Use of Sarum

The Church of Salisbury shines as the sun in its orb among the Churches of the whole world in its divine service and those who minister it, and by spreading its rays everywhere makes up for the defects of others.

Bishop Giles de Bridport c.1256

This page has not been updated since 2012, at which time it often referred to hopes that the Ordinariate would adopt the Use of Sarum. From my present position, I am no longer concerned with this question. I will not indulge in “historical revisionism” but will simply add new elements and correct / delete bad links.

The Use of Sarum is the pre-Reformation liturgical form in the English Church. It is a use of the Roman Rite and has many similarities with the Dominican Rite. The origin of this liturgical usage is largely the Use of Rouen and a few imports from the Celtic and Mozarabic traditions.

Modern-day interest in Sarum is quite surprising, considering its abolition by the Anglican authorities in 1549 and its desuitude in the Latin Church from about the early seventeenth century. It is often denigrated by conservative Catholics, and people with ideas of reviving the old English liturgical tradition are passed off as eccentrics. As the photograph above, taken from a video recording, shows, Sarum is occasionally celebrated to this day and is assimilated to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite and the Ambrosian Rite of northern Italy. It would certainly be encouraging to see Sarum as a kind of “extraordinary” form of Anglican liturgical patrimony.

It is tempting to construct an apologia for restoring this Use as a part of Anglican patrimony, but such a method would be counter-productive as I have discovered by writing articles on The Anglo Catholic and reading people’s reactions in the comments. Some are for and others are against, and both camps often through preconceived and mistaken ideas. Such “received ideas” include thinking that Sarum is “way over the top”, too complex for anything other than occasional use in a cathedral, and, in particular, simply being an aesthetic backwash for English rites more or less based on the Prayer Book. It is also tempting to see Sarum as a pragmatic solution to solving the differences of liturgical usage in the Anglican world. Like the Dominican, Bragan or Ambrosian rites, not to mention Paris and Lyons in France, Sarum is a variant of the Roman Rite with an integrity of its own.

We can also remind ourselves that the intention in the late 1960’s and 1970’s was to crush all liturgical rites in the RC Church and replace them with the modern Roman rite, and introduce similar reforms even in the Oriental Churches. It was to be a repeat performance of 1549 and 1552, but this movement of deconstruction was halted by the appointment of Archbishop Bugnini to other duties in the Church, a number of steps by John Paul II to emancipate clergy and faithful attached to the older form of the Roman Rite and the present situation under Benedict XVI.

I doubt that Sarum could be revived on a large scale or be made an official liturgy of the future Catholic Anglican personal Ordinariates, but I am convinced it should be a reference in much the same way as the extraordinary form of the Roman rite will be the standard for a gradual process of reform and restoration of the liturgy by slowly transforming the ordinary form promulgated by Paul VI. A few of us would opt to celebrate Mass according to the Sarum Use in private and on special occasions with the lay faithful.

As suggested in the final sentence of the preceding paragraph, there is a pastoral dimension to the introduction or reintroduction of any “foreign” liturgical form. It has to be done gradually and without force. In many situations, the idea is best forgotten and it would be wiser in these circumstances to stick with a liturgical form that is familiar to the faithful, and transform it slowly, progressively, and only as truly necessary.

Sarum liturgical books are hard to find, and when they do turn up as rare books in second-hand bookshops, the asking price is often high. The Latin edition by Dickinson and the English editions by Warren and Pearson are available from the Internet in pdf format. It suffices to collate the pages into a DTP programme and bind the books. Work is being done to publish Sarum texts and the plainchant books for both the Mass and the Office.

This part of my site is dedicated to promoting the Use of Sarum and helping readers to understand its significance in the Anglican patrimony as a liturgical standard for supplementing familiar Anglican rites and usages, the Prayer Book in particular.

I will add files to this page from time to time, and will also collate valuable material from my Sarum e-mail list and its archives.


Facebook groups

Use of Sarum with 448 members as of September 2016. Another group worth joining is Medieval Catholicism and Culture with 2,569 members.


Blog posts on Sarum and Liturgy

·         Sarum

·         Liturgy

Further reflections

·         Sarum: Answers to a Few Difficulties

·         Sarum Missal in English

·         The Future Liturgy of an Anglican Ordinariate: Why not Sarum?

·         The Hermeneutic of Continuity in Anglicanism and the Reform of the Reformation

·         Four Riddel Posts Do Not Constitute the Sarum Rite

·         Unity from Diversity


To study the Use of Sarum

I recommend the following links to articles about Sarum (academic and historical):

·         View an entire Mass in this rite (Purification 1997 at Merton College, Oxford)

·         New Advent Encyclopaedia article

·         Article by Canon J. Robert Wright

·         Order of Mass in Latin

·         The Sarum Missal – a good link for the Latin and English texts for the Order of Mass

·         Russian Orthodox version

·         A link with some pictures of Dearmer style / Sarum altars

·         The Easter Sepulcre Ceremony

·         Wikipedia also has a good article –

·         New Liturgical Movement articles on the Use of Sarum

·         Sarum and Parisian Liturgical Colours


Files to copy onto your hard disk

Right button of your mouse – Save target as…

·         Internet Archive Search: Sarum – A primary source for scanned material in different formats

·         Church of Sarum – uncorrected scan of a 19th century translation of the Order of Mass with explanation

·         J. Wickham Legg version of the Latin Sarum Missal (uncorrected scan and quite garbled)

·         Instructions for Low Mass – taken from the Pearson English version

·         Another Order of Mass in Latin

·         Masses of the Dead in Latin (Dickinson)

·         Compline in English I

·         Compline in English II

·         Order of Mass in Latin of the York Use

·         The Sarum Office with Chant (Latin)

·         The Sarum Lectionary – MS Word for downloading. Alternatively, you can download the text version and do your own page setup.


Practical Sarum Revival work – Victorian Ritualism and in our own time : links to choral groups, interested laymen and priests

Victorian Ritualist era

[Note: Percy Dearmer did not attempt to revive the Use of Sarum, but to adapt the Prayer Book by the introduction of Sarum customs.]

·         English or Roman Use? by E. G. P. Wyatt, MA – the 19th century Ritualist attempt at reviving the Sarum Use in the Anglican Church

·         Percy Dearmer (1867-1936)

·         Project Canterbury article on Percy Dearmer

·         Percy Dearmer’s The Parson’s Handbook

·         The Alcuin Club

·         Anglican Ritualism – to some extent favoured the revival of Sarum


·         Newspaper article on the Sarum choral group

·         The Sarum choral group’s website

·         Sarum Mission – an Anglican lay initiative

·         Fr. Finnegan on the canonical status of the Sarum Use in the RC Church (this priest celebrated the famous Sarum Masses in Oxford back in 1997.

·         Sarum Candelmas – first of a series

·         Catholic World News report on the Sarum Mass celebrated in 2000 by a Scottish Roman Catholic bishop

·         Another report on the same Mass

·         ‘British Museum Religion’ – blog article

·         The Tallis Scholars recording of the Missa in Gallicantu

·         Sarum Chants from St. Hilarion Orthodox Monastery

·         Photos of the York Use at All Saints, North Street

·         English Lenten Array photos

·         Medieval Mass Programme of the Gild of Clerks

·         Medieval Mass reconstruction – not Sarum but an old Danish use


23 Responses to Use of Sarum

  1. I wonder if you have seen the satiricial The Low Churchman’s Guide to the Solemn High Mass’s opinion on The Sarum Use ( – which I thought might be of interest to you.

  2. Kevin King says:

    The Low Churchman is mid-informed, and really must read his history before attacking ancient and perfectly legal catholic traditions of the Church of England. The altar, its apparel, and the apparel and vestments of the sacred ministers as appointed in the BCP of 1549 have never been repealed.
    Whilst the Sarum Missal is perhaps not in keeping with reformed tradition, eurcharistict vestments and orderly chancels are. The word “catholic” is referred to many, many times in the BCP, the term Protestant isn’t mentioned once.

    So perhaps these low church puritans would like to surrender stained glass windows, colourful stoles, candles and organs. In its place they can celebrate the Lords Supper in a de-sanctified plain, bare church, on a bare old wooden table, with a dirty surplice ( even that is Romish).

    And for me, well I’ll take High Mass, Benediction, and Solemn Evensong any day. In fact, I’m a lapsed Catholic, converted from Anglicansim so I can’t have any of it. Oh dear!

    • I think you have missed the point about the Low Churchman – it’s a satire blog. I suppose there are “puritans” around, but I take no notice.

      If you are a lapsed Catholic, I would say you can go where you want. It’s a free world!

  3. Kevin King says:

    Thank you for correcting me Father. I have been so used to insults and liberalism, that I considers it another inside attack on the usages of the CofE.

    As I married outside the Roman Church, and my wife would never have the marriage blessed in the Catholic Church, I cannot receive the Sacraments in the Roman Church until this is amended. I have been told this by the local catholic priest.

    And I really don’t know if I could return to the Anglican Church, – I’m still very fond of the idea, however I feel that day by day the Cof E is becoming less of an Eccesia and more of a secular, anything goes club. As a teenager I was indeed honoured to serve at the altar of a magnificent parish church. I recently popped by, and was shocked to see the altar (a wooden Mensa) without a frontal, the six candles that stood on the reados had gone and the cruxifix which really grabbed ones attention to the altar and our Lords sacrifice was hidden behind an evangelical banner.

    The church had a new vicar who was at one point incumbent in one of the most Protestant churches in Norwich, he had been moved to Cornwall into what was an Anglo Catholic Church. A receipt for disaster.

    Still, that’s another story. Very interesting blog Father, keep up the good work!

  4. Pingback: A Case for the Restoration of the Sarum Rite in the Roman Catholic Church | Random Conjectures

  5. Timothy Graham says:

    A query, Fr A: If one wanted to buy a print edition of the Sarum Missal in English, would you recommend Warren or Pearson?

  6. Timothy Graham says:

    Thanks for the advice and links, & on a quick comparison of the Canon I see what you mean about Pearson’s translation.

    It is very generous of you to make all this available for nothing. There is a huge amount of time & labour behind this.

    • I have adopted the version in the Anglican Missal, called “Gregorian Canon” and close to a translation done in the 16th century and attributed to Miles Coverdale. See in the links I put on my previous comment.

      • Timothy Graham says:

        In the simple order of Mass I see some extra prefaces including several from Rouen, very beautiful, especially striking is the All Hallows’ preface. Were there additional prefaces in other Northern French / English dioceses?

      • I call these Prefaces “of Rouen” because Rouen (Usus Ecclesiae Rotomagensis) is the parent rite of the Use of Sarum. The extra Prefaces were authorized in all French dioceses from the time of John XXIII, and many supplements containing them were printed for Roman missals without them. Providentially, I live in the territory of the Rouen Archdiocese, which of course is Novus Ordo and mostly devoid of culture.

  7. John H. says:

    I am disappointed to see you refer to the novus ordo as “Roman Rite”.

    As we all know, the Roman Rite at mass had 6 common and 7 proper components (taking gradual-alleluia-tract as a single component), plus the Roman canon, arranged in a specific structure. The textual content of some components was variable, and additions of various sorts were frequent–hence the various “Uses”–but the components and structure themselves are the very essence of the Roman Rite. The history is well documented for over 1000 years, and there is patchy documentation going back 500 years more. There are similar characteristics in the canonical hours of the Roman Rite, obvious from even a cursory glance at the sources.

    So how can anyone call the novus ordo a “Roman Rite” in any sense of the word whatsoever? I realize that the RC hierarchy tells people what to think about this issue, but from an academic standpoint, it is ridiculous. If the novus ordo is Roman Rite, then so is the 1549 Book of Common Prayer. Both were written by people who used to employ the Roman Rite; both incorporate some of the components and structure of the Roman Rite; and both were championed by people who insisted their new confections somehow (magically, perhaps?) adhered more closely to the liturgy’s true history than what came before.

    I have always used the term “Cantuarian Rite” for the BCP, given the place of its origin. I call the novus ordo the “Vatican Rite” for the same reason. I really don’t care what terms are used, but I do wish there could be some academic agreement and some ignoring or Rome’s spurious claims of “continuity”.

    • I seem to have got sloppy in my old age! Also I have somewhat detached myself from my time in the RC Church. It was Msgr Klaus Gamber who gave Cardinal Ratzinger the idea of making distinctions between the classical Roman Rite and the new rite of Bugnini / Paul VI. The old arguments about Sarum seek to see “Roman Rite” as a genus and a “use” as a specific difference like in Aristotelian logic and epistemology. Actually, the French tradition that evolved from the Gelasian Sacramentary diverged early on from the Franciscan – German – Roman Curia usage that became the Editio Princeps and finally the Missal and Breviary of Pius V.

      You have a point. It would be like calling the Prayer Book the Use of Sarum!

      Words are important, and I apologize for my sloppiness. There are different terms we can use to make distinctions. Sometimes we get too tired of it all.

      • JohnH says:

        Now I feel bad. I wasn’t fishing for an apology, I was just voicing my own frustrations with the way some of these terms are *deliberately* distorted, which is certainly not the case here.

        I have heard the novus ordo called the Bugnini Rite, but I think that comes from a place of anger–probably merited, but not very scholarly. That’s why I have long opted for place names.

        I am part of the spreadsheet generation, so distinguishing between “rite” and “use” seems like a built-in requirement for me–if we don’t label all the columns correctly, we can’t sort!! So for me, having separate terms for the “family” and the “local variant” is a logical necessity, not so much a matter of “substance” and “accident”.

        More important (to me and probably no one else), the phrase “ad usum ___” is how contemporary writers, scribes, clerics, and laypeople described their versions of the Roman Rite, and I like to stick with them.

      • I appreciate precision and accuracy. I should know, being an “aspie” – though I am more of a literary one than a “mathematical” one! The genus / specific-difference distinction between “rite” and “use” is recent. I don’t know how recent, but the 1474 Princeps Missal, the predecessor of the Pius V “Tridentine” Missal of 1570, was called the “use” of the Roman Curia. Some call Sarum a “use of the Roman rite”, but it evolved the French way from the Gelasian Sacramentary and not the Franciscan-German way from the Gregorian Sacramentary and the Comes of Murbach. Thus the Epistles and Gospels vary, but concur with the uses of Rouen and Paris. Perhaps you could do a little study on these questions of usages and distinctions…

  8. Timothy Graham says:

    On Fr Hunwicke’s blog today (Pugin and Sarum), “more recently than that, a complete rendering of the Sarum Ordo Missae in Cranmerian pastiche was put together for use in the Ordinariates … but the plan failed since the Americans and the Australians were unkeen.” I wonder where this text could be obtained. What a shame!

    • I remember from about 2011 or thereabouts that Monsignor Andrew Burnham wrote favourably about Sarum, at least as an “extraordinary use”. Bishop Peter Eliott also warmed to the idea. I was invited to write The Future Liturgy of an Anglican Ordinariate: Why not Sarum? for The New Liturgical Movement. Fr Hunwicke also wrote for NLM and expressed his position for the English Missal as being close to the post-Tridentine Roman Missal.

      The can was kicked here, there and everywhere. Everyone is talking about Sarum but no one wants to do anything about it. I get lots of “hits” for my static website as well as this blog, because of the Sarum element. I think the text is simply the Warren translation for which you will find a link on As the Sun in its Orb – The Use of Sarum under “Major Resources”. Warren did the whole thing in Cranmerian / early modern English.

  9. brgeem says:

    Dear Father. I have only just been introduced to your blog (June 2021) and what a joy it is. There is so much to take in, but what I have, thus far, has been an utter delight. Suffice to say at this point in time, I have a deep soul affinity with Sarum, the area of my forefathers. And, for now, I will say only this: you feel it is not good to revive the Sarum Rite, but I would say this – any revival of such good and excellent liturgy can only be better than the majority of the rubbish that is being written in this present age. Rev’d Hm Graham-Michoel OSBC, Pastor: The Ancient Celtic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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