Tuesday, November 22, 2005




Luther had entered the field of liturgical reform with some personal contributions which were far-reaching in their influence. His Formula missae, published late in 1523, had been received as a norm for the cleansing and continuance of the accustomed services of the Church. But this notwithstanding, agitation in these matters by others, both in harmony with Luther and not in harmony with him, kept the subject constantly to the fore. In some cases the conservative suggestions made by Luther were not acceptable because even these went too far; in others they were not satisfactory because they had not gone far enough. Between the two Luther stood, not to remain on the conservative middle ground, but to assault the one group with all of his ever-growing feeling against the superstitions and abominations with which the worship was cluttered and the people enshrouded, and eventually to yield to the other group in a document such as the Deutsche Messe where the break with the conservative past in spirit and in fact is demonstrated to the full.

The Vom Greuel der Stillmesse appeared in the course of the second year after the Formula and the year before the Deutsche Messe. It is no gentle or kindly document. It is revelatory of the Luther-transition in things liturgical between the time of the Formula and the time of the Messe. The Luther of the former period, while condemning the “abominations,” etc., of the Canon, would have written in a far gentler fashion. Since that time Luther had been in almost continual controversy in one place or another over matters related to the worship of the Church: the Mass, — the Canon of the Mass, holding pretty much the center all of the time; this seems to have been his pet aversion.

A situation had arisen at Wittenberg which centered in this very thing. This had been forced by the attitude of some of the clergy of the Stifftskirche who resisted abrogation of the Mass. The Vom Greuel der Stillmesse arose in this situation; just when cannot be definitely established; but the document is generally supposed to be a rewriting of a sermon which Luther delivered against the clergy November 27, 1524 Advent Sunday. f183 The writing is not only interesting but liturgically very valuable.

It is interesting because of the comments made by Luther on each part of the Canon missae. They are typical of his method of handling men and things with which he had no sympathy; and that means that his comments are not always in good spirit or good taste or fair.

The value of the document consists in this. The backbone of the writing is the Canon of the Mass which Luther had used in days gone by, with which he was thoroughly familiar; — it is the Canon of the Mass Book of his day.

This he translated into German, and his translation in every respect is an honest one. He did not allow his feelings to bias his faithful rendition of the Latin original in German.

Familiarity with the Canon of the Mass as used by Luther is requisite for any study of his liturgical activity as well as to enable a valuation of his opinions and suggestions relative to these matters. It is fortunate that the Canon has been printed in one of his own writings, put there deliberately by himself, and especially so because he took the trouble to translate it.

The Mass Books of the Luther Period are rare, especially those in which the Canon missae is printed. For this reason this document which contains the text with which Luther was familiar, which he himself had used in his earlier ministration, is of great liturgical importance.

It must be remembered always that the translation which follows is made from the Luther translation of the Latin and that it has been made without reference to the Latin text. Further no attempt has been made to “smoothe out” the translation or to approximate a liturgical style, — the English is the equivalent of the German.

The Canon missae of the first printed Missal, Milan 1474, is printed in a parallel column in order to facilitate comparison. This will prove a very interesting study and also reveal the fact that the Canon of Luther’s own Mass Book did not depart from this of Milan in any particular. Except for the transposition of a word in one of the later sections the Canon of Milan 1474 is exactly, word for word, the Canon of the Missale Romanum in use today. As our interest in this pamphlet is a liturgical one only, the Canon alone has been translated.

For Text see Weimar 18:22ff.



As Luther translated it into German and quoted it in his pamphlet


Thus beginneth the holy Canon or the Secret Mass. f185 We humbly beseech Thee, most gracious Father, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, that Thou wilt deign to be pleased with and bless these gifts, this offering, this holy, unspotted sacrifice, which we offer Thee especially for Thy holy, universal, Christian Church, for which do Thou provide peace, protect her, help her, and rule her throughout all the world, together with Thy servant our Pope, N., and our Bishop, N., and all true believers, and those who are of the Christian and Apostolic faith. (W 18:24, 25) Prayer for the living f188 Remember, O Lord, Thy servants and handmaidens, N., and all who are here present, whose faith is known to Thee and of whose devotion Thou art sensible, for whom we offer to Thee, or who themselves offer to Thee this sacrifice of praise for themselves and for all their own, for the redemption of their souls, in the hope of their salvation and health, and pay their vow to Thee, the eternal, living, true God. (W 18: 26) During the consecration he introduces the impious, unfit prayer, which can in no way be reconciled with the Mass. f190 Those with whom we have communion, whose memory we honor, especially the greatly to be praised and ever-virgin Mary, the Mother of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, and also Thy holy Apostles and Martyrs Peter, Paul, Andrew, Jacob, John, Thomas, Jacob, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Thaddeus, Linus, Cletus, Clement, Xystus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Laurenflus, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmus and Damian, and all Thy saints, through whose merit and intercession do Thou grant that we may be guarded at all times through the help of Thy protection, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. (W 18:27) During the consecration.

Therefore we pray, Lord, that Thou wilt graciously receive this sacrifice of our service, and in addition also all (sacrifices) of Thy servants, and complete our days in Thy peace and rescue us from eternal damnation and command us to be numbered in the company of Thy elect, through Christ our Lord. Amen. (W 18: 27) A prayer.

Which sacrifice, we pray, O God, do Thou in all things make blessed, write it down to our account, make it effective, reasonable and pleasing, that it may become for us the body and blood of Thy most dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. (W 18:28) Here he takes the host in his hands and says Who the next day before His passion took the bread in His holy and worthy hands, and with eyes lifted up to heaven to Thee O God, His almighty Father, gave Thee thanks, blessed, brake, and gave to His disciples and said, Take and eat of this all ye, for this is My Body. (W 18:28) Here he lays down the host and lifts up the cup and says In the same manner, after they had eaten that evening, He also took this glorious cup in His holy and worthy hands, and He gave thanks to Thee again, blessed, and gave it to His disciples and said, Take and drink out of it all ye, for this is the cup of My Blood of the new testament, a mystery of the faith, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins, as oft as ye do this, ye shall do it to my memory. Here he puts down the cup. (W 18:29) Therefore, Lord, we Thy servants also Thy holy People, remember both the holy passion, and also the resurrection from hell, and also the glorious ascension into heaven of Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, and offer to Thy glorious Majesty of Thy presents and gifts a pure offering, a holy offering, a spotless offering, the holy bread of eternal life and the cup of eternal salvation. (W 18: 29) A prayer.

Upon which mayest Thou look with gracious and benign countenance, and let them be pleasing unto Thee, as Thou didst permit the gift of Thy righteous servant Abel to be pleasing unto Thee, and the sacrifice of our forefather Abraham, and that which was offered unto Thee by Thy high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice and spotless victim. (W 18: 30) Here he bows and says We humbly beseech Thee, Almighty God, command that this be carried by the hands of Thy holy Angel to Thy lofty altar before the face of Thy Divine Majesty, so that all of us who partake of this altar’s communion of the most holy Body and Blood of Thy Son, may be filled with all heavenly blessing and grace, through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen. (W 18:30) Remembrance of the departed.

Remember also, Lord, Thy servants and handmaidens; N., who have departed from us with the mark of the faith and sleep in the sleep of peace, for these and all who rest in Christ, we pray, Lord, grant them a place of refreshment, of light and peace, through the same Christ, our Lord. (W 18: 31) Here he smites on his breast and says somewhat loudly And also to us sinners, Thy servants, who hope in the multi-rude of Thy mercy, do Thou grant a share and fellowship with Thy holy Apostles and Martyrs, with John, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicitas, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia, and with all Thy saints, to which communion, we pray, do Thou permit us entrance, not as one regarding merit, but as one who forgives, through Christ, our Lord. (W 18: 31) Through whom Thou, Lord, always createst all these good gifts, sanctifiest, quickenest, blessest, and givest them to us; through Him, and with Him, and in Him, Thou, God, Almighty Father, hast all glory and praise in the unity of the Holy Spirit. (W 18:31) Through all ages of ages. Response: Amen.

Let us pray. That which through the salutary commandment and under divine instruction we have been taught, we do say:

Our Father in heaven… Response : And deliver us from evil.

We beseech Thee, Lord, deliver us from all evil, past, present, and future, and through the intercession of the blessed and highly praised ever-virgin, the Mother of God, Mary, and Thy blessed Apostles, Peter, Paul, and Andrew, together with all saints, graciously grant us also peace in our days, so that we may be aided by the help of Thy mercy and may at all times be free from sin and secure from all manner of affliction. (W 18: 32) Here he breaks the host first in two parts and says Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son Then he breaks the one part into two parts and says Who with Thee, God, liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Then he lifts the third part with the cup a little and says Through all the ages of ages. Response: Amen. Then he makes the sign of the cross over the blood and says The peace of the Lord be with you at all times.

Response : And with thy spirit. Here he lays a piece of the host in the blood and says This mixture and consecrating of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ must nourish us who receive it to eternal life. Amen. (W 18:32) (Luther omits Agnus dei which follows here) f194 Then he prays again for peace, bows himself before the body of the Lord, and says Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst say to Thy apostles, My peace give I to you, peace I leave with you, Do not Thou regard my sin but the faith of Thy Church, and grant her peace according to Thy will, and hold her together, Thou Who livest and reignest, God, always and eternally. Amen. (W 18: 33) Then he kisses the altar, f196 A prayer.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, Who according to the Father’s will through the cooperation of the Holy Spirit hast quickened the world through Thy death, redeem me through this Thy holy Body and Blood from all my sin and all evil, and grant that I may cling to Thy commandments at all times, and let me never be separated therefrom, Thou Who with the same God the Father and Holy Ghost livest and reignest ever and eternally. Amen. (W 18: 34) A prayer.

May the reception of Thy body, Lord Jesus Christ, which I unworthy one am about to receive, result not in my judgment and condemnation, but aid me according to Thy goodness to the protection of my spirit and body, and be received as a (salutary) medicine, Thou Who livest and reignest with God the Father, etc. Here he takes the paten with the body of Christ and says I will take the heavenly bread and call on the name of the Lord. Then he beats three times on his breast and says Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof, but say it only with one word, then my soul will be well. Then he takes the body with great reverence and signs himself therewith. f197 The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul to eternal life. Amen. (W 18:34) Then he takes the cup and says What shall I recompense the Lord for all His benefits with which He has blessed me?

I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will call on the Lord with praise, thus will I be saved from my enemies. Then he takes the blood to himself and says The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul to eternal life. When he has received the blood he says That which we have received with the mouth, that let us also receive in the heart, and may the temporal gifts become an eternal medicine for us.


Lord, may Thy Body, which I have received, and that Blood, which I have drunk, cling to my inward being, and grant that no spot of evil remain in me whom the pure and holy sacrament has refreshed. (W 18: 35) When the Mass is completed, and the Blessing is given, he bows himself before the middle of the altar, and says this prayer, afterward he kisses the altar.

Let our service be pleasing unto Thee, O Holy Trinity, and grant that the sacrifice, which I unworthy one have offered before the Presence of Thy Majesty may be pleasing unto Thee and through Thy mercy make satisfaction for me and for those for whom I have offered it, through Christ our Lord. Amen. (w 18: 35) CANON MISSAE FROM THE MILAN MISSAL, Te igitur clementissime pater per iesum christum filium tuum dominum nostrum supplices rogamus ac petlinus, uti accepta habeas et benedicas, hec dona. hec munera, hec sancta sacraficia illibata. In primis que tibi offerimus pro ecclesia tua sancta catholica, quaan pacificare, custodire.

Adunare. et regere digneris, toro orbe terrarum, tua cum famulo tuo papa nostro. N. et antistite nostro N. et omnibus ortodoxis. atque catholice et apostolice fidel cultoribus. (Milan 1:206) Oratio pro uiuis. f188 Memento domine famulorum famularumque tuarum. N. et omnium circumstanium, quorum tibi fides cognita est et nota deuotio. pro quibus tibi offerirons uel qui offerunt hoe sacrificium landis. pro se suisque omnibus, pro redemptione animarum suarum, pro spe salutis et incolumitatis sue tibi reddunt uota sua eterno deo uiuo et nero. (Milan 1:206) Communicantes et memorim uenerantes. In primis gloriose semperque uirginis marie genetricis dei et domini iesu christi. Sed beatorum apostolorum et martirum tuorum. Petri. Pauli Andree Iacobi loaniris Thorne Iacobi Filippi Bartolomei Mathei Simonis et Thadei Lini Cleft Clementis Sixti Cornelii Cipriani Laurentii Grisogoni Iohannis et Pauli Cosine et Damiani. Et omnium sanctorum tuorum quorum meritis precibusque concedas. ut in omnibus protectionis tue muniamus auxilio.

Per eundem christum dominum nostrum. Amen. (Milan 1:206, 207) Infra actionem.

Hanc igitur oblationem seruitutis nostre, sed et cuncte familie tue. quesumus domine ut placatus accipias, diesque nostros in tua pace disponas, atque ab eterna damnatione mos eripi, et in electorum tuorum iubeas grege numerari. Per chrisrum dominum nostrum, amen. (Milan 1:207) (No rubric) Quam oblationem tu deus in omnibus benedictam, ascriptam ratam, rationabilem acceptabilemque facere digneris, ut nobis corpus et sanguis fiat dileetissimi filii tui domini nostri Jesu christi. (Milan 1:207) Hic accipiat hostiam in manibus dicendo Qui pridie quam pateretur accepit panem in sanctas ac uenerabiles manus suas. et eleuatis occulis in celum ad to deum patrem suum omnipotentem, tibi gratias agens benedixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis dices Accipite et manducate ex hoc omnesHOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM. (Milan 1:207) Hic deponat hostiam, et leuet calicem dicens Simili modo postquam eenatum est accipiens et hunc preclarum calicem in sanctas as unerabiles manus suas. Item tibi gratias agens, benedixit deditque discipulis suis dicens. Accipite et bibite ex eo omnes.HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI NOUI ET ETERNI TESTAMENTI MISTERIUM FIDEI QUI PRO UOBIS ET PRO MULTIS EFFUNDETUR IN REMISSIONEM PECCATORUM.HEC QUOTIENSCUNQUE FECERITIS IN MEI MEMORIAM FACIETIS. Hic deponit calicem. (Milan 1:207) Unde et memores domine nos serui tui. sed et plebs tua sancta christi filii tui domini nostri tam beate passionis, nec non et ab inferis resurrectionis, seal in celos gloriose ascensionis offerimus preclare maiestati tue de tuis donis ac datis, hostiam puram. hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam, panem sanctum uite eterne, et calicem salutis perpetue. (Milan 1:207, 208) Oratio.

Supra que propitio ac sereno uultu respicere digneris et accepta habere sicuti accepta habere dignatus es munera pueri tui iusti abel, et sacrificium patriarce nostri abrae, et quod tibi obtulit summus sacerdos tuus melchisedech sanctum sacrificium immaculatam hostiam. (Milan 1:208) Hic inclinet se et die. at (Oratio) Supplices to rogamus omnipotens deus lube hec perferri per manus sancti angeli tui in sublime altare tuum in conspectu divine maiestatis rue. ut quotquot ex hae altaris participatione sacrosanctum filii tui corpus, et sanguinem sumpserimus omni benedictlone celesti et gratia repleamur. Per eundem christum dominum nostrum. Amen. (Milan 1:208) Oration pro defunctis.

Memento etiam domine famulorum famularumque tuarum. N. qui nos precesserunt cum signo fidel et dormiunt in somno pacis. ipsis domine et omnibus in christo quiescentibus, locum refrigerii lucis et pacis, ut indulgeas deprecamur. Per eundem christum dominum nostrum, amen. (Milan 1:208) Hic percutiat pectus suum aliquantulum altius dicens Nobis quoque peccatoribus famulis tuis de multitudine miserationum tuarum sperantibus partern aliquam et societatem donare digneris, cum tuis sanctis apostolis et martiribus, cum Ioanne Stephano Mathia Barnaba Ignatio Alexandro Marcelino Petro Felicitate Perpetua Agatha Lucia Agnete Cecilia Anastasia et omnibus sanctis tuis. intra quorum nos consortium, non estimator meriti sed uenie, quesumus largitor admitte. Per christum dominum nostrum. (Hic non dicitur amen) (Milan 1:208) Per quem hec omnia dominc semper bona creas, sanctificas, uiuificas, benedicis et prestas nobis. Per ipsum, et cure ipso. et in ipso. est tibi deo patri omnipotenti, in unitate spiritus sancti omnis honor et gloria. (Milan 1:208, 209) Per omnia secula seculorum. B. Amen.

Oremus . Preceptis salutaribus moniti, et diuina institutione formati. audemus dicere.

Pater noster qui es in celis… R. Sed libra nos a malo. amen.

Libera nos quesumus domine ab omnibus malls preteritis, presentibus et futuris, et intercederite beata et gloriosa semper uirgine dei genitrice maria, et beatis apostolis tuis petro et paulo atque andrea et omnibus sanotis. Da propitius pacem in diebus nostris. ut ope misericordie tue adiuti, et a petcato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi. (Milan 1:209) Hic frangit hostiam primo in duas partes dicens Per eundem dominum nostrum iesum Christum filium tuum. Deinde frangit unam partem in duas partes dicens Qui tecum uiuat et regnat in unitate spiritus sancti deus. Hic eleuet modicum terriam pattem cum calice dicens Per omnia secula seculorum. R. Amen. Hic facit signum crucis super sanguinem dicens Pax domini, sit semper uobiscum B. Et cum spiritu tuo. Hic pouat particulam hostic in sanguine dicens Fiat commixtio et consecratio corporis et sanguinis domini nostri Jesu christi. Accipientibus nobis uitam eternam amen. (Milan 1:209, 210) Sequitur. Agnus dei Hic inclinat se ante corpus domini dicens Domine iesu christe, qui dixisti apostolis tuis pacem meam do nobis pacem relinquo uobis ne respicias peccata mea. sed fidem ecclesie tue. eamque secundum uohmtatem tuam pacificare, et coadunare dignare. Qui uiuis et regnas deus. per omnia secula seculorum amen. (Milan 1:210) Hic deosculatur altare dicens Pax tecum R. Et cum spiritu tuo.

Oratio Domine Jesu christe fili dei uiui qui ex uoluntate patris cooperante spiritu sancto per mortam tuam roundum uiuificasti libera me per hoc sacrificium corpus et sanguinem tuum. ab omnibus iniquitatibus meis et universis malis, et fac me tuis semper inherere mandatis, eta to nunquam separari permittas.

Qui cum eodem deo patre et spiritu sancto uiuis et regnas in secula seculorum amen. (Milan 1:210) Oratio Perceptio corporis tui domine Jesu christe quam ego indignus sumere presumo, non michi proueniat in iudicium, et condemnationem, sed pro tua pictate prosit michi ad tutamentum mentis et corporis et ad medelam percipfendam. Qui uiuis et regnas cum deo patre, et cetera. Hic accipitur patena cum corpore christi Panem eelestem accipiam et nomen domini inuoeabo. Hic percutiat ter pectus dicens.

Domine non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum sed tantum dic uerbo et sanabitur anima mea. Hic sumat corpus reuerenter signans se illo dicens.

Corpus domini nostri jesu christ custodiat animam meam in uitam eternam amen. (Milan 1:210, 211) Hic accipiat calicem et dicat.

Quid retribuam domino pro omnibus que retribuit michi. Calicem salutaris accipiam et nomen domini inuocabo. Laudans inuocabo dominum et ab inimicis meis saluus ero. Hic sumat sanguinem dicens.

Sanguis domini nostri iesu christi custodiat animam meam in uitam eternam amen. Post sumptionem sanguinis dicat.

Quod ore sumpsimus domine. pura mente capiamus, et de munere temporali, fiat nobis re. medium sempiternum amen. Hic dick purificando.

Corpus tuum domine quod sumpsi et sanguis quem potaui. adhereat uisceribus meis et presta. ut in me non remaneat scelerum macula quem pura et sancta refecerunt sacramenta. Qui uiuis. (Milan 1:211) Finita missa et data benedictione inclinat se ante medium altaris et dicta hanc orationem qua finita osculatur altare.

Placeat the sancta trinitas obsequium seruitutis mee. et presta. ut sacrificium quod oculis tue maiestatis indignus obtuli tibi sit acceptable michique et omnibus pro quibus illud obtuli, sit to miserante propitiabile.

Per christum dominum nostrum amen. (Milan 1:211)

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