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Psalms in Worship throughout the Centuries
For thousands of years the Psalter has been a wonderful resource to enrich a person's spirit, both in public worship and in the believer's private devotional life.
Beginning with David
Though Hebrew poetry predates the time of David, he seems to be the first person we know to use psalms devotionally. Seventy-three psalms are attributed to David, an extremely prolific poet and musician. He is known as "the sweet psalmist of Israel" (2 Samuel 23:1). I have no doubt that under the inspiration and guidance of the Spirit he composed psalms as a shepherd, on the run from Saul, and later as king. Throughout his life he would sing and compose, and in the process rejoice in his God.
Psalms in Temple Worship
David established orders of musicians and singers to bring regular organized worship before the tent in Jerusalem which David had pitched for the ark of God. First Chronicles tells us:
This passage is followed by a psalm that presumably David had written for the occasion (1 Chronicles 16:8-36), parts of which are found in our Psalter -- Psalm 105:1-15 Psalm 94 and Psalm 106:1, 47, and 48).
Temple Singers. J.J. Tissot, "The Choristers" (1896-1900), b/w image of watercolor. Larger image.
By Jesus' day, Alfred Edersheim explains how psalm-singing in the Second Temple services followed the morning sacrifice:
Psalms were sung in a particular pattern in the daily temple service: 2
Special psalms were prepared for the new month, and other occasions, the Hallel during major Jewish holidays, and psalms for special sacrifices such as the "Psalm for the Thanksgiving Offering" (Psalm 100).
Psalms in the Synagogue
Though evidence is scanty, scholars believe that the institution of the Jewish synagogue developed during the exile, when worship at the temple was no longer possible. Even after the temple was built following the exile -- and rebuilt by Herod -- synagogues flourished, even in Jerusalem, the city of the temple itself (Acts 6:9). At the destruction of Jerusalem, some 400 to 500 synagogues were found in the city. 3 A synagogue could be formed by as few as ten males. The synagogue was the local house of worship. Jesus attended the synagogue regularly (Luke 4:16) and taught in synagogues up and down Galilee.
What was worship like in the synagogues of this era? They were devoted to prayer and the reading of the scripture. We have a number of indications that the Jews used psalms regularly on feast days as well as in their synagogue worship. George Foot Moore postulates:
The Passover ritual, too, drew heavily on the Psalms. The "hymn" sung by Jesus and the apostles at the conclusion of the Lord's Supper (Matthew 26:30) on the night of Passover was doubtless one the psalms prescribed for the occasion -- the second half of the Hallel (Psalms 114-118 or 115-118). 5
From Synagogue to House Church
Early Christianity was practiced in the temple and in the homes of believers (Acts 2:46). When the Apostle Paul would take the Gospel to a new city, he would typically begin by attending the local synagogue and teaching there about Jesus. Eventually, the Christians would be driven out of the synagogues and formed their own congregations, which were essentially Christian synagogues governed by elders (Acts 14:23). We have several passages of scripture, which indicate that psalms were part of the worship in these early house churches:
The Post-Apostolic Church
After the original apostles died, psalms continued as part of the worship of the church. Tertullian (c. 160-225 AD) mentions singing songs from the scripture as part of the Lord's Supper celebration. 6 Church historian Arthur McGiffert notes,
St. Jerome (c. 348-420 AD) shares something of the primitive monastic life that was beginning to develop within Christianity:
The Liturgy of the Hours
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Fra Angelico, detail of St. Benedict"(1439-1445), fresco, Monastery of San Marco, Florence
While psalms were used in worship services in churches, in the growing monastic movement, the practice of reciting the Psalter formed the core of the devotional practice of the community. St. Benedict (c. 480-543) developed a widely-copied rule for monasteries known as The Rule of St. Benedict (c. 530-540 AD). Among other practices it outlined the Opus Dei, the Divine Office of prayers and psalms. This liturgy consisted of gatherings of the community at eight times during the day and night with the purpose to "sanctify" the day with prayer. At these various times they would say or chant together the set of prayers and psalms designated for that day and time. In time, the Divine Office involved reciting the entire Psalter through in a single week and would require several hours each day to complete. Clergy and most religious orders in both the Roman Catholic Church as well as Eastern Orthodox were -- and are -- required to recite the Divine Office. The best-known example of this is the beautiful Gregorian Chant practiced in certain orders, going back perhaps as far as Pope Gregory (c. 540-604 AD), for which it was named.
At Vatican II in the 1960s, the Roman Church revised the Liturgy of the Hours so that it now goes through the entire Psalter in one month rather than in one week, and reduced the number of required times of prayer each day. Those in the Roman Church that practice this discipline use Breviary, a set of four volumes that contain the one-month Psalter plus the prayers for each day and each feast day. 9 Those living as part of a community, such as in a monastery or convent, recite their psalms and prayers together ("in choir") for at least some of services, such as morning and evening prayer. Clergy living alone recite these psalms and prayers by themselves privately.
Other churches with a liturgical tradition, such as Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, often have in their prayer book or book of discipline a calendar to guide the faithful in Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer (Vespers).
The effect of those practicing a discipline of the Liturgy of the Hours has been an immersion in the psalms and regular prayer. While it can be seen as a burden, for those who have entered into it wholeheartedly, it can be a lifetime of blessing.
Singing the Psalter
Isaac Watts (1674-1748), engraving by R. Newton J. Thurston.
Protestant Churches, too, have a strong tradition of singing the Psalms. The Church of England, under heavy Puritan influence, sought to bring about reform by publishing a metrical psalmody that could be sung by a congregation. In 1562 John Day printed the Book of Psalms with psalm text translated by Thomas Sternhold, John Hopkins, and others. Standard metrical patterns were developed that could adapt each of the psalms to a common metrical pattern -- which would then allow the psalm to be sung to one of several standard tunes. Patterns included: Common Meter (126.96.36.199), Short Meter (188.8.131.52), and Long Meter (184.108.40.206). Various adaptations were made in Scotland, New England, etc., but the psalms were the primary focus of singing in many Protestant congregations for hundreds of years.
Isaac Watts (1674-1748) set a new direction for independent or congregational churches when he published his Psalms of David in 1719. Instead of close fitting translations, these hymns were poetic paraphrases of the biblical psalms. The best known of these today are probably "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past" (Psalm 90) and "Joy to the World, the Lord Is Come" (Psalm 98).
The nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw a near eclipse of psalm singing in most Protestant churches in North America, replaced by devotional lyrics and gospel songs with a more emotional and subjective bent.
Late Twentieth Century Psalm Singing
A liturgical renewal following World War II saw a revival of psalm-singing in some churches. Vatican II (1962-65) encouraged the use of psalms in worship and fostered a wealth of "responsorial psalms."
Now all the lessons are available together in e-book and paperback formats.
The Charismatic Renewal also brought about a huge surge of Christian music. During the 1970s and 1980s especially, singing the scriptures was common in some groups, though contemporary Christian music seems to have moved past that as a whole by the turn of the twenty-first century.
Throughout history the Psalms have often been central in both corporate worship and personal devotional practice. As the psalms have remained strong, the church has been revived and personal spiritual life has been enriched. Isn't it about time to renew the ancient practice of the Psalms in your congregation and in your life?
- Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services As They Were at the Time of Christ (Eerdmans, reprinted 1960, from the original facsimile published in 1874), p. 172.
- Edersheim, Temple, p. 172, footnote 2, cites Tamid, sec. 7, and Maimonides in Tamid.
- According to one legend, there were 394 synagogues at Jerusalem when the city was destroyed by Titus (Ket. 105), while a second tradition gives the number as 480 (Yer. Meg. 73d et al.). Cited by Wilhelm Bacher and Lewis N. Dembitz, "Synagogue," Jewish Encyclopedia (1906).
- George Foot Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era: The Age of Tannaim (Hendrickson Publishers reprinted 1997 from Harvard University Press edition, 1927), vol. 1, p. 296.
- Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus (Oxford: Basil Blackwood, 1955), pp. 30-31, especially fn. 1 on page 31.
- Tertullian, Apology, 39.16. "Each is asked to stand forth and sing, as he can, a hymn to God, either one from the holy Scriptures or one of his own composing. "
- Arthur Cushman McGiffert, The Church History of Eusebius, p. 247, footnote 14, commenting on Eusebius, Church History, 28,5, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (Second Series), Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (editors), vol. 1 (1890).
- Jerome, Epistle 46.12. (www.universalis.com) contains the Breviary online with all the readings for the Liturgy of the Hours, based on the Roman Breviary 1985 edition, in a four-week cycle of the psalms. Scripture readings are from the Jerusalem Bible. Psalm translations are specially commissioned.
Copyright © 2021, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastorjoyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.
You can purchase one of Dr. Wilson's complete Bible studies in PDF, Kindle, or paperback format.
The manuscript is not technically a menologion, but a synaxarion: a liturgical book containing a list of the saints and their feast days with a short description of sixteen lines of text and a painting of a saint or grouping of saints. The more than 430 images are important examples of hagiography, the veneration of saints, in Byzantine illumination. Text and images cover only half of the religious calendar of the Byzantine liturgical year (September to February), so it is assumed that there was a second volume to the work, but this was probably never produced, since some pages within the manuscript were left unfinished. The miniatures themselves have no liturgical role—it's possible that their purpose was to act as protectors of the Emperor. The manuscript inspired the illustration of a number of subsequent menologia. 
The work glorifies Emperor Basil II showing him as a warrior defending Orthodox Christendom against the attacks of the Bulgarian Empire, whose attacks on Christians are graphically illustrated. Even figures like the archangels were depicted in military guise by the painters.
Psalter of Basil II - History
THE ORDER FOR DAILY MORNING AND EVENING PRAYER.
I. The Origin of Divine Service.
Two objects of Divine Service.
The consecration of such hours as these to prayer was at first a matter of private devotion but before long the practice received public recognition, and public services began to be devised. It was probably the Vigil or midnight service which first acquired this recognition. The early Christians were deeply impressed with the expectation that our Lord&rsquos Second Coming, which they deemed imminent, would be at midnight and at the Paschal solemnities. The night preceding Easter was therefore kept as a Vigil with continuous services preparatory to Easter Communion. By a natural process the Vigil was repeated before other Sundays, and in some cases before Saturdays, that is to say, in places where Saturday was observed as a day of special solemnity. And so it came to be considered a natural preparation for any great day, and was prefixed also to Saints&rsquo days.
Later, when monastic influences began to act powerfully upon the services, 4 the night service became a daily institution, 5 but by the same process it was reduced in its proportions till it became the mediæval service of Nocturns, i.e., a midnight service of psalms and lessons of varying length according to circumstances. 6
The little Hours of Terce, Sext and None did not become public services till the end of the fourth century, and then at first only in monastic communities at a still later date two further offices were added, both of them under monastic influence, and probably in Italy, that of Compline, as a service at bedtime, and that of Prime as a similar service preceding the daily Chapter or business-meeting of the monks. 7
This system of Hours of Prayer was already complete in the West, probably by the end of the fifth century, for the Roman cursus or &lsquocourse&rsquo of psalmody allotted the Psalms and Canticles to this system of services, and S. Benet&rsquos &lsquocourse&rsquo (530), which seems to be a revision of the Roman &lsquocourse,&rsquo did the like, though with important modifications.
II. The Structure of the Hours of Prayer.
The structure of the Hours of Prayer bears out and confirms this sketch of their history. The midnight service of Nocturns stands alone Lauds is like Vespers, the three Little Hours follow one uniform plan, while Compline and Prime are clearly formed on one model. Before describing in detail the normal 8 structure of these services as they existed in mediaeval times according to the&rsquo secular&rsquo type 9 it will be well to call attention to some general points, which (with some small exceptions) hold good throughout. 10
The psalms in the secular services were all sung antiphonally: the responsorial method of singing was used in the responsoria or responds, which followed the lessons and the capitula or chapters.
The structure of Nocturns is as follows:&mdash
2. Five Psalms or canticles, fixed (with slight variations), but with varying antiphons.
3. Capitulum or Chapter, varying, and R. Deo gratias.
4. Hymn, varying, and its Versicle.
5. Benedictus with varying antiphon.
6. Collect, varying, preceded on occasion by Suffrages.
7· Memorials, varying on occasion.
1. Private prayers and Introduction.
2. Five Psalms, in course, with varying antiphons.
3. Chapter, varying.
4. Respond, varying, but used on great occasions only.
5. Hymn, varying, and its Versicle.
6. Magnificat with varying antiphon.
7· End as at Lauds, Nos. 6 and 7.
1. Private prayers and Introduction.
2. Hymn, fixed.
3. Six portions of Ps. cxix. in three divisions with varying antiphon.
4. Chapter, varying.
5. Respond, varying, and Versicle, varying.
6. Collect, varying, preceded on occasion by Suffrages, as at Lauds.
1. Private prayers and Introduction.
2. Hymn, fixed.
3. Psalms, fixed, with varying antiphon.
4. Quicunque vult, with antiphon (five alternatives).
5. Chapter (three alternatives).
6. Respond, fixed, but subject to slight modifications.
7. Versicle, fixed.
8. Suffrages, and Collect (two alternatives).
C OMPLINE OF THE S ARUM U SE
1. Private prayers and Introduction.
2. Four psalms, fixed, with varying antiphon.
3. Chapter, fixed.
4. Respond (two alternatives, and only in Lent).
5. Hymn, varying, and Versicle, fixed.
6. Nunc dimittis, with varying antiphon.
7. Suffrages and fixed Collect.
III. The Structural Modifications
This system of the Hours of Prayer was in possession everywhere in the XVIth century with a thousand years of authority at its back. It had no doubt been introduced into England by S. Augustine, though little evidence is forthcoming as to its history here before the XIIIth century. 15 Alterations had been made, which while leaving the broad outline of the system intact, rendered it extremely complex. Two tendencies were at work, one of addition and the other of curtailment: in accordance with the former, various novel services, such as the secondary system of the Hours of the Blessed Virgin, or the office of the Dead, were added to the obligations of the clergy and to the pages of the Breviary and also new portions were inserted in or appended to the canonical or primary Hours. On the other hand curtailment was taking place, the lessons and psalmody were considerably shortened to compensate for the fresh obligations, and the long ferial offices were to a considerable extent avoided and replaced by festival offices or commemoration offices. Other innovations simply added to the intricacy of the system: the growth of the Kalendar, already explained above, the keeping of octaves and the saying of memorials all-made fresh complications: and later still the system of &lsquoCommemorations&rsquo was introduced, according to which the normal ferial office of the day was ousted on two or even three days in a week, and a special service commemorative of the Blessed Virgin, or the patron, or some other saint was substituted in its place.
Alterations in mediæval times.
His first Draft for Mattins.
The second Draft shews considerable advance: the Latin language was still to be retained except for the Lord&rsquos Prayer and the Lessons: the Hours were to be compressed into two, 18 of which Mattins represented the ancient Mattins, Lauds and Prime. The Little Hours and Compline were to be omitted and even the latter half of the new Mattins, from Te Deum onwards, might be omitted to make room for preaching.
The following table will shew the structure of the projected service.
1. The Lord&rsquos Prayer in English said aloud, with the rest of the Introduction.
3. Three psalms, each with Gloria, but no Venite.
4. The Lord&rsquos Prayer aloud.
5· Three Lessons, with introductory blessing and final close.
6. Te Deum.
7. A fourth lesson, on occasions.
10. [Quicumque vult, with Suffrages on Sundays only.]
Evensong is to follow the same course, but to have two lessons instead of three, then Magnificat, then the Collect, and so come to an end.
A slight development in 1552 brought the main body of the service into its present form by the prefixing of the Sentences, Exhortation, Confession and Absolution, and the transposition of the Creed and the Salutation so as to follow the Benedictus. The rubrical direction for adding an anthem with the five prayers or Litany was made in 1661. 19
The following comparative table exhibits the development so far as the general structure is concerned :&mdash
Suffrages (including Creed) and Collect.
By a similar process Evensong was formed of materials taken out of the old service of Evensong or Vespers, together with the Nunc Dimittis and the third Collect taken from Compline. It was made to follow the structure of the new Mattins, so that both the services should be of a uniform design. 20 It will be seen if the tables of Evensong and Compline given above are compared with the structure of the Evening Prayer of the Prayer Book that more omission and alteration was necessary here than at Morning Prayer. 21
It is time now after these preliminaries to turn to the actual services themselves as they stand in the present Prayer Book and consider them point by point.
These two rubrics were placed as general directions for the service in 1552. They give rise to many questions about which there has been much difference of opinion and practice.
Prayers to be said in the accustomed place of the Church, Chapel, or Chancel.
The Directions of the First Book of Edward VI. for Ministers.
for the Priest at Communion.
The twenty-fifth clause in the Elizabethan Act provided for the retention of the ornaments &lsquountil other order shall be taken therein by the authority of the Queen&rsquos majesty with the advice of&rsquo the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, &lsquoor of the Metropolitan of this realm.&rsquo The question arises whether further order was formally taken or no in this respect.
What is certain is that this clause and rubric were not fully enforced: the ornaments were retained, but a considerable number even of those specified expressly in the First Prayer Book were never put into use, and were ultimately defaced and made away with. 33 The well-known letter of Sandys 34 shows that in some influential quarters there was no intention that they should be used. The Bishops found that, in face of violent Puritan agitation, to exact the bare minimum of surplices with hoods in parish churches, and copes in cathedrals, was a task which would strain their power to the utmost: as early as 1560, by the time of the issue of the &lsquoInterpretations&rsquo 35 they had determined with regard to vestments not to demand in practice more than these and this policy found a more authoritative expression in the Advertisements of 1566. 36
The method of &lsquotaking further order.&rsquo
3) What should be the ornaments of the church? The answer to this question depends partly upon the view which is taken on the first of the two difficult questions already discussed. If it is held that the rubric refers to the year preceding the Prayer Book of 1549, then a large number of ornaments are authorized, and these are to be ascertained by ecclesiological enquiry. 43
If, on the other hand, It be held that the rubric refers to the First Edwardine Book, the number of ornaments there ordered by name is exceedingly small and comprises only the following: Bible, Prayer-Book, Altar, Book of the Homilies, Poor Men&rsquos Box, Corporas, Paten, Chalice, Font, Bell, Quire Door, Pulpit. Besides these ornaments the use of others is implied, such as cruets for wine and water, and also for oil in anointing, a pix to carry the Blessed Sacrament to the sick, a lectern, pews or seats of some kind, &c.: and some are expressed by name in the present Prayer Book and must be added to the minimum list of ornaments contemplated such as Alms bason, Flagon, and two fair linen cloths, the one to cover the altar, and the other to be placed over the Sacrament after the Communion: others are mentioned in the Canons. But even after all such additions have been made (which in themselves sufficiently refute any strict or narrow interpretation of the rubric), this list is so manifestly incomplete that it is clear that, if the rubric is interpreted as referring to the ornaments of the Book of 1549, it cannot be strictly interpreted, but must be held to sanction other things besides those specified by name.
Even the most restrictive must be liberally interpreted.
The further question then remains as to how far other things are held to be covered by the rubric. It is all a question of degree and of expediency: for the last&rsquo half century the tendency has been to make the rubric (so interpreted) increasingly elastic, and to extend it to cover an increasingly large number of ornaments. 44 Finality in such matters is probably not desirable, but whether that be so or not, it certainly has not been attained. 45
§ 1. The Sentences, Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution.
Opening of the present service.
Reason of this addition in 1552.
Rationale of the Sentences,
The form provided for this purpose is called a &lsquoGeneral Confession.&rsquo It is general, because it is expressed in general terms, referring to the failings of human life, which are common to all men, and which may and ought to be confessed by all, without descending to particular sins, of which perhaps some of the congregation may not be guilty. It consists of three parts, besides the introduction, or address to God: the first, a confession of our sins of omission and commission the second, a supplication of pardon for the past, and the third, a prayer for grace for the future.
The manner in which the Confession should be said is distinctly marked, because it differs from the manner. customary in the older services of Prime and Compline: there the Confession was said by the principal person present, and the prayer of absolution following his confession was said by all present: then vice versa the congregation said the Confession and he the absolution, adding as well a further prayer of the same sort. By the rubric of the Prayer Book the Confession is to be said of the whole congregation after the minister i.e. the minister is to say each clause, and then the people repeat that clause after him. 51 The manner of saying the Lord&rsquos Prayer is different that is to be said &lsquowith him,&rsquo the people repeating the clauses simultaneously with the minister.
The Absolution contains four particulars: (1) a general declaration of the mercy of God to returning sinners, and (2) of the authority committed to His ministers to pronounce pardon to the penitent (3) the declaration of that pardon on condition of true faith and hearty repentance and (4) an admonition to ask the help of His Holy Spirit to enable us to perform those conditions, that the pardon pronounced in His Church on earth may be effectual to our eternal salvation.
Not to be said by Deacons.
It will be observed that the word Amen is printed at the end of the Confession but that the first rubric directing it to be said by the people at the end of all prayers occurs after the Absolution, According to a later custom, which has no authority in The Book Annexed, the Amen is printed in a different type at the end of the prayers. In these, the minister says the Prayer, or the Collect, and then stops, while the people answer their Amen. In other parts, as the Confession, Lord&rsquos Prayer, Creeds, which are repeated by the minister and people, there is no such difference and the minister goes on and says Amen himself, thus directing the people to do the same. In the alternating portions, as at the end of the Gloria Patri, the word is printed in the same character thus directing it to be said by the same persons who have said the &lsquoAnswer&rsquo of the Gloria, as being a part of that &lsquoAnswer.&rsquo
We come now to the point at which the old Latin Service began. This is indicated in the original MS. of 1661 by two lines drawn across the page to make a clear division, but they are constantly omitted by modern printers. 55 In 1549, as little alteration was made in the form of the service as was consistent with reformation of doctrine. Hence the Mattins and Evensong continued to begin with the Lord&rsquos Prayer: the Ave Maria, which had only been introduced into that position comparatively lately, was omitted, and the priest was directed to say the Lord&rsquos Prayer with a loud voice, instead of, as before, repeating it inaudibly as part of the private preparation which each one said to himself before the service began. The first allusion to its use at the beginning of the Hours comes from S. Benedict of Aniane (810), who ordered his monks thrice a day to go round the altars and say at the first the Lord&rsquos Prayer and Creed, i.e. before Mattins and Prime and after Compline. 56 In the Sarum Breviary it was preparatory to the service, 57 and after it the priest began the service with the versicles. The same method is now provided for by the rubric, which since 1661, has directed an &lsquoaudible&rsquo voice instead of a &lsquoloud&rsquo voice the intention clearly is that all the introductory part of the service up to the V. O Lord, open Thou our lips should be said audibly and congregationally, but quietly without monotone or singing.
The direction that the people should join in repeating the Lord&rsquos Prayer in this place was added in 1661. Previously it had been said by the minister alone on its first occurrence in the Morning and Evening Prayer, and in the Communion Service and (since 1552) by the minister, clerks, and people, when it occurred afterwards unless indeed, as is very probable, the rubric of The Book of Common Praier Noted (1550) shews a contrary custom to have prevailed: it has here &lsquoThe Quere wyth the Priest.&rsquo
In 1661 a further change was made, following the Eastern, in opposition to the Western use, by the addition of the Doxology 58 at the conclusion of the prayer in this and in some other parts of the services. This forms no true part of the text of the Gospels, but is found as early as the Didache. It has great liturgical value, and there is special reason for its insertion in this place, where the Lord&rsquos Prayer immediately follows the Absolution, and the moment is one of praise.
The Versicles have certainly been used since the sixth century. The first is taken from Ps.li. 15, and under the old system was peculiar to Mattins, as being the first Hour of the series. It was not prefixed to Evensong till 1552, when both it and the following were put into the plural number, instead of the singular. 59 It was originally prescribed for use on first waking. Similarly, the second versicle with its response is drawn from the opening verse of the 70th Psalm, which was originally repeated entire on waking or on the way from the dormitory to the church, and then concluded with Gloria Patri. 60 Hence arose the use of the &lsquoopening versicles. In 1549 this section was taken from the Sarum Breviary, 61 but with two changes: (i) the Gloria was assigned to the Priest alone in the ordinary books, though not in the&rsquo Noted&rsquo edition: in the Latin service it was sung by all together and it was not until 1661, when the traditional use was lost, that it became a V and R: (ii) instead of Alleluia, to be said throughout the year except from Septuagesima to Easter, the following was ordered: &lsquoPraise ye the Lord. And from Easter to Trinity Sunday, Alleluia.&rsquo 62 The Answer, &lsquoThe Lord&rsquos name be praised,&rsquo was first inserted in the Prayer Book for Scotland (1637), and was placed in the English Book at the last revision in 1661, when the words Praise ye the Lord, which before, in accordance with all precedent, were said by the people, were assigned to the Priest, through the same misunderstanding which altered the preceding Gloria.
§ 3. The Invitatory and Psalmody
The 95th Psalm has been sung in the Western Church from a very remote period, before the Psalms of the first nocturn. 63 It has been generally termed the Invitatory Psalm. It was very possibly a new introduction by S. Benet into the services of the West, and passed from thence to the Roman office, except for the last three days of Holy Week and one or two other occasions where it still is wanting. The Invitatory was a refrain sung before it, and repeated in part, or entirely, after each verse. 64 Therefore the rubric (1549) directed Venite to be &lsquosaid or sung without any Invitatory,&rsquo 65 and the pointing of the psalm was assimilated to the rest of the Psalter, so that it could be sung to the ordinary Psalm tones instead of its own peculiar chants. 66
The Psalms follow according to the ancient custom the changes from the mediæval services have already been explained, the chief one being that the whole Psalter is sung through &lsquoin course&rsquo every month, instead of there being fixed Psalms appointed for certain services, and the remainder sung &lsquoin course&rsquo every week. The Psalter thus becomes more generally known to the ordinary Sunday churchgoer, by the whole of it being used in turn in the Sunday services.
Arrangement of the Psalter.
§ 4. The Lessons and Canticles
The position which the Church gives to the reading of Scripture in the daily service commends itself to our reason. After confession and absolution, which may be called the preparation for worship, and psalmody, we are in a fit disposition to hear what God shall speak to us by His word. Two Lessons are read, one from the Old, and one from the New Testament showing the harmony between the Law and the Gospel, and the unity of the Church under its two dispensations the comparative darkness of the older prophetical and typical revelation being made clear by the history of the life of Jesus Christ, and preaching of His Apostles.
The ancient method of reading the Lessons has been already dealt with above, and it has been shown that the recovery of continuous Bible reading, which had been lost in the course of time from the Breviary services, was one of the main objects of the revision of the Prayer Book: while the appointment of two chapters at Morning and Evening Prayer, one from the Old, and one from the New Testament, was itself a return to primitive custom. 67
First Lessons for Sundays.
The following is the Latin original, taken from the printed Sarum Breviary, which gives the text in a form which modern research seems to show to be very generally correct, except in the case of the one word numerari in V.21. This has no MS. authority at all, and only appeared by mistake for munerari for the first time in the Breviary of 1491 it was, however, unfortunately accepted by the Revisers of the Prayer Book, and has left its mark there. 73
1 Te Deum laudamus,
te Dominum confitemur :
2 Te æternum Patrem
omnis terra veneratur.
3 Tibi omnes Angeli,
tibi c&oeligli et universes potestates,
4 Tibi Cherubin et Seraphin
incessabili voce proclamant :
5 Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth :
6 Pleni sunt c&oeligli et terra majestatis glorire tuæ.
7 Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus, 74
8 Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
9 Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
10 Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur ecclesia
11 Patrem immensæ majestatis
12 Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium
13 Sanctum quoque Paraclytum Spiritum.
14 Tu Rex gloriæ Christe, 75
15 Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
16 Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem,
non horruisti virginis uterum.
17 Tu, devicto mortis aculeo,
aperuisti credentibus regna c&oeliglorum.
18 Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes in gloria Patris.
19 Judex crederis esse venturus,
20 Te ergo quresumus, famulis tuis subveni,
quos pretioso sanguine redernisti,
21 Æterna fac cum sanctis tuis
in gloria numerari.
22 Salvum fac populum tuum Domine: et benedic hæreditati tuæ. 76
23 Et rege eos : et extolle illos usque in æternum.
24 Per singulos dies benedicimus te :
25 Et laudamus nomen tuum in sæculum et in sæculu sæculi. 77
26 Dignare Domine die isto: sine peccato nos custodire. 78
27 Miserere nostri Domine: miserere nostri. 79
28 Fiat misericordia tua Domine super nos: quemadmodum speravimus in te. 80
29 In te Domine speravi : non confundar in æternum.
The hymn contains many phrases which are familiar from their occurrence elsewhere: a specially large part of the language is akin to the contestationes, or prefaces in Gallican liturgies. 81 The verses from 22 onward do not properly form part of the hymn, 82 but were originally suffrages 83 in the form of versicle and response appended to it: many of these still appear in the like relation to the Gloria in exceisis in the Eastern office 84 in a position analogous to that now held by the Te Deum in the West. 85 This suggests the possibility that originally in the West the same was the case, but that when the Gloria in excelsis was transferred to the Mass, the Te Deum. was put in to fill the vacant place at Mattins. 86
The hymn thus falls into two parts with an appendix: the first part is twofold, comprising (a) a section, analogous to the Preface and Sanctus in the liturgy, setting forth the praise of God the Father, and (b) a section which expresses the Church&rsquos chorus of homage to the blessed Trinity the second part commemorates, like the liturgy, the work of redemption through Christ, and bases thereon a prayer to Him for help while the appendix contains the versicles. 87
They are the only portions of the kind, appointed in the English Prayer Book, which are not taken out of canonical Scripture. Benedicite is especially suitable to the first Lessons of some particular days (e. g. Septuagesima Sunday and the twenty-first Sunday after Trinity), or as a substitute for Te Deum on Sundays during Lent but its use on week-days in Lent is no longer required by the rubric, and it is not in itself as suitable for such a position as Te Deum, which contains humble prayer as well as joyful worship.
however both from the history of its appointment, and the words of the rubric, that Benedictus should always be used, &lsquoexcept when that shall happen to be read in the Chapter for the day, or for the Gospel on S. John Baptist&rsquos day.&rsquo
§ 5. The Suffrages and Collects.
In the early forms of the Hour Services appropriate Collects were said at the close of each Psalm or Canticle and the service ended when the Psalmody and Lessons ended. This custom however disappeared, and perhaps by way of compensation short prayers, called Capitella, were added at the end for various purposes in the form of versicle and response. Some such prayers have already come under notice in dealing with Te Deum. Those at the end of the Gallican services formed in their old shape a developed litany of intercession and prayer, and at a later date they were combined with the, Kyrie, Lord&rsquos Prayer and Creed, and ultimately adopted by the Roman rite.
This scheme of &lsquosuffrages&rsquo was taken over from the Sarum service into the First Prayer Book, but in 1552 the Creed was taken out of this place and prefixed to the suffrages to be said aloud by all. It will be best: therefore first to deal with the Creed and then to return to the question of the suffrages.
Public Repetition of the Nicene Creed
and spread through the West.
In 1549 the Creed was retained in English 107 among the suffrages, the rubric ordered that the priest 108 should say it with a loud voice, but the old treatment of the last clauses was retained in the case of the Lord&rsquos Prayer with the usual musical inflection. In 1552 this order and method was given up in favour of that now in use. The object clearly was to gain for the Hours a public recitation of the Creed by all, similar to that prevailing in the Liturgy. 109
Till then the only profession of faith that was sung publicly in the Hour Services was the Quicunque. In the Sarum Breviary it was appointed to be sung daily at Prime after the Psalms, and before the Prayers, and, as, has been stated already, this use goes back to the VIIIth century. The later tendency has been to restrict its use. Quignon, in his reformed Breviary, appointed the Athanasian Creed on Sundays, and the Apostles Creed on weekdays. 110 In the Tridentine Breviary it is ordered to be used on Sundays only. In the American book it is omitted altogether. 111
In 1549 the Athanasian Creed was appointed to be sung or said after Benedictus upon the six festivals of Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity. In 1552 seven Saints&rsquo days were added to these six festivals so that this Confession of our Christian faith 112 should be used at intervals of about a month throughout the year.
It has already been pointed out that the suffrages were in their origin a long and developed litany of intercession. The capitella were either triple, each consisting of a bidding, followed by a versicle and response, or else duple, each consisting of a bidding and a single response. In their fullest extant Western form they contain sixteen petitions of the first type. The first is
Let us pray for every condition in the Church.
Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness,
And thy saints sing with joyfulness.
Others follow in the same form &lsquofor our pastors, the King, his children, our Abbat, the whole Catholic people, our brothers and sisters, for peace, for travellers by land, by sea, persecutors and slanderers, quarrelsome, penitents, almsgivers, the sick, the faithful departed,&rsquo (with a second versicle and response), followed by four clauses &lsquofor our sins and negligences,&rsquo and three &lsquofor our absent brethren.&rsquo 117 Shorter collections of the same sort existed side by side with this, besides those for Prime and Compline which contained also the Apostles&rsquo Creed. The Roman service at this period ended as it seems with Kyrie 118 and Lord&rsquos Prayer, 119 and when there were appended to it such Gallican collections of the two kinds of the capitella fused together, there developed a regular type of suffrages, consisting of (i) Kyrie eleison (ii) Pater noster, (iii) more or fewer versicles and responses (the biddings of the triple capitella for uniformity&rsquos sake being usually dropped), and finally, as the climax, (iv) a collect. This scheme reappears constantly throughout the later mediaeval services. In the Sarum Breviary two such forms were in use: (i) the schemes at Prime, and Compline, which though differing in detail were alike in outline and use (ii) the ferial suffrages used before the collect on ferias at all the other Day-Hours. 120
The Lesser Litany is the prelude to the Prayer, as the Doxology in its present connexion in our service may be said to be the prelude to the Praise of the service. 122 Being addressed to each person of the Holy Trinity, by its three clauses, it fixes the object of Christian worship. In the old Latin Offices the Greek words Kyrie eleison were retained here, as at Mass, and each clause was usually thrice repeated. The direction that the priest shall stand to say the Versicles and Collect is continued from the mediaeval rubric. 123 The Versicles seem to have been taken not directly from the suffrages of the Breviary, either those said daily at Prime and Compline, or those said at Lauds, the Lesser Hours, and Evensong on ferias, but rather from the following similar selection which was used in the form of &lsquoBidding the Bedes,&rsquo and was probably better known to the people at large than either of the forms in the Breviary: 124 &mdash
Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam :
Et salutare tuum da nobis.
Sacerdotes tui induantur justitiam:
Et sancti tui exultent.
Domine, salvum fac regem:
Et exaudi nos in die qua invocaverimus te.
Salvos fac serves tuos et ancillas tuas :
Domine, Deus meus, sperantes in te.
Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine.
Et benedic hrereditati tuæ.
Domine, fiat pax in virtute tua:
Et abundantia in turribus tuis.
Domine, exaudi orationem meam:
Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
Et cum spiritu tuo.
These Versicles except the fourth and the last of the series, form our present suffrages: some alterations have been introduced from the text of the Psalms, from which they were originally taken, 125 the second and third pair have been transposed, the fifth versicle is used in the shorter of the two forms in which it appears. The idea of the sixth is kept, but in view of the collect for peace which is to follow the old antiphon which was used with it in the &lsquomemorial for peace&rsquo is substituted for the regular versicle. 126 Similarly, in view of the collect for grace which is to follow, a new versicle and response is made and put in place of the Domine exaudi which in the old series paved the way for the collect, and is still retained in that position in the suffrages of Confirmation, Marriage, the Visitation of the Sick, and the Churching of Women.
A further change has been made in the method of saying the Lord&rsquos Prayer. In pre-Reformation times the Lesser Litany was said alternately by the choir, the Lord&rsquos Prayer was said silently and the officiant only began at the penultimate clause, which he said as the first versicle, while the choir responded with the last clause. Some part of this method was retained in 1549: the recitation of the creed as well as the Lord&rsquos Prayer was ordered, but in a loud voice: the repetition of the final clauses in the form of a versicle and response was prescribed in the case of the Lord&rsquos Prayer though not (as formerly) in the case of the Creed as well. The whole plan was altered in 1552.
The Collects are not an ancient feature of the Hour Services: in early days each psalm was followed by private prayer, prostration, and a Collect summing up the private petitions: at a later date these disappeared and the element of prayer was represented only by the suffrages appended to the services other, than Nocturns: then the Lord&rsquos prayer was added to these and then the Collect was borrowed from the Mass to form their close.
The Collect for the day occupies in one sense the same position in which it occurred in the unreformed offices at the end of Lauds but in another sense its position is different, for it there formed the close of the service proper, whether preceded or not by suffrages: the Salutation and another Versicle followed and so the service ended. But, as has been stated already, on many occasions&rsquo memorials&rsquo were added varying from time to time. In place of these, two fixed Collects were adopted in 1549. The Collect for peace comes from the old Memorial for peace, said at the Lauds of the Blessed Virgin. 127 The third Collect is the ancient ferial Collect for Prime. 128 The relation of these to the preceding Versicles has already been explained: both of them are drawn from old Roman sources.
Here the Order of Morning Prayer ended until the last revision in 1661. All the &lsquofive prayers&rsquo except the second had been since 1559 appended to the Litany, and in the Prayer Book for Scotland (1637) a rubric was added after the third Collect of Morning and Evening Prayer, directing what is almost identical with our present usage. 129 And in 1661 the present rubric and the five prayers were inserted.
The anthem though not mentioned before had long been customary: it was common to sing an anthem or Antiphon after some of the services in pre-Reformation times, especially to sing one of the anthems of the Blessed Virgin after the Prayer &lsquoLighten our darkness,&rsquo which ended Compline. 130 It was natural therefore to do the like in the corresponding positions in the Prayer Book Services, and it was specially authorised by the Elizabethan Injunctions. 131
O Lorde Jesu Christe, moste high, moste mightie, kyng of kynges, lorde of lordes, the onely rular of princis, the very sonne of god, on whose ryghte hande syttyng, doest from thy throne beholde all the dwellers upon earth: with mooste lowly hertes we beseche the, vouchesafe with fauourable regard to behold our most gracious soueraigne lorde kyng Henry the Eyght, and so replenysshe hym with the grace of thy holy spiritie, that he alway incline to thy wil, and walke in thy way. Kepe hym farre of frome ignoraunce, but through thy gifte, leat prudence and knowlage alwaie abound in his royall hert. So instructe hym, (O LORD IESV) reygnyng upon us in erth, that his humaine majestie alway obey thy divyne majestie in feare and drede. Indue him plentifully with heauenly giftes. Graunt him in health and welth long to liue. Heape glorie and honoure upon hym. Glad hym with the joye of thy countenance. So strengthe hym, that he maie vanquishe and ouercome all his and our foes, and be drede and feared of al the ennemies of his realme. AMEN.
In the Prayer Books of Edward VI. this prayer was not put into the Morning and Evening Service it was, however, placed in his reformed Primer (1553), 133 as &lsquothe fourth Collect for the King&rsquo at Morning Prayer another and shorter &lsquoPrayer for the King&rsquo being added to the Collects &lsquofor Peace,&rsquo and &lsquofor Aid against all Perils,&rsquo at Evening Prayer. At the revision of the Prayer Book in the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth (1559), this prayer was altered and shortened, and together with the Prayer for the Clergy and People was placed before the &lsquoPrayer of Chrysostom&rsquo at the end of the Litany.
The Prayer for the Royal Family was added among the Collects at the end of the Litany, in 1604 approved, if not composed, by Archbishop Whitgift, 134 and placed in the Prayer Book among the changes made by way of explanation, after the Hampton Court Conference, on the authority of James I. It was then entitled, &lsquoA Prayer for the Queen and Prince, and other the King and Queen&rsquos children,&rsquo and began with the words,&mdash
Almighty God, which hast promised to be a Father of thine elect and of their seed, We humbly beseech thee to bless our gracious Queen Anne, Prince Henry, and all the King and Queen&rsquos royal progeny: endue them, &c.
In the first Form of Prayers published by authority in the reign of Charles I., being a service provided for a fast-day (1625), the words &lsquothe fountain of all goodness&rsquo were introduced into this prayer, and were continued in the Prayer Book published in 1627 for the plain reason that the original clause was not thought appropriate in the case of a sovereign who was at that time without issue. Afterwards (1632) the clause was replaced, and Prince Charles and the Lady Mary were mentioned in the prayer. In the following year, however, &mdash the first year of the primacy of Laud, &mdash the clause was again and finally removed. The inconvenience was thus avoided of continually altering the language of the prayer. 135
The Prayer of St. Chrysostom is found in the Liturgies of S. Basil and S. Chrysostom the composition of it cannot be ascribed to either of those fathers, but the prayer forms part of the Byzantine Liturgy from at least the ninth century onward, and Cranmer no doubt put the heading because he took it from the Liturgy of S. Chrysostom. 137
This prayer was placed at the end of the Litany, when that service was revised by Cranmer in 1544 it seems likely that he had recourse to S. Chrysostom&rsquos Liturgy primarily for help in drawing up the Litany and that, finding this prayer in close connexion with the Deacon&rsquos Litany there, he translated it and used it as the closing prayer of the English Litany. 138
The Latin Hour-Services ended with the Salutation 2 and a versicle and response:&mdash
&rsquoBenedicamus domino.&rsquo &lsquoLet us bless the Lord.&rsquo
&lsquoDeo gratias.&rsquo &lsquoThanks be to God.&rsquo
To which was added in some uses a prayer for the repose of the faithful departed. These were not taken over in 1549, and the services ended abruptly: the &lsquoGrace&rsquo was first added as a conclusion to service in &lsquoThe Litany used in the Queen&rsquos chapel&rsquo of 1559: 139 thence it found its way as the fifth of the five prayers into the Elizabethan Prayer Book. It is found in Greek Liturgies in a very different connexion, viz., before the Sursum Corda from the fourth century onwards, 140 but there seems no reason to suppose that this had any connexion with its introduction into the Prayer Book here.
The order for Evening Prayer or Evensong was formed, as we have seen, upon the ancient offices of Evensong (Vespers), and Compline, but assimilated to the scheme of the Morning Prayer of the Prayer Book. No invitatory was needed, but otherwise the structure has been identical in both cases since 1552, when the opening versicle, formerly peculiar to Mattins, was prescribed for Evensong also. The Sentences, Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution were appointed, as at Mattins, in 1 552 to be said before the commencement of the older service but this part was not printed at the beginning of Evening Prayer until the revision of 1661. The first lesson occupies the place of the, Chapter at Vespers, followed by Magnificat, which has been sung at Vespers since the time of S. Benet, who probably gave it that position. 141 Our second Lesson occupies the place of the Chapter at Compline, which, after a hymn that is omitted, was followed by &lsquoThe Song of Simeon&rsquo this has been treated as a canticle from very early times, 142 it has never formed part of the Benedictine Compline, and therefore its position in the secular Compline is probably subsequent to the time of S. Benet, and the tradition which ascribes its insertion to S. Gregory may be a true one. 143 The Canticles thus inserted occupy a most significant place in our service. After reading the Old Testament, we have the Song of Mary, testifying to the fulfilment of God&rsquos promises of mercy to the fathers and after reading the chapter from the New Testament, and there beholding how the promises were fulfilled in the propagation of the Gospel among the Gentiles, we express our readiness to receive that Gospel for ourselves, in the Song of the aged Simeon, and our faith that by so doing we shall have peace in our death, of which every night brings a type in sleep. These two canticles only were appointed in 1549. In 1552, probably for uniformity with the corresponding part of the Morning Prayer, and still retaining the ancient rule that Psalms and reading of Scripture should be alternated, the 98th and the 67th psalms were appointed&rsquo to follow the first and second Lessons, at the discretion of the Minister, unless either of them had been read in the ordinary course of the psalms. They had not been sung among the psalms of Vespers or Compline. 144
The rest of the service has the same history as Mattins, except the two fixed Collects. In the old system the services began with the Evensong on the preceding night. A survival of this is found in the rubric placed before &lsquoThe Collects, Epistles, and Gospels,&rsquo which orders that the Collect for the following day (according to our modern reckoning) is to be said on the evening before every Sunday and any Holy Day that has a Vigil or Eve. 145
II. (c. 958-1025), known as Bilgaroktonos (slayer of Bulgarians), Roman emperor in the East, son of Romanus II. and Theophano, great-great-grandson of Basil I., was born about 958 and crowned on the 22nd of April 960. After their father's death (963) he and his younger brother Constantine were nominal emperors during the actual reigns of Nicephorus Phocas, their stepfather, and John Tzimisces. On the death of the latter (l0th of January 976) they assumed the sovereignty without a colleague, but throughout their joint reign Constantine exercised no power and devoted himself chiefly to pleasure. This was in accordance with the Byzantine principle that in the case of two or more co-regnant basileis only one governed. Basil was a brave soldier and a superb horseman he was to prove himself a strong ruler and an able general. He did not at first display the full extent of his energy. The administration remained in the hands of the eunuch Basileios (an illegitimate son of Romanus I.), president of the senate, a wily and gifted man, who hoped that the young emperors would be his puppets. Basil waited and watched without interfering, and devoted himself to learning the details of administrative business and instructing himself in military science. During this time the throne was seriously endangered by the rebellion of an ambitious general who aspired to play the part of Nicephorus Phocas or Tzimisces. This was Bardas Sclerus, whom the eunuch deposed from his post of general in the East. He belonged to the powerful landed aristocracy of Asia Minor, whose pretensions were a perpetual menace to the throne. He made himself master of the Asiatic provinces and threatened Constantinople. To oppose him, Bardas Phocas, another general who had revolted in the previous reign and been interned in a monastery, was recalled. Defeated in two battles, he was victorious in a third and the revolt was suppressed (979). Phocas remained general in the East till 987, when he rebelled and was proclaimed emperor by his troops. It seems that the minister Basileios was privy to this act, and the cause was dissatisfaction at the energy which was displayed by the emperor, who showed that he was determined to take the administration into his own hands and personally to control the army. Phocas advanced to the Hellespont and besieged Abydos. Basil obtained timely aid, in the shape of Varangian mercenaries, from his brother-in-law Vladimir, the Russian prince of Kiev, and marched to Abydos. The two armies were facing each other, when Basil galloped forward, seeking a personal combat with the usurper who was riding in front of his lines. Phocas, just as he prepared to face him, fell from his horse and was found to be dead. This ended the rebellion.
The fall of Basileios followed he was punished with exile and the confiscation of his enormous property. Basil made ruthless war upon the system of immense estates which had grown up in Asia Minor and which his predecessor, Romanus I., had endeavoured to check. (For this evil and the legislation which was aimed at it see Later Roman Empire.) He sought to protect the lower and middle classes.
Basil gained some successes against the Saracens (995) but his most important work in the East was the annexation of the principalities of Armenia. He created in those highlands a strongly fortified frontier, which, if his successors had been capable, should have proved an effective barrier against the invasions of the Seljuk Turks. The greatest achievement of the reign was the subjugation of Bulgaria. After the death of Tzimisces (who had reduced only the eastern part of the Bulgarian kingdom), the power of Bulgaria was restored by the Tsar Samuel, in whom Basil found a worthy foe. The emperor's first efforts against him were unsuccessful (981), and the war was not resumed till 996, Samuel in the meantime extending his rule along the Adriatic coast and imposing his lordship on Servia. Eastern Bulgaria was finally recovered in 1000 but the war continued with varying successes till 1014, when the Bulgarian army suffered an overwhelming defeat. Basil blinded 15,000 prisoners, leaving a one-eyed man to every hundred to lead them to their tsar, who fainted at the sight and died two days later. The last sparks of resistance were extinguished in 1018, and the great Slavonic realm lay in the dust. The power of Byzantium controlled once more the Illyrian peninsula. Basil died in December 1025 in the midst of preparations to send a naval expedition to recover Sicily from the Saracens.
Basil's reign marks the highest point of the power of the Eastern empire since Justinian I. Part of the credit is due to his predecessors Nicephorus and Tzimisces, but the greater part belongs to him. He dedicated himself unsparingly to the laborious duties of ruling, and he had to reckon throughout with the ill-will of a rich and powerful section of his subjects. He was hard and cruel, without any refinement or interest in cultu e. In a contemporary psalter (preserved in the library of St Mark at Venice) there is a portrait of him, with a grey beard, crowned and robed in imperial costume.
Authorities. - Leo Diaconus (ed. Bonn, 1828) Psellus, History (ed. Sathas, London, 1899) George Cedrenus ( Chronicle, transcribed from the work of John Scylitzes, vol. ii., ed. Bonn, 1839) Zonaras, bk. xvii. (ed. Bonn, vol. iii., 1897) Cecaumenus, Strategikon (ed. Vasilievski and Jernstedt, St Petersburg, 1896) Yahya of Antioch (contemporary Asiatic chronicle), extracts with Russian translation by Rosen (St Petersburg, 1883) Al Mekin (Elmacinus), Historia Saracenica (ed. with Latin translation by Erpenius, Leiden, 1625) "Laws ( Novellae ) of Basil" (ed. Zacharia von Lingenthal, in Jus Graeco-Romanum, vol. iii., 1853) Finlay, Hist. of Greece Gibbon, Decline and Fall G. Schlumberger, L'Epopee byzantine, part i. and part ii. (Paris, 1896, 1900). (J. B. B.)
The Imperial Library of Constantinople, About Which Remarkably Little is Known
Presumed bust of the founder of the Imperial Library of Constantinople, emperor Constantius II (317 - 361), son and successor of Constantine I.
About 357 CE the Byzantine emperor Constantius II, son of Constantine I, aware of the deterioration of early texts written on papyrus rolls, began the formation of the Imperial Library of Constantinople by having the Judeo-Christian scriptures copied from papyrus onto the more permanent medium of parchment or vellum. The person in charge of the library under Constantius II is thought to have been Themestios, who directed a team of scribes and librarians that copied the texts on papyrus rolls onto parchment or papyrus codices. It is probable that this library preserved selected texts that survived the burning of the Library of Alexandria, though the historical accounts of the destruction of the Alexandrian Library are contradictory.
Some authorities have conjectured that the Imperial Library of Constantinople might have eventually grown to about 100,000 manuscript volumes, presumably bookrolls and codices however, so little is actually known about the Imperial Library that it is impossible to estimate how many volumes it might have housed at any time. It is also possible that the conjectured number as high as 100,000 volumes is more reflective of the quantity of information preserved in modern times than the much more limited production and survival of information in the ancient world in general and Byzantium in particular.
"The first indication of an imperial library in Constantinople comes from Themistius, who in an oration delivered in 357 congratulates the emperor on having undertaken to reconstitute and collect in Constantinople the literary heritage of ancient hellenism by having the works of ancient authors, including minor ones, transcribed by a cadre of professional scribes working at imperial expense (Or.4.59-61). Such a scriptorium and such a task presuppose a library, and the library, if not established by Constantius, owed its character and early development to him. Subsequently, according to Zosimus (Hist. nov. 3.11.3) the emperor Julian (361-63) lent his patronage to the library and enlarged its holdings with his own. The Theodosian code (14.9.2) informs us that in 372 the emperor Valens ordered the employment of seven copyists (antiquarii)--four for Greek and three for Latin texts--and some assistants to maintain and repair the books of the imperial library. Thus we know that the library housed both Greek and Latin texts, but not necessarily in separate libraries, as was the practice in Rome" (Gamble, Books and Readers in the Early Church. A History of Early Christian Texts  168).
"The twelfth-century epitomist Joannes Zonaras relays an old and possibly accurate estimate that in 475 when the [Imperial] library [of Constantinople] was damaged by fire it contained 120,000 volumes, which suggests that the library grew steadily during the first century after its founding" (Gamble, op.cit. 169).
Remarkably little is known concerning any Byzantine libraries, but it has been assumed that the Imperial Library in Constantinople preserved many of the Greek texts that have come down to us, and it has been suggested by some scholars that in the eighth century Charlemagne was able to obtain copies of classical texts from the Imperial Library, though it is much more likely that books at Aachen were copied from those in monastery libraries under Charlemagne's rule. We may never know for certain what connections the library in Aachen might have made with the Imperial Library in Constantinople as only a handful of actual codices that can definitely be traced to the Imperial Library have survived, and those are in Europe rather than in Turkey. In May 2014 the best paper I could find on Byzantine libraries was Nigel G. Wilson, "The Libraries of the Byzantine World," Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 8 (1967) 53-80. From this I quote passages:
"To discuss so large a subject as the libraries of the Byzantine world within the limits of a single paper may seem unduly ambitious. The chronological and geographical range of the topic is enormous. But despite the great advance of Byzantine studies in this century the amount of primary source material on this subject remains modest, one might well say disappointing, since the references are normally brief and difficult to interpret with any confidence. A short but reasonably comprehensive survey is not out of the question, especially if the scope of the essay is restricted in two ways. Unfortunately a chronological limitation is imposed by the nature of the sources: comparatively little is known of the earlier periods of the empire, and in consequence nearly all my material relates to the ninth century or later. The second restriction is that my concern will be the libraries of institutions, mostly monasteries, rather than those of private individuals there were of course collectors who had the means to build up substantial private libraries, but the cost of collecting on this scale ensured that it was a hobby reserved for a few rich men, and with the one notable exception of Arethas the details of their activities cannot be traced." (Wilson, op. cit., p. 53)
Among the many historical problems regarding the Imperial Library of Constantinople, we have no way of estimating how many volumes it might have contained:
"There is no means of telling how many books the emperor's library contained. Even if the mediaeval sources gave any figures they would have to be treated with reserve, as numerals are singularly subject to corruption in manuscript tradition, and in addition it is a well-known fact that the majority of people find it impossible to give accurate estimates of large numbers. Obviously it was a large library by the standards of the day, since it had to satisfy the demands of the imperial family and probably the civil service officials employed in the palace." (Wilson, op. cit., p. 55)
Another aspect was that the Imperial Library is known to have been significantly destroyed in the Fourth Crusade of 1204 when Norman crusaders, attempting to form a Latin Empire, sacked Constantinople, almost completely destroying the city. They burned the Imperial Library, probably nearly destroying its collections. The 1204 sack of Constantinople has been described as one of the most profitable and disgraceful sacks of a city in history. It is believed that crusaders may have sold some rare Byzantine manuscripts to Italian buyers.
As a result of the sack of Constantinople the Byzantine capital was moved to Nicaea, and about the year 1222 Emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes or Ducas Vatatzes reestablished the Byzantine Imperial Library in that city. From Nicaea the Byzantines began a campaign to recapture Constantinople from the Normans, and in 1261 the Byzantine Emperor of Nicaea, Michael VIII Palaiologos, succeded in reconquering Constantinople, and reestablished the Imperial Library in a wing of the Great Palace of Constantinople. Inevitably, in the forced move of those books which were not destroyed or looted in 1204 to Nicaea, and in the efforts toward reconstruction before and after the move back to Constantinople, contents of the library which had not been destroyed through fire or attrition, may have suffered further losses. Another factor contributing to our very limited knowledge of the contents of the Imperial Library was its final destruction or dismemberment in the seige of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 that brought the Roman Empire to an end.
Of books known to have been once in the Imperial Library of Constantinople, only a handful have survived:
- ► (265)
- ► June 2021 (25)
- ► May 2021 (46)
- ► April 2021 (48)
- ► March 2021 (57)
- ► February 2021 (44)
- ► January 2021 (45)
- ► (619)
- ► December 2020 (55)
- ► November 2020 (49)
- ► October 2020 (46)
- ► September 2020 (46)
- ► August 2020 (46)
- ► July 2020 (50)
- ► June 2020 (55)
- ► May 2020 (48)
- ► April 2020 (58)
- ► March 2020 (58)
- ► February 2020 (50)
- ► January 2020 (58)
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Second Golden Age of Byzantine Art (The illumination of manuscripts, icons on wood, and enamels)
It is known that Byzantine emperors and patricians were very fond of illuminated manuscripts*. The Gospels, the Octateuch (or eight books of the Bible), and the Psalter all had fixed repertoires as they almost always treated the same issues represented in the same way. To this day there are six Byzantine manuscripts of the Octateuch illuminated with miniatures: two are in the Vatican, one in Florence, one in Smyrna, one in the Topkapi Sarayi Library in Constantinople, and another in the Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos (Greece). All these manuscripts describe the same themes arranged in the same order.
Miniature from a XIIth century Octateuch showing scenes of the Original Sin: a snake with legs tempts Eve, Eve convinces Adam, and finally both appear eating the fruit of the forbidden Tree (Topkapi Sarayi Library of Constantinople, Istanbul).
The Psalter or Book of Psalms was also profusely illuminated with scenes from the life of David and mystical allegories. Both the Gospels and Psalms were illustrated using two types of images. Some have miniatures that occupy the entire width of the page others have only marginal vignettes. The latter were preferably used by common citizens.
Beatus initial for the start of Psalm 1 from the The Psalter of Saint Louis, ca. 1253-1270 (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris).
In addition to these biblical books, the most notable religious manuscripts were the calendars of saints called menologium*. Some of these books were of enormous dimensions, unmanageable as books for everyday use. Menologies were some kind of an image gallery, where the text was merely an almost unnecessary complement. Some manuscripts dedicated to particular people were preceded by the portrait of their owners and these miniatures constitute the only source of available information to imagine what did many great masters and remarkable Byzantine princesses look like.
Regarding the painters of icons, mosaics, or illuminators of manuscripts, we only know some few names and a few biographical details. In the menology or calendar of saints owned by emperor Basil II, large miniatures were signed by eight different artists, two of them named themselves as “of the Blachernae“, that is, they were ascribed to the Imperial Palace of the same name where there was a scriptorium* or workshop devoted to the writing, copying, and illuminating of manuscripts by monastic scribes. Every artist-scribe, however, kept his own style.
Jonah and the whale from The Menologion of Basil II an illuminated manuscript from ca. 1000 (Vatican Library).
The illustrations of Byzantine calendars of saints or menologies had the curious detail of often repeating the same architectural background image, like a theater curtain, and sometimes even the architectures painted at the sides appeared also repeated. This has led to believe that what miniaturists were painting were plays or semi-theatrical scenes, that is mysteries.
After the iconoclastic persecution Byzantine painters devoted themselves to produce paintings on wood. Numerous diptychs are still conserved representing the year’s twelve holidays, calendars of saints, and paintings with images of the Virgin and the Savior. Most of these paintings were executed in the same way: on a piece of wood, previously prepared with plaster and gold, the figures were painted in bright colors, the folds of their robes were drawn scrapping the colors using a chisel and thus revealing the gold-painted background which ultimately formed the drapery lines. Currently, there are some Byzantine icons still in their original place: in the altars of the Greek monasteries of Mount Athos for example, but in several museums throughout Italy they can also be found because these wood paintings represented another way in which Byzantine art spread as in those days they were in high demand in the Western World. Some of these icons weren’t painted but made with very fine mosaics.
Byzantine icon representing the Virgin Hodegetria, tempera and gold on wood, ca. 1360-1370 (The Holy Monastery of Vlatadon, Thessalonike, Greece).
After icons, another expression of Byzantine painting was represented by enamels*. Byzantium learned from Persia the art of enamel and its special manufacture called by French cloisonné*. It involves drawing the figures on a metal plate and then place on it, following the drawing’s contour, small dividers of welded thin metal sheets so that the drawing was left divided into several compartments. Each one of these compartments was then filled with colored molten glass and was later polished so that the dividers’ lines or the colored patches weren’t protruding from the surface which at the end appeared smooth and flat as if it was “painted” with glass. Enamels served to enrich the sumptuous Byzantine goldsmithing: hanging wreaths, large chandeliers, altars, and pulpits, reliquaries, crosses, and manuscript bindings. They were generally applied, once finished, on the objects they embelished, thus they constituted medallions for various pieces of goldsmithing. For example, the front cover of the luxury binding of a Gospel preserved in the Biblioteca Comunale degli Intronati in Siena (Italy) shows in the center the characteristic depiction of the Anastasis or Descent into Limbo (one of the twelve Byzantine holydays) along with other medallions of Christ, the Virgin, and several angels and the Apostles. One of the major works of Byzantine enamel is still in place in Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice. It is the famous Pala d’Oro (or golden cloth) located at the main altar, universally recognized as one of the most refined and accomplished works of Byzantine craftsmanship.
Front cover of a Xth century Gospel with an extraordinary collection of Byzantine enamels (Biblioteca degli Intronati, Siena, Italy). Front cover of the Gospels of Saint Michael also called “unique work” for its magnificence and richness of the materials used, ca. X century (Treasury of St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice, Italy). The famous Pala d’Oro, the high altar retable of the Basilica di San Marco in Venice (Italy), ca. 1102. General view of the Pala d’Oro (St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice, Italy). The Archangel Michael, detail from the Pala d’Oro (St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice, Italy).
*Cloisonné: An ancient technique for decorating metalwork objects, in recent centuries using vitreous enamel, and in older periods also inlays of cut gemstones, glass, and other materials. The resulting objects can also be called cloisonné. The decoration is formed by first adding compartments (cloisons in French) to the metal object by soldering or affixing silver or gold wires or thin strips placed on their edges. These remain visible in the finished piece, separating the different compartments of the enamel or inlays, which are often of several colors.
*Enamel: (Or Vitreous enamel). A material made by fusing powdered glass to a substrate by firing, usually between 750 and 850 °C. The powder melts, flows, and then hardens to a smooth, durable vitreous coating on metal, or on glass or ceramics. Used as a noun, “an enamel” is usually a small decorative object coated with enamel. Enameling is an old and widely adopted technology, for most of its history mainly used in jewelry and decorative art.
*Illuminated manuscript: A manuscript in which the text is supplemented with such decoration as initials, borders (marginalia) and miniature illustrations.
*Menologium: Menologium (from the Greek meaning “a month” Latin menologium), is a service-book used in the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Rite of Constantinople and that is arranged according to the months.
*Scriptorium: Literally “a place for writing”, is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the writing, copying and illuminating of manuscripts by monastic scribes. Written accounts, surviving buildings, and archaeological excavations all show, however, that contrary to popular belief such rooms rarely existed: most monastic writing was done in cubicle-like recesses in the cloister, or in the monks’ own cells.
20 Basil II, &lsquoThe Bulgar-Slayer&rsquo
We have observed with our own eyes (when we traversed the themes of our empire and set out on campaigns) the avarice and injustice every day perpetrated against the poor.&hellip The powerful who desire to aggrandize [their lands] and to enjoy in full ownership what they had wrongly expropriated at the expense of the poor&hellip will be stripped of the property belonging to others.
Basil II, who ruled four generations after the first Basil (the Macedonian), is commemorated on many streets in Greek cities as &lsquoVoulgaroktonos&rsquo (Bulgar-slayer). Yet the defeat of the Bulgars is not his greatest claim to fame. During his extremely long reign, from 976 to 1025, he presided over a major expansion of the empire beyond the Taurus Mountains in the east, the conversion of the Russians, the forging of numerous important foreign alliances, the patronage of art and learning, and the protection of the poor. In all this, he was a worthy grandson of the famous Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos. Yet he almost fatally weakened Byzantium by not ensuring the continuity of the Macedonian dynasty.
His portrait, the frontispiece to a magnificent manuscript of the Psalms, has become a defining symbol of Byzantine power (plate 28). From heaven, Christ lowers the crown which the archangel Gabriel puts on his head, while Michael hands him his lance. On a pure gold background, flanked by six military saints all dressed in battle attire and holding spears, Basil imposes his rule on subjects or defeated enemies kneeling before him. Gone are the orb and sceptre of Roman imperial authority. This is an image of a medieval Christian military ruler which typifies Byzantine appreciation of the soldier-emperor celebrating his victories. It is a fitting tribute to Basil, who devoted himself to military action throughout his life. Other generals such as Belisarius, Constantine V and Nikephoros Phokas are just as famous for their military triumphs, which were also celebrated in Constantinople. Yet Basil is particularly associated with the defeat of the Bulgarians, which has attained a mythic quality.
When Romanos II died prematurely in 963, the five-year-old Basil and his younger brother and sister, Constantine and Anna (born two days before their father&rsquos death), were orphaned. In Byzantium, not having a father made you an orphan even if your mother remained alive. In the case of the three young porphyrogennetoi, their mother Theophano immediately remarried and raised Nikephoros Phokas, who had recently reconquered Crete, to the imperial throne. Basil grew up rather like his grandfather Constantine VII, in the shadow of other rulers: Nikephoros II (963&ndash9), John I Tzimiskes (969&ndash76) and then Basil, the leading eunuch, who dominated the decade from 976 to 985. This Basil was his great-uncle, an illegitimate son of Romanos I Lekapenos, who is said to have acted like a father to the princes. He put down an attempted coup d&rsquoétat, which followed the death of John I in 976. But eventually the young emperor had to fight to establish himself both against his great-uncle and against representatives of the Skleros and Phokas military families.
Although in 976 Basil and Constantine succeeded jointly as emperors, the elder had no intention of sharing power. Once he had banished his great-uncle in 985, Basil II proceeded to exclude his younger brother so effectively that Constantine VIII was restricted to hunting, banquets and luxurious living in his palace in Nicaea. Basil&rsquos effort to rule alone, however, was challenged again in 987 by two opponents. In the face of this dangerous double attack, Basil negotiated an alliance with Vladimir of Kiev, the leader of the &lsquoRus&rsquo, based in present-day Ukraine: 6,000 Russian mercenaries would assist the emperor in return for the promise of an imperial bride, Anna the porphyrogennetos, Basil&rsquos sister. As the emperor must have known, this was one of the Byzantine exports specifically forbidden by Constantine VII, but in the desperate military situation he was forced to agree to it. With the help of the Rus, both rebels were later defeated, and Basil had to send his sister off to Kiev.
As we have seen in chapter 16, Vladimir&rsquos grandmother Olga, who visited Constantinople under Constantine VII, had consolidated good relations between the Rus and Byzantium, but her son and grandson reverted to traditional pagan beliefs. The Rus were divided in their perception of Byzantium and Vladimir decided to align his forces with the Christian empire, rather than maintaining the traditional pagan hostility. He was also able to insist on his marriage to a princess &lsquoborn in the purple&rsquo, a symbol of the allure of Byzantium, which added legitimacy and prestige to his own rule. Only when Vladimir managed to secure this concession were all his boyars baptized in a mass immersion in the River Dnieper. After considerable delay by Basil and pressure from Vladimir, the wedding finally took place. Anna was known as the tsaritsa, meaning sister of the Greek tsar (caesar), and lived in the palace complex, which Vladimir had built of stone, with rich mosaic and fresco decoration to provide a suitably grand residence for her. The alliance is recorded in the Russian Primary Chronicle, compiled in the early twelfth century from older materials, all written in the Cyrillic alphabet devised by Constantine-Cyril and Methodios.
In this momentous shift, the Rus from Kiev adopted Orthodox Christianity. Vladimir ordered the public humiliation of their idols, which were banished, and under the influence of a metropolitan, bishops, priests and monks, who had accompanied Anna from Constantinople, churches and monasteries were built on Byzantine models. Priests from Cherson also assisted in the process of conversion, and Vladimir put one of them, Anastasii, in charge of the church he dedicated to the Mother of God. This became known as the Tithe church because Vladimir dedicated regular funds for its support built in brick and stone, with a dome, three aisles and three apses, it was a far larger building than anything previously constructed in Kiev. In the early eleventh century Antonii, who had been tonsured on the Holy Mountain, founded one of the first monastic communities at the Caves, and in 1037 Iaroslav built the Kievan cathedral of St Sophia, with Byzantine-style mosaics of a Christ Pantokrator in the dome and a standing Virgin in the apse. The conversion of Russia and the mere spread of eastern Christianity across a vast area was assured.
Meanwhile, in Byzantium, Basil II eventually managed to undo his great-uncle&rsquos web of alliances and secured control over the empire&rsquos ambitious military aristocracy. He brought effective government, peace and a huge accumulation of treasure to the empire. During his almost continuous military campaigns, he observed the dangerous results of powerful landowners extending their property at the expense of poorer villagers and attempted to legislate against this. As well as his capacity for fighting, Basil was an ascetic figure who insisted that his spiritual father, Photios of Thessalonike, should accompany him on campaigns. He supported intellectuals such as Symeon called Metaphrastes (the translator), whose Menologion (a monthly catalogue of saints&rsquo lives) established which saints were to be commemorated throughout the liturgical year, and an unnamed group of scholars who produced the first popular Byzantine lexicon, known as the Souda. The Menologion created a standard edition of 150 lives in ten volumes, to be read on specific days of each month. It concluded research left unfinished by Leo VI and Constantine VII with full and detailed lives very few saints were added later. In contrast, the so-called Menologion of Basil, with a dedicatory poem to the emperor, has uniformly brief lives of the saints but a wide range of different illustrations on every page. The Souda is not an original dictionary, but it was much used down to the sixteenth century and copied for its explanations of rare words, proverbs, grammatical forms and names of ancient persons, places and concepts.
Basil II never married, a most unusual feature for a Byzantine emperor, and relied on his brother and heir Constantine VIII to sustain the Macedonian dynasty. In 1002, he agreed to send his niece Zoe to marry Otto III, but she arrived to find that he had died. And despite later marriages, Zoe never had a child. When Basil was well over sixty years old, those who despaired at the prospect of Constantine becoming emperor attempted a rebellion. Basil suppressed it. The successes of his long rule perhaps gave him confidence that the system of Byzantine imperial government would survive. The administration he had established did indeed last well beyond Constantine VIII&rsquos brief reign (1025&ndash8), but Basil&rsquos failure to arrange marriages for his nieces and secure another generation of the Macedonian dynasty left the empire weaker.
Basil II&rsquos expansion of the empire began in 989 and gradually brought large areas of the Caucasus, the Balkans and southern Italy under Byzantine control. Antioch, which had been recaptured from the Arabs in 969, became the base for an eastward expansion. By a combination of tireless military campaigning and skilful diplomacy, parts of the Caucasus previously under Georgian, Armenian and Abkhasian rule were incorporated within the empire. Basil used local elites to govern these territories for Byzantium. Similarly, in the far west the emperor strengthened imperial rule in southern Italy, which had been put under the authority of a single official in the reign of John Tzimiskes or even earlier. To combat the major enemy in the region, the Muslims of Sicily, Basil secured maritime assistance from Venice through the chrysobull of 992.
In its southern Italian provinces Byzantium sustained its own Greek administrators, lawcourts, Orthodox churches and monasteries, side by side with the Lombards, who had their Catholic faith, Lombard law and Latin language. This coexistence and mutual respect helped to ensure the region&rsquos prosperity, which was encouraged by the building of irrigation canals and mills, and the planting of vines, olives and mulberries critical to the nascent silk industry of the region. Further north, as well, Byzantium sustained good relations with the Benedictine monastery of Montecassino, and the city of Amalfi. Following the alliance made in 992, stronger contacts developed between Constantinople and Venice and several doges sent their sons to be educated in Constantinople.
Basil II, however, is most intimately associated with the area which established his later sobriquet: Bulgaria. In the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, Bulgaria was Byzantium&rsquos most challenging and dangerous neighbour. Tsar Samuel ruled over a large area of the Balkans (see map 4), and in 986 he revived Bulgarian independence. After defeating the young emperor, he proceeded south into Hellas and the Peloponnese, ravaging cities and destroying fortifications. He captured the city of Larissa in central Greece and later crowned himself &lsquoEmperor of the Bulgars&rsquo. His feats are recalled in many Bulgarian cities where streets are named after him. To combat Samuel&rsquos ambitions, Basil reorganized the administration of the area under a doux (duke) based in Thessalonike, and led annual campaigns from 991 to 995. In 997, his general Nikephoros Ouranos defeated Samuel at the River Sperchios, but Basil had to return to the region in 1000&ndash 1002 and again in 1005 to impose peace on the Bulgars. In 1014, a Byzantine victory at the pass of Kleidion, north of Thessalonike, was balanced by a total defeat suffered by the regional doux, showing that the military forces were evenly matched. Four years later, after the death of Samuel&rsquos successor, John Vladislav at Dyrrachion, and the capture and blinding of prisoners, the Bulgars realized that to continue their hostility was useless.
When he learnt of this decisive turn, Basil set out from Constantinople to secure the Bulgars&rsquo submission. As he proceeded west from Adrianople, their leaders acknowledged his authority. At Strumica he received a letter from Maria, John Vladislav&rsquos widow, who promised the submission of three of her sons and her six daughters, as well as numerous younger members of the royal family. Basil went on to Ohrid where Samuel&rsquos palace was thoroughly ransacked and quantities of silver, jewelled crowns and gold embroidered clothes were found, together with a supply of coined money, which was distributed to the troops. There he welcomed Maria and her large family. Later, she was given the title of zoste patrikia, an exceptional honour. From Ohrid, Basil returned to Lake Presba and Kastoria. Everywhere Bulgar leaders came to make their submission, received imperial titles and honours and were sent to Constantinople. Then the emperor marched his army via Larissa to the River Sperchios, where he was amazed to see the bones of the Bulgars killed nearly twenty years earlier, past Thermopylai where he admired the fortifications, and on to Athens. In the church of the Mother of God, within the Parthenon temple, he gave thanks for his victory and presented splendid and rich offerings. After this visit, he returned to the capital and celebrated a triumph, in which the booty from Samuel&rsquos palace at Ohrid, as well as the Bulgarian royal family, were paraded in front of the people. Finally, he entered the Great Church and thanked God for the victory.
The prolonged period of warfare must have resulted in many deaths on both sides. To ensure better relations in future, Basil insisted on marrying Bulgar nobles to Byzantine women and finding Byzantine husbands for their female relatives. He also allowed the Bulgars to continue paying their taxes in kind rather than currency and to preserve other local customs. So, in addition to slaying the Bulgars, Basil instituted methods of ensuring future control during his extended march to Athens and back, symbols of domination were craftily associated with honours. At Basil&rsquos death in 1025, Michael Psellos reckoned that the empire was stronger and richer than ever, but he does not identify Basil as the Bulgar-slayer. So the epithet was not coined during his lifetime. In the 1090s, John Skylitzes gave prominence to the great victories of Basil II over the Bulgars for a particular reason: at that time, Alexios I Komnenos urgently needed to mobilize aristocratic families to participate in his campaigns against the Pechenegs in the same region. But again, the term is not yet used. The nickname Voulgaroktonos emerges only under Isaac II Angelos (1185&ndash95), who was again challenged by Bulgaria. Then the late twelfth-century historian, Niketas Choniates, identifies Basil II as the slayer of Bulgars, to recall that emperor&rsquos long campaigns and victories.
Among the most striking aspects of this evolution is a mythical claim that after the battle at Kleidion in 1014, Basil ordered that all the 15,000 Bulgar prisoners of war should be blinded, apart from one in every hundred who would retain one eye in order to lead them back to their ruler. On seeing the pitiful spectacle, Tsar Samuel is reported to have had a heart attack and died. There are many reasons to doubt the story. Much larger conflicts had already occurred, for instance at the River Sperchios in 997. The garrison at Kleidion is unlikely to have been attacked by thousands, and many defenders as well as Bulgars were killed before the Byzantines won the battle. Although the large numbers quoted by Byzantine historians are notoriously exaggerated, blinding was commonly imposed on prisoners of war. It was also a traditional method of punishing the leaders of Byzantine revolts and political opponents, much less unpleasant than impaling on a stake. Basil imposed the loss of the right hand on Bedouin prisoners in 995, and blinded Georgian captives in 1021/2, but he was not exceptionally brutal he was exceptionally successful. He was determined to defeat and punish rival forces, whether Christian or Muslim.
Tsar Samuel&rsquos death in 1014, however, provided a peg on which to hang the story of blinding on a massive scale. In fact, the conflict continued for four more years until his successor, John Vladislav, died. This finally brought the Bulgar wars to an end in 1018. The emperor&rsquos nickname has obscured Basil&rsquos other exceptional military achievements, the conversion of the Rus, and his patronage of Byzantine encyclopaedic culture in the style of his grandfather. His ascetic lifestyle and the founding of the church of St John at the Hebdomon, an imperial palace attached to the military parade ground outside the walls of Constantinople, where he chose to be buried, signal his piety. Verses inscribed on his tomb stress his military campaigns in the first person:
For from the day that the King of Heaven called upon me to become the emperor, the great overlord of the world, no one saw my spear lie idle. I stayed alert throughout my life and protected the children of the New Rome, valiantly campaigning both in the West and at the outposts of the East&hellip O man, seeing now my tomb here, reward me for my campaigns with your prayers.
Similarly, Basil chose to display himself in the Psalter wearing his chain mail and armour. In these ways he invokes a timeless representation of military power, and the figures prostrate at his feet are as likely to be Byzantine courtiers as Bulgars.
Walter Christopher. Pictures of the clergy in the Theodore Psalter. In: Revue des études byzantines, tome 31, 1973. pp. 229-242.
PICTURES OF THE CLERGY IN THE THEODORE PSALTER
Four years ago I published in this review an article concerned with the representation of Lazarus, the friend of Christ, as a bishop1. 1 was concerned particularly with his appearance in the scene of the Supper at Bethany in the Tetraevangelion Paris, gr. 14, f. 199, and in its derivatives2. In passing I noted that this was not the only representation of a bishop in the Tetraevangelion it is, however, the most striking. As is well-known the illuminators of this manuscript were given to copying clichés without correcting the anomalies3 thus may be explained the presence of bishops in the two Last Judgment scenes (f. 51 v and 93*), of a bishop swinging a thurible at the obsequies of John the Baptist (f. 76) and even of a bishop venerating an idol (f. 135V). There seemed also to be ideological reasons, connected with the liturgical revival of the xith century, for members of the clergy figuring in illustrations of the New Testament. A far more striking case was that of the sister manuscript in the British Museum, the Theodore Psalter (Londin. Add. 19352), illustrated in the Studios scriptorium in 1066. Père Mariés speaks of
1. Lazarus a Bishop, REB 27, 1969, p. 197-208. The painting, dated 1192, in the church of the Panagia tou Arakou at Lagoudera (A. and Judith A. Stylianou, The Painted Churches of Cyprus, Stourbridge 1964, p. 86 and 93, fig. 39) should be added to my repertoire of this subject.
2. I have since been able to establish that Lazarus is represented in the same way in Sucevitza 24, g. 267V (the version executed in Moldavia, 1595-1606), but not in Sucevitza 23 (executed for Alexander II after 1468), the illustration of which is very much abridged. It is fitting to correct a gross error in my article, p. 199, n. 9. It is quite untrue to say that John 12, the text concerning the Supper at Bethany, is omitted from the Lectionary cycle. It occurs in the Dionysiou Lectionary (Athos, Dionys. 587, f. 50), and is illustrated by a miniature comparable to that in the Florence Tetraevangelion Lazarus does not appear as a bishop (cf. fig. 41 illustrating H. Buchthal's article, Early xrvth-century illuminations from Palermo, DOP 20, 1966, p. 103-118).
3. Suzy Dufrenne, Deux chefs-d'œuvre de la miniature du xie siècle, CA 17, 1967, p. 178, η. 6.
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