On Rite-Thinking

I had a good question a while back regarding “Anglo-Catholicism” and the choice of rites in the Book of Common Prayer: “What makes the language of Rite I inherently more Anglo-Catholic than the language of Rite II? Is it our equivalent of Latin, or something?”

The reason why this is such a good question is because it forces us to consider what that loaded term “Anglo-Catholic” means, and how it applies to our decision-making processes.

Let me parse it out this way… There are two (of probably many) common ways of understand the “catholic” in Anglo-Catholic. One sees “Catholic” as pertaining to the Roman Catholic Church as presently constituted. This could be labeled the Ecumenical Approach and understands Anglo-Catholicism as the point of closest contact to the Roman Catholic Church. The hope in this approach is either to 1) advocate for corporate reunion with the Roman  Catholic Church or 2) to remain as close as possible to modern Roman Catholicism despite the structural divisions between us. These two plays out in a couple of different ways. Many in the first group (corporate reunion) have now gone the way of the Ordinariate and are now no longer Anglican Anglo-Catholics but are now Roman Catholic Anglo-Catholics. Indeed, virtually all of the Episcopalians I have known in the first group are now in full communion with Rome.

As a result, the second group of this Ecumenical type is now more common within the Episcopal Church. Some of the folks I know who fall into this category started out in the Roman Catholic Church but departed; others started out in some form of low protestant Evangelicalism and in their way up the candle stopped in the high section of the Episcopal Church. One priest I know started out in an Assemblies of God type tradition and began moving in a Rome-ward direction.  However, now divorced and in a same-sex relationship, there is no way that he could be a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, he remains Episcopal, but assimilates as closely as possible to Roman theology and practice. I know several who were ordained Roman Catholic clergy who switched and are now married whether to different or same-sex partners. A number of formerly Roman Catholic women and divorced people also appear in this group.

So, this is Anglo-Catholicism as the point of closest approach: it’s the closest that  people in a variety of groups—usually related to gender, orientation, or marital status—can come to being Roman Catholic (or Orthodox) and still be ordained. Sometimes—not always, but sometimes—they have no real desire to be Anglican or Episcopalian; it’s just the next best thing to what they truly desire.

Now, for this perspective, Rite II makes perfect sense. Despite the tinkering with the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal, modern Roman Catholic practice is definitely contemporary language. For someone wanting to align with this tradition, it’s a no-brainer.

The other common means of understanding the “catholic” in “Anglo-Catholic” I will characterize, for want of a better term, as the Historical Approach. The Historical Approach rejects a narrow sense of Anglican identity and the notion that Christianity began at the Reformation. The Historical Approach see Anglicanism as a purification of the catholic tradition and, in particular, is interested in the practices, theologies, and spirituality that informed the English church prior to the Reformation. This Approach is interested in reconnecting with broader Christianity but tends to look “back” rather than “across” as in the Ecumenical Approach.

I’m most definitely in this camp. Coming from this perspective, there are three main reasons why I prefer the Rite I liturgies.

1. A sense of historical continuity. For me, to be Anglo-Catholic and to hold an Historical Approach isn’t just about the pre-Reformation period. I dislike pretense, and there are those who would like to pretend that the Reformation never happened, and that we can or should go back to celebrating pre-Reformation liturgies the way it was done then—just with comprehensible English. However much this might thrill my inner Sarum geek, it simply doesn’t and won’t work as a way of being church now. A key notion of the Historical Approach is that the tradition is an inheritance; the things handed on to us have worked for centuries. Yes, things are different; yes, the culture is different; but humanity is still fundamentally the same.

The Rite I liturgies put me in touch with a larger church. Knowing that I am praying in the same words that spiritual ancestors used one hundred, two hundred, four hundred years ago is valuable. This helps me get a concrete notion of baptismal ecclesiology—I pray in consonance with those baptized centuries before I ever came into being. When praying the Daily Office or participating in the older form of the Rite I Eucharist, I am conscious that I am being formed as an Anglican through the experience of sharing in those words and rites.

2. A superior expression of transcendence. As I’ve argued before, here and here, I believe that the Anglo-Catholic path is one that foregrounds transcendence as a means of connecting with God and God-stuff. To shamelessly plagiarize myself, here are some paragraphs from the second link that cut to the main point for our purposes here:

When we come at the question of environment and the vestments by way of a worldview, and worldview as a way of proclaiming and enculturating the kingdom of God, we can see what we do and what the other choices are, in a new light. So for the sake of argument, let’s consider two options next one another. On one hand we have a stereotypical Anglo-Catholic setting and service; on the other hand we have a stereotypical evangelical mega-church setting and service. (My goal here isn’t to put down either one of them—it’s to draw some very big-brush comparisons…)

Our overall impression of the Anglo-Catholic service is that we are encountering things that are initially unfamiliar. In comparison with other buildings, the Gothic church has an odd shape and layout. The ministers are wearing strange clothes. The place is outfitted with crucifixes and candles and thuribles and a bunch of other things you normally only find in a goth shop. The music is played on old instruments. The language and terminology may be unfamiliar; the internal logic of the rite isn’t similar to other meetings we’re used to experiencing. By way of contrast, the evangelical mega-church does everything it can to feel familiar. The room looks like it may well be a regular auditorium with stadium style seating and potted plants. The ministers are dressed in street clothes and tattoos. They’ve got guitars and a drum kit. Both the language and internal logic of the rite are what you might find in a typical pop concert.

Now – what do these two environments communicate about the worldview that they are expressing? About the proclamation of the gospel in relation to the modern secular culture? The way I read it, the Anglo-Catholic service is foregrounding a theology of the transcendent. The environment is fundamentally and intentionally discontinuous from contemporary culture. The message is that the values and world of the gospel are likewise discontinuous from our everyday secular world. A transformation is required in order to cleave to the mind of Christ. To me, it’s a visual reminder of Isaiah’s words: my ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts. Some people will tell us that we’re not being accessible. That’s not how I’d frame it. I’d rather say that we’re bearing witness to a mystery, and inviting people to come and learn about that mystery with us.

The way I read the evangelical mega-church environment, it foregrounds a theology of immanence. This environment is fundamentally continuous with contemporary culture – but with a twist. The message is that the values and world of the gospel can be seen from here, we just may not be there yet. A tweak is what’s needed. To me, it’s a reminder that God is in our very midst. This is accessible, it’s a kissing cousin with modern culture—but my concern is, where and how is the line being drawn? Where is the Gospel demand to something new, something radical?

Now, this is not to say that either one of them have a lock on transcendence or immanence. It’s a matter of emphasis, but also a legitimate difference of theology. We have chosen a different way.

The use of “traditional” language is a clear sign that we are operating with a different frame of reference from the everyday world. It is understandable—but noticeably different.

3. Greater beauty. As a lover of language, I find the Rite I liturgies to be more beautiful. I think that they have a superior flow of language, better use of assonance and alliteration,  better attention to balancing clauses than what we find in the Rite II liturgies. To a degree, the syntax of traditional language helps this happen. That is, the verb endings help with assonance and rhyme; certain stock phrases contribute an inherently better balance to sentence structure. In a culture that still (rightly) sees and reads Shakespeare as one of the best poets of all time in any language and where the King James Bible is a deep part of our vernacular, traditional language reads as elevated language which reads as poetic language. Following Dearmer and others, I see beauty as a necessary part of our worship of and witness to God. Therefore, the more beautiful option is the better option to my way of thinking.

So, coming from the Historical Approach, I do see the use of Rite I as having a natural contention to Anglo-Catholic thought and theology.

Now, the necessary caveats and disclaimers!

First, let me be the very first to say that these two Approaches are rather crude caricatures! I know that they are. There is a great deal of fluidity, cross-over, and additional inputs around Anglo-Catholic identity than simply these two. I still think they’re valid distinctions, though, despite that.

Second, I do love the Rite II liturgies as well, especially prayers A and B. I find Prayer C a little too modernist for my taste; the constant dialogue interruptions prevent me from praying it with the priest as fluently as I do A and B. Prayer D is a perfectly fine prayer, but there’s a certain amount of ad-fontes baggage around it. (And please, please, do not try to sing the Mozarabic tone if you have not extensively practiced it and know that you can do it well! Badly-sung prayers are painful, not festal!)

Third, I am not saying that Anglo-Catholic parishes or people shouldn’t or can’t do Rite II liturgies. I think that’s fallacious. We can and should. Rather, I’m explaining why I prefer Rite I particularly in my own devotions and, hence, why my directions for an Anglo-Catholic style Office use Rite I.

Fourth, in reading over this again having finished it, I do detect a slight hint of animus in my sketching of the Ecumenical Approach. That’s from personal pain. My experience of this position is that it has been used as a way to continue the disenfranchisement of women priests in the Anglo-Catholic movement. From one side, it’s used as an excuse to suppress women priests because they’ll be a barrier to reunion; on the other, their presence gives the lie to the “point of closest approach” and they are sometimes barred in order to maintain the pretense of being Roman Catholic without the discipline. There are at least a couple of posts still needing to be written here: one on the necessary characteristics of a viable Anglo-Catholic movement in the Episcopal Church going forward, one on various forms of pretense rampant in the Anglo-Catholic movement and why they are unhealthy.

Here endeth the rant; let the bomb-throwing begin…

25 thoughts on “On Rite-Thinking

  1. Finn Froding

    Thank you for this eloquent essay. It’s true that the term Anglo-Catholic can hardly be uttered today without explanation, as it clearly means different things to different folks. I certainly think of myself as in your “historical” camp, with a view toward Anglican continuity with the pre-Reformation English church, rather than the recent Roman one, either Tridentine or Vatican 2. Yet, generally I prefer the Rite 2 eucharist (“mass” is a fine word for me) over Rite 1, seeing it as more catholic and more in the spirit of continuity (and the 1549 Prayer Book) than Rite 1, at least where the “right” options are chosen. Rite 1, with its “comfortable words,” its rather equivocal Absolution, its “prayer of humble access” (originally the priest’s private prayer) seem to respond more to Reformed doubts and fears than to catholic ones. Also, the minor changes from the 1662 or 1928 BCP somehow seem more jarring than the relatively fresh language of Rite 2. As for the office, I use exclusively Rite 1 evensong (always with Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis) and Rite 2 morning prayer with some diversity of canticles. I like the “new” Te Deum, which fits so well with the traditional Sarum melody, but I much prefer the older language for the evening canticles.
    History is a funny thing. I’ve always sung or said the Nicene Creed, but I know it makes members of my family uneasy, and I’d be happy to do away with it at Sunday Mass. I realize that the church did without it (as a standard liturgical observance) for centuries, and it was added as a Shibboleth, specifically to exclude those who had the slightest divergence of views on Trinity and Christology; I’d be happy to see it dropped from regular use.
    One last comment about history: I cannot celebrate the feast of Christ the King, for three reasons. 1. It is a novelty, not part of the Sarum or other medieval or ancient rites. 2. It was introduced by Pius XI in 1925, not in response to any new mystery, doctrine, or miracle, but to combat secular and “laicist” ideals and to promote the triumphalist, anti-democratic policies of certain European Christian political parties. 3. As an American, I accept the historical traditions of monarchical authority, but they have little to do with my concept of Christ. I’m not in favor of deleting all references to Christ as king, but to harp on this concept seems an insult to a Savior who refrains from flaunting that sort of authority. Some tell me that I shouldn’t allow its dubious origins to taint the feast, but it’s as alien to me as celebrating Charles King and Martyr and Archbishop Laud are to some of your earlier contributors. When we celebrate uniformity of thought (the Creed) or ecclesial triumphalism (Christ the King) we are making a statement about the past as well as the present, as you have pointed out in your discussion of historical saints.

  2. Ian

    Thanks for this perspective on why Rite I is part of Anglo-Catholic practice for you. I am fairly young (27) and grew up in a Lutheran church which had transitioned completely to contemporary language, so in becoming an Episcopalian– of Catholic leanings– I found myself very resistant to the traditional language of Rite I on an aesthetic level. Furthermore, it seemed to be linked to a more conservative–in my mind, less catholic/universal–attitude. By holding to a, now, uniquely Anligcan expression, it seemed to undermine the closeness that had grown up between Anglicans and Lutherans in official ways and between Anglicans and Catholics in many unofficial ways. It also, in my experience was more favored by people resistant to women’s ordination and an to same-sex partnerships. (There was a notoriously conservative parish I can remember from living in Chicago that used the “new” rite at their early service and once during the week in the evening. This was Rite I. The rest of the time they used the 1928 Prayer Book. They had particularly conservative views on women and marriage.)

    Its therefore interesting, and enriching, for me to hear this opposite perspective which you present. There is perhaps a place in a more affirming Anglo-Catholicism for Rite I. As you point out Rite II is certainly the preferred usage for some particularly marginalizing voices in our church. And furthermore, you are also correct, I think, in pointing out the link which traditional english–like Latin and Greek–makes with the Church before us.

  3. Vicki McGrath

    Thanks for the post, Derek. I echo your concerns about ordained folks in the second ecumenical camp. Having served on the Comission on Ministry in my diocese eight years, we’d often get aspirants to the ordination process who (for all the reasons you outlined) were hoping to have their RC orders recieved, or were former Roman lay people who were now looking for ordination and thought they had found a modern Catholic approach (not helped by people who refer to the Episcopal Church as “Catholic Lite.”). We often found that these folks really didn’t have an appreciation for the role of the authority of the laity, or the depth of Anglican history and tradition that really does have its own culture. More than once I was questioned about whether I was just looking for an aspiriant to have an Anglican veneer that was about wearing a blazer and drinking sherry! Of course, that just showed the questioners’ ignorance of the history of the Anglican church (thinking particularly of the Anglo-Catholic parishes in impoverished city neighborhoods, or the experience of rural areas). It also seems to assume that there is no such thing as Anglican discipline and constraint and keeping faith with tradition. Clearly, I am one who has benefitted from changes in the Church regarding the ordination of women to the priesthood, but change should not be made because it is something I like or favor, but because the Church has discerned that the changes reflect the mind of Christ, or at least have created a clearer vehicle for the love and truth of God to be made more manifest in our world.

  4. Fr. Jason Wells

    Hi, Derek: Good description of two camps within current Anglo-Catholicism. This reminds me of the previous fault line between the Alcuin Club and the Society of Saints Peter and Paul. If I remember, the SSPP was the Rome-leaning and unity-minded group (caricatured as “apist” imitators). Somewhat analagous to your “ecumenical” group.

    The Alcuin Club was more interested in continuity with the ancient Sees of Canterbury and York, a “historical” camp in some sense (caricatured as “British Museum religion”).

    Funny to think that this could be a fault line that is “always with us” as Anglo-Catholics. What do you think about the connection of past party affiliations to what you’re seeing today?

  5. Fr. John D. Alexander

    Dr. Olsen:

    A very stimulating post. I agree with Fr. Jason Wells that your distinction between “Ecumenical” and “Historical” approaches to Anglo-Catholicism stands in continuity with the early 20th century distinction between the “Western Rite” and “Sarum” approaches, which was often a bitter rivalry. Although (in the interests of full disclosure) I find myself more on the “Ecumenical” (or Roman-leaning) side of Anglo-Catholicism, I do believe that the fullness of the Anglo-Catholic tradition requires a synthesis of the two approaches. (There is also a substream of Ecumenical Anglo-Catholicism that leans more towards Eastern Orthodoxy than to Rome, but we’ll pass over that for the moment.)

    Even though I am the rector of a decidedly Rite I Anglo-Catholic parish — and basically share your preference for Rite I — I offer one major caveat. The Anglo-Catholic association with Rite I (and in some places the Anglican Missal) is largely a phenomenon of the East Coast of the United States. In the upper Midwest “Biretta Belt” Rite II is the norm everywhere — from Nashotah House to Ascension, Chicago, to the Diocese of Fond du Lac. The same is true in Anglo-Catholic parishes in Texas — both those that have gone with ACNA and those that have remained in The Episcopal Church. Some of my formative years in Anglo-Catholicism were spent in the Diocese of London in the Church of England, where the vast majority of Anglo-Catholic parishes (and only a very few of them have since gone to the Ordinariate) use either the contemporary Roman Missal or the contemporary English language liturgies in Common Worship. The point I am making, I guess, is that I agree with your characterization of contemporary Anglo-Catholicism as complex and varied, but with the added observation that regional (and indeed national) differences play a large part in this complexity and variety.

    Also, I think your offhand remark, “our equivalent of Latin, or something,” perhaps comes closer to the truth than you indicate. Liturgical Latin and Church Slavonic, to take two examples, have become sacred languages through centuries of sacred use. Just as we use things that are “set apart” in worship — sacred vestments, vessels, and icons, for example — so some traditions find in the use of set apart languages another pointer to the holiness of what is being spoken and prayed. I think the impulse behind the use of Tudor English in liturgical worship is the same — its very “set-apartness” conveys a sense of the sacredness of what we’re about in liturgical worship.

    Again, thank you for a most thought-provoking post.

    Fr. John D. Alexander
    Providence, Rhode Island

  6. aredstatemystic

    Yes and Amen. All I know is that all the scripture I have most easily memorized (without trying to memorize it) is KJV and Rite I. I prefer for both Mass and Office. Plus, as you point out, it’s just better poetry.

  7. Derek Olsen

    Thanks for your thoughts. I still don’t quite get the opposition to the Prayer of Humble Access. Yes, the Reformed wing of the Reformation did bring more penitential elements into the liturgy, but one of the great strengths of that prayer is the emphasis on in-dwelling brought about by the sacrament. I like Christ the King specifically because of its anachronism–it reminds us of the completely different call on us that the Gospel has on us.

  8. Derek Olsen

    Thanks, Vicki! I’m frequently annoyed by those who seem to deny that there is such a thing as Anglican identity and heritage. There definitely is. Just because we claim no unique doctrines does not mean that we do not emphasize particular strands of theology…

  9. Derek Olsen

    Hi Ian, I’m increasingly seeing more young people expressing a preference for Rite I. It’s not just old conservatives—but I think there is a certain section of the church that wants people to think that.

  10. Derek Olsen

    I do think you’re right, and my work has definitely been influenced by Frere and Legg and others of the Alcuin Club ilk. I think the key difference these days is the high amount of mobility between various traditions. While there were always high profile converts, there was nothing then like the denominational shifts of today.

  11. Derek Olsen

    I do agree that regional differences play a part here. Since making the move from the Lutheran Church, I’ve been an Anglican on the eastern seaboard with most of my time spent in Philly and Maryland. While missal parishes are rare here now, that’s still my personal ideal.

    During the discussions around the Third Edition of the Roman missal there was a discussion of Tudor English as a “hieratic dialect” that I found very apt.

  12. Derek Olsen

    I’m all for cooperation between various Christian bodies, but I do think ecumenism in the sense of corporate reunion is over. No, I don’t see “and with your spirit” coming to the BCP anytime soon.

  13. C. WIngate

    I came into the church with the Green Book, so I don’t have a history with 1928 at all; Rite I was something I came upon later, and A-C to me meant insertion of Roman rite material into the liturgy, along with a preference for pre-Vat-II Roman vesture.

    I do not see the poetry aspect as weighing quite so heavily against Rite II. Its diction reflects a modern taste for a less florid, more succinct usage, and where it is strongest it manifests that with vigor. The presenting problem for the future is that there seems to be no resolve to do anything about the parts that fail this, and furthermore, that the supplemental liturgies take what is bad about Rite II language and do likewise, and more so. I have heard nothing about looking at Prayer C and saying, “OK, there’s some good stuff here, but the responsive form was a bad idea and there is some terribly twee language; what can we do to fix that?”

    For me transcendence is read more in postures than in words.

  14. Georges

    I like very much your presentation of the two “camps” of Anglo-Catholics. I definitely belong to what you call the historical approach.

    Personally, the first times I had to use “you” for God, I found it uncomfortable. In the Bible and in the liturgy (at least) the distinction between “thou” and “ye” is very important. Doesn’t Abraham see three men and say “thou”? I also suppose that English-speaking children who attend rite I have good points in English at school.

  15. James

    I’m definitely in the historical camp, but I still have issues with the 79 prayer book entirely, rite I or II. When I finish my undergrad, I plan to attend Nashotah House and attend a 28 Prayer Book Anglo-Catholic Parish on Sundays. Although most Anglo-Catholics in my diocese have either joined the Ordinariate, the Antiochian or Russian Western Rite Vicariate, and the ACNA; I still witness that there is room for us in Ft. Worth. I have to defend myself everytime I say I’m Anglo-Catholic, and no we all did not leave with Iker.

  16. Géo McLarney

    It’s a very telling leading question, and betrays the questioner’s (almost certainly North American) nationality. It would certainly be news to many in the C of E that there is anything particularly Anglo-Catholic about traditional language: associating the two is very much a phenomenon of our side of the pond.

    In fact, here in Canada, many AC parishes – including my own – use, not even the traditional language order in the BAS, but the actual BCP (akin to 1928, except still nominally official). In turn, the Prayer Book Society of Canada tends to have a Catholic flavour. This often perplexes my English correspondents: their Prayer Book Society is much more likely to be home to “high and dry” types. Of course to some extent this is a measure of the respective prayer books: 1928 (US) is a more “advanced” revision than 1662, and 1959 more so than either (with the notable exception of the epiclesis).

  17. Géo McLarney

    That is certainly an interesting interpretation, and one I have not heard, but it seems a bit backwards: you’ve (inadvertently?) given an eloquent rationale *for* the feast! Christ the King (or the Reign of Christ as we perhaps more palatably call it in Canada) is usually presented as a celebration of Christ’s _overturning_ our notions of earthly kingship: in other words, we celebrate it precisely because “the historical traditions of monarchical authority have little to do with our concept of Christ.” As a good Anglo-Catholic socialist myself, it’s my go-to feast, with its powerful picture of a kingdom based not on “triumphalism” but service to the most vulnerable.

    The Reign of Christ is not about triumph: his throne is a cross. To refrain from celebrating it because earthly kings behave differently is as confused as refusing to call Jesus Lord because the “the rulers of the gentiles lord it over them”. That is the whole point! It seems you have been celebrating the spirit of the feast all along without knowing :)

  18. RITA

    I think your description of the two camps seems right. There is some fluidity between the two, however. I started out in the Historical camp, and seminary pushed me into first camp. Now I’m one of those Roman Catholic Anglo-Catholics.

    I think I am the opposite of the language groups you described. When in the historical camp I was ok with Rite II, the further I moved into the “RITA” (Rome is the Answer) group, the more I came to prefer to Rite I, even though this was the opposite of most of my colleagues, I had the privilege of being one of the last seminarians at a RITA Missal/28BCP parish on the east coast of the US. I took the last train out the station for us RITA guys and joined the Ordinariate.

    Here comes the irony: as a RC priest I use the RM3 and the LoTH daily, with all its modern English and ICELisms…and I’m fine with it. When I celebrate the Ordinariate Rite I am essentially celebrating the the Anglican Missal of the Frank Gavin Society. I love the prayers of the Ordinariate Rite, but I find myself ambivalent about the Rite I language. To be sure, I think the old Sacramentary from the 70s had horrible translations, but now with the RM3, I can take Rite I or leave it! I think this is a common experience for many in the Ordinariate. We have the English and Anglican Missals on the shelf. We page through our Sarum missals to check out a sequence. We even add hymns from The English Hymnal or the 1940 Hymnal to out LoTH offices. Yet at the end of the day, be it the RM3 or 1962 MR, we’ve taken on the language of our new home just fine.

  19. bm9227 (Ben Miller)

    This is an interesting essay with various threads of thought blending together. First off, I think your categories of Anglo-Catholic vision and motivation are clearly described and useful for thinking about what it means to participate in catholicity.

    My first mature exposure to the Episcopal Church was through the Rite II Daily Office. But I like including Rite I elements too. In my personal (perhaps idiosyncratic) use of the Office, Rite II is the backbone and Rite I provides edifying supplements. For example, I tend to use the Rite I Confession of Sin (or sometimes the Rite I Eucharistic Confession from p.331) because its tone spurs me to deeper penitence than Rite II’s Confession. I think some of the Rite I canticles (especially the Magnificat) have a superior cadence and rhythm than Rite II, so I’ll use those. Occasionally I like praying the Collect of the Day in Rite I for the same reason. I also like using the traditional version of the Lord’s Prayer and the Gloria Patri. But Rite II is what I know and love. I don’t know what category of Anglo-Catholic this approach falls under. Perhaps “pragmatically historical”?

    Honestly, I do not think using Rite II necessarily creates a remove from the historical prayers of the church – time has proved that translation, whether from Latin Mass to vernacular, Hebrew to Septuagint, or Rite I to Rite II, is capable of witnessing to God’s work in Christ. But I appreciate the respect that Rite I adherents have to the heritage. I just fear that it can verge on antiquarianism if not balanced.

    I do think that the Rite I/Rite II distinctions are partly a result of the way our 79 BCP has artificially separated the two. The problem may be even worse in Canada with a “Rite I” BCP being almost completely overshadowed by the “Rite II” Book of Alternative Services. I hope that a future BCP will find a way to organically place the two types of language in harmony, rather than putting a fence between them. Ideally I’d like to freely mix the two rites in personal and public use, or to very lightly modernize Rite I forms (i.e. the New KJV approach where thee/thy/thou etc undergoes a search-and-replace) for public use when necessary.

  20. fgilbert2 (@fgilbert2)

    As a critic of “noble simplicity,” I certainly can appreciate the richness and fullness of Rite I language.
    However, I have grave issues with the use of Tudor English as a hieratic dialect. First of all, I think it works against the Anglican heritage of a liturgy in the language of the people. Secondly, as somebody who is fluent in German, and who has worshipped in German, I find the way in which personal pronouns addressed to God have had their significance inverted by Rite I to be jarring and absurd. Thee and Thou have become formal address, but they most certainly weren’t in the original context. If you’re capable of speaking and thinking in a language that uses one form of address for friends, family and pets, and another for the superior or for those with whom one is not intimate, the beauty and tension of phrases like “Thy Divine Majesty” have a significance absent from Rite I. That paradoxical juxtaposition of numinosity, transcendence and extreme intimacy ought to be a Zen koan for us.
    More importantly, though, I can’t read or pray Rite I Eucharistic Prayer 1 as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass without praying and reading against the text. It has always seemed to me that the text is clearly signaling that it is anything but the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I don’t have the same sense with Rite II, although I do have to read and pray “beyond” the text to have a full sense of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass within Rite II.

  21. Finn Froding

    Quite so! This is much of what I meant in my earlier comment that I see the Rite 2 eucharist as “more catholic and more in the spirit of continuity … than Rite 1,” and that Rite 1 seems to “respond more to Reformed doubts and fears than to catholic ones.” I think the intention of Rite 2 was to allow for a greater range of eucharistic interpretations, including sacrificial ones. I appreciate the language of each, and can pray either one, and I’m glad we have both, but Rite 2 seems more congenial to my “Anglo-Catholicism.” What I have found, however, is that many parishes “use both” by relegating Rite 1 to Lent and maybe Advent, and seldom if ever use it in a highly festive setting. That’s too bad.

  22. James

    What about a Rite I mass that uses Eucharistic Prayer D? I think that would fit together nicely.

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