Supplement …

Beginning on page S1 of the Anglican Breviary we find a Supplement of Feasts for Certain Places. In it we are given the available propers to keep the Black Letter Days and other Feasts commonly kept by Anglicans in certain places. Today (March 2nd) is one such day. Today the Supplement directs our attention to St. Chad. To understand what is going on and how to celebrate the Office accordingly let us look at the directions given on p., S1:

The foregoing Proper follows the first column of the Kalendar printed in the forefront of this Breviary, (i.e., the so-called Universal Kalendar,) which is the most inclusive usage of Feasts known to Christianity; this Supplement is based on the second column of the aforesaid Kalendar, and omits nothing therein listed except Feasts which also appear in the first column of the Kalendar, and are therefore to be found in the Proper. It should be noted that not only are all Black Letter Days from the various Anglican Prayer-Books thus provided for, but also many other Feasts which have some local observance among Anglicans.

In this Supplement therefore, as in the Kalendar, the Letters E, P, S, C, SA, designate respectively the usages of the following Books of Common Prayer, viz., English, Proposed, Scottish, Canadian, and South African. (the SA Black Letter Days are taken from the South African Supplement to the Prayer-Book.)

Whenever any of the following Feasts is to be observed, it will be necessary to re-arrange the Commemorations of Occurrences and Concurrences of the foregoing Proper, according to the rank given locally to the Feast which is thus introduced therein. Also, Lessons must be taken from the Common, as may be found necessary, in order to supply the requisite number when Matins is to be of nine Lessons.

The rubrical directions point us to “second column of the aforesaid Kalendar” and the user of the Anglican Breviary will look for this “second column” in vain. The Kalendar actually printed in the forefront of the Anglican Breviary does not contain two columns but only one. The discrepancy – I believe – originates with the intention of the editors to print the same Kalendar we find in the Anglican Missal in the Anglican Breviary but a failure ultimately to do so. To understand the directions it is helpful to have recourse to The People’s Anglican Missal and look at page 3 (following the numbering at the top of the page). On that page we do indeed find a two column Kalendar.

On that Kalendar and in the AB Supplement we find the letters E, P, S, C, SA listed indicating that the Feast of St. Chad is celebrated by all BCP’s the editors were able to consult. Anglicans – in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer – would probably want to keep this Feast. The 1662 BCP (Church of England) lists March 2nd as a Black Letter Day for Cedde or Chad Bp. of Litchfield (p. xxiii). The mention of St. Chad in the Kalendar is the only thing given in the BCP Office and for an actual celebration of St. Chad’s Feast we need to look outside the limits of the (for my purposes here) 1662 BCP. The AB provides means for keeping this Feast and in this sense makes explicit what is given implicitly in the BCP. Here (again) I wish to pint out the continuity between the AB and the BCP as well as the (for Anglicans) dependency of the AB on the BCP. To be sure the AB can be used without any reference to the BCP, but it is designed for use in accordance with the BCP because the AB is intended for use by Anglicans and is in harmony with their reformed catholic tradition. The reason the editors of the AB were able to use the Reformed Breviary of Pius Xth is precisely because its reform embraces the same principles upon which the BCP reformed the Medieval Breviary.

In the UK we would want to celebrate St. Chad as a Black Letter Day – which is different from a Major Feast – and therefore use the propers given in the AB Supplement. Major Feasts are – of course – Red Letter Days and have their own propers even in the 1662 BCP (see p. xvii – xx). The creation of the BCP red and black Letter Days is discussed briefly in Proctor and Frere’s New History:

It is difficult to see clearly the motive which determined the selection of the black letter Saints’ Days. In the case of the red letter days it clearly was the desire to bring the festivals to the test of the Bible, so that, without introducing new or extravagant commemorations, such of the old should be retained as would stand the test. But even so the test was not very carefully applied: the Assumption was rejected, while the Purification and the Annunciation were retained: so far all is natural: but the Visitation was excluded, and, like the Transfiguration, in spite of having biblical authority, only received later recognition as a black letter festival.


On the other hand, the principles which governed the selection of black letter Saints are not so clear. Thirteen of them are double feasts in the Sarum Kalendar, and by the addition of these to the red letter days the whole of the immoveable Sarum double feasts are represented in the present Prayer Book Kalendar except the Assumption and the two festivals of S. Thomas of Canterbury; the reason for the exclusion of those is not far to seek.

Francis Proctor & Walter Frere, A New History of the Book of Common Prayer, Ch. 9.

To celebrate the Black Letter Day Feast of St. Chad it seems reasonable to have recourse to the Sarum Kalendar to find out the rank of the Feast and celebrate it accordingly. The Sarum Ordo linked to on the right hand side of this Blog lists St. Chad as ix Lesson Feast so that in the AB we must celebrate it as, at least, a Double. Looking at the Propers given for the Feast we only have a Proper legend from St. Bede and a Collect. The previous Feast, St. David (also a Black Letter Day ! ) is also listed as a ix Lessons Feast with only a Colletc and a Legend as Proper. The AB, however provided the option to celebrate St. David as a iii Lesson Feast by using Rule 1 or 2. I would suggest the same for keeping this Feast. St. Chad is a ix Lessons Feast but can be reduced to iii Lessons by Rule 1 or 2.

Fr. Gregory Wassen +


About Father Gregory

I am an Anglican Catholic Priest, currently residing in Orvelte, the Netherlands.
This entry was posted in Anglican Breviary, Book of Common Prayer, Liturgical Year, Rubrics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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