Gallican Rite - The Divine Office

The Divine Office

There is curiously little information on this point, and it is not possible to reconstruct the Gallican Divine Office from the scanty allusions that exist. It seems probable that there was considerable diversity in various times and places, through councils, both in Gaul and Hispania, tried to bring about some uniformity. The principal authorities are the Councils of Agde (506) and Tours (567), and allusions in the writings of St. Gregory of Tours and St. Caesarius of Arles. These and other details have been gathered together by Mabillon in his "De LiturgiĆ¢ GallicanĆ¢", and his essay on the Gallican Cursus is not yet superseded. The general arrangement and nomenclature were very similar to those of the Celtic Rite (q.v.). There were two principal services, Matins (Ad Matutinam, Matutinum) and Vespers (ad Duodecimam, ad Vesperas Lucernarium); and four Lesser Hours, Prime, or Ad Secundum, Terce, Sext, and None; and probably two night services, Complin, or ad initium noctis, and Nocturns.

But the application of these names is sometimes obscure. It is not quite clear whether Nocturns and Lauds were not joined together as Matins; Caesarius speaks of Prima, while the Gallicanum speaks of Ad secundum; Caesarius distinguishes between Lucernarium and Ad Duodeciman, while Aurelian distinguishes between Ad Duodeciman and Complin; the Gothicum speaks of Vespera Paschae and Initium Noctis Paschae, and the Gallicanum has Ad Duodeciman Paschae. The distribution of the Psalter is not known. The Council of Tours orders six psalms at Sext and twelve Ad Duodecimam, with Alleluia (presumably as Antiphon) For Matins there is a curious arrangement which reminds one of that in the Rule of St. Columbanus (see CELTIC RITE, III). Normally in summer (apparently from Easter to July) "sex antiphonae binis psalmis" are ordered. This evidently means twelve psalms, two under each antiphon. In August there seem to have been no psalms, because there were festivals and Masses of saints. "Toto Augusto manicationes fiant, quia festivitates sunt et missae sanctorum". The meaning of manicationes and of the whole statement is obscure. In September there were fourteen psalms, two under each antiphon; in October twenty-four psalms, three to each antiphon; and from December to Easter thirty psalms, three to each antiphon. Caesarius orders six psalms at Prime with the hymn "Fulgentis auctor aetheris", two lessons, one from the old and one from the New Testament, and a capitellum"; six psalms at Terce, Sext, and None, with an antiphon, a hymn, a lesson, and a capitellum; at Lucernarium a "Psalmus Directaneus", whatever that may be (cf. the "Psalmus Directus" of the Ambrosian Rite), two antiphons, a hymn, and a capitellum; and ad Duodecimam, eighteen psalms, an antiphon, hymn, lesson, and capitellum. From this it seems as though Lucernarium and Ad Duodecimam made up Vespers. combining the twelfth hour of the Divine Office (that is, of the recitation of the Psalter with its accompaniments) with a service for what, without any intention of levity, one may call "lighting-up time". The Ambrosian and Mozarabic Vespers are constructed on this principle, and so is the Byzantine Hesperinos.

Caesarius mentions a blessing given by the bishop at the end of Lucernarium, "cumque expleto Lucernario benedictionem populo dedisset"; and the following is an order of the Council of Agde (canon 30):"Et quia convenit ordinem ecclesiae ab omnibus aequaliter custodiri studendum est ut ubique fit et post antiphonas collectiones per ordinem ab episcopis vel presbyteris dicantur et hymni matutini vel vesperenti diebus omnibus decantentur et in conclusione matutinarum vel vespertinarum missarum post hymnos, capitella de psalmis dicantur et plebs collecta oratione ad vesperam ab Episcopo cum benedictione dimittatur". The rules of Caesarius and Aurelian both speak of two nocturns with lessons, which include on the feasts of martyrs lessons from their passions. They order also Magnificat to be sung at Lauds, and during the Paschal days; and on Sundays and greater festivals Gloria in Excelsis.

There is a short passage which throws a little light upon the Lyon use of the end of the fifth century in an account of the Council of Lyon in 499, quoted by Mabillon. The council assembled by King Gundobad of Burgundy began on the feast of St. Just. The vigil was kept at his tomb. This began with a lesson from the Pentateuch ("a Moyse") in which occurred the words "Sed ego indurabo cor ejus", etc. (Ex., vii,3). Then psalms were sung and a lesson was read from the prophets, in which occurred the words "Vade, et dices populo huic: Audite audientes", etc. (Isaias, vi, 9), the more psalms and a lesson from the Gospels containing the words "Vae tibi, Corozain!" etc. (Matt. xi, 21; or Luke x, 13) and a lesson from the Epistles ("ex Apostolo") which contained the words "An divitias bonitatis ejus", etc. (Rom., ii, 4).

St. Agobard in the ninth century mentions that at Lyon there were no canticles except from the Psalms, no hymns written by poets, and no lessons except from Scripture. Mabillon says that though in his day Lyon agreed with Rome in many things, especially in the distribution of the Psalter, and admitted lessons from the Acts of the Saints, there were still no hymns except at Complin, and he mentions a similar rule as to hymns at Vienne. But canon 23 of the Council of Tours (767) allowed the use of the Ambrosian hymns. Though the Psalter of the second recension of St. Jerome, now used in all the churches of the Roman Rite except the Vatican Basilica, is known as the "Gallican", while the older, a revision of the "Vetus Itala" used now in St. Peter's at Rome only, is known as the "Roman", it does not seem that the Gallican Psalter was used even in Gaul until a comparatively later date, though it spread thence over nearly all the West. At present the Mozarabic and Ambrosian Psalters are variants of the "Roman", with peculiarities of their own. Probably the decadence of the Gallican Divine Office was very gradual. In the eighth century tract in Cott. MS. Nero A. II. the "Cursus Gallorum" is distinguished from the "Cursus Romanorum", the "Cursus Scottorum" and the Ambrosian, all of which seem to have been going on then. The unknown writer, though his opinion is of no value on the origin of the "Cursus", may well have known about some of these of his own knowledge; but through the seventh century there are indications of a tendency to adopt the Roman or the Monastic "cursus" instead of the Gallican, or to mix them up, a tendency which was resisted at times by provincial councils.

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