The Parson's Handbook

On a recent trip to Hay on Wye I was very pleased to find a 1909 copy of The Parson’s Handbook by Percy Dearmer. It cost me five pounds. I’ve copied a random page above – I quite like the bit about us Englishmen and our dangly hands. In summary the Parson’s Handbook was written…

the parsons handbook

On a recent trip to Hay on Wye I was very pleased to find a 1909 copy of The Parson’s Handbook by Percy Dearmer. It cost me five pounds. I’ve copied a random page above – I quite like the bit about us Englishmen and our dangly hands.

In summary the Parson’s Handbook was written in 1899 or so and explains how church should be done from an Anglo Catholic point of view whilst sticking to the book of Common Prayer. Do correct me if I’m wrong.

I was similarly pleased whilst doing a quick search today to find that the 1899 text is online – transcribed by Peter Owen of Thinking Anglicans fame. Thanks Peter – it is marvellous. The document, by the way, is part of Project Canterbury, a site with lots and lots of old Anglican texts which you might find interesting if you are interested in that sort of thing.

5 Comments

  1. I love that book. There are multiple editions of it, by the way, so it has been revised to suit the times, like the 1920s :-). A mentor of mine had a copy he lent to me and I think it may have been from a couple of decades after your original edition. The sections on vestments alone are worth the read.

    How are you feeling? (I second the person who recommended chiropractors for back and limb difficulties. They don’t, however, deal directly with anxiety…)

    Blessings for Pentecost/Whitsunday.

  2. When I was ordained my training incumbent gave me a copy (a second impression of the 12th edition (1932)). Last year I gave my newly ordained curate a copy which had belonged to my in-laws (don’t recall the edition). Percy Dearmer’s advice lives on even in the 21st century! I also have a copy of “The Ornaments of the Minister”.

  3. I can also recommend “The Parish Priest at Work” by Charles Forder. I have the 1959 edition and love its advice for life. As a Vicar myself, my wife (also a Vicar) appreciates the advice for the Vicar’s wife: ‘Above all, she has her house and family to administer so as to set the parish an example of the Christian home as it should be.’ It also, helpfully, commends the wife who is ‘good, religious, and sweet-tempered, able to keep her house Christianly, so that its cleanness and order are exemplary’. As yet, this advice has failed to win the argument when it comes to who should do the cleaning.

  4. Lovely. I’d suggest another essential for the collection: the far more recent (1983) Priest’s Handbook by Dennis G. Michno, notable for its line drawings illustrating the many hand positions to be used by priests at the various points in celebrating the eucharist, in particular the default ‘Orans Position’ – both hands held palms-outwards up at shoulder hight. ‘Exaggeration of the orans position can look quite silly in a small space, whereas in a large space, a stronger motion is necessary’.

    Pictures showing how to kiss the Gospel and some very useful (if possibly overcomplicated) diagrams describing ‘The motions of censing the altar’ also feature in this delightful tome.

  5. Dave- Thanks for this, and the link to Project Canterbury… most useful to a theology student/ wannabe anglican boffin like me!

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