Welcome to Saturday Book Review time! On most of the Saturdays this year we’re looking at a liturgy-related book noting (as applicable) its accessibility, devotional usefulness, and reference value. Or, how easy it is to read, the prayer life it engenders, and how much it can teach you.
In my Anglican liturgy course at seminary, there were two books about the ceremonies of the Prayer Book that we were instructed to read and compare. Both dealt with the 1979 Prayer Book and presented somewhat different approaches to the liturgy. One of those books was Ceremonies of the Eucharist – A Guide to Celebration by Howard E. Galley, published in 1989. This book is very clearly and logically arranged:
Part One: Of Churches and their Furnishings (18 pages)
Part Two: Of Liturgical Ministers (22 pages)
Part Three: Of Seasons, Music, and Liturgical Practices (24 pages)
Part Four: Of Preparations for the Service (6 pages)
Part Five: The Service in Detail (63 pages)
Part Six: Synopsis of Ceremonies (40 pages)
Part Seven: The Holy Eucharist with Baptism (10 pages)
Part Eight: Celebrations with Small Congregations (4 pages)
Part Nine: Holy Communion After the Liturgy (4 pages)
Part Ten: Reservation of the Sacrament (4 pages)
Part Eleven: Holy Communion by a Deacon (4 pages)
Part Twelve: The Bishop at Parish Eucharists (16 pages)
Part Thirteen: The Bishop at Holy Baptism (8 pages)
Part Fourteen: The Ordination of Priests and Deacons (6 pages)
Part Fifteen: Appendix: Liturgical Texts (5 pages)
A handy glossary concludes the book.
As you’ll see, the largest portion of this book, by far, is a detailed walk-through of the Rite II Communion Service of the 1979 prayer book, followed by a walk-through of the actions and movements of the various ministers (priest, deacon, acolyte, and “others”).
On the whole, Galley’s approach to the liturgy is principled and measured. He is not prone to outbursts of strong and (occasionally) quirky opinion like Fr. John-Julian. He does, however, share his slight disregard for the previously-established Anglican liturgical tradition; they are both 1979 loyalists, one could say. Galley, at least, however, is aware that things have changed since the 70’s.
Because of this, Galley’s advice on ceremonial can be received with a little more confidence for the user of the 2019 prayer book. As far as the order of service is concerned, the 2019 and 1979 have very much in common, and the ceremonial of the one will usually work for the other. Because Galley usually takes his time to reflect and comment upon the liturgy, it is easier for the 21st century Anglican priest to assess what elements of his advice are worth observing versus setting aside. Galley is very much a part of the “liturgical renewal” movement that the 2019 Prayer Book has taken steps to unravel somewhat, so we cannot assume that ceremonial for the 1979 will be appropriate wholesale for us.
One specific example of ceremonial that I appreciate in this book is on page 90, in the section dealing with the Sermon:
The present Prayer Book deliberately makes no provision for a hymn (or anything else) to intrude between the gospel and the sermon. This exclusion raises serious questions about the practice, sometimes seen, of singing the opening stanzas of a hymn during the gospel procession, and the remaining stanzas after the gospel – while the procession returns and the preacher goes to the pulpit. Such a practice also does little justice to the integrity – and frequently to the sense – of the text of the hymn.
Although this is not a liturgical pet peeve of mine, this is something I have seen in a couple place, and is not a feature that I like. The sequence of lessons, culminating in the Gospel and leading to the sermon, is an ascending-by-steps into the Word of God, and having more singing between the Gospel and the Sermon interrupts that upward movement. Galley’s thoughtful rebuke of that practice is but one example of liturgical principle leading to sound ceremonial.
The ratings in short:
The book is well organized, well labeled and marked, and is written in a clear style. It references page numbers in the ’79 prayer book, as well as other chapters in this book, whenever necessary. The glossary is also a helpful feature.
Devotional Usefulness: N/A
The ceremonial instructions here are comprehensive for the Communion service; the Daily Office is not in the purview of this book, though.
Reference Value: 4/5
As mentioned above, this was written specifically to explicate the 1979 Prayer Book. Much of its procedure will translate well to the 2019 Prayer Book, but you have to be attentive to his reasoning at each step of the way to make sure the actions taken in worship match the theology of worship and the proper meaning and function of the liturgy.
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