Sarum Use

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The Sarum Rite, also called the Rite of Salisbury, is a Western Rite liturgical tradition which coalesced in the 11th century West and in the contemporary Orthodox Church. It is more properly termed a Use of the Roman Rite.


The origins of the rite are with the ancient local usages of the Insular Churches, ie those of Great Britain and Ireland. The earliest rites of those regions belonged to the family of rites called Gallican Rite. With the coming of St. Augustine of Canterbury to England in AD 597, a new rite was introduced into Britain: that of the Church of Rome. St. Augustine had been directed by Pope St. Gregory the Great (also called St. Gregory the Dialogist) to respect the Gallican customs that were already in place. Beginning with this period, and later with the rule of Charlemagne on the Continent, the Gallican and Roman rites were mixed. In England, the Second Council of Cloveshoe in 747 under St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne included the canon that the rite of those "speaking the English tongue" would be the Roman rite. During the period of the Celtic and Saxon churches, there developed several related local variants or Uses of the Roman Rite, called Gallo-Roman to distinguish from the old Roman rite. The rites used in France, northern Spain, Portugal, the Low Countries, Germany, and Scandinavia were similar.

In 1066, the Normans invaded England. There were some abortive attempts at changing entirely to the related uses of northern France. However, monasteries particularly in the western parts of the island (especially Sherbourne Abbey and Glastonbury Abbey) proved intransigent. The Norman bishop of Sarum, Osmund, arranged the services for his new cathedral according to the practices that he saw around him—both Norman and Saxon/Celtic, inventing nothing. The Sarum rite as known was probably arranged by Richard Le Poore, who moved the See from Old Sarum to New Salisbury in the 13th c. From this period, the Sarum enjoyed the sterling reputation as being the best liturgy anywhere in the West, and thus had influence on the liturgy of other local churches in the Isles and the Continent (notable among them being Braga in Portugal and Nidaros/Trondheim in Norway). Other related local uses continued as well, such as York, Bangor, Hereford, and Durham.

The Sarum Use was one of the first to be published on the new printing presses in the early days of the Reformation. The complete service books for the whole rite survive. The rite was commanded for the whole realm of Great Britain during the reign of Queen Mary. It was also the basis for the translated and later Reformed rites of the Anglican Church.

The rite was revived particularly by the Orthodox party of the Anglo-Catholic or Tractarian movement in the 19th c. Church of England. In the mid-19th c., the services were translated into English by such as G. H. Palmer, and became either the preferred liturgy or preferred liturgical model for the non-Romanizing part of the Anglo-Catholic movement (also called Orthodox Anglo-Catholic or Prayer Book Catholic). The ceremonial and customs of the rite were the major influence in the development of the English Use, partly through the efforts of Percy Dearmer, author of The Parson's Handbook. The old English Catholic Clergy Brotherhood also maintained a tradition of Sarum Use through the period of Catholic persecution in England. Attempts to revive the Sarum rite amongst the Roman Catholics included proponents such as A. W. N. Pugin and Bishop Wilson of Tasmania. The Sarum rite was suggested, but rejected, for use in the new Westminster Cathedral in 1903.

The Sarum Rite in English is also used by the Western Rite Orthodox in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

Old Sarum Rite

A related liturgy is the Old Sarum Rite, compiled by a monastery of Old Catholic origin within the Holy Synod of Milan, based upon many various early rites of Western Europe, including Sarum, and many details from minority texts. It is a modern construction (deemed a reconstruction by its supporters), and it has been criticized as being a pastiche rather than an actual revived liturgy. This liturgy is not in use by any mainstream Western Rite Orthodox.