Page images

is to be sung or said; Canticles, Anthems, Psalms, each implies the accompaniment of music; the Liturgy (i.e. “The Order of the Administration of the Lord's Supper, or the Holy Communion ") is capable of a high and splendid ritual, and a choral service. So that the question at once arises, not whether Ritual, but how much Ritual ; whether Vestments, Incense, Two Lights on the Altar, if not enjoined in so many words, are not implied in the Rubrics?

Every one must have observed that of late years there has been an increasing attachment to externals, not confined to the Church. As riches increased, the houses of the gentry have increased in splendour; it was only natural that the House of God in its structure and worship should be marked with a relative advance also. There is a certain amount of æstheticism in every mind. The Puritans used to denounce the surplice as a "rag of Popery;"


; Mr. (afterwards Dean) Close once declared that “the Devil invented all Gothic Architecture." But the old land-marks between Church and Dissent have now vanished; Dissenters have not only discarded the prejudices of their ancestors, but have adopted forms and ceremonies which not many years ago would have been branded as highly ritualistic; their places of worship are no longer designated meetinghouses, but chapels and even churches; you no longer see the red-brick Ebenezers and Bethels of former times, but a style of architecture which throws


into the shade the churches built in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; they use surplices, and organs, and have choral services.

All these points are a witness to a craving that exists for Ritual; is it to be wondered that the Church adapts its services to the feelings and tastes of the nation ? If Churchmen now-a-days dress their choristers in surplices, and the verger in a cassock, did not our ancestors of only fifty years ago delight in the gorgeous vestment of the parish clerk? And it must be observed that what is considered Ritualistic at one time passes unnoticed at another. Fifty years ago no Bishop would have thought of bearing his shepherd's crook ; now there is nothing strange in it. Little more than forty years ago Dr. Blomfield, Bishop of London, and Dr. Phillpotts of Exeter, caused great commotions in their dioceses by recommending their Clergy to preach in their surplices. The Times newspaper wrote article after article on the subject : “If both the Bishops," it said, “stand firm in what they call their convictions they ought to retire from the Bench, and if they are conscientious men they will retire !"

It has been shewn in a former chapter how greatly the ceremonial of the Church had deteriorated in the eighteenth century, even to an extent threatening destruction to the fabrics of the Churches. Breaches in the law were at that time too common to excite comment; portions of the Rubrics had been

so long neglected that their very existence was for. gotten; slovenly neglect had become so ingrained into the constitution of the Church that the Clergyman who restored a better state of things was certain to be looked upon as an innovator. It is true that, in the present day, the law of custom, which often means the law of idleness and neglect, throws its ægis over neglectors of the Rubric; it condones a practice, but it cannot unmake history. The decision of the late Dr. Lushington is conclusive on this point :-"By the Law of England," he says, "no statute passes into desuetude. It is true a statute may become obsolete in one sense, that is, not enforced. It is true that no call can be made on the judges of the land to enforce it; that by common consent a statute may lie dormant; but if once a Court is called upon to carry it into execution, it must do so."

It is evident that a revival in Religion necessitated a revival of Ritualism. Slowly and by degrees, and always under opposition, the ceremonial of the Church had to be restored. During the Church's slumbers the choral service fell into disuse. It did not enter into the Protestant's emasculated idea of worship; if he went to church at all he went to gratify his own taste, and to hear the anthem. He had a wrong idea altogether of the meaning of singing in church. The Catholic Churchman, on the contrary, even if he has no ear for music, approves of the choral service, because it fits in with his idea of what a service ought to be; the highest idea of a church service being that “with Angels and Archangels and all the company of Heaven,” he is engaged in a spiritual service, and therefore he delights to praise God in the Church's tone and language. So with the Catholic revival came also the revival of the choral Service.

Soon followed the work of church restoration. On the removal of a few coats of whitewash were discovered some fine frescoes. Some coarse masonry was cut away on the south side of the church, and there were discovered the ancient sedilia, Some mutilated excrescence in the wall suggested the credence. An unsightly hole in the neighbourhood proved to be a piscina. Surely these things were put there for some purpose; they showed the piety of our ancestors, and the neglect and barbarism of more modern times, and naturally suggested their adaptation to the purposes for which they were placed there. That credence was meant for the Bread and Wine; that piscina for the cleaning of the vessels used at Holy Communion; those sedilia for the Celebrant, the Gospeller, and Epistoler; so they were accordingly adapted to their proper use.

As an Ecclesiological or Ritual Revival had made little way in the first days of the Oxford movement, some people have imagined that it was because the Tractarians were opposed to Ritual. But such was far from being the case. Dr. Pusey himself tells us that they “were very anxious about Ritual,” and that "the circumstances were entirely different then from what they are now." “ They shrank from caring for externals at the outset of their work, from introducing Ritual before doctrine had taken possession of the hearts of their people. It was like giving children flowers which would fade, wither, and die immediately. They had laboured rather to plant the bulbs which in good time would send forth their flowers flourishing abundantly and lastinglyb.” And again he said: “As a matter of faith, there is of course not the slightest difference between the Ritualists and ourselves. The sole practical difference is that we taught through the ear, and the Ritualists teach also through the eye." In 1838 this defective Ritual began to be rectified when the Architectural Society, of which the late Mr. J. H. Parker, the author of several well-known books on Gothic Architecture, was the first Secretary, was founded at Oxford. This Society drew attention to the proper style and arrangement of parish churches. At the same time, the literature of church building was prominently brought forward in some articles written in the British Critic, the organ of the Oxford party; and as Littlemore was the first instance of the revived spirit of architecture

Speech at Annual Meeting of E. C. U., 1866.

Ibid., 1867.


« PreviousContinue »