A Glossary of Basic Liturgical Terms

[Included after the Preface of the 1843 edition of Lebrun]

Explanation of certain words that are found in this volume and are perhaps not familiar to everyone.

LITURGY is a Greek word composed of λέϊτον, which means public, and of ἔργον, which means work, which in French we call le Service divin, or simply and excellently le Service. The books that contain the manner of celebrating the holy Mysteries are called Liturgies (in French). Everything that pertains to liturgies is called LITURGICAL, and the authors who work in this field are called LITURGISTS.

RITE, in Latin Ritus, signifies a usage or a ceremony according to a prescribed order. We say equally rite or recte to indicate that which is well done, in order, according to custom, because only that which is thought good is prescribed. What is prescribed at Rome is called the Roman Rite, at Milan the Milanese or Ambrosian Rite, at Paris or Lyon the Parisian and Lyonnese Rite. This term is not ordinarily employed outside the domain of religion. Festus calls the books that contained the ceremonies for the consecration of cities, temples, and altars Rituals, and at present we call a RITUAL the book that prescribes the manner of administering the sacraments.

MOZARABIC RITE. The rite of the churches of Spain from the beginning of the 8th century to the end of the 11th. The Arabs having taken Spain in 712, the Spanish who remained under their domination were called Mozarabes, which means foreign Arabs, to distinguish them from the original Arabs. The proper term is Mostarabe, or in the Spanish pronunciation Moçarabe. We speak about them in the treatise on the ancient rite of the Churches of Spain.

It is sufficient to remark here that the rite is often called the GOTHIC, from the Goths who became Christian and masters of Spain until the time of the Moors. This rite is observed in one chapel of the cathedral church of Toledo according to the Missal printed by Cardinal Ximenès in 1500.

SACRAMENTARY. This was the book containing the prayers and words that the bishops or priests recite during the celebration of Mass and the administration of the sacraments. In later times, the book in which only the parts pertaining to the bishop were written was called a PONTIFICAL; and the one where only the parts celebrated or administered by priests, is called a SACERDOTAL, RITUAL, or MANUAL.

MISSAL. This well-known book contains everything said at Mass throughout the year, but the greater part of the ancient missal manuscripts about which we speak in this work only contain what the celebrant said at the altar, i.e. the Canon and the others prayers of the Mass. A PLENARY MISSAL is the book that contains not only what the priest says but also what is said by the deacon and sub-deacon and choir. These kinds of missals were necessary for the Low Mass, and in our time all the missals printed are plenary missals.

ANTIPHONAL, or according to some, the ANTIPHONARY. Formerly the name of the book that contained all that must be chanted by the choir during the Mass, for which reason the introits were entitled Antiphona ad Introitum. But for a long time now Antiphonals have only contained the antiphons of Matins, Lauds, and the other canonical hours.

ROMAN ORDO. The book that contains the material for celebrating the Mass and the offices of the principle days of the year, especially the last four days of Holy Week and the Octave of Easter. This ordo was expanded later and called a CEREMONIAL.

ORDINARY. The name of the book that, for five or six centuries, has indicated what is to be said and done each day at the altar and in choir. Ancient communities have even added to it what is generally observed during the day. This is why the Cistercians have called it THE USE and the Premonstratensians THE CUSTOMARY.

ORDINARY OF THE MASS. This is what we call what is said at each Mass, to distinguish it from what is proper to feasts and other days of the year.

AMALARIUS is the author of a Treatise on the ecclesiastical Offices composed around 820.

MICROLOGUE is a word taken from Greek, composed of μικρὸς and λόγος, which together mean “short discourse.” An author of the 11th century wrote a treatise on the Mass and the other divine offices under the title Micrologus de ecclesiasticis observationibus, and since the author is never named, he is cited interchangably with his book under the name Micrologus, the Micrologue. He was a contemporary of Pope Gregory VII but wrote after the death of this pope in 1085. That is why this treatise, often cited in this work, is placed around the year 1090.

Deo gratias!—

Belleville Breviary
The Sacrifice and Allegory of Charity, in the Belleville Breviary (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris)


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