Category Archives: Sarum

Sarum Rite Material Update: The Risby Ordinal

If you are interested in historical English liturgy, then you ought to be checking for new material over on Dr. William Renwick’s Sarum Rite page on a regular basis. The number of sound files as well as text/music files are truly staggering.

One of the relatively new items definitely deserves a highlight. John Hackney has done a transcription of the revised Sarum old ordinal (the Risby Ordinal) found in BL Harley 1001.  As much as I love and respect W. H. Frere, his edition of this text was and is simply untenable. The work presented here is terrific and has a great set of footnotes accompanying it as well.

If medieval English liturgy is your thing, be sure to download it.

Just Because…

Here’s the front image for the Hours of the Holy Trinity in the Taymouth Book of Hours according to the Sarum Use (f. 32v). The whole thing can be found here at the British Library: ( Why? Because it’s awesome!


Late Medieval Thoughts on the Office: Purpose

I always like to get a little perspective on questions of liturgy from different periods by looking at vernacular catechetical sources. That is, rather than looking at the conversations that clergy and the learned were having—because they were operating with shared assumptions—take a look at what they were teaching to the unlearned and hopefully were revealing just what those assumptions were!

So—here are two late medieval English vernacular texts that explain the purpose of the Office. The first is from the Myroure of Oure Ladye, the second is from the Henrican Rationale of Ceremonial from the early 1540’s.

The Myroure

Chapter 1: how and why God’s service is said each day in seven hours.

Sepcies in die Laudem dixi tibi. These are the words of the prophet David saying thus to our Lord: “Seven times in the day I have said praises to you.”

All reasonable creatures were made to know, to love, and to praise God and therein to have their endless joy. While our souls are imprisoned in these deadly bodies, we cannot – due to corruption and heaviness of these same bodies – continually accomplish that godly praising as they do who by death are made free from thralldom to the flesh and have come to the end of their joy, that is, the presence of God. Therefore our mother holy church ruled by the Holy Ghost, knowing the frailty and feebleness of her children, has set us every day seven hours. At least in these we ought to be occupied in the service and praise of God that is to say: matins, prime, terce, sext, none, evensong, and compline.

What Solomon says is true, that a righteous man falls seven times a day, and the number of all wickedness is named under seven deadly sins against which the holy church has ordained seven sacraments and is given seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, to get remission of our sins, and to thank God for his gifts, we say praises to him in the said hours, seven times each day. Since God made all things in six days and fulfilled them in the seventh day and rested, therefore doing thanks to God for all his works and for all that he made, each day we praise him seven times. Also because the life of man is divided into seven ages where we have spent our time idly or evilly therefore we thank God for our life and seek recompense for such negligence; seven times a day we do service to God. All of this life passes under seven days where the people of this world who are given to active life are occupied in getting their livelihood – and ours – so that they may not freely attend each day in all these times to praise God with their tongues. Therefore we who are called to contemplative life ought to praise God for them – and for us – every day seven times that we may say to our Lord with David, “Lord God, I praised you seven times in the day.”

Chapter 2: why these seven hours rather than others.

But now, you might ask why these seven hours – that is to say, matins time, prime time, and so forth – are assigned by the holy church for the praise of God rather than other hours since there are so many more hours in the day and in the night than seven. To this I answer that these hours are more specially privileged than others because of the great works that God has wrought therein for which he is everlastingly to be praised. Therefore we read that Saints both in the old law and in the new praised God in these hours. For David the prophet says to God this concerning himself: Media nocte surgebam ad confitendum tibi, that is, “Lord, at midnight I rose to praise you.” He also says this: Vespere, et manet meridie narrabo et annunciabo. That is, “At morning, at prime time, at noon, and at evening time, I shall tell and show your praises.” Also Daniel the prophet worships God three times in the day kneeling, according to the exposition of St. Jerome, at terce, sext, and none. Also Peter and John went up into the temple to pray at the hour of none, as it is written in the Acts of the Apostles. St. Paul and Silas, being in prison, prayed to God at midnight, and then the earth quaked and all the prison doors opened and all the fetters and bonds of the prisoners were loosed. Our Lord Jesus Christ also prayed, not only in one part of the night, but all the night he remained awake in prayer as the gospel tells. At the beginning of the holy church, the clergy and the common people – both men and women – rose to praise God four times in the night. First, at the beginning of the night when people are accustomed to go to bed. Second, at midnight. The third, a little before daybreak, and the fourth time at the morning. At evening, our Lord was taken by the Jews, bound and scorned. At midnight he was born. Before day he despoiled hell, and in the morning he rose from death to life. Therefore on some feasts matins are yet said at evening, and in some orders at midnight, and in some before day, and in others, at various times of the night. In some churches they say matins in the morning time.

At prime time, our Lord Jesus Christ was led to Pilate and accused. In the same hour after his resurrection, he appeared to Mary Magdalene, and another day he appeared to his disciples as they were fishing at the same hour. At the hour of terce, our Lord Jesus Christ was scourged, crowned with thorns, and scorned. The same hour, after his resurrection he appeared to the women coming from the sepulcher. On Pentecost Sunday at the same hour he sent the Holy Ghost down upon the apostles. At sext, our Lord Jesus Christ was nailed on the cross, and fed with vinegar and gall. At the same hour after his resurrection, he appeared to the apostle St. James, and on Ascension Day at the same hour he sat and ate with his apostles. At the hour of none, our Lord Jesus Christ cried and he gave up his soul to death. At the same hour, a knight opened our Lord’s side with a spear and smote through his heart from which came water for our baptism and blood for our redemption. On Easter day, he appeared at the same hour to St. Peter. At evening time, our Lord Jesus Christ on Shere [Maundy] Thursday ate with his apostles and ordained the holy sacrament of his holy body and blood. At the same hour on Good Friday, he was taken down from the cross. On Easter day at the same hour, he met with two of his disciples going toward Emmaus, and made himself known to them in the breaking of bread. At compline time, our Lord Jesus Christ on Shere Thursday at evening prayed and sweat blood. At the same hour on Good Friday, he was buried. On Easter day at the same hour, he appeared to his disciples gathered together in a closed place for fear of the Jews, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Thus you may see that not without great cause are these hours set and ordained to be specially occupied in the serving and praising of our Lord God rather than other hours of the day.

The Rationale

The service used in the Church daily in some places or upon the Sundays and other feasts in all places, that is to say to have matins, prime, hours, evensong, and compline, whereof the most part is of Scripture, as the Psalms, and many times the legends (certain things added by man well reformed) are very godly and expedient both for that the ministers prayeth and giveth and thanks to God for themselves and for the people, and also that by the example of their prayers, they move and excite the people to pray with them. And therefore, for the adorning of the same service, surplices, copes and other vestures and ceremonies in the doing thereof are very laudable and comely.

The sober, discreet and devout singing, music and playing with organs used in the church, for the service of God are ordained to move and stir the people to the sweetness of God’s word the which is there sung [and not understanded (contained but struck out in one of the two manuscripts…)], and by that sweet harmony both to excite them to prayers and devotion and also to put them in remembrance, of the heavenly triumphant church, where is everlasting joy with continual laud and praise to God.

Some Thoughts…

Coming to these texts with the classic distinctions between “monastic” and “cathedral” ringing in my ears, I’m struck at how “cathedral” these descriptions appear—particularly the second. The emphasis on prayer/praise and on the the visual aspect of the ceremonies figure quite large in the standard definitions.

Note the comments in both that the singing of the hours is a means of joining the chorus of the Church Triumphant. Not just joining an angelic chorus, but particularly the saintly dead.

The offices are seen as edifying, but—particularly in the second—edifying by means of their example rather than their content. Seeing and hearing the song of the Offices should put the people in mind to pray themselves and join the saintly chorus. Of course, at this point, the services remained in Latin as Henry retained the Sarum Rite even after his separation from Rome.

American Sarum 2013

I may have mentioned this is passing before, but there is going to be another American Sarum conference this fall. It’ll be at St. John’s Church, Washington, Connecticut from October 11–14, 2013A number of the speakers who were at the first will be at the second, and the topic this time around is “The Sarum Influence on the Book of Common Prayer.”

I’d love to be there, but it’s scheduled over exactly the same time as the Society of Catholic Priests’ conference.

Full information on the conference can be found here at

The XV Oes of St Bridget

One of the most common and consistent texts in the late medieval Books of Hours and early Reformation prymers was the XV Oes of St Bridget. This unusual title is derived from the fact that this devotion contains fifteen prayers that all begin “O Jesus…” and is attributed to St Bridget of Sweden. It was most likely not written by her personally, but by the English strand of the Brigittine tradition (which is no stranger to these pages as the source of the Myroure of Our Layde and having strong ties to the English Anchorite tradition). It partakes of the same kind of late medieval affective devotion to the passion as the Man of Sorrows, the Image of Pity, and the Stations of the Cross all grounded in the affective theological tradition best represented by St. Bonaventure. Stylistically, I find the prayers similar to the Good Friday Reproaches in that they draw the participant into the Passion imaginatively, inviting parallels through the techniques of either ironic juxtaposition or reversal.

Since we’re speaking of a manuscript devotion, it should be no surprise to any of my regular readers that they have circulated in multiple versions. There are at least two very early English versions; William Caxton printed a version in one of his prymers, and Richard Day printed a protestantized version in his 1578 “Booke of Prayers.” I’ve not been able to locate either of these. (Though I haven’t looked terribly hard either…)

The version that I first encountered in English and seems to have a solid back story to it is this version at the ThesarusPrecum Latinarum.

Using that as a starting place and looking at a few other versions as well, I’ve come up with this text that I think both respects the traditional intent and structure while conforming to prayer book theology.

Thoughts, questions, and comments welcome.

From St Bridget’s Prayers on the Passion

[Traditionally, each prayer after the first was preceded by the Lord’s Prayer and a Hail Mary.]

O Jesus, eternal sweetness to those who love you, joy surpassing all joy and desire, Salvation and Hope of sinners, who has shown your desire to be among humanity, call to mind the sufferings endured in your Incarnation, especially the pain of your bitter Passion. In memory of these pains which you suffered for my redemption, grant me true repentance, amendment of life, and the grace and consolation of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

O Jesus, the Glory of Angels and the paradise of delights, call to mind the blows, the spitting, and the tearing of your flesh before your Passion. In memory of these torments, O my Savior, deliver me from all my enemies, visible and invisible, and to bring me, under your protection, to the perfection of eternal salvation. Amen.

O Jesus, Creator whom nothing in heaven or earth can encompass or limit, who enfolds and embraces all within your loving power, call to mind the pain you suffered when your hands and feet were stretched out and nailed to the hard wood of the cross. In memory of the suffering of the cross, O my Savior, grant me the grace to love and fear you as I should. Amen.

O Jesus, Heavenly Physician, raised high on the cross to heal our wounds with yours, call to mind the bruises you suffered and the pain of your rent limbs as you were held in torment on the cross, yet you did not cease praying for your enemies saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” In memory of this suffering, O my Savior, grant that the remembrance of your bitter passion may spur me to true contrition and the remission of all my sins. Amen.

O Jesus, Mirror of everlasting love, call to mind the sadness you felt when you looked down from the cross to see a world awash in its sin and the goodness you displayed to the thief to whom you said, “This day you shall be with me in paradise.” In memory of the depth of your pity, O my Savior, remember me in the hour of my own death, not weighing my merits but pardoning my offenses. Amen.

O Jesus, Beloved and most Desirable King, call to mind the grief you suffered when, naked and shamed upon the cross, all of your relatives and friends abandoned you but for your beloved mother whom you entrusted to your faithful disciple. In memory of the sword of sorrow that pierced your mother, O my Savior, have compassion on me in my afflictions, corporal and spiritual, and aid me in the time of trial. Amen.

O Jesus, Boundless Fountain of Compassion, who by a profound gesture of love said from the cross, “I thirst,” call to mind your suffering from the thirst for the salvation of all humanity. In memory of your mercy, O my Savior, grant that, though placed among things that are passing away, I may hold fast to those that shall endure. Amen.

O Jesus, Savor of hearts, delight of the spirit, of whom we taste and see that the Lord is good, call to mind the flavor of the gall and vinegar you tasted on the cross for love of us. In memory of this bitterness, O my Savior, grant me grace always to receive the sweetness of your Body and Blood worthily as a remedy and consolation for my soul.

O Jesus, Royal virtue, joy of the mind, call to mind the desolation of abandonment you endured at the approach of death as you cried in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In memory of your anguish, O my Savior, do not abandon me in the terrors and pains of my death. Amen.

O Jesus, the beginning and end of all things, life and virtue, call to mind the length and breadth of your sufferings for our sake. In memory of your endurance, teach me to endure in the way of your commandments and cross, whose way is wide and easy for those who love you. Amen.

O Jesus, Unfathomed Depth of mercy, call to mind your grievous wounds that penetrated to the marrow of your bones and the depths of your soul. In memory of your piercings, O my Savior, turn the face of your anger from me and hide me in your wounds as wrath and judgment pass over me. Amen.

O Jesus, Mirror of truth, symbol of unity, link of charity, call to mind the torn flesh your body, reddened by your spilled blood. In memory of your rent body, O my Savior, teach me to live in unity and godly love with all for whom you suffered and bled. Amen.

O Jesus, Strong Lion of Judah, King invincible and immortal, call to mind the grief you endured when strength was exhausted and you bowed your head, saying: “It is finished.” In memory of your anguish, O my Savior, have mercy upon me at the hour of my death when my mind shall be troubled and my strength fail. Amen.

O Jesus, Only Son of the Father, splendor and figure of the Father’s glory, call to mind the humble commendation of your soul as with body torn, heart broken, and bowels of mercy opened to redeem us, you gave up your spirit. In memory of your precious death, O my Savior, comfort me and help me resist the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil that, being dead to the world, I may live to you in the world and, at the hour of death, be welcomed as a pilgrim returning home. Amen.

O Jesus, True and Fruitful Vine, call to mind the blood and water mingled that proceeded from your pierced side. In memory of the flowing of your blood, O my Savior, may all creation be washed clean from the stains of sin and find its reconciliation in you. Amen.

Pierce my heart, Saving Jesus, that tears of penitence and love may be my food and drink day by day that I may be converted entirely to you, my heart a constant dwelling for you, my words and works a constant witness to you, my passing a final return into you. Amen.

New Internet Home for Sarum Rite Chant Materials

For those of you familiar with Dr. William Renwick’s efforts in producing the Chant of the Sarum Office, you’ll be happy to learn that he has a new site dedicated to his materials. It can be found here:

Update your links accordingly…

Note, too, that he intends to include both the Missal and the Processional in addition to the Office.

Naming Spiritual Communities in the Sarum Rite

I was thinking aloud a few days ago about the liturgical act of acknowledging the dimensions of our spiritual community. It occurs to me that a quick glance at the Sarum Rite will give some really interesting examples of what I mean… (Note: most of the things I say here will be broadly applicable to the Historic Western Liturgy—I’m just focusing on the Late Sarum because it gives a nice nailed-down example that I can conveniently point to.)

First, there’s the exercise of the capitular office. Four major things happened here. First, it was the monastic/cathedral daily check-in meeting. Second, there was a reading from the Rule or the Fathers. Items three and four are the reason I’m bring it up. Third, it was a list of obits that identified anyone in the community’s records who had died on that day. Fourth, the hagiographies were reviewed for the saints who would be celebrated that evening and the next day.

Before Mass on Sundays there was a procession. That procession would include the following prayers bid by the priest “in the mother tongue”:

 “Let us make our Prayers to God,” [here was sometimes added, “Our Lord Jesu Christ, to our Ladie S. Mary, and all the Company of Heaven,”] beseeching His Mercy for all Holy Church, that God keep it in good estate, especially the Church of England, our Mother Church, this Church, and all others in Christendom.” [Here sometimes was added, “For our Lord the Pope, for the Patriarch of Jerusalem, for the Cardinals.”] “For the Archbishops and Bishops, and especially for our Bishop N., that God keep him in his holy service. For the Dean or Rector, or all other Ministers, that serve this Church.” [This was sometimes varied “For your ghostly father, and for Priests and Clerkes that herein serve or have ferved, for all men and women of religion, for all other men of Holy Church.”] For the Holy Land [and the Holy Cross], that God deliver it out of the hand of the heathen; for the Peace of the Church and of the earth; for our Sovereign Lord the King, and the Qyeen, and all their children. For [Dukes, Earls, and Barons, and for all that have the peace of this land to keep], all that have this land to govern. For the welfare of N. and N., and all this Church’s friends. [For all that live in deadly sin.] For our brethren and sisters, and all our Parishioners, and all that do any good to this Church or Foundation. For yourselves, that God for His mercy grant you grace so to live as your soul to save, and for all true Christian people.

Thus we’ve got a naming here of a whole bunch of folks—from the saints to the geographically dispersed to the deceased to one another. It does name quite a community to keep in mind.

At the beginning of the Mass itself, we have a form of the Confiteor:

I confess to God, to blessed Mary, to all the saints, and to you, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, by my fault : I pray holy Mary, all the saints of God,  and you, to pray for me.

I’m more used to the modern form where it calls out more of the saints by name, however, Not only does the Confiteor name the saints—mirroring the prayer at the procession—it places them in the proper relationship to us; we pray together for one another.

The beginning of the Canon of the Mass likewise begins with a very clear naming of the gathered spiritual community (rubrics are parenthetical):

…together with thy servants our Pope N. and our Bishop N. (That is to say, the bishop of the diocese only,) and our King N. (The above persons are mentioned by name. Then shall follow : ) and all who are orthodox, and who hold the catholic and apostolic faith. Remember, O Lord, thy servants and thy handmaidens N. and N. (in praying for whom a due order dictated by charity ought to be observed. The priest prays five times : firstly for himself; secondly for his father and mother, that is to say both carnal and spiritual, and for his other relations; thirdly, for his special friends, parishioners and otherwise; fourthly, for all persons present; fifthly, for all Christian people; and here the priest may commend all his own friends to God. I counsel, however, that no one should pause at this point too long, both on account of possible distractions of mind, and also on account of suggestions which may be made by evil angels, as well as on account of other dangers.) and all here present, whose faith is approved, and whose devotion is known to thee; on behalf of whom we offer unto thee, or who offer unto thee this sacrifice of praise, for themselves and for all pertaining to them, for the redemption of their souls, for the hope of their own salvation and security, and who are paying their vows unto thee, the eternal, living, and true God. In communion with and reverencing the memory, in the first place, of the glorious and ever virgin (inclining a little as he says,) Mary, mother of our God and Lord Jesus Christ ; As also of thy blessed apostles and martyrs—Peter, Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon, and Thaddseus, Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian. Laurence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, and of all thy saints; through whose merits and prayers do thou grant that in all things we may be defended by the aid of thy protection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

That initial “together” kicks off quite a clear naming of who all has gathered: the living, the dead, the saints, and anybody else who might not fall neatly into any of those categories.

That’s just a few examples; doubtless many more could be produced. Notice something here: all of these prayers are very much present tense. The point is not that they’re liturgically remembering historical figures—however fondly. Rather, these prayers are naming the current, present members of the spiritual community whether they happen to be visibly present or not.

Now, this rite does a great job with this liturgical naming—when it’s considered as a text. The actual liturgical experience of it would be quite different. The laity would hear the processional prayer in their native tongue;  the monastic or cathedral Chapter would here the capitular office; the confiteor would be heard by the altar party and basically only the priest would have heard the section that starts the Canon. There’s a great ecclesiology present here; the fact that so much of it is liturgically inaccessible to the majority of the physically gathered community does seem a little ironic.

Riddel Posts

One of the standard features that identifies a church sanctuary as “English Use” is the appearance of a particular feature called a riddel post. These are two posts that stand at the north and south horns of the altar and have curtains (the “riddels” from whence the name comes) that extend back to the dorsal, the curtain mounted on the back wall right above the altar.

Like many of the features that adorn the English/Sarum Uses, this wasn’t actually a distinctively English characteristic. Instead that which is “English” tends to be that which is 1) pre-Baroque and 2) common to many of the diocesan uses in England and parts of northwestern Europe, especially France.

Recall that the English Use people of the later half of the 19th an early twentieth century were arguing a position against two different opponents. On one hand, they rejected the opinion of their Romanizing Ritualist colleagues that proper “catholic” expression should mimic the aesthetic of the Roman churches of the day which were Baroque or Rococo. On the other hand, they were arguing against the Low Church party who decried any ornamentation as a form of Popery. The English Use position was that, contra both the Romanizers and the neo-Puritans, they were the only ones who were holding properly to the rubrics of the Prayer Book since they were conforming their chancels to the Ornaments Rubric of the BCP which stated that chancels and vestments should be as they were in the second year of Edward the Sixth. So, they were in essence reviving a Renaissance (perhaps even early Mannerist?) aesthetic.

What prompted this post was the new background at the Breviary. For Lent, I’ve chosen to shift away from the leaves from the Little Office of the BVM that I’ve had up and I substituted some pages from the Office of the Dead. During today’s collect my attention was somehow caught by the image of the funeral mass and I realized that the altar in the picture had a nice set of riddels and riddel posts. As a point of reference, this image was taken from the famous Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry and is probably the work of the Dutch Limbourg brothers or someone in their workshop from around 1416. (It’s from the WikiMedia Commons and is believed to not be under copyright.)

Here’s the image. Notice two things: first, the riddels and their posts. Second, note the directions that the angels are facing atop the riddels. Normally they face outward towards the congregation whereas here they face one another. A friend and I had been discussing whether angels facing were an authentic pose and, if so, what that indicated in terms of the classical authenticity of Dearmer’s “open position” where the deacon and subdeacon face both the celebrant and one another. This image is indeed a period attestation of both inward facing angels and, presumably, the open position.

American Sarum: Monday Afternoon

Monday afternoon was the Sarum Mass. While there was a session entitled learning the rubrics beforehand, it was really an opportunity for a talk through what was going on as we watched the participants practice. Unfortunately due to the sickness of some key folks and the sudden disappearance of a central annotated edition of the service, the practice was more helter-skelter than it was intended to be and the rubrics session couldn’t live up to the original intention.

I have to confess upfront that it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a Traditional Latin Mass. This would be a much more informed article if I’d been recently and could compare the differences between a “standard” TLM and what occurred at the conference—but I can’t.

There is no video of the mass that I know of, but there are some photos. This album contains photos from the entire conference with the mass at the end.

The church was surprisingly full—I think many of the regular congregants came and other interested folks. A couple of the people from my parish were able to come (and should leave comments to add to my account…).

The point of the service was to present as completely as possible an actual Sarum Mass. It was not a suggestion that this is what the Episcopal Church should do now, but rather to convey an experience of the liturgical world from which the Anglican rites developed and the world to which Dearmer, Frere, Staley, and other Victorian and Edwardian liturgists pointed as a source for understanding and enriching the Anglican rites of their day. The service was a reconstructed votive mass of the Blessed Virgin. Full programs containing the Latin and an English translation were handed out, but my preference was just to watch and listen without it.  As the basis of the Sarum truly is the Roman Rite, I didn’t have much trouble following along. To my eyes, it was much like other Latin Masses to which I have been but the server and subdeacon were much more involved in the preparation of the chalice than I recall. There was also a significant moment, I believe just prior to the fraction, where the deacon held the paten and sudary cloth high which was familiar from to me from late medieval manuscript images.

What struck me, likely due to Dr. Harper’s presentation, was the interplay between the choir and the altar party. The choir was singing almost the entire time and very little of what the altar party said could be heard. It was completely clear that the Ordinary of the Mass sung by the choir was following a different track from the altar party. That is, while the altar party undoubtedly said the same parts—the Gloria, the Sanctus, etc.—they did not wait until the choir had finished singing to continue their parts. Instead, the choral sanctus stretched from the beginning of the canon until the elevations, there was a pause for the elevations, then the choral benedictus qui venit continued from that point virtually until the end of the canon and the beginning of the Communion proper. It reinforced for me how linear our current service is: only one significant action is occurring at a time, and if an overlap would occur, we stop until that action or element is completed. The medieval experience seemed to have much more layering.  (Of course, it must be noted that the congregation present acted like a typical modern congregation—we “paid attention” and “followed along” as we are used to and did not wander around and do our own devotions as a medieval congregation would have!)

On one hand, the worship experience seemed more rich because of the multiple elements occurring simultaneously. On the other, the layering did obscure some aspects of the experience, deliberately so. The deliberate obscuring of the altar party’s actions and vocalizations left no doubt in my mind that my personal edification was not the point—their action was Godward. The elements most central presented to the congregation’s perceptions—the choir’s part—were also not for congregational edification as it was not in our native tongue and even someone like me who understands a modicum of spoken Latin sometimes would have difficulty understanding all the words due to the polyphony. Thus, the Godwardness of the experience was quite clear. What was less clear to me was the theological place of the congregation; I got the strong sense that we were superfluous. Yes, our being there changing something about the nature of the service in the same way that any act of observation alters the behavior of the observed, but I lacked a sense that we played a necessary role—and I found that theologically interesting.

I say “interesting” because it’s leading me to reflect on my understanding of the place of liturgy within the life of the liturgical community. I *do* see value in the continuity of liturgical action conducted on behalf of the full community in the full community’s absence. That is, masses and offices should be said on behalf of and in reference to the community even when the full community is not able to gather for them—even a token congregation provides the necessary continuity, but the presence of those few is both significant and important whereas the choir and clergy seemed sufficient in the Sarum system in a way that felt questionable to me.

This is the last post on the sessions of the conference, but I am working on a summary post that seeks to pull together what I took from the conference, what I think its real strengths were, and the questions that I believe it poses to the larger Episcopal Church.

American Sarum: Monday Morning

Session 7: Panel Discussion

This session was a discussion with four panelists and the occasional addition of a fifth. The panelists were:

  • Bishop Whitmore (BW)
  • Canon Jeremy Davies (JD)
  • Dr. Allan Doig (AD)
  • Dr. John Harper (JH)

Fr. Cody Unterseher (CU) also addressed a few of the questions. I sat with my laptop and typed like crazy. I won’t pretend to have recorded everything, but I think I hit the high points. So—here’s my record of the proceedings.

? (me): From my perspective, we’re looking at liturgy from the wrong way around if we don’t start with theology. That is, liturgy and ceremonial is the kinetic expression of a community’s theological commitments. How would you encapsulate the theology that drives an English/Sarum Use?

BW: Issue is not how has it gone, but what will you do next? The gap between the boomer generation and the next two is the biggest that has ever existed. Boomers want things to be free—Gen Xers and millennials are interested in order. They’re more traditional. They’re more interested in the experience of the worship. Statistics show us that the RC is the fastest growing church; the fastest growing liturgical movement there is the return to Latin movement.

AD: The sense of integration; the way that within the architecture everything has to go with the grain and be integrated. All of the symbolism coordinated allow a rich and dense and layered language with which to express the theology being working out in the congregation. The architecture, the deliberate use of what is there, adjustments can be made to employ that linguistic system you’re developing because there are some things you just can’t express.

JD: There are principles which are quite important—the principles cut across the party boundaries. One of things about John Harper’s presentation is that we’re moving away from text . The preparation and presentation are important as well, especially the use of the senses. That gets the liturgy off the page. What works for people in the performance/apprehension of worship is when all the senses are engaged. Tried to rediscover that at Salisbury. The cathedral had been turned into an auditorium, we’ve moved the chairs out as they weren’t there in the medieval period—the rite gave a structure to the shape. The experience of the ornamented space—the texture. The sense of moving across thresholds and mystery. There are places to go. Moving, being enticed, bit by bit beyond where we are—it’s a way of enfleshing the theology.

JH: The mere fact that we’re doing this research project with the *experience* of worship is critical. We may have a better shaping of the questions about the experience of medieval worship by doing it however inadequately. 20-30 years ago everyone was seeking authenticity. They realized pretty quickly that you couldn’t recapture historical authenticity. But readings of the texts grounded in historical principles is better than not. We are God’s people in the now. I’m conscious of how much my understanding changes of what’s going on—a pointer from yesterday: the distinction between a liturgy that uses the music of its time and a liturgy like Dearmer who was working with Ralph Van Williams in the English Hymnal . Plainsong was intended by those editors as the congregational music. In 1549 we inherit the liturgy as being simplified, our theology of liturgy and music is the least developed.

?: Do we sometimes presuppose a style of music when we envision a liturgy; what’s the place of guitar music and gospel?

JH: In designing the program that we conduct at the University, I wanted to put the underpinning principles back for leaders of worship and liturgy. We had three strands: ministry and worship, music and worship, and the applied. My starting point is that liturgy without a single note sounded is already music. It’s about the interplay between silence and sound. A said service still has the big rhythms. Without that underlying understanding of the liturgy as a whole you’ve missed something.  If it doesn’t make the people pray better, then you’re doing something wrong. Dropping things in to please certain groups is the wrong way to go.

?: The problem is not just the under 30s but the over 30s—they want to be entertained. How do we move them from there to this?

BW: People only do what they know how to do. We know entertainment. The way they unlearn it is that someone has to teach them. One of our difficulties is that we have not embraced our teaching role. In the ordination rite we ask only two things: pastors and teachers. We have yet to embrace that. The parish priest has to embrace the rabbinic role in the community. You have to start with the experience and then go to the theory. We desperately need to recapture the teaching ministry. What we do in worship has to be tied into the teaching ministry of the church. I don’t like how we separate music and liturgy into two different things—they’re two parts of the same thing.

? (Lizette Larson-Miller): The growing tendency in TEC is to minimize training of clergy. I come from the disestablished west coast where most clergy have only been Episcopalians for only a few years. We have to give them the ethos and training very quickly. Putting the Sarum use in the context of a pluralistic society and church; how do we take an adaptation of an inculturated tradition and put it in the place of a multicultural situation?

BW: We need to take the Dr. Phil approach to constructive theology—how’s that working for you? (thumbs down). The way to go forward is to go backward. We have to reach into our past to pull out what works and put it back in place. We have to ask some honest hard questions—for the young clergy in the room, in 10, 20 years, most of us will be dead—it’ll be your church. You’ll be the bishops. You have the opportunity starting now to transform the church and make it something that will help the religious experience of people all over. If we just keep doing what we’re doing we’ll be part of a small “emergent” church. We have to look past the latest theological fads and draw on the past in a reasoned way. This is about the incarnation. We have a core set of doctrines. For us it’s incarnation: the coming of flesh makes a difference. Bringing the tradition into the present and making it live makes all the difference.

AG: the liturgy and all that goes with it is language. If the liturgy is the embodied preaching of the church we’re never just saying one thing. We’re expressing and working towards a whole range of things. There will be a core that remains the same, but it reaches in a lot of … Sarum doesn’t just have one thing to provide.

JD: When I was being trained at Cambridge in my sermon class, a preacher said, “But I’m not a theologian…” The principal completely lost his temper—if you’re not a theologian you shouldn’t be a priest! There is a range of systematic theologies on the Continent and America—England doesn’t really have one and has to borrow it. We can’t escape from systematic to make it up as you go. Theology came alive when I went into an east end parish. Practicalities and aesthetics are part of it, but there’s an education formation that’s part of it. When we introduced Common Worship at Salisbury, we decided there was no point in a consultation—we did it for 6 months, then had a presentation on why and articulate the principles under the change. Then we reshaped the liturgy around the constructive ideas produced by that forum. It’s a theological process as much as anything else.

JH: I take a different take. Many musicians are involved with church because that’s how they’re part of church. As a practical thing, I live on Anglesey. It’s an island of 400 square miles, mostly smaller communities. We have 70 Anglican churches. The quota for stipendiary ministry is 9 as a foreseeable maximum. One thing that the church in Wales is trying to address is the priesthood of all believers and how the laity will have to be formed to keep the churches open if we’re going to. Where is the teaching that lay musicians are receiving? You may be lucky to have a liturgy teacher on staff and they’re usually scholarly rather than practical. To take the cultural thing, we face it because we’re a bilingual church. One of the most painful things for me is when a well-known hymn comes up in Welsh and I can’t understand it. Or I’m playing a hymn I can’t understand. We’ve gone overboard with the gathered community/circle thing. It doesn’t address the individual who wants to sit behind the pillar. Nor does it deal with the theology of where the choir belongs—and a choir is like its own church. When do you make church in the Thursday evening when you come together to practice? One of the things about the service this afternoon is the freedom you have to engage or not engage in the service. The choir and the priests take the responsibility of making sure the flow of the worship goes forward give the laity a freedom to engage in a variety of ways. People will come and go and be touched or not touched but we have the job to just keep doing it. Just sustaining it is important.

?: (Fr. Parker): There are several elephants in the room—one that Dearmer addressed was the lawlessness of the clergy and musicians and what they were doing in church. The Parson’s Handbook has a good deal to say about following the rubrics. Lizette’s question was the most pertinent. The answer has to relate to how we relate to authority and tradition in the church. That has to be sustained. In America the BCP is no longer Common Prayer—rubrics are generally disregarded except when it’s convenient. You do what seems best. To have common worship, you have to agree on what’s common. The other is the Reformation. The BCP is the filter through which Sarum had to come—we don’t have that. By what authority and how do we make a common life in a pluralistic society?

JD: Great question—no clear answer. One of the virtues of Common Worship is that it is fairly common. There has been an ecumenical drawing together within the COE. There was a huge change after Vatican II. There has been a convergence. How and whether one should deal with aberrant practice is a question. I always go to the bishop and ask him—that’s one way to deal with it. Bishops also have a responsibility for the commonality of the bishop. (Depending on the bishop…)

JH: I could have talked about the Reformation more. Last night we heard the musicians’ response to the Reformation. Mundy’s response—priest was the third son of the Duke of Northumbria. You see them responding and taking out the altars and reducing the spending on liturgy in 1551. The parish priest also made sure all the vestments had been put in Westminister and he collected them back at Mary’s reign. Worchester flip-flopped its chancel over the Marian reign. I think of our own recent changes. Last night was mostly chapel royal—the Byrd preces with the chant still there. The continuities are there. There was a respect for the theological things but you also see the syllabic setting of the evening hymn. As for what happens in 1559, there’s article by Robert Barrows—best musicologist alive—on the Elizabethan settlement . Every musician should know Queen Elizabeth’s injunctions on the place of music from 1559. Only words within the BCP should be sung or said at MP/EP; what sounded in the music should be plain and distinct. Respect for the authority of the book! That stays in the COE until the 19th century. When hymns are introduced in 1820 by the first priest who dared to do so, his congregation took him to court for it. I grew up in a MP/EP parish where you sing the hymns before and after the service and on either side of the sermon.

BW: Something about authority that I learned from the army. Once you’ve been given authority it has to be exercised properly. By virtue of ordination vows we’re under authority—if those who have it don’t exercise it, that’s their problem. Everything done here has the authority of the bishop. We still struggle with authority. If I’m not willing to be obedient it doesn’t matter how much authority is in the system.

? (Mark): Thinking again about words and language our Prayer Book offers two different linguistic rites. Should there be a place for the traditional liturgical language in our current idiom? What’s the place of traditional language going forward?

BW: Since we have one authorized BCP, yes. I don’t see prayer book revision anywhere on the horizon. [general applause at this point. It may have started somewhere near us…] Most people in the House of Bishops were priests who had to implement the 79 BCP. We don’t have the will to do it now. There has to be a generational turnover in the HOB. Resolution in 2003 to change the BCP was struck down by 80% in the HOB. We will eventually have to revise the prayer book. Liturgy lives by adapting it to where you are. Be a willing participant. But we’re safe for a while.

?: If the church is not at a point to revise the BCP, how can we revise the hymnal?

BW: I don’t know, I didn’t vote for it. Remember, we authorized a study to see if revision should go forward.  Whatever happen will happen in the HOB first. The HOB actually does understand the relation between liturgy and music.

? (BW): how do you recognize the difference between Sarum and Roman Rite?

JH: Speaking before 1500, I answer this way… In going to the Roman Mass, I know what’s going to happen in which order even if I don’t know the language. If you had travelled through Europe, you’d be able to follow just fine. I wonder if there’s some way that local practice can also share in the broader continuity.

?: Flannery O’ Conner critiques Southern Baptist culture in her letters—it’s [worship is] not about us. We all have to make choices in shaping liturgy and music. How do you make the choices to make sure it’s not about personal choice and preference?

JD: I’ve been there for 25 years and that helps. I’ve built up a rapport with the congregation and with wider congregations. Building up over time trust builds too. You get a way of listening to what people say Liturgy is also ministering on all sorts of levels. There’s a lot of formal but also informal discussion with the staff as music and liturgy work in the same space at the cathedral. We’ve also had to find ways through committees to widen that conversation. There’s partly the discipline; it’s not just about choosing an appropriate text but looking at the  texture as well. 16th century polyphony has a richness but is unaccompanied—it presents a texture about Advent, giving the feel of the season, feast. I like to have French music during Epiphany because the 20th century French had an extraordinary sense of liturgical sensibility in music. It captures the mystery.

CU: On the Sarum—after Trent there was a straightening process that put an Italian Baroque aesthetic on all of Europe. Medieval England was a pick and choose game. There are some practical aesthetic markers. Rome uses 6 candles; EU uses 2. Riddels and side-posts. These are found across  continental diocesan uses but Dearmer connected these with an EU in contrast to the Italian Baroque style.

?: Sarum blue—isn’t it just faded purple?

JH: No. One of the thing we’re currently doing is a searchable version of the Sarum medieval customary. There’ll be six Latin texts. With 6 English translations. In the register of St Osmund. There is a specification of color. Blue is signaled there as one of the colors. Purple is a royal dye.

?: What is characteristically different between the Roman and the Sarum Use?

JH: First a defensive question—liturgists and liturgical theologians are primarily interested in the first hundred years of liturgy. Not the Medieval. There’s a big hole about what we read. I wouldn’t dare to write that book that I wrote 20 years ago.  There’s a study of 400 churches over 400 years in one county to look at how the churches changed and how the theologies changed there that has to be grasped. Dick Pfaff’s book on late medieval feasts—do get it. One of our students is working on the theology of the late medieval Jesus Mass. Rededication of monastic cathedrals were to Jesus—Christchurch and then subsidiary saints.

?: Atonement theology has covered the Incarnation piece so heavily, when will Anglican teachers formulate liturgies that talk about and lift up the incarnation and tone down the Atonement?

BW: You did point out one of the theological difference between Sarum and Roman. One of the core doctrines of the Roman church is about the atonement. That’s not core for us (?) the way we worship doesn’t flow from the doctrine of the atonement. Being raised Roman and going through a Roman seminary, I don’t hear the strands of atonement sounding for us the way it does there. We hear the strands differently because we start from a different perspective. The uniqueness of our view flows from our particular perspective and history. I don’t know when we’ll get to our incarnational root but we’re going in the right direction.

JD: There isn’t just one doctrine of atonement. I don’t think we should think in terms of minimizing it, but putting it in context. In the Cranmer prayerbook, there’s no mention of the resurrection outside of the creed. The place of the Holy Spirit likewise. The atonement is in a different context.

? (Fr. Parker): How do we make the richness of the Sarum Rite/Use available in a Reformed context and with our current BCP? The object is to make people holy. That’s what our liturgy does. We survive and grow. We want to make the numinous more readily available. I want to know how to make that happen in my building with my people, being faithful to the question of one use.

CU: The use, properly speaking, is the externals. If we’re all using the prayer book must we be using the same externals?

BW: I think the fullness of that answer has yet to be unfolded. This is the first time a conference like this has been put on. This is a beginning. We can’t just lay it down now that it’s happened. What is the next step? How do we help you look at your building and go from there?

AD: Referring to something John said—the Sarum family—there have always been different inflections of the language of Sarum but a core of expression. Sometimes a dialect becomes a dominant form of a language because it’s been useful in a certain place. It makes sense to inflect it differently based on the needs of your position. Something it’s discovering something that was lost that will reinvigorate it.

JH: What we saw last night was not available to Percy Dearmer. We have so many more resources to enrich our understanding. I’m petrified to write a book because emy knowledge is so narrow—but if somebody doesn’t have the courage to have a go at it, it won’t happen. I found the liturgy comfortable and rich. Fr. Bird knows how to use technology as well. He can face east with a good microphone and good amplification. Note how different it’ll be this afternoon when Jeremy says the service without it.