*** DEBUG END ***

Number of communicants

31 May 2013

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or would like to add to the answers below.


Your answers

The service of holy communion in the Book of Common Prayer is accompanied by two rubrics indicating that the Lord's Supper should not be celebrated unless there are some persons present to communicate with the priest. What are the current guidelines, if any, regarding the minimum number of communicants for the services of holy communion in Common Worship?

At Christmas 1998, I was the only communicant at a low mass (Alternative Service Book 1980) conducted by the then Dean at Southwell Minster. We spoke about it afterwards.

In 2005, I was the only person present at a similar service, this time Common Worship, at Canterbury Cathedral, conducted by a woman Canon Residentiary. As a loyal Anglican traditionalist, I did not communicate; there were no other communicants besides her.

Methinks that, whatever the modern rubrics determine, they are not enforced - or enforceable.

Rodney Wolfe Coe
Ashford, Kent

[The first rubric in the Book of Common Prayer order for holy communion speaks of a "convenient number" to communicate with the priest, according to his discretion; the second of "four (or three at the least)". There is no comparable rubric or note for the communion services in Common Worship. Canon B12 requires that the celebrant shall communicate.

As Mark Hill notes in his book Ecclesiastical Law (3rd edition, 2007), when the 1662 rubrics were drawn up, "non-communicating masses were considered undesirable." It seems unlikely that the intention is ever that there should no other communicants; and in some churches, the presence of a server may be pre-arranged, and there is a reluctance to cancel the celebration when no one else turns up. Editor]

Your questions

Neither the Church's legal officers nor Roman Catholic clergy wear academic hoods when robed. Why do Anglican clergy do so, irrespective of faculty? Is it an anachronism reflecting the time when an Oxford, Cambridge, or Dublin degree was the accepted requirement for ordin-ation? A. H.

In a discussion with some Methodist friends, the question arose: why is the Sunday after Easter called Low Sunday?  S. M.

When I first attended choral evensong in the local cathedral in 1959, and for decades afterwards, the stalls reserved for canons residentiary, minor, and emeriti were full of those clergy entitled to sit therein. In recent years, these categories have been joined by canons provincial and lay - some 80-plus, in total. Yet it is as rare as a Preston Guild to find any canons apart from those in residence and the minor canon, who is precentor, occupying those stalls. Is this true of other cathedrals? If people accept these trinkets with their entitlements, why do they not honour them?  R. W. C.

What is the origin of the term "Duke of Wellington Christians", used by Bishop Hetley Price, I think, in a Ripon synod address?  J. B.

Why do some bishops wear mitres of the same colour as their cope, and other wear plain mitres of white or gold material?  S. J.

Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.
We ask readers not to send us letters for forwarding, and those giving answers to provide full name, address, and, if possible, telephone number.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite


Thu 20 Apr @ 16:08
The Archbishop of Canterbury has received the specially commissioned King James Bible that will be presented to Kin… https://t.co/u8LMnSFcfV

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)