Most frequently, research into medieval liturgical usage was applied to “ritualising” the 1662 Prayer Book. In those days, an Anglican priest found using the Use of Sarum would have been in very serious trouble. In spite of this, the complete texts in Latin of the Sarum Missal were published and printed in 1868, and in the same year, a complete Missal was translated into English. Perhaps some priests used Sarum for masses during the week and kept it to themselves – we will never know. The former book is what I use for my daily Mass – wonderful just to follow a rite and not be tinkering about!
The nineteenth century was a period of two clashing cultures: the Industrial Revolution and Romanticism. The first represented reason, capitalism and progress; the second sought to emphasise the spiritual and aesthetic qualities in man. The first was resolutely modern and the second sought its reference in the Middle-Ages or rather in an idealised vision of that period.
Romanticism produced the Gothic Revival in Victorian England as it did elsewhere. The movement concerned mainly architecture, but was the foundation of the artistic movement known as the Pre-Raphaelites. The image most of us have of King Arthur or St George and similar legends is entirely a product of Romanticism. That is how we learned those stories at school.
Another fallacy we have to reckon with is that the Oxford Movement was not Anglo-Catholic but a theological and spiritual movement. Newman was not a Ritualist! The impetus for building Gothic churches and elaborating the liturgy came from Cambridge, the Camden Society which became the Ecclesiological Society. Medievalists like John Mason Neale pushed for a full-scale medieval revival.
The Victorian mind being both pragmatic and eclectic, some of those men published liturgies that amalgamated historical sources, contemporary Roman Catholic practice, the compulsory Prayer Book and whatever they fancied. The other forgotten Uses of England were plundered for material to fill in the gaps.
The weakness of Victorian Sarum was the fact that Roman Usage was not strictly codified in the years preceding the first Prayer Book. The nineteenth century Sarum enthusiasts sought to do with Sarum what Pius V did with the Roman Rite, that Ecclesia Anglicana might be able to stand even with Rome. The idea was to be Catholic but not Roman Catholic. I suppose it was something like our own experience – we defend ourselves from having it rammed down our throat like the ducks and geese in France that are force-fed to produce the famous foie gras. There is the idea of being Catholic whilst holding Rome at arm’s length, a lesson taken from Gallican France, Germany and Josephist Austria. The English legal mind exploited the Ornaments Rubric to the full – which led to riddle posts and fine curtains adorning every altar of the Kingdom by the turn of the century.
I’m afraid the subject of the Victorian attempts at reviving Sarum would require a considerable amount of historical research in uncharted waters – and access to libraries the other side of the Channel. It would be quite a challenge.
For the studies themselves of the Use of Sarum, I can recommend the following works which you can download and print – not the same as having the printed book, but it’s better than nothing.
- William Maskell, The Ancient Liturgy of the Church of England: According to the Uses of Sarum, Bangor, York 1846
- A.H. Pearson, The Sarum Missal, in English [by A.H. Pearson]. Done into English
- The liturgy of the Church of Sarum, together with the kalendar of the same church. Translated from the Latin, with a pref. and explanatory notes by Charles Walker, with an introd. by T.T. Carter
- J. Wickham Legg, Tracts on the Mass
Other standard works are Vernon Staley’s Ceremonies of the English Church, Percy Dearmer’s Parson’s Handbook and W. H. Frere’s Principals of Religious Ceremonial. A good search on Google can often bring up a scanned copy or the possibility of ordering a printed copy.
I have already covered an article on this subject by Derek Olsen in my older article Sarum, a Liturgical Experience and a Romantic Cultural Movement. It is quite amazing to think that some mainstream Anglican clergy set up a meeting in America to study the Use of Sarum. Quite incredible! Previously, when another vision of the Roman Catholic ordinariates for ex-Anglicans prevailed, I wrote The Future Liturgy of an Anglican Ordinariate: Why not Sarum? in the Anglo-Catholic blog. Those were heady days!
Also see Rule of Analogy about Walter Frere’s work.
A good question would be, if they failed then, would we be any more successful now? I have not got involved in any real movement, but people follow my blogs and e-mail list (very little traffic on that these days). My ideology is not the same. I don’t expect Sarum to take root and become a trend! I do feel in tune with the nineteenth-century Gallican ideal, but they represented a national Church, and I represent very little other than sympathetic contacts with other Christians resenting the dominance of the apologist zealots. With the turn taken by the Ordinariates, another opportunity is gone, and I hardly ever see Sarum being any more the official rite of a Church than the Dominican rite now celebrated by only a few Dominican priests or the old Lyons rite in France.
Dying embers? Perhaps, but the dream was worth it!