Friday, September 26, 2008

St Marks, Regents Park, London

One of my very bad Internet habits is going to various church sites to look at the architecture and decoration. Among my particular favorites are those churches designed or refurbished by Sir John Ninian Comper. They have a beauty which is almost breath taking. St Mark's, Regents Park is one of those. Both the high altar and the Lady altar were designed by Comper who also did a number of the stained glass windows. If you want to see what it is like go to www.stmarksregentspark.org.uk and enjoy.

However the point of this particular post is to object to a desecration of Comper's marvelous design for the high altar. It is reported in the parish history, also on their site thus: "Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the congregation grew – by 1977 the membership was over one hundred. The Vicar continued to make all sorts of improvements to the church to enhance the worship. The two candlesticks on the high altar (a number favoured by Comper) were increased to the traditional six, a thurible was made for the incense, new altar rails were installed and further candlesticks commissioned to replace those stolen from the All Saints’ Chapel. It was in the early 1970s that the sad decision was first taken to keep the church locked when unattended."

My objection is to the phrase "the traditional six" because they are not traditional. Rather it is two candles which are traditional as Comper knew from extensive studies in medieval illuminations. The six candles are taken from Roman usage coming from the use of Pius V. So you have the choice between Anglican usage which reflects the tradition of the centuries as against a Roman innovation of the 16th century. In short, the choice is between something which is really Catholic, according to the whole, as against something which is merely Roman and a relatively recent innovation.

Please go to St Mark's website and enjoy the pictures of the stained glass windows and the various altars. Simply don't accept the idea that things particularly Roman are Catholic.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does canon tallis = lee poteet?

Canon Tallis said...

Is he still alive?

Matthew Nelson said...

Perhaps Pious V put a hit on him, just as he did on Elizabeth I. Quite the man I'd want to emulate liturgically all while claiming to be a traditional Anglican.