Monday, 6 August 2007

Wedding, Sarum-style.

I had an inquiry from a film company about how marriages were celebrated in Tudor times. Having only lots else to do, I pulled down the Sarum Missal (every home should have one) and banged out this rough and ready translation. The bits in blue are in the Missal in English. I have simply modernized the spelling.

How Marriages are to be Solemnized:
The man and woman stand before the church door, or before the church, in the presence of God, priest and people.The man stands to the right of the woman; the woman to the left of the man, for the rib from which she was formed was taken from Adam's left side.The priest inquires whether the banns have been read, and then in the mother tongue says to all listeners: [presumably in his own translation]
Brethren, we are gathered together in the presence of God and his angels and of all the saints, before the church, to join together two bodies, which is to say, of this man and of this woman.
Here the priest looks at the couple.
that they may be but one body and two souls in faith and in the law of God, that together they may come to eternal life. But before we do these things,
Here the priest speaks to the people in the maternal tongue,
I charge you now, by Father, Son and Holy Ghost, that if any of you know any reason why these young people may not legitimately marry, you should say so now.
The same charge is made to the man and woman.…The priest then inquires concerning the woman's dowry.… After this, the priest says to the man in the presence of all the hearers, in the maternal tongue:
N. will you take this woman as your wife, and love and honour her, guard her and keep her in health and sickness, as it befits a husband should do his wife, and, forsaking all others for her sake, stay only with her all the days you both shall live?
The man replies: I will.
The priest inquires the same of the woman:
N. will you take this man as your husband, and obey him and serve him, love him and honour him, guard him and keep him in health and sickness, as it befits a wife should do her husband, and, forsaking all others for his sake, stay only with him all the days you both shall live?
The woman replies: I will.
The woman is now given by her father or a friend; if she be a girl, her hand is bare, if a widow, it is covered, which hand the man takes in God's faith to keep safe, as he has vowed before the priest; so he holds her right hand in his right hand. And the man then plights his troth by the following words, after the priest:
I N., take thee, N., to my wedded wife, to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us do part, if holy Church will it ordain, and thereto I plight thee my troth.

He withdraws his hand. Then the woman says, after the priest:
I N., take thee, N., to my wedded husband, to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to be bonny and buxom in bed and at board, till death us do part, if holy Church will it ordain, and thereto I plight thee my troth.
The man then places gold or silver and the ring on a dish or on the book, whereupon the priest should enquire whether the ring be already blessed or not. If not, the priest blesses it like this: Dominus vobiscum.
Et cum spiritu tuo.
Creator et conservator humani generis, dator gratiae spiritualis, largitor aeternae salutis, tu, Domine, mitte benedictionem + tuam super hunc anulum; ut quae illum gestaverit sit armata virtute coelestis defensionis, et proficiat illi ad aeternam salutem. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
Benedic, Domine, hunc anulum quem nos in tuo sancto nomine benedicimus; ut quaecumque eum portaverit, in tua pace consistat, et in tua voluntate permaneat, et in amore tuo vivat et crescat et senescat, et multiplicetur in longitudinem dierum. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Then he sprinkles holy water over the ring.
If the ring be already blessed, he places it on the book straight away; the priest takes it and hands it back to the man. The man takes the ring in his right hand with his three main fingers, and holds the bride's right hand in his left hand and, after the priest, says:
With this ring I thee wed, and this gold and silver I thee give; and with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly cattle I thee honour.
And then the groom pushes the ring onto the bride's thumb, saying
In nomine Patris,
on the second finger, saying:
et Filii,
on the third finger, saying,
et Spiritus Sancti,
and onto the fourth finger, saying,
This is done, becauase according to Gratian's Decretals, 'the fourth finger of the woman bears the ring, because from there a vein leads directly to the heart', and the shine of the silver represents love, which should be forever new to them. Then, bowing their heads, the priest pronounces the blessing over them.
Benedicti sitis a Domino, qui fecit mundum ex nihilo.
[Long Latin prayers follow.]

The bride and groom go into the church, to kneel at the step. More Latin prayers. The priest leads the bride and groom into the Quire, where they stand on the south side, between the quire and the altar, the bride standing on the groom's right, which is to say between him and the altar, and the Mass of the Holy Trinity is then celebrated. After the Pater Noster, a canopy is held over the kneeling bride and groom. Long Nuptial blessing.
The canopy is removed, and at the pax, the groom goes to receive it from the priest, and passes it to his wife. After Mass, bread and wine (or something else good to drink) are blessed in a vessel, which they give each other to drink, the priest saying:
Dominus vobiscum.
Et cum spiritu tuo.
Benedic + Domine, istum panem et hunc potum et hoc vasculum. sicut benedixisti quinque panes in deserto, et sex hydrias in Chana Galilaeae, ut sint sani, sobrii, atque immaculati omnes gustantes ex eis, Salvator mundi, qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, Per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
That night, the priest with the bride and groom comes to bless the nuptial bed.


Anonymous said...

How profound and beautiful! Thank you, Father.

Ttony said...

Cattle? Chattels?

Fr Justin said...

Chattels sounds more convincing, I agree. The original word is 'catell', and as all I was doing was modernizing spelling, I left it. Just for inconsistency's sake, I did update 'tyll deth us departe' however. 'Cattle' is not so far off the beam, though, since 'pecunia' is Latin for both cattle and money.

gemoftheocean said...

So how she has to be "bonny and buxom" and he just gets to be an oaf if he chooses? [This one is pretty much rhetorical, as maybe you don't want to "go there."]

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

Cattle and money are much the same in some African societies where they spend the whole wedding ceremony referring to the bride as "The Cow" - a term of respect.
Funny how things echo across the customs :)

Paulinus said...


I'm surprised film companies do any research at all. Most of the religious coverage in drama is grim indeed. Vestments of different dominiations worn in no particular order, bits and bobs of half-remembered liturgies put together by script writers.(obvious examples - Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Commander (just this weekend on ITV), Waking The Dead)

Perhaps I should stop watching films and telly.

Fr Nicholas said...

Glad you were able to oblige the film company. Will you be making a brief appearance as a Sarum priest?

Fr Justin said...

—erm, not this time :-)

Fr Justin said...

I should add that it was Fr Nicholas who drew us together in the first place.

Anonymous said...

'Here the priest looks at the bride and groom'; '... or something else good to drink' - they don't write rubrics like that any more.

More's the pity.

Hebdomadary said...

Thoughts occur of such a ceremony taking place at an ancient and picturesque little chapel I know near Coombe. I can almost see it now!

Genie Elizabeth said...

What film was the rite in? We are
using the Sarum rite for our wedding in May and video would be really helpful for the MC. Thank you!

Fr Justin said...

I don't really think there will be enough in the film to give you much sense; and the director made a lot of changes. You're probably best to use the text above which has 'stage directions'. I hope the day goes well for you, and wish you every blessing.

The Amazonian Sovereign said...

Just how accurate would you rate the wedding scene in the film El Cid? From what I've read, rather than having the couple kneel, they laid face down before the altar with their arms outstretched. I am a screenwriter and I want to make sure I am getting things right. Many thanks, Father.

Fr Justin said...

Philippa: I'm not actually familiar with the film; I saw it many years ago, of course. What you describe sounds odd: prostration is a feature in religious profession and ordination, but I have never heard it used at a wedding.
But then I don't know everything……… :-)

If they weren't just making it up, then probably they were recreating something from the Mozarabic Rite, which was used in Spain at the time of Cid and is still used in a modified form in the Toledo diocese. No doubt there may be scholars there who could tell you more, but I can't. Sorry.