18 April 2017

Canon Brian Brindley ...

... wrote a nice piece on S Mary's Bourne Street ... or, as we called it once, Graham ['Grahm'] Street. My last visiting preachment as an Anglican was to this lovely 'Travers' building; the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, in aeternum floreat, represents in my mind the Faithful Remnant of that great old tradition, with its 'Mascall' connections.

Brindley explained that the key to understanding this Church was that it was intended to look like a Catholic Church which had gently and organically evolved over the centuries. He went on:

" ... in the Church of England, in all circles, low church and moderate as well as high church, the liturgical initiative is seen to lie with the Roman Church, and the Roman Church on the continent of Europe in particular. All the gimmicks which we see accepted without demur in the most official Anglican circles within the Church of England today - evening Mass, 'concelebration', Mass facing the people, 'primitive' vestments - all of them came to us direct from the Roman Church. Even in the matter of liturgy 'understanded of the people', where the Church of England has had a few centuries' start, it must be confessed that it has lagged behind the Romans. Church people who travel on the continent now find a very different external manifestation of Catholic continuity from that which delighted Maurice Child and Ronald Knox in the days before the Great War - tabernacles empty, high altars stripped and deserted, statues removed, votive-stands gone, high mass abandoned, plainsong and polyphony alike cast out in favour of vernacular hymns and trivial melodies; and, everywhere, communion-tables strictly in accordance with Cranmer's rubrics of 1552, in use at Mass. A Belgian or a Spanish visitor, wandering by chance into St Mary's, might be forgiven for thinking that he had strayed into some forgotten land of liturgical conservatism."

Father got some things wrong:
(1) Evening Mass was invented by Evangelicals, probably (has anybody researched this?) as an attempt to subvert Tractarian emphasis on Fasting Communion; and
(2) the 1552 BCP rubrics ordered the priest to stand at the North, or left, side of the Table. Thus he would be sideways-on to the people, who would have a good view of his right ear but would not be required to be confronted by his grinning face ... as the custom is in most Novus Ordo Churches. And

(3) are things quite as bad now?

Thanks to the erudite Dr Cotton for this.


Gaius said...

Incidentally, Father (or anyone else reading this), do you know why the BCP made priests stand on the north side? That innovation's always puzzled me somewhat.

armyarty said...

During my wanderings around the island of Manhattan. I once went into a church Called St. Mary's, a title bourne by two of the local Catholic parishes. I thought that, yes, this must be one of ours, given the size alone. As I entered. though, I saw that something was somehow amiss. With all of those statues and objects of devotion, candles, and armies of well behaved devotees, I knew something was not quite correct. Perhaps you have guessed, but I was in an Anglican church. St. Mary the Virgin, known far and wide as Smokey Mary's, for all the incense they use. It looked just like a Catholic Church would have looked, about 40 years before.

El Codo said...

Yes,Father,but People do confuse FORM with SUBSTANCE. The C of E may look "Catholic" when we know it is the Protestant successor to the Church of this country,and the True Church may look "Protestant",when we know it is the Barque of St Peter.Blessed John Henry dealt with this point in his wonderful way when he talked about the pile of clothes in the corner...they may appear to be a polar bear for a few seconds on waking,but once one realises that they are only clothes,they can never be a polar bear again.Many good Anglicans have fallen into that trap out of wishful and sloppy thinking. Thank the Lord at least some clergy,even if not many of the laity,have been liberated from the net,again to echo the Blessed.

neilmac said...

Some so-called north-enders continued well past the middle of the twentieth century; I do not know whether they survived longer than that.

When the vicar and his curate were both present at the communion service, it was not uncommon for the vicar to position himself at the north end, with the curate at the south end, facing each other across the table. This positioning was known as "The Lion and the Unicorn" - as a reference to the Royal Coat of Arms that appeared in many churches. It was probably also a sly dig at the erastian tendency of the Church of England.

Alan said...

The rubric actually says "on the north SIDE of the holy table". The expectation was that communicants would literally "draw near with faith", moving into the chancel andg athering around the holy table, placed "tablewise", with long sides north and south, rather than "altarwise". The north END of an "altarwise" holy table stems from Laud's attempts at decency with a distinct sanctuary.I believe evidence can be found in 16/17th cent woodcuts.

Maureen Lash said...

It was also known as the 'ping pong' position.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Alan is exactly right.

Those who wish to delve further can try

Moses Aaron


Mark Pattison

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William Tighe said...

It is all explained very well in this detailed study:


Altars Restored: The Changing Face of English Religious Worship, 1547–c. 1700. By Kenneth Fincham and Nicholas Tyacke. (New York: Oxford University Press. 2007. Pp. xviii, 396. $180.00. ISBN 978-0-19-820700-9.)

Unknown said...

North side position was in use at St Pauls, Carlton in the Willows, Nottingham in 1972 for definite. The Rev J A Bishop officiating