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The positive impact of the Book of Common Prayer on Western Christianity

Alpha60

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There is much to criticize about Anglicanism, and given the very large numbers of former Anglicans or semi-Anglicans such as myself who variously crossed the Bosphorus, the Nile, the Aras, the Euphrates or I suppose the Ganges in joining an Eastern or Oriental Orthodox church, there are many among us prepared to provide such criticism.

However, I think, despite the somewhat unpleasant nature of Archbishop Cranmer and the more unpleasant parts, particularly in the 1552 and Irish editions of the book, we can look on the BCP on the whole as being of some benefit.  It is evident that the Roman Catholic Church had seriously dropped the ball in much of Western Europe; those countries in particular which did not speak a Latin-derived language tended to be left a bit in the dark, versus in Orthodoxy where, if the vernacular was not used, some archaic predecessor much loved by the people and at least somewhat understood was in use.

The BCP represents an elegant simplification of the Divine Office, which, outside of some the Dominican and other religious orders and Benedictine monasteries, which had their own office, the Archdiocese of Milan (and thus the Ambrosian Rite) or the small number of churches in Toledo still using the Mozarabic Rite, had been disastrously fumbled by Rome by the 16th century.  It was not ultimately brought into anything like the elegance of the Orthodox or Assyrian offices until, I would argue, Pius X (instead, in the intervening centuries between Trent and Pius X, various attempts at revision were made which failed miserably).  The services of Mattins and Evensong are elegant and concise, as is the lectionary.  The book failed when it came to sacramental services, but not so disastrously as to require wholesale abolition; the Antiochian Western Rite Vicarate uses a Divine Liturgy of St. Tikhon based on the recommendations of the great confessor-Patriarch, or rather of a committee led ny him, on the changes required to the BCP to make it acceptable to Orthodoxy.

Many of these changes were partially mirrord by Anglo-Catholic revisions of the text.

The book I would argue benefitted us, by:

- Shaping a hieratic, liturgical English which became the basis for other service books
- Keeping alive, in the face of Puritanism, the idea of liturgical worship and a prayer book
- Providing greater comfort in many cases to people in times of war or disaster than would be provided by the Puritanical solution of “the Bible” by itself, with no interpretive context
- Preserving most of the more important holy days and the idea of an episcopate, a priesthood and a diaconate
- Preserving a sense of Catholicity

One could argue that, particularly in the last two instances, this was something largely missed out on by the Swiss and Dutch Calvinists, the Puritan settlers in North America, and so on, and to a lesser extent in the more low-church Lutheran territories.
 

WPM

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I use that prayer book.
 

hecma925

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I picked up a BCP at an estate sale.  It was printed in the 1940s.  I flip through it once in a while; it's nice.
 

Agabus

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hecma925 said:
I picked up a BCP at an estate sale.  It was printed in the 1940s.  I flip through it once in a while; it's nice.
I had a copy of the 1928 — which is what that would be — but gave it to a friend who was at the time an aspirant Episcopal clergy. (She's since given it up.) I wish I had it now for the lectionary/propers, which works with the AAONA WRO service book.
 
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Agabus said:
hecma925 said:
I picked up a BCP at an estate sale.  It was printed in the 1940s.  I flip through it once in a while; it's nice.
I had a copy of the 1928 — which is what that would be — but gave it to a friend who was at the time an aspirant Episcopal clergy. (She's since given it up.) I wish I had it now for the lectionary/propers, which works with the AAONA WRO service book.
The 1928 version is very edifying, my former boss had a 1928 edition,  she hated the 1979 version.
 

Sharbel

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If by Western Christianity you mean Anglo Saxon Christianity, then, yes.
 

hecma925

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Mor Ephrem said:
Sharbel said:
If by Western Christianity you mean Anglo Saxon Christianity, then, yes.
It doesn’t get more Western than that without becoming American rattlesnake handling polygamist purity ring Rapturephilia.
I resent that remark.  We snake-handling Pentecostals are not polygamists.  Now Mormons.....that's an all-American religion with polygamy.  You should check it out.
 

Mor Ephrem

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hecma925 said:
Mor Ephrem said:
Sharbel said:
If by Western Christianity you mean Anglo Saxon Christianity, then, yes.
It doesn’t get more Western than that without becoming American rattlesnake handling polygamist purity ring Rapturephilia.
I resent that remark.  We snake-handling Pentecostals are not polygamists.  Now Mormons.....that's an all-American religion with polygamy.  You should check it out.
Sometimes I’m tempted!
 

Agabus

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hecma925 said:
Mor Ephrem said:
Sharbel said:
If by Western Christianity you mean Anglo Saxon Christianity, then, yes.
It doesn’t get more Western than that without becoming American rattlesnake handling polygamist purity ring Rapturephilia.
I resent that remark.  We snake-handling Pentecostals are not polygamists.  Now Mormons.....that's an all-American religion with polygamy.  You should check it out.
But it just feels like something's missing without the strychnine drinking, you know?
 

JTLoganville

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It is worth noting that Cranmer was heavily influenced by the  Lutherans' German translation of the Latin Ordo.

Things came full circle in the 1880's when the American Lutherans adapted the Book of Common Prayer for the Common Service promulgated in 1888, rather than make fresh translations from Latin to English.

It is therefore arguable that the Book of Common Prayer became the gold standard for all the liturgical descendants of the Reformation....especially because Anglican Priest John Wesley adapted it for his 1784 "Sunday Service" which he sent to America.

 

Agabus

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JTLoganville said:
It is therefore arguable that the Book of Common Prayer became the gold standard for all the liturgical descendants of the Reformation....especially because Anglican Priest John Wesley adapted it for his 1784 "Sunday Service" which he sent to America.
Yep. Even now the traditional Methodist service is basically "Morning Prayer" with a bunch of hymns.
 

Alpha60

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Agabus said:
JTLoganville said:
It is therefore arguable that the Book of Common Prayer became the gold standard for all the liturgical descendants of the Reformation....especially because Anglican Priest John Wesley adapted it for his 1784 "Sunday Service" which he sent to America.
Yep. Even now the traditional Methodist service is basically "Morning Prayer" with a bunch of hymns.
Not really; if you compare Morning Prayer from Wesley’s Sunday Service Book with the version in the current UMC Book of Worship, the difference is ... pretty vast.  This was even the case in the very dignified Methodist Episcopal Book of Worship editions from 1940 and 1965, although they retained the hieratic language of the BCP.  Also each parish more or less does its own thing; the Book of Worship is a mere guideline. 

JTLoganville said:
It is worth noting that Cranmer was heavily influenced by the  Lutherans' German translation of the Latin Ordo.

Things came full circle in the 1880's when the American Lutherans adapted the Book of Common Prayer for the Common Service promulgated in 1888, rather than make fresh translations from Latin to English.

It is therefore arguable that the Book of Common Prayer became the gold standard for all the liturgical descendants of the Reformation....especially because Anglican Priest John Wesley adapted it for his 1784 "Sunday Service" which he sent to America.
The Methodists basiically “set it aside,” with the only Methodist denomination still using a recognizable foem of it being the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  However, regarding the Lutherans, you are quite correct.  The Lutherans also started copying material from Eastern Orthodox service books (specifically, the Litany of Peace appears in the 1959 Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal in one of the orders for Holy Communion, and subsequently pops up in the 2004 Lutheran Service Book of the LCMS; I read at one point this occurred due to either Finnish or Moravian influence).  I would also note that the LCMS book then proceeds to ruin our Ektenia completely by having the choir begin “Lord have mercy” when the pastor or deacon concludes “let us pray to the Lord,” so the effect is “Let us pray to the Lord have mercy

I find this to be extremely annoying; I have an album of otherwise good choral music from the Lutheran Service Book which is ruined by their attempt to recite our Litany in an innovative, stupid and “cutesy” manner.

There is also one rather prolix “liturgical Lutheranism” which would be the embolism “forever and ever.”

I have heard that under the strange figure of Count von Zinzendorf, Moravian liturgics became even wackier, and it reached a point where John Wesley, who nearly became Moravian, couldn’t take it any more and returned to England from a Moravian colony in the US, and set himself towards setting up a church within the Church of England.
 

JTLoganville

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The Moravian liturgy is unique.

It is basically a series of hymns, responsive readings drawn from diverse Scriptures, and prayers which vary with the seasons.  There are similarities to the "opening" of many Protestant Sunday School adult assemblies, except that the latter are assembled mostly extemporaneously by the "Superintendent".

I is particularly noteworthy that the liturgy appointed for All Saints' is also used for the commemoration of the martyrdom of John Hus on July 6.  Such elevation of one particular martyr is unique among Reformation churches.
 

Alpha60

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Agabus said:
hecma925 said:
I picked up a BCP at an estate sale.  It was printed in the 1940s.  I flip through it once in a while; it's nice.
I had a copy of the 1928 — which is what that would be — but gave it to a friend who was at the time an aspirant Episcopal clergy. (She's since given it up.) I wish I had it now for the lectionary/propers, which works with the AAONA WRO service book.
All ECUSA BCP editions are in the public domain, unlike the hymnals.  You can in fact download most BCP editions ever made from this website:  http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/england.htm

There are different tabs for the US, the UK, Canada and so on.  The main missing material consists of variant BCPs from churches outside the Anglican Communion, like the Sunday Service Book or the BCP of the Reformed Episcopal Church, and also, for some reason, they lack the very historically important South African BCP edition from the WWI era.

The 1662 and other BCP editions are under a Crown Copyright in the UK, like the King James Version.  The very excellent 1962 Canadian BCP is I believe effectively public domain; the copyright belongs to the Canadian chapter of the Prayer Book Society (which consists of Anglican traditionalists opposed to Common Worship or the Book of Alternate Services in Canada, and other liturgical non-conformism).
 

Alpha60

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ICXCNIKA said:
Are Moravians and their service related to the Czechslovak Hussite Church and its liturgy?
None of the Moravian liturgical texts I have (in English, printed by the Moravians in the US) look like what I expect Hussite liturgy would look like; the Moravians who survived the Inquisition as it were settled on the vast estate of a German Count von Zinzendorf, who was a radical Pietist and who probably had more influence on Moravian worship and theology than Jan Hus.  They are however distantly descended from various Hussite factions (I’m not sure which; there were over three, for instance, the Utraquists, who deviated from the Latin Rite only by serving the Eucharist in both species, or the Taborites, who were more extreme and a bit evocative of Anabaptists on the ofner end of the spectrum).

So any Orthodox material in Moravian liturgics was likely intentionally imported in recent years, just as Cranmer copied the Prayer of the Second Antiphon (or was it the Third?  i get it mixed up) from the EO liturgy into the BCP, and just as the Scottish Episcopalians and Non-Jurors took the Epiclesis from the Divine Liturgy of St. James and inserted it into their Holy Communion Service.
 

Alpha60

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JTLoganville said:
The Moravian liturgy is unique.

It is basically a series of hymns, responsive readings drawn from diverse Scriptures, and prayers which vary with the seasons.  There are similarities to the "opening" of many Protestant Sunday School adult assemblies, except that the latter are assembled mostly extemporaneously by the "Superintendent".

I is particularly noteworthy that the liturgy appointed for All Saints' is also used for the commemoration of the martyrdom of John Hus on July 6.  Such elevation of one particular martyr is unique among Reformation churches.
I have seen a video of a Moravian communion service using their latest service book, and it was strongly reminiscent of a contemporary Episcopalian service.  Conversely, their very interesting 1970s service book, which I have a PDF copy of, does feature a variety of distinctive liturgies for different occasions.  Its unlike anything I have seen elsewhere, although it reminds me of the extremely variable propers of the Gallican and Mozarabic mass, in which the entire equivalent to the Anaphora is effectively variable, proper to the particular occasion (this is in contrast to the Syriac, Coptic or Ethiopian liturgies, which feature many Anaphoras and many prayers, such as the Coptic Fraction Prayers or the Syriac Husoye, which are mostly left to the discretion of the priest, except on a few occasions when a specific liturgy is mandated or strongly encouraged, for instance, the liturgy of St. James is mandatory on certain days according to a Syriac Orthodox rubric, and the Copts tend to use the Liturgy of St. Gregory Nazianzus on major feasts, and only on major feasts (they also tend to use the St. Cyril liturgy mainly in Lent, but in theory could use it at other times).
 

hecma925

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Agabus said:
hecma925 said:
Mor Ephrem said:
Sharbel said:
If by Western Christianity you mean Anglo Saxon Christianity, then, yes.
It doesn’t get more Western than that without becoming American rattlesnake handling polygamist purity ring Rapturephilia.
I resent that remark.  We snake-handling Pentecostals are not polygamists.  Now Mormons.....that's an all-American religion with polygamy.  You should check it out.
But it just feels like something's missing without the strychnine drinking, you know?
AMEN
 

Alpha60

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Mor Ephrem said:
hecma925 said:
Mor Ephrem said:
Sharbel said:
If by Western Christianity you mean Anglo Saxon Christianity, then, yes.
It doesn’t get more Western than that without becoming American rattlesnake handling polygamist purity ring Rapturephilia.
I resent that remark.  We snake-handling Pentecostals are not polygamists.  Now Mormons.....that's an all-American religion with polygamy.  You should check it out.
Sometimes I’m tempted!
I was horrified to realize how close I now live to Colorado City.  I’m terrified of being abducted by bands of armed roving polygamist Mormon amazons.
 

Alpha60

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Mor Ephrem said:
Alpha60 said:
...being abducted by bands of armed roving polygamist Mormon amazons.
If that means what I think it means, I’m terrified they may never come my way.  I want to be abducted.
Mormon women are of an unnerving and intimidating disposition.  Their manner affects me in the same manner British charioteers affected Gaius Julius Caesar.  Indeed, I might be rather more sympathetic to recent changes to the matrimonial rites in the Anglican communion if Anglican women exhibited the same characteristics, however in my experience this is not the case (indeed, I have on two occasions found myself, to my chagrin, rather smitten with female Anglican divinity students).
 
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