British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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434                               ST. NICHOLAS* DAY.                        [DEC 6.
redy the dyner, and called many clerkes to this dyner." Individuals sometimes bequeathed money to find a yearly dinner on St. Nicholas' day for as many as a hundred Childer­mas* tide scholars, who were, after meat, to pray for the soul of the founder of the feast. In our large schools and universities the festival was kept with public sports and games. But it was at Holy Innocents, or Childermas' tide, that Nicholas and his clerks came forth in all their glory. The boy-bishop had a set of pontificals provided for him. St. Paul's, London, had its "una mitra alba cum flosculis breudatis—ad opus episcopi parvulorum—baculus ad usum episcopi parvulorum;" York Minster, too, its " una capa de tissue pro episcopo puerorum;" Lincoln Cathedral, " a cope of red velvet, ordained for the barn-bishop;" All Souls' College, Oxford, "j. chem. (ches. ?) j. cap et mitra pro episcopo Nicholao;" St. Mary's Church, Sandwich, "a lytyll chesebyll for Seynt Nicholas bysschop." For the boy-bishop's attendants copes were also made, and York had no fewer than " novem capsB pro pueris."
Towards the end of evensong on St. John's Day the little Nicholas and his clerks, arrayed in their copes, and having burning tapers in their hands, and singing those words of the Apocalypse (c. xiv.) " Centum quadraginta" walked processionally from the choir to the altar of the Blessed Trinity, which the boy-bishop incensed ; afterwards they all sang the anthem, and he recited the prayer commemorative of the Holy Innocents. Going back into the choir these boys took possession of upper canons' stalls, and those dignitaries themselves had to serve in the boys' place, and carry the candles, the thurible, and the book like, acolytes, thurifers, and lower clerks. Standing on high, wearing his mitre, and holding his pastoral staff in his left hand, the boy-bishop gave a solemn benediction to all present, and, while making the sign of the Cross over the kneeling crowd, said:
" Crucis signo vos consigno; vestra sit tuitio, Quos nos emit et redemit suae carnis pretio."
The next day, the feast itself of Holy Innocents, the boy-bishop preached a sermon, which of course had been written
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