MASS (O.E. maesse; Fr. messe; Ger. Messe; Ital. messa; from eccl. Lat. missa), a name for the Christian eucharistic service, practically confined since the Reformation to that of the Roman Catholic Church. The various orders for the celebration of Mass are dealt with under LITURGY; a detailed account of the Roman order is given under MISSAL; and the general development of the eucharistic service, including the Mass, is described in the article EUCHARIST. The present article is confined (i) to the consideration of certain special meanings which have become attached to the word Mass and are the subject of somewhat acute controversy, (2) to the Mass in music.
The origin of the word missa, as applied to the Eucharist, is obscure. The first to discuss the matter is Isidore of Seville (Etym. vi. 19), who mentions an " evening office " (officium vespertinum) , a " morning office " (officium matulinum), and an office called missa. Of the latter he says: " Missa tempore sacrificii est, quando catechumeni foras mittuntur, clamante levita ' si quis catechumenus remansit, exeat foras.' Et inde ' missa,' quia sacramentis altaris interesse non possunt, qui nondum regenerati sunt " (" The missa is at the time of the sacrifice, when the catechumens are sent out, the deacon crying, ' If any catechumen remain, let him go forth.' " Hence missa, because those who are as yet unregenerate i.e. unbaptized may not be present at the sacraments of the altar). This derivation of i by the word Mass, which would connect it with the special formula of dismissal still preserved in the Roman liturgy lie, missa est once generally accepted, is now disputed. It is pointed out that the word missa long continued to be applied to any church service, and more particularly to the lections (see Du Cange for numerous examples), and it is held that such services received their name of missal from the solemn form of dismissal with which it was customary to conclude them; thus, in the 4th century Pilgrimage of Etheria (Silvia) the word missa is used indiscriminately of the Eucharist, other services, and the ceremony of dismissal. F. Kattenbusch (Herzog-Hauck, Realencykiop. s. " Messe ") ingeniously, but with little evidence, suggests that the word may have had a double origin and meaning: (i) in the sense of dimissio, "dismissal"; (2) in that of commissio, " commission," " official duty," i.e. the exact Latin equivalent of the Greek \fiTOVpyia (see LITURGY), and hence the conflicting use of the term. It is, however, far more probable that it was a general term that gradually became crystallized as applying to thai service in which the dismissal represented a more solemn function. In the narrower sense of " Mass " it is first found in St Ambrose (Ep. 20, 4, ed. Ballerini): " Missam facere coepi. Dum offero. . . " which evidently identifies the missa with the sacrifice. It continued, how.ever, to be used loosely, though its tendency to become proper only to the principal Christian service is clear from a passage in the 12th homily of Caesarius, bishop of Aries (d. 542) : " If you will diligently attend, you will recognize that missae are not celebrated when the divine readings are recited in the church, but when gifts are offered and the Body and Blood of the Lord are consecrated." The complete service (missa ad integrum), the bishop goes on to say, cannot be had at home by reading and prayer, but only in the house of God, where, besides the Eucharist, " the divine word is preached and the blessing is given to the people."
Whatever its origin, the word Mass had by the time of the Reformation been long applied only to the Eucharist; and, though in itself a perfectly colourless term, and used as such during the earlier stages of the 16th century controversies concerning the Eucharist, it soon became identified with that sacrificial aspect of the sacrament of the altar which it was the chief object of the Reformers to overthrow. In England, so late as the first Prayer-book of Edward VI., it remained one of the official designations of the Eucharist, which is there described as " The Supper of the Lorde and holy Communion, commonly called the Masse." This, however, like the service itself, represented a compromise which the more extreme reformers would not tolerate, and in the second Prayer-book, together with such language in the canon as might imply the doctrine of transubstantiation and of the sacrifice, the word Mass also disappears. That this abolition of the word Mass, as implying the offering of Christ's Body and Blood by the priest for the living and the dead was deliberate is clear from the language of those who were chiefly responsible for the change. Bishops Ridley and Latimer, the two most conspicuous champions of " the new religion," denounced " the Mass " with unmeasured violence; Latimer said of " Mistress Missa " that " the devil hath brought her in again "; Ridley said: " I do not take the Mass as it is at this day for the communion of the Church, but for a popish device," etc. (Works, ed. Parker Soc., pp. 121, 120), and again: " In the stead of the Lord's holy table they give the people, with much solemn disguising, a thing which they call their mass; but in deed and in truth it is a very masking and mockery of the true Supper of the Lord, or rather I may call it a crafty juggling, whereby these false thieves and jugglers have bewitched the minds of the simple people . . . unto pernicious idolatory " (ib. p. 409). This language is reflected in the 31st of the Articles of Religion of the Church of England: " Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in which it was commonly said that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain and guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits." Clearly the word Mass had ceased to be a colourless term generally applicable to the eucharistic service; it was, in fact, not only proscribed officially, but in the common language of English people it passed entirely out of use except in the sense in which it is defined in Johnson's Dictionary, i.e. that of the " Service of the Romish Church at the celebration of the Eucharist." In connexion with the Catholic reaction in the Church of England, which had its origin in the " Oxford Movement " of the 19thcentury, efforts have been made by some of the clergy to reintroduce the term " Mass " for the Holy Communion in the English Church.
See Du Cange, Glossarium, s.v. "Missa"; F. Kattenbusch in Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopadie (ed. 1903), s.v. " Messe, dogmengeschichtlich "; for the facts as to the use of the word " Mass " at the time of the Reformation see the article by J. H. Round in the Nineteenth Century for May 1897. (W. A. P.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)