Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Ornaments Rubric and How It Was Interpreted in the Elizabeth Church

One hears much talk of the Ornaments Rubric and the vestments and ceremonies it supposedly allows. This article attempts to address how the Rubric was interpreted in the Elizabeth Church by giving examples of the apparel of clergy and churches during that time.

Perhaps the best place to start is with the rubric itself, which reads,

“The Morning and Evening praier shalbe used in the accustomed place of the churche, chapel, or Chauncell, except it shalbe otherwise determined by the ordinary of the place: and the chauncels shall remain, as they have done in tymes past.

“And here is to be noted, that the Minister at the time of the communion, and at all other tymes in hys ministracion, shall use suche ornamentes in the church, as wer in use by aucthoritie of parliament in the second yere of the reygne of king Edward the .VI. according to the acte of parliament set in the beginning of thys booke.”

The rubric intends to deal with two issues, that of the ornaments of the church and the ornaments of the minister. The rubric is actually two rubrics in that they are separated and deal with (related) but different topics. I note that the former does not refer the read to any acts of Parliament when the part dealing with the ornaments of the minister does refer to Parliament.

The Ornaments Rubric was introduced into the 1559 Book of Common Prayer. The historical context of Anglicanism and England at this time is crucial in understanding the purpose of the Ornaments Rubric. The first Prayer Book was released in 1549 and revised in 1552. Then Mary Tudor ascended the throne and brought England back under the authority of the Papacy. Elizabeth I ascended the throne in 1558 and reverted the nation back to the position under Henry VIII and declared herself supreme governor. Elizabeth I had a number of threats to her reign included Roman recusants in the North, who wanted the English church to return to the Roman fold and reformists, who wanted to further reform the Church to be like the Calvinists in Geneva. It was in such an environment that the 1559 BCP with Ornaments Rubric was published. This was several years before any doctrinal statement was released for the Church of England. The spirit of compromise for the sake of peace permeates from the words of the rubric and the whole 1559 BCP.

The first two BCPs had been much more specific when addressing this concern over what the minister was to wear. For instance, the 1549 BCP says,

“Upon the day, and at the time appointed for the ministration of the Holy Communion, the Priest, that shall execute the Holy ministry, shall put upon him the vesture appointed for that ministration, that is to say: a white Albe, plain, with a vestment or Cope. And where there may be many Priests or Deacons, there so many shall be ready to help the Priest in the ministration, as shall be requisite; and shall have upon them likewise the vestures appointed for their ministry, that is to say, Albes with Tunicles.”

These directions resemble the priest in medieval Catholic services. However, with the publication of the 1552, a more “reformed” rite, the minister is directed to vest as such,

“And here is to be noted, that the minister at the tyme of the Communion and all other tymes in his ministracion, shall use neither albe, vestment, nor cope: but being archbishop or bishop, he shall have and wear a rochet; and being a preest or deacon, he shall have and wear a surplice onely.”

The 1552 BCP was not used long as Mary ascended the throne in 1553. After her reign, Protestant Elizabeth revived the Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy which were in place under her father and brother. The Act of Uniformity deals with the issue of ornaments, with similar language as in the Rubric itself,

“Provided always and be it enacted, than such ornaments of the church and the ministers thereof shall be retained and be in use as was in this Church of England, by authority of Parliament, in the second year of the reign of King Edward the VI, until other order shall be therein taken by the authority of the Queenʼs Majesty, with the advice of her Commissioners appointed and authorized under the great seal of England for causes ecclesiastical, or of the Metropolitan of this realm”

The Act of Parliament resembles the Rubric, except that it adds, “until other order shall be therein taken…” this is alluded to in the Rubric itself when it says, “as wer in use by authoritie of parliament,” this is significant because it subjects the interpretation of the Rubric to the authority of Parliament. This clue offers a clarity in the interpretation of the rubric.

Early Elizabeth Injunctions offer interpretation for the Rubric, by ordering,

“Item. In the ministration of the Holy Communion in cathedral and collegiate churches, the principal minister shall use a cope with gospeller and epistoller agreeably; and at all other prayers to be said at that communion table, to use no copes but surplices.

“Item. That every minister saying any public prayers, or ministering the sacraments or other rites of the Church, shall wear a comely surplice with sleeves, to be provided at the charge of the parish.”

Elizabeth’s Injunctions show a care for the welfare of chancels in parish churches throughout her realm. Iconoclasm was a major issue at that time and many precious statues, etc. were smashed by over-zealous puritans. “Item. That all chancels be clean kept and repaired within as without, in the windows and otherwhere,” shows one example of an Injunction which sought to care for the state of chancels. Archbishop Parker in his visitation articles of 1562 asks of parishes in the dioceses, “Whether your churches and chancels be well adorned, and conveniently kept without waste, destruction, or abuse of any thing. Whether the rood-loft be pulled down, according to the order prescribed; and if the partition between chancel and church be kept.”

I will divide the next sections of the article into two parts, dealing with the ornaments of the church and the ornaments of the minister repesectively.

Ornaments of the Church

This section of the article deals with the first half of the Ornaments Rubric,

“The Morning and Evening praier shalbe used in the accustomed place of the churche, chapel, or Chauncell, except it shalbe otherwise determined by the ordinary of the place: and the chauncels shall remain, as they have done in tymes past.”

The term “ornaments of the church,” deals with the adornments of the chancel such as the holy table, chalice, paten, alms bason, Communion plates, linens, etc. The English Reformation sought to do two things in the reformation of liturgy and the ornaments of the church. First, it sought to remove unbiblical doctrine from the confession of the Church, which was accomplished in the Book of Common Prayer and Articles of Religion. Secondly, it sought to remove ornaments and practices from the Church which suggested or implied those unreformed doctrines. One of the first moves of the reform was to provide biblically-sound homilies to be read in parish churches where the minister was not licensed to preach. In fact, preaching was one of the means by which doctrinal and ceremonial reform was to be accomplished, for example, as is required by this Injunction,

“III. Item, that they, the persons above rehearsed, shall preach in their churches, and every other cure they have, one sermon every month of the year at the least, wherein they shall purely and sincerely declare the word of God, and in the same exhort their hearers to the works of faith, as mercy and charity especially prescribed and commanded in Scripture; and that the works devised by man's fantasies, besides Scripture (as wandering of pilgrimages, setting up of candles, praying upon beads, or such like superstition), have not only no promise of reward in Scripture for doing of them, but contrariwise great threatenings and maledictions of God, for that they being things tending to idolatry and superstition, which of all other offences God Almighty doth most detest and abhor, for that the same most diminish His honour and glory.”

Likewise, superstitious shrines and other things associated with them are to be removed so as to erase their errors from the mind of the people,

“XXIII. Also, that they shall take away, utterly extinct, and destroy all shrines, coverings of shrines, all tables, candlesticks, trindals, and rolls of wax, pictures, paintings, and all other monuments of feigned miracles, pilgrimages, idolatry, and superstition, so that there remain no memory of the same in walls, glass windows, or elsewhere within their churches and houses; preserving nevertheless, or repairing both the walls and glass windows [58]; and they shall exhort all their parishioners to do the like within their several houses.”

However, the English Reformation was not an iconoclastic binge which sought to destroy every image and ornament in the church. While simultaneously seeking to rid the church of superstitious beliefs and practices, the English Reformers sought to keep those things which were practiced by the church throughout the centuries but which were not contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture. This can be observed, especially in the Queen’s Private Chapel.

The Queen's Chapel

The Queen was noted to have kept in her private chapel many things which were discontinued in most parish churches throughout her realm. We learn of what was going on in her chapel from Puritan complaints. The Puritans were a mixed group of people who wanted further reform in the Church of England, to different degrees. However, mostly, they disagreed with the Established Church’s adoption of the normative principle of worship, which taught that only things contrary to Scripture should be removed from the Church’s public ritual and worship.

The Queen took seriously the Rubric in the Prayer Book calling for the chancels to be as they had in times past. Elizabeth is noted for keeping a crucifix and two candlesticks on the altar, “The Altar [in the Queen’s Chapel] is furnished with rich plate, two fair gilt candlesticks with tapers in them, and a massy crucifix of silver in the midst thereof.” Another observer notes in 1560, “March 6th, Dr. Bill, Dean of Westminster, preached in the Queen's chapel: where on the table standing Altarwise was placed a cross and two candlesticks with two tapers in them burning.” Reformists or puritan writers complain about the Queen’s private, religious opinions, seeing her religious preferences as indicating their cause for reform was a dream which would never be actualized. “What can I hope, when three of our lately appointed bishops are to officiate at the Table of the Lord, one as priest, another as a deacon, and a third as subdeacon, before the image of the crucifix, or at least not far from it, with candles, and habited with the golden vestments of the papacy; and are thus to celebrate the Lord’s Supper without any sermon? (1560)” It is unclear in this context what the writer means by “golden vestments of the papacy,” it could be the Eucharistic vestments or a golden cope, which was required by the Injunctions and Act of Uniformity, the writer does not indicate either way because the Puritans disliked either. Other writers and observers share the same sentiments, “The Queen still to this year kept the crucifix in her chapel, as appears by a letter written to Secretary Cecil by a zealous gentleman, earnestly persuading him to use his interest with her Majesty to have it removed, as tending too much to idolatry (1565).” Another author describes the full ornaments of her private chapel in the same year, 1565,

"The said chapel, both before and behind the stalls to the ground, was hanged with rich arrays, and the upper part, from the Table of Administration to the stalls, hanged with like stuff, which said Table was richly garnished with plate and jewels, as followeth. First, to the wall was set in a row, five gilt basons, and afore them another row, and in the middle a gilt cross between two great gilt cups covered, garnished with, a stone, a ship or ark (vessel containing incense), likewise, garnished with a mother-of-pearl, and a pair of gilt candlesticks; afore that, another row, in the middle whereof was set a rich bason and ewer, gilt raided over with gold, between two great maudlin cups with covers, two great lavers, two cruets, and a pax, all gilt; and over the said Table on the wall upon the arras was fastened a front of cloth of silver, embroidered with angels of gold, and before the said Table to the ground, a front of the same suit."

However, it does appear that later on the Queen removed her crucifix for some time, only to bring it back later in 1570, “The crucifix, which had been before removed out of the Queen's chapel, was now of late brought in again,” it is unclear whether she removed it again.

Likewise, Bishop Andrewe’s private chapel, reflected a “higher” ceremonial than one would find in the average parish church,

"Two candlesticks with tapers. The bason for oblations; the daily furniture for the Altar. A cushion for the service-book. The silver and gilt cannister for the wafers, like a wicker basket and lined with cambric laced. The Tonne (flagon) upon a cradle. The Chalice, having on the outside of the bowl CHRIST with the lost sheep on his shoulders; on the top of the cover, the wisemen's star, both engraven; it is covered with a linen napkin (called the Aire) embroidered with colored silks. Two patens. The Tricanale, being a round ball with a screw cover, whereout issue three pipes, and is for the water of mixture. A sier (side) table on which, before the Communion, stand the Tonne and cannister with wafers, upon two napkins. A bason and ewer, to wash before consecration. The towel appertaining. The kneeling-stools covered and stuffed. The foot-pace, with three ascents covered with a Turkey-carpet, of fir boards. Three chairs used at Ordinations, or by prelates communicant. The septum, with two ascents. The pulpit. The music table with three forms. A Triquetral censer wherein the clerk putteth frankincense at the reading of the first lesson. The Navicula, like a keel of a boat, with a half cover and a foot out of which frankincense is poured. A foot-pace, with three ascents, on which the lectern standeth covered, and thereon the Great Bible. The faldstory wherent they kneel to read the Litany. The chaplain's seat where he readeth the service. A seat with a canopy over it for the Bishop.

How do other churches in the realm compare with the Queen’s chapel? It appears that throughout the realm, many churches were similar in appearance to Her Majesty’s chapel. There seems to have been an internal debate about the placement of candlesticks on the holy table and again for lighting them during divine service. For instance, there was an injunction of Henry VIII which ordered, “Item. . . shall suffer from henceforth no torches nor candles, tapers or images of wax to be set afore any image or picture, but only two lights upon the high altar, before the Sacrament, which for the signification that Christ is the very true light of the world,” however, later injunctions from Edward state,

“That all parsons, vicars, and curates omit in the reading of the Injunctions all such as make mention of the Popish Mass, of chantries, of candles upon the altars, or any other such like thing. Item for an uniformity, that no minister do counterfeit the Popish Mass, as . . . . setting any light upon the Lord’s board at any time; and finally to use no other ceremonies than are appointed in the King’s Book of Common prayers.”

However, as I noted in my previous article, there continued to be candles on the altars of England throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. We learn of the ornaments of the churches through injunctions, which is what was expected of them, observer reports, where individuals report on the activity or decoration of a parish, and parish expenditure reports, where the purchases of the parish are recorded. For example, we know that some parishes were buying hangings and carpets for the chancels, "The carpet of velvet for the Altar at S. Paul's at the obsequies of Henry II of France, cost £16, 13 s., 4d. The hangings, covering the ground in the Chancel, £48 4s. 4d" (1559) Injunctions and advertisements from the same period confirm the expectation, "Item, that they should decently cover with carpet, silk, or other decent covering, and with a fine linen cloth (at the time of ministration), the Communion Table" (1560). The expectation continues in the Canons of 1604, "The same Tables shall from time to time... be covered in the time of Divine Service with a carpet of silk, or other decent stuff, thought meet by the Ordinary of the place, if any question be made of it, and with a fair linen cloth at the time of ministration.”

Two Elizabethan injunctions deal with the care and upkeep of chancels, they also reflect the spirit of compromise for the sake of peace which echoes throughout her injunctions,

“Whereas her Majesty understandeth, that in many and sundry parts of the realm the altars of the churches be removed, and tables placed for the administration of the Holy Sacrament, according to the form of the law therefore provided; and in some other places, the altars be not yet removed, upon opinion conceived of some other order therein to be taken by her Majestyʼs visitors; in the order whereof, saving for an uniformity, there seemeth no matter of great moment, so that the sacrament be duly and reverently ministered; yet for observation of one uniformity through the whole realm, and for the better imitation of the law in that behalf, it is Ordered, that no altar be taken down, but by oversight of the curate of the church, and the churchwardens, or one of them at least, wherein no riotous or disordered manner to be used. And that the Holy Table in every church be decently made, and set in the place where the altar stood, and there commonly covered, as thereto belongeth, and as shall be appointed by the visitors, and so to stand, saving when the Communion of the Sacrament is to be distributed; at which time the same shall be so placed in good sort within the chancel, as whereby the minister may be more conveniently heard of the communicants in his prayer and ministration, and the communicants also more conveniently, and in more number communicate with the said minister. And after the Communion done, from time to time, the same Holy Table to be placed where it stood before.”

"We, furthermore understanding in sundry churches and chapels, where Divine Service, as prayer, preaching, and ministration of the Sacraments, be used, there is negligence and lack of convenient reverence used towards the comely keeping and order of the said churches, and especially of the upper part, called the chancel, that it breedeth no small offence and slander to see and consider, on the one part, the curiosity and costs bestowed by all sorts of men upon their private houses; and the other part, the unclean or negligent order, or sparekeeping of the house of prayer, by permitting open decays and ruins of coverings, walls, and windows, and by appointing unmeet and unseemly tables, with foul cloths, for the communion of the Sacraments, and generally having left the place of prayers desolate of all cleanliness and of meet ornament for such a place, whereby it might be known a place provided for public service, having thought good to requrie you our said commissioners... to consider, as becometh, the foresaid great disorders, in the decays of churches and in the unseemly keeping and order of the chancels, and such like, and according it to your discretions to determine upon some good and speedy means of reformation" (1560).

Elizabeth also expected rood-screens, steps, and other aspects of the chancel to remain as they had been,

“For the avoiding of much strife and contention that hath heretofore arisen among the Queen’s subjects in divers parts of the realm, for the using or transposing of the rood-lofts, fonts, and steps, within the quires and chancels for every parish church. It is thus decreed and ordained that the rood-lofts, as yet, being at this day aforesaid, untransposed, shall be so altered that the upper part of the same with the soller quite taken down, unto the upper parts of the vautes, and beem running in length over the said vautes, by putting some convenient crest upon the said beam towards the church, with leaving the situation of the seats (as well in the quire as in the church) as heretofore hath been used.

“Provided yet, that where any parish, of their own costs and charges by common consent, will put down the whole frame, and reedifying the same again the same in joiner’s work (as in divers churches within the city of London it doth appear) that they may do as they think agreeable, so it be to the height of the beam aforesaid.

“Provided also, that where in any parish church the said rood-lofts be already transposed, so that there remain a comely partition between the chancel and the church, that no other alteration be attempted in them, but be suffered in quiet. And where no partition is standing, there to be one appointed.

“Also, that the steps which be as yet at this day remaining in any cathedral, collegiate, or parish church, be not stirred nor altered, but be suffered to continue, with the tombs of any noble or worshipful personage, where it so chanceth to be as well in the chancel, church, or chapel.”

Answering for the status of the roods was also required in her Visitation articles for the Archdeanery of East Riding of York,

“First, whether is the body of your church or chapel, or the chancel thereof, in good reparation, decent kept as well within as without, &c.

“Is there a partition between the body of the church and the chancel? and if not, when, and by whom, and by what authority, was it taken down? Whether you have a font of stone, with a comely cover, set in the ancient and usual place; a little faldstool, or desk, with some decent carpet over it, in the middle alley of the church, whereat the Litany may be said?”

Also notable ornaments in this injunction are the font and faldstool. These were also required by the 1604 canons. The Advertisements of Elizabeth in 1564 and later Visitation Articls of Archbishop Parker require a font in the, “ancient and usual place,”

"Item. That the font be not removed, nor that the curate do baptize in parish churches in any basins, nor in any other form than is already prescribed"

"Item. Whether your curates or ministers, or any of them, do use to minister the Sacraments of Baptism in basins, or else in the font standing in the place accustomed. And whether the said font be decently kept."

Elizabeth also issued strong statements against the defacing or destroying of images in the churches,

“Her Majesty chargeth and commandeth all manner of persons hereafter to forbear breaking or defacing of any parcel of any monument, or tomb, or grave, or other inscription and memory of any person deceased, being in any manner of place; or to break any image of kings, princes, or nobles, estates of this realm, or of any other that have been in times past erected and set up for the only memory of them to posterity, in common churches, and not for any religious honour; or to break down or deface any image in glass windows in any churches, without consent of the Ordinary, upon pain that whosoever herein shall be found to offend, to be committed to the next gaol, and there to remain without bail”

But at the same time, her injunctions speak out strongly against superstitious images, both in church and in private homes,

2. “Item. Whether in their churches and chapels all images, shrines, all tables, candlesticks, trindals or rolls of wax, pictures, paintings, and all other monuments of feigned and false miracles, pilgrimages, idolatry, and superstition be removed, abolished, and destroyed.”

9. “Item, whether they use to declare their parishioners anything to the extolling or setting forth of vain and superstitious religion, pilgrimages, relics, or images, or lighting of candles, kissing, kneeling, or decking of the same images.”


Ornaments of the Minister

As I quoted earlier, the Elizabethan Injunctions supply the official interpretation of the Ornaments Rubrics in her reign. I will supply them again,

“Item. In the ministration of the Holy Communion in cathedral and collegiate churches, the principal minister shall use a cope with gospeller and epistoller agreeably; and at all other prayers to be said at that communion table, to use no copes but surplices.

“Item. That every minister saying any public prayers, or ministering the sacraments or other rites of the Church, shall wear a comely surplice with sleeves, to be provided at the charge of the parish.”

There was intense debate within the Church as to whether or not these provisions were adequate. The reformists or puritans wanted further reform and less vestments, traditionalists wanted more vestments. It appears thought that Elizabeth was not interested in changing this policy. Likewise, the standard seems to be followed by most parish churches, cathedrals, and collegiate churches, with only a few exceptions here and there, and, of course, complaints from Puritans.

One way where we see evidence of the continued use of the surplice is through some writers writing against a controversy in preaching in the surplice. Many Puritans disliked this idea. Bishop Guest writes, “Because it is sufficient to use but a surplice in baptizing, reading, preaching, and praying, there it is enough also for the celebrating of the Communion.” Likewise, another writer describes an Evening Prayer service in 1564, “The Evening Prayer in winter is between three and four, in summer between four and five of the clock in the afternoon. At which prayers Mr Dean, when he is here, and every of the prebendaries are present every day once at the least, apparlled, in the choir, and when they preach, with surplices and silk hoods.”

Elizabethan injunctions also required the cope in cathedral and collegiate chapels. If the surplice irritated the Puritans, the cope downright infuriated them. Archbishop Parker asks those places in his diocese, if, “In the ministration of the Communion in cathedrals and collegiate churches, the executor, with the Epistler and Gospeller, minister the same in copes,” in 1564. Later Advertisements, from the same year, reflect the same sentiments,

“Item, In the ministration of Holy Communion in cathedral and collegiate churches, the principal minster shall use a cope with Gospeller and Epistoler agreeably; and at all other prayers to be said at that Communion-table, to use no copes, but surplices.
"Item, That the dean and prebendaries wear a surplice with silk hood in the quire; and when they preach in the cathedral or collegiate church, to wear their hood.
"Item, That every minister saying any public prayers, or ministering the Sacraments or other public rites of the Church, shall wear a comely surplice with sleeves"

Although the rules did not require copes at other services, there is record of copes being worn for evensong at some places, like King’s College chapel and in 1588 for the service of thanksgiving for defeating the Armada. Some cathedral inventories show that they had copes to be worn during divine service, for example, St. Benedict’s Grace Church, although not a cathedral, had several copes,

"One cope of cloth of gold
"A cope of red silk, fringed with godl
"A cope of blue damask. A cope of satin with blue birds
"Another old green cope
"A vestment with lions of gold
"a vestment of red velvet with lily-pot
"a vestment of blue satin of Bruges"
etc...

And likewise St. Margaret’s Westminster,

"One vestment of blue cloth of tissue, with the tunicles for deacon and sub-deacon,
"Item. One cope of crimson cloth of tissue, and two coarse-copes of blue tissue.
"Item. One cope of purple cloth of tissue, one other cope of crimson velvet with scallop shells of silver, and one other cope of crimson velvet with flowers of gold.

This parish had some of the old vestments, it remains unclear from this context if they were worn for divine service or not, although it is possible. Below is a description of the consecration of Archbishop Parker, in 1559, giving a description of the ornaments of the church and the ministers simultaneously,

"The Chapel (of Lambeth Palace) on the east part was adorned with tapestry, and the floor being spread with red cloth, and the Table used for the celebration of Holy Communion, being adorned with a carpet and cushion, was placed at the East. Moreover, four chairs were set to the south of the east part of the chapel, for the Bishops, to whom the office of consecrating the Archbishop was committed. There was also a bench placed before the chairs, spread with a carpet and cushions, on which the Bishops kneeled. And in like manner a chair, and a bench furnished with a carpet and a cushion, was set for the Archbishop on the north side of the east of the same chapel. These things being thus in their order prepared, about five or six in the morning for the Archbishop entereth the chapel by the west door, having on a long scarlet gown and a hood, with four torches carried before him, and acompanied with four bishops who were to consecrate him... Sermon being done, the Archbishop, together with four Bishops, go out of the chapel to prepare themselves for the Holy Communion; and without any stay, they come in again at the north door thus clad: the Archbishop had on a linen surplice, the elect of Chichester used a silk cope, being to administer the Sacrament, on whom attended and yielded their service the Archbishop's two chaplains, Nicholas Bullingham and Edmund Guest, the one Archdeacon of Lincoln, and the other of Canterbury, having on likewise silk copes.”

A description of the celebration of St. George’s Day in 1561 concurs with the vesture of royal chaplains,

"The same 23rd of April, being S. George's day, the festival was kept solemnly at court in this manner. All her Majesty's chapel came through her hall in copes, to the number of thirty, singing, "O God, the Father of Heaven, etc.' the outward court and the gate round that being strewn with green rushes. After, came Mr. Garter and Mr. Norroy, and Master Dean of the chapel, in robes of crimson satin, with a red cross of St. George. And after, eleven Knights of the Garter in their robes. Then came the Queen, soverign of the order, in her robes, and all the guards following in rich coats.”

An observer notes the manner of celebrating divine service in 1560,

"The liturgy was celebrated every day in the chapel with organs and other musical instruments, and the most excellent voices, both of men and children, that could be got in all the kingdom. The gentlemen and children in their surplices, and the priests in copes as often as they attended divine services at the holy altar.”

Likewise, at Canterbury Cathedral, in 1564,

"The Common Prayer daily throughout the year, though there be no Communion, is sung at the Communion-table, standing north and south, where the high altar did stand... The Holy Communion is ministered ordinarily the first Sunday of every month throughout the year... The Priest which ministereth, the Epistler and Gospeller, at that time wear copes"

Copes also featured at coronations, consecrations, and funerals, most notably, Elizabeth’s,

"Gentlemen of the chapel in copes; having the children of the chapel in the middle of their company, in surplices, all of them singing"

It is interesting to read of Puritan complaints about Elizabethan vestments, “These Bishops never appearing publickly but in their rochets, nor officiating otherwise than in copes at the holy altar,” shows one example. Another author writes,


"It is to be lamented that even amongst us who profess the gospel, there were some... who, being deceived with the fair and glittering show of the Babylonish garments, brought them, as Acan did, into the tents of Israel. For why do they command a cope and surplice to be used at the divine service, or a tippet and square cap to be worn daily, but because they think it is of some authority with the people, and bringeth some estimation to their office?"

It seems the Puritans at the Savoy Conference thought the rubric authorized Eucharistic vestments,

"Forasmuch as this rubric seemeth to bring back the cope, alb, &c. and other vestments forbidden by the Common-prayer book and so our reasons alleged against ceremonies under our eighteenth general exception; we desire it to be wholly left out"

In relation to this point, I have found a few references to albs being worn, especially at episcopal consecrations, such as that of the enthronement of Bishop Walton in 1660. However, the evidence is scant and I generally think the Puritans were mistaken in their interpretation of the Rubric. However, I could be wrong and if anyone has contrary evidence, please present it to me. I did find this reference in 1566, “You think that the small number can excuse them: as who they say were so few as you would have them seem to be. Cope, surplice, starch-bread, gospellers, pistlers, kneeling at Communion, crossing at baptism, baptism of [by] women, cap, tippet, and gown. Item, by authority of Parliament, albs, altars, vestments, &c,” and another from the same year, “By the former Book of King Edward (whereto the Act of Parliament referreth us) an alb is appointed with a vestment, for a cope, for the administration of the Sacrament, and in some places the priest at this weareth an alb.”

Puritans during Elizabeth’s reign shared in their contempt for copes and all ecclesiastical vesture,

“In the second volume of the Homilies it is said thus: that the costly and manifold furniture of vestments of late used in the Church is Jewish, and maketh us the more willing (in such apparel of Christians) to become Jewish. If I do so subscribe to this, how can I subscribe to the ceremonies in the cathedral churches, where they have priest, deacon, and sub-deacon in copes and vestments, all as before?”

Interestingly, referring to the Archbishop of Canterbury as “Pope,”

“The Pope of Lambeth, with his bishops and clergy, hath commanded his idol garments, as cap, cope, tippet, surplice, &c. to be worshipped, for without they be first received and obeyed, the gospel shall not be preached; and therefore an idol is more esteemed of them than the gospel of CHRIST; and therefore proved by CHRIST to be an abomination in the sight of the Father, Luke xxi. 15”

However, it seems that the laity favored the vestments,

“Do not the people, with the greater part of the inferior magistrates, everywhere think a more grievous fault is committed, if the minister do celebrate the Lord’s Supper or Baptism without a surplice or cope, than if the same through his silence should suffer an hundred souls to perish, and many of his parishioners to die naked with cold for fault of garments?”

The Canons of 1604 and Elizabethan Injunctions were concerned with the appearance of clergy,

”First, that all Archbishops and Bishops do use and continue their accustomed apparel.
“Item, That all Deans of Cathedral churches, Masters of Colleges, Archdeacons, and other dignitaries in Cathedral churches, Doctors, Bachelors of Divinity and Law, having any ecclesiastical living, shall wear in their common apparel abroad, a side gown with sleeves straight at the hand, without any cuts in the same; and that also without any falling cape; and to wear tippets of sarcenet, as it is lawful for them by that act of Parliament…
“Item, that all Doctors of Physick, or of any other faculty, having any living ecclesiastical, or any other that may dispend by the Church one hundred marks, so to be esteemed by the fruits or tenths of their promotions; and all Prebendaries whose promotions be valued at twenty pounds or upward; wear the like apparel.
“Item, That they and all ecclesiastical persons, or other having any ecclesiastical living, do wear the cap appointed by the Injunctions, And they to wear no hats but in their journeying.

74. Decency in Apparel enjoined to Ministers.
THE true, ancient, and flourishing Churches of Christ, being ever desirous that their Prelacy and Clergy might be had as well in outward reverence, as otherwise regarded for the worthiness of their ministry, did think it fit, by a prescript form of decent and comely apparel, to have them known to the people, and thereby to receive the honour and estimation due to the special Messengers and Ministers of Almighty God: we therefore following their grave judgment, and the ancient custom of the Church of England, and hoping that in time newfangleness of apparel in some factious persons will die of itself, do constitute and appoint, That the Archbishops and Bishops shall not intermit to use the accustomed apparel of their degrees. Likewise all Deans, Masters of Colleges, Archdeacons, and Prebendaries, in Cathedral and Collegiate Churches, (being Priests or Deacons,) Doctors in Divinity, Law, and Physic, Bachelors in Divinity, Masters of Arts, and Bachelors of Law, having any Ecclesiastical Living, shall usually wear Gowns with standing Collars, and Sleeves strait at the hands, or wide Sleeves, as is used in the Universities, with Hoods or Tippets of silk or sarcenet, and square Caps. And that all other Ministers admitted or to be admitted into that function shall also usually wear the like apparel as is aforesaid, except Tippets only. We do further in like manner ordain, That all the said Ecclesiastical Persons above mentioned shall usually wear in their journeys Cloaks with Sleeves, commonly called Priests' Cloaks, without guards, welts, long buttons or cuts. And no Ecclesiastical Person shall wear any Coif or wrought Night-cap, but only plain Night-caps of black silk, satin, or velvet. In all which particulars concerning the apparel here prescribed, our meaning is not to attribute any holiness or special worthiness to the said garments, but for decency, gravity, and order, as is before specified. In private houses, and in their studies, the said Persons Ecclesiastical may use any comely and scholar-like apparel, provided that it be not cut or pinkt; and that in publick they go not in their Doublet and Hose, without Coats or Cassocks; and also that they wear not any light-coloured Stockings. Likewise poor beneficed Men and Curates (not being able to provide themselves long Gowns) may go in short Gowns of the fashion aforesaid.

That concludes our section on the ornaments of the minister. I believe the evidence is strongly against Eucharistic vestments and I must say that this surprises me. I thought I would embark on this study and find that Eucharistic vestments were widespread in Elizabethan England, however, if they are, there is little evidence of them being used. I have come to the conclusion that they are not part of the Anglican heritage and should be eschewed in favor of the so-called “choir dress” of Anglican history. That would mean, for normal parish clergy, a cassock, surplice, tippet, and hood (if he has a degree), and a cope if he ministers in a collegiate chapel or cathedral (maybe in richer parish churches too), and a bishop to be vested in cassock, rochet, chimere, and tippet, and a cope it applies. Street dress would include the cassock and Canterbury cap.

Some other comments about the practice of worship in the Elizabeth Church…

Elizabeth appears to have wanted the Prayer Book liturgy to be sung, as she explains in her injunctions, “That there be a modest and distinct song so used in all parts of Common Prayers in the church, that the same may be as plainly understanded, as if it were read without singing.” Incense was used in various churches throughout her realm, most notably by Bishop Andrewes in his private chapel. However, it appears that this was only used as a fragrance and not used to cense things, another parish which used incense was St. Mary’s at Cambridge and St. Augustine’s, Farrigdon-within London, which bought, “Two pounds of frankincense to burn in the church.” Lent was religiously observed and violators of the fast who, “did kill any flesh that time of Lent, he should forefit £20 for each time he did so.” Some Puritans even complained of some, “crossing themselves in their prayers.” Elizabeth’s injunctions also require the Litany to be said,

“Immediately before the time of communion of the Sacrament, the priests with other of the quire shall kneel in the midst of the church, and sing or say plainly and distinctly the Litany, which is set forth in English, with all the suffrages following, to the intent the people may hear and answer; and none other procession or litany to be had or used, but the said Litany in English, adding nothing thereto, but as it is now appointed. And in cathedral or collegiate churches the same shall be done in such places, and in such sort, as our commissioners in our visitation shall appoint.”

Elizabeth also required reverence to the name of Jesus as the later 1604 canons would require,

“Whensover the name of JESUS shall be in any lesson, sermon, or otherwise in the church, pronounced, due reverence be made of all persons, young and old, with lowness of courtesy, and uncovering of heads of the mankind, as thereunto doth necessarily beong, and henceforth hath been accustomed.”

One final quote from a Puritan writer reveals the spirit of the Elizabethan Church (and really the later Carolines and 18th century High Churchmen). This particular writer lists the things he finds objectionable in the Church of England,

“13. The Epistler, that doth read some patch of the Epistle. 14. The Gospeller, that doth read some piece of the Gospel, 15. The Quirister. 16. The Quire, or Cage, wherein they do separate themselves from the congregation, and cause the word not to be understood of the people… 41. Putting off the caps at the NAME OF JESUS. 42. Crossing the corpse with linen cloths and such like. 43. Ringing the handbells in many places… 46. Ringing of curfew on hallw evens… 50. Offerings at burials and offering the woman at her churching.”

In conclusion, I think the practice of the Elizabethan Church fits in well with the points I made in the post, “Moderate Ceremonialism,” and I think it offers us some alternatives to the advanced ritualism which permeates Anglican churches today. Older High Churchmen placed the emphasis on theology and ritual secondary, which is something which we need today in modern Anglicanism, where we have cultivated an “anything goes” culture in our church. When we get our theology right, ceremonial follows to accompany it. I think the Elizabethan and later Caroline divines were right in abandoning vestments which suggested a theory of the Eucharist and sacrificial aspect thereof which was rejected by the Church of England.

5 comments:

Canon Tallis said...

Your evidence does not support your conclusions, indeed quite the opposite. You need many more ours in the British Library and a considerably better understanding of Elizabethan vocabulary. Plus your suggestion that the traditional vestments imply a certain theory of the Eucharist ignores the fact that the vestments were in universal use long before said theory was developed. In short, you have been too much swayed by your only too obvious opinion of the matter in question.

Canon Tallis said...

Sorry, I meant "hours" rather than "ours."

The Hackney Hub said...

As I have told you before, Canon Tallis, I am very willing to change my opinion if presented with hard facts. If you can direct me to an accessible source, I will read it and evaluate my article accordingly. In another post, you left a similar comment and I am still waiting for some solid evidence to support your point.

Much to your dismay, I presume, I do not mind ministers wearing the eucharistic vestments today, if that is their persuasion. However, I cannot say that these were the vestments allowed by canon or by common usage before the Ritualist movement, because they were not.

Daniel Sparks said...

Can you provide any information on the use of the stole with choir dress when celebrating Holy Communion? Is this a later use? Did the English Reformers (or the Puritans) consider the stole to be part of the medieval Eucharistic vestments?

The Hackney Hub said...

I don't have any information on hand right now but from what I know the stole was rejected at the Reformation as a Mass vestment. The standard vesture was cassock, surplice, tippet, and hood (if the priest had a degree). The stole was part of the Ritualist campaign to reintroduce medieval practices into Anglicanism. However, from what I recall, the stole was early adopted and accepted by broad church folks and the Evangelicals, since it looks so much like a tippet. Early on, white was the only acceptable color, gradually leading to liturgical colors.