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The lessons from Job, so suitable for the Office of the Dead, were also read in very early days at funeral services. The responses varied likewise; many examples may be found in Martène and the writers cited below in the bibliography.
The responses, too, deserve notice, especially the response " Libera me, Domine, de viis inferni qui portas æreas confregisti et visitasti inferum et dedisti eis lumen . It is fortunate that the Roman Church preserved carefully and without notable change this office, which, like that of Holy Week, has retained for us in its archaic forms the memory and the atmosphere of a very ancient liturgy. In its present form, while it has some very ancient characteristics, it cannot be older than the seventh or even eighth century.
Amalarius speaks of the Office of the Dead, but seems to imply that it existed before his time ("De Eccles. Alcuin is also known for his activity in liturgical matters, and we owe certain liturgical compositions to him; but there is no reason for considering him the author of this office (see Cabrol in "Dict. It has even been said that it was to remove the obligation of reciting it that the feasts of double and semi-double rite were multiplied, for it could be omitted on such days (Bäumer-Biron, op. Even then it was not obligatory, for the Bull "Quod a nobis" of the same pope merely recommends it earnestly, like the Office of Our Lady and the Penitential Psalms, without imposing it as a duty (Van der Stappen, "Sacra Liturgia", I, Malines, 1898, p. At the present time, it is obligatory on the clergy only on the feast of All Souls and in certain mortuary services.While the Offertory is made the people (choir) sing a verse (the Offertorium in the sense of a text to be sung) that forms part of the Proper of the Mass. Const."; VIII, but it may no doubt be supposed as the reason why the celebrant there too prays silently. Durandus notes with disapproval that in his time the verses of the psalm are left out (Rationale, IV, 26). It is taken from the psalter, or other book of the Bible , or is often not a Biblical text.It refers in some way to the feast or occasion of the Mass, never to the offering of bread and wine.This office, as it now exists in the Roman Liturgy, is composed of First Vespers, Mass, Matins, and Lauds.The Vespers comprise psalms, cxiv, cxix, cxx, cxxix, cxxxvii, with the Magnificat and the preces .
The absence of the introduction, "Deus in adjutorium", of the hymns, absolution, blessings, and of the doxology in the psalms also recall ancient times, when these additions had not yet been made. This is one of the few texts in the Roman Liturgy alluding to Christ's descent into hell. The omission of the Alleluia, and the kiss of peace is also characteristic of this mass. The omission of the kiss of peace at the Mass is probably due to the fact that that ceremony preceded the distribution of the Eucharist to the faithful and was a preparation for it, so, as communion is not given at the Mass for the Dead, the kiss of peace was suppressed.