Project Canterbury

The Parson’s Handbook

By the Rev. Percy Dearmer, M.A.

London: Grant Richards, 1899



The notes in this chapter are only intended to supplement the directions given in a good calendar, and the remarks as to variations in the service given in other chapters of this book. Consequently, where there is nothing special to be said about a day, I have omitted all mention of it.

For other information the reader is referred to a good Calendar. Dr. Wickham Legg’s Churchman’s Oxford Calendar (Mowbray, 1s.) should be hung in the vestry; and those large churches which may care to follow the old Salisbury use as to lights will find the number for each day specified in Letts’s Calendar. Many of the calendars put forth are misleading. Office-hymns are given in Dr. Legg’s Calendar, as well as the lessons, colours, and many useful and reliable notes: a small penny Calendar on the same lines is also published by Mowbray, with the lessons and colours.

The Prayer Book Calendar should be loyally followed. There is something, however, to be said for the following additional feasts:—The Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin, and All Souls’ Day, appear in English almanacks, bearing the imprimatur of the Archbishop of Canterbury, down to 1832. The former was erased by Henry VIII. before the Reformation, and without the authority of the Church. The Martyrdom and Translation of St. Thomas of [203] Canterbury were similarly erased, and for obvious reasons.

During Advent and also during Lent the sacred ministers and the clerk should not wear dalmatic or tunicle; for although there is ample evidence that this was sometimes done, the weight of authority[1] is against it. The use of the folded chasuble is too intricate to be dealt with here. The tendency at the present day to make another Lent of Advent is quite modern. The O Sapientia in our Calendar may remind us of the spirit of joyful expectation which is the liturgical characteristic of Advent.

Christmas Eve. The eves of the great feasts are generally given up to decorating the church. Solemn Evensong is a fitting preparation for the next day, and a convenient way of imposing a term to the work of decoration. For this service the violet of the vigil will be changed for the festival white. Care should be taken that this service does not interfere with the opportunities of those who wish to make their confessions. A paper on the notice-board, giving the hours at which the clergy can be seen and their initials, will be a great help to timid people; and the clergy should put on their surplices and stoles,[2] and sit in readiness at such hours. The form for giving absolution after private confession is provided by the Prayer Book in the office for the visitation of the sick. This form must be intended to be used at other occasions; for no other is provided for those who seek absolution in response to the Exhortation in the Communion Office. The 113th Canon charges the clergy to keep rigidly the seal of confession.

The decoration of the church with boughs of green [204] stuff has come down to us from the Middle Ages; until the revival it had become generally obsolete except at Christmas. The medieval custom of strewing sweet-smelling herbs on the pavement also lasted long after the Reformation. Holly and mistletoe have been long used at Christmas; but it is a pity that rosemary is forgotten. It was used in honour of the Lord’s Mother, and at the time of the Spectator and of Gay, and even later,[3] it was still kept up.

A pretty medieval practice was to hang a wooden hoop with candles on it in the midst of the chancel at Christmas in memory of the Star. This was called the Rowell, and it is a good way of marking the season.

The parson will often have to use his authority to protect the altar from childish attempts at over-decoration. In the rest of the church it does not matter so much, and he had perhaps better not interfere, beyond forbidding absolutely the driving in of nails, and the encumbering of altar-rails, stalls, font, or pulpit (p. 50). But if he do not look after the altar, it will lose its dignity under the inroads of a multitude of good people who do not know what an altar is. Flower-vases are of doubtful legality with us (p. 66); at all events they should be used sparingly. Decorations should be restrained, following the broad architectural lines of the building. Festoons and wreaths are generally best; and artificial materials are to be avoided. Lettering is one of the most difficult branches of design: it may be remembered that a text is not the more sacred for being illegible.[4] The greenery may in accordance with old custom remain up till the Epiphany (Twelfth Day); or its Octave Day, or Candlemas eve; but the [205] flowers should all be removed on the morrow. Decaying vegetable matter in church is very objectionable. Great reverence and quietness must be observed.

It will be well if the choir sing carols in the streets on Christmas Eve, properly dressed—so long as this does not interfere with the singing at the Midnight Mass. All the parish will be pleased at out-door processions of this kind, and will learn to value others.

Christmas. According to the old custom, there should be three Communions on Christmas Day, the first at midnight, the second at daybreak. The midnight Mass generally attracts many strangers; therefore it is well to insist on intending communicants giving their names to the clergy the day before. Care should be taken that there is one very early Celebration on all the great feasts, for the benefit of servants and others. The more Celebrations there are on these days, the more communicants there will be.

It is an old custom for every one to kneel at the words ‘The Word was made Flesh’ in the Gospel for the Day.

There seems to be no good reason why carols should be sung at the end of service as a sort of dull afterthought. Without supplanting the Christmas hymns, they may be sung one or two at a time, during the service. Some of them make excellent processionals, others can be sung during the Ablutions, or before and after the Sermon at Evensong, while the more elaborate may be rendered during the Offertory; and this may be continued into the next month with the Epiphany carols. Those who have tried this plan will know how beautiful and stirring is the effect; and the carols teach the people a good deal that our modern hymns fail to teach. As far as legality goes, hymns like carols owe their position in our services solely to custom.

[206] Candlemas. Both the name and the ceremonies were long continued in England. Dr. Donne (d. 1631) in his Sermons[5] defends the ‘solemnising’ of this day by admitting ‘candles into the church,’ ‘because he who was the light of the world was brought into the temple’ on ‘this day of lights.’ It was still a ‘grand Day’ at the Temple Church ninety years later;[6] and ‘at Ripon, as late as 1790, on the Sunday before Candlemas Day, the Collegiate Church was one continued blaze of light all the afternoon, by reason of an immense number of candles.’[7]

The candles should be blessed before the principal Eucharist of the day. Before the procession they should be distributed by the priest to the other clergy and officials, and, if it is desired, to the people, who hold them lighted during the procession, gospel, and consecration.

The Benedicite is generally sung at Mattins from Septuagesima till Easter.

Ash Wednesday is now with us the ‘first day of Lent,’ and the collect for Ash Wednesday must be said ‘every day in Lent,’[8] after the other appointed collect. But no other change is made till the end of the week.

The order of service for Ash Wednesday is as follows:—First Mattins is said in the choir as usual, then the priest goes to faldstool and says the Litany. Then ‘after Morning Prayer, the Litany ended according to the accustomed manner, the Priest shall, [207] in the Reading-Pew or Pulpit say’ the Commination Service to the end of the Exhortation. For the Miserere the priest leaves the pulpit and goes to the faldstool ‘in the place where they are accustomed to say the Litany’ (see p. 131), and ‘all kneel upon their knees.’ The clerks are told to kneel in the same place as the priests; therefore, if the faldstool be in the middle alley, all will group around it. The impressiveness of this service is often marred by a neglect of the rubrics: the priest should go from stall to faldstool, from faldstool to pulpit, and finally all kneel around the faldstool.

The priest will continue to kneel for the versicles and collects,[9] and for ‘Turn thou us,’ which all say together, and he will remain kneeling for the benedictory prayer at the end.

Lent. The Lenten array should be hung up on the Saturday afternoon, or else after Evensong on the first Sunday in Lent.[10] English tradition does not allow of a change of veils for Passiontide, but the same set remain up throughout.

The veils were hung up before the crosses, pictures, and such images as were not of an architectural character, and, where there was a triptych, or other reredos with doors, it was closed. If the reredos has no doors it would be covered by a large veil. The veils were of linen, canvas, fustian, or silk, not of crape; and their colour varied, the most general colours being white or blue.

There is a tendency just now to insist upon white as the colour for Lent veils. This is a mistake:[11] [208] there was a great diversity in old times; blue occurs very frequently, and also red and green.[12] I would suggest that great care is needed in the choice of veils, and that an expert should be consulted; darker colours are safer, as it is very easy to make a church look queer and garish with white, and in my opinion common blue linen generally looks best, and gives the desired impression most clearly to present-day congregations.

It may be mentioned here that very good coloured linens can be got from Harris and Son, Derwent Mills, Cockermouth (but their two or three so-called ‘church’ colours need not be used). The Ruskin linens are much more expensive, being hand-woven, but they have the beautiful colours and surface of silk: they can be got from Miss Twelves, The Ruskin Linen Industry, Keswick.

The veils were decorated with sacred devices of various kinds, generally in red; sometimes these were pictures in outline. If designed by a competent person, and executed on broad lines, they may be very beautiful and impressive.

A special processional cross was usually reserved for Lent (p. 99).

In old times it was the custom to omit the Gloria in Excelsis in Advent, and from Septuagesima to the end of Lent, and this would no doubt have also been done by those who first used the Prayer Book. (p. 135).

It is a good custom, and based upon ancient practice, to sing during Lent the Miserere (Ps. li.) after Evensong, the priest kneeling at the faldstool and singing alternate verses with the people, all kneeling.

Passiontide begins with the 5th Sunday (Passion Sunday). In accordance with old custom, red should be worn, in honour of the Precious Blood; and this, [209] the most solemn season of the year, marked off from the rest of Lent.

Holy Week. The services for Holy Week were of old many and elaborate. The almost universal tendency to supplement those given in the Prayer Book—sometimes by new services, such as the Three Hours, or dissolving views and hymns, sometimes by old, such as the Reproaches or Tenebrae—shows that there is a keen want of more observances during this solemn week.

In using such services, when permission is obtained, we must have at least as much right to follow on the old lines as to adopt new ones. Considering the opposition under which our Prayer Book was compiled, it gives a remarkable amount of space to Holy Week, contains significant references to the ancient services, sometimes in translation, as in the Good Friday Solemn Collects, sometimes in references, as that to Baptism in the Collect for Easter Even. Again, the Church and Court have shown by the Maundy ceremonies that omission of old things does not necessarily mean prohibition.

Those who wish to study the full rites for Holy Week, as they were anciently observed in a great Cathedral, can find them in an Altar Book published by Rivington and Percival, and in the Services for Holy Week (S.S.O., Waterlow, now out of print). Of course the services of the great cathedrals were much modified in lesser churches.

Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week, should be specially observed. The procession of ‘palms’ is as old as the fourth century, but the introduction of the Blessed Sacrament into the Procession was of course much later; possibly it was due in this country to Lanfranc. Anciently every village had at least its procession of palms.

The dried date-palms often used are an innovation, and the appropriateness of using bleached and dead [210] leaves of this kind may well be questioned. If they are used at all, the ancient ‘flowers and branches’ should be used as well. Willow and yew, for instance, look much better on the altar than the long palms which one often sees propped in awkward curves against the reredos. The word ‘palm’ was anciently applied to willow and yew indifferently;[13] and their use, at least out of church, has never been dropped in this country. Box and flowers were also used.

The procession takes place before the Eucharist only, and not at Evensong. Before the procession, the veils of the altar-cross (both on the high-altar and on minor altars) should be untied so that they can be easily removed. The palms for distribution should be placed on a tray by the south side of the altar, the palms for the ministers on the altar itself.

The priest, wearing a red cope over his albe, etc., enters the sanctuary with the ministers (who do not wear their dalmatics) as usual. He first blesses the palms; more anciently the blessing was very short; but in the Sarum Missal it has become a long service, with collects, lesson, and gospel. There may be no objection to the lesson and gospel being read, if it is desired. The lesson (read by the clerk on the epistle side) is Exodus xv. 27-xvi. 10; the gospel (read by a deacon on the gospel side) is John xii. 12-19. The palms are blessed after the gospel.

After the palms have been distributed to the ministers and choir (and for this I would suggest bunches of willow), the distribution to the people commences. During it a hymn may be sung, or permission could no doubt be obtained for the ancient anthems.

If there is only a clerk to assist, he will carry the [211] palms to the chancel-gate and supply them to the priest: if there is a deacon he will take this office, and then the clerk will hold up the border of the priest’s cope. The verger had best stand with his. wand in the middle alley, and see that the people come two and two up the middle, and go back by the side alleys. They should kneel as they take the palms.

The distribution ended, all will join in the procession, carrying their palms and singing Gloria laus et honor (98). The procession will go the usual way, by the left. The Gospel for the first Sunday in Advent may be sung as a station on the south side of the church.

After the procession is over, the clerk unveils the altar-cross, and the Eucharist proceeds as usual. All bow profoundly, and a short pause is made, at the words ‘yielded up the Ghost’ in the Gospel, both now and on the following days. The altar-cross is veiled again after Evensong.

On the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of Holy Week the ancient office of Tenebrae may be said.

Permission is readily given for this service, as it consists entirely of passages from Holy Scripture with the addition of a few readings from St. Augustine. The English office of Tenebrae is published by J. T. Hayes, 17 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, under the name of English Tenebrae. The service in this, the most correct edition, is printed in full each day, so that there is no trouble about finding the place. Tenebrae should be sung, without the organ; but in some places it may be found more convenient to monotone it, or to sing the Benedictus at the end only.

The service is held in the evening. There should only be enough light for people to read by. The verger and churchwardens should be ready to supply copies of English Tenebrae.

[212] The Tenebrae candlestick or ‘herse,’ with its twenty-four candles, should be placed before the altar on the epistle side, and lighted before the service begins.

The Psalms are sung without the Gloria. A candle is extinguished at each antiphon and at each of the responsories which follow the Lessons, by a server appointed for this office: in his book the number of the candle should be written plainly against each antiphon and responsory. He will begin with the lowest candle, first on one side, then on the next, and so on. All may sit: the service is long, especially if it be sung. The lectern should stand in the midst of the choir, and he who is to read leaves his stall before each set of lessons[14] to do so.

During the last psalm before the Benedictus, the upper light is removed, and put in some place where it is not seen, but is not extinguished. The lights in the church should then be lowered as much as possible. After the Good Friday collect has been said, ‘one of the servers striking his book with his hand three times, all shall rise and the lighted candle shall be brought forth,’ and put on the herse. All go out silently, and the candle is extinguished after the service.

Maundy-Thursday, the Birthday of the Eucharist as it was well called, was also most appropriately the day of the Reconciliation of Penitents, in accordance with that ‘godly discipline’[15] which our Prayer [213] Book recommends. From the fifth century the ceremony of consecrating the Chrism was fixed for this day also; but in the West this office has been from an early period restricted to Bishops. The very early ceremony of washing the feet of twelve or thirteen poor men was also confined to bishops and other great ecclesiastical and secular personages. Cranmer practised and defended the custom. Queen Elizabeth kept it up, herself washing and kissing the feet of as many poor persons as corresponded with her age. The Hanoverian sovereigns deputed the office to the royal almoners, who soon dropped the washing, but retained the custom of giving alms, which is still done in church with some ceremony each year. It is to this practice that we owe the name of Maundy.

The Holy Eucharist should be sung with much solemnity on this its birthday. The colour may be white for the Holy Eucharist. Dalmatics and tunicles are worn. The Agnus Dei should not be sung, unless the Bishop celebrates.

Evensong was anciently said directly after the Eucharist, and then the altars were stripped and washed, priests, ministers, and torchbearers all vested in albes, while two boys carried wine and water. Each altar was washed, wine and then water being poured on its five crosses, then dried with a branch of box, and the collect said for the saint in whose honour the altar was dedicated. Meanwhile responsories were sung. It is a reasonable and useful as well as symbolical custom to wash the altars on this day;[16] they should remain stripped [214] till Easter Eve. The altar was only vested on Good Friday during the Mass of the Presanctified.

All the church bells should be silent during the last three days of Holy Week after the Maundy Mass. Therefore we have no precedent for the objectionable and morbid practice of tolling a bell on Good Friday.

Good Friday. The services essential to this day are Mattins, Litany, the Ante-Communion service, and Evensong. To these may be added the Reproaches in the morning and Tenebrae after Evensong, if permission has been obtained from the Ordinary. The Three Hours’ Service is everywhere allowed, and many find it a very great help. It is not, however, a liturgical service at all; and, excellent as revivalist devotions of this kind often are, they must not be allowed to displace the Church’s appointed offices.

The service sometimes used, called the ‘Reproaches,’ is really a small part of the old office for the Veneration of the Cross, and so is the hymn Pange Lingua (A. and M. 97).

The Holy Eucharist should not be celebrated on Good Friday.

The Passiontide red should be continued (unless the violet is kept on, in which case the colour may be violet or black). There is no authority for the use of black crape, etc., in the church.

Anciently, three Hosts were consecrated on Maundy-Thursday: the second was consumed by the priest at the Mass of the Presanctified (of which the custom of using the Ante-Communion office is a representation), the third Host was deposited in the Easter Sepulchre, which was not the same thing as the urn on the Roman ‘altar of repose.’

The most practicable arrangement at an ordinary town church will probably be something like this:— At 9.30 a.m., service for children with several quite short addresses and a few hymns; at 10, Mattins, [215] Litany, Ante-Communion service; at 12, perhaps, the Three Hours’ devotion; at 6, Evensong; and at 8, Tenebrae, opportunity being given after the Three Hours, Evensong, and Tenebrae for those who seek the ministry of reconciliation.

Mattins and Litany having been said without note, the priest will go to the altar and say the Ante-Communion service, as it is appointed in the Prayer Book. The choir might sing the Tract Psalm cxl. As there is no Communion with the presanctified Host, the altar will not be vested but will remain stripped. For the same reason the priest will not wear a chasuble, but will vest as for the Ante-Communion service in the First Prayer Book,[17] ‘a plain albe or surplice, with a cope.’ The cope will be red (unless the Passiontide colour is not used), and neither priest nor ministers will wear apparels on their albes or amices.

The great feature of the old service was intercession, and some of the solemn collects then used have been preserved in our service. The intercessions were for the King, bishops and clergy, confessors and all ‘the holy people of God,’ those in heresy or schism, the Jews and the heathen, the troubles and sickness in the world, and the catechumens. Our collects preserve most of these subjects; and perhaps in addition to those appointed, i.e. for the Queen, ‘this thy family,’ ‘all estates of men in thy holy Church,’ ‘all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Hereticks’ and the Ash Wednesday collect, one or two of the collects at the end of the Communion service might be added, in accordance with the rubric, e.g. ‘Assist us,’ and the second, or fifth.

After the Church Militant Prayer one or more of the collects at the end of the service will be said, as the rubric directs. The most suitable for the occasion is the last, ‘Almighty God, who hast promised.

[216] At the end of the old service, the priest and ministers went out in order, but the rest remained to say their private prayers, and departed without set order.

If the Three Hours’ Devotion be observed, the preacher might wear his cassock and gown (see p. 199), as he would at a mission-service, and not a surplice. He will not wear a stole.

Evensong was anciently said ‘without note.’

Easter Even, the Great Sabbath, or Holy Saturday, was anciently marked by the blessing of the new fire and the Paschal candle, and by the hallowing of the Font. The Collect for the Day makes special allusion to its connection with Holy Baptism. It is a good occasion for holding a Solemn Baptism, and when adults seek admission to the Church their baptism should, when it is convenient, be fixed for this day.

There should be no solemn Evensong on Easter Eve. The crosses may be unveiled in the evening.

The question as to whether there should be a Mass on Easter Even has been much disputed. Anciently the Mass was not till midnight. In any case it seems to be agreed on all hands that there should be no consecration till after mid-day.

In the Sarum Missal, Mass was said on Easter Even after the blessing of the Paschal. More anciently there was no Mass on this day, and the Paschal was blessed in the evening.

The Passiontide red should be used (unless the violet be retained) or else white. The offices in the Prayer Book are Mattins, Communion, and Evensong. The Litany, or a metrical litany, should also be sung, as litanies were a feature of the old services for this day.

Easter is the day on which our Church orders all the faithful to communicate. Every opportunity ought therefore to be given, and the congregation reminded [217] beforehand; and a Celebration held at a very early hour for the benefit of those who cannot come later. It is a good plan to have sheets of foolscap on a table near the door, in charge of the verger, so that the communicants may enter their names and addresses as they go out.

The Rogation Days should be carefully kept as days of intercession for God’s blessing on the fruits of the earth. The Litany should be said before the principal Eucharist on each day, violet being the colour for these two services. The late Archbishop of Canterbury, in urging the better observance of these days, sanctioned two special collects which may be obtained from the S.P.C.K.; an epistle and gospel is provided in Canon Carter’s book (p. 133). The Archbishop also recommended the substitution of Psalms lxv., lxvi., and lxvii. for the Psalms of the day, ‘and the use of the Litany at some hour on the Monday and Tuesday, as well as on Sunday and Wednesday.’

Archbishop Benson also urged that, ‘Where the Perambulation of Parish Bounds is still observed and suitable, I hope that it will always be with such religious service as is happily used in many places.’ Unfortunately the old processions had become associated with tin-cans (both empty and full) and with much unseemliness. But in country places the people welcome a revival of the old religious processions; and the parson who omits them loses a great opportunity of touching and helping his flock. In large towns the case is rather different.

As late as about 1765, at Wolverhampton, ‘the sacrist, resident prebendaries, and members of the choir, assembled at Morning Prayers on Monday and Tuesday in Rogation Week, with the charity children bearing long poles clothed with all kinds of flowers then in season, and which were afterwards carried through the streets of the town with much solemnity, the clergy, singing men and boys, dressed in their [218] sacred vestments, closing the procession, and chanting in a grave and appropriate melody the’ Benedicite. The boundaries of the parish were marked in many points by Gospel trees, where the Gospel was read.[18]

Here then we touch hands with ancient tradition; and the parson may easily accommodate it to his own opportunities. Something like the following may be found suitable.

Let the choir and clergy leave the church, preceded by the churchwardens,[19] verger, cross, thurifer, and torch- or lantern-bearers, all wearing surplices over their cassocks, and the clergy their hoods, tippets, and caps (the officiant in a violet cope). Let the choir be followed by the school-children carrying flowers and garlands. Let stations be previously arranged, one in the village, the rest on the boundaries if possible (if trees be planted, all the better). Let the choir slowly chant the 67th Psalm[20] through the village; and at the first station let the Gospel for the Sunday be read, the choir grouping round the reader. As the precession proceeds let the Litany be sung, and perhaps metrical litanies, and the Penitential Psalms to fill up the time; and at the other stations let the Epistle and Gospel for the Rogation Days (James v. 16-20 and Luke xi. 5-13) be read, and other passages if there are more stations. On returning through the village by another way let the Benedicite be sung.

The parson may be able to arrange for a partial holiday on these occasions.

Ascension Day. Everything should be done to make [219] Holy Thursday as much a holiday as Christmas, and the people strongly urged to observe it according to the custom of Holy Church. It may help towards this ideal if the day is chosen for some guild or club feast.

Whitsuntide (Eve) is a proper occasion for the administration of Solemn Baptism (see p. 170).

The Dedication Festival should be kept on the first Sunday in October with an octave.

All Souls’ Day, which follows All Saints’ Day, has some authority for its observance (p. 203). A Eucharist for the repose of the departed[21] might certainly be said on this day; and it may be useful to preach a sermon in the evening. If the people are unprejudiced, they will be grateful for this opportunity of remembering their departed friends.

Ember Days. The Ember Day collects are directed by the rubric after Prayers and Thanksgivings to be said ‘before the two final prayers of the Litany, or of Morning and Evening Prayer.’ Special forms for the Communion are sanctioned, and can be obtained from the S.P.C.K. There are special post-communions in the Ordination services.

On the Patronal Festival a station may be made, in the procession, before the altar of the patron saint, if there be one, all standing while the collect for the saint is said. Before the collect the priest censes the altar and then says ‘Let us pray.’


1 Consuetudinary, 163.

2 The picture in Van der Weyden’s Seven Sacraments, however, and the illumination reproduced in Pt. i. of the Prymer (E. Eng. Text Soc.) show the priest in absolution, with almuce on head, but without stole.

3 Cf. Abbey and Overton, ii. 452.

4 Simple letters are better than the so-called Gothic types one often sees. Many beautiful examples are given in Mr. E. F. Strange’s Alphabets (Bell: 5s.).

5 Pp. 80, 112. Cf. Lincoln Judgement, 71.

6 Paterson, Pietas Lond. 273.

7 Walcot, Cath. 199. Cosin also was charged by the Puritans with ‘burning two hundred wax candles in one Candlemas night’ in Durham Cathedral: they were lit ceremonially by a company of boys, with many bows. Ibid. 165. Cosin denied the large number.

8 Some authorities consider that ‘every day in Lent’ means, as it did in the Sarum Breviary, every day from the first Monday till the Wednesday in Holy Week, excluding Sundays and feast days—‘every day’ being merely a translation of ‘ferial.’ But it seems safer to take the words literally, as has been the custom.

9 These being from the Sarum Missal Benedictio Cinerum (Burntisland Ed., p. 131), where kneeling for the versicles and collects, is directed.

10 Consuetudinary, i. 101. Saturday is more convenient, and has sufficient precedent.

11 Blue must have been most usual at the time of our Rubric; for in the Beehive of the Romish Church, 1580 (fo. 190 b.) we read—‘The whole of Lent they doe cause their images to looke through a blewe cloth.’

12 E.g. Holy Week Cer. 44-7. S.P.E.S. Trans. ii. 244.

13 It still is in the vernacular; and there can be no more striking; instance of the persistence of old customs than the sight of the costers’ barrows in London streets on the Saturday evening before Palm Sunday, where catkin willow and box are freely sold.

14 Cranmer explained that the Lamentations are read in memory of the Jews seeking our Lord’s life at this time.

15 ‘In the Primitive Church there was a godly discipline, that, at the beginning of Lent, such persons as stood convicted of notorious sin were put to open penance…(until the said discipline may be restored again, which is much to be wished).’—Introduction of the Commination Service.

Yet Church Discipline was, even throughout the eighteenth century, a much greater reality than at the present day. Excommunications and presentments were still in force, and the commutation of penance was a matter of grave and careful consideration even by so strong a Protestant as William III. Wordsworth has told us that one of his earliest recollections (about 1777) was seeing a woman doing penance in a white sheet: this was called ‘solemn penance.’ Bishop Wilson’s remarkable system of discipline can be read in his life. (Cf. Abbey and Overton, ii. 499-511.) Discipline was vigorously enforced by the Presbyterians during their ascendency in England. It is still in force in the ecclesiastical courts in the case of slander.

16 It is absolutely necessary that the altars should be sometimes, washed and left bare to be aired (p. 113).

17 P. 89.

18 Brand’s Popular Antiquities, i. 169.

19 At first staves were carried, then rods or wands ad defendendum. processionem (Chambers, 213). Four stalwart men in their ordinary attire, carrying rods, would make a good head to the procession.

20 The ancient practice was to sing Ps. lxvii. (and any other psalms for any special need, such as good weather or peace), and Litanies, filling up with the Penitential Psalms (Chambers, 211). Elizabeth’s injunctions ordered Ps. ciii. and civ. to be sung in the perambulation.

21 With the Burial Service Collect, ‘Almighty God with whom,’ and the epistle and gospel 1 Thess. iv. 13 to end, and John xi. 21-28.

Project Canterbury