Book Review: Celebrating the Eucharist

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.

Alongside Ceremonies of the Eucharist which we looked at last week, my seminary class on Anglican liturgy was also given a newer “practical ceremonial guide” entitled Celebrating the Eucharist, by Patrick Malloy.  The idea was that, together, they’d give us two slightly different approaches to the liturgy.  In retrospect, they aren’t all that different from one another.  Galley’s book was billed as the more specific and prescriptive (perhaps old-fashioned) writer in mindset, where this one by Malloy is more broad and theological, less interested in telling us how to do the liturgy, in favor of telling us how to think about the liturgy so we can make good decisions.

In our day of wide variation in local custom and architecture and circumstance, it would seem that Malloy’s approach here in Celebrating the Eucharist is the best way to go.  Unfortunately, the success of the endeavor is entirely reliant upon the principles of the writer, and Patrick Malloy is a 21st-century Episcopalian… this book was written in 2007.  So, apart from the problem shared with Ceremonies of the Eucharist and Elements of Offering (that these are all written for the 1979 Prayer Book with almost zero regard to prior tradition), Celebrating the Eucharist has the added problem that it literally comes from the very setting that we Anglicans are explicitly not a part of.  Many of you left TEC; I never joined them in the first place, so I don’t carry that experiential baggage myself, but on principle I know that there is little point on looking to their resources from recent times for good advice and perspective.

One example of what makes this book very much suspect is the author’s deconstruction approach to the liturgy.  Rather than dealing with the Eucharistic service as a cohesive whole, he looks at it from a utilitarian or practical perspective: “what are the most important parts?”  This American reductionism may be good for business and industry (though even that’s debatable) but it is terrible for liturgy.  A liturgical service is not a string of interchangeable ingredients like beads on a necklace, but more like a living body: yes bodies can look different from one another, but there’s a reason that every part is where it is.  To some extent Malloy knows this, and some of his liturgical principles spelled out in chapter 3 are spot on.  But in chapter 9 “The Greater and the Lesser” he succumbs to the temptation to deconstructing the liturgy into a set of “core essentials”, which don’t even line up with pre-1979 Prayer Book liturgies, giving away the game that he’s not espousing Anglican liturgical theology, but Modernist Episcopalian liturgical theology.

One brief example of this can be found on pages 163-164, where he talks about the Confession of Sin in the Eucharistic liturgy.  Oddly enough he sees this as one of the expendable parts of the service:

The Confession may be omitted “on occasion” (BCP 359).  The Council of Nicea (325) forbade kneeling during the entire Fifty Days of Easter, and so the Easter season could well be considered an appropriate time for omitting the Confession.  Other great feasts are similarly appropriate.

Such advice flies in the face of every Anglican Prayer Book before the 1979 book, and (I would argue) defies the spirit of the rubric in the 1979 book.  Every Sunday from Easter Day through Pentecost is not an “occasion.”

At risk of making you think that this book is total trash, I will point out that some of his advice is still useful.  After all, the external form of the 2019 Prayer Book liturgy is very similar to that of the 1979, so some of his more practical lines of advice remain applicable to our context.  Things like ordering a procession, the communion vessels on the Credence Table, the artistry (as opposed to “bill-board” effect or costume mentality) of vestments, advice against a “sequence hymn” intruding between the Gospel and the Sermon, and insight regarding the different styles of thuribles, are all worthy reminders for us.

The ratings in short:

Accessibility: 4/5
The book is well organized, and is written in a clear style.  Much of its contents are in essay, or prose, rather than step-by-step walk-throughs of the liturgy, so it takes a lot more reading than other customary or ceremonial books to find all the advice and direction you might be looking for.

Devotional Usefulness: N/A
The insights of this book are almost exclusively for the Communion service; the Daily Office is not in the purview of this book.

Reference Value: 2/5
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 principles at each step of the way, as both his liturgical and his theological perspective is suspect according to traditional Anglican standards.

Overall, it’s neat book to have, and to compare with other Episcopalian commentaries on liturgy, but it’s not one I’d recommend you go out and buy.

Reviving Anglicanism

I’ve not written a liturgy post today, as such.  Instead, I’m referring you to The North American Anglican, an online journal where some truly excellent writings have been published in recent months.  Yours truly is preparing to join their ranks of contributors, once he gets his act together.

The article I want you to see is this: Tracts for the Times 2.0.  No, please don’t panic and think I’m forcing a new wave of Anglo-Catholic reform at you.  The article is calling for a revival of classical Anglicanism by emphasizing its catholicity and apostolicity, and not by aping Rome.  We live in a setting very similar to the mid-1800’s: prayer books are sitting on our desks unused, churches are sitting empty all week until the barely-faithful remnant show up for their Sunday duty.  There are movements and efforts toward revival and church planting, which is exciting and promising, but much of it is built on the mentality (and often also theology) of traditions other than our own.  The Anglican brand is rebuilding here in the US, but the Anglican tradition of daily prayer and the English spirituality of reasonable and historic worship and doctrine continues to lie fallow.  It’s time to realize our National Apostasy, wake up, and take action.

That is where the “Tracts for the Times 2.0” comes in.  We need to think about our present condition, rediscover our past and learn from it.  One of the aims of this Saint Aelfric Customary and blog is precisely that – to help my fellow clergymen and lay leaders to learn and discern our Anglican patrimony and tradition via the 2019 Prayer Book that we’ve got now here in the ACNA.  Furthermore, common prayer (as I’m seeking to enrich and inspire here) is one of the major factors by which spiritual friendship and intimacy is fostered, and community is formed.  Those well-versed in the Anglican Divines such as Jeremy Taylor and John Jewel and Richard Hooker can write about classical Anglican theology and practice; those well-versed in classical Anglican poetry like that of George Herbert (or John Keble for that matter) can inspire us to renewed lyrical beauty (and by extension, hymnody), and those steeped in the old Prayer Books can encourage us to pray not just like but with our Anglican forbears.

If you’ve appreciated this blog, please go check out the recent article at North American Anglican, and follow that site’s excellent work.  Together we can help restore the foundation of our church and perhaps the Anglican tradition will once again be in a position to be a blessing and inspiration to other denominations and traditions around her.

How to celebrate St. Mary today

Today is the feast of St. Mary the Virgin, Mother of our Lord, or in the language of the ecumenical councils, the Theotokos (God-bearer).  Sticking with the liturgy that we have, and not violating any rubrics, let’s look at some ways we can mark this holy day in the course of our formal worship today.

Morning Prayer

For the Opening Sentence, consider Habakkuk 2:20, from among the extended provision on page 28.  It’s from a lesson that tends to show up around Christmastime, albeit not in the spartan daily lectionary of our new prayer book.  Let all mortal flesh keep silence, an awesome hymn from an Eastern eucharistic liturgy, is also drawn from this verse, and in many protestant hymnals is considered a Christmas hymn.  Granted, the biblical appearances of Blessed Virgin Mary are not limited to the Christmas story, but it is her most prominent placement.

For the Venite (the invitatory psalm) use a seasonal antiphon.  There are two that work well for this holy day: the one on page 29 for the Presentation & Annunciation (which are both Marian feasts to some extent) and the one on page 30 for All Saints’ & Other Major Saints’ Days.  As the rubric on page 14, above the Venite, explains, an antiphon is used both before and after the psalm or canticle in question.  Time and time again I’ve seen people misuse antiphons… think of them as book-ends to start and finish the song.  Or if etymology is your thing, look at the word itself: anti-phon… opposing sound: use the antiphon on opposing sides of the psalm.

The Canticles should be the traditional two: the Te Deum and the Benedictus.  This makes the holy day feel the same as a Sunday, and has the added bonus that the Te Deum actually does mention Mary briefly (Christ “humbly chose the Virgin’s womb”).

The second lesson for Morning Prayer in the Daily Lectionary is Luke 1:26-38, which is the story of the Annunciation.  ‘Nuff said there, I think!

The Collect of the Day, starting at Evening Prayer last night, is on page 631.  As discussed previously it may be read in light of the traditional (but not official) doctrine of the Assumption if one is so inclined.

Evening Prayer

The Opening Sentence could be drawn from the extra one suggested for Christmas (on page 54) or perhaps one of the standard options – Psalm 26:8 – noting that St. Mary herself was a notable place where God’s “honor dwells”.

The Canticles should be the traditional two: the Magnificat and the Nunc dimittis.  This makes the holy day feel the same as a Sunday, and has the obvious bonus that the Magnificat is itself the Song of Mary.

The second lesson for Evening Prayer in the Daily Lectionary is John 14:1-14, which although simply part of the lectio continuo (continuous reading) of Scripture from day to day, proves fitting closure to this holy day in Jesus’ proclamation that he is the Way and the Truth and the Life.  The Blessed Virgin Mary, as do all saints of the Church, ultimately points us to Christ.

Holy Communion

Chances are that most of us don’t have the opportunity to host or attend a celebration of Holy Communion today, but you can always resort to Antecommunion.

The Opening Acclamation should be the last seasonal one on page 146 from the song of the saints in heaven (Revelation 4:11).

As this is a festal occasion, not penitential, the Summary of the Law with the Kyrie is a more appropriate choice than the full Decalogue.  The Gloria in excelsis should follow, as this is a major holy day.

The Collect of the Day has already been commented upon.  The Propers from Scripture are:

  • Isaiah 61:10-11 (typologically, Mary is the garden from which Christ springs)
  • Psalm 34 (“let us magnify the Lord” akin to Mary’s Song)
  • Galatians 4:4-7 (Christ’s birth points to our own adoption in Christ)
  • Luke 1:46-55 (the Magnificat itself)

The Creed should be said, as per the rubric on the bottom of page 108/126.

The Blessed Virgin Mary should be mentioned in the last “N.” in the last petition of the Prayers of the People on page 111.

If there’s an Offertory, consider Galatians 6:10 for the Offertory Sentence (on page 149), since a Saints’ Day (especially Mary!) is an excellent opportunity to reference “the household of faith“.

For the Proper Preface, I’ve seen some lovely Mary-specific ones out there, but since we’re trying to get used to our new prayer book let’s not introduce anything new yet.  The official Preface appointed for this day on page 631 is the one for Christmas (on page 152).

Other Resources & Opportunities

The fourth collect in Midday Prayer (on page 38) references Mary.

Occasional Prayer #125 on page 683, the Thanksgiving for the Saints and Faithful Departed, also lists Mary among its several commemorated holy ones.

This Customary’s Order for Daily Hymnody appoints hymn #178 God himself is with us for today (check the index to find its number if you don’t have this hymnal).  Surely there are other hymns for Christmas or the Annunciation (and so forth) that will also be appropriate to adorn this feast day.

Antecommunion: What, Why, and How?

Something we’ve touched upon here before is the subject of the service of Antecommunion. I figured it’s about time we revisit that idea with a more direct address of its identity, purpose, and execution.

What is ‘Antecommunion’?

The prefix ante- means ‘before’, so the service of Antecommunion is the Service of Holy Communion before, or leading up to and excluding, the actual celebration of Communion.  Basically from the Introit to the Offertory, this is the non-sacramental part of the Communion liturgy.  The only difference is that this is done on purpose, and ends with a few different prayers, making this specifically the Service of Antecommunion rather than the Service of Holy Communion Except We Stopped Short Just Before The Important Bit.

Why would anyone do this?

Antecommunion is a uniquely Anglican practice; I’m not sure if any other tradition has ever had a liturgy on the books like this.  In the Prayer Book tradition, provision was made for the celebration of Holy Communion every Sunday and major Holy Day of the year, but, people were not used to such frequent reception of Communion, and despite the Reformers’ best efforts, the average English believer still only came to the Holy Table once a month at best.  The priests, however, were still expected to fulfill the liturgical demands of the Prayer Book, and so provision had to be made for situations in which there was a Service of Holy Communion offered but no communicants prepared to receive Holy Communion.

The 1662 Prayer Book has, at the end of the Communion liturgy, a handful of collects, and a rubric or two, for that very situation.  I’m not aware what, if any, subsequent Prayer Books contained similar instructions for that situation.

Now that Anglicans almost the world over are accustomed to weekly Communion, this “need” for Antecommunion is no longer common.  If your parish priest is unexpectedly sick on a Sunday morning, then a Deacon or Lay Minister could lead an Antecommunion service instead, since it’s almost identical to the regular Communion service.  This leads us to two possible scenarios in which the Antecommunion service may still be relevant for our needs and interests:

  1. A group of people, lacking a priest, want to participate in the eucharistic liturgy as much as they’re able.
  2. A priest, lacking a congregation, wants to participate in the eucharistic liturgy as much as he’s able.

The former situation is rare – normally when people want to worship together they should be saying the Daily Office.  Antecommunion should always and only be an addition to the Office, not a substitute.

The latter situation is perhaps more common, especially among those clergymen with high church sensibilities.  Roman priests, for example, were (if not still are) bound to celebrate Mass daily, much like how Anglican priests were (if not still are) bound to say the Office daily.  If you’re a priest and you feel like you “ought to be” celebrating Holy Communion daily, or at least ought to be celebrating it more frequently than just Sunday mornings, then Antecommunion is the compromise.  It is extremely rare to find, among Anglicans, anyone who approves of a priest saying Mass entirely alone – Prayer Book tradition requires at least two other people gathered with the celebrant, so only the most Romanized clergymen would ever opt for a ‘private’ mass.  So if you are alone, Antecommunion is the closest you can get to the devotion of the so-called private mass.

How does the service of Antecommunion work?

The whole point of this liturgy is that it’s a stand-in for the full Communion service, so it’s essentially identical from the start until the Confession.  After that, you say the Lord’s Prayer, and a few additional prayers, and then you’re done.  For a bookmark-style guide using the 2019 Prayer Book, download this Antecommunion leaflet.  Plus, if you want, you can check out this walk-through video.

As a bonus, I even provided a quick summary of how to do this with the 1928 Prayer Book, since I know some of you are users of that book, rather than the 2019.

I don’t like this hymn

One of the big challenges of praying, reading the Bible, and worshiping alone is the tendency towards doing what we like and skipping what we don’t.  Left to my own devices, I’d probably just chant psalms and read the Old Testament, Ecclesiastical Books, and sometimes also the Gospels and Revelation.  Maybe the Canticles and the Lord’s Prayer and a collect or two would survive.  But the liturgical tradition, particularly the Prayer Book tradition, keeps steering me (and all who heed it) on a healthier track for more wholesome worship that keeps the individual and the congregation rightly balanced.

It is along those lines that I’ve been developing the Saint Aelfric Customary the way I have: taking on trust that the Prayer Book is a reliable book, we’re seeking to explore its options, with classical Anglican tradition in mind, and build a Customary – a style and plan of execution of liturgy – that makes full and proper use of the options at hand.

The hymnal has received similar treatment, and you can read about the Hymnal-in-a-Year recommendation here.  As I’ve observed before, the 2017 hymnal put out by the Reformed Episcopal Church is an excellent blend of old and new; I was glad to see a few contemporary songs – the cream of the crop – make it into its pages.  That said, there are still some tunes in this book that I’m not really that crazy about.  When it comes to music, my passion is mostly in the British folk tradition, and my training is primarily renaissance, baroque, and classical.  When it comes to Christian singing, this leaves a couple massive gap in my experience: African-American spirituals or gospel songs, and the American revivalist hymn style that came under its influence.

Enter Marie Ferguson’s Joys are flowing like a river, to a tune written by W. Marshall, both in 1897, “BLESSED QUIETNESS”.  This is one of the hymns in the 2017 hymnal appointed for today, Tuesday in the week of Proper 14.  The arrangement in our hymnal is not quite the same as what I’m finding on YouTube, but you can get the idea.  It’s just one of those awful schmalty tunes with to many flats in the key signature, with lyrics just dripping with sentimentality.  As my congregation’s music minister I will never appoint this hymn to be sung because I can’t play that style properly, and as my congregation’s priest I will never appoint this hymn because we do so little music as it is that I want to make sure that no song is wasted.  But today I’m trying to sing it on my own, because it’s in the hymnal, and some people who are more knowledgeable and experienced than I am decided it’s worth being one of 639.

Joys are flowing like a river,
Since the Comforter has come;
He abides with us forever,
Makes the trusting heart his home.

Blessed quietness, Holy quietness,
What assurance in my soul!

On the stormy sea, Jesus speaks to me,
And the billows cease to roll.

It’s a Holy Spirit themed hymn, of which Anglican hymnody tends to be rather scarce, left to its own devices (though this is true also of Catholic and classical Protestant hymnody too – the Church has always sung more about Jesus than about the Spirit), so it’s no surprise that we’re dipping into other traditions to bulk up this part of the book.

There is a collect in the prayer book that I didn’t understand at first until I found its biblical source (Isaiah 30:15), which sounds very much like the refrain of this hymn:

O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This “blessed quietness”, this place of “returning and rest”, is a good place to be.  In that spiritual calm of “waiting upon the Lord” and spiritual peace, one can know and feel the presence and power of God.  So although this hymn comes across as super sentimental, it is still filled with biblical imagery and truth.  Let’s see the other verses (omitting the repeated refrain).

Bringing life, and health, and gladness
All around, this heav’nly Guest
Conquered unbelief and sadness,
Changed our weariness to rest.

Like the rain that falls from heaven,
Like the sunlight from the sky,
So the Holy Spirit’s given,
Coming on us from on high.

See, a fruitful field is growing,
Blessed fruit of righteousness;
And the streams of life are flowing
In the lonely wilderness.

What a wonderful salvation,
When we always see his face,
What a perfect habitation,
What a quiet resting place!

So yes, this is very much an emotion-driven song, which can make it both very effective (if you’re in the “right mood” for it) or quite maddening (it you aren’t), and yet in its emotionalism it continually latches on to biblical images in a way that shows decent theological reflection.  The Holy Spirit’s role as Comforter could be said to be the underlying premise of these lyrics, and explicated in both emotional and spiritual terms.  And if you’re less set-in-your-musical-ways than I am, you may even enjoy the tune!

So I have to admit, I still don’t like really like this hymn.  But I can also say it’s a good hymn, and I’ll try to sing it with you today, if I can the hang of the rhythms.

Readings Review 12 Aug.

One of the things we’re going to do on this blog on Mondays is look back and forth at the Daily Office readings (or lessons) so we can better process together what the Scriptures are saying.  I’m not always going to touch on all four reading tracks, much less give a play-by-play review of the week past or preview of the week to come, but just look more generally at where we’ve been and where we’re going.  I can’t turn this blog into a group Bible Study, especially since not all of you are actually using the daily office lectionary from the 2019 prayer book.  Plus, by sticking (usually) to a larger scale review of recent or upcoming readings, there’s a better chance of recent overlap with other similar lectionaries, and the ability to keep this weekly theme from going stale after a while.

The Readings

Last week: 1 Samuel 24-29, Romans 5-10, Hosea 2-8, John 7:25-11:44
This week: 1 Samuel 30-2 Samuel 5, Romans 11-16, Hosea 9-14, Joel 1, John 11:45-15:17
Special lesson for St. Mary the Virgin (15 Aug.) = Luke 1:26-38

One of the big “story arcs” here, so to speak, is the dramatic saga of David and King Saul in the morning OT lessons.  All of last week and for a few days this week we’ve been reading about the tension between the two of them: King Saul is frequently hunting his former bodyguard and musician, David, often with intent to kill.  And yet, David twice refuses to kill Saul when he has the chance even though he knows that God has chosen him to be the next king.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, David was quite a sinner himself; we’ll see more of that later.  But in the interactions between David and Saul, David is clearly in the right nearly 100% of the way through.  He understands that as long as Saul lives, he is the current anointed one of God to be king over Israel.

This sheds light on the interaction between Jesus and the scribes and pharisees and priests.  He knew that he was the Messiah – the Christ, the Anointed One – to whom their ministry pointed, and must eventually yield.  And although he exchanged words with them many a time, he never overthrew their authority.  For the time being, they were supposed to be “the clergy”, as we might say; they were supposed to be the teachers of the things of God.  And once Jesus ratified the New Covenant in his blood, only then did he cease to pay them the respect of their God-given office.  Indeed, the New Testament barely ever mentions them again after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

For us we learn the virtue of patience, of waiting, of respect for the present while anticipating the future.  We often like to “move on” once a deal is signed, and live and act as if The Future Is Now.  But if that’s really what we do, then we never actually respect and live in The Now.  This is especially important in spiritual things: we are now regenerate, adopted children of God.  We are now God’s people, cleansed by the blood of Christ.  But for now we are also still sinners, and we cannot deny that reality.  Just as David and Jesus kept their hands off their rightful crowns until God’s appointed time, so should we not pretend to have attained to sinless perfection, or the full consummation of the glory of Christ-in-us before the Kingdom of God is actually fulfilled when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead.  As David was persecuted by King Saul, and Jesus scorned by the Jewish rabbis and priests of his day, so too do we suffer under the reign of sin and death.

So, by all means, read these Old Testament stories with a keen interest in what David is demonstrating here.  He is not always such a clear typological picture of Jesus, but for many of these chapters he definitely is.

Book Review: Ceremonies of the Eucharist

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:

Accessibility: 5/5
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.

Regular Occasional Prayers

Early this year we had a post here about making the “Occasional Prayers” in the new prayer book a regular feature of one’s recitation of the Daily Office.  I won’t link you back to it though because that was built on the penultimate draft of the prayer book, and a few of those prayers have been dropped, merged, added to, and moved around, throwing the numbers off between the late 2018 draft and the 2019 final copy.

Instead, I’m providing a fresh shiny new upload here of this Customary’s Order for the Occasional Prayers!  Click that link to download it.

Some of the backstory to this can be found in the file – the Daily Office in the classical prayer books (before 1979) included a number of prayers and thanksgivings and collects after the Office (perhaps mainly just Morning Prayer if I recall) which were authorized-but-optional, to be added after the the required Three Collects toward the end of the Office.  It’s a mixed blessing having lost that feature in modern prayer books – on one hand people it’s nice to have a larger and more comprehensive appendix of prayers to draw from, but being place so far back in the book will make them less likely to be noticed by the average prayer book user.  That’s why this suggested order is put forth.

Let’s look at why this scheme is recommended the way it is.

Sunday, being the principle day of worship for the church gathered, has the section of prayers labeled At Times of Prayer and Worship as well as the prayers on Death, the Departed, and the Communion of Saints, as that is when most of the saints on earth are gathered.  The assigned prayers skip around, numerically, in order to avoid prayers that are too similar from being read at the same Office.

On Monday the prayers start at the beginning of the list, covering the section For the Church.  In general, the prayers for the morning are more specific and the prayers for the evening are more general or topical.

Tuesday morning covers the next section, For the Nation, again arranging the prayers so that too-similar collects aren’t prayed on the same day.  Depending upon which country you hail from, certain prayers along the way will be appropriate to omit (mainly in the USA versus Canada distinction).  In the evening, one day dips into the Personal Devotions list and the other starts the For Society section.

Wednesday morning is omitted, because that’s a traditional time for saying the Great Litany.  The evening finishes the For Society section and begins the next section, Intercessions For Those in Need.

Thursday morning skips ahead to more of the Personal Life and Personal Devotions sections, while Thursday evening (in light of the day’s traditional Eucharistic theme) covers most of the Thanksgivings.

Friday morning (like Wednesday morning) is omitted so you can focus on the Great Litany.  The evening covers the rest of the prayers For Those in Need where Wednesday left off.

Saturday covers the prayers about Creation and Family Life, as well as Personal Life and Devotion.  The creation theme matches the Morning Prayer Collect recommended for Saturdays (Collect for Sabbath Rest), and the family section is chosen to match the fact that Saturday is often a “day off with the family” for much of the working world.  The remaining personal devotions also serve as a sort of introspective preparation for corporate worship on the following morning.

For sake of simplicity, “Week I” should line up with odd-numbered weeks in the liturgical calendar, and “Week II” with even-numbered weeks.  For example, this is the week (in modern reckoning) of Proper 13, so this week should be considered an odd-numbered week.

Nicene Creed Translation

In our week-by-week Thursday walk-through of the service of Holy Communion, we come now to the Nicene Creed.  Amidst the very many blog posts and articles that cropped up early this summer with the release of the 2019 Prayer Book came one writer who objected to the translation of the Nicene Creed.  This was, in many ways, a very strange complaint, because the new translation in our book was made and approved by our College of Bishops six years ago, in 2013.  It’s been available since the very first Texts for Common Prayer were released, and some churches, like mine, have been using it ever since.  It’s a bit late to complain.  The nature of the complaint, too, in my opinion, is more a questioning of motive than it is of actual substance.

Nevertheless, one should be very attentive to how the Creeds are translated.  Article of Religion #8 places the Creeds on a very high level of authority: they “ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture.”  So, just like Bible translation, it’s very important that we get a decent translation of the Creeds before us.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at the text, comparing 1662, 2019, and 1979.

  • 1662: I BELIEVE in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:
  • 2019: We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, visible and invisible.
  • 1979: We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

The modern we/I switch is one of the main objections the aforementioned critic took issue with.  The functional difference here is that in the context of the Eucharist, our affirmation of faith is corporate (while the Apostles’ Creed in the Daily Office is our place to say “I believe…”).  There is a fair bit of history behind the I/we translation choices which I’ll let you research yourself if you’re curious.

The other big difference in this opening line is the terminology “visible and invisible” versus “seen and unseen.”  The problem with the latter translation was that it opened the Creed (and thus the entirety of the biblical faith) to the possibility of demythologization.  Among the excesses of modernist thought, this subtle wording change paves the way for the rejection of angels and demons, and the devil, as these are things invisible.  “Unseen” suggests a more empirical approach to reality and metaphysics which can easily be used to “correct” the Bible.

  • 1662: And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten son of God, Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made:
  • 2019: We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made.
  • 1979: We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.  Through him all things were made.

The repetition of “we believe” is a modern concession to English grammar.  The whole creed is technically one giant sentence, but that’s pretty incomprehensible to the modern reader.  A couple hundred years ago, it was still in practice to make giant compound sentences nearly an entire page long, but readership has changed since then, and thus so have our approaches to dealing with punctuation and repetition.

In terms of actual substance, note that we got “only-begotten” back, omitted in 1979, “eternally begotten” is a theological clarification in the modern translations, “of one substance” is equated to “of one being” (more theological technical terms).  Nothing controversial here, just basic orthodox Christology.

  • 1662: Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man, And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.
  • 2019: For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man.  For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
  • 1979: For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.  For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

“For us men” became “For us” in contemporary English, as the gender-neutral use of “men” goes on the decline.  At least this is an instance of that word where its omission isn’t a problem, as it is in some verses of Scripture.

The similar language in 1662 and 2019 – “incarnate from/by the Holy Spirit/Ghost of/and the Virgin Mary” – is highly preferable to the 1979’s translation “by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary”.  The latter separates the Holy Spirit from the Annunciation and conception of Jesus by a degree that is neither necessary nor precedented.  “The Holy Spirit will overshadow you”, the archangel Gabriel told Mary, not “the power of the Spirit will descend upon you”.

There is an interesting difference in where to end the sentence/phrase which you can see at the end of this section and the beginning of the next.  It seems to me primarily a matter of logical organization rather than of direct theological import.

  • 1662: He suffered and was buried, And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and dead: Whose kingdom shall have no end.
  • 2019: he suffered death and was buried.  On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
  • 1979: he suffered death and was buried.  On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

Apart from language style and punctuation, there’s no substantial change here at all.

  • 1662: And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord and giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets.
  • 2019: We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],† who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.
  • 1979: We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.  With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.  He has spoken through the Prophets.

Again, nothing here is of any substantial difference, just language style and translation methods.  Except one… the filioque – the phrase “and the Son”.  This is a bit of a historical-theological bugbear.  The original text of this Creed, on which the 2019 translation is based, does not include that phrase.  A Lambeth Council (representing Anglicans world-wide) decision in 1978 encouraged future liturgical texts to drop the filioque even though it is a constant feature of the entire Western Church.  It (and the way in which the Roman Popes “authorized” it) was one of the wedges driven between East and West, leading to the final split in 1054.  To drop the filioque is a gesture of good will toward the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and (potentially) a return to primitive creedal orthodoxy.  Does this little word really make much difference, theologically, let alone practically?  It can, but it doesn’t necessarily have to.  So our prayer book has bracketed the phrase and included a footnote reference to a longer statement about the issue, written by our bishops in 2013, as an opportunity for further education and learning.

  • 1662: And I believe one Catholick and Apostolick Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the Resurrection of the dead, And the life of the world to come. Amen.
  • 2019: We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
  • 1979: We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.  We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

To be honest, the difference between “believe in one… church” and “believe one… church” has always puzzled me.  Go ask some other more educated priest than I.  Or if you, please comment about it, so I can understand it too!

There seems to be a bit of a mixed report about the word “holy”… it is a traditional part of the Creed, one of the “four marks of the Church” – one, holy, catholic, apostolic.  How it got omitted from the Prayer Book tradition until 1979 escapes me.  The legend that it was a printing error that got enshrined in England and American practice is unconvincing.

One can argue that there is a difference between the precise meaning of “remission of sins” and “forgiveness of sins”, but the effect is at least the same.

So there you go.  If you’ve been used to the 1979 Creed, hopefully this has helped you see the improvements we’ve got in our new book.  It’s high time to make the switch if you haven’t already!

Collect for Proper 13

With the Transfiguration over, the Collect of the Day in the Daily Office returns to this past Sunday’s Collect – for Proper 13.

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your grace that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

What we see at work in prayer is a biblical principle from verses like 1 Corinthians 4:7 – “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”  This humbling reality, that all good things that we’ve got come from God, applies even to our worship and service.

This reality is a balance between two extremes.  On one hand is an error more often made by Roman Catholics: the assumption that ordinary Christians are just too sinful and ignorant to offer God any “laudable service”, and so we entrust the clergy and the ‘religious’ to offer God more perfect praise on our behalf.  Go to church, hear Father celebrate mass, and we can say that we vicariously offered something to God too.  On the other hand is an error more often made by evangelicals: the assumption that if we just worship God with heart-felt enthusiasm that he will be truly honored, and so we dive in to a string of worship songs with the mad assertion that our feelings of sincerity are more significant to God than the actual content of our words and actions.

Countering both these extremes is the biblical reality: we can offer worthy worship to God, but only by his grace.  Grace then precedes worship and works.  Because of grace, we offer laudable service to God and strive to “run without stumbling” to attain to God’s heavenly promises.  As the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews put it, “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (6:11-12).

So when you sit down to pray (or kneel, or whatever), remember not to be overconfident in your own worthiness, verbosity, or sincerity; and remember not to be embarrassed, discouraged by your bumbling ways.  God gives you grace to approach his throne with boldness.  We find that grace in confessing our sins to a merciful Lord; we find that grace in praying prayers that God himself provided us to pray (especially the Lord’s Prayer and the Psalms); we find that grace in an order, a liturgy, provided by his Church, to assist us not only to form our prayers into coherent sentences but also to unite our prayers with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

And underlying all of that, of course, is the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.  Every baptized person has God the Spirit within, it’s not a matter of elitism or ordination status or what-have-you.  Be not afraid, when your prayers are bumbling and crude, the Spirit will “translate” your intentions to the Father; and when you think you’ve got it just right and perfect on your own wit, the Spirit will ask the Father for the mercy and humility you omitted.  Let us learn from one another how to pray, how to worship.  Think of the Prayer Book as the compilation of centuries of insight in this matter!  Rather than asking advice in prayer from one or two friends or pastors, why not turn to the collective wisdom of millions as represented in the Common Prayer book.