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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’? Continue Reading »

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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Ascension Day

Christ’s Rapture

When the Common Prayer Book is affirmed as a standard for Anglican faith, it is usually understood as including the short catechism, divine offices, sacraments, and preface. But, often passed over is the lectionary. The lectionary, especially when coupled with the collects and readings) is perhaps the richest fount for Anglican doctrine as it provides the verses by which we are to understand or unlock scripture. In otherwords, the lectionary is a hermeneutical compass unlike any other, and it is often overlooked.

However, with every prayer book revision, the lectionary has also been modified, yet rare are the studies on successive lectionaries as an evaluation would require consideration of an enormous volume of material. The reintroduction of the ecclesiastical year (even with most readings organized in an expository framework) especially makes this project formidable. That said, the problem is significantly reduced if the lectionary of various BCP’s are considered for those Holy Days historically found in the ‘Table of Feasts’. That leaves a sample of about thirty readings each taken one-by-one. My hope is to cover these thirty festivals over a casual course of three years, starting with Ascension Day as the first of many micro-studies which, once added together, can perhaps evaluate the good behind our several lectionary revisions, especially what the 1928 BCP contributed. Continue Reading »

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.  Continue Reading »

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.  Continue Reading »

Divided We Stand


I would like to recommend Divided We Stand:  A History of the Continuing Anglican Movement, by Douglas Bess, to all those interested in Continuing Anglicanism.  Having done some ad hoc research into the history of Continuing Anglicanism myself over the years, which has included in-depth conversations with several of the key participants in such landmark events as the St. Louis Congress, the Denver Consecrations, and the Dallas Synod, I can say with some confidence that Bess has done an excellent job of making an accurate record of the Movement’s key events.  Moreover, let me also say that this record is of crucial importance for anyone who wishes to understand the state of Continuing Anglicanism today.

My recent rereading of Divided We Stand left me with the firm impression that the Continuing Anglican Movement is fundamentally divided between two, discrete visions of Anglicanism.   There are (1) those holding an exclusively catholic-minded vision of Anglicanism, most of whom, but are not all, are distinguished by their use of the Anglican Missals and by their distinctively Tridentine theological outlook and piety; and (2) those adhering to a conservative, comprehensive vision of Anglicanism centered on the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion but otherwise tolerant of quite a bit of theological and liturgical latitude.  Today, the predominant catholic jurisdictions are the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) and the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK), while the comprehensive jurisdictions are the Anglican Church in America (ACA) and the Anglican Province in America (APA).

Having stated that Divide We Stand, as its title suggests, leads the reader to a dichotomous view of the Continuing Anglican Movement, I must give Bess credit for not painting this division in overly stark terms.  Indeed, as Bess correctly points out, the catholic jurisdictions, such as the ACC and APCK do, in fact, have parishes that do not use the Missals, and steer clear of Tridentine teaching and piety.  On the other hand, Bess notes that the comprehensive jurisdictions are hardly the exclusive province of low-church parishes, but instead contain many fully Anglo-Catholic parishes, some of which, I would note, are replete with the Missal Mass, Marian Statuary, and frequent use of the Rosary.  Thus, on the surface of things, the distinction between the two competing visions of Continuing Anglicanism might be viewed as merely involving differing centers of gravity in churchmanship, and Bess does not dispel this possibility in his text as far as I can tell.

Thus, I would not fault a reader of Divided We Stand for coming away with the impression that the difference between the catholic jurisdictions and the comprehensive jurisdictions is one of emphasis rather than substance–at least not enough substantive difference to justify continuing schism.  But, this conclusion would be, in my opinion, incorrect.  In the first place, as Bess’s narrative demonstrates,  experience has shown that the catholic and comprehensive camps have generally been suspicious of and adversarial toward each other throughout the history of the Continuing Movement.  Indeed, the conflict between the two visions of Continuing Anglicanism and the resulting political machinations that have occurred within the Movement is the very drama driving the main plot line of Divided We Stand.  Thus, I cannot help but conclude that something more fundamental must keeping the division alive.  And, what that something is, I believe, is, in a word, Calvinism.

Indeed, in the conservative, comprehensive vision of Anglicanism, Calvinists have been recognized as having a legitimate place at the Anglican table since the Glorious Revolution.  Thus, for the comprehensives, Evangelical Churchmanship, often denominated as “low churchmanship” in contemporary parlance, which is perhaps most seminally expressed in W. H. Griffith Thomas or D.B. Knox’s expositions of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, deserves its share in the Continuing Anglican Movement.  In contrast, for the ardently catholic-minded Anglicans, the Evangelical Party has always been a bridge too far.  Indeed, for the catholic-minded Anglican, Missal Anglo-Catholics, Prayerbook Catholics, philOrthodox, Old High Churchman, and perhaps even Conservative Central Churchman can be tolerated under one big tent, but the “low” churchmanship of the Evangelicals  cannot.

Thus, in my view, the real reason that the predominantly Anglo-Catholic jurisdictions such as the ACC and APCK will not seriously entertain union with a conservative comprehensive jurisdictions like the APA or the ACA, is that comprehensive formulations of Anglicanism are simply too tolerant of Calvinism or Reformed principles.  Indeed, the existence of Evangelical expositions of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion is precisely why the catholic jurisdiction have shied away from giving the Articles constitutional status.  Moreover, it is also my opinion that, despite the prevalence of Tridentinism in the catholic jurisdictions, they do have a valid point.  Whereas the differences in the exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles evinced by decidedly non-Tridentine works of such catholic-minded men as W. Beveridge, E.H. Browne, or E. J. Bicknell can theologically co-exist along side the Tridentine-friendly expositions of A. P. Forbes and Newman (Tract XC), on the ground that each merely express differing theological opinions about secondary aspects of the same underlying faith, once the Evangelical point of view is introduced, fundamentally inconsistent understandings of the very faith itself are being asked to cohere, which is logically intolerable.  Indeed, atonement is either limited or it is not; grace is irresistible or its is not; men are predestined to death as well as life or they are not.

In sum, while much of Divide We Stand, leads me to believe that a great consolidation of the jurisdictions presently comprising Continuing Anglicanism is possible in the near future, I nevertheless believe that the irreducible minimum number of Continuing Anglican jurisdictions are two.  This is so because a significant number of catholic-mined Anglicans, whether of a Tridentine, Missal Anglo-Catholic persuasion or not, will simply never agree to the comprehension of Calvinist or Reformed principles as a legitimate component of Continuing Anglicanism.  Thus, a significant number of Continuing Anglicans are always going to hold hold against the supposed reasonableness of even the most conservative schemes of comprehensive Anglicanism and unification of the Continuing Movement into a single body will remain and elusive goal.


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’? Continue Reading »

Brothers, we have lost a giant.

The Reverend Dr. Crouse, Patristics scholar and Anglican theologian passed away in his sleep last week.  Dr. Crouse was a professor and mentor to a number of people currently on the board of the Prayer Book Society in the United States, and without his instruction and influence Anglicanism in North America would be in much greater disarray than it currently is.  It is our fervent prayer that in future years Dr Crouse’s multiple essays on classical Anglican and Patristic theology will serve to guide those who desire to continue within the Anglican Way.

The following paragraphs are excerpted from the obituary written this week by Dr. W. J. Hankey, a colleague and long time friend in the Classics Department of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

On the night of Friday the 14th, in his 81st year, the Reverend Professor Robert Darwin Crouse died in his sleep in his childhood home in Crousetown, Lunenburg county, where his family has been established for more than 200 years.  He had been very ill for several years, but played the organ for the Liturgy at St Mary the Virgin, Crousetown, the Sunday before last.  His contributions of the highest level to the Classics Department of Dalhousie University, to the University of King’s College, and to their students, to international scholarship, to the Anglican Church of Canada, and to the musical life of Nova Scotia make his passing momentous.  The Department of Classics has received condolences from many parts of Europe and North America.

In 1981 Robert was the founder of St Peter Publications in Charlottetown and of the Atlantic Theological Conferences, both of which continue.  For five decades Fr Crouse delivered uncounted theological and spiritual addresses, conferences, and retreats and guided the hundreds who came to him for help.  The extent of his labours, which embraced North America and Europe, was suggested when the Diocese of Saskatchewan made him its Canon Theologian.

Harvard granted him an S.T.B. (cum laude) in 1954.  After he was ordained priest by the Bishop of Nova Scotia, Robert moved to Trinity College, Toronto where he was a Tutor in Divinity for three years and earned a Master of Theology (1st class Honours) in 1957.  Trinity awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Divinity in 1983.

In 1970 Robert became PhD of Harvard University.  His dissertation was a critical edition of the De Neocosmo of Honorius Augustodunensis.  He supervised scores of MA theses at Dalhousie and directed and examined dozens of doctoral dissertations there and throughout North America and Europe.  His lectures, sermons, and scholarly publications (he published over seventy articles, reviews, and translations) were polished artefacts characterized by the greatest economy, precision and beauty of language. … In 1990 the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum in Rome named him Visiting Professor of Patrology, a post he took up repeatedly until 2004; he was the first non-Roman Catholic to be given this distinction.

In 1972 he joined other members of Classics, as well as members of the Departments of German and Sociology, as the first co-ordinators responsible for the structure and lectures of the Foundation Year Programme at King’s.  His Section on the Middle Ages was a model of the integration of literary, philosophical, religious, social and artistic culture.  With camera in hand he crisscrossed Europe bringing back the history of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.  His lectures on architecture and music opened many students to hitherto hidden mysteries.  His lectures on Dante’s Divine Comedy were so loved that he continued them well after retirement, giving his last series in 2003.  Former students returned annually to hear them.  Suitably his last lectures in the University were delivered on the Confessions of St Augustine in 2004 in the Foundation Year Programme. … Outside of the classroom his greatest contribution there was in the Chapel.  His celebration of the liturgy and his sermons had enormous influence on the lives of students and faculty.  Moreover, he established the choir for the Thursday Solemn Eucharist which is now the foundation of the musical renaissance at King’s.  

Robert’s gifts as an organist and choirmaster, were extended not only to parishes (notably in his home parish of Petite Riviere, Holy Trinity, Bridgewater, and St James’, Halifax) and chapels.  Soon after he returned to Nova Scotia, he assisted in the rescue and restoration of an early 19th century tracker organ which became the centre of forty-seven years of Summer Baroque concerts at St Mary’s Crousetown.  While such concerts of early music have now become staples of our Summer fare in the Maritimes, Robert was a pioneer.

After the concerts, receptions at his house allowed musicians and their audiences to admire Robert’s extraordinary gardens.  He was always an organic gardener, and inspired many to imitate his practices; his salads provoked awe, and his rosary, with 129 varieties, delight. … He eschewed radio, television, and telephone.  Around the walls of the room where Robert spent most of his time, [there is] carved in Carolingian Latin, an inscription from Scripture.  They are words St Bernard took from Isaiah for the habituations of his Cistercian monks and nuns who keep silence strictly, they translate thus: “The solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the lily…and a highway shall be there and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness” (Isaiah 35.1-9)  At the heard of all Robert’s apparently endless practicality lay a carefully guarded silence which enabled the depth of his thought, his communion with God, nature, and humanity, and his unmovable independence of mind.  Among his greatest gifts as a teacher was his communication of the necessity, goodness, and beauty of contemplative silence.

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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