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Out of the question: Gloria in 1549

19 January 2011

Your answers

Was the Gloria omitted during Lent and Advent in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer? There is no rubric.

In reply to this question, dogmatism is out of place, but a measure of reasonable conjecture may help.

Absence of a rubric before the Gloria in 1549, other than the direc­tion that “the clerkes” were expected to sing it, means that we must de­pend on numerous inferences from practice before the first English Liturgy, and in such tradition as is attested elsewhere in the same Prayer Book.

Strict conformity to the letter of the new Prayer Book would almost certainly have used the Gloria in the communion service throughout the year, except in those instances noted in a rubric at the end of the service, which stipulated that “when the Holy Communion is celebrated on the work[ing] days, or in private houses: there may be omitted the Gloria in Excelsis, the Creed . . . etc.” Sundays during Lent and Advent were con­sidered as “in”, and not “of”, the pen­itential seasons. As commem­orations of the Lord’s resurrection, they were to be celebrated with the Gloria.

On the other hand, scores of conservative clergy who resented the changes of 1549 put a distinctly Catholic interpretation on the rite in the way they performed it. The widespread practice of “counter­feiting the popish Mass”, of which Ridley bitterly complained, would almost certainly have omitted the Gloria in Lent and Advent, accord­ing to the custom first mentioned in the 11th-century Consuetudines of Cluny, which contained the pro­vision that “Glory be to God on high is never omitted except in Advent and from Septuagesima to Easter.”

Cranmer’s mind on this matter may have remained ambiguous, because we find a rubric at matins — only in 1549 — which shows continued respect for the traditional liturgical proprieties of Lent. This rubric directed the substitution of the Benedicite for the Te Deum. This may have an indirect bearing on the use of the Gloria, because it had been a general rule that the Gloria was only said or sung at mass when the Te Deum had been recited at matins. This would lend support to the view that the Gloria continued to be limited to festal occasions.

(Canon) Terry Palmer
Magor, Monmouthshire

Your questions

Since when have English clergy had freehold? Did their Continental counterparts ever have it? A. P.

Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 13-17 Long Lane, London EC1A 9PN.


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