Archbishop Peter Robinson wrote in Facebook:
One of the things that is quite characteristic of modern Anglicanism, it seems, is its ability to ignore its own statements on doctrine, discipline, and worship. One area in which this is particularly evident is ceremonial, not that “Anglican Authority” makes it particular easy to obey the Church in this regard. The problem very largely lies with the fact that the one authoritative statement in the 1662 BCP is couched in legalese, and refers us to what was authorized by Parliament in the second year of the reign of King Edward VI – i.e. January 28th 1548 to January 27th 1549. I am using New Style dates for convenience.
Now this throws up an interesting problem because, although the Sarum Use was in use for the whole of the second year of King Edward VI, and into the third year of Edward VI, the first Act of Uniformity was passed 21st January 1549, that is, just before the end of 2 Edward VI, the Act itself being cited as 2 & 3 Edward VI c.1 – the first Act passed in that session of Parliament. This fact has given rise to two conflicting opinions as to how the Ornaments Rubric is to be interpreted. Dearmer, in common with many other late 19th century authorities, sees the Act of 1559/1662 as authorizing anything under the Sarum Use that was not forbidden in the second year of Edward VI, and proceed from that point to dress the BCP in the clothes of the Sarum Use, insofar as they will fit the Prayerbook.
The other point of view, which was maintained by the Royal Commission of 1906, and the Report to Convocation in 1909, is that the reference is to the BCP annexed to the 1549 Act of Uniformity, and therefore to the rubrics of the first Book of Common Prayer. Given the way Parliament usually cites legislation in the Tudor period, this makes a lot of sense, if not a lot of difference! Subsequent legislation in England, such as the draft Prayer Book of 1927/8, and the 1965 Canons have tended to take this line, whilst still leaving room for the more austere customs authorized by the Canons of 1604. Two things that neither the Ornaments Rubric, nor the 1604 Canons, allow are Genevan nudity, or Baroque Roman sentimentality, sadly, we see too much of both in Anglican Churches, though the latter tendency seems to be stronger in the USA.
Had the use provided for by the Ornaments Rubric prevailed, Anglican services would have somewhat resembled those of Lutheran orthodoxy. In addition to the choir habit, and choral services, Mass vestments, chant, and much of the old, modest, ceremonial would have survived, and the work of revival in the 19th century would have been so much easier, and so much less controversial. As it was, what so often came into use in the late 19th century was a mingle-mangle of private opinion and Baroque Romanism, neither of which is in accord with the spirit of the Book of Common Prayer. Even now it is not too late to put things right. All it would take is an honest attempt at obedience, and the use of reliable Anglican sources such as the old Alcuin Club “Directory of Ceremonial.”
Anglicanism does have a tradition of its own, and one that is rooted in the tradition of the Church before the forces of Reformation and Counter-Reformation distorted the traditions of the Western Church. There is nothing unprotestant or anti-reformed about the use of a dignified ceremonial in Church, and for many in this visual age, a modest ceremonial with colour and movement rooted in centuries of tradition might bring the eye-gate as well as the ear-gate to the human soul into the service of true religion.
Does anyone get the impression he would like to use Sarum, or do things Dearmer-fashion? One commenter asks the question – Perhaps you could explain this a bit further Archbishop. Are you referring to Sarum Rite? From what I have read that was a most complicated service.
Archbishop Robinson is certainly familiar with my Sarum page and what is available in classical English alongside the Latin. He is not a member of the Sarum group on Facebook, but he would of course be most welcome to join it. I refer readers to my previous discussion on the Prayer Book. It is indeed a stumbling block in the question of Anglican identity, and dialogue / reunion between continuing Churches.