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Our Cry To Christ

The distinguishing feature of the Litany is that it uses a worship-form
which is not used elsewhere in the Prayer Book. The Minister dictates
briefly the subject of the Prayer, which is then made by the voices of
the People. These are called Suffrages (from suffragium, Latin for a
vote in favour, or approbation). That part of the Litany which is made
in this way is very full and detailed. Students should also notice the
variety of its phrases, and the beauty of its rhythm.

The use of such a form is ancient, and the Revisers in 1549 had the
substance ready to their hand. Comparing the older Litany with that
which we use, we note that the Revisers have frequently combined
several suffrages to make one suffrage, as in the following instance:

By thine Agony and bloody By thy Passion and Cross:
Sweat; by thy Cross and deliver us, O Lord.
Passion; by thy precious Death By thy precious Death:
and Burial; by thy glorious deliver us, O Lord.
Resurrection and Ascension; By thy glorious Resurrection:
and by the coming of the Holy deliver us, O Lord.
Ghost: By thy marvellous Ascension:
deliver us, O Lord.
Good Lord, deliver us. By the grace of the Holy
Spirit the Comforter: deliver
us, O Lord.

Here five suffrages are grouped into one. In like manner four are
grouped in the suffrage, From all evil and mischief &c.

The number of petitions was further reduced by the omission of all the
prayers to the Saints, entreating them to pray for us. These were very
numerous--28 fixed; and 40 more, which varied according to the week-day.

The petitions which were then introduced present two features which
should be carefully studied--Duplication and Wreathing[5].
Duplication has been already explained (see p. 33), and is here of
the Progressive sort. We give numerous instances below. Wreathing
is when two phrases have two members each, and are united by taking the
two first members together, and the two second members together.

A simple instance of this is found in the union of the phrases,

by their preaching they may set forth,
and by their living they may shew accordingly

{161} the Word of God. These, being wreathed together, become that by
their preaching and living they may set it forth and shew it

In such combinations it is necessary that the ideas shall be in harmony
with one another. God's truth is set forth in sermons, and shewn in
the preacher's life: with rather less exactness, but with sufficient
truth, and with admirable suggestion, we may say that God's truth is
set forth in the good life of a preacher, and shewn in his sermons.

One of the best instances of Wreathing is in the combination of the
three phrases

succour all that are in danger,
help all that are in necessity,
comfort all that are in tribulation.

Danger, Necessity, and Tribulation are in progressive order of
calamity. In danger, the calamity may be avoided--we want support for
our own strength: in necessity, the blow has fallen--we want help at
once from outside: in tribulation, the disaster has come--we want

If we have understood Progressive Duplication, we shall at once see
that Wreathing is used in unison with it.

It is convenient to describe the 1st section of the Litany, as
consisting of four subsections, viz. Invocations, Deprecations,
Obsecrations, and Intercessions. The Invocations are said by the
Minister, and repeated by the congregation. The prayers of the other
sub-sections formerly were also said twice; but, since 1549, are said
in two parts, the congregation making the respond which contains the
prayer. This is done {162} not only for variety, but to assist the
blind, or unlearned, in uniting their voices with the rest of the
people. It is moreover an exercise of the privilege of approach to
God, granted by our Lord (1 Pet. ii. 5; S. Matth. xviii. 19, 20), which
is sometimes forgotten in thoughts of the ministry which He appointed.

Next: Progressive Duplication

Previous: Structure Of The Litany

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