Monthly Archives: January 2009

Theses Conversation with Christopher

In my response to my continuing theses, Christopher has put some of his thoughts up. He’s jumped beyond the point where I’m at and has made some practical suggestions. I’ll point there rather than engage it directly.

Well, ok, maybe one point—a six-year daily lectionary? I appreciate the concept but six years seems too long to retain everything! (Of course, most people aren’t reading the Bible on *any* schedule so maybe six isn’t that bad…)

Continuing Theses on the Liturgy

Clearly, these begin where I left off last time

Thesis 4:  The logic and methods of the Western Liturgical Cycle were uniquely preserved and promulgated in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer and its successors in a way not found in the other Reformation movements nor in the Roman Catholic Church until recently.

  • First, we recognize that the Mass/Office/Liturgical Year appear in the 1549 BCP are are intended to function together. Furthermore, in the preface to that book, contained in the historical documents of our current BCP and coming in large part from Cranmer’s first attempt to reform the Office, Cranmer explicitly cites not only what appears to have been the practice of the churches of Agustine and Chrysostom but to early medieval practice. First, a general reference that seems to fit much patristic preaching:

There was never any thing by the wit of man so well devised, or so sure established, which in continuance of time hath not been corrupted: as, among other things, it may plainly appear by the common prayers in the Church, commonly called Divine Service: the first original and ground whereof, if a man would search out by the ancient fathers, he shall find, that the same was not ordained, but of a good purpose, and for a great advancement of godliness: For they so ordered the matter, that all the whole Bible (or the greatest part thereof) should be read over once in the year, intending thereby, that the Clergy, and especially such as were Ministers of the congregation, should (by often reading, and meditation of God’s word) be stirred up to godliness themselves, and be more able to exhort others by wholesome doctrine, and to confute them that were adversaries to the truth. And further, that the people (by daily hearing of holy Scripture read in the Church) should continually profit more and more in the knowledge of God, and be the more inflamed with the love of his true religion.

Now—while the evidence suggests that the Scriptures were read in course in various times and places within the patristic period, there seems to be no scheme that we know of that connects the readings of certain books to specific times. Indeed, the first record we have of such a scheme is Ordo XIII. This text in the form we have it seems to have been written down in the first half of the eighth century. This is the ideal cited by Cranmer later in his preface:

But these many years passed, this godly and decent order of the ancient fathers hath been so altered, broken, and neglected, by planting in uncertain stories, Legends, Responds, Verses, vain repetitions, Commemorations, and Synodals, that commonly when any book of the Bible was begun, before three or four Chapters were read out, all the rest were unread. And in this sort the book of Isaiah was begun in Advent, and the book of Genesis in Septuagesima; but they were only begun, and never read through. After a like sort were other books of holy Scripture used.

While recognizing this shema, though, we must note that in a fit of protestantism, Cramner neither enacts it nor includes it in his work, preferring to begin the Office lectionary in January with Genesis and to procede in biblical order without regard to the liturgical seasons. Certainly we who have played in more missals and breviaries than can easily be counted appreciate the truth of Cranmer’s words : “Moreover, the number and hardness of the Rules called the Pie, and the manifold changings of the service, was the cause, that to turn the Book only, was so hard and intricate a matter, that many times, there was more business to find out what should be read, than to read it when it was found out.” …even when we don’t agree with his solution.

  • In contrast, no other Reformation group attempted to hold Mass/Office/Liturgical Year together to this extent. Nor has the Roman Catholic Church promoted the observence of the Office to the laity to the same degree that the Anglican intention did.
  • I do think there has been forward progress in this matter recently within the Roman Catholic Church with the allowance of the vernacular and the creation of the Liturgy of the Hours, but the Daily Mass culture, I think, obscures and displaces a Daily Office culture.
  • That having been said, Anglican practice has never measured up to Anglican intention. In the main, one is hard-pressed to find a consistent Daily Office culture within the Episcopal Church. There are pockets of practice, but it is not widespread nor as widely known as it ought to be.

Thesis 5: The logic and methods of the Western Liturgical Cycle because of its central place in our normative texts—the Books of Common Prayer—describe the heart of authentically Anglican Christian Formation.

  • I see that “Western Liturgical Cycle” has become a technical term to refer to the complex of Mass/Office?Liturgical year. This is handy but may become problematic—it’s current use is provisional…

Initial Theses on the Liturgy

Thesis 1: The liturgical cycles of Mass/Office/Liturgical Year as envisioned by the 7th century and enacted in various places by the 9th/10th is the single greatest system for Christian formation ever produced by the Western Church.

  • When I say “produced by the Western Church” it’s important that we realize that I do mean quite a lot of the Western Church was in on creating it. That is, the liturgy was not something created in Rome and exported out.  To quote a heavily underlined and starred passage in my copy of Vogel:

The period that extends from Gregory the Great [590-604] to Gregory VII [1073-1085] is characterized by the following facts regarding liturgy:

a) the systematization of the liturgy of the City of Rome and of the papal court (the Roman liturgy in the strict sense);
b) the spread of this liturgy into the Frankish kingdom through the initiatives of individual pilgrims and, after 754, with the support of the Carolingian kings;
c) the deliberate Romanization of the ancient liturgy of Northern Europe (Gallican) at the behest of Pepin III and Charlemagne
d) the progressive creation of a ‘mixed’ or ‘hybrid’ set of new rites in the Carolingian Empire through the amalgamation of the Roman liturgy with the indigenous ones;
e) The inevitable liturgical diversification resulting from these Romanizing and Gallicanizing thrusts;
f) the return of the adapted Romano-Frankish or Romano-Germanic liturgy to Rome under the Ottos of Germany, especially after the Renovatio Imperii of 962;
g) the permanent adoption of this liturgy at Rome because of the worship vacuum and the general state of cultural and religious decadence that prevailed in the City at the time. (Vogel, 61)

  • The gap between the 7th and 9th/10th centuries that I allude to refers to the gap between planning and execution.  I.e., here’s People’s Exhibit A of what I mean. This is a lectionary list from the late 9th century that shows that, while Masses from Wednesday and Friday in the time after Pentecost ought to have appointed Gospels, at that time the scribe couldn’t locate what they were… The gaps got filled in by a standardized system in the 10th century (Type 3 alt).
  • The Western Church has produced a lot of great writers, thinkers, and teachers. And yet I don’t believe any of them have ever surpassed this construction of the liturgical year as a method for forming Christians into the mind of Christ. Partly because so many Spiritual writers assume these liturgical cycles as the starting place—their works proceed from here.

Thesis 2: The full formative potential of the Western liturgical system, however, was rarely—if ever—fully realized due to the vocational and educational limiting factors placed upon it.

  • Engagement with the full liturgy was restricted to those who lived in intentional liturgical communities: only monastics (of both sexes) or canons ever got the “full experience”. The laity got the leavings.
  • Too, it required a fluent knowledge of Latin. Not only was this not open to most laity, but not all clergy and monastics had both the ability and the education necessary.

Thesis 3:  The formative power of the Western liturgical cycles was not due to its superiority in a single mode of instruction but due to its comprehensive character;  it integrated the intellectual, doctrinal, emotional,  affectional, aesthetic, kinetic, and dietary elements into a holistic system.

  • to poach a paragraph directly from chapter 3:

Within the life of the early medieval monastic establishment, a change of liturgical seasons signaled a change in life—liturgical and otherwise. The beginning of a season marked a change in the biblical texts that a community read, a change in the musical settings and the textual contents of the life of prayer, possibly changes in the colors of vestments in the oratory, even changes in what the monastics ate and wore. The changes of seasons affected life around the monastery; as a result, they affected thinking around the monastery. The seasons were comprehensive periods of formation, mimetic modeling of an aspect of Israel, her Christ, or his Church that engaged the mind with doctrines, the heart with religious affections, and the body with acts of penance, ascesis, or holy joy. Reading the gospels within these contexts foregrounded either primary or latent meanings in the text that accorded with these doctrines, affections, and acts…

These are the initial historical theses that seek to a lay a foundation before moving to the contemporary issue.

More Rumors from Rome

Technically, from Australia—but pertaining to Roman doings…

NLM is passing along a report from The Record that:

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has decided to recommend the Traditional Anglican Communion be accorded a personal prelature akin to Opus Dei, if talks between the TAC and the Vatican aimed at unity succeed, it is understood.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard this, of course, and it may well not be the last, but hearing this in such close proximity to action in regard to the SSPX is intriguing.

Let’s be clear on what the whole SSPX thing is about. It’s not fundamentally about 4 bishops. Yes, the bishops are the key to it, but I think it’s more about the people. B16, it seems to me, is doing part of what the church ought to be doing—engaging in the ministry of reconciliation—and is working to repair rifts.  (And, of course, I’m sincerely hoping that he exercises his episcopal role to discipline at least one if not more of the said 4 bishops if and when full reconciliation occurs.)

Looking at it from this perspective, it’s not hard to see the TAC in the same way.

If these rumors were to be true, if this were to be accomplished, it might well open the door for a mass (npi…) return of traditional Anglo-Catholics from outside the TAC. As we’ve noted in the past, while American Anglo-Catholics have grabbed on to this Gafcon/FOCA thing, that’s not the case in England and elsewhere. Even now there are rumblings that even within those Americans who drafted documentation for Gafcon, there are some who may choose to swim the Tiber and return to Rome rather than remain in the FOCA.

Just a Thought

…I might actually produce some posts of substance soon.

These have been few are far between recently for a number of reasons. One of which being many of the posts I draft that contain actual content end up being sent to Jim for the Episcopal Cafe.

However, I’m having a hnkering to write down some theses for debate concerning Anglican/Episcopal Liturgy that might draw some discussion.


It took me a moment to decode an email subject line…

“Presale: Lamb of God at Tabernacle”

Theological treatise or concert announcement?

Answer: concert announcement…

For Fans of the New Roman Missal

(Ok—since it’s me I’ll clarify: “new” in this case doesn’t mean Trent, I mean the Vatican II revision…)

Word of the availability of this version of the missal is leaking out slowly because the hosts don’t want the server over-run. Nevertheless, it’s a wonderful resource, and people should know that it’s available. I’m shooting for balance here; I’m letting you know it’s there but to reduce googability I’ll not mention it by name…

The pdf I’ll be linking to contains:

  • The full Novus Ordo mass in both Latin and English (yes, all four Eucharistic Prayers)
  • Square notation chants for the Latin of the mass—not the English
  • The Sprinkling rite with the Asperges Me and Vidi Aquam
  • Chants for the Ordinary of the Mass according to 18 settings, identified as to when and for what they ought to be sung
  • 6 Credos
  • Propers through the year with the chant from the Gradual; English translations without the chant; the lectionary readings on the three year schema

Whether you’re Roman, Rome-leaning, or just a liturgy/chant nut, this is a great volume to have. And it can be found here.

(And for those who did think I was referring to the Tridentine Mass, it can, of course, be found here…)

New Cafe Post

I’ve got a new post up at the Cafe. It’s the penultimate piece in the “7 Dates that Derek Thinks That Anglicans Really Ought to Know” series. The timing is appropriate here, coming at the end of the Week of Christian Unity as the date at hand is 1054 and the topic the Great Schism…

I have to say, this is the piece that I feel most nervous about. Yes, it falls in my sphere historically but not topically. Thus, I tried to stick more with generalities knowing that dealing with nuances would draw fire from a variety of sides… Let me know if you spot any howlers but I tried to be fair all around. Just to clarify, here’s the rest of the series to this point:

587 BC, and why it matters

AD 70 and why it matters

AD 325 and why it matters

AD 525 and Why It Matters

AD 597 and why it matters

AD 1054 and why it matters

Traditional and Contemporary Revisited

Donald Schell has a piece up at the Cafe that sounds a whole lot like what I posted a bit back. These were written completely independently of one another and I’m amazed at the similarity of themes that run through them. Especially when one considers the very real difference that exist between Donald and myself.

I actually believe that we have similar philosophies here but there are very real differences in how we put them into practice and would wager that the central difference is what we here the Spirit calling us to do.

But where do you go from there? Do you argue that one is hearing the Spirit right and not the other? Or do we suggest that the same Spirit is calling us in different directions based on our different social/spiritual locations? Certainly I prefer the latter to the former but–let’s face it–that raises as many questions as it solves…

However it continues, I think that the whole relation of “tradition” and what we do with it to our liturgy/public worship is an essential discussion and will have implications on our future shape.