Friday, January 18, 2013

An ACNA Prayer Book: A Modest Proposal

 There is considerable grumbling from the usual suspects around the Web about plans for a new BCP for ACNA.

Robin G. Jordan at Anglicans Abalaze (does that refer to Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer?) asks The ACNA Prayer Book: A Prayer Book for All Conservative Anglicans in North America?

"From the taskforce’s reports and the articles and comments I have read on a number of websites I do not believe that the Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Taskforce, the advisers to the taskforce, and a substantial number of clergy in the ACNA are committed to the compilation of a Book of Common Prayer for the ACNA that would be comprehensive to the point where the broad spectrum of conservative Anglicans would be happy with it. The will to produce such a Prayer Book simply is not there.

Rather I discern the influence of the various expressions of the Catholic Revival of the past two hundred odd years—the nineteenth century Ritualist movement and the twentieth century Liturgical, ecumenical, and Worship Renewal movements. The Worship Renewal movement is also known as the Ancient-Future or Convergence movement. 

The classical Anglican Prayer Book—The Book of Common Prayer of 1662—which is a formulary of the Church of England and a number of other Anglican provinces, and the long-recognized doctrinal standard of Anglicanism, alongside the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1571 and the Ordinal of 1661, is viewed as defective both in its doctrine and its liturgical usages. The rule of antiquity is given more weight than the rule of Scripture. The liturgies of the post-Apostolic Church and the Medieval Church, the semi-reformed 1549 Book of Common Prayer, the retrograde 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and the revisionist 1979 Book of Common Prayer are held up as models for the ACNA Prayer Book.  Among the developments in American Anglicanism is a resurgence of what was referred to as "Puseyism" in the nineteenth century."

A Papist under every bed or at least a Puseyite!  

I really do sympathize with the Taskforce, although I admit I do not have much of a stake in their work. My understanding is that they do not seek to replace 1662 or 1928 BCPs but rather provide a contemporary language Prayer Book to replace 1979 American BCP. It would be foolhardy in the extreme if they were to outlaw the 1928 BCP. So St. Francis is not likely to be impacted in any way.

The truth is that after the 1979 American BCP the Prayer Book of whatever vintage can no longer be the focal point of unity it once was. You can lament that all you like. I do lament it but that does not change the reality. I suspect that the Taskforce is perfectly aware of the situation. They know that producing a single BCP and forcing its use exclusively is not possible at this point in history of Anglicanism at large and North American Anglicanism in particular.

I might add that the one book which might enjoy the widest acceptance is the 1928 Prayer Book. But the Prayer Book Society seems to have lost it’s enthusiasm for the 1928 BCP on the grounds that it is not ‘reformed enough’ like the 1662, never mind all the people who only know and love the dreary cacophony of Rite II.

By way of supporting the Taskforce I propose the following points to indicate what Catholic Anglicans would want, if they were in a position to influence the ACNA Prayer Book (which we are not):

1.      The provision of the so-called Gregorian or Roman Canon as one of the Eucharistic Prayers. Unlike the Eucharistic Prayers based on the pseudo antiquity of the fragments of Hippolytus or the vague outlines of Justin Martyr, this Great Prayer  survives whole and intact. Not only is it now believed that this Canon dates to the Third Century but it has been in continuous use in the Western Church. But I will not hold my breath.
2.      The provision of offertory prayers. Which ones? Almost anything would be better than the nothing we have now.
3.      The provision of silent prayers for the priest: before the Gospel, at the offertory, at communion. The priest needs these to stay recollected and reverent.
4.      The Calendar: the commemoration of St. Charles, King and Martyr, the Nativity of the BVM and her Conception (not Immaculate, if that bothers someone). It makes no sense at all to commemorate William Laud and not Charles I.
5.      The provision of antiphons and hymns for the Office.
6.      My own personal thing. The 1979 BCP came up with the neologism  ‘ever blessed Virgin Mary.’ I have no hopes of the future taking up the ancient title for the Mother of Jesus ‘ever-virgin’ but why not stick simply to the perfectly traditional formula ‘blessed Virgin Mary’ along with the conciliar and Christological title ‘the Mother of God.’

All that is what we might get, if there really were Puseyites under every bed.  Relax, Mr. Jordan.




Anonymous said...

Fr. Allen,

I thought the word conservative came from the Latin "Conservare" meaning “to preserve or conserve”. Yet Calvinists and neo-Anglicans appropriate the word for themselves and it now seems accepted by mainstream press.(!?) While it’s not proper statistical sampling, at a former contemporary parish I went to for several years I casually asked (to leaders) in sequential Alpha sessions--also during coffee hour on Sundays--“How is it that this parish is conservative?” Mostly, I received anti-ABC and –LGBT diatribes. When I said “What about the Ancient Faith?” I was met universally with “What does THAT have to do with anything?” Damn discouraging.

I don’t keep up with PB Society views and news; did not realize that they had changed their position. IAC, I trust G-d honors what I am doing each Sunday with you and the parishioners and accepts my offering of worship.

I promise to shut up. Very soon.



Fr. Timothy Matkin said...

To second your suggestion of using the Roman Canon, it is also worth remembering that is has been the eucharistic prayer used far more widely and much longer than any other in the Church of England (over 1,000 years). That's pedigree and patrimony.