Wednesday, 25 February 2015

How Christ said the first mass, By Rev. James L. Meagher, D.D. Part 29.


The next personage was the chazzan, 1 called to-day by Jews hassan, "minister," in Greek diakonos, "worker," in Hebrew shemash. The word is mentioned in the account of Christ in the synagogue. "And when he had folded the book he restored it to the minister," 2 —the hassan. He thus fulfilled the duties of the deacon and subdeacon when waiting on the Rabbi. 3 The same rules were followed in his selection as for the Rabbi. He opened the synagogue doors, prepared things for the service, often acted as the school-teacher, sang the services and responded to the Rabbi during divine worship. Good singers and active hassans of our day receive large salaries, sometimes $2,000 to $3,000 a year. With the Rabbi he was ordained in the time of Christ with a long ceremony, and the laying on of the hands of the Rabbis and hassans on his head. This gave rise to the custom of imposing the hands of the clergy with the bishop on the head of the clergyman the day of his ordination.
Besides these officials, in every congregation were ten men, called batlanim "men of leisure." They were not obliged to labor for their living, and could therefore attend, not only the Sabbath, but the, Monday and Thursday services. No congregation was complete, nor could any service be held without them. At one synagogue the writer attended, they had to wait before beginning the service till ten men were resent, the women not being considered, as they cannot take part in any religious function. Seven of these men, called Stationarii, or viri Stationis in the synagogue of the Roman empire, collected the synagogue alms for the poor, read the Law during the services, and gave rise to the church clergy in minor orders. They are sometimes called shepherds, in Hebrew hassans, in Greek hiepeus "priest" while the Rabbi was sometimes named apostolos "sent," "legate" of the congregation. These words are found in decrees of later Roman emperors regarding the Jews after the destruction of the Temple.


Each synagogue had either five or seven Gabai Zedakah. "Charity Collectors," who took up the collection during the service. The people offered either money or victuals. This took place after reading the Law and Prophets. The custom was continued in the early Church when the people brought their offerings and placed them on a table in the sanctuary and that part of the Mass is called the Offertory.
Two Jews took up the collection, and four or five distributed them. They were the leading men of the congregation and took care of the widows and orphans. We trace the collectors in the Church back to the synagogue. Some writers think the apostles had these seven men in mind when they ordained the seven deacons. 4
The Jews of the time of Christ had an order of exorcists: "Who went about and attempted to invoke over them that had evil spirits." 5 When Christ gave power over unclean spirits he followed the synagogue regulations.
The reader will see in these four officials of the synagogue the minor orders of the Church coming down from the apostolic days. They are mentioned in the most ancient records and are found in all the apostolic Liturgies. The priests who prepared the bread and wine in the Temple imaged the acolytes, the men who read the Scriptures the readers, the chassans who opened doors of Temple and synagogue the porters, and the men who drove out demons, the exorcists.
The synagogue service was always sung in the days of Christ. From the time Jubal invented musical instruments, 6 song, timbrel and harp 7 were used at weddings, religious gatherings, and feasts of joy. Music and poetry went hand in hand. Poets composed and sang their songs accompanying themselves on musical instruments. This custom obtained among all primitive peoples. 8


Moses sang his hymn of glory to the Lord. 9 All Israel, forming a mighty choir, voiced their joy in Jehovah's praise when they found water in the desert. 10 Before his death God told Moses to write a glorious canticle of praise and prophecy. 11
Down the history of the Hebrews we find the hymn, "sacred song" and canticle of "praise" during religious worship. Seventy-four times the canticle is found in the Old Testament. When Moses built the tabernacle, parts of the services were sung by priest and Levite choirs, and that was the order of exercises till Temple replaced tabernacle. 12
David, Jesse's seventh son, keeping his father's flocks on Bethlehem's hills, moved by the spirit of poetry, composed songs of praises to the God of his fathers. Chosen king in place of Saul, when he had brought the ark to Jerusalem, David formed priests and levites into twenty-four courses for the better service of the Temple his son Solomon was to build. Then began the composition of the Book of Psalms, the Temple Hymn-book. Later other prophet-poets added psalms "songs of praise," till the Hebrew Hymn-book, the Book of Psalms was formed as it comes down to us.
Written in pure Hebrew, in verse sometimes in faultless meter, in striking figures, filled with history of the nation, uniting past, present and future, telling the story of David the king, and David the Christ, the Hebrew Church and the Catholic Church, David's sorrows and Christ's sufferings, the Babylonian Captivity, and the glories of Christianity, the preaching of the Apostles, and the conversion of the Heathens, the glories of the Redeemer's reign, and the triumph of the Saints,—the Psalms come down from the reigns of David and of Solomon as the most remarkable compositions of any age or people.
Used ever after as Temple Hynni-book, sung twice a day by two choirs of priests and Levites, each formed of more than 500 members, the Psalms were sung in the synagogues after the destruction of the Temple. To this day in their synagogues, scattered over the world wherever they have wandered, the Jews still sing these wonderful devotional prophetic hymns and religious canticles.


They look on David as their holiest and greatest king. But why they should now hold that these hymns relate to a king, an adulterer and a murderer 3,000 years dead, especially when in hundreds of places the long-looked-for Messiah is mentioned, is surprising.
The flute, in Hebrew mashroqitha, "to blow," under different forms was used in Egypt 2,000 years before Christ. It was a favorite instrument of Greek and Roman shepherds, and was used in military bands, and at festivals and funerals. Its Latin name comes from fluta, an eel of Sicilian waters, with seven spots on each side like flute holes. 13
The piccolo is an octave higher, and many flutes, tuned in unison, became the organ used before the flood. 14 David introduced the organ into the Temple services 15 translated "musical instruments."
Musicians sometimes played two flutes at the same time, one an octave higher than the other, as we see in sculptures and pictures of shepherds and satyrs. The pagans played the flute at feast and funenil. The Rabbis taught that not less than two flutes must be played at a funeral, Jews having learned that custom from Greeks and Romans.
Many flutes formed into one instrument became the organ run by water invented by Ctesbius of Alexandria in the second century before Christ. In the Temple was a large organ they called the magrephah, the bellows being of elephant hide. 16 It sustained the singing. The Rabbis write it could be heard down to Jericho, but this is incredible for the distance is fifteen miles. When it gave forth a peculiar note, the priest behind the veil in the Holies spread the incense on the gold altar. From the beginning the organ has been used in our churches.
In David's day 4.000 singers formed choirs of Levites under the leadership of Asaph, Heman and Idithun, and they sang the Temple service. Asaph had four sons, Idithun six, and Heman fourteen, each son being placed over a choir or band, and thus David divided the Levites into twenty-four bands or "courses." Each son of these great music teachers, had under him eleven teachers of vocal and instrumental music.


They taught the priests and Levites to sing the glories of Jehovah. Families became famous for musical abilities. These sons of Caath, at the time of Christ, stood in the center, with the sons of Merai on the left, and the descendants of Gerson on the right. While Idithun's family in David's day played the cithern called the cinnor, Asaph's family drew music from the psaltery, called in Hebrew nabat and Heman's struck the Mizlothaim, "the timbrels," with them beating time. These were the three chief musical instruments used in the temple from David's day and are called by Jewish writers the viol, psaltery and cymbal.
"And now David, being freed from wars and dangers, and enjoying for the future a profound peace, composed songs and hymns to God of several sorts of meter, some of which he made were trimeters and some were pentameters. He also made instruments of music, and taught the Levites to sing hymns to God, both on that called the Sabbath-day, and on other festivals. Now the construction of the instruments was thus. The viol was an instrument of ten strings, it was played on with a bow. The psaltery had twelve musical notes, and was played by the fingers. The cymbals were broad and Uirge instruments, and were made of brass." 17
According to Josephus, David composed the Book of Psalms, not at different times as is generally supposed, but towards the end of his life, and he alone is their author. He says Moses composed his Canticle at the Red Sea and his other Canticle in hexameter meter. But the Psalms were of various meters.
The Hebrews carried their music, instruments and the liturgy of the destroyed Temple to Babylon, and used them in the synagogues. When they returned and rebuilt the Temple, they continued the Temple service in the synagogues they built in all the towns of Judea, and in cities and towns of the world into which they had scattered at the time of Christ. Synagogue services were always sung by priests Levites and members of the congregation. 18


The choirs of Levites in Solomon's Temple were clothed in white tunics of byssus and fine linen, to distinguish them from the priests vested in cloth of gold; on solemn feasts they put on vestments of magnificent embroidery. Some time after the death of Christ, Herod Agrippa gave the Levites permission to vest in robes like those worn by the priests in their ministry, which Josephus says was contrary to the law.
Priests and Levites formed two choirs, one responding to the other, using as hymn-books, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiasticus and Canticle of Canticles—the Book of Psalms being the one most used. Following the example of Moses' sister Mary and the women with her who sang and danced, 19 women sang in the synagogues. We do not find that women ever formed a choir in the Temple, perhaps they sang in congregational singing in the Women's Court.
The priests' choir began the Psalm, sang as far as the star in our breviaries, and the Levites sang the rest of the verse like a response. This is the reason that the latter part, in thought is like an echo of the former, for the Psalms were written for the Temple service. The two choirs of Temple and synagogue passed into the two choirs of the Church or into the priests' choir in the sanctuary, and the lay-choir in the organ gallery. From the Jewish church came the versicles and responses, and parts taken by the celebrant of the Mass, and they are seen in missals. Breviaries, rituals, liturgical books, and are found not only in the Latin, but in all Oriental Churches.
Temple service of sacred song and hymn were introduced into the synagogue long before the time of Christ, and continue down to our day among both Jews and Christians. The Passover services was always sung in imitation of the Temple worship. Many reasons force us to conclude that the services of the Last Supper were sung. The Gospel states they sang a hymn before they left the Cenacle. 20
The Passover the writer attended in Jerusalem was sung by the thirteen Jews in their own peculiar tone and melody.


The Oriental Christians sing Mass in their crude nasal tone, reminding you of Jewish vocal music. Roman Catholics sing the offices of Holy Week round Christ's tomb in Jerusalem, and it is so strikingly superior to Oriental music that great crowds gather. The prophecies relating to the Saviour's Passion and death are then read in the spot where they were fulfilled.
The next week the Oriental Christians, Armenians, Copts, Greeks, Nestorians, Jacobites, etc., gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, each band being led by their clergy and bishop, the laity going first, then the clergy and last the bishop. One band follows another to the number of six or eight, and each band, having a different language, rite, and method of singing—all together make the most awful discord heard on earth.
Pope Gregory I. reformed the crude Jewish and oriental music, and he is the author of what is now called the Gregorian or plain chant—the official music of the Church. St. Augustine says St. Athanasius condemned certain ways of modulating the voice in singing the Psalms, which he himself does not condemn, which shows that our services were sung in the early Church. 21
In the Temple Holy of Holies, the ark with the Shekina resting on its mercy-seat, having the tables of the Law, was most holy to the Hebrew. The synagogue ark, containing the Torah "the Law" and the Haphtorah, the "Prophetic Books" was the most sacred object. It was a box about three feet square and high, and covered by a veil, it rested next the farther wall in the middle of the sanctuary and was approached by steps. In the early Church the altar was made the same size and shape as the Jewish ark. The Greek and Oriental Christians have altars of the same kind rising in the middle of the veiled sanctuary, the bishop's throne being behind, where he sits facing the people. The Orientals cover the altar with silk altar cloths and allow on it nothing but the liturgical books—the Book of the Liturgy in the center, that of the Gospels on your left and that of the Epistles on your right, resting on the silk-covered altar table. Even the candles must be on a little shelf in the Slavonic Rite. The Jews allow nothing but the Scrolls of the Law in the ark.


Jews in this country form the ark as an ornamental recess curtained off, having two doors opening out, behind which they keep the Scrolls, the place being approached by steps. The synagogue ark came down from the Temple, for God told Moses to place the Law, that is the first five Books of the Old Testament in the ark, 22 At the time of Christ another box received the Haphtorah "The Prophets," for they were not written till after Moses' time.
The writer examined different synagogue Scrolls which Jews claim are now written the same as in the days of Moses. They are in the peculiar angular Hebrew letters written with a reed pen. The last line of a paragraph has the letters spread out, so that all lines will be of an equal length. These Scrolls come from Europe, where they are produced by learned Scribes—generally old men learned in Biblical and Talmudic lore. The Torah used in the synagogues was never printed with type, but is always copied with the extreme care and labor as in the ancient days of Christ and the prophets.
The Jews say it is hard to read these Scrolls, as they must remember the vowels and put them in as they go along during the reading of the Law in the synagogue. Many centuries ago the vowels were put into some writings. In other Hebrew writings the vowels were put in, and they appear as little dots and signs. But no change was ever made in the Scrolls of Moses' Five Books, still copied, in the purest Hebrew. 23 The Jerusalem Talmud was written in the Hebrew of Moses and the Temple, while the Babylonian Talmud was written in the mixed Hebrew and Babylonian forming a language called the Syro-Chaldaic of the time of Christ. The Jews of our time publish works and newspapers in their vernacular language, such as German, Russian, etc., using the Hebrew letters in Scrolls, Talmuds and their modern publications.
The Jews call these five first Books of the Bible, "The Five Books of Moses," the Greeks named them the Pentateuch, "The Five Books." But their ancient Hebrew name is Torah, "The Law," a word found more than six hundred times in the Bible. Sometimes the word law means these five Books Moses wrote, in other texts it refers to the Law and the Temple ceremonial, while often it signifies the whole Hebrew religion with the Old Testament, Temple, synagogue and Jewish faith.


 But when the Jews of our day mention the Torah or Law, they mean these five books Moses wrote on the scrolls and placed in the Temple in a special ark, and which they claim come down in the synagogue to our day in the exact form as Moses wrote them on the vellum scrolls.
The Sheepskins are about two feet square, each cut from a whole skin, scraped nearly as thin as paper, and tanned white; they are called vellum, from vel, "skin," whence our word volume. They are then sowed together with sheep-gut, so as to form a band many feet in length. In the middle of each square piece of vellum are written two or three columns of the Hebrew writings, which read, not from left to right like our books, but from right to left like all Semitic writings. You begin at what would be the back of our books.
The long sheets of vellum are rolled on two sticks, the ends having rollers so the vellum does not touch the table. The ends of the sticks and rollers are ornamented with silver, gold, or other ornaments, decorated and richly finished according to the wealth of the congregation. The scroll of the Law, with its ornaments, is covered with a rich embroidered case when placed in the ark. During the synagogue service, officers vested like our inferior clergy, go up to the ark, draw aside the veil and take out the Law. Forming a procession, they go to the reading desk, where it is read in a loud singing tone. This gave rise to the ceremony of singing the Gospel. The deacon taking the missal places it on the altar and kneels in prayer. Taking the missal from the altar, he receives the celebrant's blessing, and goes with the other ministers to the place where the Gospel is sung. The reader will find in Zanolini 24 accurate descriptions of the synagogue worship at the time of Christ. Jewish and Protestant writers we have quoted treat the subject extensively.
The synagogue service 25 began with the Psalms, prayers, and doxology: "praise." Then they read the part of the Law or Torah of Moses relating to the feast.

1 Geikie. Life of Christ, i. 178.

2 Luke iv. 20.

3 Edersheim, Life of Christ, i. 231, 438, 443.

4 Acts vi,; Edersheim, Sketches, p. 283.

5 Acts xix. 13; Matt. xii. 27; Mark iii. 15-30; Luke vi. 18, viii. 29, xi. 24.

6 Gen. iv. 21.

7 Gen. xxxi. 27.

8 Migne, Cursus Comp. S- Scripturæ iii. 1029.

9 Exod. xv. 1.

10 Numb. xxi. 17.

11 Deut. xxxi. 19, etc.

12 See Migne, S. Scripturæ, ii. 1129, 1131, 1132, 1155, etc.

13 See Migne, Cursus Com. S. Scripturæ, iii. 1002.

14 Gen. iv. 21.

15 I, Par. xv. 16.

16 Edersheim, Temple, 137; Geikie, Life of Christ, i. 338.

17 Josephus Antiq., B. vii. C. xii. n. 3.

18 See Migne, S. Scripturæ, iii. 915-2, 1345.

19 Exod. xv. 20, 21.

20 Matt. xxvi. 30; Mark xiv. 26.

21 S. Augustine, Confes. 1. xc, xxxiii.

22 Deut. xxxi. 25, 26.

23 Geikie, Life of Christ, i. 553; ii. 607, 608, etc.

24 De Festis et Sectis Judæorum.

25 See Palestine, 338-343.