MR. BENNETT had succeeded in defeating the evil designs of those who hoped to get rid of him by mob violence, but he could not overcome his own reluctance to remain in a position of opposition to his Bishop. It must be repeated that this was the real cause of his giving up the work at S. Paul's, because it was then, and has been since, represented in such different ways. But the Guardian put the matter truly on March 26, 1851, when it said, "Mr. Bennett, faithful to his scrupulous sense of duty, has ceased his pastoral labours." It was the same thing which had driven out Newman--the necessity of keeping the precept of Ignatius, "Nothing without the Bishop," words which Mr. Bennett had caused to be put in the painted window of the public room of the College of S. Barnabas.
"Not being able," he says in the "Plea for Toleration," "to bring my conscience to disobey what appeared to me to be the law of the Church, I yet was equally unable to disobey my Bishop, and I resigned the charge which I held under him because the two obediences could not be made to tally."
On July 15, as we have seen, he therefore gave a pledge to resign "if the picture of his mind (as he had given it to the Bishop) was not that which could justify his remaining in the diocese." This pledge to resign he repeated on October 30, and, the Bishop having accepted this resignation on December n, Mr. Bennett took care that it should be quite clear that by accepting his resignation the Bishop "judged him (and of course all who agreed with him) to be unfaithful to the Church of England."
The Bishop having, by accepting the offer to resign, pronounced this opinion, it only remained for Mr. Bennett to send in his formal resignation, unless the Bishop should withdraw not only his acceptance of the resignation but also his judgment that Mr. Bennett was unfaithful.
Mr. Bennett's action in resigning his pastorate because the Bishop was not in harmony with him was not without its critics at the time. He himself perceived that the result of acting on such a principle would be to make each diocese into a separate Church, and a few years later he would certainly not have acted in this manner again. In the Morning Chronicle the case was well put in a letter signed "D. C. L."
"The issue raised is whether the Church of England is to be a body, corporate and constitutional, governed by laws; or whether she is to be a collection of little despotisms, each depending for its absolute and irresponsible government upon the will or whim, the learning or ignorance, of the actual diocesan.
"Regarded in this aspect the question is not one between a single diocesan and a single parish priest, but an affair vitally affecting the constitution of the Church of England, both actual and theoretical."
"D. C. L." was, it is said, A. J. B. Beresford-Hope. But it may have been Baron Alderson.
Another correspondent wrote to Mr. Bennett thus--
"It appears to me that you have offered to your diocesan the power of acting beyond his proper authority and beyond the Church's law. You have deprecated any appeal to law and placed your resignation in his hands to be accepted or not, according to his view of what is at present expedient. This is a responsibility which, it appears to me, no private beneficed clergyman ought to throw on his diocesan.
"I consider that an obedience or deference to Episcopal authority which goes beyond the law errs as much on the side of excess as that which comes short of it errs on the side of defect. You have undoubtedly, in my humble judgment, acted very erroneously. It was a generous error, but, being an error, you ought not to persist in it. For you must, I think, already be aware that your course, if imitated, will be of dangerous precedent."
Though Mr. Bennett was not to be persuaded, I have thought it worth while to record these opinions then held as well as afterwards, because they certainly express the true view of such matters. Mr. Bennett himself says, "The Church is superior to any individual bishop."
But the parishioners were very far from being ready to part lightly with their beloved pastor, and strenuous exertions were at once made to retain him. A "General Committee," as it was called, was formed, and meetings were held from December 11 onwards in hopes of inducing him not to complete his resignation, or to wait till legal advice had been taken as to whether he had so far committed himself that the Bishop had legal power to demand its completion. These meetings were under the chairmanship of Sir John Harington, the churchwarden, and were attended by many of the prominent parishioners and by others interested in Church affairs, as Beresford-Hope and Lord Newry--so great was the interest taken in the matter.
On December 20 an address was presented to the Bishop, "earnestly suggesting that Mr. Bennett should be allowed to remain in a ministry where his labours have been blessed with so great success." But the Bishop replied on December 23, that, as his opinion of Mr. Bennett's principles remained the same, he must persist in his acceptance of his resignation. After another meeting the parishioners asked the Bishop what the principles were to which he took exception. To this request the Bishop discreetly replied that he declined to discuss the question. Next, on January 7, they asked Mr. Bennett not to affix his signature to the legal document till they had had an opportunity of ascertaining the legal aspect of the matter, especially with respect to the Bishop being patron of the living "as well as Ordinary." Mr. Bennett replied on the nth, that, as the Bishop had reiterated his judgment that his principles were unfaithful to the Church of England, it only remained still more clear that it was his duty to resign. He could not take advantage of any technical flaw in the proceedings. The Bishop's being patron might invalidate the resignation in law, but could not make any difference to a matter of obedience to the Bishop.
"The rivet that binds the resignation is the Bishop's acceptance of it, and that, in his Episcopal judgment, I am guilty of unfaithfulness to the Church of England. The only way of loosening the rivet is the Bishop's revocation of the judgment."
They were not yet satisfied. On the I3th they again wrote to the Bishop, asking him to specify what in the service he wished omitted. His Lordship declined so to do! Nothing would satisfy him but to get rid of Mr. Bennett. Who or what was behind all this? His Lordship was not wont to be so obstinate or determined.
In addition to the "General Committee," a committee of the poor of the parish was formed, and they asked to be allowed to send a deputation to the Bishop, and read an address to him. The Bishop actually declined to receive the deputation, and asked that the address might be sent to him! On this the poor of the parish felt themselves "under the painful necessity of respectfully declining to forward to his Lordship the address which they had prepared." The address is most touching. Thus it ends--
"We beseech your Lordship to let Mr. Bennett remain with us; but, if not, we do hope your Lordship will see that our church, which was built expressly for us, is still a poor man's church.
"In conclusion, we beg that your Lordship will pardon anything that we may have said in this our address, as it comes from poor working men."
But it was all of no use. The fatal Tuesday, March 25, on which Mr. Bennett had promised the Bishop to complete his resignation, drew near. In the preceding week he preached on Wednesday or Friday a sermon, "The Spiritual Wilderness," in which he was able to tell them that the services of the church would be continued after his departure in the same way as before. [It is a curious side-light on the troubles and on the pressure of work in that time that he gives an impossible date for this sermon in the printed copy: "Friday, the 15th day of Lent?]
On the Third Sunday in Lent, March 23, he preached at S. Barnabas' his farewell sermons both morning and evening. The choice of S. Barnabas' for both sermons shows how dear to his heart was this, his own design and creation for the poor.
"The services," says the Guardian, "were crowded to suffocation. There were more than a hundred communicants at seven in the morning." This surprised the Guardian of those days; it would not now be thought a large number, so much do we owe to the struggles of those days. "At the midday service the church was filled in every part within a few minutes of the doors being opened."
"The crowd was terrific," says the Morning Advertiser; but "the utmost order prevailed throughout the services," is the addition of a correspondent.
Thomas Helmore intoned the Litany as of old at the consecration of the church. Henry Fyffe and F. H. Freeth assisted at the Celebration.
"Mr. Bennett," the Morning Advertiser goes on, "ascended the pulpit habited in his surplice, over which were the red hood, indicative of the degree which he took in the University of Oxford, and the black scarf which is common to the priesthood."
Such was the excess of ritual which terrified Bishops and Lord Mayors, Lord Chancellors and Prime Ministers--or so they thought it politic to pretend!
"Mr. Bennett appeared depressed in spirits," the report goes on, "and his voice, which until lately was clear and musical, seemed to be broken, failing him many times during the delivery of the sermon."
His text in the morning sermon was the fifty-third verse of the seventh chapter of S. John's Gospel, "And every man went to his own house." His subject was a natural one: "Religious controversy." In the controversy to which the words of the text form the ending there were three disputants, three characters--The Jewish people; the Pharisees; Nicodemus. In the people there was religious doubt and perplexity, through want of knowledge; in the Pharisees, unwillingness to hear about the claims of Christ at all; in Nicodemus, and doubtless others, timid compromise and postponement; so they all went to their own houses.
"Do these things, my brethren, remind you of any parallel in our present position? It seems to me, reading carefully through the seventh chapter of S. John's Gospel, that the workings of the mind in faith and the fallacies of the world in controverting faith, and the issue in a general perplexity and doubt in so many souls, has its very close fulfilment in us of the present day. You will readily perceive the three great dangers of the Church, now pressing forward, to be the very same as those depicted in S. John. I. Popular fallacies are seized upon and urged to conclusions which are known to be false. II. Worldly men hide and disfigure the truth by calling it names. III. Timid men, aware of the truth, shrink from its confession in a compromise.
"These are the three points to guard against--
"I. Confusion of truth by those in high places to serve some political movement. (Witness Lord John's Durham letter.)
"2. Aspersion of motives and imputation of wrong intentions in the faithful; and so instead of permitting them to serve the Church which they dearly love, gradually and eventually forcing them out of her. (Witness the Bishop's letters to Mr. Bennett, and the case of the clergy at S. Saviour's, Leeds.)
"3. A compromising, double-minded action of our rulers, leaning for support on the arm of the greatest enemy of the Church, of whom our Lord so repeatedly warned us--the World; a courting of the friendship and smiles of men; a putting of trust in princes: an association, in habits, temper, and thought, with the great ones of the earth; a fear of their frowns, a shrinking from their ridicule, a thirst for their praise. And all this, to the utter exclusion, in the practical government of the Church, of any reference to the sole groundwork of safety, light, and guidance promised in the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. (Witness the cases of Hampden and Gorham, the two Archbishops agreeing to the Privy Council judgment.)"
His concluding exhortation--to avoid the bitterness of controversy and a narrow-minded, jealous, sectarian spirit--"made a strong impression on the minds of the vast congregation."
"The congregation for the afternoon service were stationed at the doors as the midday congregation dispersed, and for the evening service the church was filled to excess before half-past five, though the service did not commence till seven."
The last sermon was on "The work of Him that sent us," and the text was S. John ix. 4, "I must work the works of Him that sent Me while it is day. The night cometh when no man can work."
He first pointed out that Christian character is continually expansive, whether in doctrine, morals, worship, or conduct.
"Doctrine produces doctrine; work produces work; principle seeks out details for exercise; detail works out into principle for stability. Wherever you begin, provided that you begin in Christ, there you can never possibly end."
But the night must come to all, and then what bitter thought of neglected chances!
Perhaps "we have lost, misused and misapplied the day which God gave us--and now the night has found us.
"We have all had a bright shining day--a short one indeed; but, while it pleased God to let it last, a bright one. There has been prayer daily in the churches. There has been preaching very frequent. There has been the Sacramental offering of the Lord's Body in one of the churches weekly, in the other daily. There has been a full and free intercourse in spiritual things, both publicly and privately, between priests and people. There have been hearts ever warming towards you, consulting for you, praying for you, scheming plans of good for you in many ways. There has been much, very much, of which I dare not trust myself to speak, nor would it be seemly so to do (only it is good for us all to think about it)--your memory will supply what I might have added."
He was at this point so deeply moved that for some time he was unable to continue his sermon. Then he ended thus--
"Yes, brethren, the night has come, and we can work no longer here. It has stopped our work in the midst. But carefully let us remember that this stopping in the midst is a blessing, not a curse. It is not to be dealt with in sullen-ness of temper as a treatment of injustice (God forbid, for it comes, remember, of Him); nor is it to be looked upon with any overwhelming grief, as a blow from which we can never recover; nor is it to be received with any depression of despair as though things were so dark and dreary in this night that they never could see the day again. No, surely not--if we are men, and Christian men, and have the cross about us, and Him who hung upon the cross in our hearts--surely not; but with a calm and brave submission, nay, even with a cheerful, though may be a solemn, gladness, knowing that it is the will of One who (loving us as He assuredly does) can only raise His chastening hand for some perfecting of the work which He has given us to do--known and prepared by Him who prepares all things, yea, even from the foundation of the world.
"Let us arise, then, and go hence. The day is ended. It was God's day. The night has begun. It is God's night also. We cannot work, but we can rest--but rest is GOD'S will as well as work. And if not here, at any rate there is a place where 'there remaineth a rest for the people of God.' There is a place. May we all meet together and have our portion there, when GOD may please to call us! May He give us a word of blessing here, in order to give us a richer word of blessing there--for there verily we shall see Him in the dwellings of His thousand saints, amid the myriads of His heavenly hosts--there we shall see Him face to face--hear Him--yea, even touch Him, in JESUS His only begotten Son, the Saviour and the Redeemer, the ever-glorious Word, the Mediator of the New Covenant, GOD blessed for evermore." [This concluding portion is differently worded in the Guardian report, though to the same effect. Possibly this part was extempore, and in the printed copy recorded from memory, as in the case of the sermons during the riots.]
With these words his work in the parishes of S. Paul's and S. Barnabas' finished, but the sad farewells were not yet at an end. On Monday night, after the Eve Service of the Annunciation, a "most affecting and impressive meeting" was held in the college.
"The occasion of it was Mr. Bennett's leave-taking of his grateful and affectionate parishioners, which we can compare to nothing but the departure of a fond father from his sorrowing children. No words could adequately describe the sensation produced, but it must long continue vividly pictured on the minds of all present. The large schoolroom was, in a very few minutes after the opening of the doors, filled to overflowing by an anxious and eager concourse of all ranks of Mr. Bennett's parishioners; not the great, the titled, and the wealthy, but a vast assemblage of the once utterly neglected, and therefore ruffianly and degraded, now constituting a decent, well-conducted body of Churchmen and Church-women. These pressed forward with earnest affection to obtain a last look from him whose loving care first drew them from their misery, pointing out to their hitherto benighted understandings the blessings of Catholic truth; blessings of which they, but for him, would still have remained in ignorance. Nor did they come for this alone; but anxious that their friend (for such indeed he was) should carry away some of their regard they came with a humble petition that he would accept at their hands a tribute of their grateful recognition of the moral and spiritual obligation which will bind them to him for ever."
A protest was adopted by the meeting against Mr. Bennett's
"removal, and read by Sir J. Harington, the churchwarden of S. Barnabas'. It was to the effect that Mr. Bennett had not taught or done anything contrary to the doctrine, practice, or discipline of the Church of England; the Bishop had made use of an arbitrary and illegal stretch of power altogether unprecedented, and which was most dangerous to the liberties of the clergy and laity of the Church, and that the congregations of S. Paul's and S. Barnabas' felt deeply aggrieved that the Bishop had declined to state what were his objections to the principles of Mr. Bennett, or his reason for calling for his resignation, inasmuch as Mr. Bennett had faithfully followed the rules laid down by the Bishop himself in his charge of 1842."
Next was read a protest from the poor of .the parish addressed to the Bishop against the removal of their "dear pastor." It was evidently drawn up by themselves, and is so good that it deserves to be reprinted in full--
"The protest of the poor men's committee to the Bishop of London.
"We, the poor of S. Barnabas', beg leave most respectfully to inform your Lordship that we protest against your removal of our dear pastor from his cure amongst us. We cannot help thinking that your Lordship must have been deceived or you could never have acted as you have done. When we think that you have taken our beloved pastor from amongst us with the charge of unfaithfulness to the Church, which charge falls upon us alike with him whose loss we shall ever deplore, it makes us look with amazement around and ask, Can it be true? What is the cause of it? And when we consider it, it appears as if your Lordship partook of and agreed in the 'No Popery' cry that was raised by an unthinking and rebellious mob, and then in the perplexity of the moment you visited your displeasure upon our poor pastor; and now you send him out with a faggot upon his back. What Bishop will give him a living with that charge still remaining? You are the one that made the charge, and you are the only one that can remove it, and let us beseech you to do so.
"My Lord, we humbly beg that you will reconsider the whole unhappy affair, and see if you cannot do something for the wrongs you have done to one of your ablest and most zealous servants; and we further beg your Lordship to forgive us speaking so boldly, but if you could but feel our loss you would require no other apology for so doing. We humbly ask your Lordship to pardon what you see amiss in this, as it comes from poor labouring men. Yet we wish your Lordship to know that it is as we think upon the matter. We beg to conclude with the fervent prayer that your Lordship will so order our church that peace and happiness, truth and justice, may be established amongst us.
"We remain, my Lord,
"In all humility,
"YOUR LORDSHIP'S MOST OBEDIENT SERVANTS."
After the reading of these protests Mr. Bennett came into the room. There was a deafening shout of welcome,
"accompanied by waving of hats and handkerchiefs and such clamorous expressions of good will as might be expected from the unsophisticated class of whom the assembly was composed. Mr. Bennett, it was evident, felt deeply these demonstrations; but, struggling with his feelings, over which he is known to possess an extraordinary control, he sat down for a few minutes to recover himself."
An address was then read to him by the chairman, which puts the whole case most admirably.
"We cannot but feel the extreme injustice of calling upon you to discontinue practices which undoubtedly come within the rubrics of the Church and were in spirit recommended for adoption by the Bishop himself, while in other churches of the diocese the most open and continued violations of the rubrics are allowed.
"Again, we are at a loss to express our grief at the treatment you have received from the Bishop, when we recollect the circumstance of his pressing you for your resignation while a mob of rioters was at the door of our church, and that he whose duty it was to throw oil on the troubled waters and to bind up those in affliction and danger did not consider it beneath his sacred office to send his letter of the 9th of December, 1850, to the public press at the same time as to yourself; and this at a moment when a word of authority, coupled with affection and kindness, would have been the greatest support to you in your trials, and would probably have stayed the angry and excited feelings of your enemies.
"This we feel most, especially inasmuch as the clamour and riots were not caused by the poor in our district but were created by persons drawn entirely from other quarters, and you were deserted not only by Episcopal countenance and advice but by all authoritative redress--the Prime Minister descending from the seat of power to act the part of a partisan; the magistrate before whom one of the rioters was taken declining to punish, and even adding to the popular tumult by his remarks. [Just as was done by the magistrates at S. Sidwell's, Exeter, and by other magistrates on other such occasions.]
"The imputation also of any practice in your churches having been adopted 'simply from its being a practice in the Church of Rome,' we feel to be most unjustifiable, as from our long knowledge of your opinions and feeling we know that any doctrine or practice simply Roman and not Catholic meets with no sympathy from you."
Mr. Bennett then replied. He said that the whole battle of the past five months, the trials of the time, the raging of the mob, had none of them occasioned such a struggle within him as the loving words and the sympathy he had received that night. He then alluded to the many tokens of affection he had received in the form of presents. One was a silver cross from the poor. The catechumens gave him a silver font; the children of S. Paul's an inkstand, those of S. Barnabas' a pair of candlesticks; and the "Committee of the Poor "now presented him, in the middle of his speech, with a silver teapot. All these tokens of love for him very much affected him.
He then advised the softening of some expressions in the address, which he thought too severe upon the Bishop, pointed out once more his idea of a collegiate church and the necessity of musical services, where services are daily, and assured them that no change would be made in the services by his successor, Mr. Liddell, and hoped he might sometimes be permitted to come and preach to them. Lastly he reminded them that they were to meet at the Eucharist the next morning, and trusted they would be self-controlled on that occasion and indulge in no manifestations of sorrow.
"After this," the report concludes, "the meeting, with many tears, slowly departed to their homes."
The last of these parting scenes was the next day--the Feast of the Annunciation. The Holy Communion was celebrated, as usual on holy days, at 11. About five hundred persons came, and of these every one communicated.
At the end of the service the west doors were opened and the choir, preceded by the churchwardens, went down the nave chanting the sad psalm, "By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, when we remembered thee, O Sion," as smoothly as their emotion allowed them. Their voices died away as they went round into the college, thus reversing the joyous procession with which the consecration ceremonies had begun so short a time before. Many of the choir were most deeply affected, and one or more cast their surplices on the ground in an agony of grief and despair.
The congregation, we are not surprised to be told, could no longer control their feelings, but left the church in a unanimous burst of sorrow. Not only women gave way to their grief, but even men showed the depth of their sadness and depression at the loss which they had met with in Mr. Bennett's departure and their fears for the future of S. Barnabas'.
The contrast was indeed a painful one to those who had been present at the consecration: the bright and joyous opening; the sad and foreboding ending of his work. Yet is it not at least probable that Mr. Bennett's extreme conscientiousness with respect to his duty to his Bishop set forth the Catholic Movement more than anything else he had done, and that he gained more adherents for the cause by his departure than he would have done by remaining there? He conquered by yielding--Cedendo Victor.
The Times, when Mr. Bennett resigned S. Barnabas', informed its readers, with a flourish of trumpets, that "we may fairly count the spolia opima of Mr. Bennett as among the first substantial triumphs of the Protestant Cause." Spolia opima, it may be explained for the benefit of those less learned than the Times, were the arms taken on the field of battle by the victorious general from the general whom he had vanquished. Who was the victorious general here--the Bishop, the Prime Minister, or the Flunkey? And where are those spolia opima now?
S. Barnabas' ever remained in the thoughts of Mr. Bennett, and his prayers, he said, would go up for the poor of S. Barnabas', "never to be forgotten." But his work would remain whether he were exiled or not.
"We see," said the letter which was refused by the Times, "an almost heathen district Christianized, the children of the poor brought to school, the parents brought to a knowledge of their Saviour, the interests of the poor man identified with those of the rich; the fatherless and widows visited in their affliction; the travailing women attended to and cared for; the consolations of religion afforded to the dying, and pastoral care bestowed upon the living; the naked clothed; the hungry fed; the houseless protected,--and all this, by whose instrumentality, under God's providence, but by his, against whom the finger of scorn is now pointed and the arm of persecution raised to strike him down--even against the zealous, persevering, faithful, and consistent incumbent of S. Barnabas', Pimlico."
The subsequent history of S. Barnabas' is naturally part of our subject.
The little church continued in the forefront of the battle for ritual decency for six years to come. All depended on the result of that battle. Had the very moderate ritual of S. Barnabas' been stopped, it would have been far more difficult to revive it elsewhere.
On Mr. Bennett's resignation, the Bishop appointed as Perpetual Curate, Mr. Liddell, a man of precisely the same opinions and principles, which appointment rendered his insistence on Mr. Bennett's resignation an absurdity. Mr. Liddell had already, by March 25, secured the services of James Skinner as senior and responsible Curate of S. Barnabas', himself attending chiefly to S. Paul's. On September 30 Charles Lowder became the helper of Skinner in the S. Barnabas' work. This arrangement continued till Mr. Skinner's illnesses enforced his resignation of the work at the end of 1856, in the August of which year Mr. Lowder had left to begin his work in the parish of S. George's-in-the-East.
The riots continued, as we have said, through a large part of 1851. It was necessary to keep a number of special constables, members of the congregation, always ready to guard the chancel and prevent an invasion of the sanctuary. But these disturbances gradually died away.
Next came the continued dispute about ritual. In Mr. Bennett's time the ritual which caused such an outcry was confined to what we should consider very moderate limits indeed. Lighted candles on the altar at the Celebration both at S. Paul's and at S. Barnabas', eastward position at the Celebration, Invocation at the commencement of the sermon, procession of choir and clergy from vestry to chancel, altar cloths coloured according to the season, bowing to the altar on entering and on leaving church, and a few flowers at the back of the altar,--these were the awful pieces of Popery which "confined the intellect and enslaved the soul."
The fight to maintain such things was first with the Bishop, who wished to reduce the ceremonial and to go back to old-fashioned methods. To a certain extent he succeeded.
His Lordship wished the adoption of red altar cloths independently of the season; at S. Paul's this was conceded, but at S. Barnabas' the colours were retained.
The flowers on the altar were discontinued.
A fierce tussle, almost or quite literally so, took place over the altar cross. One churchwarden took it away, the other replaced it. Finally it was nailed to the ledge, and this was supposed to make it "legal," as being a fixture and part of the building and not an ornament. The Bishop is reported to have said that he would have that cross removed if it cost him his see, but he failed in this laudable effort to put out of sight the sign of our salvation.
The earlier arrangement of the priest's position--the "north end "till the prayer of Consecration, and then the eastward, as in Mr. Bennett's first years at S. Paul's--was resumed. The eastward position of the gospeller and epistoler was also abandoned, and they stood at the south end of the altar. This also had been the earlier practice at S. Paul's.
The black gown in the pulpit was also resumed. The Invocation was dropped and a prayer before the sermon used, by the Bishop's orders.
The Bishop allowed the procession of the choir and clergy, but the clergy were not to go up to the altar carrying the vessels in their hands. One of the numerous complainants had described this as the Romish procession of the Host!
Bowing to the altar his Lordship permitted, and had even in his charge commended, but would not allow the bowing at the Gloria Patri. As this last ceremony is believed to have been originally a protest against Arianism and an assertion of the doctrine of the Trinity, its disallowance while permitting the bowing to the altar seems inconsequent.
For a short time the prayers were said in a desk outside the screen, but the Bishop unwisely condescended to argue, "The poppy heads are in the way." Mr. Skinner took a saw and cut them off, and no more excuse remained for keeping him out of his stall. The Litany appears to have still been said at the faldstool.
An attempt was also made by the Bishop to do away with the choral service, but the congregation were too much for his Lordship, and as they would sing their part there was nothing for it but for the clergy to sing theirs.
Then followed the first of the ritual prosecutions, which ended in well-deserved disaster for the attack. The prosecutor was Westerton, a parishioner and churchwarden, who complained of various observances and ornaments.
In the first court Dr. Lushington pronounced his ridiculous judgment--that the Church of England was a brand-new invention of Henry VIII. and had nothing to do with any previous Church whatsoever! Sir J. Dodgson, in the Arches Court, left matters equally in a fog. Mr. Liddell then appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which, in one of its rare lucid intervals, pronounced, what is obvious enough, that the "Ornaments rubric" orders those "ornaments" which were prescribed by the First Prayer-book of Edward VI. It therefore allowed the cross as an ornament, the coloured altar-cloths, the use of lights at the Celebration, etc. This judgment broke the neck of the opposition, and, though the Privy Council afterwards changed its mind, or rather its policy, the importance of the judgment, coming at that time, cannot be over-estimated--a time when the judgments of the Judicial Committee were still thought by many to be judgments of the Church, Great was the excitement in Court as point after point of ritual was pronounced legal. So ended the great campaign of ritual so far as S. Barnabas' was concerned.
But in another lawsuit, referring to the Round Church at Cambridge, the use of a stone altar was condemned, and, in consequence, the stone altar at S. Barnabas' was put down into the crypt. Thirty years afterwards the crypt was decorated and called the "Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre," and the old stone altar came once more into use.
The college still continued to be the residence of the clergy, and Mr. Skinner lived there with his family, as well as the other curates.
On Mr. Skinner's resignation Mr. Cosby White was appointed as Curate. The question of the separation of S. Barnabas' from the mother church had been previously discussed, and in 1866 this was carried out, Mr. White becoming the first "Perpetual Curate "of S. Barnabas'. Mr. Bennett had been, so far back as 1854, in favour of this arrangement.
Mr. White was succeeded in 1876 by Mr. Bagshawe, who died in 1879, soon after his resignation. Then Mr. Gurney was Vicar for nineteen years, and in 1896 Mr. Hanbury-Tracy, who had been Mr. Bennett's successor at Froome, became his successor, after a long interval, at S. Barnabas'.
After the judgment of 1857, S. Barnabas' was left to continue its progress unmolested, and had "throngs of worshippers," but was left behind by other churches, which had profited by its battles, in the restoration of ritual.
And so the history of the little church, which began amid such exciting scenes, ends with the quiet and peace of uninterrupted work for the good of souls and the glory of GOD.
This will be a good place to take note of the change which took place in Church music owing to the Oxford Movement, and to describe the part which Mr. Bennett and S. Barnabas' had in the reform.
By the end of the eighteenth century it was high time that there was a reformation of ecclesiastical music in the Church of England. Parish church music had sunk to the lowest possible depths.
Mr. Bennett, well aware that music may be the handmaid of religion, though she too often betrays that glorious office, took a vigorous part, as might be expected, in the restoration of better things. He is said to have been one of the originators of the Parish Choir, a periodical published by "The Society for Promoting Church Music," whose desire it was
"to provide and make popular a system of ecclesiastical music such as the humblest could join in--not for the mere amusement of men, but for the worship of God.
"The papers," we are told in the third volume, "signed with an initial letter, were supplied by a small knot of friends who originally established our publication, and who for a considerable time used to meet and discuss the tone and matter of the various articles."
Three articles, signed "B," in the first numbers appear from their style and contents to be due to the pen of Mr. Bennett, but these seem to have been the whole of his contributions.
The state of church music then is indeed wonderful to read of. In many places the singers were twenty or thirty school children who at intervals "made the bare walls ache with the screech of their discord." Ana this, according to Mr. Bennett, was as much the case in town churches as in country ones. In country churches, indeed, there was often no attempt at music of any sort. "Music," said Archdeacon Baily, in 1826, "is rarely used in the services," and, when it was, it consisted of the versified psalms sung to tunes chosen merely by the metre of the psalm and the capacities of the barrel-organ.
But in some more musical places the verses of the metrical paraphrase were each sung to a most elaborate setting. This comprised very often a solo, duet, etc., ending in a chorus of all the parts, together with a symphony of flutes, violins, and other instruments, by the ancient players of the village. Occasionally it was necessary, as Mr. Bennett tells us in the Old Church Porch,
"to repeat some first words of a line in order to bring it into the tune. Thus in singing the concluding line of a hymn--
"'Our poor polluted souls,'
"it was necessary to repeat the first three syllables, and then the whole congregation was found singing--
"'Our poor Poll, Our poor Poll, Our poor Poll!'"
At the time when the revival began, the wretched versions, or rather perversions, of the psalms done by Sternhold and Hopkins, and afterwards by Tate and Brady, had for a long time occupied the place now taken by hymns. At the end of these versions were usually printed some real hymns, interspersed with doggerel lines which professed to represent the Creed, The Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Te Deum, and other Canticles. This was in imitation of Luther, who, knowing his countrymen's love of music, thought to popularize his Reformation movement by this means, and did so with great success. In order that those to whom these astonishing compositions are happily unknown as part of worship may realize what our ancestors gravely sung in their churches, the first verse of "The Symbol or Creed of Athanasius "will amply suffice, as it was done by Sternhold and Hopkins, or one of their coadjutors--
"What man soever he be, that salvation hopes to gain
The Catholic Belief he must before all things retain,
Which faith unless he whole do keep and undefiledly,
Eternally without all doubt he shall be sure to die."
Nor were Tate and Brady much better with their "New Version." This, for instance, is the way in which they put Psalm lv. 2 into rhyme--
"Attend to this my sad complaint,
And hear my grievous moans;
Whilst I my mournful case declare
With artless sighs and groans."
After reading these effusions one is astonished to find that the introduction of any hymns beyond those mentioned should have been at first strenuously opposed by the High Church Party. The Parish Choir expressed doubts as to the legality of hymns, even those printed at the end of Tate and Brady, for Bishop Ken's Morning and Evening hymns were so printed, and exception was taken even to them. Mr. Bennett's brother, at S. John's, Worcester, is soundly rated for having those two hymns sung, apparently at the beginning of Mattins and at the end of Evensong. [It is, however, right to add that one objection which the Parish Choir has to Mr. F. H. Bennett's use of these hymns is that to sing a hymn at the commencement of Mattins and Evensong is contrary to the structure of those services, which begin with penitence and then proceed to praise. This view, it cannot be doubted, is the true one.]
In August, 1849, a correspondent objects to all hymns on these grounds: (1) There is such a variety of books; (2) they contain hymns which are merely pieces of poetry on irrelevant subjects; (3) their metres are outrageous; (4) they induce clergymen to devote that attention to them which they would otherwise give to the genuine service. The editor's comment is--
We would go further than our correspondent. The daily services do not require the adventitious aid of metrical hymns, scarcely even of metrical psalms (!). It is a transgression of the order prescribed in the Ritual," etc., etc.
All this curiously illustrates the stiffness of the ideas of the "Tractarians" of that date; but there was also, it may be thought, another reason, namely, that hymn-books had become the symbol of the "Evangelicals," and that a large proportion of the then popular hymns were of their type of theology.
In 1842 Mr. Bennett was apparently of the same opinion, for in combination with his organist, Robert Carter, he published a "Psalter," i.e. a selection of "psalm tunes, Chaunts, Services, etc.," as used in Portman Chapel. "This book," says his curate, Mr. Beaufort, in his sermon on New Year's Day, 1843 (Mr. Bennett being seriously ill at the time), "is the only one of the kind yet attempted." [In this Psalter he tried to arrange the New Version psalms so as to be appropriate to each day, but the task was an impossible one, and not very successful.] It is amusing to learn, from Mr. Bennett's pastoral letter to his congregation, that on and after January I, 1843, "all the psalms to be sung during divine service will be taken exclusively from the New Version of the Psalms of David as authorized by the Church," and Mr. Beaufort congratulated the congregation on the fact that "we shall not now any more be subject to the reproach of using unauthorized hymns." In the light of subsequent events and ideas all this becomes extremely funny when we remember that the sole "Church authority" for the use of Tate and Brady was an Order in Council of "His most excellent Majesty" William III., on December 3, 1699! What would Mr. Bennett have said of such an "authority "a few years later?
It is perhaps to be regretted that the ancient hymns of the Breviary were riot translated by the compilers of the Prayer-book and inserted in their proper places, but Cranmer, who wished this done, deplored his inability, though he tried his hand at it, to versify them satisfactorily. The version of the Veni Creator, "Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire," was the work of Bishop Cosin, and (with the alternative, older, and less successful version) is the solitary, representative of the ancient hymns in our offices. It remained for the nineteenth century to rectify this omission, and the work was well done by many, but above all, by Dr. J. M. Neale, who had a special and wonderful gift of transferring the spirit of those grand old hymns into English verse. Mr. Helmore and others arranged them to their mediaeval tunes, and the first part of the "Hymnal Noted" was published in 1851. But the "Hymnal Noted "did not include the many inspirations of modern hymn-writers, and consequently there followed many other hymnals, the best being Lord Nelson's "Salisbury Hymn Book "in 1857. At S. Barnabas' the only hymn sung during the Consecration Octave was the hymn Coelestis Urbs Jerusalem. It was "translated in a great hurry by Dr. Irons," says Miss Helmore. The history of it is worth recounting. In its Latin form it was a recast, both in words, metre, and music, made at the Reformation of the Roman Breviary, of the earlier hymn, Urbs Beata Hierusalem. Neale, who says in his notes on it, "Accessit Latinitas, recessit pietas" condemns the changes made, and adds--
"It was inserted in the 'Hymnal Noted' as having been the first Gregorian hymn which became popular since the revival of plain-song in the Church of England."
This popularity it must have acquired at the opening of S. Barnabas'. It was sung there, according to the present Warden of S. Michael's, "from a very small book," perhaps a mere leaflet. The "Hymnal Noted "was not then printed. The hymn was joined in after the first few days "by the whole congregation," says a daily paper of the time,
"with a heartiness which shows how well adapted such hymns are, with their legitimate melodies, for the use of the English Church."
And, spite of criticisms, the old melody and the hasty translation have haunted the survivors of that Octave from that day to this, and among them the writer of this memoir.
While we are on the subject of hymns, it will be worth while recording that the hymn-book used at Froome was the "Hymnal Noted," with the Appendix of more modern hymns as used at S. Alban's, Holborn.
The use of the Gregorian tones in chanting was discontinued after the Commonwealth, but they were the parents of the Anglican system of chanting. The revival of the Gregorian tones began as early as 1830. Redhead's Laudes Diurnae, a Gregorian Psalter, was in use at Margaret Chapel from 1839 to 1845. The "Psalter Noted" was published in 1849, and was in use at S. Andrew's, Wells Street, at the Dedication Festival of that year. This--"Mr. Helmore's Noted Psalter" as one of the newspapers called it--was used at S. Barnabas' from the beginning. The Processional Psalm, lxviii., was sung, as there set, to tone viii., second ending, the alternate verses being sung in harmony by the choir and in unison by the clergy, a plan which would scarcely commend itself to our ideas of plain-song. The other psalms were sung antiphonally.
All this mediaeval music was much to the disgust of Sir Frederick Ouseley, who was one of the curates, and was afterwards Professor of Music at Oxford, and founder of S. Michael's College at Tenbury. He remained faithful to the Anglican form of music all his days, and spent his life and fortune in promoting it. On one occasion, after a discussion at Kemerton about the difficult question of "pointing" the psalms for Anglican chants, Mr. Bennett's brother said playfully, "After all, Gregorians are the real thing." On this Sir Frederick exclaimed, waving about his arms in agony, "Then I've lived in vain! Then I've lived in vain." When the break-up of the services at S. Barnabas' took place, Sir Frederick arranged for the choir of S. Barnabas' to be kept together at Lovehill House, near Langley. There, under the care of Mr. H. Fyffe, and with the present Warden of S. Michael's as choirmaster, they remained as the nucleus of the choir for Sir Frederick's foundation at S. Michael's.
The remainder of the music at S. Barnabas' during the Octave was of the Cathedral type--"Services" for the Canticles; anthems; Tallis for the versicles, responses, Sanctus, and Gloria in Excelsis.
Thus much it has seemed worth while to note so as to show the ideas which were prevalent in 1850 as to what Church music ought to be, among the most progressive of the "High Church "Party. In later days, under Mr. Skinner, the music of S. Barnabas' became entirely of the Gregorian type, and in the days of Mr. Bagshawe, with Mr. G. R. Woodward as precentor and Mr. G. H. Palmer as choirmaster and organist, the plain-song there reached the highest degree of perfection.
Sad is the contrast between the opening music of S. Barnabas' and the last under Mr. Bennett's ministry there. It began with the inspiriting sounds of "Let God arise," to the jubilant tone in the "Psalter Noted," as the choir, passing along the street, entered the west door of the church. It ended with the sorrowful words of the exiles' lament, "By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept," sung to the most touching and plaintive of all the mediaeval chants as the choir left the church for the last time. [First tone, first ending, with monotonic mediation.]
Well did the one psalm express the joyous anticipations at the consecration, which was to inaugurate, as was hoped, and as was indeed the case in the end, a new era in the worship of the Church of England; while the other psalm told only too sadly of the tragic exile of the founder of the Church of S. Barnabas'.