27 October 2010

Mark Pattison: some problems of Concelebration

In 1851, the Rectorship of Lincoln College in this University came up for election. Pattison inevitably felt that he was the obvious candidate. Here is his reaction to learning that another Fellow, John Calcott, also proposed to offer himself. (I should explain to those who are not of the Patrimony that in those days common Anglican Eucharistic practice was for the Celebrant to stand and kneel at the North End of the Altar, and, if there was another priest or deacon assisting, he was at the South End.)

"As I stood opposite Calcott at the altar-table on Sunday, I could not help a feeling, very untimely at that place, that I should be supposed to be engaged in competition with such a snubby, dirty, useless little dog."

You could do worse than read Pattison. I have not laughed so much on turning the pagers of a book since I read Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall for the first time.


Joshua said...

In the Church of Ireland, where - if I recall correctly - the parish clerk gave the responses at the south end, while the minister was bound by strict rule to stand at the north, this arrangement was known as "Lion and Unicorn", by analogy with the Royal Arms.

So Pattison was not so much the supreme as he was a mythic beast?

Nebuly said...

In the sister island I think you will find Joshua.
In Ireland there was a priest at either end and the Deacon knelt at the entrance to the 'septum' according to the Caroline Tradition.
The Royal arms were and are less frequently found and the canon law requiring the decalogue was unknown ( although they were found )
vide the late FR Bolton, sometime Dean of Leighlin, The Caroline Tradition of the Church of Ireland.

Albertus said...

Excuse my ignorance, but why did the priest celebrant have to stand or kneel at the north end of the altar? whilst the deacon stood or knelt at the south end? What was the meaning of such a novel position, and how could the deacon assist the priest at such a distance - across the altar from south to north? I have never seen such a thing, and cannot invision it. Does this still take place in any anglican churches?

Steve said...

Albertus: There are certainly still Anglican churches in England where the Eucharist is celebrated in this manner. The only assistance that the deacon or second priest would be giving to the celebrant would be to administer the cup to the congregation as the celebrant administers the bread, so having him at the other end of the altar would not be a practical problem. (Depending on where you live, I might be able to point you to somewhere where you can see it done this way - or if you can locate a listing of "Reform" parishes, they may well be doing so.)

JWH - Do they still do it this way at St Ebbe's?

Albertus said...

thanks for the information!
I live in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Michael LaRue,K.M. said...

The custom of kneeling at the North End dated from the period of the 1552 Book Prayer, which ordered the "Table" to be moved to the body of the church or the center of the choir, and the priest to stand at the north side, (however this may have meant at the North, "Gospel" side facing East).

This rubric was continued in later prayer books for the beginning of the sevice, but starting in 1559 (I believe) a rubric was added before the Eucahristic prayer ordering that the priest be "standing before the Table", i.e., presumably at the west side, facing East (especially since it has him turning towards the people, then towards the altar.) However, the practice of standing at the North side (facing south) was pushed by the more Puritanical, and in fact became quite common, although I am not sure it was ever universal.

I only ever saw one such north-end celebration, and that was an historical re-enaction of the 1552 Communion. In my youth even the most liberal or low-church here in the US did things eastward facing, although there were rumours of "north-enders" usually graduates of the Virginia Seminary. Of course that changed with the advent of liturgical "renewal" starting in the late sixties, when free-standing altars began to come in, although I seem to remember that we were slower to erect them than RCs.

A propos of this, my earliest memory is of being in church, standing on the kneeler next to my mother (who was kneeling), she wearing a white veil, and observing our priest, Fr. Flagg, facing east at the altar in a green chasuble. I must have been about 3 or 4.

Peregrinus said...

I may have mentioned previously that Trinity Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia had a book (missal) stand bolted to the north end of the Table (altar) up until the 1980s.

I have not been there since, nor have I attended a liturgy, but there was obviously a ferocious commitment to north-ending at one point.

There are some bizarre modifications of this. A French Canadian RC priest who came over to the Anglicans in Toronto was appointed to an old Anglo Catholic parish - St. Bartholomew's. He was recently observed at the consecration standing to the north side of the beautiful fixed east-facing altar, reading the canon from a book which he held while angling himself towards the congregation, wearing a chasuble.

This must have been some sort of effort at a westward facing celebration from a traditional altar with six candles and a tabernacle. That one goes into the book for me as the most bizarre semi-north-end celebration of all time.

William Tighe said...

This very costly book:



which is comprehensive in its detail, gives a full answer to the origins of the "north end" position between 1550 and 1553.

Altars Restored:
The Changing Face of English Religious Worship, 1547-c.1700
Kenneth Fincham, Nicholas Tyacke
29 November 2007