At the risk of seeming to flog a dead horse,
I thought it would be a good idea to answer a few misconceptions
based on the content of some of the comments to my previous
posting on The Anglo-Catholic and a specially adapted
posting on The
New Liturgical Movement. It seems to me that this subject
is not a "dead horse" because I find a certain amount of
mainstream Catholic opinion in favour, including Bishop
Peter Elliott and I good number of lay people saying that
they would love at least to have the experience of attending
a Sarum Mass, and for spiritual rather than merely cultural
reasons. I therefore think it is worth the effort of dealing
with some of the difficulties I have seen expressed.
Firstly, there is the question of whether
the Use of Sarum must be celebrated as an exact and "authentic"
reproduction as it was probably celebrated in the early
sixteenth century, or whether pastoral adaptations are possible.
The aspiration to celebrate the Sarum liturgy is often assimilated
to the "British Museum" series of broadcasts on BBC Radio
3 in which you can hear reconstructions of Sarum chant by
specialised choirs and the various ringings of the bell,
with total silence in the background - the absence of ordinary
early sixteenth century English folk. For me, this is not
the aim. My aim is to promote the revival of a legitimate
local Catholic rite for normal use in a parochial context.
Now my argument is precisely if the English
Missal can be celebrated in English, using musical settings
that can be reasonably well "pulled off" by an amateur parish
choir and the congregation, using English hymns when desired
and appropriate, I see no difference with doing exactly
the same to the Sarum Use in English using one of the two
available translations. There is no more incompatibility
or difficulty with the Sarum Use in English than with present
Anglo-Catholic usage when supplementing various versions
of the Prayer Book with bits and pieces of what some of
the more prissy English Anglo-Catholics used to call the
Western Rite. There is nothing against any appropriate
musical setting for the liturgical texts, most of which
are nearly identical between the English Missal and the
Warren translation of the Sarum Missal.
One great obstacle to any progress in the
future Ordinariates, especially in the TAC (less so in the
Anglican Use parishes and the English Anglo-Catholics using
the modern Roman rite) is stick-in-the-mud conservatism.
We do something because that is how we have always done
it. It is the conservatism on the Russian Old Believers
and the French Petite Eglise, hardly a sign of adult
discipleship. We do things not because we have always done
them, but because we are convinced there is intrinsic good
in either digging our heels in or allowing conservative
and progressive changes for the better. Obviously, mess
about with the liturgy in an arbitrary way, and the people
will say "We will not have the new service because it
is like a Christmas game. We will have the Mass in Latin
as before"! I don't think the good Cornish Catholics
of 1549 would have been so upset if there had been an English
translation of the Mass they loved, and it didn't involve
iconoclasm, destruction, compulsion on pain of getting strung
up from the nearest gallows - but optionally and progressively.
But in those days, people were just chattel to be disposed
of at the pleasure of the strongest and most influential.
Before we do anything, we need to become aware about why
we treasure and cherish a tradition, before it is swept
away as irrelevant because we had no credible defence.
To continue along this track, some lay people say they find
their entire Anglican patrimony in the Prayer Book.
Among Anglo-Catholics, how many use the Prayer as it stands
and with no material or ceremonies imported from elsewhere?
Very often, clergy and lay people who say they are faithful
to the Prayer Book are in fact using the Anglican / English
missals or at least a significant amount of material which
is in fact not Anglican but completely post-Tridentine Roman.
A once-in-a-lifetime chance. The Catholic
Church in England, it is said, refused several opportunities
to revive the Sarum Use. They preferred the Roman rite,
because they felt that a Roman identity was the best bulwark
to defend the faithful from the influence of Anglicanism
and Protestantism. By the time ecumenism started to soften
the sharp edges of bitterness and polemics, the "conservative"
thing to do was to keep the Roman rite and not revive the
long-forgotten Sarum Use.
How forgotten is the Use of Sarum? However
rarely it is used, it was never forgotten. It became an
icon of Englishness in the Romantic mists of men of the
nineteenth century. Pugin built churches to conform to Sarum
norms, not Roman usage, yet the Use of Sarum was never celebrated
in those churches. The imagination of many Anglican medievalists
ran amok, and the Latin and English versions from 1868 (when
the Ritualist movement was at full tilt) were both done
by Anglicans. Dearmer stopped just short of using the Sarum
books, but cunningly dressed up the Prayer Book rite in
an ingenious essay of ambiguity as the Sarum Use. Everything,
from the rood screen to the three-level sedelia and apparelled
amices and albs, were restored at St Mary's Primrose Hill
except the rite itself. It was never forgotten, but the
Prayer Book was compulsory on pain of severe sanctions to
the exclusion of any other rite. We should not forget that
the English Missal was totally illegal in the Church of
England and still is. It is not an Anglican rite, and is
just as illegal as reviving Sarum. We in the TAC no longer
suffer from those constraints, and there will be other constraints
to "get round" or negotiate in the Ordinariates.
What about the translations? As I say, they
exist. The Pearson version of 1868 is in print, but in a
cheap paperback with the page edges glued to the spine.
It cannot be used at the altar without breaking up after
a short period of use. The Warren translation of 1911 is
available here – Part
1 and Part
2. I found mine in a second-hand bookshop in England,
but paid a steep price, more than £100. It can be OCR'ed
and printed, and the readings can be copied in from the
King James Bible. Everything is therefore as available as
the English Missal (as a reprint). These translations are
in Prayer Book language. Therefore, all the music composed
for the Prayer Book Communion Service can be used with Sarum.
There are no incompatibilities with traditional Anglican
The greatest argument against the Use of Sarum
is that of its having become obsolete, and therefore its
revival would be an act of "archaeologism" and against the
sound principles of liturgical tradition. I have already
alluded to this above. It has not been in total disuse,
since it has been celebrated occasionally in the nineteenth
century. Why else would a book be published in 1868 that
is not a purely academic critical edition like the Wickham
Legg version of the early twentieth century? Within living
memory, Fr. Sean Finnegan has done it in Oxford, Bishop
Conti has done it in Glasgow. Some ACA parishes use it occasionally
on a fairly regular basis (they use the English Missal the
rest of the time), and I use it daily in my insignificant
Would a bi-ritual or multi-ritual approach
be better, as one size does not fit all? Our time
is one in which people have a choice on what is offered
on the market. I am myself loathe to advocate such a solution,
but I would be interested in reading someone else's arguments
for such a solution, in the hypothesis it would be accepted
by Rome (like the hundreds of Eucharistic Prayers that can
be used with the modern Roman rite). Using an old rite and
a modern rite in the same church requires the setting up
of two parallel calendar and lectionary systems. It is possible
and done in many places, but is this really desirable? Should
we replicate such a “system” simply because
in the Roman rite, the old rite is admitted again for the
pastoral reasons given in Summorum Pontificum and
the new “intruder” rite is here to stay? Would
it not be better to adopt Sarum, allow some judicious pastoral
adaptations (like the language of the people), and have
that as our rite (then we would use either form of the Roman
rite for pastoral reasons - either because our own people
are used to that like in England or because we are helping
out in regular Catholic parishes)?
Suitability for everyday use? How many people
go to services during the week? What is more wrong with
a Sarum Low Mass than an English Missal Low Mass?
Another serious misconception is the idea
that the 1949 Prayer Book was simply a translation of
the Sarum Use. It is not. The two rites simply need
to be found here
and compared: Sarum
Prayer Book. If you have any doubts, print them out
and compare them side by side. A Prayer Book Eucharist is
not Sarum because it is done "Dearmer style" or with "English"
trappings. It should also be remembered that not all continuing
Anglicans are Americans, so the 1928 American Prayer Book
is not the tradition of non-Americans. Would American Anglo-Catholics
like to try English 1662, straight and "no frills"? No cheating!
You say the Prayer of Oblation (the equivalent of
the Unde et memores in the Roman Canon) after
the Communion as an alternative to the Thanksgiving
prayer and before the final Gloria. I don't think
they would like it unless they are Protestants! It's the
same thing for the 1979 Prayer Book. It is a problem only
for Americans, and many Americans reject it.
A part of "repairing" a liturgical tradition,
remembering that the English Anglo-Catholics are nearly
all using the modern Roman Rite for the cogent reason that
they knew that botching up the Prayer Book could never bring
satisfactory results and the basis of a stable liturgical
tradition. It is always the result of someone's private
and subjective taste. With Sarum, we have invented nothing
- we say the black and do the red. It is our way
of obeying the Church, by using a legitimate and stable
tradition. Anglo-Catholicism, like French Catholicism in
the nineteenth century after the ravages of the Revolution
and Madame la Guillotine, was the result of restoration
and not of continuous tradition. One vital thing is to prepare
people through catechesis and instruction on the liturgy,
and this blog is intended for that purpose.
Do we have to go on with what the English
stopped decades ago when they adopted the modern Roman rite?
Sarum can pull us out of that quagmire, just as using either
form of the Roman Rite. Sarum is an "icon" of Anglicanism,
and it retains it actuality in this way. It is not obsolete
like, for example, the third-century liturgy of Hippolytus.
Some comments would suggest the ceremonies
are so complicated that Sarum could only be suitable for
Christmas or Easter or for some other really big feast.
This is no more so than the English Missal, between Pontifical
High Mass at the Throne following Fortescue & O’Connell
and Low Mass and the Missa Cantata practised in most
small parishes. In fact, when thus simplified, the Sarum
Mass is more sober and simple than the English / Tridentine
missal, simply by comparing the two rites of Low Mass. The
Sarum is quite monastic and very similar to the Dominican
Perhaps we are not going to get Sarum because
Archbishop Hepworth has written: "A great deal of work
has already been concluded in the updating and expanding
of Anglican service books. The calendar of saints for instance
in the Prayer Book of 1662 has no additions since then,
in spite of the manifest sanctity of so many Christians
since that date. Much more work needs to be done and will
be a very high priority for those engaged in implementing
the Constitution". Then why did Bishop Elliott write
about Sarum, and why has the subject of Sarum come up in
so many of the most unexpected places? Archbishop Hepworth
himself has mentioned Sarum as a possible source for such
work. Obviously, we must wait and see, but it all seems
very ambiguous at present. This is obviously deliberate
given the amount of division among Anglicans on this very
Another argument I have seen against Sarum
is that it does not contain the genuflections (instead,
a profound bow to the Blessed Sacrament before each elevation)
found in the Roman rite. I can answer this simply. Rome
has made modifications over the centuries to rites like
the Dominican use. Genuflections were introduced and copy
the style of genuflections that are typical of the Roman
rite. They can be introduced into the Sarum Use if desired.
However, the number of genuflections in the modern Roman
rite is reduced to three: the consecrations of the Host
and the chalice and just before the priest's Communion.
Few traditionalist polemics focus to any great extent on
Would Sarum represent a big cultural shift?
I think not for anyone accustomed to the "English Use" à
la Dearmer. Also, Sarum can be celebrated in a baroque
Italian church with fiddleback vestments and so forth without
losing a jot of its own integrity. The Ambrosian rite is
usually "framed" in baroque - in spite of its antiquity.
I like English things personally (you'll gather that be
looking at my chapel), but trappings amount to very little.
The colour sequence of Sarum isn't carved in stone, and
I'm sure the Roman colour sequence can be substituted (eg.
green for Sundays after Trinity instead of red). Is there
any opposition between using Sarum and popular religion?
To the contrary, Dr Eamon Duffy has discovered that devotional
life in the parishes of pre-Reformation England was extremely
fervent, with surprisingly few abuses (eg. simony). The
Feast of Corpus Christi figures in the Use of Sarum, and
there were processions of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction
in the early 16th century. Benediction can continue in any
church where the people are used to it.
I continue to make the point that the rite
can be separated from the "Dearmer" trappings. You don't
have to be "all-or-nothing" purist. It's like playing Bach
on the piano. Pianos didn't exist in Bach's time, so he
played the harpsichord and the organ. Now we have pianos
and synthesisers, you can still play Bach and make the music
Another argument I have in favour of Sarum
in an Ordinariate context is "political". The "Groups of
Anglicans" are essentially divided into three categories:
Forward in Faith mostly using the modern Roman rite, the
TAC and the Anglican Use parishes in America. We are distinguished
by our origins and our liturgical usages. If the choice
of liturgies in English was between the Warren translation
of the Sarum and the new ICEL modern Roman rite, I see little
reason to be nostalgic for the Prayer Book Eucharistic rite
(the Office is another matter discussed elsewhere). Catholics
often tell jokes about extreme Anglican liturgical diversity.
In fact, most of the idiosyncratic usages are no longer
in use since the 1970's and 80's. Anglicans in England use
the Novus Ordo and the Book of Common Worship. A very few
use the English Missal (eg. All Saints North Street, York
or Fr Hunwicke in Oxford) and less high-church parishes
use an "interim" version of the Prayer Book (Prayer of Oblation
put back in its place after the consecration and before
the Lord's Prayer, Fraction and Communion.
I really would like to read arguments in favour
of a new Book of Divine Worship, either initiating
a new Anglo-Catholic tradition on the basis of a single
and stable rite or providing a smorgasbord of options and
variations to suit every taste and "churchmanship". The
thing that bothers many people is the dichotomy between
the Prayer Book being the only real traditional Anglican
liturgy in theory and its rejection (or paying lip service
whilst using another rite) in the name of Tradition by Anglo-Catholics.
Has Anglicanism a liturgical tradition? Objectively, when
coherence is sought, such a tradition is absent.
The choice is therefore between imposing the Roman rite,
which is not the Pope's intention, or restoring a former
tradition that could be assimilated with no more difficulty
than the English Missal in illegal use since the early twentieth
century, itself, an “artificial tradition”.