19 August 2020

Dudley Symon (2)

Writing ... allow me to remind you ... in 1959, on the eve of the Council, Canon Symon wrote: "The Liturgical movement' abroad will no doubt eventually bring about much simplification and pruning: and in this respect the Church will certainly be going 'back to Rome'. But it is most unlikely that its chief glory, the Canon, will be touched or cease to be said in Latin even if  elsewhere much more of the vernacular is permitted.".

Although Vatican II made not the slightest suggestion, gave not the tiniest hint, that the Canon of the Mass should be tampered with, and mandated the retention of Latin, inside a decade changes were made to the Words of Consecration; and alternative Eucharistic Prayers were permitted, which, contrary to the nearly two-thousand-year-old Roman Tradition, byzantinised the Rite by introducing an 'Epiclesis'.  Symon's views on that sort of thing can be extrapolated from his condemnation of the abortive Anglican liturgy of 1927: "The pedantry of Frere insisted on orientalising the Canon". But even worse: a dozen years after the publication of Symon's book, the Canon, de facto, had been almost universally replaced in Anglophone countries by a disgustingly bad mistranslation of a brief new Eucharistic Prayer, a pitifully mangled version of something which then, quite erroneously, was attributed to an early antipope called S Hippolytus.

You just couldn't make all that up, could you? In just a dozen years!!

Happily, our Ordinariate Missal restores the normacy of the Canon ('pseudo-Hippolytus' being only permitted on weekdays). I will conclude today with Symon's remarks about the Roman Canon, which, like Hugh Ross Williamson, he called
"the 'Great Prayer' which by the end of the sixth century had taken its final shape and become the heart of the Catholic rite, the Canon of the Latin Mass ... we see how magnificently the Roman genius flowered again in this incomparable expression of the Church in its central act of adoration and offering to Almighty God. ... This was the Prayer that S Augustine brought with him to England in A.D. 597 and which for a thousand years was familiar to and loved by the English people. It is almost incredible that by a stroke of the pen it was made illegal by State action, though not so strange that revolts were widespread against this piece of tyranny, revolts that could only be stamped out by German mercenaries.".

Symon school mastered and head mastered until 1947; in retirement he served as Warden of S Anne's House in Soho; Chaplain to a convent; Bursar of the Society of the Faith; Proctor in Convocation and Superior General of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament.

Perhaps it is, in some ways, as well that he died in 1961.


WH Dunne said...

I was recently struck while watching this short film (https://ifiplayer.ie/radharc-the-new-ritual/) by Radhrac, a film unit funded by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin from 1962 until 1996. This video, the New Ritual, from 1962 describes some of the changes made as a result of the Council. It is interesting how (to us now) very minor changes and introductions of the vernacular are treated as v significant ruptures.

More staggering is, as with your post today, the total confidince that when any vernacular in the mass would be confined to the ante-mass and certainly not the canon. Also amusing is the attempt to substantiate the claim that in Ireland these changes were from popular demand.

Frank Fletcher said...

Fr, thank you for this most informative piece of liturgical history. It demonstrates, among other things, that reforms all have antecedents and that the Mass of Paul VI, far from being the inauguration of unholy (dare I say) change to the Rite of Mass, was a culmination. Correct it is that Vatican II did not call for or permit such change, particularly to the Canon. Paul VI is responsible, but, he was long a part of that group that wanted to radically alter the faith and the practices of the Church. History is everything and I pray that you continue to provide this needed context.

Stephen said...

"and alternative Eucharistic Prayers were permitted, which, contrary to the nearly two-thousand-year-old Roman Tradition, byzantinised the Rite by introducing an 'Epiclesis'."
Ugh. Must you deflect onto us Eastern Romans via the pejorative use of "byzantinised" and the passive voice the fact that it all happened via Papal ukase? The Pope of Rome is either the "Pontifex Maximus" who possesses all the powers he claims to manipulate the liturgy as he sees fit (as Paul VI so clearly told Arch. Lefebrve), or he is not. If he is, by what authority can you dispute any change he makes? And if he is not, happy to have you this side of the Bosphorus.