A Short History of the Book of Common Prayer
by William Reed Huntington
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

But would a Prayer Book thus enriched be accepted by the Church at large? Is there any reason to think that the inertia which inheres in all large bodies, and to a singularly marked degree in our own Communion, could be overcome? The General Convention can give an approximate answer to these questions; it cannot settle them decisively, for it is a body which mirrors only to a certain extent the real mind and temper of the constituencies represented in it. One thing is certain, that only by allowing fullest possible play to the principle of "local option" could any wholly new piece of work on the part of revisionists, however excellent it might be in itself considered, find acceptance. To allow features introduced into the body of an existing service to be accounted optional, would indeed be impossible, without gendering the very wildest confusion. Upon such points the Church would have to decide outright, for or against, and stand by her decisions. But as respects every additional and novel Office proposed, the greatest care ought to be taken to have the indefinite An rather than the definite The prefixed to it. Before such new uses are made binding on all, they must have met and endured the test of thorough trial by some. This is only fair.

But there is a limit, it must be remembered, in the Church's case to the binding power of precedent and prescription. The social order changes, and of these tides that ebb and flow it is our bounden duty to take note. Had mere aversion to change, dogged unwillingness to venture an experiment always carried the day, instead of having the "Prayer Book as it is," we should still be drearily debating the rival merits of Hereford and Sarum. The great question to be settled is, Does an emergency exist serious enough to warrant an attempt on our part to make better what we know already to be good? Is the Republic expecting of us, and reasonably expecting of us, greater things than with our present equipment we are quite able to accomplish? There are eyes that think they see a great future before this Church—are they right, or is it only mirage? At any rate ours is no return trip—we are outward bound. The ship is cutting new and untried waters with her keel at every moment. There is no occasion to question the sufficiency of either compass or helm, but in certain matters of a practical sort there is a demand upon us to use judgment, we are bound to give a place in our seamanship to present common-sense as well as to respect for ancient usage, and along with it all to feel some confidence that if the ship is what we think her to be, "the winds of God" may be trusted to bring her safely into port.



First, last, and always this is to be said with respect to the revision of the American Common Prayer, that unless we can accomplish it with hearty good feeling the attempt at improvement ought to be abandoned altogether.

The day has gone by when new formularies of worship could be imposed on an unwilling Church by edict, and although under our carefully guarded system of ecclesiastical legislation there is little danger of either haste or unfairness, we must bear it well in mind that something more than "a constitutional majority of both houses" is needful if we would see liturgical revision crowned with real success. Of course, absolute unanimity is not to be expected. Every improvement that the world has seen was greeted at its birth by a chorus of select voices sounding the familiar anthem, "The old is better"; and the generation of those, who, in the sturdy phrase of King James's revisers, "give liking unto nothing but what is framed by themselves, and hammered on their anvil," will be always with us. But substantial unanimity may exist, even when absolute unanimity is impossible, and if anything like as general a consent can be secured for revision in 1886 as was given to it in 1883, the friends of the movement will have good reason to be satisfied.

That there has been, since the publication of The Book Annexed as Modified, a certain measure of reaction against the spirit of change must be evident to all who watch carefully the pulse of public opinion in the Church. Whether this reaction be as serious as some imagine, whether it have good reasons to allege, and whether it be not already giving tokens of spent force, are points which in the present paper will be touched only incidentally, for the writer's purpose is rather irenic than polemical, and he is more concerned to remove misapprehensions and allay fears than to seek the fading leaf of a controversial victory.


No estimate of the merits and demerits of The Book Annexed can be a just one that leaves out of account the limitations under which the framers of it did their work. These limitations were not unreasonable ones. It was right and proper that they should be imposed. There is no good ground for a belief that the time will ever come when a "blank cheque," to borrow Mr. Goschen's mercantile figure, will be given to any company of liturgical revisers to fill out as they may see fit. But the moulders of forms, in whatever department of plastic art their specialty lies, when challenged to show cause why their work is deficient in symmetry or completeness, have an undoubted right to plead in reply the character of the conditions under which they labored. The present instance offers no exception to the general rule. In the first place, a distinct pledge was given in the House of Deputies, in 1880, before consent to the appointment of the Joint Committee was secured, that in case such permission to launch a movement in favor of revision as was asked for were to be granted, no attempt would be made seriously to change the Liturgy proper, namely, the Office of the Holy Communion.

The question was distinctly asked by a clerical deputy from the diocese of Maryland,[37] Do you desire to modify the Office of the Holy Communion? and it was as distinctly answered by the mover of the resolution under which the Joint Committee was finally appointed, No, we do not. It is true that such a pledge, made by a single member of one House, could only measurably control the action of a Joint Committee in which both Houses were to be represented; but it is equally plain that the maker of the pledge was in honor bound to do all in his power to secure the observance of its terms.

Let this historical fact be noted by those who are disposed to complain that the Joint Committee did not pull to pieces and entirely rearrange the Anglo-Scoto-American Office, which now for a long time, and until quite recently, we have been taught to esteem the nearest possible approach to liturgical perfection.

Under this same head of "limitations" must be set down the following resolutions passed by the Joint Committee itself, at its first regular meeting:

Resolved, That this Committee asserts, at the outset, its conviction that no alteration should be made touching either statements or standards of doctrine in the Book of Common Prayer.

Resolved, That this Committee, in all its suggestions and acts, be guided by those principles of liturgical construction and ritual use which have guided the compilation and amendments of the Book of Common Prayer, and have made it what it is.

It was manifestly impossible, under resolutions like these, to depart very widely from established precedent, or in any serious measure to disturb the foundations of things.

The first of them shut out wholly the consideration of such questions as the reinstatement of the Athanasian Creed or the proposal to make optional the use of the word "regenerate" in the Baptismal Offices; while the other forbade the introduction of such sentimental and grotesque conceits as "An Office for the Blessing of Candles," "An Office for the Benediction of a Lifeboat," and "An Office for the Reconciliation of a Lapsed Cleric."[38]

Still another very serious limitation, and one especially unfriendly to that perfectness of contour which we naturally look to see in a liturgical formulary, grew out of the tender solicitude of the Committee for what may be called the vested rights of congregations. There was a strong reluctance to the cutting away even of what might seem to be dead wood, lest there should ensue, or be thought to ensue, the loss of something really valuable.

It was only as the result of much painstaking effort, and only at some sacrifice of literary fastidiousness, that the Committee was enabled to report a book of which it could be said that, while it added much of possible enrichment, it took away almost nothing that had been in actual possession.[39] There could be no better illustration of this point than is afforded by certain of the alterations proposed to be made in the Order for Evening Prayer.

The Committee felt assured that upon no point was the judgment of the Church likely to be more unanimous than in approving the restoration to their time-honored home in the Evening Office of Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, and yet so unwilling were they to displace Bonum est confiteri and Benedic anima mea from positions they have only occupied since 1789 that they authorized the unquestionably clumsy expedient of printing three responds to each Lesson.

Probably a large majority of the Committee would have preferred to drop Bonum est confiteri and Benedic anima mea altogether, retaining Cantate Domino and Deus miser eatur as the sole alternates to the two Gospel canticles, as in the English Book, but rather than have a thousand voices cry out, as it was believed they would cry out, "You have robbed us," the device of a second alternate was adopted, to the sad defacement of the printed page. In may be charged that, in thus choosing, the Committee betrayed timidity, and that a wise boldness would have been the better course; but if account be taken of the attitude consistently maintained by General Convention towards any proposition for the change of so much as a comma in the Prayer Book, during a period of fifty years prior to the introduction of The Book Annexed, it will perhaps be concluded that for the characterization of the Committee's policy timidity is scarcely so proper a word as caution.


(a) Foreign.

As there is reason to believe that opinion at home has been very considerably affected by foreign criticism of The Book Annexed, it will be well at this point to give some attention to what has been said in English journals in review of the work thus far accomplished. The more noteworthy of the foreign criticisms are those contained in The Church Quarterly Review, The Church Times, and The Guardian.[40]

The Church Quarterly reviewer opens with an expression of deep regret at "the failure to take advantage of the opportunity for reinstating the Athanasian Creed." As already observed, no such opportunity existed. By formal vote the Joint Committee debarred itself from any proceeding of this sort, and the Convention, which sat in judgment on its work, was manifestly of opinion that in so acting the Committee had rightly interpreted its charter.

The reviewer, who is in full sympathy with the movement for enrichment as such, goes on to recommend, as a more excellent way than that followed in The Book Annexed, the compilation of

An Appendix to the Book of Common Prayer to contain the much needed Additional Services for both Sunday and other use in churches, in mission chapels, and in religious communities, as well as a full supply of Occasional Prayers and Thanksgivings for objects and purposes, missionary and otherwise, which are as yet entirely unrepresented in our Offices.

There are obvious reasons why this device should commend itself to an English Churchman, for it is unlikely that anything better than this, or, indeed, anything one half so satisfactory, could be secured by Act of Parliament.

For something very much better than this, however, a self-governed Church, like our own, has a right to look, and, in all probability, will continue to look until the thing is found. An Appendix to a manual of worship, whether the manual be Prayer Book or Hymnal,[41] is and cannot but be, from the very nature of things, a blemish to the eye, an embarrassment to the hand, and a vexation to the spirit. Such addenda carry on their face the suggestion that they are makeshifts, postscripts, after-thoughts; and in their lack of dignity, as well as of convenience, pronounce their own condemnation.

Moreover, in our particular case, no "Appendix," "Prymer," or "Authorized Vade-mecum" could accomplish the ends that are most of all desired. Fancy putting the Magnificat, the Nunc dimittis, the Versicles that follow the Creed, and the "Lighten our darkness" into an "Appendix." It would be the defeat of our main object.

Then, too, this is to be remembered, that in order to secure a "fully authorized Appendix," we, in this country, should be obliged to follow precisely the same legal process we follow in altering the Prayer Book. If an Occasional Office cannot pass the ordeal of the criticism of two successive Conventions, it ought not to be set forth at all; if it can and does stand that test, then it ought to be inserted in the Prayer Book in the particular place where it most appropriately belongs and may most readily be found.

Moreover, it should be remembered that one, and by no means the least efficient, of the causes that brought the Common Prayer into existence in the sixteenth century was disgust at the multiplication of service-books. We American Churchmen have two already; let us beware of adding a third.

The critic of The Quarterly was probably unacquainted with the fact that in the American Episcopal Church the experimental setting forth of Offices "for optional and discretional use" is not possible under the terms of the Constitution. We either must adopt outright and for permanent use, or else peremptorily reject whatever is urged upon us in the name of liturgical improvement.

Entering next upon a detailed criticism of the contents of The Book Annexed the writer proceeds to offer a number of suggestions, some of them of great value. He pleads earnestly and with real force for the restoration of the Lord's Prayer to its "place of honor" between the Creed and the Preces, showing, in a passage of singular beauty, how the whole daily office "may be said to have grown out of, or radiated from, or been crystallized round the central Pater noster" even as "from the Words of Institution has grown the Christian Liturgy."

The critic has only praise for the amendments in the Office for Thanksgiving Day; approves the selection of Proper Sentences for the opening of Morning and Evening Prayer; avers, certainly with truth, that the Office of the Beatitudes might be improved; welcomes "the very full repertory of special prayers"; thinks that the Short Office of Prayer for Sundry Occasions "certainly supplies a want"; rejoices in the recognition of the Feast of the Transfiguration; and closes what is by far the most considerable, and, both as respects praise and blame, the most valuable of all the reviews that have been made of The Book Annexed whether at home or abroad, with these words:

On the whole, we very heartily congratulate our Transatlantic brothers on the labors of their Joint Committee. We hope their recommendations may be adopted, and more in the same direction; and that the two or three serious blemishes which we have felt constrained to point out and to lament may be removed from the book in the form finally adopted.

And further, we very earnestly trust that this work, which has been very evidently so carefully and conscientiously done, may speedily, by way of example and precedent, bear fruit in a like process of enrichment among ourselves.

Commending these last words to the consideration of those who take alarm at the suggestion of touching the Prayer Book lest we may hurt the susceptibilities of our "kin beyond sea," and unduly anticipate that "joint action of both Churches," which, at least until disestablishment comes, must always remain a sheer impossibility, we pass to a consideration of the six articles contributed to the Church Times in July and August last, under the title, The Revised American Prayer Book. Here we come upon a writer who, if not always edifying, has the undoubted merit of being never dull. In fact, so deliciously are logical inconsequence and accidental humor mingled throughout his fifteen columns of discursive criticism that a suspicion arises as to the writer's nationality. It is doubtful whether anyone born on the English side of the Irish Sea could possibly have suggested the establishment of a Saint's Day in honor of the late respected Warden of Racine College, or seriously have proposed that Messrs. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Russell Lowell, Henry James, and W. D. Howells be appointed a jury of "literary arbitrament" to sit in judgment on the liturgical language of The Book Annexed; and this out of respect to our proper national pride. Doubtless it would add perceptibly to the amused sense of the unfitness of things with which these eminent liberals must have seen themselves thus named, if permission could be given to the jury, when empanelled, to "co-opt" into its number Mr. Samuel Clemens and Mr. Dudley Warner.[42]

The general tenor of the writer in The Church Times may fairly be inferred from the following extract from the first article of the series:

The judgment that must be pronounced on the work as a whole is precisely that which has been passed on the Revised New Testament, that there are doubtless some few changes for the better, so obvious and so demanded beforehand by all educated opinion that to have neglected them would at once have stamped the revisers as blockheads and dunces; but that the set-off in the way of petty and meddlesome changes for the worse, neglect of really desirable improvements, bad English, failure in the very matter of pure scholarship just where it was least to be expected, and general departure from the terms of the Commission assigned to them (notably by their introduction of confusion instead of flexibility into the services, so that the congregation can seldom know what is going to happen) has so entirely outweighed the merits of the work that it cannot possibly be adopted by the Church, and must be dismissed as a dismal fiasco, to be dealt with anew in some more adequate fashion.

This paragraph is not reproduced for the purpose of discrediting the writer of it as a judge of English prose, for there are various passages in the course of the six articles that would more readily lend themselves to such a use. The object in quoting it is simply to put the reader into possession, in a compact form, of the most angry, even if not the most formidable, of the various indictments yet brought against The Book Annexed.

Moreover, the last words of the extract supply a good text for certain didactic remarks that ought to be made, with respect to what is possible and what is not possible in the line of liturgical revision in America.

Worthless as the result of the Joint Committee's labors has turned out to be, their motive, we are assured, was a good one. The critic's contention is not that the work they undertook is a work that ought not to be done, but rather that when done it should be better done. The revision as presented must be "dismissed as a dismal fiasco," but only dismissed "in order to be dealt with anew in some more adequate fashion." But on what ground can we rest this sanguine expectation of better things to come? Whence is to originate and how is to be appointed the commission of "experts" which is to give us at last the "Ideal Liturgy"?

Cardinal Newman in one of his lesser controversial tracts remarks:

If the English people lodge power in the many, not in the few, what wonder that its operation is roundabout, clumsy, slow, intermittent, and disappointing? You cannot eat your cake and have it; you cannot be at once a self-governing nation and have a strong government.[43]

Similarly it may be said that, however great the difficulties that beset liturgical revision by legislative process at the hands of some five hundred men, nevertheless the fact remains that the body known in law as The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America has provided in its Constitution that change in its formularies shall be so effected and not otherwise. It may turn out that we must give up in despair the whole movement for a better adaptation of our manual of worship to the needs of our land and of our time; it may be found that the obstacles in the way are absolutely insuperable; but let us dream no dreams of seeing this thing handed over, "with power," to a "commission of experts," for that is something which will never come to pass.

Whether "experts" in liturgies are any more likely to furnish us with good prayers than "experts" in prosody are likely to give us the best poetry is a tempting question, but one that must be left, for the present, on one side. Perhaps, if the inquiry were to be pushed, we might find ourselves shut up to the curious conclusion that the framers of the very earliest liturgies, the authors of the old sacramentaries, were either verbally inspired or else were lacking in the qualifications which alone could fit them to do worthily the work they worthily did, for clearly "experts" they were not.

But the question that immediately concerns us is one of simple fact. Assuming the present laborious effort at betterment to have been proved a "fiasco," how is the General Convention to set in motion any more promising enginery of revision? "Summon in," say our English advisers, "competent scholars, and give them carte blanche to do what they will." But the Convention, which is by law the final arbiter, has no power to invite to a share in its councils men who have no constitutional right to a seat upon its floor. How thankfully should we welcome as participants in our debates and as allies in our legislation the eminent liturgical scholars who give lustre to the clergy list of the Church of England; but we are as powerless to make them members of the General Convention as we should be to force them into the House of Commons. The same holds true at home. If the several dioceses fail to discover their own "inglorious Miltons," and will not send them up to General Convention, General Convention may, and doubtless does, lament the blindness of the constituencies, but it cannot correct their blunder. The dioceses in which the "experts" canonically reside had had full warning that important liturgical interests were to be discussed and acted upon in the General Convention of 1883; why were the "experts" left at home? And if they were not returned in 1883, is there sufficient reason to believe that they will ever be returned in any coming year of grace? It must be either that the American Church is bereft of "experts," or else that the constituencies, influenced possibly by the hard sense of the laity, have learned hopelessly to confound the "expert" with the doctrinaire.

Of "expert testimony," in the shape of the liturgical material gathered, mainly by English writers, during the last fifty years, the Joint Committee had no lack. That this material was carefully sifted and conscientiously used, The Book Annexed will itself one day be acknowledged to be the sufficient evidence.

There is still another point that must be taken into account in this connection, to wit, the attitude which the Episcopate has a right to take with respect to any proposed work of liturgical revision. Bishops have probably become inured to the hard measure habitually dealt out to them in the columns of the Church Times, and are unlikely to allow charges of ignorance and incompetency so far to disturb their composure as to make them afraid to prosecute a work which, from time immemorial, has been held to lie peculiarly within their province. It may be affirmed, with some confidence, that no revision of the American Offices will ever be ratified, in the conduct of which the Bishops of the Church have not been allowed the leadership which belongs to them of right. Then it is for the General Convention carefully to consider whether any House of Bishops destined to be convened in our time is likely to have on its roll the names of any prelates more competent, whether on the score of learning or of practical experience, to deal with a work of liturgical revision than were the seven prelates elected by the free voice of their brethren to represent the Episcopal Order on the Joint Committee of Twenty-one.

Coming to details the reviewer of the Church Times regrets, first of all, the failure of the Convention to change the name of the Church. He goes on to express a disapproval, more or less qualified, of the discretionary power given to bishops to set forth forms of prayer for special occasions, and of the continued permission to use Selections of Psalms instead of the psalms for the day. It is not quite clear whether he approves the expansion of the Table of Proper Psalms or not, though he thinks it "abstractedly desirable" that provision be made in this connection for "Corpus Christi and All Souls."

He condemns the latitude allowed in the choice of lessons under the rules of the new lectionary, fearing that a clergyman who happens to dislike any given chapter because of its contents may be tempted habitually to suppress it by substituting another, but in the very next paragraph he gravely questions the expediency of limiting congregations to such hymns as have been "duly set forth and allowed by authority." Yet most observers, at least on this side of the water, are of opinion that liberty of choice within the limits of the Bible is a far safer freedom, so far as the breeding of heresy goes, than liberty of choice beyond the limits of the Hymnal has proved itself to be. The reviewer is pleased with the addition of the Feast of the Transfiguration to the Calendar, but "desiderates more," and would gladly welcome the introduction into the Prayer Book of commemorations of eminent saints, from Ignatius down,[44] but of this, mention has already been made, and it is unnecessary to revert to it.

There follows next a protest against the selection of proper Sentences prefixed to Morning and Evening Prayer.

The revisers seem to have a glimmering of what was the right thing to do . . . but they should have swept away the undevotional and unliturgical plan of beginning with certain detached texts, which has no fitness whatever, and has never even seemed to answer any useful end.

This is stronger language than most of us are likely to approve. A Church that directly takes issue with Rome, as ours does, with respect to the true source of authority in religion has an excellent reason for letting the voice of Holy Scripture sound the key-note of her daily worship, whether there be ancient precedent for such a use or not. At the same time, the reviewer's averment that "the only proper opening is the Invocation of the Holy Trinity" is entitled to attention; and it is worth considering whether the latter portion of the nineteenth verse of the twenty-eighth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel might not be advantageously added to the list of opening Sentences, for optional use.

In speaking of the new alternate to the Declaration of Absolution, the reviewer suggests most happily that it would be well to revive the form of mutual confession of priest and people found in the old service-books.[45] This proposal would probably not be entertained in connection with the regular Orders for Morning and Evening Prayer, but room for such a feature might perhaps be found in some optional office.

After a grudging commendation of the steps taken in The Book Annexed to restore the Gospel Canticles, the reviewer next puts in a strong plea for a larger allowance of versicles and responses after the Creed, contending that this is "just one of the places where enrichment, much beyond that of replacing the English versicles and responses now missing, is feasible and easy," to which the answer is that we, who love these missing versicles, shall think ourselves fortunate if we succeed in regaining only so much as we have lost. Even this will be accomplished with difficulty. It is most interesting, however, to notice that this stout defender of all that is English acknowledges the coupling together of the versicle, "Give peace in our time, O Lord," and the response, "Because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only thou, O God," to be "a very infelicitous non-sequitur." For correcting this palpable incongruity, the authors of The Book Annexed have been sharply criticised here at home. What were they that they should have presumed to disturb ancient Anglican precedent in such a point? If we could not understand why the God of battles, as the God of battles, should be implored to "give peace in our time," so much the worse for our intelligence. But here comes the most acrid of all our critics, and shows how the collocation of sentences in the English Book has, from the beginning, been due to a palpable blunder in condensing an office of the Sarum Breviary. Of the American substitute for this "unhappy response" the best he can say, however, is that it is "well intentioned."

Of the "Office of the Beatitudes" the reviewer declares that it "needs thorough recasting before it can stand," and in this we agree with him, as will hereafter appear, though wholly unable to concur in his sweeping condemnation, in this connection, of one of the most beautiful of Canon Bright's liturgical compositions, the Collect beginning, "O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment and light riseth up in darkness for the godly." Of this exquisite piece of idiomatic English, the reviewer allows himself to speak as being "a very poor composition, defective in rhythm."

The criticism of the eucharistic portions of The Book Annexed is mainly in the line of complaint that more has not been added in the way of new collects and proper prefaces, but upon this point it is unnecessary to dwell, the reasons having been already given why the Joint Committee and the Convention left the liturgy proper almost untouched. Neither is there anything that specially calls for notice or serious reply in what is said about the Occasional Offices.

The Office for the Burial of Children is acknowledged to be a needed addition, but as it stands "is pitched in an entirely wrong key. The cognate offices in the Rituale Romanun and the Priest's Prayer Book ought to have shown the Committee, were it not for their peculiar unteachableness, a better way." To one who can read between the lines, this arraignment of the Americans for their lack of docility to the teachings of the Priest's Prayer Book is not devoid of drollery.

It will happily illustrate the peculiar difficulties that beset liturgical revision to close this resume of the censures of The Church Times by printing, side by side, the reviewer's estimate of the changes proposed in the Confirmation Office and the independent judgment of a learned evangelical divine of our own Church upon the same point.

The Confirmation Service, as one of the very poorest in the Anglican rites, stood particularly in need of amendment and enrichment, especially by the removal of the ambiguous word "confirm" applied to the acts of the candidates, whereby the erroneous opinion that they came merely to confirm and ratify their baptismal promises, and not to be confirmed and strengthened in virtue of something bestowed upon them, has gained currency.

Thus far the English Ritualist. Here follows the American Evangelical:

I still hope you will see your way clear to modify the present draft of the proposed Confirmation Office, as it gives a much higher Sacramentarian idea of it than the present, a concession which will greatly please the Sacerdotalists, to which they are by no means entitled.

The critic of The Guardian is a writer of different make, and entitled every way to the most respectful attention. His fault-finding, which is invariably courteous, is mainly confined to the deficiencies of The Book Annexed.

He would have had more done rather than less; but at the same time clearly points out that under the restrictions which controlled the Committee more could not fairly have been expected. He regrets that in restoring the lost portions of Venite and Benedictus the Convention did not make the use of the complete form in every case obligatory; and of the eight concluding verses of the latter canticle, which under the rubric of The Book Annexed are only obligatory during Advent, he says, "Imagine their omission on Christmas Day!"

To this criticism there are several answers, any one of which may be held to be sufficient. In the first place, it should be remembered that into the Committee's plan of enrichment there entered the element of differentiation. The closing portion of the Venite has a special appropriateness to Lent; the closing portion of the Benedictus a special appropriateness to Advent. Moreover, if any congregations desire the whole of these two canticles throughout the year, there is nothing in the rubrics of The Book Annexed to forbid such an enjoyment of them. They may be sung in full always; but only in Lent in the one case, and in Advent in the other, mast they be so sung. The revision Committee was informed, on what was considered the highest authority, that in the Church of England the Benedictus, on account of its length, had been very generally disused. But, however this may be, there can be little doubt that the effort after restoration would have failed completely in the late Convention had the use of these two canticles in full been insisted upon by the promoters of revision.

There is less of verbal criticism in The Guardian's review than could have been wished, for any suggestions with respect to inaccuracies of style or rhythmical shortcomings would have been most welcome from the pen of so competent a censor. Attention is called to the unmusical flow of language in the alternate Confession provided for the Evening Office; the figurative features of the proposed Collect for Maundy-Thursday are characterized as infelicitous; and the Collect provided for the Feast of the Transfiguration is declared to be inferior to the corresponding one in the Sarum Breviary.

Of this sort of criticism, at the hands of men who know their craft, The Book Annexed cannot have too much. In fact, of such immeasurable importance is good English in this connection, that it would be no hardship were every separate clause of whatever formulary it may be proposed to engraft upon the Prayer Book to be subjected to the most searching tests.

Let an epoch be agreed upon, if necessary, that shall serve as the criterion of admissibility for words and phrases. Let it be decided, for instance, that no word that cannot prove an Elizabethan parentage, or, if this be too severe a standard, then no word of post-Caroline origin, shall be admitted within the sacred precincts. Probably there are words in The Book Annexed which such a canon would eject; but let us have them pointed out, and their merits and demerits discussed. Such criticism would be of infinitely more value to the real interests of revision than those vague and general charges of "crudeness" and "want of finish" which it is always so easy to make and sometimes so difficult to illustrate.

The writer in The Guardian closes an only too brief commentary upon what the Convention has laid before the Church with the following words:

Many of the proposals now in question are excellent; but others will be improved by reconsideration in the light of fuller ritual study, such as will be seen to produce a more exact and cultured ritual aesthesis, perhaps we may, without offence, add, a more delicate appreciation of rhythm. What The Book Annexed presents to us in the way of emendation is, on the whole, good; but, if subjected to a deliberate recension, it would, we predict, become still better. If thus improved by the Convention of 1886, it might be finally adopted by the Convention of 1889.

This conspectus of English critical opinion would be incomplete were no account to be made of the utterances of the various writers and speakers who dealt with the general subject of liturgical revision at the recent Church Congress at Portsmouth.

The Book Annexed could scarcely ask a more complete justification than is supplied by these testimonies of men who at least may be supposed to be acquainted with the needs of the Church of England.

The following catena, made up from three of the four Papers[46] read upon the Prayer Book, gives a fair notion of the general tone of the discussion. It will be worth anyone's while to collate it with the thirty Resolutions that make up the "Notification to the Dioceses."

Can it be seriously doubted that there are requirements of this age which are not satisfied by the provision for public worship made in the sixteenth century? Can any really suppose that the compilers of that brief manual, the Prayer Book, however proud we may rightly be of their work, were so gifted with inspired foresight as to save the Church of future ages the responsibilities of considering and supplying the devotional wants of successive generations?

Who has not felt the scantiness of holy association in our Sunday and week-day worship? . . . Much, I know, has been supplied by our hymnology, which has progressed nobly in proportion as the meagreness of our liturgical provision has been realized. But beyond hymns we need actual forms of service, which shall strike the ear and touch the heart by fresh and vivid adaptations of God's Word to the great mysteries of the Gospel faith . . . After-services on Sunday evenings have of late grown common; for them we need also the aid of regular and elastic forms.

Most deplorably have we felt the need of intercessory services for Home and Foreign Missions; and, though there are beautiful metrical litanies which bear directly on these and other objects, yet these are not sufficient, and of course are limited to times when a good and strong choir can be secured; . . . and further we want very simple forms of prayer to accompany addresses given in homes and mission rooms.[47]

I declare it as my conviction, after many years of (I hope) a not indolent ministry, and of many opportunities of observation and experiment, that the Church stands in pressing and immediate need of a few rearrangements and adaptations of some of her Offices; also of an enormous number of supplementary Offices or services—some for frequent use, others for occasional purposes within the consecrated buildings; and that besides these there is need of a supply of special Offices for the use of a recognized lay agency outside of the church edifices.

Why limit our introductory sentences to seven deprecatory texts? . . . Why can we not introduce the anthem used on Easter-day, instead of the Venite, throughout the Octave; or at least on Easter Monday and Tuesday? Would not spiritual life be deepened and intensified, and, best of all, be strengthened, by the use in the same manner of a suitable anthem instead of the Venite on Advent Sundays, on Christmas-day, at Epiphany, on Ash-Wednesday, on Good Friday, during Rogation days, at Ascension-tide, and on harvest festivals and the special annual Church festival of the year?

I submit that an enrichment of the Book of Common Prayer is also required. For although, as already suggested, this may be provided to some extent by a Collect for occasional use before the final prayer of Morning Prayer or Evensong, the needs of the Church will not be fully supplied without some complete additional offices. Certainly an additional service for Sunday afternoon and evening . . . The times are very solemn, and we must wait no longer . . . We have talked for nearly twenty-five years—not vainly, I believe—but let us "go and do" not a little in the next five years . . . Prove yourself to be of the Church of God by doing all the work of the Church, and in the proper way. Proclaim before our God by your actions and your activities, and by providing all that is needed, not only for Churchmen, but for earnest Christians who are not Churchmen, and for the poor, weary sinners who are living as if there were neither Church nor Saviour, such services for the one, and such means for drawing the others to Christ, that they all may become one in him. And for all this you must have (as I think):

1. Possibly a small rearrangement of existing services.

2. Variety and additions in some of these services.

3. Enrichment by many services supplementary.

4. Services for use by laymen.

I wish to alarm none, but I wish we were all astir, for there is no time to wait.[48]

I should like to suggest, if it seems desirable, as it does to me, to make any further variation from the original arrangement of Morning Prayer, that on such days as Easter-day, Whitsunday, and Ascension-day we should begin in a little different fashion than we do now.

Is it always needful to begin on such great days of rejoicing for Christians with the same sentences and the same Exhortation and Confession, and have to wait, so to speak, to give vent to our feelings till we reach the special psalms for the day? Might we not on such days accept the glorious facts, and begin with some special and appropriate psalm or anthem? . . . Thus we should at once get the great doctrine of the day, and be let to rejoice in it at the very outset, and then go on to the Lord's Prayer and the rest as we have it now. Confession of sin and absolution are not left out in the services of the day, as, of course, they occur in the Holy Communion; but leaving them out in the ordinary services, and beginning in the way suggested, would at one and the same time mark the day more clearly, and give opportunity for Christian gladness to show itself . . . Only one other alteration would, I think, be needed, namely, that a good selection of psalms be made, and used, as in the American Church, at the discretion of the minister. I think all must feel that for one reason or another all the psalms are not adapted for the ordinary worship of a mixed congregation; and this plan would ease the minds of many clergy and laity. Also copying the American Church, it would be well to omit the Litany on Christmas-day, Easter-day, and Whitsunday.[49]

In the light of this summary of Anglican desiderata, compiled by wholly friendly hands, it is plain that whatever we may do in this country in the line of liturgical revision, always supposing it to be gravely and carefully done, instead of harming, ought marvellously to help the real interests of the Church of England. Certain principles of polity adopted in our own Church a century ago, and notably among them those affecting the legislative rights of the laity in matters ecclesiastical, are beginning to find tardy recognition in the England of the present. Possibly a hundred years hence, or sooner, a like change of mind may bring English Churchmen to the approval of liturgical methods which, even if not wholly consonant to the temper of the Act of Uniformity, have nevertheless been found useful and effective in the work of bringing the truth and the power of God to bear upon the common life of a great nation. The Church of England is to-day moving on toward changes and chances of which she sees enough already to alarm and not yet enough to reassure her. The dimness of uncertainty covers what may yet turn out to be the Mount of her Transfiguration, and she fears as she enters into the cloud. How shall we best and most wisely show our sympathy? By passing resolutions of condolence? By childish commiseration, the utterance of feigned lips, upon the approaching sorrows of disestablishment? Not thus at all, but rather by a courageous and well-considered pioneering work, which shall have it for its purpose to feel the ground and blaze the path which presently she and we may find ourselves treading in company. Tied as she is, for her an undertaking of this sort is impossible. We can show her no greater kindness than by entering upon it of our own motion and alone.

(b) American.

Criticism at home has been abundant; much of it intelligent and helpful, and by no means so much of it as might have been expected captious. Of what may be called official reviews there have been three, one from the Diocese of Central New York, one from the Diocese of Wisconsin, and one from the Diocese of Easton. The subject has also been dealt with in carefully prepared essays published from time to time in The Church Review and The Church Eclectic, while in the case of the weekly journals the treatment of the topic has been so frequent and so full that a mere catalogue of the editorial articles and contributed communications in Which, during the two years last past, liturgical revision has been discussed would overtax the limits of the present paper.

The only practicable means of dealing with this mass of criticism is to adopt the inductive method, and to seek to draw out from the utterances of these many voices the four or five distinct concepts that severally lie behind them.

In limine however, let this be said, that the broadest generalization of all is one to which the very discordance of the critics bears the best possible witness. Of a scheme of re vision against which is pressed, in Virginia,[50] the charge of Mariolatry; in Ohio,[51] the charge of Latitudinarianism; and in Wisconsin[52] the charge of Puritanic pravity, this much may at least be said, that it possesses the note of fairness. From henceforth suggestions of partisan bias are clearly out of order.

The Anglo-Catholic censures of The Book Annexed are substantially summed up in the assertion that due regard is not had, in the changes proposed, to the structural principles of liturgical science. In the exceedingly well written, if somewhat one-sided document, already referred to as the Wisconsin Report, this is, throughout, the burden of the complaint. The accomplished author of the Report, than whom no one of the critics at home or abroad has shown a keener or a better cultivated liturgical instinct, is afraid that a free use of all the liberties permitted by the new rubrics of the daily offices would so revolutionize Morning and Evening Prayer as practically to obliterate the line of their descent from the old monastic forms. If there were valid ground for such an expectation the alarm might be justifiable; but is there? The practical effect of the rubrics that make for abbreviation will be to give us back, on weekdays almost exactly, and with measurable precision on Sundays also, the Matins and Evensong of the First Book of Edward VI. Surely this is not the destruction of continuity with the pre-Reformation Church.

In his dislike of the provision for grafting the Beatitudes upon the Evening Prayer, the author of the Wisconsin Report will have many sympathizers, the present writer among them; but in his fear that in the introduction of the Proem to the Song of the Three Children, as a possible respond to the First Lesson,[53] there lurks a covert design to dethrone the Te Deum, he is likely to find few to agree with him.

But after all, may not this scrupulous regard for the precedents set us in the old service-books be carried too far? It is wholesome, but there is a limit to the wholesomeness of it. We remember who it was that made war for the sake of "a scientific frontier." Some of the scientific frontiers in the region of liturgies are as illusory as his was. For example, The Book Annexed may be "unscientific" in drawing as largely as it does on the language of the Apocalypse for versicles and responses. There has certainly been a departure from Anglican precedent in this regard. And yet it would scarcely seem that we could go far astray in borrowing from the liturgy of heaven, whether there be earthly precedent or not.

Cranmer and his associates made a far bolder break with the old office-books than The Book Annexed makes with the Standard Common Prayer. The statement of the Wisconsin Report, that "The Reformers of the English Church did not venture to write new Offices of Prayer," must be taken with qualifications. They did not make offices absolutely de novo, but they did condense and combine old offices in a manner that practically made a new thing of them. They took the monastic services and courageously remoulded them into a form suitable for the new era in which monasteries were to exist no longer.

Happily they were so thorough in their work that comparatively little change is called for in adapting what they fitted to the needs of the sixteenth century to the more varied requirements of the nineteenth. Still, when they are quoted as conservatives, and we are referred for evidence of their dislike of change to that particular paragraph of the Preface to the English Prayer Book entitled, Concerning the Service of the Church[54] it is worth our while to follow up the reference and see what is actually there said. The Wisconsin Committee use very soft words in speaking of the mediaeval perversions and corruptions of Divine Service. "It was in the monasteries chiefly," they tell us, "that these services received the embellishments and wonderful variety which we find in the later centuries." But the following is the cruel manner in which, in the English Preface cited as authority, the "embellishments" and "wonderful variety" are characterized:

But these many years past, this godly and ancient order of the ancient fathers hath been so altered, broken, and neglected, by planting in uncertain stories and legends, with multitudes of responds, verses, vain repetitions, commemorations, and synodals, that commonly when any book of the Bible was begun, after three or four chapters were read out, all the rest were unread.

. . . And furthermore, notwithstanding that the ancient fathers have divided the Psalms into seven portions, whereof every one was called a Nocturn, now of late time a few of them have been daily said and the rest utterly omitted . . . So that here you have an Order for Prayer and for the Reading of the Holy Scripture much agreeable to the mind and purposes of the old fathers, and a great deal more profitable and commodious than that which of late was used.

This is conservatism in the very best sense, for the object aimed at is plainly the conservation of purity, simplicity, and truth, but surely it is not the conservatism of men with whom inaction is the only wisdom and immobility the sole beatitude.

We change our sky completely in passing from Anglo-Catholic to Broad Church criticism of The Book Annexed. This last has, in the main, addressed itself to the rubrical features of the proposed revision. "You promised us 'flexibility,'" the accusation runs, "but what you are really giving us is simply rigidity under a new form. Let things stay as they are, and we will undertake to find all the 'flexibility' we care to have, without help from legislation."

This criticism has at least the merit of intelligibility, for it directly antagonizes what was, without doubt, one main purpose with the revisers, namely, that of reviving respect for the rubrics by making compliance with their terms a more practicable thing.

Evidently what Broad Churchmen, or at least a section of them, would prefer is the prevalence of a general consent under which it shall be taken for granted that rubrics are not literally binding on the minister, but are to be stretched and adapted, at the discretion of the officiant, as the exigencies of times and seasons may suggest. It is urged that such a common understanding already in great measure exists; and that to enact new rubrics now, or to remodel old ones, would look like an attempt to revivify a principle of compliance which we have tacitly agreed to consider dead.

The answer to this argument is not far to seek. If the Church means to allow the Common Prayer, which hitherto has been regarded as a liturgy, to lapse into the status of a directory; if, in other words, she is content to see her manual of worship altered from a book of instructions as to how Divine Service shall be performed into a book of suggestions as to how it may be rendered, the change ought to be officially and definitely announced, and not left to individual inference or uncertain conjecture. We are rapidly slipping into a position scarcely consistent with either the dignity or the honor of a great Church—that of seeming to be what we are not. To give it out to the public that we are a law-respecting communion, and then to whisper it about among ourselves that our laws bind only those who choose to be bound by them, may serve as a convenient device for tiding over a present difficulty, but is, oh the whole, a course of procedure more likely to harden than to relieve tender consciences.

Take, by way of illustration, the case of a city clergyman who would gladly introduce into his parish the usage of daily service, but who is convinced, whether rightly or wrongly, that to secure even a fair attendance of worshippers he ought to have the liberty of so far condensing the Morning or the Evening Office as to bring it within the limits of a quarter of an hour. He seeks relief through the lawful channel of rubrical revision, and is only laughed at for his pains. In this busy nineteenth century it is nonsense, he is assured, to spend a dozen years in besieging so obdurate a fortress as the General Convention. The way to secure "shortened services" is to shorten services. This is easy logic, and applicable in more directions than one. Only see how smoothly it runs: If you want hymns that are not in the Hymnal, print them. If you want a confessional-box, set it up. If you want a "reserved sacrament," order the carpenter to make a tabernacle and the locksmith to provide a bolt.[55] This is a far less troublesome method of securing the ends desired than the tedious and roundabout process of proposing a change at one meeting of the General Convention, having your proposal knocked about among some forty or fifty dioceses, and brought up for final action three years later.

And yet, superior as the former method may be to the latter in point of celerity and directness, the latter has certain advantages over the former that ought to be evident to men who are not frightened by having their scrupulousness called scrupulosity.

Moreover, why should this whole matter be discussed, as so commonly it is discussed, wholly from the clerical side? Have the laity no rights in the liturgy which the clergy are bound to respect? When and where did the Protestant Episcopal Church confer on its ministers a general dispensing power over the ordinances of worship which it withheld from the body of the faithful?

Heretofore it has been held that when a layman went to church he had a right to expect certain things guaranteed him by the Church's law. If all this has been changed, then formal notice ought to be served upon us by the General Convention that such is the fact.


It is asked, and with no little show of plausibility, Why—in the face of such manifold hostility and such persistent opposition, why press the movement for revision any further? Is it worth while to divide public sentiment in the Church upon a question that looks to many to be scarcely more than a literary one? Why not drop the whole thing, and let it fall into the limbo, where lie already the Proposed Book and the Memorial Papers? For this reason, and it is sufficient: There has arisen in America a movement toward Christian unity, the like of which has not been seen since the country was settled. It is the confident belief of many that the key to the situation lies with that Church which more truly than any other may be said to represent the historical Christianity of the peoples of English stock. One of the elements in this larger movement is the question of the form of worship. The chief significance of The Book Annexed lies in the claim made for it by its friends, that more adequately than the present Standard it supplies what may fairly be demanded as their manual of worship by a people circumstanced like ours. While, in one sense, more English than the present book in that it restores liturgical treasures lost at the Revolution, it is also more thoroughly American, in that it recognizes and allows for many needs which the newly enfranchised colonists of 1789 could not have been expected to foresee.

The question is, Shall we turn a cold shoulder on the movement churchward of our non-Anglican brethren of the reformed faith, doing our best to chill their approaches with a hard Non possumus, or shall we go out to meet them with words of welcome on our lips? Union under "the Latin obedience" is impossible. For us, in the face of the decrees of 1870, there can be "no peace with Rome." The Greeks are a good way off. Our true "solidarity," if "solidarity" is to be achieved at all, is not with Celts, but with our own kith and kin, the children of the Reformation. Is it wise of us to say to these fellow Christians of ours, adherents of the Catholic Faith as well as we, "Nay, but the nearer you draw to us the farther we mean to draw away from you; the more closely you approximate to Anglican religion, the more closely shall we, for the sake of differencing ourselves from you, approximate to Vatican religion?"

In better harmony with the apostolic temper, in truer continuity with the early churchmanship, should we be found, were we to join voices thus:

V. Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.

R. And he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.


The Book Annexed may be said to hold to the possible standard Common Prayer of 1890 a relation not unlike that of a clay model to the statue which is to be. The material is still in condition to be moulded; the end is not yet. It was in anticipation of this state of things that the friends of revision in 1883 were anxious to carry through the preliminary stage of acceptance as many of their propositions as possible. To revert to our parable, the modeller, in treating the face of his provisional image, must be careful to lay on clay enough, or he may find himself barred at the last moment from giving the features just that finishing touch which is to make them ready for the marble. All the skill in the world will not enable him to secure for the face precisely the expression he would have it wear, if the materia be insufficient. Looked at in this light, the suggestion made by the Joint Committee in the House of Deputies at an early stage of the session of 1883, that the entire Book Annexed, in precisely the form in which it had been submitted, should be passed, and sent down to the dioceses for consideration, instead of being the arbitrary and unreasonable demand it was reckoned by those who lifted their eyebrows at the very mention of such a thing, was really a sensible proposition which the Convention would have done well to heed.

Few, if any, critics of The Book Annexed as Modified have pronounced it an improvement to The Book Annexed as presented. The Book came out of the Convention less admirable than it went in. As a school of Liturgies, the long debate at Philadelphia was doubtless salutary and helpful, but whether the immediate results, as shown in the emendation of the Joint Committee's work, were equally deserving of praise is another question.

Nevertheless, as was argued in the paper of which this one is the continuation, we must take things as we find them, not as we wish they were; and since there is no other method of liturgical revision known to our laws than revision by popular debate, to revision by popular debate we must reconcile ourselves as best we may. Regrets are idle. Let us be thankful that the amicable struggle at Philadelphia had for its outcome so large rather than so small a mass of workable material, and instead of accounting The Book Annexed to be what one of the signers of the Joint Committee's Report has lately called it, "a melancholy production," recognize in it the germ of something exceedingly to be desired. From the first, there has never been any disposition on the part of sober-minded friends of Revision to carry through their scheme with a rush; the delay that is likely to better things they will welcome; the only delay they deprecate is the delay that kills.

The changes enumerated in the "Notification to the Dioceses," and illustrated to the eye in The Book Annexed as Modified, may be broadly classified under the following heads:

(a) Clearly desirable alterations, with respect to which there is practically unanimous consent, and for which there is immediate demand, e. g., shortened offices of week-day prayer.

(b) Alterations desirable in the main, but likely to be more cordially acquiesced in, could still further improvement be secured, e. g., the new versicles introduced into Evening Prayer after the Creed.

(c) Alterations generally accounted undesirable on any terms, e. g., the permissive rubrics with respect to the reading of certain psalms during Lent, instead of the regular responds to the First and Second Lessons of the Evening Prayer.

The question arises, Is any course of action possible that will give us without delay the changes which for some fifteen years the whole Church has been laboring to secure; that will give us, with a reasonable delay of three years longer, the confessed improvements a little more improved; while at the same time we are kept from becoming involved in the wretched confusion sure to result from putting into circulation, within a brief period, two authorized but diverse books of Common Prayer? This threefold question it is proposed to meet with a threefold affirmative.


The end we ought to have in view is the publication, in the year 1890, of a standard Book of Common Prayer, such as shall embody the ripe results of what will then have been a period of ten years of continuous labor in the work of liturgical revision. To this reckoning of ten years should properly be added the seventeen years that intervened between the presentation of "The Memorial" in 1853 and the passing of the "Enrichment Resolutions" in 1880: so that really our Revision would look back for its historical beginnings, not across a decade merely, but over almost the lifetime of a generation. No single one of the various revisions of the English Book has observed anything like so leisurely a movement.

But by what methods of legislative procedure could such a result as the one indicated be reached? The precedent of the last century does not help us very much. The American Book of Common Prayer was set forth on the sixteenth day of October in the year of our Lord 1789; but with an express statutory provision that the "use" of the book, as so set forth, should not become obligatory till the first day of October, 1790. We cannot copy this line of procedure, for the simple reason that no such undertaking as that of 1789 is in hand. It is not now proposed to legislate into existence a new Liturgy. The task before us is the far humbler one of passing judgment upon certain propositions of change, almost every one of which admits of segregation, has an independent identity of its own, and may be accepted or rejected wholly without reference to what is likely to happen to the other propositions that accompany it.

The Book Annexed as Modified is in no proper sense a Proposed Book, nor can it without misrepresentation be called such; it is simply a sample publication[56] illustrative of what the Book of Common Prayer would be, were all the Resolutions of Revision that passed their first stage of approval in 1883 carried into final effect; a result most unlikely to occur.


The most expeditious and every way satisfactory means to the end that has now been defined would be the appointment, at an early stage of the session in October, of a Joint Committee of Conference. To this committee should be referred:

(a) The question: How many of the Resolutions of 1883, or of the "several recommendations therein contained," is it either practicable or desirable to approve at once?

(b) The question: How may such of the Resolutions of 1883 as are too good to be lost, but not in their present form good enough to satisfy the Church, be so remoulded as to make their adoption probable in 1889?

(c) All new propositions of improvement that may from time to time during the session be brought to the notice of the Convention, either by individual members or by memorials from Diocesan Conventions. Such a Committee of Conference, holding daily sessions of three or four hours each, would be able in due time to report a carefully digested scheme which could then be intelligently discussed. By this method a flood of frivolous and aimless talk would be cut off without in the slightest degree infringing or limiting the real liberty of debate.

But even if the Convention were to show itself reluctant to give to a select committee so large a power as this of preparing an agenda paper, it still would be possible to refer to such a committee the subject-matter of so many of the resolutions as might chance, when put upon their passage, to fail by a narrow vote.

It is to be remembered that the various recommendations contained in the resolutions of 1883 are to be voted upon in ipsissimis verbis. There will be no opportunity for the familiar cry: "Mr. President, I rise to propose an amendment." The resolution, or the section of a resolution, as the case may be, will either be approved just as it stands or condemned just as it stands. In this respect there will be an immense saving of time. Most of the tediousness of debate grows out of the natural disposition of legislators to try each his own hand at bettering the thing proposed; hence "amendments," "amendments to amendments," and substitutes for the amendment to the amendment. Even the makers of parliamentary law (much enduring creatures) lose their patience at this point, and peremptorily lay it down that confusion shall no further go.

But to return to the supposed case of a proposition lost because of some slight defect, which, if only our Medo-Persian law had permitted an amendment, could easily have been remedied. Surely the sensible course in such a case as that would be to refer the subject-matter of the lost resolution to the Committee of Conference, with instructions to report a new resolution to be finally acted upon three years hence. So then, whether there be given to the Committee of Conference either the large power to recommend a carefully thought out way of dealing with all the material en bloc, or the lesser function of sitting in judgment on new propositions, and of remoulding rejected ones, in either case there could scarcely fail to result from the appointment of such a committee large and substantial gains.


It follows, from what has been said, that if there are features that admit of improvement in the proposals which the Convention has laid before the Church for scrutiny, now is emphatically the time for suggesting the better thing that might be done. Even the bitterest opponents of The Book Annexed can scarcely be so sanguine as to imagine that nothing at all is coming from this labored movement for revision. A measure which was so far forth acceptable to the accredited representatives of the Church, in council assembled, as to pass its first stage three years ago almost by acclamation, is not destined to experience total collapse. The law of probabilities forbids the supposition. The personal make-up of the next General Convention will be to a great extent identical with that of the last, and of the one before the last. Sober-minded men familiar with the work of legislation are not accustomed to reverse their own well considered decisions without weighty cause. The strong probability is that something in the line of emendation, precisely how much or how little no one can say, will, as a matter of fact, be done. In view of this likelihood, would not those who are dissatisfied with The Book Annexed as it stands be taking the wiser course were they to substitute co-operative for vituperative criticism? So far as the present writer is in any sense authorized to speak for the friends of revision, he can assure the dissidents that such co-operation would be most welcome.

A. B., a scholar thoroughly familiar, we will suppose, with the sources of liturgical material, is dissatisfied with the collects proposed for the successive days of Holy Week. Very well, he has a perfect right to his dissatisfaction and to the expression of it in the strongest terms at his command. He does only his plain duty in seeking to exclude from the Prayer Book anything that seems to him unworthy of a place in it. But seeing that he must needs, as a "liturgical expert," acknowledge that the deficiency which the Joint Committee sought to make good is a real and not a merely fancied deficiency, would not A. B. approve himself a more judicious counsellor if, instead of bending all his energy to the disparagement of the collects proposed, he should devote a portion of it to the discovery and suggestion of prayers more happily worded?

And this remark holds good with reference to whatever new feature is to be found between the covers of The Book Annexed. If betterment be possible, these six months now lying before us afford the time of all times in which to show how, with the least of loss and most of gain, it may be brought about.

The Diocese of Maryland is first in the field with an adequate contribution of this sort. A thoroughly competent committee, appointed in October, 1884, has recently printed its Report, and whether the Diocesan Convention adopt, amend, or reject what is presented to it, there can be little doubt that the mind of the Church at large will be perceptibly affected by what these representative men of Maryland have said.[57] Apart from a certain aroma of omniscience pervading it (with which, by the way, sundry infelicities of language in the text of the Report, only indifferently consort), the document, is a forcible one, and of great practical value.

The Committee have gone over the entire field covered by the "Notification to the Dioceses," taking up the Resolutions one by one, and not only noting in connection with each whatever is in itself objectionable, but also (a far more difficult task) suggesting in what respect this or that proposition might be better put. The apparatus criticus thus provided, while not infallible, is eminently helpful, sets a wholesome pattern, and if supplemented by others of like tenor and scope, will go far to lighten the labor of whatever committee may have the final recension of the whole work put into its hands.[58]

It would be a poor self-conceit in the framers of The Book Annexed, that should prompt them to resent as intrusive any criticism whatsoever. What we all have at heart is the bringing of our manual of worship as nearly as possible to such a pitch of perfectness as the nature of things human will allow. The thing we seek is a Liturgy which shall draw to itself everything that is best and most devout within our national borders, a Common Prayer suited to the common wants of all Americans. Whatever truly makes for this end, it will be our wisdom to welcome, whether those who bring it forward are popularly labelled as belonging to this, that, or the other school of Churchmanship. To allow party jealousies to mar the symmetry and fulness of a work in which all Churchmen ought to have an equal inheritance would be the worst of blunders. By all means let the raiment of needlework and the clothing of wrought gold be what they should be for such sacred uses as hers who is the daughter of the great King, but let us not fall to wrangling about the vats in which the thread was dyed or the river bed from which the gold was gathered.

In a later paper the present writer intends to venture upon a task similar to that undertaken by the Maryland Committee. He will do this largely in the hope of encouraging by example other and more competent critics to busy themselves in the same way. Meanwhile a few observations may not be amiss with respect to the sources of liturgical material, and the methods by which they can be drawn upon to the best advantage.

There has been, first and last, a deal of ill considered talk about the boundlessness of the liturgical treasures lying unused in the pre-Reformation formularies of the English Church, as well as in the old sacramentaries and office-books of the East and the West. Wonder is expressed that with such limitless wealth at its command, an "Enrichment Committee" should have brought in so poverty-stricken a Report. Have we not Muratori and Mabillon? it is asked: Daniel and Assemani, Renaudot and Goar? Are there not Missals Roman, Ambrosian, and Mozarabic? Breviaries Anglican, Gallican, and Quignonian? Has Maskell delved and Neale translated and Littledale compiled in vain? To all of which there are two replies, namely: first, It is inexpedient to overload a Prayer Book, even if the material be of the best; and secondly, This best material is by no means so abundant as the volume of our resources would seem to suggest. It was for the very purpose of escaping redundancy and getting rid of surplusage that the Anglican Reformers condensed Missal, Breviary, and Rituale into the one small and handy volume known as the First Prayer Book of Edward VI. It was a bold stroke, doubtless denounced as perilously radical at the time; but experience has justified Cranmer and his friends. In the whole history of liturgies there is no record of a wiser step. It is scarcely possible so grievously to sin against a people's Prayer Book as by making it more complicated in arrangement and more bulky in volume than need actually requires. It was ground of justifiable pride with the "Enrichment Committee" that the Book which they brought in, despite the many additions it contained, was no thicker by a single page than the Prayer Book as it is. To be sure, the General Convention spoiled all this by insisting on retaining certain duplicated formularies which the Committee had very properly dropped in order to find room for fresh material. But of the Book as first presented, it was possible to say that in no degree was it more cumbrous than that to which the people were already accustomed. Doubtless it would have been still more to the Committee's credit could they have brought in an enriched Book smaller by a third than the Book in use; but this their conservatism forbade.

Of even greater moment is the other point, which concerns the quality of the available material. It is the greatest mistake in the world to suppose that simply because a given prayer exists, say in an Oriental liturgy, and has been translated into English by an eminent scholar, it is therefore proper material to be worked into our services. As a matter of fact, a great deal of devotional language of which the Oriental liturgies is made up is prolix and tedious to a degree simply insufferable. Moreover in the case of prayers in themselves admirable in the original tongue in which they were composed, all is often lost through lack of a verbal felicity in the translation. If anyone questions this judgment, let him toil through Neale's and Littledale's Translations of the Primitive Liturgies and see whether he can find six, nay, three, consecutive lines which he would be willing to see introduced into our own Communion Office. Or, as respects translations from the Latin office-books of the Church of England, let him scrupulously search the pages of the "Sarum Hours," as done into the vernacular by the Recorder of Salisbury, and see how many of the Collects strike him as good enough to be transplanted into the Book of Common Prayer. The result of this latter voyage of discovery will be an increased wonder at the affluence of the mediaeval devotions, combined with amazement at the poverty and unsatisfactoriness of the existing translations. It is with a Latin collect as with a Greek ode or an Italian sonnet: no matter how wonderful the diction, the charm of it is as a locked secret until the thing has been Englished by genius akin to his who first made it out of his own heart. Of others besides the many brave men who lived before Agamemnon might it be written:

sed omnes illacrumabiles Urgentur, ignotique larga Nocte, carent quia vate sacro.

It was the peculiar felicity of Schiller that he had Coleridge for a translator, and the shades of Gregory and Leo owe it to a living Anglican divine that we English-speaking Christians can think their thoughts after them, and pray their prayers.

Such being the facts in the case, it is evident that the range of choice open to American revisers is far narrower than half-informed persons imagine it to be.

The very best sources of liturgical material are the following:

(a) King James's Bible, including the Apocrypha, and supplemented by the Prayer Book version of the Psalms;

(b) The old Sacramentaries, Leonine, Gregorian, and Gelasian, chiefly as illustrated by the genius of Dr. Bright;

(c) The Breviary in its various forms;

(d) The Primers and other like fragmenta of the era of the English Reformation;[59]

(e) The devotional writings of the great Anglican divines of the school of Andrews, Ken, and Taylor;[60] and last and least,

(f) The various manuals of prayer, of which the past twenty years have shown themselves so prolific.[61]

Of the Anglican writers, Jeremy Taylor would be by far the most helpful, were it not for the efflorescence of his style. As it is, the best use that can be made of his exuberant devotions is to cull from them here and there a telling phrase or a musical cadence. The "General Intercession," for example, on page 50 of The Book Annexed, is a cento to which Taylor is the chief contributor.

That the Enrichment Committee made the best possible use of the various quarries to which they had access is unlikely. Even if they credited themselves with having done so, it would be immodest of them to say it. Better material than any that their researches brought to light may still be lying near the surface, somewhere close at hand, waiting to be unearthed. Certainly this paper will not have been written in vain if it serves the purpose of provoking to the good work of discovery some of those who on the score both of quality and of quantity account what has been thus far done in the line of revision inadequate and meagre.


It is next proposed to take up the Philadelphia Resolutions of Revision (1883) one by one, and to consider in what measure, if in any, the subject-matter of each of them lies open to improvement.

Should the method of procedure recommended in the previous paper, or any method resembling it, find favor at the approaching Convention, and a Conference Committee of the two Houses be appointed to remould the work with reference to final action three years hence, criticism of this sort, even though inadequate, can scarcely fail of being in some measure helpful.


The Title-page .

The proposals under this head are two in number: (a ) that the words, "together with the Psalter or Psalms of David," be dropped from the title-page as superfluous, and (b ) that a general title, "THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER," be printed on the first page of the leaf preceding the title-page.

Neither of these suggestions is of any great importance, and the interest attaching to them is mainly bibliographical. Whenever any addition has been made to the Prayer Book of the Church of England, the rule has been to note it invariably in the Table of Contents, and sometimes also on the title-page.

Until 1662 the Psalter formed no part of the Prayer Book; it was a volume by itself, and was cited as such. In fact, it was a sort of "Hymnal Companion to the Book of Common Prayer." In the revision of 1662 the Psalter was incorporated, and immediately there appeared upon the title-page of the Common Prayer, in addition to what had been there before, the words, "together with the Psalter or Psalms of David printed as they are to be sung or read in the churches." The present title-page of the English Book has a singularly crowded and awkward look, contrasting most unfavorably in this regard with those of 1559, 1552, and 1549.[62] But if the needless mention of the Psalter on our present title-page gives pleasure to any considerable number of people, it would be foolish to press the suggestion of a change. Let it pass.

Of a more serious character would be the omission, which some urge, of the words "Protestant Episcopal" from the title-page. Should anything of this sort be done, which is most unlikely, Dr. Egar's suggestion to drop the words, "of the Protestant Episcopal Church," leaving it to read, "according to the use in the United States of America," would carry the better note of catholicity.

But, after all, the remonstrants have only to turn the page to find the obnoxious "Protestant Episcopal" so fast riveted into the Ratification that nothing short of an act of violence done to history could accomplish the excision of it.[63]


The Introductory Portion.

(a) Table of Contents.—The suggestion[64] that all entries after "The Psalter" should be printed in italics, is a good one.

(b) Concerning the Service of the Church.—This substitute for the present "Order how the Psalter is appointed to be read" and "Order how the rest of the Holy Scripture is appointed to be read" is largely based on the provisions of the so-called "Shortened Services Act" of 1872. The second paragraph relating to the use of the Litany appears to be superfluous.

The enlarged Table of Proper Psalms and the Table of Selections of Psalms, which come under this same general heading, would be a very great gain. Why the Maryland Committee should have pronounced the latter Table "practically useless, since the psalms are not to be printed," it is hard, in the face of the existing usage with respect to "Proper Psalms," to understand; nor is there any special felicity in the proposal emanating from the same source that the number of the Selections be cut down to three, one for feasts and one for fasts and one for an extra service on Sunday nights.

On the other hand, the Maryland Committee does well in recommending that permission be given to the minister to shorten the Lessons at his discretion, though the hard and fast condition, "provided he read not less than fifteen consecutive verses," apart from the questionable English in which it is phrased, smacks more of the drill-room than of the sanctuary. Far better would it be (if the suggestion may be ventured) to allow no liberty of abridgment whatever in the case of Proper Lessons, while giving entire freedom of choice on all occasions for which no proper lessons have been appointed. So far as "ferial" days are concerned, it would be much wiser to let the Table of Lessons be regarded as suggestive and not mandatory. The half-way recognition of this principle in the new Lectionary, in which such a freedom is allowed, provided the Lesson taken be one of those appointed for "some day in the same week," seems open to a suspicion of childishness.

The rubrical direction entitled "Hymns and Anthems" requires verbal correction, but embodies a wholesome principle.

Under this same general head of "The Introductory Portion" come the new Lectionary and the new Tables for finding Easter. Of these, the former is law already, except so far as respects the Lessons appointed for the proposed Feast of the Transfiguration. The Easter Tables are a monument to the erudition and accuracy of the late Dr. Francis Harison. The Tables in our present Standard run to the year 1899. Perhaps a "wholesome conservatism" ought to discover a tincture of impiety in any proposal to disturb them before the century has expired.


The Morning Prayer.

(a) The First Rubric.—The Maryland Committee is quite right in remarking that the language of this important rubric, as set forth by the Convention of 1883, is "inelegant and inaccurate," but another diocese has called attention to the fact that the substitute which Maryland offers would, if adopted, enable any rector who might be so minded to withhold entirely from the non-communicating portion of his flock all opportunity for public confession and absolution from year's end to year's end. It is not for a moment to be supposed that there was any covert intention here, but the incident illustrates the value to rubric-makers of the Horatian warning—Brevis esse labor o, obscurus fio.

Passing by the Proper Sentences for special Days and Seasons, against which no serious complaint has been entered,[65] we come to the proposed short alternative for the Declaration of Absolution. As it stood in the Sarum Use this Absolution ran as follows:

"The Almighty and Merciful Lord grant you Absolution and Remission of all your sins, space for true penitence, amendment of life, and the grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit. Amen."[66]

With the single change of the word "penitence" to "repentance" this is the form in which the Absolution stood in the original Book Annexed. The Convention thought that it detected a "Romanizing germ" in the place assigned to "penitence," and an archaism in the temporal sense assigned to "space," and accordingly rearranged the whole sentence. But in their effort to mend the language, our legislators assuredly marred the music.[67]

(e) The Benedictus es, Domine.—The insertion of this Canticle as an alternate to the Te Deum was in the interest of shortened services for week-day use, as has been already explained. The same purpose could be served equally well, and the always objectionable expedient of a second alternate avoided, by spacing off the last six verses of the Benedicite, which have an integrity of their own, and prefixing a rubric similar to those that stand before the Venite and the Benedictus in "The Book Annexed"; e. g.:

On week-days, it shall suffice if only the latter portion of this Canticle be said or sung.

(n) The Benedictus.—With reference to the restoration of the last portion of this Hymn, it has been very properly remarked by one of the critics of The Book Annexed, that the line of division between the required and the optional portions would more properly come after the eighth than after the fourth verse. This would make the portion reserved for Advent begin with the reference to John the Baptist, as undoubtedly it ought to do: "And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest."

(o) De Profundis.—There will probably be general consent to the omission of this alternate, as being what the Maryland Committee naively call it, "too mournful a psalm" for this purpose.[68]


Daily Evening Prayer.

(c) The proposed words, "Let us humbly confess our sins unto Almighty God," are justly thought by many to be inferior both in rhythm and in dignity to "Let us make humble confession to Almighty God."

(i)-(l) There seems to be absolute unanimity in the judgment that Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis ought, as Gospel Hymns, to have the prior places after the Lessons which they follow. In the interest of simplicity of arrangement a like general consent to omit altogether Bonum est confiteri and Benedic anima mea would be most fortunate, but this point has been already enlarged upon in a previous paper.[69]

The "Notes," permitting the use of Psalms xlii. and xliii. after the Lessons during Lent, seem to have found no favor in any quarter, and ought undoubtedly to be dropped.

(n) If the lost versicles are to be restored after the Creed, as all who have learned to love them in the service of the Church of England must earnestly desire, some better substitute for "God save the queen," than "O Lord, save our rulers," ought surely to be found.[70] Moreover, the order of the versicles, as Prof. Gold has clearly pointed out,[71] is open to improvement.


The Beatitudes of the Gospel.

This is the one feature of The Book Annexed against which the fire of hostile criticism has been the most persistently directed. Whether the strictures passed upon the Office have been in all cases as intelligent as they have been severe, may be open to question, but there can be no doubt whatever that, in its present form, Resolution V. would, if put to the vote, be rejected.

Passing by the more violent utterances of those whose language almost suggests that they find something objectionable in the very BEATITUDES themselves,[72] it will suffice to consider and weigh what has been said in various quarters, first, about the unprecedented character of the Office, and secondly, concerning the infelicity of the appointed response, "Lord, have mercy upon us, and be it unto thy servants according to thy word."

So far as concerns precedent, it ought to be enough to say that the words are our Lord's words, and that they were thrown by him into a form which readily lends itself to antiphonal use. The very same characteristics of parallelism and antithesis, that make the Psalms so amenable to the purposes of worship, are conspicuous in the BEATITUDES. If the Church of England, for three hundred years, has been willing to give place in her devotions to the Curses of the Old Testament,[73] we of America need not to be afraid, precedent or no precedent, to make room among our formularies for the Blessings of the New.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse