Thursday, June 07, 2018

The Parisian Mass for the Octave of Corpus Christi

Some of the oldest Roman octaves, such as those of Ss Peter and Paul and St Lawrence, have a Mass on the octave day itself which is different or partly different from that of the main feast; Peter and Paul also have another Mass for the days within the octave. However, by the time the feast of Corpus Christi was promulgated in the mid-13th century, this custom was no longer being developed for new celebrations, and the Mass of the feast was simply repeated though the octave. As I noted recently, the neo-Gallican Parisian Missal of 1738 added a proper Epistle and Gospel for each day within the octave of Corpus Christi, a development which by the standards of its time was certainly an innovation, but one in keeping with tradition. This Missal also contains a special Mass for the octave day, which is for the most part quite well composed from a literary point of view.

The Mass of the Octave of Corpus Christi, from the 1738 Parisian Missal
The introit is taken from the book of the Prophet Malachi (1, 11), a text which was already understood to be a reference to the Eucharistic sacrifice by St Justin Martyr in the mid-2nd century.

Introitus Ab ortu solis usque ad occasum, magnum est nomen meum in gentibus, et in omni loco sacrificatur et offertur nomini meo oblatio munda, quia magnum est nomen meum in gentibus, dicit Dominus exercituum. Ps. 49 Deus deorum Dominus locutus est, et vocavit terram a solis ortu usque ad occasum. Gloria Patri. Ab ortu solis.

Introit From the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts. Ps. 49 The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken: and he hath called the earth from the rising of the sun, to the going down thereof. Glory be. From the rising.

The Collect is taken from an ancient Sacramentary of the Gallican Rite.

Oratio Deus, qui magno misericordiae tuae munere, docuisti nos redemptionis nostrae sacrificium celebrare, sicut óbtulit Póntifex noster Jesus Chrifius in terris: da nobis, quaesumus, ut sanctifìcati per oblatiónem Córporis et Sanguinis ejus, cum ipso mereamur in sempiternum consummari; Qui tecum.

Prayer God, who by the great gift of Thy mercy, taught us to celebrate the sacrifice of our redemption, as our priest Jesus Christ offered (it) upon the earth: grant us, we ask, that sanctified by the offering of His Body and Blood, we may merit to be perfected for ever with Him who liveth and reigneth...

The neo-Gallican revisers were very fond of creating themes in the liturgy, and this Mass is no exception. The Epistle, Hebrews 7, 18-28, continues the thought of the Introit and Collect on the universal priestly offering of Christ. This passage is perhaps also chosen for Corpus Christi as a deliberate rebuke or challenge to the Calvinists, who often cited the words of verse 27, “Who needeth not daily (as the other priests) to offer sacrifices first for his own sins, and then for the people’s, for this He did once, in offering Himself”, against the Catholic doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

The Gradual joins the line of Psalm 109 quoted above by St Paul with the figure of Melchisedech, whose appearance in the book of Genesis (14, 17-20) is read as the Epistle on Friday within the Octave.

Graduale Melchisedech rex Salem, protulit panem et vinum, erat enim sacerdos Dei altissimi. V. Juravit Dominus, et non poenitebit eum: Tu es sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech.

Graduale Melchisedech, the king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine, for he was the priest of the most high God. V. The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech.

The Offerings of Abel and Melchisedech, mosaic from the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, 526-547 AD. (Image from Wikipedia by Roger Culos - CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Alleluia is also taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews (9, 26), after which St Thomas’ Sequence Lauda, Sion is said as on the feast day.

Alleluia, alleluia. Christus in consummatione saeculorum, ad destitutionem peccati, per hostiam suam apparuit, alleluia. – Alleluia, alleluia. Christ at the end of ages hath appeared for the destruction of sin, by the sacrifice of Himself, alleluia.

The Gospel, John 6, 58-70, is the fourth of a series of readings chosen to give a broader selection from the Eucharistic discourse of that chapter than the four verses (56-59) originally provided by St Thomas’ version of the Mass. (Monday, verses 27-35; Tuesday, 41-44; Wednesday, 51-55.) The neo-Gallican revisers, like most “right-thinking” liturgists, were painfully obsessed with making the liturgy more Scriptural and more didactic; the results of their tinkering are often comically inept, as for example, in the damage which they did to St Thomas’ Office of Corpus Christi. Here, however, they have shown a commendable respect for the original tradition, while at the same time building from it, an example which the modern revisers of the lectionary might profitably have heeded.

The Offertory is taken from the First Epistle of St Peter, 2, 4-5.

Offertorium Ad Christum accedentes lapidem vivum, et ipsi tamquam lapides vivi superaedificamini, domus spiritualis, sacerdotium sanctum, offerre spirituales hostias, acceptabiles Deo per Jesum Christum, alleluia.

Offertory Coming unto Christ, as to a living stone, be you also as living stones built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, alleluia.

The first part of the Secret (up to the asterisk) is taken from a very ancient prayer found in the Gelasian and Gregorian Sacramentaries; in the latter, as in the Missal of St Pius V, it is assigned to the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost. (The Latin version of this prayer, moved to the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, somehow managed to survive the Consilium intact; the 1973 ICEL version of it was one of the old translation’s most grotesque failures, as Fr Zuhlsdorf notes here in this very useful commentary.) The second part was composed specifically for this Mass.

Secreta Deus, qui legalium differentias hostiarum unius sacrificii perfectione sanxisti: accipe sacrificium a devotis tibi famulis; et pari benedictione, sicut munera Abel, sanctifica; ut * Christo sacerdoti et victimae per fidem adunati, nosmetipsos tibi hostiam viventem, sanctam, et beneplacentem exhibere valeamus. Per eundem...

Secret O God, who by the perfection of the one sacrifice didst ratified variety of offerings prescribed by the Law; receive (this) sacrifice from the servants devoted to Thee, and sanctify it by a blessing (as Thou did with) the gifts of Abel; so that * we, united by faith to Christ, who is priest and victim, may be able to offer to Thee ourselves, as a living, holy and well-pleasing sacrifice. Through the same...

The Secret “Deus qui legalium” in the Echternach Sacramentary, 895AD. (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Latin 9433) In the Gelasian Sacramentary, it appears in the third of sixteen Masses under the heading “for Sundays”, without further qualification. Later sacramentaries would reorganize the material in the Gelasian in broadly similar, but not identical ways; in the Echternach, it is assigned to the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, rather than the Seventh.
The Communion antiphon is taken from 1 Corinthians 11, 24-25, an unusual (for neo-Gallicans) example of a partial and inexact quotation.

Communio Hoc corpus quod pro vobis tradetur: hic calix novi testamenti еst in meo sanguine, dicit Dóminus: hoc facite, quotiescumque sumitis, in meam commemoratiónem.

Communion This (is the) body, which shall be delivered for you: this chalice is the new testament in my blood: do ye this, as often as you shall receive it, for the commemoration of me.

The Postcommunion is a new composition, which cites the idea of the Communion antiphon, again keeping to a theme.

Postcommunio Domine Jesu Christe, qui corpus et sanguinem tuum esse voluisti humanae salutis pretium, Ecclesiae tuae sacrificium, et nostrae infirmitatis alimentum; praesta, quaesumus, ut haec sancta, quae in tui commemorationem nos súmere praecepisti, sempiternam nobis redemptiónem operentur. Qui vivis.

Postcommunio Lord Jesus Christ, who willed that Thy Body and Blood be the price of man’s salvation, Thy Church’s sacrifice, and the nourishment of our weakness; grant, we ask, that these holy things, which Thou didst command us to receive in commemoration of Thee, may effect for us everlasting redemption. Who livest.

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