There was a man from Hus: The Magnificent Offertory of Job

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R. Vir erat in terra nomine Iob, simplex et rectus, ac timens Deum: quem Satan petiit, ut tentaret: et data est ei potestas a Domino in facultate et in carne eius: perdiditque omnem substantiam ipsius, et filios: carnem quoque eius graui ulcere uulneravit.

V. Utinam appenderentur peccata mea; utinam appenderentur peccata mea, quibus iram merui, quibus iram merui; et calamitas, et calamitas quam patior, hec grauior appareret.

R. Vir erat.

V. Que est enim, que est enim, que est enim fortitudo mea ut sustineam? Aut quis finis meus ut patienter agam?

R. Vir erat.

V. Numquid fortitudo lapidum est fortitudo mea? Aut caro mea enea est? Aut caro mea enea est?

R. Vir erat. 

V. Quoniam, quoniam, quoniam non reuertetur oculus meus ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona.

R. There was a man in the land, Job by name, simple and upright, and fearing God. Satan asked to tempt him, and power was given to him by the Lord over his possessions and his flesh. And he wasted all his substance and his sons, and he wounded his flesh, too, with a grievous ulcer.

V. Oh that my sins were weighed! Oh that my sins were weighed! whereby I have deserved wrath! whereby I have deserved wrath! And the calamity! And the calamity which I suffer would appear heavier!

R. There was a man…

V. For what is, for what is, for what is my strength that I should hold out? Or what is mine end, that I should bear patiently?

R. There was a man…

V. Is my strength the strength of stones? Or is my flesh of bronze? Or is my flesh of bronze?

R. There was a man…

V. For, for, for mine eye shall not turn back for me to see good things, see good things, see good things, see good things, see good things, see good things, see good things, see good things, see good things.

On the Offertory Vir erat
Liber officialis, Amalarius of Metz

By the by, I am reminded of the repetition of words in the verses of the Offertory Vir erat. I do not want to pass over what I have thought about it, even though in the order of things it would be more correct, after the Nativity of John the Baptist, to write about Christ’s Nativity. The repetition of words is not in the Offertory itself but in its verses. The words of the historical writer are contained in the Offertory; the words of the ailing and suffering Job in the verses. A sick man whose breathing is weak and unhealthy often repeats broken phrases. In order to create a vivid memory of Job in his sickness, the author of the office repeated certain phrases several times in the manner of sick men. The words are not repeated, as I said, in the Offertory itself, because the historical writer was not sick as he wrote the history.

De offerenda Vir erat in terra. 

Interim occurrit michi repeticio uerborum, que est in uersibus offertorii Vir erat, nolui pretermittere quod sensi de illa, quamuis ordo rerum teneat post scripcionem natiuitatis sancti Ioannis, natiuitatem Christi scribere. In offertorio non est repetitio uerborum, in uersibus est. Verba historici continentur in offertorio: verba Iob egroti et dolentis continentur in uersibus. Egrotus cuius anhelitus non est sanus, neque fortis, solet uerba imperfecta sepius repetere. Officii auctor, ut effectanter nobis ad memoriam reduceret egrotantem Iob, repetiuit sepius uerba more egrotantium. In offertorio, ut dixi, non sunt uerba repetita, quia historicus scribens historiam non egrotabat.

Job 3.jpg
Postilles de Nic. de Lire sur la Bible. Latin 11974

Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Latin 11974, fol. 34v.

On the Offertory Vir erat
(Pseudo-) Alcuin, Liber de Divinis Officiis

The historical words are contained in the Offertory; the words of Job, sick and suffering, are contained in the verses. The sick man, whose breathing is neither healthy nor strong, often repeats broken phrases. The author of the office, that he might poignantly bring to our mind the sick Job, often repeats words in the manner of a sick man. In the Offertory the words are not repeated, because the historian writing the history was not sick. In the verses of this Offertory the words are doubled and trebled and multiplied. Job was marvelously stricken, and marvelously and singularly praised amongst the ancient Fathers for his victory of patience. Therefore it is not far from reality if his words in the verses, where he himself speaks, are composed in another way than the other verses. Job was plucked like a guitar; anguish followed upon anguished in swift succession, and wound upon wound. After the jokester had spoken, another man entered. When one king who cursed him was defeated, another followed right after. His anguish was manifold, and according to the multitude of his anguish, he often repeated words, as if unable to proceed for lack of breath. For the author of the antiphonary is used to show the various emotions of the saints through a difference in the singing or in the order of words, as he did for John Symmysta[1] through the jubilus on the sense of the words “wisdom and understanding” in the Responsory In medio Ecclesiae,[2] where he so to speak imitates the ineffable word about whom he wrote saying In principio erat Verbum, and as he arranged in the order of the office sung for the mass of the Innocents, in which the Gloria in excelsis Deo and Alleluia are omitted on account of Rachel’s weeping, who went before as a figure of our holy Mother the Church, or perhaps because it was the time when the martyrs went down into the cloister of Hell and the ancient Fathers awaited Christ’s descent.

De offertorio Vir erat in terra. (Pseudo-)Alcuin, Liber de divinis officiis

Verba historica continentur in offertorio; verba Iob aegroti et dolentis continentur in versibus. Aegrotus, cuius anhelitus non est sanus, neque fortis, solet verba imperfecta saepius repetere. Officii auctor, ut affectanter nobis ad memoriam reduceret aegrotantem Iob, repetivit saepius verba more aegroti. In offertorio non sunt verba repetita, quia historicus, scribens historiam, non aegrotabat. In versibus praedicti offertorii duplicantur sive triplicantur ac multiplicantur verba. Iob fuit mirabiliter flagellatus, et mirabiliter ac singulariter inter antiquos Patres victoria patientiae laudatus. Ideo non abhorret a vero, si alio modo composita sint verba sua per suos versus, in quibus ipse videtur loqui, quam caeterorum versuum. Iob sicut cithara percutiebatur, id est, cita iteratione dolor dolorem sequebatur, vulnus vulnus. Praesente nugigerulo, alter intrabat. Convicto uno rege obiurgante se, illico alter succedebat. Multiplex fuit eius dolor, et secundum multitudinem doloris, anhelitus deficiens saepius repetebat. Solet enim auctor antiphonarii aut distinctione cantus, aut distinctione ordinis, varium affectum monstrare sanctorum: sicut de Ioanne Symmysta fecit per neumam circa intellectum verborum, sapientiae et intellectus, in responsorio, In medio Ecclesiae. In quo quodammodo imitatur verbum ineffabile, de quo dicebat: In principio erat verbum. Et sicut fecit in ordine officii, quod canitur de missa Innocentium, in quo subtrahitur, Gloria in excelsis Deo, et Alleluia, propter plorationem Rachel, quae in figura praecessit matris nostrae sanctae Ecclesiae: aut quia tempus erat, quo tunc ad inferni claustra descendebant passi, et exspectabant antiqui Patres Christi descensum.

Job 1 (Hurlbutt)
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Latin 15675, fol. 5v.


[1] The Evangelist. From the Greek (συμμύστης), meaning comrade, as John was Christ’s beloved. The word is used several times in the corpus, especially by Rabanus Maurus.

Ducange’s entry includes a curiosity about the word’s later use in France: “P. de Colonia rightly observes that it is a corruption of “symmista” in the former sense, when the six priests who assist the bishop of Lyon at mass on solemn feasts are called six muses [i.e. “six muses].” A Symmista priori notione sine dubio, voce corrupta, ut recte observat P. de Colonia in Histor. Litteraria Lugdun. tom. 2. pag. 68. sex Presbyteri qui in festis solemnioribus Archiep. Lugdunensi sacra peragenti assistunt, Six muses vulgo appellantur.

[2] In medio ecclesiae aperuit os eius, et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiae et intellectus. V. Misit Dominus manum suam et tetigit os meum.


Myths and Facts about the Offertory: Part 2

The Consilium sets out to work.

Previously we outlined some of the missteps that led 20th century scholars down the path toward reconstructing a popular offertory procession with no historical precedent in the Roman Rite. Today we present more recent research, especially by Joseph Dyer, which has upturned both the notion of a primitive Offertory procession and the idea that the Offertory chant was originally antiphonal.

Evidence from Tertullian and St Cyprian of Carthage shows that the faithful were expected to make offerings for the celebration of the Eucharist by the third century in north Africa, but the evidence does not permit one to extrapolate the conclusion that these gifts were ritually presented during the course of the liturgy by the laity. Instead, the Coptic, Arabic, Abyssinian, and Latin versions of the Apostolic Tradition, one of the best surviving witnesses of the pre-Constantinian liturgy, all agree that it was the deacons who presented the offerings to the bishop[1], which perfectly befits the ancient understanding of deacons as the bishop’s liturgical stewards[2]. The Syriac version going under the name Testamentum Domini suggests that the laity left their offerings in some sort of side-room before the Eucharistic celebration began.

St. Clement (Maniple, offertory)
11th century fresco from San Clemente in Rome. Notice the small children offering crown-shaped oblations.

After the reign of Constantine, in north Africa in particular, the custom did eventually arise of laymen bringing their offerings up to the altar during the celebration itself. St Augustine attests to it, as do other contemporary sources, and excavations of certain African basilicas from before the sixth century show that the altar was placed near the middle of the nave, facilitating the laity’s access thereto. But this custom was peculiar to Africa: in the Eastern and Gallican liturgies, the gifts continued to be brought up by clerics, following the Apostolic Tradition, and there is no evidence of lay participation in them.

When it comes to the Roman rite, the earliest detailed description of the liturgical celebration is furnished by the Ordo Romanus I, which dates to the end of the 7th or the beginning of the 8th century and describes the Roman Papal Mass prior to the hybridization with Frankish rites that resulted from the Carolingian reforms. When it comes to the Offertory, the Ordo reads:

The Pontiff, after he says Oremus, immediately goes down to the senatorium[3], while the primicerius notariorum holds his right hand and the primicerius defensorum his left, and he receives the offerings of the noblemen by order of rank. […] Before crossing towards the women’s section, the Pontiff goes down before the confessio and receives the offerings of the primicerius and secundicerius and primicerius defensorum, for on feasts they make their offering for the altar after the deacons. Likewise, the Pontiff goes up to the women’s section and follows the abovementioned order[4].

There is no Offertory procession of any sort: the Pope himself descends from the presbyterium to receive the gifts from representatives of the Roman nobility. That the Ordo does not mention the ordinary laity at all here is important, because it does when describing the communion.

The Roman rite was imported by Blessed Charlemagne into the Frankish lands, where the local Gallican rite did include a clerical offertory procession. Eventually, the laity began to participate in this procession as well. In the first half of the 9th century, Amalarius of Metz describes an offertory procession where gifts were first brought up by the laymen, then by the laywomen, and finally by the clergy. This order is confirmed by the Ordo Romanus V, which dates to the later 9th century, and adds that the schola sang during this procession.

Thenceforth a plethora of sources confirm the existence of lay Offertory procession north of the Alps, and it is the object of edifying exegesis by the great mediæval liturgical commentators. It was widespread until the waning of the Middle Ages, although vestiges thereof survived in parts of France and Germany into the 19th century.[5]However, this procession was not part of the primitive liturgy of Rome. Had it not commended itself so well to the prejudices of 20th century liturgical scholarship, it surely would have been contemned as yet another Frankish mediæval “accretion” to the noble simplicity of the primitive Roman rite, rather than been the subject of so many liturgical daydreams that came true in 1970 with the promulgation of the new Mass.

The case of the ornate Offertory verses is the opposite. They were long assumed to be late compositions. Apel believes he can “safely assign them to the second half of the ninth century, or perhaps, in their final form, even to the early tenth century”[6]. Their complexity obviously made them impossible for congregations to sing, and this might explain why there they saw no general revival in the 20th century. More recent scholarship, however, has shown there is no reason to assume they were composed any later than the other propers of the Mass.

Image result for st clement frescoes cyril and methodius
A papal mass, from the same San Clemente cycle. You can see three standards of the regional churches.

The first mention of the Offertory chant is often taken to be a comment by St Augustine in his Liber retractationum, which mentions a custom that had recently arisen in Carthage of singing “hymns from the book of Psalms either before the oblationem, or while what was offered was distributed to the people”, a practice opposed by a certain layman named Hilarius, against whom St Augustine wrote a book, now lost[7]. This bibliographical passage has been thoroughly abused to draw all manner of conclusions. Jungmann unaccountably concludes that the Offertory chant was introduced through Augustine’s own efforts, and Apel takes it as certain evidence for the antiphonal origin of the Offertory, like the Introit and Communion. As Dyer explains, however, the word oblatio might well refer to the entire Eucharistic liturgy rather than to the offertory specifically, in which case Hilarius might have been complaining against the Introit. In fact, the Liber pontificalis claims that Pope St Celestine I introduced the singing of the Introit at about this very time period. But even if Augustine is referring to the offertory, he is nevertheless clear that this objectionable psalm-singing occurs before it. Dyer plausibly suggests Hilarius was criticizing the introduction in Carthage of a rite akin to the Byzantine Great Entrance; in fact the Byzantine Great Entrance chant was the subject of criticism in the sixth century because some alleged it seemed to refer to the unconsecrated bread and wine in terms appropriate only after the consecration.[8]

There is actual evidence of singing during the Offertory rites in the Byzantine rite by the fifth century and the Gallican rite by the sixth, but the Ordo Romanus Primusis again the earliest reference thereof in the Roman rite. None of the early Roman ordines refer to the Offertory chant as an antiphon; the term only appears in late mediæval and Renaissance books written after the Offertory verses were no longer sung[9]. The Ordo XV is particularly concerned about the correct interpretation of antiphonal psalmody in the Introit and Communion, and describes it in detail, but does not state that this description applies also to the Offertory.

Marginalia (music)
“Belt it out boys, the pesky people are starting to participate again!”

The earliest sources containing the text, but not the music, of the propers of the Mass are the Antiphoners of Mt Blandin (8th-9th c.), Compiègne (9th c.), and Senlis (between 877 and 882). They all contain the same Offertory verses which in later manuscripts with musical notation are set to ornate music. As already mentioned, these verses are free compositions sometimes based on psalms but which draw from other sources as well. They often feature the repetition of words or phrases, a fact already noted by Amalarius in the 8th century in his commentary on the Offertory Vir erat. It is extremely difficult to believe that these verses were ever sung to standard ‘offertory tones’ like the ones for the Introit, Communion, or Mattins responsories. As Dyer states, “The conclusion is inescapable that Amalarius [and the authors of the antiphoners] was familiar with offertories with few, relatively florid verses with the flexibility to handle a subjective treatment of the text”[10].

One final argument defenders of the antiphonal origin of the Offertory chant might proffer are the statements in Aurelianus’ Musica disciplina which seem to reference offertory tones like the ones for the Introit, Communion, and Mattins responsories; it is this very text that Apel adduced to date these verses to the 9th or even 10th century. Aurelianus’ use of the term “tone” is problematic, however, and Dyer convincingly argues he means the final of a musical piece, which allows it to be classified into modes, rather than a “psalmodic formula” to sing verses. In any case, no other source attests to the existence of Offertory psalm tones.

There is no reason, then, to believe that the Offertory was originally an antiphonal chant like the Introit or Communion that suffered a sudden mutation, nor that the ornate Offertory verses are late Frankish insertions into the Roman rite. They almost certainly pre-date the introduction of a long Offertory procession, and one must therefore search for an explanation of their length and ornamentation elsewhere. As the florid melodies of the Gradual, Alleluia, and Tract prepare the soul of the worshipper for the climax of the liturgy of the catechumens— the singing of the Gospel—so the even more florid Offertory elevates the soul before the apotheosis of the liturgy of the faithful, and indeed of the entire Mass—the Consecration itself.

The tale of the Offertory responsory is ultimately a cautionary one. Ideological prejudice led scholars to incorrectly date the introduction of the Offertory procession of the laity in the Roman rite, and that in turn led them to assume the Offertory chant was originally something it was not. This led the magnificent Offertory verses to be deprecated as late insertions into the rite, and they were consequently ignored by reformers who otherwise eagerly pushed for the restoration of “authentic” elements of the Roman rite. And thus even to-day the faithful are still largely deprived of one of the jewels of the repertoire of Western chant.

Jaws of Hell
A Consilium sub-committee?


[1]E.g., in the Verona palimpsest, Illi [the bishop]vero offerant diacones oblationem, quique imponens manus in earn cum omni prebyterio dicat gratias agens : Dominus vobiscum.

[2]Fr Hunwicke has written an illuminating series on this: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.

[3]An area to the right side of the altar reserved for men of high rank. The pars mulierum is likely the equivalent for high ranking ladies, on the left side.

[4]Pontifex autem, postquam dicit Oremus, statim descendit ad senatorium, tenente manum eius dexteram primicerio notariorum et primicerio defensorum sinistram, et suscipit oblationes principum per ordinem archium. […] Pontifex vero, antequam transeat in partem mulierum, descendit ante confessionem et suscipit oblatas primicerii et secundicerii et primicerii defensorum; nam in diebus festis post diacones ad altare offerunt. Similiter ascendens pontifex in parte feminanim et complet superscriptum ordinem.

[5]See the footnotes in Jungmann, Missarum Solemnia, Vol. II, 22-23.

[6]Apel, op. cit., p. 513

[7]Inter haec Hilarus quidam vir tribunitius, laicus catholicus, nescio unde adversus Dei ministros, ut fieri assolet, irritatus, morem qui tunc esse apud Carthaginem coeperat ut hymni ad altare dicerentur de psalmorum libro, sive ante oblationem, sive cum distribueretur populo quod fuisset oblatum, maledica reprekensione, ubicumque poterat, lacerabat, asserens fieri non oportere. Huic respondi, jubentibus fratribus, et vocatur liber Contra Hilarum.

[8]Dyer, “Augustine and the Hymni ante oblationem: The Earliest Offertory Chants?”

[9]The Roman Missal referred to it simply as “Offertorium” until 1962, probably under the influence of contemporary scholarship, when it was labelled “Ant. ad Offertorium”.

[10]Dyer, “The Offertory Chant of the Roman Liturgy and its Musical Form”.

Myths and Facts about the Offertory: Part 1

One of the greatest delights of the current moment in the Roman liturgical year is the often spectacular set of Offertories sung in these late Sundays after Pentecost. Lamentably, the faithful to-day are almost everywhere deprived of the chance to hear these Roman offertories in their full ancient form. The magnificent verses that originally accompanied the Offertory respond fell out of use during the 12th and 13th centuries, and hence were not included in the Tridentine books. The amputation of these verses, especially those of several post-Pentecostal dominical Offertories, constitutes a real impoverishment of the Western liturgical patrimony.

The liturgical reformers of the 20th century might have been expected to show some interest in restoring the full ancient Offertories, especially given that several of them encouraged the restoration of the practice of singing additional psalm verses with the Introit and Communion antiphons, as many as the length of the ceremonies might require. The melismatic Offertory verses, however, mostly languished in neglect.

In 1935, Karl Ott published an Offertoriale with the additional verses, hoping that they would once again be sung, but few scholæ seem to have made use of the book, not least because it left much to be desired from the perspective of musical restoration. Academic studies of liturgical music also largely tended to ignore the Offertories, which thus remained the least understood of the proper chants of the Mass.

One must be forgiven the suspicion that the neglect of the Offertory responsories was at least partly due to ideological predispositions. In the single-minded ambition to achieve active participation by making laymen do things, two mistaken convictions played a large role: that laymen in ancient times  participated in Offertory processions by bringing up their gifts to the altar, and that they sang the propers of the Mass. Both propositions, however, rest on surprisingly flimsy evidence.

Joseph Jungmann’s standard history of the Mass, Missarum Sollemnia, presents the received view of the Offertory ritual and music:

The entrance of the clergy at the start of Mass was made to the accompaniment of the introit sung by the schola cantorum. It was then but a natural application of the same principle that suggested that the “procession” of the people at the offertory and communion—both interruptions of the audible part of the Mass—should be enlivened and enriched by psalmodic song.[1]

Having decided the Offertory chant was equivalent in purpose to the Introit and Communion antiphons, Jungmann draws the conclusion that:

At first the offertory chant probably had the same antiphonal design as the chant at the introit: the schola, divided into two choirs, sang a psalm alternately, with an antiphon as prelude. The psalm varied from celebration to celebration, taking into account, as far as possible, the church year with its festival and seasons.[2]

Offertory (Drogo Sacramentary)
The ivory plates on the cover of the Drogo Sacramentary, depicting an offertory procession in the bottom left corner.

Other standard works on the Mass repeat the same account. Adrian Fortescue, e.g., uncritically states that, “like the Introit and Communion”, the Offertory was originally an antiphon sung with psalm verses, which dropped out of use in later centuries as the Offertory procession died out[3]. As far back as the 17th century Giovanni Bona, whose title was as Eminent as his learning, was already disseminating this view[4]. Books on Gregorian chant also repeat this, such as Willi Apel in his standard work entitled, whether by dearth of creativity or excess of ambition, Gregorian Chant:

Originally every member of the clergy and of the congregation participated in this pious act by bringing gifts which were consecrated and of which they received a part during the Communion […] The Offertory was still an antiphonal chant, probably an entire Psalm or the major part of it was sung antiphonally, similar to the Introit and Communion […] From the liturgical point of view, the Offertories belong in the same class as the Introit and Communion, i.e., chants accompanying an action, as opposed to the purely contemplative lesson chants, the Graduals, Alleluias, Tracts, and Responsories.[5]

In light of this consensus it is astounding to find that the earliest musical manuscripts entirely fail to comport to this account. The Offertory melodies in the sources diverge completely from the more simple Introits and Communions, and are instead more akin to the “purely contemplative lesson chants”: ornate, richly melismatic, with an ample range and frequently changing register and even tonality. In fact, in these qualities the Offertories often surpass any Gradual or Alleluia. Offertories do have verses, but these are not like the psalm verses sung to recitative tones as in the Introit and Communion; rather, they are like the freely composed verses of Graduals or Alleluias, meant to be sung by a soloist, full of “repetitions of words and musical phrases, chromaticisms, and lengthy melismas”[6].

The offertory Iubilate Deo, with its two verses, from SG 399.

To account for the discrepancy between assumption and fact, Jungmann has recourse to another assumption: “It is a striking fact [sic] that at a very early period the antiphonal performance of the offertory was abandoned and a responsorial style substituted for it”. Struggling to explain why this substitution might have occured, he goes on to say that “it is almost certain that the main consideration was to give the offertory chant a certain lengthiness, in view (obviously) of the people’s procession”. This could have easily been achieved by singing several psalm verses like the Introit and Communion, but perhaps “the responsorial form was chosen to make it easier for the singers to take part in the offertory procession”. His imagination continues,

This resulted in a shortening of the psalm, along with a corresponding compensation by both the enrichment of the melody of the verse sung as a solo, and by the repetition of the antiphon or a part thereof, after the manner of a refrain. This refrain could, of course, have been turned over to the people, but by this time there was obviously little interest in such participation of the people in responsorial chanting, at least in the greater stational services.[7]

Apel even ventures to give an approximate date for the Offertory chant’s strange mutation, viz. between 850 and 900, given that Aurelianus’ Musica disciplina, which seems to mention Offertory reciting verse tones like those of the Introit, was written around the former date, and later tonaries give no suggestion of such tones[8].

The elaborate Offertory verses were therefore taken to be Carolingian accretions that betrayed benighted notions of popular participation. They could hardly be expected to enjoy favor when ideals of congregational bustle and the exaltation of the pre-mediæval “primitive” Roman liturgy were among the main features of the Zeitgeist. Some liturgical reformers did call for the restoration of Offertory verses, but it is clear they were imagining psalm verses sung to simple reciting melodies like the Introit, which might taken up by a congregation, rather than the verses actually attested in the manuscripts, necessarily the preserve of trained singers. Fr H A Reinhold, for instance, dreamed of an “ideal parish Mass” where “all during the offertory the schola sang one of the old offertory verses […] The people took up the short responses”[9]. In the avant-garde liturgy he celebrated in the chapel of St Gertrude, Canon Pius Parsch actually put some of Reinhold’s reveries into effect: “As the choir chants the Offertory psalm and the community sings the refrain [in German], the Offertory procession begins”[10].

In the wake of the liturgical revolution after the Second Vatican Council, the novel Roman Mass duly featured an Offertory procession of the laity and dropped the Offertory chants from the Missal (although they were preserved in the 1974 Gradual, without verses).

As we shall see to-morrow, however, later research has demonstrated that the Offertory procession was not part of the primitive Roman rite, and there is no evidence that the Roman Offertory chant was originally antiphonal in the mould of the Introit or Communion.


[1]Jungmann, Joseph. Trans. by Francis Brunner. The Mass of the Roman Rite. Vol. II, p. 26.


[3]Fortescue, Adrian.The Mass, p. 303.

[4]Chorus canit antiphonam quae Offertorium nuncupatur, quia antiquo more populus interim sua dona offerebat. (Rerum liturgicarum libri duo, vol. II, VIII, 3.)

[5]Apel, Willi. Gregorian Chant, p. 192-3, 363.

[6]Hildey, David. Western Plainchant: A Handbook, p. 126.

[7]Jungmann, op. cit., p. 29.

[8]Apel, op cit., p. 512.

[9]Reinhold, H. A., “My Dream Mass” quoted in Reid, Alcuin. The Organic Development of the Liturgy, p. 109.

[10]Muellerleile, Ernest, quoted in Reid, Alcuin, op. cit. p. 111.

The Mystical Meaning of the Morning (GA 2.31-35)

On Lauds (Ch. 31 – 45)

Ch. 31
The Dignity of Morning Lauds

Creation (Hurlbutt)
Passauer Calendar
Universitätsbibliothek Kassel, 2° Ms. astron. 1, fol. 70v.

Among the pagans the gods of the underworld were called Manes because they would send the day upon the earth in the morning, which they had held captive during the night. From Manes, therefore, we have morning (mane), i.e. “good,” because nothing seems better to us than light. From mane we have Matins (matutina), as the praise rendered to God for the gift of light.

CAP. XXXI. – Nota dignitatem quae in matutinis Laudibus est.

Apud gentiles dii infernales dicebantur Manes, eo quod mane diem terris emitterent, quem tota nocte quasi inclusum retinerent. A Manibus ergo mane, id est bonum, dicitur, eo quod nil melius luce videatur. A mane autem dicitur matutina, quasi laus Deo pro luce exhibita.

Ch. 32
The First Reason

We sing this hour because we believe that it is the time when the world was created. Then the morning stars shone merrily and gave sweet-sounding praise to God their maker; that is to say, the angels, who are also called the sons of God, were created at that hour, and just before the creation of the world their sweet choirs sang a great hymn to the Creator. We imitate them when we sing at this hour, we who are called the evening stars: for if we follow Christ the sun setting before us, we will become morning stars at dawn, which is the resurrection.

Creation 2 (Hurlbutt)
des Moulins, Bible Historiale de Jean de Berry. Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Français 20090, fol. 3r.


CAP. XXXII. – Prima causa.

Hanc horam ea de causa canimus, quod hac hora mundum creatum credimus. Hac hora astra matutina cum iucunditate luxerunt, et Deum, qui fecit ea, dulci harmonia laudaverunt, scilicet angeli ea hora creati sunt, qui et filii Dei vocati sunt, qui mox pro creatione mundi magna voce suavi concentu conditori iubilaverunt. Quos nos hac hora canentes imitamur, qui astra vespertina appellamur, quatenus si solem Christum pro nobis occidentem laudibus sequamur, per eum ad ortum lucis videlicet in resurrectione ad astra matutina perducamur.

Ch. 33.
The Second Reason

Also at this hour, the Lord led his people across the Red Sea and drowned their enemies, as it is written “At the morning watch the Lord looked down through the cloud” and killed the Egyptians (Exodus 14:24). In the same hour when Israel was baptized in the sea and cloud, the Egyptians were cast headlong into the waves.

CAP. XXXIII. – Secunda causa.

Hac hora Dominus populum suum per mare Rubrum transduxit, et hostes illorum submersit, sicut scriptum est: “Factum est in vigilia matutina Dominus per nubem respexit, et Aegyptios interfecit” (Exod. XIV).  Ea hora qua illi sunt in mari et in nube baptizati, sunt illi in fluctus praecipitati.

Ch. 34
The Third Reason

Also at this hour Christ the victor rose from the dead, carried the light back from the underworld, led the people he had redeemed by his blood back from the tyrant’s realm, and drowned their adversaries in the abyss.

CAP. XXXIV. – Tertia causa.

Hac hora Christus victor a morte resurrexit, et diem nobis ab inferis revexit, et populum sanguine suo redemptum a regno tyranni reduxit, et hostes eorum barathro immersit.

Ch. 35
The Fourth Reason

At this hour at the end of the world the saints will awake from the sleep of death and pass on from the night of this world to the light of eternal glory. The night that comes before the nocturn signifies that time of death that came before the Law. The nocturn expresses that time when the people worshipped the Lord under the Law. But the hour of Matins [i.e. Lauds], as the light is dawning, shows the time from Christ’s resurrection to the end of the world, when the Church sings to her beloved. For the psalms that are sung now express both the time of the Law, which came before as a shadow, and the time of grace, which shone afterwords like a light to our eyes.


David (Hurlbutt).jpg
Bréviaire, à l’usage des Franciscains. — Partie d’hiver Source:
Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Ms-597 réserve, fol. 25v.

CAP. XXXV. – Quarta causa.

Hac hora in fine mundi iusti a somno mortis evigilabunt, dum de nocte huius mundi ad lucem aeternae claritatis transmigrabunt. Tempus igitur noctis, quod ante nocturnum praecedit, praefert illud tempus mortis quod ante legem praecessit. Nocturnus vero illud tempus exprimit quo populus sub lege Dominum coluit. Matutinalis autem hora, cum lux appropinquat, tempus a Christi resurrectione usque in fine mundi demonstrat, quo Ecclesia dilecto suo canticum cantat. Psalmi nempe qui hic cantantur utrumque exprimere conantur, et tempus legis, quod velut umbra praecessit, et tempus gratiae, quod ut lux visitanter postea fulsit.


On Monastic Matins (GA 2.27-30)

Ch. 27
On the Feasts of Saints

On saints’ feast days we do the night office as on Sunday night because we believe that they have reached the joys of heaven through Christ’s resurrection. We celebrate it with nine psalms and as many readings and Responsories, which teaches us that they are in the company of the nine orders of angels.

Saint (Hurlbutt).jpg
I Trionfi del Petrarca Source:
Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des manuscrits. italien 545, fol. 51r.

CAP. XXVII. – De festivitate sanctorum.

In festis sanctorum ita nocturnale officium ut in nocte Dominica agimus, quia eos per Christi resurrectionem gaudia consecutos credimus. Ideo autem cum novem psalmis et totidem lectionibus ac responsoriis celebramus, quia eos in consortio novem ordinum angelorum esse praedicamus.

() Monastic Matins (28 – 30)

Ch. 28
On Monastic Matins

Night (Hurlbutt)
Biblia Sancti Petri Rodensis. Latin 6 (1) Source:
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Latin 6 (1), fol. 6r.

Now the divine office as arranged by St. Benedict signifies nearly the same thing, since its intention is the same, namely, to praise God and celebrate the deeds of the just. The Church has received this office because it came from a man who was “filled with the spirit of the saints” and had been approved by the authority of the apostolic pontiff Gregory. Indeed it is obvious that this same man, “full of God,” had in mind the laborers in the vineyard and the sentinels on night watch when he distributed the psalms in this manner and divided Sunday night into three watches through the three nocturns. For he assigned six psalms and four readings because the number six signifies the work of the active life, on account of the six Works of Mercy in the Gospel, which stand as it were for six days of work in the vineyard. The number four is a figure for the perfection of the contemplative life, by which an eternal watch is kept against the enemies of souls, namely the vices and the demons. Thus, the six psalms proclaim the laborers in the Lord’s vineyard, the four readings those keeping watch in the Lord’s camp, and the responsories the eagerness of the laborers.

Observe how Benedict, who established this divine service, began with the psalm Domine, in virtute tua (Psalm 20), which is about the peace of the Church, and concluded the office with others that signify Christ’s passion. For when our Lord was on the cross he sang ten psalms, beginning with Deus, Deus meus, respice (Psalm 21) and ending with the verse In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum (Psalm 30). Benedict obviously instituted the office in this way on the night of the Lord’s resurrection because Christ went through his Passion to the peace of his resurrection, and conferred peace on the Church through his Passion. We who are now at peace, if we imitate Christ’s Passion by crucifying ourselves in these watches, will be granted peace through Christ at the Resurrection.

CAP. XXVIII. – De Matutinis monachorum.

Porro divinum officium a beato Benedicto ordinatum pene idem significat, praesertim cum ad idem, videlicet ad laudem Dei et ad iustorum praeconia, tendat. Hoc ideo ab Ecclesia est receptum, quia ab illo qui omnium iustorum spiritu plenus fuit est prolatum, et ab apostolici pontificis, scilicet Gregorii, auctoritate roboratum. Siquidem patet quod idem vir Deo plenus in vinea laborantes et in vigiliis excubantes attenderit, dum tali modo psalmos distribuerit, et Dominicam noctem tribus vigiliis per tres nocturnos distinxerit, licet ipse psalmos senario, lectiones vero quaternario numero assignaverit, quia videlicet per senarium activae vitae actio designatur, propter sex opera Evangelii quibus in istis sex diebus quasi in vinea laboratur, per quaternarium vero contemplativae vitae perfectio propter quatuor Evangelia figuratur, quibus contra hostes animarum, scilicet vitia et daemones, iugiter vigilatur; per sex ergo psalmos in vinea Domini laborantes declarantur, per quatuor lectiones in castris Domini vigilantes demonstrantur, per Responsoria alacritas laborantium denotatur.

Notandum quod hic divini servitii ordinator a psalmo Domine in virtute tua (Psal. XX), qui de pace Ecclesiae constat, incoepit, et reliquos, qui passionem Christi sonant, in officio conclusit. Dominus enim in cruce a Deus Deus meus, respice incoepit, et ita decem psalmos cantans in versu In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum (Psal. XXI) finivit. Hoc idcirco in nocte Dominicae resurrectionis instituit, quia nimirum Christus per passionem ad resurrectionis pacem pervenit, et Ecclesiae pacem per passionem suam contulit. Et nos in pace degentes si passionem Christi in vigiliis nos cruciando imitabimur, in resurrectione pace per Christum ditabimur.

Ch. 29
On the Third Nocturn

The same “man of God” gave the third nocturn three canticles, for he wanted the Trinity to be praised in faith, hope, and charity. He ordered the same canticles to be sung with the Alleluia, teaching those who praise the Trinity to call upon the aid of heaven’s joyful song. Next he commanded four readings from the Gospel, showing that Christ’s watchmen are defended by the four virtues through the doctrine of the four Gospels, so they may be prudent in human and divine things, strong in good and bad times, temperate in discharging the divine service, and obedient in all things to the will of their superiors. They do even better if they do these things eagerly. Next “the beloved of God”  decided the hymn Te Deum laudamus should be sung, so that in all these things they do not ascribe anything to themselves, but everything to the divine praise, holding themselves to be unworthy servants. In the Te Deum laudamus we may also understand the song of joy sung by the workers when the work is done. Next the Gospel is read, in which we are promised eternal life; it is the denarius the laborers receive for their work. The hymn Te decet laus, sung at the very end, is their final thanksgiving when, having received the denarius of life, they rejoice in the Lord who permits them to pass from work to rest, from the vineyard to the homeland.

CAP. XXIX. – De tertio nocturno.

Tertium nocturnum idem vir Dei tribus canticis attribuit, quia Trinitatem in fide, spe et charitate, laudari voluit. Unde eadem cantica cum Alleluia cantari instituit, quia laudatores Trinitatis ad canticum coelestis laetitiae vocare docuit. Deinde quatuor lectiones de Evangelio legi praecepit, quia Christi vigiles per doctrinam quatuor Evangeliorum in quatuor virtutibus munitos monuit, ut videlicet in divinis et humanis sint prudentes, in adversis et prosperis fortes, in Dei servitio solvendo et praelatis obediendo iussum omnibus actibus suis temperati. His quatuor etiam subiungunt, si haec omnia alacriter peragunt. Post haec constituit Deo dilectus cantari: Te Deum laudamus, quatenus nil sibi in his omnibus ascribant, sed cuncta divinae laudi attribuant, se vero inutiles servos dicant. Per Te Deum laudamus etiam ille cantus intelligitur qui peracto opere ab operariis prae gaudio canitur. Deinde Evangelium legi praecipitur; per quod vita aeterna promittitur, quod denarius intelligitur qui operariis post laborem dabitur. Per hymnum Te decet laus, qui ad extremum canitur, illa ultima gratulatio accipitur quando, percepto vitae denario, in Domino exsultant, quod de labore ad requiem, de vinea ad patriam eis ire licet.

Ch. 30
On Bows

When we bow to the altar upon entering the church, we pay homage to the king as soldiers. For we are the warriors of the Eternal King, standing near him at arms as a special bodyguard. Then when we bow to the East and West, we show that we adore the omnipresent God, whom we must follow in a rational motion “from the rising” of our birth “to the setting” of our death, just as the heavens move in a natural revolution from East to West. The monks portray this clearly by turning their whole bodies from East to West.

Rabanus (Hurlbutt)
« Rabanus : De sancta Cruce »

Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, 472, fol. 63v.

CAP. XXX. – De inclinationibus.

Dum ecclesiam ingredientes ad altare inclinamus, quasi regem milites adoramus. Aeterni quippe Regis milites sumus, cui semper in procinctu specialis militiae adsumus. Cum autem ad Orientem et Occidentem inclinamus, Deum ubique praesentem nos adorare monstramus, quem ita rationali motu ab ortu nostrae nativitatis usque ad occasum mortis sequi debemus, sicut coelum ab Oriente in Occidentem naturali revolutione ferri videmus. Quod monachi expressius designant, qui se toto corpore ab Oriente in Occidentem gyrant.