl. Gesänge, I. p, 35); Dorner (Christologie, I. 293); Fortlage (Gesänge christl. Vorzeit, 1844, p. 38); and in rhyme by Hagenbach (Die K. G. der 3 ersten Jahrh. p. 222 sq.). An English translation may be found in Mrs. Charles: The Voice of Christian Life, in Song, N. York, 1858, p. 44 sq., and a closer one in the "Ante-Nicene Christian Library, " vol. V. p. 343 sq.90


I. The Prayer of the Roman Church from the newly recovered portion of the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, ch. 59–61 (in Bishop Lightfoot’s translation, St. Clement of Rome, Append. pp. 376–378):

"Grant unto us, Lord, that we may set our hope on Thy Name which is the primal source of all creation, and open the eyes of our hearts, that we may know Thee, who alone abidest Highest in the highest, Holy in the holy; who layest low the insolence of the proud: who scatterest the imaginings of nations; who settest the lowly on high, and bringest the lofty low; who makest rich and makest poor; who killest and makest alive; who alone art the Benefactor of spirits and the God of all flesh; who lookest into the abysses, who scannest the works of man; the Succor of them that are in peril, the Saviour of them that are in despair; the Creator and Overseer of every spirit; who multipliest the nations upon earth, and hast chosen out from all men those that love Thee through Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, through whom Thou didst instruct us, didst sanctify us, didst honor us. We beseech Thee, Lord and Master, to be our help and succor. Save those among us who are in tribulation; have mercy on the lowly; lift up the fallen; show Thyself unto the needy; heal the ungodly; convert the wanderers of Thy people; feed the hungry; release our prisoners; raise up the weak; comfort the faint-hearted. Let all the Gentiles know that Thou art God alone, and Jesus Christ is Thy Son, and we are Thy people and the sheep of Thy pastures

"Thou through Thine operation didst make manifest the everlasting faithful of the world. Thou, Lord, didst create the earth. Thou art faithful throughout all generations, righteous in Thy judgments, marvellous in strength and excellence. Thou that art wise in creating and prudent in establishing that which Thou hast made, that art good in the things which are seen and faithful with them that trust on Thee, pitiful and compassionate, forgive us our iniquities and our unrighteousnesses and our transgressions and shortcomings. Lay not to our account every sin of Thy servants and Thine handmaids, but cleanse us with the cleansing of Thy truth, and guide our steps to walk in holiness and righteousness and singleness of heart, and to do such things as are good and well-pleasing in Thy sight and in the sight of our rulers. Yea Lord, make Thy face to shine upon us in peace for our good, that we may be sheltered by Thy mighty hand and delivered from every sin by Thine uplifted arm. And deliver up from them that hate us wrongfully. Give concord and peace to us and to all that dwell on the earth, as thou gavest to our fathers, when they called on Thee in faith and truth with holiness, that we may be saved, while we render obedience to Thine almighty and most excellent Name, and to our rulers and governors upon the earth.

"Thou, Lord and Master, hast given them the power of sovereignty through Thine excellent and unspeakable might, that we knowing the glory and honor which Thou hast given them may submit ourselves unto them, in nothing resisting Thy will. Grant unto them therefore, O Lord, health, peace, concord, stability, that they may administer the government which Thou hast given them without failure. For Thou, O heavenly Master, King of the ages, givest to the sons of men glory and honor and power over all things that are upon earth. Do Thou, Lord, direct their counsel according to that which is good and well pleasing in Thy sight, that, administering in peace and gentleness with godliness the power which Thou hast given them, they may obtain Thy favor. O Thou, who alone art able to do these things and things far more exceeding good than these for us, we praise Thee through the High-priest and Guardian of our souls, Jesus Christ, through whom be, the glory and the majesty unto Thee both now and for all generations and for ever and ever. Amen."

II. A literal translation of the poem of Clement of Alexandria in praise of Christ.

Ὕμνος τοῦ Σωτῆρος χριστού. (Στομίον πώλων ἀδάων).

"Bridle of untamed colts,

O footsteps of Christ,

Wing of unwandering birds,

O heavenly way,

Sure Helm of babes,

Perennial Word,

Shepherd of royal lambs!

Endless age,

Assemble Thy simple children,

Eternal Light,

To praise holily,

Fount of mercy,

To hymn guilelessly

Performer of virtue.

With innocent mouths

Noble [is the] life of those

Christ, the guide of children.

Who praise God

O Christ Jesus,

O King of saints,

Heavenly milk

All-subduing Word

Of the sweet breasts

Of the most high Father,

Of the graces of the Bride,

Prince of wisdom,

Pressed out of Thy wisdom.

Support of sorrows,

That rejoicest in the ages,

Babes nourished

Jesus, Saviour

With tender mouths,

Of the human race,

Filled with dewy spirit

Shepherd, Husbandman,

Of the spiritual breast.

Helm, Bridle,

Let us sing together

Heavenly Wing,

Simple praises

Of the all holy flock,

True hymns

Fisher of men

To Christ [the] King,

Who are saved,

Holy reward

Catching the chaste fishes

For the doctrine of life.

With sweet life

Let us sing together,

From the hateful wave

Sing in simplicity

Of a sea of vices.

To the mighty Child.

O choir of peace,

Guide [us], Shepherd

The Christ begotten,

Of rational sheep;

O chaste people

Guide harmless children,

Let us praise together

O holy King.

The God of peace."

This poem was for sixteen centuries merely a hymnological curiosity, until an American Congregational minister, Dr. Henry Martyn Dexter, by a happy reproduction, in 1846, secured it a place in modern hymn-books. While preparing a sermon (as He. informs me) on "some prominent characteristics of the early Christians" (text, Deut. 32:7, "Remember the days of old"), he first wrote down an exact translation of the Greek hymn of Clement, and then reproduced and modernized it for the use of his congregation in connection with the sermon. It is well known that many Psalms of Israel have inspired some of the noblest Christian hymns. The 46th Psalm gave the key-note of Luther’s triumphant war-hymn of the Reformation: "Ein’ feste Burg." John Mason Neale dug from the dust of ages many a Greek and Latin hymn, to the edification of English churches, notably some portions of Bernard of Cluny’s De Contemptu Mundi, which runs through nearly three thousand dactylic hexameters, and furnished the material for "Brief life is here our portion." "For thee, O dear, dear Country," and "Jerusalem the golden." We add Dexter’s hymn as a fair specimen of a useful transfusion and rejuvenation of an old poem.

1. Shepherd of tender youth,

None calls on Thee in vain;

Guiding in love and truth

Help Thou dost not disdain—

    Through devious ways;

    Help from above.

Christ, our triumphant King,

We come Thy name to sing;

4. Ever be Thou our Guide,

Hither our children bring

Our Shepherd and our Pride,

    To shout Thy praise!

    Our Staff and Song!

Jesus, Thou Christ of God

2. Thou art our Holy Lord,

By Thy perennial Word

The all-subduing Word,

Lead us where Thou hast trod,

    Healer of strife!

    Make our faith strong.

Thou didst Thyself abase,

That from sin’s deep disgrace

5. So now, and till we die,

Thou mightest save our race,

Sound we Thy praises high,

    And give us life.

    And joyful sing:

Infants, and the glad throng

3. Thou art the great High Priest;

Who to Thy church belong,

Thou hast prepared the feast

Unite to swell the song

    Of heavenly lov

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