The following Paper was not prepared with a view to publication, but solely for delivery at the last of the series of Evenings' Entertainments in the School Room, Millfield. Having since been pressed to publish it, the writer has consented to do so, though not without reluctance, arising from a consciousness of its many imperfections, for which allowance and indulgence are craved.
Acknowledgment is due in respect of extracts from "Hook's Church Dictionary," "Our Mother Church" (Mercier), "Catholic Ritual in the Church of England," &c.
READ AT S. MARK'S SCHOOL ROOM,
ON MONDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 1873,
IS PUBLISHED IN RESPONSE TO A NUMEROUSLY SIGNED REQUISITION.
THE numerous criticisms and strictures passed upon the type of service and character of the ornaments and furniture to be found in S. Mark's Church have tempted me to offer a few remarks in explanation rather than in defence of a system, for the development of which I am prepared and proud to accept my full share of responsibility; and I do so with the less difficulty and diffidence because lain persuaded that most, if not all, of the objections alluded to have their origin in want of information and absence of due thought on the subject. If apology be necessary for my presumption, I refer you to my undeniable orthodoxy. Looked upon by one school as "dangerous" and by the other as a "milk and water churchman," I cannot help thinking I must be very near the "golden mean," to the observers of which safety is promised. Of course, I have not the vanity to suppose that in what I have to advance I shall succeed in pleasing or convincing all, and I may as well at once avow that my object is not so much to attempt to silence opposition, as to confirm and encourage that support which has already so largely attended our efforts and lightened our labours, and to supply a justification for our practices which no doubt some of my hearers in common with ourselves, are sometimes called upon to vindicate. For my own part I like opposition; it shows that the person or system attacked has something in him or it worthy of attention. Besides which it has other elements of recommendation. It acts as does the poker, without whose occasional aid and stimulus even your best Walisends are apt to burn dimly and eventually to go out. Whilst from the business or churchwardens' point of view it is found to pay uncommonly well. In our own case I know of many who, hearing of our alleged "extravagances," have come to gratify their curiosity by personal investigation and finding how [1/2] utterly we have been misrepresented have remained to admire and become frequent visitors.
With the question of Ritualism in the abstract I have not now to deal, but only so far as it concerns ourselves. So much has been spoken and written on the subject by far abler men that it would be sheer waste of my time and yours to attempt to deal with the general question. But it would be no difficult task to show that what is often called "Ritualism" (I do not of course allude to the practices of the extreme school), is not only defensible but sanctioned and positively enjoined both by the Canons of our Church and by Scripture.
It may be true that the New Testament gives no system of rules for the performance of religious worship, but it must be manifest that some method is absolutely necessary, if only to maintain the decency and order that become Divine things.
The Jews, as we know, were Ritualists in the most extreme sense of the word. In our Saviour's time they observed many rites and ceremonies beyond those enjoined by the Mosaic Law, for which no authority can be found in the Old Testament, but yet our Saviour, who thought it not unbecoming publicly to resort to the Temple at the accustomed hours of prayer, did not reprove, but rather approved their Ritualistic practices. "These things," said He, "ye ought to have done and not to have left the other undone."
If such liberty was allowed in so limited a system as that of the Jewish Economy, surely in our free and more enlightened condition as Christian worshippers there should be room for such appointments and alterations as are suitable to different times and places. If therefore either Church or State have power to make rules and laws in such matters we are clearly bound to obey them unless forbidden by the laws of God and the Gospel. The Thirty-fourth Article is very clear on this point. "Whosoever through his private judgment willingly and purposely doth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly (that others may fear to do the like)."
If there were no ornaments in the Church, and no prescribed order of administration, the people would hardly be persuaded to show more reverence in the sacred assemblies than in other ordinary places, where they meet only for business or diversion. Upon this account S. Augustine says, "No religion, either true or false, can subsist without some ceremonies."
Bishop Hall says, "Wise Christians sit down in the mean now under the Gospel, avoiding a careless and parsimonious neglect on the one side and a superstitious slovenliness on the other-the painted and lascivious gaudiness of the Church upon the Hills, and the careless neglected dress of some Churches in the Valley."
 It is a far too common fallacy that where you have ceremonial you cannot have the true worship of the heart and soul. Ritual and ceremony are the external forms in religious worship--may I not say "the outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace." We are to be known by our fruits, and it always seems to me to amount to downright and impious arrogation of Divine Omniscience to attempt to fathom the depth of a man's worship: that is a matter between man and his Maker. There was a time, not so far back, when it was the fashion to gauge a minister's doctrine and principles not so much by his life, actions, and utterances, as by the length and cut of his coat, the fashion of his hat, or the style of his cravat, but we have survived all that nonsense. Read the preface in your Prayer Books "Of ceremonies, why some be abolished and some retained," and you will find the necessity of Ritual there plainly recognised, and further, that whilst all such ceremonies as had been made the subject of abuse had been cut away and rejected, others were retained on the ground that "without some ceremonies it is not possible to keep any order or quiet discipline in the church."
What is true of the necessity of ceremonial as an element of religion is equally borne out by other institutions, Freemasonry, Odd-Fellowship, the Queen's Court and Law Courts, and others easily reckoned, all have their existence in ceremonial.
Take the case of the assumption of his new dignity by the Lord Chancellor only the other day. "Conducted in solemn procession to the Throne by Black Rod, Garter Knight-at-Arms, arrayed in his tabard, the Earl Marshals, the Lord Great Chamberlain and two Peers, his introducers, all arrayed in vestments of scarlet, ermine and gold,--he knelt and laid his patent in the chair of State. Then he rose, took back the patent, and knelt again.
Another common argument is that the rites and ceremonies of our Church, being of man's invention, are therefore of no sufficient force, but the same applies equally to our statutes at large and our municipal bye-laws. We are bound to submit to those in authority, and if I succeed in showing you that all our appointments, ornaments, rites, and ceremonies have the sanction of canon and rubric, you will be bound to admit that I have made out my case. Let us now proceed to address ourselves to the immediate point before us, and first a word with reference to our Patron Saint.
S. Mark was a Jew of the tribe of Levi, and was converted by some of the Apostles, tradition says by S. Peter, to whom he was a constant companion in all his travels, supplying the place of amanuensis and interpreter. Sent by S. Peter into Egypt he fixed his chief place of residence at Alexandria, where he was highly successful in his ministry--converting multitudes, both of men and women. He afterwards went further westward, and, in spite of all opposition, succeeded in planting the Gospel [3/4] amongst the barbarians. On his return to Alexandria he ordered the affairs of the Church, and eventually suffered martyrdom. About Easter, at the time the solemnities of Serapis were being celebrated, the idolatrous populace, excited by the Odgers and Bradlaughs of those days, broke in upon the Evangelist whilst engaged in performing Divine service, and having bound him with cords, dragged him through the streets and thrust him into prison, where, during the night, he had the comfort of a Divine vision. On the following clay the enraged populace repeated their violence till the martyr expired under their hands. Some say they burnt his body, and that the Christians afterwards buried his calcined bones near the place where he had been wont to preach. His festival is celebrated on the 25th of April, within the octave of which our church was aptly consecrated, i.e., on 30th April last.
That word "octave" has a very suspicious sound, I dare say, in the ears of some of you, but it simply means the eighth day from any festival of the Church. In ancient times the observance of those festivals was continued to the eighth day, and this practice is still recognised by the Church, for in the communion office you will find the special "preface," as it is called, for Christmas, Easter, Ascension, and Whitsun Days, is directed to be used also on the seven days following, except as to Whit Sunday, the preface for which is to be used for six days only; the seventh, or octave of Whit Sunday being Trinity Sunday, which has a special preface of its own.
And now let us take a survey of the church itself. I mean the structure. And here I am tempted to remark how few of us seem to realise alt that that familiar word "church" conveys. In its conventional sense, I fear, we are too apt to regard it merely as indicative of a place of Sunday or mid-weekly rendezvous for devotional purposes; but in reality it has a much higher and more spiritual meaning. It is derived from the Greek word kuriakon, literally "the House of the Lord," and if we Church folk would but bear this in mind in our approaches to the sacred building we should have much less of that levity and want of decorum than is sometimes found.
"The house that is builded for the Lord," said David, must be exceedingly magnifical" (not may be, or ought to be, but must be). Surely this is a sufficient answer to those who object to what they are pleased to call too much splendour in our churches. I do not claim for our little temple that it satisfies the condition of "magnificence" so fully as could be wished, but still it cannot be denied, I think, that so far as it goes it is good, substantial, and fairly ornate. Its situation is, as it should be, conspicuous and commanding; its material of the best and most durable description; and its proportions, though by no means ecclesiastically perfect, are not at all unsatisfactory. We frequently hear complaints that it is not large enough, that the [4/5] roof should have been of higher pitch, that the chancel should have been larger, and so no doubt they would have been had means permitted; but those who had the matter in hand wisely preferred to "cut their coat according to their cloth," and to be satisfied with a smaller building, which might easily be amplified in the future, rather than run into debt; and, apart from this, the commercial view of the question, there is this telling justification of the policy adopted, that, when completed, the building was so far free from the incubus of debt as to involve no difficult in the way of its immediate consecration, without which ceremony no building can properly be considered a" Church." Those, however, who still feel dissatisfied have the remedy in their own hands. All they have to do is to place the wherewithal at our disposal, and we shall have no difficulty in "lengthening our cords and strengthening our stakes."
At the outset a brick or plaster interior was contemplated, but the committee wisely abandoned this part of the scheme, and resolved on substituting, though at enhanced cost, an interior of pure stone. In this respect, I believe, S. Mark's stands locally unique, for I think I am correct in saying there is not another stone interior to be found in any of the churches in the town.
I propose now to take you through the building, glancing at its details as we go along, and explaining, so far as I can within the limits of this paper, its various features.
The porch at the west end, through which you enter, requires no remark beyond an assurance, no longer perhaps needed, that the little receptacle between the doors is not a stoup or dish for holy water, but an alms box, placed there by the wardens, in obedience to the 84th Canon, which enjoins the wardens never to be without such an appendage, to the intent that the people may put into it their alms for their poorer neighbours. At present the offerings are devoted to the Organ Fund, our motto being to "be just before we are generous," or, in other words, to pay our debts before we exercise our charity.
On entering the church the first object that meets you is the Font, fitly placed in that western position, because it is there the Christian is first admitted into the fellowship of the Church, and made a soldier of the Cross. The 81st Canon enjoins that the font shall be a decent one, of stone, with a cover, and shall be placed at or near the west end of the church; and these conditions we have observed to the letter.
The sittings next claim attention, and these, it will be found, are of uniform pattern and without distinction as to fittings. In the earliest stage of the scheme it was decided at a parish meeting, I believe unanimously, that one-fourth of the sittings should be appropriated, the remaining three-fourths being free, and this principle has been observed. As a great deal has been said on the subject of our partial appropriation, I think it right to give you the e test of the resolution I have alluded to, It is dated [5/6] 25th March, 1869, and is in these words--"The question of free and allotted sittings was fully discussed, and it was agreed that 450 sittings be free and 150 allotted" (the total number of sittings being 600). The meeting had been specially called by conspicuous posters, for the purpose of testing the feeling on this point: it was largely attended, and the resolution quoted, having been proposed and seconded by working men, was, I understand, adopted unanimously. This resolution, I may remark, was passed before either my worthy colleague or myself were identified with S. Mark's, and therefore we cannot be charged with responsibility for it, and no attempt appears to have been made to vary it. It has, however, been objected in some quarters that the whole of the sittings should have been free and unappropriated. This is not the occasion for discussing the general principle of "free and open" churches, for which some people, for whose opinions I have very great respect, are so strenuously contending. There is no doubt much to be said on both sides, and, whilst admitting that the free and open system has much to recommend it (though I am inclined to think sentiment has not a little to do with it), experience has convinced me that there are practical, and I believe insuperable, difficulties in the way of working it in such a district as S. Mark's, and I have known of more than one in stance of conversion to this view. The Wardens' duty, however, was clear. They were bound by the resolution I have already quoted, and thus they had not the right, even had they wished, to try an experiment in the other direction. To have departed from the arrangement laid down by the committee would have been a manifest breach of good faith, if not, indeed, positive dishonesty towards those who had subscribed their money and worked for the church on the distinct pledge given that they would have a claim to the appropriation of sittings. In some in stances we met with refusals of aid on the ground that we were going in for a partial appropriation, and even the grants obtained from the societies were curtailed for this very reason. Now, all this was perfectly well known whilst the church was building, and it is remarkable that not a whisper of objection was ever heard until the funds were raised and the building practically finished. Without any desire to be personal or offensive, I can not help remarking that those who have since raised the objection are not those whose names have been most conspicuous on the subscription list. It is not easy, therefore, to see what grievance they have. Clearly they have the same facilities as heretofore for building another church on the footing of their own system, and I am sure they will have our best wishes for their success.
Care has been taken to exclude all possibility of offending the eye by disallowing the introduction of cushions, carpets, and hassocks of divers hues and colours and of infinite shape; and this, not with any idea of limiting personal comfort, but for the purpose of securing uniformity. What can be more [6/7] offensive to good taste than to see, as is too often the case in Our churches, here a sitting cushioned in red, the next in blue or green, its neighbour perhaps in black; here coverings of rep, there American cloth, then perhaps a seat innocent of all covering; then possibly a sitting held by several allottees, each indulging his own peculiar whim and fancy as to colour and material; and the same as to hassocks and carpets. To such an extent was this practice carried, even in our own temporary church, that it needed but a visit of inspection on the part of the committee to secure its sanction for the present system, for which the wardens are primarily responsible. If the whole church could be cushioned and carpeted uniformly it would be unobjectionable, except as a profligate and unnecessary waste of money, for surely it is as easy to sit out a service on an uncushioned seat in God's house as to spend double the time thus involved at an Athenaeum concert, under circumstances not admitting of the relief given to the body by frequent changes of attitude and posture. Besides, the absence of cushions and car pets tends to secure cleanliness, which is a matter of some importance in our churches as well as at home. The objection, if it still exists at all, is very limited in its extent, and can only be regarded as fanciful; for it is gratifying to find that many who were at first inclined to dislike, now appreciate and approve the plan we have adopted of leaving the seats hare. Each sitting is provided with a kneeling pad, the object of which, we are glad to find, is generally, though not as yet universally recognised.
Proceeding eastwards we come to the Pulpit, of which I venture to say that, for beauty of design and excellence of workmanship, it is unequalled by any in the neighbourhood. This was the offering of the local branch of the English Church Union, of which, in common with my colleague, I am proud to call my self a member.
What an improvement on the hideous "three-decker," which used to be almost universal, and is still to be found even in this town! Ugly as this combination, of the tria juncta in uno is in itself, it is often made infinitely more obnoxious by planting it in such a way as to hide the altar. Our pulpit is so constructed and placed as not in the least degree to obstruct the view of the Holy Table, which ought to be the cynosure of all eyes. We at S. Mark's no more think of placing our pulpit before the altar than sermons before sacraments.
In harmony with the pulpit is the not less handsome Lectern, an offering of the architect of the church. This is an article of furniture, not of universal use, it is true, but one that is to be found in every well-appointed church, and its propriety is obvious.
The Litany desk, one of many gifts of my colleague to the church, claims more than a passing notice. It has been objected that it is an innovation and Popish, the latter being a general term [7/8] of condemnation too much in vogue amongst self-styled Protestants, who, after exhausting every other expletive, or for want of any more expressive, always wind up with this. But, Popish or not, it has several merits about it--convenience, legality, and positive necessity, for, on the authority of such men as Bishops Andrews and Wheatley, to say nothing of the injunctions of Edward VI., the churchwardens ought to provide such a desk, or fald-stool, as it is sometimes called, to be placed in the midst of the church before the chancel entrance, at which the Litany is directed to be said or sung. Add to this, that it has the sanction of Cathedral use, and in our case episcopal approval, and, I think, I have said enough to remove any lurking prejudice against it.
The only other feature in the body of the church needing attention is the windows; these are of neat and appropriate construction, admirably adapted for the exercise of the glass-stainer's art. One specimen from the atelier of Mr. Baguley, of Newcastle, we already possess, through the liberality again of my colleague and his amiable partner in life. Another is in course of construction, dedicated to the memory of one who will always be remembered in S. Mark's with the respect and esteem to which his good works entitle him (the late Robert Young). Others are already promised, and I venture to hope that ere long all will be filled with appropriate designs.
We may now conveniently pass on to the Chancel, into which, being out of service hours, I may admit you. The chancel derives its name from the cancelli, or lattice work, which, in former days, divided it from the body of the church. These rails, in many churches, took the form of a screen, usually called a rood screen, the legality of which has been questioned; but it now seems to be settled that, although not unlawful, the rood screen is an undesirable article of furniture. In Westerton v. Liddell (one of the Knightsbridge cases), Dr. Lushington, Dean of Arches, whilst refusing to order the removal of such a screen, said, in his opinion, such separations of chancel from nave were objectionable, and he would not advise the Bishop to consecrate a church so fitted up. We, however, are not open to any charge of illegality in this respect: the distinction between our chancel and nave is to be found only in the elevation and ornamentation of floor and roof.
The chancel is beyond all dispute the place to be occupied by the clergy and choir engaged in the performance of Divine worship, and, with us, the occupancy is so restricted.
The Rubric, before the Book of Common Prayer, ordains that the chancels shall remain as they have done in times past--i.e., distinguished from the body of the church. This, at the time of the Reformation, was strongly objected to as tending to the undue glorification of the priesthood, and though the King and Parliament yielded, so far as to allow the daily service to be said in the body of the Church, if the Ordinary thought fit, yet they refused to allow the chancel to be taken away or altered.
 In the Cathedrals and some of our larger churches that which we term the chancel is the "choir," and within the choir the whole service is performed.
The freehold of the chancel is vested solely in the Rector for certain defined purposes; but I am not aware of any authority for his appropriating it, as is sometimes the ease, for the accommodation of his family and servants, and perhaps of the squire, and other favoured worshippers, to the exclusion of the choir, who are certainly its more natural and legitimate occupants. Only the other day the Bishop of Exeter (Dr. Temple) in dealing with certain representations made by parishioners of Dartmouth against the Vicar of S. Saviour's in that town, said, "With regard to the vexed question of the choir, he considered that the best place for it was the chancel, and recommended that the Town Council should move their seats to make way." To carry out the Apostle's injunction "Let every thing be done decently and in order;" you must have a place for everybody and everything, and everybody and everything in his and its place.
To my mind, one of the prettiest features of our church is the semi-circular termination of its chancel. This graceful finish is technically called an "apse," derived from a Greek word, signifying a spherical arch. The ancient Basilicas had universally an apse round which the superior clergy sat, and in the chord of the arc the altar was placed. The apse is frequently to be found in German Churches, and hi the East it is the almost invariable form, even in parish churches. In the walls of the apse are five richly-illuminated panels, the work being the gift of our Vicar's lady. Four of these panels exhibit the symbols of the four Evangelists, whilst the centre fitly displays the glorious emblem of man's redemption from the curse of sin, of which you are right in surmising I shall have something special to say anon. With reference to the Evangelistic symbols, it may be interesting to remark that the four Evangelists naturally suggested to ancient Bible students a comparison or similarity with the four mystic beasts mentioned in Ezekiel and the Revelations. The symbolism has universally been accepted as follows
S. Matthew--Angel or Winged Man--Incarnation
S. Luke--Winged Ox--Passion.
S. Mark--Winged Lion--Resurrection
S. Matthew treats more than his fellow Evangelists of the incarnation of our blessed Lord; S. Luke of his passion in suffering. S. Mark's sudden commencement of his Gospel (as you heard in yesterday morning's second lesson), with the voice of the Baptist crying in the wilderness, is compared to the lion's roar; and further, the lion is taken as the type of the resurrection from the old Eastern fable that a lion licked its dead young one to life again. S. John is aptly figured by the eagle, which [9/10] it is said has the power of looking unblinded on the Sun so, he the disciple, beloved of his Master, looked closer than any man on the Sun of Righteousness.
I may here quote you an extract from a twelfth century Latin poem, by Adam of S. Victor, translated by Dr. Neale, which further illustrates what has been for ages accepted as the meaning of these symbols. To those who value things for the sake of their antiquity it may be specially interesting and convincing:--
Round The Throne, 'midst angel natures,
Stand four holy, living creatures,
'Whose diversity of features
Maketh good the Seer's plan.
This, an Eagle's visage knoweth;
That, a Lion's image showeth;
Scripture on the rest bestoweth
The twin forms of Ox and Man.
These are they, the symbols mystic
Of the forms Evangelistic,
Who the Church, with stream majestic,
Irrigate from sea to seas
Matthew first, and Mark the second:
Luke with these is rightly reckoned;
And the loved Apostle beckoned
From his nets and Zebedee.
Matthew's form the man supplieth,
For that thus he testifieth
Of the Lord, that none denieth
Him to spring from man he made.
Luke's the Ox, in form propitial,
As a creature sacrificial,
For that he the rites Judicial
Of Mosaic law displayed.
Mark, the wilds as Lion shaketh,
And the desert hearing quaketh,
Preparation while he maketh
That the earth with God be right.
John, love's double wing devising,
Earth on Eagles plumes despising,
To his God and Lord uprising,
Soars away in purer light.
Symbols quadriform uniting,
They of Christ are thus inditing,
Quadriform His acts, which writing
They produce before our eyes.
Man, whose birth man's law obeyeth;
Ox, whom victim Passion slayeth;
Lion, when on death he preyeth;
Eagle, soaring to the shies.
I now approach somewhat delicate ground; I mean the centre panel, with its Calvary Cross--the Crest of our Faith. This I happen to know has given rise to much speculation and discussion, and I take this opportunity of avowing myself [10/11] the chief perpetrator of what has been so freely styled a Popish ornament. I know not why those who on promenade and in ball room so boldly, and may I not say, proudly wear that most beautiful of all badges, the cross, in gold, silver, ivory, jet, and other material, suspended from their necks, or pendent at the end of watch guard or necklace, or emblazoned on their Prayer Books in Church, should shudder as they do at the sight of it in its certainly not less appropriate position in the most conspicuous part of God's house, but so it is. After much consideration I am forced to put it down to the list of those human inconsistencies which no one can understand.
Surely, representing as it does the symbol of our Faith, it cannot be said to be less appropriately an ornament of God's house than the royal arms or the heraldic bearings of some Bishop or parish benefactor, so often to be seen emblazoned on mural tablets, or affixed to gallery front.
I have known this feeling of prejudice and objection to the sight of the cross carried to an extent simply incredible and irresistibly ludicrous, as showing the profound ignorance of those who indulge it.
In ancient times we read that the cross occupied much the same level in public estimation as does the gallows of modern days; it was, in fact, the form of death to which the greatest malefactors were condemned, but the death of the chief of Martyrs elevated it to the high admiration and reverence in which it is now held by all true Christians.
Why, nine-tenths of our churches, S. Mark's for instance, Bishopwearmouth Parish, and its handsome offshoot in Stockton-road, are deliberately cruciform in shape, the transepts forming with the nave and chancel a perfect cross.
Every child is at its baptism signed with the sign of the cross as a token of admission into Church fellowship. This seems to have given rise to much offence, to meet which the 80th Canon was specially framed, it is too long for insertion here, but it is well worthy of reference, It is headed "The lawful use of the cross in baptism explained," and after giving various cogent reasons, it goes on to say, "So that for the very remembrance of the cross, which is very precious to all them that rightly believe in Jesus Christ, and in the other respects mentioned the Church of England hath retained the use of the Sign of the cross in baptism, following therein the primitive and apostolical churches, and accounting it a lawful outward ceremony and honourable badge;" and then goes on to declare that "the sign of the cross in baptism, being purged from all Popish superstition and error, the Church holds it to be the part of every man, both minister and others, reverently to retain the true use of it prescribed by public authority, considering that things, of themselves indifferent, do in some sort alter their nature when they are either commanded or forbidden by lawful authority, and [11/12] may not be omitted at every man's pleasure, contrary to the law, when they be commanded, nor used when they are prohibited." Having said thus much about the appropriateness of the cross as an element of church furniture, let us see whether we cannot find some authority for its legality.
The legality of crosses in churches has been made the subject of much controversy, chiefly through misapprehension of the meaning of the word "ornaments" in the introductory rubric to the Book of Common Prayer, which directs that "such ornaments" of the Church and of the ministers thereof, at all times of their ministrations shall be retained, and be in use as were in the Church of England, by the authority of Parliament, in the second year of the reign of King Edward VI.
In the S. Barnabas case a monition went to remove a stone structure, used as a communion table, together with the cross on or near the same. The stone structure had been accordingly removed, and the cross which stood upon it had been placed in the sill of the centre compartment of the east window of the church, above the surface of the table, and entirely unconnected with it (very nearly the position occupied by ours at S. Mark's). It was held that the cross remained in the church as a usual and proper ornament, and that the monition had been sufficiently obeyed.
After several conflicting decisions, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council have decided that the word "ornaments" in the Rubric is not used in its popular sense according to modern usage; and that all the several articles used in the services and rites of the Church, such as vestments, books, cloths, chalices, patens, and the like are "ornaments" within the Rubric, and that although the Rubric excludes all use of crosses in the service--the general question of crosses not used in the services, but employed (as ours is) only as a decoration, is entirely unaffected by the Rubric. In subsequent cases, Dr. Lushington, in the Consistory, and Sir John Dodson, in the Arches Court, adopted a different construction of the word "ornaments." The former learned Judge pronounced against the use of crosses in churches altogether, whilst the latter rested his judgment rather on the ground that crosses had been denounced, if not as "images" at least as "monuments of idolatry and superstition" But both these Judges were over ruled and upset by the Final Court of Appeal, whose judgment in "Liddell v. Westerton" concludes in these words, "Upon the whole, their lordships, after the most anxious consideration, have come to the conclusion that crosses, as distinguished from crucifixes, have been in use as ornaments of churches from the earliest periods of Christianity, and that when used as mere emblems of the Christian faith and not as objects of superstitious reverence they may still lawfully be used as architectural decorations of churches. That the wooden cross erected in the chancel screen of S. Barnabas is to be considered as a mere architectural ornament, and that as to this article they must advise Her Majesty to reverse the judgment complained of."
Such, then, is the clear law on this much-vexed question, as settled by the Final Court of Appeal, and its enunciation is contained in such plain terms as to leave no room for doubt as to the legality of the cross as an ornament.
I claim, then, for our cross that it is a mural ornament--an architectural decoration, and that as such it has the sanction both of law and fitness for its present position.
But what strikes me as most absurd is that many of the objectors themselves have no dread of the sacred symbol when placed a few feet lower than ours. Keep it on the altar frontal--say 12 or 15 inches from the ground--and it is unobjectionable; mount it a couple of feet higher and it excites all the wrath stirred up in the bull by the sight of the red flag. Inside the church it is an abomination; outside you may plant it on every gable and finial without the slightest fear of censure or even remark. I pass a church every day not usually accused of a leaning to Popery, on the seven gables of which I can count as many crosses of varied and chaste design, another crowning its graceful spire. I only hope this allusion will not tend to their removal.
Another absurdity that strikes me is that whilst indulging this feeling of pious horror at the sight of the perfectly legal cross they show no such objection to the equally illegal crucifix, from which the cross is expressly distinguished in the judgment from which I just have quoted. Painted windows having for their subject the Crucifixion are to be found in many of our most Protestant churches, yet no one complains; and where, tell me, is the difference between a crucifix in glass and one in wood, stone, or metal?
The same remarks as to fitness and legality apply equally to our candlesticks and flower vases. The legality of the latter was distinctly affirmed for the comfort of the Church Association in the ease of Elphinstone v. Purchas, in which it was decided that it was lawful to place vases of flowers on the Holy Table and to keep them there during Divine Service provided they were used as a decoration. If any one can establish that our vases and flowers are used for any other than decorative purposes I shall be prepared to admit their illegality.
So also, as to the candlesticks. Many cases--amongst them Martin v. Mackonochie Sumner v. Wix, and Elphinstone v. Purchas--expressly decide that the wardens may, if they think fit, furnish the Communion Table with two candlesticks and candles, which are to be lighted only when necessary in con sequence of darkness.
The wardens of S. Mark's having these two very handsome candlesticks offered for the use of the church, did think fit to [13/14] accept them, and I submit, on the authority I have quoted, they were justified in so doing and planting them where they now stand.
By the injunctions of King Edward VI. it is expressly ordered that all Deans, Archdeacons, Parsons, Vicars, and other ecclesiastical powers, shall suffer, from thenceforth, no torches, no candles, no tapers, or images of wax, to be set before any image or picture; but only two lights on the High Altar, which for the signification that Christ is the very true Light of the World, they shall suffer to remain. Those who are ignorant of the history of the times try to wriggle out of the difficulty in which this enactment places them by alleging that the injunction does not apply to our days, because we have no High Altar--but the exact reverse is the case. It is the High Altar alone that is left to us, all others, in shrines and side chapels, having been removed in consequence of the corrupt practices connected with them.
These injunctions of Edward VI. are taken up with abolishing, not with establishing, Ritual customs. What they say is not, "You must now begin to put two lights on your altar," but you must take away all your lights except two, if the injunctions have any legal force we are bound to have the two lights for the reason given. If they are not good in law and (I dare say many of the extreme school would fain hope they are not) you may have as many lights as you please, since their prohibition in that case will be null.
I don't suppose any one will be disposed to charge Queen Elizabeth with Ritualism, and yet she had a crucifix and two candlesticks and two tapers burning on the altar of her chapel--so says Strype in his annals of the Reformation. The use of the candlesticks was never objected to, but the crucifix was condemned by the then Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop Cox.
Bishop Cosin, formerly of Durham, speaking of the mode of celebration of the Holy Communion, says, "It is after this manner--first of all, it is enjoined that the table or altar shall be spread over with a clean linen cloth or decent covering, upon which the Holy Bible, Common Prayer, plate and chalice are to be placed. Two wax candles are to be set on it." So much then for the legality of these ornaments. As to customs, it is enough to say that we have the example of our Cathedral churches, colleges, and episcopal chapels to fall back upon; and the mere fact that so many other churches are innocent of the possession of such furniture is no argument whatever--two or even more blacks not making one white.
It is not necessary to go out of our own diocese for precedent; and five years' residence in pursuit of knowledge in the Cathedral. City, and a regular attendance during that time at the Cathedral services, enable me to personally vouch for the fact that the candlesticks and candles were always in position on every Sunday and High Festival, and that the candles were lighted [14/15] at evensong during the winter months. Now that gas has been introduced into the noble edifice I understand the lighting is dispensed with as unnecessary, but the candlesticks and candles are still retained, At S. Paul's too, and other places I could mention, the practice of lighting the candles at the daily evensong is continued.
If anything further need be said on the subject I need only refer you to the fact that the cross, candlesticks, and vases, all received the highest proof of our Bishop's sanction in their consecration, and I am not aware that that prelate is liable to any imputation of Ritualism. I don't suppose his Lordship actually liked the presence of the articles, but he must have known, as his action showed, that placed as ours are they had legal sanction.
On the north side of the apse is a smaller recess with a shelf, used as a credence niche. This, too, has been a subject of much comment. It is laid down by the authorities that "as an adjunct to the holy table the wardens may lawfully provide, and, indeed, in every case where the existence of a niche in the chancel wall which may be used for the same purpose does not dispense with it, ought to provide a credence table, on which the bread and wine may be placed, so as to enable the priest decently and reverently to comply with the rubric, which requires him, after he shall have presented the alms on the holy table, to place on the table so much bread and wine as he shall think sufficient." The presence of this credence niche in our case enables us to dispense with a credence table.
Sir Herbert Jenner Fust, Dean of Arches, pronounced credence tables illegal, as being adjuncts not recognised by the Church, and Dr. Lushington followed this judgment, as did also Sir John Dodson, but all their decisions were overruled by the Court of Appeal. The Judges said they were not prepared to hold that the use of all articles not expressly mentioned in the rubric is forbidden. Organs, pews, and kneeling cushions are in constant use, and yet they are not mentioned in the rubric. Their Lordships held that the credence table was simply an adjunct to the holy table, having no connection with any superstitious usage of the Church of Rome. In practice the elements are often placed on the holy table, i.e., before service, but this, the court said, is clearly not in accordance with the rubric, and accordingly, holding the credence table to be a lawful adjunct, they reversed the decision of the court below.
The wardens are also bound to provide "a decent basin" in which the alms are to be received by the priest, who shall humbly present and place it (i.e., the alms basin) upon the holy table. The alms are then to be dedicated to God's service in the beautiful words of the prayer for the Church militant. This I take it is a sufficient justification of our use in this respect, and a direct condemnation of the practice which obtains elsewhere of [15/16] hurrying off the alms into the vestry, whence may be, heard the jingling sounds inseparable from the counting process, which certainly are not a pleasing obligato to the Benediction.
Our Eucharistic vessels are, as they ought to be, of pure silver of handsome design, well worthy of the purpose to which they have been piously devoted by the lady of one who, from the very inception of the scheme, has been the warmest and most liberal supporter of our work, and whose interest and that of his family shows no sign of exhaustion or abatement.
The 20th Canon prescribes that the wine shall be brought to the table in a clean and sweet standing pot or stoup of pewter if not of pure metal. The vessels consist of chalice, flagon, and paten. The flagon is the vessel in which the wine is placed for consecration when more than one chalice or cup is used, and when only one cup it contains the wine in the credence prior to the consecration. The chalice is the cup in which the consecrated wine is administered to the Communicants; the paten, plate on which the bread is placed. These technical terms may seem "Popish," but a reference to the marginal rubric in the consecration office at the Holy Communion will show that they are the Church's own choice. For all practical purposes a bottle and glass would serve equally well and have been known to do duty, but in addition to their being uncanonical they do not seem quite appropriate. The primitive Christians, in their desire to do full honour to the sacred purpose of the chalice, generally had it made of the most costly substance--crystal, onyx, sardonyx, and gold.
Next we come to the Holy Table itself. This I have purposely reserved to the last, because to all true Churchmen it is the most important of all Church furniture. The table is to be of wood, flat, moveable, at or round which the Communicants may be placed in order to partake of the Lord's Supper, and it has been expressly decided (Liddell v. Beal) that it is no objection that there usually rests in it a ledge for holding candlesticks and vases. As regards the covering of the holy table, at the time of celebration, it must be a "fine white linen cloth ;". at other times the covering is to be a "carpet of silk or other decent stuff," and to have the table uncovered, during Divine Service, even on Good Friday, has been held to be illegal. In the Purchas case Dr, Lushington said, "This was a practice without warrant from primitive use or custom," and it certainly seems to be against the 82nd Canon. But whilst the nature and texture of the covering are expressly defined by the canon and rubric, not a word is said about the colour, except, as I have shown, at the time of celebration of Holy Communion. There has been much contention on this point, and it has now been expressly decided that the expression in the singular, "a carpet," does not exclude the plural, and that a variety of cloths may lawfully be used, and these may [16/17] be embroidered and of different colours. The question was fully dist in and settled by the Knightsbridge cases. Dr. Lushington had ordered the various cloths to be removed and only one to be retained. He regarded the use of a sequence of colours as a "downright Popish practice, better fitted for the gorgeous pageantry of the Church of, Rome than the pure and severe dignity of the Church of England." Pretty strong language for the Doctor! and his decision was confirmed by Sir John Dodson in the Arches. But even Judges, notwithstanding their strong language, are not infallible, or lawyers would have but a poor time of it. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council over ruled both these Judges, and this, too, with the full concurrence of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, sitting as assessors. Their Lordships said they "were unable to adopt the construction of the court below. An order that a table shall always be covered with a cloth does not (said the court) imply that it shall always be covered with the same cloth, or with a cloth of the same colour and texture. The object of the canon seems to be to secure a cloth of sufficiently handsome description--"NOT to guard against TOO MUCH SPLENDOUR." (Mark this; it is the language of the Final Court of Appeal, not mine.) Is it not somewhat inconsistent with the Protestant objection against the sequence of colours that those who impugn our practice, calling it "millinery," themselves scruple not to adopt what we might, with at least equal propriety, call the "haberdashery of woe," vesting the holy table and pulpit in black in token of mourning.
I only mention this to show the extreme folly of those who, inhabiting glass houses, themselves indulge in throwing stones.
The obvious use of a sequence of colours is to remind us of the recurrence of the Church seasons, fasts, and festivals. If you want to get at a man's soul, the best approach, I take it, will be found to be through the medium of his senses. The Church recognises this proposition by appealing to the ear through her special psalms, collects, lessons, and creeds, and on the same principle we appeal to the eye.
White--Signifying purity and joy--is used at Easter as the most joyous of all seasons; at Christmas, Circumcision, and Epiphany, our Lord's childhood, in sign of innocence, at the festivals of Virgins, and of Saints not being Martyrs.
Red is used on Whitsunday as flame colour, typifying the descent of the Spirit, and on Martyrs' days to denote the blood shed for Christ and the gospel.
Green, used on ordinary Sundays and week days, denotes plenty and charity, as the colour of nature.
Violet, used in Advent and Lent and the season between Septuagesima and Lent, signifies sorrow.
Black is used on Good Friday only, to denote deep sorrow.
These five are the canonical colours for vestments.
 You had a striking instance yesterday showing how the sequence fulfils its purpose. In the morning altar and pulpit were vested in the appropriate violet; at evensong you found red, and on reference to the Prayer Book calendar you discovered it was the eve of S. Matthias.
Of course I know many people will not be satisfied with this explanation, though I have shown the absolute legality of the practice, and I think, too, if not its fitness, at any rate its harmlessness. There are people who are colourblind, and others who, having once made up their minds, deem it a point of duty never to be convinced to the contrary. The conversion of such is a task beyond my humble powers, and I suppose these will continue to sneer as heretofore.
At present, by the liberality of ladies of the congregation and others who, though outside our actual pale, have a very warm corner in their hearts for us, we are fully supplied with altar and pulpit hangings, mats for alms basin, book-markers, as also with handsome "kneelings" and pede mats for the sanctuary, in needlework, for festivals. But we have no objection to additions either present or future, especially if offered in the same kind and hearty spirit that has prompted the donors of those now in hand. These, with all our care, will not last for ever, and if any of ray fair hearers feel inclined to fill up their spare time and to occupy their skilful fingers by giving us specimens of their taste and proficiency in the art of embroidery there is a capital opening. They may take my assurance that they will be guilty of no illegal act, and I shall be prepared and proud to indemnify them against all consequences.
We endeavour to show every proper respect to the Holy Table by restricting its use to the purpose for which it is intended. You don't find our ministers lolling over it and using it as a rest for their arms, as is too often the case with slovenly priests. Nothing is more galling than to see it profaned and degraded as it often is even by some of our Church dignitaries, who think it becoming to make it a receptacle for cap, gloves, sermon-book, and other trifles. When I meet with such instances of what I cannot help considering wanton desecration, I confess my steam shows an upward tendency; but being naturally of a contented disposition and thankful for small mercies, I console myself with the reflection that the offender has not also included his umbrella, muffler, and goloshes.
I am persuaded that to these seemingly little irreverences on the part of those who ought to set a better example, is to be attributed much of that levity and want of decorum so often to be found in our congregations, but in this respect I am glad to be able to testify to a great improvement. This is a subject on which there is much to be said, did time permit.
I cannot leave the chancel without an allusion to that noble organ lately added to our furniture. It is a curious fact that it [18/19] is the only article of furniture for which I am unable to supply you with an authority, and yet it is almost the only one that has not been the subject of objection. Will some of those good people who are so fond of asking for authorities for everything quench my thirst for information on this head? However there it is, and its best apology is to be found in its excellence. It has given an impetus to our choral worship, which I know is generally appreciated. As a work of art it is a triumph, and I have no hesitation in placing it in comparison with any other to be found in the neighbourhood.
I now come to the question of the ministers, their vestments and mode of ministration. As to the personnel of our clerical staff I could say much, but this is not the occasion, even if their welcome presence did not forbid the exercise of eulogy. Suffice it to say two more energetic and thoroughly able and devoted men are not to be found in this or any other diocese. However much I may presume to differ from our diocesan head in minor matters I shall never cease to thank him for having sent such men to minister to our spiritual wants. To work under them and with them is, indeed, a privilege and a pleasure to us all, and to none more so than to my colleague and myself.
But it is with their vestments and manner of ministration that I have to do to-night, and in both these respects you find exhibited at S. Mark's some departure from details made familiar to you by long use and practice in other churches.
For instance, we do not exhibit in our pulpit that abomination, the Black Gown, the use of which, I dare to hope, I shall conclusively show to be at once unseemly, inconvenient, uncanonical, and therefore illegal.
Take a case of no unfrequent occurrence--a full service, including Holy Communion, and only one minister, in a church where the black gown is the use. The minister must first appear in surplice, for the 58th Canon provides that every minister saying the public prayers, or ministering the Sacrament, or the rites of the Church, shall have a decent and comely surplice with sleeves, which shall be provided at the cost of the parish.
At the conclusion of the ante Communion office, i.e., after the Nicene Creed, the minister is directed by the rubric to proceed with the sermon or homily, not a word being said about any change of dress. If such a transformation had been contemplated, surely it would have been easy to provide for it. The 74th Canon, which directs with so much minuteness that "No ecclesiastical person shall wear light-coloured stockings," would scarcely have been silent on such a point as this. But, in defiance alike of rubric, patience, and sense, a pause is introduced, sometimes filled up by hymn or organ voluntary, during which the minister retires to his vestry, and presently emerges, clad in the sable robe of a Dominican Friar. The sermon ended, he must again retire to his vestry, doff the sable and resume the [19/20] surplice, involving another awkward pause, filled up probably with music as before. Now to what purpose is all this waste of time and trial of patience?
There is no rubric or canon providing for any change of dress, but, as I have shown, there is a canon enjoining the surplice as the vestment to be worn at all public ministrations. If the sermon be not a ministration, it clearly has no business where it is; and certainly it is as much a ministration as are publishing the banns of marriage, reading the lessons, or giving out notice of a public meeting, or a collection for Church or secular purposes. In a very recent case his Grace the Archbishop of York, who had sat as one of the Court of Appeal, said, in answer to an enquiry on the subject, he considered preaching to be a ministration, and I think his Grace was right. Ah! but, say the objectors, that was a mere extra-judicial expression of opinion obiter dictum, and therefore not binding. True; but it is also the opinion his Grace would be bound to give should the question come before the court. But it's just the way with these people. They are very eager for litigation till they get a decision against them, and then are the first to disobey.
If the sermon be a ministration, the surplice is clearly the only proper vestment according to the canon. And why, let me ask, should the wardens be bound to provide, as they are, at the cost of the parish, a robe (i.e., the surplice) for one part of the service and not for all?
If preaching be not a ministration, then, as no preacher's dress is enjoined by the Church, he would be more correct who appeared in his ordinary walking attire.
But I have another strong objection. The 58th Canon, already alluded to, provides further that "Such ministers as are graduates shall wear upon their surplices the hoods proper to their several degrees, which no minister shall wear, not being a graduate, on pain of suspension." So jealous is the Church on the subject of false colours or borrowed plumes. Those who are "up" in the matter of University costume will not require to be told that a man's degree is indicated as much by the shape of his gown as by the cut and colour of his hood, which is, in fact, worn only occasionally. Now see what is often done. A black gown is kept in the vestry for general use, and is used by all the preachers indiscriminately without regard to degree. I have known numerous instances of men wearing the B.A, hood on the surplice afterwards appearing in the pulpit in the M.A. gown, and vice versa. Non-graduates, too, are thus compelled to commit the same offence against good taste and the Canon; for surely it is as great an offence for a man to assume the gown, as the hood, to which he has no right.
Other instances I could give, but I don't wish to weary you. The point is one on which great stress has been laid by [20/21] the ultra-Protestants, and it is they, not the so called Ritualists, who have made it a bone of contention. For my own part I of course prefer the surplice; but I am ready to admit that a man's do and power of preaching are not necessarily dependent on the cut or colour of his robe Some of our fox-hunting parsons would be much more at home in red coat and top boots, and therefore might be expected to preach the better, and there is really just as much authority for that costume as for the black gown.
In Prideaux it is laid down that the warden's ought to "present" a minister who wears a black gown or any vestment other than the surplice. The Bishop of Exeter, in the Heiston case, laid down the same doctrine, and I am not aware that his ruling has ever been questioned.
I confess I cannot understand the preference shown by so many people for the black gown, for, notwithstanding its imposing appearance, especially when made of crisp silk, it cannot compare with the modest white linen surplice. As an academical dress I admire the gown for its quaintness, especially when worn in conjunction with the square cap, prescribed by the canon; but in the pulpit its use is utterly indefensible. To my mind it always suggests the birch rod, cane, and impositions of my school days; and, therefore, I and others who have done their curriculum in schools where the masters were compelled to wear cap and gown at all times of their school ministrations (flogging included) may be pardoned a want of respect for it when we see it in the pulpit. I like to see a parson going on duty in the uniform enjoined by the 74th Canon, which provides that all deans and others having ecclesiastical livings shall usually wear gowns as used in the Universities, with square caps; and allows them to dispense with cap and gown, only in private houses and in their studies, clearly indicating that the cap and gown shall form the ordinary walking costume, as indeed is the custom in all university towns. Surely, if the gown had been intended to be an ecclesiastical vestment, we should have found direction for its use in this or some other canon, but for church use the surplice ALONE IS the subject of enactment.
The surplice corresponds with the linen ephod of the Jewish priests, and its use is defended by ancient writers:--By Gregory Nazianzen, who advised the priests to purity, because a little spot is soon seen on a white garment; and by S. Jerome, who reproved the needless scruples of those who opposed its use, saying, "What offence can it be for a bishop or priest to proceed to the communion in a white garment?" (Remember, the sermon is a part of the communion office.)
The surplice is so called because it was worn super pelles, i.e., over the garments of dressed skins of animals worn by northern nations iii former days. Its colour is white, denoting the innocence and purity with which God's ministers ought to be [21/22] clothed. As for its shape and length, there is no precise definition, all that is required by the canon is that it shall be "comely, with sleeves." Durandus says, that as the garments of the Jewish priests were girt tight about them, to signify the bondage of the law, so the looseness of the surplice of the Christian priest signifies the freedom of the Gospel he preaches.
The only other vestment to which I have to direct attention is the stole, or orarium, the long, narrow scarf with fringed ends. Perhaps this should correspond in colour with the authorised colours of the altar frontal, but up to this time coloured stoles have not been worn at S. Mark's; there is, however, no authority that I know of for restricting the colour to black.
I should like those who find fault with our simple vestments to inform us where they find the authority for wearing those emblems of complimentary mourning so often met with--I mean mourning scarves. They certainly don't come within the "ornaments" rubric. Outside the church they may be unobjectionable, though useless; inside, during service, they are clearly illegal. To see a priest, especially if of short stature, vested in stole, hood, and mourning scarf, is simply ridiculous. Some, sensible of the figure they cut in such array, throw aside for the time the hood or stole, perhaps both; these being the legal vestments, to make room for this scarf, for which there is no authority.
What would you say of some gushing young curate--our chairman, for instance--if, after attending a marriage during the week, he were to appear at church on the following Sunday with a wedding favour pinned to his stole, and yet where is the difference?
Some will say what a fuss to make about matters of costume? I say, "ditto!" But bear in mind it is the objectors who magnify these things into mountains of strife. I have only observed the purpose of this paper in showing you that the Church has, for the sake of ensuring decency and uniformity, prescribed what shall be worn, and that at S. Mark's such prescription is respected and obeyed.
A few remarks as to our mode of service, and I have done. It is objected that we have too much ceremony. Not to weary you, let me refer you to what I said at the outset, as to the absolute necessity and legality of such ceremony as the Church enjoins, and then all I have to show is that we do not transgress.
As the clergy and choir enter the church, the congregation, at any rate the major part of it, rise to their feet; this, I know, has given offence. What other people may mean by the practice I cannot pretend to say, but, for my own part, I intend by it simply a mark of respect to the office, not to the persons of those whose privilege it is to lead the services of the church: just as the soldier is bound to salute his officer when in uniform; it is not the person of the officer, but his commission, indicated by his equipments that is thus acknowledged. But [22/23] whether the practice be right or wrong, it is directly traceable to the people themselves. They spontaneously introduced the custom, and with them must rest the credit or blame, as the case may be. The first occasion of its use was our Consecration ceremony, and certainly it cannot be said that the officials of the church had anything to do with the introduction. As the Bishop emerged from the vestry to meet the clergy at the west end of the building, according to established usage, the crowded congregation rose to their feet, properly, I think: and from that day to this the practice has continued. The tribute seems to be but a small one, and if there be no express authority for it, there is at any rate no prohibition that I know of, and that is as much as can be said for sitting during the sermon, or standing during the hymns. In our law courts, when the Judges or magistrates enter, the bar and audience rise, and remain standing till those officials have taken their seats. There is no order to this effect, but it is done as a matter of course. Even the entering of the choir in procession has been objected to, but what can be more fitting than that those who are conjoined for this holy purpose should take their places decently and in order," rather than in the higgledy-piggledy fashion so common in some churches. When yon have your choir stowed away in a west-end gallery it may not so much matter how or when the members enter, but our object is to secure the absence of everything that may tend to disturb devotion by distracting the attention. Our practice has the advantage, too, of securing punctual attendance, for no chorister is permitted to take his place who is not present in time to "fall in." Whether right or wrong, we have the example of our Cathedral for our practice, Dr. Lake having introduced this amongst other improvements.
On festivals we indulge in processional hymns, for which I have been challenged to find authority. This, however, is not strictly a part of the service, and there is quite as much authority for it as for the universally used organ voluntary before and after service, or for the hymn before sermon. In many old-fashioned churches it is customary to sing a hymn before service commences. Where is the authority for that? and what greater harm in singing "on the move" than when standing to "attention?"
The clergy and choir in their places, a slight pause ensues, to enable them to offer that silent prayer, for which, mind you, there is no express authority, but which no Churchman ever thinks of omitting before engaging in public worship. Having, on entering, performed this appropriate observance on one's own account, there can be no great harm, it is conceived, in offering a petition for those whose office it is to minister. Those who object are of course at liberty to omit it.
 The priest's part of the service is performed in monotone, or on one note. This is held to be the proper interpretation of the word "said," as used in connection with the Church's service. It is the natural mode of praying (as you may gather by listening to a little child or an uninstructed adult praying aloud), and is to be preferred to ordinary reading--the most artificial of all vocal sounds--and above all to that pompous rendering of the prayers often called fine reading.
The rubric of Queen Elizabeth's Prayer Book (1559) shows that even the lessons were musically recited: "And (to the end that the people may the better hear) in such places where they do sing, there shall the lessons be sung in a plain tune, and also the Epistle and Gospel."
I suppose no one will be disposed to deny that the most solemn and Important part of our service is the general Confession and Absolution, and in order that there may be no distraction, we have adopted the very salutary practice of suspending entrance between the commencement of the exhortation and the versicles following the Absolution. Nothing can be easier than to find our way to church with as much punctuality as we observe when going on a railway journey, and nothing more distressing or distracting than the rustling of silks and the creaking of boots during this solemn part of Divine Service. Our system, and I think, too, its object are now generally understood and appreciated. It is in strict conformity with the provision of the 18th Canon, that no person shall disturb the service or sermon by walking or talking or in any other way. The idea is not patented, but is at the free disposal of all who may be disposed to copy our example. In our case I trust it will never be abandoned.
The psalms of the day are sung, except on such days as Ash Wednesday and Good Friday; and for this purpose we have adopted the Gregorian tones in preference to the more florid Anglican chants: in a well-sung Gregorian, the music adapts itself to the words, whilst in the Anglican you must arrange the words to fit the music. Anglican chants, having a distinct air, pail after a time upon the ear as food, with a decided taste, pails on the palate; while of the Gregorian, in its simplicity, like our daily bread, we never tire. The Gregorian tones or chants are the earliest Christian music to be found, and the inference is that they were known to the Jews. There is a tradition that our Lord with the disciples sung the hymn on the night of His betrayal to the well-known Peregrine tone or Pilgrims' chant. The antiphonal style we have adopted is known to have been used as early as the time of S. Ignatius, the disciple of S. John. By this is meant the psalms are sung by each side of the choir alternately--one side answering the other as it were--and the plan has the advantage of giving rest and relief to the voices which otherwise would be overstrained. [24/25] This method might be adopted with advantage by the congregation. The singing of the psalms has been objected to, I think without reason. A reference to the title page of your Prayer Book will show that the Psalms are intended to be sung rather than said, or why are they specially pointed for that purpose?--the colon (:), to be found in every verse in the Prayer Book version, indicating the division of the verse for chanting. The Church's intention is clearly that the psalms, canticles, and creeds shall be chorally rendered whenever possible, and all that can be said for the completely unmusical repetition of them is that it is not positively forbidden. Choral service, though preferred by the Church, is not enforced, because there are many parishes without the materials for a choir; but that it ought to be had wherever practicable appears clear from many evidences--that for instance already mentioned as to the pointing of the psalms--and also the name given in the Prayer Book to the vesper service, viz.--Evensong.
In the "Reformatio Legum," drawn up by a commission with Cranmer at its head, it was provided that" the service in all town churches on Sundays and holidays should be celebrated the same way as in Cathedral and collegiate churches," (i.e., chorally), thus proving that thinness of population and consequent difficulty of procuring choristers was the only reason why rural churches were excepted from the rule. With such material as we possess in our well-trained choir and talented organist there would be no excuse for none of this--the obvious intention of the Church. If the Church's worship on earth be, as I understand it, the foretaste of and preparation for the cease less song of Heaven, surely those who look forward to that end should fit themselves whilst here on earth.
That some people cannot sing is no argument against choral worship, for in that case, to be consistent, we should have to banish hymns as well. Carry this proposition a little further and you must omit even the saying of the psalms and those parts of the service in which the people join, because some people cannot read, and the lessons and sermon because others cannot hear. Besides, I don't believe nature ever yet perpetrated such a monstrosity as a man or woman who, having a voice, cannot sing well enough at any rate for purposes of choral worship. It only needs to begin, and practice, we all know, begets perfection.
We are most of us old enough (I hope my lady hearers will forgive me) to remember the day when the psalms used to be "done" as a duet between the parson and that canny old-fashioned institution the "parish clerk," and a sorry business they made of it. Wherever you have a choral service as in our case, it be not too florid--you secure hearty congregational co-operation. Our Canticles are of course sung; but this is now so universally the practice as to secure us from a charge of innovation.
 In our creeds we are guilty of turning to the east. This is terrible offence, I know, and one with which I feel hardly able to grapple. I suppose it won't be enough to say we have Cathedral practice for an example. Objectors say there is no rubric for it. True; nor is there for standing during the hymns or sitting during the sermon.
This custom of turning to the East in the Creed is, however a very old-fashioned one, and was in common use long before modern "Ritualism"! was born or thought of. By it we simply mean that we turn to the risen Christ, our Sun and Light, as we turn to the created sun rising in the East. The sun rising, after having sunk to rest some hours before, has always been taken as symbolical of the resurrection from the dead; and tradition tells us our Lord will come from the East at His second advent. So we turn to that quarter when reciting our Christian belief. Further, it is a relic of the ancient Church; for the Jews, wherever they might be, turned towards Jerusalem when they prayed.
The opinions of Church writers may be of some weight on this point.
Wheatley says, "we repeat the Creed, it is customary to turn to the East, that so, whilst making profession of our faith in the blessed Trinity, we may look towards that quarter of the heavens where God is supposed to have His peculiar residence of Glory."
Archbishop Secker: "Turning towards the East is an ancient custom, as indeed in most religions men have directed their worship some particular way, and this practice being only intended to honour Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, who has risen upon us to enlighten us with that doctrine of salvation to which we thus declare our adherence, it ought not to be condemned as superstitious."
Collis, too: "Most churches are so contrived that the greater part of the congregation faces the East. The Jews in their dispensation turned their faces towards the Mercy Seat and Cherubim. Daniel was found praying towards Jerusalem be cause of the situation of the Temple, and this has always been esteemed a very becoming way of expressing our belief in God."
I could give you further quotations did time permit, but I think I have shown you that at any rate the practice has the full sanction of those who are esteemed authorities, and has nothing of superstition about it.
I met the other day with some lines on this subject which seem to me so apropos that I have ventured to transcribe them:--
I turn to the East when I say the Creed,
And this for reasons three
First, Holy Church hath practised it,
And she's a guide for me.
I turn to the East when I say the Creed,
For thence the rising sun,
Through thousand circling months and years,
His ceaseless course hath run.
I turn to the East when I say the Creed
And my Redeemer bless,
Who rose on our benighted earth,
The Sun of Righteousness.
I turn to the East when I say my Creed
And look for my final doom;
For thence the Scriptures seem to speak
The Righteous Judge shall come.
I turn to the East when I say my Creed,
My reasons I have given;
But not my eye alone, my heart
Must turn itself towards Heaven.
So I turn to the East when I say my Creed,
And tell me now, I pray,
Why any humble Christian need
To turn the other way.
Some good people are so strong in their condemnation of this very harmless custom that, facing as they do the East as their usual position, I rather wonder they don't make a "left-about-face" to the West at the Creed.
For my part, I was not only taught the eastward position as part of my education, at the hands of not unable men, but punished if I omitted it. Believing it now to be right I shall continue to observe the practice till convinced to the contrary by some objection more telling than I have ever yet heard.
So also to bowing at the sacred name of the Saviour. Some who make a point of showing this outward reverence in the Creeds, never think of doing so when the title occurs elsewhere, and even condemn those who do thus obey the 18th Canon, which, prescribing the uncovering of the head by men and the kneeling of all reverently upon their knees (not sitting with an inclination forward) during the Confession, Litany, and Prayers, orders with equal plainness that "Likewise when in time of Divine Service the Lord Jesus shall be mentioned due and holy reverence shall be done by all persons present as it hath been accustomed--testifying by these outward ceremonies and gestures their inward humility, Christian resolution, and due acknowledgment that the Lord Jesus Christ, the true and eternal Son of God, is the only Saviour of the World." You would not think of refusing a mark of reverence in the presence of your Queen. Why then pay less respect to Him who was [27/28] anointed--not as earthly monarchs, with oil, but as you heard in the text so ably discoursed from last evening, "with the Holy Ghost and with Power." The Synod of 1640, speaking of another practice, which, by the way, we do not observe, said of it, "We heartily commend it to all good and well-affected people, that they be ready to tender to the Lord their obeisance, according to the most ancient custom of the Primitive Church in the purest times:" adding this recommendation, "We desire that in the practice or omission of this rite the rule of charity prescribed by the Apostle may be observed--which is that they who use this rite despise not those who use it not, and that they who use it not condemn not those who use it" (a very wholesome suggestion, and one to be observed in connection with other rites).
As most of you are aware, we have at S. Mark's a celebration of the Holy Communion every Sunday morning; on the first and third Sundays of the month at mid-day, on all other Sundays and certain other festivals at eight a.m., and on every Thursday during Lent at 730 am. On those Sundays on which we have mid-day celebration of the Communion, the Litany is not said or sung as part of the morning service, but as a separate service in the afternoon. This, though not yet the universal custom, is quite according to rubric, which directs that the Litany shall he sung or said after (not as part of) morning prayer, and there is no direction as to the time at which it is to be used, and our practice is now legalised beyond all doubt by the recent Act for Amendment of the Act of Uniformity (35 & 36 Vic., cap. 35). There was formerly a rubric commanding that, after morning prayer, the people being called together by a bell and assembled in the church, the Litany should be said; clearly indicating it as a separate and distinct office, and the ordinary practice was to have Matins at eight and Litany at ten. This custom still obtains in many English churches. Bishop White, in his "Memoirs of the American Church," mentions that, being on a visit to the Archbishop of Canterbury, he observed that on Wednesdays the Archbishop, with the Bishops, retired to the chapel before dinner to say the Litany, in compliance with the original custom. Our practice in this respect is no longer singular, even in this town, for, I understand, it has lately been introduced in one other church, and elsewhere it seems to be coming into use. I read only last week that "an alteration in the services at S. Paul's Cathedral is to commence at Easter. The Litany is to be omitted in the morning and, with an anthem and sermon, is to replace the second evensong as now used."
In the time of Henry VIII. the Litany was printed as a separate service, and it was not till 1571 that Grindall, Archbishop of York, ordered it to be said as part of the morning service, which, with all due respect to the deceased prelate, I venture to say, was, if not in excess of hi power, at any rate [28/29] highly inconvenient, for it cannot be denied that the unreasonable length of the morning service, when you have all the three offices united in one, tends to keep people away from church and renders the service irksome to many, if not most of those 'who do attend; a result not contemplated by the com pliers of our Liturgy.
The remarks already made with reference to the singing of the Psalms of the day and Canticles apply with equal force to the Litany, which is directed by the rubric to be sung or said, i.e., said where the accessories for singing are not available. We adopt the choral use. As I mentioned, in treating of the use of the Litany stool, the Litany is directed to be sung or said "in the midst of the church before the chancel," and this we observe.
We now come to that highest and most important act of worship, the administration of the Lord's Supper.
I say the highest office, but yet in how many instances the most neglected both by priest and people. It is sad to observe the contempt for and want of appreciation of that most solemn and at the same time most exhilarating service, by which Christians are brought into communion with their Saviour, evidenced by infrequent and slovenly celebrations.
At S. Mark's our celebrations, I think you will admit, are orderly and reverently conducted.
As you know, the sermon is a part of the Communion office. After the Nicene Creed has been sung (on the authority already given for the singing of the creeds), the preacher ascends the pulpit without transformation of costume, and without also the intervention of the unauthorised yet often interpolated hymn, and also, omitting the collect or prayer so often elsewhere introduced, proceeds with his sermon. I may here remark there is no authority whatever for the use of this prayer or collect before sermon. The 55th Canon enjoins the use of the exhortation, known as the "bidding prayer," but except in our Cathedrals, College Chapels, and Chapels Royal, and such churches as the Temple, this is not generally used. When used, it is to be followed by the Lord's Prayer, and yet, though this model prayer is the only one for the use of which in the Pulpit even this exceptional authority can be found, strange to say it is the one least used, some preachers prefer ring to introduce a collect, not always happily chosen; others the still more objectionable extempore prayer of home composition.
For the rest of our pulpit service I need only say to those who attend S. Mark's, you hear the word preached in all its purity and with a power and excellence seldom equalled, never excelled.
After the sermon, the offertory is taken in the authorised form, and the alms are then, in compliance with the rubric, brought by the wardens to the minister, and by him humbly presented and [29/30] placed on the Holy Table and dedicated to the glory of God and his service, in the words of the prayer for the Church Militant, not hurried off to the vestry, rolled out on the table, and noisily counted whilst the benediction is being pronounced.
The presentation of the alms and oblations corresponds with the practice of the dews of old, who, when they brought their gifts and sacrifices to the Temple, offered them to God by the hands of the priest.
I think I am right in claiming for S. Mark's that it was the first church in this town to recognise the offertory as an essential accompaniment of divine service. The custom so successfully introduced here has been followed with good success in other local churches, and will no doubt ere long become general. Almsgiving is undeniably as much a part of divine worship as are praise and thanksgiving. I could find much to say on this head, but as we have no compulsory offertory tonight, I shall not exercise your patience, which I fear I have already sorely tried.
As to our mode of celebration, I only propose to say it is always performed with that reverence to which its solemn character entitles it. The elements are brought from the credence, placed on the Holy Table, consecrated and distributed in strict conformity with the rubric, i.e., to each individual separately, and not in couples or wholesale by the railful, as is done elsewhere. The rubric is very plain on this point. "When the minister shall deliver the bread or the cup to any one" he shall say the words of distribution, which, by their language, clearly indicate individual distribution.
Some ministers are in the habit of mutilating this beautiful form of words to suit their peculiar idiosyncracies, substituting the plural "you" and "your bodies and souls" for the prescribed and much more forcible singular "thee" and "thy." The Sacrament is thus shorn of much of its force and beauty, and the excuse is that it is done "to save time." (We read of Benjamin Franklin, that when a boy, and tired of the daily grace before meat, he suggested to his father the advisability of economising time by saying a good long grace over a whole cask of pork at once. This is the only approach I can find to an authority for the practice I am condemning.) Our mid-day celebration is now chorally rendered as to such parts as the rubric directs to be sung; and in this respect we are at present unique, so far as Sunderland is concerned; but I trust our example in this, too, will soon be followed by others. It has always been a matter of surprise to sue that that which the Church intends, and all Churchmen look upon, as the highest service of all, should be rendered in the bald fashion commonly prevalent, and divorced from the accessories so lavishly bestowed on the comparatively minor offices. The office should be "eucharistic," a word implying thanksgiving, joyfulness, and all that is bright, cheering, and [30/31] inspiriting. And what can tend more to make it so than the introduction of appropriate music.
We know from Scripture that. He who instituted the Feast the Lord. himself, did not consider it complete without music, for do we not read that at the close of the feast, "after they had sung an hymn," they went forth to the Mount of Olives? We copy our Lord's example to the smallest detail in the blessing and breaking of the bread, the consecration of the wine, and the distribution of the sacramental elements. Why, then, omit this detail? The language of the "Sanctus" and the "Gloria in Excelsis," in which we ascribe to God Most High our praise, our blessing, and our thanks, and magnify and glorify Him, suggest a song of the rather than the dim recital so often heard.
I learn that the celebration in the Cathedral is now always choral, and I am glad to say our own choir have so far recognised the fitness of this adjunct that they have made a voluntary offer of their assistance, not considering their work complete till service is ended. I need hardly say the offer has been gladly accepted, and I take this opportunity of publicly thanking the choir on behalf of the Officials of the church, for the great improvement they have thus afforded. To some it may at present seem strange, but wait a little and all will come right.
Some object to our kneeling during the "Gloria in Excelsis," but you will find, on reference to the rubric, that there is no direction for rising from your knees from the confession to the benediction; in point of fact, the whole office from the confession is clearly intended to be performed, so far as the people are concerned, on their knees.
I have now come to the end of a task which has been to me a most grateful though to you, I fear, a tedious one.
Having taken you through our church-pointed out, explained, and I hope, justified its appointments and ceremonies--let you into the secrets of the vestry in matters of ecclesiastical costume--all that remains for me is to thank you for the patient hearing you have given me.
The subject is by no means so unimportant as scoffers and indifferent people would have you believe, and though I may have handled it but imperfectly, may I indulge a hope that my labour has not been wholly thrown away? Whatever you may think of what I have advanced, bear in mind that I have given you not only my views but the authorities on which I found them--such being the writings of able and pious men of old, and the solemn and deliberate judicial decisions of the Judges of our own day; I have endeavoured to obtrude nothing for which I could not give you the clearest authority.
In conclusion I would ask you to think and read for your selves, and not to be biassed by prejudice or led away by the absurd and unfounded opinions of others.
 Don't think that because some of our ornaments or ceremonies are new to you, they are necessarily Popish (a word which often means nothing more than "I don't understand, and therefore I don't like"), or that because you have been accustomed to some things that we ignore we are necessarily wrong. The antiquity of a disease or abuse is no sufficient reason for abstaining from the application of remedies, though it does often retard and make the cure more difficult.
There is one point about us to which I desire to draw your attention, and that is the absence of all aggressiveness. Though fully conscious of many abuses elsewhere we attack them not. Surely, then, we are entitled to similar forbearance, even though we be so shocking in our practices as we are sometimes de scribed.
When you find your Vicar and his valued Coadjutor inculcating such doctrines as Celibacy, Solitary Priestly Communion, the denial of the Chalice to the people, Auricular Confession, and other well-known doctrines of another branch of the Church, introducing Lights, Incense, and. gorgeous vestments--indulging in prostrations, genuflections, and other symptoms of eucharistic adoration, you may perhaps be justified in indulging a suspicion that there's something wrong. But so long as now, you find them doing the Church's work in the Church's way, observing only such rites and ceremonies as that Church enjoins upon them, copying their Divine Master, who, when reviled, reviled not again, attacking no one, but ready still to defend--ministering as well to the temporal as to the spiritual wants of those over whom God has placed them, courting no man's favour and fearing no man's frown, I would ask you to exercise that common charity with which Providence has endowed us all, if we would but use it, and that sense which, though common, is said to be not universal, and to join with me in saying that the system in use at S. Mark's is as near the reasonable perfection of Divine worship as any human institution can be, and that it does not deserve the censures which have been so freely lavished upon it; and further, that we at S. Mark's, though we have a Ritual, are not "Ritualists" in the present popular acceptation of that term.--Q.E.D.