Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Theology of the Offertory - Part 7.8 - Two Prayers from the 1565 Missal of Seville

As noted in the most recent articles of this series, the Missals of Toledo and Seville are quite unusual in having preserved so late as the mid-16th century a type of prayer called an “Apologia”, in which the priest protests his unworthiness to approach the altar and offer the Eucharistic sacrifice. At Toledo, two of them remained in the place which they originally had when they were created, as part of the Offertory, although their use was optional. In the Missal of Seville, which has four of them, they are printed between the prayers said before the altar at the beginning of Mass and the blessing before the Gospel. This missal has far fewer rubrics than that of Toledo, and gives no indication as to when these prayers were to be said. Only the last one has a rubric before it, which states that the priest says it “before the sacred things, or when he wishes.”

It was a custom in some places in the Middle Ages for the priest to say prayers silently when he was seated and the choir was singing. The prayer Summe sacerdos et vere Pontifex, a common prayer of preparation for Mass, is preceded in some editions of the Sarum Missal by a rubric which says that it is “to be said during the Mass (‘in missa’) while the Office (the Sarum term for the Introit), Kyrie, Gloria and Creed are sung.” (It continues by saying “or the whole prayer is said before the Mass, which is better.”) That such a custom should have arisen is not surprising, given the extreme length of many polyphonic works of the 15th and 16th centuries.

The retable of the high altar of Seville Cathedral, showing various episodes from the Life of Christ. The project was begun by a Flemish artist, Pierre Dancart, in 1482, who continued worked on it for ten years. It was continued by others after his death and completed in 1564. (Image from wikipedia by Shawn Lipowski.)
The position in which the Apologias are printed in the Missal of Seville indicates that they were used in the same way, as optional prayers to say if the singing was very long. The first prayer is labelled as “A Prayer of St. Ambrose”, as was commonly done in the Middle Ages. It comes from the 9th-century manuscript known as the Sacramentary of St. Gatien of Tours in France, and is also found in the Missal of Sarum inter alia.

Deus, qui de indignis dignos, de peccatoribus justos, de immundis facis mundos; munda cor meum et corpus meum ab omni sorde et cogitatione peccati: et fac me dignum atque strenuum sanctis altaribus ministrum: et praesta, ut in hoc altari ad quod indignus accedere praesumo, acceptabiles tibi hostias offeram pro peccatis et offensionibus, et innumeris quotidianis meis excessibus, et pro peccatis omnium viventium, et defunctorum fidelium, et eorum qui se meis commendaverunt orationibus: et per eum tibi meum sit acceptabile votum: qui se tibi Deo Patri pro nobis obtulit in sacrificium: qui est omnium opifex et solus sine peccati macula Pontifex, Jesus Christus Filius tuus Dominus noster. Qui tecum etc.

O God, who makest worthy men of the unworthy, just men of sinners, and clean of the unclean: cleanse my heart and my body from all filth and thought of sin: and make me a fitting and vigorous minister for Thy Holy Altars: and grant that upon this altar, which I, though unworthy, dare to approach, I may offer Thee acceptable sacrifices for my sins and offenses, and my daily and innumerable excesses, and for the sins of all the living, and of the faithful departed, and of those that have commended themselves to my prayers, and may my prayer be acceptable to Thee, through Him who for us offered Himself in sacrifice to Thee, God the Father, who is the maker of all things, and the only High Priest without the stain of sin: Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Who lives etc.

This is followed by a brief prayer of a different type, and then another Apologia.

Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi, immensam clementiam tuam humili devotione deposco, ne irascaris mihi indigno famulo tuo, pro eo quod immundus mente et corpore domum tuam sanctam intrare, et ad corpus sanguinemque tuum sumendum accedere praesumo indignus, et multis flagitiis obrutus. Sed reconciliare mihi, Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi, qui mulierem fluxum sanguinis patientem a tactu gloriosissimae fimbriae vestimenti tui non prohibuisti. Illam quoque peccatricem ac paenitentem a sanctorum pedum tuorum osculo non sprevisti. Ita nec me, Domine, pro innumerabilibus sceleribus meis a communione tanti mysterii velut immundum repellas, sed paenitentiam mihi dignam agere, fontemque lacrimarum habere concedas; ut pura mente et casto corpore, non jam ad judicium, sed ad remissionem omnium peccatorum meorum te miserante illud percipere merear, Salvator mundi. Qui cum Patre etc.

Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, with humble devotion I ask Thy boundless clemency; that Thou be not wroth with me, Thy unworthy servant, that unclean in mind and body, I presume to enter Thy holy house, and come to receive Thy body and blood, though unworthy and overwhelmed by many shameful deeds. But be Thou reconciled to me, Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, who kept not the woman that suffered the issue of blood from the touch of the most glorious hem of Thy garment. Thou also didst not spurn the sinful and penitent woman from the kiss of Thy holy feet. So also drive me not away, o Lord, as one unclean because of my innumerable crimes from partaking in so great a mystery, but grant me to do worthy penance, and have a fount of tears; that with pure mind and chaste body, I may merit to receive it no longer unto judgment, but unto the remission of all my sins, in Thy mercy, o Savior of the world. Who with the Father etc.

After this comes the Apologia prayer Si tantum Domine, which I have already given in Latin and English à propos of the Missal of Toledo. Unlike that of Toledo, the Missal of Seville does include Suscipe Sancta Trinitas, the medieval Offertory prayer par excellence, and in fact has a second version of it, which I believe is unique to that Use, which is to be said at Requiem Masses. Seville is also unique in placing both versions among the Apologias, and not in the Offertory; they are given in Latin and English in the previous article of this series. This group of prayers concludes with another Apologia, Deus, qui non mortem, which has also been given previously in Latin and English from the Missal of Toledo.

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