Friday, October 12, 2012

The Sarum Low Mass: Mass of the Catechumens

[The following warning is to be found in some Sarum Missals: 

"Priest, think carefully what you are doing at Christ’s table, for there either life will be given to you or eternal death prepared for you."]

In my last entry (here), we went briefly over the history of the Sarum Use. Today we get straight to the point and tackle the question on everyone's minds: what, exactly, makes the Sarum Use different from the "regular" Latin Mass?

Before me I have several sources for Sarum, but the main one will be The Sarum Missal Done into English by A.H. Pearson. We'll compare that to the rubrics and prayers of the 1962 Roman Missal, the last edition of the Mass of the Council of Trent before the opening of Vatican II. I assume you, the reader, have a basic familiarity with the 1962 Mass and what makes it distinct from the modern, or so-called "Ordinary Form" of the Mass.

And while the solemn Mass with deacon and subdeacon is by all means the "normative", preferred, and even original form of the Western liturgy, it's best to start by comparing the low Masses of both the Sarum and Tridentine uses: one priest, who recites the Mass entirely in the spoken tone, assisted by only one server. For good or ill, the low Mass eventually reflected back onto the solemn Mass, so a priest who knows low Mass can then use it as a foundation on which to add further solemnities.

Salisbury Cathedral, birthplace of the Sarum liturgy

Low Mass: The Priest Prepares for Mass

In low Mass, according to the Roman Rite we're familiar with, the priest prepares the chalice in the sacristy beforehand and carries it with him to the altar. The priest in the Sarum Mass does so as well, though he packs the burse with two corporals instead of just one. The second corporal was the predecessor to the modern pall. It's also important to note here that the Sarum priest also pours the water and wine into the chalice here in the sacristy, rather than during the Offertory.

The priest wears the same vestments in both forms: amice, alb, cincture, stole, and chasuble. The vestment colors are rigidly defined in the 1962 form, but the choice of colors seems to have been much more relaxed in the Sarum. Many Sarum sources, moreover, contradict one another. Furthermore, the realities of medieval life limited many parishes to owning only two or three vestment sets at all. The general principle seems to be that on solemnities, the highest-quality vestments were worn regardless of color. Red was worn for Sundays outside of Lent and Eastertide, as well as Passion and Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and the feasts of martyrs. White was assigned for feasts of the Virgin Mary, Saint Michael, and, interestingly enough, Lent. Green was used for ferial days, yet other sources also claim the use of brown, blue, or grey. There was, it seems, additionally yellow for the feasts of confessors. Requiems called for black, yet some say blue was an acceptable substitute, due to the difficulty of dying pure black. There's one post by Dr. Taylor Marshall on the blog Canterbury Tales which addresses this subject.

The 1962 Missal has its own prescribed prayers for donning each individual garment, which you may read here. The Sarum Missal is simpler: it instructs the priest to vest while reciting Veni Creator Spiritus. The versicle and response at the end reads:

V. Emitte Spiritum tuum et creabuntur.
R. Et renovabis faciem terræ.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be made.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Then there's the following collect:

Deus, cui omne cor patet et omnis voluntas loquitur: et quem nullum latet secretum: purifica per infusionem sancti spiritus cogitationes cordis nostri: ut te perfecte diligere et digne laudare mereamur, per Christum Dominium nostrum. Amen.
O God, unto Whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from Whom no secrets are hid; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love and worthily magnify Thee. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

For any of you who have ever attended the Book of Common Prayer's Communion service or the "Anglican Use" liturgy, that prayer will sound quite familiar. Indeed, Cranmer adapted the Collect for Purity from the Sarum liturgy's preparation prayers, and placed at the beginning of the service at the altar. As far as I can tell, it's been there in every edition of the BCP since 1549.

Now, in the 1962 Mass, after the priest is vested, it's time to approach the altar. In Sarum, the priest continues with Introibo ad altare Dei, Psalm 42 (Judica me, Deus), and Introibo again while still in the sacristy. After this, he recites the Kyrie (once each) and concludes with a Pater Noster and Ave Maria.

The Sarum priest may now finally approach the altar, chalice in hand. He's accompanied in low Mass by a single server in surplice. The Sarum rubrics say nothing about a cassock for either priest or server, perhaps because the cassock as we know it today didn't exist then. The clerical dress of the Middle Ages is a subject for another article, but for now, I think a modern celebration of Sarum can assume the use of either a cassock or religious habit underneath the vestments or surplices.

The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar

The priest in both forms ascends the altar straightaway to "unpack" the chalice and spread the corporal on the altar's surface. He then goes back down to finish his preparatory prayers. The Tridentine priest starts with Introibo and Psalm 42 here, but the Sarum priest has already said them in the sacristy. The Sarum priest concludes the Lord's Prayer:

V. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
R. Sed libera nos a malo.
V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.

And then:
V. Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus.
R. Quoniam in sæculum misericordia ejus.
V. Confess unto the Lord, for He is gracious.
R. For His mercy endureth for ever.

Then follows the priest's Confession:

Confiteor Deo, beatæ Mariæ, omnibus sanctis, et vobis; quia peccavi nimis, cogitatione, locutione, et opere: mea culpa: Precor sanctam Mariam, omnes sanctos Dei, et vos, orare pro me.
I confess to God, Blessed Mary, all Saints, and to you, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, of my fault: I pray Holy Mary, all Saints of God, and you, to beseech for me.
Confíteor Deo omnipoténti, beátæ Maríæ semper Vírgini, beáto Michaéli Archángelo, beáto Joanni Baptístæ, sanctis Apóstolis Petro et Paulo, ómnibus Sanctis, et vobis, fratres: quia peccávi nimis cogitatióne, verbo et ópere: He strikes his breast three times mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa. Ideo precor beátam Maríam semper Vírginem, beátum Michaélem Archángelum, beátum Joánnem Baptístam, sanctos Apóstolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et vos, fratres, oráre pro me ad Dóminum Deum nostrum.
I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you, brethren, that I have sinned exceedingly, in thought, word and deed: He strikes his breast three times through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you, brethren, to pray to the Lord our God for me.

The server responds:

Misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus, et dimittat vobis omnia peccata vestra; liberet vos ab omni malo; conservet et confirmet in bono; et ad vitam perducat æternam.
God Almighty have mercy upon you and forgive you all your sins; deliver you from every evil; confirm and strengthen you in goodness; and bring you to everlasting life.
Misereátur tui omnípotens Deus, et dimíssis peccátis tuis, perdúcat te ad vitam ætérnam.
May Almighty God have mercy upon you, forgive you your sins, and bring you to life everlasting.
[Update: A friend observed that the Sarum server or ministers respond to the priest in the plural (Misereatur vestri) and asked if this was a mistake. Every Missal source I've seen has this response in the plural, so for now, I presume this is intentional.]

The Sarum version of the Confiteor seems truncated compared to the Tridentine one, with only one mea culpa and no mention of saints by name other than Mary; yet his absolution after the server's Confession is a bit more expansive than the Tridentine's.

Absolutionem et remissionem omnium peccatorum vestrorum, spatium veræ pœnitentiæ et emendationem vitæ, gratiam et consolationem Sancti Spiritus, tribuat vobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.
The Almighty and merciful Lord grant you pardon and forgiveness of all your sins, space for true repentance, amendment of life, and the grace and consolation of the Holy Ghost.
Indulgéntiam, absolutiónem, et remissiónem peccatórum nostrórum tríbuat nobis omnípotens et miséricors Dóminus.
May the Almighty and merciful God grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins.
Then, in the Sarum, follows Adjutorium nostrum, Sit nomen Domini, and Oremus. At this point, the priest is instructed to give the kiss of peace to the deacon and subdeacon (in addition to another kiss of peace before Communion). It's only omitted at Masses of the Dead and the three days before Easter. I honestly can't tell whether or not this is omitted at low Mass, so I'll add the prayer here for reference. The priest says this to the deacon and subdeacon:

Habete osculum pacis et dilectionis, ut apti sitis sacrosancto altari, ad perficiendum officia divina.
Receive the kiss of peace and love, that ye may be fit to perform the Divine Office at the most holy Altar.

Seems like a wonderfully literal application of the Sermon on the Mount ("If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath any thing against thee; Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift.") Having reconciled with his brothers, the priest is now finally able to ascend the altar to begin Mass itself. He kisses the altar, prays for purity (Aufer a nobis), then makes the sign of the cross, saying In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

The Office (Introit) and Kyrie, with Verses

Since we're discussing low Mass, we skip the incensing of the altar and let the priest go straight to the Introit, read from the Missal on the Epistle side of the altar. The Sarum Use actually calls this proper the Officium or Office, but it's the same thing. As in 1962, the Sarum priest reads the antiphon, verse, Gloria Patri, and repeats the antiphon. He then recites the Kyrie, alternating with the server.

However! The Kyrie has one very significant difference between the two forms. The Tridentine priest's Kyrie is always the same, but the Sarum priest actually uses verses on certain days. So, for instance, the Kyrie Orbis Factor would appear with nine tropes as such:

Orbis factor, Rex aeterne, eleison.
Kyrie Eleison.

Pietatis fons immense, eleison.
Kyrie Eleison.

Noxas omnes nostras pelle, eleison.
Kyrie Eleison.

Christe qui lux es mundi dator vitae, eleison.
Christe Eleison.

Arte laesos daemonis intuere, eleison.
Christe Eleison.

Conservans te credentes confirmansque, eleison.
Christe Eleison.

Patrem tuum teque flamen utrorumque, eleison.
Kyrie Eleison.

Deum scimus unum atque trinum esse, eleison.
Kyrie Eleison.

Clemens nobis adsis paraclite ut vivamus in te, eleison.
Kyrie Eleison.
Maker of the world, eternal King, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.

Fount of boundless goodness, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.

All that may harm us do Thou cast out; have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.

O Christ, who art the light of the world and the giver of life, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us.
Look upon us who are wounded by the fraud of the devil; have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us.
Thu that dost preserve and strengthen them that believe in Thee, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us.
Thy Father, and Thee, and the Spirit proceeding from both, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.
We know to be God, One and Trine, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.

O Thou the Comforter, in Thy clemency be present with us, that we may live in Thee; have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.

A haunting rendition of the troped Kyrie Orbis Factor by Ensemble Organum below:

English composers frequently considered the Kyrie to be part of the Proper rather than the Ordinary, so their Mass settings would begin with the Gloria. These tropes were used in Europe as well. Though they were suppressed by Trent in the Roman Mass, the old tropes still lend their names to the Mass settings in the Kyriale. The one cited above gives its name to Gregorian Mass XI, the Missa Orbis Factor. Another trope, which began with Lux et origo lucis, summe Deus, would give the name of Mass I, the Missa Lux et Origo, suggested for Eastertide.

The Gloria and Collect

If the Gloria is to be said, the priest begins it from the middle of the altar. The Tridentine instructs the priest to remain at the middle, reciting the rest from an altar card if necessary; but as there were no such things as altar cards when the Sarum was in use, Sarum has the priest return to the Epistle side, after saying the first words at the middle, to read the rest from the Missal. Sarum and Trent have all the same customary bows at Adoramus te, Gratias agimus tibi, etc. and the sign of the cross at the end. The Sarum, though, apparently has some additions to the Gloria for Masses of the Virgin Mary. For example, after "Lamb of the Father", it adds "First Born of the Virgin-Mother Mary". It has "Receive our prayer, to the glory of Mary", and "For Thou only art holy, sanctifying Mary; Thou only art the Lord, ruling Mary; Thou only, crowning Mary, O Jesus Christ, with the Holy Ghost..."

The priest returns to the middle to turn to the people for Dominus vobiscum, then begins the Collect. 

Out of curiosity, I looked at the Collects for the upcoming Sundays to see if there was any similarity between the two Missals. At the time I'm writing this, the upcoming Sunday in the 1962 Missal will be the 20th after Pentecost. The Sarum Missal counts Sundays after Trinity Sunday. Since Trinity is the Sunday after Pentecost, that means the upcoming Sunday according to Sarum would be the 19th after Trinity. They were not the same, but I then saw that this upcoming Collect for 1962 (Largíre, quæsumus Dómine) appears pretty much exactly the same in Sarum for the 21st after Trinity. It would take a much larger study to compare all the Propers of the two Missals; a project I definitely have no plans to attempt in the near future, if ever. Let's just move on for now.

From the Epistle to the Creed

The remainder of the low Fore-Mass is simple. The priest remains at the Missal to read the Epistle, Gradual, and Alleluia or Tract. While the Tridentine has only a handful of sequences (Dies Irae at the Requiem, Victimae Paschali at Easter, etc.), the Sarum has many, many more. There is a strong likelihood, therefore, that a sequence will follow the Alleluia here.

The server now transfers the Missal from the Epistle to the Gospel side of the altar. The priest, first praying Dóminus sit in corde meo (very slightly different in Sarum), begins the Gospel with the usual salutations.

At last, if there is the Creed, it's prayed the same in both forms. The one exception is that the Sarum instructs the priest to bow, rather than genuflect, at the Et incarnatus est. In fact, genuflections are almost entirely absent from the Sarum's rubrics. A bow is usually prescribed where we, in 1962, would presume a genuflection. I have, however, read somewhere that at least one modern celebration of Sarum simply imported the Tridentine genuflection, according to the principle of organic development and the probability that by the time of Henry VIII, genuflections were perhaps just as common as bows throughout England.


  1. Regarding the similarity of the collects between missals. I have been praying the 1662 BCP lately. I have noticed what seems to be a staggering of the epistles and Gospels. I haven't had time to look into it fully, but whenever I switch between the two (ie. pray the 20th sunday after trinity in BCP then go to the 20th sunday after p. at a TLM) it seems as if one of the readings from the previous BCP's sunday is used. I haven't had time to or investigate this but it is a curious phenomenon I've noticed.

  2. Yes, there's a divergence at the beginning of Trinity time with the Sarum adding (IIRC) a couple of additional Gospels from the earlier medieval scheme. There are also changes to the Advent and Epiphany Gospels. Likewise, Frere already laid out the differences between the Tridentine minor propers and those of Sarum in his intro to the antiphoner facsimile.

  3. Fascinating...enjoyed learning more about the Sarum Use...thanks. :)