The Jubé (5): That Removing Jubés Mutilates Our Churches

Prologue
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 26
Chapter 27

It is still little understood why the jubés in French churches were so quickly and methodically replaced in the 17th and 18th centuries, but one of the reasons the “ambonoclasts” of the time gave to justify removing screens was that they were “regarded as useless ornaments, irregular protrusions, and inconvenient obstacles which rob the faithful of a view of the holy altars and prevent them from contemplating the most august Mysteries at their leisure.”

In other words, an aesthetic complaint–they obstructed a clear view of the interior and its main lines–combined with a “pastoral concern”–that they excluded the laity. Fr. Thiers takes on the first of these objections in this chapter.

Chapter XXVIII:
Destroying the jubés mutilates our churches

One of the principal reasons that ought to arrest the immoderate and benighted zeal of the jubés declared enemies is that they cannot remove them from churches without rendering them imperfect, and I daresay, mutilated. For a thing is imperfect and mutilated when it lacks one of the parts that it should have and of which it ought to be composed. Now it is certain that, generally speaking, the jubés are an integral part of churches, especially of great and ancient churches.

For this reason St. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, explaining the main parts of the church in his Meditation on Church Matters, includes the jubé. Symeon of Thessalonica, in his book Interpretation of the Christian Temple and its Rituals, published in Fr. Goar’s Euchologe, also places it among the parts of a church. William Durandus, speaking of the church and its parts at the beginning of his Rationale,[1] mentions the jubé explicitly. The Ceremoniale Episcoporum numbers the jubé among the things necessary for Solemn Masses: Ambones ubi epistola et evangelia decantari solent.[2] Hospinien[3] and Fr. Boulanger,[4] in their treatises on temples, did not neglect the jubés. Neither did M. Allatio in his second letter to Fr. Morin, Des Temples des Grecs d’aujourd’hui.[5] Fr. Goar[6] and M. de Schelstrate[7] gave them a place in the plans they made of eastern churches. Fr. Morin gives them ample treatment in his book De antiquis Christianorum Ecclesiis,[8] and mentions them elsewhere.[9] Finally, Fr. Cabassout very explicitly affirms, in his Diatribe de la situation, des parties, et de la forme des anciennes Eglises, that the jubé is the third part of the church: Tertia ecclesiae pars ambon dicebatur.[10]

I am well aware that there are a number of churches without jubés, of which, therefore, jubés are not an integral part. But I also know that this does not justify the conduct of the ambonoclasts. For these churches are either cathedral churches, parish churches, collegiate churches, churches belonging to regulars, or private chapels. I maintain that of those churches that do not now have jubés, some either had them formerly, or if they never had them, that there is a reason for it. Let me explain.

a) Cathedral Churches

I know of no great, ancient cathedral that does not have a jubé. But if there are some that lack a jubé, it is because they have been destroyed by fire, damaged during war, or demolished by the heretics. The new cathedrals that do not have jubés are:

1) Those that have all been built, repaired, for renovated recently by architects who do not know the rules of the Church, or did not want to be bound by them and thought the jubés completely useless. So there is no jubé in the new Cathedral of Besançon, though there was a very beautiful one in the ancient cathedral, which was demolished in our time.

2) Those that were formerly Huguenot churches, as that of La Rochelle;

3) Those that were erected over what used to be monastic churches, where there was no jubé originally. Jubés could very well have been built in such cathedrals after they changed their state and character, but the prelates and canons who governed them either were not willing or generous enough to make the expense, or did not find the space suitable for one, or had some other reason for not building a jubé.

Whatever the case may be, we must grant this in justice to the cathedrals, that they are incomparably more attached to ancient practice than other churches are, that they are less prone to make innovations, and that they preserve their jubés more religiously.

b) Parish Churches

The great, ancient parish churches too formerly had their own jubés, and there are many today where jubés may be found. The parishes of Rome, which later become the cardinals’ titular churches, are a good example. St. Sylvester had one built in the church of San Lorenzo;[11] Sixtus III beautified the jubé of the church of St. Mary Major with porphyry;[12] and Sergius I built the jubé of the church of Ss. Cosmas and Damian.[13]

Since there were formerly stational masses in the parish churches of Rome, there must have been jubés in these churches because the Ordo Romanus, which explains the ceremonies that were observed in these Solemn Masses, notes expressly that the Gospel is chanted in the jubé.

Image result for Église Saint-Pierre-le-Rond
View of the (later) screen at Saint-Pierre-le-Rond, Sens (Source)

In Sens there are jubés in the parish churches of Saint-Hilaire, Sainte-Colombe-la-Petite, Saint-Pierre-le-Rond, and Saint-Maurice. In Rouen there are jubés in the churches of Saint-Maclou and Saint-Vivien. Finally, there are jubés in innumerable other parish churches of various dioceses and cities where the piety of the people, the zeal and enlightenment of pastors and bishops have devotedly preserved them.

Church of St. Maclou (destroyed in 1944) (Source)
Jube (St. Maclou).jpg
At St. Maclou, the flamboyant staircase of the former jubé was transferred to the back of the nave, where it served as a staircase to the organ loft (Source)
Jube (St. Vivien, Rouen.JPG
The jubé at St. Vivien, Rouen, was destroyed in 1761 and replaced three years later with this Baroque arrangement (Source)

But it is not surprising that most small parish churches have never had jubés. For there would have been no use for them, since they were served by only one priest and it would not have been quite convenient for him to leave the the altar to go sing the the Epistle and Gospel on the jubé. Additionally, High Masses were often not sung in these churches for lack of cantors. When they were sung on certain solemn days, the priest could chant the Epistle and Gospel in a loud voice and be understood by the people, who were not numerous nor far removed from him. Centuries have passed and the situation is no longer so: there are scarcely any little parishes today where the Mass is not chanted at least on Sundays and solemn feasts.

As the number of faithful has increased, vicars and priests have been added to many parishes, and if they have not had jubés built it is not because they are not necessary to perform the divine offices well, but either because the arrangement of the space does not permit it or because neither the priests nor the people have had the means.

Nevertheless, there are still a large number of jubés to be seen in the churches of large towns and villages that fire, war, and heresy have spared, and which have not been exposed to the reckless and irregular renovation of the new ambonoclast architects.

c) Collegiate Churches

We can make the same judgment about collegiate churches as about the cathedrals. All the great ancient collegiate churches have their jubés, with the exceptions however that we made when speaking about cathedrals.

Screen (St. Etienne, Lyon).jpg
The jubé at St. Etienne, Lyon (Source)

There are jubés in the collegiate churches of Saint-Étienne and Saint-Just in Lyon, and there was once one in St. Nizier before the Huguenots demolished it in 1585. There are jubés in the collegiate church of Saint-Martin de Tours, Saint-Symphorien, and Sainte-Balsamie of Reims, of Saint-Pierre in Mâcon, Saint-André in Chartres, in Monbrison, in Saint-Quentin in Vermandois, etc.

d) Churches of the Regular Orders

With respect to the churches of the Regular Orders, we must make distinctions with respect to time periods and the different institutes in order to know whether they once had jubés, and if they had them, where they are today.

[….]

In the West it seems that religious went a long time without building jubés, as much because their churches were small in the beginning—nothing more than oratories as St. Benedict calls them several times in the rule—as because it was long forbidden to celebrate public masses in them, i.e., mass at which seculars were permitted to assist, and seculars were for a long time not at liberty to enter.

Nevertheless, it is not impossible that the monks of St Benedict, among others, had jubés in their churches before that time [the mid-12th century, before which religious were not permitted to administer the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist to the faithful, to hold public assemblies, or to say public Masses in the churches of their monasteries]. There were jubés in the Abbey of St Gall in Switzerland in the 9th century, in the Abbey of St Medard in Soissons in the 10th century, and in the Abbey of St Josse in Picardy in the 11th century, as we have already seen.

Pope Victor III, after the middle of the 11th century, while still Abbot of Monte Cassino, made a jubé to be built which in truth was made of nothing more than wood, but embellished with sculptures and gilding. Cardinal Leo, bishop of Ostia, who reports it, states that the lessons of Matins and the Epistle and the Gospel at Mass where read thereupon on the main feasts of the year.

There were also jubés in the churches of nuns of the Order of St Benedict from the 8th century. Chrodegang, bishop of Metz, ordered a very beautiful one to be built in Metz in the church of Saint-Pierre-le-Vieil, also called de Haut-moutier, or de Marmoutier, where there were once three hundred nuns, according to the observations of M. de Sainte-Marthe.

Finally, there are still jubés in the Abbatial Churches of Saint-Denys in France, of Saint-Cornille in Compiégne, of Saint-Rémi and Saint-Nicaise in Reims, of Saint-Pére in Chartres, of Saint-Faron in Meaux, of Saint-Ouen in Rouen, of Saint-Taurin in Evreux, in Fécan, etc.

1) The monks of Cluny, who appeared in 910, have jubés in their churches, but in very few of them, because there were few Cluniac monasteries where public masses were said, given the fervor of their institution.

For the same reason, many other religious congregations that came thereafter and also fight under the Rule of St Benedict have no or almost no jubés in their churches.

2) The Cistercians have jubés, at least in their great churches, and they chant the Lessons of Matins there, as we have shown in the words of Paris, Abbot de Foucarmont.[14]

3) The Canons Regular, such as those later known as the Canons Regular of St Augustine, also had jubés in their churches, for very ancient ones still exist at present at St. Denis of Reims and Toussaints in Châlon sur-Marne, etc.

4) The Carthusians do not have jubés in their churches because they belong only to themselves. The strict solitude they profess does not allow them to invite laymen in.[15]

5) The Premonstratensians also have them. The jubé of St. Sebastian in Vicogne [destroyed in the Revolution] is one of the most magnificent in all Christendom, and there are a number of others in churches belonging to this order.

6) The Missal of the Mercedarians presupposes that the churches of this Order have jubés.

7) If we took the time, it would be easy to show how the Carmelites, Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians once had and still do have jubés in their churches. They exist in most of their ancient churches, and where they do not, one can find some vestiges of them where indifference for the ancient ceremonies of the Church or some other bad reason has led to their destruction.

8) Since the Barnabites, Theatines, Jesuits, Fathers of the Oratory, and some other new Institutes never, or almost never say High or Solemn Masses in their churches, jubés would be quite useless for them. Thus they ordinarily do not have them. Yet their churches and chapels are not imperfect or mutilated, because they were not built to have jubés, and nothing is imperfect or mutilated unless it lacks one of its essential parts.


NOTES:

[1] Bk. 1. I: []

[2] Bk. 1, c. 12.

[3] Bk. 2. De Origine et Progressu Templorum, ch. 3.

[4] Bk. 1, Opusculum de Templo, ch. 17, 18.

[5] Pg. 171.

[6] Pg. 21, Euchologium.

[7] Dissert. 4 in Concil. Antioch., ch. 4, n. 5, pp. 186-187.

[8] This book was never published. It was once found in the library of the Fathers of the Oratory on Rue Saint Honoré in Paris, but it is not there now, removed for purposes I do not know.

[9] De Poenit., bk. 6, ch. 6, n. 10

[10] Notit. Concilior. 8 (Lyon, 1668).

[11] Anastasius on Sylvester.

[12] Platin. on Sixtus III.

[13] Anastasius on Sergius I.

[14] Du premier esprit de l’ordre de Cisteaux, ch. 1, sect. 2.

[15] This is wrong, or perhaps things changed later, because in fact Carthusians did have lay or converse brothers who would stay outside the rood-screen, whereas the fully professed where within. In the Charterhouse in Fréjus-Toulon the rood screen is still standing.

One thought on “The Jubé (5): That Removing Jubés Mutilates Our Churches

  1. As for his comment on ancient cathedrals all having jubes, it seems that the Portuguese never had them given their size (the oldest cathedrals go back to the 11-12th century). At least this is what I have read.

    I was unaware the formerly laymen were not allowed to assist at Mass in religious houses. When did this change? And what was the reasoning behind it?

    Like

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