Sacramentaries, I: Historical

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The name Liber Sacramentorum or Sacramentarium denotes in the Western Church the liturgical book used by the celebrant at Mass, from the end of the 4th century to the 13th, when it was replaced by the Missal. Besides the Mass prayer formularies, it originally contained ordination formularies, various blessings, and other prayers that the bishop or priest required from time to time. In fact, much of the present-day Pontifical was found within its pages.

In this article, the history and development of the Sacramentary is traced from its earliest origins, toward the end of the 4th century, until it attained its official form, in the middle of the 9th century, as the authentic Carolingian service book. This period of almost 500 years was a time of immense activity in the compilation of liturgical books throughout the West. Its history is a complex one, with many ramifications.

Historical Background. As Christianity moved from its apostolic roots through the period of early persecutions and into the time of imperial toleration and patronage, its liturgy also passed through stages of development and elaboration. Early documents known as church orders, dating from the third and fourth centuries, often contained general directions and certain texts to be used as models for the celebration of various liturgical celebrations, especially for the eucharist, along with other types of guidelines for the orderly structuring of the life of a local church community. However, the development of specific books to be used only for the celebration of the public liturgies of the Church was a somewhat later series of complex processes that took several centuries. Some books were used only at the celebration of the Divine Office (e.g. the collectar); others would be used for the eucharist and other sacramental celebrations. For example, the lector would use the epistle-lectionary; the cantor would use an antiphonale or a graduale. Chief among these books was the sacramentary, the book used by the priest-or bishop-presider for the celebration of the Eucharist. The developmental period of the sacramentary stretched from the late sixth through the early ninth centuries. The full missal, or missale, containing all of the material necessary to celebrate the Eucharist (including readings and music), was a later development dating from the 12th century.

The Veronense (Leonine) Sacramentary. The earliest form of a eucharistic liturgical book was not a book at all, but more like a booklet or missalette: a libellus or "little book." Each of these libelli would contain the presider's prayers for the Mass of one particular Sunday or feast day. In the Roman rite, these prayers would include a series of proper collects for the day, generally the oratio (opening prayer); secreta (offertory prayer), and the post communio (prayer after communion). This basic set of prayers is called a Mass formulary. The earliest protosacramentary still extant dates from the late sixth century, and is basically a private collection of several of these libelli, bound together into a single, incomplete, volume. Since it was originally thought that the collection had been made by Pope Leo I, the book was first called the Leonine Sacramentary. Research by 20th century scholars showed that the collection was compiled after the death of Pope Leo I, although a case might be made for a Leonine composition of some of its prayer formularies. Authorship of this collection has not been conclusively established, although scholars do agree that it was assembled together outside Rome. Many scholars have begun referring to this collection as the Veronense or the Verona Sacramentary, after the city in which it was discovered.

Roman Sacramentaries. Later Roman sacramentaries can be roughly divided into two groups: the Gregorian, prepared for the use of the pope at eucharistic liturgies, and the Gelasian, used by other presiding presbyters in other Roman churches (tituli ). Both the papal sacramentary and the presbyteral sacramentary migrated north of the Alps in the eighth century to the Franks, where both sacramentary traditions were adapted for use in this area, incorporating elements from the Gallican Rite then prevalent.

The Gelasian Sacramentary Tradition. Copies of the Gelasian sacramentary made their way to Frankish lands in the seventh century. The earliest exemplar is the Gelasianum Vetus or "Old Gelasian" (MS Vat. Reg. Lat.316) which already shows signs of Gallican influence. The original Roman text was later adapted in many places to accommodate liturgical structures and prayer texts common to Gallican, not Roman, practice. As a group, these books are referred to as the Eighth-Century Gelasian Sacramentaries. Perhaps the most important example of this type of sacramentary is the Sacramentary of Gellone (circa 790800).

The Gregorian Sacramentary Tradition. One form of the papal sacramentary, the Hadrianum, was sent to Charlemagne in the last decades of the eighth century by Pope Hadrian. Dating perhaps to the pontificate of Honorius (mid-seventh century), this sacramentary reflected the presiding patterns of the pope, not the surrounding tituli. Partly as a result of this, the sacramentary was incomplete, and had to be expanded for general use by the addition of a Supplement. This Supplement, originally thought to have been composed by Alcuin of York but now known to be the work of Benedict of Aniane, was connected to the main book by a preface, the Hucusque. Eventually, the preface was dropped, and the contents of the Supplement were directly merged with the Hadrianum itself. Two other forms of the Gregorian tradition should also be noted: the Sacramentary of Padua (Paduense ), a Roman adaptation of the papal sacramentary to wider presbyteral use; and the Sacramentary of Trent, a witness to pre-Hadrianum Gregorian practice.

Structure. In addition to the prayer texts of various mass formularies, other material was needed for the full celebration of the Mass. The sacramentaries contained only prayer texts and their titles. Directions for liturgical ministers, including step-by-step directions on how the rituals were to be performed (the ordo ), were also originally recorded in libelli. Many of the most important were eventually collected as the ordines romani (OR) (see ordo, roman).

The outline of the structure of the mass itself, the ordo missae (OM), could also be found in separate libelli into the eleventh century. Often, the text of the Roman canon was included in this outline, along with several variable sections of the prayer to be used on certain feasts or other occasions. In many areas, this outline was elaborated by the addition of numerous private penitential prayers for the presider to recite at points in the service when other liturgical ministers were active (e.g. the chanting of the Gloria, the offertory). The number of these prayers was reduced by the liturgical reforms of Gregory VII (107385) and the OM was eventually incorporated into the body of the sacramentary itself.

Since the texts for the celebration of mass were ordered in part according to the liturgical year, calendars were also eventually incorporated into the sacramentary books. Mass formularies could be generally grouped in two sections: those which followed the temporal cycle (i.e. the liturgical seasons), and those which followed the sanctoral cycle (i.e. the feasts of the martyrs and saints). The Gelasian sacramentaries generally separated these two cycles, placing the temporal cycle in the first section of the volume, and the sanctoral cycle in the second section. The Gregorian tradition blended these two cycles in one chronological structure.

Both sacramentary traditions incorporated a third section of mass formularies, the votive masses. Some of these were for use in certain situations, e.g. in time of war or plague. However, early sacramentaries could also contain a great deal of other liturgical material. While they were primarily used for the celebration of mass, sacramentaries were often used for other ritual occasions, and included eucharistic texts for these as well, e.g. the nuptial mass. A sacramentary intended for the use of a bishop might include prayers for baptism, confirmation, ordination, or for an official visit to a monastery. Presbyteral sacramentaries could also include other more common parochial liturgical celebrations, for instance, baptismal liturgies, or the services for the churching of women, or for funerals. Slowly, a separate book, the Rituale (see ritu al, roman) evolved; this book contained the texts for most or all non-eucharistic liturgical services. At the same time another liturgical book, the Pontificale (see pon tifical, roman) was also in the process of development; this book would contain liturgical material for all rituals presided over by the bishop, e.g. confirmation and ordinations. Texts for the blessing of various objects (e.g. bells) or persons (e.g. pilgrims) were also frequently included in sacramentaries. Therefore, for several centuries, liturgical services could be found in a number of "mixed" liturgical books, e.g. a sacramentary-ritual, or a sacramentary-pontifical.

Non-Roman Sacramentaries. So far this entry has covered the Roman and Roman-Frankish sacramentary traditions, which would eventually give rise to the Roman Missal. However, several other western Christian rites were in use in late antiquity and the early medieval period, and a few of these early sacramantaries or sacramentary-type books still survive. The Gallican Rite, for example, was used in parts of Gaul; exemplars include the Missale Gothicum, the Missale Gallicanum Vetus, and the Bobbio Missal. In Spain, one would find the Mozarabic Rite, as evidenced in the Liber Ordinum and Liber Mozarabicus sacramentorum. The Ambrosian Rite, named in honor of Saint Ambrose, was in use in Milan and parts of Italy; see for example the Sacramentarium Bergomense. And finally the Celtic Rite was the dominant liturgical form in Britain and Ireland; one important text is the Stowe Missal.

By the end of the 11th century, the sacramentary genre began to give way to the missalis plenaries in which the texts found in the epistolary, evangelary, and antiphonary gradually were incorporated and variously arranged into sacramentaries.

Bibliography: e. palazzo, A History of Liturgical Books: from the Beginning to the Thirteenth Century, trans m. beaumont (Collegeville MN 1998). c. vogel, Medieval Liturgy: An Introduction to the Sources, trans and rev w. g. storey and n. k. rasmussen, o.p. (Washington, D.C. 1986). g. austin, o.p. "Sources, Liturgical," in p. fink, s.j., ed., The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship (Collegeville, MN 1990) 121320. j. m. pierce, "The Evolution of the ordo missae in the Early Middle Ages," in l. larson-miller, ed. Medieval Liturgy: A Book of Essays (New York, London 1997) 324.

[h. ashworth/

j. m. pierce]