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by Richenda Fairhurst, historyfish.net. March 2008.
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CARE OF THE SOUL
1. The Services
consisted of mass and
the canonical hours. All who could rise
attended the chapel on bended knees, the bedridden worshipping
simultaneously. Even sick people could
join in the intercessions ; thus the master of St. John Baptist’s,
(a) The Staff.—In regular hospitals helpers were directed to keep the canonical hours unless reasonably hindered,
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expected to pray
according to his powers and education. The lettered repeated the Hours and Psalter of the Blessed Virgin,
and Dirige, penitential psalms and
litany. Those who did not know the
offices said Paternoster, Ave Maria, Gloria Patri, and Credo.
The brethren rose early for Mattins ; after
prime and tierce, mass was celebrated ; sext and none followed. They then gave themselves to household
duties, until the day closed with vespers and compline.
Attendance at the night offices sometimes
caused them to fall sick with the cold, on which account the brethren
a leper was solemnly set apart, he was counseled to
say devoutly every day Paternoster, Ave
Maria, Credo in Deum, Credo in
Spiritum ; he was to say often Benedicite and protect himself with
of the Cross. In most leper-houses
inmates were required to hear mass daily and keep the canonical hours. At
Lord’s Prayer and
Salutation, but intercessions for the Catholic Church, king and queen
benefactors ; if omitted, they must be said next day.
Bishop Stratford of
“We also command, that the lepers omit not attendance at their church . . . unless prevented by grievous bodily infirmity : they are to preserve silence there, and hear mattins and mass throughout, if they are able ; and whilst there, to be intent on prayer and devotion, as far as their infirmity permits them.”
At Sherburn those unfit to leave their beds were to raise themselves at the sound of the bell and join in worship. Or in extreme weakness, to lie still and pray.
almshouses were frequently under a solemn vow regarding religious
exercise. By the oath upon admission to
“be obedient wt hooly deuocyon prayying for the founder of this place . . . and in especiall I shall be at the bedys [bedes] (sic) in the churche, and at matynys, and ate messe, and euensong and complyne, as the custome of maner is and usage—so help me God, and all holy dome, and all seints of heuen.”
were sometimes grouped
into morning and evening worship. Potyn
directed that his almsmen at
ye said Sawter, his Pater Noster, Ave and Credo, as well as he canne.” The keeper was to teach the ignorant, and if he were still found defective in repetition, penance was prescribed until his knowledge were amended.
“We wull also that euerich of ye poremen other tymes of ye day when they may beste entende and have feyser, sey for ye state and all ye sowlis abovesaide, iij sawters of ye most glorious Virgyne Mary. Every sawter iii times, 50 aues, with xv paternosters & iii credes . . . And furthermore, that thei say euery day onys our Lady Sawter for all Christen soulis.”
After supper when the household attended chapel, all that could joined in De Profundis “with ye versicles and orisons accustomed to be said for dede men.” At the close a bedeman said openly in English the bidding prayer.
The almsmen of Ewelme after a private prayer by their bedside, attended mattins and prime soon after 6 a.m., went at to mass, at to bedes [probably a service where the penitent prayed for and on behalf of others], at 3 p.m. to evensong and compline. About the final bidding prayer was said around the founder’s tombs :—
“God have mercy of the sowle of the noble prince Kyng Harry the Sext and of the sowles of my lord William sum tyme Duke of Suffolke, and my lady Alice Duchesse of Suffolke his wyfe, oure fyrst fownders, and of theyr fadyr and modyr sowles & all cristen sowles.”
The ministry of intercession was fostered in hospital chapels. A collect, breathing humble and trustful petitions, was drawn up by Wynard, Recorder of Exeter, who built God’s House in that city :—
“O Lord Jesu Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy upon Thy servant William founder of this place, as Thou wilt and as Thou knowest best ; bestow upon him strong hope,”
right faith and unshadowed love, and grant him a good end, which is a gift above all others. Amen.”
prayer directed for the
use of almsmen at
“O God, who by the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, pourest the gifts of charity into the hearts of the faithful, grant to Thy servant William the bishop, our founder, and grant to Thy servants and to Thy handmaids, for whom we implore Thy clemency, health of mind and of body ; that they may love Thee with all their strength, and with all joyfulness perform such thing as please Thee, through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
custom of remembering
benefactors is continued at Lambourn. The
little almshouse was founded in 1501 by John Isbury,
who is buried
in the adjoining church. Every morning
at 8, the senior almsman repeats the prayer for the soul of the
which the pensioners attend mattins. The
vicar recently recovered a part of the original prayer (in brass) from
2. The Chapel
The life of the
in the chapel. Of the chaplains at
In order to
gain an idea of the
external side of worship, some account of the accessories of a chapel,
lights, decoration and ornaments, must be given. Lights were kept
and night before the altar. For this
purpose oil lamps with rush wicks, and wax tapers were required. The two
The chapel was
paintings and carvings. The figure of
St. Giles now preserved in Lincoln Cathedral was brought there from the
hospital of that name. When St. Mary
enable one to picture the appearance of the sanctuary. The ornaments included an alabaster representation of the Trinity with painted wooden tabernacle, a well-carved and gilded image of the Blessed Virgin and Child (worth 40s.) with sundry small pictures and crucifixes.
and vestments were
frequently the gift of benefactors by will. The
founder bequeathed to St. Giles’,
fell a prey to
dishonest wardens. Frequent allusions are made to defects in the books,
etc., of hospital chapels and of their being withdrawn, put into
sold. The treasures had often dwindled
considerably before the final pillage, which partly accounts for
Chantry Surveys, etc., “plate and ornaments none.”
But as late as the sixth year of Edward VI, some
traces remained of ornate services.
The fittings of
such chapels have
seldom survived, but original altar-stones remain in two hospitals at
well as at
-end chapter eleven-
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