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EMINENT TRACTARIANS How Lay Followers of the Oxford Revival Expressed their Faith in Their `Trivial Round and Common Task’ – John Neville Greaves

April 26, 2017

The Oxford Movement is seen as largely a clerical cause so it is good to hear of laymen other than the famous Lord Halifa: A merchant — William Gibbs of Tyntesfield, head of the house of Antony Gibbs and Sons; An architect — William Butterfield; A banker — Thomas Percival Heywood of Manchester; A theatre entrepreneur — Lilian Baylis, of the ‘Old Vic’.

The stress was on incarnation rather than atonement and even R.W. Dale, the Congregationalist minister of Carrrs Lane in Birmingham was influenced by it.

There is an unnecessary use of Greek words not transliterated.

Some photos would have been nice.

Mention is made of the Annual Church Congress. The first congress was held in 1861 in the hall of Kings College, Cambridge, and was the outcome of the revival of convocation in 1852. From 1879 the congress included an Ecclesiastical and Educational Art Exhibition.

The congress is under the presidency of the bishop in whose diocese it happens to be held. The meetings of the congress have been mainly remarkable as illustrating the wide divergences of opinion and practice in the Church of England, no less than the broad spirit of tolerance which has made this possible and honorably differentiates these meetings from so many ecclesiastical assemblies of the past.

Gibbs was thought be many to be exploiting foreigners, as did many in the time of Empire. But he built almshouses as well as Tynesfield and opposed slavery. I am not sure why the author lists all the devotional books in his library. This first section was boring and might put readers off the far more interesting stuff that follows.

Butterfield saw classical church architecture as pagan. His gothic included the ‘holy zebra style’ and he gave good pay and conditions to his workers. He write a 25 page letter of instructions on how his godchildren should be brought up and was suspicious of Lux Mundi and of proposals for a simplified Prayer Book.

Heywood championed church schools.

James 2:14-16 – faith without works is dead – is quoted as an antidote to the 39 Articles where faith alone is needed for salvation.

Bayliss is a sort of female Stewart Headlam  regarding theatres and has a cogent theology of drama.

The author quotes Dearmer on the 1552 Ornaments Rubric which seems to allow vestments but 1552 has no loner and place  in law: it being superseded by 1662.  In any case, it said the opposite of that claimed for it: he minister at the tyme of the Communion and all other tymes in his ministracion, shall use neither albe, vestment, nor cope:

On p. 97 the author wrongly locates the idea of kenosis in Colossians 2:9. It’s in Philippians 2:8

On p. 110 he regards Unitarians as Christians.


The day-to-day disciplines which they exhibited may be assessed by the following summary:

1 Compassionate staff management/labour relations.

2 Fair wages.

3 Kindness and loyalty in overall commitment to the workforce.

4 Just prices and the charging of interest.

5 Profit motive/profit margins and legitimate self-interest.

6 Due share/stakeholder claims.

7 Client confidentiality.

8 Prompt payment of debts and obligations.

9 Environmental obligations (insofar as they were perceived at the time).

10 Honest presentation of goods and contracts.

11 Honesty, truthfulness and openness in transactions.

12 ‘Trust’ as a contract in social stability.

13 Quality of goods, workmanship and service.’

He was convinced that architecture was made for man, and not man for architecture.’ His theological principle was clear, and may be summarised as: God was supreme in all considerations; man was the crown of creation; the Church was the continuation of the Incarnation, and responsible for God’s will on earth; therefore all art and philosophy and creativity were subject to the fulfilment of people, and not to the rational, political and abstract ideas arising from man’s hubris.

One of his rare non-ecclesiastical contracts was for the Royal County Hampshire Hospital at Winchester, 1863-1868. He prepared well in advance of presenting his drawings by frequent consultations with experts at the War Office, including Captain Dalton, RE, who had designed the Woolwich Hospital (1860);86 in discussions on many occasions with the Winchester doctors; and in reading both Florence Nightingale’s Notes on Hospitals, a copy of which she had sent him, and the long letters she wrote from her sickbed. She expressed herself ‘Quite delighted’ with the final scheme. The plans included a hospital chapel, funded by private subscription, to which the architect himself contributed £500 (a quarter of his income in 1866). His arrangements for wards and amenities, heating and ventilation installations, were well up to the level of current best practice, and his separation of sewage, rainwater, and bathwater was far in advance of the practice of the time.” He combined beauty of form with practical need, and in doing so exemplified the century’s progression from utilitarian simplicity to architectural splendour, as argued by Owen Jones, whose conviction was that ‘Ornament must necessarily increase with all peoples in the ratio of the progress of civilisation.'”

The figure of the Lord as seen by St John in Revelation is as a living presence in his Church on earth.’ His point was that if all these things were an expression of the whole Catholic faith, a crucifix would be anomalous in such a historical presentation. `It would be a mistake,’ he said, ‘it is not a final subject.’ He claimed that the latter part of the Middle Ages put forward the Passion of our Lord with undue prominence, out of proportion with other things — it was death rather than life that men were expected to meditate upon, the past rather than the future, instead of the two in their proper relationship. This gave the Christianity of Western Europe a strong Puritan and melancholy tinge. ‘Early Christian art told a different story because of a more complete one. The whole faith is laid out in sequence [in my plan], from beginning to end, that is, the Last Judgement.’1°3 There seems to have been an antipathy between Liddon’s advocacy of a Catholic symbol — a crucifix — with an adherence to a near-Calvinistic doctrine of innate sinfulness and the Atonement. Butterfield’s view of an empty cross as part of a catholic comprehensiveness was more faithful to the doctrine of the Incarnation.

The bishop, having written to the rector and received a very courteous reply, though ‘pleading guilty’ to the charges and explaining them, replied to the petitioner on 20 May 1878 acknowledged the petition, ‘signed (you inform me) by 320 parishioners, publicly testifying to the false doctrine and deadly error by the Revd S.F. Green … I respectfully submit to the petitioners that as no particulars either of the “idolatry” or of the “false doctrine and deadly error” alleged, are given, I can take no steps, either by way of remonstrance or otherwise, against the inculpated clergyman. I have not counted,’ the bishop continued, `the signatures to the petition, but I observe, upon a cursory examination of it, that whole families of five, six, and in one instance, seven persons have signed it at once, and that whole groups of signatures are evidently in one handwriting, and are not, therefore, the signatures of the persons whose names they profess to give. This fact very much weakens the value of the petition in my eyes!’

Heywood’s daughter, ‘demonstrating that some of the points were false, and were merely the ordinary improvements in divine service adopted in hundreds of other churches, clearly showed the character of the complainants, and that they were probably never present at the Holy Communion at St John’s.’1°6 The Monthly Record answered ‘two questions which are constantly being put to us ­”Why do you not obey the law?” and “Why will you not obey the Bishop?” We reply (i) that our Rector has taken his present course because he believes that obedience to the law of the Church demands that he should do; and we think that he has acted rightly because in accordance with the Rubrics of the Prayer Book in its “plain, literal and grammatical sense,” and we cannot discern that he has broken them. (ii) That the Privy Council judgements cannot all be obeyed — they contradict each other — and the Bishop of Manchester has allowed Mr Green to be persecuted for wearing the vestments because the Privy Council has declared them to be illegal, whilst the Bishop has declared publicly that he will not make a “guy” of himself by wearing a cope which the same Privy Council says he should.’ The writer pointed out that the law of the church in the Rubrics of the Prayer Book are disobeyed in many churches, and the persons responsible ought to be asked the same two questions (but they are not).’ Examples given include the omission of the Athanasian Creed on the appointed days; churches closed from Sunday to Sunday; Holy Days and even Ascension Day go unobserved.’

isn’t only for the students of training colleges and boys and girls swotting for the Oxford and Cambridge locals; it is a crying need of working men and women who need to see beyond the four walls of their offices, workshops and homes into a world of awe and wonder. Furthermore, art is a bond between rich and poor; it allows of no class distinctions; more than that, it is a bond between nation and nations, and may do much to help widely different peoples to understand the problems of life in each country.’ She quoted Dr Dearmer who said Art is a spiritual necessity. Civilisation cannot exist in its absence, for without it civilisation is but organised savagery.’ ‘The theatre is perhaps the most easily understood branch of art for the man and woman in the street.’ Baylis understood Dearmer’s view that Art is the expression of spiritual values in terms of beauty,’ and also his belief that ‘Goodness, Truth and Beauty were a Trinity of ultimate values (Love being a supernatural activity which embraced all three) — Art and Religion both being an attempt to express the things which are unseen and eternal.’ She believed that ‘the adventures of heart and mind should … be available and accessible to [all]’. She wanted everyone to have their slice of the `elitist cake,'” and saw art as something more than pleasure, but as expressing spiritual values, to set within reach of the poorest.

It must have been encouraging to Baylis when someone said in the interval of a performance, ‘Them `amlicks ‘ad a lot trouble in their

She quoted how she had been told by soldiers home from the Front of the heartening effect of recalling tunes from Faust and ii Trovatore, and how, in their whistling of them ‘knocked against others who had become familiar with them in the same old theatre in London.’ She recalled that an Oxford professor sent her a donation of a guinea because his railway guard constantly sang the Flower song from Carmen or some other aria. When asked about this, the guard said he had learned them at the Old Vic. After a performance of Tannhauser, a rough woman coming down the gallery stairs said to her, ‘Gel, but that Pilgrim’s Chorus makes me feel like I’d like to pray till I’m bust, and I ain’t one of your churchgoers.’ Baylis related how she knew of more than one luke-warm Christian made `red-hot’ for his faith again by the Master-Hymn in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, and good resolutions made by people, rich and poor, after hearing Gounod’s Faust. How she saw a party of factory boys and girls sky­larking on the gallery staircase: one boy was mauling a girl when her pal called out, ‘Now, Liza, what did Meph say to Marguerite? No messing about until the ring’s round your finger.’

She had seen ‘three of the leading intellectual figures of the time weeping like children for the lost simplicity of their faith during a performance of the wonderful Chester Nativity Play’. ‘The world of medicine fully realises the help it receives from the recreation of the people, and the Church now realises what a handmaid it has in the stage,’ but she felt that the passing of the Revd Stewart Headlam reminded her that the relationship of Church and stage 30 years before was anything but friendly. In 1885 the Bishop of London (Frederick Temple, later Archbishop of Canterbury) had taken issue with Stewart Headlam, who was secretary of the Church and Stage Guild, over ‘the evil influence of the stage’. Baylis was impressed by the experience of appreciation of her theatre when the Builders’ Strike Committee put their work at the Old Vic in the same class as their work for hospitals — the alterations taking only one week instead of seven. She was convinced that ‘Opera is the door to the so-called finer arts of poetry and painting.’ She quoted St John Ervine, who wrote that the tired businessman would get a great deal more rest out of a performance of Hamlet than from a performance of the latest musical comedy. ‘Some people may think that a pretty wild statement,’ she said, but she had often received letters from over-tired men and women thanking her for the refreshment and tonic, even to being `saved from insanity’ by the healing power of the plays.

She remembered from early days that Ben Greet had been a little jealous of the large audiences which crowded the theatre for opera, as at that time they tended to exceed those for Shakespeare, and he loved to tease her about her ‘immoral operas’. But she knew in her heart that they helped the lives ‘of our workers, rich and poor alike’. Because of that conviction, she had faith to the strength of a vocation from God in what she was doing, which was able to move mountains of indifference, to defy adverse balance sheets, and have the ability to convey that faith to her staff. Even the most sceptical admitted that she could so inspire others because her ‘mission’ was patently disinterested — when she supported her theatre so committedly it was very obviously not for herself. She was ‘not one of those who confound their own advancement with advancement of the cause they advocate’.

Baylis was convinced that art, however local in its inspiration, was a gift to the world at large; that the highest art brought the highest benefit to mankind, and that truth is truth and beauty is beauty and worthy of homage wherever it is found.

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