17 October 2021

Mark Pattison and his problems with Concelebration

Mark Pattison did not confine his uncomprehending contempt to women and papists; anybody who seemed to him to stand in the way of his own boundless self-esteem aroused his helplessly intemperate verbal malevolence. In 1851, the Rectorship of Lincoln College in this University came up for election. Pattison inevitably and with total certainty knew that he was the obvious candidate. Here is his infuriated reaction to learning that another Fellow, John Calcott, also proposed to offer himself. (I should explain to those who are not of the Patrimony that in those days common Anglican Eucharistic practice was for the Celebrant to stand and kneel at the North End of the Altar, and, if there was another priest or deacon assisting, he was at the South End.)

"As I stood opposite Calcott at the altar-table on Sunday, I could not help a feeling, very untimely at that place, that I should be supposed to be engaged in competition with such a snubby, dirty, useless little dog."

You could do worse than read Pattison. I have not laughed so much on turning the pagers of a book since, so long ago now, I read Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall for the first time. For once, the pastiche of Pattison's style confected by Mgr R A Knox (Let Dons Delight, Notes to Chapter VII) is, yes, very funny, but not funnier than the reality (ht to the erudite Sue Sims for the Knox reference). Could any satirist ever have imagined that even a self-obsessed bigot like Pattison would give away his own interior corruption quite as obviously and risibly as in the above sentence?


Unknown said...

When Austen Farrer was appointed Chaplain of Trinity in the 1930s he was expected to celebrate in the "Lion and Unicorn" arrangement, with President Blakiston occupying the other end of the altar (or do I mean Holy Table). He was able eventually to install a larger altar which left no space at the ends and required celebration Ad Orientem. The old altar has recently been discovered in the side chapel of a country church and, being a rather fine piece of Baroque cabinet making in harmony with the rest of the chapel, has been reinstalled.

Fr Edward said...

North End celebration is a bit of the Anglican patrimony I'd like to see enriching the Latin Church, as well as lots of lifting up the great alms dish. All happy memories from my youth, along with I imagine, sight of the last gown worn by the vicar in the pulpit c.1985. I'm sure that there's ample provision for all sorts of things.

I've just a question about the Lion and Unicorn (north and south) arrangement of the clergy at the holy table, and Liverpool Anglican cathedral is a good example of a 20th century design for this. If another priest was at the south end, did he say or do anything, or have any notion of joining in the celebration with the vicar at the north end? Perhaps he was there for symmetry or dignity, or to stop him wandering about, or to get him in position to be 'first or second cup' at the communion rail.

I've often wondered.

William Tighe said...

May I draw interested readers' attention to this excellent and comprehensive, but outrageously costly, book, the best on its subject?:


Altars Restored: The Changing Face of English Worship, 1547-c.1700, by Kenneth Fincham and Nicholas Tyacke. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Colin Spinks said...

Thanks for these snippets. It sounds a bit like "Diary of a Nobody"

Exsollertan said...

“North End” Does the term have any connection with the origins of that grand old football club Preston North End? Just a thought.

Unknown said...

Surely, people say North End to indicate that the instruction in the Prayer Book to be "standing at the North Side of the Table" indicates standing on the West edge of the Altar on the Gospel side rather than the Epistle side - though this is not how it was widely understood in the 18th century, or even, in his Anglican days, by S. J.H. Newman.

William Tighe said...

"Surely, people say North End to indicate that the instruction in the Prayer Book to be "standing at the North Side of the Table" indicates standing on the West edge of the Altar on the Gospel side rather than the Epistle side ..."

No; see the thorough treatment of the issue in the book which I referred to in a previous comment, above.