Welcome to our Festival blog

We are a small congregation who organised a highly successful 'William Byrd Festival' in May 2011 to celebrate the life and work of the village's Elizabethan composer, William Byrd (c.1540 - 1623). In 2012 we played host to the world-famous choir The Cardinall's Musick under their director Andrew Carwood.

This website contains everything you need to know about William Byrd and his links with Stondon Massey. The church is open for services, of course, and on the second Sunday afternoon in the month during the summer.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Byrd Book Query: Council of Trent

Received 24 May 2011
Dear Andrew,
I bought a copy of this booklet when I attended the concert at Stondon Massey 2 Saturdays ago & have enjoyed reading it. I am a little perplexed by a comment on p 10, 3rd paragraph. It says ‘The Council of Trent in 1563 had practically outlawed the Latin rite in the Church.’ The Council of Trent was a Roman Catholic Council which sought to resolve some of the justified criticisms levelled at it by protagonists of the Reformation. But it did not outlaw Mass in Latin in Roman Catholic churches, which I believe continued until Vatican II. Was the sentence in the booklet meant to refer to Queen Elizabeth I’s Act of Uniformity of 1558 which stipulated that (in England) only services in the Book of Common Prayer were lawful?
Christine Petch
Replied 28 May 2011
Dear Christine
Thank you for your e mail dated 24 May and your subsequent correspondence.
‘William Byrd: Some Notes’ has been compiled using a mixture of sources. I have to admit that the relationship of the fledgling Anglican Church and its relationship, both political and religious, with Catholicism is not an area with which I am familiar, so clearly your knowledge is greater than mine.
Looking at Wikipedia, reference to the Council of Trent looks to be an error. Its inclusion in the booklet comes from a phrase taken from Edmund H Fellowes biography of William Byrd (1936). I think that Fellowes is wrong.
Having looked at the history of Stondon Massey by Reeve (1900), the then Rector mentions two events: firstly “a fresh edition of the Prayer-book was issued in the spring of 1559, and ordered to be generally adopted by June 24th. … A copy of the Bible was once more directed to by placed publicly in every church”. Secondly, “in 1563, Archbishop Parker published the thirty-nine Articles as a standard of belief, and a commission was opened at Lambeth to enquire into the tenets of the clergy”. Reeve adds that, “This appears to have been a too searching tribunal for [Revd. John ] Alford, [Rector of Stondon Massey, 1558 to 1563,] and he was deprived of his benefice”.
The thirty-nine Articles of Religion appear in the Book of Common Prayer and remain valid for anyone entering the clergy today in the Church of England. These Articles but would not be acceptable to Catholics e.g. allowing priests to marry. Article XIX states that “the Church of Rome hath erred” in not preaching the “pure word of God”; Article XXII describes purgatory as “vainly invented”; and especially Article XXIV: “It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, , and the custom of the Primitive Church, to have publick prayer in the Church, or to minister the sacraments in a tongue not understanded of the people”.
I suspect that Fellowes was referring to this ruling rather than the Council of Trent. The Articles would effectively bar Catholics from the “English Church” and the Latin rite was effectively banned.
The Articles more or less coincide with Byrd’s appointment to Lincoln Cathedral. In harbouring Catholic thoughts Byrd must have known the dangers he faced.
I would be interested to know your thoughts on the matter.
Received 28 May 2011
Dear Andrew,
Thanks for your e-mail. I must stress that I am not an expert on these matters. I am merely one who is interested in the Tudor period & in the Reformation (in the English church). I think your research has demonstrated that the reference to the Council of Trent here is wrong. The Act of Uniformity of 1558 (which I believe came into force in 1559) outlawed any service other than those in the new Prayer Book, which was issued in 1559, and those services were all in English. So, indeed, the Latin Mass became illegal in the Church of England from the moment that the new Prayer Book was published, which you have found to be the Spring of 1559. (I’m calling it the ‘new’ Prayer Book because Edward VI issued a Prayer Book too, but that would have been withdrawn during Mary Tudor’s reign & I’m assuming that the Prayer Book issued by Queen Elizabeth was a new and/or revised version.) I assume that this Prayer Book did not include the 39 Articles as you say that they were not published till 1563 (I know a shorter version, i.e. with fewer articles was produced in Henry VIII’s time & gradually expanded upon). Anyway, from my limited knowledge, I think the Latin Mass became illegal in the Church of England in 1559 rather than 1563.
So you and I are saying much the same thing. Thank you very much for taking time to look into this. Perhaps the sentence in the booklet should be amended for future editions.

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