ANTHEM AT THE ENTRANCE OF THE BISHOP
Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, qui ...
is how the little book begins; it was among my late Mother's effects. On the cover it reads: "This book is the property of the Diocese of Oxford and must not be taken away." But my Mother, God rest her soul, was rather inclined to keep little mementos of memorable occasions; and this was "The Form and Manner of Making and Ordaining of Deacons and Priests"; and she preserved it as a memento of my Deaconing in 1967 and my Priesting on 9 June 1968 in the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford. It has some interesting features.
It bears no date; but bibliographical considerations narrow its printing down to the period 1945-1947; and thus to the episcopate (1937-1955) of Kenneth Escott Kirk, predecessor of the Bishop Harry Carpenter who ordained me. I look upon both of these as sacerdotes valde magni; incidentally, for those Catholics (sometimes they write to me) to whom the papal condemnation of Anglican Orders in Apostolicae curae is a very important part of their Faith, I will in passing point out that each of those two bishops received the episcopate from coconsecrators including Bishop Bertram Fitzgerald Simpson, who was himself raised to the 'Old Catholic', i.e. Dutch Schismatic but indubitably valid, episcopate in 1932 by Henry Theodore John Vlijmen, Bishop of Haarlem (utpote per consecratorem aequiprincipalem). Rome has never condemned 'Old Catholic' Orders, and, indeed, accepts them as valid. Simpson left it on record that when he took part in subsequent consecrations, he carefully intended always to pass on the Dutch, as well as the Anglican, episcopal succession.
(Incidentally, I believe I am right in saying that Bishop Kirk used to consecrate the oils according to the Roman Pontifical (preConciliar, of course) in the Benedictine Abbey at Nashdom, within his diocese, where Mass and all the Offices were done in Latin. I wonder if he was the first Church of England bishop since Tudor times to consecrate the Holy Oils?)
Ecce sacerdos magnus is a significant starter to a service; it is what is sung in Catholic churches when a Bishop enters solemnly for a great liturgical occasion. Bishops Kirk and Carpenter certainly regarded themselves as Catholic Bishops in the fullest Catholic sense; both were distinguished Anglo-Catholic scholars and Oxford academics and it was Kirk who masterminded the collection The Apostolic Ministry (1946) which defended Catholic doctrines of priesthood and episcopacy. Among his close friends (and an Honorary Chaplain from 1946) was Canon Arthur Hubert Couratin, Principal of St Stephen's House (1936-1962; died 1988) and a considerable liturgist both theoretical and practical. He used to bring his 'circus', a gang of seminarian servers, to the Cathedral in order to 'do' Kirk's ordinations. I believe, from internal evidence, that the little book I am considering is a collaboration between Kirk and Couratin; and it exhibits ... as I have said ... some very interesting features, of which Ecce sacerdos magnus is the first.
To be continued. This is in five parts, and I shall not enable any comments until all five have appeared.