The ordering of the Old Customary 1 – OCO

There is no easy way of encapsulating all the complexities of medieval ritual practice in words. This earliest extant version of the Sarum Customary sets out to be clearly ordered, addressing each kind of liturgy (Office, Procession, Mass) in turn.  Though not indicated in the source, the text can be divided into five main parts, followed by a shorter, rather miscellaneous final section:

1. The institution sections 1-11
2. Arrangements in quire sections 12-24
3. The Office sections 25-66
4. Processions sections 67-91
5. The Mass sections 92-100
6. Special provision in Lent, on Maundy Thursday,
and at Vigils of the Dead
sections 101-104

These part numbers are provided for simplicity of reference here.

Part 1 incorporates much of the text of Institutio Osmundi, which was regarded at that time as a foundation document.

Part 2 is more practical, dealing primarily with conduct in the cathedral quire.

Part 3 is the most extensive, dealing with the Office – sections 25-66.
The Office customs begin with normal Sundays, taking Advent Sunday as the model (the first Sunday of the Church year) – sections 25-30, 49-50.
This is followed by normal weekdays – sections 51-52.
The sequence proceeds logically to deal with major feasts, using Christmas Day as exemplar, the first major feast in the Church year – sections 53-62.
Then follow provisions for lesser feasts, with St Thomas the Apostle (21 December) as exemplar, again the first of this group of feasts in the year – sections 63-66.

There is a major interpolation in the description of Advent Sunday after section 30 (i.e. after the description of the Office of Prime. This section deals with what happens in the chapter house. It occurs at this point because the community went to the chapter house after Prime. It is in the chapter house that the table of duties (i.e. the rota) is announced. Therefore, sections 31-48 deal with the table of duties throughout the year.

Parts 4, dealing with Processions, follows much the same order: ordinary Sundays (sections 67-70), and major feasts (sections 71-75). There are no processions on minor feasts. The remainder of this part (sections 76-91) deals with special processions on specific days or for particular causes, ending with the funeral procession (section 91).

Part 5 begins with a long description of the Mass on Advent Sunday (section 92). There follows provision for other Sundays (section 93) and on weekdays (sections 94 and 95); then the three Masses of Christmas Day (sections 96-98), and then for other feasts (sections 99-100).