When I was a chorister at Wakefield Cathedral in the 1970s, a curious liturgical tradition took place during the eucharist on Ascension Day. At the words in the Nicene Creed “And ascended into heaven”, a server would extinguish the Paschal candle. Where did this tradition originate? Does it come from Percy Dearmer and St Mary’s, Primrose Hill? . . .
Dearmer cannot be held responsible for Wakefield Cathedral’s “curious” ceremony. He Dearmer did not rule precisely when such a candle (he added, “if there be one”) should be extinguished, nor accord this any ceremony. He merely quoted the Sarum Ordinale: “The Paschal candlestick . . . should be removed on the day after Ascension Day.” Current practice at St Mary’s is to continue lighting the candle up to and including Pentecost, after which the candlestick is “removed”, but only to stand beside the font, where the candle is re-lit during baptisms.
Christopher Kitching (Hon. Archivist, St Mary the Virgin, Primrose Hill)
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