We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sarum Blue

I had no ideas any such place still existed!

When Saint John’s was founded in 1843, the tradition of worship established for the parish by Bishop Whittingham of Maryland was patterned on the full Catholic tradition of the Church of England/Episcopal Church as expressed in the Tractarian and Oxford Movements of the nineteenth century, which were Reformed reclamations of the Catholic principles (Tractarian) and expressions (Oxford) of the ancient liturgies of the Church. These were a deliberate challenge to the meager offerings found in most Maryland churches, where both the Holy Communion and the daily prayers of the Church had fallen into widespread disuse. This older tradition of worship was meant to restore the “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” which are the marks of the worship of the Church.

Saint John’s, together with other parochial foundations by Bishop Whittingham in the same period, evolved to become a leading exponent of what later was called “The English Use” in both liturgy and music. The ancient Catholic liturgies of the Church, zealously truncated and purged of many traditional elements during The Reformation, were restored using the English Book of Common Prayer, together with authorized material from the ancient English liturgical Uses of Sarum (Salisbury), Lincoln, London, Westminster and others. These restorations came to full flower in the English Church in the scholarly liturgical masterwork called The Parson’s Handbook by Dr Percy Dearmer, published in 1899. It was widely disseminated in America almost immediately. This book, continuously revised and updated, had gone through seven editions by 1905. It’s use continued through the fourteenth edition in the late 1960’s well into the modern liturgical reforms in England and America, which resulted in the full incorporation of its principles in the revised Prayer Books of the 1970’s (America) and 1980’s (England). Some variation of its principles and ceremonial were at use in many, if not most, parishes throughout the Episcopal Church until quite recently ...

We strive to preserve the best of our Anglican heritage while avoiding “British Museum” religion. We are traditional in worship, but fully engaged with modern realities. We are not “precious and mechanical”. We are not “Anglo-Catholic”, in what has become that term’s modern sense: importing the customs, ethos, vesture, and style of the nineteenth century Roman Catholic Church into Anglican services. We maintain the distinct English Catholic heritage of the Anglican liturgy, vesture, pastoral tradition, and ethos as valuable to the present generation for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all races and clans today.


1 comment:

  1. What a splendid sight it is to see the Anglo Catholic faith preserved in such beauty. I never did agree with Rev. Percy Dearmer et al that Sarum Blue should be proscribed in favor of purple or violet during Lent; regardless of whether or not it was historically used at Salisbury, it looks stunning, and is a great way of visually differentiating Advent from Lent.

    As a bit of a segue on the liturgical color of Sarum Blue so brilliantily depicted here, one might observe that the use of blue as a liturgical color is an ancient tradition in the church; blue copes are used frequently in the Syriac Orthodox Church, and in the Eastern Orthodox church and some Roman Catholic parishes, blue vestments are used on Marian feasts. If memory serves, it was also at one time used in the Mozarabic Rite. The formal absense of blue from the liturgical color scheme of the Roman Rite need not be a reason for those churches adhering to the "English Use" to refrain from it.

    One other factor should be taken into consideration regarding the use of blue vestments, that being historically the high cost of blue or even green dye making these vestments prohibitively expensive for much of the church. I suspect this is why in the York Rite and the Ambrosian Rite one finds red, white and black as the predominant liturgical colors.

    Most likely, the most ancient practice was the alternating use of simple white and dark red or black vestments, which still prevails in the most impoverished Eastern Orthodox parishes (dark red being more historic than purple, violet or black, which were most likely introduced as a result of Roman Catholic influence, black in particular following the death of a Czar in the early 19th century), as well as in the Coptic and Assyrian churches, where only black and white vestments are used (except for the Coptic Pope, who wears dark red vestments of a distinctly Byzantine appearance).