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The rhythmic hymns date from a period later than the fourth and fifth centuries, and at best hold a purely secondary place in the scheme of the Office.
Thus the Book of Psalms forms the groundwork of Catholic prayer ; the lessons which fill so important a place in this prayer are not, after all, prayer properly so called; and the antiphons, responsories, versicles, etc., are but psalms utilized in a particular manner.
A glance at the above tables will show that, broadly speaking, the Roman Church did not attempt to make any skilful selection of the psalms for daily recitation.
She took them in order as they came, except a very few set apart for Lauds, Prime, and Compline, and selected Ps. Other Liturgies, as the Ambrosian, the Mozarabic, and the Benedictine, or monastic, have Psalters drawn up on wholly different lines; but the respective merits of these systems need not be here discussed. On this account it has been called the "Psalterium Romanum", and it was used in Italy and elsewhere till the ninth century and later. Peter's at Rome, and many of the texts of our Breviary and Missal still show some variants (Invitatory an Ps.
In this connection it may be pointed out that in this sense the word, as it is used nowadays, is illogical; it should be named a Plenarium rather than a Breviarium , since, liturgically speaking, the word Plenarium exactly designates such books as contain several different compilations united under one cover.
This is pointed out, however, simply to make still clearer the meaning and origin of the word; and section V will furnish a more detailed explanation of the formation of the Breviary.
Some psalms, such as xxi, seem specially appropriate to the Passion. In litugical language Breviary has a special meaning, indicating a book furnishing the regulations for the celebration of Mass or the canonical Office, and may be met with under the titles Breviarium Ecclesiastici Ordinis , or Breviarium Ecclesiæ Rominsæ (Romanæ). In an ancient inventory occurs Breviarium Antiphonarii , meaning "Extracts from the Antiphonary ". 1100 obtained a book entitled "Incipit Breviarium sive Ordo Officiorum per totam anni decursionem" From such references, and from others of a like nature, Quesnel gathers that by the word Breviarium was at first designated a book furnishing the rubrics, a sort of Ordo. Breviarium fidei, Breviarium in psalmos, Breviarium canonum, Breviarium regularum.Another cause led to these groupings and arrangements of the Psalter.Some monks were in the habit of reciting daily the whole of the 150 psalms.