Creed in Eucharistic Liturgy

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This article reviews the history of the Creed in the Eucharistic Liturgy, and its musical use.

Eucharistic Liturgy. The Monophysite bishop of Antioch Peter the Fuller is credited with having first (c. 489) introduced the recitation of the Constantinopolitan Creed into the Eucharistic liturgy (Theodore Lector, Ecclesiastical History, 2 frag. 48). Peter evidently intended it as an attack on the Definition of Chalcedon to which he was violently opposed. In 511 Timothy of Constantinople, upon the deposition of his predecessor, Macedonius II, ordered the recitation of the creed in the liturgy every Sunday; it had previously been so used only on Good Friday (ibid. frag. 32). By 518 this recitation was considered customary (Mansi 8:105765); and in 568 Emperor Justin II ordered the creed to be sung in the liturgy everywhere before the Lord's Prayer.

In the West the Council of Toledo III (589) ordered that the creed be chanted aloud before the Lord's Prayer in all churches of Spain and Gaul, according to the usage of the Eastern Churches (c.2). The occasion was the conversion of King Reccared and his nation from Arianism; and the purpose was to strengthen the faith of the people before Communion. Relations between Byzantium and Spain were close as the presence of other Byzantine elements in the mozarabic liturgy demonstrates. Evidence supplied by the Stowe Missal (early 9th century) shows that the Irish Church had introduced the custom of singing this creed after the Gospel (fol. 20r), and the influence was from Spain rather than the Carolingian Empire. The custom seems to have passed from Ireland to England (Alcuin, Epist. ad Felic. 3; Patrologia Latina, 101: 121). The abbot Smaragdus, reporting a conference in 810 between Pope leo iii and three delegates from Charlemagne, states that while the pope had sanctioned the chanting of the creed in the Mass at Aachen and in Gaul, he refused to admit the word filioque into it (Patrologia Latina, 102:971973). Walafrid Strabo of Reichenau (d.849) witnessed to the spread of the custom of chanting the creed at Mass after the condemnation of the adoptionist Felix of Urgel at Aachen in 798 (Patrologia Latina, 114:947). Aeneas of Paris (d. 871) said the whole of Gaul chanted the creed at Mass on Sunday (Adv. Graec. 93). Paulinus of Aquileia in a synod at Cividale del Friuli (c. 797) ordered the learning of the creed by heart on the part of his clergy (Monumenta Germaniae Concilia 2.180,189), and the text he supplied is almost identical with the Constantinopolitan Creed.

The Ordo Missae of the Missale Ambrosianum (1981) allows the option of reciting the Creed after the washing of the hands and before the eucharistic prayer. The Mozarabic Novus Ordo (1985) places it before the fraction and Pater Noster. Both the Episcopal book of common prayer (1979) and the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) used in North America call for the recitation of the Creed at the conclusion of the liturgy of the word. The Book of Common Prayer prescribes the Nicene Creed. The Lutheran Book of Worship directs that the Nicene Creed "be said on all festivals and on Sundays in the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. The Apostles' Creed is said at other times."

Creed as Musical Chant. In the West it has been sung since Carolingian times. It is often spoken of as a congregational chant, but there must have been difficulties in such a performance. There is evidence that beginning in the 10th century the Credo was performed by the chorus clericorum or, occasionally, by the subdeacons or basilicarii. In various places in Germany, according to Berthold of Regensburg (d. 1272), the congregation joined in chanting the Credo in the vernacular, using a text that began "Ich glaube an den Vater." The Credo was sung not only in the Mass but also at baptisms. In the Roman Ordo baptismi an acolyte chanted the Credo first in Greek and then in Latin. This custom persisted into the 11th century, according to honorius of autun; a melody with the Greek text πιστεύω ες να θεòν is preserved in a 14th-century manuscript in Cologne.

Two melodic types are found in the oldest Credos. One is in recitative style; it is found in one Mozarabic [Revue du chant grégorien 38 (1934) 15] and two Ambrosian melodies (the first, ibid., and also in Antiphonale missarum Mediolanensis; the second in Paléographie musicale 6:316317 and in the most recent Solesmes editions of the Roman Gradual). The other is Credo I of the Vatican edition (for which there are manuscript sources as early as the 11th century) and its variants (among them Credos II, V, and VI of the Vatican edition). To this second group of related melodies belong (in addition to the melody referred to above, which is found with Greek text in a Cologne manuscript) a doubtless very old folk melody found in Flanders in the 19th centurythe ballade of "Halewijn"and a French song of the Passion, La passion de Jésus Christ. This may suggest that Credo I of the Vatican edition itself originated as a folk melody. During the later Middle Ages the Credo was sung to another much-loved folk melody, as is shown by a regulation of a Basel synod of 1503: "In Masses with music, let the Nicene Creed not be abbreviated but sung entire, at the appropriate time, and properly (especially in our cathedral, and in the collegiate churches) to the end; and that secular melody of the countryside, which pilgrims and tramps walking to St. James use, shall not be permitted." A 15th-century source from Siena sets the text of the Credo to the melody of the hymn Vexilla regis prodeunt. All this can be interpreted as resulting from an effort to have the congregation sing the Credo. Abbreviation of the Credo is found occasionally in late medieval manuscripts and printed sources; it may end, for example, " et homo factus est. Amen."

It is noteworthy that new melodies were not composed for the Credo as they were for the other chants of the Ordinary of the Mass during the Middle Ages. On the contrary, apparently only variants of a single melody were used. A flourishing activity in the composition of new Credo melodies is not found until the 15th century. To this period belong Credos III and IV of the Vatican edition; in their early sources they are found generally not in chant notation but in mensural notation, and the second of them is often found in a two-voiced version. The Credo was the last of the sections of the Mass Ordinary to be set polyphonically, later even than the Sanctus. The earliest settings are from the 14th century. In the 15th century the polyphonic Credo became a section of the cyclic Mass Ordinary. In the development of this genre the Credo had a special place because of the opportunities for text expression and musical representation it offered. The text of the Credo, relatively long in comparison to the other Mass chants, has always presented a problem to composers. This has led again to abbreviation of the text, or to the practice of singing the Credo in chant. The Credo retained a special position in the Roman Kyriale; Credo melodies were not part of the Mass Ordinaries but were found in a special section.

Bibliography: p. wagner, Einführung in die gregorianischen Melodien (Hildesheim 1962). a. mocquereau, "Le Chant authentique du Credo," Paléographie musicale 10 (1909) 90176, a. gastouÉ, "Comment on chantait le Credo en certaines églises au XVe siècle," Revue du chant grégorien 36 (1932) 4849; "Les Chants du Credo," ibid. 37 (1933) 166170. j. gajard and j. h. desroquettes, "Le Credo VI," Revue Grégorienne 9 (1924). Deutsche Volkslieder mit ihren Melodien, ed. j. meier et al. (Berlin 1935),v.2.1 m. huglo, "Origine de la melodie du Credo authentique de la Vaticane," Revue Grégorienne (Solesmes 1922) 30 (1951) 6878. b. stÄblein, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949) 2:117073. p. kast, "Messe, E: Mehrstimmige Messe bis 1600," ibid. 9:170183. w. appel, Gregorian Chant (Bloomington, IN 1958). j. a. jungmann, The Eucharistic Prayer, translated from the German by r. batley (London 1966) 1:461474.

[f. x. murphy/

h. hucke/

b. l. marthaler]