On Common Prayer

Praying and Thinking
Our particular corner of the Anglo-Lutheran blogosphere has been in a mood on things liturgical over the past few days. *Christopher put up an expansive post responding to my request for thoughts on a certain parish practices. The locals with Lutheran connections have mentioned the whole RW (“Revolting Worship” as LutherPunk so delicately puts it). In the background, of course, the furor in the Anglican Communion is punctuated by the ELCA Church-wide Assembly which faces similar issues and will conclude with nothing concluded. In response, I’m feeling the need to say something about the prayer book as the central—functional—instrument of unity.

The prayer book is at the heart of Anglican practice. The Benedictine tradition from which it arose understands liturgy as a rhythm of ordering Scripture; the prayer book participates within this tradition, always pointing to the Gospel of Christ as he is revealed in the Scriptures and in the breaking of bread. In all of our discussions, speaking collectively, I have been amazed at how much theology talk there is, how much polemic there, and how little appeal is made to the BCP.

Pray Long and Prosper…

As *Christopher notes in his post, Prosper of Aquitaine’s words have gained much currency since Vatican II albeit in an imperfect form. The way in which most know them, lex orandi, lex credendi is rather imprecise. This statement is simply two noun phrases put into juxtaposition—what is the relationship between them? Is it purposely being left fuzzy? *Christopher properly gives us Prosper’s original phrase: Ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi. Much more useful—but still imprecise. We need the rest of the sentence (Embarrassingly, I don’t have it. What’s the citation for this quote anyway?? This seems like the kind of thing I ought to know…). In any case, the clause cannot be translated with certainty because of a lack of context. Latinists will note the initial “Ut” and the “a” hiding in the ending of “statuat” and will recognize it as a subjunctive—but which one? Is it an optative: May the law of praying establish the law of believing; or a jussive: Let the law of praying establish the law of believing; or using the “ut”: So that/in order that the law of praying may establish the law of believing… (clearly, the rest of the sentence is important here)?

Despite the confusion, there is no doubt that Prosper is has captured an essential connection. What we pray shapes what we believe but only if we keep praying and we keep praying the same thing… This phrase makes the most sense when discussing prayer not as an occasional activity or discussing the wording of any particular prayer but when looking at prayer as an established habit of life, a way of being. Repetition makes habits, repetition forms belief. The habitual use of certain liturgical forms imprints the theology inherent in them into our thought structure. We learn our theology most viscerally through the repetition of our liturgy, moving our mouths, moving our bodies in patterns.

And we do not move them alone. This is the importance of naming the book the Book of Common Prayer. We are not the only one’s praying in this way and with these words. We are not absorbing this theology as individuals but as communities. This is why I refer to the BCP as a true instrument of unity; it is not just the source of our common prayer but of our common theology rooted in that prayer. Too, this is why the Anglican Church does not have confessional documents like the Lutheran Church. Rather than legislating what we say that we ought to believe, we legislated what we do when we gather together for prayer. It is often said that it doesn’t matter what you think as long as you use the liturgy; this is rooted in the belief that if you use the liturgy faithfully it will shape what you think into appropriate channels.

What beautiful theory! Such a shame that things aren’t this tidy, though… Two main problems come immediately to my mind: 1) how common is common prayer, and 2) how do we account for the failure of formation?

The Failure of Common Prayer
First, our community of prayer is no longer common. In the American church this is seen mostly clearly in the struggle over the ’79 prayer book. Some like it, some hate it; some are exclusively Rite I, some are exclusively Rite II, some use both. Our common prayer book is at odds with itself, presenting two different liturgies with two different theologies. I don’t think I need to argue this point—it’s pretty evident. The theology of Rite I is more penitential on the whole; the awareness of sin and the concomitant need for salvation which we do not deserve is closer to the surface. Rite II focuses more on celebration; sin and penitence are further from the fore.

We know how this shakes out communally as well; we’ve probably all been to ’28 prayer book/’40 hymnal parishes. Universally, they’re at the margins of ECUSA or out of it entirely by their own choice. The selection of the prayer book signals that the parish has a different theological grounding than where the leadership of ECUSA is. Note that I’m not passing judgment here. And I’m willing to agree that certain changes between Rite I and Rite II have altered—I won’t quite say eviscerated, but certainly altered and not for the better—the theology therein to reflect a different theology.

To make things messier the opposition between Rite I and II is not just theological. The struggle between the rites is further complicated by issues not centrally related to the theology of the rites. That is, there’s the language issue. On one hand, it’s a stretch to call Rite I the vernacular of the people; on the other, it’s beautiful in ways that Rite II really isn’t. Then there’s the use of inclusive language for the congregation. Rite II reflects the common use of gender-neutral language to include both men and women. Some, however, see this as a slippery slope for inclusive language altogether and fear that any inclusive language will lead to naming the Triune deity in ways that describe Hecate better than YHWH and company. These aren’t central in my mind to the real theological differences between the two but they do play into the choice of one over the other.

Moving outside of America, the root problem remains but is even more complicated. Across the Communion the base prayer book is that of 1662. In theory. But enculturation and struggles against the legacy of imperialistic colonialism have led to indigenous liturgies with varying degrees of fidelity to the theoretical 1662 norm. America is just one example of these tensions. The ’79 prayer book moved us away from the 1662 book in dramatic ways. As we pull away from that book we pull away from our Communion neighbors even as they pull away in other, different, directions. If common prayer shapes common theology, what is the practical prayed difference between American and African theology? To put a finer point on it, how does the theology of Rite II stack up with the average Sunday liturgy as celebrated in Lagos? [NB: The thoughts in this paragraph are entirely due to one of M’s papers—just to give credit where credit is due. I feel this is a critical point and its been absent from all of the discussions on the matter that I’m aware of.]

The Failure of Formation
If my theory of liturgical formation is correct, there should be no such things as non-Trinitarian priests or people who cross their fingers as they say the creeds. A former prof of mine keeps pushing the beauty of liturgical formation in both the theological and moral realms to the point where I wonder: if he’s right how can there be indifferent or downright evil priests and monastics—and there are.

Perhaps it is because liturgical formation is fundamentally passive. It shapes us subtly over long periods of time. It can also be drowned out by alternate formation, especially by competing forms of intellectual formation. Thus we have our various sides of the spectrum: Bishop Spong, Bishop/Father/defrocked layperson David Moyer, Canon Kendall Harmon—they all use liturgies of an approved prayer book yet hold theological beliefs that are quite different if not radically different. In the last two cases, their theologies are not opposed to the prayer book of their choice as far as I know but their emphases within that prayer book are quite different from one another. With the first, his theology is opposed to a plain-sense reading of certain parts of the prayer book (especially the Rite I parts).

The Constructive Part
So, we have uncommon prayer and incomplete formation with regard to the text that should have the most potential to bring us together. What’s the answer? Of course, I don’t have any easy answers but I do have some provisional suggestions.

First, let’s be intentional about remaining in common prayer. Let’s take the common part seriously. Experimental liturgies are great and all, but why not really form ourselves in repetition of the common texts? The repetition of the common prayer is essential. Yes, this means using the same liturgies week after week, day after day. That’s the way that it gets into your body, your mind, your heart, your blood. You know you’re on the right track when the liturgy slips into your writing and conversation without it requiring any conscious thought.

Second, don’t let your liturgical formation be passive. Think about the texts that you’re repeating day after day. Consider what the theologies are in them. Consider how they fit within the rite as a whole and ultimately serve to point us towards the Book, the Font, the Altar and the Triune God that stands behind these. How do they point to the cross, the shattered gates of hell, the empty tomb, and the mysterious overflowing love of God? Take time apart from worship to examine and familiarize yourself with your prayer book.

As a contrarian, I’ll assert that alternative and experimental liturgies do play a part here. The occasional use or contemplation of these liturgies can reinforce these two disciplines. First, they may bring a fuller meaning to the common text by reframing it in different ways; repetition can lead to ruts in your theological thinking—the experimental can aid in keeping a full view of the Gospel possibilities. Second, interacting with them theologically and viscerally can help your reflection on the common texts. Something about a new rite doesn’t feel right? Reflect on why not. Don’t assume that your gut is wrong, but explore what boundaries are being pushed or crossed and how these are helpful or not.

Common prayer is a crucial link between common belief and common life or “life together” as one of our Lutheran friends styles it… By being common and being intentional, I think that we can come to a more balanced place that helps us focus first on the Gospel, and less on the troubles plaguing us.

30 thoughts on “On Common Prayer

  1. bls

    Does this help?:

    Praeter has autem beastissimae et Apostolicae sedis inviolabiles sanctiones, quibus nos piissimi Patres, pestiferae novitatis elatione dejecta, et bonae voluntatis exordia et incrementa probabilium studiorum et in eis usque in finem perseverantiam ad Christi gratiam referre docuerunt, obsecrationum quoque sacerdotalium sacramenta respiciamus,quae ab Apostolis tradita in toto mundo atque in omni Ecclesia catholica uniformiter celebrantur, ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi.

    It doesn’t do much for me, but maybe? The translation given on that page is this:

    (However, beyond these inviolable decrees of the blessed and apostolic chair, by which our most pious Fathers, having dunged the conceit of baneful novelty both by commencing with good will and fostering commendable zeals, taught us to persevere unto the end in showing our gratitude to Christ, let us also look back upon the mystery of priestly supplications which were bequeathed to the whole world by the Apostles, and are celebrated in one manner by the whole catholic Church, so that the law of prayer might constitute a law of belief.)

    And there seems to be a more complete version here.

  2. bls

    (It seems to be from something called “Capital Pseudo Caelestina (Indiculus).”

    Only one hit for that one, BTW! Huzzah!)

  3. Derek the Ænglican

    That’s awesome–did you google the phrase? I didn’t think to do that >:-

  4. *Christopher


    The context for Prosper’s argument is Prayers of the People and Pelagianism. I’m personally not a fan of Prosper, preferring his counterpart, St. Vincent myself (more a Cassian sort). Besides Augustine and Julian were speaking past each other in many ways. Julian was already using Aristotilianism and prefigures Aquinas, but that’s another conversation, sorry, easily distracted. Here is a decent article on-line that gets to the issue of this phrase. The Latin is note (8).

    A fine piece, yours. I wish we could put them side by side because they complement each other in many ways. (They perhaps need to go over at Open Thou Our Lips as well?)

    I would point out that we’ve been living with two streams in Anglicanism since at least the 17th century with the Scotish non-jurors. Their prayer book of 1637 (Laud’s Book; more 1549-ish with a catholic/eastern christian bent) is the one upon which our own ECUSA book is based (the precondition for Samuel Seabury’s consecration/elevation). The 1662 book which is CofE is more 1552-ish with a 1549 reworking. In missionary work, both have been sent around the globe. Subtle, but a huge difference theologically, at least interpretively (as +Gardiner’s masterful catholic interpretation of 1549 shows :-) to Cranmer’s chagrin).

    I wrote a paper tracing where the double epiclesis in Rite I “…vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit…” (355) came from (1549) and where it has gone since (the CofE books after 1549, as far as I know, do not have this epiclesis)

    Also there is much in the 1979 Book that is Antiochene and Hippolytan in emphasis. Not a bad thing, brings perhaps an overbalance to the Reformation emphasis on sin and unworthiness in the 1928 edition. But for some of us, that’s important…we’ve been told we’re unworthy an awful lot, and hearing this on other terms can be helpful in reconstructing “sin” and “unworthiness”.

    In looking at Addai and Mari and III Peter, this is a common occurence, older rites continue to get included in newer editions because of a fondness and so forth even if they are no longer used (the East is a big old mess because of this practice both in liturgical books and canon law). It’s always been messier than we suppose, I suppose.

    But I do support your emphasis on common prayer at least at Sunday Eucharist and Morning and Evening Prayer. This would go a long way toward diffusing or responding to those heavily influenced by other thinking. Though I’d prefer Harmon+ over +Spong anyday, and that’s saying something.

    I would hope that my own thinking demonstrates how the BCP continues to shape me and even the style with which I write. We could all do with more reflection outside of the Mass on our worship.

    BTW: I’m presenting a modified version of this at our liturgy forum this weekend at the request of my priest, since he thinks its a good opening into helping folks think through things…

    Oh…that’s one thing I really miss about the Roman Church, repetition. I could slip into the worship so easily in my whole being without even holding the missal!

  5. Derek the Ænglican

    Are you doing a comp right now on the various prayer books? I found that one of the most helpful things for at that point was to sit down and write out my take on a field or concept in a few pages just to have it and preserve it (A few months from now you’ll look back to comps and think “Wow…I was so smart then…”) Of course, I ask from selfish motives–I’d love to see your version of a short history of prayer books as they developed. This is one (of the many) places where my education is still lacking…

  6. *Christopher


    I keep a binder with each work, my handwritten notes, a typed up study sheet with concepts, quotes, and an image to remember the work by, a preview reflection on my thinking on the questions, and a copy of the written comp itself.

    I would love to see that version too. Perhaps on the blog. I’ve actually used the blog for academic purposes from time to time now that I think about it. And thanks, your questions and lp’s and bls’ and others keep me thinking about my topics and that I actually have something to offer the field.

    I proposed the questions for the timed exams in ritual studies, liturgical history, and liturgical theology, and two papers (“Once for all”(Romans 6:10): Exploring Liberative Dimensions of “Sacrifice” in Christian worship Considering Minority and Marginalized Perspectives and Contexts AND “We wil not recyue the newe seruyce”: Questions of Ritual Authority and Ritual Change in the Prayer Book Rebellions of 1549.). And of course, there’s an oral at the end.

    This is the exam I will take late August, early September (whenever I get my act together with all of the changes going on right now):

    B. Area Examination # 3 – Liturgical History

    1. The student will take a timed (three hour), closed book examination in the field of Liturgical History.

    2. Questions:

    a. Extent Semitic sources of prayer such as the Anaphora of Addai and Mari pertaining to meal practices in Christian communities reveal patterns of prayer different from those found in later rites. Earlier studies of AM by Edward Ratcliff, Bernard Botte, and Josef Jungmann questioned the eucharistic intent and at times the orthodoxy of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari. More recent assessments by William F. Macomber, Brian D. Spinks, and Anthony Gelston, however, have re-emphasized the Semitic character of the prayer and its eucharistic intent. In light of this disagreement, consider again the Anaphora of Addai and Mari drawing upon the conclusions of these scholars as well as the work of Gregory Dix, Thomas J. Talley, and Paul Bradshaw to discuss patterns of and developments of meal prayers in relation to AM, giving particular attention to structure, cultural affinity, and theology (drawing upon the critical edition of AM as needed) in the relationship of AM to other prayers. Assess questions of intent and orthodoxy in light of this discussion, drawing upon current historical approaches to the development of orthodoxy over time for considering early eucharistic prayers such as AM.

    b. Nathan Mitchell has shown that theological developments of Augustine’s and Ambrose’s theologies of the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist by such figures as Paschasius and Ratramnus, Berengarius and Lanfranc, and Thomas Aquinas play a role in developing ritual practices (such as the decline of reception) within a complex of influences, also including traditional practices, liturgical development, and changes in society–especially language and popular piety. This complex, nonetheless, meets heavy revision in the reforms of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer for whom theology plays a decisive role for evaluating ritual practices even as he invigorates old forms with new meanings. Discuss these figures, their controversies, and their debates about Christ’s Presence in the Eucharist, considering Cranmer’s own theological views in light of this ongoing development of Augustine and Ambrose. Working with the texts, consider Cranmer’s reforming efforts of the anaphora in the Sarum usage as found in the 1549 BCP and 1552 BCP, especially as these relate to Cranmer’s developing understanding of Christ’s Presence and pastoral concern for regular reception. How does Cranmer utilize, redirect, truncate, eliminate or otherwise deal with ritual practices in his reform? What might Cranmer’s approach suggest with regard to liturgical development and reform?

    Sorry if I took up too much space…

  7. Derek the Ænglican

    They let you see your closed book questions beforehand? You’re so lucky…

    Our History & Lit was 8 hours, 2 questions, no notes over anything in the secondary literature from the Apostolic Fathers to the beginning of the 21st century…

  8. *Christopher

    No. They let us propose questions, which they then retool to their interest when I go in to take them. Hence, the questions are guides, but they have quite a bit of wiggle room…so I could be asked about Gardiner instead for example, though my profs love me (being the only student in the department at the moment who cares about things historical and who knows Latin and German) and wouldn’t be so nasty, I hope {gulp!},

    I dont’ get notes either. I am allowed to use a copy of the 1549, 1552 BCP’s and the critical edition of the anaphora of Addai and Mari.

    I did take a Church history general as well in May which I passed, praise be to G-d! Church history is my allied field. Over 100 books on the list to read, I maybe got through 80 of them, relying on some heavyhitters to contextualize the others. 6 hours, 6 questions, no notes on anything ranging from the apostolic period to the present (in a very global way). Brutal. And only a week to type them up and return to the department…my brain was dying…

  9. *Christopher

    I should clarify…after writing the timed exams, the office makes a copy, and then we have to take the pencil-written version home and type it up…this wasn’t a take home exam unfortunately :-(

  10. LutherPunk

    Derek –

    It doesn’t seem that having confessions, as in Lutheran circles, has left us in any better a situation than it has left the ECUSA (like I need to tell YOU of all people about that).

    It almost feels like what we have struggled with Pentecost forward is two-fold: how do we make sense of this? how do we make sense of the fact that we don’t seem to agree on how to make sense of this?

    Prayer seems more promising than dogmatic formulas, but formulations are needed. They probably do not need to be as exacting as Concord, but need to have some idea of what is essential and what is not. Thus Scripture and Creeds (sans finger crossing) seem like the starting point.

    And experimentation is essential for health. For example, we are getting ready to start reserving the sacrament (by the sanctuary lamp, no less)…probably considered non-/anti- confessional by many, but I think a good a pious exercise.

    I think it might be interesting if we (as in those of us who post ’round these parts) started to dialogue in more detail about what is and is not essential for the Christian walk, for worship life, etc.

    Just a thought!

  11. Derek the Ænglican

    Now that does sound interesting… Feel free to kick us off and I, for one, will follow your lead… :-)

  12. *Christopher


    sounds like a good way to go…I’ll follow as well…

    Hooker makes some interesting distinctions between necessary doctrine and theologizing that I’m pondering at the moment.

    One thing I will say for liturgy as the measure, I know several folks who have practiced into orthodoxy over a long period of worshipping as Episcopalians. Radical social justice types who are also now orthodox types because of their every-Sunday work…

  13. bls

    Sure I Googled it! I can find anything on the web. Anything.


    Nice post, BTW. Keep ’em coming! You’re a great read, and it’s very nice to have people like you and *C and others lay out your thinking about topics like this. Anglicanism is beautiful, but like A.A., it’s a bit airy and nebulous. But there’s a lot we can define and talk about; it’s excellent to get some of this musing on the topic of how ecclesiology meets faith down in black and white.

  14. LutheranChik

    I was scolded as an obstructionist/killjoy over on one of the Lutheran forums for my critique of Renewing Worship (which was just approved, BTW, at the Churchwide Assembly)…and I was addressing less the new hymnal itself, but rather the whole thought process, or lack thereof, that goes on in our denomination with regard to worship. I believe that many of us in the ELCA have lost the sensibility that we believe as we worship/we worship as we believe, and that’s a tragedy. And IMHO fiddling with the hymnal is a way to “look busy” and appear relevant, when we’re not getting busy about things that matter, and while we endanger our relevance by pandering to whatever worship fad seems to work over at the Evangelical Megamart down the street. As my friend Melancthon notes, we forget to “dance with them what brung ya” at our own peril as a church body.

  15. *Christopher

    We’re just a bunch of obstructionist killjoys, I guess. I just don’t think these resources were ready for such a vote. Process, process, process.

    Nooooooooooooooooo….RW passed? My understanding is the hymnal was more a revision of hymns than actual new compositions, which we do need, probably with a bunch of “God, God, God, God, God, God”?

    I said there were nice bits, but we could’ve excised 90-95% of RW.

    This is so unfortunate, and it doesn’t feel to me anyway that the years needed to consider another book were taken.

    And the time to reflect again on theology of liturgy. Sad. I hope ELCA Lutheranism doesn’t go the way of the UCC with a new “hit” every Sunday and no regularity to the work of the people.

    Well, there will be no RW on my shelf of select worship resources, I’ll perhaps excise the bits I like for later use (a kind of Thomas Jefferson RW). The LBW will remain alongside my German Lutheran resources, the Confessions, and the Book of Concord.

  16. bls

    Derek, I may have pointed you to this article before, but just in case I didn’t, here it is.

    It’s called “How the Episcopal Church Teaches the Catholic Faith,” on the website of an Anglo-Catholic parish (of course!) and is IMO very apropos to what you’ve been talking about lately in re liturgy and the importance of the BCP in Anglican faith.

    Lex credendi, naturally, makes an appearance here, too.

  17. Derek the Ænglican

    That’s an interesting article. Looks like a healthy and sane Anglo-Catholic prayer-book perspective (which is where I suppose I am despite my hesitation at the label…).

    All the Mary references in the article reminded me–big blow-out at Smokey Mary on Monday (Aug 15) for the Assumption of the BVM. I’ll definitely be there. Were you gonna go?

  18. Gracious Light

    Well, I don’t know a whole lot of latin, but I will agree with about liturgical being passive and occurring over time–“good ruts” is the language I use in more pedestrian circles. Pappa Don said long before we did that what we pray on Sundays shapes what we do during the week.

    He also says that what we do during the week shapes what we (and how???) we pray on Sundays.

    I think that if we start trying to have a book that unifies the whole world in prayer we run into the same problems that Charlemagne did when he tried to unite all (was it 7… I should remember this…) rites into 1 missal. He failed, and that was the European/ Mediterranean world.

    Going back to Don, since my Episcopalian aunt experiences things differently inGadsden, AL than the woman in Legos, their prayer will neccessarily be different and their christian formation, in the liturgy or otherwise, will be shaped in different. Each will be appropriate to their cultural context. You people smarter than me can find a way to still hold a unity of their prayer even though their worship will be different (while the shape of their worship remains the same).

    To put it yet another way, how to you hold up a common prayer with a common life (which I affirm as being good things) without slipping back into the sins of colonialism as we move further into globalization?

    But then you run into another problem, which Derek alludes to. Let me use my UMC background. I STILL have people that think our 1964 hymnal (and liturgy) is tons better than the ‘new’ 1989 hymnal. Why do they say this? Is it because they have studied Methodist liurgy back to the Sunday Service Book for People Callled Methodist in America? No! It is because they were formed by that book. Its the same with me. Having come to the UMC relatively late in life, I have only know in ’89 hymnal and liturgies. They formed me. When I experience or am forced to celebrate using the older litguries, they are foreign and oppressive. I was never formed by them.

    Likewise, there are almost and entire generation of priests and parishioners that do not know anything but te 1979 prayer book. To have to sit through a 28 service is torture. I remember looking forward to celebrating a 1662 Prayer book service in the UK in an LEP. It was a horrible experience. Why? There are several reasons that need to be explicated further at other places but I think that basic point is that when we are looking wistfully back at ‘better’ days we need to ask a question of relevence (and Derek you know I am not one of these contemporary worship people so don’t go there).

    I guess my last thought is that maybe the current BCP is akin to the 2 liturgies being along side each other in the UMC liturgy–to provide one book that functions as a transition– Rite I being a refresh of the 28 and Rite II representing a nod to the next book, and to the recommendations of the Costituion on the Sacred Liturgy.

    Whichbring me to a thought… how much of all the prayer book conversations are really based in concern about the liturgy and how much of it is a veil to get more conservative/ fundamentalist view interjected.

    I mean, come on. A lot of the arguments for using the 1662 BCP sounds a lot like the toothless redneck reasons for only reading the Scofield edition of the KJV.

  19. bls

    All the Mary references in the article reminded me–big blow-out at Smokey Mary on Monday (Aug 15) for the Assumption of the BVM. I’ll definitely be there. Were you gonna go?

    Well, I’ve been jonesing for some big billowy clouds of serious smoke lately, so it’s a definite possibility.

    But rest assured that if I go I will be celebrating the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, rather than the Assumption of the BVM. (I just can’t get into the Marian stuff in a big way, and especially this particular thing. But I accept that a person who wants spiky worship just has to deal, at times.)

    I’ll be wearing a carnation in my lapel.

  20. Derek the Ænglican

    lol! I’m not into Mary in the way that many are. I’m definitely a fan but… I can go for the Assumption, the Immaculate Conception is theologically problematic imho.

    I’ve been serving and they’ve invite me to come and help out so I’ll be the straight guy in a cassock. :-)

  21. Derek the Ænglican

    I certainly see your point. I’m not necessarily trying to get the whole world to use the same prayerbook. But the simple fact is that the whole world isn’t and, more pointedly, the whole Anglican world isn’t. Are we surprised that this is one more thing that complicates issues with the “Global South”.

    The multiplication of service books is a problem. We have different generations formed in different books adding to the theological tensions. That is, you’ve got the Baby Boomers formed by the ’28 prayer book. But then, you’ve essentially got the Baby Boomers who won (and created the innovations of the ’79 book) and those who lost (and still prefer the ’28). Now, you have Gen-X and Yers formed by the ’79. We as a whole are reacting against the Baby Boomers. Thus, you have the Gen-Xers who like the ’79 and are reacting less vehemently, the Gen-Xers who react very vehemently and use the ’28 as their vehicle of revolt, then the Gen-Xers who react very vehemently and think that ’79 was too conservative. Add in the Baby Boomers who are trying to be hip and creating things like EoW and RW and you’ve got a serious mess on your hands.

  22. Becca

    As an Anglican/Episcopalian who has just begun to consider Benedictine spirituality (through Esther De Waal’s writing) … I find your comments thought-provoking.

  23. bls

    Well, you know, I think it’s sort of important for us moderates to simply cotinue to advocate for Prayer-Book use.

    I have to say, again, that I don’t really find many problems in this regard, and I’ve been wandering around to various parishes for the past year or so. Almost everybody is straight 1979 Prayer-book on Sunday. It’s the typical early-service-Rite-I-without-music and major-service-Choral-Rite-II. A few exceptions: St. Thomas on Fifth still literally uses the 1928, as far as I can tell, and I think Resurrection uptown does also. But that’s Rite I, really, anyway. My beef is when they still use the 1940 hymnal; from what I can tell, the 1982 is much better.

    I think most ECUSA parishes are fairly straightforward 1979 Rite II these days. But of course, we’re not using the same book at they use in England or South Africa.

    Still, we’re inheritors of the same tradition, and once again: there have always been various “uses” or rites in various locations throughout history.

  24. Derek the Ænglican

    Thanks Becca. Welcome!

    I’m chagrined to say that I met Esther de Waal once, but didn’t really know who she was. I was taking a class on monasticism (taught by a Benedictine nun interestingly) at Olaf and Esther came in and talked to us for one class session. I thought she was cool but had no idea of her reputation then…

    Resurrection uses the Anglican Missal which is…I suppose an Anglo-Catholic extension of the ’28. It’s produced by Bishop/Father/defrocked layperson Moyer out of Good Shepherd in Rosemont/Uganda. (I just love Continuing Traditions!!) Portions of it are up here.

  25. Derek the Ænglican

    …And yes, we *do* need to advocate for thoughtful and steady use of the prayer book and intentionality about the prayer book and its spiritual roots. As I’ve said before, the prayer book comes out of the best intentions for continuing the Benedictine way of prayer for lay people focused on the recitation of the Offices *and* the continual immersion in the Psalter. If we lose touch with this we will literally lose it. Look at the Lutherans. Classical Lutheran spirituality was found in their hymnody. Gerhardt, Nicolai, that pissed off guy from Wittenberg. But they forgot. How many of these authors/hymns are in RW? Have they sold their classical and distinctive spirituality down the river without even realizing it? We can’t let the same happen to us…

  26. *Christopher

    Have they sold their classical and distinctive spirituality down the river without even realizing it? We can’t let the same happen to us…

    That’s what my partner thinks, but he’s not American…

  27. Apostle John

    Thinking about the Book of Common Prayer that you made, it got me thinking of how that book has influenced all English language prayerbooks. I think of my own Book of Common Worship. Similar influence is in so many denominational books.

    “Pray long and prosper” — I like that!

  28. Annie

    If you will pardon my inimitably ignorant point of view on this subject:

    My very conservative congregation has used the ’79 BCP all along (we were trying out a series of new liturgies when I was in highschool in the early 70’s) and it is only in the past two years that the majority of the congregation have suddenly migrated to the early Rite I service, so I am not sure that practice has resulted in the optomistic view that y’all seem to have reflected above of liturgy bringing us to a similar place.

    Personally, I decided to be more pleased with the ’79 Rite II when I learned that Calvin has less influence in it. Before that I preferred the old service which rolled off my tongue more naturally (I still trip over the wording in the new service). It might have helped if they had striven to make the new more poetic, I think. But my own experience seems to support the views of at least one of your posters that it is more what we were weaned on than what we choose based on theology.

    And, finally, I agree that most of the time I prefer the habitual and expected liturgy, but occassional spice does help us reflect anew. I would enjoy various attempts at spicing up our spiritual experience of the liturgy.


  29. Derek the Ænglican

    Thanks for visiting Apostle… I was surprised at that as I got to know the BCP as well. I was raised Lutheran and was shocked to find out how much of the LBW and its predecessors were either informed or directly lifted from the BCP. It really has exerted a huge influence on English-language and specifically American versions of the historic liturgy.

    Annie, I’d say your congregations is a case that proves my point. While the liturgy nurtures passively, that influence iwll be overcome by more agressive active forces–like identity politics. One of the particular forms of identity politics that we see in the current strife is that the conservatives/reasserters/”orthodox” use the *right* liturgy which is the ’28 prayer or Rite I. It’s essentially an attempt to hijack the tradition. And yes, the ’79 definitely has less Calvinist influence in the eucharistic liturgy. (Although to be *completely* accurate and being mindful of friendly Presbyterian visitors I will add that there is a difference between a Calvinist eucharistic theology and Calvin’s theology which was a bit more ambiguous and was closer to Luther than Zwingli [Z said it was *only* a symbolic meal in memory]. The Zwinglian version seemed to win out in “classical” Calvinism which is what we think of when using that term.)

  30. Annie

    Oh, I see what you were saying now. I had blamed Bible Belt conservatism here and the influence of those converted from other denoms. We seem to get a great many Baptist converts, for example.

    And no, no offense to any Presbyterians as our Calvinist influences were soft.

    Thanks, Derek.


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