Straining at the Leash?

Archbishop Peter Robinson wrote in Facebook:

One of the things that is quite characteristic of modern Anglicanism, it seems, is its ability to ignore its own statements on doctrine, discipline, and worship. One area in which this is particularly evident is ceremonial, not that “Anglican Authority” makes it particular easy to obey the Church in this regard. The problem very largely lies with the fact that the one authoritative statement in the 1662 BCP is couched in legalese, and refers us to what was authorized by Parliament in the second year of the reign of King Edward VI – i.e. January 28th 1548 to January 27th 1549. I am using New Style dates for convenience.

Now this throws up an interesting problem because, although the Sarum Use was in use for the whole of the second year of King Edward VI, and into the third year of Edward VI, the first Act of Uniformity was passed 21st January 1549, that is, just before the end of 2 Edward VI, the Act itself being cited as 2 & 3 Edward VI c.1 – the first Act passed in that session of Parliament. This fact has given rise to two conflicting opinions as to how the Ornaments Rubric is to be interpreted. Dearmer, in common with many other late 19th century authorities, sees the Act of 1559/1662 as authorizing anything under the Sarum Use that was not forbidden in the second year of Edward VI, and proceed from that point to dress the BCP in the clothes of the Sarum Use, insofar as they will fit the Prayerbook.

The other point of view, which was maintained by the Royal Commission of 1906, and the Report to Convocation in 1909, is that the reference is to the BCP annexed to the 1549 Act of Uniformity, and therefore to the rubrics of the first Book of Common Prayer. Given the way Parliament usually cites legislation in the Tudor period, this makes a lot of sense, if not a lot of difference! Subsequent legislation in England, such as the draft Prayer Book of 1927/8, and the 1965 Canons have tended to take this line, whilst still leaving room for the more austere customs authorized by the Canons of 1604. Two things that neither the Ornaments Rubric, nor the 1604 Canons, allow are Genevan nudity, or Baroque Roman sentimentality, sadly, we see too much of both in Anglican Churches, though the latter tendency seems to be stronger in the USA.

Had the use provided for by the Ornaments Rubric prevailed, Anglican services would have somewhat resembled those of Lutheran orthodoxy. In addition to the choir habit, and choral services, Mass vestments, chant, and much of the old, modest, ceremonial would have survived, and the work of revival in the 19th century would have been so much easier, and so much less controversial. As it was, what so often came into use in the late 19th century was a mingle-mangle of private opinion and Baroque Romanism, neither of which is in accord with the spirit of the Book of Common Prayer. Even now it is not too late to put things right. All it would take is an honest attempt at obedience, and the use of reliable Anglican sources such as the old Alcuin Club “Directory of Ceremonial.”

Anglicanism does have a tradition of its own, and one that is rooted in the tradition of the Church before the forces of Reformation and Counter-Reformation distorted the traditions of the Western Church. There is nothing unprotestant or anti-reformed about the use of a dignified ceremonial in Church, and for many in this visual age, a modest ceremonial with colour and movement rooted in centuries of tradition might bring the eye-gate as well as the ear-gate to the human soul into the service of true religion.

Does anyone get the impression he would like to use Sarum, or do things Dearmer-fashion? One commenter asks the question – Perhaps you could explain this a bit further Archbishop. Are you referring to Sarum Rite? From what I have read that was a most complicated service.

Archbishop Robinson is certainly familiar with my Sarum page and what is available in classical English alongside the Latin. He is not a member of the Sarum group on Facebook, but he would of course be most welcome to join it. I refer readers to my previous discussion on the Prayer Book. It is indeed a stumbling block in the question of Anglican identity, and dialogue / reunion between continuing Churches.

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19 Responses to Straining at the Leash?

  1. William Tighe says:

    “Does anyone get the impression he would like to use Sarum, or do things Dearmer-fashion?’

    Not I; and it seems to be “an unnecessary hypothesis” to suppose so, as what Archbishop Robinson writes seems to me totally compatible with using the “straight 1549” BCP rite for THE SUPPER OF THE LORDE AND THE HOLY COMMUNION, COMMONLY CALLED THE MASSE (as it is called in the 1549 BCP). I would be very surprised if the archbishop would “like to use Sarum” (whether in the original Latin or in an English translation); more interesting to me is the question of his preference as regards the “Ornaments Rubric.”

    At the beginning of the 1549 Communion Service a rubric prescribes “… the vesture appoincted for that ministracion, that is to saye: a white Albe plain, with a vestement or Cope …;” another rubric, at its end, prescribes “And thoughe there be none to communicate with the Prieste, yet these dayes (after the Litany ended) the Priest shall put upon him a playn Albe or surplesse, with a cope, and say al thinges at the Altar (appoynted to be sayed at the celebracyon of the lordes supper), untill after the offertory.” In other words, it discards the stole, the maniple, and the amice – am I forgetting anything else? – prescribed in the Sarum Rite.

    Here is the “Ornaments Rubric” from the 1559 BCP:

    “And here is to be noted, that the Minister at the time of the communion, and at all other tymes in hys ministracion, shall use suche ornamentes in the church, as wer in use by aucthoritie of parliament in the second yere of the reygne of king Edward the .VI. according to the acte of parliament set in the beginning of thys booke.”

    And here is an excerpt from “the acte of parliament set in the beginning of thys booke:”

    “And further be it enacted by the quenes highnes, with the assent of the lordes and commons, in thys present Parliament assembled, and by aucthoritie of the same, that all and synguler ministers, in any cathedrall, or paryshe church, or other place within thys realme of Englande, Wales, and the marches of the same, or other the quenes dominions : shall from, and after the feaste of the Nativitie of Saynct John Baptist next comming, be bounden to saye and use the Matins, Evensong, celebracion of the Lordes supper, and administracion of eche of the Sacramentes, and all their Common and open prayer, in suche ordre and fourme, as is mencioned in the sayde booke, so aucthorised by Parliament in the sayde .v. and sixte yere of the raygne of king Edward the Sixt, with one alteracion or addition of certayn Lessons to be used on every Sonday in the yere, and the fourme of the Letanie altered and corrected, and two Sentences onely added in the delivery of the Sacrament to the communicantes, and none other, or other wyse.

    Note that this act does not prescribe a “new” Prayerbook; it restores that of 1552, with certain “alterations” – not including the Ornaments Rubric, which was added subsequently by the queen’s own authority. So while the legally minded may well dispute whether “the second yere of the reygne of king Edward the .VI” means January 28th 1548 to January 27th 1549, and so Sarum, or whether it means according to the Act of Uniformity enacted in that second year, but not coming into force until June 5, 1549 (Whitsunday), and thus in the third year of Edward VI, and so the rubric(s) I’ve cited above, it seems plain to me that in the historical context the 1559 rubric was an attempt to modify the requirements of the 1559 Act of Uniformity (which would have implicitly restored the 1552 Ornaments Rubric: “And here is to be noted, that the minister at the tyme of the Communion and all other tymes in his ministracion, shall use neither albe, vestment, nor cope: but being archbishop or bishop, he shall have and wear a rochet; and being a preest or deacon, he shall have and wear a surplice onely.”) in favor of the 1549 BCP’s requirements. Probably the “indirection” or “ambiguity” of the 1559 rubric was due to the regime’s growing realization that none of the incumbent bishops – Kitchen of Llandaff was, until the last moment, one of the “resisters” – were likely to go along with the religious changes, on the one hand, and that the returning exiles and others who would be called upon to replace them were privately disappointed by, if not downright opposed to – cf. John Jewel’s letters to his Zurich friend Peter Martyr Vermigli – the liturgical provisions of the Elizabethan Settlement.

    My own “take” on all this is that 16th-Century “Anglicanism” was no less Protestant in its self-conceit than Lutheranism – rather more so, in fact, I would argue, given its “Reformed” orientation from 1559 onwards (but that is an argument for another place) – since Lutheranism, like Anglicanism, to cite Archbishop Robinson, “does have a tradition of its own, and one that is rooted in the tradition of the Church before the forces of Reformation and Counter-Reformation distorted the traditions of the Western Church;” unlike Archbishop Robinson, seemingly, I believe that the Church of England from 1547 onwards was as much a part of “the forces of Reformation” as the Lutherans and the Reformed.

    • Dale says:

      Dr Tighe, but if the BCP firmly places the Church of England in the family of the reformed churches, where does that abomination of the Novus Ordo place the present Roman Catholic Church?

      • Mirai Kuriyama says:

        I’m sure, Dale, that the answer you are looking/hoping for is “Novus Ordo places the present Roman Catholic Church in eternal damnation.” Classic loaded question.

        I think that all Roman Catholics have a sense of history/an impression of how ancient the Church is, even if most of them are cut off from the better part of Tradition/healthy ecclesial practice/whatever word captures the true meaning of having been faithful to what the Apostles have handed down to us. Novus Ordo may be a mess (or an abomination) compared to/in view of older forms of liturgy once prevalent in the RCC, you have no right to deny any, even if slight or barely there, spiritual fruits it bears, especially when it has attuned itself in the life of a community.

      • I think Dale would agree with me in that there are certainly many spiritual and devout people in the RC Church. This argument about its current liturgy is that when people are spiritual and devout, it is in spite of the Novus Ordo and not because of it. Many communities “attune” themselves to different styles of worship. The Quakers have no liturgy at all. The question of the liturgy is not situated at the level of whether people are spiritual and devout. The question and its possible answers are elsewhere.

    • I think you are right about Anglicanism post-1547. Really, Henry VIII was no more immoral than Louis XV (Après moi le déluge). I respect and esteem Archbishop Robinson, but I could not fit into such a paradigm applied to our own time. I too doubt that he would be a candidate for Sarum revival beyond what Dearmer was doing at St Mary’s Primrose Hill. His legalism about the Prayer Book parallels that of the Fathers of the London Oratory dressing up the Novus Ordo to look like what we were doing at Gricigliano! Maybe a Sarum mass in English is just as artificial, but perhaps less so than the 1552 or 1549 Communion Service “commonly known as the Masse”.

      Most continuing Anglicans use some kind of “retro-futurism” (futuro-past-ism) in reconstruction efforts. I am no exception. With Archbishop Robinson, I see a certain tendency not unlike the Petite Eglise in France which “stopped history” at the point just before the 1801 Pius VII / Napoleon Concordat. We all seem to be concerned with some measure of historical authenticity. Otherwise you have the extremes of modern Evangelicalism or Ultramontanism à la François Premier. There were two ways to get out of this rut, revive Sarum and maintain things like the liturgy in English, curtailing some of the cruder popular devotions, or take the Counter-Reformation onboard with married clergy and without the Pope or the English RC hierarchy of whatever period. That is what happened in the period of the Ritualists up to about 1914.

      The thought that is constantly in my mind is to consider the alternative. Do away with history and be modern or post-modern. Become atheist. Become RC traditionalist or Eastern Rite. Become Orthodox. Everything has been tried by someone. Things don’t don’t seem to fit perfectly anywhere.

      • ed pacht says:

        If things seem to fit perfectly to the limited human mind, something is wrong with the reasoning or the observation. The finite human mind is not equipped to comprehend infinity. If one’s observation does not encounter thoughts that do not fit, one has not observed well enough. Seek and you shall find — and likely wish you hadn’t.

  2. Fr. David Marriott SSC says:

    I would have been very interested in the reply to this which would have emanated from the pen of the late Reverend Dr. Peter Toon: his definition and encouragement of ‘The Anglican Way’ was designed to allow a reasonable range of opinion. It was unfortunate indeed that individual opinions were determined to performing radical ‘road-widening ‘schemes on that ‘Way’! Perhaps the acceptance of a range of opinion in the ACC is a valid successor?

  3. Ken says:

    Being somewhat historically illiterate on this matter it would be nice if someone could post a range of liturgical “highness” in the CoE and associated well known individual representative. Maybe a range of 1 to 5 from Puritan to Sarum.

    • ed pacht says:

      I don’t think Anglicans can readily be put on such a scale. CofE and TEC (among others) have indeed stretched comprehensiveness to a point where tradition and even basic Christian doctrine are being pushed aside in an acceptance of secular thinking. However, Continuing Anglicanism, while insisting on traditional order and morality and on credal orthodoxy does indeed contain a wide range of thought and practice, from Bishop Robinson of UECNA and a reformation-oriented Anglicanism and Fr. Hart of ACC with a 39 Articles Catholicism ranging through definite (even spikey) Anglo-Catholics; from those preferring surplice and tippet even for Eucharist to those who love the ancient and elaborate pageantry. There is variety, but in essential things we are one.

      • Any high idea is banalised and brought down to the level of the “herd mentality” and fashion. Thus an aspiration to re-Catholicise Anglicanism, in parallel with similar movements in Lutheranism and even Swiss Calvinism – became “high camp” and something for the amusement of shallow-minded young urban men. A “range of liturgical highness” would add to this process of banalisation and put liturgical Christianity on the level of a fashion parade.

        I do suggest that Ken could cure “historical illiteracy” by reading, not only the Internet but real old-fashioned books.

        There was something to be said for the disciplina arcani!

      • ed pacht says:

        It takes time, lots of time, to come to a place of understanding. I’m now 76 and have been reading and inquiring, especially in ‘religious’ matters, since my single-digit years. Yes, I’ve learned a great deal in that time, but among the main things I’ve learned is that I actually know and understand very little indeed. There are no simple answers, no obvious scales on which to list and rank ideas and persons. God is infinite — I am finite: How can I expect to understand Him and His ways? I’ve met the Christ, been incorporated into Him in Baptism and regularly receive Him in the Eucharist. Beyond that I seek answers and find, not precisely answers, but Him, and, though striving to learn more and more, still see as in a glass darkly, until I pass through the veil and meet Him face to face. Beyond plain credal orthodoxy there is much of importance, much to seek, to study, to experience, but it is all secondary to knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

      • Fr. David Marriott SSC says:

        Re my comment about Dr. Peter Toon: the book `The Way, the Truth and The Life“, co-written by Peter Toon and the late Fr. Tarsitano might prove of value, as it `describes and witness tho the classical Anglican Way’. Published by St. Peter Publications, copyright the Prayer Book Society of the USA. St. Peter Publications also have this, Fr. Chadwick: $6.00 The Sarum Missal (new softcover edition, reprinted by St. Peter Publications).
        This small book contains an English translation of the text of the Holy Eucharist in the Sarum Rite.

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      There was a Dutch Reformed teacher who also got to attending the Church of England Chaplaincy in Utrecht who came to write a doctoral dissertation on The Church in the Life and Thought of Newman, receiving his degree in 1936. The next year he attended the World Conference in Edinburgh in 1937 as representative of the Reformed Church, and this involved some horrible experiences, and was followed by three years of hard thinking which eventually led to his being received into the Church of Rome in 1940. In 1948, Dr. Willem Hendrik van de Pol (1897-1988) became the first occupant of the Chair in the Phenomenology of Protestantism at the (Catholic) University of Nijmegen. Among his publications is a popular scholarly book entitled Het Wereld Protestantisme [World Protestantism] (1956).

      In it he writes, “Because new and old forms of Anglicanism continue to exist, undisturbed, side by side, because a number of transitional forms have come into existence, and because among the Evangelicals as well as among the Anglo-Catholics all gradations from orthodoxy to ‘free-thinking liberalism’ are to be found, contemporary Anglicanism exhibits a complexity and diversity of teachings and practices that is without parallel in the history of Christendom. Among the Anglo-Catholics alone, one can clearly distinguish four different types: liberal Anglo-Catholics (who have taken over the heritage of Catholic Modernism), Eastern-Orthodox-orientated, Old-Catholic- orientated, and Roman-Catholic-orientated Anglo-Catholics. Among the Evangelicals one finds Calvinistic-, Arminian-, Lutheran-, and Free-Church-orientated groups. The ideal of the great middle group of Anglicans (the moderate Anglicans) is, that all these shades and gradations, nuances, and groupings will continue to influence each other fruitfully, that they shall all contribute what is characteristically their own to the Anglicanism of the future and that Anglicanism will more and more grow into a close-knitted, integrated, new unity.”

      I’m not sure how accurate that impressive description was 61 years ago, but a lot has happened since then. But I can imagine that – with a lot of shifts and additions – much of that might still be true. I’m not sure how numerous a middle group of moderate Anglicans as so characterized there is, in which Provinces and self-described Anglican Churches, but, again, I would not be surprised if something like that – or, indeed, variations of it – may be found in the various Provinces of the Anglican Communion still in communion with Canterbury, the Continuing Churches, the current ACNA, and others – though I’m not sure what thoughts of what future extent of visible unity (with communio in sacris) there are likely to be, and where.

      • William Tighe says:

        The late great Eric Mascall (1905-1993) launched a comprehensive attack on “The ideal of the great middle group of Anglicans” (as characterized above) in the Chapter, “And Anglicanism whither?” in his unpublished final book manuscript “The Overarching Question: Divine Revelation or Human Invention,” now to be found in the archives of Pusey House, Oxford.

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Dear Dr. Tighe,

        What a tantalizing comment for all those of us not (any longer) within easy reach of Pusey House – where I once had the pleasure of (briefly) making his acquaintance!

        Have any scholarly folk the ambition of publishing this (I ask in total ignorance of the administration of Mascall Estate)?

      • William Tighe says:

        Dear Mr. Dodds,

        Not that I know of. I have entertained the thought of attempting it myself. I remember Canon Mascall telling me around 1985 that both Darton, Longmans & Todd and S.P.C.K. (his usual publishers) had both turned down the manuscript as “too negative.”

        A small bit of his critique of modern Anglicanism did make it into print, in slightly different versions. One appeared as a new introduction to the second edition (1984) of his Theology and the Gospel of Christ (1977: S.P.C.K.); the other, as his contribution to a book of essays, When Will Ye Be Wise: The State of the Church of England ed. C. A. Anthony Kilmister (London, 1983: Blond & Briggs); Mascall’s essay is entitled “Whither Anglican Theology.”

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Dear Dr. Tighe,

        Thank you!

  4. Dear Dr Tighe,

    I have suggested to a number of people who still turn to Dr Mascall for spiritual and theological nourishment that a website/ blog containing slabs of his work as well as opportunity for respectful discussion would enable his voice to continue to be heard. They all agree with me, but no-one seems to have the time to do so. In my view, such a project would be of huge benefit, not just for Anglicans, but to Christians across the spectrum of traditions.

    If permission could be obtained from the Mascall Estate to begin putting some of these writings (including hitherto unpublished pieces) online, you would be the ideal creator and maintainer of such a resource.

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