25 April 2009

Blessed John Henry's Altar

So, when the great Oxonian Cardinal is beatified (that's gone a bit quiet, hasn't it?), I shall be able to say in eadem qua Beatus Iohannes Henricus ara et ego litavi; I've said Mass at Bl J H Newman's Altar. Because yours truly kicked off the University Term in the University Church last Thursday morning by celebrating in Latin the 1662 rite (in the very same church in which its author made his last academic appearance before his final appointment outside Balliol in the Broad Street). And what strange Latin. I think the rite was compiled in 1706; it attempts to translate Cranmer's English without very much regard for his Latin originals. The 'standard' latin BCP as used by latinate Anglo-Catholics had more than an eye to Sarum: Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare. But 'Oxford' has Vere dignum et iustum est, quodque iure debemus. Standard: Simili modo posteaquam coenatum est Oxford: Similiter ... And Standard retains the enim which a Latin dislike of asyndeton inserts into the Words of Dominical Institution; Oxford omits it. Servet instead of custodiat in the Words of Administration seems just plain contrariness.

The stalls at which the congregation knelt had houselling cloths; I wonder if this (like the custom of this Latin Mass itself, about which I wrote an earlier post) is a Tractarian innovation, or a genuine medieval survival.

The Bedell of Medicine led in the Senior ProProctor and the ProViceChancellor; you might deem that a bit of a come-down since the days when the whole majesty of an Anglican University, represented by Proctors and ViceChancellor, was present, but I think it was jolly nice of them to come. And Fr Muddiman, the Assessor. And one of our Oxford subdeacons, Mr Daniel LLoyd, who kindly served, having fished a very nice lacey cotta out of his Gamarelli's carrier-bag. And a congregation very thin on crusty old dons and consisting mostly of keen sensible young people who Know What's Right. I think I spotted the Godmother of Oxford Anglican Catholicism, Miss Alex Vinall, correctly covered by a correct (women's) academic square.

Gummed into the front of the service book was a typed sheet with the vestry prayers, and as I read the one the end of Mass, I realised: it was a Latin translation of the 1928 Prayer Book's Corpus Christi collect. Which, in turn, was an English translation of S Thomas Aquinas' Latin collect.

Anglicanism does have its quaint side. But I venerated with a kiss before Mass the engravings in the vestry of JHN ... and Bl Charles Stuart.

11 comments:

Canon Jerome Lloyd OSJV said...

Today's Telegraph Father has an significant update re Bl J H Newman's cause...

The Welsh Jacobite said...

"attempts to translate Cranmer's English without very much regard for his Latin originals."

I seem to recall that Cranmer composed his stuff in Latin first (which doubtless was his "first language" in matters intellectual) and then put it into English.

"vestry prayers, and as I read the one the end of Mass, I realised: it was a Latin translation of the 1928 Prayer Book's Corpus Christi collect. Which, in turn, was an English translation of S Thomas Aquinas' Latin collect."

Fr Mascall recalls exactly the same experience in his splendid memoir Saraband.

Little Black Sambo said...

Did you use an English pronunciation, I wonder?
I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Proctors would no longer attend, out of some desire to downgrade the status of Christianity in this ancient Christian institution. Is there any truth in that?

Revd Edward Martin said...

The Latin edition of 1662 was published in 1670 (I have a copy). Was this not the version you used?

Fr Edward

johnf said...

Father: ..an interesting point raised by Little Black Sambo.

On a New Years Day, about 15 years ago, the BBC put out a fascinating programme on Latin and its relevance today. One of the issues was pronunciation and its was related that this has been a debate for many centuries. Archbishop Stephen Gardiner in Queen Mary's time was outraged at the 'new' pronunciation (which harked back to classical times and was championed by Erasmus and others), claiming that students in Oxford were using it to mock their betters... The programme mentioned that Harold McMillan was one of the last users of the 'English' pronunciation because 'he knew no other'

William Tighe said...

I was under the impression that the 16th-Century academic "pronunciation debate" (in which Stephen Gardiner and Sir John Cheke took opposed sides) concerned the pronunciation of Greek (Byzantine vs Attic), not Latin.

The Welsh Jacobite said...

The debate concerned both languages. Thus e.g. Erasmus' dialogue De recta latini graecique sermonis (1525) and Gardiner's 1542 decree forbidding new pronunciations of both Greek and Latin.

Novus Acolytus said...

-'The stalls at which the congregation knelt had houselling cloths; I wonder if this (like the custom of this Latin Mass itself, about which I wrote an earlier post) is a Tractarian innovation, or a genuine medieval survival.'

I think the answer is neither.

Fr., Do you mean that you communicated the people at the stalls over the cloths? – I seem to recall that might have been difficult in S Mary’s, although it has been a while.

The cloths on the stalls would not be medieval, but the standard early post-reformation practice co-eval at least with the 1559 reissue of the Prayer Book itself.
It dates from era before Laud ordered rails to be set up.
Anglican Practice was that the people stayed in their places in the chancel (when they had got there, and that is another, longish story) and the priest moved around to give them the Elements. Chancel stalls were often retained just for this purpose. If there were not enough stalls, kneeling forms were set up in rows in front of the table.

I am very surprised this custom survives anywhere. It was usually the Tractarians who put a stop to it. (You had to remove the box pews and usually the pulpit to achieve it).

I am reliant on the late dean Addleshaw’s odd book ‘The Architectural Setting of the Anglican Liturgy’ for most of this information. It is the only serious history that seems to deal with how this was done, then it launches into suggestions on how to adapt traditional buildings to the tastes of the nineteen-seventies. Nice. I was never clear how influential this was. At his old cathedral in Chester they went so far as to move mattins into new stalls in the nave and then move back to the quire for the (complete) eucharistic service, in partial emulation of the old anglican (parochial) pratice. I was told they did exactly this in S George’s Chapel in Windsor in the early nineties.

The congregation only moved into the chancel half way through the communion service (for such I think it was in the Prayer Book). Before that they heard morning prayer the litany and the ante-communion and sermon from their pews in the nave. Only those that felt keen actually did ‘draw near’. These practices are key to understanding how the old parish churches were used immediately after the (Elizabethan) reformation, if not actually about any theological understanding. It involved a conservative attempt to reuse (some of) the existing features of Catholic churches. A lot of confusion is still spread about by certain writers about churches (Simon Jenkins) who do not understand this history, usually declaiming wrongly about the positioning of family or manorial pews. Everyone left their pew for the communion part of the service.


- ‘Harold McMillan was one of the last users of the 'English' pronunciation because 'he knew no other'.’

Are not the lawyers still pronouncing Latin Englishly? –at least the ones who are taught properly.

I suspect that in Macmillan’s case, this, like so much else, was purely a pose. But that is a political statement, and I admit I am no fan.

And of course there are three options (at least) for Englishmen in pronouncing Latin. The old English form known to Byrd, Tallis, etc., and still used by lawyers, and indeed people who read the Prayer Book. (How do you say ‘Benedicite’?). Or are we saying they are not actually speaking the language? Used by Newman before his conversion, until he switched, overnight, to the

Italian. That is to pronounce Latin as if it were modern-day Italian. This is a reasonable approach, especially if you are in Italy, and of course was fashionable as an expression of Ultramontanism. (By the same token there is German Latin, which you should use when singing Mozart or Haydn masses. Hard ‘g’ s and all. I find it quite annoying to hear Italian pronunciation marring what the composers expected. But I digress.) I just dislike its being misnamed. I still this referred to as ‘classical Latin pronunciation’ by the irritating and ignorant. Unless you can build a case (I think you cannot) based on the various English ‘–chesters’… *

Classical Latin pronunciation is the result of an archaeological exercise to reconstruct it. I hope it worked. I was taught this at school. There is the slight variation between the adherents of the soft or hard ‘v’ (ie., as if a w or a v), but it is one approach of trying to discover what Cicero sounded like. I was taught both but we all thought the w version was much more fun.
If one thinks about it the three different versions existed at the end of the empire when the legions left Britain, represented by the three pronunciations of the Latin word for fort in English place names*. Chester, -caster and -cester. The last is the weakest and most typically English, as in Bicester or Leicester. They are all just ways of pronouncing ‘castra’ – or maybe by then the written language had diverged as well. The odd thing is that they existed alongside each other, so presumably people from different parts of the Roman world simply passed on their own regional preferences. These were of course Late and not Classical Latin fashions.

I have encountered great difficulty in re-entering the accounts I set up previously to post with, so now have a new identity. That also means i have to make ten attempts to deal with the excruciatingly hard-to-read characters test each time. Too secure, Google.

The Welsh Jacobite said...

"The old English form known to Byrd, Tallis, etc., and still used by lawyers, and indeed people who read the Prayer Book."

Byrd and Tallys might recognise the consonants, but they would be terribly confused by the vowels, which have altered a great deal since their day because of the Great Vowel Shift in English (which simultaneously affected the English pronunciation of Latin).

To get an approximation what they would have expected one needs to combine Italianate vowels with the consonants of the Old Pronunciation.

Item Acolytus said...

-"vowels, which have altered a great deal since their day because of the Great Vowel Shift in English (which simultaneously affected the English pronunciation of Latin)."

I read that this vowel shift occurred in the fourteenth century or thereabouts, (Edward III or something), anyway somewhat before Tallis's time. It was very odd because before that English vowels were like French and German still are. It had something to do with contemporary French influence on English, producing result different from either.

I have old cassette recording of reconstructionist music group in the 'eighties singing Byrd, Tallis etc., with modern English vowels.
I assumed their research was accurate, and as I said, subsequent reading confirmed this. If anyone has a definite alternative date for the vowel shift, then please state.

The recording of the English songs - fruit of more research - was less comprehensible than the Latin, but that sounded like modern English.

I wanted to back away from the precise date of 1559 for the cloths over the stalls, and the cloths may even have been one of Laud's plans to achieve greater reverence, although not very logical with the Altar rails as well - unless they really are for nothing other than protection of the Altar. As people knelt in the chancel from the confession, there needed to be sufficient places and ones robust enough. But it is described as a post-reformation feature in everything I have ever read. What would be the point of the cloths for people communicating once a year kneeling on the sanctuary step? Not Catholic. And for that reason, frowned on by the Tractarians.

In testing the possibility of using another, established identity I am reminded once again that the ongoing problem that makes commenting here so difficult is that it refuses to recognize the password I chose yesterday.
I shall try to post under some variants of Acolytus, but there is obviously no point in using my own name as it would soon cease to be my own property.
If anyone has any advice I should be delighted if they were to email me privately at itemacolytus@live.co.uk
Thank-you,
Nick

The Welsh Jacobite said...

Changes of pronunciation are naturally hard to date, but the general consensus on the Great Vowel Shift is that whilst there may have been some movement in the course of the sixteenth century (hence my use of the word "approximation"), but the major changes took place after 1600.

There are many "explanations" for the shift, including the influence of French. None, however, is more than speculative.

(Incidentally, there was a similar, but lesser, shift in German and Dutch.)