Prime: The Four Creeds, and Shepherding Christ’s Flocks (GA 2.58 – 61)

Prime (58 – 61)

Ch. 58
On Sunday Prime

Dionysius 4 (Hurlbutt)

On Sunday we sing nine psalms at Prime so that we may be able to praise the Trinity in the joy of the Resurrection with the nine orders of angels. First we sing five psalms about the Passion of Christ, signifying that Christ came into glory through his five-fold Passion. If we wish to imitate him now, we will reign with him in the resurrection. Then we add four more psalms, declaring that the Church praises God in all four regions of the world through the four Gospels. Deus, in nomine tuo signifies rejection of error; Confitemini our confession of praise; Beati immaculati following God’s Law; Retribue the soul’s new life; Quicunque vult our faith, which contains everything else, and by which we join the company of the angels.

CAP. LVIII. – De prima Dominicis diebus.

In Dominica die novem psalmos ad Primam psallimus, quatenus cum novem ordinibus angelorum in gaudio resurrectionis Trinitatem laudare possimus. In primis quinque psalmis de passione Christi cantamus, quia Christum per quinque partitam passionem ad resurrectionis gloriam pervenisse significamus. Quem si nunc imitari volumus, in resurrectione ei conregnabimus. Deinde quatuor subiungimus, quia Ecclesiam in quatuor partes mundi per quatuor Evangelia Deum laudare praedicamus. Per Deus, in nomine tuo erroris desertionem, per Confitemini laudis confessionem, per Beati immaculati legis Dei operationem, per Retribue animae vivificationem exprimimus, per Quicunque vult fidem nostram depromimus, in qua reliqua omnia concludimus, et per quam angelis associari credimus.

Ch. 59
On the Four Times the Faith is Proclaimed

Creed 1.jpg

The Catholic Church receives the Catholic faith proclaimed and strengthened during four ages, and guards it inviolate across the four regions of the world. First, she lays her foundations in the Apostle’s Creed, Credo in Deum, when she sings it daily at the beginning of the day and the beginning of the hours, namely at Prime; she brings all her works to completion through the Creed when she recites it at Compline. Next, she proclaims the faith in Credo in Deum Patrem, which is read at synods and was proclaimed by the Synod of Nicea. Third, the faith Credo in unum, promulgated by the Council of Constantinople, is sung at public masses. Fourth, daily at Prime she repeats the faith Quicumque vult, which Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, published at the behest of the Emperor Theodosius. Throughout the other hours the Holy Trinity is given worship.

CAP. LIX. – De fide quatuor temporibus edita.

Fidem catholicam quatuor temporibus editam imo roboratam Ecclesia catholica recipit, et in quatuor mundi climatibus inviolabiliter custodit. Primo Symbolum apostolorum, scilicet Credo in Deum, fundamentum sibi ponit, dum hoc quotidie in principio diei, et in principio horarum, scilicet ad Primam canit; per hoc opera sua consummat, dum hoc ad Completorium recitat. Deinde fidem Credo in Deum Patrem, quae in synodis legitur, quamque Nicaena synodus edidit. Tertio fidem Credo in unum in conventu populi ad missam modulatur, quae per Constantinopolitanum concilium propalatur. Quarto fidem Quicunque vult quotidie ad primam iterat, quam Athanasius Alexandrinus episcopus rogatu Theodosii imperatoris edidit; per reliquas horas colitur sancta Trinitas.

Ch. 60
Prime on Ferial Weekdays

Image result for sheep manuscript illumination

During the day office on ferial weekdays, we imitate the laborers in the vineyard, who enter the vineyard for work at different times (Matthew 20). The priest who begins imitates the shepherd, letting out the sheep for morning pasture after they have been in the fold all day. The flock of sheep is the Christian people, the pasture our Lord’s commandments. But wild beasts lurk along the path, enemies of God’s flock. On one side, the “a roaring lion goeth about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5); on the other lurks a dragon, slaying the strays with his venom and greedily gulping up those who lose their way. Here a wolf pounces and carries one off, scattering the flock. There a bear charges, rips through the flock and disperses it. Thus, our shepherd shouts Deus, in adiutorium meum intende! Praying that the flock may escape these dangers. The sheep of Our Lord’s pastures invoke the supreme pastor in a hymn, “that He from harm may keep us free in all the deeds this day shall see.”

Wolf 1.jpg
Detail of a miniature of a wolf, sneaking up on sheep; from a bestiary, England, c. 1200-c. 1210, Royal MS 12 C. xix, f. 19r

CAP. LX. – De Prima in privatis diebus.

In privatis diebus imitamur in diurno officio operarios in vinea laborantes, et diversis horis ad excolendam vineam intrantes (Matth. XX). Porro sacerdos qui incipit imitatur opilionem, oves tota die inclusas mane in pascua eiicientem. Grex ovium est plebs Christiana, pascua Domini mandata. Itinera vero obsident bestiae gregi Dei inimicae. In una namque parte leo rugiens circuit quaerens quem devoret (I Petr. V); in altera draco insidians deviantes veneno interimit, aberrantes avide deglutit. Hinc lupus irruens rapit, et oves dispergit. Inde ursus invadens lacerat gregem et dissipat. Unde pastor Deus, in adiutorium meum clamat, quatenus ovile haec pericula evadat. Oves autem pascuae Domini in hymno summum pastorem invocant, uti eas in diurnis, actibus a nocentibus custodiat.

Ch. 61
Deus, in nomine tuo

Next they call a halt their journey with the psalm Deus in nomine tuo (Psalm 53) and beg the Lord in his might to free them from danger, because “strangers have risen up  against them” and “the mighty have sought after their soul.” They ask God in his might to scatter their enemies and “deliver them out of every trouble.”

Beati immaculati in via.

With the psalm Beati immaculati (Psalm 118), they enter the vineyard, which is the Christian religion, and pasture in the pasture of life, which is the Law of the Lord, where they work sedulously when they “keep his commandments.”


In the vineyard they work diligently when in Retribue they behold the “wondrous things of God’s Law” (Psalm 118 (II)). They cultivate it above all when they express their faith in Quicunque vult. Through the Law of the Lord, which is love, we return to the homeland; through the psalm Deus, in nomine tuo, we prepare for the journey; through the psalm Beati immaculati, we understand love of God; through Retribue, love of neighbor.

On “Quicunque vult salvus esse.”

The faith Quicunque shows us our course; for we walk through faith to arrive at vision.

On the Chapter.

In the chapter the master comforts the workers, because all who invoke the Lord’s name will be saved. Thus in the Responsory they are quick to repeat their faith, and along with Peter they invoke Christ the Son of the living God, whom they ask for help in their labors in the verse Exsurge, Domine (Matthew 16).

On Kyrie eleison.

Image result for wolf in the flock + manuscriptThe Kyrie eleison and Christe eleison that follow are said for three reasons. First, to put aside any superfluous thoughts that distract us while singing. Second, so that God may hear the priest’s prayer that follows. Third, so that the Lord’s prayer, as it were prepared by this little preface, may be said with more fervor. We say it silently because in it we speak to God, who hearkens not to words but to the heart. The last part is said out loud, so that all may affirm it. The two verses Vivet anima and Erravi sicut ovis are understood to be the penitent, who are led back to the flock as straying sheep by their shepherd. They now recite the Symbol because through faith they purify their hearts, which their wicked works had stained.

On the Credo in Deum.

The Credo in Deum is said in secret, because a secret penance is enjoined upon our secret sins.

On the Prayers and Confession

Prayers, a confession, and a prayer follow because the penitent are received back into communion on the basis of such fruits.

On the Chapter “Pretiosa in conspectu

Shepherds often move and lead their flocks to other pastures. The religious imitate this practice when they follow their prelate from the church and gather for the chapter meeting. There God’s animals are given licking salt, when the passion or life of the saints is read to them from the Martyrology. The shepherd gives them a sort of feed when he shows them the patience of the saints in the verse Pretiosa. Then he invokes the divine help three times through Deus, in adiutorium, so that God’s flock might escape all spiritual dangers. Then he blesses the flock when he asks that they may be “guided and sanctified in God’s Law.” After all these things they are refreshed by the reading, and then all of them are guided in their work as workers in the vineyard.

Wolf 2.jpg

On Terce

When Terce is sung, it is as if new workers take their turn in the vineyard.

On Sext

When Sext is sung the labor is taken up by others.

On None

When None is sung, the burden is taken up by still others. At Vespers they receive their denarius. Terce, Sext, and None are celebrated each with three psalms because in these three hours the Trinity is worshipped. But someone may ask why Prime (Prima) is not followed by Second (secunda), and why after Terce we have Sext and not Fourth (quarta) or Fifth (quinta), and why it is None that follows Sext instead of Seventh (septima) or Eighth (octava). Note that the day is divided into twelve hours, and at each hour one section from the psalm Beati immaculati is sung. At the first hour Beati immaculati; at the second, Retribue; at Terce, Legem pone; at the fourth, Memor esto; at the fifth Bonitatem; at Sext, Deficit; at the seventh, Quomodo dilexi; at the eighth, Iniquos odio; at None, Mirabilia; at the tenth, Clamavi; at the eleventh, Principes. This psalm proclaims God’s Law, i.e. charity, in which the laborers work every day for eternal life. Thus in each section something from that Law is recalled, because only through it, as a sort of royal highway, may we enter into the heavenly homeland.

On “Beati immaculati.”

In Beati immaculati it says, “who walk in the Law of the Lord;” in Retribue, “I have considered the wonderful things of thy Law,” and “out of thy law have mercy on me.” In Legem pone, it says “I will search thy Law.” In Memor esto, it says “I declined not from thy Law” and “I have said, I will keep thy Law.” In Bonitatem, it says “The Law of thy mouth is good to me” In Defecit, it says “not as thy Law.” In Quomodo, it says, “I have loved thy Law.” In Iniquos, it says, “I have loved thy Law.” In Mirabilia, it says “They have not kept thy Law.” In Clamavi, it says “I have not forgotten thy Law.” In Principes, it says “But I have loved thy Law,” and “Thy Law is my meditation.” There is always an office at the third hour [i.e. Terce] because the Trinity is worshipped in all the offices.

CAP. LXI. – Deus, in nomine tuo.

Deinde per psalmum Deus in nomine tuo iter arripiunt, et Dominum in virtute sua se a periculo liberare petunt, quoniam alieni eis insurrexerunt, et fortes animas eorum quaesierunt, ut Deus in virtute sua illos dispergat, et eas ex omni tribulatione eripiat.

Beati immaculati in via.

Per Beati immaculati (Psal. CXVIII) vineam, quae est Christiana religio, ingrediuntur, et in pascua vitae, scilicet in lege Domini pascuntur. In qua impigre operantur, dum testimonia Dei scrutantur.


In hac fortiter laborant, dum in Retribue mirabilia de lege Dei considerant. Hanc summopere excolunt, dum fidem suam in Quicunque vult exponunt. Per legem Domini, id est dilectionem, ad patriam revertimur; per psalmum Deus, in nomine tuo ad iter praecingimur; per psalmum Beati immaculati dilectio Dei, per Retribue dilectio proximi accipitur.

De « Quicunque vult salvus esse. »

Quicunque item fides cursum nostrum exprimit; per fidem enim ambulamus ut ad speciem perveniamus.

De capitulo.

In capitulo paterfamilias operarios consolatur, quia omnis qui nomen Domini invocaverit salvatur. Unde alacres in responsorio fidem iterant, et cum Petro Christum filium Dei vivi invocant. Quem in versu, Exsurge, Domine (Matth. XVI), se adiuvare in incoepto opere postulant.

De « Kyrie eleison. »

Kyrie eleison et Christe eleison, quod sequitur, ob tres causas dicitur: Primo, ut superflua cogitatio, quae psallentibus obrepsit, dimittatur; secundo, ut sequens oratio sacerdotis exaudiatur; tertio, ut Dominica oratio, quasi quadam praefatiuncula ornata, intentius dicatur. Quae ideo silenter dicitur, quia Deo in ea loquimur, qui non verba sed cor intuetur. Cuius ultima pars ideo aperte dicitur, ut ab omnibus confirmetur. Per duos versus, scilicet Vivet anima, et Erravi sicut ovis, poenitentes intelliguntur, qui per pastorem velut oves errantes ad gregem reducuntur. Qui mox Symbolum recitant, quia fide corda sua purificant, quae prava opera maculaverant.

De « Credo in Deum. »

Ideo autem Credo in Deum occulte dicitur, quia occulta poenitentia occulte peccantibus iniungitur.

De precibus et confessione.

Idcirco etiam preces, et confessio, et oratio, sequuntur, quia per tales fructus poenitentes in communionem recipiuntur. Ob hanc etiam causam septem poenitentiales psalmi ac litaniae canuntur.

De capitulo « Pretiosa in conspectu, »

Solent pastores loca mutare, et greges ad alia pascua minare. Hoc religiosi imitantur, dum praelatum de ecclesia sequentes in capitulum congregantur; ibi Dei animalibus sal ad lambendum datur, dum eis in Martyrologio passio vel vita sanctorum pronuntiatur. Opilio vero eis quasi pabulum ponit, dum per versum Pretiosa patientiam sanctorum proponit. Deinde divinum auxilium ter per Deus, in adiutorium invocat, ut grex Dei periculum animarum evadat. Deinde quasi ovile benedicit, dum eos dirigi et sanctificari in lege Dei poscit. Post haec lectione reficiuntur, et tunc singuli in opera quasi vineae cultores diriguntur.

De Tertia.

Dum Tertia cantatur, quasi a novis operariis in vinea laboratur.

De Sexta.

Dum Sexta canitur quasi ab aliis labor suscipitur.

De Nona.

Dum nona canitur et psallitur, quasi iterum ab aliis onus suscipitur. In Vespera denarius recipitur. Tertia, Sexta, et Nona, ideo ternis psalmis celebrantur, quia in his tribus horis Trinitas veneratur. Sed quaeritur, cum Prima dicatur, cur Tertia et non potius secunda sequatur. Item cum Tertia ponatur, cur deinde Sexta et non quarta vel quinta dicatur. Itemque cur Sextam Nona, et non magis septima vel octava prosequatur. Sciendum est quod dies in duodecim horas dividitur, et pro unaquaque hora unum capitulum de psalmo Beati immaculati, concinitur. Pro Prima hora Beati immaculati, pro secunda, Retribue: pro Tertia, Legem pone; pro quarta, Memor esto; pro quinta Bonitatem; pro Sexta, Defecit; pro septima, Quomodo dilexi; pro octava, Iniquos odio; pro Nona, Mirabilia; pro decima, Clamavi; pro undecima, Principes; per hunc psalmum lex Dei, id est charitas nobis pronuntiatur, in qua operarii pro aeterna vita quotidie operantur. Unde et in singulis capitulis aliquid de lege memoratur, quia per hanc solam quasi per regiam viam superna patria intratur.

De « Beati immaculati. »

In Beati immaculati dicitur, « qui ambulat in lege; » in Retribue, « Consideravi mirabilia de lege tua, » et « De lege tua miserere mei. » In Legem pone, « Scrutabor legem tuam. » In Memor esto, « A lege tua non declinavi, » et « Dixi custodire legem tuam. » In Bonitatem, « Bonum mihi lex oris tui. » In Defecit, « Non ut lex tua. » In Quomodo, « Dilexi legem tuam. » In Iniquos, « Legem tuam dilexi. » In Mirabilia, « Non custodierunt legem tuam. » In Clamavi, « Legem tuam non sum oblitus. » In Principes, « Legem autem tuam dilexi, » et « Lex tua meditatio mea est. » Semper in Tertia hora officium solvitur, quia Trinitas in omnibus colitur.

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