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mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father.

For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake, Forgive us allthat is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy holy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tribue mihi indulgentiam omnium delictorum meorum .. et doce me facere voluntatem tuam cunctis diebus vitæ meæ, Salvator mundi qui vivis &c.h


The benediction or absolution of the penitent faithful has always been committed to bishops and presbyters in the Christian church. No instance can be assigned from antiquity in which the deacons and ministers of Christ's church were permitted during the liturgy to give the benediction.

The benediction or absolution of those who have confessed their sins, is always, in the present case, according to the rule of the English church, performed by the bishop, if he be present, and if he is not present, by the presbyter. There was scarcely any ancient liturgy which did not contain a benediction of the people before communion. In the liturgy of Cæsarea, about the year 370, the deacon proclaimed to the people, “ Incline your heads to the Lord,” and then the bishop blessed them, saying, “ O Lord our Ruler, Father of mercies and God of all comfort; bless, sanctify, keep, strengthen, and defend those who have bowed down their heads unto thee; remove them from every evil work, fit them for every good work, and grant that they may without condemnation be partakers of these pure and life-giving sacraments, for the remission of their sins, and the communion of the Holy Ghosti.” In the ancient Alexandrian liturgy we find the benediction before communion termed the absolution, and approaching to the form and substance of our own. After an introduction, which it is unnecessary to transcribe, the priest proceeded thus : “ May thy servants and handmaidens, therefore, be absolved by the mouth of the holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and by the mouth of me, a sinner, thy unworthy servant. O Lord our God, thou art he who takest away the sins of the world; receive the repentance of thy servants and handmaidens. Cause the light of life to shine upon them, and forgive them their sins; for thou art good and merciful, O Lord our God; long-suffering, and of great mercy, and righteous. Whatever we have sinned against

h From a liturgy of the church of S. Gatian at Tours,

nine hundred years old. Martene, lib. i. c. 4. art, 12. p. 534.

. thee, () Lord, in word, deed, or thought, pardon, absolve, forget, for thou art the gracious lover of mankind. O Lord our God, grant that we may be all absolved, and with us absolve all thy peoplej.”

The absolution which occurs at this place had long been used in the English liturgy at the very beginning of the service. But it is certainly much more consistent with primitive customs to reserve this benediction, as we do now, to a considerably later period. In the ancient liturgy of the monophysites of Antioch, a benediction occurs in this part of the liturgy, namely, after an exhortation of the deacon, and before the osculum pacis, and the form of Sursum cordak. The ancient western li

i Liturgia Basilii, Goar, p. Basilii, tom. i. p. 22. 174.

k Liturgia Jacobi Syr. Rei Liturgia Æthiopic. Renau- naudot, tom. ii. p. 40. dot, tom. i. p. 519. Cyrilli, et

turgy published by Illyricus contains a confession of the priest, and prayers of the people for him, just at this place, as I have observed! We are not, therefore, without several precedents in antiquity both for the substance and the position of our absolution. The following extract from the ancient liturgies of the English church will shew the source from which our absolution is derived.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all them that with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him ; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus, et dimittat vobis omnia peccata vestra : liberet vos ab omni malo, conservet et confirmet in bono, et ad vitam perducat æternam m.

In the liturgy of the orthodox of Jerusalem, a prayer of perhaps the seventh or eighth century contains the following petitions, which are not dissimilar: Και νύν δεόμεθα σου κύριε ο Θεός ημών, τελείας φιλανθρωπίας αξιώσον ημάς ορθοτόμησαν την οδόν ημών" ρίζωσον ημάς εν τω φόβω σου, και της επουρανίου βασιλείας αξίωσον, εν Χριστώ Ιησού, τώ κυρίω ημών η.

1 Martene de Antiq. Ecclesiæ Rit. lib. i. c. 4. art. 12. P. 503, 506.

m Miss. Sar. fol. lxxi. Miss. Ebor. et Hereford. Præparatio

ad Missam.

n Liturgia Jacobi Græc. Asseman. Codex Liturgicus, tom. v. p. 64.



Though it was not the custom of the most primitive ages to enrich the liturgy with short detached sentences, yet we find that pious men in after-times selected verses of scripture remarkable for their devotion, or for some other circumstance, which were appointed to be said at some particular part of the liturgy. Thus we find in the liturgy of the orthodox of Jerusalem several sentences from scripture, which were repeated by the priest in this part of the liturgy, before his confession. The priest said,

Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, goodwill to men,” three times; “ Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise,” three times; “Let my mouth be filled with thy praise, O Lord, that I may celebrate thy glory, and all the day thy magnificence,” three times'. So also in the liturgy of Constantinople, on Sundays, the beatitudes at the beginning of our Saviour's sermon on the mount are sung some time before the scriptures are read P.

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We now enter upon the most solemn part of the liturgy, or rather that part which constituted peculiarly the liturgy according to the judgment of the primitive church. All the preceding lessons and

• Liturgia Jacobi Græcè, As- and note 73. in Liturg. Chrys

o seman. Codex Liturgic. tom. v.

ostomi. P. 24, 25.

q Theodoret describes the p Goar, Rituale Græc. p. 67. commencement of the mystical

prayers are preparatory; it is here that the mystical and solemn prayer of thanksgiving, of blessing, and commemoration commences. This sacred service has been from the earliest ages commenced or introduced by the sentences and responses which I proceed to consider. Cyprian, in the third century, attested the use of the form “ Lift up your hearts," and its response, in the liturgy of Africa". Augustine, at the beginning of the fifth century, speaks of these words as being used in all churches s. And accordingly we find them placed at the beginning of the Anaphora, or canon, (or solemn prayers,) in the liturgies of Antioch and Cæsarea, Constantinople, and Rome, Africa, Gaul, and Spain. How long these introductory sentences have been used in England it would be in vain to inquire; we have no reason, however, to doubt that they are as old as Christianity itself in these countries. The Gallican and Italian churches used them, and Christianity with its liturgy probably came to the British isles from one or other of those churches. We may be certain, at all events, that they have been used in the English liturgy ever since the time of Augustine, archbishop of Canterbury, in 595.

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liturgy to be the benediction, mentes dicendo : Sursum cor

The grace of our Lord,” &c. da ; ut dum respondet plebs : of which presently.

Habemus ad Dominum, admoQuando autem stamus neatur nihil aliud se quam Doad orationem, fratres dilectis- minum cogitare debere." Cysimi, vigilare et incumbere ad prian. de Orat. Dom. p. 152. preces toto corde debemus. Oper. ed. Fell. Cogitatio omnis carnalis et sæ

Quotidie per universum cularis abscedat, nec quidquam orbem humanum genus una tunc animus quam id solum pene voce respondet sursum cogitet quod precatur: ideo et corda se habere ad Dominum.” sacerdos, ante orationem præ- Aug. de Ver. Relig. c. 3. fatione præmissa, parat fratrum

S 66

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