Ralph Adams Cram’s thoughts on the Dedication of the Cathedral, March 1911

March 30, 1911

Dear Dr. Marquis,
I am in receipt of your letter of March 27, and note that the formal opening of the cathedral will be on Wednesday, May 17. You may be very sure I shall come out at that time. If possible, I mean also to bring Mrs. Cram with me.

As for the lectern………….

You flatter me when you ask my advice as to the dedication ceremonies. I will think this over and report later. In the meantime, the only clear ideas I have are, first that the great dedication service should be a celebration of the Holy Communion, with the priest, deacon and sub-deacon, no one receiving except those in the choir. Second: that after the people have been assembled in the church, the doors should be locked, the dean and the architects and a few attendants being within. Then the great procession should be formed in the parish house; Bishop, choir, diocesan clergy, visiting clergy lay officials, etc. and this procession should come out by the south door of the parish house, pass west along Hancock Avenue, and when the cross reaches the west doors, the ranks should open permitting the Bishop with his attendants to pass between and up to the same doors, where the Bishop of the Diocese, whereupon the west door are thrown open and the procession enters, this time with the Bishop and his attendants in front.

Certainly a solemn Te Deum should be sung, and I should suppose that the time for this would be before the Communion service. Probably it would be best for the procession, with the Bishop leading, to go directly upon entrance up into the chancel, where all the diocesan authorities with the Bishop in the center would group themselves around and facing the altar and the Te Deum would then be sung, this is followed immediately by the Communion service and sermon.

It is a good practice for the representative of the architects to hand over the keys to the dean, who in turn hands them to the Bishop. This might be the very first thing that would take place after the procession had entered and taken it’s position in the choir and sanctuary. Better still, why should not the procession from the west door be formed as follows?

Cross Bearer
The Dean
The Cathedral Chapter
The Representative of the architects,

Behind would follow the Bishop at the head of the great procession. Arrived at the entrance to the choir the dean and the representatives of the architects would take position on either side of the choir steps. The Chapter would open out on either side, the Bishop would come forward, when the architect would deliver the keys to the dean, the dean would hand them to the Bishop and then the Bishop would lead into the choir, the dean behind him, the architect fading off into some inconspicuous corner, his work having been accomplished.

Here are some suggestions and I may be inspired to send others. By the way, should not the proper psalms be sung or said as the procession goes up the aisle? This I think, would be better than a hymn, though at some place int eh service se mush have “The Churches One Foundation”.

There are, I know definite rules and regulations for the conversation that take place through the door between the Bishop and the dean, but just what is said I am not sure. You ought to be able to find out from some Bishop who has has occasion to take posession of his cathedral under similar circumstances.

Very truly yours,

Ralph Adams Cram


Just for the dignity and beauty of the procession outside and inside the cathedral you must get some banners. If you have one connected with the cathedral parish, cannot you acquire some for the occasion from other churches in the diocese?

One thought on “Ralph Adams Cram’s thoughts on the Dedication of the Cathedral, March 1911

  • 05/17/2011 at 9:45 am

    Dr. Cram related the following to the late Monsignor Edward J Hickey former Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Detroit at the dedication of St. Mary's of Redford Detroit that he knew that it would be impossible to expect the use of incense at the Cathedral's dedication as it would be considered too "popish" so he bribed the sexton to place a tin plate with burning coals and incense (provided by Cram) at the intake of the fan system, allowing a slight scent to waft through the Cathedral. The Right Reverend Monsignor related this to me at his Cloister Art Gallery back in the late 1970's…his memory as vivid as ever. I'm sure it's true as we all know Cram's churchmanship was decidedly Anglo-Catholic.

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