Procrastination Project

Here’s a fabulous procrastination project when you have Really Important Things to do that you’re studiously avoiding…

Print out and look over Morning and Evening prayer in:

  • the English 1549, 1552, 1559, and 1662 BCPs;
  • the Scottish 1637 BCP (Laud’s prayer book);
  • and the American 1789, 1892, 1928, and 1979 BCPs.
  • Then, for a on-the-ground reality check, compare the 1858 English Directorium Anglicanum’s instructions with the 1662 book.
  • If you’re one with a St Dunstan’s Psalter lying around, compare that with the American 1928 book.
  • I don’t have an Anglican Breviary but I bet that’d be a great comparison as well while you’re at it.

This little survey raises all sorts of thoughts and questions. Some that came to my mind were…

Wow–the 1549 version really is a clean service.

Laud’s book–supposedly based on the 1559 English one–looks quite a bit different… Makes you wonder what the difference was between the rubrics and what was actually done–especially by the more catholic leaning folk.

I had no idea how innovative the 1928 American book was. As the favorite of traditionalists here I expected it to be virtually identical with the English 1662. Hardly.

How about that 1789 book–the American church has *always been* on crack, hasn’t it…

9 thoughts on “Procrastination Project

  1. *Christopher


    Our rites are taken from the Scots, which is more similar to Laud’s Book, so we were destined never to look like the English 1662, but rather more like the other Anglican Rite, the Rite of the Non-Jurors–and hence, more catholic.

  2. Derek the Ænglican

    That’s what I thought–but the 1789 seems to be making a lot of anti-catholic (or at least non-catholic) movements. Like…what’s up with hacking the Benedictus and dropping Ps 70:1 from the initial versicle? Or being the *only* prayer book to prefer Ps 100 over the Benedictus by putting it in primary position?

  3. Derek the Ænglican

    Other changes are just wacky… Nicene Creed at MP/EP? The Gloria in Excelsis after the Psalms? Chopping out the suffrages? Where did these things come from–not the Scots as far as their books legislate.

  4. Lutheran Zephyr

    I’ve become increasingly skepitcal of what constitutes “tradition.”

    You were shocked at how innovative, rather than traditional, the American 1928 book was, especially because American traditionalists revere this book. But, for most people, isn’t “tradition” little more than what was done when I was kid, or when my parents were kids, or maybe when my grandparents were kids – ie, what was done in my lifetime or in the lifetime of someone with whom I have a personal connection?

    Going back to ancient or original “authoritative” sources may be the most historically accurate thing to do (ie, in Biblical translation, liturgical formulations, etc.), but these newly recovered elements of our tradition often don’t speak to today’s faith communities because these elements haven’t been part of our practice for a generation or two.

    Tradition, it seems to me, is both theological/historical and also sociological, and I wonder how the church can and should embrace that tension. It’s not as simple as recovering some lost heritage. Tradition is lived and dynamic, too – and that’s what makes it so difficult.

  5. Derek the Ænglican

    Well, Zephyr, one of the problems that I have with protestants in general is a certain cultivation of amnesia about the Tradition. Most, including many of the Lutherans I know, believe that Jesus lived, Paul and the Apsotled lived, then some really bad stuff happened, then Christianity began again with Martin Luther. Our Tradition stretches far beyond our personal experience and that of our immediate family.

    Yes, it is an ideological construction. No doubt about it. Indeed the idea of a single big “T” Tradition that a lot of converted Catholics/Orthodox and conservative Anglicans like to talk about is just that–an ideological construction that holds less and less water as you read more and more sources and actually find out what was going on the churches through the ages.

    I agree, not all things in the past speak to our age–but there’s a hell of a lot of past to know. I personally believe that one of keys is figuring out which past times and places had situations and faced problems analogous to our own day and looking at the resources that they used. Just because a thing is old doesn’t mean it’s obsolete.

  6. Lutheran Zephyr

    I agree with what you write, Derek. Sometimes I speak with groups of church leaders (pastors, lay leaders, youth workers, etc.) and I may speak of our church’s tradition in reference to today’s church (thinking of theology and liturgy, etc.). But inevitably someone in the crowd begins speaking of their home congregation’s traditions – the pumpkin patch, the youth sundays, the poorly perfromed passion play. For whatever reason, local (and lived) traditions are more important to many than the liturgical and theological traditions of the broader church.

    What constitutes tradition: the KJV translation of Ps 23, or the perhaps more accurate NRSV translation? Well, I for one like to return to and wrestle with the original sources, but I must appreciate that the KJV translation speaks to many in a way that the NRSV is unable to, even if the KJV translation is less faithful to the Hebrew.

    Or, can liturgy be “traditional” without using plainsong, German chorale or other pre-20th century musical forms? Can a liturgy have all the liturgical elements – Kyrie, hymn of praise, prayer of the day, etc. etc.. – but express those elements in contemporary music and yet still be “traditional”?

    Well, the definition of “tradition” depends incredibly upon the person speaking . . .

  7. Annie

    Procrastination technique or something for which the purpose is yet to be realized? There was a purpose … trust me.

    As for your conversation with LZ: Tradition, as it is practiced, appears to be what we want to believe it should be and can be claimed with no real historical basis in fact. It is baseless in that it can be practiced even when it is incorrect theologically or spiritually. It should never be presented as an argument because it isn’t a good excuse to do anything, to hold onto any belief, or to dismiss any idea. … uhm … except for our annual Epiphany Pagent that has been done the exact same way every year for more than fifty years–with only one change. Unfortunately, our traditional reader died.


  8. Derek the Ænglican

    Hmmm. Actually, LZ, I might disagree that the NRSV is a better translation… The substantial advantage that it has is superior textual evidence. As far as the translation itself is concerned, the KJV translators had a far superior sense of poetry–and given that so much of the Scriptures are poetry…

  9. *Christopher

    I will second derek’s disagreement. The KJV is a poetic and liturgical work, the NRSV is clunky in comparison. I long for a poetic, modern version relying on the latest textual sources.

    The catholic Tradition is multi-faceted. I like to think that given such a richness, there is something there to draw upon in each age. Some things from some ages past handed on to us from our ancestors in the faith may not work in our time and culture, but they may work elsewhere or for our grandchildren.

    I suspect some Protestantizing may have occured. Could this have been as way to make one less Romish? I don’t know. But that’s worth investigating. It didn’t last, however. Thanks be to God!

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