A Short History of the Book of Common Prayer
by William Reed Huntington
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Those who allow themselves to characterize the liturgical use of these memorable sayings of the Son of Man as "fancy ritual" and "sentimentalism" may well pause to ask themselves what manner of spirit they are of. The BEATITUDES are the charter of the kingdom of heaven. If they are "sentimental," the kingdom is "sentimental"; but if, on the other hand, they constitute the organic law of the People of God, they have at least as fair a right as the Ten Commandments to be published from the altar, and answered by the great congregation.

But is the complaint of "no precedent" a valid one, even supposing considerations of intrinsic fitness to have been ruled out?

The Liturgy of St. Chrysostom provides that the Beatitudes shall be sung on Sundays in room of the third antiphon.[74]

The learned Bishop of Haiti, in a paper warmly commending the liturgical use of the BEATITUDES,[75] calls attention to the further fact that the Eight Sayings have a place in some of the service-books of the Eastern Church in the Office for the Sixth and Ninth Hours, and notes the suggestive and touching circumstances that, as there used, they have for a response the words of the penitent thief upon the cross. We might all of us well pray to be "remembered" in that kingdom to which these Blessings give the law.

In The Primer set forth by the King's Majesty and his Clergy in 1545, a sort of stepping-stone to the later "Book of Common Prayer," we find the BEATITUDES very ingeniously worked into the Office of The Hours, as anthems; beginning with Prime and ending with Evensong. Appropriate Collects are interwoven, some of them so beautiful as to be well worth preserving.[76]

But the most interesting precedent of all remains still to be studied. In the first year of the reign of William and Mary, a Royal Commission was appointed to revise the Book of Common Prayer. The most eminent Anglican divines of the day, including Tillotson, Stillingfleet, Patrick, and Beveridge, were among the members. To all outward appearance the movement came to naught; for the proposed revision was not even put into print, until in 1854, the House of Commons, in response to a motion of Mr. Heywood, ordered it to be published as a Blue-book. And yet in some way our American revisers of 1789 must have found access to the original volume as it lay hidden in the archbishop's library at Lambeth; for not only does their work show probable evidence of such consultation, but in their Preface they distinctly refer to the effort of King William's Commission as a "great and good work,"[77] a thing they would scarcely have done had they possessed no real knowledge of the facts. Macaulay's sneering reference to the work of the Commission is well known, but, strangely enough, the justice which a Whig reviewer withholds, a high Anglican divine concedes, for no less exacting a critic than Dr. Neale, while manifesting, as was to be expected, a general dislike of the Commissioners of 1689, and of their work, does yet find something to praise in what they recommended.[78]

Among the real improvements suggested by the Commission was the liturgical use of the BEATITUDES, and this in two places, once in "The Order for the Administration of the Lord's Supper," as an alternate to the Ten Commandments; and again in the Commination Office as a proper balance to the Anathemas of the Law.

But the Commission, like the late Joint Committee on the Book of Common Prayer, was unfortunate in its choice of a response; and no wonder, for the task of finding the proper one is difficult.[79]

A Beatitude differs from a Commandment in that while the latter enjoins the former only declares. The one therefore simply calls for assent, or, at most, assent coupled with petition, while the other peremptorily demands a cry for mercy. The immemorial form of the cry for mercy in the devotions of Christendom is the "Kyrie eleison," Lord, have mercy upon us; the immemorial form of assent the word Amen. Can we do better, therefore, in adapting the BEATITUDES to liturgical use than to treat them precisely as the Curses are treated in the Commination Office of the Church of England, namely, by inserting after each one of them a plain Amen.

This recommendation has the great merit of simplicity. Two or three strikingly ingenious schemes for supplying each of the Eight Sayings with a proper response of its own have been suggested;[80] but the objection to them is that, beautiful though they are, their complexity would embarrass and distress the kneeling worshipper. In these matters, practical drawbacks have to be taken into account as well as abstract excellencies, and no matter how felicitous the antiphonal responses, they would be worse than useless were a puzzled congregation to refuse to join in them.

There will be found appended to this Paper a plan for recasting the Office of the BEATITUDES in such a way as to make it coincide structurally, as far as it goes, with the introductory portion of the Holy Communion.[81] Were the Office to be thus set forth, it would be possible on week-days, and with singular appropriateness on Saints' Days, to substitute the BEATITUDES for the Commandments, without encumbering the Communion Office with an alternate. Should this suggestion find acceptance, the two Collects in the present Office of BEATITUDES, which are far too good to be lost, one of them being the modified form of a Leonine original, and the other one of the very best of Canon Bright's own compositions, might be transferred to a place among the "Occasional Prayers."


The Litany.

The rubrics prefixed to the Litany are a gain, but except by the addition of the two new suffrages, the one for the President and the other for the increase of the ministry, it will probably be best to leave the text of this formulary untouched. Even in the case of the new petitions it would be well if they could be grafted upon suffrages already existing, a thing that might easily be done.[82]

It would be a liturgical improvement if the Litany, in its shortened form, were to end at the Christe, audi, and the minister directed to return, at this point, to the General Thanksgiving in the Morning Prayer. This would divide the Litany symmetrically, instead of arbitrarily, as is now done, and would remove the General Thanksgiving from a place to which it has little claim either by historical precedent or natural congruity.

The greatest improvement of all would be the restoration of the august and massive words of invocation which of old stood at the beginning of the Litany. The modern invocations have a dignity of their own, but they are not to be compared for devotional power and simple majesty with the more ancient ones. But for an "enrichment" so good as this, it is too much to hope.


Prayers and Thanksgivings.

The Maryland Committee[83] have much to say in criticism of this section, and offer many valuable suggestions, the best of them being a recommendation to print the Prayer entitled, "For Grace to speak the Truth in Love," in Canon Bright's own words. Some of their comments, on the other hand, suggest canons of criticism which, if applied to "The Prayer Book as it is," would make havoc of its choicest treasures.[84]

The Committee of Central New York[85] go much further in the line of destructive criticism than their brethren of Maryland, and after excepting four of the proposed prayers, condemn all the rest to dismissal.

Possibly this is just judgment, but those who have searched diligently the storehouses of devotional English, will think twice before they consent to it. No doubt the phraseology of some of the proposed prayers might be improved. In view of the searching criticism to which for three years it has been exposed, it would be strange indeed if such were not found to be the case. But the collection as a whole, instead of suffering loss, ought to receive increment. At least three or four more prayers for the work of missions in its various aspects ought to be added, also a Prayer for the furtherance of Christian Education in Schools and Colleges. As Br. Dowden shrewdly asks, in speaking of spiritual needs which we postpone expressing for lack of language sufficiently artistic in form, "What is the measure of our faith in the efficacy of united prayer, when we are content to go on, year after year, and never come together to ask God to supply those needs?"[86]

There is one consideration connected with this supply of special prayers too frequently lost out of sight. While it is perfectly true that the Book of Common Prayer was never designed to be a Treasury of Devotion for individuals, it is equally true that for thousands and hundreds of thousands of our fellow-countrymen who live remote from "Church book-stores," or lack the means of patronizing them, the Prayer Book is, as a matter of fact, their only devotional help. In countless households, moreover, many of them beyond "Protestant Episcopal" borders altogether, the Prayer Book is doing a work only less beneficent than it might do, were we to concede a very little more to that outwardly illogical but spiritually self-consistent policy which, breaking away, a century ago, from the chain of precedent, inserted in the American Book "The Forms of Prayer to be used in Families."


Penitential Office for Ash-Wednesday.

This is the English Commination Office, with the introductory portion omitted. It would add to the merit of the formulary, especially when used as a separate office, were it to be prefaced by the versicle and response, similarly employed in the Hereford Breviary:

V. Let us confess unto the Lord, for he is gracious.

R. And his mercy endureth forever.

In view of the great length of the Morning Service on Ash-Wednesday, and the close similarity between the closing portion of the Litany and the intermediate portion of this Office, the following emendation of the first Rubric is suggested, a change which would carry with it the omission of the Rubric after psalm li. a little further on.

On the First Day of Lent, at Morning Prayer, the Office ensuing shall be read immediately after the words, Have mercy upon us, in the Litany, and in place of what there followeth.

In the third Rubric it might be well to add to "shall be said" the words, "or sung."

The blessing at the end of the office should stand, as in the English Book, in the precatory form; otherwise we might have the anomaly of a benediction pronounced before the end of the service.


Thanksgiving-day or Harvest-home.

The only alteration needed in this office is the restoration of the beautiful prayer for unity to its own proper wording as given in the so-called "Accession Service" appended to the English Prayer Book. As it stands in The Book Annexed the language of the prayer is possibly ungrammatical and certainly redundant. A critic, already more than once quoted,[87] protests against the prominence given to this office in The Book Annexed, ascribing it to influences born of the associations of New England. But although the motive of the revisers might have had a worse origin than that of which the reviewer complains, the actual fact is that the formulary was placed where it is purely in consideration of the liturgical fitness of things; it having been held that the proper position for an Office of Thanksgiving must be in immediate sequence to an Office of Penitence.

It is with sincere diffidence that the present writer differs with The Seminarian, on a point of historical precedent, but he ventures to suggest that to find the prototype of Harvest-home we must go back far beyond New England, and for that matter far beyond Old England, nay, beyond the Christian era itself, even to the day when it was said, "Thou shalt observe the Feast of Tabernacles, seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine." Doubtless there is a joy greater than the "joy of harvest," and to this we give expression in the Eucharist; but doubtless also the joy of harvest is in itself a proper joy and one which finds fitting utterance in such forms of prayer and praise as this.


Collects, Epistles, and Gospels.

No department of liturgical revision calls for a nicer touch than that which includes the Collects. That new collects for certain unsupplied feasts and fasts would be a genuine enrichment of The Book of Common Prayer, has long been generally acknowledged among Anglican scholars. The most weighty fault to be found with the collects added by the revisers is that in too large proportion they are addressed to the second and third Persons of the Holy Trinity. The Eucharist itself, as a whole, is properly conceived of as addressed to the Eternal Father. The Collects, as forming part of the Eucharistic Office, ought, strictly speaking, to be also so addressed. It is true that there are exceptions to this rule, and they are found, some of them, in the Prayer Book as it is. But the revisers ought not to have altered the proportion so markedly as they have done, for whereas in our present Book the collects addressed to the Father are as eighty-three to three compared with those not so addressed, the ratio in The Book Annexed is that of eleven to three.

Moreover, there would seem to be no good reason for reverting to the usage of the First Book of Edward VI., which provides a second Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for the two great feasts of Christmas and Easter. A better way would be to take these additional collects, which are among the most beautiful in the language, and assign them respectively to the Sunday after Christmas, and the Monday in Easter-week.


The Holy Communion.

To the few changes proposed in this Office, comparatively slight exception has been taken in any quarter. It will probably be wise to leave the language of the Prayer of Consecration wholly untouched, notwithstanding the alleged grammatical error near the end of it.

The Rubric which it has been proposed to append to the Office, touching the number of communicants without which it shall not be lawful to administer the Sacrament, being of a disciplinary rather than of a liturgical character, ought not to be urged. The proposal to transfer the Prayer of Humble Access to a place immediately before the Communion appears to be very generally acceptable.

It would relieve many worshippers who scruple as Christians at responding to the Fourth Commandment on the score of its Judaic character, if the language of the rubric prefixed to the Decalogue could contain, as did the corresponding rubric in Laud's Book for Scotland, a clause indicative of the mystical and spiritual sense in which the Law should be interpreted by those who live under the Gospel. But such a proposal would probably be accounted "of doctrine," and so be self-condemned.

Of the desirability of allowing a week-day use of the BEATITUDES in the room of the COMMANDMENTS enough has been already said.



The permission to use a form of presentation instead of, or in addition to, the Preface is likely to be widely welcomed. The other addenda to this office, being apparently distasteful (for unlike reasons) to all the "schools of thoughts" in the Church, are likely to fail of acceptance; and on the whole may easily be spared.


Visitation of the Sick.

The proposed Commendatory Prayer, though in some of its features strikingly felicitous, is open to formal improvement. The addition of a short Litany of the Dying would be appreciated by those whose ministry is largely exercised among the sick.


Burial of the Dead.

By far the most important section of this Resolution is the one providing for the insertion of special features when the office is used at the burial of children. The provision, or at least the suggestion, of a more appropriate Lesson would be wise, but for the rest, the office is almost all that could be wished.

A recent critic[88] raises the question, "Why single out infants alone for a special service? Why not forms for rich men and poor men—old men and maidens—widows and orphans?" And yet our Lord Jesus Christ did single out little children in a very striking and wonderful manner, and drew a distinction between them and us which may well justify our treating their obsequies with a peculiar tenderness. Even Rome, Mater dura infantum as she has been sometimes thought, is studious to consult in this point the natural affections of the bereaved, and appoints a funeral mass distinct from that appointed for the dead in general.

Bishop Seabury felt the need of a rite of this sort and prepared one, but whether it was ever in actual use among the clergy of Connecticut the writer is not informed. Many, very many, since Seabury's day, have felt the same need, and it is safe to say that no one feature of The Book Annexed has enjoyed so universal a welcome as this rightful concession to the demands of the parental heart.


The survey of corrigenda is now complete. The list looks like a long one, but really the points noted are few compared with those which have passed unchallenged. Here and there in the Resolutions that have not been considered are words or phrases that admit of improvement, and which in an actual and authorized re-review by a Committee of Conference would undoubtedly be improved.

The bulk of the work has, for a period of three years, stood the incessant fire of a not always friendly criticism far better than could have been anticipated by those who in the first instance gave it shape. The difficulties of the task have been immense. That they have not all of them been successfully overcome is clear enough, but that they were faced with an honest purpose to be just and fair, and that this purpose was clung to persistently throughout, is a credit which Churchmen of the next generation will not withhold from those who sought to be of service to them.

It remains to be seen whether the representatives of the Church will take up this work and perfect it; or per contra in response to the demand for a "Commission of Experts," or the specious but utterly impracticable[89] proposal of concerted action with the Church of England, will decide to postpone the whole affair to the Greek Kalends. One thing is certain, to wit, that the death of this movement will mean inaction for at least a quarter of a century. The men do not live who will have the courage to embark on a fresh enterprise of the like purport while the shipwreck of this one is before their eyes. There are many who, out of a conscientious fear of disturbing what they like to think of as permanently settled, would view such a conclusion of the whole matter with profound gratitude to God. But there are many more to whom such a confession of the Church's inability to appreciate and unwillingness to meet the spiritual needs of a civilization wonderfully unlike anything that has preceded it would be most disheartening. Least of all is there valid ground for hope in the case of those who fancy that if they can only annihilate this project, the day will speedily come when they can revise the Prayer Book in a manner perfectly conformable to their own conception of the "Ideal Liturgy," and after a fashion which the most ardent Anglo-Catholic must fain approve.

The American Book of Common Prayer bears the impress to-day of two controlling minds, the mind of Seabury and the mind of White. Doubtless it stood written in the councils of the Divine Providence that so it should be. The two men represented respectively the two modes of apprehending spiritual truth which have always been allowed counterplay and interaction in the history of English religion, and which always will be allowed such counterplay and interaction while English religion remains the comprehensive thing it is. No scheme of liturgical revision, no matter how scientifically constructed, will ever find acceptance with the people of this Church which does not do even-handed justice to both of the great historic growths which find their common root in Anglican soil.

When the spirit of Seabury shall have completely exorcised the spirit of White, or the spirit of White shall have completely exorcised the spirit of Seabury from the Church and from the Prayer Book, logic will have triumphed, as sixteen years ago it triumphed under the dome of St. Peter's—logical consistency will have triumphed, but catholicity will have fled.



On Christmas-day, Easter-day, and Whitsunday, and on any week-day save Ash-Wednesday and Good Friday, this Office may be used in lieu of so much of The Order for the Administration of the Lord's Supper as precedeth the Epistle for the Day.

This Office may also be used separately on occasions for which no proper Order hath been provided.

The Minister standing up shall say the Lord's Prayer and the Collect following, the People kneeling, but the Lord's Prayer may be omitted if it hath been said immediately before.

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil. Amen.

The Collect.

Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then shall the Minister, turning to the People, rehearse the Eight Sayings of our Lord commonly called THE BEATITUDES; and the People, still kneeling, shall after every one of them reverently say Amen.


Jesus went up into a mountain; and his disciples came unto him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Answer. Amen.

Minister. Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.

Answer. Amen.

Minister. Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.

Answer. Amen.

Minister. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.

Answer. Amen.

Minister. Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.

Answer. Amen.

Minister. Blessed are the peace-makers; for they shall be called the children of God.

Answer. Amen.

Minister. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Answer. Amen.


Hear also what the voice from heaven saith. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.


Even so, saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labors.


Let us pray.

Almighty and Eternal God, to whom is never any prayer made without hope of mercy; Bow thine ear, we beseech thee, to our supplications, and in the country of peace and rest cause us to be made partners with thy holy servants; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[90]

Then shall be said the Collect for the Day and, unless the Holy Communion is immediately to follow, such other prayer or prayers, taken out of this Book, as the Minister shall think proper.






One generation passeth away; and another generation cometh.—Eccles. i.4.

Against the background of this sombre fact of change, whatever there is in life that is stable stands out with a sharpness that compels notice. Just because the world is so full of variableness, our hearts' affections fasten with the tighter grip upon anything that seems to have the guarantees of permanence. The Book of Common Prayer appeals to us on this score, precisely as the Bible, in its larger measure, does: it is the book of many generations, not of one, and there is "the hiding of its power." We have received the Prayer Book from the generations that are gone; we purpose handing it on when "another generation cometh"; we hold it for the use and blessing of the generation which now is.

Our thoughts about the book, therefore, if we would have the thinking rightly done, must take hold upon the past, the present, and the future, a breadth of topic covered well enough perhaps by this phrase, The Permanent and the Variable Characteristics of the Prayer Book.

I make no apology for asking you to take up the subject in so grave a temper. Now, for more than three hundred years, the Common Prayer has been the manual of worship in use with the greater number of the people of that race which, meanwhile, in the providence of God, has been growing up to be the leading power on earth. Everywhere the English language seems to be going forth conquering and to conquer, and whithersoever it penetrates it carries with it the letters and the social traditions of a people whose character has been largely moulded by the influences of the Prayer Book. Africans, Indians, Hindoos are to-day, even in their heathenism, feeling the effects of waves of movement which throb from this centre. Men in authority, the world over, are living out, with more or less of consistency and thoroughness, those convictions about our duty toward God, and our duty toward our neighbor, which were early inwrought into their consciences through the instrumentality of these venerable forms. Surely no one can afford to think or speak otherwise than most seriously and carefully with regard to a book which has behind it a history so worthy, so rich, so pregnant with promise for the future.

Look first, then, at the power which the Prayer Book draws from its affiliations with the past. It is a common remark, so common as to be commonplace, that our liturgy owes its excellence to the fact of its not having been the composition or compilation of any one man. So much is evident enough upon the face of it: for a form of worship devised off-hand by an individual, or even put together by a committee sitting around a table, could scarcely be wholly satisfactory to any save the maker or the makers of it. But it is more to the purpose to observe that not only is the Prayer Book not the result of any one man's or any one committee's labors; it is not the work even of any one generation, or of any one age.

The men who gradually put the Prayer Book into what is substantially its present shape, in the days of Edward VI. and of Elizabeth, were no more the makers of the Prayer Book than were the men who, in a later reign, set forth what we call "the authorized version" of the Holy Scriptures, the first translators of the Bible. In both cases the work done was a work of review and revision. A much more severe review, a vastly more sweeping revision in the case of the Prayer Book than in the case of the Bible, I grant; but still, mainly a work of review and revision after all. "Continuity," that characteristic so precious in the eye of modern science, continuity marked the whole process.

The first Prayer Book of the Reformed Church of England was a condensed, simplified, and purified combination of formularies of worship already in use in the National Church. A certain amount of new material, some of it home-made, some of it drawn from foreign sources, was added; but the great bulk of the new service-book had been contained in one or other of the older manuals. The Reformers did but clip and prune, with that exquisite taste and judgment which belong by tradition to English gardeners, the overgrowth and rank luxuriance of a too long neglected, "careless-ordered" garden. But whence came the earlier formularies themselves, from which Cranmer and the rest quarried the stone for the new building?—to change the metaphor as Paul, you remember, does so suddenly from husbandry to architecture.[91] Whence came Missal, and Breviary, and Book of Offices—the best portions of which were merged in the English Common Prayer? From the far past; the Missal from those primitive liturgies or communion services, some of which we trace back with certainty to the later portion of the ante-Niceneage, and by not unreasonable conjecture to the edge of apostolic days; the Breviary or daily prayers from the times when Christians first took up community life; the Offices from periods of uncertain date all along the track of previous Church history. But what advantage, asks someone full of the modern spirit, what advantage has the Common Prayer in that it can trace a genealogy running up through ages of such uncertain reputation? Have we not been accustomed to regard those times as hopelessly corrupt, impenetrably dark, universally superstitious? Ought we not to be mortified, rather than gratified, to learn that from the pit of so mouldy a past our book of prayer was digged? Would not a brand-new liturgy, modernized expressly to meet the needs of nineteenth century culture, with all the old English idioms displaced, every rough corner smoothed and every crooked place made straight—would not that be something far worthier our respect, better entitled to our allegiance, than this book full of far-away echoes, and faint bell-notes from a half-forgotten past?

Yes, if modern man were only modern man and nothing more, such reasoning would be extremely cogent. But what if modern man be really, not the mere creature of the century in which he lives, but the gathered sum and product of all that has preceded him in history? What if you and I, from the very fact that we are living now, have in the dim groundwork of our nature something that would not have been there had we lived one, three, twelve hundred years ago? What if there be such a thing as cumulative acquirement for the race of men, so that a new generation starts with an available capital of associations and ideas of which the generation last preceding it owned but a part? Take such words as "feudalism," "the Crusades," "the Renaissance," "the printing press," consider how much they mean to us, and then remember that to a man of the third century they would have been empty sounds conveying absolutely no meaning. What all this goes to show is that human nature is a map which is continually unrolling. To say that the entirety of it lies between the two meridians that bound the particular tract in which our own little life happens to be cast is stupid. The whole great past belongs to us—river and island, ocean, forest, continent, all are ours. You and the man in armor, you and the Venetian merchant, you and the cowled monk have something, be it ever so little, something in common. That which was in the foreground of their life is now in the background or in the middle distance of yours. It has become a part of you.[92]

So, then, if we would have a liturgy that shall speak to our whole nature, and not to a mere fraction of it, it must be a liturgy full of voices sounding out of the past. There must be reminders and suggestions in it of all the great epochs of the Church's story. Yes, echoes even from those very ages which we call dark (perhaps as much because we are in the dark about them as on account of any special blackness attaching to the times themselves), some echoes even from them may have a rightful place in the worship which is to call out responsively all that is in the heart of the most modern of modern men.

As there were heroes before Agamemnon, so were there holy and humble men of heart before Cranmer and Luther, yes, and before Jerome and Augustine. If any cry that ever went up from any one of them out of the depths of that nature which they share with us and we with them, if any breath of supplication, any moan of penitence, any shout of victory that issued from their lips has made out to survive the noise and tumult of intervening times, it has earned by its very persistency of tone a prima facie title to be put into the Prayer Book of to-day.[93] And this is why a prayer book may survive the wreck of many systems of theology. A prayer book holds the utterance of our needs; a theological system is the embodiment of our thoughts.

Now our thoughts about things divine are painfully fallible and liable to change with change of times; but a want which is genuinely and entirely human is a permanent fact; the great needs of the soul never grow obsolete, and though the language in which the lips shall clothe the heart's desire may alter, as tastes alter, yet the substance of the prayer abides, and in some happy instances the form also abides.

To an eye that looks wisely and lovingly on such sights, there is the same keen sense of enjoyment in finding here and there in the Prayer Book suggestions of forgotten customs, reminders of famous persons and events, that there is in detecting in the masonry of an old castle or minster tell-tale stones which betray the different ages, the "sundry times and divers manners" which the fabric represents. Who, for instance, that has traced the history of that apostolic ordinance, "the kiss of peace," down through the liturgical changes and revolutions of eighteen hundred years, can fail to be interested in finding in a single clause of one of the exhortations of our communion service that which corresponds to the literal kiss of primitive times, as well as to the petrified symbol of the original reality, the silver, ivory, or wooden "osculatory" of the mediaeval Church?[94] So with "Ash-Wednesday," a single syllable opens a whole chapter of Church history. Again, the Latin headings to the psalms of the Psalter; with what an impatient gesture can we imagine a spruce reviser brushing these away as so much trash! They are not trash, they are way marks that tell of times when devout men loved those catchwords, as we love the first lines of our favorite hymns. A few of the headings, such as "De Profundis" and "Miserere," still possess such associations for ourselves. There was a time when very many more of them meant to men now dead and gone as much as "Rock of Ages," or "Sun of my Soul," or "Lead, kindly Light," can mean to you or me.[95]

Then, too, the monuments of specially revered heroes of the faith that dot the paths of the Common Prayer, how precious they are! We like to think of Ambrose as speaking to us in the lofty sentences of the Te Deum. It is pleasant to associate Chrysostom with the prayer that bears his name, and to know that he who swayed the city's multitude still prized the Master's promise to the "two or three gathered together" in his name. So also, in our American Book, Jeremy Taylor, the modern Chrysostom, meets us in the Office for the Visitation of the Sick, in that solemn prayer addressed to Him "whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered." All these things help to make the Prayer Book the large-hearted, wide-minded book we all of us feel it to be, so like a friend whom we revere because he is kindly in his tone, generous in his judgments, quick to understand us at every point.

So much for the past of the Prayer Book. We have touched it in no image-breaking mood, but with reverence. "One generation passeth away, another generation cometh," and it has been the peculiar felicity of this book to stand

A link among the days, to knit The generations each to each.

We pass on to consider the present usefulness of the Prayer Book and the possibility of extending that usefulness in the future. And now I shall speak wholly as an American to Americans, not because the destinies of the Prayer Book in the New World are the more important, though such may in the end turn out to be the fact, but simply because we are at home here and know our own wants and wishes, our own liabilities and opportunities, far better than we can possibly know those of other people. As a Church we have always tied ourselves too slavishly to English precedent. Our vine is greatly in danger of continuing merely a potted ivy, an indoor exotic. The past of the Common Prayer we cannot disconnect from England, but its present and its future belong in part at least to us, and it is in this light that we are bound as American Churchmen to study them. Let us agree, then, that the usefulness of the book here and now lies largely in the moulding and formative influence which it is quietly exerting, not only on the religion of those who use it, but also largely on the religion of the far greater number who publicly use it not. It has interested me, as it would interest almost anyone, to learn how many prayer books our booksellers supply to Christian people who are not Churchmen. Evidently the book is in use as a private manual with thousands, who own no open allegiance to the Protestant Episcopal Church. They keep it on the devotional shelf midway between Thomas a Kempis and the Pilgrim's Progress, finding it a sort of interpreter of the one to the other, and possessed of a certain flavor differencing it from both. This is a happy augury for the future. Much latent heat is generating which shall yet warm up the dullness of the land. The seed-grain of the Common Prayer will not lie unproductive in those forgotten furrows. The fitness of such a system of worship as this to counteract some of the flagrant evils of our popular religion can scarcely fail to commend it to the minds of those who thus unobserved and, "as it were in secret," read and ponder. Much of our American piety, fervid as it is, shows confessedly a feverish, intermittent character which needs just such a tonic as the Prayer Book provides in what Keble happily called its "sober standard of feeling in matters of practical religion."

Then, too, there is the constantly increasing interest which it is such a pleasure to observe among Christians of all names in the order of the ritual year, in Christmas and Easter, Lent and Good-Friday—who can tell how much of this may not be due to the leavening influence of the Prayer Book, over and above what is effected by the public services of the Church? "I wonder," said a famous revivalist to a friend, a clergyman of our Church, "I wonder if you Episcopalians know what a good thing you have in that year of yours. Why don't you use it more?"

And true enough, why do we not? That we might learn to do so was a wish very near to the heart of that holy and true man who, if anyone, deserves the title of the saint among our priests, the late Dr. Muhlenberg, the man who twenty-five years ago headed the not wholly abortive movement known as the "Memorial."[96] One fruit of that movement is perhaps to be seen in the earnest desire now prevalent throughout the Church to see the scope of the Prayer Book's influence enlarged. In General Conventions and Church Congresses nowadays no topic excites greater interest than the question how better to adapt the services of the Church to the present needs and special conditions of all classes of the population. To be sure, the apparent impotence of the governing body to find or furnish any lawful way of relief is a little discouraging, but it is something to see an almost universal assent given in terms, to the proposition that relief ought to be had. What we have to fear is that during the long delay which puts off the only proper and regular method of giving more elasticity to the services, there may spring up a generation of Churchmen from whose minds the idea of obligation to law in matters of ritual observance will have faded out altogether.

There is a conservatism so conservative that it will stand by and see a building tumble down rather than lay a sacrilegious hand on a single stone, will see dam and mill and village all swept away sooner than lift the flash-boards that keep the superabundant water from coming safely down. It is among the things possible, that for lack of readjustment and timely adaptation of the laws regulating worship, just such a fate may befall our whole liturgical fabric.

The plausible theory of "the rubric of common sense," about which we have heard so much, a theory good within limitations, is threatening, by the wholesale application it receives, presently to annul all other rubrics whatsoever. When, by this process, uniformity and even similarity shall have been utterly abolished, when it shall have become impossible for one to know beforehand of a Sunday whether he is going to mass, or to meeting, or to church, the inquiry will be in order, What has conservatism of this sort really conserved?

"The personal liberty of the officiating clergyman," I fear will be the only answer; certainly not, "The liberty of the worshipping congregation." The straight and only honest way out of our embarrassment will, some day or other, be found, I dare not believe very soon, in a careful, loving, fair-minded revision of the formularies; a revision undertaken, not for the purpose of giving victory to one theological party rather than to another, or of changing in any degree the doctrinal teaching of the Church, but solely and wholly with a view to enriching, amplifying, and making more available the liturgical treasures of the book.

"One generation passeth away, another generation cometh." As we have seen in these words an argument in favor of not breaking with the past, so let them also speak to us of our plain duty to the present. True, the great needs are, as I have said, common alike to all the generations, to those that pass and those that come; but the lesser needs are variable, and unless we are prepared to take the ground that because "lesser" they maybe disregarded altogether, we are bound, with the changed times, to provide for the new wants new satisfactions. Take, simply by way of illustration, the need we stand in of an appropriate form of third service for use on Sundays in city churches, when Morning and Evening Prayer have been already said according to the prescribed order.

Why have we no such service?

Simply because no such need existed in our American cities when the Prayer Book, as we have it now, was taking shape, at the close of the last century. Just as no form for the administration of Adult Baptism was put into Queen Elizabeth's Prayer Book, simply because the usage of Infant Baptism was universal in that day, and there were no unbaptized adults; but such service was inserted at the Restoration to meet the need that had sprung up under the Puritan regime; so was it unnecessary in Bishop White's day to provide for a form of service which has only become practicable and desirable since modern discovery has enabled us to make the public streets almost as safe at night as in the daytime, and church-going as easy by gaslight as by sunlight.

Now it is perfectly possible, of course, under the present order of things, and with no change in rubric or canon law, for any clergyman to provide an additional service, to provide it in the form of a mosaic made up of bits of the liturgy wrenched out of their proper places, and so irregularly put together that no stranger among the worshippers can possibly, with the book in hand, thread his way among its intricacies.

But when we consider how many exquisite gems of devotional speech there are still left outside the covers of the Prayer Book; when we consider how delightful it would be to have back again the Magnificat , and the Nunc Dimittis , and some of the sweet versicles of the Evensong of the Church of England; when we consider the lamentable mistake already made in our existing formularies of introducing into Morning and Evening Prayer identically the same opening sentences, the same General Exhortation, the same General Confession, the same Declaration of Absolution, the same Prayer for the President, and the same General Thanksgiving—is it not evident that an additional, or, if you please, an alternative service, composed of material not elsewhere employed, would be for the worshippers a very great gain? The repetition which wearies is only the repetition which we feel need not have been. We never tire of the Collect for Peace any more than we tire of the sunset. It is in its place, and we always welcome it. In a perfect liturgy no form of words, except the Creed, the Doxology, and the Lord's Prayer, would at any time reappear, but as in arabesque work every square inch of space differs from every other square, so each clause and sentence of the manual of worship would have a distinctive beauty of its own, to be looked for precisely there and nowhere else.

This is but one illustration of what may be called a possible enrichment of our Book of Common Prayer. Impoverishment under the name of revision may very justly be deprecated, but who shall find any just fault with an enrichment that is really such?

We must remember that the men who gave us what we now have were, in their day and generation, the innovators, advocates of what the more timid spirits accounted dangerous change. We cannot, I think, sufficiently admire the courageous foresight of those Reformers who, at a time when public worship was mainly associated in men's minds with what went on among a number of ecclesiastics gathered together at one end of a church, dared to plant themselves firmly on the principle of "common" prayer, and to say, Henceforth the worship of the National Church shall be the worship not of priests alone, but of priests and people too. What a bold act it was! The printing-press, remember, although it had given the impulse to the Reformation, was far from being at that time the omnipresent thing it is now; books were scarce; popular education, as we understand it, was unknown; there were no means of supplying service-books to the poorer classes (no Prayer Book Societies, like this of yours), nor could the books have been used had they been furnished. And yet in the face of these seemingly insuperable obstacles, the leaders of religious thought in the England of that day had the sagacity to plan a system of worship which should involve participation by the people in all the acts of divine service, including the administration of the sacraments.

Here was genuine statesmanship applied to the administration of religion. Those men discerned wisely the signs of their own times. They saw what the right principle was, they foresaw what the art of printing was destined in time to accomplish, and they did a piece of work which has bravely stood the wear and tear of full three hundred years.

No Churchman questions the wisdom of their innovations now. Is it hopeless to expect a like quickness of discernment in the leaders of to-day? Surely they have eyes to see that a new world has been born, and that a thousand unexampled demands are pressing us on every side. If the Prayer Book is not enriched with a view to meeting those demands, it is not for lack of materials. A Saturday reviewer has tried to fasten on the Church of England the stigma of being the Church which for the space of two centuries has not been able to evolve a fresh prayer.

If the reproach were just it would be stinging indeed; but it is most cruelly unjust. In the devotional literature of the Anglicanism of the last fifty years, to go no further back, there may be found prayers fully equal in compass of thought and depth of feeling to any of those that are already in public use. Not to single out too many instances, it may suffice to mention the prayers appended to the book of Ancient Collects edited a few years since by a distinguished Oxford scholar. The clergy are acquainted with them, and know how beautiful they are. Why should not the whole Church enjoy the happiness of using them?[97] Why is there not the same propriety in our garnering the devotional harvest of the three hundred years last past that there was in the Reformers garnering the harvest of five times three hundred years?

"One generation passeth away, another generation cometh." I have spoken of the present and the past, what now of the future? We know that all things come to an end. What destiny awaits the book to which our evening thoughts have been given? That is a path not open to our tread. The cloudy curtain screens the threshold of it. Still we may listen and imagine that we hear sounds. What if such a voice as this were to come to us from the distance of a hundred years hence—a voice tinged with sadness, and carrying just the least suggestion of reproach? "Our fathers," the voice says, "in the last quarter of the last century, forfeited a golden opportunity. It was a time of reconstruction in the State, social life was taking on the form it was destined long to retain, a great war had come to an end and its results were being registered, all things were fluent. Moreover, there happened, just then, to be an almost unparalleled lull in the strife of religious parties; men were more disposed than usual to agree; the interest in liturgical research was at its greatest, and scholars knew and cared more than they have ever done since about the history and the structure of forms of prayer. Nevertheless, timid councils prevailed; nothing was done with a view to better adapting the system to the needs of society, and the hope that the Church might cease to wear the dimensions of a sect, and might become the chosen home of a great people, died unrealized. We struggle on, a half-hearted company, and try to live upon the high traditions, the sweet memories of our past."

God forbid, my friends, that the dismal prophecy come true! We will not believe it. But what, you ask, is the pathway to any such betterment as I have ventured roughly to sketch to-night? I will not attempt to map it, but I feel very confident which way it does not run. I am sure it does not run through the region of disaffection, complaint, threatening, restlessness, petulance, or secession. Mere fretfulness never carries its points. No, the true way to better things is always to begin by holding on manfully to that which we already are convinced is good. The best restorers of old fabrics are those who work with affectionate loyalty as nearly as possible on the lines of the first builders, averse to any change which is made merely for change's sake, not so anxious to modernize as to restore, and yet always awake to the fact that what they have been set to do is to make the building once more what it was first meant to be, a practicable shelter.


" . . . We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago."—Ezra v.11.

This was the reply of the rebuilders of Jerusalem to certain critical lookers-on who would fain be informed by what authority a picturesque ruin was disturbed. It is a serviceable answer still. There are always those to whom the activity of the Christian Church is a standing puzzle. Religion, or at any rate revealed religion, having, as they think, received its death-blow, the unmistakable signs of life which, from time to time, it manifests take on almost the character of a personal affront. They resent them. What right have these Christians to be showing such a lively interest in their vanquished faith? they ask. What business have they to be holding councils, and laying plans, and acting as if they had some high and splendid effort in hand? Are they such fools as to imagine that they can reconstruct what has so evidently tumbled into ruin?

But the wonderful thing about this great building enterprise known as the kingdom of God is that, from the day when the corner-stone was laid to this day, the workmen on the walls have never seemed to know what it meant to be discouraged. In the face of taunt and rebuff and disappointment, they have kept on saying to their critics: "We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago." This is just what the Church Council which has been holding its sessions in Baltimore during the last three weeks has to say for itself. Its task has been an architectural task. According to its lights, it has been at work upon the walls of the city of God. Let me give you, as my habit has been under similar circumstances in the past, some account of its doings.

The General Convention of 1892 will be memorable in our ecclesiastical annals for having closed one question of grave moment only to open a kindred one of still larger reach. The question closed was the question of liturgical revision; the question opened is the question of constitutional revision. I should like to speak to you this morning retrospectively of the one, and prospectively of the other.

It is now about twenty years since the question of modifying, to some extent, the methods of our public worship began to be mooted.

While it was acknowledged that the need was greater in the mother country than here, many of the repetitions and superfluities of the English Church service having been set aside by Bishop White and his compeers in the American Revision of 1789, it was felt that further improvements were still possible, and that the time had fully come for making them. Since the beginning of the so-called "tractarian movement" in the Church of England a great deal of valuable liturgical material had been accumulating, and it was discerned that if ever the fruits of the scholarship of such men as Palmer and Neale and Maskell and Bright were to be garnered the harvest-day had arrived. To the question often asked why it would not have been wiser to wait until the Church of England had led the way and set the pattern, the answer is that the hands of the Church of England were tied, as they have been tied these many years past, and as they may continue to be tied, for aught we know to the contrary, for many years to come. The Church of England cannot touch her own Prayer Book, whether to mend or to mar it, except with the consent of that very mixed body, the House of Commons—a consent she is naturally and properly most loth to ask. Immersed in a veritable ocean of accumulated liturgical material, she is as helpless as Tantalus to moisten her lips with so much as a single drop. It was seen that this fact laid upon us American Churchmen a responsibility as urgent as it was unique, viz., the responsibility of doing what we could to meet the devotional needs of present-day Christendom, not only for our own advantage, but with a view to being ultimately of service to our Anglican brethren across the sea. An experiment of the greatest interest, which for them was a sheer impossibility, it lay open to us to try. After various abortive attempts had come to nought, a beginning was at length made in the General Convention of 1880, a joint committee of bishops and deputies being then appointed to consider whether, in view of the fact that this Church was soon to enter upon the second century of its organized existence in America, the changed condition of the national life did not demand certain alterations in the Book of Common Prayer in the direction of liturgical enrichment and increased flexibility of use.

Few were of the opinion at the time that anything definite would come of the deliberations of this committee, and the fact, never before publicly stated till this moment, that of the deputies appointed to serve upon it the greater number were men who had not voted in favor of the measure, makes it all the more interesting to remember that the report, when brought in at Philadelphia three years later, was signed by every member of the committee then living. This Philadelphia report recommended very numerous changes in the direction both of "flexibility" and "enrichment," and by far the greater number of the recommendations met with the approval of the convention. There is, however, a very wise provision of our Church constitution, a provision strikingly characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon mind, which, by way of making allowance for second thought, requires that liturgical changes, before being finally adopted, shall run the gauntlet of two successive conventions. Much was accepted at Philadelphia; it remained to be seen how much would pass the ordeal of its second reading at Chicago three years later.

Into the war of words waged over the subject during that interval period, I have neither the time nor the disposition to carry you. The three years, while they gave opportunity for reaction, also allowed space for counter-reaction; so that when, at last, the question came once more before the Church in council assembled whether the work done at Philadelphia should be approved or disallowed, men's minds had sufficiently recovered balance to permit of their exercising discrimination. Accordingly in 1886 some things were rejected, some adopted, and some remanded for further revision. But why should I confuse your minds by an attempt to tell in detail the whole story of the movement? No matter how clear I might make the narrative it would be difficult to follow it, for in the progress of the work there have been surprises many, successes and reverses not a few; enough that, at last, the long labor is ended and in this Columbian year the ship comes into port.

As to results, their number and their quality, opinions will of course differ. In connection with this, as with all similar undertakings, there are many to cry: "Who will show us any good?" Certainly nothing that could be called a radical change has been brought to pass; but then, is there any reason to suppose that radical changes were either sought or desired by those who have been active in the movement? Certain distinct and indisputable gains may be counted up. The recovery of the great Gospel hymns come under this head. There are some of us who think that only to have succeeded in replacing the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis in the Evening Prayer is of itself a sufficient reward for years of effort, but this is only a small part of our harvest. The new opening sentences for Morning and Evening Prayer, which have so "adorned and beautified" our observance of great festivals, the remodelling of the Ash-Wednesday service, the recovered Feast of the Transfiguration, the various provisions for adapting the Church's worship to the exigencies of times and seasons, the increased freedom in the use of the Psalter, all these go to make up an aggregate of betterment the measure of which will be more fully understood as time goes on. "Parturiunt montes" is an easy verdict to pronounce; it remains to be proved whether in this case it is a just one to render. If there are some (as doubtless some there are) who hold that the sample book presented at Philadelphia in 1883, faulty as it confessedly was, is still, all things considered, a better book for American needs than the standard finally adopted at Baltimore, week before last, if there are some who deeply regret the failure to include among our special offices one for the burial of little children, and among our prayers intercessions for the country, for the families of the land, for schools of good learning, for employers and those whom they employ, together with many other forms of supplication gathered from the wide field of English liturgiology—if, I say, there arc some who are of this mind they must comfort themselves with the reflection that, after all, they are a minority, that the greater number of those upon whom rested the responsibility of decision did not wish for these additions, and that the things which finally found acceptance were the things unanimously desired. For, when we think of it, this is perhaps the very best feature of the whole thing, looked at in its length and breadth, that there is no defeated party, no body of people who feel that they have a right to fret and sulk because unpalatable changes have been forced upon them by narrow majorities. It is a remarkable fact, that of the many scores of alterations effected, it can be truly said that, with rare, very rare exceptions, they found, when it came to the decisive vote, what was practically a unanimous consent. They were things that everybody wanted.

As to the annoyance and vexation experienced by worshippers during the years the revision has been in progress, perhaps the very best thing that can be done, now that the end is so near at hand, will be to forget all about it. In a few months, at the furthest, the Prayer Book, in its complete form, will be available for purchase and use, and the hybrid copies which have been so long in circulation, to the scandal of people of fastidious taste, will quickly vanish away. Meanwhile, it is interesting to know that all through this stretch of years while the Prayer Book has been "in solution," as some have been fond of phrasing it, the Episcopal Church has exhibited a rate of growth quite unparalleled in its history.

Of course nobody can say with certainty what has caused the increase. But it is at least conceivable that among the accelerating forces has been this very work of liturgical revision. People at large have been made aware that this Church was honestly endeavoring to adapt its system of worship to the needs of our time and country; and the mere fact of their seeing this to be the case has served to allay prejudice and to foster a spirit of inquiry. Finding us disposed to relax something of our rigidity, they, on their part, have been first attracted, then conciliated, and finally completely won.

I cannot leave this subject without paying a personal tribute to a prelate but for whose aid in the House of which he is a distinguished ornament, liturgical revision would, humanly speaking, have long ago come to nought. To the fearlessness, the patience, the kindly temper, and the resolute purpose of William Croswell Doane, Bishop of Albany, this Church for these results stands deeply and lastingly indebted. When others' courage failed them, he stood firm; when friends and colleagues were counselling retreat, and under their breath were whispering "Fiasco!" and "Collapse!" his spirit never faltered. He has been true to a great purpose, at the cost of obloquy sometimes, and to the detriment even of old friendships. Separated from him by a dozen shades of theological opinion and by as many degrees of ecclesiastical bias, I render him here and now that homage of grateful appreciation which every Churchman owes him.

So much for the ship that has dropped anchor. I have left my self but a few moments in which to say God-speed to the other craft which is even now sliding down the ways, ready for the great deep. Put perhaps it is just as well. History is always a safer line to enter upon than prophecy; and were I to say all that is in my mind and heart as to the possibilities of this new venture of faith on the Church's part, constitutional revision, I might be betrayed into expressions of hopefulness which would strike most of you as overwrought.

Suffice it to say, that never since the Reformation of Religion in the sixteenth century has a fairer prospect been opened to the Church of our affections than is opened to her to-day. No interpretation of the divine purpose with respect to this broad land we name America has one-half so much of likelihood as that which makes our country the predestined building plot for the Church of the Reconciliation.

All signs point that way. To us, if we have but the eyes to see it, there falls, not through any merit of our own, but by the accident, if it be right to use that word, by the accident of historical association, the opportunity of leadership.

It is possible for us, at this crisis of our destiny, so to mould our organic law that we shall be brought into sympathetic contact with hundreds of thousands of our fellow-countrymen who worship the same God, hold the same faith, love the same Christ. On the other hand, it is possible for us so to fence ourselves off from this huge family of our fellow-believers as to secure for our lasting heritage only the cold privileges of a proud and selfish isolation. There could be no real catholicity in such a choice as that.

We have the opportunity of growing into a great and comprehensive Church. We have the opportunity of dwindling into a self-conscious, self-conceited, and unsympathetic sect. Which shall it be? With those to whom, under God, the remoulding of our organic law has been intrusted it largely rests to say.


1552 1559 1604 1662 1789 1892 Scripture Sentences 11 8 31 Collects 3 1 3 Epistles 2 1 3 Gospels 1 1 3 Offices 13 8 1 1 Prayers 15 2 7 18 13 9 Proper Psalms (days) 2 10 Selections of Psalms 10 10 Canticles 8 2 Versicles 4 3 11 Litany Suffrages 1 1 Catechetical Questions 12 Exhortations 3 2


Notes for a Short History of the Book of Common Prayer

[1] First printed in the American Church Review, April, 1881.

[2] Much confusion of thought and speech in connection with our ecclesiastical legislation grows out of not keeping in mind the fact that here in America the organic genetic law of the Church, as well as of the State, is in writing, and compacted into definite propositions. We draw, that is to say, a far sharper distinction than it is possible to do in England between what is constitutional and what is simply statutory. There is no function of our General Convention that answers to the "omnipotence of Parliament." This creative faculty was vacated once for all at the adoption of the Constitution.

[3] Conferences, p. 461.

[4] Principles of Divine Service, vol. i. p. 390.

[5] Church Quarterly Review, London, October, 1876.

[6] The votes of the House of Bishops are not reported numerically. In the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies the vote stood as follows: "Of the Clergy there were 43 Dioceses represented—Ayes, 33; nays, 9; divided, 1. Of the Laity there were 35 Dioceses represented—Ayes, 20; nays, 11; divided, 4."—Journal of Convention of 1880, p. 152.

[7] Church Eclectic for November, 1880.

[8] Remembering the deluge of "centennial" rhetoric let loose upon the country five years ago, another critic may well feel justified in finding in the language of the resolution what he considers "an unnecessary raison d'etre." But it is just possible that centennial changes rest on a basis of genuine cause and effect quite independent of the decimal system. A century covers the range of three generations, and the generation is a natural, not an arbitrary division of time. What the grandfather practises the son criticises and the grandson amends. This at least ought to commend itself to the consideration of the lovers of mystical numbers and "periodic laws."

[9] The real argument against the "driblet method" (by which is meant the concession of improvement only as it is actually conquered inch by inch) lies in what has been already said about the undesirability of frequent changes in widely used formularies of worship.

It may be true, as some allege, that a revision of the Prayer Book would shake the Church, but it is more likely that half a dozen patchings at triennial intervals would shatter it. After twenty years of this sort of piecemeal revision, a variorum edition of the Prayer Book would be a requisite of every well furnished pew.

The late Convention has been twitted with inconsistency on the score of having negatived outright the proposal for a Commission to overhaul the Constitution of the Church while consenting to send the Prayer Book to a committee for review. Discernment would be a better word than inconsistency, for although on grounds of pure theory the Constitution and the Prayer Book seem to stand in corresponding attitudes as respects methods of amendment, in practice the difference between the two is very wide. Triennial changes in the letter of the Constitution (and these have often been made) involve no inconvenience to anybody, for the simple reason that that document must of necessity be reprinted with every fresh issue of the Journal. Old copies do not continue in use, except as books of reference, but old Prayer Books do hold their place in parish churches, and the spectacle of congregations trying to worship in unison with books some of which contained the reading of 1880, others that of 1883, and still others that of 1886 would scarcely edify. Theoretically, let it be freely granted, the "driblet method" of amendment is the proper one for both Prayer Book and Constitution, but the fact that the Convention had eyes to see that this was a case to which the maxims of pure mathematics did not apply should be set down to its credit, rather than its discredit.

[10] Reprinted together with a supplementary Letter in the Journal of the Convention of 1868.

[11] Dr. Coit's Letter of 1868, also reprinted in Journal of that year.

[12] See Book of Common Prayer according to the use of King's Chapel, Boston. Among the rhetorical crudities of this emasculated Prayer Book (from the title-page of which, by the way, the definite article has been with praiseworthy truthfulness omitted) few things are worse than the following from the form for the Burial of Children, a piece of writing which in point of style would seem to savor more of the Lodge than of the Church: "My brethren, what is our life? It is as the early dew of morning that glittereth for a short time, and then is exhaled to heaven. Where is the beauty of childhood? Where is [sic] the light of those eyes and the bloom of that countenance?" . . . "Who is young and who is old? Whither are we going and what shall we become?" And yet the author of this mawkish verbiage probably fancied that he was improving upon the stately English of the Common Prayer. It is a warning to all would-be enrichers.

[13] A list of the more noticeable Anglican works on Liturgies published during the period named, arranged in the order of their appearance, will serve to illustrate the accuracy of the statement made above, and may also be of value to the general reader for purposes of reference.

1832. Origines Liturgicae, William Palmer. 1833-41. Tracts for the Times. 1840. Conferences on the Book of Common Prayer, Edward Cardwell. 1843. The Choral Service of the Churches of England and Ireland, John Jebb. 1844. The Ancient Liturgy of the Church of England, William Maskell. 1845. Pickering's Reprints of the Prayer Books of 1549, 1552, 1559, 1603, and 1662. 1846. Monumenta Ritualia, William Maskell. 1847. Reliquiae Liturgicae, Peter Hall. 1848. Fragmenta Liturgica, Peter Hall. 1849. Book of Common Prayer with Notes legal and historical, A. J. Stephens. Manuscript Book of Common Prayer for Ireland, A. J. Stephens. Tetralogia Liturgica, John Mason Neale. 1853. Two Liturgies of Edward VI., Edward Cardwell. 1855. Principles of Divine Service, Philip Freeman. History of the Book of Common Prayer, F. Proctor. 1858. History of the Book of Common Prayer, T. Lathbury. 1859. Directorium Anglicanum, J. Purchas. 1861. Ancient Collects, William Bright. 1865. Liber Precum Publicarum, Bright and Medd. 1865. The Priest's Prayer Book. 1865. History of the Book of Common Prayer, R. P. Blakeney. 1866. The Prayer Book Interleaved, Campion and Beaumont. 1866. The Annotated Book of Common Prayer, J. H. Blunt. 1870. The Liturgy of the Church of Sarum, Translated, Charles Walker. 1870. The First Prayer Book of Edward VI. with the Ordinal, Walton and Medd. 1872. Psalms and Litanies, Rowland Williams. 1872. Notitia Eucharistica, W. E. Scudamore. 1875-80. Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, Smith and Cheetham. 1876. First Prayer Book of Edward VI., compared with the successive Revisions, James Parker. 1877. Introduction to the History of the successive Revisions of the Book of Common Prayer, James Parker. 1878. Liturgies—Eastern and Western, C. E. Hammond. 1880. The Convocation Prayer Book.

[14] Tract No. 3. Thoughts respectfully addressed to the Clergy on alterations in the Liturgy.

[15] One of the most curious illustrations of the spread of Anglican ideas about worship now in progress is to be found in the upspringing in the very bosom of Scottish Presbyterianism of a CHURCH SERVICE SOCIETY. Two of the publications of this Society have lately fallen in the present writer's way. They bear the imprint of Wm. Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh, and are entitled respectively, A Book of Common Order, and Home Prayer. With questionable good taste the compilers have given to the former work a Greek and to the latter a Latin sub-title (Evxolioyiov and Suspiria Domestica). Both books have many admirable points, although, in view of the facts of history, there is a ludicrous side to this attempt to commend English viands to Northern palates under a thin garniture of Scottish herbs which probably has not wholly escaped the notice of the compilers themselves.

[16] See The Guardian (London), February 9, 1881.

[17] Unless "finally to beat down Satan under our feet," be reckoned an exception.

[18] Lectures on Justification, p 380.

[19] The rationale of this curious lapse is simple. The American revisers, instead of transferring the Commination Office in toto to the new book, wisely decided to engraft certain features of it upon the Morning Prayer for Ash-Wednesday. In the process, the fifty-first Psalm, which has a recognized place in the Commination, dropped out, instead of being transferred, as it should have been, to the proper psalms.

[20] See the Convocation Prayer Book.

[21] Prayer Book Interleaved, p. 65.

[22] A curious illustration of the sensitiveness of the Protestant Episcopal mind to anything that can be supposed even remotely to endanger our doctrinal settlement was afforded at the late General Convention, when the House of Deputies was thrown into something very like a panic by a most harmless suggestion with reference to the opening sentences of the Litany. A venerable and thoroughly conservative deputy from South Carolina had ventured to say that it would be doctrinally an improvement if the tenet of the double procession of the Holy Ghost were to be removed from the third of the invocations, and a devotional improvement if the language of the fourth were to be phrased in words more literally Scriptural and less markedly theological than those at present in use. Eager defenders of the faith instantly leaped to their feet in various parts of the House, persuaded that a deadly thrust had been aimed at the doctrine of the Trinity. Never was there a more gratuitous misconception. The real intrenchment of the doctrine of the Trinity, so far as the Litany is concerned, lies in the four opening words of the second and the five opening words of the third of the invocations, and these it had not been proposed to touch. In confirmation of this view of the matter, it is pertinent to instance the Book of Family Prayers lately put forth by a Committee of the Upper House of the Convocation of Canterbury. This manual provides no fewer than six different Litanies, all of them opening with addresses to the three Persons of the adorable Trinity, and yet in no one instance is the principle advocated by the deputy from South Carolina unrecognized. Every one of the six Litanies begins with language similar to that which he recommended. [See also in witness of the mediaeval use, which partially bears out Mr. McCrady's thought, the ancient Litany reprinted by Maskell from The Prymer in English. Mon. Hit. ii. p. 95.] If the Upper House of the Convocation of Canterbury, fondly supposed by us Anglicans to be the very citadel of sound doctrine, be thus tainted with heresy, upon what can we depend?

Polemical considerations aside, probably even the most orthodox would allow that the invocations of the Litany might gain in devotional power, while losing nothing in august majesty, were the third to run—O God the Holy Ghost, Sanctifier of the faithful, have mercy upon us miserable sinners. And the fourth as in Bishop Heber's glorious hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, have mercy upon us miserable sinners. But all this is doctrinal and plainly ultra vires.

[23] A very natural explanation, by the way, of the fact, often noticed, that there is no petition in the Litany for an increase of the ministry.

[24] Here, i. e., in connection with Saints' Day services, would be an admirable opportunity for the introduction into liturgical use of the Beatitudes. What could possibly be more appropriate? And yet these much loved words of Christ have seldom been given the place in worship they deserve.

They do find recognition as an antiphon in the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom. To reassert a usage associated in the history of liturgies with the name of this Father of the Church and with his name only, would be to pay him better honor than we now show by three times inserting in our Prayer Book the collect conjecturally his—a thing the Golden-mouthed himself, when in the flesh, would not have dreamed of doing. "Once," he would have said, "is enough."

[25] The Priest's Prayer Book has 688 (!!) mostly juiceless.

[26] In connection with this clause there sprang up an animated and interesting debate in the House of Deputies as to the wisdom of thus seeming to cut off every opportunity for extemporary prayer in our public services. Up to this time, it was alleged, a liberty had existed of using after sermon, if the preacher were disposed to do so, the "free prayer" which before sermon it was confessedly not permitted him to have—why thus cut off peremptorily an ancient privilege? why thus sharply annul a traditional if not a chartered right?

At first sight this distinction between before and after sermon looks both arbitrary and artificial, but when examined there is found to be a reason in it. The sermon, especially in the case of emotional preachers, is a sort of bridge of transition from what we may call the liturgical to the spontaneous mood of mind, and if the speaker has carried his listeners with him they are across the bridge at the same moment with himself. The thing that would have been incongruous before, becomes natural after the minister has been for some time speaking less in his priestly than in his personal character.

The notion that the points at issue between the advocates of liturgical and the advocates of extemporaneous worship can be settled by a promiscuous jumbling together of the two modes, is a fond conceit, as the Reformed Episcopalians will doubtless confess when they shall have had time enough to make full trial of the following rubrics in their Prayer-book:

Then shall the Minister say the Collects and Prayers following in whole or in part, or others at his discretion.

Here may be used any of the occasional Prayers, or extemporaneous Prayer.

This is bad philosophy. It need not be said that such directions are undevotional—for doubtless they were piously meant; but it must be said that they are inartistic (if the word may be allowed), at variance with the fitness of things and counter to the instinct of purity. Formality and informality are two things that cannot be mingled to advantage. There is place and time for each. The secret of the power of liturgical worship is wrapped up with the principle of order. A certain majesty lies in the movement which is without break. On the other hand the charm of extemporaneous devotion, and it is sometimes a very real charm, is traceable to our natural interest in whatever is irregular, fresh, and spontaneous.

To suppose that we can secure at any given time the good effects of both methods by some trick of combination is an error—as well attempt to arrange on the same plot of ground a French and an English garden. If indeed Christian people could bring themselves to acknowledge frankly the legitimacy of both methods and provide amicably for their separate use, a great step forward in the direction of Church unity would have been achieved; but for a catholicity so catholic as this, public opinion is not yet ripe, and perhaps may not be ripe for centuries to come. Those who believe in the excellency of liturgies, while not believing in them as jure divino, would be well content in such a case to wait the working of the principle of the survival of the fittest.

[27] The able and fair-minded jurist who first hit upon this ingenious scheme for patching the Ratification has lately, with characteristic frankness, said substantially this under his own signature.

"The proper place for the amendment," he writes, "is at the end of the first rubric preceding the sentences of Scripture for both Morning and Evening Prayer, after the word Scripture, as everyone can see by looking." He adds: "This, however, is only a question of form, and ought not to interfere with the adoption of the amendment at the next Convention. It is to be hoped that the resolution for enrichment, so called, will present a variety of additions out of which an acceptable selection can be made; and when they are finally carried that the Book of Common Prayer will be not only the standard book, but a sealed book, so to speak, for as many generations as have passed since the present book was adopted."—Letter of the Hon. J. B. Howe of Indiana in The Churchman for January 29, 1881.

[28] See page 578 of Evangelical Catholic Papers. A collection of Essays, Letters, and Tractates from "Writings of Rev. Wm. Augustus Muhlenberg, D. D." during the last forty years.

The failure of this devout and venerated man to secure sundry much desired liturgical improvements (although it yet remains to be seen whether the failure has been total) was perhaps due to a certain vagueness inherent in his plans of reform. A clear vision of the very thing desired seems to have been lacking, or at least the gift of imparting it to others. But even as no man has deserved better of the American Episcopal Church than he, so it is no more than right that his deeply cherished wishes should be had in careful remembrance.

[29] Now a "black-letter day" in the English Calendar.

[30] The Convocation Prayer Book, in loc.

[31] Originally only an explanatory rubric. See Procter, p. 397.

[32] Let us hope that before long there may be devised some better way of providing relief for our Widows and Orphans than that of the indirect taxation of the singers of hymns.

[33] The Greek Office Books, it is said, fill eighteen quartos.

[34] In that naive and racy bit of English (omitted in our American book) entitled Concerning the Service of the Church, one of the very choicest morsels is the following: "Moreover, the number and hardness of the Rules called the Pie, and the manifold changings of the Service, was the cause, that to turn the Book only was so hard and intricate a matter, that many times there was more business to find out what should be read than to read it when it was found out."

[35] It may be wise to buttress the position taken with a quotation out of Dr. Coit.

"We really, however, do not see any necessity for either of these Services in American Books, as with us the Ordinal always, now, makes a part of the Prayer Book in all editions. It would be a saving to expunge them and no change would be necessary, except the introduction of such a litanical petition and suffrage with the Services for Deacons and Priests, as already exists in the Service for Bishops. The Church of England retains the Litany in her Ordinal, for that, until latterly, was printed in a separate book, and was not to be had unless ordered expressly. And yet with even such a practice she has but one Communion Service. We study cheapness and expedition in our day. They can both be consulted here, salvafide et salva ecclesia."—Report of 1844.

[36] First printed in The Church Review, 1886.

[37] The Rev. Dr. Orlando Hutton.

[38] Priest's Prayer Book, Fifth edition, pp. 238, 243, 281.

[39] The Prayer for Imprisoned Debtors is believed to be the only formulary actually dropped.

[40] The Church Quarterly Review for April, 1884, and July, 1884. The Church Times for August 29, 1884; also July 31, August 7, 14, 21, 28, September 4, 1885. The Guardian for July 20, 1885.

[41] Recall the "Additional Hymns" of 1868.

[42] This proposal of arbitration has occasioned so much innocent mirth that, in justice to the maker of it, attention should be called to the ambiguity of the language in which it is couched. The wording of the passage is vague. It is just possible that by "the question" which he would be content to submit to the judgment of the four specified men of letters, he means, not, as he has been understood to mean, the whole subject-matter of The Book Annexed, but only the abstract question whether verbal variations from the English original of the Common Prayer be or be not, on grounds of purity of style, desirable. Even if this be all that he means there is perhaps still room for a smile, but, at all events, he ought to have the benefit of the doubt.

[43] Discussions and Arguments, p. 341.

[44] "The list might be brought down as late as the authorities pleased to bring it, even to include, if they chose, such names as John Keble, James De Koven, and Ferdinand Ewer."—The Church Times for August 14, 1885.

[45] This form of absolution suggested as an alternate in The Book Annexed is taken from the source mentioned.

[46] The paper read by the Dean of Worcester dealt exclusively with the legal aspects of the question as it concerns the Church of England.

[47] The Rev. Edgar Morris Dumbleton (Rector of St. James's, Exeter).

[48] The Rev. George Venables (Hon. Canon of Norwich and Vicar of Great Yarmouth).

[49] The Rev. Arthur James Robinson (Rector of Whitechapel).

[50] See letter of "J. L. W." in The Southern Churchman for August 6, 1885.

[51] See letter of "Ritualist" in The Standard of the Cross for July 2, 1885.

[52] See the "Report of the Committee of the Council of the Diocese of Wisconsin," passim.

[53] The evident intention of the Joint Committee in the introduction of this Canticle was to make it possible to shorten the Morning Prayer on week-days, without spoiling the structure of the office, as is now often done, by leaving out one of the Lessons. It is certainly open to question whether a better alternate might not have been provided, but it is surprising to find so well furnished a scholar as the Wisconsin critic speaking of the Benedictus es Domine as a liturgical novelty, "derived neither from the Anglican or the more ancient service-hooks." As a matter of fact the Benedictus es Domine was sung daily in the Ambrosian Rite at Matins, and is found also in the Mozarabic Breviary.

[54] See Wisconsin Report, p. 5.

[55] See the precautions recommended in The Living Church Annual for 1886, p. 132, art. "Tabernacle."

[56] In this respect The Book Annexed may be compared to The Convocation Prayer Book published by Murray in 1880, for the purpose of showing what the English Book would be like if "amended in conformity with the recommendations of the Convocations of Canterbury and York, contained in reports presented to her Majesty the Queen in the year 1879."

[57] The Report was adopted.

[58] In addition to the Maryland Report we have now a still more admirable one from Central New York.

[59] Strangely enough the Elizabethan period, so rich in genius of every other type, seems to have been almost wholly barren of liturgical power. Men had not ceased to write prayers, as a stout volume in the Parker Society's Library abundantly evidences; but they had ceased to write them with the terseness and melody that give to the style of the great Churchmen of the earlier reigns so singular a charm.

[60] The liturgical manuscripts of Sanderson and Wren, made public only recently by the late Bishop of Chester, ought to be included under this head.

[61] Many of these "Treasuries," "Golden Gates," and the like, have here and there something good, but for the most part they are disfigured by sins against that "sober standard of feeling," than which, as a high authority assures us, nothing except "a sound rule of faith" is more important "in matters of practical religion." Of all of them, Scudamore's unpretentious little "Manual" is, perhaps, the best.

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