Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Guess the quote...

The use of six candlesticks on an Altar with gradines is a Counter-Reformation novelty directed by the Caerimoniale, unheard of in the Patristic or Medieval Church, and owes its origin to the Tridentine reform of the Liturgy, and also the bad taste of the 17th century - compare the Roman ''cotta'' and the use of lace ornamentation. Before the invention of the ''big six'', any additional candles for the greater Double feasts were placed around the Sanctuary in divers parts unconnected with the Altar (such as the Rood Loft). This still seems the best way if you ask me.

So...kudos to whomever can guess who wrote this, and why I find their work magnificent!

''Such childish things as branch candlesticks and other small candlesticks need only be mentioned to be condemned. They are used abroad for the very different purpose of Benediction, and have no meaning on our altars. They offend both against good taste and ecclesiastical propriety; luckily they are not lawful in our Church, for the Ornaments Rubric knows them not.''


  1. Percy Dearmer? Parsons Handbook?
    Sounds like him, any way.

    Shades of the "British Museum religion" controversy ....

    Kind regards,
    John U.K.

  2. That is correct John, though can you guess why I find The Parson's Handbook so marvellous?

  3. There's a good bit in "Ceremonial Curiosities and Queer Sights......" by Forse, I believe, where he lists all the cathedrals he visited in Europe where they had normally two on the Altar. In Spain, in the ancient Cathedrals they had no more than two on the Altar and as many hanging lamps as you could want, and more. Very sound if you ask me.

  4. Ah dear Canon Dearmer. He went rather strange by the time he wrote 'The Art of Public Worship'.

    Dearmer was rather too fond of plagiarising but certainly had some very sound ideas. Much of the best, that remains, at Westminster Abbey is the work of him and Jocelyn Perkin. Last week a kind lady in Farm Street gave me a copy of 'The Tablet' - there was an interesting piece inside saying how stunned Pope Benedict and the Vatican party had been by the beauty and magnificence of the liturgy at the Abbey. Considering what the Abbey did was somewhat 'dumbed down' to what the Abbey is still capable of doing (e.g. multiple tunicled Crucifers and acolytes for the choir, lesser clergy, Chapter and the Dean etc) I thought this was notable.

    I do believe good liturgy can be made up - the person making it up has to be rather good at it and Dearmer certainly was.

  5. Ex Fide, interesting but I think ''too much'' is never a good thing in terms of Liturgy.

    Rubricarius, I am not at all surprised by The Tablet article you mention, nor the reaction of the Pope's retinue at what was clearly the most tasteful of all ''liturgies'' during the Pope's visit. I shall cherish my souvenir mug to the end of my days!

  6. Percy Dearmer wasn'r really one for making things up and his Prayer Book Literalism drove others to go off and be more imaginative and....make things up, for example Conrad Noel at Thaxted and his (PD's) successors at Primrose Hill and Duncan-Jones and his Chichester [Cathedral] Customary. One introduced bits of Sarum rite in Latin. The two things he was good at were his reading of liturgical prose and the introduction of proper congregational singing from the English Hymnal.See Donald Gray's biography to see how he went badly OFF. Alan Robinson

  7. Alan Robinson, if there were regular Sarum Liturgy (in Latin) on offer within a hundred miles of here I would abandon my present parish and not look back. Who wants lace cottas and a bunch of kids when you can have something real?

    Of course one wouldn't wish to go against Quo Primum...

  8. I have a question wholly unrelated to this particular posting: Under your "Bad Things" list, why in Heaven's name is "Saint" in the Society of Saint Pius X in quotation marks?

  9. Mr. Robinson,

    'Making up' was perhaps phrased too strongly, I meant re-creating a ceremonial and liturgical culture that had been almost abandoned in the Realm by the eighteenth century.

    Dearmer certainly was a formative influence and I understand his former church still uses the Lenten Array and his rather pleasing vestments, including 'Passiontide Red'. I must brave a visit next Lent.

  10. The Texan Traditionalist, because I don't believe that that man was very saintly.

    Rubricarius, the re-creation of a ceremonial and liturgical culture banished from the Roman Church in the last 450 years (to paraphrase what you said) is one of my chief aims in life. All I can do now is complain about Traddies and their woefully tasteless approach to Liturgy, but it would be nice sometime (when I get the money, resources etc) to arrange proper Liturgy in a nice church, such as Long Melford in Suffolk? I feel like a day of sung Liturgy...

  11. Thank you for the reply, Patricius. I'm a little perplexed as to why you think ill of St. Pius X (might it be solely due to his revisions of the Divine Office?). As far as I'm aware, it is universally held that canonizations are an infallible decree from the Supreme Pontiff. One need but glance at the formula used in the decree to ascertain this (We decree and define ... etc.).

    Regardless, I enjoy your blog, Patricius. I pray my account name is not too provocative or vexing to your sensibilities. I find myself in agreement with you, more often than not, on the majority of the issues you eloquently raise, but I'm afraid I do not accept your definition of what comprises a "traditionalist" in this post-Summorum Pontificum world. Perhaps an article evaluating said definition may be what the doctor ordered. For as much as I sympathize with your frustration over the insipid displays that pass off as "TLMs" in this day and age, I think one may be forgetting the true crisis at hand. For as improprietous and ham-handed as many 1962 TLMs are, we need to remember that we are dealing with a spiritually starved worldwide Catholic population. If we come upon a man dying of thirst would we fault him for grabbing a glass of water over a vintage Dom Pérignon? The same can be said for those Catholics whose spiritual lives have been resuscitated from the depths of Novus Ordo drudgery by the common 1962 TLM. Is it the ideal? Should we remain content and complacent with our current "traditional" liturgical fare? Absolutely not and I thank God that I am witnessing more and more a greater intellectual and scholarly interest in liturgical matters among sane, traditionally-oriented Catholics ... but it cannot be denied that the proliferation of the TLM under the Liturgical books of 1962 (as deficient as they are in many respects) has been nothing less than a divine salve on the wounded souls of many a Catholic (myself included).

    In Corde Regis Christi.