Project Canterbury

Benediction in Scotland
by H.W. Hill

London: Mowbray
Milwaukee: Morehouse, 1921. 40 pp


I WELCOMED the suggestion that it would be well to publish the story of how it came about that Benediction had grown into a matter of controversy in Scotland. But a Preface would seem to be necessary. I have been familiar with this subject for many years; indeed I served at Benediction in certain Religious Houses of a large Anglican Community more than forty years ago. In such circumstances one felt that it was a devotion for the "elect," and that it would be many years before such a service, under authority expressed or implied, could be generally used in parish churches with safety, and profit. And one had another feeling. The exposure of the Host in the monstrance gave one a thrilling sensation. This on reflection led me to understand that probably there were good reasons for the "reminder" (to use Provost Ball's expression in this connection) contained in Article XXVIII, and that there was some reason for the strong feeling against our Lord's Body being "gazed upon" in apparent forgetfulness of the very end for which the Eucharist was instituted. On the other hand, one has always remembered that the desire for such devotions often springs from an intense personal love of our Lord in devout Catholics, often the expression of that love, just as that love finds expression in an Evangelical in the work of missions to the heathen. It was, I imagine, for such reasons as I have here ventured to hint at that authority appeared to be hesitant in the Roman Communion. Benediction was spoken of in France as "somewhat novel" in 1673, and the practice has always been guarded by the Roman Catholic authorities.

These devotions grew up apart from authority as many good things have. They were not condemned, the time arrived when they became a subject for authoritative regulation. To teach, watch, pray, and wait humbly on God's will and the guiding of the Holy Spirit was, I think, the attitude of thoughtful men among us for a long space of years. I well remember the anniversary meetings of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament in the early 'seventies of the last century full of such sentiment. That such devotions would find their place among us appeared to be certain. It was a question of how and when.

In later years, in a few parishes, they were adopted as a part of the parochial system, against authority, and often with sad results. I have been told by some priests that the tendency, when they have been persuaded to use these devotions, has been rather to discourage attendance at Mass, and I have heard them described by grave and responsible men as a sort of Roman Catholic evening Communion, without Communion. There have been other results; unseemly conflicts with lawful authority, our Lord's Body made the subject of fierce controversy with disastrous results which are a pain to remember. That burning love of our Lord I have spoken of in this connection was probably only a small sickly flicker, which the devil could blow out, instead of a bright flame.

St. Michael's, Edinburgh, has been a most marked exception. I knew Provost Ball intimately. He raised up a company of devout people, the right proportions were maintained, the intellectual was not sacrificed to the emotional, and it was pitiful that those people should have fallen upon trouble just at the time when there was a deplorable conflict in England. To do anything to help them was a pleasure and a duty.

But to turn back to England. A happier way has been found; in the great Diocese of London particularly. The Bishop of London has been at great and unwearied pains to understand the true meaning and inwardness of these matters. He has taken his clergy into his confidence, his sanctions meet all reasonable needs, his authority is uniformly respected, and with a glad mind. Other bishops are following his example; the wisdom of making haste slowly is generally allowed.

I have lately heard of a friendly Roman Catholic dignitary, a watcher of our affairs, who expressed the conviction to a friend, an Anglican bishop, that he had arrived at the conclusion that the demand for these devotions would spring up among us and that they would have to be satisfied; but he urged, so I understand, that the appointed liturgical services should always be maintained; the intellectual side of evening worship should be preserved. He knows, and speaks according to knowledge. Of the method now allowed in some English dioceses I will only say that, according to my observation, it is along the lines of a reasonable, orderly, and devout development. The Host is not exposed; It is veiled, and the monstrance is not used, nor is the blessing given; it is a service of salutation, prayer, and adoration. It would appear, therefore, to be fairly plain, how by prayer and patience, an excellent way has been found for satisfying the needs of devout Christians in suitable parish churches. Benediction proper in convents is another affair. I do not discuss it. But I would say in this place that I am confident that the good folk at St. Michael's, Edinburgh, had been so well taught that they might have been left undisturbed in the enjoyment of what they had had so long. I remember with admiration the fine spirit of their acquiescence in my advice that the trouble having arisen, they would be wise in following the line of least resistance, and in founding their demands on the surest and strongest ground.

My friends in Scotland knew my opinions when they claimed such help as I could give. For many years it has been my lot to deal with many branches of ecclesiastical controversy. Too often it has been almost impossible to render any effective help; the matter had been confused and compromised before coming to me. It was not so with St. Michael's, Edinburgh, and the story follows with as much connecting narrative as is necessary to make it plain.

I wish to offer a word of thanks to the Duke of Argyll, Mr. Will Spens, Fellow and Tutor of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, the Editors of the Church Times and the Scottish Chronicle, and Mr. Douglas Bruce Adam for much help and kindness.


LONDON: The Feast of Corpus Christi, 1921.


ALTHOUGH my interest in the matters dealt with in the following pages is more or less of a general nature, yet as a Patron of the Church of St. Michael in Edinburgh I have a particular interest in all that concerns it. It is with pleasure, therefore, that I write a foreword to this book, which not only marks a stage in the development of the Church in the northern kingdom, but will be found of some importance in regard to the legitimate desires of priest and people, as respecting due submission to lawful authority, and in view of the future of the Church in Scotland.

These devotions were instituted at the Church of St. Michael in Edinburgh, many years ago, by a remarkable priest of English birth, whom I long knew, the Very Rev. Thomas Isaac Ball, LL.D., Provost of the Cathedral of the Isles in Cumbrae, and who, like his patron saint, the great martyr of Canterbury, was brought up in London.

Provost Ball was reared in the Evangelical tradition as presented by the pious founders of the Church Missionary Society and their successors, but he was very soon influenced by the Catholic Movement, of which the well-known Church of St. Alban the Protomartyr became a centre of attraction to him as a young man. It was in Scotland, however, that he was ordained in 1865, and all his ministerial charges were in Scotland. He was in charge of St. Michael's, Edinburgh, from 1881 to 1891. In 1873 he had been on the great London Mission at St. James's, Hatcham, when the Rev. Arthur Tooth was vicar; and on these visits of his to London he always made his home at St. Alban's, Holborn. He possessed to the full the Evangelical Catholic spirit of the priests of that church, such as Frs. Mackonochie and Stanton.

The back volumes of the Church papers show that while frequently in controversy he was always clear in statement, as well as accurate and trustworthy. The writer remembers well the variety of old French Diocesan Breviaries, gradually superseded in the first half of the nineteenth century, which he used to bring back to Cumbrae from his visits to Paris, where his last visit took place as war broke out in 1914, and he came on to Inveraray that August. In 1877 he wrote an excellent little book on the Thirty-nine Articles, with a Preface by the Rev. W. J. E. Bennett. He compiled The English Catholic's Vade Mecum, a popular book of devotions forty to fifty years ago, and edited The Congregation in Church and The Ritual Reason Why, and wrote many other useful papers and addresses. He was co-compiler of St. Alban's Appendix and Supplement to the Hymnal Noted. In the Requiem Hymnal, published by the Guild of All Souls in 1898, there are five hymns written by him, and one translated from the Latin which also finds a place in the St. Alban's book for use at the burial of an infant. Most Scottish Church people will have read his Memoir of Alexander (Chinnery-Haldane), Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, which that prelate on his death-bed desired him to undertake, as being singularly fitted for it.

In 1899, when the now discredited Lambeth Opinion on Incense was delivered by the English archbishops (Temple and Maclagan), and the clergy were divided as to their future policy, it was Provost Ball who suggested to Lord Halifax that he could, at least, address his brother laymen; and it will be recollected that Lord Halifax did so in a famous letter and saved the situation.

In his Memoir of the Bishop of Argyll, Provost Ball says, "The Bishop looked through the tangle of theological subtilties with which divines have surrounded the doctrine of the Eucharist, and through the crudities of popular expressions of devotion, and saw truly and clearly that fundamentally and substantially adoration of the Host is neither more nor less than adoration of Jesus Christ under a consecrated Symbol (which yet is more than a mere Symbol), and that devout assistance at the Mass means coming to the Father through Christ as the Propitiation for sin. In the attraction which the Mass and Benediction have for the minds of pious Christians in Catholic countries, the Bishop saw a manifestation of the attractive power of Him Who said, 'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.'"

On September I, 1900, the Bishop of Argyll and the Isles gave his imprimatur to the "Proper" and "Common" of his diocese, in missal form, which was compiled by Provost Ball, and the writer was often consulted as to the feasts which should figure in the "Proprium Sanctorum" of a diocese so rich in memorials of the Patrician and Columban Apostolates. The Provost describes how, in regard to the Lenten daily collects, he "followed the example set in some of the reformed French missals of the last century (viz. those of the Dioceses of Auxerre, Meaux, and Le Mans) by taking the Gospel for the day as supplying the key-note." But the Bishop of Argyll's curious insistance that any fresh collect should be expressed in the language of the Bible or Prayer Book gives a needless monotony to much of it, of which Provost Ball was fully conscious. A reprint of this work in pocket size issued by Messrs. Mowbray in 1903 is already out of print. When the next reprint takes place some errors in the Kalendar such as the Feast of St. Alban on the 17th instead of the 22nd June might well be corrected, as well as the error which makes the famous St. Maelrubha appear under the strange disguise of Malubrius, which is a gross corruption, since his name means "the tonsured red one" in the Gaelic language.

In 1901 Provost Ball also did a useful piece of work. Canon Gore (as he then was) had published The Body of Christ, and Dr. Mortimer had replied in his learned, elaborate, and scholarly The Eucharistic Sacrifice. Ball, in a small book called A Plea for Simplicity in Eucharistic Teaching, strove for and urged simplicity of method, which should have had more weight than it did, yet it certainly, in the opinion of many, had a mediating effect, as it recalled people to essentials. For he realized the needs of the wayfaring man and the child, and pleaded for consideration of the fact that—great as is the Mystery of the Eucharist—it must not be regarded only as the battlefield of contention which, amongst warring scholars, may even be acrimonious, but is a mystery capable of simple statement and apprehension in part by simple folk, if they be but spiritually minded, as much in our own day as in any of the bygone centuries of the ages of faith.

This little work of the Provost's was wise and opportune, and remains an excellent illustration of the man and his method.

In matters of ceremonial Provost Ball was always sane and reasonable. The writer remembers him reading a paper once in a friendly contest with Dr. Dearmer in St. Barnabas' Schoolrooms, Pimlico, in which he inveighed against "Collets" as a suitable vernacular for "Acolytes," and so forth. For he realized that the great living tradition of the Church of the West cannot lightly be set aside, and that, in many ways, she has greatly simplified the elaborate mediaeval uses and divergencies, out of which the Use of Sarum and our own Aberdeen one gradually crystallized. The writer, being far more mediaeval in his tastes (except as to the use of such words as collets) than the Provost, used to have many amusing arguments with him on these side issues of Christian archaeology.

His visit in 1914 to Inveraray was never renewed, for before he could pay another the murmur of his last Mass, though he little knew it, had been heard in the Cathedral of the Isles, where, whenever he was in residence, the Adorable Sacrifice was daily offered up for the living and the dead. On the previous evening he had laid out the black vestments for a Mass of Requiem on the morrow. That Mass was never said by the Provost, for, full of years, full of labours spent in that island in the Firth of Clyde, he, in the silence of the night, had passed to his reward, to be some day with the martyr of Canterbury, whom from boyhood he had taken as his patron and intercessor in the realms of bliss.

In him the ancient Diocese of Argyll and the Isles lost a choice priest full of Evangelical piety and of worldly common sense, deeply versed in Catholic dogma and liturgies, and with a full sense of the corporate life of the Church, as the Regnum Dei. He was loved and mourned by a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.

It is small wonder that the next two rectors who followed him at St. Michael's, Edinburgh, saw that the work he had founded and the system of devotions which he had inaugurated were duly carried on in the way he had wished. It is small wonder that the little flock of St. Michael's desire that the devotions which these former rectors of their church found so fruitful should not be discouraged, still less interfered with. For it is as well to remember that, throughout the entire history of the Church's devotional development, it was the adoption by simple pious people of particular devotions, and the discovery sooner or later by their timid diocesans that such and such a practice conduced to devotion, that led to their wider use and definite recognition. The spread of the very modern Devotion of the Three Hours on Good Friday is a salient example of what is here meant.

Great changes are clearly imminent in the religious life of Scotland, due to the disappearance save in remote districts of Sabbatarianism. The former belief in verbal inspiration has given place amongst some of the Presbyterian ministers to the vaguest theories about our Lord, to actual denials of His Divinity, or, at the least, to a refusal and disinclination to dwell upon it. The Faith becomes gradually etiolated into a mere system of more or less pious ethics, or into the pernicious "anythingarianism" of the Y.M.CA. to which attention has been drawn of late.

Calvinism is in fading repute in the Scotland of to-day, and the younger school of Presbyterian ministers (those who are not of the type who think the angels and the Incarnation are best left unmentioned) are well aware of the void into which the religious life of the nation is drifting, and they often ask us, "What is going to fill it?"

The Church in Scotland, which certainly through the Georgian period preserved by her "usages" much of the outward presentation of the Faith which to English minds is associated solely with the subsequent Oxford Movement, is, in our time, far too apt to go on dwelling upon her Jacobite tradition and the persecutions and "haverings" about the baptisms of the bairns of the Peterhead fisherwomen. She must go forward and take her place nearer to the vanguard of the Catholic Movement, to which her custody of the above "usages" through a difficult period and her unbroken custom of Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament fully entitle her. For, strangely enough, the ritual advance has been far greater in England during the last twenty years, and especially during and since the Great War, than it has been in Scotland, where numberless parishes are in such a backward state that the Mass has not yet been restored to its position as the Chief Sunday Service, and this can be found in churches where the vestments have long been in use.

A revision of the Prayer Book is at present being considered by the Scottish Church, and it is to be hoped that a thoroughly national character may be given to it. To mention only the Kalendar, as many of our national and local saints as possible should be inserted on their proper days, not necessarily nor in every case to be commemorated by anything more than a "memorial," except in the churches of which they may be the patrons or the primitive founders; nor need it matter that two names, a National and a "Catholic" (viz. non-native) one appear on the same day.

It is significant that in the Revision of the Breviary, etc., of the Latin Church which has just been finished it is ordered that each diocese is to have a regular "Proper of Saints" of its own, which is a reversion to ancient usage, and a valuable testimony and incentive to local patriotisms, which need not and does not in the least interfere with the concept of uniformity in the main plan and structure of her Breviary or Missal.

In conclusion the writer desires to commend the following pages to the careful attention of Scottish Churchmen, as they deal with a topic worthy of their careful consideration, which he feels sure they will not fail to give to it.


On the Feast of St. Ultan,
May 1, 1921.


THE Rev. Philip Alfred Lempriere, LL.D., was a graduate of the University of London—B.A. 1882, LL.B. 1900, LL.D. 1901. He was ordained in the Diocese of Glasgow, and had held cures in Scotland—at Glasgow, Newton, Stirling, and Queensferry —before becoming Diocesan Chaplain in the Diocese of Edinburgh in 1894. In 1904 he become Rector of St. Michael's, Edinburgh. He laboured there until April, 1919, when he was called hence. The obituary notice which follows, and is taken from the Church Times of April 11, 1919, describes the man, his manner, and his passing.


On Monday last there passed away the Rector of St. Michael's, Edinburgh, to the very sincere regret of all who knew and loved him. On Passion Sunday he celebrated the Holy Eucharist, preached twice, and fulfilled other duties in the church for which he had done so much. The Christian fortitude which carried him through this Sunday, when he was literally dying on his feet, is as touching as it was consistent with the noble spirit of this faithful priest. Strengthened with the Bread of Heaven himself, he gave his people their communion at St. Michael's only thirty-six hours before he was killed by the fatal disease from which he has patiently suffered for months past. He died in action, as he would wish to die, and has left behind him a splendid record of good work faithfully done, and of noble endurance to the end.—R.I.P.

Three months elapsed before a successor was selected by the Committee of Patronage. The Rev. W. R. J. Beattie, a Scottish priest, was chosen to be presented to the bishop for institution. In the meantime the services at St. Michael's were maintained by the help of priests engaged for that purpose. No changes were made. At the end of July the churchwardens or representatives of the Vestry informed the Duke of Argyll, one of the patrons, that the Bishop of Edinburgh was making difficulties about the institution of Mr. Beattie unless he promised to give up Benediction. The duke at once offered some remonstrance to the bishop, remarking that if it was correct, as he understood, that he (the bishop) was anxious not to have a controversy in Scotland about Benediction as was then taking place in England, his method with St. Michael's would insure the inception of such a controversy. The bishop replied stating that he would not, subject to the judgement of the College of Bishops, institute any priest to any church in his diocese who would not promise when asked by him to refuse to continue or to begin the practice of Benediction. This raised a very definite issue. I advised that such promises were invariably held to be in the nature of simony, and should not on any account be made. I submitted the well-known note in Bishop Gibson's Codex as follows:—

Gibson, in his Codex Juris Ecclesiastici Anglicani, in a Note on Canon XL of 1603, after quoting the various forms of Oaths against Simony imposed at various times in the Church of England, writes as follows: "The Observations to be made upon the foregoing Oaths are—(I) That an Oath against Simony at Institutions is part of the ancient (as well as present) Constitution of the Church of England. (2) That the present Oath (whether interpreted by the plain tenor of it, or according to the language of former Oaths, or the notions of the Catholick Church concerning Simony) is against all Promises whatsoever. (3) That, therefore, though a person comes not within the Statute 31 Eliz. by promising money, reward, gift, profit, or benefit, yet he becomes guilty of Perjury, if he takes this Oath, after any Promise of what kind soever."

I added that it was hardly likely that any variation had grown up in Scotland, but that it might be well to consult a Scots lawyer on the point.

The whole congregation, on the next Sunday morning, signed a petition to the bishop praying him to allow them to go on as formerly. But very little was expected from this, as the bishop had already intimated to Mr. Beattie that a petition would not lead him to change his mind, and further, that he would not allow Mr. Beattie to be in charge of the parish during the interval before institution unless he promised not to have the devotion of Benediction.

The leaders of the congregation were much exercised by the course the bishop had taken. Various expedients passed through their minds: a recourse to the civil courts to compel the bishop to institute, or that Mr. Beattie should take possession, and read himself in, leaving the bishop to his remedy. In regard to the first, I suggested that all depended on Scots law, of which I had small knowledge, and suggested that the advice of experts should be sought. Touching the second course I urged its impossibility, and referred them to a passage in the excellent little book on Canon Law in Scotland, written by their late rector, Dr. Lempriere. The passage runs: "The charge of a parish being a delegation of the powers of the bishop in respect of that part of his diocese, before a priest may take upon himself to exercise any functions in it, it is necessary that he should be invested with the power to do so by some formal act, which may be collation, institution, or licence."

The bishop now gave Mr. Beattie a definite order not to use the service of Benediction while he was in charge pending institution. Mr. Beattie rightly obeyed. He explained the position to the people on the first Sunday the omission took place. But the congregation kept on their knees after Evensong to sing their litanies of supplication and their hymns of salutation and adoration.

The trouble was now acute. My heart went out to these people. I had been through the fire myself, in my young days, at St. Stephen's Mission, Tunbridge Wells, and at St. James's, Hatcham.

It happened that I was due in Scotland for a visit to my daughter at Rothesay, who had for many years, while resident in Edinburgh, been a worshipper and a communicant at St. Michael's. After my Rothesay visit I was due at Inveraray. I resolved to travel by way of Edinburgh, and suggested an interview with any who might wish to consult with me. Accordingly, after a journey through the night, I met Mr. Mills, Mr. Garner, and Mr. Bruce Adam at the Waverley Station; we adjourned to the Scott Monument, and sat in a sunny spot on the steps for two hours on a bright September morning. We considered the whole position, and I dictated a statement from the patrons, with the exception of the bishop, for issue to the congregation. This was printed and was sent to me at Inveraray for submission to the Duke of Argyll. His Grace and the other patrons approved, and the document was issued to the congregation on the following Sunday. It runs thus:—


The death of Dr. Lempriere imposed upon the Patrons, as you are already aware, the great responsibility of selecting a suitable successor. Among the Patrons is the Lord Bishop himself; and at a Meeting of the Patrons, his Lordship was kind enough to say that he wished everything to go on in the future as in the past. The rest of the Patrons were greatly cheered by this statement. They selected Mr. Beattie, on the strong recommendation of the Bishop, who asked the Vestry to present him for institution; which was done with feelings of absolute confidence. It was therefore with some surprise and great regret that the Patrons became aware of the fact that the Bishop had informed Mr. Beattie that he could not institute him unless he promised not to continue the service of Benediction. It has been generally held throughout the Church that promises as a condition of institution other than those required by law are simoniacal in character, and should not be demanded or given. This was represented to the Bishop and Mr. Beattie.

It is within your knowledge that the Bishop gave Mr. Beattie a definite order not to use the Service of Benediction : and as you are aware on 7th September, when Mr. Beattie was in charge of the Church on the Bishop's behalf, and before his institution, that Service did not take place. We realise that the Bishop was within his rights in giving the order and that Mr. Beattie had no alternative but to obey on that occasion. But in reference to the future—while Mr. Beattie had no alternative but to obey—he ought to have safeguarded his own position beyond the period of his institution. As a matter of fact the Bishop has not to this day intimated his formal acceptance of the Presentation. This however may be a technical error, of which we do not wish to take any advantage; but the omission we think should be placed on record. Our main concern is with the future. For twenty years and more in some form or other extra liturgical devotions have been offered in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament. In other portions of the Church and in communion with us these things are done by the regulation of the Bishop. We can only hope and pray that such a position may obtain not only in St. Michael's but throughout this Diocese.

We think you ought to know that we are considering the advisability of taking you into our confidence a little later in view of an approach to the College of Bishops, following the Bishop's own suggestion, in order that they may have an opportunity of considering in the best interests of the Church and all concerned the question raised in this form by the Bishop of the Diocese.


The Vestry authorise record of above statement to be made in the Minute Book of the Vestry.

EDINBURGH, 10th September, 1919.

The effect was excellent. The people were kept together in good heart and spirit. They quietly waited for the bishop's reply to their Appeal and for the institution of the rector.


Vestry lost no time in the preparation of their appeal to the College of Bishops in Synod. It had to be lodged by October 7th, and it was now the middle of September. Mr. Beattie declined to be a party to the Appeal, so it was drawn up in the name of, and on behalf of, the Vestry. The draft went on to me at Inveraray that I might consider some points in the subject matter. The Appeal was finally settled as follows:—

In the matter of an Appeal at the instance of the undersigned against the judgment of the Rt. Revd. Father in God George by Divine permission Bishop of Edinburgh



We, the undersigned, members of the Vestry and for and on behalf of the Congregation worshipping in the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel in the Diocese of Edinburgh, Appeal against the judgment of the said Rt. Revd. Father in God George by Divine permission Bishop of Edinburgh, who did on the seventh day of September Nineteen hundred and nineteen by an Order made in said Church disallow the continuance of a "service" or devotion of hymns and prayers generally known as Benediction and in another form called Salutation of the Blessed Sacrament, being accustomed "services" of the Church, and having tacit licence; in terms of the statement of Facts hereto annexed; such being "services" both allowed by the Episcopal Church in Scotland, in regard to which no pronouncement has ever been made by the said Church; in terms of Note of Pleas hereto annexed : And whereas the said Rt. Revd. Father in God George by Divine permission Bishop of Edinburgh has offended against the laws of the Episcopal Church in Scotland as hereinbefore set forth, we do hereby crave judgment that the said Order be revoked in all time coming, and that the continuance of the said "services" be permitted.

Dated 4th October, 1919.

F. ST. JOHN MILLS (Secretary of Vestry).


That both the form of "Services" known as Salutation and Benediction have the authority and are the practice of the Western portion of the Catholic Church. The Episcopal Church in Scotland by its credal statements, its Orders and Sacraments, claims incorporation in "One holy Catholic and Apostolic Church." In this matter the same authority should therefore obtain and practice be sanctioned within its Province.

That the Devotion to or Salutation of the Blessed Sacrament and the use of the ciborium is allowed within the Diocese of London and Province of Canterbury. It should therefore receive a like authority in the Diocese of Edinburgh and Province of Scotland.

That the Order complained of is not in accordance with the mind of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, which has never enacted touching this matter, and said Order should therefore be recalled.


In or about the year 1881 down to 1891, during the incumbency of the late Provost Thomas Isaac Ball, a "service" known as Salutation, or Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, was conducted in St. Michael's Church. A copy of the form of service used is produced (No. I).

From 1891 to 1904, during the incumbency of the Rev. John Faber Scholfield, the same form of service was conducted. Statement by Mr. A. E. Garner, the Sacristan of the Church, is produced (No. 2).

From 1904 to 7th April, 1919, during the incumbency of the late Dr. Philip Alfred Lempriere, a like form of "service" was conducted; as also there was given on most occasions Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. During the later part of this period this "service" took place twice weekly. A copy of the form of the "service" used is produced (No. 3).

From yth April, 1919, to yth September, 1919, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was given as before by the Priests in charge.

During the above period from 1881 down to 7th September, 1919, the Bishop of Edinburgh made no regulations regarding and gave no orders contrary to the conduct of such services, although the fact of their being held was well known to the Bishop.

On 7th September, 1919, the Rev. W. R. J. Beattie (Rector-elect) promulgated an order by the Bishop prohibiting the conduct of the "services" of Benediction or of Salutation of the Blessed Sacrament from thenceforth. Copy of a statement by Members of the Committee of Patronage to the Congregation is produced (No. 4).

A Meeting of the Congregation was held on l0th August, 1919, when a Petition to the Bishop, craving for sanction for the continuance of these services, was signed by all present, 170 signatures being attached. A copy of this Petition is produced (No. 5). It may be stated here that no reply has been received to this Petition.

[No. i.]

I.—Opening Hymn

(In use thirty years ago.)


[No. 2.]

I have been a Church worker at St. Michael's, Hill Square, Edinburgh, for over twenty years, eighteen years as Sunday School Superintendent, and fifteen years as Sacristan. During this period the Service of Salutation or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament has been in use at this Church.

During the time of the Rev. J. Faber Scholfield the service was continued as in the time of the late Provost Ball, the first Rector, consisting of the usual hymns associated with Benediction with intercessions.

This service was continued by the late Rector, Dr. Lempriere, Benediction being given by the ciborium, or in later years with the monstrance.

It may interest you to know that Dr. Lempriere once said to me that, as this service had gone on for so long with the knowledge of and without rebuke from the Bishops of Edinburgh we were justified in believing that it had their tacit approval.

(Signed) A. E. GARNER.

[No. 3.]


1.—Opening Hymn No. 311 (part 2), A. & M.
2.—Litany, Te Deum, or Intercession (according to the season).
3.—Hymn No. 309 (part 2), A. & M.
5.—Psalm No. 117.

[No. 4 is not printed here. It will be found in Chapter I]

[No. 5.]

A largely-attended meeting of the Congregation was held on Sunday, l0th August. All present signed the following Petition, to which 170 signatures were attached:—

To the Right Reverend Father in God, George, by Divine permission Bishop of Edinburgh.

We, the undersigned of the Catholic Church, constituent members of the Congregation of Saint Michael the Archangel in the Diocese of Edinburgh of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, hereby make our Petition and Appeal to your Reverence in manner following:—

We ask that you will allow in all respects the continuance of the services, including those of an extra-liturgical and devotional nature, as the same, not being contrary to the practice of the Catholic Church, have been conducted in said Church, without disapproval of your predecessor Bishops of Edinburgh, since the formation of the Congregation.

In these times when articles of the Creed are denied; when doctrinal errors are left without rebuke, and changes affecting the very constitution of the Order and Ministry of the Church in this land are openly advocated and permitted; and in view of the great disregard of the Sacrament of Our Lord and His adorable Presence therein, we ask that such freedom of spiritual exercises as may promote the spirit of unity and zeal may have your assent.

At Edinburgh upon the Feast of Saint Lawrence in the Year of Our Lord Nineteen hundred and nineteen.

Before lodging the Appeal it was deemed wise to seek an interview with the bishop. The only result achieved was the fixing of the date for the institution of Mr. Beattie. An account of the interview, written by one who was present, is certainly not pleasant reading. The laymen tried to persuade the bishop to allow at least what was permitted in the Diocese of London. He admitted that he could not prevent hymns being sung before the Blessed Sacrament, but he could and would forbid the tabernacle doors being opened and the Blessed Sacrament censed. His lordship appeared to resent the interference from the laity. Another who was present describes the bishop's attitude as distinctly unfavourable. The Appeal was then lodged.

The Synod met at St. Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, on November 21, 1919. The Primus (the Bishop of Brechin) presided, and there were present the Bishops of Aberdeen, St. Andrews, Argyll and the Isles, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Galloway, and Moray. The Appeal was presented, and what followed is taken from the report of the proceedings given in the Scottish Chronicle

The Bishop of Edinburgh said if the appeal was to be considered immediately he would ask leave to retire and sit in the body of the Court, which he did.

The Primus, addressing the Synod, said,

My Lords,—We have had an opportunity of each of us reading in private this appeal, and further I do not think it is necessary for it to be read at present unless either of the parties to the appeal desire it should be. Without entering on the merits of the appeal, it seems to me that there are undoubtedly two important preliminary questions—(I) Is this appeal to the Synod competent? and (2) Have the particular appellants a title to prosecute it? We understand that the parties are not at 'this moment prepared for an oral hearing, but it seems to me that that indication has probably been given on the assumption that the merits of the appeal were to be disposed of without doubt by your Lordships. If your Lordships agree with me in what I have now said, it seems to me it would be proper to adjourn further consideration of the appeal until our next meeting, and meantime to intimate to the parties that if each or either of them desire an oral hearing, we are prepared to allow it. Indeed, I think I may add that looking to the technical character of the points to which I have referred, it would be expedient that they should be heard. I may add that I think your Lordships will agree with me that in view of the questions about to be raised we should have the benefit of a legal assessor, and I propose, therefore, we should ask Mr. Spens to attend at the next meeting of the Synod in that capacity. I propose to move, your Lordships, accordingly, subject to anything the parties wish to say before I do so.

The Bishop of Glasgow—I beg to second the proposal made by the Primus.

The Primus—Does any Bishop wish to speak? (No reply.) Do the parties wish to make any observations?

The Bishop of Edinburgh—I don't know whether I am to be considered a party, but I have no wish to make any observations at this stage.

Mr. F. St. John Mills (Secretary to the Vestry of St. Michael)—I have no observations to make. We are quite agreeable that there should be an oral hearing, and if you will intimate that to us, we will make provisions to have it done as far as we are concerned.

All the Bishops concurred with the proposal of the Primus, and further consideration of the appeal was adjourned until meeting of Synod to be held on February 27, 1920, at 10 o'clock, in the Chapter House of St. Mary's Cathedral.


THE proceedings had now reached a stage which may be described as interesting and as attracting some notice in Scotland. The Vestry considered the situation, and determined to spare no effort in prosecuting the Appeal. Mr. D. Bruce Adam came to London to consult the Duke of Argyll and the writer. I suggested that for leading counsel nothing could be better than that the services of Mr. J. R. N. Macphail, K.C., Sheriff of Stirling, Dumbarton, and Clackmannan, should be secured. I knew Mr. Macphail to be a sound lawyer and a great advocate; that he belonged to the United Free Presbyterians and was extraneous to the discussion was an advantage. I knew also that he followed ecclesiastical affairs with much interest. The Duke of Argyll agreed, and the Vestry decided to put their case in Mr. Macphail's hands. Mr. Macphail immediately consented. But a question arose as to whether that would be a sufficient provision, and, after much consideration and advice from other quarters, I was asked by the Vestry to appear myself before the Synod as their spokesman. After consulting Lord Phillimore and Lord Halifax, I consented. Lord Phillimore, who had been exposed to some criticism in England because he had, as President of the English Church Union, declared that it was the business of a priest to obey his bishop in such a matter as Benediction, thought it was a great opportunity to try and get this question accommodated by authority in a manner that could not be contested.

When I raised the question of locus standi, he expressed the opinion that it would be very surprising if the bishops in Synod refused to hear me, but even if they flid, I ought to attend, as the moral effect of sitting by his side to assist Mr. Macphail would be great. Lord Halifax was of the same opinion. A formal application was then made to the Primus on behalf of the Vestry that I might be heard before the Synod on the general question, but without result. A similar request to the Lay Clerk of the Synod was equally unsuccessful. This uncertainty was trying, and the Vestry contemplated making me a member of their body, so that I might appear before the bishops in Synod as one of themselves, but only as a last resort, as there was good reason for the belief that the Primus was not unfavourable to the suggestion, and it was hard to imagine that the bishops would refuse. There appeared to be no rules governing the procedure, but the issue was awaited with confidence. A greater anxiety was whether the question of competency would overwhelm the merits of the case. Mr. Macphail and his junior, Mr. Stewart, had to be ready for both questions—the title or competency, and the merits. I was concerned only with the latter. On arriving in Edinburgh a long consultation was held with counsel, and the line of argument on both issues was settled. As to myself, it was Mr. Macphail's determination to call me for examination, like a witness before a Parliamentary Committee of inquiry.

The Synod was held on February 27th. The Holy Eucharist had been offered in the Cathedral, and before the business began prayers were said by the Bishop of Aberdeen and the Veni Creator was recited. Great interest was taken in the proceedings, the body of the Chapter House was filled by prominent Church people and a few Presbyterians of distinction. The report which follows is taken from the shorthand writer's notes. The Prayer of the Petition, Statement of Facts, Pleas, and other documents put in are set out in Chapter II.


The Episcopal Synod met on Friday, February 27, 1920, in the Chapter House of St. Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, to consider an appeal for the congregation of St. Michael's Church, Edinburgh, against an Order by the Bishop of Edinburgh. Last September the bishop disallowed the continuance of a "service" or devotion of hymns and prayers generally known as Benediction, and in another form called Salutation of the Blessed Sacrament, which, the Appeal stated, were accustomed "services" of the Church, and had tacit licence, such being services both allowed by the Episcopal Church in Scotland in regard to which no pronouncement had ever been made by the said Church. Judgement was craved that the Order be revoked, and that the continuance of the said "services" be permitted.

The Primus (the Bishop of Brechin) presided, and the other bishops forming the court were the Bishops of Aberdeen, Argyll, Glasgow, Moray, and St. Andrews, with Mr. John A. Spens as Assessor. The Bishop of Edinburgh occupied a seat at the table for Counsel. Mr. C. H. Brown, K.C., appeared for the bishop, and Mr. J. R. N. Macphail, K.C., and Mr. G. Crurie Stewart, Advocate, appeared on behalf of the Vestry and Congregation of St. Michael's.

Mr. BROWN, who said he acted as Chancellor for the Bishop of Edinburgh, submitted an argument to the effect that this Appeal was incompetent, and should be dismissed. He also had an argument against the title of the appellants !to take this Appeal. These were, of course, both preliminary questions, and would avoid a consideration of the merits of the important question that lay behind, and he desired to say that in some ways his Lordship regretted that the matter had come up in a form where there were, so to say, preliminary objections staring one in the face, because it was recognized by his Lordship that the matter that formed the merits of this dispute was regarded as of very great moment by some persons. The actual facts of the situation appeared abundantly from the productions in the case, and he thought it must be common ground, because he took this from one of the productions of the appellants as to what actually happened. Before the new rector was instituted the bishop had a conversation with him in which the bishop said to the rector that the service which was the subject of this Appeal was one which he must not conduct in the church, and he laid it upon the conscience of the new rector as a condition of his institution that that should be well understood between them. That having taken place, the rector in the charge announced in the church to the congregation that he had given this promise; that, in fact, the service would not take place, he and the bishop having come to this understanding on the matter. This Appeal was then taken in the form of an appeal against a judgement promulgated in the form of an Order in the Church. What the appellants here were really, in effect, seeking to do was to overset or set aside the effect of the understanding come to between the bishop and the new rector as to the discontinuance—he admitted it had taken place in the past—of the particular service in question. Before addressing himself to the argument on the competency, he referred to one or two points in the Appeal. One was the form that the pleas took. They were all pleas directed to this, either that the service in question had already been sanctioned, or alternatively that the service ought to receive the sanction of the ecclesiastical authorities. It was put in various ways, but that was the sum and substance of them. The first of the pleas contained these words, "should therefore obtain and practice be sanctioned within its Province"; the second plea said, still speaking of the service, "it should therefore receive a like authority in the Diocese of Edinburgh," to the authority which it was alleged it had received somewhere else. The third plea was one of considerable importance in relation to the question of competency. It was that the Order complained of was not in accordance with the mind of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, which had never enacted touching this matter, and the said Order should therefore be recalled. Accordingly it was clear that the service which was the subject matter of the difference of view was admittedly a service with reference to which the Episcopal Church in Scotland—with which alone he had to do—had never enacted. They saw from the appellants' petition that the true position was that the members of the Patronage Committee were disappointed when they heard from Mr. Beattie as to what had happened, and so far as he could see, Mr. Brown declared, the complaint here rather lay against the rector in respect that he ought to have safeguarded his own position beyond the period of his institution. The question of competency, he went on, arose in these circumstances. The bishop, about to institute a new rector, made it a condition of institution that a certain service with regard to which, admittedly, the Church had not enacted, should not take place in the church. To this the rector, reluctantly perhaps—he was prepared to assume reluctantly—consented. He announced this fact to his congrega-tion, and also, of course, the necessary sequel that the service would not now take place. The Appeal, then, was one to which the appellants were the congregation alone, or rather the Vestry speaking for the congregation. The rector was not appealing. The congregation were seeking, in effect, to render of no account the agreement between the bishop on the one hand and the rector on the other, and that agreement was an understanding relating to a question of Church service, and not only so, but a question where an unusual service was concerned, which had not been enacted upon at all. Mr. Brown directed the attention of their Lordships to the canons to consider what rights of appeal were given, and before doing so submitted the conviction to the Synod that, although a very generous allowance of appeal of various kinds and in various ways was given by the canons, still the canons clearly preserved this as their own, that a right of appeal must be given. That was to say, if there was no general common law Church right of appeal which was to be excepted from. But, on the other hand, the right of appeal was such right of appeal as the canons chose to give. If one considered Canon 51, Mr. Brown observed, then it was pretty clear that this question of appeal arose as of prominent importance, at any rate, for the first time in the minds of the Church legislators, in connection with accusations, either against bishops, or priests, or deacons, and that it was plainly desirable that there should be rights of appeal from judgements. But, of course, one found on looking closely at the matter that that was much too narrow a view. There were many matters other than accusations which might be subjects of appeal. The next question to be considered was in regard to Church service, because after all that was the province they were dealing with. What appeals were given by the canons, to whom, and in what circumstances? Upon that query he directed the attention of their Lordships to Canons 21, 22, and 23, which all dealt with worship, the administration of Sacraments, and the regulation of divine service. He particularly emphasized the importance of Canon 23. Severe restrictions hedged round the powers of appeal. Canon 23 dealt exclusively with the question, which of the two authorized offices for Holy Communion was to be used, and he emphasized the fact that they were dealing with two authorized forms of service. This canon had clearly contemplated, with regard to that matter, that some people preferred very much to partake in the Scottish office, and some people, on the other hand, preferred the other; again, some, thinking it was a good thing occasionally to have one, and occasionally to have the other. That being so, plainly the legislature of the Church had thought this matter must be very carefully considered and the rights of congregations with regard to this matter must be generous in word, so that as far as possible the view of the greatest number might take shape in practical results. The right of appeal, one saw, was not shed broadcast, and while it was given with generosity there was also discrimination. When one looked to these carefully-guarded sections of the canons, with regard to these matters, he thought he was warranted in suggesting for favourable consideration that there was no sanction given in a case where the bishop and the rector had in fact come to an agreement about the Church service. Secondly, the Church service in question was admittedly not one which was authorized; it was one with regard to which the Church had not enacted, and, moreover, it was in circumstances where the very elaborate procedure or equivalent to that procedure had not been taken. They had not had the rector, with two-thirds of the communicants, coming to the bishop and getting a judgement against which the Appeal was taken. The circumstances were widely different from that. They had the bishop and rector in agreement, and the congregation seeking to make an appeal for themselves. Proceeding to discuss Canon 52, he said it was a very wise one to provide easy and simple machinery for all sorts of little matters and disputes which might arise, but this canon did not facilitate matters or ease the road for his friends. One could not get over the fact that the two persons primarily concerned in the Church service—the rector and the bishop—were not in disagreement about this matter. They were in agreement, and how could Canon 52 help by any form of reference to override or annul that honest and genuine understanding? It came to this, that if an appeal was given, one must find one's warrant for it in the canon, but no warrant was given here for an appeal. The rights of appeal were hedged round with restrictions, which were really of the nature of safeguards, and they had not got here any of the circumstances such as were present in all the cases where appeals with regard to Church service were sanctioned by the canons, particularly Canon 24. This was not a question between one or other of two authorized services; it was a question with regard to an unusual service, and admittedly not enacted at all. It was not really an appeal against the judgement of the bishop, because there were no judgement in the real sense of the word. The proper machinery had not been put in motion. The rector would have had to figure in the Appeal. Lastly, with regard to the question of title, he repeated his contention that no right of appeal was given, but assuming that it was, it was only given after certain procedure had been gone through, which had not been gone through here, and in that procedure there was always present as an essential persona in the matter—the rector.

Mr. MACPHAIL, speaking on behalf of the Vestry and Congregation of St. Michael's, at the outset, said he was glad that it was with the laws of the Episcopal Church in Scotland alone that they were concerned. He was as thankful as his friend could be that they had not got to consider the theological views of Henry Tudor and his family, or to attempt to reconcile apparently conflicting judgements of the Privy Council. He was there to address their Lordships upon the matters in dispute, having before them two things, and two things alone, the canons of this Church enacted by the Provincial Synod, itself a supreme legislature, and in so far as these did not cover the whole ground by the canon law of the Undivided Church, which was still possessed by this Church as part of its heritage. He did not propose to follow his friend through all the canons, but desired to express some surprise at his friend's appearance there at all. Mr. Brown had not stated any ground on which the bishop gave any judgement at all. He had appeared in order to prevent their Lordships from entertaining an Appeal against the judgement of the bishop, and from considering the judgement of the bishop, and considering how far there were any grounds for it at all. He was not saying for one moment that Mr. Brown was doing anything irregular. He was merely pointing out the peculiarity of his position. Their Lordships were being asked not to consider the judgement at all. He had hoped that he and his friend would have been at one on the facts. His friend's case was that there was an agreement between the bishop and the rector. His instructions were that there was no agreement. He was instructed that the bishop sent for the rector before he was rector, and when he was his own servant, in this vacant charge and said to him, "They want to have you made rector. I have got to institute you, but I won't institute you, unless you give me a certain promise." That might have been a proper thing for the bishop to do or an improper thing. He offered no observation upon it. It was with some surprise and great regret that the patrons of St. Michael's became aware of the fact that the bishop had informed Mr. Beattie that he could not be instituted unless he promised to discontinue the service of Benediction. His instructions were that this promise was asked, but was not given. There was a clear issue, in fact, between his friends and himself. If he were right there was no agreement, and therefore the whole basis of his case fell. How were their Lordships to deal with this matter without having all the facts? Therefore, upon his friend's own statement, he asked their Lordships to allow what they called in the Civil Courts proof before answers, and not to decide this question until they had the facts fully gone into with regard to what led up to, and had characterized, this unfortunate dispute. He would ask their Lordships not to take two bites of the cherry. Proceeding to discuss the question of procedure, Mr. Macphail argued that it was absolutely contrary to the laws of all civilized countries to deny the right of appeal against judgement. It was contrary also to the canon law. It would have been possible, no doubt, for the Provincial Synod, in enacting this canon, to say this, except where right of appeal if given, right of appeal shall not exist. That was not said in so many words. His friend's proposition was that right of appeal required to be expressly given. It was expressly given with regard to certain matters, but not with regard to others. Unfortunately for him, it was not given with regard to this casei His proposition was that in the Civil Law Courts of Scotland and all other countries, so far as he was aware, they had got a hierarchy of Courts, and they had got a right of appeal, unless that right of appeal were taken away by Statute. Ecclesiastical law was not different. He need hardly tell their Lordships that the position of a bishop, in addition to other things, involved two separate powers—the power of order, which was obtained by consecration, and the power of jurisdiction, which depended upon his having a flock and a diocese. He ceased to have episcopal jurisdiction when he retired. He was not disputing for one moment the jurisdiction of the bishop; and proceeding, he referred their Lordships to pronouncements on this subject in the book by Stephen, Laws Relating to the Clergy, page 158, and to a statement on page 56 of Mr. Lempriere's book. Reference was also made by Mr. Macphail to a book upon the Roman Canon Law, as applied in America, written by a certain Dr. Smith, called Elements of the Ecclesiastical Law. On the grounds quoted, he contended that the bishop had got to work up his jurisdiction in accordance with the principles of jurisprudence. Without giving specimens of appeal, when the Code of Canons wanted to make the bishop final it said so. Unless an appeal was taken away, the law was the same in Ecclesiastical Courts as in the Civil Courts. References in support of this contention were given from Darwell Stone's The Christian Church, pages 329-347. At the very beginning of things, Mr. Macphail pointed out, they would find, according to this learned writer, that the bishop was not an isolated autocrat. Mr. Macphail declared that, according to the canon law, appeal was competent where they had got a gradation of Courts from the lower to the higher, unless the right of appeal was expressly prohibited by the canon law. He asked their Lordships not to entertain the proposition, that unless the canons of this Church gave an appeal, then in no case which was not expressly mentioned in the canon, could an appeal be taken. Continuing, Mr. Macphail referred to his friend's contention that, in order to take advantage of Canon 52, they would require to have a dispute. Surely it could not be denied that there was a very serious dispute here, between the bishop and the congregation. It might be a dispute outwith the purview of that canon, or it might not. It was certainly a dispute. Then, Mr. Brown said, they required it to be referred. Did he want Mr. Spens to have a formal Deed of Submission? Their averments were there, that the bishop himself suggested that they should come to the Synod. "I allege here," Mr. Macphail said, "that the bishop suggested to me that I should come here and get this matter settled by your Lordships, and I have done so." Surely it was a dispute to which the bishop was a party. If his friend denied that they were there at the bishop's suggestion there was another issue on fact which their Lordships must clear up before they could possibly say that the appellants were not within that Canon. Being there at the bishop's own suggestion, it threw a very curious light upon his friend's appearance there to try and choke them off. Mr. Brown was speaking there as the bishop's counsel, and having invited them to come was now asserting that they should not have come at all. There was certainly a dispute which both parties desired should be submitted to the adjudication of that Synod. With regard to title, he did not understand how his friend's argument could be pressed, unless he could substantiate what he (Mr. Macphail) disputed—the agreement between the rector and the bishop. He said there was no agreement under which the rector was bound. What they were complaining of was an Order which they said the bishop sent to Mr. Beattie before he was the rector, ordering him to promulgate it in the church. They denied that there was an agreement. They said that there was an Order given by the bishop to Mr. Beattie, which in virtue of his position Mr. Beattie had no alternative but to promulgate from the pulpit. They said that the terms of that Order were not, "You, Mr. Beattie, shall not celebrate this form of Benediction, but that the service of Benediction shall not take place in St. Michael's so long as you are either priest-in-charge or instituted rector." Mr. Beattie entered into it, simply and solely as a measure of fixing the duration of the prohibition. If they were right, that prohibition was not an Order regulating the service in the church applying to everybody. Mr. Beattie was simply a species of ecclesiastical chronometer. [Laughter.] The people of St. Michael's were debarred from having that service which, rightly or wrongly, they wanted to have; and it so happened that Mr. Beattie was thoroughly in sympathy with them. Their Lordships ought to repeal these preliminary objections: first, because there was an inherent right of appeal, unless it was taken away; and secondly, if it were not an appeal, it was a reference. With regard to title, that all depended upon his friend's version of the facts which he could not accept, and he did not see how their Lordships could decide upon that without having all the facts before them.

The ASSESSOR asked Mr. Macphail whether, under Canon 22, section 5, he regarded this service of Benediction as one of the extra services which had received the sanction of the bishops under that canon, or whether he argued apart from that canon that the service was lawful without the intervention of the bishop at all.

Mr. MACPHAIL said his difficulty was this. They were prepared to submit evidence to show that this had been going on for a long time; and were prepared to argue from that that some time or other it must have been presumed sanction was given.

Mr. SPENS—Once the sanction was given, do you understand, it could not be withdrawn?

Mr. MACPHAIL said he did not say that it could not be withdrawn, but he did say that the canon did not apply. His argument was that if sanction were withdrawn he would have the right to appeal against that withdrawal.

Mr. BROWN, in the course of his reply, alluded to Mr. Macphail's contention that they were in dispute about the facts as to the alleged agreement. If that were essential to his arguments, then there would have to be some proof or inquiry into the exact facts, but his submission was that his argument on the competency was sound, apart altogether from the question of whether there was a definite agreement or not. The thing really depended on what they might almost call a question of onus. He said to the Court, "Show me your right of appeal in the canons? You have not got it unless you can show it, and it is not there." His friend said that there was a general right of appeal as regards everything. Determination would have to be given on which of those two views was right, because it was looking at the matter from absolutely opposite ends.

After considering their decision in private the bishops returned to the Chapter House.

The PRIMUS said: We have been in conference with our Assessor, and I now suggest that he should give us his opinion.

The ASSESSOR said: This question of competency is necessarily a preliminary legal question, which is to be disposed of before the Court enters on the merits of the case, and as that is so, I think it is quite clear that we have got to assume that the appellants could establish by proof the statements that they make in their Appeal. I need not say, of course, that that assumption will not imply a personal opinion on the part of your Lordships on the facts one way or another. So with regard to the particular service that is in question in this case, I think you must also assume that the service is a service which could have been properly conducted in St. Michael's Church, provided, at all events, that the sanction of the bishops had been given. To that extent again it is assumption without any personal opinion being expressed upon the point. Assuming all that, and assuming also that the late Bishop of Edinburgh and the present Bishop of Edinburgh, if they did not give express sanction to the conduct of the service of Benediction, they had knowledge of and acquiesced in it, and knowledge and acquiescence which in my opinion would be equivalent to sanction, then the question that your Lordships will have to decide is, assuming all that, has jurisdiction been conferred upon your Lordships to deal with this Appeal, or, to put it in the form which Mr. Macphail suggested, have your Lordships an implied jurisdiction without express provision in the canon. The question of the competency of appeal in such a case as this has been already before the Episcopal Synod in the Inverness Cathedral case which came before the Synod in 1894, and which is reported in volume xvi of the Scottish Guardian, page 442. The same question as has been argued to-day was also argued, and I think I may add that the general argument that was ably presented to us by Mr. Macphail was upon that occasion also elaborately argued by Mr. Guthrie, the present Lord Guthrie. The then Assessor, Mr. John A. Reid, said this: "It is contended on behalf of the appellants that there is jurisdiction beyond the Code of Canons inherent in the Episcopal Synod. I venture to say that, so far, at all events, as the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Synod in the matter of appeals is concerned, we can only look at the terms of the Code of Canons in the consideration whether any one is or is not competent." That view of the Assessor was adopted by the Episcopal Synod of 1894, and the appeal was then dismissed as incompetent on the ground that there was no special provision for an appeal in the particular case within the canon. I am of opinion that in ecclesiastical cases the judgement of the Court of Appeal is not necessarily binding upon the Synod that has to determine a subsequent case, but, of course, it is a consideration which has due weight. For myself I adopt and agree with the conclusion that Mr. Reid came to in 1894. I think it is quite clear that under the Code of Canons that is now in force provision is made for an appeal in every case where it is meant to be given. I agree that in two cases, one of which I think was quoted by Mr. Macphail, that there is provision when the bishop's decision is to be final, and it is expressly said. But I think it will be found, and I think it is certainly true of section 7 of Canon 23, that in both cases where the bishop's decision is said to be final there is a reason for that, because without that declaration at the moment there might have been ambiguity. But when I find that over and over again, wherever an appeal is meant to be given, it is given, I think it is impossible to come to any other conclusion than that the whole framework of the Code of Canons is based upon this, that where an appeal to the Synod from the bishop, or elsewhere, is meant, it is said, and expressly said. Nor do I think it is without importance that in Canon 6 there are these provisions: Section 4, "No bishop for one diocese, except as provided in these canons, shall interfere in the concerns with another diocese." Section 5, "The clergy of the diocese shall take no direction for their official conduct, but from their own bishop, except in the case of a lawful decision of the Episcopal Synod or of the College of Bishops." That being my opinion upon the general question that was argued I turn to Canon 22. It seems to me that in the best view for the appellants this service—and assuming it is a legal service—is an extra service falling within section 5 of Canon 22. If so, the first point that arises is this, assuming it to be an extra service, and assuming it, as I assume it, for the purpose of this opinion only, to have been sanctioned by the bishops—the late bishop and the present bishop—up to September, 1919, was it in the power of the bishop under section 5 of Canon 22 to revoke that sanction? I think it is perfectly clear that the sanction of the bishop to an extra service being performed from time to time must be a recurrent sanction. That is to say, the bishop must be assumed to be continuing his sanction, and at any moment can withdraw it. I say that for this reason. In the first place, it seems to me to be within the ordinary meaning of the words. I rather think Mr. Macphail did not dispute it. It is perfectly obvious that with regard to an extra service the rector could discontinue it, and that being so, I cannot imagine that the bishop, who is a party, must not also have the power to say if it should be continued. In the second place, I think it is perfectly plain that the object of the bishop being required to give his sanction necessarily should reserve to him the right to change his mind if there is good cause. One can see that an extra service might be allowed in order to promote the peace of a congregation. An extra service might be allowed in order to promote the spiritual welfare of the congregation. It might possibly be proved to be turning out to be either a cause of superstition or be otherwise inimical. Various other illustrations could be given. I think it is quite clear that the consent must be a recurrent consent. Then there remains the question, supposing a bishop refuses the sanction, does section 5 of Canon 22 give the right of appeal to your Lordships? I think because of what I have said generally, Canon 22, section 5, gives no right of appeal. I am confirmed in that view by looking at the other sections of the canon, where I think it is perfectly clear that it never could have been meant that there was to be an appeal to the Episcopal Synod. Sections I, 2, and 3 are all provisions where I think it is obvious the bishop's ordinary jurisdiction is exercised. Section 4 refers to the question when it is wished to refer to the authority of the Episcopal Synod; and I cannot doubt that if there had been the slightest intention to give the right of appeal under section 5, it would have been said, and said expressly. Therefore, so far as the general question of the competency of appeal in this ease is concerned, I am prepared to advise your Lordships, that in my humble opinion you should find the Appeal incompetent and dismiss it. But before I close I would like to refer to Canon 52. Your Lordships are not here under Canon 52. This is expressly put as an appeal, and as nothing less than an appeal; and technically, therefore, I do not think any question arises under Canon 52, because if Canon 52 had been meant it should have been said. But, my Lords, I have thought it right to express my opinion on the question that if there had been submitted to your Lordships a reference as to whether or not the bishop was within his right in revoking the sanction that I assume had been given to the service of Benediction prior to September, 1919, what your Lordships' decision should have been. If I am right in thinking that under Canon 22, section 5, the bishop had a right to revoke the sanction which he had given, then had there been a reference or dispute before your Lordships as to whether or not the bishop was right or wrong, within his powers or not within his powers, and within his final powers or not within his final powers in revoking that sanction, I would have advised your Lordships that you should hold that he was within his rights, and that therefore the congregation in asking under a reference that that right should not be revoked were in the wrong. Under these circumstances, I would humbly advise your Lordships that this Appeal is incompetent, and I would suggest that your Lordships should make no order as to expenses. Might I just add this? I omitted to say that as this matter arose in 1881 I considered it proper to look up the previous Code of Canons, and to consider whether there is anything in them more favourable to the appellants than in the code of 1911. I satisfied myself that, if anything, the provisions were rather less favourable, and therefore I have not thought it necessary to review the particular provisions in the canons that were in force from 1881 down to 1911.

The PRIMUS—My Lords, I venture to suggest that your Lordships should accept the Assessor's opinion as the finding of the Court, and I would move accordingly.

The BISHOP OF GLASGOW seconded, and the other bishops formally concurred.

The Synod found the Appeal incompetent, and made no order as to expenses.

The merits of the case were not opened, and the Synod dissolved after the transaction of some formal business.


SEVERAL considerations arise. It will be observed that, although the action of the congregation was due to the bishop's own suggestion, touching the merits of the matter, his Lordship thought fit to appear in opposition by counsel, in the person of his chancellor. It is sometimes urged by impatient people that freedom in spiritual matters abounds in a non-established or disestablished Church. Here was a free Synod of a free Church, called upon to decide in a spiritual cause. It did not decide, it refused to hear, tying itself up in meshes of its own contrivance. There was no question arising of secular courts or secular judges, no Privy Council blocking the way. Nor was the Synod bound to follow the advice of its assessor. Some comment was made on the fact that the lengthy opinion of the assessor was arrived at in the short space of an adjournment of exactly thirty minutes, and the Church Times, in its report of the proceedings, said it was "not unreasonable to suppose that the opinion had been in readiness before the arguments of counsel were heard." But it is fair to remark that Mr. Spens has been Chancellor of the Diocese of Glasgow for more than thirty years, that his knowledge of the canons is intimate, that the question of title or competency was raised at the Synod in November, and that naturally he would review the canons meanwhile, and submit his opinions to the bishops after the hearing of counsel. Had the merits of the case been reached the line I should have taken is clearly indicated in the Preface.

The disappointment was great, and it was not clear how a remedy was to be found. Accordingly, before I left Edinburgh the whole situation was reviewed, and the following statement was drawn up and issued to the congregation:—


The circumstances leading up to the Appeal to the Episcopal Synod were set out in the Address, dated 10th September last, by the Patrons to the Congregation. This address fully stated the important considerations involved; its accuracy was admitted before the Synod, and its statements were not disputed.

Sheriff Macphail, K.C., appeared as leader in support of the Appeal, and every preparation was made to present the Case for the Congregation very fully. Mr. H. W. Hill, Vice-President of the English Church Union, was also in attendance to give all the information and assistance in his power.

The Congregation will therefore have heard with great disappointment that the Synod, acting under the advice of its Legal Assessor, decided to dismiss the Appeal on the ground of incompetency; and it did not therefore in any way consider the merits of the Appeal. The effort thus made, with the concurrence of the Bishop of Edinburgh, to have the question of Benediction brought before the Synod for consideration and decision, has failed. The Synod has refused to review the Order by the Bishop of Edinburgh, and it has not declared against the service of Benediction; it has only said that under the existing Canons it cannot do so. It is surprising that the Synod should in this way abdicate its jurisdictional powers as a Court of final Appeal.

This decision raises considerations of much wider import, inasmuch as it is now decided that no matter is subject of Appeal which is not expressly provided for in the existing Code of Canons. This means that universal laws of the Church can be set aside, and those principles of natural justice which hold men together in a Society may be disregarded. This view was very ably put before the Synod by Counsel for the Congregation.

It would seem therefore that there is no redress by recourse to the Synod in matters gravely affecting the rights and liberties of Congregations against any arbitrary action by an individual bishop. This it will be generally admitted opens a wide door for abuse; and it is indeed impossible that such a situation should be accepted. Most of the tyrannies in history have grown up when disregard of those principles which should be observed in administration and government have been allowed to pass unchallenged.

The Congregation may be assured that the situation will receive that prayerful and anxious consideration which the gravity of the issue demands. What the next step shall be now remains to be dealt with.

EDINBURGH, Ist March, 1920.

The case attracted considerable attention in England, and the following comments taken from the Church Times of March 5, 1920, accurately represent the prevailing opinion:—

The Scottish bishops have missed a great opportunity. At the meeting of the Synod, of which we give an account in another column, they showed that purely legalistic considerations may be allowed to prevail even in a Church which is unfettered by establishment. If, as their assessor declared, they are severely limited by their canons, then the canons are in imperative need of amendment. For matters may at any time arise which are not covered by the limited right of appeal, which may be of immense importance to the Church, and which the Church, bound as the Synod declares it to be, will be incapable of adjusting. We suggest that a resort to the King's Courts might determine the question whether they are really so powerless as they think to settle such a matter as came to them from St. Michael's, Edinburgh, and to such a resort there can be little objection. For the present there is a deadlock. The cause which they were asked to determine has not been heard on its merits, it was dismissed on a technical point. There are a few disagreeable features in the case, there is one which is entirely satisfactory. The conduct of the matter by the Vestry and congregation of St. Michael's has been more than diplomatically correct, it has been marked throughout by a prudence and restraint which are wholly admirable. They have not been defiant. They have shown themselves perfectly willing to make concessions in the cause of peace, averring their willingness to accept such limitations as the Bishop of London imposes in his diocese in similar cases, if only they may have devotions of some kind. They have not, like so many priests and people, involved themselves in difficulties and then sought advice as to the best way out when it was too late; they took sure counsel, and the arguments which Mr. H. W. Hill would have presented, at the request of the Vestry that he would act on their behalf, would, we think, have gone very far to clear the whole matter to the satisfaction both of the Synod and of the congregation. To have decided the case on its merits would have solved at the outset a problem which will press in Scotland, as it has here. We think that the bishops will very soon have cause to regret that on this occasion they have merely endorsed the opinion of a lawyer.

The legal aspect of the matter was carefully considered. In England, in such a contingency, a recourse to the King's Courts for "lack of justice" would be possible. In Scots law there appeared to be no such simple remedy. There were thought to be two indirect ways: one, by raising what is called a "patrimonial" interest, involving money; and another by a form of process called a "special case," in which the parties agree on a statement of facts, and resort to the Civil Court for a decision on questions of law arising out of admitted facts. Either method, if such a case could be satisfactorily stated, presented a risk of ulterior difficulties, and the idea was abandoned.

The people never lost heart, they kept themselves together with a calm outlook while a careful examination of the canons was made with a view to some other procedure. A correspondence, on the whole friendly, went on in the columns of the Scottish Chronicle, and so matters remained until I was again in Scotland in the early autumn. I then became aware of two things: first, that the Scottish College of Bishops had decided to sanction such devotions in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament as are allowed in other parts of the Church, and as individual bishops might approve. Secondly, that the St. Michael's people were, with this knowledge, growing impatient, as their own bishop made no sign. Suggestions were made in influential quarters that an accommodation might, in the circumstances, be easily reached, but without effect. I advised patience, but I felt I was occupying the uncomfortable position of sitting on a safety valve. After much anxious consideration it was decided that I should write to the Bishop of Edinburgh, and the following letter was sent to his Lordship:—

February 28, 1921.


At the instance and request of Representatives of the Congregation of St. Michael's, Edinburgh, its Vestry, and of the Committee of Patronage of the Church, I am writing to your Lordship.

As you are aware, there has been much disappointment caused by the changes which followed the death of the late Rector, Dr. Lempriere. You will remember that when his successor, Mr. Beattie, was appointed you imposed, as a condition to his institution, that he should promise not to use the service of Benediction. It was submitted to your Lordship that such a promise in such circumstances was in the nature of simony. Your Lordship withdrew this condition, but stated that you could not allow the service to take place apart from the College of Bishops, and you gave directions to Mr. Beattie as to his conduct in this respect pending his institution. These directions were obeyed without demur, and the Vestry, adopting your suggestion, appealed to the Synod of Bishops in due form. Your Lordship was represented at that appeal and did not sit in Synod. I was requested by the Vestry to appear as their spokesman. After seeking the advice of Lord Halifax and Lord Phillimore I consented.

Your Lordship's Counsel submitted on your behalf that the Appeal was not competent, and that it could not be maintained. The Synod, under the advice of their Assessor, so ruled, and the merits of the case were not considered. Had I been examined by the Counsel for the Vestry I should have submitted a plea for such Devotions in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament as are allowed in Dioceses in communion with the Church in Scotland. I allowed what I proposed to submit on behalf of my friends to become known. The people have been patiently waiting now for twelve months for some reasonable amelioration of the situation, but in the meantime it has happened that the College of Bishops, your Lordship included, have considered the subject, and have come to an agreement to allow such Devotions as are allowed in other parts of the Church. The way, therefore, is open to your Lordship for an adjustment, and to remove a grievance and heal a wound.

These Devotions were instituted at St. Michael's many years ago by my old friend Provost T. I. Ball. I knew his mind, and it is impossible to imagine that he took this course in defiance of the Bishop. Indeed I believe I am right in saying that never, during a long course of years, was any question raised until Dr. Lempriere's much lamented death. The people, since the change was made, have been quiet, loyal, and submissive to your Lordship's legitimate authority, but they feel, in the circumstances I have named, that they may now respectfully and loyally request a measure of restoration, to the full extent of what the College of Bishops have agreed to, may be at once brought about.

The Scottish Bishops having taken this course it would seem to be unnecessary for me to advance any arguments such as I might have used had I been heard before the Synod last February. The decision of the Bishops is in harmony with a suggestion made in the recent Encyclical Letter from the Bishops in Conference at Lambeth, indeed with the spirit running through that weighty document.

It is only right to add that Mr. Beattie, the Rector, has been informed that a recourse to your Lordship was in contemplation. In a letter to His Grace the Duke of Argyll (one of the Patrons) he declined to consult the Vestry in reference to such an effort, but added that he would pursue a policy he thought right regarding what he called the "Service of Benediction," and "attempts to get it restored," adding these words, "no one will be more delighted than myself when that happy occurrence takes place." His Grace, in sending Mr. Beattie's letter to me, informs me that he never used the term "Benediction" in his letter to Mr. Beattie, from whose reply the above quotations are made.

I am anxious that your Lordship should be fully informed as to the desires of my friends of the Vestry. Of their reasonableness and loyalty I can have no manner of doubt, and I do most earnestly hope and pray that this trouble may be appeased on the lines I have ventured to indicate, and that without, if possible, any publicity.

I beg to remain,
Your Lordship's obedient servant,

The Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Edinburgh


PS.—I am glad to hear that your Lordship has been pleased to agree with the suggestion of the rest of the members of the Patronage Committee that I should take the place thereon rendered vacant by the death of my friend Sir Thomas Dick Lauder. I am grateful to you for this mark of your confidence.

His Lordship's reply was a disappointment, and in sending the letter to the Church Times and the Scottish Chronicle for publication I was only able to add these words:

"The Bishop, in his reply, dated March 5, declines to reopen the question, but he desires that his letter should be considered private."

The Scottish Churchman in its issue for April made the following comment:—

The congregation of St. Michael's, Edinburgh, have asked the Bishop of Edinburgh for a "certain measure of restoration" in connection with the service of Benediction (or a service indistinguishable from it), which his Lordship prohibited when the vacancy in the incumbency created by the lamented death of Dr. Lempriere was filled. The Bishop's reply is that he is not prepared to reopen the question. We venture to congratulate St. Michael's people on their steadfast loyalty, in spite of the withdrawal of a service which they love, and on the excellent and filial tone of their letter to the Bishop. There is such an entire absence of acrimony and ill-feeling, such a manifest sense of duty and respect towards their Father in God, that we are sure the Bishop's heart must have been greatly troubled when he felt himself obliged to give a negative answer to their petition.

The Church Times

, in quoting from the Scottish Churchman, added a few kindly words on its own account.

I gather from letters which have passed between the bishop and others that his Lordship's position is, that he, before the trial, sanctioned devotions; but it should be borne in mind that, however this may be, the people regarded such an arrangement as a temporary matter, pending the trial and its subsequent results, and that they remain unsatisfied.

And here for the present, so far as I am concerned, the matter rests. Some letters have passed between the bishop, the rector, the Duke of Argyll, and Mr. Bruce Adam. I trust I have written no word that would add to any difficulty in reaching a happy conclusion. I have laboured for peace that this question might be adjusted on reasonable lines, with a due regard to lawful authority. Nothing is more painful than a controversy touching the devotion due to our Lord's Body and Blood, and I shall ever gratefully remember the kind expressions of thanks that I have received from some in high authority in the Church in Scotland. The College of Bishops of that Church have achieved a great distinction. I believe it is the first province of our communion that has definitely made provision for public devotions to our Lord in the presence of His Body and Blood in sacramental form. That the bishops, on a full review of the subject, should have taken this course cannot be an occasion of surprise when the traditions of the Church in Scotland are borne in mind. Reservation has been practised there for centuries, probably from the very earliest times. The Scottish bishops are, in this matter at least, happily free from those limitations and refinements which have caused trouble in England. Moreover, they have examples of great theologians of their own communion, who were not afraid of the possible consequences that might, in God's own time, follow the full teaching of the Faith. Catholic-minded Church folk in England venerate the names of eminent Scottish ecclesiastics, not only for their sufferings under persecution, but for their steadfast adherence to truth. Bishop William Forbes, Bishop Alexander Forbes, and Bishop Chinnery-Haldane (the last of whom the writer knew well), to name no others, have a warm place in the hearts of many in the south. Further, the constant care for pure liturgical form, and the brave act of the Scottish bishops in conferring the episcopate upon the Church in America by the consecration of Bishop Seabury, justify the expectation of fair dealing and sound judgement. It remains for the Bishop of Edinburgh, who went to his throne from the English parish of Lambeth, to give generous expression to the decision reached by himself, in conjunction with his brethren of the Scottish College.


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