A Thought and a Survey…

The Daily Office Rant is coming but this has been on my mind a while and I thought I’d just throw it out there. The expression “Prayer book
Anglo-Catholic” or even “Prayer book Anglican” is, I believe, English in
origin. It’s not American. That makes a pretty big difference. Remember
that the *official* English BCP is none other than the 662—especially since the 1928 attempt was kicked back by Parliament. As a result, England has always had more leniency concerning supplemental and other books. Even the new “official” book is not technically “official”… To be a “Prayer book Anglo-Catholic”, then, was to be one who followed the 1662 rather than the English Missal or other texts (a la the Directorium Anglicana…).

For someone on this side of the pond to call themselves a “Prayer book Anglican” or whatever—what does that really mean? It seems after the ’79 BCP that the original and current meanings of the term are somewhat at odds. The ’79 follows the mainstream of ecumenical liturgical thought in the halcyon days after Vatican II and the attempt to re-enthrone the 4th century—but in doing so it makes some changes distinctly out of line from the classical Anglican tradition represented by the 1662 and the 1549 books.

So—where are we in this? If you’re a “Prayer book” person, what sort are you
and why??

13 thoughts on “A Thought and a Survey…

  1. Gracious Light

    Okay, I know that I am going against the grain on this one with most, but I kind of like the 79 Prayer Book–Rite II even. It has been ages (9 years, to be exact) since I did my comparison of the baptismal liturgies in the various BCP’s.

    I have no worship experience–private or corporate the 1928 prayer book and my worship experiences utilizing the 1662 are limited as well–several churches together in England worship services where the Anglican church imposed a first among equals liturgy upon their “sister” churches. I didn’t mind it so much but the Pentecostals were up in arms. The other was in an LEP where I got to preside at the Table from the 1662 prayer book in a very early Norman parish church. Cool cultural experience but something about it felt very imposed.

    I know this isn’t exactly what you want but this is where my thoughts went and I don’t want to write my sermon.

  2. bls

    This issue is completely moot for Americans, IMO.

    First of all, there was never any chance of us reverting to the 1662, given our political history vis-a-vis England. Anglicans in the old Commonwealth have a common history; we simply don’t share that. We will never look at the 1662 Book as the Prayer Book. Even the anti-revisionists pine for the 1928 and have no relationship with the 1662.

    I like the 1979, too. You can have 1928 if you want it, via Rite I; you can have the Anaphora of St. Basil if you want, via Rite II. And you can have Star Trek, too. We’re using “Enriching Our Worship” at one service now, too – and why not? I’m sure anybody could get permission to use the 1662 on occasion if they wanted, but there was never any chance we’d align with the Commonwealth countries in calling this “our Prayer Book,” because it never was. These labels, then, are just that – labels, and ones that don’t apply to us.

    What makes the Prayer Book unique in all places, though, is still the same thing: Mass and Office emphasized equally, and all the rites and prayers in the hands of individual members. And, of course, it has the same lineage.

  3. The young fogey

    Reflexively I think of and use ‘Prayer Book Catholic’, if one is talking about America, literally as ‘somebody with Catholic beliefs who uses the US 1928 book including with supplements’, the way of the American Missal and the Midwestern biretta belt (as Episcopal bishops enforced Prayer Book use). The mode in the Continuum.

    Because of that enforcement of the Prayer Book, as I note here full Missal use (as at S. Clement’s) was and is rarer in the States than it used to be in England and Novus Ordo use by Anglicans, common in London for example as most full-Missal Catholics switched to it, is unknown in America.

    But, echoing your point, today the equivalent of the old Prayer Book Catholics are the Catholics who use the approved books of their national churches such as US 1979 or Common Worship. Same ethos really. Like the Oxford Movement dons, largely indistinguishable from other Anglicans except in their beliefs.

  4. Anastasia

    i have to chime in here if only to say that rite I and the 1928 prayer book are *not* the same thing. I actually think rite I is an improvement over the 1928, but I would point out that for people who really care about the 28 book, the differences are meaningful and do not constitute an improvement.

    Like I said, I think Rite I is an improvement over the 28, so I’d call myself a 79 person, though I have no love for Rite II nor people who remove things like the Kyrie and say “the gifts of god for the people of god” while completely omitting “behold the lamb of god…”

  5. LutherPunk

    Anastasia beat me to the punch. Rite I is not the same as 1928. Having been to both Rite I and 1928 Divine Services, I prefer the ’28. I most definitely prefer the ’28 for the Daily Offices.

    I have celebrated – in addition to several Lutheran rites – the 1979 Settings I and II and the 1928. I find the ’79 more accesible for folks (either I or II). What I don’t like about the 1928 services I have been to is the fact that the 1940 hymnal goes hand in hand with the 28 BCP. I am not a huge fan of the music settings in the 1940 hymnal.

  6. The young fogey

    Anastasia wrote:

    Rite I and the 1928 Prayer Book are not the same thing


    The Rite I Mass has its good points vs 1928 (and certainly compared to 1662 – heavens, the broken Canon! – so thank the high-church Non-Jurors and Scottish Episcopalians whence the Americans got the episcopate for the differences in 1928) but unsurprisingly I prefer the fuller, ‘uncensored’ versions of some of the prayers in 1662 and 1928 (‘that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body and our souls washed through his most Precious Blood’) and agree that 1662’s and 1928’s offices are probably better, not macaronic with modern and Eastern add-ons. (Breviary add-ons are part of the same Western tradition and thus don’t clash.)

  7. bls

    Rite I was created so that people who were familiar with the 1928 could still feel comfortable. That’s literally the only reason it exists at all, which was my point.

    Good grief.

  8. The young fogey

    Yes, good grief, acting as if objective and Godward language and orthodox doctrine are worth anything!

    The Episcopal Church was at least nice enough to be patronising or even be ‘pastoral’ and listen to its people who objected to the outright rejection of their tradition that was originally planned, backing off from that, coming up with Rite I and keeping it as the early service in many places. Better than what the RCs did for many years, eradicating their ‘Rite I’, the Roman Mass, and forcing their ‘Rite II’ with a vengeance on all. They’ve since backtracked only a little and begrudgingly allow it in some places at the discretion of the bishop.

    The Church of England learnt from that and kept a traditional-language option in the Alternative Services Book and Common Worship.

    I agree with the priest who said a three-year lectionary means the people know three times as much scripture only a third as well.

  9. Derek the Ænglican

    I was not suggesting that we chuck the 79 and go back to the 1662–the 79 is here to stay…for at least another few years.

    I do see 1662 important as a touchstone, a compass, for thinking about our specifically Anglican character.

    What I’ve been discovering in the last few years as I dig is that there are more “may”s in the prayer book rubrics than I had realized before. There are options which are normally followed or not on the basis of parish custom. This is where I find the 1662 (and the 1549) a meaningful guide–as a seeing how we have histoircally chosen to order things.

    I don’t have huge problems with Rite II but I do prefer Rite I.

  10. *Christopher

    It seems a longstanding English practice. After all, the traditions of my ancestors in worship were eradicated by the imposition of the English Prayerbook. Let’s not wax nostalgic, imposition has been a part of this tradition with regard to prayerbooks, at least here, some group representing laypersons had some say in approving the matter, muchless can be said for 1549 or 1662.

  11. James Day

    The great thing about being in NYC is all the choices that are made available to you. We have the legendary St. Thomas on 5th, who uses the ’28, we have Resurrection, who uses the missals, and of course Smokey Mary’s is happy using ’79. In a former parish, we used the 1789 service for the 4th of July. I would agree with most that for Morning Prayer, the ’28 is hard to beat. Being born in ’79 and using the ’79 since I became an Episcopalian, I’m impartial to it. I’m one of those people who really like to cut-and-paste things. So I really like church services that have the service on a leaflet so that there is no need to flip pages. I think it matters less what is better or best or which edition is more Godly or more devotional or historically faithful. At the end of the day, it is what you are willing to reach for and pray. Even though I been to services several times with it, I just can’t say “vouchsafe” without chuckling, sorry. I think it’s fun to create your own leaflet with addendums from the Anglican breviary. I really hope that the powers that be will not take the ’79 away from me any time in the near future. I know that it will happen eventually but I hope that it be after the burial service at my passing.

  12. The young fogey

    Christopher, of course I know that – I believe that the ‘Reformation’ was a mistake! – but 1) of course there’s nothing wrong with services in English, and what English the BCP is, and 2) as Chesterton said the greatness of that book is not that it was the first Protestant book but the last Catholic one. Other than the use of the vernacular I don’t defend the innovations except a condensed two-office breviary for everyman wasn’t a bad idea.

    I understand from my 1979-using Central Church friends that in at least some Episcopal circles now it’s considered rather square and some of it’s right out because God is ‘Father’ and suchlike. Please.

  13. Anastasia

    bls, I go to a parish where the 1928 is a live issue. whether or not that was the purpose of rite I, it really doesn’t cut it for diehard fans of the 28.

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