Saturday, March 20, 2010

An Anglican Passiontide

Passiontide begins with tonight's evensong. Because of that I though I should post what the second edition of the second volume of the Alcuin Club's Directory of Ceremonial has to say about its observance. This is important in that we, in the Continuum, need to let people know that we are neither Papists nor Episcopalians, but that we are indeed the old Church believing in the old Religion and keeping it in the old ways. As the Council of Nicea said, "let the ancient customs prevail."


Passiontide begins with the first Evensong of the fifth Sunday in Lent. The altar frontals should be changed to red, and red vestments are worn. The remainder of the Lenten array continues as before. The red need not be dull or dark (the symbolism is, of course, the precious blood of our Saviour), but the materials should be simple, e.g. linen, with apparels of blue or black.

Red-letter days falling between Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday are celebrated as usual, but those occuring in Holy Week are transferred to the week after Low Sunday. Black-letter days fallin in Holy Week are omitted altogether for that year. If, however a black-letter saint is the patron of the place, the day is treated as a red-letter day, and transferred to the first free day after Low Sunday, but this cannot be earlier than Tuesday if the feast is to have a first Evensong, since the second Evensong of Low Sunday must not be displaced.

While in recent years, there are some who have adopted the custom of using the dalmatic and tunicle even during these period, in ancient times that would not have been done. Instead the dalmatic of the deacon and the tunicles of the sub-deacon and clerk would have been given up for the more ancient use of the folded chasuble. According to the rules of Sarum, Wells and Exeter, these would have been used daily until Maundy Thursday while York and Hereford wore them on only the Sundays in Lent and Passiontide. Maundy Thursday would have been kept in dalmatic and tunicle as would have been the case on Holy Saturday. Good Friday would have been kept in albs only. As one who believes that the chasubles proper to the Ornaments Rubric were the ancient conical ones as the surviving example from the Elizabeth I's Chapel Royal was before being cut down, it would seem appropriate for the same to be used during this period.

The most important thing to remember is that until all of the services appointed for this period in the Book of Common Prayer are used, it is very inappropriate to do anything else liturgically. The prayer book services must come first.


charles said...

Dear Bp. Lee,

Interesting... it's as though Puritanism collapsed and suspended the whole Christian Kalendar into a perpetual 'Good Friday'.. "albs only"...w/ respect to Vestments and Ornaments... a perpetual 'repentance'?

Canon Tallis said...

The Puritans and those with that attitude had an essentially Muslim attitude toward religion. They would essentially have done without even the surplice if they could have gotten away with same. But Catholic Christians have always remembered that the only time our Lord became violent was in protection of the worship of the Temple which was highly ritualistic.

charles said...

This kind of brings up another question. Low Mass has two candles. The 1604 and Tudoran canons require no more than two candles on the altar. The Roman uses eight, calling the other six candles "offices". I imagine this means prayer offices. Did Anglicans remove the six prayer office candles, metaphorically, because these offices were already replaced by morning and evening prayer in the BCP? Do the remaining two candles represent Matins and Vespers, corresponding to our Morn and Eve song, the great offices?

Am I even getting 'warm' here?

And, what about a 'ninth' candle for episcopal visitations?

Canon Tallis said...

Before Alexander VI Rome as everywhere else in the Western Church used only two candles upon the altar. The Roman SIX and not eight was an innovation and the extra for episcopal masses likewise. There were times when a bishop would be away from the altar and might require a hand candle to give him sufficient light to read, but that was all.

It is really too bad that more people don't look at the medieval illuminations and the paintings of the early Baroque period which should set them straight about the number of candles.