Sarum Anglicans?

In thinking about the various Anglo-Catholic tribes, one way to order them is to consider how they define Catholicism and particularly what set of documents, texts and liturgies they appeal to as final authorities. Is it Whole-Church-ness and thus an infusion of Orthodoxy? Or is it Roman-ness and if so, what council or councils are the best arbiter of this? So–you’ve got the Tridentine Anglo-Catholics who adhere to Trent and Counter-Reforation practice on one hand then the so-call Papalist Ango-Catholics who are willing to go along with Vatican II and current Roman use. M and I were having a discussion about this the other day. What we came down to is this: The Anglican heritage encompasses neither Trent nor Vatican II. In fact, being Anglican is pretty much a repudiation of Trent. That is, the sole decent argument for a Church of England apart from Rome that didn’t bring it all down to divorce is that the English use was different from the Roman use. Trent did introduce a novelty in trying to papally enforce one standardized liturgy.

If this is so, then why do we not look more to the uses of Sarum, Hereford, and York than to Trent? The obvious issue is continuous practice; these uses stopped being part of the lived liturgy of the people and now remain only as books. That’s fine for texts, but ceremonial is not captured as well even by descriptions. *Sigh* What’s a High Anglican to do…?


About Derek Olsen

I'm a layman within the Episcopal Church with a PhD in New Testament and an interest in most things medieval, monastic, and liturgical. My chief job is keeping up with my priestly wife and our two awesome kids. In addition to that, I earn a living, run the St Bede's Breviary, listen to loud goth/industrial music, and do some stuff for the church. I currently serve as Secretary to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music where I'm also co-chair of the Calendar committee and chair of the Digital Publications committee.
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3 Responses to Sarum Anglicans?

  1. Emily says:

    I’m not a liturgical expert, but how much of the 1549 BCP was colored by the Sarum (or other usage?)

  2. *Christopher says:

    The 1549 BCP relies heavily upon Sarum for its Eucharistic sections and the reforms of Cardinal Whatsit (sorry, I can’t remember his name at the moment) in Spain for our Office usage among other things. Sarum was not however the only usage in England, but a lovely one to rely upon for reform. Technically speaking, Sarum et all are usages within the framework of the Roman rite but differs from the Roman use of the Roman rite.

    If we can do it with Hippolytus, we can do it with Sarum 🙂 We cannot recreate how it once was, but in the honored tradition of recycling, certainly some of the prayers, considerations of posture as little as rubrics actually tell us are worth considering alongside descriptions. I don’t think it a goal worth pursuing thought to simply recreate 14th century practice.

    Trent did introduce a novelty in trying to papally enforce one standardized liturgy.

    Actually so did ++Cranmer et al and we tied it to the power of the Crown. We could say that Luther and Lutehrans preserved the earlier practice of diversity far better. We have or have nearly have lost some of the other Western rites, including the Ambrosian, Gallican, and Mozarabic.

    I would say that I probably fall in the Whole-Churchness camp, with some love for the specificity of the English usages. But I’m aware that some of our 1549 reforms and beyond draw from the East. I think though that our catholicism can draw upon these and be distinctive to local sensibilities. So one might ask what do American catholic ceremonial(s) within our tradition look like. The answers are various.

    One thing I am pretty set on, we all face East for the Eucharist if at all possible. Ours is an Eschatological orientation and meal in which we meet the Lord, not an autocelebration (a word I borrow from the current Pope).

  3. Pingback: Anglo-Catholic Identity–Again | haligweorc

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