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Shakespeare's Birthday
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.1062  Wednesday, 29 November 2006

[1]     From:     John Briggs <
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    Date:     Tuesday, 28 Nov 2006 18:58:19 -0000
    Subj:     Re: SHK 17.1059 Shakespeare's Birthday

[2]     From:     Joseph Egert <
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    Date:     Tuesday, 28 Nov 2006 21:01:41 +0000
    Subj:     RE: SHK 17.1049 Shakespeare's Birthday


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:         John Briggs <
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Date:         Tuesday, 28 Nov 2006 18:58:19 -0000
Subject: 17.1059 Shakespeare's Birthday
Comment:     Re: SHK 17.1059 Shakespeare's Birthday

Peter Bridgman wrote:

 >Apologies for steering an arcane thread into even more arcane
 >territory, but do we know for certain that Stratford celebrated the
 >'Sarum Use'? Being in the midlands, it may have celebrated the
 >'Lincoln Use'. According to the following article there were five
 >different 'uses' in use in the British Isles   ...
 >
 >http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13479a.htm

To start at the end, there is a certain irony in the Catholic 
Encyclopedia proclaiming that there were five Uses in England (and 
Wales), as the only evidence for this is Cranmer's statement in the 
preface to the Book of Common Prayer.  The statement is made in a highly 
rhetorical context, and is almost certainly wrong! (And Cranmer would 
have known that it was wrong.) In a trivial sense, every diocese had its 
own Use, but only three distinctive Uses were printed in the sixteenth 
century: Sarum, York, and Hereford.  Recent research has dispelled all 
evidence for an independent Use of Bangor, and the evidence for a Use of 
Lincoln is highly doubtful (I am slowly pursuing this one!)  The Sarum 
Use reached a position of pre-eminence, and in 1542 it was adopted (at 
Cranmer's request) as the sole Use for the Southern Province.  One of 
the reasons for the pre-eminence of the Sarum Use was that Canterbury 
Cathedral was monastic, and thus unable to provide a use for the secular 
churches of its diocese (the Benedictine Use differs from secular 
Uses).  Now, Stratford upon Avon was in the diocese of Worcester, and 
Worcester Cathedral was also monastic. I believe neighbouring Lichfield 
employed the Sarum Use.

Coming back to the original question, the Sarum Use does indeed specify 
red vestments on the Feast of an Apostle, but that black (black copes?) 
is worn for the procession on St Mark's Day (if I am reading this right, 
there is a procession because it is a fast day.)  I can't find any 
information about hangings, frontals, etc.

John Briggs

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Joseph Egert <
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Date:         Tuesday, 28 Nov 2006 21:01:41 +0000
Subject: 17.1049 Shakespeare's Birthday
Comment:     RE: SHK 17.1049 Shakespeare's Birthday

Peter Bridgman writes:

 >Alan Jones asks ...
 >
 >Why would altars and crosses draped in black on St Mark's Day?
 >
 >I got this from Schoenbaum.  In 'A Compact Documentary Life' he
 >argues that WS was born on 23 April but not baptised until 26 April
 >because "superstition intervened - people considered Saint Mark's Day
 >unlucky."Black Crosses" it was called; the crosses and altars were
 >almost to Shakespeare's day hung with black, and (some reported)
 >the spectral company of those destined to die that year stalked the
 >churchyard".

Alan Jones then wonders:

 >... where Schoenbaum got this from. It was on St Mark's *Eve*
 >(i.e. 24 April) that "the spectral company of those destined to die
 >that year stalked the churchyard"[...] Black on a major feast day 
would seem unthinkable. But
 >doubtless Schoenbaum had his source. Does anyone know what it may
 >have been?

Schoenbaum's immediate source was probably C.I.Elton's WILLIAM 
SHAKESPEARE: HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS (1904) wherein the author designates 
St. Mark's Day 'the day of the "Great Litany," when all the crosses and 
altars used to be draped in black, the festival being commonly known as 
"Black Crosses" '...The spectral stalkers were believed by some to 
appear at the midnight transition between the Eve and Day of St. Mark. 
Elton goes on to cite Brand's POPULAR ANTIQUITIES and Hampson's MEDII 
AEVI KALENDARIUM among his own sources. Brand himself (or his editor 
Ellis) includes a "popular" April poem, ending: "Sweet as an April 
meadow./To smell of April and May/ Black-Cross Day."

E.I.Fripp may have been another Schoenbaum source. In an archived NOTES 
AND QUERIES (1921) piece, Fripp describes St. Mark's Day as "one of the 
unlucky days of the Calendar known as Black Crosses, when a few years 
previously, crosses and altars were draped and a special litany was 
said."--one of the risks being a fairy kidnapper.

William, a changeling? Explains a lot.

Joe Egert

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