HANDBOOK TO THE CHRISTIAN LITURGY - By James Norman, M.A. - Archdeacon of the Herbert, North Queensland. - first published by the SPCK 1944. - This Edition prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram 2003.



HOME | Liturgies-Key | Introduction | Entrance of the ministers | Introit | Little entrance | Censing | Trisagion | Kyrie | Benedictus | Gloria | Mass of the Catechumens II | top

In the Eastern liturgies there is not usually a clearly denned line between the preparatory rites and the actual beginning of the Mass. The Enarxis and similar devotions are separate services, which have merged into the liturgy. In the West there is no preliminary Office. The difference is more significant than at first appears. It indicates a somewhat different outlook. In the East the great period of Eucharistic liturgical development coincided with a great expansion of monasticism. The liturgy grew up in a monastic atmosphere, and has been profoundly influenced by this environment. In the West monasticism came rather later. The Mass was, at its best, the worship of the parishes of Rome gathered together round the Pope. The medieval' Uses' of the great Churches were essentially for the most part monastic, but the Mass itself was an expression of the devotion of the people of the Church. This explains to some extent the different manner of beginning the liturgy in the two regions. In the East there was a tendency to place it in close connexion with the Offices; in the West it began with the solemn entry of the bishop and clergy into the church where the faithful had gathered together, sometimes in ordered procession, from their own local churches. The retention in the West to a much later date of the personal offering by the members of the congregation of bread and wine for the Eucharist is also probably due to the same cause.

In primitive times what is now the Mass of the Catechumens was probably a morning service, independent of the Eucharist, but preliminary to it when the Eucharist was celebrated in the morning. There is not much evidence for this, but the form taken by the Mass of the Catechumens when it first appears suggests it. Such a morning service would be open to all adherents of the Church, and would be largely instructional. The Eucharist proper, to which only the faithful would be admitted, began with the Kiss of Peace. When a baptism, or the consecration of a bishop, or an ordination, was held, it would take the place of the morning service, and be followed by the Kiss, as in Justin [Apol. i. 65.] and Apostolic Tradition. The permanent union of the two took place in the fifth century. Tertullian speaks of two Christian services: 'aut sacrificium offertur aut Dei verbum administratur'; the latter was the service on 'station' days when 'orationes sacrificiorum' were omitted [De cult. fern. ii. 11; de orat. 14.]. In Jerusalem in the fourth century it was held in one church, and the people proceeded to another for the Eucharist. Etheria's account is not very clear, but the usual procedure on Sunday seems to have been to gather at the Church behind the Cross at Golgotha, where sermons were preached, 'in order that the people may always be instructed in the Scriptures and in the love of God', and then to proceed to the Church of the Resurrection, 'and the people, that is the faithful, enter, but not the catechumens'. This is evidently for the Eucharist.

This service of instruction survived without the Eucharist in Alexandria on Wednesdays and Fridays: 'Again in Alexandria on the fourth day of the week, and on that which is called the "Preparation", the Scriptures are read, and the teachers interpret them, and all the things that belong to the Synaxis are done except the celebration of the Mysteries.' So says Socrates, and he adds that it is an ancient custom [H.E. v. 22.]. It also seems to have developed into the Mass of the Pre-sanctified through the step of reserving the Host, and dipping it into unconsecrated wine, thus consecrating it [J.T.S. iv. 69; v. 369, 535.]. Augustine speaks of the ' Missa catechumenorum' [Serm. xlix. 8.].

Baumstark's theory is that an aliturgical Jewish Synagogue morning devotion similar to the 'Joser' was in use in early Christian circles, and that it is represented by the passage in Clement of Rome (see p. 304); that the Eucharist was originally joined to the Agape; but after separation the Eucharist, which represented the Jewish thanksgiving after a feast, was attached to the morning service. Hence the Mass of the Catechumens and the Anaphora. In this case the Sanctus, to which Clement seems to refer, must have been transferred from one to the other [Irenikon, xi. 146 (May 1934).]. This theory has little evidence to support it, but may represent the actual facts.

the entrance of the ministers

The Roman Rite in its early history developed out of the Papal Mass, descriptions of which are given in great detail for the seventh and eighth centuries and onwards in the Roman Ordines. The whole Christian congregation was supposed to assemble each Sunday and Holy Day at one or other of the regional churches selected for that day, to which they had proceeded from their own parish churches. The Pope, accompanied by a brilliant retinue of assistants, set out from the Lateran, and on arrival at the stational church, vested in the Sacristy, and, when prepared, entered the church in state. During this entry the Introit was sung.

the introit

Liber Pontificalis seems to ascribe this to Celestine I (422-32): 'The 150 Psalms of David were to be chanted before the sacrifice, antiphonally by all, which had not been done before, but only the Epistle of St. Paul was read and the Holy Gospel.' But this cannot be relied on, and the writer probably thinks of an Office that preceded Mass, and possibly does not mean that the whole Psalter was recited in one day. The words 'antiphonally by all' seem to have been added in the second recension.

Socrates attributes to Ignatius of Antioch (m. c. no) the first use of antiphonal chanting there: 'I must tell the origin of the custom of antiphonal hymns (ἡ κατὰ τοὺς ντιφώνους μνους συνήθεια) in the Church. Ignatius, third bishop of Antioch from the Apostle Peter, who had been familiar with the apostles, had a vision of angels praising the Holy Trinity in antiphonal hymns, and he introduced into the Church of Antioch the method of the dream, whence also this tradition has spread to all the Churches [H.E. vi. 8.]. Socrates was too late for his statement to be of much value on this point. The method was, however, in use amongst the Jews and the heathen. Pliny speaks of it as a Christian custom in Bithynia (see p. 12). Theodoret attributes its introduction in Antioch to Flavian and Diodorus, while still laymen (344-57). 'They first, dividing the choirs into two parts, taught them to sing the melody of David in turn.' [Ibid. ii. 19.] A fragment of Theodore of Mopsuestia, however, says that they translated Syrian antiphons into Greek. Edessa seems to have been the centre from which the practice was disseminated [D.A.C.L. i. 2284.].

From Syria it spread to Constantinople, to Milan, and to the West.

The Antiphon was originally sung at an interval of an octave. The innovation of Flavian and Diodorus was possibly that of non-scriptural antiphons composed in the East and used with verses of Psalms. Testamentum Domini makes it clear that the choir consisted of three presbyters, three deacons, two virgins, and some little boys. Athanasius tells of a woman singer who was dragged out of church in a riot, but her Psalter was left behind [Apol. defuga, 24.]. The word 'antiphon' is restricted in the Greek Church to the chants of the Eucharist, and to some in the Night Office. At the same time as the antiphonal chant was introduced into Antioch the Gloria Patri appeared.

The eighth century attributed the Antiphon to Gregory I (590-604), and there is no reference to one in Augustine or Ambrose; it is not likely to be much older. The oldest manuscript of the Milanese Mass has Incipit missa canonica after the Gloria in excelsis and Kyrie, which suggests that when they were introduced there was no introductory Psalm.

In Ordo Romanus I (which probably represents conditions existing before 680) the Antiphons were sung before the Psalm, which was chanted until the Pope gave the sign, when the Gloria Patri was sung. The latter was added not later than the first half of the fifth century. The Antiphon was repeated after each verse of the Psalm and Doxology, though already the latter was only divided by the Antiphon on Feast Days. In some places there was also a festal addition versus ad respondendum, or versus ad repetendum, or versus prophetalis. In smaller churches there was no need for a long Introit, so it must have been reduced and modified. Eventually there was only the Antiphon, one verse of the Psalm, and the Gloria, as now; but in some places the Antiphon was sung three times at the end, as still with the Carmelites. [The Introit given p. 306 is a good illustration of the fact that a single verse is only the remnant of a whole Psalm (I), for this verse has no special applicability to the feast. It was chosen for vv. 9-15, which have now disappeared.] The whole of the Introit, with rare exceptions, which Schuster suspects of having a Byzantine origin, is scriptural. The verses are always from a Psalm; occasionally the Antiphon is from some other book. The text of all the Roman chants is taken from the Old Itala version, and not from the Vulgate. One, the Common for the Blessed Virgin, is from the poet Sedulius.

The Roman chant was originally called Antiphona ad introitum; in Ordo VI it is Introitus; in Ordo V, Invitatorium. At Milan it is Ingressa. Here it was reduced to the Antiphon alone. Moreover, the Antiphon is frequently drawn from the Lives of the Saints.

In Spain and in England the Introit was called Officium. The word is explained by the use in ancient missals of the heading to the Mass, 'ad missam officium', which was taken to refer to the Introit that followed. It is still used in the Carthusian, Carmelite, and Dominican Missals. Like the Introit, the Officium had only one verse with Antiphon and Gloria.

The Gallican Antiphona ad praelegendum mentioned in Germain is not an Introit, but corresponds to the Greek Monogenes; yet it occupies the same place and serves the same purpose: 'Psallentibus clericis procedit sacerdos in specie Christi de sacrario.'

The Roman chants throughout the Mass are given with the Mozarabic Rite in Appendix B, for purposes of comparison. In this section the Ambrosian forms will be given, the feast of the Epiphany being selected in each case. The following is the Milanese text for the Ingressa.

Apoc. xxi. 23-4.

The city hath no need of the sun,
neither of the moon to shine upon it,
for the brightness of God doth lighten it.
And the nations shall walk in the light of it:
and the kings of the earth offer up their glory in it.


the little entrance

In the Eastern Churches the priests and ministers are usually in the church before the Mass of the Catechumens begins, either preparing the elements in the Prothesis, or engaged in the Enarxis. There is therefore no ceremonial entrance of the celebrant corresponding to the Introit of the West. But almost at the same place there is a solemn bringing in of the sacred books of Scripture, or at least of the Gospel, for the lections which are to follow. This is called 'The Little Entrance'.

Baumstark would relate this to the procession to the Holy Sepulchre related by Etheria. [Die Messe im Morgenland, 80-2.] More probably it originally marked the entrance of the bishop, who took no part in the Prothesis, from the Narthex; if so, it is the same ceremony as that of the West, but the growth of the later subsidiary rites has given it a different character. Or it may have developed from the earlier entrance of the priest at this point, the emphasis now being placed on the Gospels because the original entry lost its meaning when the Prothesis and Enarxis were added. It is noteworthy that the Prayers of the Entry seldom mention the books. St. Maximus has, 'The entrance into the Sanctuary of the ἀρχιερεύς and the people with the hierarchy into the Church'. In Jas and Mk there is no suggestion that the priest had already been in the Sanctuary. In Jas-Par-476 the previous prayers are to be said 'while the clergy are about to make their procession' (προέλευσις) and the Prayer of Little Entrance is 'after the procession, from the doors of the Church to the altar'. In those churches where the elements are prepared at the Offertory the Little Entrance has no further purpose than to give honour to the Gospel.

In Chrys the bishop still enters here in the Pontifical Mass, being met by the priest and deacons; but ordinarily, while the Gloria of the third Antiphon of the Enarxis is being sung, the priest and deacon make three bows, and the former gives to the deacon the Gospel, and they go with it preceded by lights, by way of the Prothesis and the north door, into the Church, and back through the centre to the altar. In the Presanctified the Entrance is still made, but, except in Holy Week and a few other days, without the Gospel. Syr-Jac has nothing to correspond with the Little Entrance, nor Copt, Eth, and Nest; but Arm has a procession which dimly reflects the Greek ceremony, for the deacon only takes the Gospel from the altar, goes round the altar, and offers the book to one of the people to kiss.


St. Chrysostom [Adv. Jud, iii. 6; de S. Pentecoste, i. 4; in Matt. xx. 6 (Antioch).] and Maximus [Quaest. et dubia, 68.] both mention that the Peace is said at the beginning. ' When the head of the Church enters he straightway says, "Peace to all"; ... you say, "And to thy spirit".' See Appendix E. Mk has this here, and Jas after the Prayer.

O Master, Lord our God,
who hast appointed in heaven
battalions and armies of angels and archangels
for the service of thy glory,
make with our entrance the entrance also of the holy angels
to assist us in worshipping arid glorifying thy goodness.
For unto thee are due, &c., as above at Enarxis (p. 131).

This, which is from Bas-Barb, had already in the eleventh century taken the place in Chrys of its prayer in Barb, which is rather colourless. Jas has, before the Entrance, a prayer of incense, 'O God, who didst receive the gifts of Abel', called 'A prayer of the incense of the entrance of the Synaxis'. This is followed by a blessing of the deacon and his 'Answering Prayer' (εὐχὴ ποκριτική). It is interesting to note that this prayer is for fitness to offer ' seraphically' and to sing the 'much-hymned song of the ἐνθεαστικόν and the Trisagion. Is entheastikon  for 'Incarnation', and does it refer to the Monogenes, which precedes the Trisagion? Or do both refer to the Trisagion? In the latter case the Monogenes is a later addition. Then Jas continues with the Prayer of Entrance. Mk, after recalling the Mission of the Apostles, asks for forgiveness and purification, and ends with the offering of incense. Mk and Jas both have Monogenes here.

Byz also has a blessing:

Blessed be the entrance of Thy saints now and for ever.

Jas has a blessing of the people by the priest (see p.155).

Then the Εἰσοδικόν is sung. Though it has no relation to the Western Introit it has the same function in the Little Entrance. It ends with an ἀπολυτίκιον as does the Communion Hymn later. It is not in Arm. In Chrys-B-Cout it is called  τροπάαριον καὶ κοντάκιον. It has the ecphonesis'.

For holy art thou, our God,
and to thee we give glory,
to Father, &c.


The Censing

Incense has been used in worship by almost all races in which religious ceremony has been highly developed. It is generally associated with the offering of prayer. It played a great part in the Jewish temple worship, but the Christian use owes nothing directly to this, though it has been influenced by scriptural allusions.

There is no evidence for the ceremonial use of incense in the early Christian centuries. Liber Pontificalis ascribes to Pope Soter (166-74) the rule that no monk should offer incense, but this was written in the sixth century. St. Justin [Apol. i.i3 ; ii. 5.], Athenagoras [Legatio pro Christ. 13.], and Tertullian [Apol. 30.] explicitly say that incense had no part in Christian worship, and so Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Arnobius, Lactantius, and even Augustine. This is not surprising seeing that the usual method of apostasizing was by offering incense at the heathen altars. If appears first in funeral ceremonies, apparently in sign of joyful celebration of the natalis of the deceased, and to do him honour. Evidence of this comes from Alexandria in the fourth century, and St. Chrysostom. It was in these times a mark of honour and not of religious worship. St. Ephrerri in his Testament shows it as appearing in church also, for he asks that when he dies, which he did in 373, incense should not be offered at his funeral, as he was not worthy, but in the Sanctuary. [The 'Testament' is probably not genuine, but almost contemporary.] This is still not, it would seem, ceremonious, though already customary. From the desire to render the sacred place pleasant with sweet-smelling odours a step had yet to be taken to its symbolic use as a figure of the ascent of prayer or the acceptance of sacrifice. St. Chrysostom late in the fourth century asks what is the use of filling the church with incense if the mind is not purified. [Horn. in Matth. 89.]

The first clear evidence in the East is that of Etheria, who testifies to its use in Jerusalem at the end of the fourth century, when it is used at the Gospel in the Sunday vigils. Pseudo-Dionys (c. 500) tells us that the choir and Sanctuary were censed at the beginning of the liturgy [Eccl. Hier. iii. 2.]. These are both Syrian practices. At the end of the sixth century Eustathius indicates that it was used in Byz at the beginning of the ceremonies of Easter night [Vita S. Eutychii, x. 92.]. In the ninth century at the Mass of the Presanctified it was used at the Prothesis, at the beginning of the Mass of the Catechumens, and at the Little Entrance.

St. Ambrose, at the end of the fourth century, is the first to give witness to its use in the West. [Exposit. in Luc. i; De Cain et Abel, i. 5; De Joseph patriarchs., iii. 17. See discussion of these passages by E. Fehrenbach, D.A.C.L. v. 20.] There are sporadic references during the next three centuries, but not till Ordo I, representing the seventh century, is there any evidence of the manner of its use. Then incense precedes the Pope at the Introit, the deacon in going to the ambo for the Gospel, and the Pope at leaving the church, all honorific. In Ordo II, which is subject to Gallican influence (9th cent.), the altar and the assistants are censed at the Creed, and the Oblations are censed, in addition to the processional use. In Ordo V (9th-ioth cent.) the bishop is censed after kissing the Gospel-book, and there is a clear statement of the censing of the altar and ministers at the Creed.

The origin of the Christian use of incense is therefore not Jewish or scriptural. It seems to have been honorary, Certain Roman civil authorities had the privilege on official occasions of being preceded by their insignia, viz. lights and the liber mandatorum, and in the case of the Emperor by incense also. On arrival at the court of justice the book was placed on the table with the lights around. This has considerable resemblance to the Introit, with the placing of the Gospel on the altar. The pure Roman use seems to have been simply processional. The censing of the altar, according to Atchley, comes from the Gallican rite of the Dedication, which has Byzantine affinities. [Hist. of use of Incense, 159 f,, 188 f.]

There were no prayers or blessings of the incense till later. The following are the principal places at which incense is offered in the different rites:


Making of the loaves,




Syr-Jac, Nest, Chrys, Arm.


Before the Enarxis,

Jas, Chrys, Arm.


Beginning of Mass of Catechumens,

Jas, Syr-Jac, Copt, Eth, Byz, Rom.


Little Entrance,

Mark, Byz-Pres.


Pauline Epistle,



Acts of the Apostles,

Copt and Eth (at the Trisagion).



Jas, Mk, Eth, Nest, Chrys, Rom.


Greater Entrance (or Prayers),

Jas, Syr-Jac, Nest, Mk, Eth, Chrys, Arm, Rom.


Kiss of Peace,






Diptychs of Departed,

Mk, Chrys.





After Communion,

Chrys, Jas, Syr-Jac.

These group themselves roughly into

  1. the censing of the elements when preparing, carrying, or offering them;

  2. censing the altar, church, and people; and

  3. censing the Gospel and other books.

We are here concerned with the censing at the beginning, which usually takes the form of censing the altar.
The Roman form is:

Deacon: Bless, reverend father, this incense.
Priest:    Mayest thou be blessed by him in whose honour thou art to be burned.

The altar is censed in silence. The Eastern forms are much longer and usually include a prayer. Jas refers to the sacrifices of Abel, Noah, and Abraham, and the incense of Aaron and Zacharias. Mk incorporates this prayer of incense into a Prayer of Entrance (see p. 146) based on the Mission given to the Apostles. Syr-Jac, after the frequent ' Stand we well' and Kurrilison, has a Sedro, based on the sweetness typified by incense as springing from the root of Mary, and illustrated by Aaron's staying of the plague; and offers the savour of spices on behalf of all men from Adam down to the recently departed. The altar is censed to a triple adoration, the centre representing the type of the Father, the north of the Son, and the south of the Holy Ghost. An elaborate censing of the mysteries is associated with the commemoration of various classes of saints.

Copt has a prayer for the purifying of the heart to offer a sweet savour. It is said within the Veil, and, after a series of intercessions, a beautiful prayer is said without the Veil incorporating Mal.i.11, 'in every place incense shall be offered', and Ps.cxli.2, 'Let my prayer be set forth in thy sight as incense'. Eth the same, set in a long series of petitions, They also have an anthem:

This is the censer of pure gold,
bearing the sweet spice that was in the hand of Aaron the priest,
while he offered a sweet savor upon the altar.

If there is time the following is added:

The 'censer of gold' is the Virgin,
her sweet cloud is our Saviour;
she hath borne him:
he hath saved us;
may he forgive our sins.
Thou art the censer of pure gold,
holding live coals of blessed fire.

Nest has a prayer before the Lachumara, which seems to be a prayer of incense, though incense is not mentioned in the rubrics. In Byz, as the deacon censes the altar at the Prothesis, he says:

Thou wert in the tomb as to the body,
but in Hades as to the soul, for thou art God;
and thou wert in Paradise with the robber,
and on the throne with the Father and the Spirit,
O Christ, who art everywhere and fulfillest all things.

Then Ps.li, during which he censes the Sanctuary and Church.

the hymn Trisagion

 Listen to the Georgian Trisagion sung by the Choir of St Gregory of Nyssa, San Francisco. Music details HERE.

A legend states that this hymn was revealed in Constantinople during the episcopate of Proclus (434-6). It is quoted in a work attributed to Caesarius of Nazianzus (d. 369), but it is not his work, and must be later, though it may well be before the fifth century [Quaest. de rebus divinis, i. 29.]. During an earthquake the Emperor Theodosius with the patriarch and the people were reciting litanies, when a child was suddenly taken up into the air, and on being restored to the ground, ordered the recitation of the Trisagion, whereupon he died and the earthquake ceased. The hymn was sung before the Gospel at the Council of Constantinople (536).

It is addressed to the Holy Trinity in the Nest form, which has a threefold repetition with the Gloria between. Copt, Eth too have three repetitions, but addressed to the Son:

(1) 'Thou who wast born of a Virgin';
(2) 'Thou who wast crucified for us';
(3) 'Thou who didst rise from the dead and ascend into heaven'.

Syr-Jac has 'thou who wast crucified for us' each time. Arm also addresses them to the Son, but with varying clauses according to the season.

This formula thus became a banner of the faith, the Monophysites addressing it to the Son, and associating His Manhood with His Divine attributes; the Nestorians emphasizing their refusal to worship the Manhood by naming the Persons of the Holy Trinity. In 470 Peter the Fuller, the usurping Bishop of Antiocli, introduced the words 'who wast crucified for us'; when Timotheus ordered the use of these words in Constantinople in 511 there was bitter opposition, and they were condemned by the Council in Trulh in 692. [Canon 81.]

Holy God,
Holy and mighty,
Holy and immortal,
Have mercy upon us.

It is before the lections in Jas, Mk, Byz, Arm, Nest, and Gall (Germain); between Old Testament and Acts in Syr-Jac; before Gospel in Copt and Eth.

Chrys does not, however, always use the Trisagion; on festivals 'As many as have been baptized unto Christ have put on Christ' is substituted. In Byz-Greg a τροπάριον - troparion is sung during the Little Entry and after it φῶς λαριόν - phos hilaron; it is the evening hymn for the lighting of the lamps, and is quoted by St. Basil (330-79) [De Sp. sanct, xxix. 73.]. There is a well-known translation into English by John Keble, 'Hail, gladdening light'.

The Trisagion is not in Rom in the Mass, but forms part of the Veneration of the Cross of Good Friday, when it is the response by the deacon in Greek, and by the subdeacon in Latin, to the Reproaches. This association in Rome with Good Friday points, in the mind of Baumstark, to the inclusion of the words 'who was crucified for us', and thus to Jerusalem before the theological doubts about this phrase were raised [Irenikon, xi (July-Aug. 1934), 323.]. According to Bishop it was part of the Good Friday Office in Rome in the twelfth and probably eleventh centuries, but certainly not the ninth. He thinks it was a revival in the ninth century in France of the old Gallic form, and traces the Reproaches to the Bobbio Missal, which had them from Spain. The Ajus (see below) came, he thinks, through Burgundy (Germain and Bobbio) from Constantinople, with which the Burgundian rulers were associated.

Gall had it as the first of a series of canticles before the lections, saying it in Latin and Greek (Ajus), and also, according to Germain only, at the Gospel procession. It was precented by the bishop. In Lent it was not sung. In Moz and Amb Gloria in excelsis takes its place, but Dom. Ferotin shows that it was at some time used in Spain also.


O holy God, 'who dost dwell in the holy place',
who art hymned in the Trisagion by the Seraphim,
and glorified by the Cherubim,
and worshipped by every heavenly power,
who didst out of nothing bring all things into being ...
receive from the mouths of us sinners the hymn of the Trisagion ...
'grant that we may serve thee in holiness all the days of our life',
through the intercessions of the holy Mother of God,
and of all the Saints that have pleased thee from the beginning.
For holy art thou, O our God,
and dwellest in holy places,
and we give thee glory, &c.

The prayer is a Byz feature, which has been adopted by Mk, Arm, and Jas. It is not found in any of the Monophysite Churches, but, as there is no indication of doctrinal tendencies in any of the forms, it must be dated long after the separation of those Churches, and its vogue be due to the intercourse of the Greek-speaking Christians of the East. The above form was in the Bas-Barb, Chrys having a similar but different prayer, ' Holy of holies'; it has the same ecphonesis. Mk and Jas have a penitential tone, especially the latter, and have nothing in common with the Byzantine forms, but the ecphonesis betrays their common origin. Sarap's 'First Prayer of the Lord's Day' (p. 136) resembles Mk's; they may be related. There were many forms current towards the end of the first millennium.

Eth, which has the Trisagion after the Acts, has a long rite here. A Trinitarian Tersanctus follows the Acts, and then incense is offered with the litany that previously accompanied the censing, but a different prayer. This prayer of incense and litany are also in Copt (see p. 150). Next follows a prayer addressed to the Blessed Virgin, and a chant (outside the Veil) in her honour and that of our Lord, leading up to the Trisagion, which is succeeded by a threefold invocation of the Holy Trinity, and the ' Hail Mary'. The other liturgies have nothing corresponding to this. In Arm a litany, which is that of the Enarxis in Byz, follows the Trisagion and in Jas a similar litany, also equivalent to that of the Enarxis, accompanies the Prayer of the Trisagion.

Bobb shows that a prayer followed the Trisagion in Gall, for it gives, after the Canon and the concluding prayers, a series of forms that were evidently meant for frequent use. These include two Post Aios, possibly for the twofold use mentioned by Germain. One of these prayers begins: 'Tu summe deus aios ipse sanctus omnipotens sabaoth, qui venisti ab excelsis pati pro nobis miserere nobis', thus containing the phrase objected to in the Monophysite liturgies.


After the Prayer of the Trisagion, in Byz follows a ceremonial setting of the priest on the throne, mentioned by St. Maximus:

The ρχιερεύς- archerius enters the sanctuary, and goes up to the priestly throne (τὸν θρόνον τὸν ἱερατικόν).
The priest says,

'Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord'
(and after a deacon's request),
'Blessed art thou that sittest on the throne of the glory of thy kingdom with the Cherubim forever.'

[Mystagogia, 8, 9.]

This is in the present rite, but not in Barb, which has a prayer called the 'Prayer of the chair on high' (τῆς νω καθέδρας - tes ano kathedras), and (in Chrys) 'of the sanctuary chair'. B-Coutt has neither. Jas also has a blessing, but before the Trisagion.

After the Gospel the priest leaves the throne.

the Kyrie Eleison (of the Roman liturgy)

MP3 Listen to the Kyrie sung by the Mirfield community. Music details HERE.

Κύριε λέησον - Kyrie eleison occurs several times in the Septuagint, though more often in the form ἐλέησον με κύριε - eleison me kyrie [Ps. xli.4, 10; cxi.3.]. It is also used as an address to our Lord in Mt.xvii.15; xx.30 and 31, and eleison occurs with other forms of address frequently. Strangely enough, early Christian literature gives no instance of its use, though Arrian, a heathen of the second century, says, 'Invoking God, we say, kyrie eleison. [Diatribae Epicteti,ii.7.] The Latin equivalent, 'Miserere domine', was in use in the West, for Etheria (4th cent.), who is the first witness for the Kyrie in Jerusalem, speaks as though she were translating it by a familiar phrase: 'Kyrie eleison, or as we say, Miserere domine.' This was the response to the commemoration of individuals at Vespers, so the litanic use of the phrase was already established. The third Canon of the Council of Vaisori says:

Because both in the apostolic See and also through the whole of the Eastern Churches and the Italian provinces the pleasing and very healthy (salutaris) practice has been introduced of saying Kyrie eleison very frequently with great devotion and compunction, we also are agreed that in all our Churches so holy a custom as this should be introduced into our matins, masses, and vespers.

This is almost certainly due to the Roman influence of Caesarius of Aries. Gregory of Tours (591) says that when St. Gregory was elected Pope he ordered litanies to be sung for the removal of the plague, and that choirs should sing Kyrie eleison. [Hist. Franc, x.1.] St. Gregory himself wrote to John of Syracuse as follows:

Someone coming from Sicily has told me that some of his friends, whether Greeks or Latins I know not, doubtless full of zeal (quasi sub zeio) for the Holy Roman Church, grumble about my measures, saying: 'A fine way surely to put the Church of Constantinople in its place, when he is following its customs in everything.'
I said to him, 'What are these customs we follow?'
He replied, 'Why, you have ordered (among other things) Kyrie eleison to be said.' And I answered, 'In none of these things have we followed the example of another Church.'
We have neither said nor do we say Kyrie eleison as the Greeks say it, for among them all sing it together, but with us it is sung by the clerks, and the people answer. And Christe eleison, which is never sung by the Greeks, is sung as many times. But in non-festal masses we omit some things usually sung, and sing only Kyrie eleison and Christe eleison, so that we may be engaged somewhat longer in these words of supplication. In what therefore have we followed the customs of the Greeks, since we have either renewed our old customs, or have established new and useful ones, in which however we cannot be shown to imitate others?
[Ep. ix.12.]

As usual with these allusions to the liturgy, it is not clear what lay behind this. 'Aliqua quae dici solent' seems to refer to the Litany. On station days it was sung in procession with Kyrie; on these days the Mass would begin with 'Pax vobis'; on non-station days Kyrie would be sung without the Litany and with more elaborate music. But if this is so, how was the Kyrie used with the Litany? The Roman response to the Litany seems to have been 'Te rogamus, audi nos'. When Kyrie was introduced it may have been placed at the beginning with the Christe, and also at the end, and said alternately by clerks and people. Cabrol thinks that the omission of 'other things' refers to prayers usually attached to Kyrie, and that Gregory's innovation was the shortening of the Introit to the single verse [Regula, c.ix.]. It would be interesting to know just what were the old customs renewed, and what the useful new ones introduced. Gregory gives the impression here and elsewhere that he likes experimenting, but is a little sensitive about appearing to be copying the East.

It is just possible that the ninefold Kyrie came from Egypt, as it occurs there in the Enarxis; but as it is not in the Monophysite liturgies, it was probably not introduced there early enough to have influenced Rome. St. Benedict adopted the Kyrie freely in his rule, calling it 'supplicatio litaniae'. [D.A.C.L. viii.912-13.]

Bishop's summing up of the evidence is that it came into the Eastern services in the fourth century, spread to Italy in the fifth, later in the century rather than earlier; that it was imported into Gaul from Italy early in the sixth century, or perhaps a little earlier, from Constantinople; and was chiefly spread by the Benedictines. [Liturgica historica, pp.124 ff.]

It seems to be clear that Rome adopted it in her litanies, and had a litany with the Kyrie in the Mass at an early date, and that the litany dropped out. It is still in occasional use in the eighth century, for in Gel at the Ordination Mass after the Antiphona ad introitum, the Oratio, the Si quis, and a short interval 'they all begin Kyrie eleison with the Litany'. The Litany was older than the Greek Kyrie, which is not a remnant of the Greek rite of Rome, but must have been introduced in the fifth century. By the time of the Ordines the Litany had disappeared except on Easter Eve, Whitsun Eve, and Ordinations, and then its position had moved. In Ordo I the Kyrie is called Litania', it was repeated as often as the Pope directed. In the Ordo of St. Amand the ninefold Kyrie as now used was established. On Easter Eve and Whitsun Eve there is no Introit, and the Litany of the Saints is sung with ninefold Kyrie, this litany having replaced the original, which on other days has yielded to the introit.

Kyrie eleison three times
Christe eleison three times
Kyrie eleison three times.

Kyrie eleison

The Kyrie was not in use in Gaul up to the sixth century; but it was sung by three boys in the time of St. Germain (c. 560), and had no connexion with a litany. This may have resulted from the Council of Vaison (529). In Milan it was already used in Greek at the time of that council, and it may have been introduced from there to Rome. But the Christe was not said there, and there was, as in Gaul, only a threefold repetition. In this form it appears in Lent twice after the place of the Gloria in excelsis (itself omitted), as usual, and also after the litanies, which are said in that season. It has a Latin ' Domine miserere'. In Moz it dropped out, if it ever had a footing in early days in Spain; but it has been introduced into that liturgy from Rome in the priest's preparation and in Masses for the dead.

The Greek liturgies have the Kyrie frequently as the people's acclamation; but it is specially the response to the numerous litanies. Angl adopted the ninefold Kyrie with Christe in 1549, but in 1552 it was to be said without the Christe, as a response to the commandments at the beginning of the service in the form: 'Lord have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.' A tenth was added for the last commandment: 'Lord have mercy upon us, and write all these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee.' This is curious, for it is, though it could never have been intended to be, a revival of the medieval 'farcing', to which the Kyrie was more subjected than any other part of the Mass. The Sarum Missal gives nine sets of farced Kyries. In many verses of these the Kyrie or Christe disappears, and only eleison is left. That for the Epiphany, Pentecost, and Corpus Christ! began thus:

fons bonitatis,
Pater ingenite,
a quo bona cuncta procedunt,

It is becoming customary in Anglican Churches to omit the Commandments. The 1927 proposed revision allowed the use on occasion of the threefold Kyrie, with Christe in the second place, either in Greek or English.

the prophecy (benedictus domine deus)

This is peculiar to non-Roman Western rites. At the Council of Constantinople (sub Menna, 536) the congregation sang Benedictus before the liturgy, apparently separated by a considerable amount of singing of Psalms from the Trisagion, which came after; so it was not really part of the rite. Gregory of Tours mentions that Palladius, Bishop of Saintes, began the singing of the Prophecy, which shows that it was not the lection from the Prophets, which would not be read by the bishop [Hist. Franc, viii.7.]. In Germain it was sung antiphonally. In Moz the Benedictus is used, between the Officium and the Prophetic Lesson, on the Feast of St. John Baptist only. Bobb, Goth, Franc, and Gel-Rhein also have Collects Post prophetiam. They are very few; in Goth only two, for Christmas and Easter. In Bobb five prayers are headed Post prophetiam.
The following is an example:

'Blessed' holy 'God of Israel'
'visit thy people' and bless them
and 'redeem' them from their sins,
and grant, O Lord of might,
that we may be 'delivered out of the hands of our enemies'
and 'serve thee' alone,
'in righteousness and holiness all the days of our life',
and 'guide our feet into the way of peace',
that we may be able in all things to do thy will, through &c.

Some of these prayers make the occasion of the day the principal subject, but weave into it the ideas of the Benedictus, as in the example given by Duchesne [Christian Worship, 193.]. In Moz the Collectio is often based on the Gloria in excelsis, and must be looked on as of the same nature as the Post prophetiam.

In Lent, instead of the Benedictus, a canticle Sanctus Deus Archangelorum was sung, according to Germain. In Amb and Moz Gloria in excelsis, taken from Rome, ousted Benedictus, if it was ever used in Milan.

the gloria in excelsis

MP3 Listen to the Mirfield community sing the Gloria. Music details HERE.

There is no very early evidence for the liturgical use of the Angelic Hymn of the Nativity. It was frequently included in epitaphs in Africa, leading us to suppose that it was in common use there as a devotional ejaculation. As the form used is 'in excelsis' instead of 'in altissimis', as in the Vulgate, it must go behind the establishment of that version (5th cent.). St. Athanasius mentions it as part of the Morning Prayer. Codex Alexandrinus has it as an appendix to the Psalter. In Ap-Const it is a morning prayer, and it is now in the Byz Morning Office. The scriptural portion occurs in several liturgies; in Ap-Const with εἷς γιος and Benedictus qui venit before communion; Jas as the beginning of a cento of scriptural passages before the Offertory; Byz has the first two of these at the censing after the Prothesis; Nest also has it there and at the beginning of the Enarxis, in each followed by the Lord's Prayer; Eth incorporates it, with a repetition by the people, in the prayer of the Kiss of Peace.

In the West also it has been used at Lauds, but it is chiefly associated with the Mass. Liber Pontificalis attributes its introduction into Rome to Telesphorus (c. 130), but this statement has no historical value. Symmachus (498-514) is said to have ordered it to be said every Sunday and on the Feasts of the Martyrs after Kyrie; this is its first introduction.

St. Gregory of Tours (573-94) tells that it was sung by the people on the discovery of the body of a martyr [De gloria confessorum, i. 63.]; when Charlemagne visited Leo III (800) the Pope sang it. It is not mentioned in Gel; but in Greg it is episcopal. It was gradually extended from the Pope to bishops, and later to priests. From the eighth to eleventh century priests could say it only at Easter, and only then if they were acting for the Pope, and also on their own ordination day. Remo of Reichenau objected to this restriction (d. 1048); he says that in practice priests commonly recited it [De quibusdam rebus, 2.]. By the time of Bernold of Constance (c. 1080) the present use was in vogue [Micrologus, 2.]. Its place was always after the Kyrie.

The latter part, from 'Laudamus te', is said to have been composed by St. Hilary; if this is true, the use of the full text in the East may be due to his exile there about AD 360.

In the books it first appears in Greg as above. It does not seem to have belonged to Gall, but Amb and Moz adopted it from Rome. Its appearance in Bobb is no doubt an importation. Amb, however, has two coincidences against Rome with Ap-Const. It is probable, therefore, that while it took its use in the Mass from Rome, the text came from the East and was previously used in the morning prayer. Amb does not use it in Lent, when a litany with Latin Kyries is substituted, but followed, as when the Gloria is used, by Greek Kyries. In Moz it is used on Sundays and Feast-days except in Lent, as ordered in the fourth Council of Toledo (589).

Glory be to God on high,
and on earth peace to men of good will.
We praise thee,
we bless thee,
we worship thee,
we glorify thee,
we give thanks to thee for thy great glory,
O Lord God, heavenly king,
God the Father Almighty.

O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesu Christ,
O Lord God,
Lamb of God,
Son of the Father,
that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy upon us.

For thou only art holy,
thou only art the Lord;
thou only, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Ghost,
art most high in the glory of God the Father.

Ap-Const adds after 'glorify thee' 'we hymn thee through the great High Priest, thee the living God, one, unbegotten, unapproachable and alone'. Amb here has 'hymnum dicimus tibi'.
The passage relating to our Lord is, in Ap-Const, addressed to the Father, thus:

O Lord God,
the Father of Christ, the spotless Lamb,
that taketh away the sin of the world,
receive our prayer, thou that sittest upon the cherubim;
for thou only art holy,
thou only art the Lord Jesus,
the Christ of the God of all created nature and of our king,
through whom to thee is glory, honour and worship.'

[See Ap. Const. vii. 47, ed. F. X. Funk, vol. i, p.457.]

Amb omits 'the only-begotten son' and ' have mercy upon us; thou that takest away the sins of the world'. It is obvious that Ap-Const represents a more primitive form, but it has an heretical flavour. Stowe also adds 'magnificamus te' and 'domine filii dei unigeniti', on which Warner notes that it is for 'fili dei unigenite' [H.B.S. xx. 4, n.14.]; but it is a strange coincidence with Ap-Const, and suggests a connexion. However, Stowe goes on after this,

Jesu Christe sancte spiritus dei et omnes dicimus Amen domine filii dei patris agne dei,

where' filii' must stand for 'fili'. It also omits 'qui tollis peccata mundi.' In Bobb the Gloria is accompanied by two alternative prayers, based on the Hymn, as in Moz, where the Collect (Oratio, p.306) often depends on the Gloria in the same way. As mentioned in the next section, this Oratio is not strictly a Collect, but, as the Gall prayer at this point is connected with Benedictus, so the kindred song inspires this.