Editing Sarum: 19th Century Scholarship on Sarum Materials

Before we continue much further in the discussion of Sarum history, we need to take a quick survey of the texts themselves. The key issue, of course, is that most interested parties approach the Sarum materials not through the manuscripts but through the printed editions. Most of these were done in the latter half of the nineteenth century by British Anglican scholars with an agenda, but that doesn’t suggest that the scholarship is faulty—it simply means that we ought to be aware that the agenda exists. In this post we’ll consider the Latin texts. English-language editions are part of the later story which we’ll save till then…

Mass Texts (in order of publication)

  • F. H. Dickson, Missale ad usum insignis et praeclara ecclesia Sarum: Published in fascicles from 1861 through 1885, this was the first attempt to print the Latin text of the Sarum Missal. Perhaps ironically, it printed the latest representatives of the Sarum Use—Dickson used no manuscripts for his text, but instead relies upon the printed Sarum Missals (Pfaff notes 47 printings between 1487 and 1534 with an additional six during the Marian restoration). Thus, Dickson’s text represents the full-blown Sarum Use as it appeared just before the development of the Prayer Book.
  • W. G. Henderson, Processionale ad usum insignis ac praeclara ecclesia Sarum: From 1882, this is an edition of the processions and various texts associated with them that supplement the missal. Henderson edited these from several sources, most notably two printed editions: the first printed edition from 1508 and the second done in 1517. He says concerning that these two “appear to be clearly the most correct, and fortunately they are quite independent of each other” (Henderson, vi). I’m not sure here what “quite independent” means, not having perused the text, but it does give one pause! He’d also done some partial collations with later printed editions and with three manuscripts, a 14th century, and early 15th, and a late 15th. 
  • W. H. Frere, Graduale Sarisburiense: a Reproduction in Facsimile of a Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century [No download due to a 1966 reprint]: First published in 1894, this is a gradual rather than a missal but makes reference to the “missing” missal parts. Based on the evidence it becomes clear that it is a very early manuscript—between 1203 and 1220—and the missal with which it is partnered both pre-dates New Sarum and contains references to a pre-New Sarum customary.
  • W. H. Frere, The Use of Sarum: The Original Texts Edited from the Manuscripts (vol 1); The Use of Sarum: The Original Texts Edited from the Manuscripts (vol 2): The first volume came out in 1898, the second in 1901. When the term “Sarum” is generally used in liturgical circles, the reference cannot fail to include this book whether directly or indirectly. What Frere gives us in these two volumes is the Sarum “rules of the road.” This work is both important enough and complicated enough to be discussed below in broader detail.
  • J. W. Legg, Tracts on the Mass: Published in 1904 as volume 27 of the Henry Bradshaw Society, this book is a compilation of a number of ordinaries with ceremonial directions for Mass that Legg had collected. There are some French and Dominican materials here along with English texts. The key Sarum items include a 14th century Ordinary (from the Morris Missal), a list of manuscript Sarum Missals known at that time,  and—at the very end—the 13th century ordinary from the Crawford Missal. These will be discussed below especially in relation to Frere’s Use of Sarum.
  • J. W. Legg, The Sarum Missal, edited from Three Early Manuscripts: Published in 1916, this is the first collated edition based on the earliest manuscripts of the Sarum Missal. Legg’s base text is the Crawford Missal, the earliest complete Sarum manuscript. The other two are from just before and just after 1300. So, published thirty years later, this edition reflects the state of the Sarum missal some two hundred years before what is printed in Dickson. Nevertheless, the evidence it gives is past the period of “beginnings” and is after the establishment of the cathedral at New Sarum. It can’t tell us about the origins of the Sarum Rite, but does provide witness for its practice in the High Middle Ages.

First, note the dates on the missal publications: the historically later missals were printed first, the historically earlier ones were printed last. The latter point is perhaps the most important as it means that all of the compilation of the customaries and ordinaries were not done with ready reference to the earliest forms of the text. This may, in part, explain some of the confusion since there was indeed confusion…

Second,  Frere’s Use of Sarum is a key book that requires closer examination. Pfaff notes that it “is almost impenetrably difficult to use” (Pfaff, 373). [I’m glad he said this—I thought it was just me!] The two volumes contain four main texts which Frere entitles the Consuetudinary, the Customary, the Ordinal, and the Tonary. The Tonary is the simplest—it gives the psalm/canticle tones. The next three are more complicated. Frere explains the difference this way: “…the Ordinal defines the character, contents, and method of the Services while the consuetudinary defines the persons who are to conduct them; in other words, the Ordinal deals with the Rite, and the Consuetudinary with the Ceremonial” (Frere, II.vii). That’s clear enough. However, Frere attempts to describe the Customary as an intermediate term between the two:

The Customary seems to be based entirely on the Consuetudinary; . . . to this there are joined some further additions not drawn from the Consuetudinary, which may be taken either as ‘general rubrics’ and therefore supplementary to the Ordinal, or as additional liturgical customs and therefore supplementary to the Consuetudinary. The Customary is thus a link between the two. (Frere, I.xi-xii)

There are two problems here. The first is, according to Pfaff, the Consuetudinary and the Customary are properly differentiated by time and not by genre. The Customary is later than the Consuetudinary. The second, is that Frere has committed contextual damage with his arrangement: the base texts of both the Ordinal and the Consuetudinary come from the same manuscript. Here’s Pfaff to clear things up:

What is printed on pages 1-207 of [Frere’s] second volume as “Ordinale Sarum” is, with very considerable elisions, the Risby ordinal (BL Harley 1001) text—without folio references. In that manuscript folios 1-83 contain the office ordinal, 84-116 that for the mass, and 117-55 the consuetudinary (as described above). So in printing the first two sections of this manuscript in his volume II and the third in volume I Frere has split his main witness: one which, though apparently the earliest surviving of its kind, was in any case written in the early fourteenth century, several decades into the story we are trying to trace here, and belonging to a parish church in Suffolk, a long way from Salisbury. (Pfaff, 374)

So, at the end of the day, Pfaff dates the roots of the consuetudinary to the last period of Old Sarum, between 1173 and before 1220, but finds the Risby Ordinal to be from about a century later as it “represents practices codified for the new cathedral” (Pfaff, 376).  The point here isn’t to try and pick up the historical narrative again, rather it’s to show the complicated and convoluted state of the sources as we have received them and which we’re still in the process of trying to figure out despite more than a century of additional work since these first editions were made.

Now it’s time to turn to the “Ordinal” for a second (remember, the ordinal is how to fit the service books together, not the ceremonial) . We begin with Pfaff’s emphatic statement: “no manuscript witness to what can fairly be characterized as a Sarum ordinal dates from earlier than the fourteenth century” (Pfaff, 379). The two items in Legg’s Tracts on the Mass supplement what appears in Frere’s volume II and reveal some further differences in the evolution of the Rite. The most important is the fact that Legg’s ordinal from the Crawford Missal has some minor differences from what is preserved in the Risby text. Pfaff concludes from these that “it is plain that the missal with which the Risby rubrics correspond is of a strain somewhat independent of the three edited or collated by Legg” (Pfaff, 380). The pay-off is that, once again, the evidence and therefore the Sarum story is more complicated than it may first appear.

The next issue is that Frere prints only the “Old Ordinal” and not the “New Ordinal” on the grounds that the New Ordinal is the text incorporated into the later printed missals and, since they have been reproduced so many times, they are not worth collating and printing together. The real shame here is when we realize (by way of Pfaff’s comments, of course [414]) that the New Ordinal is the Ordinal text in the four sources from which Frere edited his “Customary”; the Customary and the New Ordinal are complimentary documents but we’re unable to view them that way in Frere’s text!

Office Texts

To clarify just how useful these printed editions are to bringing order to the wild world of Sarum breviaries, I’ll turn it over entirely to Pfaff:

With few exceptions, it is next to impossible to state exactly what the totality of the Sarum office is for any specific day. [While the structure is fairly stable, the rubrics, contents, and texts themselves show an increasing state of flux.] In short, anything like a critical edition, in the sense of one which establishes a base text and records variants from it, is with the breviaries that concern us almost a contradiction in terms. (Pfaff, 429).

With a situation like this, the need for something like Maydeston becomes that much more important since in his day the clergy were working from these manuscripts rather than printed versions.

So—to summarize as briefly as possible, the access to Sarum Mass materials are in a far better state than the Office. We have printed versions that shed light on both our earliest surviving (Legg) and latest (Dickson) missals. On the Office side, there is one major representative(Procter and Wordsworth) which is just that—representative—and which can not and should not be regarded as “The” Sarum Office but an example of “A” late Sarum Breviary.

3 thoughts on “Editing Sarum: 19th Century Scholarship on Sarum Materials

  1. Pingback: Another Splendid Article on Sarum | English Catholic

Comments are closed.