10 May 2019

ORATE FRATRES


"Pray Brethren that my sacrifice and yours ..."

We find the roots of this formula, which precedes the Prayer Over The Offerings, in Carolingian Gaul, in a rubric which goes: "Then indeed the Priest to [or with?] right hand and left asks of the other priests that they pray for him".

I am suggesting that originally the Orate Fratres was a formula addressed to concelebrants; although, of course, through being used by celebrants who had no concelebrants around them, it soon came to be thought of as addressed to the assistant clergy in the sanctuary and to the congregation.

The strength of my suggestion is that it makes sense of the concept of "my sacrifice and yours". I have long been puzzled by the assumption we have all made that a formula which entered the Mass as late as the Carolingian period should seem to want so explicitly to refer to the People as offerers of the Sacrifice. Yes, I know that in a sense they most certainly are, but that was a period in which emphasis was laid more and more strongly on the idea that the Priest sacrifices for the people (so that the phrase "for whom we offer unto thee" entered the Memento).


14 comments:

Marco da Vinha said...

Just as an historical curiosity, I have found a number of medieval missals with the variant Orate fratres et sorores.

Hierodeacon said...

The corresponding dialogue in the Byzantine Liturgy was also originally between the presiding priest or bishop and his concelebrants. Absent them, it became normal to be exchanged between priest and deacon. Absent even a deacon, the dialogue is simply dropped.

Seamus said...

That would make sense if concelebration were the norm, but I understood that it by Carolingian times that was no longer the case in the Western Church.

Chris said...

Presumably it was seen as including the congregation by the time the Sarum form, "Orate fratres ac sorores..." came into use.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Father. One imagines your opponents are often metaphorically sliced to pieces by your sharp mind.

Don't ever change

John Vasc said...

Hm, yes, Fr H's suggestion that makes a lot of sense. I've always thought it rather strange that the celebrant addresses the congregation at this point in such a hushed and discreet tone ("voce paululum elevata") addressing them as 'Orate fratres' rather than the usual collective 'Oremus'.

St Paul wrote 'Fratres', but (afaIr) the liturgy does not, (maybe tacitly recognising that both genders are represented in the pew...)

StMichael said...

The Byzantine liturgy has that sort of address to the concelebrants at the same moment in the liturgy: "Remember me, my brothers and concelebrants. May the Holy Spirit come upon you, and the power of the most high overshadow you. May the Spirit Himself concelebrate with us all the days of our lives."

Matthew said...

The Dominican formula gives greater emphasis to the collaborative nature of the offering: 'Orate, fratres, ut meum ac vestrum pariter in conspectu Domini sit accept sacrificium'.

Matthew said...

The Dominican version emphasises the collaborative aspect even more strongly: 'Orate, fratres, ut meum ac vestrum pariter in conspectu Domini sit acceptum sacrificium'.

Unknown said...

Dear Father,

My rather long comment may have gone twice. If so I do apologize!

fr. CL

Unknown said...

Reverend and dear Father,
 
Ah yes, Ordo romanus 17, which Michel Andrieu dates to about 780-800, which contains a gallicanised version, adapted to presbyteral use, of the description of the papal Mass given by Ordo romanus 15, itself a gallicanised version (755-780) of Ordo romanus 1 (690-700), which is a description of the Mass celebrated by the pope on Easter Day in St. Mary Major.
 
There is also a slightly later description of the celebrant’s asking for the prayers of the “circumstantes” in Amalarius’ “De ecclesiasticis officiis” III, 19: “After this, the priest turns towards the people and asks them to pray for him.” Rémi of Auxerre, at about the same time, explains the meaning of this request in his own “Expositio missae” (PL 101, col. 1252), “that is, so that my sacrifice which is equally yours may be acceptable to the Lord.” Hence, for a contemporary commentator of liturgical practice, it wasn’t the other priests who were addressed, but the people. So it really won’t do to attach an excessive importance to Ordo 17.
 
Nor is it a terribly good idea to call this asking for prayers the “Orate fratres,” if only because we don’t know exactly what was said at this point at the end of the eighth century, and also because using the incipit of the present form can seem to imply that it was more or less the same thing. The earliest formularies we have are somewhat later. It seems to me that the key idea, common to Ordo 17 and Amalarius, is “to pray for him”; it is probable that the concern here wasn’t so much with who exactly was offering the sacrifice, or in precisely what manner, as with a heightened consciousness of personal sin, leading to a sense of unworthiness to offer. Perhaps the most characteristic liturgical texts of the Carolingian period are the more and more numerous “apologiae” or apologies. The earliest such text that has come down to us seems to be the prayer “Ante tuae immensae maiestatis conspectum,” in the Easter Day Mass of the “Missale gothicum,” a Gallican sacramentary probably from Autun, written between 684 and 710. The celebrant says it upon arriving at the altar, once the ministers have placed the bread and wine upon it, thus at the end of the offertory, so to speak. A different version of the same prayer is in the Irish Stowe Missal (a ninth-century copy of a seventh-century original) and an eighth-century Gallican Mass book, the Bobbio Missal. Matthieu Smyth (a historian of the Gallican Rite who teaches at the University of Strasbourg) thinks it was composed by an Irish monk after a Syrian model. What most likely mattered in this request for the prayers of the “circumstantes” was not the sacramental-ecclesiological question of who offers, but the sacramental-moral question of how the offering of someone who is unworthy can possibly be acceptable to God.

Unknown said...


 
The earliest extant text of a dialogue at the end of the offertory is in a ninth-century sacramentary from Amiens (rich in “apologiae”):
 
“Orate fratres, ut vestrum pariter et nostrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat Deo. – Sit Dominus in corde tuo et in labiis tuis, et recipiat sacrificium sibi acceptum de ore tuo et de manibus tuis pro nostrorum omnium salute.”
 
The slightly later, but still ninth-century, St. Denis Sacramentary, has the celebrant say:
“Orate pro me, fratres et sorores, ut meum pariter et vestrum sacrificium sit acceptum in conspectu Domini.”
It then gives seven alternative responses for the people; it isn’t at all clear how the people were supposed to know which response they were expected to give. I’ll quote just the two that are found most often in later sacramentaries and missals:
“Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis ad tuam et nostram salutem, omniumque circumstantium et animarum omnium defunctorum.”
“Spiritus Sanctus superveniet in te, et Virtus Altissimi obumbrabit tibi.”
 
Around 1000, the Ordo missae of Séez (in which many of the elements of the 1570 Ordo appear for the first time) has this dialogue:
“Orate pro me misero peccatore ad Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, ut meum sacrificium ac vestrum sit acceptabile in conspectu divinæ pietatis. – Orent pro te sancti Dei. Memor sit Dominus omnis sacrificii tui, et holocaustum tuum pingue fiat. Exaudiat te Dominus pro nobis orantem. Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimittat tibi omnia peccata tua.”
 
The request for the prayers of the “circumstantes” isn’t always a dialogue; very often there is no (audible) reply to the request. The eleventh-century Cluniac Rite just had the priest say, “Orate pro me peccatore.”
 
This conclusion to the offertory didn’t get to Rome until the beginning of the second millennium. The earliest evidence of its presence is the Ordo of the Lateran (from about 1140), which says, at the end of its description of the offertory, that the bishop, “priusquam intret in consecrationem mysteriorum,” says “ad circumstantes… ut orent pro eo.” The future Innocent III, Lotario of Segni, in his “De sacro altaris mysterio,” written in the last decade of the twelfth century, gives a brief formula, “Tunc sacerdos inclinans orat primum pro se, deinde pro populo, monens ut populus oret pro ipso: Orate, inquit, pro me fratres.” As in Frankish Gaul, of the two earliest witnesses, one has the celebrant address the “circumstantes,” doubtless clergy, and the other, the people. The thirteenth-century Ordo missae of the papal chapel at last gives (almost) the words we now have; the word “Father” is missing from the request for prayer, and two manuscripts add “pro me” between “Orate” and “fratres.”
 

Unknown said...


The common denominator seems to be a supplication that God accept the sacrifice, and in the Séez version of the dialogue, the penitential element is clearly developed. The cultivated readers of this blog will of course have noticed the “Orate fratres et sorores,” which would later be widespread in Normandy (until the Norman dioceses adopted the Roman Rite in the later nineteenth century), in post-Conquest England (brought by the Normans in their liturgical baggage, and lasting until the Reformation), in Paris (until 1738), and in a number of Rhineland missals (until the mid to late nineteenth century), and perhaps elsewhere. This seems to suggest an important influence on these texts of low Masses at side altars in the nave, the aisles or the ambulatory, where women could be among the “circumstantes.” It also suggests that whatever clerical or sacerdotal character the dialogue at the end of the offertory may have had at various times in its history, this character was neither universal nor decisive. As well, for the less historically cultivated, perhaps I should mention that the dialogue at the end of the offertory continued to exist under numerous different forms until well into the nineteenth century; it wasn’t until then that the “Roman” text, which isn’t at all Roman in origin, became almost universal. But it still isn’t universal, because the Carthusians maintain their own shorter version.
 
I should also be a bit wary of overstating the case for the Carolingian period being one in which more and more emphasis was laid on the priest as offering for the people. This is true, but perhaps more as a result of developments in Carolingian liturgical practice than as explicit theological teaching at that time. Of course, Alcuin did add “pro quibus tibi offerimus vel” to the canon (it didn’t get there by itself), but then he was somewhat more of a “professional liturgist” than a theologian. He certainly liked composing new texts by cut-and-paste, and when the pope sent a purely Roman Mass book to Gaul, he wasn’t above “improving” it to suit what he thought it ought to contain (by tinkering with the text of the canon). He would certainly have been in his element in the Consilium. But we should set against this what St. Paschasius Radbertus, the great “doctor eucharisticus” of Carolingian theology, says in chapter 12 of his “De corpore et sanguine Domini” (pp. 97-80 in the CCCM edition) where he underlines the role of the people in offering the sacrifice:
 
“The priest, who, in the place of Christ, seems to act visibly between God and the people when he brings the offerings of the people by the hand of the angel and returns them… does not offer his own sacrifice, but rather he recommends the prayers and offerings of all by the whole of the text of the canon. Moreover, the end of the prayer is confirmed by the voice of all, when all say “Amen” with one voice. Hence it is not the offering of only one person that is offered for many, and is made firm by the prayers of a multitude.”
 
Oremus pro invicem.
 
In Dno et Dna,
 
fr. Christopher Lazowski, m.b.
 

Chris Larimer said...

"And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee, that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him."