Monday, January 07, 2008

A syllabus of common liturgical errors

In the 1920s or so, the anglo-catholic Society of Ss Peter & Paul published in London a booklet entitled, The Manner of Celebrating High Mass: With Rules for Clergy in Quire, Manner of the Asperges, Common Errors, and Manner of Giving Communion out of Mass. It represents the finest rubricism of the period, bringing precise "tridentine" ceremonial into the Prayer Book liturgy.

On page 37, the booklet begins the list of "Errors Commonly Committed." I found it fascinating and quite helpful, having broken some of them myself at one time or another. I don't think the authors would know quite where to begin in the picture above. Here is the list.

The following mistakes in the celebration of the Communion are of somewhat frequent occurrence in certain churches, and are here set forth that they may be guarded against.

It is wrong to say the Lord's Prayer and Collect for Purity after the Introit. These prayers are part of the Preparation, and are to be said before.

It is wrong to remain turned to the people at the Epistle corner ; it is better, therefore, to say the Ten Commandments at the middle of the Altar, facing the people. If he says the Commandments only with the Ministers, he will, of course, do so at the Epistle corner, facing the book.

It is wrong to consecrate more bread and wine than is required for Communion ; the Mass is not a service of Benediction, nor of Exposition.

It is wrong to reserve the Sacrament until the end of Mass, except for the sick, or to be placed in the Tabernacle. If it is reserved on the Altar (as is commonly done when the ablutions are not taken till the end), the rules set forth for the end of the Mass on Maundy Thursday must be followed.

If, however, the ablutions are postponed till the end, even if the Blessed Sacrament has not been consumed, it is wrong to remain in the middle of the Altar after Communion : this practice destroys the whole ceremonial structure of the Liturgy, neither is it done in any circumstances, even when the Holy Sacrament is exposed over the Altar, or, as on Maundy Thursday, is openly reserved on the Altar.

If the ablutions are postponed, but the Sacrament has been consumed, it is wrong to genuflect to the empty Chalice. It is strictly forbidden by authority to genuflect to a Chalice or vessel which is exhausted but not purified, as also to refrain from turning the back on such unpurified vessel or Chalice.

If the ablutions are postponed until after the Blessing, it is wrong to say "Post-ablution" Collects after taking them. The Post-communion Collects are to be said after Communion, and not after taking ablutions after the Mass has been finished. The last Gospel should be said at once after the Blessing, and then the ablutions taken.

It is wrong to omit "The Lord be with you" and similar salutations, if "Glory be to thee, O Lord" is interpolated before the Gospel.

It is wrong to make the sign of the Cross with the Host when turning round to say "Behold the Lamb of God" before giving Communion : the Mass is not the service of Benediction.

It is wrong to whisper the Canon of the Latin rite (if it is said) and to alter the voice for that of the English.

It is wrong to forget that the prayers are said to God and not to the people, who should only hear those parts which are directed to be said in the loud voice.

It is wrong to bow the head when genuflecting.

It is wrong to wait at the Altar for the Sanctus or other singing to end before proceeding with the Liturgy.

It is wrong to sing more than the intonations of the Creed and Gloria, "The Lord be with you", "Let us pray", the Collects, Preface, Lord's Prayer and Post-communion Collects. The Blessing is not sung except by a Bishop. He should be careful, when announcing the Gospel, not to repeat the word "Gospel," nor to say "Saint "; he should say "The holy Gospel is written in the (sixth) chapter of ( John ) beginning at the ( first) verse". At the last Gospel he should say "The beginning of the holy Gospel according to John".

When the hands are laid on the Altar, they are to be placed outside the corporal before the Consecration and after the ablutions : between these times they are to be placed upon the corporal, and the thumb and forefinger of each hand are to be kept joined and not disjoined except to handle the consecrated Host.

The Celebrant, when turning to the people, should do so by his right, and back the same way, not completing the circle ; he only does this when saying "Let us pray for the whole state" etc., and at the Blessing, when he goes to the Gospel corner to say the last Gospel.

They should not put on their maniples or birettas (or folded chasubles, if used) until the Celebrant is vested.

They should give their birettas and that of the Celebrant to the Master of Ceremonies when they have entered the quire.

They should not bow, as is some times done, when the Celebrant kisses the Altar, but stand upright.

They should not move if the Celebrant says the Commandments in the middle of the Altar.

If it be the custom of the church to bow to the Altar and not to genuflect, they will always do this, except to the Blessed Sacrament: so that the Deacon will bow to the Celebrant, and not kneel, when receiving his blessing before the Gospel; and the Subdeacon will not kneel, but bow, when being blessed after singing the Epistle.

The Deacon also should take note that it is wrong to move, or to take the Gospel-book, until the Celebrant begins to read the Gospel.

It is wrong to say "Cleanse my heart" etc. before the incense is blessed; it should be said after this.

It is wrong to omit "The Lord be with you" or "Depart in peace", if "Glory be to thee, O Lord" is interpolated before the Gospel.

It is wrong to face the people when singing the Gospel unless it is sung from a pulpit, lectern, or ambone.

It is wrong for him to cense the choir, if there be no clergy in quire.

It is wrong to kneel facing the Altar when making the Confession; it should be done facing the Gospel side.

There is no object gained in omit ting the kisses, but it is wrong to give them at a Mass of the Dead.

He should be careful to announce the Gospel correctly, as is directed above for the Celebrant.

The Subdeacon should also take note that it is wrong to face the people when singing the Epistle, unless it is sung from a pulpit, lectern, or ambone.

If not wearing a humeral veil, it is wrong to stand still doing nothing; he should act as at Mass for the Dead.

It is wrong to kneel at the Confession; he should turn to face towards the Deacon.

It is wrong to kneel after the Consecration.

He should announce the Epistle thus: "The Epistle is written in the (tenth) chapter of Blessed (Paul) the Apostle (to the Romans), beginning at the ( fifth) verse".

THE THURIFER should refrain from swinging the censer more than is merely necessary to keep it alight ; he need not wave it wildly to and fro, as is sometimes done.

When Mass is sung without Deacon and Subdeacon, the Acolytes kneel in their places throughout the Mass, except at the Gospel and when they are doing something. This also applies to Low Mass, and the Server need not join in saying the Creed, Sanctus, Gloria, or Lord's Prayer in a loud voice (as is often done), but say only the responses appointed, lest he disturb the Celebrant.

The head should not be bowed when making a genuflection, but the back kept perfectly straight; and the same when kneeling, except only at the Consecration. The head should never be put on the floor.

1 comment:

Andrew Teather said...

Goodness me, a set of rubrics which nobody would understand now! From the placing of the Chalice on the credance table for High Mass to the Blessing, both the rubrics for the Tridentine rite and the English Missal rite are now changed. This 'sandwich' rite never really caught on although I have the missal somewhere for this use, it was almost immediately superseded. A particularly silly rubric, borne of misunderstanding the Roman Ritual of that time (again, superseded in both rites), was that of kissing the incense spoon after use, this would have indeed had an Isaiah like effect upon the lips!

Interesting, nonetheless!