A Short History of the Book of Common Prayer
by William Reed Huntington
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[62] For a conspectus of the various title-pages, see Keeling's Litugiae Britannicae, London, 1842.

[63] The question of a change in the name of the Church is a constitutional, and in no sense a liturgical question. Let it be considered at the proper time, and in a proper way, but why thrust it precipitately into a discussion to which it is thoroughly foreign?

[64] By the Maryland Committee.

[65] This paragraph was written before the author had been privileged to read Prof. Gold's interesting paper in The Seminarian. It is only proper to say that this accomplished writer and very competent critic does object emphatically to the theory that the opening Sentences are designed to give the key-note of the Service. But here he differs with Blunt, as elsewhere in the same paper he dissents from Freeman and from Littledale, admirably illustrating by his proper assertion of an independent judgment, the difficulty of applying the Vicentian rule in liturgical criticism. Such variations of opinion do, indeed, make against "science," but they favor good sense.

[66] Chambers's Translation.

[67] This is not to be understood as an acknowledgment that the doctrinal and philological objections to the formulary as it originally stood were sound and sufficient. On the lips of a Church which declares "repentance" to be an act whereby we "forsake sin," a prayer for time does not seem wholly inappropriate, while as for this use of the word "space" of which complaint was made, it should be noticed that King James's Bible gives us nineteen precedents for it; and the Prayer Book itself one.

[68] In The Book Annexed, as originally presented, there stood in this place the beautiful and appropriate psalm, Levavi oculos. But the experts declared that this would never do, since from time immemorial Levavi oculos had been a Vesper Psalm, and it would be little less than sacrilege to insert it in a morning service, however congruous to such a use the wording of it might, to an unscientific mind, appear. Accordingly the excision was made; but upon inquiry it turned out that the monks had possessed a larger measure of good sense, as well as a better exegesis, than the Convention had attributed to them, for Levavi oculos, it appears, besides being a Vesper psalm, stood assigned, in the Sarum Breviary, to Prime as well; the fact being that the psalm is alike adapted to morning and to evening use, and singularly appropriate both to the "going out" and the "coming in" of the daily life of man.

[69] See p. 6.

[70] "O Lord, bow thine ear," has been suggested as a substitute. It is in the words of Holy Scripture, it is the precise metrical equivalent of "O Lord, save the queen," and it is directly antiphonal to the versicle which follows.

There being no Established Church in the United States, it is doubtful whether any prayers for "rulers" are desirable, over and above those we already have. And if this point be conceded, the other considerations mentioned may be allowed to have weight in favor of "O Lord, bow thine ear."

[71] The Seminarian, 1886, pp. 29, 30.

[72] It may be well to throw, into a foot-note a single illustration of what might otherwise be thought an extravagant statement. The Rev. W. C. Bishop, writing in The Church Eclectic for February, 1884, says:

"The service of the Beatitudes proposed by the Committee is just one of 'fancy-liturgy making,' which ought to be summarily rejected. We have more than enough of this sort of thing already; the commandments, comfortable words, et hoc genus omne, are anything but 'unique glories' of our Liturgy. Anything of which we have exclusive possession is nearly certain to be a 'unique blunder,' instead of anything better, because the chances are a thousand to one that anything really beautiful or edifying would have been discovered by, and have commended itself to, some other Christians in the last two thousand years." If such is to be the nomenclature of our new "science," Devotion may well stand aghast in the face of Liturgies.

[73] See the Commination Office in the Prayer Book of the Church of England.

[74] Daniel's Codex Liturgicus, vol. iv. p. 343. Quoted in Dictionary of Christian Antiquities. The translation of makapismoi has been doubted; but Dr. Neale and Prof. Cheetham agree that the reference is to the BEATITUDES of the Gospel.

[75] Church Eclectic for April, 1884.

[76] The following will serve as an illustration:

The Anthem;

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall get mercy; blessed are the clean in the heart, for they shall see God.

The Versicle:

Lord hear my prayer.

The Answer:

And let my cry come to thee.

Let us pray.

Lord Jesu Christ, whose property is to be merciful, which art alway pure and clean without spot of sin; Grant us the grace to follow thee in mercifulness toward our neighbors, and always to bear a pure heart and a clean conscience toward thee, that we may after this life see thee in thy everlasting glory, which livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen.

[77] It is interesting and suggestive to observe with how much less frequency our attention is called to this paragraph of the Preface than to the later one which asserts historical continuity with the Church of England.

[78] Essays on Liturgiology, p. 226.

[79] The response proposed by the Commissioners ran, "Lord have mercy upon us, and make us partakers of this blessing," a prayer unobjectionable for substance, but painfully pedestrian in style.

[80] Notably one in which the responses are all taken from Psalm li.

[81] See Note at the end of this Paper.

[82] E. g.: "That it may please thee to send forth laborers into thy harvest, and to have mercy upon all men."

[83] See Report, pp. 6-9.

[84] "Strike it out," said the literalist of a certain committee on hymnody, many years ago, as he and his colleagues were sitting in judgment on Watts's noble hymn, "There is a land of pure delight." "Either strike out the whole hymn or alter that word, 'living.'

"'Bright fields, beyond the swelling flood, Stand dressed in living green.'

What sense is there in 'living' green? It is the grass that lives, not the green." Happily the suggestion failed to find a seconder. But revisers, whose work is to be passed upon by ballot, may well be shy of idiomatic English. Take such a phrase as, "Now for the comfortless trouble's sake of the needy"; Lindley Murray, were he consulted, would have no mercy on it: and yet a more beautiful and touching combination of words is not to be found anywhere in the Psalter. It is the utter lack of this idiomatic characteristic that makes "Lambeth prayers" proverbially so insipid.

[85] See Report, p. 12.

[86] Quoted in The Church Eclectic for August, 1886.

[87] Prof. Gold in The Seminarian, p. 34.

[88] The Rev. Dr. Robert in The Churchman for July 17, 1886,

[89] Specious, because our continuity with the Church life of England is inestimably precious; impracticable, because there is no representative body of the English Church authorized to treat with us.

[90] This Prayer has been gathered from the Dirige in The Primer set forth by the King's Majesty and his Clergy, 1545; the same source (it is interesting to note) to which we trace the English form of the Collect for Purity at the beginning of the office.

[91] 1 Cor. iii. 9.

[92] Born into life!—man grows Forth from his parents' stem, And blends their bloods, as those Of theirs are blent in them; So each new man strikes root into a far foretime. Born into life!—we bring

A bias with us here, And, when here, each new thing Affects us we come near; To tunes we did not call our being must keep chime. Empedocles on Etna.

[93] "Parliaments, prelates, convocations, synods may order forms of prayer. They may get speeches to be spoken upward by people on their knees. They may obtain a juxtaposition in space of curiously tessellated pieces of Bible and Prayer Book. But when I speak of the rareness and preciousness of prayers, I mean such prayers as contain three conditions—permanence, capability jot being really prayed, and universality. Such prayers primates and senates can no more command than they can order a new Cologne Cathedral or another epic poem."—The Bishop of Berry's Hampton Lectures, lect iv.

[94] The following catena is curious:

"Salute one another with an holy kiss."—Rom. xvi. 10.

"Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity."—1 Pet. v. 14.

"And let the bishop salute the church, and say: Let the peace of God be with you all.

"And let the people answer, And with thy spirit.

"And let the deacon say to all, Salute one another with a holy kiss.

"And let the clergy kiss the bishop; and of the laity, the men the men, and the women the women, and let the children stand by the Bema. "—The Divine Liturgy of St. Clement (Bretts's Translation, corrected by Neale).

"At Solemn High Mass, the deacon kisses the altar at the same time with the celebrating priest, by whom he is saluted with the kiss of peace, accompanied by these words, PAX TECUM."—Rubric of the Roman Missal.

"PAX OR PAXBREDE. A small plate of gold, or silver, or copper-gilt, enamelled, or piece of carved ivory or wood overlaid with metal, carried round, having been kissed by the priest, after the Agnus Dei in the Mass, to communicate the kiss of peace."—Pugin's Glossary.

St. George's Chapel, Windsor. "Item, a fine PAX, silver and gilt enamelled, with an image of the crucifixion, Mary and John, and having on the top three crosses, with two shields hanging on either side. Item, a ferial PAX, of plate of silver gilt, with the image of the Blessed Virgin."—Dugdale's Monasticon quoted in above Glossary.

"Ye who do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbors, and intend to lead a new life . . . Draw near with faith, and take this holy sacrament to your comfort."—Shorter Exhortation in the Communion Office of the Prayer Book.

[95] A friend who heard the sermon preached has kindly sent me the following apt illustrations. They do not, indeed, come from history technically so-called, but they report the mind of one to whose eye the whole life of the Middle Ages was as an open book.

"There was now a pause, of which the abbot availed himself by commanding the brotherhood to raise the solemn chant, De profundis clamavi"—The Monastery, chap, xxxvii.

"'To be a guest in the house where I should command?' said the Templar; 'Never! Chaplains, raise the psalm, Quare fremuerunt Gentes? Knights, squires, and followers of the Holy Temple, prepare to follow the banner of Beau-seant!'"—Ivanhoe, chap. xliv.

[96] So many good things are washed oat of men's memory by the lapse of even a quarter of a century that possibly some even of those who knew all about the "Memorial" in 1852 may be willing to be reminded what its scope and purpose were.

The petition was addressed to the bishops "in council," and prayed for the appointment of a commission to report upon the practicability of making this Church a central bond of union among the Christian people of America, by providing for as much freedom in opinion, discipline, and worship as might be held to be compatible with the essential faith and order of the Gospel.

The desired commission was appointed, Bishops Otey, Doane, A. Potter, Burgess, and Williams being the members of it. Their Report, subsequently edited in book form by Bishop Potter, is one of the most valuable documents of American Church history. The following extract from Bishop Burgess' portion of the Report will be read with interest by all who ever learned to revere that theologian for the largeness of his learning, the calmness of his judgment, and the goodness of his heart. He has been speaking of liturgical changes as contemplated and allowed for by the framers of our ecclesiastical system. Then he says:

"There would seem to be five contingencies in which the changes, thus made possible and thus permitted, become also wise and salutary.

"The first is simply when it is evident that in any respect the liturgy or its application may be rendered more perfect. To hazard for this result the safety or unity of the Church may be inexcusable, and the utmost certainty may be demanded before a change of this kind shall be practically ventured. But should it be once established, beyond the smallest doubt, that any addition or alteration would increase the excellence or the excellent influence of the liturgy in any degree sufficient to compensate or more than compensate for the inconveniences incident to all change, it seems as difficult to say that it should not be adopted by the Church, as to excuse any Christian from adding to his virtues or his usefulness.

"The other 'contingencies' recognized are briefly these:

"(2) When in process of time words or regulations have become obsolete or unsuitable.

"(3) When civil or social changes require ecclesiastical changes.

"(4) When the earnest desire of any respectable number of the members of the Church, or of persons who are without its communion, is urged in behalf of some not wholly unreasonable proposal of alteration.

"(5) When error or superstition has been introduced; when that which was at first good and healthful has been perverted to the nourishment of falsehood or wickedness; or when that which was always evil has found utterance, and is now revealed in its true character."

The Memorial failed for the reason that the promoters of it had not a clearly defined notion in their own minds of what they wanted—the secret of many failures. Out of its ashes there may yet rise, however, "some better thing" that God has kept in store.

[97] Ancient Collects and Other Prayers selected for Devotional Use from Various Rituals. By William Bright, M. A. J. H. & Jas. Parker, Oxford and London.

From the Appendix I take the following illustrations of the statement ventured above:

"For Guidance—O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light riseth up in darkness for the godly; grant us in all our doubts and uncertainties the grace to ask what thou wouldest have us to do; that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see light, and in thy straight path may not stumble: through Jesus Christ our Lord.

"For those who live in sin.—Have mercy, O compassionate Father, on all who are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin; vouchsafe them grace to come to themselves, the will and power to return to thee, and the loving welcome of thy forgiveness through Jesus Christ our Lord.

"For all who do the work of the Church.—O Lord, without whom our labor is but lost, and with whom thy little ones go forth as the mighty, be present to all works in thy Church which are undertaken according to thy will, and grant to thy laborers a pure intention, patient faith, sufficient success upon earth, and the bliss of serving thee in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

"For grace to speak the Truth in love.—O Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who earnest not to strive nor cry, but to let thy words fall as the drops that water the earth: grant all who contend for the faith once delivered, never to injure it by clamor and impatience, but speaking thy precious truth in love, so to present it that it may be loved, and that men may see in it thy goodness and thy beauty: who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end."

Both as regards devotional flavor and literary beauty these prayers will, I feel sure, be judged worthy, by such as will read them more than once, to stand by the side certainly of many of the collects already in the Prayer Book.

[98] Preached in Grace Church, N. Y., on the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, that being the Sunday next following the adjournment of the General Convention of 1892.


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