9 October 2019

Bonair and Buxom

Some friends and I were once chatting about the relationship between Dr Cranmer's Wedding Service and its antecedents. They had, in fact, arranged that their own wedding tok place according to the Prayer Book of 1549! I said that there was more continuity in this area than in most of his compositions; I here append the Sarum form of the wife's Plighting of the Troth, which of course is technically part of the Espousals which took place at the church door and were followed by the Nuptiae as everyone moved to the choir.

I N take thee N to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to be bonair and buxum in bed and at the board; till death us depart, if Holy Church it will ordain, and thereto I plight thee my troth.

Isn't is lovely, the phrase I've highlighted, in its alliterative power?!?

According to the OED, bonair derives from the French debonnair, id est, de bonne aire, 'of good disposition, gentle, kind, complaisant, mild, gracious'. Buxum means 'bowsome, flexible, obedient, pliant, compliant', and has a parallel form in German (biegsam). The meaning moved on to 'blithe, jolly'; but only in the sixteenth century did the sense 'plump' become clear.

In Middle English, I gather, 'depart' was a transitive verb meaning 'part, separate'. I think it was in 1662 that it was deftly changed to 'do part' to keep up with the changes in the language.

I seem to remember that Recusant usage continued to use the Manuale Sarisburiense for Marriage.

1 comment:

√Čamonn said...

It's in the same form in Edmund Lacy's Pontifical from the early 15th century.