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Sarum use


The liturgical customs, rites, chants and calendar associated with the medieval cathedral of Salisbury, whose liturgical books were widely copied and whose liturgy became the closest of any to constituting a uniquely English liturgy during the Middle Ages. The term ‘‘Sarum’’ derives from Sarisburia, the Latin form of ‘‘Salisbury.’’ The origins of the Sarum Use are shrouded in obscurity. It is not an independent liturgical rite as such, but rather, an English adaptation of the Roman Rite that incorporated extensive Norman, French and Gallican influences. This accounts for similarities between the Sarum Use and those of the Dominican, Carmelite, and other medieval orders (see DOMINICAN RITE and CARMELITE RITE).

The final form of Sarum melodies showed economy of range, balance of cadence, advanced sense of musical form, and some transposition for effect or contrast. Much of the Gradual remained closer to Gregorian than did the Antiphonal. Alleluia verses and hymns varied most, new melodies being written continuously until 1500. The hymns, especially, yielded to the sort of variation that was found in the transmission of folk songs. As on the Continent, a great variety of sequences continued to be used until the 16th century. In the early Norman period, tropes were used extensively.

From the 13th century onwards, the Sarum Use was increasingly adopted by other cathedral, parochial and collegiate foundations. Its impact was also felt in Portugal, in the Use of Braga. By the 16th century, almost every English diocese had accepted the Salisbury Use in full or in part. The only holdout was York, which consistently retained its own independent Use. In 1542, the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury imposed the Sarum Use on the entire province. This achievement was short-lived. In 1549, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer suppressed the Sarum Use, replacing it with the reformed English liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer. The ascendency of Catholic Queen Mary resulted in its brief respite, but the Elizabethan settlement of 1559 sealed its final fate, when it was permanently suppressed. The 19th century Oxford Movement gave it a new lease of life when its members promoted the revival of preReformation liturgical ceremonies and chants. Old Sarum chants and melodies were adapted to English texts.

Bibliography: N. SANDON, ed., The Use of Salisbury, I: The Ordinary of the Mass (Newton Abbot 1984, 2/1990); 2: The Proper of the Mass from Advent to Septuagesima (Newton Abbot 1986, 2/ 2000); 3: The Proper of the Mass from Septuagesima to Palm Sunday (Newton Abbot 1991); 4: The Masses and Ceremonies of Holy Week (Newton Abbot 1996); 5: The Proper of the Mass from Easter to Trinity (Newton Abbot 1998); 6: The Proper of the Mass from Trinity to Advent (Newton Abbot 1999). W. H. FRERE, ed., Graduale Sarisburiense (London 1894); Antiphonale Sarisburiense (London 1901–25). G. R. RASTALL, ed., Processionale ad usum Sarum 1502 (Clarabricken 1980). The Sarum Missal (London 1989). T. BAILEY, The Processions of Sarum and the Western Church (Toronto 1971). E. DUFFY, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England c. 1400–1580 (London 1992).


New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2003. Vol. 12. P. 697-698.

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