REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION ON ECCLESIASTICAL DISCIPLINE.Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of His Majesty
PRESENT BREACHES AND NEGLECTS OF THE LAW.
We proceed now to deal with certain illegal practices of a graver kind which are connected with the service of Holy Communion.
(19) Celebrations without communicants, and (20) Children’s Eucharists.
We have had to consider many instances of the development of a tendency to separate the celebration of the Holy Communion and attendance thereat from the reception of the Sacrament. Evidence has been given of 114 services (82 of these being mid-day or High Celebrations) at which there were no communicants besides the celebrant; and indeed it has sometimes appeared that no one was even expected or invited to communicate with the priest. In many more instances there were few, often only one or two, who communicated, out of a large congregation.
Numerous instances, nearly one hundred in all, show that children, many of them being unconfirmed, are trained in the habit of attending the service of Holy Communion without receiving the Sacrament. In a considerable number of these instances there was evidence of the announcement of the service as a children’s Eucharist or children’s service; and in about twenty instances the congregation consisted almost entirely of children. In other cases children formed a large part, and often a majority, of the whole congregation.
In the first group of instances, namely those in which no one communicates save the celebrant, there is a plain and serious violation of a plain rubric; for the Prayer Book orders thus: “There shall be no celebration of the Lord’s Supper except there be a convenient number to communicate with the priest, according to his discretion.” “And if there be not above twenty persons in the parish of discretion to receive, yet there shall be no Communion, except four (or three at the least) communicate with the priest.” As Dr. Liddon wrote, “There is absolutely not a shadow of doubt as to the law of the Church of England on the subject.” In some cases belonging to this first group, the absence of persons communicating may be accidental and unforeseen; but there are many of which this could not be said.
In the other instances, provided the Sacrament is received by the number of communicants required as a minimum by the rubric, no express enactment of the Church is transgressed, even though a large congregation may be present without communicating. For it has been truly said that “there is nothing in the Prayer Book to bid every non-communicant withdraw.” But a service at which large numbers are present while three communicate, and especially a service at which many present, who, being unconfirmed, cannot communicate, is not such a service as that which was contemplated when the Order of Holy Communion received its present form. The Bishop of Birmingham has written that the Prayer Book “represents a reformation of the medieval liturgy and practice of the Church of England on the basis of certain principles”; and that “a main part of its object was to restore the Communion of the people to its original prominence.” The form of the service is determined as point after point by the thought of those who are about to communicate; and, as a matter of fact, the steps taken during the course of the Reformation in the Church of England in this regard “led eventually to the disuse of the practice of being present at the Eucharist without communicating.” Thus, altogether the express and absolute requirement of the rubric is met if the prescribed number, (four or at least three) communicate with the priest, yet the intention embodied in the form deliberately given to the Order of Holy Communion is clearly traversed when, Sunday after Sunday, those who communicate are but a very few out of a large non-communicating congregation. And a clergyman who so arranges and orders the services, and (notwithstanding the fact that the Upper house of convocation in both Provinces has solemnly declared “that it is contrary to the spirit and teaching of the Church of England” to describe reception without fasting as a sin”), so insists on fasting communion, as to make the chief service in each week a Celebration of the Holy Communion attended almost wholly by persons who cannot, or at all events do not, communicate at it, sets before his parishioners a conception and system of public worship which is not what the Prayer Book presents.
The extent of this deviation from the tenor of the Prayer Book evinced in different instances of a celebration attended by many who do not communicate, varies widely. On the one hand, there are occasions, such as an ordination, or the consecration of a Bishop, at which many may be present, and not communicate. Again, parents may naturally desire to being their children who are about to be confirmed to be present at the service before they actually come to communicate. Again, at the mid-day celebration in a cathedral, or in the church of a large parish, it is now customary for many to attend the service who do not communicate at it; some of whom have communicated earlier in the day, and desire to remain for meditation and prayer. On the other hand, the utmost divergence in this regard from the character impressed on the service of Holy Communion in the Prayer Book appears in celebrations such as those which are clearly indicated by the guidance given in the books entitled “Hosanna,” “The Perpetual Memory,” “The People’s Mass Book,” and “Catholic Prayers,” paragraphs 281 to 289—guidance which is illustrated by the evidence concerning celebrations at some of the churches which are identified with the most extreme ritual.
The custom of attendance at Holy Communion without reception is not mentioned in the records of the primitive Church, except possibly in the case of one class of penitents.
The practice arose when large numbers of converts were brought into the Church, and the danger of admitting merely nominal Christians to reception of the Holy Communion led to the sanction of their presence without partaking. The tendency to separate celebration from Communion led to a general increase of the practice; and during the time immediately preceding the Reformation the laity rarely communicated, while regular attendance at Mass for the purpose of worship was generally required.
In the Prayer Book of 1549 a rubric directs the withdrawal of non-communicants from the quire and their separation from the actual communicants. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the earlier half of the seventeenth century the presence of non-communicants was discouraged but not forbidden; and the custom gradually sank into abeyance. In the revision of 1662 the warning against the presence of “gazers and lookers” in the Exhortation, as well as the words in the Invitation preceding the Confession, “before this congregation here gathered together in His holy Name,” were omitted. The reason alleged by Bishop Wren why the former change should be made was that the practice had ceased.
Certain details in regard to the successive changes of the regulations bearing on the practice, and the opinions of sixteenth and seventeenth century writers upon the subject are given in a memorandum by the Rev. T.W. Drury appended to our Report (Appendix D).
In 28 parish churches and in one church which, though, not a parish church is open for public services, more than two Holy Tables were found. The great multiplication of services, and especially of early celebrations at which the congregation is necessarily small, has led to the introduction of a second Holy Table in a side chapel or aisle in many churches. The practice has been allowed by most of the Bishops; and in most dioceses faculties have frequently been granted for the erection of a second Holy Table on grounds of practical convenience and economy. But the introduction of a third and even a fourth Holy Table cannot be justified on the same grounds, and may readily lend itself to abuse. A witness was present in the church of the Cowley Fathers at Oxford when Masses (so described in the church notices) were stimulated celebrated at different altars in the church. The witness stated that this was not an exceptional occurrence, but that it appeared from the notice paper that there were simultaneous celebrations in this church, as far as he could remember, three days a week. The statement, which is admitted to be substantially correct, is as follows:—
On the occasion of the visit to this church, Tuesday, September 8, 1903, “The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin,” the Mass was celebrated at 8 a.m. in both chapels simultaneously. May I say I have quoted the word “Mass” and use it not offensively, but because the service was so described? I as present at the Mass in the north chapel and heard distinctly the voice of the priest saying Mass in the south chapel.
Again, at St. Mary Magdalene’s, Paddington, there are four altars; and it appears from the admissions of the churchwarden that, as there are five clergy, and each one celebrates every day, it sometimes happens (how often he was unable to say) that private masses, at which no one is present but a server, are said.
Private celebrations, except for the sick, were peremptorily forbidden after the Reformation; and there is nothing as to which the condemnation of English Church writers of the latter part of the sixteenth century was more emphatically or frequently expressed than the practice of private or solitary Masses.
(21) Use of the Canon of the Mass.
One of the most noticeable features of a celebration in some churches, when extreme ritual is practiced is a long pause in the service both before and after the Consecration Prayer. During this pause hymns or anthems (e.g., Benedictus or Agnus Dei) are so introduced as to “let or hinder” the Communion Office of the Church of England, contrary to the principle laid down by Archbishop Benson in the Lincoln Judgment. While these hymns and anthems are being sung, the celebrant, standing before the altar, handling the sacred vessels, stooping over it, and sometimes kissing it, appears to be silently repeating prayers (sometimes from a book or card placed in front of him) accompanied by gestures, crossing, bowings, and genuflexions. In the midst of this prolonged interval the celebrant reads the Consecration Prayer, sometimes audibly, sometimes in so low a voice that it is not audible. Many witnesses have given accounts of services of which the foregoing is a summary.
It was suggested in many cases, and not denied, that the celebrant was at this point in the service, in fact, employed in reading with the prescribed ceremonial acts the prayers of the Canon of the Mass, translated into English and given according to either the Sarum or the roman Use. In some cases it was admitted by the clergymen concerned that the witnesses’ surmise was correct. Furthermore, various altar-cards, books and manuals have been published, in which the English Communion Service, is incorporated with the Missal Service, so that both can be used together. We deal with these publications generally at a later stage (see paragraph 279). Evidence was given of the presence of altar-cards in more than 100 churches; and the witnesses, in describing services of Holy Communion at these churches, in a very large number of cases stated that the celebrant acted in the manner described in the last paragraph.
In Appendix E will be found such a form of service extracted from a well-known work “Notes of Ceremonial,” 4th Edition, 1903, published without the author-s name. It is stated in the preface to the 2nd Edition as follows:—
“The Communion Service with the Priest’s private prayers from the Sarum Missal has been printed at the beginning, instead of at the end of the book for the convenience of those who may wish to bind it up with an ordinary Altar Book, without including the chapters containing ceremonial directions.”
There is no doubt, therefore, that the form of service here given is intended for actual use in public worship. We have given it in full because it would be difficult my mere description to convey to the reader how completely the prayers interpolated from the Canon of the unreformed services are intertwined with and made part of the rite, and how elaborate are the ceremonial acts performed by the celebrant, not privately but before the congregation.
The introduction of these prayers from the Missal has been defended on the ground that they are inaudible and are merely the priest’s private devotions. It should, however, be noted that in the Missal the Canon is directed to be said silently, and is in fact never audible in roman celebrations: that a definite interruption occurs in the service by the introduction of these prayer: and, further, that the external ceremonial of the Roman rite, is carefully observed. When this is remembered, it becomes clear that these prayers cannot be defended as private devotions; and it is, in our opinion, impossible not to regard them as interpolations which are as much an integral part of the service as the same prayers, repeated in the same manner at the same point in the celebration are in the Roman Office. It is doubtless in consequence of this view that more than one Bishop has made a request to his clergy that, in order that there may be no question of using another form in the Office of Holy Communion than that prescribed, all books or cards containing other prayers or forms should be removed from the Holy Table; and that nothing should be said by the officiant, liturgical and as officiant, which is not in the Prayer Book form whether said audibly or not.
(22) Omission of the Invitation.
In fourteen cases it was alleged and not denied that the Invitation to Communion, beginning, “Ye that do truly and earnestly,” etc., was omitted. In some of these cases other parts of the service were omitted as well; and in these it is possible that the omission was due to a desire to shorten the service. But, as in the majority of the instances it was stated by the witnesses that there were no communicants, it is probably that the omission was due to the fact that none were expected.
(23) Omission of the Creed and the Gloria in Excelsis.
In three cases it was alleged and not denied that the Creed, the Gloria in Excelsis, and the Blessing were all omitted. All these were Requiem Services; and the omission of these parts of the service was apparently due to a desire to follow the medieval or Roman Use at such a service. In two other cases the omission of the Gloria in Excelsis, and in one the omission of the Creed, was noticed.
In the medieval Church of England, as in the rest of the Western Church, the Gloria in Excelsis was not ordered to be used at every celebration, being reserved for occasions of more or less festal character. It was omitted form Requiem Services so early as the nineth century. In the English Prayer Book of 1549 it was ordered to be said, as previously, at the beginning of the Communion Service; and a note was inserted permitting its omission, and also that of the Creed, at week-day and private celebrations. In 1552 it was removed to its present position; and no exceptions to its use were recognised. In the medieval Church the rules applied to the use of the Creed were similar to those which applied to the Gloria in Excelsis.
In 413 cases witnesses have reported that they saw the celebrant elevated the consecrated bread and also the chalice at the time of consecration.
It is difficult always to understand what is precisely meant by a witness when he speaks of “elevation.” It may be that in some of these cases the elevation consisted of the raising of the sacred elements either to enable the manual acts to be visible, or only to the extent necessary in order to enable the manual acts to be performed. In the above enumeration such cases, so far as they could be recognised, have been excluded; but it has been impossible to do this with accuracy. The term “elevation,” when technically used, means, as we understand, the action of the celebrant who, standing with his back to the people, holds, first the consecrated bread, or wafer, and secondly the chalice, in both hands, raises them high above his head for a few moments, and then replaces them on the altar.
In the cases which have been brought before us the elevation has frequently been accompanied by the ringing of the Sacring bell.
The observance of elevation was elaborately considered by Sir Robert Phillimore, when Dean of the Arches, and condemned by him on the ground that it appears
“clear that those who guided the Church of England through this process of restoration to primitive antiquity were of opinion that the elevation was so connected with the repudiated doctrine of Transubstantiation, as distinguished form the Real Presence, that it ought not to be suffered to remain."
Some witnesses complained that the celebrant, having received the alms collected from the congregation, raised or elevated them before placing them upon the Holy Table. It is to be noted, however, that the rubric requires that the priest “shall humbly present and place [the alms] upon the Holy Table.”
From at least the sixth century an act of elevation after consecration can be traced in the Eastern Church. This was probably for the purpose of exhibiting to the people the sacred elements now prepared for their use. Another form of elevation was developed out of our Lord’s own action when He “took bread,” and was possibly intended, even from its first adoption, to signify the presentation of the offering to God. Both these are to be carefully distinguished from the later practice of elevation immediately after consecration, which was deliberately adopted in the Western Church after the Berengarian controversy and the general acceptance of a belief in Transubstantiation. It first appears towards the end of the twelfth century; and in the thirteenth and following centuries there are constant references to it not only in ritual books but also in the Canon of various councils, which direct elevation of the consecrated elements in order that they may be seen and adored by the people. The decrees of some English Councils are quoted in Appendix F to this Report; and it will be sufficient here to cite the rubric of the roman Missal in which the priest is required, “raising himself as much as he well can, to lift the Host on high, and with eyes fixed upon it (which he does also in the elevation of the cup), reverently to show it to the people to be worshipped.”
In twenty-seven cases where evidence has been given of the practice of elevation, the clergyman has denied the charge. This conflict of evidence has arisen, at least in some cases, from a confusion between elevation for the purpose of showing the consecrated elements to the people (which was finally abolished in 1549), and the slight lifting-up which has come to be practiced after consecration at the words, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” to signify the presentation to God of a memorial of Christ'’ sacrifice.
With regard to the antiquity of an act of elevation at this point in the service, there are in the late medieval liturgies of the English Church, as well as in some French Uses, directions for such an act, whereas in the roman Missal there is at this point no such direction. There is no sufficient evidence to show what was the original significance attached to this act in the English Church. It must be noted that our present rubrics, while carefully specifying the manual acts of the clergyman, do not direct any elevation at all; but we think it just to distinguish the intention of the slight lifting-up described above from that of evoking the adoration of the people.
In 386 cases witnesses reported that the celebrant genuflected during the Consecration Prayer, and in front of the elements after the consecration, and generally several times. By genuflexion is meant an act of reverence in which one knee touches the ground. Genuflexion at this part of the service, thought required and made the subject of elaborate directions in the Roman Missal, was almost unknown in England in the Middle Ages; the method of showing reverence to the consecrated elements ordered in the Sarum Missal being simply an inclination of the head. There is no direction for such an act in any of the English Prayer Books; and it has been declared illegal for the celebrant to genuflect or kneel during any part of the consecration Prayer.
In twenty-three cases it was alleged, and in twenty of them it was either admitted or not denied, that the celebrant in pronouncing the Benediction turned to the Holy Table and, at the mention of our Lord’s name, genuflected or bowed towards the consecrated elements thereon.
(26) Ecce Agnus Dei, etc.
In fifty-two cases it was stated that the celebrant, after his own communion and at the point in the service at which the communicants should approach, turned round from the Holy Table, and, standing with his face towards the people, exhibited the consecrated wafer, or bread, and said to the congregation, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world.” In twelve cases in which this is said to have occurred there were, in fact, no communicants; and in four of these the service was a mid-day choral Eucharist. In some cases the clergymen concerned have explained that they made this interpolation in the Communion Service merely as a signal to indicate that the time for intending communicants to receive the Sacrament had arrived. In the ritual directions of the Roman Missal the celebrant is directed to say these words for this purpose at masses for the Communion of the people. “Postea genuflectens accipit manu sinistra pyxidem seu patenam cum Sacramento, dextera vero sumit manu particulam, quam inter pollicem et indicem tenet aliquantulum elevatum super pyxidem seu patenam, et coversus ad communicandos in medio altaris dicit, Ecce Agnus Dei qui tollit peccata mundi.”
The practice has no sanction from antiquity; nor does there appear to be any evidence that it was ever customary in the English Church before the Reformation.
It appears from the evidence that the Sacrament was reserved in thirteen churches, either publicly in the church itself or in a chapel to which the public had access, or which was so arranged that the place of reservation was visible from outside the chapel. There were seventeen other churches in which the witness deemed it probable that the Sacrament was reserved. Their grounds were (1) the existence of a tabernacle on or above an altar; (2) a lamp burning before the tabernacle; (3) the fact that clergy or people or both bowed or genuflected when passing in front of the tabernacle. In addition to the above there were a considerable number of churches in which there were or appeared to be tabernacles, but there was no evidence of reservation.
The primary purpose of reservation is stated to be for the Communion of the sick. Archbishop Temple, in his opinion on reservation, delivered at the Lambeth Hearing (1899-1900), page 1, said:—
“This practice, which is commonly spoken of as Reservation, takes three distinct forms. In the first place it is sometimes the practice to treat sick persons, who are not in church but are living close by, as if they were part of the congregation, and at the time of administration to the communicants generally to take the elements out of the church to them as well as to those who are actually present. It is claimed that this is not reservation at all, inasmuch as the administration goes on without interruption, and it cannot be said that what is sent in this way is part of what remains after the service is over.
“The second form of the practice is, instead of consuming all that remains of the consecrated elements, as the rubric directs, to keep a portion back and to administer this portion to people known to be sick at some later period of the day. This is acknowledged by all to be reservation; and the reserved elements are kept in the church until the time when they are taken to the sick.
“Thirdly, the elements after consecration are reserved, not only for those who are known to be sick at the time, but to be used for any case of sudden emergency which may occasion a demand for the Sacrament in the course of the week.”
Devotions to or before the Reserved Sacrament and services in which the reserved Sacrament is adored, which have a recognised and prominent place in the Church of Rome, occur also in some Anglican churches where reservation is practised. We are unable to express an opinion either as to the number of churches in which the Sacrament is reserved for any purpose or in what proportion of such churches the Reserved Sacrament is used for purposes of devotion as well as for the Communion of sick persons. We do not believe them to be numerous.
A churchwarden of St. Mary Magdalene’s, Paddington, in answer to questions, stated that in that church there is permanent reservation of the Sacrament in a hinging pyx over the altar of a chapel in a crypt, to which persons are admitted at certain hours to say their prayers and for purposes of devotion; and that a great many poor people make use of the opportunity thus offered and value it very much.
Another witness thus describes a visit to this chapel:—
“At the close of the service, seeing a large number of persons going down a brilliantly lighted staircase at the north-west corner of the church, and having heard that there was a chapel in the crypt containing the Reserved Sacrament, I followed. The brilliantly-lighted staircase led to a dimly-lighten crypt, and this in turn to a dark chapel, lighted only in the neighbourhood of the altar, which was separated from the nave of the chapel by a screen with closed gates. I noticed that people coming in and going out of this chapel dipped their fingers into a holy water stoup and crossed themselves. The time passed by them in the chapel was spent in silent devotion, some of the worshipped kneeling prostrate across the chairs. On examining the altar I found that it had a magnificent coloured and gilded reredos, ornamented with figures in relief. The centre figure was that of the Virgin crowned and holding the Holy child, while in a lower panel was a representation of the Crucifixion. The whole was surmounted by a gilt baldacchino of large size. The riddels at the side of the altar were fastened to poles on which were figures of angels holding candles. From the baldacchino and near to the reredos hung a strange object somewhat resembling a birdcage; it appeared to consist of a gilt papal tiara from which depended a veil finished off with red tassels. Three sanctuary lamps were burning in front of this altar; and at the west end of the chapel I noticed an exquisite little organ surmounted by angels.”
This church in one of those which the Bishop of London declines to visit as already explained (paragraph 143).
At St. Matthews, Sheffield, the Sacrament is reserved in a side-chapel; and a witness thus reports what he heard from a preacher in that church:
“That at that church they enjoy the privilege of having the perpetual presence of their Lord in his Holy Sacrament; and he asked that those members of the congregation who could not manage to attend the week-day Eucharist should at least spare five minutes to come and offer a prayer to our Lord, present in His Sacrament, on behalf of the mission then about to be held.”
At St. Clement’s, City Road, where the Sacrament is reserved, a witness states that she heard a sermon which contained the following statements:—
“The Sacred Heart of Jesus was present day by day, and hour by hour, in the Holy Mass and in the Tabernacle. Sin was an insult to the Sacred Heart. Every year they heard of the Sacred Host being insulted by the rifling of tabernacles and the trampling underfoot of the Host. They had not visited the Blessed Sacrament as often as they might, but had been satisfied with processions and that kind of thing, and had left it unvisited and alone.”
The Bishop of London in his evidence stated with regard to this sermon as follows:—
“Then, still on the letters of 1904, as touching something in the evidence you sent me, evidence of which I took notice, and which I thought was very bad, I sent at once for the preacher of a certain sermon, which was preached in St. Clement’s, City Road, whom I discovered was a curate named Dunsby. I wrote and told him that his sermon was—I forget the words I used, but very strong language; and he answered back on June 20, 1904: ‘My dear Lord Bishop,—Thank you very much for your letter of the 18th instant. As the Bishop of London wishes’ (this was of course to the Bishop of Stepney) ‘I promise (1) I will not in my teaching or preaching recommend devotions addressed to the Sacred Heart of our Lord; (2) That I will not in my teaching or preaching invite or exhort persons to visit the chapel in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.’ I told him through the Bishop of Stepney that if he did not give me that promise his license would be withdrawn.”
Reservation has not been the subject of an actual decision in the Ecclesiastical Courts or the Judicial Committee, though its unlawfulness has been stated incidentally in judgments of both tribunals. It was also declared unlawful for any purpose by the Archbishops at the Lambeth Hearing, 1899-1900, to which reference has already been made. The Bishops’ general letter in 1901, mentioned in paragraph 126, enjoined obedience to the Archbishops’ Opinions against reservation. Some of their Lordships stated in evidence that they knew of no cases of the practice in their dioceses. Some have allowed the use descried in the first and second paragraphs which we have quoted from Archbishop Temple’s Opinion. Again, some are in favour of allowing the Sacrament to be reserved for the use of the sick, but out of church or under such regulations as would prevent any danger of its adoration.
Bishop Creighton died shortly after the Archbishops’ Opinions were delivered, without dealing with the question as it affected the diocese of London. The present Bishop of London instituted inquiry, with the result that he discovered that in May, 1901, in 15 churches the Sacrament was perpetually reserved that is, reserved throughout the week and changed once a week; and that in 19 others at the same date it was occasionally reserved, that is, reserved for a particular sick persons and then taken almost immediately to the sick person. The Bishop stated that, in his view, formed as a result of his consideration of the situation and especially of representations which were addressed to himself and to his predecessor, the total prohibition of all reservation was impracticable. The Bishop, while declining to sanction reservation, decided to tolerate the practice for the administration to the sick. His Lordship explained his action thus:—
[I draw a] “clear difference between reservation for the sick and reservation for purposes of adoration. I have letters of my own which I shall read later on (I think it will be better to keep them in their order) which will show how very strong is the difference between the two; in other words, how ver strong I have been against the reservation of the Sacrament for visits to the Blessed Sacrament as part of the devotional life of the people or for purposes of adoration; but I think that is quite a distinct thing altogether.” . . . “Reservation has been tolerated, that is to day, teh Church should be visited if the Reserved Sacrament were kept in a locked chapel into which no one at all might enter except the priest who took the Sacrament to the sick person. That is, I mean, a special point which exists in the London diocese to-day; the Sacrament is reserved in chapels, which are locked, and into which no one can enter for any purpose except to take it to the sick person; and when carried to the sick person it is to be carried without any ceremony of any kind at all”
The difficult of maintaing this distinction and of effectually ensuring its observance in practice is illustrated in the evidence. For example, the Reserved Sacrament was stated to be kept in accordance with the Bishop’s permission at St. Cuthbert’s, Philbeach Gardens, in a tabernacle, on an altar in the rood-loft in the church with a lamp burning before it, visible to persons in the church. Again, at several churches the Sacrament is reserved in a chapel, the gates of which are locked but are constructed of open ironwork, so that the place of reservation is visible to persons outside the chapel. Again, there was a case in which a clergyman who does not reserve “perpetually” but only “occasionally” for a few hours (and not in the church) in order to communicate a sick person, and entirely repudiates adoration or worship of the Sacrament, nevertheless stated that in carrying it to the sick person, the clergyman, vested in his surplice, had been preceded by a verger carrying a lighted candle to show respect and reverence to the Sacrament. The Bishop of London stated that he did not know except from the evidence before the Commission that this was done, and that he was confident that his direction to discontinue the practice would be obeyed.
Most of the churches in the diocese of London where reservation is practices have adopted some course which the Bishop tolerates on the lines already explained. The six churches already referred to as under “discipline” on account of their ceremonial use of incense have also, it would seem, declined to modify their practice of public reservation. Their view may be illustrated by a letter from the Vicar of St. Clement’s, City Road, being in the Bishop of London’s evidence, from which it appears that any restrictions which prevent the use of the Reserved Sacrament for the purposes of devotion and present, for example, “visits to the Holy Sacrament,” would be considered by the write disloyal to the truth and would be quite impossible for him to accept.
There is no question as to the antiquity of reservation for the Communion of those not present at the celebration in church. It is mentioned as customary even before the middle of the second century; but from the fourth century onwards, in order to avoid abuses, its use was restricted to the sick. In the ninth century directions were given that on the altar that should be a pyx or tabernacle where what was called the viaticum pro infirmis might be reserved. After the Berengarian Controversy in the eleventh century, and the general acceptance of a belief in Transubstantiation, full and elaborate directions are given not only as to the place of reservation, but also as to the manner of carrying the sacrament to the sick, and the adoration to be offered to it. Some examples from the canons of several English Councils of the twelfth and following centuries will be found in Appendix F. In the English Prayer Book of 1549 reservation for the sick was expressly permitted, but only for administration on the same day. From 1552 all mention of it disappeared from the Prayer Book. The rubric added in 1662 directs that, “if any remain of that which was consecrated, it shall not be carried out of the Church, but the Priest and such other of the Communicants as he shall then call unto him, shall, immediately after the Blessing, reverently eat and drink the same.” The practice of reservation has only been revived in very recent years.
(28) Mass of the Prĺ-Sanctified.
Three or four instances were brought to our attention of a service practically identical with the Good Friday Mass of the Prĺ-Sanctified in the Roman Church, at which the consecration of the elements is entirely omitted. The Reserved Sacrament is brought with much ceremony from a side-altar (the Altar of Repose), and consumed by the priest alone; and there are no communicants.
The following is an account of a service at St. Columba’s, Haggerston, on Good Friday, 1904, given by a witness. It was admitted by the incumbent to be in the main correct in statement, though he “entirely repudiated the colour attempted to be given to the facts”:—
Shortly after 10 o’clock the surpliced choir came in and took their places in the chancel. They were followed by the officiating minister (presumably the Rev. R.S. Thronewill), who wore his mass vestments, his chasuble being of purple. He was attended by two acolytes carrying lighted candles aloft. He proceeded to the altar and read the Ante-Communion office of the Church of England to the end of the Creed. The only point calling for notice in this part of the service were that, (1) after the reading of the Epistle, some verses were sung resembling the “Tract” provided at this stage by the roman Missal; (2) the Gospel was not announced as such, but as “The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. John”; and it is thus designated in the Roman book; (3) lights were held aloft during the reading of the Passion; (4) when the officiating clergyman read the words “They parted my raiment among them,” two of the servers approached the altar, one at either end, and pulled off from it the linen cloth which was divided in the middle; (5) again at the reading of the words describing the death of Christ, the officiating clergyman, servers, choir, and congregation knelt and paused—according to the direction in the Roman book. After the Nicene Creed the officiating clergyman divested himself of his chasuble and came ot the pulpit and preached the sermon. It dealt with the symbolism of the ancient altar service for Good Friday, which, the preacher said, was “so perplexing to many, but so full of meaning to the well-instructed Catholic.” He described how the Blessed Sacrament was brought from the Altar of Repose where ut had been placed on Maundy Thursday, and was consumed in silence by the priest. As the sermon was read from manuscript it could probably be produced if required, so that any further report of it is unnecessary. After the sermon the priest went to the south side of the sacrarium, two cantors took up their stand at the altar steps, and the “reproaches” were sung. At the close of the singing of these, a server unveiled the brass cross which was standing on the re-table; and some one, presumably the officiating clergyman, chanted the words, “Behold the wood of the Cross.” The choir then sang the anthem “We venerate Thy Cross,” the translation being only slightly different from that in the roman Office. The Hymn “Pange lingua” followed . . . . . During the singing the cantors, choir, and some of the congregation sat. After this hymn the officiating clergyman and his attendants retired to the vestry on the north side of the chancel, and in a few minutes returned. The clergyman was wearing the Mass vestments, and he was carrying a chalice containing presumably (according to his sermon) the Reserved Sacrament brought from the Altar of Repose. He was attended by acolytes carrying lighted candles, and the thurifer carrying the censer. The chalice was placed on the altar, and wine and water were poured into it (or into a second chalice, it was not easy to see which); and then the officiating clergyman censed it, clouds of incense coming from the censer. He appeared afterwards to perform the Lavabo. He then read the prayer for the Church Militant and numerous Prayer Book collects, and pronounced the Blessing. The priest appeared to consume in silence the Reserved Sacrament (or part of it), and he afterwards performed the ablutions. The service concluded thus abruptly, as in his sermon he said it would. The priest then returned to the vestry carrying the chalice and escorted by acolytes carrying portable lights.
The Bishop of London stated that he had required the discontinuance of this service in February, 1905.
Accounts of similar services on Good Friday, 1904, at St. Mary Magdalene’s, Paddington, and All Hallows, Southwark, were given; and their substantial truth was not denied. At another church, St. Clement’s, City Road, it would appear that a similar service was held in 1903 and in 1904; but it was held with locked doors in 1904, so that the witness who had seen the service in 1903 was prevented from attending in 1904. The Bishop of London stated that he had in 1905 corresponded with the incumbent and directed the discontinuance of this service.
The practice of thus holding a service with the reserved Sacrament was certainly customary in both East and West in the seventh century, and may possibly have obtained as early as the fourth. In the East, during the penitential season o Lent, it was thought fitting to limit the actual celebration of the Eucharist to certain days. On other days those who desired to communicate received the bread which had been consecrated on some previous day. In the West the use was more restricted. The Missa Prĺsantificatorum on Good Friday is a marked feature in the Sarum, as in the Roman Missal, but it was altogether omitted from the English Prayer Book of 1549, and all subsequent revisions.
No case of a service of “Benediction with the Sacrament,” in which the Reserved Sacrament was actually used for this purpose was brought to your attention; and there is reason to think that the disposition which was shown a few years ago to introduce this modern Roman observance into some churches was successfully checked by the efforts then made by the Bishops. An account of a service at St. Columba’s, Haggerston, was, however, given by a witness, whose accuracy as to statement, apart from the inferences he drew, was not denied. In this case the Roman form of the Benediction Service was closely followed. The service was held in a chapel in which the Sacrament is reserved; but the tabernacle was not opened, so that there was no exposition of the Sacrament.
The service of Benediction is admittedly of late introduction in the Roman Church. There is no trace whatever of its existence before the latter part of the sixteenth century. Its introduction therefore into any church in the Anglican Communion would be simply an imitation of Roman usage of later date that the Council of Trent.