Tracking Sanctity: Lesser Feasts & Fasts 1980

The next official supplement after the 1973 Revised Edition was the Third Edition of LFF published in 1980. This one does contain a quite substantial preface that gives a sense of what was going on. Basically, it was the BCP. Everybody was very busy with getting that done—as a result, there were very few changes to the Calendar. Our total adds here is one: Edward Bouverie Pusey, Priest, 1882.

Legislative Materials and Quandries

Now—the thing that I don’t completely understand is the data from the Episcopal Digital Archives… We’re finally at the point where we can see both reports to General Convention and resolutions considered.

This is the section of the report to the 1976 General Convention concerning LFF:

(4) The Commission found it possible to add only two names and one commemoration to the Calendar since the approval of Lesser Feasts and Fasts in 1964 and the trial use Calendars in 1970 and 1973. These are the names of Absalom Jones, Priest (February 13), and Edward Bouverie Pusey, Priest (September 18). The commemoration added is that of Holy Men and Women of the Old Testament (November 8). A number of suggestions were made to the Commission for inclusion of other names common to certain Anglican calendars and the names of heroes of the Faith indigenous to, or connected with missionary work on, the American continent. The Commission did not have the time to give adequate consideration to these suggestions. Therefore, at its last meeting, it set up a permanent committee on the Calendar to consider these pending suggestions, and also some other aspects of the Calendar in the light of experience.

Say what?

Here’s what’s odd… Of the three entries mentioned, Absalom Jones was present on the 1973 Calendar in the Revised Edition; Pusey was not and did not appear until the current 1980 Third Edition under discussion; the Holy Men and Women of the Old Testament on the Octave of All Saints doesn’t appear on any Calendar that I’ve seen. Perhaps better data on the legislative history will clear this situation up. [Update: I’ve now checked this against Prayer Book Studies 19; neither Jones nor Pusey are found there. Thus, Jones must have been added for the 1973 while Pusey wasn’t added until sometime between 1973 and 1980.] At the ’76 GC, the 1973 Revised Edition was authorized for optional use.

The report to the ’79 GC accurately describes what will be found in the Third Edition of LFF:

2. The revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts(last revised in 1973) was also undertaken in response to numerous requests and pursuant to a Resolution of the General Convention of 1976. This revision conforms to the Calendar on pages 15-33 of the Proposed Book of Common Prayer. and it is intended to assist in the optional observance of these days. In preparing the present edition, the Commission carefully reviewed the existing collects, lections, psalms, and biographical material. A number of collects were retained; others were revised or replaced. The Commission also reviewed the lessons and psalmody provided with the intention of enriching the observance of fixed holy days. With this same end in view, the Commission also carefully reviewed all the biographical material. A number of the biographies included in the 1973 revision were retained. Some others were revised or replaced where it appeared to the Commission that the devotional and homiletical use of the material would be enhanced. The Commission retained the collects and readings for the weekdays of Lent, and, in line with this useful precedent, it added collects and readings for the weekdays of the Fifty Days of Easter. It also included brief commentaries on the meaning or historical observance of the Major Feasts in the Calendar.

The plan of work describes where things will be heading in the 1980-2 triennium:

(2) A detailed study of the criteria for the inclusion of names of persons and commemorations in the Calendar of the Church has barely begun. It involves careful study of basic principles and consultation with other Churches of the Anglican Communion and with other Christian Churches. The Commission already has on file a number of valuable suggestions. All of these call for considerable background of research and study.

Honestly, you can’t help but laugh… So, with a Calendar containing a current total of 153 entries and154 named individuals, a study of criteria for including people has barely begun. While both PBS9 and PBS19 say quite a lot about the Calendar there really is very little about objective criteria for inclusion except for the insistence that all included by historically verifiable. Now that a Calendar is in place, we will go back and begin identifying criteria and thinking up a theology that we can fit to it.

Changes in the 1980 Third Edition

The 1980 Third Edition of LFF represents the results of a great effort begun in 1945 with the establishment of a committee to look at the Calendar up to the establishment of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The general shape and content of the Calendar was nailed down and its relationship to the rest of the prayer book’s theology and liturgies worked out. As I read through these things, it’s very tempting to see the ark from 1945 to 1977 as the Massey Shepherd Calendar as he is the consistent and dominant voice in the studies, prefaces, and reports that I’ve seen to this point. He had chaired the Drafting Committee and, as the Preface to the 1973 Revised Edition noted, drafted most of the biographical material included there.

In 1977 a new Drafting Committee was put together to revise LFF; Shepherd was not on it. The new chair of the Drafting Committee was Charles Guilbert, the Custodian of the BCP. He became custodian in 1963 and held the position until his death in 1998. Guilbert led the work of revising the collects. Two other members of the Committee led the effort to rewrite the biographical material. Thus, while the 1973 Revised/Second Edition was a revolution in terms of the shape of the Calendar in its giving of full propers to all entries and the increase of Red Letter/Holy Days, the 1980 Third Edition is equally a revolution as the internals come “under new management.” Will we see trends laid down here that enable us to christen a Guilbert Calendar up to the point of HWHM? We’ll find out.

Seen from this angle, the need for a discussion on criteria for inclusion does begin to make a little more sense. If Shepherd had essentially been calling the shots, then things are now about to change…

In terms of practical details, the lessons were overhauled and changed around, and the proper prefaces identified in the 1973 book had to all be changed to meet the new preface system in the proposed prayer book (and there was some more shuffling of categories as read through the propers). Likely the biggest change was in the collects.

This is the book that introduces the biographical collect. The preface puts it this way: “The purpose of the revision of the Collects for the Lesser Feasts was to ensure that each Collect be distinctive of the person commemorated, or of that aspect of the Church’s life to which that person contributed most significantly” (LFF 1980, iv). The prayer texts begin inserting snippets from the saint’s writings or the inclusion of details that are the textual equivalent of Meaningful Eye-Contact. I want to look at the collect issue separately, but I have a suspicion that a lot of what is thought of the content and form (though not necessarily language) of the HWHM collects is directly related to what one thinks of these revisions here.

In brief, the 1973 Revised edition gave us Calendar 2.0; the 1980 Third Edition did hardly anything to the overall shape of the Calendar, but did quite a large amount of work on the internal details making this a very strong case of Calendar 2.1.

4 thoughts on “Tracking Sanctity: Lesser Feasts & Fasts 1980

  1. Ian W


    Could you give an example of how the “biographical collect” in HWHM compares with earlier versions in LFF? I’ve only been exposed to the propers in HWHM and would appreciate a chance to see the changes that the 1980 revision started to make and why so many today find them problematic.

  2. Derek Olsen

    My plan is to get through the “shape” of the Calendar and assemble the stats on the entries (and we’re part of the way there now), then go back and trace the evolution and composition of the collects over the books by taking a some specific test cases and tracking them from origination to the present. I’ll be able to do that once Prayer Book Studies 12 gets here; I’m anticipating its arrival any day now…

  3. MarkP

    “Now that a Calendar is in place, we will go back and begin identifying criteria and thinking up a theology that we can fit to it.”

    Surely this is the way saints calendars have worked from the very beginning — find out who the saints are (who’s venerated, who people are already engaging in their devotional lives), then think about what it is that makes them saints. This is one advantage of the RC way of making saints — the fact that people are praying with/to them is part of the process. LFF tends to seem like a bunch of people who have been judged worthy to be saints, whether they are or not.

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