medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Another change of gear: the last 250 pages consist of five chapters on the secular Uses and a final concluding chapter. Picking up the story of the secular Uses at about 1100 after 200 pages on the monastic Uses (!), we have three chapters on the Sarum Use, with one on Exeter (don’t ask!) and another on the other Uses.
The three chapters on the Sarum Use seem much more like a coherent history. Not that it actually is, of course. It’s the familiar story of manuscripts, saints and modern editions. There are curious errors: a reference (p.373) to Frere using the same alphabetical sigla for his editions of the Sarum consuetudinary and customary, despite them referring to different manuscripts (yes, but the sigla for the customary are in bold, and a different typeface!); the reference (p.426n) to an incomplete edition of the Sarum antiphonal in 1519 (a reference on p.549 to the “sole edition” of the antiphonal in 1519-20 gives the correct answer); a curious belief that the Sarum Processional of 1508 (edited by Henderson) was the first printed one – calamitous on p.549 when an argument is constructed upon it (even from my bed I can clearly see that the facsimile edition has “1502” on the spine! The mistake must arise from a touching reliance on Dickinson’s “List of Printed Service Books” of 1850: Pfaff does make use of Wordsworth’s “Ceremonies and Processions of the Cathedral Church of Salisbury” [“Edited from the fifteenth century MS no. 148, with additions from the cathedral records, and woodcuts from the Sarum processionale of 1502”, 1901] which should have given him a clue, but not of Bailey’s “The Processions of Sarum and the Western Church”  – the name “Terence Bailey” occurs neither in the index nor the acknowledgments).
Pfaff continues to trip himself up over bibliographical and biographical issues. On p.425 he writes: “As early as 1842-43 Charles Seager published two fascicules of a proposed edition of the Sarum Book” [the Sarum Breviary] “but apparently lost interest after his conversion to Roman Catholicism in the latter year.” Well, no. The fascicle published in 1843 was the second edition (actually a re-issue with considerable added matter and a new title page) of the the first fascicle of 1842. The second fascicle was published in 1855.
On the next page, discussing the Procter and Wordsworth edition, he writes (p.426n): “the patience of the Cambridge University Press may have been wearing thin.” Is it fanciful to suggest that he is projecting his own experience onto the 19th century?
The Exeter chapter concludes with a reference: “Frere, p.70, citing pp.10-11 of H.E. Reynolds’s edition of the Exeter Chapter Acts, a book unavailable to me.” Well, it’s not unavailable to me: I have Christopher Wordsworth’s copy!
Chapter 14, “Regional Uses and local variety” is much more satisfactory. The brief account (pp.445-462) of the York Use is a model of clarity. Unfortunately, here we have a comparison: in 2008, Matthew Cheung Salisbury published as Borthwick Paper 113 “The Use of York: Characteristics of the Medieval Liturgical Office in York.” An attempt to compare them shows that they can’t be compared: they are largely examining different manuscripts! Pfaff takes five saints to be diagnostic of the York Use. Salisbury (who is only looking at the Office) takes a different approach: he uses the Responsory series to distinguish a group of York Breviaries from Sarum Breviaries adapted to the York Use. He identifies seventeen feasts as peculiar to the York Use, but argues that they cannot be used as a diagnostic tool.
The discussion of the Hereford Use (pp.463-480) is satisfactory, if somewhat limited. A trick is missed in discussing the St Paul’s Use: Pfaff wonders why that term is used instead of “London Use”, but doesn’t consider why the cathedral is called “St Paul’s Cathedral” rather than “London Cathedral”. A howler seems to be perpetrated on p.481: he claims that the 10th century “Rule of St Paul’s” was “an adaptation of the Institutio Canonicorum of Amalarius of Metz” - I’m pretty certain he doesn’t mean either “Institutio Canonicorum” or “Amalarius of Metz” - what actually means is somewhat opaque. Total obscurity occurs on p.491: “Both in Sparrow Simpson’s 1875 printing of that register (itself still unpublished), and in the missal” - what is it that is unpublished? Several of Simpson’s publications are cited, but his “Registrum” dates from 1873.
Pfaff is (probably correctly) sceptical of the existence (ever) of the Lincoln Use which he considers to be a reification of Cranmer’s preface to the Book of Common Prayer. Here he misses a couple of tricks. First, he could have mention that the list of Uses in that preface: “And whereas heretofore there hath been great diversity in saying and singing in Churches within this Realm; some following Salisbury Use, some Hereford Use, and some the Use of Bangor, some of York, some of Lincoln;” differs from the list in the preamble to the 1549 Act of Uniformity itself: “Where of long time there has been had in this realm of England and in Wales divers forms of common prayer, commonly called the service of the Church; that is to say the Use of Sarum, of York, of Bangor, and of Lincoln;” Second, he could have pointed out that the preface is itself highly rhetorical (Pfaff himself points out on p.478 that the Sarum Use had already been made uniform for the southern province) and is a free translation of Cardinal Quignon’s preface to his own reformed Breviary!
The section on “Liturgy in parish churches” is unsatisfactory: unbelievably, Pfaff has difficulty defining a “parish church” (p.509)!
The last chapter “Towards the end of the story” is rather a rag-bag, with subjects as diverse as the Bridgettines and printed service books. This is done, of course, to avoid any suggestion of teleology or whiggishness: as if it wasn’t blindingly obvious (whatever Eamon Duffy might say) that the Reformation was inevitable. A howler is made in trying to strain a point that didn’t need to be made at all (in the context of printed breviaries for Abingdon and St Albans): “The monks can scarcely have supposed that their choirs would soon be bare, as at Abingdon, or ruined, as at St Albans.” It’s the other way around, of course! (Pfaff’s attempts to relate liturgy to architecture are consistently painful.)
Final conclusions to follow.
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