So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


No, not the fallen wizard of Tolkien lore.
Among the churches of the whole world, the Church of Sarum hath shone resplendent like the sun in his full orb, in respect of its divine service, and its ministers.
Cum inter totius orbis ecclesias, ecclesia Sarum in divino officio et ministeriis, tanquam sol in aurora claruerit.
Bishop Giles de Bridport, 1256. Dayman and Jones, Statutes of the Cathedral Church of Sarum, Bath, 1883:54; trans. C. Wordsworth, Ceremonies and Processions (1901):vii.
Sarum, the Use of Salisbury that predates the Tridentine (1570) reforms of Pope St Pius V. The transcendent Sarum ritual, codified by Saint Oswald, was suppressed at the advent of Protestantism in England and the realm until the faithful Mary Queen of Scots briefly restored the Sarum Liturgy during her reign. Queen Elizabeth I, on upon ascending to the throne, abolished Sarum.

In the wake of the Protestant revolt, the heretic Cranmer drew upon Sarum for the inadequate Book of Common Prayer, the English Protestant ritual that was imposed upon the English people by successive generations of Anglicans.

Sarum remained, however, the Liturgy of the English Recusants, those brave souls who held fast to the Catholic Faith amidst brutal persecution by apostates. The Sarum ritual was celebrated until the Missal of Pius V was introduced into England, covertly one should add, in the aftermath of the English revolt against Catholicism.

It wasn't until much later after the split from Rome that High Church Anglicans of the Oxford Movement (a unity-with-Rome minded group from which the great John Henry Newman left to unite with the Catholic Church) seeking to re-immerse England in the Sarum font, and Roman Catholics within the Church, attempted revivals of Sarum in the late 19th C.

The Ordinariate Mass (Divine Worship) preserves vital elements of a pre-Reformation English Catholic heritage which thrived before the rupture with Rome and the advent of Trent. Those familiar with Divine Worship, the Missal of the Ordinariate, will instantly recognize elements of Sarum when they peruse the link to the Sarum ritual ("done into English") below.
The ritual of Sarum is very similar to the continental Gallican liturgies prior to the Council of Trent. That is, Sarum is very much a liturgy that grew from and along side the Franco-Roman rituals of nearby France and elsewhere.

Sarum Chant

The chant of the Sarum Liturgy is mellifluous, lyrical, and, when compared to Roman chants, somewhat more restrained in terms of the frequency of wide leaps one finds more common in the Roman corpus.

The Ordinariate, as mentioned, repatriates elements of English Roman Catholicism that complemented the Church's liturgical heritage of earlier times. English Catholicism, if it be orthodox, is Roman Catholicism authentically inculturated. The Catholicism of the Ordinariate is fully Roman Catholic. The Catholicism of the Ordinariate is English Catholicism, the purified and elevated (former Anglican) religion of the British isles, a religion restored to orthodoxy and the Catholic Communion, existing alongside and rubbing elbows with the Ordinary Form Liturgy celebrated by most Catholic Englishmen.

Welcome home!

The Catholic Recusants who preserved Sarum and subsequently the Missal of St Pius V underground while wars against Catholicism raged from Elizabeth I to George III, now use the Missal of Bl. Paul VI (Third Typical Edition). Can the Ordinariate Missal restore to English speaking Catholics something of the beauty and reverence of ancient Sarum? Those of an Anglo-catholic background who have come into full communion with the Church would probably agree that the subtle flavours of Sarum are very much present in the Liturgy of the Ordinariate, i.e., Divine Worship: the Missal. The Ordinary Form Mass desperately needs a complementary voice (the Ordinariate) to raise among Catholics an appreciation of the Mass and what it should be.

The best of English Catholicism preserved in former Anglican circles has been returned to the Church. This ancient English Catholicism, hidden among the pages of the Book of Common Prayer, is better termed ancient pre-Trent Catholicism. Cranmer's contributions—those prayers compatible with Catholic theology—have been retained.

If Catholicism is to reclaim English culture for Christ, a culture that is widely (wildly?) diverse, the Ordinariate is surely another useful (inspired?) means of shifting the culture toward Christ via a Liturgy that bridges the ancient and the contemporary. That shift, if it is to be successful, must begin with the Church herself. The Ordinariate is a means to reintroduce a refined ars celebrandi into the Ordinary Form of the Mass.
See also: William Renwick: "The Medieval Sarum Chant Project";; and

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