Acclamation - Biblical Cyclopedia



1. in Roman use, the unanimous concurrence of all the votes in an election for pope or bishop, without previous balloting, is called acclamatio or quasi-inspiratio.

2. In the ancient Church, the name acclamatio was given to shouts of joy, by which the people expressed their approval of the eloquence or doctrine of their preachers. Sometimes in the African Church, when the preacher quoted an apposite text of Scripture in illustration or confirmation of his argument, the people would join him in repeating the close of it. This was encouraged by the minister, in order that the people might gain a familiar acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures. The acclamations were general, and consisted not only of exclamations, but of clapping the hands, and other indications of assent. It is said that the people applauded the sermons of Chrysostom, some by tossing their garments, others by moving their plumes, others laying their hands on their swords, and others waving their handkerchiefs, and crying out, "Thou art worthy of the priesthood! Thou art the thirteenth apostle! Christ hath sent thee to save our souls," etc. While the ancients did not refuse these acclamations, they took care to exhort those to whom they spoke to show their approval of the sermons they heard by the fruits of godly living. They proved to them that the best praise of the sermon is the compunction of the hearers. Jerome lays it down as a rule, in his directions to Nepotian, that in preaching he should try to excite the groans of the people rather than their applause, and let the tears of the hearer be the commendation of the preacher. Many passages in Chrysostom's writings show that he desired the practice to be banished from the Church, because it was abused by vain and ambitious persons, who only preached to gain the applause of their hearers, and even hired men to applaud them. He says, "Many appear in public, and labor hard, and make long sermons, to gain the applause of the people, in which they rejoice as much as if they had gained a kingdom; but, if their sermon ends in silence, they are more tormented about that silence than about the pains of hell. This is the ruin of the Church, that ye seek to hear such sermons as are apt not to move compunction, but pleasure; hearing them as you would hear a musician or singer, with a tinkling sound and composition of words." The practice of giving expression to the feelings in worship has been known in modern times. There was a sect in Flanders, in the fourteenth century, called Dancers, whose practice it was to seize each other's hands, and to continue dancing till they fell down breathless. The Whippers or Flagellants, the Jumpers, the Shakers, have obtained their respective designations from certain customs adopted in worship. — Bingham, Orig. Eccl. 14, 4:27.

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