Rupert of Deutz on the Entrance to the Altar

As the priest makes his way up to the holy altar, he himself and the entire Church present must expand their souls and cherish in the ample bosom of faith the memory of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s incarnation, nativity, passion, resurrection, and ascension, as well as the memory of all the holy men who from the beginning of the world awaited these things in hope, prefigured them with deeds, and prophesied them with words or writings. As they contemplate, let them break out into speech, singing the antiphon called the “introit.” 

For just as the priest’s entrance manifests the Son of God’s entry into this world, so the antiphon called “introit” manifests the voices and expectation of the patriarchs and prophets. As the priest enters, therefore, the aforesaid antiphon is sung at least once with a pomp that is most suitable to the reality signified. Forth first go the flaming candles as a symbol of the joy that irradiated all the earth at the Savior’s birth, of which the angel told the shepherds: I bring you good tidings of great joy.[1] Two ministers go before the priest, not together or side by side, but the subdeacon first, then the deacon. For these two signify the Old and New Testaments, the Law and the Gospel: the Law prior in time, but the Gospel greater in dignity. And the Savior brought with him these two salvific dispensations, for he brought the Gospel, and came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it.[2] These two are the feet of the angel who came down from heaven, clothed with a cloud, and set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot upon the earth.[3] For when John the Baptist and our Lord were teaching, the people listened calmly to the Law’s moral teaching, but against the worshipful Gospel and the plain doctrine of the faith, their tempestuous and salty hearts swelled with rage as the wonderful surges of the sea,[4] as when, for example, he said, “I and the Father are one,”[5] and “Before Abraham was made, I am.”[6]

The subdeacon carries the Gospel book precisely because the law bears witness to Christ, as he said to the Jews: If you did believe Moses, you would believe me also, for he wrote of me.[7] He carries it closed because before the slain Lamb had opened the seven seals, the mystery of his Passion was hidden in the book of the Law.


De antiphona ad introitum

Sacerdote tandem ad sanctum altare ingressuro debet tam ipse sacerdos quam et tota praesens Ecclesia dilatare animam suam et amplo fidei sinu tenere memoriam incarnationis, nativitatis, passionis, resurrectionis et ascensionis Iesu Christi Domini nostri et memoriam omnium sanctorum, qui eum ab initio mundi votis exspectaverunt, gestis praefiguraverunt, dictisque aut scriptis prophetaverunt, et in eorum contemplatione in voces erumpere, praecinendo antiphonam, quae dicitur ad introitum. 

Nam sicut introitus sacerdotis ingressum Filii Dei in hunc mundum, sic antiphona, quae dicitur ad introitum, voces et exspectationem praefert patriarcharum et prophetarum. Ingreditur ergo antiphona praedicta non minus quam semel decantata cum eiusmodi pompa quae significatae rei aptissime congruit. Praecedunt flammantes cereoli, videlicet in signum gaudii, quod in ortu Salvatoris omni mundo effulsit, de quo angelus ad pastores: Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum etc. Praeveniunt sacerdotem ministri duo, non pariter, neque a latere incedentes sed ante subdiaconus, post diaconus. Signant enim hi duo Vetus et Novum Testamentum, id est legem et Evangelium, quorum lex tempore prior, Evangelium vero dignitate maius est. Haec namque duo salutis ministeria Salvator invexit, qui Evangelium quidem attulit, legem vero non solvere, sed adimplere venit

Isti sunt duo pedes angeli, qui, ut supra dictum est: Descendit de caelo amictus nube, et posuit pedem dextrum suum supra mare, sinistrum super terram. Legalis enim moralitas, Ioanne baptista vel ipso Domino docente, tranquillitus audita est. Contra evangelicam vero dignitatem, id est manifestam fidei doctrinam, verbi gratia cum diceret: Ego et Pater unum sumus, et: Antequam Abraham fieret ego sum, veluti mirabiles elationes maris fluxa et salsa corda tumuerunt. 

Subdiaconus quoque praefert textum Evangelii, quia profecto lex testimonia continet Christi, sicut ipse dicit Iudaeis: Si crederetis Moysi, crederetis forsitan et mihi; de me enim ille scripsit. Portat vero clausum quia videlicet antequam Agnus occisus aperuisset signacula septem, clausum erat in libro legis sacramentum eius passionis.


[1] Luke 2:10

[2] Cf. Matthew 5:17

[3] Apocalypse 10:1–2

[4] Psalm 92:4

[5] John 10:30

[6] John 8:58

[7] John 5:46

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