Project Canterbury


Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of His Majesty

transcribed by Mr Thomas J W Mason
AD 2001


In connexion with many of the practices above described, a large number of manuals and a form of altar-card have been brought to our attention. These, it is said, explain—

(a) Actual interpolations and long pauses during which prayers are apparently being said inaudibly by the celebrant at Holy Communion.

(b) Acts by the celebrant, e.g., bowing, genuflecting, kissing the altar and books, crossing himself and making the sign of the Cross the vessels and elements—acts of so marked a kind and so considerable in number as to add to and modify the ceremonial of the Prayer Book.

These works vary much both in their contents and in their purpose. Altar-cards are designed to be placed on the Holy Table for actual use in celebrating Holy Communion in church. Some manuals also appear to be designed for the same purpose; others are intended for the use of members of the congregation rather than of the clergy, but nevertheless contain, in addition to private devotions and religious teaching, certain forms of public service. There has been little evidence of the actual use of altar-cards and manuals by the celebrant in the service, or as to the extent of the circulation of most of them; but, in so far as they throw light on words used and actions performed by the clergy in and as part of public worship, we have felt it our duty to consider the publications of this kind which have been submitted to us.

The following manuals and altar-cards may be mentioned by way of illustration:—

1. “Catholic Prayers for Church of England People,” 6th Edition (21st thousand), 1904. The preface is signed “A.H.S.”; and the book is advertised by the publishers to be by the Rev. A.H. Stanton, Curate of St. Alban’s, Holborn.

This book contains (p.38, etc.) a Communion Service. The title in the Prayer Book, “The order of the Administration of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion” is changed to “Mass and Holy Communion.” A note is appended to this title which explains the difference between Low Mass and High Mass, and instructs the reader, “when you receive Holy Communion to do so at a Low Mass.” “High Mass is a Mass sung with music and grander ceremonies.” The form of service and private devotions which follow are adapted for the use both of those who intend to communicate and also of those who are “hearing Mass.”

The service is an English translation of the Roman (as distinguished from the Sarum) Ordinary and Canon of the Mass (including rubrical directions), with the various parts of the Communion Service of the Prayer Book inserted here and there, incompletely and not always in their proper order. The Asperges (or service of sprinkling with holy water) and the Priest’s Preparation or Confiteor, both according to the Roman (as distinguished from the Sarum) Use, are given at the outset. An Introit follows: then the Gloria in Excelsis is introduced, to be used if at all, either here or before the Benediction. Then the Lord’s Prayer, Collect and Ten Commandments are given, but within brackets, and with a notice that they “may” be said “at the chief Mass of the day.” The Prayer for the King is omitted. After the Epistle and Gospel a Gradual is read; and prayers are said before the Gospel, which is followed by the Creed. Then follow the offering of the bread, the ceremonial mixing of the chalice, the offering of the chalice, and the washing of the celebrant’s hands, with the appropriate prayers translated from the Roman Missal. Returning to the Prayer Book, the Prayer for the Church Militant is introduced: then follow, printed in small type, the Short Exhortation, Confession, Absolution, and the Comfortable Words. But this direction is appended— “If there be no Communion, the Exhortation, Confession, Absolution, and the Comfortable Words may be omitted, and the priest will say the Secret Prayers,” etc. Then the Prayer Book service is continued (with versicles interpolated) through the Sursum Corda, Preface, Ter Sanctus, and Prayer of Humble Access. The complete Canon of the Mass (so designated) is then introduced with its elaborate series of ceremonial acts; but the Prayer of Consecration of the English Liturgy is substituted for the words of consecration in the Missal. Thus the English Consecration Prayer, adapted at one point in the words of consecration to the Roman form, and with the interpolation of rubrical directions from the Roman Missal, is enveloped in the long succession of prayers and ceremonies constituting the Canon of the Mass. Its close connexion with the prayers which follow in the Canon is marked by the omission of the “Amen.” The directions for the manual acts contained in the English Prayer Book at the actual words of Institution are omitted; but after the Canon the Roman ceremony of commixture is introduced, which includes a ceremonial breaking of the Host. The priest’s Communion is accompanied by the prayers and ceremonies directed in the Missal. Then the priest is directed to turn round and elevate a wafer and say, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who taketh away the sins of the world.” The latter half of the words of administration is omitted. The consumption of the remaining elements and the ablutions follow immediately after the administration (if any), according to Roman use. The Lord’s Prayer and the first Post-communion Collect in the Prayer Book follow. The alternative collect is omitted. The Gloria in Excelsis comes next, but with the direction that it be not said in Advent, Lent, and Masses for the Dead, and with a proviso that, when used, it may be said either here, or “at the beginning of the Mass according to the ancient use.” The Benediction according to the Prayer Book is to be said, except is Masses for the Dead; and “the Priest concludes the Mass by reading” the Last Gospel, as directed in the Missal.

The service assumes the presence and veneration of relics in or under the Altar, and contains prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints. Adoration of the consecrated elements is directed in accordance with the Roman rubrics.

It seems clear that a Communion Service conducted in accordance with this manual could not (save for the fact that the communicants, if there be any, receive in both kinds) be distinguished by the congregation from the Roman Mass in English, with which its ritual and to a great extent its language are substantially identical.

An altar-card which was brought to our attention furnishes the celebrant with the means of conducting the Communion Service much in the manner described above, but with some important exceptions; for example, the consecration prayer is given as in the Prayer Book, prayers to the Virgin Mary and the saints are omitted, and such expressions as “Mass” and the “Host” are not employed. There is no mention of relics.

2. “Notes on Ceremonial,” 4th Edition, 1903. (No author’s name given.) “Priest’s Ceremonial,” (from “Notes on Ceremonial”), 2nd Edition, 1895. “Altar Servers’ Ceremonial,” (from “notes on Ceremonial,”), 7th Edition, 1899.

These books contain a service or “Office for the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist,” which is an English translation of the Mass according to the Sarum Use, into which the Communion Service of the Prayer Book is woven. It differs from the form given in the manual “Catholic Prayers,” (1) in following the Sarum instead of the Roman Missal, and (2) in a careful use of the whole of the Prayer Book Office and in preservation of the order of its different parts.

3. “The Layman’s Book of Prayer,” 1903, compiled by Gerard Sampson, Priest of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield.

This book consists mainly of private devotions, but includes a Service of Holy Communion in which the Canon of the Mass in English is given substantially as in “Catholic Prayers;” but there are no significant omissions from, or change or order of the different parts of, the Prayer Book service; and there is no mention of relics.

4. “The Book of the Mass,” 1897. (No author’s name given.)

The introduction addressed to the reader states:—“Always make your Communion fasting . . . it is your duty also as a Christian to be present at the Mass every Sunday. . . . There are many ways in which you can devoutly assist at the celebration of Mass, but perhaps the best way of all is to follow the action of the priest as he offers the Holy Sacrifice in the very words which he himself uses. . . . To help you thus to join in the service is the object of this little book. It is very simple and very short, and contains hardly anything except the actual words of the service.”

The service which follows is the whole service of the Mass in English according to the Roman rite, with the Communion Service from the Prayer Book (with certain omissions) woven into it. It would appear that the Consecration Prayer is directed to be said secretly.

5. “English Catholic’s Vade Mecum,” compiled by a Priest (New Edition, 1901), and “The English Priest’s Vade Mecum,” 1897 (a supplement to the above, by the same compiler), contains a Communion Service of the same kind, the Sarum Missal being used instead of the Roman.

6. “The Great Christian Service” (no date), by C.J.F., contains a Communion Service with interpolations from the Roman Missal; but the Canon of the Mass is not introduced to supplement the Consecration Prayer, which is given intact and without additions.

7. “Aids to reverently celebrating the Holy Communion” (no date), 3rd Edition, by E.H. The Introduction states:—“As Low Mass alone here is treated of, most of the contested point between Roman and Sarum ceremonial are happily avoided; where the ceremonies differ, it has been as far as possible noted.”

On page 45 are given “The Priest’s Secret Prayers at Mass.” It is explained in a note that “this title is frequently given to the prayers at Mass which the Priest does not say audibly; they can be scarcely called ‘private prayers’.” These secret prayers include the preparation said with the server at the altar, the prayers before reading the Gospel, prayers at the oblation of the elements, and at the Lavabo, and secret prayers at the Canon containing large portions of the Roman Canon of the Mass, in the middle of which the English Consecration Prayer is interpolated.

8. “The Servers Guide at a Low Celebration of the Holy Eucharist,” 4th Edition. This book contains detailed directions for the guidance of a server assisting a clergyman who is celebrating the Holy Communion in the form of the foregoing manuals.

Many of the manuals which have been brought to our notice illustrate and explains the practice of mid-day services of Holy Communion, celebrated in fact without communicants, and apparently without communicants being expected.

The following quotation from “The Congregation in Church, A Plain Guide,” etc. (no date, or publisher, or author’s name given), is fairly typical of the point of view from which these manuals are compiled:—

“Choral or high celebrations at mid-day on Sundays and Saints’ Days are held for the purpose of showing forth our Lord’s Death in the most striking manner possible, with music and ceremonial, and the best outward adjuncts of worship which are at command. They are not intended for the Communion of the people, who should always avail themselves of Low celebrations at an early hour.

Other manuals deal with “Children’s Eucharists,” which belong to the same category.

Thus in “Hosanna, a Mass Book for Children,” with preface by the Rev. R.A.J. Suckling, (1891, p.78), it is said:—

“Little children who are not yet confirmed do not receive the Holy Sacrament; but they ought to go very often to Mass in order to worship our Lord Jesus Christ and to ask Him to make them ready for the happy day when they will make their first communion.”

Accordingly, there appears to be in circulation a large number of manuals, specially intended for children. They for the most part contain the entire Payer Book Service of Holy Communion without alterations, with notes and devotions for the guidance of children using them at a Children’s Eucharist, and especially at the time of the consecration of the elements.

(“Catholic Devotions for Young People,” 1901, with a preface by the Rev. G.C. Ommanney, vicar of St. Matthews, Sheffield.) “The consecration is now very near; in a few moments Jesus Himself will be present on the Altar”; (“Children at the Altar,” p. 28, 30th thousand, preface signed D.N. and B.J.I., Clewer)—“Now follows the most solemn part of the whole service—Jesus is coming.” After the Benedictus is said “ . . . we use them [i.e. the words of the Benedictus] again to welcome Him now to His Altar”; (“The First Communion,” 2nd Edition 1896, p.36) “Adore on bended knee as you pass the Blessed Sacrament.”

Provision for special Eucharists and other services is made in various manuals, e.g.:—

(“Catholic Prayers,” pp. 63, 71, 72, 233) Mass for the Dead; (“The Waiting Church,” 1902, 5th Edition, by W. Plimpton, Hon. Sec., the Guild of All Souls), Eucharist on behalf of the Faithful Departed; (“Catholic Prayers,” p. 226; “The Waiting Church,” p. 49; “The Pilgrim’s Path,” p. 71) Vespers of the Dead; (“Catholic Prayers,” p. 222,) Litany for the Departed, Mass of the Friday Feasts of the Passion; (“Votive Masses for the use of the Church of England,” 1902, no compiler’s name) Mass of the Holy Apostles, Mass of St. Joseph, Mass of the Blessed Sacrament, Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mass of Our Blessed Lady, Mass in time of War, Mass in Time of Pestilence, Mass at a Marriage, Mass at a Thanksgiving.

Devotions to or before the Reserved Sacrament are contained in several of the Manuals which have been submitted to us, e.g.:—

(“Catholic Prayer,” pp. 99, 100, 106, 107, 113 138, 144.) Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, Acts of Adoration before the Most Holy Sacrament, Devotions to the Sacred Heart, Devotions to the Precious Blood, Litany of the Blessed Sacrament, Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament; (“Ceremonial Guide to Low Mass,” 1883, pp. 139 and 164.) Low Mass in Presence of Blessed Sacrament Exposed, Mode of giving Communion to People out of Mass; (“Catholic Devotions for Young People,” p. 125). “A little visit to Jesus in the Tabernacle. . . . I bow down to worship Thee truly present in the Tabernacle. . . . I thank Thee also for allowing me to come to visit Thee. . . . I pray to Thee also for . . . . and for the Holy souls in Purgatory. I beg thee also to give me . . . . Mary, my Mother, obtain this for me.”

Forms of service for Communion of the Sick with the Reserved Sacrament are given in

“The Last Sacrament,” p.8, etc.; “The Day Office of the Church,” 3rd Impression, 1901, p. lxxxi.; “The Christian’s Manual,” 1903, 3rd Edition, by Rev. W.H.H. Jervois, Vicar of St. Mary Magdalene’s, Munster Square, p. 208, etc.

Other service and devotions, not directly connected with the Holy Communion, given in the manuals produced before us, are as follows:—

(“English Catholic’s Vade Mecum,” “Christian’s companion,” “Catholic Prayers,” “Mass of Friday Feasts,” second edition, 1901, “An Office for the way of the Cross, Devotions for the fourteen Stations”), Stations of the Cross; (“Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” “Votive Masses,” p. 6), Sacred Heart.

Notice is taken of commemorations not mentioned in the Prayer Book, as follows:—

In a list of the chief Holy-days in the year, in “Catholic Prayers,” p. 4, are included Corpus Christi, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Commemoration of All Souls. The same days, with many other not recognised in the Book of Common Prayer, are given in the “Day Office of the Church according to the Calendar of the Church of England,” pp. xiii-xxv., third edition, 1901, and “Ceremonial Guide to Low Mass,” 1883, p. 209.

The use of Holy Water is taught, and the blessing of Holy Water is provided for, as follows:—

(“The Casket and People’s Mass Book,” p. xii and vii.) “It was ever a laudable custom for the faithful as they entered the House of God to sprinkle themselves with water in memory of Christ’s blood shedding, &c.” (See also “The People’s Eucharist,” “The Great Christian Service,” p. 39, “Catholic Prayers,” p. 39); (“Notes on Ceremonial,” p. 3), “I exorcise thee, O creature of water, in the Name, &c., that thou mayst become water exorcised for the putting to flight all the power of the enemy. . . .” (“The Blessing, Distribution, and Procession of Palms, order of service.”)

Invocation of Saints:—With regard to the use of the name of the Virgin Mary in worship, the manuals which have come under our notice vary greatly. Some, while referring to her with great honour, markedly abstain from direct invocation of her and from prayer for her intercession. On the other hand, many of the manuals contain prayers addressed to her and other Saints, which as being obviously intended for private use, do not come within the terms of our reference; but there are some in which such prayers are clearly intended for public use; while, in the case of others, parts of them are in such a form as to suggest that use by a congregation, though there is no certain evidence that they are so intended, not has any instance of their use been brought before us. As instances we give the following:—

(“Catholic Prayers,” p. 164, etc.), “Devotions to our Blessed Lady”; (The Hours of the B.V. Mary, a little Office according to the Sarum Breviary,” 2nd edition, 1895, p. 45), Antiphon to be used throughout the year at Lauds; “Mother, loving Mother, hear thy children crying, plead for us with Jesus, every grace supplying by thy sweet protection, bring us to the gates of Heaven.”