27 May 2020

Hate Liturgy (2)

By the way, you'd better not whisper to PF what I've just explained, or he may "correct the translation" (to employ the silly terms he used in altering the Our Father) of the Gloria in excelsis to cut it down to what he can himself understand, and to prevent it from 'offending' people. Not least because our Moslem friends are, in their Christology, Unitarian rather than Trinitarian. I have, incidentally, wondered whether the irritation felt in Trendiland by the translation, in the Creed, of homoousios as consubstantial may arise from a crypto-Arian mindset. Similarly, the replacement of the 'Nicene' Creed by the 'Apostles' Creed'. (I don't know what ultra-orthodox and very witty Anglican liturgist had the idea of allowing the 'Athanasian Creed' to be used at Mass in the C of E!! That really would be a step in the right direction!)

But, however the baddies may tamper with the text or use of the Creed, I find it reassuring that the Gloria still preserves the Church's orthodox Christology. And expresses it with very great beauty.

How should we date the Gloria? It had certainly got itself, in a variety of versions, all over the Christian World by the middle of the fourth century. It can hardly be later than the third century. Dix  suggests an origin "even, perhaps in the second century".

That would not be surprising. Batiffol and Jungmann see it as a surviving example of the psalmi idiotici ... psalms wriiten by private individuals rather than being found, like the Psalms of David, in the Scriptures. Gloria in excelsis attracts our attention first as part of  the psalmody of the morning Office; by the second half of the fourth century Catholic worship tended to banish them (that is when the Council of Laodicea simultaneously banned psalmi idiotici and the reading of 'uncanonical Scriptures'). Dix points out that it is only with Tertullian at the turn of the century that we begin to find Scripture employed  as normative and as constitutive of sound doctrine. "Unless we recognise the important change produced in Christian theological method by the definite canonisation of the NT Scriptures, which only begins to have its full effect after c. A.D. 180, we shall not understand the second-century Church".

Yet this Song does start off with a 'motto' (to use the terminology of commentators on the Classics) drawn from NT Scripture: the Song of the Angels recorded by S Luke in his infancy narrative. This is surely some indication of the growing liturgical influence of the Scriptures. Perhaps Gloria in excelsis should be dated to the end of the second century, although one must remember how fluid its text for some time remained.

To be continued.


william arthurs said...

I have a friend who asks: Which came first? Canonisation as far as theological method in the derivation of doctrine is concerned, or canonisation (at least the selection of gospels) for liturgical use?

Bob said...

Reverend Father what do you think of the idea that the Latin Gloria was copied from the Great Doxology of Byzantine Orthos

Fr Martin Fox said...

Dear Father:

Perhaps this post makes the following observation and question germane; at least, I hope you, as blog-host, will find it so.

Speaking of the Gloria, I have often been struck by the section that goes as follows (with the part I am especially interested in bold:

Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer; you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.

As we can all see, there is a kind of triple invocation here; it's the variations and sequence that fascinate me. My entirely speculative inference is that it would seem to refer to the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, as the progression seems to move our Lord from the cross, "tak(ing) away the sins of the world," to the throne of heaven, where again we ask, "have mercy on us."

Perhaps this was obvious to all and I am a late-comer; at any rate, I thought it might be something you would have something to say about.

Anonymous said...

mike hurcum asks Fr. even if it does not bother you about another "Gloria" prayer the Glory be. Why was the scriptural ending, "and on earth peace to men of good will" and sometime explain to us slow witted infants what exactly from a catholic point of view how we can qualify?

Todd said...

I heartily concur with the good father's nod to the C of E use of the Athanasian Creed. I note the Lutherans also recite it on Trinity Sunday. I would think it is very fitting to recite this creed of erudite orthodoxy on such Sunday. Now there is a liturgical reform I can get behind!