Series on the Sarum Use

This is little more than a heads-up on a series of articles on the Sarum Use by Rad Trad, the first of which is The Sarum Rite I: A Brief History. The historical view is important, but I notice the possible reasons why Sarum disappeared from use.

The loss of the Sarum rite to the Catholic Church is one of the great liturgical tragedies of the Counter-Reformation that has nothing to do with Ultramontanism, positive law, or minimalism. The loss of Sarum was Henry and Elizabeth’s theft of England’s great treasure, a theft beyond any form of taxation.

Not quite accurate, because Henry VIII hardly touched the liturgy. English recusant Catholics adopted the Roman rite, brought in mostly by Jesuit missionaries having been trained in Rome. Following the Roman rite became a symbol of fidelity to the Pope rather than the Reformation. Ultramontanism as understood in its nineteenth-century and anti-liberal context was not an issue of the decades around the Council of Trent.

A historical assessment might be possible in comparison with the situation in France where (in spite of the wars of religion) the state Church remained in communion with Rome but with a strained relationship. Anglicanism turns out to be an extreme form of Gallicanism when separated from the Protestant influences and theology. Henry VIII broke with Rome; Louis XIV did not. Most French dioceses had their own uses until the mid nineteenth century, although many of these uses had undergone reforms in the early eighteenth century under the influence of Jansenism. The missals of Paris and Rouen were made to contain the Roman ordo missae, and many of the propers were modified as Dom Guéranger bewailed in Institutions Liturgiques. We can suppose that had Henry VIII maintained a line similar to that of the French Church, the same thing would have happened to the English uses.

The loss of the Sarum Use (as with York, Hereford, etc. too) was caused by the total break between England and Rome. In the wake of the French Revolution, French Catholics had to affirm their identity. The Liberal movement moved them away from aspirations to restore the Monarchy and the bishops in place in France. Ultramontanism was the result, and the movement spread and coincided with Pius IX’s rejection of Liberalism after his return to Rome from Gaëta in 1848. Also with Dom Guéranger’s influence, the Roman missal replaced most of the diocesan uses other than Lyons.

Rad Trad is partly right, but we do well to go into a comparative approach, which he has doubtlessly done on other occasions.

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2 Responses to Series on the Sarum Use

  1. Having agreed with you in a comment which I posted on The Rad Trad’s weblog on this topic, I must also come to his defense in my comment here.

    I think that the Rad Trad has done an excellent bit of work in describing the history of the Sarum rite or use, and its importance to those Roman Catholics and other Christian faithful who wish to live a more traditional, historical, and romantic spirituality. I believe that he should be commended for this.

    I fully agree with you, however, that he certainly has the means of providing a more comparative approach to the relations between the Sarum and the Gallican rites/uses. I look forward to such an approach in his subsequent entries.

    • Just for the benefit of some, there is a distinction to be made between the Gallican rites that became extinct around the time of Charlemagne (attempts have been made in the 20th century to revive the rite of St Germanus by some Orthodox) and the so-called “neo-Gallican” rites based on the old Franco-Roman liturgies like Rouen and Sarum. They were associated with the Gallican ecclesiology in fashion in the 17th and 18th centuries and underwent modifications in a somewhat rationalist or “classical” spirit in the early 18th century. Dom Guéranger lambasted those modifications in his monumental book Institutions Liturgiques.

      Elements of the old Gallican liturgy survived in the Roman rite and more so in the Ambrosian (Milan) and Lugdonese (Lyons) rites.

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