This is a historical day for me, since I am about to enter the dear old Anglican controversy about How Many Candles On The Altar.
Back in the good old days when such things were deemed to matter, dear old C of E was divided between (1) Evangelicals who regarded any candles in the same way as their modern successors view sodomy: as pretty well the ultimate sin. (2) Moderate Men or 'the High Church', for whom it was an article of Faith that Two Candles should stand on every Holy Table. The main evidence for this conviction seems to have been the 1547 Tudor Injunctions, the real point of which seems to have been graciously to allow parishes to retain two candles after the government had looted the rest. (3) Six candles ... beloved by 'Romanisers' ... how one's heart lifted as one entered a strange church if its High Altar were thus adorned ...
Dix p420 exploded these sacristy orthodoxies by listing the generous variety of customs which, in reality, existed in and before the England of 1548 (the year when, by a pedantically precise reading of the 1549 Prayer Book, the ornaments of the churches and their ministers were fixed and frozen in perpetuity).
But just notice Dix's words: "There appear in fact to be instances from medieval England of every number of altar candles from one to twenty, except seventeen and nineteen."
Did you spot that? ONE! How asymmetrical!
In what follows, I am being horrifically anecdotal. But it is up to you to bring me to my senses.
I am suspicious of rubrical sources which give numbers. I suspect them of giving us information about what was done in great churches. I am far less convinced thatat side atars and in chantries, this convention existed.
For some time, I have been noticing, without ever making records, pictures of Low Masses in medieval English manuscripts, in which the altar appear simply to have one candle; at the South ('Epistle') end of the Altar. Another example arrived in my post yesterday: D H Frost's magnificent Sacrament an Alter. An expensive book (£80/$109) but vital reading for anybody interested in Recusancy, the 'Marian Reaction', Tudor History, the Cornish Language, Bonner ...
On the front cover is an illustration 'from a Book of Hours, Sarum Use, c1440-c.1450' (BL, Harley 2915, folio 84).The priest is elevating the Host; there appears to be one candle on the Altar; the Clerk, whose left hand lifts the foot of the chasuble, with his right hand holds aloft two candles.