Missal (Lat. Missale plenarium, or simply Plemarium) is the name given to an office-book of the Roman Catholic Church, containing the liturgy, i.e., all of the litargy required for the celebration of the Mass (q.v.) or Missa, viz. the fixed Ordinary (q.v.), and Canon (q.v.), with the changeable Introits, Collects, Epistles, Gospels, etc. In the early Western Church it was called sacramentarium, but it then contained only parts of what is now comprehended in the Missal. Some copies, as required in every parish by the bishops, contained the Gospels, the sacramentary, prayers, prefaces, benedictions, and the canon, the lectionary, a book of epistles, and the antiphon, or, in a word, all that was to be sung by the priest at the altar, and by the ministers in the ambon. These books were called Plenars (q.v.), i.e., complete or full; but usually their contents were distributed into separate volumes-the Gradual, Collectar, Benedictional, Hymnar, etc. The complete Missal was requisite when priests, from the 9th century, began to say low masses, and especially for country clergy; as laymen, by the Capitulars of 789, were forbidden to sing the lessons and alleluia, and the priests were required to sing the Sanctus with the people before the canon was commenced. The earliest Frank, Gothic, or Gallican missals, of the 6th century, contained only the portion of the liturgy recited by a bishop or priest — that is, the canon, prayers, and prefaces. At a later date, those of small churches comprised the Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Tract, Offertory, Sanctus, and Communion, where, although there were a deacon and subdeacon, the smallness of the choir required the celebrant and his two assistants to chant together.
The Missal was probably compiled near the close of the 5th century, was amplified by Gelasius I, and corrected by pope Gregory I. But, although the Missal was contained in the Gregorian rite, it appeared in such varied forms in different churches, and frequently with so many improper additions, that the wish for an emendation became general, and, having been expressed at the Council of Basle, and in 1536 at a synod at Cologne, it was successfully urged at the Council of Trent. During the early part of the council no agreement could be effected. In the eighteenth session a commission was appointed, which, however, could not bring to an end the work intrusted to it; whereupon the council, in the twenty-fifth session, resolved upon recommending to the pope the reform of the Breviary, Missal, and Rituals. As the question was not to create a new liturgy, but to purify the existing one, to restore it to its original simplicity, etc., the work was recommended to be done in Rome. It was commenced under Pius IV. and completed under Pius V. The only members of the commission whose names are known are cardinal Bernardino Scossi and Tomaso Golduelli, bishop of Asaph. Perhaps a great share in the execution of the work may be ascribed to cardinal Sirlet and to the learned Giulio Poggi. The new Missal appeared in 1570; it was followed by two revisions under Clement VIII (bull of July 7, 1604) and Urban VIII (bull of September 2, 1634). It is composed of an introduction, three parts, and an appendix. The introduction gives the calendar, the general rubrics, a summary of the rite, and instructions about possible deficiencies. The three parts are:
1. "Proprium missarum de tempore," with the formularies for the successive solemnities of the year. It treats of all the Sundays, from the first Sunday of Advent to the last after Pentecost. The whole ecclesiastical year pivots around the three capital feast-days: Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost-Easter being the center. Between the Saturday before Easter and Easter Sunday the Ordo Missal is inserted.
2. "Proprium missarum de sanctis" contains the formularies for the celebration of the mass on particular feasts of saints, etc. This part of the Missal is arranged after the months and days of the civil year.
3. "Commune sanctorum" is a kind of complement of the preceding for such saint-days as have no particular mass — formular in proprium. The division is founded on the character of the saint, and on the order of rank as given by the litany of All Saints. There are mass-formularies for the vigil of an apostle-day, for the days of the martyrs, within and without the Easter period, for the days of the confessors, the virgins, aid of those who did not die in the virginal state. The Appendix is very comprehensive: it gives the annual mass, different votival masses, and the masses for the deceased, several benedictions, and, lastly, the masses for such feasts or commemorations as are celebrated in certain places with papal approbation, and called therefore "Missse ex indulto apostolico.'
In the Anglican Church, previous to the Reformation, the missals used varied very greatly; and even after the compilation of the Roman Missal, the English missals known as "Sarum Use," "Hereford Use," "Lincoln Use," "Bangor Use," etc., continued to be general. Near the end of the 16th century, however, the Jesuits succeeded in forcing the Roman Missal into the Romish churches of England. The old missals, before the invention of the art of printing, were generally written in the most sumptuous manner, ornamented with beautiful initials, and most splendidly bound. A kind of large Gothic letters (monachal writing), for the writing of the missals, came into use in the 13th century. After the invention of the art of printing, patterns were cut after these letters, and used for the printing of missals; hence the name of missal letters given to a certain kind of large types. The missal of the Oriental rites differs from that of the Roman Church, each having, for the most part, its own proper form. See Rosarius, Observationes; Pisart, Expositio Rubicarum missalis; Mohrenius, Expos. Missae atque Rubicarum; Huebner, Historia Missae; Lewis, Bible, Missal, and Breviary; Maskell, Dissert. chapter 4, page 49 sq., 49 sq.; Zaccaria, Bibliotheca Ritualis, 1:39 sq.; Palmer, Origines Liturgicae, 1:111, 308; Walcott, Sacred Archaeology, s.v.