From  the  book


THE  ENGLISH  SUNDAY (1901)



LECTURE V 



METHODS OF OBSERVANCE



LAST time I endeavoured at the close of my lecture to put before you the aims which we may rightly seek in our observance of Sunday, and to-day we may go on to consider the methods by which they are to be attained. For this purpose we may well begin by considering what these methods have been during the last two centuries. Let us remind ourselves of what some have almost forgotten, the character of a strict English Sunday. I am now speaking of the Sunday of the upper and middle classes of society, and not of that of our working classes, which must be considered separately. I am not sure that we who are more or less masters of our time, realize what a different thing Sunday is to those who on that day only, are free from continuous and engrossing toil. It is for us to make that full and complete use of Sunday which our circumstances enable us to do, and then to help others in a different position to observe it in such a way as is right and reasonable for them. 


[OF  COURSE  IF  SUNDAY  IS  A  MAN  MADE  INSTITUTION,  AS  IT  CERTAINLY  IS,  THEN  MANKIND  IN  DIFFERENT  SITUATIONS  AND  CIRCUMSTANCES,  CAN  OBSERVE  IT  DIFFERENTLY,  IN  “A  WAY  THAT  IS  RIGHT  AND  REASONABLE  FOR  THEM.”  ONCE  MORE  IT  IS  MAKING  UP  YOUR  OWN   WAY  AND  RELIGION  TOWARDS  GOD,  AS  THE  AUTHOR  HAS  PREVIOUSLY  SAID,  “THE  SABBATH  IS  FROM  GOD  GIVING  TO  MAN,  THE  LORD’S  DAY  IS  FROM  MAN  GIVING  TO  GOD.”  SO  MAN  PICKS  AND  CHOOSES  HOW  TO  GIVE  TO  GOD  ONE  DAY  IN  SEVEN,  AND  IN  A  WAY  THAT  IS  RIGHT  AND  REASONABLE  FOR  THEM.  I  THINK  NOT—— IT IS  GOD  THAT  TELLS  US  HOW  AND  WHEN  TO  WORSHIP  HIM  -  Keith Hunt]


If the Sunday were identical with the Sabbath, there would necessarily be one method for all without distinction, but being what it is, distinctions must be allowed from the nature of the case. At the same time I must add that the old Puritan tradition of a strict Sunday has in the past been held and valued by some of the best of our labouring classes quite as fully as by ourselves.


[YES  AND  AS  A  KID  GROWING  UP  IN  ENGLAND,  IN  THE  1940s  AND  1950s,  THE  TOWN  I  LIVED  IN  CLOSED  DOWN,  IT  WAS  LIKE  A  GHOST  TOWN,  BUSES  DID NOT  RUN  BUT  ONLY  NOW  AND  THEN.  NO  PRO  SPORTS  DONE.  PEOPLE  IN  THE  SUMMER  TIME  WENT  WITH  THEIR  FAMILIES  TO PICNIC  IN  THE  LOVELY  FLOWERED  ETC.  PARKS.  AND  I  KNOWING  WHAT  THE  FOURTH  COMMANDMENT  SAID,  BELIEVED  SUNDAY  WAS  THE  7TH  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK  -  Keith Hunt]


Let me then return to what I proposed.


I. It was the day for attending the public services of the Church, not once only but twice so far as possible. The greater frequency of public worship, which of course is a matter of thankfulness, has probably made this characteristic of Sunday less marked, and led to some laxity about the double attendance on Sunday even on the part of thoughtful people. Indeed there has been a deliberate attempt to undervalue Morning and Evening Prayer on Sundays in order to exalt attendance at Holy Communion on that day. I might use much stronger language about what has been done in this direction, but  I am content to mention it.


[YES  INDEED  “CHURCH”  WAS  MORNING  AND  EVENING  BACK  WHEN  I  WAS  GROWING  UP.  I  ATTENDED  FAITHFULLY,  NEVER  MISSED (UNLESS  ON  HOLIDAY)  SUNDAY  SCHOOL,  AND  LATER  INTO  MY  MIDDLE  TEENS,  THE  SUNDAY  MORNING  SERVICE  -  Keith Hunt]


On the other hand we know how many there are in our own class of life, who neglect public worship on Sunday altogether, or on the very slightest occasion. It is not too much to say that such neglect is practically to deny or renounce Christianity, which is in its very essence a social religion. The history of the beginning of Christianity is the history of men being gathered together.


[TRUE  INDEED,  ATTENDING  SUNDAY  SCHOOL  THEN  LATER  THE  MORING  SERVICE,  WAS  A  PART  OF  ME  AS  WAS  MY  RIGFHT  ARM.  I  KNEW  IT  WAS  SOMETHING  YOU  JUST  DID  AS  A  CHRISTIAN  -  Keith Hunt]


It was a day for cessation of all work so far as ordinary needs permitted. Household duties were kept down to what was absolutely necessary, and food as far as possible was prepared on the previous day. Business was not touched on either by conversation or by letter. Correspondence was only of a family character, and did not extend to social or other engagements.


But it was especially in recreation that the standard was different from that which is now common. Every kind of game or sport, in doors or out of doors, was laid aside. Music was strictly limited to sacred music. The books and periodicals read were all more or less of a religious character; all ordinary secular literature was avoided, and especially novels and newspapers.


[YES  REMEMBER  IT  WAS  ALL  LIKE  THAT  -  Keith Hunt]


Social intercourse was limited to relations and intimate friends, and hospitality was only offered or accepted where there seemed to be some special reason for it. What was aimed at was quiet and retirement, and only such society was welcome as did not interfere with that.


[YES  REMEMBER  IT  WAS  ALL  LIKE  THAT  -  Keith Hunt]


Lastly travelling was avoided altogether, and the only exceptions were journeys called for by illness or in pursuit of clerical duties.


[YES  REMEMBER  IT  WAS  LIKE  THAT  -  Keith Hunt] 


It will be observed that this observance of Sunday was in great part, but not altogether, of a negative character, and designed to keep a clear space, and the question naturally arises, how was it filled in? No doubt there was and is considerable difference in this respect. No doubt also the benefit of the day so observed, depended very much on the way in which the space was occupied. It was filled by profitable reading, by conversation suggested and coloured by that reading, by home life and companionship not possible on week days, by the enjoyment of Nature in the spirit of the 104th Psalm, by works of kindness and sympathy, and in some cases by laborious efforts for the instruction of others.


[YES  FOR  RELIGIOUS  PEOPLE  IT  WAS  LIKE  THAT  -  Keith Hunt]


But in whatever way the time was occupied which was not given to public worship, the tendency of the observance was to foster and promote the religious life of most of those whose rule it was. And to the children who were subject to it, it gave a discipline, and a training in self denial; it was a serious solemnizing influence, which made them sensible at an early age of a world of thought and duty, and sometimes of a world of happiness of which otherwise they would have known and felt but little. No doubt there was occasionally an inward impatience and rebellion on their part. If there was, it was more owing to the way in which rules were enforced, than to the rules themselves. It was a rebellion which gentleness and kindness and cheerfulness could generally overcome.


[OH  INDEED  SO  IT  WAS.  I  LOVED  THE  PUTTING  AWAY  OF  “STUFF”  OF  A  BUSY  SCHOOL,  SPORTS,  THIS  AND  THAT,  OF  6  DAYS.  I  LOVED  THE  PEACE  AND  RELAXATION.  I  LOVED  GOING  TO  CHURCH;  HAVING  AN  AFTERNOON  IN  THE  BEAUTIFUL  FLOWERED  PARK  IN  THE  WARMTH  OF  THE  SUMMER.  I  LOVED  THE  ONCE  A  WEEK  SPECIAL  MEAL  MOM  WOULD  COOK,  THE  SLOW  COOKED  ROAST,  THE  PEAS  AND  CARROTS,  THE  YORKSHIRE  PUDDING  AND  THE  THICK  GRAVY;  FOR  DESERT  AN  ENGLISH  “TRIFLE”— WOW  IT  WAS  ALL  TERRIFIC,  AS  I  OBSERVED  WHAT  I  THOUGHT  WAS  THE  7TH  DAY  SABBATH  OF  THE  LORD  -  Keith Hunt]


I have chosen to put before you an account of what was, and to some extent is, rather than my own suggestions as to what ought to be. At the same time, I do not hesitate to say that I believe the model to be a good one. It is historically as you will have seen the apostolical institution of the Lord's Day, largely influenced by the character and aims of the Jewish Sabbath, taken home by the religious heart of the English nation, and developed in a special way, in which our former national characteristics, love of quiet, seriousness, and domesticity can  clearly be traced.


[I  WELL  REMEMBER  AT  ABOUT  AGE  10  OR  11,  ONE  SUNDAY  SCHOOL  TIME.  BEFORE  IT  BEGAN  WE  KIDS  TALKED  AS  OUR  TEACHER  WAS  SETTLING  IN  FOR  THE  CLASS.  THIS  ONE  LAD  SAID,  “MY  FATHER  TOLD  ME  SUNDAY  IS  NOT  THE  7TH  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK.”  I  WAS   SHOCKED  AT  SUCH  A  SILLY  STATEMENT,  AND  FROM  A  GROWN  MAN.  I  REPLIED,  “THAT  JUST  CAN’T  BE  SO,  THE  FOURTH  COMMANDMENT  SAYS  WE  ARE  TO  KEEP  HOLY  THE  7TH  DAY  NOT  THE  FIRST.”  THE  OTHER  BOY  REPLIED,  “WELL  THE  JEWS  KEEP  SATURDAY.”  I  THOUGHT  TO  MYSELF  “WHO  ARE  THE  JEWS  AND  WHY  WOULD  THEY  OBSERVE  THE  6TH  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK.”  THE  LAD  SAID  AGAIN  HIS  DAD  TOLD  HIM  SUNDAY  WAS  THE  FIRST  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK.  I  AGAIN  REPLIED,  “THAT  JUST  CAN’T  BE,  WE  ARE  TO  KEEP  HOLY  THE  7TH  DAY  ACCORDING  TO  THE  FOURTH  COMMANDMENT.”  THE  TEACHING  BY  NOW  LOOKED  NERVOUS,  AND  QUICKLY  GOT  THE  CLASS  GOING  ON  OUR  LESSON  FOR  THAT  SUNDAY.  I  PUT  THE  WHOLE  THING  OUT  OF  MY  MIND,  AND  WENT  MY  MERRY  WAY  KNOWING,  AS  I  THOUGHT,  CHRISTIANITY  WAS  OBSERVING  THE  7TH  DAY,  AND  THIS  LAD’S  DAD  WAS  OUT  TO  LUNCH  -  NEVER  THOUGHT  ABOUT  IT  AGAIN,  TILL  I  CAME  TO  CANADA  AT  AGE  18  AND  MY  BAPTIST  LANDLORD  TOLD  ME  SUNDAY  WAS  THE  1ST  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK;  I  JUST  ABOUT  FELL  OVER  IN  UTTER  SHOCK  -  Keith Hunt]


But in our day this model is being largely set aside. Some people ask no questions as to their duty, have smothered their scruples in this matter as in many others, and treat Sunday exactly as any other day so far as society, amusements, and travelling are concerned. But others do ask questions, not perhaps so much for information, as in defence of their actual practice. Starting from the system of observance described, they endeavour to pull it to pieces in theory as they have already done in practice, and they ask is this wrong, and is that wrong? For instance is there any harm in novel reading on Sundays, is there any harm in making up one's accounts, is there any harm in a boating party? To do these things on Sunday is obviously not morally wrong in the sense in which untruthfulness or cruelty are wrong. If there is harm in them it is not of that sort at all. And again you will have seen from the historical survey which has been attempted, that they cannot be pronounced wrong either on the ground of any Scriptural prohibition, or on the ground of any Church rule, either general or specially Anglican. And when some people have heard that, they want to hear no more. They are gone, and that with an easy conscience. But there is more to be said if they will only listen to it.


Is the result of such a strict Sunday observance as I have described, of serious value for the spiritual life of the individual and the religion of the country at large? Some will answer at once, "we have found it of value in our case." Others feel clear that if it has not been so, it has been their own fault.


If it is of value, it must be taken as a whole. I do not say that no modifications can be made; they will make themselves— the changing circumstances of society will point the thoughtful conscience to greater freedom in one respect, and greater care and circumspection in another. But the system must be adopted as a whole if at all. If you snip off something here, and something there, as you may easily do by very specious arguments, why should other parts of the rule be adhered to? The details are not important in themselves, but rather as the embodiments of a leading idea which I have dwelt on again and again, and which may be variously stated, withdrawal from the world, an endeavour to realize things unseen, a nearer approach to God. 


We are invited from time to time to take part in Retreats. They may perhaps be useful to some characters, but they only concentrate and emphasize what every Sunday ought to give us. 


But to return—it is in the light of the general idea, that the details of Sunday observance are to be considered and judged, and not in the light of verdicts of conscience, or of Scripture, or of ecclesiastical rule.


[BACKING  TO  ADMITTING,  AS  WELL  THE  AUTHOR  MUST,  THAT  THERE  IS  NO  WRITTEN  WORD  FROM  GOD  AS  HOW  TO  OBSERVE  SUNDAY;  NO  SCRIPTURE  OR  ECCLESIASTICAL  RULE—— GUESS  NOT  FOR  SUNDAY  OBSERVANCE  WAS  NOT  FROM  GOD  BUT  FROM  MAN’S  IMAGINATION  AND  DESIRE  TO  NOT  BE  CLASSIFIED  WITH  THE  JEWS,  BUT  TO  BE  FAR  SEPARATED  FROM  THEM,  AS  HISTORY  CLEARLY  SHOWS  -  Keith Hunt]

  

Thus far I have only asked you to defend the English Sunday against questioners on the ground of the value which it is to yourself by your own experience, and in your own practical consistent use of it. 


But there is another ground quite as important. Here is an institution which you at any rate feel to be of value to the Church and nation. I say the nation, for it is a matter which concerns those also who are not members of our Church.


It is your business to maintain it. You may feel that a particular journey or a particular amusement will in no degree injure for you the character of the day. But your indulging yourself in these respects will make it difficult for you to maintain among others the general model of observance of it.


If you relax in these respects, they will relax in others. And though you may not be in any conspicuous or influential position, yet remember that the action of any one individual may lead on to consequences which he little expects. If you are interested in the maintenance of the English Sunday you must not only act consistently with your principles in matters which are seen and which are not seen, keeping your Sunday abroad on the same lines as you do at home, but you must also be ready to deny yourself in things which you could do without scruple, and this on account of the influence which they might possibly have on others. There must be some common standard which with due allowances we must all agree to concur in, not formally, but by tacit agreement, as the Spirit of God guides us. And I think we cannot find a better standard in the matter than that of the thoughtful God-fearing English middle class of the last two centuries.

…………………………


YOU  MAY  REMEMBER  THE  MOVIE  “CHARIOTS  OF  FIRE”—— IN  PART  IT  WAS  ABOUT  A  SCOTTISH  MINISTER  WHO  QUALIFIED  FOR  THE  BRITISH  OLYMPIC  TEAM  IN  THE  1920s.  ONE  SCENE,  CHURCH  IS  OVER  AND  PEOPLE  ARE  EXITING;  A  BOY  IS  KICKING  A  FOOTBALL (SOCCER  BALL  TO  NORTH  AMERICANS),  THE  MINISTER  SAYS,  “JOHNNY (FORGET  THE  NAME  USED  IN  THE  MOVIE)  YOU  KNOW  THE  SABBATH  IS  NOT  FOR  PLAYING  FOOTBALL.”


LATER  AS  THE  BRITISH  TEAM  HEADS  OFF  BY  BOAT  TO  EUROPE  FOR  THE  OLYMPIC,  THIS  SCOT  MINISTER  IS  TOLD  HIS  “HEAT”  FOR  THE  100  YEARD  DASH  WILL  BE  ON  SUNDAY.  HE  REFUSED  TO  RUN;  THE  TOP  OFFICIALS  AND  THE  PRINCE  OF  WALES  TRY  TO  PERSUADE  HIM  TO  RUN.  HE  FRANKLY  TELLS  THEM  HE  WILL  NOT  BREAK  THE  SABBATH.  IN  OUR  MODERN  WORLD  THESE  SCENES  ARE  QUITE  SOMETHING  FOR  SHOWING  THE  CONVICTION  OF  SUNDAY  KEEPERS,  EVEN  REFERING  TO  IT  AS  THE  SABBATH.  IT  IS  VERY  LIKELY  MANY  CHRISTIANS  AFTER  SEEING  THIS  MOVIE  STARTED  TO  OBSERVE  SUNDAY  IN  A  STRICTER  WAY.


IN  THE  WINTER  OF  1961/62  AFTER  ARRIVING  IN  CANADA  IN  MAY  1961,  I  HEARD  A  MINISTER  ON  THE  RADIO  MENTIONING  THE  SABBATH  AND  HOW  IT  IS  HOLY  TO  GOD  AND  WE  NEED  TO  KEEP  IT  HOLY  IN  OUR  OBSERVATION.  I  HAD  NO  IDEA  HE  WAS  REFERRING  TO  SATURDAY,  I  THOUGHT  HE  WAS  REFERRING  TO  SUNDAY;  I  WAS  CONVICTED  THAT  I  SHOULD  OBSERVE  SUNDAY  IN   A  STRICTER  WAY,  SO  I  PUT  ASIDE  MY  PLEASURE  OF  GOING  TO  THE  HORSE  RANCH  AFTER  CHURCH,  AND  HAVING  FUN  RIDING  AND  HELPING  AS  A  GUIDE  FOR  PEOPLE  COMING  TO  TRAIL  RIDE.  IT  WAS  ONLY  SOME  MONTHS  LATER  THAT  MY  BAPTIST  LANDLORD  TOLD  ME  SUNDAY  WAS  NOT  THE  7TH  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK.


I  KNEW  IMMEDIATELY  IF  HE  WAS  CORRECT,  THAT  NO  MATTER  HOW  I  OBSERVED  SUNDAY,  IT  WAS  TO  NO  AVAIL  WHEN  I  WAS  TRAMPLING  ALL  OVER  SATURDAY  THE  7TH  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK,  FOR  I  CLEARLY  KNEW  ALL  THE  WORDS  OF  THE  FOURTH  COMMANDMENT.


Keith Hunt