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THE LORD'S PRAYER.
REV. FREDERIC CAVAN BLYTH, M.A.,
VICAR OF QUATFORD, SALOP;
Author of “ Thoughts on the Seven Last Words,”
Thoughts for the Sick Room,” fc.
WHAT DESIREST THOU OF GOD IN THIS PRAYER ?" -Church Catechism.
Qualia sunt Orationis Dominica Sacramenta, quam multa, quam
LONDON, PARIS & NEW YORK.
THESE “Thoughts” are the expansion of a course of sermons preached several years ago in the parish churches of Kew and Petersham. Having few books of my own, and living at a distance from any large Theological Library, I have been unable to consult many authorities whose writings might have helped to make this volume more complete. But I have availed myself unsparingly of all the helps that have been within my reach ; and more especially from old authors, both sacred and profane, I have derived many valuable illustrations. In gleaning from such of the Fathers as I have been able to consult, and also from classical sources, I have, whenever possible, given the original in the notes; partly because the “ipsissima verba” are so valuable, and partly because it is impossible, in a translation, to give any adequate idea of the beauty and force of the original, which frequently consists in alliteration and play upon words.
The Scriptural references, which are introduced throughout, are too numerous to index. They will often be found to contain, in the connection in which they stand in the Sacred Volume, much more that is pertinent to the “ Thoughts" here expressed than it was possible to elaborate.
The subject of the Lord's Prayer is, as all of our Lord's words must be, simply inexhaustible. Not only the subject-matter of the several petitions, but the order in which they stand, and the connection of each with the rest, are full of significance. And if the treatment of them here is only superficial, yet to many, who have little leisure for systematic theological reading, some of these “Thoughts” will probably be new, though, as will be seen from the notes, they are really old.
Every word in this Prayer has its meaning. The old maxim of the Rabbins, “ Non est in lege vel una litera a quâ non pendent magni montes," certainly applies here. And as it has been a delight to the author, so I trust it will be a profit to the reader, to trace in every word some of its manifold interpretations and applications.
I have offered no comment on the words of the Doxology, because it is, at the least, very questionable whether it is a constituent part of the Prayer as our Lord taught it. Not only is it omitted in S. Luke's Gospel, but it is wanting also in the best Greek codices of S. Matthew's Gospel, as also in the Arabic, Persic, Coptic, and Latin versions. The Fathers of the first three centuries are silent with regard to it, though some of them—as Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen-wrote expositions of the Lord's Prayer; and it is omitted by all the Latin Fathers. The words of the Doxology seem to be derived from David's hymn of praise in 1 Chron. xxix. 10, 11; and as, after the example of the Jewish worship, it was the custom of the Church from the beginning to make responses in the time of Divine service, and especially in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, it is probable that this Doxology was introduced to satisfy liturgical requirements, and was afterwards introduced into the lectionaries and eventually into the copies of the New Testament.
In the services of the Book of Common Prayer, whatever the nature of the service, the Lord's Prayer always has a place. Sometimes the Doxology is added, sometimes it is omitted. In the office for the Holy Communion, the Lord's Prayer, as is meet, begins the Office, but with only the “Amen” after the last petition (which S. Jerome regards as a part of the Prayer as our Lord taught it), and that to be said only by the priest. In the latter portion of the Office, when the penitential character is exchanged for the Eucharistic, the Lord's Prayer is again introduced, but with the addition of the Doxology. In the Baptismal office the Lord's Prayer is introduced immediately after the baptism, when the person baptised is for the first time included amongst those who are privileged to call God “Our Father," but the Doxology is omitted. In the Order of Confirmation, the Form of Solemnization of Matrimony, the Order for the Visitation of the Sick, the Order for the Burial of the Dead, and the Commination, the Lord's Prayer is used without the Doxology, but it is added in the Churching of Women as being especially a service of thanksgiving. In the Order for Morning and Evening Prayer it is introduced : once with and once without the Doxology ; in the Litany, as is consistent with the penitential character of the service, the Doxology is omitted.
There is, of course, no reason why we should not introduce the Doxology at the end of the Lord's Prayer in our private and public offices, according to the pious usage of all ages of the Church. S. Paul seems to do so in. 2 Timothy iv. 18. But I have omitted it here for the reasons above stated and because, in a work which professes to be an exposition of the Prayer which our Lord taught, I have shrunk from even seeming to “add unto the word which He has commanded us” (Deut. iv. 2; Rev. xxii. 18).
It may be thought presumptuous on my part to seek to add