20 August 2020

Canon Dudley Symon (3)

In the first year or so of the American Ordinariate, the then Ordinary, under pressure from, I think, an individual called Wuerl, discouraged the use of the 'Extraordinary Form' on the grounds that it was 'not part of our Patrimony'. I find it hard to think of anything more erroneous ... or more patently ridiculous.

Since the days of Pusey and Neale, the 'Tridentine Rite' had been used in some convents; in the first decades of the twentieth century, Symon's contemporary Mgr Ronald Knox, when still a young Anglican priest, used to make his way through West Oxford's slum streets to S Thomas's (my last Anglican church) so that he could celebrate, in Latin, at an altar in the Convent Chapel. These were the years that saw the first of the many editions of the English Missal; when our daughter church of S Paul's was given a Belgian interior  (Our Lady of Victory ... a revolving Tabernacle which, when swung round, revealed an Exposition Throne ...); when the Sanctuary at S Thomas's was baroquified; when, as Symon says, in a few churches there even 'attempts to oust English entirely in favour of Latin'.

Looking back in 1959, Symon wondered what was really happening back in those early days of his priesthood. "Many middle-aged and elderly people, of whom I am one, owe a great deal to the 'Sung Eucharist' of their youthful days, and I have no desire to belittle it. ... But a change began to come roughly in the decade preceding the First World War. It is not easy to see why and presumably a number of factors entered in -- greater liturgical knowledge and appreciation, for one thing, and the entry of a new generation ... there was danger that the movement would become respectable and even approved of by the Bench [of bishops]: such certainly was the spirit of the impish Society of S Peter and S Paul [of which Knox was a suppporter] ... and as the leisurely Victorian age passed away and its saintly but conservative priests with it, the new sacerdotal order found the old too slow, too lengthy and too humdrum for their adventurous, witty and impatient spirits.".

I wonder what parallels there may be with the Catholic Church in these present decades!

Fairy stories end with everybody living happily ever afterwards. I am afraid I must reveal that Canon Symon died without, as far as I am aware, entering into Full Communion with the See of S Peter. But an appendix at the end of his book makes reference to the first attempt at a 'Group Solution': the attempt to persuade Rome in 1959 to allow a 'Transitional Church'. Symon was clearly sympathetic, but appreciates that "at Rome it was adjudged not worth the trouble". He concludes:
"The tide is not flowing in our direction. 'Protestant oecumenism' is not yet a positive danger but it is an ominous threat and the unconcealed objective of the majority of the Bishops. The next twenty years, or even decade, may well be decisive and make the position untenable even for the most moderate school of Anglo-Catholics. It looks like now or never.".

Suppose the poor old thing could have know about the Feminist future of Anglicanism ...

From time to time, I aim to supply more quotations from his book.



Dale Crakes said...

Fr what is the title of the book your quoting from?
Thanks Dale Crakes, Seattle

Fr John Hunwicke said...


Shaun Davies said...

Sorry to be late. I don't understand. In his book of 1959 he says that protestant oecumenism is not a danger - but surely this was protestant oecumenism's Finest Hour - with the South India scheme causing problems. As far as I know all the "giants in the land" caved in after the new Church of South India scheme was realised and Dr Mascall wrote an apology. According to the Anglo-Catholic History Society booklet about it, there was only a tiny dribble of converts (Hugh Ross Williamson, Walton Hannah) - just as there have only been tiny rivulets after Ordination of Women Deacons, then Priests.........then Bishops. The predicted mighty torrent of converts never seems to appear.
I wonder what Canon Symon - Warden of C.B.S. thought about the abolition of the Eucharistic Fast by Rome - after all one of the objects of CBS had been to defend the Fast and pray that "Evening Communion might cease".