Procession of the Holy Name of Jesus (St Teilo)

The form of the Procession of the Holy Name at St Teilo’s Church followed that used when the feast fell on a weekday. There was no need to bless the salt and water or to purify the altar(s) and those present: all that would have been done on the preceding Sunday. Rather, this procession marked the solemnity of the feast day.

But how did they enact a procession conceived for a great building like Salisbury Cathedral in a tiny parish church like St Teilo’s in the Middle Ages? Many of the ritual instructions are simply impossible to fulfil: there are no choir aisles, south transept, or cloisters. As in all the other services we enacted in the project, the texts of the liturgy could be used as they stood, but the ritual instructions (the rubrics) could only be used as indicative: often they had to be adapted to the scale and configuration of the space, and to the human resources available.

At Salisbury Cathedral the processional route was around 450 metres; at St Teilo’s it was at the most 20 metres. At Salisbury Cathedral, the cathedral community might have numbered 100 or more; at St Teilo’s, the clergy, assisting servers and singers numbered fourteen. Being realistic, we shortened the processional prose Salve festa dies by omitting many of the stanzas; but with a small number of singers, it was possible to sing some iterations of the refrain in polyphony, using a setting that survives in the Ritson Manuscript (British Library, Add. MS 5665), probably compiled across the Bristol Channel in Devon, and containing repertory from the second half of the fifteenth century to the early sixteenth century. We also needed music for the final antiphon in honour of the patron saint of the church (St Teilo). Following medieval precedent, we adapted the melody of an antiphon for St Thomas Becket as found in the fourteenth-century Penpont Antiphonal (Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, MS 20541 E) to the text of the antiphon for St Teilo.

Video recording and full texts

Procession of the Holy Name at St Teilo’s Church

Texts used by the participants

You can view, download, print and follow the main ‘performance’ text used by the participants for this enactment:

Service booklet for clergy and singers.

Both text resources used in the enactment can be found here.