Friday, July 15, 2022

Comparing church services

James Robert Hope-Scott, an English lawyer and member of the Oxford movement, was born 200 years ago today. While still in his 20s, he travelled to Germany and Italy, and kept a diary of his journey. Some parts of this are quoted in a ‘life-and-letters’ biography put together not long after he died. The quoted diary entries demonstrate his fervent interest in the practical and spiritual practices of church services, an interest that would soon lead him to Rome metaphorically as well as geographically.

James Robert Hope, later Hope-Scott, was born on 15 July 1812 in Great Marlow, Berkshire, the third son of General Sir Alexander Hope and his wife. He attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, where his father was Governor, and was educated at Eton College. He studied at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was a contemporary and friend of William Ewart Gladstone and John Henry Newman. He was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1838, and in 1840-1841 he travelled to the Continent, particularly Italy, visiting Rome. On his return, he became one of the leading members, along with Newman, of the Tractarian or Oxford Movement, a deeply conservative group which fought against a perceived secularisation of the English church. The group evolved into Anglo-Catholicism and many of its members converted to Roman Catholicism - Hope was received into the Roman Catholic church in 1851.

Early in the 1840s, Hope helped found the Scottish boarding school, now known as Glenalmond College, and during his later years he would go on to fund the building of other schools and churches in Scotland. In 1847, he married Charlotte Lockhart, granddaughter of Sir Walter Scott. Thereafter they rented Scott’s Abbotsford House, but in 1853, Charlotte inherited the property - this is when Hope changed his name to Hope-Scott. In 1852, he managed Newman’s defence in a libel action, and in 1855 he conducted the negotiations which ended in Newman accepting the rectorship of the Catholic University of Ireland. However mostly he brought his legal expertise to parliamentary matters, especially standing counsel for railway companies seeking to expand their networks.

Charlotte died in childbirth in 1858. A few yeas later, Hope-Scott married Lady Victoria Fitzalan-Howard, a god daughter of Queen Victoria, but she too died in childbirth, in 1870. Hope-Scott himself is said to have never recovered from this second tragedy and himself died in 1873. Further information is available from Wikipedia, Scottish Places, and the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Within a decade of his death, the classical scholar Robert Ornsby had put together a two-volume ‘life-and-letters’ biography: Memoirs of James Robert Hope-Scott (John Murray, 1884). Both volume 1 and volume 2 are freely available online at Internet Archive. Here and there, through the first volume mostly, Ornsby refers to diaries kept by Hope-Scott kept at various points in his life, when travelling or to help record his religious life. Occasionally, Ornsby quotes from these diaries. The following examples - which demonstrate a more than keen interest in the conduct of church services - were taken by Ornsby from Hope-Scott’s tour diary in Germany and Italy in 1840-1841.

24 September 1840, Coblentz
‘In the eilwagen from Coblentz to Frankfort, met an educated young man, apparently intimate with many of the officers whom we met on our way out of the town. Asked whether Strauss had any followers there? ‘Es bewahre!’ was the reply. ‘But Hermes?’ ‘Ah, yes, many. All the “aufgeklärten,” including many young priests.’ ‘But his principles are, at bottom, the same as Strauss?’ ‘No, no, Strauss goes too far.’ ‘But Hermes has been condemned by the Pope.’ ‘What care we for the Pope?’ He said, however, that the Hermesians did not give unnecessary publicity to their opinions. (Substance of conversation.)’

27 September 1840
‘Being uncertain as to the relative position of the two Communions, I resolved to attend both, not, however, designing more than to hear the sermons. Went accordingly at 9 A.M. to the Frauen-kirche (the only R. C. Church, and that, I was told, only conceded about A.D. 1817). Some previous service was unfinished when I went in, but soon after, preparation was made for the service. The church filled rapidly, and a priest appeared in the high stone pulpit. He began in the name of the Blessed Trinity, and declared the need in which we all stood of the help of God’s Holy Spirit, which he therefore prayed us to invoke. This was done in an hymn accompanied by the organ. After this, he read the first eleven verses of Luke xiv., and then proceeded to preach upon the subject of the first six, viz. the observance of the Sabbath. He then traced its first origin to the rest after the creation; its confirmation and full establishment to the law; its present day and character to the apostles, showing the selections of the day to have arisen from the Resurrection and the Descent of the Spirit. He pointed out its beneficial purposes both for soul and body, giving a priority to the latter as (in their kind) most necessary, but insisting on the impossibility of safely following them, without some countervailing spiritual discipline. The mode of observing the Sunday, he said, resulted from its purposes, a mixture of religious exercises and innocent amusement. The former, he showed, should be chiefly, though not solely, carried on in church, and spoke eloquently of the claims which that holy place has upon us - our baptism, our communions, absolutions, marriages, &c.; and then of the distinct blessing, attendant on the meetings of the Church, the living Presence of Our Lord under the form of bread; the authority of the priesthood; the brotherly sympathies of one assembled family; and urged these against the pretence of prayer at home. (It put me in mind of S. Chrysost. ap. Bingh. 20, c. 2, s. 11.) He also alluded to the practice which he said existed of master-manufacturers carrying on trade either the whole or half of Sunday, and warned them that God would not give His honour to another. The whole was well arranged, and, with the exception of those passages relating to Transubstantiation, such as I would gladly often hear in England. The language was more generally sensible and manly than eloquent; the manner was artificial, but not very disagreeably so, and was dignified. The preacher was some thirty-eight years old, or less. While actually preaching, he wore the clerical cap, but put it off when he paused, and (I think) did not wear it while reading the text. After the sermon, he announced the hours of mass, prayers, &c., published banns, and then recorded the deaths which had taken place during the week, commending the deceased persons to our prayers, adding (as I understood him) a particular reference to the ensuing mass. After this, the consecration of the Host ensued. I could not see the high altar, but joined in the hymns, which I read from a neighbour’s book, and which related to different parts of the service. These were in German, and of a wholesome, devotional kind. The same book contained German prayers. I followed in general the attitudes of those among whom I was, though there seemed a want of uniformity as to kneeling or standing. Bowing the head at Our Lord’s name and using the sign of the cross are surely better than Popish.

The singing was general and manly; the people fairly attentive. In the chancel the stalls were occupied by women of a higher rank. There was a full proportion of men present. The church was not large, but has a good deal of beauty about it, as well as curiosity. Alms were collected during mass.

At 21/2 P.M. went to St. Laurence, which (with the remaining churches) is Lutheran. It is a very fine church, as is St. Sebald’s - and in both of them painted glass, pictures, crucifixes, figures of saints, side-altars, &c., have been preserved. Indeed, it would appear that crucifixes are a Lutheran ornament, for one, at least, seemed new. On the high altar, candles were lighted (as I had seen at St. Sebald’s in the morning), and continued so during the service. The congregation was small, and clustered round the pulpit (Do. at St. Egidien’s Kirche). The service - a hymn, a sermon with a prayer and the Lord’s Prayer, another hymn, and a blessing. An old lady lent me a book, but I could not follow the singing; it was apparently in short verses, with the organ alone between, but the latter was too loud to allow the voices to be distinctly heard. The hymns, of which I read several, were not so much to my mind as the R. C. The preacher was a middle-aged man with a good many rings on his fingers. His dress a black gown with full sleeves close at the wrist. He preached an earnest and fair sermon from the end of ch. 5 and beginning of ch. 6 of the Galatians. His manner also artificial, but inferior to the priest’s. The congregation attentive. The head bowed (at least by some) at Our Lord’s name. The names of sick persons mentioned to be prayed for.

Apparently a new pulpit and altar, both richly carved in stone. English Protestants would stare at the decorations of this church.’

28 September 1840
‘Monday morning. St. Sebald’s bells going at 7 o’clock. Asked Hausknecht, wlio said there was a service, including sermon, every morning in the week at one or other of the Lutheran churches. Scantily attended, he said, otherwise on Sunday mornings.

Note. No Jews may live in Nürnberg. Fürth their residence.

A funeral procession passed the window (Protestant I conclude). Women with baskets of flowers preceded the corpse, which was carried under a pall of black, with a large white cross. Carriages followed. We were told that flowers were used for all ages, but the colours vary for old and young; the former, if very old, quite white; the latter, if in youth, having more bright colours than in middle age. ‘Spargere flores ’ is their purpose, as the relations take and strew them in the grave.’

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