Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ceremonies, Ornaments, and Historic Anglicanism

By Robin G. Jordan

If we take a short trip back in time to the beginning of the twentieth century and tour the parish churches of the Church of England, the first thing that we will notice is that a number of the ceremonies and ornaments that modern-day clergy and others assure us are thoroughly “Anglican” are found only in English parish churches where the clergy are Ritualists bent on making the Church of England like the Church of Rome even in defiance of the canons of the Church and the laws of the land. If we cross the Atlantic to the United States and tour the parish churches of the Protestant Episcopal Church, we find the same thing—Ritualists bent on making the Episcopal Church like the Roman Catholic Church. The difference between the United States and the United Kingdom is that clergy in the Episcopal Church are not required to accept the authority of the Thirty-Nine Articles as clergy are in the Church of England. The Episcopal Church also has no canons regulating ceremonies and ornaments in that denomination. The Ritualists defeated a proposal in the General Convention, which would have established such regulations in the Episcopal Church in the previous century. Having left the door wide open the Episcopal Church was at the mercy of any group that could gain hegemony in the denomination and lead the denomination in whichever direction it chose. We have seen the results in the closing years of the twentieth century and the opening years of the twenty-first century.

Doctrines that are erroneous and unscriptural can ride piggyback on ceremonies and ornaments into the Anglican Church in this century as they did in the nineteenth century. They can also provide a smokescreen behind which erroneous and unscriptural doctrines can be introduced into the Anglican Church. In the nineteenth century the Ritualists frequently claimed that they were seeking to beautify the worship of the Church of England and to make it more appealing to the lower classes. Their real intention was to transform the Church of England into a facsimile of the Church of Rome and to bring the Anglican Church into the orbit of the Roman Catholic Church.

Ceremonies and ornaments make a doctrinal statement. They are not theologically-neutral. They have long-standing associations with particular doctrines and cannot be separated from these teachings.

Congregation and clergy that upholds the Thirty-Nine Articles “as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s word and as authoritative for Anglicans today,” as does the Jerusalem Declaration, will keep away from ceremonies and ornaments that are associated with doctrines and practices that the Articles reject as erroneous and unscriptural. In matters of worship the teaching of the Scriptures and the faithful testimony of the Articles to the teaching of the Scriptures will be their guide. They will adopt and apply the principle that where a ceremony or ornament in their own denomination or in another denomination is associated with such doctrines and practices, it should be avoided. They will bring how they worship into line with what they believe. There will be no discrepancies between their worship and their beliefs.

Ceremonies are “gestures or acts preceding, accompanying, or following the utterance of words—the external acts of worship.” A Protestant Dictionary also gives the following definition of ornaments:

This word does not mean in ecclesiastical law what it means when used in its popular sense, viz., an embellishment or adornment. It is a collective term for all the articles used in, and ancillary to, the performance of the prescribed Church service. Thus, vestments, books, cloths, chalices, patens, communion tables, and a number of other things are “ornaments,” of which none may, in fact, be decorative.
Ornaments fall into two categories—the ornaments of the church and the ornaments of the minister.

Among the ceremonies that historically have been regarded as being agreeable to the Holy Scriptures and the Thirty-Nine Articles in the Church of England are kneeling to confess one’s sins and to pray, sitting to sing or recite Psalms, standing to sing canticles and hymns, bowing at the name of Jesus; taking the paten into one’s hand, breaking the bread, and laying one’s hand on all the bread; taking the cup into one’s hand and laying one’s hand on every vessel in which there is any wine to be consecrated; kneeling to receive the Bread and Wine; extending one or both hands towards the congregation when pronouncing the Benediction, making the sign of the cross upon the foreheads of the newly-baptized after their baptism, laying hands upon candidates for confirmation when praying for them; laying hands upon candidates for ordination when praying for them; giving a New Testament to deacons at their ordination and a Bible to priests and archbishops and bishops at their ordination or consecration.

Among the gestures and acts that historically have been seen as contrary to the Word of God and to the Thirty-Nine Articles in the Church of England are lighting candles and praying before images and reliquaries; blessing water and placing it in a stoup at the entrance of a church building so that those entering may dip their fingers in it and make the sign of the cross; carrying a cross or crucifix in procession; bowing one’s head when a cross or crucifix borne in a procession passes; carrying lighted candles in a procession; carrying a censor containing burning incense in a procession; censing the congregation; bowing or genuflecting before the Lord’s Table; censing the Lord’s Table and the bread and wine in their containers upon it; kissing the Lord’s Table; mixing water with the wine during the service; making the sign of the cross over the water and pronouncing a blessing upon it before mixing it with the wine; washing one’s hands during the service, making the sign of the cross over the bread and wine; elevating the cup and the paten or showing the Bread and Wine to the congregation after consecration; bowing or genuflecting to the consecrated elements; placing the bread upon the tongue of the communicant rather than in the communicant’s hand; performing the ablutions immediately after the distribution of the communion; reserving the consecrated elements; making the sign of the cross when pronouncing the Benediction; lighting candles and praying before the reserved sacrament; anointing the hands of a newly-made priest with blessed oil; giving a paten and a chalice to a newly-made priest; anointing the head of a newly-consecrated priest; and giving a pastoral staff, ring, and pectoral cross to a newly-consecrated bishop. This list is by no means exhaustive.

While these gestures and acts may not be expressly prohibited by Scripture, as the successors of the Ritualists are wont to argue, they are closely associated with the doctrines of transubstantiation and the sacrifice of the Mass in its various forms and other superstitious and unscriptural beliefs. They are an integral part of the ceremonial of the pre-Reformation Medieval Catholic Church and the post-Tridentian Roman Catholic Church, which the reformed Church of England disowned and rejected. Wherever they are found, one is also likely to find these doctrines in some form.

First, Christ is present in or with the eucharistic elements.

Second, Christ is present even to those in whom a vital faith is lacking (e.g. small children).

Third, the Eucharist is more than a commemoration of Christ’s sacrifice. The Eucharist is a repetition of Christ’s sacrifice or an addition to it or a participation in it.

None of these doctrines is consistent with the Scriptures and the Thirty-Nine Articles.

Those who think that ceremonies and ornaments agreeable to Scripture and the Articles would take away from the worship of the church should think again. One of the insights of the Liturgical Movement of the last century is “Less is more.” We can enrich the worship of the church by being more sparing and restrained in what we do. Anglican worship at its best embodies a “noble simplicity.” In reducing the elements of the service and simplifying the ceremonies in the service, we highlight and emphasize what remains. The same principle is applicable to the ornaments of the church and of the minister.

The abolition of ceremonies and ornaments that the nineteenth century Ritualists reintroduced or imported into the worship of the church will not rob the church’s worship of its visual element. Nor will it deny creativity and the arts a place in worship.

Candles on the Lord’s Table. The use of two lights on the “altar” is far from ancient as often is mistakenly claimed. This practice was introduced in the thirteenth century at the same time as the doctrine of transubstantiation was adopted as the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church and by the same Pope. It is closely associated with that doctrine.

The 1547 Injunction of Edward the Sixth is often claimed as proof that Church of England retained this practice after the Reformation While Edward the Sixth’s Injunction permitted “two lights upon the high altar, before the sacrament” (i.e. altar lights, not lights before the Host), the Six Articles adopted during the reign of Henry the Eighth were still in full force at the time. The Six Articles upheld the doctrines of transubstantiation and the sacrifice of the Mass. Edward the Sixth’s Injunction was a continuation of Henry the Eighth’s Injunction. Within a year the Six Articles would be repealed and Edward the Sixth’s Injunction rescinded. Permission for the two lights on the “altar” would be withdrawn.

The two lights on the “altar” in the royal chapel of Elizabeth the First are also claimed as proof of the continuance of this practice during her reign. Elizabeth’s use of these ornaments in her royal chapel was politically motivated as was her hanging of a crucifix on the wall above the “altar.” They are far from proof that the use of lights on the communion table was a common practice in the Elizabethan Church. The preponderance of the evidence is to the contrary.

One of the insights of the Liturgical Movement was that lights on the Lord’s Table, tall candles and tall candlesticks in particular, draw the eye away from the sacramental signs of bread and wine. The sign value of the bread and wine are greater when lights are taken off the Lord’s Table. The lights no longer compete with the bread and wine and the Manual Acts for congregation’s attention.

Anglicans historically have regarded the consecration and distribution of the elements as a visual proclamation of the gospel. Removing everything from the Lord’s Table that draws the eye away from the sacramental signs of bread and wine is consistent with this view.

Eastward Position. The eastward position—the priest facing the Lord’s Table, his back to the congregation—is a Medieval development. Like candles on the Lord’s Table, the eastward position is closely associated with the doctrine of transubstantiation and the related doctrine of the sacrifice of the Mass. The more ancient position is the westward position, the priest facing the congregation across the Lord’s Table.

The rubrics of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer direct that the minister to conduct the service of Holy Communion from the north side of the Table, allowing him to briefly stand before the Table to rearrange the bread and wine before beginning the Prayer of Consecration at the north side of the Table. The place of the priest at the Table in the 1662 Prayer Book is the place of a steward, not a sacerdote, or sacrificing priest. Christ is the only mediator, the Scriptures teach us, that we need between God and ourselves. We do not need a priest to make intercessions and offerings for us. When used in the Prayer Book the word “priest” is simply a contraction of the word “presbyter,” or elder, and refers to a minister who has been “called, tried, examined, and admitted” to the “office” and “function” of presbyter.

The Scriptures teach that “heaven and the heaven of heavens” cannot contain God (2 Chronicles 6:18). God is present everywhere (Psalm 139:7-10); nothing is hidden from him (Psalm 139:11-12). “God is Spirit” (John 4:24) God also indwells his gathered people. The individual Christian and the Christian assembly both are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21). Christ has promised that when two or three gather in his name, he will be there in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20).

Making the Lord’s Table the focus of prayer, much less the object of devotion, is not only unscriptural but also superstitious and idolatrous. God does not hover at a point somewhere above the Lord’s Table, which some clergy appear to infer when they argue that kneeling or standing in front of the Table with their backs to the congregation, they are facing in the same direction as the congregation. Implicit in this argument is the notion that God’s attention is always turned to the Lord’s Table where the priest reiterates or represents the Christ’s sacrifice in the Eucharist. The presence of Christ on the Table in or under the forms of bread and wine has also infused the Table with holiness unlike any other object in the chancel or nave. It is Christ’s earthly throne. Prayer before that throne is offered to Christ upon his heavenly throne, much in the same manner as prayer offered before an image of Christ is offered to Christ. Such views have no basis in Scripture and are in conflict with its teaching.

Eucharistic Vestments. As Christianity spread outside of the Roman Empire and less civilized people groups—at least by Roman standards—became Christians, the clergy clung to the civil organization, the dress, and the language of Imperial Rome, associating them with a more civilized time. The chasuble was originally a poncho-like outer garment that both clergy and laity wore on the streets. The stole was originally a scarf also worn outdoors. The alb was originally an under-tunic. After the doctrines of transubstantiation and the sacrifice of the Mass were made the official doctrines of the Western Church, these vestments came to be associated with these doctrines and the Medieval Catholic doctrine of the sacerdotal character of the priesthood. At his ordination a priest was given a paten and chalice, his hands were anointed with oil that had been blessed, and he was vested in a chasuble that had also been blessed.

The English Reformers would do away with the chasuble, stole, and alb in the sixteenth century. A loose white linen surplice would become the principal vestment in the reformed Church of England. The Canons of 1604 would permit the wearing of a cope, a long cloak especially worn in processions, at cathedrals and collegiate churches, by the bishop or priest officiating at the celebration of Holy Communion and the ministers reading the Epistle and the Gospel, upon the five festivals for which there were proper prefaces in the Book of Common Prayer. The surplice and the cope were not associated with the doctrines of transubstantiation, the sacrifice of the Mass, and the sacerdotal character of the priesthood in the English Church.

Bishop Lancelot Andrews, while he revived what he believed to a number of ancient ceremonies in the celebration of the Holy Communion in his episcopal chapel and said the Prayer of Oblation immediately after the Prayer of Consecration and before the distribution of the communion, wore a cope, not a chasuble, stole, and alb, at these celebrations. Bishop Andrews greatly influenced William Laud, John Cosin, and the other seventeenth century High Churchmen.

During the nineteenth century the Ritualists would, based upon their “false interpretation” of the Ornaments Rubric in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, claim that the chasuble, stole, and alb were the only legal vestments for celebrations of the Holy Communion. They would not only reintroduce these vestments in the English Church but also other ornaments that had been abolished in that Church. They plunged the English Church into bitter controversy that has never been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties to this day.

The 1604 Canons, which were in force well into the twentieth century, direct that the Lord’s Table should covered, “in time of Divine Service,” with a “carpet of silk or other decent stuff, upon which should be laid “a fair linen cloth at the time of the Ministration.” “Every minister” who ministers the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is directed to wear “a decent and comely surplice with sleeves.” The surplice is the garment of a steward whose Master has instructed him to feed his fellow servants from what their Master has supplied—the Word and the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

Crosses with images of Christ upon them. Article 22 identifies the “Romish teaching” about “the worship and adoration of images” as being “a futile deception, which, far from being grounded in Scripture, is repugnant to the Word of God.” An Homily against Peril of Idolatry and Superfluous Decking of Churches, published in 1571, equates praying and lighting candles before images with idolatry and gross superstition. The proposed Canons approved by Convocation in the same year order the removal of the wooden “sollars” from parish churches. In these “sollars” crosses, images, and relics were displayed for “latria,” or worship. Parish churches were further ordered to be whitewashed and decorated with passages of Scripture.

Crucifixes and Christus Rex crosses seen in a number of contemporary Anglican churches fall in the category of images. As for plain crosses readers are referred to the accompanying article “Ornaments and the Ornaments Rubric.” Standing crosses placed on the Lord’s Table or wall crosses hung in close proximity to the Table so as to suggest that it is an altar are to be avoided.

Prayer Books.Since the Prayer Book is used in church services, it is deemed to be an ornament of the Church. As the GAFCON Theological Resource Group point to our attention in Being Faithful: The Shape of Historical Anglicanism Today, the Thirty-Nine Articles are “a faithful testimony to the teaching of Scripture.” Both the 1928 Prayer Book and the 1979 Prayer Book contain erroneous beliefs and practices that are contrary to the teaching of Scripture according to the testimony of the Articles. They are not entirely “the very pure Word of God, the Holy Scriptures or that which is agreeable to the same.” They have no place in the worship and catechetical instruction of congregations and clergy that upholds the Thirty-Nine Articles “as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.” Both the 1928 Prayer Book and the 1979 Prayer Book contain liturgical elements that may be interpreted to support not only the doctrine of the real presence (i.e. the objective presence of Christ in the eucharistic elements) but also the doctrine of transubstantiation. The 1928 Prayer Book also contains elements that are historically associated with the doctrine of the sacrifice of Mass. The four Eucharistic Prayers in Rite II and the Outline of Faith (Catechism) in the 1979 Prayer Book clearly teaches the doctrine that the Eucharist is a means by the Church participates in Christ’s sacrifice.

I have posted a number of related articles from A Protestant Dictionary, published in 1904. They were written to counter the erroneous views that were spreading in the Church of England,
promoted by the Ritualists. The Ritualists were not only reviving pre-Reformation Medieval Catholic beliefs and practices in the English Church but also introducing post-Tridentian Roman Catholic innovations in doctrine and worship.

“Agnus Dei”
“The Chasuble”
“The Cope”
“Eastward Position”
"Lincoln Judgment"
“Ornaments and the Ornament Rubric”


ADVERTISEMENTS, i.e. Official Notices. This name, though used of various public notices given by authority, is now usually connected with the celebrated regulations described in the twenty-fourth Canon as “the Advertisements (admonitions) published anno 7 Eliz.” That description, however, was in exact, as the Advertisements were not, in fact, “published” until March 1566, whereas the “seventh year of Elizabeth” ended on November 16, 1565. The explanation is that the legal force of the Advertisements depended entirely on the Queen’s Letter directing the Primate and his fellow “Commissioners under the great seal for causes ecclesiastical” (in other words, the episcopal members of the High Commission, who formed a quorum for such matters), to publish “Orders or Injunctions” for carrying out the Queen’s disciplinary plans. A long time necessarily intervened, because the Commissioners were directed first to inquire into the existing “varieties” and irregularities then common in Divine service, and after tabulating the returns to lay down such rules as would force the clergy to a more careful observance of uniformity. The Royal Letter is dated January 24, 1565 (New Style), and the title of the Advertisements when published described them as “by virtue of the Queen s Majesty’s letters commanding the same the 25th day of January in the seventh year of the reign.” Thus the date of the Royal authority was the only date specified, because that alone fulfilled the requirements of the provisoes at the end of Elizabeth’s Act of Uniformity which had authorised the Queen to take “other Order” as to ornaments, and to “ordain and publish further ceremonies” besides those prescribed in the Prayer Book. “There was no particular form required by statute or by law in which the Queen was to take order, and it was competent for her Majesty to do so by means of a Royal Letter addressed to the Metropolitan. The Advertisements were issued by the prelates as orders prepared under the Queen’s authority” (Judgment of the Privy Council in Ridsdale v. Clifton). As, however, the object of the Queen was to secure uniformity, only a very small part of the orders relate to any proposed changes; the only material alteration being that in Cathedrals copes were, for the first time, directed to be worn by the celebrant and by his two assistants. It was at one time thought that the dress of the clergy was simplified by these orders; but no hint of such a change is to be gleaned from any contemporary writer, and the mistake was due to overlooking the fact that the ornaments rubric of 1552, which ordered the surplice to be worn at Holy Communion, was re-enacted by Elizabeth’s Act of Uniformity, whereas the printed rubrics, substituted in 1559 for those of the Second Prayer Book, were mere illegalities and were treated as such, being never once acted upon or recognised by the authorities in Church and State. The Advertisements, therefore, which contradicted the rubrics of 1549, were nevertheless enforcements of the legally re-enacted rubric of 1552-59, and at the same time were the “publishing further orders” as regards cope-wearing in Cathedrals. This last alteration was partially confirmed by the Canons of 1603-4, but only as to the five “principal Feast Days” which have “proper Prefaces” (viz. Christmas, Easter, Ascension Day, Whitsunday, and Trinity Sunday), the events commemorated on those days being further honoured by requiring the most eminent dignitary in residence to be the celebrant. The disputed questions as to the date and legal warrant of the Advertisements are discussed exhaustively in Tomlinson, On the Prayer Book;and the section of the Advertisements relating to ritual is given in Miller’s Guide to Ecclesiastical Law. See ORNAMENTS RUBRIC, VESTMENTS, COPE. [J. T. Tomlinson]

The contents of the Advertisements, so far as they are material, are as follows:--

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

“That the dean and prebendaries wear a surplice with a silk hood in the choir; and when they preach to use their hoods.

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.”

The importance of the Advertisements depends upon the view taken of the celebrated 25th section of Queen Elizabeth’s Act of Uniformity (1559) (see ORNAMENTS RUBBIC). The theory of the Privy Council was that the effect of this section was to cancel for the time the Ornaments Rubric of 1552 (which required the surplice only), and to provisionally restore the use in church of the Mass vestments of 1549. On this supposition they found it necessary to hold that “other order” had been taken under section 25, and they consider that this was done by means of the Advertisements in 1566. The difficulty of this solution is, that it leaves seven years during which the Mass vestments were compulsory and the surplice illegal, and no evidence can be produced to prove what is obviously so contrary to the facts. The other construction of the 25th section (that of Mr. J. T. Tomlinson and others) is, that this section had nothing whatever to do with the wearing of vestments in church, but simply had for its object the retention of the illegal Mass vestments until “other order” was taken as to their sale or disposal.

This view certainly harmonises law and fact, and under it the Advertisements become merely a directive and administrative enforcement of the Ornaments Rubric of 1552, with a “further Order” under the 26th section for the wearing of copes in cathedrals and collegiate churches. It will thus be seen that, according to the Ridsdale judgment, the Advertisements lowered the ritual standard, while on Mr. Tomlinson’s view they raised it. The latter view is alone consistent with contemporary evidence and facts. In any case, the royal authority of the Advertisements is undoubted. For details see Tomlinson, On the Prayer Book, ch. iv. ,and article by B. Whitehead in Churchman, for February 1899, and see ORNAMENTS RUBRIC. [Benjamin Whitehead]

Agnus Dei

AGNUS DEI is the name given I. To the well-known prayer which occurs both in the Litany and in the “Gloria in Excelsis” in our present Prayer Book: “O Lamb of God, that takest away way the sins of the world, have mercy upon us,” or “grant us Thy peace.” It is one of our oldest prayers, being adapted from John i. 29. It is found in the Apostolic Constitutions, Book vii. as an evening hymn, and in the Codex Alexandrinus it is described as a morning hymn; and its original use had no connection with Holy Communion. Pope Sergius I. (in A.D. 688) is said to have been the first to insert the “Agnus Dei” in the Mass. He placed it between the “Pater” and the “Communio.” The original direction was that it should be chanted by clerks and people. At the beginning of the ninth century it was chanted by the choir alone, and in some churches with the threefold repetition. After the doctrine of Transubstantiation began to be received, the place of the “Agnus Dei” in the Mass, i.e. between the consecration of the elements and their reception by the people, became fraught with danger, for the wafer itself was addressed as a living person under this title. From about the fourteenth century the “Agnus” was said in a low voice by the priest, and later the third petition was changed into “dona nobit pacem” probably on account of the then troubled condition of the Church. The present practice in the Roman Catholic Church is for the priest to strike his breast three times, pronouncing as many times the “Agnus Dei.” The practice in the Romish Church at date of the Reformation is thus described by Preb. Becon, chaplain to Archbishop Cranmer: “Then do ye say the Agnus, which Pope Sergius also commanded that it should be said at mass a little before the receiving of the host. And here again ye play the abominable idolaters. For looking upon the bread ye look yourselves and worship it, saying in Latin Agnus Dei, &c. Thrice do ye call that bread which ye hold in your hands the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. & c; intolerable blasphemy, was there ever an idolater who worshipped a piece of broken bread for God?” “a piece of thin wafer cake for God?” (Works, iii. 278; cf. Jewel’s Works ii. 586).

By the first Prayer Book of King Edward (1549) the “Agnus Dei” was retained in the Romish position, but with a rubric directing that the clerks should sing it as a hymn “during communion time.” And in 1550 Bishop Ridley issued an injunction forbidding the minister to counterfeit the Romish Mass by saying the “Agnus” before the communion. By the second Prayer Book (1552) the “Agnus Dei” was omitted altogether from this place, no doubt on account of the difficulty there was, so long as the words remained, in preventing some ministers from counterfeiting the Romish Mass by mumbling the “Agnus” and idolatrously adoring the bread as if it were the Lamb of God. For the same purpose i.e. the prevention of idolatry “the prayer of access” and the “Gloria” were transposed, so that the former should precede the consecration while the latter
was removed from its place near the beginning of the service to its present position at the end. It is thus said after the elements have been consumed or at any rate hidden from sight. Some have thought, however (like Archbishop Benson), that the omission was simply due to the desire to prevent repetition, the “Agnus” (as we have seen) occurring also in the “Gloria.” But that would hardly have been the reason, as the repetitions in the “Gloria” were actually increased in 1552. At any rate the “Agnus” has been omitted from the Romish position since 1552. In 1661 a proposal to reinsert the “Agnus” was carefully considered and deliberately rejected. It was actually proposed and adopted by the committee, but struck out again afterwards. Therefore the courts of law held that it was illegal to sing the “Agnus” during the partaking of the Communion. In 1892, however, in their Lincoln judgment the Privy Council changed their opinion, and sanctioned the interpolation of the “Agnus Dei” as a hymn (in spite of the fact that it had been expressly omitted for good reason) on the ground that “a hymn may be sung at any convenient time” in a service, provided that such service is not thereby “let or hindered.” This would not cover the case of the “Agnus Dei” being merely said by the minister. It is just possible that the Privy Council may on some future occasion return to their earlier and in our opinion, more correct judgment! (See Smith, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities; Whitehead, Church Law, article “Singing”; and Tomlinson, Historical Grounds of the Lambeth Judgment, 6th ed. pp. 69-73.)

II. The name “Agnus” or “Agnus Dei” is also applied to the figure of the Holy Lamb, i.e. a lamb with a nimbus bearing a cross or flag with the sign of the Labarum. Wax medallions bearing such figures were anciently blessed and given to worshippers on the first Sunday after Easter. They were considered to have magical virtues and gave rise to much superstition. In modern times such medallions are still used in the Church of Rome but are blessed by the Pope only first of all on the first Sunday after Easter after his consecration and every subsequent seventh year. The number of persons to whom the distribution is made is now much restricted.(See Smith, Dict. of Christian Antiq.; and Larousse, Dict. Univ.).


CANDLES. In the Romish Church, two candles are considered necessary at Low Mass, six at High Mass, and twelve at Benediction. Lighted candles in the Church of England on the Lord’s Table or on a ledge immediately above it are illegal, except when necessary for the purpose of giving light. By the Judgment of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, 1868, in the case of Martin v. Mackonochie, it was ruled that “lighted candles are clearly not ornaments, within the words of the rubric, for they are not prescribed by the authority of Parliament therein mentioned, namely, the first Prayer Book, nor is the injunction of 1547 the authority of Parliament within the meaning of the rubric” (See Procter on Prayer Book, pp. 202, 203). In the case cited the Judges maintained that the use of lighted candles “is not, nor is any ceremony in which it forms part, among those retained in the Prayer Book” (Brooke, p. 125). See Tomlinson, Historical Grounds of the Lambeth Judgment Examined, 6th edit. London: Church Association. On Archbishop Benson’s view, see Whitehead, note on p. 168. See LIGHTS.


CEREMONIES. Gestures or acts preceding, accompanying, or following the utterance of words ; the external acts of worship. Ceremonies entered abundantly into the worship of the ancient Jewish Church, for in the infancy of mankind God dealt largely with His chosen people as with children, teaching them by pictures and primers, so to speak, and suffering them to express their thoughts and feelings of devotion to Him. by outward gestures and acts. But the case is very different with regard to the worship of the Christian dispensation. Whereas in the Jewish Tabernacle or Temple the material predominated greatly over the spiritual, in the Christian Church God has evidently intended the spiritual to predominate over the material. In proof of this we may point to that regular development and advance in point of spirituality in faith and worship which can be traced from the first dawn of revelation to its present full noonday light. Our Lord also surely laid down in the New Testament once and for all the true principle of Christian devotion that it must be spiritual when He said to the woman of Samaria, in connection with this very subject of worship, that “God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth,” adding that “the Father seeketh such to worship Him” (John iv. 2, 3).

Yet how differently do Rome and her imitators view this matter! By a vast retrogressive movement they have revived with tenfold gorgeousness the “beggarly elements” of a superseded dispensation. The whole tendency of the Romish system is to suffocate the spirit of piety beneath a mass of outward ceremonies, and to encourage the great majority of her worshippers to rest contentedly in these forms as the sufficient and proper expression of true religious service. For each particular Mass alone Rome prescribes no less than 330 external acts or gestures.

In the chastened ritual of the Church of England, when the Prayer Book is rightly interpreted, the spiritual part of divine worship is exalted while the material is relegated to a subordinate place; in fact, use is made of just so much outward form as may foster, and not carnalize, the religious sensibilities, and quicken, without stifling, the spirit of devotion. It has been well said, with regard to the Romish system of worship (and that of the Ritualists may be included also as affected by this statement) that “if, as all experience testifies, every religious ceremony, however calculated in itself to improve the heart, is thus liable to grow into an empty form, what madness, yea, what wickedness it is to make such ceremonies, not merely the accessories, but the prime elements of worship, and by an elaborately constructed ritual to foster the native superstition of the heart into portentous vigour and luxuriance.”

The following ceremonies have been decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council or by the Archbishop’s Court to be illegal: kneeling or prostration before the consecrated elements; the use of lighted candles on the Communion Table except when required for the purpose of giving light; the use of incense for the purpose of censing things and persons; standing before the holy table with back to the people while reading the Collects next before the Epistle (See EASTWARD POSITION), or the Collects following the Creed at Evening Prayer; the mixing of water with wine during the administration of the Lord’s Supper; elevating the paten or cup; the using of wafer bread instead of such bread as is usually eaten; the using of crucifixes or images ceremonially as a part of the service. The Archbishops have also recently published an Opinion that the ceremonial use of incense and of processional lights is not ordered or permitted by the law of the Church of England. Also that Reservation of the Sacrament for any purpose is illegal. For a longer list of condemned ceremonies see Miller’s Guide to Eccl. Law. [M. E. W. Johnson.]


CHASUBLE. A cloak at first commonly worn by peasants ; afterwards adopted as an ecclesiastical vestment. The first writer that speaks of the casual, or chasuble, is St. Augustine, A.D. 354-430. He tells a story of a poor tailor at Hippo, a little before his own time, who lost his chasuble, and not having money to buy another, went to the Chapel of the Twenty Martyrs at Hippo and prayed that it might be restored to him on which the boys laughed at him for seeming to ask the Martyrs for 500 “folles,” which shows us what was about the price of a chasuble, as a large-sized fish could be bought for 300 “folles” (De Civ. Dei, xxii.). In his own time, he speaks of the chasuble as a common article of dress. “Will you go on,”he says, “with a bad chasuble or a bad boot? Then why with a bad soul?” (Serm. 107). It was at this time a cloak enveloping the whole person, like the manta still worn in Spain, with the addition of a hood that might be drawn over the head. Being the ordinary dress of the poor, it was worn by monks, and Bishop Fulgentius, about A.D. 500, strictly ordered that his monks chasubles should not be of a high price, or of a bright colour. Procopius, A.D. 530, speaks of the chasuble as being a cloak of a slave or of a common person, which a general, or a private soldier, would be ashamed of (De Bello Vindal. ii. 26). Archbishop Caesarius, A.D. 540, left to his successor, in his will, a long-napped chasuble, which he distinguishes from his church robes. Pope Gregory I., A.D. 600, presented three pieces of money and a chasuble, that is, a cloak, to a Persian abbot who saluted him in the streets of Rome. Boniface III., A.D. 606, sent to King Pepin a chasuble made partly of silk partly of goat s hair with a long nap, on which he says that he might wipe his feet dry a very singular use of a chasuble. Isidore of Seville, A.D. 620, in his De Originibus, describes the chasuble as a garment with a hood, and states that its name is a diminutive of casa, a house, because it covers the whole man like a little house (Lib. xix.). St. Boniface and a Council held at Ratisbon in 742, order presbyters and deacons not to wear the short military cloak, but the chasuble, as befitting the servants of God (Labbe, vi.).

Hitherto we have had no indication of the chasuble being a ministerial vestment, or a garment in any way peculiar to the clergy,but, with the ninth century it becomes more specially clerical by ceasing to be the common dress of the people; and symbolical meanings become now attached to it. Rabanus Maurus, A.D. 800, repeating Isidore’s derivation of the name from casa, a house, says that it covers all the other vestments, and therefore symbolises charity. Amalarius, A.D. 824, says that, as the chasuble is worn by all the clerical body of whatever degree, it symbolises “the works which belong to all, namely, hungering, thirsting, watching, nakedness, reading, psalm singing, prayer, toil, teaching, silence, and everything else of that kind; when a man is clothed with them he has on his chasuble.” The double fold of the chasuble between the shoulders indicated that good works should be performed both towards men and towards God; the double fold on the breast implied the need both of learning and of truth (De Eccl. Off. ii.). In a treatise of the eleventh century, wrongly attributed to Alcuin, the writer repeats that the symbolical meaning of the chasuble is charity (De Div. Off.). Ivo Carnotensis, A.D. 1100, knows no signification of the chasuble except charity (De eccl. sacram. et officiis), nor Hugo a Sancto Victore, A.D. 1120, nor Honorius Augustodunensis, A.D. 1125. To Innocent III. it also means charity, but he likewise sees in it the symbol of the Pre-Christian and Post-Christian Church, because it hangs in front and behind, which, he says, is right because on Palm Sunday both those who went before and those who followed after cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (De sacro altaris mysterio). Durandus, A.D. 1250, repeats the signification of charity, but adds that it also represents the wedding garment of Matt. xxii. 12, and the Catholic Church, and the vestment of Aaron, and the purple robe of Christ. By hanging both in front and behind, he says that it symbolises love to God and man, whilst its width shows that charity must reach to enemies. Its three folds on the right arm teach the duty of “succouring monks, clergy, and laity,” and the three folds on the left arm the duty of “ministering to bad Christians, Jews, and Paynims.”

Thus it appears that the chasuble, beginning as the ordinary outer garment of the poor, was retained by the clergy when other people changed the fashion of their clothes, and thus became their ministerial dress. But down to the end of the thirteenth century the idea of its being a sacrificial garment had not arisen. Its accepted meaning was charity. But in the thirteenth century Innocent III. and the Fourth Lateran Council introduced such wide reaching modifications of the Christian faith as almost to change its character. In 1215 Transubstantiation became the authorised belief, and auricular confession the authorised practice of the Latin Church. Transubstantiation, which is the basis of the Sacrifice of the Mass, and compulsory confession profoundly altered the conception entertained of the priesthood. The presbyter now became a sacrificing priest, and the victim that he sacrificed was no other than Christ Himself, while in the confessional he sat as the representative of God. His vesture must indicate the stupendous office which he held. The most noticeable, because the outside, garment that he wore was the chasuble; the chasuble therefore must symbolise sacrifice. By degrees it attracted to itself this character, and in the course of the subsequent centuries it became recognised as the priestly sacrificial vestment, while it underwent considerable changes in form.

But if the chasuble did not symbolise sacrifice for at least 1300 years, why should it be supposed to symbolise it now? The whole theory of the symbolical meaning of vestments, which first grew up in the ninth century, is partly a pretty and quaint, partly a fantastic and foolish imagination. Ritualist fancy has again declared the chasnble to be necessary for the priest who offers the Sacrifice of the Mass, or celebrates the Holy Eucharist. Mr. Passmore pronounces it to be “an ecclesiastical vestment indispensable to, and characteristic of, the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar” (Sacred Vestments, vii.). The Ritual Reason Why tells us that the priest removes his chasuble when preaching “because the sermon is not directly a part of the sacrifice,” and that “he lays it on the altar because it is a sacrificial vestment” (No. 430). The Congregation in Church is daring enough to state, without any regard to historical fact, that the alb, girdle, amice, maniple, stole, and chasuble “have been worn at Holy Communion from the days of the Holy Apostles”; the cloak which St. Paul left at Troas having been, no doubt, his chasuble. And it states that it is “the sacerdotal or priestly vestment worn by the celebrant at the Holy Eucharist” (pp. 54, 176). This theory is a reason why so strong a desire is entertained for restoring the use of the pre-Reformation vestments in the Church of England. It is not merely a matter of aestheticism, but of doctrine, although the sketch above given of the history of the chasuble proves that the connection between it and the doctrine which it is now supposed to symbolize is an arbitrary dictum of the later Middle Ages unknown for more than a thousand years. [Frederick Meyrick]

In England the chasuble was blessed “that all clad with this chasuble may have power to perform a sacrifice acceptable to Thee for quick and dead” (Mon. Rit. i. 144). It was placed by the bishop on the shoulders of the priest with the words “receive the Sacerdotal vesture” and was followed by the blessing of the priest’s hands to “consecrate Hosts which are offered for the sins and negligences of the people.” When Sawtre was degraded from the priesthood in 1401 the form ran “we pull from thy back the chasuble and take from thee the priestly Vestment and deprive thee of all priestly honour.” Archbishop Parker and the High Commissioners in 1566 published a letter from Bullinger who denounced the “Massing apparel, that is in an alb and in a Vestment,” and opposite the word “Vestment,” they inserted in the margin “Casula,” thus showing beyond all doubt what was then understood by the word “Vestment.” In the English Pontificals the bishop was directed to come in procession to church in a cope, but to lay it aside for the “Vestment” when he was about to say Mass. The cope being unblessed, and not given to the ordinees, but worn by laymen, by children, and even by women, often out of doors, was not held to be a “sacrificial dress,” and was therefore tolerated when the “Vestment” of the Mass-priests was finally laid aside. (See Scudamore, Notitia Eucharistica. pp. 67, 70; Tomlinson on the Prayer Book, pp. 56, 96, 117, 119, 274; Mr. Edmund Bishop in the Dublin Review for January 1897, p. 17.) [J. T. Tomlinson]

The Cope

COPE, THE. An ecclesiastical vestment. The cope, like the chasuble, was originally an outdoor garment worn by laymen, monks, and clergy. Isidore of Seville is the first person that mentions it, A.D. 620, and he derives its name, capa, from its embracing, capit, the whole man. It originally had a hood to draw over the head, and was sometimes called pluviale as being a protection against bad weather. It was a long cloak, reaching to the ground behind, open in front, but brought together by a clasp or button. It was naturally used by ecclesiastics at ceremonial meetings and outdoor processions, and so it came to be regarded as a processional dress. Durandus account of its symbolical meaning, A.D. 1250, is as follows: “It is embroidered with fringes, which are labours and cares of this world. It has a hood, which is heavenly delight. It is long, reaching to the feet, which signifies perseverance to the end. In front it is open, to denote that eternal life is open to men of holy life, and that the wearer’s life ought to be an open example to others. By the cope we also understand the glorious immortality of our bodies, for which reason we only wear it on the greater festivals; having respect to the future resurrection when the elect, laying aside the flesh, will receive two garments, rest of soul and glory of body. This vestment is very properly of ample size, and its sides are joined in front by only one necessary fastening, because in that day the body, rendered spiritual, will not shut in the soul by any narrowness. And it is provided with a fringe, because then nothing will be wanting to our perfection, but what we now know in part, we shall then know even as also we are known” (Rationale divinorum officiorum, Bk. iii.).

Amidst all these fantastic significations it will be seen that there is no idea of sacrifice imposed on the cope as one of its symbolical meanings; and for this reason probably it was admitted as an occasional robe by the Reformed Church of England. In 1549 the minister at the Lord’s Table was allowed to wear either a chasuble (called a vestment) or a cope. This was a step onwards, the chasuble up to this time having been regarded as indispensable. In 1552 both the chasuble and the cope were forbidden, the surplice being substituted. All the Mass garments were restored under Queen Mary. I 1559, Queen Elizabeth being on the throne, a cope was used by the Bishop of Chichester and two of the Archbishop’s chaplains at the consecration of Archbishop Parker. In the same year a clause of the Act of Uniformity, commonly called the Ornaments Rubric, was added, without authority, to the Prayer Book of 1559, by which the ornaments which “were in use in the second year of Edward VI.” (that is, the 1549 ornaments) were to be used, “until other order should be taken” by the authority of the Queen with the advice of the Metropolitan. In 1566 the “other order,” foreshadowed in 1559, was “taken” by the Advertisements drawn up by the Queen’s direction, and issued by Archbishop Parker, which ordered that in cathedrals and collegiate churches the principal minister, the gospeller, and the epistoler should wear copes, and all other clergy, in all their various ministrations, the surplice. In 1604 the canons of that year ordered that the minister of highest rank in Cathedral and Collegiate Churches, on the chief feasts, should at the Holy Communion wear the cope, and all other ministers the surplice. This is the last rule respecting English ecclesiastical dress, as the repetition of the so-called Ornaments Rubric in the Prayer Books of 1604 and 1662, carries with it, in each case, a simultaneous authorisation of “the other order” which was “taken” at the royal instance by Archbishop Parker in 1566, and sanctioned by the Church in 1604, superseding the order relating to the Edwardine ornaments. [Frederick Meyrick]

Before the Reformation, the cope was regarded as a suitable festive decoration, which might be worn by women, boys, and laymen, as well as out of doors. But it was not even permitted to the “sacrificing” celebrant at Mass. The language of our 24th Canon about “principal feast days” is explained by such passages as the following. Rupert of Deutz ( d. 1130) says, “we put on copes also in greater feasts”; but he was then speaking, not of the priest, but of the “Cantors,” i.e. “rectores chori,” or rulers of the choir (Dublin Review, cxx. 17). Durand says, “illam non nisi in majoribus festivitatibus induimus” (Marriott, Vest. Christianum, p. 167). “Festis duplicibus, sive praecipuis, quae, ob id, Festa in Cappis dicebantur,” says Matthew of Paris (Watt’s edit., p. 227. Compare North’s Chronicle of St. Martin’s, Leicester, p. 103). And this probably was the origin of the custom at Oxford for the “Heads” to appear on such occasions in dress gowns (Notes and Queries, 2nd series, i. 230). Silk copes for the “principal” rulers of the choir were ordered by Bishop Gravesend in the thirteenth century to be used at Lincoln Cathedral; and the Greyfriar’s Chronicle, p. 68, records how, in A.D. 1550, “Item at Xtmas was put down at Powle’s the Rectores Chori, with all their coppys at procession, and no more to be used.” Indeed, the rubric then in force, under the First Prayer Book (p. 97), prescribed the cope to be worn “after the Litany ended” on Wednesdays and Fridays “if there be no Communion.” The non-sacrificial and even “secular” character of this dress explains why Cranmer and his fellow-bishops secured for themselves the right to wear the cope at Holy Communion in lieu of the Mass “Vestment” (i.e. chasuble), and also why, with a view of destroying the “distinctive” dress of the Mass, the bishop was required to wear the same dress at “all other” ministrations (see p. 157 of Parker Soc. edit, of First Book of Edward VI.).

In the larger and richer churches, the copes were not only used in sets of three, as before explained, but were made to match the celebrant’s chasuble, varying with the season. Mr. Walcott’s Westminster Inventories mentions (p. 16) “copes and Chezabulls agreable,” temp. Henry VIII., and in his Parish Goods in Kent (p. 66) we find at Dartford “one cope with one vestment to the same, suted with th’albe thereto belonging.” This explains the meaning of “agreeably” in the Advertisements of 1566 and in Canon 24.

In 1548, when the First Prayer Book was enacted, the Reforming party among the bishops were, if not in a minority, at least balanced by a powerful and compact phalanx of Romish prelates, and were unable or afraid to attempt to give to their clergy the same liberty which they had secured for themselves. Under that book, therefore, no parish clergy man might shirk wearing a “ distinctive dress” at Holy Communion; while his “epistoler and gospeller” might not at any time wear the “distinctive” dress in question. But when the Rubric of 1552 abolished this “distinctive” difference between the Lord’s Supper and “all other times of ministration,” and had been re-enacted in 1559, under penalties, by the 1 Eliz. c. 2, it becomes of extreme interest to notice how the Government and the bishops dealt with the cope. In the vast majority of the poorer parishes its use was either unknown or was abolished forthwith by authority. The strict letter of the law said, “shall wear neither alb, vestment, nor cope,” but shall have and wear “a surplice only.” Accordingly, as the contemporary Machyn’s Diary (p. 208) and Stow’s Annals (p. 639, b) testify, the copes were generally destroyed by the royal Visitors acting in the High Commission, which included all the bishops newly nominated and most of the M.P. s and peers who had personally taken part in the passing of the Act of Uniformity, 1 Eliz. c. 2. Canon T. W. Perry (the champion employed by the E.C.U. to defend the vestments) admits that in twenty-four instances the Lincolnshire copes had been destroyed or converted before the Advertisements of 1566 were issued (On Purchas Judgment, p. 237). But that admission gives no adequate idea of the actual facts. Out of the first seventy-nine Lincoln parishes recorded as visited by Archdeacon Aylmer in 1565, before the Advertisements issued, fifty-one had no copes at all, fifteen had been “defaced,” twelve had been “sold”; and in several returns it is spoken of as “popish,” and is reported to the Visitors as being an “illegal” ornament, though “yet remaining” in the custody of the wardens. These facts appear from Peacock’s Church Furniture. Mr. Tyssen’s Surrey Inventories also throws light on the varied ways in which the copes were held to be “in use.” Inter alia, twenty-nine copes were assigned to be made into coverings for the Lord’s Table. The official “assignments” for the Hundred of Redgate run in this form: “Delivered unto the hands of the said wardens unto the use of the Church, there to be occupied according to the effect of the commission directed unto the Commissioners appointed for the sale of church goods and other order to be therein taken for the same, as followeth,” and then follow such entries as “Item, a cope to make a communion table cloth,” “Item, a cope of blue dornix and an old coverlet to cover the communion table,” “Item, iiij vestments to make a communion table cloth.”

So at Carshalton, we read “Md. that the ij albes . . are now made into surplices to the use of the Church”: and at St. Saviour’s, Southwark, “Item, xix albes . . whereof the wardens have made xvi surplices for the quere which was all that could be made of them.” When we compare this language with the proviso “such ornaments shall be retained and be in use . . . until other order shall be therein taken,” we see at once that it merely prescribed for the careful retention and utilization of the ornaments in the hands of the wardens, and that the “other order” was “therein taken” by the Commissioners at the royal visitation.

Thus, as Bishop Horn testifies, “the copes were taken away” in the Visitation of 1559 (Zurich Letters, i. 142 and App. 84) in parish churches; while we learn from Puritan writers and from Bishop Sandys that in Cathedrals and collegiate and some of the “larger” churches they were temporarily retained (in sets of three), as also in the Royal Chapel and on certain occasions of State ceremonial and display.

It is singular that the actual compromise thus brought about was left to the discretion of the royal Visitors to determine by “taking order” in each parish, according to circumstances, and does not correspond exactly with any theory as to the then existing statutory standard of ritual. If it were true that from 1559 to 1566 the rubrics of 1549 were in force, it is an astounding fact that not one single instance of compliance with the alleged “law” has ever yet been discovered. Not even in Elizabeth’s private chapel was the ritual of the First Prayer Book followed even for a single day. Yet a small and uncertain percentage of churches were connived at in their “retention” of the cope, provided that they did not allow the Epistoller and Gospeller to be arrayed in “albs, tunicles, or dalmatics” or any otherwise than the officiating clergyman himself. In this way the Executive were enabled to humour the love of pomp and dignity in the more florid services and to change the symbolism. It was no longer in honour of the Mass, as such, but of the events commemorated on the “principal feast days” (i.e. those which had “proper prefaces”) in honour of Almighty God (Canon 24). Yet the fact that the cope was a costly dress, extremely inconvenient, hot and heavy, and disabling the clergyman from “using both his hands” with “decency” and unfettered freedom, led to the rapid discontinuance of this cumbersome dress. And since the Restoration, it has rarely been seen anywhere in England. A disuse of forty years even by the Canon Law itself evacuates the obligation of mere canons. So that it would now need fresh legislation to legitimatise the re-introduction of such belated “survivals of the [un] fittest.” [J. T. Tomlinson]