Thursday 28 February 2008

Sarum Candlemas 14 - Communion

This was one part of the ceremony where we really had to wing it. We had gleaned that the confiteor was said before Communion, because there is a record of one king of England saying it on his own before his coronation. So we gave the Sarum Confiteor to the Deacon to recite, as in the Roman Use. There was a lot of agonizing about whether we should have Ecce Agnus Dei and Domine non sum dignus, but we could find no evidence for either (which is not the same as it never existing) so in the end, though we printed it in the booklets, we omitted it in the ceremony, probably correctly, I think. The formula for Communion we had, from the order for the visitation of the sick: Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat corpus tuum et animam tuam in vitam æternam, it goes. We knew that there was the custom of the 'houselling cloth' —the long cloth you can see being used — in many places, and that unconsecrated wine was given after the host to cleanse the mouth. We had no formula for administering that, so the acolyte simply presented a chalice with the wine, saying nothing.
The final question was whether we should have lay communion at all. The Missal makes little or no mention of it. It was never common to have this at High Mass, and in pre-Reformation England, annual Communions (on Easter Sunday) were commonly the norm. And even then, it is not known whether Communion was administered at Mass — if anyone knows better, I'd be delighted to hear from them.
In the end we consoled ourselves that we were not attempting a 'liturgical reconstruction'.
This was a real Mass, celebrated in 1997, according to the Sarum Missal; therefore things like cuts of vestments and even styles of music did not greatly worry us. In 1997, Catholics were accustomed to receiving Communion at Mass, and we did not see any valid reason not to give them the opportunity on this occasion.
Purists will have to forgive us.

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