Notes on the General Preface

(we now present some notes on the General Preface to Dom Guéranger's Liturgical Year)

Preparatory to his magnum opus Dom Guéranger starts from the first principle that prayer is our greatest blessing and gives us the historical, biblical, Messianic roots of the Liturgy, the Prayer of the Church.

1. Of ourselves we cannot pray.

2. Following the example of the Apostles, we ask the Lord to teach us how to pray.

3. He taught them through giving the Lord's prayer but ever after that sent the Holy Spirit as our Teacher. The Spirit dwells in the Church and prompts her uninterruped prayer which is always in the ear of Jesu and 'welcome in His heart'.

4. The Spirit leads her to frame her prayer in three ways:
a) through the prophets and psalmist of the Old Testament
b) through her close relation to the writings of the Apostles in the New Testament
c) sonetimes through inspiring her to sing her own new song

5. From these three main sources comes the Sacred Liturgy of the Church.

Next Dom Guéranger (hereinafter cited as DG) stresses the efficacy of praying with the Churchand then traces the history of her Prayer from the earliest centuries down to his own times (i.e. mid-19th century):

For nearly a millennium, DG states, the laity assisted at the Sacred Liturgy and were thus initiated into the mysteries of her annual cycle. Prayer with the Church enlightened their understanding and showed God's love. The souls who prayed in this way were in company with and therefore a part of the Spouse of Christ who speaks and sings to God as David did. The Church's prayer blends with that of the Angels.

(Then DG quotes the first verse of Psalm 137 from which the title of our present endeavour is taken:

"I will praise thee O Lord, with my whole heart: for thous hast heard the words of my mouth. I will sing praise to thee in the sight of the angels." (Douay/Rheims translation from the Latin Vulgate 1582)

Even before the 16th century people had gegun to be more material things and the solemnity of the Liturgy had been diluted, and the number of days on which the people united with it reduced to Sundays and Festivals. Successive generations drifted furhter away from the source of spititual food that had sustained their ancestors and prayer in communion with the Church was increasingly replace by solitary devotion. Moreover encounter with the Chant was reduced to Solemn Feasts. This represented the first 'sad revolution'.

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