There has been discussion for quite some time about what form the liturgy would take in the future Anglican-Catholic Ordinariates. I am indeed heartened by reading Bishop Peter Elliott's ideas as he expressed them on this subject:

Considering its history and strong influence in the first editions of the Book of Common Prayer, the Sarum Rite might well be a major source. Queen Mary I published a national edition of the Sarum Missal to replace all those missals for the diocesan uses that went into the fire when the first Book of Common Prayer appeared in 1549. Therefore the Sarum Use was the last version of the Roman Rite in England before the universal Missale Romanum, Roman Missal, was authorised by St Pius V in 1570. At the end of the nineteenth century when Westminster cathedral was being built, it was proposed that the Sarum Rite be revived as the use proper to the cathedral. Nothing came of this project, lost I suspect in the cross-currents of liturgical controversies and an Ultramontane trend to standardise liturgy along Counter-Reformation lines, even down to the shape of chasubles.

Were this idea to be taken seriously by Rome and actually implemented, at least as an option, it would be the fulfilment of a dream that goes back many years. In ecclesiological terms, I would like to see this Anglican inflow as a way of perceiving Catholic Tradition as reaching further than nineteenth-century "totalitarianism" and even the Council of Trent in the necessary steps it made to halt the progress of Protestantism and reform a somewhat corrupt clergy. Though all Catholics are bound to assent to the doctrines taught by all the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, we do well to recover some of the spirit of northern European Catholicism and the products of organic development in the various dioceses and religious orders. I believe a reasonable diversity of traditional and legitimate liturgical rites could be most helpful.

I write as a priest with more attachment to the traditional liturgies of the Latin Church than to our Prayer Book, at least for the Mass and the sacramental rites. Our Prayer Book Office is made sublime by the surroundings of an English cathedral, an English cathedral choir and a whopping great romantic organ built by Henry "Father" Willis, Arthur Harrison, William Hill or similar. For the private recitation of the Office, we don't have any handy Sarum breviaries, but many Anglicans find themselves at home with the traditional Monastic Office (usually in English).

By way of an introduction, I cast my mind back to the 1970's and the fact that every high church parish in London and other places seemed to have its own liturgy. Opening the priest's altar book, one would find pieces of paper stuck onto the pages with a typed text. Other texts and rubrics would be scribbled out with an indelible wax pencil. It is difficult to trace the sources of some of these ad hoc modifications to the Prayer Book or the English Missal. This is why I would be loathe to see the Ordinariates uncritically adopt the Counter-Reformation and post-Vatican II Roman liturgical cultures, even though priests should be pastorally flexible when serving ordinary Roman rite parishes. Thus, in Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Holy Father says that we should not refuse the Roman rite alongside an authorised Anglican usage.

With these ideas in mind, it would seem to be logical to revive the Sarum Use, allow it to be celebrated in English (two translations exist, Warren 1911 and Pearson 1968, the latter being contemporary with the Dickinson edition of the Latin missal) and introduce a few adaptations like some saints' feasts from the Roman rite and a simplification of some of the more complex ceremonies and rules for the daily ordo.

Would reviving the Sarum Use be the right thing? Surely, celebrating according to a rite that has not been in regular use for about 450 years is not on. This might be so in the English Catholic context, since the 1570 Pian missal was introduced very early on by the Jesuits and was adopted by the Vicars Apostolic and the Hierarchy of 1850. The question is asked differently in the context of the Ordinariates, since Benedict XVI makes specific mention of a special rite alongside the Roman rite. Frankly, I see no difficulty with the revival of Sarum if other local uses and rites (Ambrosian, Lyons, etc) are assimilated to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite and allowed on an occasional or regular "minority" basis.

Obviously, there is the spirit in which this rite would be used, either simply as a local or particular "personal" tradition in the Universal Church or as some kind of performance of something that is self-consciously obsolete. I celebrate Mass each day according to the Sarum Use, and have done so in the same spirit as other priests use the Roman rite. I try to recollect myself with the idea expressed by that wonderful hymn of the Oriental Church - Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand… We are not playing a childish game but celebrating the Sacred Mysteries.

I also have the tongue-in-cheek thought in my mind that the Tridentine rite was considered just as obsolete and eccentric in the 1970’s and early 80’s as Sarum, and priests and communities using it were branded as cranks and rebels. It is now recognised as a mainstream rite by the Pope himself.

Would Sarum be confusing for the faithful? I don't see why it should be, if people are capable of assimilating and following any liturgical form, including the ordinary form. Certainly, people will need to follow the rite in a booklet with a minimum of explanations. I have celebrated the Sarum Use in English for small groups of people normally accustomed to the Prayer Book. With a booklet, they were able to follow the Mass, make the responses and participate intelligently. Their reflection after Mass - Interesting and very beautiful, love to come back! Much as I would be attracted to the artistic style of the English Renaissance and the soaring Perpendicular wonders of Gloucester Cathedral, they are not essential to the Sarum Use. It can be celebrated with normal Roman rite gothic or baroque vestments, and using the facilities of any church still equipped with an eastward-facing altar (or at least a freestanding altar that can be used for an eastward celebration). Most readers here are certainly aware of the Sarum masses celebrated by Fr Séan Finnegan ( in the chapel of Merton College, Oxford in the 1990's. The effect was stunning, even though they were using whatever vestments they could lay their hands on.

Learning to celebrate Sarum can be a little tricky, even for a priest who is trained for the extraordinary Roman rite. The rubrics are found with the Order of Mass and the first Sunday of Advent. Sometimes, there are small ambiguities that can be cleared up in the light of the Dominican rite. Fr Finnigan obviously did well after due research and rehearsal. Another problem with Sarum is the difficulty in finding liturgical books. The Gregg reprint of the 1868 Dickinson edition is now a rare book and fetches in excess of £300 in specialised second-hand bookshops. I have to make do with copied pages of this edition arranged in A5 booklets done with Microsoft Publisher together with the Order of Mass text painstakingly separated from the mass of rubrics. A few of us need to get together and publish a new edition of the Sarum missal, not a critical edition for study, but a real working altar missal - worthy of getting Rome's nihil obstat and imprimatur. There is then the question of a Gradual with the authentic Sarum chant. As I already mentioned, the English translations already exist, and are available in printed form from second-hand bookshops in or pdf form from the Internet. They can be used with the existing Anglican musical tradition. The Pearson missal is available, but it is a cheap paperback and could not take the punishment of being used at the altar.

The canonical dimension needs attention. The Use of Sarum can either be explicitly authorised as an Anglican-Catholic Ordinariate rite or assimilated to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, in the same way as the Ambrosian and Dominican rites. It seems to have the same standing as a legitimate Catholic rite. St Pius V said in Quo Primum that all liturgies with more than 200 years’ continuous usage may continue to be used. The only difficulty is knowing whether it can be used now despite its having fallen out of general use for more than thirty years or so. That is a canonical problem, which can be resolved either by bringing the Sarum Use into regular custom and keeping it going for some thirty years, or by it being explicitly approved by Rome. An anonymous commenter on Fr Finnegan's blog gave this information:

Concerning the legal status, contact with the Congregation for Divine Worship has yielded positive results, insofar as Archbishop Ranjith has indicated that the Congregation is perfectly comfortable that the Sarum Use be celebrated, and that no formal permission is needed (though out of common courtesy one should request, or even inform, the Ordinary of the Mass’s occurrence).

It would therefore be preferable for this rite to receive explicit authorisation from Rome, especially if it is to be celebrated in English. To what extent is Sarum used in an Anglican context? The complete and “pure” Sarum Use has rarely been celebrated in the Church of England in spite of the 19th and 20th century “English Use” movement, particularly in the hands of Percy Dearmer, but it has happened. After the wreck of the Mary Rose was discovered in the 1980's, a public Requiem Mass for the souls of the sailors who perished was celebrated in Latin and English according to the Sarum Use in Portsmouth Cathedral. All Saints, North Street in York is a beautiful medieval church and a venue for reconstructions of the York Use, but the English Missal is the “normal” rite there. In the Continuing Anglican Churches, Sarum is celebrated occasionally in a few American parishes. I use it every day.

Going by what Bishop Elliott has to say, and my conversations with Archbishop Hepworth, we are not going to get "pure Sarum", but an Anglican Use based to some extent on Sarum. I could imagine a missal in English containing a number of options, alternative preparation prayers, penitential rites, offertories, communion rites. This manufactured hybrid would be necessary on pain of the entire Ordinariate project breaking up, fragmenting and failing. I imagine a temporal cycle restoring the Septuagesima season, the Ember Days and the Sundays after Trinity. An optional three-year lectionary could be a possibility, but its being made to work with the traditional temporal cycle (rather than the 1979 American Prayer Book or the modern Roman rite) would take a considerable amount of rearranging work so that the readings fit the prayers and the propers. I wonder if that would be done by men who would work to objective liturgical criteria, on pain of producing a botched result. The existing lectionary for the modern Roman rite would simply not work because of the difference between the two calendar systems. The Sarum lectionary is fuller than the 1962 Roman, since there are proper readings on Wednesdays and Fridays in Advent and the weeks after Epiphany, Easter and Trinity. As in the Roman rite, Sarum has propers for every day of Lent and Passiontide.

I can see the necessity of a hybrid missal with a number of options, since I find it difficult to imagine that a one size fits all policy will work with the incoming Anglicans. One can exact holy obedience, but it might be as difficult to enforce as with the young French hotheads zealously defending St Nicolas du Chardonnet in 1977! If a Catholic asks me whether I believe in the Church sufficiently to submit without conditions, I would ask that person if he or she would unconditionally stay in the Church. If things became difficult or unacceptable in the mainstream, that person would join a traditionalist group in communion with Rome like the Fraternity of St Peter or canonically irregular like the SSPX or the various independent groups around priests without bishops. They might at least go to a parish other than their own. Double standards often abound, and we Anglicans go forward with our eyes open.

A pragmatic consideration is going to be the accommodation of those who are attached to the Prayer Book and the halting of "liturgical fragmentation" and each priest doing his own thing for the simple reason that Catholics cannot be satisfied with the "bare" Prayer Book Eucharist. The old rift between English Anglicans and Anglo-Papalists finds its reflection within the TAC and some parts of the Anglican Communion. I would doubt this diversity could be abolished, and I see no reason why it should be. We do need a rite (or a "liturgical system") that will enable us to go away satisfied or at least able to go along with what is offered. The closer we are to the traditional Sarum Use, the more likely we are to reduce this gap between "English" and "Papalist". It would, at a stroke, remove the Angst of trying to tamper with rites (the jibes about there being as many Anglican liturgies as parishes is often too true) to make them both Anglican and Catholic. Priests will have to learn to stop doing their own thing.

Perhaps, alongside a hybrid "liturgical system" from which all Anglican-Catholic communities would find their joy, I would like to see the option of using the Sarum Use "as is" as something assimilated to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. Time will tell, and we will shortly see what is decided and promulgated for our use in communion with the Universal Church.

We are balancing liturgical integrity with pastoral pragmatism, playing one off against the other, and running a big risk of ending up with neither. Time will tell…