Thursday, January 21, 2010

461 Years of Biblical Beautiful Worship

What Began in 1549 with an Act Of Parliament Endures Today!

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s words of worship (and Merbecke’s chant settings of those words) will resonate Sunday in Anglican churches that value scripture and tradition — and are reasonable enough to practice “inclusion” regarding conservative Anglicans. “Conservative” in this sense means “conserving and practicing that which is good.”

Cranmer’s Prayer Book was proclaimed the official liturgy of England by Parliament on January 21, 1549. The Act of Uniformity (text here), as the measure was called, addressed “The Book of the Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church after the use of the Church of England.”
Several minor changes have been made over the centuries, but the towering language — great language for great things — and, more important, the core faith expressed by that language, remain the same in the 1928 BCP. This magnificent book is the keystone of our faith today in the Anglican Church as well as other churches that have adopted it or portions of it (normally through the 1662 version in legal at the time of the great missionary movement during the 18 & 19th centuries). Moreover, the classic Prayer Book is treasured as a jewel in the crown of the entire Western Canon by readers and scholars who appreciate the English language.
It wasn’t until 1979 that the first major revisions appeared in the language and, consequently, in the meaning of the religion itself, chiefly in the secular “Baptismal Covenant.” This sociopolitical phrase is regarded by many revisionists, according to their own words, as the most important declaration in the liturgy. Another revision is a slight manipulation of language in the Creeds that denies the divine nature of Christ. If you haven’t noticed this sly edit hidden in plain sight, read it carefully and you’ll see.

No small changes, these, and vexatious to the vast majority of Episcopalians, who will be happy to learn that, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the 1662 & 1928 BCP have been greatly exaggerated by liberal bishops and clergy. Although the 1979 book was adopted by General Convention as the official liturgy — and, as we learned at last summer’s General Convention, is now considered in revisionist circles terribly old-hat – the 1928 BCP is still in use throughout the Church wherever Episcopalians discern the difference. How quickly the 1979 went out of fashion! Yet the classic, scripture-based 1662 & 1928 BCP endures.

If you are clergy, consider observing this pivotal day in Church history by conducting services this Sunday and next from the 1662 or 1928 BCP. You’ll leave church refreshed, renewed, and ready to take on whatever the coming week has in store.

Cranmer Lives
Cranmer Lives.


Anonymous said...

Non-Conformity till I die!

Love the BCP 1662 by the way.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

You will be assimilated. Your theological and liturgical distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.

Father Robert Lyons said...

Fr. Chris,

You really need to get some Borg implants to go with your collar. :)

On a serious note, I think the root of the Prayerbook's problems goes back farther, to the 1928 revision, where a lot of the stuff that came into full-bore effect in 79 found fertile seed to germinate. Sadly, the very same Anglo-Catholics who today often lead the charge against the modernization of the Prayer Book were the ones whose choices in the early 1900's paved the way for the 79 Book.

Our little Synod is working on our final edition of a BCP... we put out an interim one a few months back to be used over the next few years, but much like the 1549 Book, I don't know that it has suited everyone concerned.

Anyway, I think a new Prayerbook needs to be presented to Biblical Anglicans, but I have yet to see anything I'd care to use. I think that adding some Lutheran elements could be of assistance, and I personally wish that the 1552 BCP had went Luther's way as opposed to Zwingli's.

Either way, the BCP is a priceless part of our Liturgical Heritage, and here's hoping that a new, fresh edition - retaining the best of the old - can be prepared for our contemporary day.


Dave Moody said...

Love the BCP. The church we were a part of in seminary, and where I interned in Canada, used the 1961(?) BCP. Fell in love, and was nurtured by it for 3 wonderful yrs. I have it, the 1662 CE version, and the 1928 US version on my desk.

At times I envy you Chris.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

The Canadian book was 1962. It's solid - mostly like the 1928 US book.

Because Presbyterianism is a "Free" Church, you should feel FREE to use the BCP any time you darn well please.

Here's a special treasure: Morning and Evening prayer from the 1928 BCP with an exceptional soprano cantor:

Cradle of Prayer