Monthly Archives: March 2009

State of the Liturgical Renewal

In some correspondence we’ve been having  Donald Schell  recently raised the question of the state  of the liturgical renewal in the Episcopal Church. He wondered if it were distingrating.

I replied that I’m not sure which verb is most appropriate: has it dissipated, stagnated, bifurcated, fragmented, polarized—or something else entirely…

I think it’s an important question but first we must take stock of several indeces before the question can accurately be answered.

  • How do we measure the state of liturgy or liturgical renewal overall? One of the major indeces that people “check” is web/forum/blog chatter. And I don’t know how reliable this is. For every anecdote about an exploding parish with liberal or charismatic or anglo-catholic liturgy, I can point to conter-balancing anecdotes. Meanwhile the majority of parishes keep doing what they’re doing (don’t they?). But what exactly is that? What does MOTR look like regionally and nationally—and how much effect are the ultra-progressive or totally traditional “shrine” churches having on what MOTR looks like?
  • Where are clergy receiving their liturgical formation? Is it residual formation from home parishes? Is it from what they learned in seminary? Is it adjusting to whatever their parish they land in is used to?
  • What exactly are clergy learning in seminary? Not just what books are they reading, but what are their chapel experiences designed to do—root them in a particular tradition or show them the range of “what’s out there”?
  • What exactly do we mean be “liturgical renewal”? Do we mean the teaching and discipling process that ought to accompany teaching the liturgy, or do we mean the tide of thought referred to as “the Liturgical Renewal Movement” spearheaded by Aidan Kavanaugh, Don Saliers, Gordon Lathrop, Gail Ramshaw, et al.?
  • What else is going on in the American religious landscape? Let’s not be too inwardly focused here. A large part of what we refer to as the “Liturgical Renewal Movement” (essentially the reforms of Vatican II that filtered into the mainline protestant churches)  was fundamentally ecumenical. What happened in the ’79 prayerbook was deeply related to what happened at V-II. Now when we look around, a—if not “the”—major movement in Roman circles is nothing less than the “Reform of the Reform”.  You can’t tell me this isn’t having an effect…
  • One generation is starting to lose its ascendancy; another is on the rise. Major sticking points and differences between these generations include their approach and attitude towards authority and their approach and attitude towards the past. However, anything as broad as an appeal to generations is tarring with a broad brush—what size brush is the right size?

What’s your sense? Furthermore, how do we move beyond “senses” and figure out where people are? Or, alternatively, is the church best served by the presentation of a new synthesis?

The ’09 “BCP”: The New American Missal?

As has been noted hither and yon, Lancelot Andrewes Press is coming out with a new book called The Book of Common Prayer. While it is not an officially authorized book of any jurisdiction, it’s safe to say that its intended audience is Western Rite Antiochene Orthodox and American Anglo-Catholics of whatever hierarchical loyalty.

Note, for instance, that it includes the Litany with the 1544 invocations of the BVM and other saints as well as the Proposed ’28’s prayers for the Dead.

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament begins on p. 63; the Asperges on 485…

There’s only one serious question that I have about it—what Canon does it use? While the documentation mentions some additions, it doesn’t say to what they have been added. The 1662 Canon has some nototrious issues from a catholic perspective. I mean, there’s a reason why most Anglo-Catholic churches in England now use the Novus Ordo as opposed to the prayer book and in earlier days inserted the Roman Canon around the authorized one.

Well, we shall see. And yes, I do indeed plan on picking one up as time and funds allow.

On Wise and Foolish Virgins

The Postulant wonders about the Gospel appointed for St Cecilia. Here’s the best and most complete answer I can give…


In the lectionaries of the Benedictine Revival, Matthew 25:1–13 was utilized for a general class of occasions: feasts of multiple virgins. By Ælfric’s time, there was a fairly well defined set of saints venerated in common by the Western Church. This sanctoral kalendar was born from attempts to standardize liturgical practice across the West—particularly by Charlemagne and the rulers after him—but does not represent in any way the establishment of a centralized control or process over who was named a saint and how it occurred. As a result, the addition of new saints to the kalendar was not an uncommon occurrence in an early medieval monastery.

As the new saints were added to the yearly round, they required liturgical texts so that they could be properly venerated. Thus a generic set of texts were appointed to cover a variety of saintly classifications: apostles, martyrs, confessors, bishops, abbots/abbesses, and virgins. These appeared in both singular and multiple configurations. Practically speaking, the multiple appeared most often in the case of groups of martyrs who were killed together. The various liturgical books had a set of the most necessary of these—though not necessarily standardized—referred to as the Commons of the Saints.[1] The Leofric Missal, for instance, contains commons for the vigil and feast of one apostle, a feast of multiple apostles, vigils of holy martyrs, a feast of one martyr, a feast of multiple martyrs, vigils of holy confessors, a feast of one confessor, a feast of multiple confessors, a feast of virgins and martyrs, and a feast of several saints in common.[2] Paul the Deacon includes similar categories including materials for a vigil of one apostle, a feast of one apostle, a feast of one martyr, a feast of multiple martyrs, a feast of multiple confessors, and a feast of multiple virgins. Ælfric, in turn, provides in the Catholic Homilies for a feast of one apostle, a feast of multiple apostles, a feast of one martyr, a feast of multiple martyrs, a feast of one confessor, a feast of multiple confessors, and a feast of multiple virgins.[3]

The parable of the wise and foolish virgins is appointed for a general kind of liturgical occasion, the common of multiple virgins, and also appears early at the feast of some virgin martyrs, most notably Agatha. The logic here is not too hard to trace—but is more interesting than it first appears. The obvious correlation is that the occasion celebrates virgins who, by virtue of their sanctity, have entered into the final consummation and stand now in the presence of God and the Lamb as intercessors on behalf of the faithful; the passage itself features multiple virgins who enter into the marriage banquet that is surely a symbol of eschatological rejoicing.

This interpretation is well attested in the liturgical variety of the church. Hesbert’s great collection of antiphons and responsaries from medieval Europe contains four antiphons[4] and twelve responsories[5] that use this passage. Most of them connect it explicitly to virgin saints. Sometimes exegetical decisions are already encoded into these texts. Responsary 7228 which circulated with two different verses, is a prime example:

You will not be among the foolish virgins, says the Lord, but you will be among the wise virgins; taking up the oil of gladness in their lamps, going out to meet him they will meet the Bridegroom with the palms of virginity.
(Verse 1a): But at midnight a cry was made: Behold, the Bridegroom comes, go out to meet him.
(Verse 1b): But coming they will come with exultation, carrying their sheaves
Response: Going out to meet him they will meet the Bridegroom with the palms of virginity.[6]

The interpretation identifying the oil as “the oil of gladness” is interesting and has two complementary possible sources. The early medieval church read VgPs 44 narrating the marriage between Christ and women religious—“the oil of gladness” is mentioned in v. 8. The gloss may be a direct reference to the psalm. Alternatively, Augustine made the connection between the psalm and Matt 25 in De Div Quaest. 83.

Verse 1b represents another exegetical option. While Verse 1a uses a text from the Matthean parable, Verse 1b introduces a passage from the Psalms (VgPs 126:6). According to Augustine, the psalm refers to almsgiving; the sowing of the seed is the giving of alms, returning with sheaves speaks of the eschatological rewards of the almsgiving.[7]

Another antiphon also with two options for the verse explicitly cites VgPs 44 in one of them while in the midst of using the image of the lamps from Matt 25:

The five wise virgins took oil in their vases for their lamps. But at midnight a cry was made: Behold, the bridegroom comes, go out to meet Christ the Lord.
(Verse 1b): Listen, daughter and see, and incline your ear, for the king has desired your beauty.
But at midnight a cry was made: Behold, the bridegroom comes, go out to meet Christ the Lord.[8]

This responsaries specifically identifies the bridegroom as Jesus and stitches together VgPs 44:11a, 12a into a harmonious whole. This move mutually reinforces the interpretative connections between Matt 25 and virgin saints and VgPs 44 as well.

However, there is a second correlation that could be masked by the more obvious relationship between the virgins in the passage and the ascetical class of virgins in the Western Church. Indeed, this second correlation only becomes visible when lectionary selections are viewed across categories. The parables of the gospels are found in various places in the most prevalent Anglo-Saxon lectionaries, but the parables of Matt 13 and 24–25 are particularly appointed for the saints. In a representative Anglo-Saxon lectionary, the Gospel list contained in London, BL, Cotton Tiberius A.ii,[9] Matthew 13:44-52, a cluster of three kingdom parables, is appointed eight times, all for feasts of virgins and their companions.[10] Likewise the parable of the industrious servant in Matt 24:42-47 is appointed six times, generally for feasts of popes and bishops.[11] Our parable of the wise and foolish virgins is appointed for five occasions—again, virgin saints.[12] Finally the following parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-23) appears just four times also on feasts of bishops and popes.[13] Thus, there is an overwhelming preference to assign the Matthean parables of the kingdom to saints. As a result, there would be no doubt in the early medieval mind that the protagonists of the parable would be saints of some kind.

[1] This Commune Sanctorum is typically found after the listings for the temporal and sanctoral cycles. Sometimes the dedication of a church is included with these as well.

[2] Vigilia sive natali unius apostoli [f. 204r.], natali plurimorum apostolorum [f. 204v.], vigiliis sanctorum martirum [f. 205r.], natali unius martyris [f. 205v.], natali plurimorum martyrum [f. 206r.], vigiliis sanctorum confessorum [f. 206v.], natali unius confessoris [f. 207r.], natali plurimorum confessorum [f. 208r.], natali virginum et martyrum [f. 208v.], and natali plurimorum sanctorum communiter [f. 209v.].

[3] These are homilies CH II.33-39.

[4] Antiphons 3730, 4543, 4953a, 4953b.

[5] Responsaries 6151, 6760, 6806, 6807, 6809, 7139, 7228, 7496, 7667, 7668, 7803, [“Ecce” is unnumbered].

[6] Non eris inter virginis fatuas, dicit Dominus, sed eris inter virgins prudentes; accipientes oleum laetitiae lampadibus suis, obviantes obviaverunt Sponso cum palma virginitatis.

[7] NPNF1 8.605-6 Enn. Ps. 126.10-11.

[8] COA 7496: Quinque prudentes virgines acceperunt oleum in vasis suis cum lampadibus. Media autem nocte clamor factus est: Ecce sponsus venit, exite obviam Christo Domino.

V. B. Audi filia et vide et inclina aurem tuam, quia concupivit rex speciam tuam. – Media.

[9] This is Lenker’s Qe.

[10] St Lucia (Dec 13), St Prisca (Jan 18), Octave of St Agnes (Jan 28), St Pudentiana (May 18), St Praxedis (Jul 21), St Sabina (Aug 29), and Sts Eufemia, Lucia, Geminianus (Sep 16) and for the Common of Several Virgins.

[11] St Marcellus (Jan 16), St Urban (May 25), St Eusebius (Aug 14), St Augustine of Hippo (Aug 28), St Calistus (Oct 14), and the Common of One Confessor.

[12] St Agnes (Jan 21), an alternate for the Octave of St Agnes (Jan 28), St Agatha (Feb 5), St Cecilia (Nov 22), and the Common of Several Virgins.

[13] St Leo (Apr 11), St Martin (Nov 11), St Silvester (Dec 31), and Common of One Confessor.

Liturgy News from the Blue Book

The Blue Book (to be sporting a red cover this year) was released today. For those not invested in the gobbelty-gook of Episcopal Church inner workings, this is the “Big Book ‘o Resolutions To Be Voted on at General Convention That Come Through Official Channels”

Needless to say, I took a quick stroll through the Liturgy & Music section

Two major items struck my attention, one on daily prayer, the other on the proposed revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts.

The first item I post here in full given its importance to many of the readers here:

April 2007, Oviedo, FL; January 9-11, 2008, Berkeley, CA; May 12- 15, 2008, Seattle, WA
SCLM members: Ernesto Medina, Devon Anderson, Clay Morris
Consultants: Mark Bozutti-Jones, Rebecca Clark, Paul Joo, Lizette Larson-Miller, Julia McCray-Goldsmith,
Elizabeth Muñoz, Cristina Smith, Carol Wade, Julia Wakelee-Lynch, Louis Weil.

The SCLM was directed by the 75th General Convention in Resolution A069 to develop liturgical material for inclusion in the Enriching Our Worship series. The Commission was also directed to develop these materials
innovatively drawing on and reflecting our church’s liturgical, cultural, racial, generational, gender and ethnic
diversity. Recognizing that our current daily offices are based on a monastic model of prayer, the SCLM decided
to focus its work on the daily offices in order to develop cathedral-style ways of prayer.
The nine liturgists who gathered at the first meeting in Florida in April 2007 prayed, listened, sang and discerned
together over a period of five days. Out of this came the basic shape of the project heading forward from that
point, as well as a clear sense that the project would require more time than initially anticipated. It was clear the
scope of the project would be much larger than we had first thought.
The basic outline reclaims the practice of praying the hours. Daily Prayer allows for prayer at eight specific times
of the day:

  • Daylight
  • Start of Day
  • Mid Morning
  • Noon
  • Mid Afternoon
  • Evening
  • End of Day
  • Late Night

In addition to prayers being written for these specific times of the day, sets of prayers are being written for the
liturgical seasons of the church year. They are identified as follows:

  • Advent
  • Christmas
  • Epiphany
  • Lent
  • Eastertide
  • Ordinary Time (Two tracks are being developed for Ordinary Time: “Rest” and “Grow”)

The Rev. Julia Wakelee-Lynch was asked to serve as first round editor/consultant for the project, and a second
meeting with three additional consultants was held at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, CA,
in January 2008. At that gathering, a rough draft for the season of Lent was developed, which was then tested out
in a wide variety of settings in parishes, small groups and by individuals. The response was very positive.
In May 2008, six consultants gathered in Seattle, WA, to assess feedback from the initial draft and begin work on
a broader draft which would provide sets of prayers for each season of the church year, adaptable for corporate,
small group and personal use. This draft is still in progress, as well as a scholarly introduction, which will provide
a broader context for the work, and an end section with notes and appendix of prayer resources.
Our plan is as follows:

  1. Complete the whole set of prayers in 2009 and send to a liturgical proof editor;
  2. Present to the first full meeting of the SCLM in the new triennium;
  3. When the collection is acceptable, send the prayers out for informal trial use in the remainder of the triennium; and
  4. Report in full to the 77th General Convention.

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 76th General Convention direct the Standing Commission on
Liturgy and Music to complete the work on Daily Prayer and report back to the 77th General Convention; and be
it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention direct the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance
to consider a budget allocation of $15,000 for implementation of this Resolution.

Hmmm. This could be interesting. I think I’m going to “receive” this for “reflection” for a bit…

As far as Lesser Feasts and Fasts goes, it seems that we’re going for more of a Roman-Kalendar-Just-Before-V-II feel where every single day has got somebody orther—or several somebodies!

I confess to still being really unclear on what inclusion in LFF means due to a fundamental fuzziness (deliberate I believe) around the Episcopal Church’s understand of the place, nature, and theology of sanctity. If, as Lutherans believe,” the memory of saints may be set before us, that we may follow their faith and good works, according to our calling” (CA 21.1) then let’s pile ’em on because we can use as many good examples as we can get.

If, however, as catholic theology teaches the saints are the Church Triumphant who, through grace, stand in the presence of God almighty now and intercede on behalf of us sinners then a special kind of discernment is called for.

Or to put it in a way more familiar to our medieval ancestors in the faith, are these individuals who have so imitated Christ that God uses them as vessels of eschatological power to extend divine grace and holiness into our daily world?

In any case…

I’m of two minds on the current state of the kalendar—on one hand I’m thrilled to see that John Cassian made it in. I’m taken aback, however, at the rubrical difficulties caused by the placement of his feast: Feb 29. What—he gets sanctoral honors once every four years? What’s that about!

St George is back (March 23)!

Again, (see above) I’m unclear on the observance of March 24th: Genocide Remembrance. I think we who have survived the 20th century have to be more aware of the sheer numbers of people who died in the previous century through genocide starting with the oft-forgotten Armenian genocide and on to on-going genocides in Africa. But is this the right way to do it? I’m quite torn on this one…

(I’ve also been concerned for a while about our martyr to non-martyr ratio. I feel that they need to be fairly on par . If we’re not remembering that death is sometimes a consequence of true faith, then we’re missing part of the scandal and the danger incumbent on all who embrace the cross. And our martyr ratio is falling fast…)

John Calvin (May 28th).

John XXIII (June 4) ?

Bach, Handel, and Purcell (July 28th). Yay!!

Catherine Winkworth to be observed (or at least commemorated) alongside J. M. Neale (Aug 7). Yay!

Cuthbert and Aidan have been combined—they no longer “warrant” separate days…

Gruntvig & Muhlenburg? Great Lutherans but… Asbury & Whitefield??

Byrd, Merbecke, and Tallis–and St Cecilia’s been restored!!

Some new commons were added including an additional set for the BVM:

The Blessed Virgin Mary

Collect: Almighty God, by thy saving grace thou didst call the blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of thine only Son: inspire us by the same grace to follow her example of courage and faithful witness to our Savior Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect: Almighty God, of your saving grace you called the blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of your only Son: inspire us by the same grace to follow her example of courage and faithful witness to our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 34:1-8
Isaiah 43:9-13, 19a
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Luke 1:42-55

Preface: Because even as our sister Mary didst consent to become God-bearer for thy people, thou hast called us to bear thy word of hope, healing and resurrection to a world in need of thy mercy and grace.

Preface: Because even as our sister Mary consented to become God-bearer for your people, you call us to bear your word of hope, healing and resurrection to a world in need of your mercy and grace.

No new Marian observances, though…

So—there’s a lot here; you heard it here first…

And It’s Away…

I just sent off my full dissertation to my committee. Well, full except for footnote formatting, bibliography, and polished up modern English of the sermons I’m working with…

Fr. Director is very pleased with it; we’ll see what the rest think.

Barring any major problems we’re hoping to schedule an August defense date.


I don’t know that much about British politics so I can’t comment a whole lot on that, but Raspberry Rabbit points us to a “slagging off” than any fiscal conservative will appreciate:

Canticles. Again.

I keep going back and forth on the whole canticle issue. Deirdre has a nice article at the Cafe that looks at the Song of Judith and reminds us that when singing the canticles, it’s important to learn the stories from whence they come. That is, the canticle means a lot more when you consider its proper context and how it portrays God acting through Judith.

I note (indirectly) in the comments that the Song of Judith is one of the new canticles given us by EOW. I’ve discussed these in the past—especially with Christopher—concerning whether more canticles is a better choice. Following Deirdre’s logic, more is better because we get exposed to more songs that have literary contexts that folks may then be interested to go and learn. More Bible is always good.

My fear is that more canticles mean that we we don’t learn any of them well. In order for more canticles to be better they have to be sung/read regularly and in a discernable order.

I’m also a complete stick in the mud and refuse to budge on the Benedictus (Song of Zechariah) as the invariable second canticle of morning prayer which means that there’s really only one free spot in the rotation—the canticle after the first MP reading.

Ack! Fewer, more, what’s a liturgy geek committed to Scripture to do! Perhaps the Benedictine option is the best—weave more canticles in amongst the Psalter…

Annunciation MP

Since I’ve been using Rite II for the Daily Office during Lent and wanted to kick things up a notch today, I used a catholic-minded Rite II resource—A Monastic Breviary from the Order of the Holy Cross. (Thanks again, Brian M!)

One of the things that sets this book apart from other non-Roman breviaries is that it uses fixed psalms on first class feasts and provides 5 antiphons for first class feasts and an antiphon for second class. So MP today had Pss 24, 29, 72, 93, 100 with proper antiphons. It also provides a hymn (which I recognized as one of the traditional Marian breviary hymns but I’ve been too busy/lazy to look up its Latin title) and a gospel antiphon—this one drawn directly from Scripture.

It’s a nice balance, contemporary and catholic.

Ascetical Theology Bleg

A comrade has asked for recommendations for modern authors on ascetical theology. Unfortunately, I couldn’t point him to much…

I’m woefully lacking in modern bibliography in this area. The best I could do was to suggest modern translations of Evagrius and John Cassian and suggest that those who study these authors might cite some useful material.

Because of the place of virtue in ascetical theology, though, I was thinking some of the recent works on virtue ethics (perhaps along the line of Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue) might be helpful.

Does anybody have some other suggestions?

Part 2 of Long-Winded Response

Part 2 of my long-winded response is up at the Cafe. This is my constructive piece where I lay out how I see a discussion of Christian celibacy helping those of us who don’t remain celibate.

I’m well aware that those who believe in the infallibility of the Scriptures or the Church won’t be convinced and that’s fine with me and need not be rehashed. However, I see this as an approach that honors the Christian tradition and overall moral vision, and attempts to speak to our situation. (As opposed to views that recommend tossing out Christian tradtion altogether…)