24 November 2010

Bonair and Buxom

Some friends and I were chatting recently about the relationship between Dr Cranmer's Wedding Service and its antecedents. I said that there was more continuity in this area than in most of his compositions; I here append the Sarum form of the wife's Plighting of the Troth, which of course is technically part of the Espousals which took place at the church door and were followed by the Nuptiae as everyone moved to the choir.

I N take thee N to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to be bonair and buxum in bed and at the board; till death us depart, if Holy Church it will ordain, and thereto I plight thee my troth.

According to the OED, bonair derives from the French debonnair, id est, de bonne aire, 'of good disposition, gentle, kind, complaisant, mild, gracious'. Buxum means 'bowsome, flexible, obedient, pliant, compliant', and has a parallel form in German (biegsam). The meaning moved on to 'blithe, jolly'; but only in the sixteenth century did the sense 'plump' become clear.

In Middle English, I gather, 'depart' was a transitive verb meaning 'part, separate'. I think it was in 1662 that it was deftly changed to 'do part' to keep up with the changes in the language.

I have other friends who do not live million miles from the first friends I mentioned, who were married according to the 1549 Prayer Book!

I seem to remember that Recusant usage continued to use the Manuale Sarisburiense for Marriage.

1 comment:

nannon31 said...

I was so wrong on buxum.