Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A New Sarum Ceremonial Manual

A rising tide, as they say, lifts all boats. Along with the slow-but-steady growth of interest in the traditional Roman Mass, there is a slow-but-steady growth of interest in the whole of our Catholic liturgical patrimony, including parts of it long treated as irrevocably lost. Within the past year and a half, there have been two public celebrations of the Divine Office according to Sarum Use, Vespers celebrated at Oxford last year by the Schola Sainte-Cécile, and another in Philadelphia this past February. Now we have received word from Mr Richard Urquhart of the publication of his new work entitled “Ceremonies of the Sarum Missal: A Careful Conjecture”, which is both a scholarly study of the Sarum Mass and a usable ceremonial manual. (See the T&T Clark website for the table of contents; also available through Amazon.)
This work describes the liturgies of the Sarum Missal as they might be celebrated in a major parish church. Consequently, although constant references are made to the customs of Salisbury cathedral, where the rites developed, the peculiar ceremonies of the cathedral, of pontifical functions and of the Breviary are excluded. It treats the rite from its Catholic perspective and follows the traditional structure of books of ceremonial. It describes the equipment required for celebrations; liturgical conventions; the celebration of Low and High Mass as the basic forms of the rite; variants on these (Requiems, weddings and sung Masses); processions; and special seasonal services. The preface discusses Sarum’s modern canonical status and two apendices treat of the laity in church and the form of the bidding prayers. A simple Ordo Missæ with rubrics in English concludes the book.
Many of the details are drawn from the liturgical books themselves (missals, manuals and processionals) and from various customaries. However, these omit important details often considered too obvious for inclusion. Therefore recourse has been had to other sources, such as carved fonts, illuminated manuscripts and church inventories. Some details have been deduced by analogy with other rites of the Roman family, not least those of the religious orders and other English mediaeval uses. Extensive use has been made of secondary literature, especially the studies of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Anglicans.
The original contribution of this work is to gather the available details, interpret them in the light of common liturgical customs and present them as a single manual that could be used by a novice celebrant setting out to learn the mechanics of the rite. This explains the presentation of the result: a straightforward description of the rites’ performance supported by unusually extensive footnotes designed to enable future students of the rites to access the author’s sources and to test his theories.
Mr Urquhart writes to say, “The book should be accessible to a priest trying to learn the ritual or an MC setting out to train a serving team. Such a reader could disregard the notes completely and treat the book as a Sarum O’Connell, a manual of instructions, though without any of the official weight of an auctor probatus.
The student of liturgy is given plenty of detailed notes. Some are archæological and serve to justify the inclusion of, e.g., the purificator; others provide references to the Sarum books themselves so as to justify the inclusion or exclusion of a certain ceremony; others again refer to other uses (Lyons, Hereford, the Dominicans, the Præmonstratensians...) or authors on ceremonial or other, more archæological, sources, since some ceremonies can only be elucidated through comparison with other rites. These notes might be a bit overwhelming for the general reader but should allow the serious student to test my theories. I hope that with time this process will lead to more accurate knowledge and even to devout celebrations of the Sarum Mass, which is a part of the liturgical patrimony of the Latin Church. It is this pastoral aspect of the work that has led me to consider briefly Sarum’s canonical status today.”
And here is Fr Hunwicke’s review: “This book is both learned, in the best sense of that word, and fun! It is structured like O'Connell ... and shows you how to celebrate the Sarum Rite solemnly. But also (this is far more difficult to reconstruct from the rubrics) how to “do Sarum” in the simple “Low Mass” way it must have been done every morning in churches and chantries all over England (and much of northern Europe). Sources are minutely footnoted, and a convincing account is given of the canonical status of this Rite. A volume which could change your life!”
We congratulate Mr Urquhart on this remarkable achievement, and hope that we may see it put to practical use soon and often. Feliciter!

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