Saturday, 3 April 2010

Good Friday in the Older Rite at S. Magnus

The ministers enter the Sanctuary, genuflect and prostrate. Two Acolytes spread an altar cloth on the bare altar and place the missal at the Epistle corner. In the photo above, the Celebrant looks over the reading that is being read by a lector.

After a collect, the Subdeacon chants a reading from Exodus as an Epistle.

The Celebrant sings Christus during the Passion

After the Passion and Gospel, the ministers go to the Altar for the Litanical, or bidding prayers. The intention is introduced by the Celebrant, and the Deacon sings "Let us bend the knee".

After a time kneeling, the Subdeacon sings "Arise" and the Celebrant sings the Collect.

During the Collect for the Conversion of the Jews, an acolyte spreads the carpet and cushion in preparation for the Worship of the Cross.

The Deacon goes to collect the veiled cross from the Altar and brings it to the Celebrant at the Epistle corner.

The Celebrant reveals the right arm of the crufied, and sings "Behold the wood of the cross, whereon the world's salvation was hung", all reply "O come let us worship" and kneel in adoration.

The Celebrant climbs a step, and repeats the above revealing the title board. Finally, he removes the veil entirely before the High Altar. He then places the Cross on a purple cushion (to symbolise Christ's regality) topped with a white veil (to represent His innocence, and His burial shroud) to venerate It.

After this, the Subdeacon and Deacon venerate the cross.

The other ministers come thereafter to venerate, making three double genuflections with prostration as they go. This is what our ancestors in England called "creeping to the Cross".

A relic of the True Cross is prepared also for public veneration.

The relic is venerated by the faithful.

The choir sing the reproaches, recited quietly at the bench.

The Deacon places the Cross on the High Altar

A procession is made to the Altar of Repose, and the Celebrant assumes a white humeral veil.

The procession of the Sacrament back from the altar is the first part of the Mass of the Pre-sanctified.

Here, the celebrant is seen censing the Elements. He has prepared a chalice of unconsecrated wine which also stands on the corporal. The Eucharist is censed, as is the altar but the Celebrant is not. He then says the Pray Brethren, not turning all the way, sings the Libera nos, performs the fraction and with some Communion devotions, receives the Host consecrated at Yesterday's Mass.

In deference to Local Custom, the faithful also receive Communion from a number of Hosts reserved with the Priest's Host.

There being no other ceremonies, the ministers stand to sing "When I survey the wondrous Cross" before retiring to the Sacristy.

The ministers in the Sanctuary after the Liturgy


  1. Well Done!

    The 'Henrici Fynes-Clinton' magic lives.

    A blessed Pascha to you all.

  2. Splendid pictures, I say this as a Scottish RC. I have always wanted to visit St Magnus the Martyr. I tried last time I was in London but unfortunately it was shut. I have always intended to set aside a day and visit as many of the City Churches as possible. Maybe next time.

  3. The point about Fr Fynes-Clinton is that he followed to the letter whatever Rome laid down but did so on a spare, reserved basis. I used to attend St Magnus the Martyr during the last years of his life and it was there that I became what was known in those days as a Low Church Catholic. Remember that this was some years before Vatican II. Fr Fynes-Clinton's death in 1958 occurred at the same time as the election of Blessed Pope John XXIII. In the years leading up to the death of Pius XII in the same year, he had introduced all the changes initiated by the Pope, including the abrogation of the Eucharistic fast and the reformed Holy Week rites. Following in the wake of the first, he introduced lunch time Masses for city workers at which people could receive Holy Communion subject to the three hour fast.

    In Fr Fynes-Clinton's time High Mass was a comparative rarety at St Magnus. It was primarily a Low Mass and Missa Cantata tradition. But he always had a Latin High Mass annually for the Sodality of the Precious Blood, at which I served. Beyond devotions at shrines on certain feasts, local custom was not encouraged. It would have been deemed High Church rather than Catholic.

    Much of what is done today at St Magnus falls into a High Church bracket, not least the unwarranted practice of distributing Holy Communion during the Good Friday Liturgy. The Mass of the Presanctified was celebrated with one Host and the only communicant was the officiating priest. To extend Communion to the faithful under the old rubrics constitutes a maimed rite and would not have been countenanced by Fr Fynes-Clinton at any price. When general Communion was introduced in the reformed Holy Week rites it took many Anglo-Catholics by surprise because until then nobody communicated on Good Friday.

    Another thing that Fr Fynes-Clinton rarely did was parade about in a cope, least of all on London Bridge. The cope was largely confined to the Asperges on Sunday and Benediction and perhaps on Corpus Christi. Fr Fynes=Clinton was, as St Magnus demonstrates, a man of taste but he was not a showman. But above all, he was an observant papalist and had little time for the Anglo-Catholic movement at large which he saw as a diminishment of his aims.

    All of this, of course, refers to a vanished age which only the old can remember and now constitutes a forgotten mentality. It was, I think, merciful that he died before Vatican II because he would have found it difficult to understand, but he would have obeyed its liturgical prescriptions. It is good that St Magnus remains unharmed by change because it is a unified work of art of rare distinction. But it is not merely an expression of Fr Fynes-Clinton's personal taste. It was faithful to the liturgical reforms of St Pius X and in complete conformity to the rubrics explained so well by Fortescue & O'Connell.

  4. Easter Blessings to all At Saint Magnus, I was very moved seeing the Good Friday of the Older Rite pictures.

    Father Ed Bakker SSM
    HCC-AR New Zealand

  5. Anonymous,

    Thank you for sharing your memories of St Magnus the Martyr.

    It's interesting you should raise the general Communion on Good Friday. I had hoped to serve the Old Rite in full, but after discussion it was decided that there was no way the laity would accept not receiving Communion on this day. I personally don't think it matters what the laity think about that, but as a member of a worshipping Community, I stayed my tongue, which I think is a legitimate response.

    We try to keep a High Mass on Sundays because we normally have clery available.

    As for copes, the service on London bridge to which you refer was instituted by Fr Philip and although not a Fynes-Clinton invention, is an authentic expression of his desire to see the Church witnessing in the life of the city. Therefore, we think it's important to identify with our Eastern brethren in blessing water on the Feast of the Baptism of OLJC, and to do so publicly. It is certainly a popular thing.

    In addition to our almost-perfectly English Missal High Masses, Fr Philip says a Low Mass daily from the modern Roman Missal, therefore quite faithfully Anglo-Papalist in the sense that it wouldn't be out of place in the Oratory, for example.

    I hope you'll come and visit St. Magnus again in the future, and that you find us continuing a venerable tradition of Catholic Faith in the Church of England.

  6. Eastern rite Christians take communion during their Pre-sanctified liturgy on Good Friday and this is no modern innovation for them. I believe Anglicans and other Christians are entitled to do likewise. By the way, the pictures are fantastic and I enjoyed them very much.

  7. As you can imagine, at S. Clement's we're very pleased to see other parishes taking up the pre-Pian Holy Week, which was re-introduced here by Fr Swain in 1993. Like S. Magnus', we have always had a distribution of Holy Communion on Good Friday. This is thought of as a great tragedy by the masters of ceremonies, and I agree that it maims the rite, but the clergy remain attached to this novelty.

    One question: I notice that the ministers are sitting for the Epistle; is there a particular reason for this?

  8. The MC could not stop them before they got to the chair. The Deacon also is quite advanced in years.

  9. Anonymous 3:54

    I am not familiar with the Oriental rites on Good Friday but the Byzantines do not receive Communion at all on Good Friday. No one receives, celebrants or congregation. Pre-Sanctified liturgies are celebrated on the Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday of Great Week (as on other days in Lent) but not on Great/Good Friday. Hours and Vespers form the morning service then.

  10. An Anonymous poster said : "It would have been deemed High Church rather than Catholic."

    Please forgive an ignorant Roman Catholic, but what is the distinction here? I have long wondered what difference there is between the "high church" and "Abglo-Catholic" traditions within Anglicanism. It does seem that something new was introduced by the Oxford Movement that was in some way a departure from the old high church strain of Anglicanism.

  11. In Eastern Orthodoxy the celebration of the Mass/Liturgy is prohibited durind Lent before Easter, apart from Saturdays and Sundays. It was in order to facilitate the need for frequent communion, that the Presanctified Liturgy was instituted. This means that ALL prepared believers can partake of the elements consecrated the previous Sunday. The Presanctified Liturgy is celebrated on Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent, but not on Good Friday as I inadvertently stated above. Thank you Rubicarius for calling this to my attention.

  12. I must second Anonymous; Fr Fynes-Clinton would have hated the Vatican II changes, but would have obeyed them scrupulously. I am quite sure that he would not have indulged his taste for antiquity in recreating the pre-Pian Triduum.

    I imagine that his interpretation of the Ordinary Form would have had more in common with the Oratory than Westminster Cathedral; but it would have been the Ordinary Form nonethless - though he would have rejoiced loudly at Summorum Pontificum.

    I think the same comments would probably also be true of Fr Colin Gill.

    that requires too much space to explain in a comment; but in essence there are 'High Church', 'Amglo Catholic', and 'Anglo Papalist', all of which are significantly different.

    Michael Yelton's various books are quite informative on the distinctions.

  13. " it was decided that there was no way the laity would accept not receiving Communion on this day."

    And rightly so. I attend the most traditional AC parish in my diocese and I'd be on the phone to the bishop so fast it would make one's head spin if the incumbent tried to recreate the Mass of the Presanctified to the last detail. Non-communicating Masses were abolished for a reason and even an outlier like S. Clement's can only go so far in pretending it's 1955 before the line between Catholic worship and high-church playacting is crossed.

    You may not think much of the opinion of the laity but a priest has to if he wishes to remain employed. If you don't want to take Communion on Good Friday, bully on you, but I'll take that decision for myself.

  14. Dominic Mary: Fr Fynes Clinton died a long time ago. He is no longer rector of S. Magnus and what you're suggesting is all pointless conjecture. In his time, there were controversies in the Church for sure, but these days we can't even say for sure how much longer we can survive. Nonetheless we do our best. Our choice to "recreate the pre-Pian rites" was taken with the view to offering something different from the made-up liturgies of those in "High Church", and to re-connect with an authentic tradition which was good enough for the Church for a thousand years, even if the last two generations find it tough going. You'll forgive me for objecting to your phrase "indulging a taste for antiquity" which shows both scorn for our efforts to witness to Tradition, as well a lack of interest in the Liturgy we worked so hard for.

    Geoff: Puleeez! Even the 1662 prayerbook tradition prefers an Ante-Communion to a Celebration of the Eucharist on Good Friday. It in the custom of the Church universal that the Sacrifice isn't offered on this day and where the pre-sanctified liturgy exists, the people do not communicate. The point of the old Good Friday liturgy is that it emptied the Tabernacles and the faithful, in looking for Jesus in the church, had to come face-to-face with the newly unveiled Cross.

    As for this notion that "it was all changed for a reason"; if the changes were so obviously better then why are there people who can't abide by them? If the superiority of modern liturgy is so glaringly apparent, then why does it not speak to me and many others? It seems to me that all the Newer Rite has done for you is destroy any notion of the Christian concept of Obedience, if you're so keen to claim for yourself the right to receive Holy Communion on Good Friday.

    And by the way, I AM laity.

  15. I am an advocate neither of 1662 prayer book worship nor of the Novus Ordo so I am not much moved by appeals to either. Nor do I think that the Anglican liturgical norms are necessarily superior, or in those cases where I do think so, that they are "obviously" so. But I think there are very good and very Catholic reasons for abandoning the idea of a service in which the priest communicates alone in the presence of the faithful. And obedience cuts both ways: we Anglo-Catholics have been said to revere the episcopate but not so much our actual flesh-and-blood Anglican bishops, who may have rules about the conduct of the liturgy that we deem objectionable.

    I am aware that you are not ordained but your remarked seemed to typify a particular clericalist attitude of the "gin and lace" school, one to which laymen (especially those of us who minister in the sanctuary) are not necessarily immune.

    And lest I be thought thoroughly sour, I shouldn't want to sign off without noting how impressed I am with your blog, which was what moved me to chime in in the first place. I look forward to future posts.

  16. The suggestions about what Fr Fynes-Clinton might or might not have done are fascinating. As a leader within the (papalist) Catholic League, he might have done what most of the clerical members of that body (& its Sodality of the Precious Blood) did. They gradually followed all the prescriptions of modern Rome, in many cases draping themselves in Cassock-albs and putting in table altars (as in St John's Holland Road and St Paul's,Brighton). Indeed, Fr Milburn had a number of High Mass sets cut into matching baroque-style concelebration sets. The "Fynes-Clinton/papalism" was not based-as far as I know-on admiration of the Old Roman Rite [unlike Traditionalist R.C.s] but on obedience to the prescriptions of the current Roman Pontiffs. One incumbent in the north of England in the 1970 said as an announcement,directed to his wife and tiny congregation,"Elsie,take in all those old Missals and someone, give out these new leaflets,Pope says we have to have new Mass.....In the name of the Father....etc".
    Dear R.C.s: High Church was often used as a mild rebuke to those who chose what to do in their church worship and what to believe in. Catholic or Full Faith was reserved for those Anglo-Papalists who followed all the directions of Rome, except for their private opinion of Anglican priestly orders. Two books might help,the re-printed, Merrily On High, by Colin Stephenson and Fr Anthony Symondson's brilliant contribution to the book of essays about Canon Brian Brindly: Loose Cannon. Fr Symondson S.J. had been a server at St Magnus and the book contains some interesting vignettes from that period.Alan Robinson

  17. If Geoff wishes to receive the Holy Communion on Good Friday, let him find a parish where the Lord's Supper is celebrated on that day, which is the proper service appointed (along with Mattins, the Litany, and Evensong) in Mrs Cranmer's book.

    Even at S. Clement's this vestige of the false archeologism condemned by Pope Pius XII won't last forever. No one I know under 60 is interested in it at all.

  18. Paul,

    Are you saying that no one under 60 is interested in the new rites? I need clarification!

  19. Well, most people under 60 have no interest in religion whatsoever of course, so my statement should be properly qualified. What I would assert is that, of those with some interest in traditional (Anglo-Catholic, Roman Catholic, etc.) religion, there is little enthusiasm for the various "improvements" which were made between 1951 and 1962, excepting some of those of a certain age, who actually participated in the changes when they first came out. Those of us who came to traditional liturgy later see the changes as the "trial balloons" that they were.

  20. That's what I was hoping you meant.

    what is more, that generation has really done badly by us younger folk. How many aliturgical generations have passed since the reforms? Now they even accuse those who adhere to Tradition of innovation. They're confused, and go about confusing everyone else.

  21. This comment is misleading : "But I think there are very good and very Catholic reasons for abandoning the idea of a service in which the priest communicates alone in the presence of the faithful."

    The traditional practice of not distributing holy communion on Good Friday is NOT a question of clergy vs. laity. Since only one Good Friday service was conducted in each church, the clergy as had to assist at the ceremony and they too did not receive communion. The celebrant alone consumed the host, in the presence not only of the faithful but also of all the assisting canons and other clergy.

  22. I am the Anonymous who commented on Fr Fynes-Clinton on 4 April.

    May I make a few points? Fr Fynes-Clinton died fifty-two years ago. Since then there has been a revolution of worship in the Catholic Church and the promulgation of a new Roman Missal in 1970. There were also major changes in the Church of England after his death, not least in defining what was legally permissible in worship as well as liturgical reform. As Alan Robinson has observed the reforms were accepted and applied without question because they had the solid basis of authority from the Holy See.

    The second brings me to Fr Gill, Fr Fynes-Clinton's successor. Fr Gill was an Anglo-Catholic war horse of the 1930s but he was not quite of the definite papalist tradition represented by his predecessor. Not only did he introduce Anglican rites (Series II) but he also boarded up the statue of Christ the King forming a reredos to the altar in the south aisle. He saw that the papal tiara on the Lord's head inspired confusion among visitors. Fr Gill also removed a small pieta which stood on the gradine of this altar, and several cases of relics which hung on the east wall next to the altar. He went further by removing the pair of fine standard candlesticks from the sanctuary and placing them beside the statue of St Magnus, I wish they were put back as they added great dignity to the high altar. What Fr Fynes-Clinton most deplored were what he called 'moderating influences' and these were soon put into force by Fr Gill. Many were disappointed by Fr Gill's appointment because they knew that the church's tradition would be watered down.

    Fr Gill lived to a ripe old age and remained at St Magnus for over twenty years. In that time he had become as revered by some as Fr Fynes-Clinton himself. I attended his funeral and it was one of the last major rallying points of the Anglo-Catholic world. Bishop Leonard behaved exactly as a Roman Catholic bishop; I shall never forget his tremulous triple blessing at the conclusion of the Requiem Mass. By then the reforms of Vatican II had become the air breathed by Anglo-Catholics, papalist and otherwise, Few questioned them and if they did they were written off as oddities who were not quite Catholic. Fr Woodgate maintained what he found but during his incumbency became convinced of the papalist position, in a form that Fr Gill never did. Many came to believe that he restored the Fynes-Clinton tradition.

    Why dredge up these faded recollections? The tradition of St Magnus was essentially austere, despite the magnificence of the furniture and setting. It was based on reserve, in the same way as the liturgical reforms of St Pius X. Excessive ceremonialism was dismissed as High Church frippery, ceremonial for ceremonial's sake rather than what was rubrically ordered.

    While I can understand the temptation to gild the lily at St Magnus, nevertheless I believe that this is a misunderstanding of the tradition of authority that underlay the church's liturgical practice. I realize that the papalist position is now impossible to maintain in the Church of England. It was finally defeated in 1992 with the General Synod's vote to ordain women. The door is opening for the establishment of Ordinariates that would enable the residual body of definite Catholics left in the Church of England to be reconciled, like their predecessors, on a corporate basis. This will be the final test of an understanding of true Catholicism. There is nothing I would like more than to see St Magnus absorbed, lock, stock and barrel, into the Catholic Church but somehow I think that the prospect would be defeated by the Fishmongers' Company.

    I realize that the papalist principles that made St Magnus the Martyr what it was have all but vanished, but the beauty and order of the church almost compels their liturgical maintenance, however foreign to the present period of history of the Church of England. O

  23. We are looking forward to pictures of the Easter Vigil!

  24. As a Roman Catholic not knowing that much about High Church Anglicanism, I am struck by the many similarities between the 2 traditions in reading your site.

    The pictures of your Good Friday service are lovely. I am curious - at St. Magnus, during the Veneration of the Cross, do those serving at the altar follow the traditional custom of removing their shoes before they approach the Crucifix? This Easter, the sacred ministers at my church had revived the old practice, and the laity were invited to worship likewise too as they came up to the Cross.

    I found that such a simple, but meaningful gesture made the act of venerating the Lord even more heartfelt.

    Also, is any Latin used in your services, or only English?

    Bless you, and all those at your church,

    Marcus in New Jersey, USA

  25. I have to add my compliments about the Good Friday photos as well – very nice Joseph!

    Referring to the previous poster’s comment about venerating the Holy Cross, the AC church I attended had the ministers and servers taking off their shoes as they performed their adoration. For the parishioners, it was entirely voluntary, and most (including myself) did observe the old custom. It was a humbling experience coming to the altar in my stocking feet to kneel and venerate my Saviour on such a holy day.

    Does being shoeless when venerating the Crucifix originate with the Emperor Heraclius (who reclaimed the True Cross)? Can anyone clarify?