Archive for the ‘Anglicanism’ Category

Dr. Roberta BayerI read this article in the Anglican Way Magazine and reprinting it here with Dr. Bayer’s kind permission…………

The “Deep Churchman” – Commentary on “C. S. Lewis, 20 Years After”

By Roberta Bayer

C. S. Lewis described himself as a “deep churchman,” in the passages quoted by Roger Beckwith. His avowed intent was to remedy misconceptions about the Christian past; he taught the mere Christianity of historic Christendom, considered in its unity, rather than parsed for disparities. “We are all rightly distressed, and ashamed also, at the divisions of Christendom”, Lewis wrote. But those who have always lived within the Christian fold may be too easily dispirited by them. They are bad, but such people do not know what it looks like from without. Seen from there, what is left intact despite all the divisions, still appears (as it truly is) an immensely formidable unity. I know, for I saw it; and well our enemies know it. That unity any of us can find by going out of his own age.”

What does Lewis mean by ‘going out of one’s own age’? Despite the gaps and discontinuities found within Christian theological and liturgical history, Lewis’ approach illustrates a certain unity within Christianity that is not only visible from the outsider’s broader historical perspective, but also is worthy of our attention in attempting to reconcile contemporary differences between Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic traditions through a “deeper” perspective cultivated by wide reading. Furthermore, Lewis

suggests that contemporary controversies between Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic may share a good deal more in common than they realize. Of historical ecclesiastical divisions, he writes;

“Nothing strikes me more when I read the controversies of past ages than the fact that both sides were usually assuming without question a good deal which we should now          absolutely deny. They thought that they were as completely opposed as two sides could be, but in fact they were all the time secretly united— united with each other and         against earlier and later ages—by a great mass of common assumptions.”

Lewis suggests that the only safety against blindness to the unity of assumptions that bind even the most opposed ecclesiastical groups today is to recall “a standard plain, central Christianity (“mere” Christianity as Baxter called it) which puts such controversies of the moment in their proper perspective.”

One way in which controversies of the moment can be put in their proper perspective is to read not only modern books, but also old books. “If [a man] must read only the new or the old [books], I would advise him to read the old,” wrote Lewis. “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” The old book puts the new book in perspective, he says, because every age has its own unique outlook. Every age is “specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period.”

In this way, ‘going out of one’s own age’ leads to a realization of the characteristic assumptions that shape contemporary discourse. Once soaked in the teachings that have been held in common throughout Christian history, Lewis writes, you will have an amusing experience if you then venture to speak. “You will be thought a Papist when you are actually reproducing Bunyan, a Pantheist when you are quoting Aquinas and so forth. For you have now got on to the great level viaduct which crosses the ages and which looks

so high from the valleys, so low from the mountains, so narrow compared with the swamps, and so broad compared with the sheep-tracks.” Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical disputants need a greater acquaintance with Hooker, Herbert, Traherne, Baxter, Taylor and Bunyan, Boethius, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Dante to afford greater knowledge of the kinds of arguments which allow one to uphold supernatural religion and the teaching of salvation (always of primary importance to Lewis), against liberal modernity.

From the ‘deep’ perspective, even the divisions of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation could be seen in a different light. Despite their deadly disagreement about the

merits of a vernacular Bible, William Tyndale and Thomas More were men of a particular age. In retrospect, Lewis wrote, William Tyndale and Thomas More had more in common than they realized and “though they were deeply divided in temper as well as by doctrine, it is important to realize at the outset that they also had a great deal in common.” “They must not,” Lewis says, “except in theology, be contrasted as representatives respectively of an old and a new order.” Both were Grecians, as he puts it, advocates of the new scholarship, and both were “arrogantly, perhaps ignorantly, contemptuous of the Middle Ages.”  Yet their age, which held to divisions that looked irreconcilable to them, in retrospect appear less than church dividing. How can, one might ask, such differences appear church dividing in light of the challenge presented to the common historical faith by the liberal theology of a Harvey Cox in Secular City?

But the object here is not to resolve the problems raised by the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, but to note what Lewis has said about contemporary divisions within Anglicanism. It is obviously wrong to suggest that Lewis belittled real theological dispute. Lewis would not suggest that Thomas More, William Tyndale, John Fisher, and Richard Hooker or the Tractarians and Evangelicals of the 19th century are unworthy of reading. Rather, his point is that they ought to be read so to better understand ourselves and our age. This is touched upon by Roger Beckwith when he urges Anglo-Catholic priests to appreciate the Reformation Formularies, the 39 Articles and the Book of Common Prayer, just as Evangelicals should drink deeply of the teaching and theology of Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, Patristic and Medieval metaphorical and allegorical Scriptural commentaries.

In his Letters to Malcolm, Lewis remarked that the key to Christian unity is not to substitute religion for God. He defended the 1662 Prayer Book against the liturgical reformers who had contracted the ‘liturgical fidget,’ yet at the same time he said that matters of liturgy or ceremony are not of central importance. Rather, changes are bad because disruptive to the person praying, and prayer is what matters. “A good shoe is the shoe you don’t notice. . . . The perfect church services would be one we were almost unaware of. .  . . But every novelty prevents this.” Words should be the means to facilitate a knowledge of God. “For me”, he wrote, “words are in any case secondary.” If liturgical changes keep the stream of prayer from flowing, they are a stumblingblock for the prayerful. What is primary is nothing but God Himself.

As Roger Beckwith has noted, if Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic both willingly defend what Lewis calls supernatural religion and the message of salvation found in the church catholic, they have no reason to take issue with the historic prayer books. The eight points of disagreement noted by Beckwith are easily resolved from the standpoint of the common theological inheritance of western and English-speaking Christendom. Anglo-Catholics need to recognize the

importance of Beckwith’s first point—the ‘catholicity’ of the Protestant reformation, as church bishop Christopher Wordsworth declared, just as Evangelicals must accept that the Church of England did not come into existence in the sixteenth century. This would be a lesson for Anglicans as to the true and proper teaching of the Reformation, which established in the Church of England both the primacy of Scripture and the central historical teachings of the

Church, in a way that avoids the errors of our age.

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Supreme Rulers

Mr. John Wesley

Though the American Prayer Book has granted various civil offices different emphases in its state prayers, it’s been asked if a hasty substitution of the Presidency for Monarch might upset older notions of an Ordered Society? The potential problems invoked by such swapping has been discussed in several places, especially with respect to the Litany(1). Nonetheless, students of American church history are probably mostly familiar with John Wesley’s Sunday Service. Further discussion on the development of American state prayers allots Wesley a candidate for influence upon the United States BCP. While not comprehensive regarding the question, this post aims to open some discussion.  (more…)

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RTBP on Facebook

Things have been slow here on the blog, but we also have activity on our Face Book Page.

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Common Prayer Day

Common Prayer  Initiative 2012

Though past, St. Bartholomew’s Day marked the 350th anniversary of the 1662 BCP’s issue for public use. The 1662 BCP is understood as the ‘gold standard’ for Anglican worship, being the sealed text backed by English statute law. However, the retreat of the British Empire (and the Acts of Parliament which accompanied it) precipitated an ecclesiastical vacuum that gave opened doors to significant local variety, starting with prayer books that have historical lineages to the Scottish Episcopal Church. Can such variant liturgies be better related to the 1662 standard or the principle of ‘common prayer’? (more…)

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A number of times the question of the state prayers in American Morning office has been brought up as if this somehow invalidates certain points made criticizing the 1928 litany (see the Litany’s Faldstool— especially the comment section). The 1928 inserted a petition for the US President where the Crown and royal seed formerly stood. The problem with this insertion is it equates the US Presidency to Christian kingship.  Christian kingship not only is rooted in the king as ‘first’ member of the local church, but in the English tradition, it possesses a sacramental and ministerial character that the modern Presidency repudiates.  For classical high churchmen, there are further considerations regarding the order of the church under the dignity of Supremacy, and if this same dignity ought to be given to an office that constitutionally rejects duties in the local church and rendering it more or less unitarian in nature. Consequently, the 1892 litany was suggested as a correction to the 1928.  However, the MP/EP state prayers was not addressed.


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The Holy Kiss

the "peace plate"

One of the many liberal modifications to the 1979 prayer book was the liturgical reinsertion of the Kiss of Peace. For about six months I worshiped in an Episcopal church which often made use of the more conservative Rite 1. No matter how similar Rite 1 was to the 1928 communion office, the kiss of peace always seemed to ruin that sense of tradition. Even before I knew anything about liturgics, the kiss of peace always felt  “hippie”. At the former TEC parish, the priest and entire congregation would mingle, hug, make small talk, too often turning the Pax into an intermission. At times people would even leave to catch coffee or make a phone call outside the church. It’s only redeeming quality in my mind was its potential to provide a time to bless and usher out possible catechumens. Anyway, the Pax seemed odd, and I had to ask if it was indeed an ancient practice of the church. This also required some digging into the prayer book.

The 1979 BCP seems to throw a bone to each type of churchmanship. The Kiss of Peace appears to be something that might satisfy the catholic. By placing the Holy Kiss at the offertory, the ’79 appears to defer to the ancient Eastern practice, dating back to the second century. The “Western Pax” appeared a bit later, roughly the fifth century, in Rome and North Africa. Instead of being done before the anaphora, it would have followed the end of the Latin canon where the Paster Noster is found. This is also where the 1549 BCP and Sarum Mass locate the Pax. So, the ’79 bcp had at least two options, and TEC revisionists apparently favored the more “ancient” location.

Not What it Seems: However, what is not said about the Holy Kiss is the rather sober manner which the primitive church administered it. Throughout the history of the Pax a fear of indecency or indiscretion is expressed. Thus, there is a certain restraint in its use. The Apostolic Constitutions confine the Kiss to estates within the christian assembly, namely, exchanging it between clerics in the chancel while laity pass it on to each other. But even amongst the laity the Kiss was carefully confined to gender: men exchanging amongst men, and women amongst women. Thus, the Kiss was never a “free-for-all” that bordered upon an intermission in the midst of the liturgy.

As time passed, though the Kiss remained part of the liturgy, it was gradually substituted for less disruptive devotions. By the middle-ages a variety of alternate forms for the Pax existed both East and West– e.g., kissing the altar, sacred elements, a relic, the bishop’s hand, or a stole. A limited Holy Kiss is found in the marriage rite, e.g., “you may kiss the bride“, and originally it was an oculation that passed from the priest to the groom to the bride. The Peace was also abbreviated by confining it between priest and deacon, most likely leaving the laity to conduct their own private reverences separately in the nave.  By the 13th century, osculatoriums, i.e., the “pax-board” or “pax-brede”, became common in England. Pax-boards were small plaques decorated by crosses that were kissed by the celebrant and then given to the congregation while at the altar rail. But even this practice gradually passed away.

In the Sarum rite the Pax is said at the end of the canon, exchanged between deacon and priest with the celebrant kissing the altar spread. The 1549 likely continued this practice, but the Latin location of the Pax finally disappeared upon Edward’s second prayer book where it becomes a preface to the benediction (A New History, p. 487). What’s interesting about the 1549 vis-a-vis later BCP editions is how the Pax is said specifically to the clerks, reading:

Then shall the Priest say, The Peace of the Lord be with you. The Clerks. And with thy spirit”

If working from the Sarum, the Priest is assumed to be facing  ‘choir-side’ while addressing these “clerks”. But in high mass ‘the clerks’ would naturally include the Deacon, acolytes, and perhaps cantor/choir. The Pax is not the only salute given between “clerks” and Priest. Unlike later BCP versions (1552/9, 1662 1789), the 1549 preserves the privilege of lower orders acting as a chorus, giving the “the clerks” more exclusive roles such as chanting the Gloria in Excelsis, Kyries, and the Angus Dei. This seems to give a more prominent role to assisting clergy that somewhat disappears after 1552, giving over to the ‘general priesthood’.

The Pax Today: Even in more recently ‘conservative’ revisions, such as in the Anglican Missal, the Pax is normally addressed to the people. However, the 1979 takes the Pax to a new level. Rather than make opportunity to genuinely restore an older liturgic, the 1979 appropriates what might appear an apostolic Pax, but uses it as pretext to expand the realm of ‘democractic’ worship. Furthermore, if the 1979 had actually continued the catholic direction that inspired earlier revisions like the 1928, the 1549 BCP (closest to the English Sarum) would have been the natural and more organic starting point rather than leaping back to mirky apostolic custom. If revisionists had started from the Sarum as the Anglican Missal had done, the newer BCP might have enlisted the Pax as a embankment to Anglican ecclesiology, emphasizing the special dignity once held between deacon and priest. Instead, the Pax is made a liberating gesture that frees the people from the mediative roles of priest-deacon, of which self-conscious ecclesiastical society breaks down for three to five minutes after the offertory. The 1979 appears to advance catholic ceremony but instead manipulates antiquity to make headway for democratizing movements in the liturgy. When praise music is added, there remains very little of Rite 1 that’s traditional.

If  Ordinaries permit the Pax (and some do with the 1928 BCP), they might consider the 1549 BCP’s application which favors the celebrant facing the deacon along “choir” or “clerk-side”. Liturgically, the 1549 might be treated as an opportunity to better highlight the function of the deacon as a second representative or leader of the people. This point was  made earlier at RTBP while writing on the possible benefits of keeping northside celebrations (as understood by Dearmer). Not only might we continue certain customs peculiar to earlier 1662 (northside) and 1549 (the pax) prayer books, but Anglicans can also use less well-known rubrics to slowly weaken the democratization of liturgy that has occurred over the last forty years, starting with a greater prominence to those lesser offices often acting in the chancel. The way we pray is the way we believe, etc..

As Lent passes and Easter is entered, Anglicans might consider how the law and gospel work together not only after church but in worship. When the faithful are dismissed from the communion, dismissal is not given to live as “hearts see fit” (sneaking in a coffee break before the end of divine worship, creating an intermission for small talk and short flirts, leaving the altar in the midst of public liturgy, etc.), but the Mass is given to live in Christ by His will and commandments. This ‘third use’ of the law ought to regulate even the Pax, not given licence to disorder but to enter Christ’s humility, thereby glorifying the Father.

Charles Bartlett lives and works in Northern California. He is a member-at-large in the UECNA, worshiping in the REC by bishopric dispensation. His blog, Anglican Rose, explores the nature of adiaphora in England’s Church beginning with late-Henrician standards.

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The Litany’s Faldstool

(A similar article dealing with the Daily Offices was also written: Supremacy in Offices) The faldstool in English ceremony was the movable seat otherwise reserved in the chancel as the chair for the visiting Bishop. From the faldstool, an Ordinary passed authority by laying on hands of both confirmed laity and clergy. But the faldstool also doubled as a prayer desk upon pentitential occasions where the bishop rested his arms upon the faldstool’s cushion while kneeling before it. The idea of the bishop’s faldstool representing a throne of authority in the church is embedded the BCP’s litany. From it we learn the peculiar order of authority within the Church of England.

Though today the prayer desk has replaced the faldstool, nevertheless, in the Parson’s Handbook the Rev. Dearmer explains the Litany is to be be given in the old position of the fladstool, namely,  in the midst of the church. According to Dearmer, the Litany should be recited regularly, normally Wednesdays and Fridays as well as between morning prayer and ante-communion on Sundays. But it is especially said upon penitential seasons.

However, these many details likely escape the majority of parishioners who rarely recite the Litany, and, perhaps they never do unless it be at Lent. Infrequent exposure to the Litany probably leaves more specifically Anglican features to pass unnoticed. The prayer book Litany differs from the Latin in a number of places. But perhaps the most conspicuous difference is the absence of heavenly saints of whom Romans and Eastern Orthodox commonly invoke. Instead, the Anglican emphasis is upon an earthy kingdom, or church militant. This ought to be an interesting point for Anglicans since our suffrages beg the Church of England instead of the heavenly hosts. The 1559 version of the litany lists the estates of the church [in bold] which are thus mentioned:

“We synners do beseche the to heare us (O Lord God,) and that it may please the to rule and governe thy holy Churche universally, in the right way…That it may please the, to kepe and strengthen in the true worshipping of the in righteousnes and holynes of lyfe, thy servaunt James our most gracious Kyng and governour…That it may please the, to rule his harte in thy faith, feare, and love, that he may evermore have affiaunce in the, and ever seke thy honoure and glory. That it may please the, to be his defender and keper, geving him the victory over al his enemyes. That it may please thee to bless and preserve our gracious Queen Anne, Prince Henry, and the rest of the King and Queen’s Royal issue… That it may please the to illuminate all Byshoppes, Pastours, and ministers of the Church, with true knowledge, and understanding of thy words, and that both by their preaching and livinge, they may sette it furth and shewe it accordingly…That it maye please thee to endue the Lordes of the Counsayle, and all the nobilitie, with grace, wisedom, and understanding…That it may please thee to blesse and kepe the Magistrates, geving them grace to execute justice, and to maynteyne truthe… That it may please the to blesse, and kepe al thy people.”


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The Altar’s North Side

an english lecturn

I’ve always considered the communion rubric for standing on the North Side of the table to be incredibly odd. It’s always very much a challenge to envision a northside celebration, especially when there are close to nil churches doing it. We either have the priest facing the people during the recitation of the canon, or the priest faces eastward. But what is ‘northside’?

The 1662 BCP rubric for communion says, “And the Priest standing at the north side of the Table shall say the Lord’s Prayer, with the Collect following, the people kneeling”. This starts the antecommunion and the rest of the liturgy is finished in the same way. The 1637 BCP says the same, but the 1928 somewhat simplifies things by omitting the rubric altogether.

While probably a dead letter, the motive behind ‘northside’ originally involved a desire to include the people in the prayers and blessings of the church. The Reformation of the Mass was, firstly, concerned about the liturgy being 1) audible, and, 2) visible to the people. If a priest stood ‘eastward’, then manual acts were naturally blocked from view. Moreover, unless the bread was elevated above the shoulders, its visibility was also obstructed. Celebration against the east wall, especially in cathedrals with long choir stalls, would likewise hinder audibility. Another commenter observed the priest on the north side with deacon on the south would have made washings difficult, and this was also probably an intent.

However, the Puritan movement during Edward VI and Elizabeth I solved this problem by replacing fixed altars with movable tables, relocating the latter in the front of the chancel (between the choir) or, more often, the middle of the nave. The priest then celebrated the eucharist from the northside of a table which was often oblong in shape, meaning the table was orientated parallel to nave’s length.  Thus, the priest stood in the nave, faced northside, and had the length of the table before him. If this is very confusing, see this link: the Pre-tractarian Church.

Sacrament of the Altar not ‘the Desk’: When Laud restored the tables to their original Henrician position, plus forbidding their removal from the chancels, the northside position of the Puritans became untenable as the “north end” of a table was now fixed along the length of the ‘eastern’ wall. Especially in chapel sanctuaries, standing on the ‘north end’ would be awkward at best if not impossible.  Practicality reasoned ‘north side’ simply meant the gospel side of the altar, and it appears this would conform to ancient practice. But the intent of the 1662’s rubric was to keep the recitation of the liturgy near the altar rather than below in reading desk or pulpit as low churchmen might have it.  Bishop Cosin says regarding where the liturgy is pronounced:

“The Jews prayed standing, but only in the time of mourning; for then they prayed prostrate, or upon their knees. Formerly the Priest stood in the middle of the altar. Si ad aram Dei steteris. And the Writings of the Ancients abound with testimonies of the same thing. Again this Writer says with respect to standing at the Table: — which was the custom of the ancients, that all things which pertained to the celebration of the Lord’s-Supper should be said at the Altar. Now in this Celebration, there is hardly any difference between us and the Protestants in Germany, but that among us the Prayers are said by the Bishop or Minister at the Altar, but among them in the Desk: In which they do not agree with the ancients.” (Notes to Nicholls’ Book of Common Prayer, p. 38)

And the Rev. J.J. Blunt, (late Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge.) observes: —

“Here the Rubric is express against a practice, not uncommon that of reading this Service, when there is no Communion, from the Desk. This, I say, is a clear infraction of the Rubric, which directs that “the Priest is to stand at the north side of the Table, and say, etc.. ( Duties of the Parish Priest, p. 325)

The Parson’s Handbook: The question still remains what would north-side celebration by the 1662 bcp look like? It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around. Evidently, there wasn’t a dominant or single interpretation of this rubric, so this complicates matters. However, the Anglican principle of hearing and seeing in worship should be kept in mind, calling the people to use their five wits with the clergy in liturgy. A good Anglican methodology when questions remain is to look back to prior practice. In his Parson’s Handbook, the Rev. Percy Dearmer rather successfully reconciles the earlier practice of eastward/altar facing as found in the 1549 BCP/Sarum with the 1662 ‘north side’ rubric. He says:

“In the editions of this Handbook preceding that of 1907 I deliberately left open the vexed question as to whether the priest should stand at the north, south, or middle of the altar. I have, however, now come to the conclusion that he should stand before the north part of the altar, mainly because more recent knowledge has resolved the doubt raised by the Lincoln Judgement, which, in a very thorough statement of the case, declared the eastward position a very thorough statement of the case, declared the eastward position throughout the service to be legal, but left the part of the altar undecided. Archbishop Benson took the following view:– The position of the Holy Table had, in 1662, been lawfully changed, but yet the revisers left the old rubric ‘standing at the north side’, although the Tables now stood altarwise, and had no north side in the sense of the rubric; therefore the words ‘at the north side’ are now ‘impossible of fulfillment in the sense originally intended’ (Lincoln Judgement, p. 44), and for the priest to stand at the northern part of the front ‘can be regarded only as an accommodation of the letter of the Rubric to the present position of the Table’ (ibid, p. 41).

Now it is not the case that the revisers of 1662 deprived the rubric of its meaning by leaving it unaltered to apply to the changed position of the altar. They seem rather indeed to have known what they were about, and to have left the words ‘standing at the north side’ (although the altars had been brought back to their proper position) because they knew that the words could still apply. The words ‘north side’ were, in fact, used to describe the ‘northern part of the front’ in pre-Reformation times; and there was therefore no reason to change them in 1662, when the altar stood as in those times. Here are some examples:– ‘Then I that was kneeling on the north side of the altar, at the right side of the crucifix’ (Revelation of the Monk of Evesham, 1482, cap. 12). In the Alphabetum Sacerdotum, the direction before the Gospel is ‘different missale ad aliud latus’. ‘How the priest after that with great reverenc doth begin the mass between deacon and subdeacon at the one side of the altar’ (Interpretacyon of the Masse, 1532, art. 5, qu. in Dat Becxhen, pp. xi, 142)

This position does in any case keep close to the letter of the rubric; and it was adopted by a good many after the Savoy Conference, when the Bishops declared in favor of the eastward position. The north end has never been authorized since, but the north part of the front was used at St. Paul’s in 1681, and in other ways is shown to have high sanction from 1674 to 1831. Nor was it an innovation to commence on the north side of the sanctuary: it was done at Westminster Abbey and by the Cluniacs before the Reformation, and is still the custom of the Carthusians.

Some have urged that the priest should stand at the south and not the north horn, on the ground that he began the service thus before the Reformation. This, however, is inexact. It is true that the Sarum Missal has ‘in dextro cornu‘” but at low Mass the priest vested at the north side of the altar, the chalic and paten lying in the middle and the book on the south side. He thus began Mass at the north side, and in this position he said amongst other things those very prayers which now begin our service, viz. the Paternoster and the Deus cui omne cor. Furthermore, to begin at the south is not even an accommodation of our rubric, and it has never been adopted under authority since the altars have been set back in their old position. Some have recommended the priest to stand ‘afore the midst of the altar’, because this was his position under the First Prayer Book; but this at least gives teh impression of disobeying our present rubric; and we have perhaps no right to imagine that the revisers of the 1662 meant the priest to revert to the custom of 1549 since they did not say so. They kept the words ‘north side’; and, as we have seen, ‘north side’ is good English for ‘sinistrum cornu‘.

The problem remains for Dearmer how the elements are made visible. Dearmer feels, though the priest stands on the north or gospel side, during the words of consecration, with the priest still facing eastwards, the bread ought be raised to “the level of the mouth” and the fraction thus made visible to the people behind. Meanwhile, the cup should remain on the table and the priest bow during that portion of the institution. This seems a bit odd to me, treating species differently, but Dearmer’s point is such satisfies the canon’s principle of visibility. I have to ask does this  suggest a kind of concomitance– what is done to one kind is done to the other?

The 1892 BCP revision seems to imply precedent for Dearmer’s recommenda-tion. The third rubric at the beginning of the Holy Communion rite instructs, “And the minister, standing at the right side of the Table, or where Morning and Evening Prayer are appointed to be said, shall say the Lord’s Prayer and the Collect following, the People kneeling” (p. 243)

Liturgics of Minor Orders: Dearmer offers the best answer to the north side question. If anyone has ever found a youtube video showing north side, please share!  My own preference would be to see Priests recognize the north side rubric despite its obsolesce since 1928. The 1928 BCP was an attempt to retrieve the 1549, and, ironically, the 1549 version has the priest turning to the choir to declare “the peace”, upon which the choir responds, “and with thy spirit”. This hearkens to the old Sarum where the Priest would actually begin the Pax with a kiss to the deacon or clerk, likewise turning north to do so. Calls and responses to choirsides might occur elsewhere in the liturgy, but traditionally the choir did have a more prominent role in the liturgy than today, singing introits and graduals. Liturgics today are very different from the Sarum. Minor orders are virtually dissolved into the “people”, and Anglican liturgy is conducted almost like a perpetual low mass. However, the 1549 and perhaps Dearmer’s northside retain the best of both eras.

The north side (gospel side) seems a distinctly Anglican ceremonial position. One advantage relevant for today might be the further de-emphasis that modern liturgics (both Vatican II Roman and neo-Anglican) tend to put upon laity in the attempt to democratize services and flatten ecclesiology.  A sense of prelatial space might thus be engendered by giving choirs, clerks, and swornmen heightened roles as was done in olden days when the church was conceived as ordered society with ranks and hierarchies rather than as an undifferentiated mass of ‘equal’ priests?

Charles Bartlett lives and works in Northern California. He is a member-at-large in the UECNA, worshiping in the REC by bishopric dispensation. His blog, Anglican Rose, explores the nature of adiaphora in England’s Church beginning with late-Henrician standards.

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To some ears “Protestant Saints” might sound oxymoronic[1]. However, Anglicans and “high-church” Protestants during the 16th and 17th centuries often continued the medieval cults but in a ‘reformed’ manner. It should be remembered during the first generation of reform categories like “protestant” and “roman catholic” weren’t so neat and tidy. The term ‘protestant’ didn’t even exist until nine years following Luther’s 95 Theses. Until then, Swiss and English divines might interchangeably be called “Lutherans”. Many reformers, like Martin Bucer, and certainly Luther himself, initially received their religious education either as Augustinian monks or discovered the New Learning while serving as prebends, deans, professors, or in other Roman Catholic minor orders akin to academic chapters. In the early years of reform, 1520-1545, the anticipation a free general council [2] between Northern Protestant churches and Rome bred a kind of theological hesitancy if not purposed conservatism, especially in England and in Germany, where the hope of reconciliation drove policies of accommodation and continuity to certain medieval practices. Despite the Roman abuse of the medieval saint-cult, the mentioning saints in church prayers has primitive origin, dating to the second century.

Modest Reform: English divinity continued this older religious practice on the condition it was not contrary to scripture. The earlier Roman Catholic cult was distinguished by a vast and messy array of superstitions, not to mention devotional practices promoted by the Papacy that reinforced Rome’s merit theology. An alternative to abolishing the entire cultus was pruning away exagerations. English Reformers accomplished this several ways [3]. In 1538 reverencing of images by decking or prayer were banned in both public and private worship [4]. The 1536 Ten Articles rebuked those vain superstitions, “as to think that any saint is more merciful, or will hear us sooner than another or that any saint doth serve for one thing more than another, or is patron of the same” (Formularies, p. 30). In 1548 Anglicans started reform of the Salisbury mass, finishing an overhaul of the missal and its related Christian calendar which eliminated many legendary saints. In 1544 the “litany of saints” was also revised, where the heavenly saints were reduced to a single stanza while living members of the church gained the greater focus of the litany. Until 1549 this single stanza continued from the Cranmer’s 1544 litany where an invocation of heavenly saints remained[5]:


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Cranmer’s Beard

Henry VIII

Henry VIII’s biography is perhaps the most abused and defamed of 16th century reigns. Protestant scholars often treat Henry as a re-converted Roman Catholic. Meanwhile, for Roman Catholics, Henry’s several divorces preoccupy his church policy. But little is known about Henry’s genuine conviction as a churchman, much less head of the church militant in England. Like Elizabeth and James who succeeded him, Henry was an accomplished and well-read theologian in his own right, convinced of England’s catholicism. His churchmanship might be identified with those earlier Erasmian catholics– humanists who retrieved antiquity through original manuscripts, study of the fathers, and ancient texts. How Henry understood the old faith is more definitively known by his 1543 Catechism and 1536 Ten Articles, where the six articles delineate conservative (supposedly adiaphoric) boundaries on ceremony and discipline.

In a very interesting study on Henry VIII and Lutheranism (Neelak Serawlook Tjernagle, 1965), Neelak describes Henry upon his death neither professing Roman Catholicism nor Lutheranism. Henry died an Anglican:

“Henry breathed his last at Whitehall early on the morning of Jan. 1547. To prophesy the king’s death was treason in England, and therefore not until the attending physicians saw that his death was very near was it suggested that the might desire spiritual ministrations at his approaching death. Those near him might have wondered whether, in his last moments, he would call for the Catholic bishop, Stephen Gardiner, who had been the leading member of the Privy Council for the last years. They might have wondered whether he would request the formal last rites of the Roman Catholic Church and the ministrations of the foremost English son of the faith of his childhood. But there was no question in Henry’s mind. He asked that Thomas Cranmer be summoned.. When the archbishop arrived at the palace, the end was near. Cranmer asked the king to give some acknowledgement of his faith and trust in Christ. The king could only claps Cranmer’s hand. It was his last gesture. “And from that day to his own last agony the Archbishop left his beard to grow in witness of his grief”. To him alone the king had given a warm and enduring affection. ” (p. 247)

The Henrician period is formative for Anglicans. It not only severed the CofE from the Papacy, but the formulas approved by convocation and crown established a framework and substance for religion which Edward VI and Elizabeth would only slightly expand upon, namely, reforming the mass. No matter popular opinion, the standards stand above individual peculiarities– e.g., Cambridge’s calvinist faculty during the 1580’s, or, for example, Bp. Stokesley’s advocacy to realign toward Eastern churches in the 1530’s. This foundation and memory of King Henry might likewise be called “Cranmer’s Beard”. To better understand Henrician learning, I suggest this study on the Henry’s Media Via as well as the following book where the primary texts with royal seal can be read for themselves:

Various. Formularies of Faith put Forth by Authority During the Reigns of Henry VIII. Oxford, 1825.

For those interested in the Henrician Settlement’s relation to wider vera-Protestantism, see my belabored article: The Christmas Day Articles.

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