Candlemas in the Sarum Rite

The recently observed Feast of the Presentation (also known as “Candlemas”) reminded me of an interesting YouTube video, a bit of living history, that I ran across some years ago. In 1997, a reconstruction of a Sarum rite Candlemas liturgy was conducted at Merton Chapel, Oxford. ┬áThe following link is to one portion of the service:

“Sarum” refers to medieval English worship practices centered at Salisbury Cathedral. The codification of the Sarum use was largely the work of Saint Osmund, nephew of William the Conqueror, who after the 1066 Norman conquest became Lord Chancellor of England (1070-1078) and then Bishop of Salisbury in 1078. His ceremonies and customs owe much to those of Rouen in Normandy, but were adapted in a way that he hoped would benefit both the French and the Saxons. It is noted that the Sarum rituals were more elaborate than other rites of the Roman Catholic Church, including the Tridentine.

In time the Sarum use came to dominate much of England, and the other rites (those of York, Lincoln, Aberdeen, Bangor, and Hereford, among others) were suppressed by King Henry VIII. The Sarum Rite influenced, and was in turn displaced by, the English language Book of Common Prayer after Henry’s death. Sarum usage enjoyed a brief revival from 1553-1559, under Queen Mary I.

The snippet of the Candlemas service above shows the Offertory. From the comments, I am informed that the background music is ‘Gaude, Gaude, Mater’ by John Sheppard. The musicians are from the Choir of the Church of Our Lady at Lisson Grove in London.

You can view the entire service in a series of YouTube installments, thanks to a YouTuber who calls himself “BrunoTheLabrador”.

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