M and I got home without incident from the Society of Catholic Priests conference in Toronto. As always, it was a great experience! We reconnected with old friends, met people we’d only known online, and made new friends. My talk was well received. Usually I post them here—I won’t this time because I don’t actually have the substance of it. Fr. David Cobb and I presented on the new revision of the St. Augustine’s Prayer Book. I talked a bit about the historical background of devotional books for the laity (also used by clergy) and went through the psalters, books of hours, primers, and later devotionals to provide some context for the SAPB. I decided to work from bullet points rather than a manuscript ; hence the lack of material to post here.
I’m desperately trying to get work on ‘Great Cloud of Witnesses’ (GCW) done before the SCLM meets in person to finalize our Blue Book submissions for General Convention. I’m pulling together the efforts of various members of the committee and giving it a final once-over. As I do so, I find more tweaking to do…
Look—it’s pretty clear. If you trouble to turn to page 357 of your ’79 BCP you’ll see a section of the Eucharist entitled “The Collect of the Day.” Under that is a rubric: “The Celebrant says the Collect.” (This is also exactly what appears on p. 325 in the Rite I Eucharist.) Ergo, whatever prayer is inserted there ought to be a Collect. A Collect is a particular kind of prayer. While the Prayer Book itself doesn’t give a definition, it certainly gives us enough examples so that we ought to be able to recognize one when we see it!
So many of the prayers in HWHM being reworked into material for GCW simply aren’t collects! I’ve written sufficiently on the topic of definition to not bore you with it here, but at least the notion bears frequent repeating. The blame, if blame there even needs to be, belongs at the feet of the 1980 revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts. This edition signaled the move to the “biographical ‘collect'”—an approach tried and rejected in the first trials towards the Calendar in the ’50s and ’60s. What we see in HWHM is an extension of what was already done there.
Vatican II and the Liturgical Renewal Movement made much of the phrase “noble simplicity.” Typically, I’ve not been a fan of it because in its usual application, it means an attempted return to imagined 4th century liturgical norms and removal of “medieval accretions.” However, it keeps forcing itself to the forefront of my consciousness as I work on these materials; I guess I’ve been more formed in this way than I thought. In particular, it means an instinctive desire to trim the vast thickets of relative clauses currently littering the new compositions appearing in HWHM.
Oh well—at the very least it’ll be interesting to see how these efforts get received at the SCLM meeting and beyond…
Pruning thickets of relative clauses is noble work. Thank you.