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Out of the question

04 April 2014


Your answers

Why are there "Introits and Anthems" at the back of The English Hymnal, and what are we meant to do with them?

The English Hymnal offers itself "as a humble companion to the Book of Common Prayer", and one of its aims would appear to be to adapt features of pre-Reformation English rites (notably the Use of Sarum) to the rather bare essentials of the BCP.

These include the incorporation of Office hymns for use at morning and evening prayer, and "Introits and Other Anthems" to be used at points during the eucharist, namely Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, or Tract (between Septuagesima and Easter), Offertory, and Communion. The melodies for the latter were obtainable from St Mary's Convent, Wantage, and were frequently included in the worship of Catholic-minded Anglican churches.

Since the liturgical reforms of the late 1960s, these have largely fallen into disuse, to be replaced by responsorial Psalms and Alleluias before the Gospel reading. Settings of the Great Advent (O) Antiphons are still to be heard in many of our cathedrals, while the Advent and Lent Proses can make beautiful devotions in those seasons, as also the Reproaches and Crux Fidelis on Good Friday. And who cannot be moved by a good performance of the Russian Contakion of the Departed on All Souls' Day?

Philip Deane
Bishop Middleham


. . . The Introits etc. were sung, depending on the liturgical elaboration of the parish and the capabilities of its choir, to either particular plainsong melodies or simple plainsong tones, which would have taken up too much space in The English Hymnal. . .

Justin Pinkess
Edgbaston, Birmingham


They are still used mainly, but not solely, by churches that adhere to the BCP/1928/English Missal rites. Sing or say them.

Rodney Wolfe Coe
Ashford, Kent


Besides the Wantage books, The New Office Hymn-Book (Novello, edited by J. C. Ridsdale) and The English Gradual (edited by Francis Burgess) contain music for the English texts of the propers (the latter only simple tones). Editor


Your questions

In Series 2 and Rite B, the Benedictus could be sung after the eucharistic prayer. What was the reasoning, and why has it changed?
A. M.


Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.



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