Monthly Archives: January 2023

Sarum Use, by H.R. Percival (1890)

Your anonymous correspondent can hardly expect me to restate  my argument which I hope most of your readers have more fully grasped; perhaps, however, it may not be amiss to point out one or two facts with regard to the Sarum Ritual. If its ultra-ritualistic and semi-superstitious character is to be exemplified, the rubrics for the procession on Palm Sunday are fully sufficient.

Anyone comparing these with the simple and dignified procession of the rest of the West will see the enormous difference. For corruption of doctrine, the peculiarities of the service for the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday is enough, although numbers of other instances could be cited. For the enthronement of superstition, the elaborate account of the supposed miracle of the bleeding crucifix for which a special feast day is appointed may suffice.

Why your correspondent was not familiar with these and dozens of other quite as flagrant examples, I cannot imagine. The study of almost any one of the so editions of which he speaks would have been sufficient. Your correspondent does not appear to be quite up to date in Liturgiology. Mr. St. John Hope, in his admirable monograph upon the English Liturgical Colours, has at last placed this question beyond all controversy. His conclusion in brief is this—but one thing is certain, and that is that white was the universal colour for Lent in England! Outside of this he shows there was almost no uniformity. Your correspondent will find a short resume of Mr. Hope’s article in the January number of the (English) Church Quarterly Review, written by Dr. Wickam Legg. Pray allow me before closing to point out to your readers just how far we have got on this Sarum question. We find that in the Prayer Book there are many peculiarities of the Roman Books and but few of the Sarum Books. An analysis of the Litany (for example shows that while there are traces of Sarum influences yet that in the main it follows the continental uses, and chiefly the German. I need not point out to students of Liturgiology how this happens to be the case. The same is true of a large part of the Prayer Book. While, then, it is readily granted that Sarum use had its influence in framing our present services, the statement (so often made and until recently so universally accepted) that Sarum Use was the basis of our Prayer Book appears to rest upon no foundation whatever.

What your correspondent says about the ready access that there is now to Sarum Books is, comparatively speaking, true, but here again we find ourselves faced by a tremendous difficulty. We have not only the Sarum Books but we have also contemporaneous descriptions of the services in different parts of England and these descriptions do not agree with the Sarum directions! I have digested a large number of these and shall hope some time to be able to speak with some positiveness upon the subject, but it is evidently the work of years; and until this is done by some one, mere statements, unsupported by contemporary writers, and only made by authors more than 300 years afterward, can be no proof of the even approximate universality of the Sarum Ritual. I should add that the extensive use of the Revised Sarum Psalter is not disputed.

I do not know whether any one else is pursuing his researches by the same method as myself. I hope others are doing so who have better opportunities of consulting rare books found only in the libraries of the Old World, but at least mine have gone far enough to shew the unreliability of most of what was called information upon the Sarum question.

I can well remember the time when I shared your correspondent’s views, and it was not until I had devoted more attention to the subject that I found I had been misled by similar false statements to those which are evidently now influencing him. In closing I would say that while my chief contention was the identity in all essential points of our present celebration of the Holy Eucharist with that of the past, I yet am of the opinion of those who considered that the Service Books of mediaeval England had become “corrupt” and “superstitious,” and that the ritual was often “barbaric” and “theatrical,” and therefore needed Reformation. Unless I misunderstood “Boston” he deems the Reformation un-called for and is one of those (I use his own rather curious expression) “Catholic Churchmen that look back with longing to the days when the Church of England held the Catholic Faith in its entirety.”

Henry R. PercivalThe Church Eclectic, May, 1890, pp. 171-173.


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The Order of Corporate Reunion Briefly Discussed in Twenty-Five Questions and Answers (1877)

Q. 1. I have heard some talk about a Society which calls itself the “Order of Corporate Reunion.” Can you tell me anything about it?
A. It is a voluntary association of Catholics in the Church of England, who have combined to carry out certain objects, which they believe to be necessary and lawful. I myself, concurring in these objects, have willingly sought and obtained admission into the Order.

Q. 2. Is it a secret society, pray?
A. By no means. Its promoters desire nothing more earnestly than that its objects, aims, and modes of working should be known as generally as possible.

Q. 3. What is its first object?
A. The attainment of a sound doctrinal agreement, and a public affirmation to that effect.

Q. 4. How is this carried out?
A. By the solemn acceptance and profession of a common Catholic Rule of Faith, plain, clear, and easily understood. This has been publicly announced in the Pastoral lately issued, and printed in the first number of its Magazine.

Q. 5. What is its next object?
A. To supply the defect consequent upon the lapse of actual spiritual jurisdiction in the Church of England.

Q. 6. What do you mean by a lapse of actual spiritual jurisdiction?
A. I mean that the Bishops, by submitting to the enactment and operation of the Public Worship Regulation Act, have let the powers intrusted to them as rulers of the Church, pass out of their own hands, into those of a layman. As this is quite inconsistent with the divine constitution of the Church, inasmuch as it was to the Apostles and their Successors only that Christ gave the power of ruling the Church; therefore there is now no spiritual authority in the Church of England which is in harmony with Christ’s institution.

Q. 7. How, then, can the Order supply this defect?
A. By obtaining the help of men who have received Episcopal Orders; and who will be obeyed by the members in purely spiritual matters, which are now left unheeded by the Diocesan Bishops.

Q. 8. But surely, such a course must be unlawful?
A. Not at all. For there is no law to prevent any layman or Clergyman who is a member of the Church of England from being ordained or consecrated abroad. Then supposing a person so consecrated, there is no law to prevent him from returning to England. In fact this kind of thing is constantly being done in connection with Colonial Churches.

Q. 9. But how can any Bishops, so consecrated, have authority to act in England?
A. In the first place, these Bishops make no claim to any temporal or civil recognition or authority whatever. Secondly, they are pledged not to originate a secession or schism from the Established Church. Thirdly, they only receive the obedience of those who are willing to have recourse to them; and after all, this is the real foundation of all spiritual authority. Fourthly, they will not perform their functions in the public Churches of the Establishment. Lastly, they will only administer those rites, and perform those functions, which, though of divine institution, and immemorial usage in the Catholic Church, the Diocesan Bishops of England refuse to administer or perform.

Q. 10. To what functions or rites do you refer?
A. Such as the Consecration of Chrism; its application in Confirmation; the Consecration of Oil for Unction of the Sick, and others of that nature.

Q. 11. But is not the interference of such Bishops entirely unheard of in the Church? As is not the whole scheme contemplated by such a society of volunteers equally strange and novel?
A. Not at all. Besides the Diocesan Bishops, there are many others now in England, such as the Suffragan and Colonial Bishops, who discharge Episcopal functions. Our Bishops will only do much as they do. Again, such Societies as the Church Association and the Church Missionary Society, voluntarily take upon themselves many of the functions which properly belong to Bishops. And the Society of the Holy Cross provides a supply of Oil for the Unction of the Sick.

Q. 12. Are these the only reasons you can give for the institution of your Order?
A. By no means. One of the most important objects we have in view, is to remedy the evils which spring from the careless way in which Baptism has for a long time been, and still is, administered.

Q. 13. I do not understand what you are talking of?
A. Many persons are, beyond all doubt, actually unbaptized without being aware of the fact. A very common custom used to be prevalent, of administering this Sacrament to as many as a dozen children at once, by merely tinging the moistened hand once in the direction in which they were, held in their nurses’ arms, while the words appointed were said once, in the plural.

Q. 14. You don’t mean to tell me that this is true?
A. I believe it is perfectly true. I have no doubt about it. I have seen and spoken to persons who have witnessed it. Many persons living have done so.

Q. 15. But if this be so, how are you to know who has been rightly baptized, and who has not?
A. That is the very point. Of course we cannot know. The only thing we do know is, that shameful carelessness and neglect have been very common.

Q. 16. How, then, do you propose to remedy the evil?
A. The only safe and certain remedy is, for all persons to be baptized in the conditional form, unless they can prove, by the clearest evidence, that they have been properly baptized. This is the rule followed in the Roman Church. And plain common-sense shows that it is the only safe one.

Q. 17. But cannot our present Bishops do all this?
A. Certainly they can. But it is equally certain that they don’t. But that is not all. Suppose that the Bishops themselves, or some of them, have been among those thus imperfectly baptized; we have to consider what would follow upon such a state of things.

Q. 18. I see what you mean: and should be glad to know how you propose to meet this difficulty.
À. This is, in fact, the chief reason which has compelled us to seek for the consecration of independent Bishops. For the great probability which exists that some of the Bishops may never have received valid Baptism, throws a doubt over the reality of their possession of a true Episcopal character.

Q. 19. Then do you mean to say that our Bishops are not true Bishops?
A. They are certainly Bishops in the eye of the law of the land. This law does not clearly lay down the requirements of valid Baptism. This is peculiarly one of those spiritual things which the Church alone is competent to deal with. But it is a fact that no ancient Episcopal Churches recognize the English Bishops as such; and from what I have said it is almost, if not quite, impossible to prove that during the past hundred years, Baptism has been so administered as to ensure a proper application of water to the persons. And thus many of those who have afterwards become Bishops may have been actually unbaptized. Therefore, as among other things, we desire to promote the Corporate Reunion of Churches, so we are compelled to do what we can to remedy this defect.

Q. 20. I should like to know what you propose to do in this case?
A. I think I have told you enough to show you how we are prepared to meet all these difficulties. For, as we make sure of the valid Baptism of every member of our Order, and impose no conditions upon any persons inconsistent with their duties as members of the Established Church; it is clear that we remove all doubts on this head. And then, as we have amongst us Bishops of undoubtedly valid Consecration, who are ready in every case to supply all possible defects of Ordination, we have nothing wanting to enable was to put an end to all the uncertainty which is so sad and so discreditable.

Q. 21. I must confess that what you propose is reasonable enough, and yet many persons express very strong objection against the plans of your Society.
A. I am quite aware of it. There is an amount of hostility already manifest for which I am unable to account. Still, looking at the way in which it is expressed, and the quarter from whence it proceeds, I can only say that it convinces me only the more fully of the great need there is for the work we have taken in hand.

Q. 22. Perhaps there is some objection to the persons who are engaged in promoting it?
A. If there were, what has that to do with the main question? I take it that the first thing to be considered is, whether the facts are as we affirm them to be. Then, whether the mode in which we propose to deal with them is lawful and efficient.

Q. 23. Are the facts denied?
A. Not that I know of. One thing I am sure of: they are true, whether denied or admitted. And, being true, there is an obvious necessity for something to be done.

Q. 24. Granting the facts, is there no other way of dealing with them?
A. That is a fair question. But the facts should first be well looked in the face. This has not yet been done. Then if any other persons have a better plan to propose under the circumstances we shall be glad to listen to them. But, as the facts are simply ignored, of course no one troubles himself about remedies.

Q. 25. I don’t suppose the public at large will care to enter upon the subject. I have in most places heard your Society spoken of as a band of crazy fanatics. But in any case, you have said enough to convince me that there is something calling for serious consideration, and 1 should like to know more about the matter.
A. We shall do all we can to give every information. Inquiry must lead to good; and, sooner or later, the very existence of our Order must lead to inquiry. The more we have tried to ascertain the truth, the more clearly we have found that it is as I have stated One thing further I have to say about the persons who have undertaken this work. Their names cannot add to, nor diminish from, the force of the arguments for or against the principles of the Order. We have nothing to do with persons as such. We avoid all political disputes. We see a grave need in the circumstances of the time. We have long looked for some definite and certain guidance from acknowledged leaders. Their counsel is, in effect “Do nothing. Whatever occurs still do nothing.” We cannot concur in this counsel. As none others are forthcoming, we have been compelled to act for ourselves. Wealth, and talent and position would powerfully assist in furthering such a work as ours when once started. But we must not wait for these. We see the Church. in danger and necessity; and, since none others will come forward to grapple with the evils which are clearly seen by us, we have, in all humility and patience, taken those steps which alone seem calculated to remove them. In doing this we have consulted in the first place our own necessities and consciences; at the same time we are able and willing to help others who may seek our aid. But we shall be perfectly contented to go on our way by ourselves in patience and obscurity, interfering with no one, and seeking only to give a good account to Him Whom we love and serve.

The Order of Corporate Reunion Briefly Discussed in Twenty-Five Questions and Answers.
London: David Nutt, 1877.

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