2 July 2015

The English Missal (3)

Thus it is recorded of one of our more eccentric clergy, Fr Sandys Wason, of Cury and Gunwalloe, that as he approached to Altar on dark weekday mornings, he would murmur to his server "Anyone here?", and if the answer were negative, would reply "Good. Latin Mass". Mr Kensit's inventory of the enormities he found in Cury church concluded "But yet more, the Vicar dares to use A ROMAN MISSAL"! At Walsingham, no longer in the Sacristy but since the 1960s preserved among the archives, are large numbers of the Missale Romanum, showing many evidences of long and continuous use. And there were churches in which everything, even on Sundays, was Tridentine and in Latin (details in M Yelton Anglican Papalism).

Since the revival of 'ritual' in the Church of England, there had been a tendency for the Advanced, Extreme behaviour of one generation to have become 'mainstream' in the next. Thus, as the twentieth century progressed, there was much less bother about the perceived enormities of the previous century, such as candles, Eastward Position, the Mixed Chalice, Mass vestments, even incense and sacring bells. Many of the bishops were now doing these things or some of them themselves. The new controversies centred round the Presence and the Sacrifice: the extra-liturgical cultus of the Blessed Sacrament (Benediction, Exposition, Corpus Christi Processions); and the Canon of the Mass. In other words, bishops did their best to ban Benediction and to stop the interpolation of the Canon of the Mass, said silently, before and after Cranmer's Consecration Prayer.

This made the bishops very unpopular. Just imagine. A group of disaffected Protestant laity would go to a bishop with their list of complaints about their 'High Church' Vicar; the Bishop would promise to do something about it when he came to appoint the next Vicar (the present one enjoying Parson's Freehold, and hence being unsackable). But what Protestant laity very often wanted was the return of Morning Prayer instead of the Eucharist as the main service on a Sunday morning; if not that, they desired at least the removal of incense, chanting, servers, candles, bells. Their list of desired 'reforms' would almost certainly not include the removal of the Canon of the Mass, for the very simple reason that the Vicar said it silently during the singing of the Sanctus and Benedictus. They had never heard it and so they didn't even realise that they ought to be violently against it! The bishop would promise to see that the next Vicar was less Extreme. When the time came, he extracted from candidates for the job an undertaking that they would abandon the Canon and, in its place, use the "Interim Rite" (which meant that two of Cranmer's prayers, gummed together, replaced the Canon).

The Low Church Laity were furious. They knew nothing about the importance of the Canon, and gave the Bishop no credit for its elimination. All they saw was that the Bells and Smells continued. They were convinced that the Bishop had done the dirty on them. Bishops became, in their eyes, devious and deceitful men who broke their promises; shifty individuals, hand in glove with 'extreme' clergy, who never looked you in eye. Catholic clergy and laity were as damning; when the living had become vacant, the bishop had assured them with his nicest pastoral smile that he would "maintain the Catholic Tradition" at S Luke's; instead, he appointed a member of the group which was coming to be called "Protestants in Chasubles". To outsiders, the worship in S Luke's remained completely 'Romish'; little did they understand the subtleties of whether the "Western Rite" or the "Interim Rite" was in use. All they saw was complex ritual. One old Anglo-Catholic shrine church, All Saints Margaret Street, fell into the hands of such a priest, Fr Kenneth Ross; he banned from the hospitality of his altars clergy who used the Canon. Wagging a forefinger, he would say "You know the rule here, my dear; choreography according to Fortescue but libretto by Cranmer".

For some half a century, the Anglo-Papalist clergy were persecuted for using the Canon. This resulted in an awareness of its enormous importance being branded deeply into their (our) memories. Even today such persecution continues in the Church of England; Anglican diocesans intimate that they will not make a fuss about any liturgical practice however technically illegal as long as an Anglican Eucharistic prayer is used. The Canon is something we have fought and suffered for.

To be continued.

3 comments:

Independent said...

The Vicar if All Saints, Margaret Street, who made the remark which you quote, was originally Fr Tomkinson, Fr Ross' predecessor as vicar. He refused to allow Fr Hugh Ross Williamson to say a private mass at All Saints

"because, my dear, you'll use that horrid Roman book and the rule here is music by Mozart, choreography by Fortescue, Decor by Comper, but" -- his long forefinger wagged roguishly and his voice became solemnly emphatic - "libretto by Cranmer".(Hugh Ross Williamson "The Walled Garden" 1957, p 157).

It would seem that All Saints had changed well before Fr Ross took over. Fr Williamson had known Tomkinson since 1926 and regarded him as one of the three great wits in the C of E.

Adrian said...

Kenneth Ross? Hugh Ross Williamson said in his autobiography that Cyril Tompkinson said it to him.

Bruce Bridgewood said...

The current SA Prayer Book lists several Eucharistic Prayers as "authorised". Interestingly one of them is Prayer Three from the Roman Rite, so there's yr green light if you wish to plead that you are using Anglican prayers from elsewhere in the Communion....