USE OF SARUM. Portiforium seu breviarium…pars hyemalis.

Paris, Guillame Merlin, 1556


4to. 3 parts in one vol. Ff. (viii) cxx; cxviii; + 44 unnumbered leaves A-E8F4. Red and black letter, double column. Woodcut architectural border to general tp with printer’s device, repeated on verso of final leaf, title to each part within full page woodcut architectural border, surrounding elaborate cut of respectively the holy family, King David and Christ on the cross in remarkable detail, large woodcut initials in several series, criblé, historiated and others. C19 label of M. H. Bloxam, autograph of M. H. Bloxam to head of first tp, 1831, contemp. ex libris to foot ‘Liber Ste:Malthus & amic[o]r[um]’, occasional contemp. Latin marginalia to second part. Light age yellowing, slight browning to a few leaves, general tp repaired at fore edge, and last leaf in upper margin, very light water stain to lower outer corner of first few leaves, occasional light foxing, tiny marginal worm trails to a few leaves of second part, light splashes to fols. lxiiii-lxv of second part, repair to upper inner gutter of last few leaves, single worm hole below. In C18 blind stamped calf, rebacked, spine remounted, aer.

This interesting volume contains the Use of Sarum or Sarum Rite which was developed at Salisbury Cathedral around the late eleventh century and was the principal liturgical rite in use in England until the Reformation. It is similar but by no means identical to the Roman rite, the main liturgical rite of the Latin or Western church. Salisbury Cathedral was a dominant influence on British liturgy from the Middle Ages until the English Reformation. The origins of the Sarum Rite can be traced to William the Conquerer’s religious policies in which he installed Norman nobleman into religious positions across England. Salisbury, where the bishop Osmund was appointed, used to be called Old Sarum. Osmund’s revisions to the liturgy resulted in the production of new and influential missals, breviaries and other manuals which became widely used.

“The Sarum Missal, above all, was certainly in greater demand than any other single book in pre-Reformation England, for every mass-saying priest and every church or chapel in the land was obliged to own or share a copy for daily use…..In a total of forty-eight editions of the Sarum Missal from 1501 to 1534 (the year when the final break with Rome was signalized by Henry VIII’s Statute of Supremacy) twenty-six were printed in Paris, sixteen at Rouen, two at Antwerp, and only four in London…. After 1534, except for a brief reappearance in 1554-7 under Mary Tudor, when five editions were produced (two at Rouen, one in Paris, two in London), the Sarum Missal was printed no more. Existing copies seemed useless or even damnable, except to a clandestine few, their possession became dangerous to life or liberty, and nearly all were destroyed by fire, or neglect, or used as waste paper. In our time, when men value them again at last for their sanctity, or beauty, or as monuments of religious or printing history, or as bibliographical marvels, these missals are rare indeed.” George D. Painter. ‘Two Missals printed for Wynkyn de Worde.’

In the period when this missal was published, the Church of England had separated from the Roman Catholic Church, but despite this the Sarum Breviary remained under use for the canonical hours as decreed by the Canterbury Convocation. Under the reign of Edward VI the Use of Sarum provided foundational material for the Book of Common Prayer. It was also popularised during the reign of Mary I, when this work was produced. During the Reformation, the vast majority of copies of the Sarum Rite were destroyed. Mary had ordered the reprinting of the Sarum Rite; this was their swansong, they were never reissued again.

The Use of Sarum contains some prayers which are unique, including the priest’s preparation prayers for Holy Communion. The chalice was prepared between the readings of the Epistle and Gospel, and after the Elevation the celebrant stood with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross; the Particle was put into the chalice after the Agnus Dei. It is probable that communion under one kind was followed by a ‘rinse’ of unconsecrated wine.

The Pars Hyemalis covers from Advent to Whitsuntide for the Temporale, and from St. Dunstan, May 19th to November 29th for the Sanctorale. About half of the half dozen or so known copies are bound together Pars Estivalis, the remainder alone as here.

This book belonged to M. H. Bloxam (1805-1888), of Rugby, Warwickshire, renowned antiquary and creator of the legend about how rugby was invented. Bloxam discovered the Roman town of Tripontium, 3 miles from rugby, as well as writing a popular treatise entitled ‘The Principles of Gothic Architecture’ in 1829.

ESTC records Folger copy only in the US. ESTC S111533; Lowndes Vol I 268.
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