The Heart of The Prayer Book
by Rev. William E. Cox, D.D.
The Dietz Press, Incorporated
Richmond, Virginia, 1944
[found spelling errors corrected; footnotes moved to end of respective paragraphs]
This book is NOT copyrighted.
Persons who wish to reproduce any part of it have the Author’s permission to do so, due credit being given for the quotation.
[facsimile signature of Wm. E. Cox]
To my wife whose love and tender care preserved my life
and enabled me to finish this book,
and to the memory of my mother
who taught me to love the church and the Church’s
matchless book of worship and instruction
All during my active ministry I felt the need of a companion book to the Prayer Book – something similar to Barry’s Teacher’s Prayer Book – for the members of my Confirmation Classes, and for people who were interested in the Church or who had come into the Church with little if any Confirmation instruction.
Since I have been disabled and retired I have put my time and energy into this volume in the hope it would meet that need. It is purposely in simple straightforward language, as free as possible from technical and confusing terms. I have started with the Title Page, the Preface and other preliminary pages, too often overlooked; then in the services I have tried to show, more fully than the average reader would be likely to observe, the wonderful spiritual value and help that those services can be when fully understood and appreciated.
In the preparation of this book I have made use of various commentaries on the Prayer Book, both new and old; but I have used most freely The Teacher’s Prayer Book, American Edition, by the Rt. Rev. Alfred Barry, D.D., D.C.L. sometime Canon of Windsor and Assistant Bishop of London. Our General Convention in 1898 authorized an American Edition of Bishop Barry’s Book, and the Introduction to this American Edition was written by the Rt. Rev. Henry C. Potter, D.D., Bishop of New York. I have purposely made full use of this book, for the simple but important reason that it puts major emphasis on the spiritual richness of the content of the Prayer Book. It is that spiritual richness I have endeavored to emphasize in “The Heart of the Prayer Book.”
WILLIAM E. COX.
Southern Pines, North Carolina,
For members of the Anglican Church, and indeed for very many others, the Book of Common Prayer possesses profound and perennial appeal. They praise it, study it, and come back to it again and again, not because, as is sometimes charged, they regard it almost with superstitious awe and “place it above the Bible,” but because it commends itself to them as a rich treasury of devotion and actually aids them in their effort to find God and to worship Him as He deserves. To those who know and love it, the Prayer Book is not only a precious heritage from the Christian ages, enshrining in terms of lovely human speech the best men have thought about God, freedom, and human destiny, but is also a practical manual of worship public and private and a well tested guide to all who would know and serve God more truly. Because the Prayer Book is a practical volume which may be used, as well as a compendium of religious lore to be treasured and studied, it makes ever fresh appeal to generations of Churchmen as they come and go. Furthermore, the Prayer Book has never more than now been gratefully appreciated by Anglicans, or more widely known and used throughout the Protestant world. Thousands who serve in our armed forces carry it with them constantly, ministers of other Churches use it in their services, and in many homes outside the Anglican fold it is honored and valued. Indeed, so many become personally interested in the Anglican Church through the Prayer Book that one of our great Bishops of the last generation was accustomed to call it “our best missionary.”
It is of this book that the Reverend W. E. Cox has written in the pages which follow. He has written appreciatively but with discrimination, and while what he tells us is not new, he has included within the compass of a single volume much which would be beyond the power of the average lay student to discover independently. While not without its message for all of us, the book is especially for the laity. It is, therefore, recommended to lay people as a handbook to the study of the Prayer Book. My suggestion is that those interested in a deeper, wider understanding of the Prayer Book go through it carefully page by page using Mr. Cox’s book as a sort of devotional commentary. To all those who thus use the volume, I am convinced it will prove extremely valuable.
ROBERT E. L. STRIDER,
Bishop of West Virginia.
Wheeling, W. Va.
September 25, 1943.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Author’s Preface
Foreword, by the Bishop of West Virginia
PART ONE—FOUNDATION FACTS
I. The Prayer Book and Life
II. The Prayer Book and The Church
III. The Prayer Book and the Bible
IV. The Prayer Book and Religion
PART TWO—THE TITLE PAGE AND THE INTRODUCTORY FOLLOWING
I. The Title Page
II. The Certificate
III. The Table of Contents
IV. The Ratification
V. The Preface
VI. Concerning the Service of the Church
VII. How the Psalter is Appointed to be Read
VIII. The Order how the rest of Holy Scripture is Appointed to be Read
IX. Hymns and Anthems
X. Tables of Lessons of Holy Scripture
XI. Tables of Feasts and Fasts
XII. Tables of Precedence
XIII. To Find the Date of Easter Day
XIV. A Table to Find Easter Day
XV. A Table of the Movable Feasts
XVI. General Tables
PART THREE—THE REGULAR OFFICES
General Principles Worth Remembering
I. The Order for Daily Morning Prayer
II. The Order for Daily Evening Prayer
III. Prayers and Thanksgivings
IV. The Litany
V. A Penitential Office (For Ash Wednesday)
VI. The Order for the Administration of The Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion
VII. Collects, Epistles and Gospels
PART FOUR—THE OCCASIONAL OFFICES. THE PSALTER, ETC.
I. The Ministration of Holy Baptism
II. Offices of Instruction
III. The Order of Confirmation
IV. The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony
V. The Thanksgiving of Women after Child-Birth
VI. The Order for the Visitation of the Sick
VII. The Communion of the Sick
VIII. The Burial of the Dead
PART FIVE—THE ORDINAL AND WHAT FOLLOWS IT
I. What Comes After the Ordinal
1. The Form of Consecration of a Church or Chapel
2. An Office of Institution of Ministers into Parishes or Churches
3. A Catechism
4. Family Prayer
5. Articles of Religion
II. The Ordinal
I. The Succession of Bishops
II. The Theory of Apostolic Succession
III. High Church and Low Church
(Prepared by a Committee of the House of Bishops and authorized by The Presiding Bishop for use in 1939 during the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the Adoption of The American Prayer Book which took place in Philadelphia October 16th, 1789.)
O God, by whose spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified, we give Thee hearty thanks that by Thy holy inspiration Thy Church hath from its foundation ordained rites and ceremonies, prayers and praises, for the glory of Thy name and the edification of Thy people.
More especially do we thank Thee that when, in the course of Divine Providence, these American States became independent, this Church was moved to set forth the Book of Common Prayer in a form consistent with the Constitution and laws of our country, yet in agreement with ancient usages, and adapted to the spiritual needs of new times and occasions.
We beseech Thee to help us so to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest Thy teaching as set forth in this Book, that Thy name may be glorified, Thy Kingdom hastened, Thy Church increased, and Thy people strengthened in faith, courage and devotion to Thee. All this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with Thee and the Holy Spirit be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.
PART ONE: FOUNDATION FACTS
I. THE PRAYER BOOK AND LIFE
They were discussing Robinson Crusoe in a college course on the English novel.
The professor said, “This ‘desert island’ device fascinates the imagination. Suppose this class were cast on a desert island – or into prison! – and that we could have but one book. What would you choose?”
The professor went on, “It is very hard to have but one book. I have thought much about this. It may astonish you, but I would choose the Book of Common Prayer.
“Cut off as we would be, our use of this book would link us to a worshipping fellowship which lay beyond any reach but that of prayer. Each of us could use it to guide our private devotions. Seven-eighths of it being Scripture, we would have the gist of the Bible. I wonder if we could not fill in missing parts of the Prophets and Gospels from memory? I look upon the Prayer Book as the Bible acted out in worship and service – the Bible not cut off at the first century but illuminated with the God-experience of all succeeding generations.”
(Quoted from Forward for Tuesday, October 24, 1939.)
II. THE PRAYER BOOK AND THE CHURCH
Christianity is Christ – what He did, and said, and was – working in the lives of men; the Church witnesses to Him.
The Holy Bible is The Book of all books. It is the Word of God, the message of God to men, the supreme communication in all history of the Will of God, made known to us in its fullness in and through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is our one authentic record of what Christ did and said and was.
But the same Bible, the life and teaching of the same Lord, are differently interpreted by each of two hundred or more different denominations and organizations calling themselves Churches. In the midst of this babel of voices, the question naturally arises: Where can we learn, accurately and authoritatively, what our Church teaches, and how she interprets the religion of our Lord? And the answer is: In The Book of Common Prayer.
The Book of Common Prayer is the Church’s Official Book of Worship and Instruction, set forth with Authority, and the only book so set forth. All other books having to do with the teaching of the Church are but the efforts of some member of the Church to explain her teaching. This may be done well or ill, but it is at best the writer’s understanding of the teaching, and the writer’s point of view. The Prayer Book is the Voice of the Church.
III. THE PRAYER BOOK AND THE BIBLE
The Holy Bible is generally conceded to be the greatest book in the world. It is acknowledged to be the most valued possession of the human race.
The next greatest book in the world many think is The Book of Common Prayer. In 1939 the Committee on Religious Drama, at the request of the Presiding Bishop, prepared a pageant to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the American Prayer Book and the title given that pageant was “The Great Book.” What reason is there for thus referring to the Prayer Book, – putting it in a class with “the greatest book in the world”?
There is a reason, a satisfying and convincing reason. The Bible and the Prayer Book are substantially the same book. The Prayer Book is the Bible in devotional form. More than two thirds of the Prayer Book is Scripture quoted word for word, and the remaining one third is the Scripture in essence just paraphrased enough to put it in devotional form. If you were to take out of the Prayer Book everything that is Scripture, or a paraphrase of Scripture, you would have little left but the covers. The compilers of the Prayer Book, says Dr. Dyson Hague,* “secured to the Church a human composition so richly saturated with Scripture that it stands in its matchless beauty second only to the Word of God.” [*The Protestantism of the Prayer Book, by Dyson Hague, p. 32.]
1. SCRIPTURE DIRECTLY QUOTED.
Open your Prayer Book and see for yourself the large amount of Scripture quoted word for word. Turn first to the Collects, Epistles and Gospels, beginning on page 90 (Pew Edition, 1928–1938 Revision). They end on page 269, a total of 179 pages. Allowing twenty-five pages for the Collects, which will fully cover them, we have here 154 pages of verbatim Scripture, with chapter and verse given.
Turn now to the Psalter, pages 345–525 inclusive. Here we have 181 pages more of verbatim Scripture. The Epistles and Gospels together with the Psalter constitute 35 pages more than half of the entire book.
Now begin with Morning Prayer on page one, and, turning the pages one by one, note the direct quotations of Scripture that run all through the Prayer Book.
Morning Prayer begins with nearly three pages of Scripture. From the end of the Declaration of Absolution to the recitation of the Creed nothing is said or sung, except the Te Deum and the bare announcement of Psalter and Lessons, that is not in the words of Holy Scripture. The Lord’s Prayer is from St. Matthew 6:9–16; the Versicles which follow are from the 51st and the 40th Psalms; the Gloria is from Romans 16:27 and other parts of Scripture; the Venite is from the 95th and 96th Psalms; the Psalter is verbatim Scripture (taken from “The Great Bible” of 1540 for reasons that will appear later.) The Lessons, one from the old Testament and one from the New Testament, are of course Scripture, read directly from the Bible itself; the Benedictus and the Benedicite (page 11) are an addition to the third chapter of the Book of Daniel, found in the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament and in other versions, but not in the original Hebrew, and are printed in our Bibles among the Apocryphal books; the Benedictus (page 14) is from St. Luke 1:68 f., and the Jubilate (page 15) is Psalm 100. Note also “The Grace” at the close, with chapter and verse given.
Evening Prayer follows the same general order as Morning Prayer, and has a like large proportion of Scripture. Turn the pages and note the passages of Scripture item by item.
Follow the Prayer Book on to the end, page by page, and note the passages of Scripture in the Penitential Office, the Communion Office, the Service for Infant and Adult Baptism, the Catechism (Decalogue and Lord’s Prayer), also the Services for Confirmation, the Churching of Women (p. 305), Visitation of the Sick, Communion of the Sick, Burial of the Dead, the Thanksgiving Service (p. 264), the Ordination Services, the Consecration of Churches and the Institution of Ministers.
Putting it all together, more than two thirds of the entire book of Common Prayer is taken word for word from the Bible.
2. SCRIPTURE PARAPHRASED.
The remaining one third of the Prayer Book is Scripture in paraphrase. There is scarcely a sentence, or even a phrase, for which a Scripture parallel cannot be shown. Much of the Scripture so paraphrased is easily recognizable by those who are at all familiar with their Bible.
Take for example the Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent. Read the opening sentence of the Epistle for that day and note the words “written for our learning,” “patience,” “comfort,” “scriptures,” “hope,” also the sense of the passage in which they are used. Now read the Collect and note the same words, used in the same sense, and just changed enough to put them in the form of a prayer.
Or take the first three lines of “My Duty Towards God” and “My Duty Towards My Neighbor.” Even the children in Sunday School can tell you that they are the Master’s words in reply to the question about the greatest commandment in the law,* and the Golden Rule.** [*St. Matthew 22:36–40. **St. Matthew 7:12.]
The Rev. Henry Ives Bailey, in a book entitled The Liturgy Compared With The Bible, takes the sentences of the Prayer Book one by one, from the “Dearly Beloved Brethren” of the Morning Service to the last word in the Prayer Book, and shows by a simple assembling of texts that every sentence in the Prayer Book is either in exact Scriptural language, or has a Scripture parallel. By way of illustration, let us take The General Confession in Morning Prayer, and compare it phrase by phrase with a few of the passages of Scripture quoted by Mr. Bailey.
THE PRAYER BOOK.
Almighty and most merciful Father;
I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. – 2 Cor. 6:17, 18.
Be ye merciful, as your Father also is merciful. – St. Luke 6:36.
We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way. – Isaiah 53:6.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep. – Psalm 119:176.
Ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. – 1 Peter 2:25.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
There are many devices in a man’s heart. – Proverbs 19:21.
They said we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart. – Jer. 18:12.
W e h a v e offended against thy holy laws.
The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. – Romans 7:12.
We have offended against the Lord, our trespass is great.– 2 Chron. 28:13.
In many things we offend all. – St. James 2:10.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
Ye have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. – St. Matt. 23:23.
And we have done those not to have done;
We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst. – Nehemiah 1:7.
They have done that which was evil things which we ought in my sight. – 2 Kings 21:15.
All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God .– Romans 3:23.
And there is no health in us.
There is no health in my flesh. – Psalm 38:3.
The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. – Jer. 17:9.
Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? – Romans 7:24.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
God be merciful to me a sinner. – St. Luke 18:13.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. – Psalm 51:1.
Spare thou those O God, who confess their faults.
Spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy. – Nehemiah 13:22.
I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. – Malachi 3:17.
Restore thou those who are penitent;
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. – Psalm 51:12.
He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. – Psalm 23:3.
According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. – Heb. 8:12.
All the promises of God in him (Christ) are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. – 2 Cor. 1:20.
To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him, shall receive remission of sins. – Acts 10:43.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
Your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. – 1 John 2:12.
The grace of God hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. – Titus 2:11, 12.
To the glory of thy holy Name.
Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. – St. John 14:13.
Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Cor. 10:31.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. – St. Matt. 5:16.
Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. – St. Matt. 6:13.
All the people shall answer and say, Amen. – Deut. 27:15.
Let all the people say, Amen. – Psalm 106:48.
As has been well said: “In the Book of Common Prayer the Word of God is glorified. So completely is it saturated with the Word of God that there is scarcely one sentence which has not for its foundation and vindication some text of Holy Scripture. . . . We question, indeed, whether any human composition could, without any straining or purposed effort, compress with as much discretion, and in so short a compass, so full and varied a presentation of the Scriptures as is to be found in the order for morning and evening prayer. It begins with Scripture. It ends with Scripture. It exalts Scripture. It is based on Scripture. It is Scripture, Scripture, Scripture, from beginning to end.” [*The Protestantism of the Prayer Book, by Dyson Hague, pp. 29-30.]
Such is the book officially put in our hands by the Church, for purposes of worship, and also for our instruction. When we who know it for what it is, and love it for what it is, remember how it is so richly saturated with Scripture, and how it relates that Scripture so practically and so truly to life, we speak in words of truth and soberness when we say that “it stands in its matchless beauty second only to the Word of God.”
IV. THE PRAYER BOOK AND RELIGION
By the Rt. Rev. WILLIAM T. MANNING, D. D.
Bishop of New York
We all know today that the supreme need of the world, and of all of us, is religion. We need now the help of religion in all its divine reality, in all its supernatural truth and power. A religion of vague humanitarianism or of mere subjective emotionalism or of semi-rationalistic intellectualism has no real power in the lives of men. This merely humanitarian religion has been fully tried and has failed utterly. We need now not a mere intellectualism, but faith, faith in God and in Christ and in the great divine realities declared to us and to all the world in the Scriptures, in the Christian Creed, and in the teaching through all the ages of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
And it is this religion in its majesty, its simplicity, and its power, which is given to us in our Prayer Book. The Prayer Book gives us in form for our actual use – in prayer and Creed and sacrament, and worship – the Gospel of the New Testament, the Gospel of Christ and of His Church.
What we need in this Church today more than improved organization or promotional campaigns or any new devices is a great call to our people to realize more truly, to practise more faithfully, and to believe more fully, the religion of the Prayer Book. If we, the bishops and clergy of the Church, will help our people to do this, if we will help them to know the Prayer Book, to understand it intelligently, to believe it fully, to live by its mighty truths and teachings, the Church will be a reality to them, the sacraments will be a reality to them, Christ Himself will be a reality to them, and their religion will be real to them.
A greater or less degree of ritual is unimportant, but the principles of the Prayer Book are the principles of Christ’s religion. Never imagine that you can help the cause of religion or of true Christian unity by doing that which is inconsistent with, or disloyal to, the Faith and Order of the Church as the Prayer Book gives this to us.
Hold fast to the Prayer Book because of the majesty, the spiritual truth, the reverence, of its prayers and its worship. Hold fast to the Prayer Book because it gives us the Faith and the principles for which the Episcopal Church in this land has stood through its whole life and history. Hold fast to the Prayer Book because in the splendid words of the greatest of our bishops of this diocese, John Henry Hobart, it stands for “evangelical truth and Apostolic Order.”
Hold fast to the Prayer Book because we hold this Prayer Book in common with the whole Anglican communion; and it holds us in fellowship with our mother Church of England and with the Churches of the Anglican communion throughout the world.
Hold fast to the Prayer Book because it gives us the faith, the sacraments, and the Apostolic ministry as these have come down through all the continuous life of the Holy Catholic Church in this world from the Apostles’ time. Hold fast to the Prayer Book because it gives us the priesthood and the sacraments and gives to the sacraments their great essential place, the place which they hold, and must hold, in the Christian religion, because in the sacraments Christ Himself gives us His grace and help. Hold fast to the Prayer Book because its truths and teachings, its holy worship, its divinely given means of grace, bring us face to face with Christ and with God.
(Quoted by permission from The Living Church, August 6, 1941.)
PART TWO: THE TITLE PAGE AND THE INTRODUCTORY PAGES FOLLOWING
I. THE TITLE PAGE
In order to understand the deeper meaning and significance of the Prayer Book Services – the heart of its teaching – we must begin at its very beginning, and follow it through to the end. Keep your Prayer Book in reach and study it as you go along.
The element of “Instruction” or “Teaching” of the Prayer Book is woven into the warp and woof of its language from cover to cover. The Catechism and the Offices of Instruction are the only parts of the book in which the instruction is put in the form of systematic teaching, but the element of instruction is by no means limited to these parts. Every word in every sentence, from title page to final cover, has its teaching value and purpose. See how this is illustrated in the very title page.
Notice first the title: The Book of Common Prayer.
Why “THE” book, and not “A” book? “THE Book” is specific. It indicates that this is the only book set forth with authority as the book of worship and instruction for the people of this Church.
Why “Common PRAYER,” and not, say, “Common WORSHIP”? Because “worship,” as that word is popularly used, may mean anything from a chautauqua program, with a hymn and a prayer thrown in, to the most elaborate ritual. “Prayer” suggests a congregation on its knees looking up into the face of God. The Prayer Book everywhere emphasizes the deeply devotional aspect of worship.
Why “COMMON Prayer”? For three reasons: (a) It implies corporate or group devotional expression. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (St. Matt. 18:20). The ideal of this Church is that of a whole congregation praying and praising God as with one voice. (b) The ancient service books were numerous, complicated, and in a foreign language, hence the people could not use them. They were necessarily priests’ books. This book is one, simple and in the language of the people, for the common use of both priest and people. (c) The Prayer Book was intended to do away with the variety of “Uses,” which formerly existed in different dioceses, and make it the common standard of faith and the common manual of devotion for the whole realm.
Notice now the matter following the title.
(1) “And Administration of the Sacraments.” The Sacraments are part of the corporate of common worship, but they stand out pre-eminently as having been instituted by our Lord Himself, and the Prayer Book so indicates.
(2) “Other Rites and Ceremonies.” This refers to the several Offices of the Church as distinguished from the two Sacraments ordained by our Lord. “A Rite is the thing done; Ceremony is its setting.”
(3) “RITES AND CEREMONIES OF THE CHURCH ACCORDING TO THE USE OF THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.”
These words claim that the substance of the Prayer Book is in accordance with the theological and devotional system of the historic catholic or universal Church; and that particular units of that Church, like the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, have the right to carry out that system according to their own “use” as regards detail and ceremonial. The Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies belong to the Church catholic. The Prayer Book sets forth their administration according to the “use” of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
There is yet more on this title page. Notice the way it is paragraphed, and the different kinds of type used. These are significant. It is clearly indicated, by both type and paragraphing, that the term “The Church” as used in the Prayer Book refers to a large and comprehensive whole, of which “the Protestant Episcopal Church” is a part. What is “the whole Church” of which the Protestant Episcopal Church is a part?
It might be answered that it is the Anglican Communion. That would be true in part, but only in part. It should be borne in mind that the Episcopal Church in the United States of America does not stand apart as a group to itself, but is one of a series of self-governing ecclesiastical bodies, each locally autonomous yet in communion and fellowship with the others, all of which together make the great Anglican Communion. It includes all Episcopal (Anglican) Churches in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Canada, the United States, the West Indies, South America, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Melanesia, India, Japan, China, Africa, and other independent Sees, with a communicant membership of more than thirty million. The Anglican Communion is the greatest body of English-speaking Christians in the world.
In the family of self-governing ecclesiastical bodies which constitute the Anglican Communion, each has its own local or group name; and the name “Protestant Episcopal Church” was chosen for this branch of the Anglican Communion when, after the Revolutionary War, the Church in the Colonies assumed an independent position.
The word “Protestant” indicates our recognition of the principles of the English Reformation. The word “Episcopal” indicates that in government and order we are of the ancient threefold Historic Ministry, and, as one of the constituent bodies of the Anglican Communion, have as our heritage all that rightfully belongs to the catholic or universal Church.
The Rev. Dr. W. P. DuBose, late Dean of the Theological Department of the University of the South, says that the two words “Catholic” and “Protestant,” as used in the official terminology of the Church, are not contradictory but complementary, each standing for a necessary side of the fullness of Christian Truth and Life.
The title “Protestant Episcopal Church,” rightly interpreted, and without any one-sided emphasis in either direction, is rounded in its significance, and shows the comprehensive nature and character of our Church. The phrase “Protestant Episcopal Church” was used by the Church of England, as a title and as a descriptive phrase, both before and after our adoption of it as the official title of this branch of the Anglican Communion in the United States of America. (See The Protestantism of the Prayer Book, by Rev. Dyson Hague, pp. xiii-xiv.)
The Prayer Book is not a partisan book; there is nothing in it that bears a party label, or that can be linked up with any particular school of thought. There is not a sectarian word or a breath of sectarian spirit in it. It seeks to embody in itself the simple truth of Christianity, and the whole truth – truth that is universal. The Prayer Book compels us to think, not in local or party terms, but in the terms of universal truth and a comprehensive Church. This is what is implied in the term “Catholic” Church as used in the Creed, a term that we cherish for its largeness and splendor in spite of its apparent difficulty because of confusion in the popular mind with the Roman Church.
In the Introduction to his Teacher’s Prayer Book, Bishop Barry says it was the purpose of the compilers of the first Prayer Book (1549) to recast the Ancient Services “into such a form – sober in tone, uncontroversial in thought (although clear and definite in doctrine), free and simple in language – as might be sincerely and heartily adopted by all baptized members of Christ.”
The Prayer Book still speaks in the same sweet spirit, and its title page shows that it thinks in the same large terms.
II. THE CERTIFICATE
The Certificate shows that the Church has a Standard Book of Common Prayer, official and authoritative, and that the book in which such certificate is found is a correct and authentic copy of the Standard Book. Every edition of the Prayer Book, of any size or shape whatsoever, must be compared with a certified copy of the Standard Book, line by line and word for word, to make sure that such edition corresponds exactly in content with that of the Standard Book.
The Certificate does not say that this edition has been compared with the Standard Book, but with a certified copy of the Standard Book. The Standard Book of Common Prayer itself is carefully preserved against handling and wear. A “certified copy” is used by which to compare various printed editions.
III. THE TABLE OF CONTENTS
This should be memorized, or at least the order of the Services made familiar. Two things every Churchman should by all means know are, the order of the books of the Bible and the order of the Services in his Prayer Book.
IV. THE RATIFICATION
This is the Church’s official approval and authorization of her standard book of worship and instruction. It shows that the Prayer Book or “Liturgy” so set forth is the voice of the Church in her corporate capacity as represented in General Convention, and is to “be received as such by all the members of the same.” The Church is not responsible for what the Clergy may teach. They are responsible to the Church. The Church is responsible for everything in her official book of worship and instruction, and this is the significance of both the Ratification and the Certificate.
The Ratification is also the Church’s order for the use of the Prayer Book in the ordered services of the Church. “This Book” is to be used, and no other, as is clearly shown under the heading “Concerning the Service of the Church.” The use of the Hymnal and the Bible, of course, go along with that of the Prayer Book. This controls the Clergy in the ordered services of the Church.
V. THE PREFACE
This should be read by all, and carefully.
It asserts, as a matter of Christian liberty, the right to change forms and usages in worship, “provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire.”
It acknowledges our indebtedness to the Church of England for our first foundation, and a long continuance of nursing care and protection, and quotes the Preface to the English Book on the right to make changes and alterations, as those in authority may, from time to time, deem necessary and expedient.
Note what it says about not intending to depart from the age-old teaching and practice of the Church of England “further than local circumstances require,” and notice the splendid “hope” expressed in the closing paragraph.
VI. CONCERNING THE SERVICE OF THE CHURCH
These are simple and plain directions as to how the Prayer Book Services are to be used.
The Ratification requires the use of “this Book”; the directions here order that nothing but the Prayer Book shall be used in a stated Service of the Church; for, in case of a Service for which no form is “Set forth by lawful authority within this Church,” the devotions used are left to the discretion of the Minister, but that discretion is limited to selections “from this Book, – or from Holy Scripture,” and even then it must have the approval of “the Ordinary” (the Bishop).
The only exception to this rule is set forth in paragraph two, regarding “special occasions for which no Service or Prayer hath been provided in this Book,” and then only such Form or Forms as the Bishop may set forth.
At first sight this may seem like a severe restriction on the officiating Minister. Its real intent is to safeguard the Church, and the people of the Church, against the possible intrusion of teaching and practice inconsistent with the spirit and principles of the Church. There is much wisdom in making the Bishop, not the local Minister, responsible for any deviation from the established order of the Church.
VII. HOW THE PSALTER IS APPOINTED TO BE READ
There is wide liberty allowed in the reading of the Psalter. It is divided so that it may be read through once each month in the Daily Services, and this is mandatory “in places where it is convenient,” but the Minister may read one or more of the Psalms for the Day, omitting the others. There is a list of “Proper Psalms for Seasons and Days” and a list of “Psalms for Special Occasions;” and these are to be read on the days appointed. There is also a series of “Selections of Psalms” (twenty selections), and “A Table of Psalms for the Sundays of the Church Year,” either of which the Minister may use instead of the Psalter for the day; and permission is given to omit certain verses in certain Psalms.
The Psalms were the hymns of the Jewish Church, with which the first Christians were familiar. They are still used in the Services of the Church because they are fine expressions of spiritual aspiration, and are not doctrinal.
VIII. THE ORDER HOW THE REST OF THE HOLY
SCRIPTURE IS APPOINTED TO BE READ
The orderly and systematic method of selecting the Scripture Lessons to be read is fairly well known, and in any event the directions are simple and plain. Note in the last paragraph that on “special occasions,” some specified and some not specified, “the Minister may appoint such Lessons as he shall think fit in his discretion.” Occasionally the General Convention authorizes “for trial use” a series of Lessons other than those printed in the Prayer Book, but this authorization is temporary for trial use only, unless and until the series proves its merit and subsequently is given a place in the Prayer Book.
There is sound reason for not allowing the Minister to select the Lessons “at his discretion” regularly. One of the purposes of the compilers of the Prayer Book was to make sure that the whole Bible was read to the people, and read in an orderly connected way. To accomplish this purpose, carefully prepared Tables of Lessons were provided, and the Ministers directed to follow them in the reading of the Lessons. It was a wise provision, and the Church still holds wisely to it.
IX. HYMNS AND ANTHEMS
These directions are brief, but explicit. Note them carefully. Their purpose is to prevent the use of light and frivolous music, also to safeguard the Church against false teaching often found in popular songs of the day. Occasionally, people not familiar with the Church’s spirit and purpose want to sing at weddings some popular song, appropriate enough for parlor use or for a purely social occasion but not suited to the spiritual atmosphere the Church seeks to throw around the marriage ceremony. In such case the Minister is left no choice. The law, which he has solemnly promised to obey, is clear. Nor need there be any difficulty about it. Where the law is kindly and courteously explained, and the sane reason for it given, the persons concerned recognize its high purpose, and often are really pleased to have the finer tone given to the Service.
The desire, if not the need, for varying occasionally from the more stately hymns of our Church Hymnal has been met by the authorization of many of the “Gospel Hymns” printed in our Mission Hymnal. It is a significant fact that, though these Gospel Hymns are fully authorized, and may be sung at any Service of the Church, they have not found their way to any appreciable extent into the stated Services of the Church. They are sometimes used on special occasions, but for regular Services our people, of their own accord and by their own preference, cling to the more stately hymns of the Church Hymnal.
X. TABLES OF LESSONS OF HOLY SCRIPTURE
(Sometimes called “The Lectionary.”)
On Sundays and Weekdays alike throughout the year a selection from the Old Testament or the Apocrypha is appointed for the First Lesson, and a selection from the New Testament is appointed for the Second Lesson at both Morning and Evening Prayer.
The Tables of Lessons are three in number, followed by “The Calendar.”
1. A TABLE OF LESSONS FOR THE CHRISTIAN YEAR.
This Table gives Lessons for every day throughout the calendar year. In the Sunday Lessons from Advent to Trinity the Church follows the life of our Lord, reading the account of the great events in His earthly life in their natural and chronological order. During the Trinity Season the Lessons bear on the moral law, applying the teachings of our Lord to practical life.
Notice the wide range of these Sunday Lessons. They cover the whole Bible. Notice also how Isaiah, pre-eminently the prophet of the coming Messiah, is read during the Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany Seasons.
In the Weekday Lessons the Church provides for the daily reading of the Bible in sequence from Genesis to Revelation. Monday after the First Sunday in Advent the Lessons are Genesis 1 arid St. Mark 1; I Kings 11 and Revelation 4, and on succeeding weekdays the Lessons follow chapter by chapter in these books and continue with reasonable regularity through the books of the Bible.
A few points of special interest need be noted:
(a) With the exception of a few Holy Days that are associated with Christmas, no Lessons for Fixed Holy Days are given in the Table of Lessons for the Christian Year. Lessons for these days are found in the Table of Lessons for the Fixed Holy Days.
(b) On weekdays during the year, for the First Lesson, Morning and Evening, the Old Testament is read through, beginning with Genesis 1, and some of the Apocryphal books are read.
(c) The book of Isaiah is read out of its order, to put it in the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany Seasons.
(d) The Second Lessons, Morning and Evening, are from the New Testament, and in Sequence, but in a different way. Throughout the Advent Season the Second Morning Lessons are from St. Mark’s Gospel, and in sequence; and the Second Evening Lessons during Advent are from the Book of Revelation in sequence. From the First Sunday after Christmas to Trinity Sunday the Second Morning Lessons are from the Epistles, with Special Lessons the week before and the week after Easter; and throughout the Trinity Season they are from the Gospels. From the First Sunday after Christmas to the Second Sunday after Easter the Second Evening Lessons are from the Gospels, and from the Second Sunday after Easter to Advent they are from the Acts and the Epistles.
Here again is evidence of the Church’s wisdom and forethought, for there is a practical advantage in this arrangement. In churches where the Daily Services are held, should there be any who could attend the Morning Service but not the Evening Service, or vice versa, they will in either case hear practically the entire New Testament read. Should they attend both Services, they will, of course, hear it read twice.
(e) The Proper Lessons for Sundays, Holy Days, Special Occasions, Rogation Days, Ember Days, and a few days around Easter, follow the principle of topical appropriateness. They often interrupt the seriatim reading of whole books of the Bible, but they do not necessarily break the sequence of such Lessons.
(f) The selection of the Lessons of Scripture to be read in the Services is a significant part of the Teaching work of the Church, and its importance is very great. The systematic reading of the Holy Scripture to the people and by the people in a comprehensive and complete way has always been part of the Prayer Book plan and purpose.
It is a noticeable fact that the New Testament Epistles were addressed to the Church, or to congregations in the Church. (See the opening verses of First Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, and First Thessalonians.) This shows that the Church was organized and exercising her teaching function before the New Testament was written. The Scriptures were written by Churchmen to the Church and for the Church, therefore the Church may well say how they may be most helpfully read, especially in the Public Services.
As has been pointed out, the Episcopal Church is a Bible Church. If the members of the Church read the Bible daily, following the Tables provided in the Prayer Book, they would read the entire Bible more than once each year, and to their lasting benefit.
2. A TABLE OF LESSONS FOR THE FIXED HOLY DAYS WHICH
ARE NOT IN THE TABLE OF LESSONS FOR THE CHRISTIAN YEAR.
These Lessons bring out for our example the characteristics of the men who moved about our Lord’s Person, who knew Him personally and intimately, and who were the shining lights in His Church after His Ascension. Note again that they cover the whole Bible.
3. A TABLE OF LESSONS FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS.
This Table gives portions of Scripture especially suitable for important occasions in both Church and State. The Table explains itself.
4. THE CALENDAR.
This is a simple calendar showing dates on which the Fixed Holy Days Occur. The letters following the days of the month are “Sunday Letters” (see page xl).
XI. TABLE OF FEASTS AND FASTS
The weekly Festival of the Lord’s Day as the day of Christ’s Resurrection, and the weekly Fast of Friday as the day of His Passion, are practically as old as Christianity itself. Their observance began, not by virtue of any law or formal enactment, but by an instinctive impulse as if led by the Spirit. Thus were the disciples gathered together on the evening of the Resurrection day (St. John 20:19–23), also on the Sunday following (St. John 20:24–29), and thus they continued to meet the first day of each week for worship and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1–2.)
The PURPOSE of the FEAST DAYS is:
(a) To commemorate certain significant events in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(b) To commemorate the life and example of those personally associated with Him, who, like Him, laid down their lives for their faith.
(c) To bring out the practical lessons of their lives for our encouragement, warning, and guidance.
FAST DAYS and their significance:
The principal ideas underlying Fast Days and the Days of Abstinence are (1) the deepening and the natural expression of religious sorrow and penitence for sin (see Collect for Ash Wednesday); (2) the use of self-discipline, “Subduing the flesh to the Spirit” that it may better obey the motions of the Holy Spirit (see Collect for First Sunday in Lent). Two days each year – Ash Wednesday and Good Friday – the Church calls “Days of Fasting.” All other Fast Days, called Days of Abstinence, are days of such partial and limited abstinence as is “especially suited to extraordinary acts and exercises of devotion.” (Note carefully the days mentioned in the Table.)
True Fasts are:
(a) Fine spiritual exercise.
(b) Fine Christian discipline, “subduing the flesh to the Spirit.” (St. John 6:63; Rom. 8:1, 13; Gal. 5:24.)
(c) Putting Fasting on the lowest utilitarian plane, it is a fine physical tonic, giving the digestive organs, as well as brain and muscle, a rest one day in seven (Friday fasts); and in Lent, shading our menu off from winter (fatty, heat-producing) diet, to lighter summer diet.
(d) Note the mandatory tone of the Prayer Book regarding them. They involve obedience to our “spiritual Mother, the Church.” Out of nineteen centuries of experience she tells us they have an abiding value, and to ignore them is to suffer a very real loss.
(e) Fasting is clearly a means to a higher end, not an end in itself. An involuntary fast, such as must be endured in time of famine, is neither a virtue in itself, nor does it bring greater strength of character. It needs to be voluntary, deliberate, purposeful, with the higher end always in view, and in the spirit of Him who said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” – (St. Luke 9:23.)
(f) Since its necessity and value vary with each individual, fasting is left by our Church free, to be determined as to its method and degree by each man’s conscience. But this freedom, which is characteristic of our Church, should not be interpreted as license to ignore or habitually neglect the days of fasting. The Church, out of her centuries of experience, knows better what is good for us than we ourselves know, and we do well to obey her. “To obey is better than sacrifice,” saith the Scripture. (1 Sam. 15:22.)
XII. TABLES OF PRECEDENCE, and the Table Following.
These are Tables of importance, especially to the Clergy. If two days for which Lessons, Gospels and Epistles are provided happen on the same date, we are faced with the question of which Lessons, Gospel or Epistle should be used. For instance, every year in which Christmas comes on Sunday, The Feast of Circumcision falls on the First Sunday after Christmas, in which case the Feast of Circumcision takes precedence over the First Sunday after Christmas and these directions in the Prayer Book tell the Clergy what to do.
XIII. TO FIND THE DATE OF EASTER DAY
This explains the complicated calculation used in finding the date of Easter in any given year. Note use made of the Dominical or Sunday Letters given in the Calendar and to which reference was there made.
XIV. A TABLE TO FIND EASTER DAY
The complicated calculations for finding the date of Easter in any given year need not trouble us, for the date of Easter is here given in each year from 1786 A.D. to 2013, A.D. inclusive.
XV. A TABLE OF THE MOVABLE FEASTS
Since Easter is a Movable Feast, all the Feast Days that take their date from Easter, whether before or after Easter, are movable Feasts also. This Table gives every day on which Easter can possibly fall, and the corresponding day on which the Feast days that date from Easter will fall.
XVI. GENERAL TABLES
These have to do with the Dominical or Sunday Letter, also the Golden Numbers, used in finding the date of Easter on any given year. These are important to those who figure out the date of Easter, but to the mass of Church members they are of little value since the day on which Easter falls from 1786 A.D. to 2013 A.D. is given in a Table already noticed.
PART THREE: THE REGULAR OFFICES
GENERAL PRINCIPLES WORTH REMEMBERING
In Morning and Evening Prayer we come at once to two of the three great Prayer Book Services for the public worship of the Church. The Litany is a devotional service also, and may be used as a separate Office; but it lacks some of the elements of worship, and is generally used with one of the other Offices. There are also devotional elements in the other Prayer Book Offices, but the worship in them is in relation to the special object of each Office, as in the marriage or burial services. Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and the Holy Communion, are the three Services especially designed for fully rounded public worship. The Communion Service is the supreme Service of the Church, and it will be considered later. Here we take up the Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer.
For a right approach to these daily Offices, three things should be kept in mind:
1. They are God-centered, not man-centered. If people come into these services thinking about themselves, their comfort or pleasure or whims, as if they were there to be entertained, they will find the services a drab routine of “getting up and down,” to the discomfort of their indolent self-seeking. But if they come with heart and mind fixed upon God, with a desire to praise Him, learn of Him, and be strengthened by Him, they will find these services “matchless in their beauty – Scriptural, simple, and spiritual, with everything to promote devotion and godliness.”
2. They are not man-made except in so far as man has arranged them in proper order and sequence for purposes of worship. Every line of them is Scripture, verbatim or paraphrased. From the Absolution to the recitation of the Creed nothing is said or sung except the Te Deum that is not in the exact words of the Bible; and in those parts which are not in the exact words of the Bible there is not a sentence, or even a phrase, that does not have its Scripture parallel.
3. They are meant to influence and mold our daily life. They bring the truths of Holy Scripture before our minds, not as objective truths with which we personally have little concern, but in immediate connection with our daily lives and conduct. They are a continuous call and a continuous inspiration to live up to our Christian profession, which the Baptismal Service before the 1928 revision told us is “to follow the example of our Saviour Christ, and to be made like unto Him.”
I. THE ORDER FOR DAILY MORNING PRAYER
A. THE PENITENTIAL INTRODUCTION (introduced in 1552)
In the Apocryphal book Ecclesiasticus (18:23) is this injunction: “Before thou prayest (or makest a vow) prepare thyself, and be not as one that tempteth the Lord.” In the spirit of this injunction the Penitential Introduction is intended to prepare us to engage in the service that follows, and in a right spirit.
(1) The Scripture Sentences.
The first words which fall upon our ears when we assemble for Morning or Evening Prayer are words of Holy Scripture – not those of anger and judgment, but those of love, and hope, and mercy, and pardon; so that the most wicked and hardened sinner who chances to hear them may be encouraged to confess his sins unto God. From the Bible itself we are taught in what spirit we should engage in the service that lies before us.
The first seven Sentences are for general use, reminding ail present that “the Lord is in his holy Temple,” and therefore that all should come into that presence with quiet and humble reverence, with glad joy in that privilege. The third sentence prays that both the lip service and the heart service may be “acceptable” in God’s sight. The sixth sentence is our Lord’s declaration of the kind of worship – “in spirit and in truth” – that is acceptable to the Father; and the seventh sentence sounds the note of that “grace” and “peace” that should come to all who worship “in spirit and in truth.”
Then follows a series of Sentences appropriate to the Seasons of the Church Year, though they are not limited to those Seasons. The Sentences for Advent and Lent, for instance, are appropriate to any occasion when it is desired to strike the penitential note, or those of Epiphany for a missionary service. “One or more” of these Sentence must be read at every service of Morning Prayer, but all of them are never read at any one service.
(2) The Exhortation.
In language beautifully simple, yet full and accurate in thought, the Exhortation sweeps us at once into the spirit and purpose of the whole Service. By its plain and much needed religious teaching, it calls us to make confession of our sins as a duty urged by Holy Scripture; it tells us that at best our sins and shortcomings are many; it warns against trying to deceive ourselves or others by hiding our sins; it tells us in what heartfelt spirit confession should be made; that its purpose is to “obtain forgiveness of the same”; and that such forgiveness comes by the “infinite goodness and mercy” of God. It tells us also that the purposes of public worship are Thanksgiving, Praise, Edification, and Prayer. Furthermore, it presses upon all present, without exception or distinction of any kind, this call to come into the presence of God “with a pure heart, and humble voice,” and it appeals to all so to approach “the throne of the heavenly grace,” in penitential preparation for the worship that is to follow. Confession is the first step towards reconciliation with God, and so properly comes at the beginning of both our public and private devotions.
(3) A General Confession.
The Confession is addressed to our heavenly “Father,” and in it He is spoken of not only as “Almighty,” but also as “most merciful.” The sinner’s hope, the sinner’s inspiration, lies in the assurance that God is a loving Father, inclined to mercy rather than stern judgment, in all cases where true penitence is manifested. But the significance of this address to our heavenly “Father” is not exhausted with its appropriateness to the spirit of this Confession. It is the first of many in the Prayer Book, all of which, by the words used when speaking of or to God – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – bring out the deep and true conception of God which the Church would have her children hold. This is the teaching element, or one of them, in the Prayer Book. A like teaching element is also interwoven with all the language of the Prayer Book, whether in the prayers or other parts of the Book, a fine example of which is the teaching of the doctrine of sin in this Confession. From cover to cover, it is a Book of Instruction as well as a Book of Worship, and both the instruction and the worship are in Scripture language with Scriptural authority. The members of the Church should never forget this.
Near the middle of this Confession it turns from confessions to prayer, as penitent hearts are instinctively moved to do. Looking back over the past, with its shortcomings, heart and voice go out in prayer for mercy, for pardon, for restoration to a state of grace and favor; on the condition, indeed, of sincere penitence and confession, and in dependence on God’s “promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But this is not enough. Just to be forgiven for the past, and restored to Divine favor in the present, are not alone sufficient. The future stretches out before us, and throughout that future the all-important thing is to keep in the “ways” of God’s appointment, from which, in the past, we “strayed.” Looking toward the future, therefore, there is an added prayer for Grace, to the same “merciful Father,” “for his (Christ’s) sake,” that we may hereafter live (Titus 2:12) in “godliness” (our duty to God); in “righteousness” (our duty to our neighbor); and in “soberness” (our duty to ourselves) – all being done “to His glory.” (1 Corinthians 10:31.)
This confession is entitled “A General Confession” for three reasons: (a) to distinguish it from the old practice of making such penitential confessions in private, as the special duty of the individual; (b) because it is expressed in general terms, touching in general principle the failings of human life that are common to all men, and which may or ought to be confessed by all, leaving to each individual the application of the principle to his or her particular sins and their inclusion (mentally) in the confession of each; (c) because all are called upon to make it, priest and people alike.* [*Proctor’s, History of the Book of Common Prayer, 206–8.]
In this initial supplication of the Prayer Book two important truths are set forth: the constant need as well as the right of each individual to go to God directly and at once, and the necessity of constant personal acknowledgment of sin with accompanying prayer for grace. There may be exceptional cases, such as those referred to in the first Exhortation at the end of the Communion Service, in which one “cannot quiet his own conscience,” but requires “further comfort or counsel,” in which case he is called upon to visit his Rector, or “some other Minister of God’s Word, and open his grief”; but under normal conditions it is his right and his duty, as an individual and as a member of the congregation, to go to God direct in confession of sin and prayer for pardon and grace.
(4) The Declaration of Absolution, or Remission of Sins.
Notice that the Absolution begins with a preamble in which is declared again the love and mercy of God, “who desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn from his wickedness and live.” The Father wants His prodigal sons to come home, not to stay away and die in their sins; and the urge of both the Scripture and the Church is to “turn from” wickedness “and live.”
The Absolution then declares that God has given to His Ministers not only “commandment” but also “power” to declare and pronounce to His people the Absolution and Remission of their sins, but upon the express condition that they are “penitent.” The declaration which it has just been said the priest is “empowered” and “commanded” to make, is then formally made; but note that it applies only to those who meet its conditions, that is, to “those who truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel.” Then follows an exhortation to prayer for these requisites – (1) for “true repentance, and his Holy Spirit,” that the confession just made and all our present devotions “may please Him”; (2) for the regenerating grace of the same Holy Spirit, future as well as present, “that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy”; and (3) for final triumph, with the inheritance of “his eternal joy.”
It should be carefully noted that the officiating priest does not say “I” absolve, but “He”, that is God, pardons and absolves. The language of the Absolution makes it unmistakably clear that the priest speaks and acts with very real authority and power; but it also makes it equally clear that he exercises a ministerial, not an imperial power. The announcement is by God’s minister, and authoritative; the forgiveness is from God.
In the second rubric on page seven of the Prayer Book permission is given to use as an alternative the Absolution from the Order for the Holy Communion.
It seems proper that we should pause here for a brief meditation on the significance of this penitential introduction to the daily services of the Church. It should never be imagined that it is a liturgical formality or a sacerdotal flourish, nor should it be habitually passed by with the minimum of use that the rubrics will allow. It is of the profoundest significance, and its practical value in the Church’s ministry to her children is beyond compare.
In an older edition of the Prayer Book, was this striking phrase: – “remembering always that Baptism doth represent unto us our profession; which is, to follow the example of our Saviour Christ, and to be made like unto Him.” That, by implication if not by the explicit declaration of our present Prayer Book, is our “Christian calling,” our “profession.” It is the great objective of every Christian’s life, the goal real Christians are ever pressing toward, the high fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose for every human being.
Now this great objective, this high purpose, is not attained in a day. It may be seen by faith in an instant, and in an instant be embraced as the ideal, the guiding Star of our life’s purpose; but the realization of it in fact is a process of steady “growth in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and of steady movement, by His grace and help, from what in our human frailty we are, to what we may be and ought to be.
The penitential introduction to the Morning and Evening Services, as well as that in the Holy Communion, is no formal insistence on mere moral and legal correctness. Moral and legal correctness are, of course, included; but the deep, underlying purpose of this penitential heart-searching, day by day and every day, is to keep our eyes fixed on the vision of what we may become, on what God wants us to be – “a perfect man,” of “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” and “like unto Him.”
That was the burden of our Lord’s preaching and teaching. It is the goal toward which the whole Church presses, and toward which it seeks to lead the whole race of men. Holding the substance, if not the words, of this great objective steadily before our people; the constant calling upon them publicly, and as a corporate whole, to search their lives for whatever is inconsistent with it; to confess as sin that inconsistency; to pray for pardon and deliverance from it; and then to lift mind and heart in praise and prayer and Scripture reading to renewed allegiance to this great objective, make not only upward-looking and forward-moving individuals, but also upward-looking and forward-moving peoples. The thought and teaching of communions other than our own emphasize in their way the same truths, and in their way contribute toward the development of an upward-looking and forward-moving people. There can be little doubt that to this characteristic of the Christian religion is due the fact that the Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive of the nations of the world, far as they may be from doing God’s will on earth as completely and as perfectly as it is done in heaven. They at least hold that perfect doing of God’s will as an Ideal, and nothing contributes more toward keeping that ideal before the people, than does the constant penitential examination of our lives in the light of it, the confessing as sin what is inconsistent with it, with renewed and ever recurring resolve to live day by day more closely to it. From the days of St. Paul on, such self-examination, in penitence and faith, have been requisite as a preparation for the Holy Communion, and we may well thank God that the compilers of our Book of Common Prayer were moved, as by the Holy Spirit, to make it also the preparation for the worship proper of Daily Morning and Evening Prayer.
B. THE ELEMENT OF PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING
Fully half of both Morning and Evening Prayer consists of either repeating or listening to the words of Holy Scripture. A study of the separate items is most helpful.
(1) The Lord’s Prayer. (St. Matthew 6:9–15.)
How fitting is this Prayer in its use here as the transition from penitence to praise! How natural, after sincere confession and the assurance of forgiveness, to lift loving hearts and say “Our Father”!
There is no service in the Prayer Book in which this Prayer does not occur, and for reasons that should be remembered. First, in honor of our Lord, who gave it to us and taught us to use it when we pray (St. Luke 11:2). Secondly, it is the universal prayer of all humanity and of every day, the model to keep before us when we pray. Thirdly, the Address, “Our Father,” stamps on our worship, everywhere and all the time, the fundamental truth of the Fatherhood of God, which calls for filial love and trustfulness and reverence towards God, and also for communion and fellowship with our brethren in Him. Notice that it says “Our” Father. It teaches the brotherhood of man as well as the Fatherhood of God. Finally, it covers the whole scope of human prayer, and in the order of its petitions we are taught the true order of the objects of our desire, and therefore of our life.
In these petitions, before all thought of self, we pray for the acknowledgment of God’s glory – first, by the reverence of true devotion, “hallowing His Name”; next, by loyalty of heart, acknowledging and hastening His Kingdom, and all done “on earth, as in heaven,” that is, perfectly and completely in so far as it lies in our power; and for love, not reward (cf. St. Matt. 6:33). Next, we pray for our own needs; and note that prayer for temporal blessings is here expressly sanctioned, but confined to the modest desire for “daily bread,” i. e. for our actual needs each day. Then comes prayer for our spiritual needs, expanded and emphasized far more than the prayer for temporal needs. To one petition alone – that of forgiveness of our sins – is a condition attached. And so important is that condition that our Lord restated and emphasized it in solemn words of deep significance (cf. St. Matt. 6:14–15; 18:35; St. Mark 11:25–26). Lastly comes prayer for support in and through temptation, that we may not be overcome by it, but delivered from the evil of it.
The Doxology, “for thine is the kingdom,” etc., is omitted when the Lord’s Prayer is used in a penitential connection, but added where, as here, the prevailing tone of the service is one of praise and thanksgiving.* [*Parsons-Jones, The American Prayer Book, 141.]
(2) The Versicles. (Psalm 51:15.)
(a) “O Lord, open thou our lips. And our mouth shall show forth thy praise.”
How beautiful! Aside from its implication that the very desire to praise God springs from His indwelling presence, how much more appealing is it than to say, “Now let us stand and sing.” It is a prayer, too, for God’s help to praise Him aright.
(b) “Praise ye the Lord. The Lord’s Name be praised.” (Psalm 150:6.)
(3) The Gloria Patri. (St. Matt. 28:19; Eph. 3:21.)
The first burst of praise is to the Blessed Trinity, and is the heart of the Creed, as the Catechism plainly teaches. It runs through the Prayer Book Services everywhere. In Morning Prayer it is said or sung before and after the Venite; it is said or sung after every Psalm read in the Psalter, or at the end of the Psalter, also after every chant except the Te Deum which is itself a Hymn to the Trinity; it is woven into the first Prayer for the President of the United States, the Prayer for the Clergy and People, and the Prayer for all Conditions of Men; it is the ascription at the end of the second Prayer for the President and also the General Thanksgiving, and is in “The Grace” with which the Service closes.
(4) The Venite, exultemus Domino.
Once to know the history of this glorious Hymn is thereafter to sing it with new exultation and joy. It has long been known as the “Invitatory Psalm,” because of its repeated invitations to praise and prayer and worship. It was sung in the Synagogue Services before and during our Lord’s day, and there is little doubt that our Lord and His Apostles themselves sang it repeatedly. From our Lord’s day to this it has been said or sung in both Jewish Synagogues and Christian Churches.
After the general invitation in verses 1 and 2, it gives a two-fold reason for praising God; first, because He is the Creator and Ruler of the universe (v. 3–5); second, because “He is the Lord our God,” caring for us individually as the Good Shepherd for His Sheep (cf. Psalm 8:3–9).
The 96th Psalm, from which the last two verses of the Venite are taken, – associated in the Septuagint with the restoration of the Temple after the Captivity – is a magnificent Psalm of praise, calling on Israel, on the nations of the world, and on the earth itself, to glorify God. The two verses here chosen invite this universal worship.
On page 8 of the Prayer Book is a series of short Invitatory versicles, inciting to praise, and suited to the different seasons of the ecclesiastical year, to be sung or said before the Venite. Their use, however, is made permissive, not obligatory. The versicles immediately preceding the Venite (Praise ye the Lord: the Lord’s Name be praised) may be considered as an unalterable invitatory, and they are most fitting, especially where the Venite is not said or sung, as in Evening Prayer.
(5) The Psalter. (From the “Great Bible” of 1540.)
That psalmody was used by the Apostolic Church appears from 1 Cor. 14:26, Col. 3:16, Eph. 5:19, and Acts 16:25. It has been said that in the early Christian Church the Psalms were so often repeated that the poorest Christians could say them by heart, and used to sing them at their labors, in their houses and in the fields.* [*Proctor’s, History of the Book of Common Prayer, 215.]
The text of the Psalms as used in the Prayer Book is that of the “Great Bible” of 1540, not that of the King James Version. The reasons for that are three: first, the older version had become so familiar to the people by use that it was desirable to retain the familiar translation; second, ‘the older translation had a rhythmical character that made it more adaptable to chant singing; and third, the Psalms are not doctrinal, hence not involved in the doctrinal controversies of that day, therefore lesser emphasis was laid on exact literal translation.
The Gloria Patri may be, and generally is, sung or said at the end of every Psalm, and it must be sung or said at the end of the whole portion or selection from the Psalter. The Gloria Patri is not any real addition to the Psalms, but is only used as a necessary expedient to turn the Jewish Psalms into Christian Hymns, and fit them for the use of the Church now, as they were before for the use of the synagogue. It Christianizes the Psalms by interpreting them – doctrinally, morally, and spiritually – in the light of our Lord’s life and teaching, which brings out into perfection what under the Old Covenant was in all points necessarily imperfect. (See Hebrews 7:19.)
(6) Chants Following the First Lesson.
(a) The Te Deum laudamus.
The Te Deum is so called because “Te Deum” were the first two words of the Latin original used in the Church of England before the Services were printed in English. The people had become accustomed to designating it by its opening words as “the Te Deum,” and this familiar designation was retained in the English Prayer Book. The other Chants, including the Gloria Patri and the Gloria in excelsis, got their Latin names in the same way.
The Te Deum is the great hymn of triumphant Praise in the Western Church, as the Gloria in excelsis is in the Eastern. It is so venerable with age that nobody knows who wrote it or when it came into use in the Church. There is a legend that it was written by St. Ambrose, or by St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, but this legend is unhistorical. There is indication that it came from Gaul, at least in its present form; some attributing it to Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, A.D. 355, and others to Hilary, Bishop of Arles, A.D. 440, but there is reason for assigning at least parts of it to a much earlier date. Its origin seems lost in obscurity, but this we know: it is one of the grandest, if not the grandest hymn in the Christian Church, sung by Catholic and Protestant alike.
The Te Deum comes appropriately between the two Lessons, as a link between the Lessons from the Old Testament and the New, embodying as it does the great truths of religion contained in both the Old and New Testaments.
(b) The Benedictus es, Domini; and the Benedicite, omnia opera Domini. (usually spoken of as The Benedictus es, and The Benedicite)
These are both Apocryphal additions to the book of Daniel, inserted between the twenty-third and twenty-fourth verses of the third chapter of Daniel. They are not found in the Hebrew Bible, but the Greek versions LXX, and Theodotion, include them as integral parts of the text of Daniel, as do also the Old Latin, Vulgate, and Syriac versions. In our Bibles they are printed among the Apocryphal books.* [*Bishop Charles Gore, A New Commentary on Holy Scripture, 117.]
The Benedictus es and the Benedicite together make what is called “The Song of the Three Holy Children,” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, whom Nebuchadnezzar had cast into a fiery furnace for refusing to worship the golden image which he had set up (see Daniel 3). They are prefaced by a prayer, presumably before or at the time the three men were cast into the fiery furnace, and this Song celebrated their deliverance. The Benedicite seems to be an expansion of Psalm 148.
In the Benedictus es the “Three Holy Children” sing God’s praise out of their own hearts. In the Benedicite they call on all Creation to join in his praise. The following outline of Bishop Barry will make it mean more to you:
“The idea is simple in the extreme, though worked out with great detail – calling again and again on all Creation to sing the Creator’s praise. But we may trace an order and method in it; first, (a) the call is given (vs. 1–10) to all the great Natural Powers and Forces – the “angels” being clearly looked upon as God’s ministers therein (see Ps. 104:4; Heb. 1:7). Next (b), in vs. 11–17, the hymn addresses itself to all the phenomena and changes through which Nature passes, manifesting her special beauty in each. Then (c), in vs. 18–25, the Earth and Sea, with all the wealth of vegetable and animal life, are called to join in the hymn of Praise; and lastly, (d) in vs. 26–32, the crowning sacrifice of thanksgiving is demanded from man generally, from Israel, as God’s people, from His priests and servants, and from His Saints, living and dead. The whole is (like Job 38, 39, or Ps. 104) a eucharistic commentary on the history of Creation (Gen. 1 and 2). Except when this history of creation has been read in the First Lesson, the Benedicite has no special appropriateness to this place in the Service, and is, therefore, rightly used only as an occasional variation from the far grander and more apposite Te Deum. The custom of using it in Advent seems especially inappropriate to the Season.”* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 8 – Notes.]
(7) Chants Following the Second Lesson.
(a) The Benedictus. (St. Luke 1:68–79.)
This Song of Zacharias was originally the only Chant provided for use after the Second Lesson, and the Prayer Book of 1549 ordered its use “throughout the whole year,” without division or abbreviation. “The shortening of this Canticle,” says Bishop Barry, “by omission of all verses after the fourth, permitted except in Advent, seems greatly to impair its completeness and beauty.” In its wholeness it sums up beautifully the messages of both Testaments, verses 1–8 being a thanksgiving for the Advent of the Messiah, so long promised to mankind, and verses 9–12 forecasting the mission of the Baptist as the Forerunner of the Highest.
(b) The Jubilate Deo. (Psalm 100.)
In the morning services of the First Prayer Book the Song of Zacharias (the Benedictus) was read three times during the year – twice in the Lessons and once as the Gospel for the Day. To avoid repetition, the revision of 1552 added the Jubilate to be used in its place, and the original idea seems to have been that it should be used only on those days when the Benedictus is read in some other part of the service. It is a jubilant song of praise, but it has no Christian reference, and therefore should not be made, as it sometimes is made, the Chant of regular use.
Note: The Thanksgivings, both General and Special, are in a very true sense a part of the element of Praise, and are included in the heading of this section, but for practical purposes we leave them till we come to them in the course of the Prayers.
C. INSTRUCTIONS FROM GOD’S WORD, AND OUR RESPONSE IN THE CREED
(a) The Lessons from Holy Scripture.
Mention cannot be too often made of the prominence given by our Church, and throughout the Anglican Communion, to instruction from God’s Own Word. In addition to the fact that the Versicles and Chants are in the very words of the Bible, and all parts of the Services in Bible language, two lessons are read out of the Bible itself at both Morning and Evening Prayer, one Lesson from the Old Testament, and one from the New. These Lessons, as we have already noted, cover the range of the whole Bible, and in the Calendar of Lessons for daily reading they take the chapters in sequence from Genesis to Revelation. We have seen, too, that the selection of these Lessons is not left to the whim or the discretion of the officiating Minister, but are arranged for him in such way as to guarantee to the people the orderly reading of the whole Bible. The provision for reading one chapter from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament at every service shows, and was no doubt intended to show, that the Old and New Testaments are not contrary, the one to the other, but that the Church is one under its two dispensations. This is a truth more important than many imagine, and by many it is overlooked altogether. Let us keep it in mind, for on it rests the true explanation of many questions that people wrestle with today.
(b) Our Response of Faith in the Creed (either Apostles’ or Nicene).
How naturally the Creed follows the reading of the Scripture Lessons! “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
And how vital to our religious life it is! “Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10; cf. St. Matt. 10:32, St. Luke 12:8).
Furthermore, this Creed, or the substance of it, is of Divine origin. When our Lord sent His Apostles out to their work under the terms of “The Great Commission” He said to them: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (St. Matt. 28:19–20). Here from the lips of our Lord Himself we have His explicit command that the faith into which all future members of the Church are to be baptized is simple faith in the Triune God. It was but natural that new converts should be taught this faith, and should acknowledge their belief in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in whose Name they were to be baptized. That this was done is evidenced by the Creed of Caesarea in Palestine, in which are these words: “We confess the Father to be truly a Father, the Son truly a Son, the Holy Ghost truly a Holy Ghost, according to what our Lord, when he sent his disciples to preach, said, ‘Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’”* [*Bingham, Christian Antiquities, Bk. X. Chap. 4.]
This simple baptismal formula was, from the very beginning of the Church, and is now, the heart of the Christian faith, and we are so taught in the Church Catechism of our own Prayer Book (p. 284, “What do you chiefly learn in these Articles of your Belief?”). But in the course of time, and by necessity, in order ‘to combat false teaching, the Creed “grew” into the fuller form in which we now have it. When the Apostolic Church came into contact with the Gentile world, and with Greek philosophy, it became necessary to amplify the simple Creed given by our Lord in the baptismal formula. And when, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Creed was so amplified, it was done by simply writing into it what the Scripture affirms regarding the Three Persons of the Godhead, without one touch of human opinion or of philosophic speculation. Back of the Creed is the Bible, as the following comparison will show:
THE APOSTLES’ CREED.
I believe in God
“Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye ‘be established” (2 Chron. 20:20). “There is none other God but one” (St. Paul in 1 Cor. 8:4).
“Without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is” (Hebrews 11:6). See Acts 3:13; 4:24; 5:30; 7:55; 13:23.
“Have we not all one Father? hath not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10). “Baptizing them in the name of the Father” (St. Matt. 28:19). “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you” (St. Luke 24:49). "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father” (St. John 20:17). “To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him: and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (St. Paul in 1 Cor. 8:6).
“There is nothing too hard for thee: the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is his name” (Jeremiah 32:17, 18). “The Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (St. John in Rev. 19:6). See St. John 20:17.
Maker of heaven and earth:
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1 :1). “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth: (Exodus 20:11). “Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is” (St. Peter and St. John in Acts 4:24).
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
“Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins” (St. Matt. 1:21). “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (St. Luke 2:11). “Ye believe in God, believe also in me” (St. John 14:1). “And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John Baptist in St. John 1:34). “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (Nathaniel in St. John 1:49). “Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (Martha in St. John 11:27). “We believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (St. Peter in St. John 6:69). “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God” (St. Peter in St. Matt. 16:16). “My Lord and my God” (St. Thomas in St. John 20:28). “In the name of the only begotten Son of God” (St. John in St. John 3:18). “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (St. John 20:31). “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus” (St. Peter in Acts 3:13). “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (St. Paul in Acts 13:33 quoting Psalm 2:7).
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary:
“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (St. Luke 1:35). “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. . . Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (St. Matt. 1:20, 22, 23.)
Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried:
|“Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (Our Lord Himself in St. Luke 24:46). “And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified; and they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe; and when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand; and they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head; and after they had mocked him, they led him away to crucify him. And they crucified him. Jesus, when he had cried again, with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost; and when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb.” (St. Matt. 27:2, 26–31, 35, 50, 59, 60.) “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (St. Peter in Acts 2:23). “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified” (St. Peter in Acts 4:10). “The Just One, of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers” (St. Stephen in Acts 7:52). “And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre” (St. Paul in Acts 13:28–29). “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the ‘third day according to the scriptures” (St. Paul in 1 Cor. 15:3, 4).|
He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead:
“Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10; quoted by St. Peter in Acts 2:27, 31). “Now he that ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?” (St. Paul in Eph. 4:9). “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (St. Matt. 28:6). “Thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (St. Luke 24:46). “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses” (St. Peter in Acts 2:32, cf. 24; see 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40, 41). “But God raised him from the dead” (St. Paul in Acts 13:30; cf. vs. 33, 34, 37; also 17:31). “For I delivered unto you first of all that which, I also received, how that Christ . . . rose again the third day according to the scriptures. . . . And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (St. Paul in 1 Cor. 15:3–4, 14).
He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
“While they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). “After the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (St. Mark 16:19). “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool” (‘St. Peter in Acts 2:33–35). “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (St. Stephen in Acts 7:55–56). “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things” (St. Paul in Eph. 4:10). “Jesus Christ, who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Peter 3:21–22). “Who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1; cf. 9:24; 10:12).
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations” (St. Matt. 25:31–32). “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (St. John 5:22). “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). “And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead” (St. Peter in Acts 10:42). “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom” (St. Paul in 2 Tim. 4:1).
I believe in the Holy Ghost:
“Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost” (John Baptist in St. John 1:33). “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (the command of Jesus in St. Matt. 28:19). “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (the promise of the Master in Acts 1:8). “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (St. Peter in Acts 2:38; see 4:31; 5:32; 10:38). “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (St. Stephen in Acts 7:51). “Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (St. Peter and St. John in Acts 8:15, 17: cf. St. Paul in Acts 19:2, 6).
The Holy Catholic Church;
“Upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (St. Matt. 16:18). “Go ye therefore, and’ teach all nations . . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (St. Matt. 28:19–20). “And ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers... And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:41, 42, 47). “As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ; for by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:12–13). “And (God) hath put all things under his (Christ’s) feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22–23). “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27; read vs. 23–32).
The Communion of Saints:
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us” (St. John 17:21). “And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ; if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another” (1 John 1:3, 7). “Beloved of God, called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7)
The Forgiveness of sins:
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations” (St. Luke 24:47). “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (St. Peter in Acts 2:38; cf. 3:19; 5:31; 10:43). “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins” (St. Paul in Acts 13:38). “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (St. Paul in Eph. 1:7).
The Resurrection of the body:
“The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth” (St. John 5:28–29). “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen; and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (St. Paul in 1 Cor. 15:12–14). “The dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:52). “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them” (St. John in Rev. 20:12–13).
And the Life everlasting. Amen.
“God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (St. John 3:16). “And his (God’s) servants shall serve him; and they shall see his face; and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 22:3–5).
There it stands: the Faith of the Gospel, the Creed of the Church, the Creed of Christendom, the Creed of the centuries past. As St. Paul said to Timothy; “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us” (2 Tim. 1:13–14).
The Apostles’ Creed is our sacred heritage, in its essentials as old as Christianity itself and as broad as life. It answers to a natural impulse of the soul. It witnesses to the universality of our faith. It binds us all together now, and binds us to all the past. As often as we repeat the Creed of our Baptism we repeat the words by which martyrs have lived and died, the words under which new nations have been enrolled as soldiers in Christ’s army, the words which have remained through every vicissitude the standard of the Christian belief. Its emphasis is not so much on the conviction that something is true, but that some ONE is the stay of life. It is the expression of personal trust, and not simply of intellectual conviction. “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust,” is its spirit and the essence of its meaning.* [*Westcott, The Historic Faith, 10.]
The Apostles’ Creed is so named, not because the Apostles drew it up in its present form, but because it embodies the substance of the Faith which the Apostles taught; and as nearly as possible in the language of the Apostles, as the Scriptures quoted above abundantly show. The Apostles did not set it forth in the form in which we now have it, but they taught what is contained in it, and it is in accordance with the sum of Apostolic teaching.
The Nicene Creed, printed in Morning and Evening Prayer for optional use instead of the Apostles’ Creed, is preeminently the Eucharistic Creed, and will be treated in the Communion Office.
D. THE PRAYERS
We here reach another transition point in the Service. Having prepared ourselves, by confession and absolution, to engage in the worship of God; having had our hearts stirred up to devotion by the Venite, Psalms, and Canticles or Chants; having listened to the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and having in the Creed declared our own personal belief in the great truths which the Holy Scriptures set forth; we now enter upon that part of the service which is devoted to prayer.
This orderly arrangement of the service is logical and natural, following the natural impulse of the soul. Just as the Creed is based on the Word of God – the Lessons which it immediately follows – so the prayers are based on the Creed. We could not pray unless we first believed. “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14).
(a) The Versicles. (All from Holy Scripture.)
The Lord be with you. (Ruth 2:4; 2 Thes. 3:16)
And with thy spirit. (2 Tim. 4:22; Gal. 6:18)
Let us pray. (Phil. 4:6; James 5:13)
“This invitation to pray,” says Evan Daniel, “is the signal for both Minister and people to ‘devoutly kneel’ (see preceding rubric); and is an exhortation ‘to lay aside all wandering thoughts, and attend to the great work we are about; for though the Minister alone speaks most of the words, yet our affections must go along with every petition, and make it ours with an hearty Amen.’” Notice the rubric immediately following these versicles about saying the Lord’s Prayer here, and compare the third rubric on page 7.
O Lord, show thy mercy upon us. (Ps. 85:7)
And grant us thy salvation. (Ps. 85:7)
O God, make clean our hearts within us. (Ps. 51:10)
And take not thy Holy Spirit from us. (Ps. 51:11)
(b) The Collect for the Day. (See first rubric on page 17.)
This is a connecting link between the Daily Offices and the Office for Holy Communion (of which Collect, Epistle and Gospel are prominent parts), and serves to carry on day by day through the week the special teaching and memories of the Eucharistic Scriptures and the Eucharistic Service of the previous Sunday or other festival. During the first or festival half of the Church Year it incorporates into the prayers the spirit and teaching of each succeeding season.
(c) The Collect for Peace.
This prayer comes most appropriately at the beginning of the Prayers for the day. Notice four points: (1) it addresses God as the God of Peace and Love (St. Luke 2:14; 1 Cor. 14:33, St. John 13:34, 35; Psalm 133:1). It then makes a declaratory statement of fact, (a) that “in knowledge of God standeth our eternal life” (St. John 17:3); (b) that in the life of action “His service is perfect freedom” (St. John 8:32, 36; Rom. 6:20, 22; Gal. 5:1). In these preambles to the various prayers of the Prayer Book, including the address and the statement of fact that most always follow the address, we get the Church’s teaching about God and a practical resumé of Scripture teaching about life in relation to God. These preambles should be carefully noted in every prayer we use. (2) The prayer itself is for safety, for God’s protecting love and care as our sure defense against all assaults of all enemies, both outward and inward (Psalm 7:1; 59:1). (3) A statement of the reason of, and the result it is hoped will flow from, this prayer, viz. “that we, surely trusting in thy defence,” may cast out all anxiety and fear (Psalm 27:1, 3; Rom. 8:31, 35, 37). Finally, (4) the ascription – “through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord.” These ascriptions should be noted with care in each and every Prayer in the Prayer Book. They vary, keeping us ever reminded that we worship God as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, though their emphasis is mostly on the place and work of Christ as Mediator between us and God. (Phil. 4:13; Heb. 2:18.)
(d) The Collect for Grace.
The address here speaks of God as our heavenly Father, all powerful and eternal, yet with the heart of a loving Father. The statement of fact recognizes, with some suggestion of thankfulness, God’s protecting care for which in the preceding Collect for Peace we daily pray, in that He has “safely brought us to the beginning of this day” (Psalm 3:5). The prayer, or central petition, here again, asks for defense, though now from sin as well as danger. The end hoped for, prayed for, is that our daily life may be ordered by God’s guidance and governance, and “all our doings” made “righteous in his sight” (Heb. 13:20–21).
This and the preceding Collect “are to be used unceasingly, because they ask for the two blessings – God’s peace (passively received) and His grace (needed for action), without which life is not worth the living.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 12 – Notes.]
(e) Prayers for the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority.
The first of these prayers is a modernized and adapted copy of the Prayer for the Sovereign in the English Prayer Book. It looks up to God as the Supreme Ruler, beholding and caring for all dwellers upon earth; and its prayer is for those in authority, both officially and personally, that they may, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, obey God’s righteous will in the exercise of power, than which nothing is more essential to the well-being of the State or Nation. It asks for them, spiritual gifts, temporal prosperity, and eternal felicity.
The second prayer for the President – (which may be used instead of the first) – after commending the nation to God’s merciful care and guidance as the sure way to security and peace, prays that all in authority may have wisdom and strength to know and to do His will; also that God may “fill them with the love of truth and righteousness; and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear.” What a blessing to the nation if all in civil authority, from the highest to the lowest, were imbued with the spirit of this prayer! A loyal Prayer-Book Churchman is a high type of citizen and patriot.
(f) The Prayer for the Clergy and People.
This prayer is for the whole Church – Bishops, Clergy, and Congregations – with a two-fold petition: first, for “healthful” renewal of soul, and, second, for the continual refreshment – the daily “dew” – of God’s blessing. Notice what the address teaches about God, and the ascription about our Lord. Jesus Christ, and no other, is our “Advocate and Mediator.”
(g) The Prayer for all Conditions of Men.
There is not a sectarian word or a breath of sectarian spirit in the Prayer Book, and this prayer is a fine illustration of the breadth of its sympathy and the wideness of its interest. The scope of its petition extends to all mankind, in prayer for their conversion to God’s Truth and “saving health” of soul. In it we especially pray for the “Church universal,” consisting of “all who profess and call themselves Christians,” presumably all baptized Christians, of whatever name or status they may be; and our prayer is that they may be led into the way of truth, and hold the true faith so gained, in unity of spirit and the bond of peace, as well as in individual righteousness of life. It adds an earnest petition for all the afflicted, that they may at once be comforted by patience now, and in due time relieved by a happy issue out of all their afflictions.
The special prayers beginning on page 35, of which there are many, are to be used as directed by the first rubric on page 35.
(h) The General Thanksgiving.
This is half thanksgiving and half prayer. The thanksgiving dwells on the blessings of this life, but dwells with much greater emphasis on the inestimable spiritual blessings of redemption, grace, and the hope of glory. The prayer is for the spirit of thankfulness, and for the grace to express that spirit not only with our lips but in our lives; by devotion to Him and His service, and by a consistent life of holiness and righteousness, which shall not be spasmodic but an attitude of faithfulness “all our days.” Notice the ascription of praise to the Blessed Trinity. Over and over again, as we have already seen, this central truth of our faith is prominent in our services of worship.
For the use of special Thanksgivings, beginning on page 50, see the rubric on that page.
(i) The Prayer of St. Chrysostom.
This prayer is a free translation of a Greek Collect found in the Liturgies of St. Basil and St. Chrysostom, hence its name. It is a concluding petition for the acceptance of all our prayers, in virtue of the promised presence of Christ in the midst of us (St. Matt. 18:19–20), which is appealed to in the more than usually long preamble. It prays God to “fulfill now” not only our spoken “petitions,” but also our “desires” (personal prayers inwardly offered but not audibly expressed); and, in a spirit of childlike trust, leaves all to the wisdom of a loving Father, as He may deem most expedient for us. The final petition, apparently alluding to St. John 17:3, asks for the knowledge of God’s truth, and through this that knowledge of God himself, which is the life eternal, partly realized here, and fully realized “in the world to come.”
(j) The Grace. (2 Cor. 13:14.)
While this is sometimes spoken of as a Benediction, it is in fact not a benediction but a prayer. It may be said by any Minister, though he be but a Lay Reader; is said kneeling, not standing; and it is in the first person plural, the Minister including himself with the people. In it, as in the Baptismal Formula, we have a clear declaration of the doctrine of the Trinity. In one form or another this central doctrine of the Christian faith is woven into all the Prayer Book services. Thus the great truths of the Gospel are kept before us.
E. SOME ADDITIONAL POINTS ABOUT THE SERVICE FOR MORNING PRAYER
(1) The Title: “The Order for Daily Morning Prayer.”
(a) THE ORDER FOR. This means that the Church has an orderly plan and arrangement for the Service; also that the use of this Service as arranged has been ordered by the Church. No Minister has the right to change this orderly plan of the Service except where and as the Church gives explicit directions so to do.
(b) DAILY. The Service of Morning and Evening Prayer were designed and intended to be said daily, according to primitive custom, by both clergy and people, in the church if possible, otherwise in private.
It is not practicable to say Morning and Evening Prayer daily in many of our churches today, and our Prayer Book does not require it, but it is still the ideal, and where it is not practicable to say it in the churches, it should be said in private, especially by the clergy. Half an hour in the morning, and half an hour in the evening, is all the time it requires, and it is doubtful if an hour a day can be better spent in any other way. It would take clergy and people through the Old Testament once, through the New Testament more than once, and through the Book of Psalms twelve times each year, aside from the daily searching of our lives in the penitential preparation for the services, and the lifting of heart and mind to God in praise and prayer. What a different world this would be if every Christian thus walked daily with God!
(c) MORNING. A similar form is provided for the evening.
(d) PRAYER. This has the same significance here as in the general title Book of Common Prayer. The Service is not a “program” staged for the entertainment of the people, but suggests a congregation on its knees looking up into the face of God.
(2) The Collects: The word “Collect” usually suggests the short prayers printed with the Epistles and Gospels, but notice that in Morning Prayer some of the prayers are entitled “Collects” and some “Prayers.” Generally speaking a “prayer” is of some length and includes various petitions, while a “collect” is a condensed or short prayer, with usually a single specific petition. (Compare the two “Collects” following the Creed in Morning Prayer with the “Prayers” that follow them.)
(3) Structure and Teaching Value of the Collects: With few exceptions the Collects throughout the Prayer Book are in three parts:
(a) The Preamble, which consists of the address accompanied by a statement regarding the nature, attributes or activities of the Person of the Godhead addressed. (See the three Collects on page 572. They are addressed to the Three Persons of the Triune God.)
(b) The Petition, often followed by a statement of the result hoped for. (See the Collect for Peace in Morning Prayer.)
(c) The Ascription, usually to our Lord Jesus Christ. The Preamble and the Ascription to the prayers of the Prayer Book cover the whole field of Christian Theology and set forth with authority the theological teaching of this Church.
(4) The Rubrics – What and Why.
The rubrics are simple regulations or directions in the Prayer Book stating when and where and how the Services are to be conducted, so that all things may be done “decently and in order.” Sometimes they are of doctrinal significance. They should be carefully read and their intention studied.
These rules or directions about the service are called “rubrics” from the Latin word ruber, meaning red, because in ancient times it was the custom to print them in red, so they might be easily distinguished from the service itself, which was printed in black. The rubrics are still printed in red in some of the more expensive editions of the Prayer Book, but the less expensive editions print them in black, and distinguish them from the service itself by using a different kind of type. The name Rubric has been retained in our Prayer Books, even where the use of red ink has been laid aside.
The rubrics of the Prayer Book are generally regarded as the highest law of the Church, their directions to be observed by both clergy and laity, in the fullness of their spirit if not always in their exact letter. In no other way can the orderly worship and instruction of the Church be maintained. To disregard them, and do as we individually please, is to depart from the principle of corporate thought and action implied in the term Churchmanship, and to act on the sectarian principle common to the denominations. Furthermore, the law of the Church as embodied in the Canons may be changed by a simple resolution at any meeting of the General Convention; but when it comes to the Prayer Book, which includes the rubrics as well as the text of the services, the Constitution says: “No alteration thereof or addition thereto shall be made unless the same shall be first proposed in one triennial meeting of the General Convention, and by a resolve thereof be sent within six months to the Secretary of the Convention of every Diocese, to be made known to the Diocesan Convention at its next meeting, and be adopted by the General Convention at its next succeeding triennial meeting.” This is exactly the same procedure as in changing the Constitution of the Church. If, then, the Canons are Law, the Rubrics are more; for they stand on the same level as the Constitution itself.
(5) Some Rubrics in Particular.
Read all the rubrics, and study them carefully, noting the use of the word “shall,” which is mandatory, and the word “may,” which allows discretionary variations of the Service within specified limits. But note particularly the following:
(a) KNEELING – “all kneeling” – in the rubric on page 6. Notice the emphasis on kneeling in the first and third rubrics on page 7, the first rubric on page 16, also the rubrics on page 23, 24 and 30. Throughout the Prayer Book runs this emphasis on kneeling for Prayer. In the Communion Office it is not only in the rubrics, but is also in the very text of the Service (see page 75), and the English Prayer Book says “meekly kneeling on your knees.” Kneeling for prayer makes a difference. Let us kneel, and “on our knees” unless physically infirm.
(b) AMEN. Prior to the revision of 1928 there was a rubric immediately following the Declaration of Absolution in Morning Prayer which read as follows: “The People shall answer here, and at the end of every prayer, Amen.” While this rubric is not printed in our New Prayer Book, the Amen is nevertheless to be so said.
The Amen of our Prayer Book is a Hebrew word, and reminds us of the services of the Hebrew Synagogues in our Lord’s day, down from which through the centuries our Services have come. Its meaning in English is “so be it,” that is, “we assent to what has been said; the words just uttered we make our own.” An hearty AMEN puts heart into the prayers.
Sometimes the Amen is printed in the same type as the preceding words, sometimes in italics. When printed in the same type as the preceding words, it is pronounced by both Minister and people if both repeat the words which precede it; but by the Minister only if he alone speaks the previous words. When printed in italics the Amen is to be said only by the people.
(6) Bowing at the Name of Jesus, in the Creed, and elsewhere.
This is an ancient custom, not limited to the Creed, though it has attached itself to the Creed with special solemnity. It was ordered in the 18th English Canon of 1604 (repeating a direction of the Injunctions of Elizabeth) that, “When in time of Divine Service the Lord Jesus shall be mentioned, due and lowly reverence shall be done by all persons present, as it hath been accustomed; testifying by these outward ceremonies and gestures their inward humility, Christian resolution, and due acknowledgment that the Lord Jesus Christ, the true and eternal Son of God, is the only Saviour of the world, in whom alone all the mercies, graces, and promises of God to mankind, for this life and the life to come, are fully and wholly comprised.” It breathes the spirit of, if it does not refer to, St. Paul’s words recorded in Phil. 2:9–11.
(7) The Eastward Position. This means standing with face toward the Altar while saying or singing the Creed, and the Gloria Patri, sometimes called the Shorter Creed.
The early Christians associated the East with sunrise, light, life and goodness. Similarly they associated the West with sunset, darkness and wickedness. The Early Christians therefore in their devotions turned their faces toward the east, with their backs toward the west, and their churches were built east and west with the Altar at the east end so that the congregation seated facing the Altar would also face the east, the symbol of light, life and goodness. Theoretically our churches are so built today, and the end where the Altar stands is called the east end, no matter what its relation to the points of the compass. The congregation sit and stand facing the Altar and the “east end” of the Church, but the choir and perhaps a few others who do not so sit or stand, turn so as to face the Altar, and theoretically the east, while saying or singing the Creed and the Gloria Patri.
The Eastward Position is without formal canonical authority in our Church, and is based on tradition and custom, but whatever its origin, the custom is a very beautiful one, and helps to keep before our minds the unity of the faith. When Christians take the Eastward position in worship they turn their gaze towards one point, even as they direct their faith to one object, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is so closely associated with the east both by His incarnate career and by the figurative language of Scripture, in which He is expressly spoken of as the ‘Day-spring from on high’ and ‘the Sun of righteousness.’* [*Evan Daniel, The Prayer Book: its History, Language and Contents, 131–2.]
(8) Different Postures in Worship.
We STAND for praise, KNEEL for prayer, and SIT for instruction. We stand to sing God’s praise to show our reverence for Him, just as we stand to show our patriotism when singing the National Anthem. In prayer we kneel in humility and reverence before Him to whom our prayers are offered. Kneeling “on our ‘knees” makes a difference in our prayers. Persons who for good reason cannot stand or kneel of course sit all through the service.
(9) The Intention of the Daily Services.
Originally Morning and Evening Prayer were said daily without sermon, offering, or other devotions; and even now there is no provision in our Prayer Book for either sermon or offering in connection with these services. While there are devotional elements in them, the larger part of these services consists of the reading or singing of the exact words of Holy Scripture. Thus does the Church trust in the Scripture itself for the edification of the people. They are still said daily in Cathedrals, Colleges, Seminaries, and many of our larger parish churches.
Of the services intended primarily for worship the Communion Service alone provides for a sermon and an offering, and this seems to indicate that it was intended to be the principal service for every Sunday. Until late in the 18th century it was the principal service of every Sunday, Morning Prayer being said at an earlier hour, sometimes before breakfast. The custom of having Morning Prayer at eleven o’clock on Sundays is apparently to overcome the loss sustained by not having it daily through the week, and that the people be not deprived of it altogether, with its systematic reading of the Scriptures for their edification. Yet the Holy Communion remains the supreme Service of the Church for purposes of worship, and we should never lose sight of its supremacy as such.
(10) Keeping the Place in the Service.
Keeping the place in the Service is easy if you will familiarize yourself with the rubrics, then remember two things:
(a) The Omissions. There is more printed in The Order for Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and The Holy Communion than is ever used at any one service. At the beginning of the service for Morning Prayer there are two and a half pages of Scripture Sentences; a few of them are read at one service (see first rubric, p. 3). The General Exhortation beginning “Dearly beloved brethren” (p. 5) may sometimes be omitted; also the General Confession and the Declaration of Absolution, especially when the Litany or Holy Communion is immediately to follow (second rubric, p. 3) but this option should not be made the rule. The Sentences preceding the Venite (p. 3) are for certain days, and may be sung or said on those days. After each Lesson more than one Canticle is provided, but one only is said or sung at any one service. In each case note what is said or sung, and pass the rest. This applies to the Creeds, one said, the other omitted.
(b) The Additions. The first rubric on page 9 says, “Then shall follow a Portion of the Psalms.” Now all the Psalms cannot be printed in the service, but they are printed in the back of the Book for convenient use (p. 345 ff.). Keep your finger at page 9 in the service; turn to the Psalms announced for the day, and when they are read open the Book again where your finger is. The rubric at bottom of that page says, “Then shall be read the First Lesson.” Necessarily this must be read from the Bible itself; keep your finger at page 9 while the Minister reads the Lesson, then open the Book again where your finger is. On pages 10–13 are three Canticles, one to be said or sung after that Lesson, the others omitted. The first rubric on page 14 says, “Then shall be read, in like manner, the Second Lesson” (from the Bible). Keep your finger at page 14 and after the reading of the Scripture Lesson, one of the chants found there will be sung or said, the other omitted. Follow the service on to the Prayers, and notice the first rubric on page 17. If you do not know how to find the “Collect for the Day” always inserted here, just listen while the Minister says it, then follow the prayers on as they are printed. Sometimes special prayers and thanksgivings are inserted as directed in the rubrics on pages 35–53, but after these are said the Minister comes right back to the regular prayers of the service and reads them on to the end, unless for some reason he shortens the service as directed in the second and third rubrics on page 17.
In brief, the services go straight through as printed, with certain omissions and additions clearly explained in the rubrics.
II. THE ORDER FOR DAILY EVENING PRAYER
In essence, the Order for Evening Prayer is the same as that for Morning Prayer. It contains the same elements of worship, which follow each other in the same logical sequence and order, and with the same general thought and teaching. We therefore need notice here only those portions which show some difference.
The Scripture Sentences, with one or two exceptions, are different, but the same general idea runs through them both.
The Exhortation, the General Confession, and the Declaration of Absolution are the same, but there is a short alternative Absolution not found in Morning Prayer. Permission is given in the Morning Service to use as an alternative the Absolution from the Communion Office (2nd rubric, p. 7).
The second rubric on page 25 calls for a portion of the Psalms, after each of which “may,” and at the end of the whole portion “shall” be sung the Gloria Patri as in Morning Prayer; but here the Gloria in excelsis may be substituted for the Gloria Patri, though in actual practice it is seldom done.
Wide discretion is allowed the Minister in the way of shortening Evening Prayer. The Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution may be omitted (1st rubric, p. 21); even the Lord’s Prayer may be temporarily omitted, passing immediately from the sentences to the versicles on page 25, provided the Lord’s Prayer is said with the other prayers (2nd rubric, p. 21). The Venite has never been used before the Psalms of the Evening, its invitation voiced in the morning being considered as extending through the day. Permission is given to omit one Evening Lesson (3rd rubric, p. 26), and the service may end with the Collect for Aid against Perils (last rubric, p. 31).
The Canticles are all different from those in Morning Prayer.
The Magnificat, which has been sung or said at Evening Service as far back as the Service can be traced in the Western Church, appropriately links together the two Lessons, connecting the promises of the Old Testament with their fulfillment in the New Testament. Notice that it is from the Bible, chapter and verse given, as is every Canticle in the Evening Service.
The Cantate Domino is one of that remarkable group of Psalms of Praise (92–100), to which the Venite, the Jubilate, and the Bonum est also belong. It was not in the first Prayer Book, but was inserted in 1552 for the sake of variety; and though it is appropriate, especially during the Epiphany Season, it should not displace regularly the still more appropriate Magnificat.
The Bonum est con fiteri, in Jewish usage “The Psalm of the Sabbath Day,” is simply an expression of Praise to the Lord, for His loving-kindness and truth as shown in all His works. It should be used simply for occasional variation of the Service.
“Next comes the sweetest and most solemn of all the Canticles,” says Bishop Barry, “breathing emphatically the spirit of the evening calm, the Nunc dimittis – the thanksgiving of the aged Saint, ready to lie down to rest, (and ready) for the signal of his departure in peace, given by the sight of the Saviour, at once ‘the ‘glory of Israel’ and the ‘light of the Gentiles.’ In that two-fold view of the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ, the teaching of the Old and New Testaments is again most appropriately summed up.”* The Nunc dimittis has been sung or said in the Service from very early times, and is sometimes now sung at the end pf the Communion Service, while the Priest is cleansing the chalice and paten. [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 32 – Notes.]
The Deus misereatur is a Psalm of mingled prayer, prophecy, and praise, and is suitable for Christian as well as Jewish use.
The Benedic, anima mea is, again, simply a splendid outburst of individual praise to the Lord for all His benefits, and a call to all Creation, above and below, to join in that praise.
The Versicles (p. 30–31) are different. There are more of them than in Morning Prayer, all in the words of Holy Scripture (see Ps. 85:7; 1 Sam. 10:24; Ps. 20:9; 132:9, 16; 28:9; 29:11; 60:11; 62:2; 51:10, 11).
The Collect for the Day comes here, as in Morning Prayer.
The first two prayers (Collect for Peace and Collect for Aid against Perils) like the first two in Morning Prayer, are to be said continually, because they ask for that which we continually need. They are unlike the Morning Collects in form though not unlike in idea: but the Morning Collects breathe the spirit of freshness and activity, the Evening Collects of quiet restfulness and calm, fitting for the evening hours before we lie down to sleep.
The Prayer for the President, and all in Civil Authority, differs in form from that of Morning Prayer, and expressly includes the Governor of each State. It prays for God-fearing officials, and a loyal as well as God-fearing people. Again, a fine ideal to keep ever before the nation!
The remaining Prayers in this Service are like the corresponding Prayers in the Morning Service.
Speaking of Morning and Evening Prayer, together with the Litany and the Occasional Prayers and Thanksgivings which go with them, Dr. Dyson Hague says: “They not only offer, in a compact and suitable form, the most varied and incessant breathings of the prayerful soul, but they are couched in language so purely scriptural, so beautifully simple, and so deeply spiritual, that it is difficult to conceive how a human compilation could more entirely answer all the natural and the constant necessities of the devotional spirit.”* [*Dyson Hague, The Protestantism of the Prayer Book, 42.]
III. PRAYERS AND THANKSGIVINGS (pages 35–53).
These are special Prayers and Thanksgivings to be used in the regular Services as directed by the rubrics on pages 35, 47, 49 and 50. By using these prayers when the Minister thinks proper or when requested to do so, the stated Prayers of the Church may be made to touch current human needs and interests as really as could be done in an extempore prayer.
The Occasional Collects (p. 49) may be “used after the Collects of Morning or Evening Prayer, or Holy Communion, at the discretion of the Minister.” They are mostly used as special prayers to open or close meetings, for which they are particularly appropriate. They are also much used in personal and family prayers.
The special Thanksgivings likewise are used at the discretion of the Minister, or by request, and they should be asked for whenever there is special reason to be thankful for a particular blessing. Read St. Paul’s injunction in Phil. 4:4–7, and observe how he links “Thanksgiving” with “prayer and supplication.”
IV. THE LITANY
or General Supplication.
This is not the place for a study of the history of the Litany, interesting though that history is. Suffice it here to say that its origin, like its name Litaneia, meaning Prayer or Supplication, is Greek. The Latin equivalent is Rogatio, and in the west dates back to A.D. 467 when it was used for the three Rogation Days by Mamertus, Bishop of Vienne (in Gaul) on occasion of severe earthquakes and the political dangers of that troubled age.
For us the Litany presents two points of special interest:
(1) It was the first important part of the English Prayer Book to appear in the English language.
(2) It was the only part to remain in continuous use through the reactionary reign of Queen Mary who forbade the use of the rest of the Prayer Book. Study the Litany itself item by item, as you read what follows here; this is important.
The several divisions of the Litany are made clear by paragraphing and capitals. It fittingly and feelingly begins with a solemn Invocation of the Holy Trinity, emphasizing the Godhead of each Divine Person, and finally addressing the Holy Blessed and Glorious Trinity, with earnest prayer for mercy and salvation from sin.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 48, 49.]
The various supplications in the Litany seem clear and understandable, but Bishop Barry’s thought-provoking and heart-stirring comments on them are well worth our study, and below we give the main points found in his Teacher’s Prayer Book.
The Litany divides itself naturally into two chief parts; first the more regular and systematic portion, from the beginning to the short versicles (Kyrie Eleison) immediately preceding the Lord’s Prayer, then a section more broken and varied, from that point to the end. The first part after the “Solemn Invocation of the Holy Trinity,” is divided into three parts spoken of as Deprecations, Obsecrations, and Petitions, in each of which there is fervor of supplication with a distinct method of order and thought.
(a) DEPRECATIONS (Prayers for Deliverance from all Evil.)
(1) First there is an earnest general prayer to be spared the vengeance on “all our offenses, and the offenses of our forefathers” – which in effect though not in guilt (see Exodus 20:5; Ezek. 18:20, 24) are visited upon their children, – emphasized by a special pleading of our “redemption in His precious blood.”
(2) Then follows, next, a prayer for deliverance from “all evil and mischief” – not in its punishment, but in itself; and especially from all spiritual evil – sin, temptation of the devil, God’s wrath, and everlasting damnation.
(3) This is then drawn out into special deprecations of different forms of sins, – sin against God, “blindness of heart, pride, vain-glory, and hypocrisy” (breaches of the Law of Faith); sin against man – “envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness” (breaches of the Law of Love); sin against self, – “inordinate and sinful affections” (breaches of the Law of Purity). All are summed up (with obvious reference to the Baptismal Vow) in a petition against “the deceits of the world, the flesh and the devil.”
(4) After this, far less detailed and fervent, comes prayer against temporal evils, whether from physical causes or from the sin of man (as in “battle and murder”), and against the “sudden death” (i. e. not prepared for) they so often bring; which in itself is an evil only because for it most of us are apt to be unprepared.
(5) Lastly, prayer against the evils which attach to society as such (Pr. Bk., top p. 55), and which seem to form a climax – political, ecclesiastical, spiritual. It is apparently implied that “false doctrine,” and its two fruits, “heresy and schism” are greater evils than “sedition, conspiracy, and rebellion” but less than the spiritual deadness of “hardness of heart” and contempt of God’s Word and Commandment.
(b) OBSECRATIONS (upper half page 55). These are earnest supplications to our Lord as our Mediator, pleading the redeeming virtue of all the various acts of His manifestation in the flesh. Special stress is laid upon all those things which show our Lord to have been made like unto us and tempted as we are, though without sin. The whole of this section is closed by an application – sublime in its solemn simplicity – both of Deprecations and Obsecrations to all of the vicissitudes of life, in “tribulation” and in “prosperity,” to the struggle of the last hour and to the Day of Judgment.
(c) PETITIONS (chiefly intercessory), beginning in middle of page 55.
(1) The first series is for various conditions of men – for the Holy Catholic Church; for our President (inserted in 1928) and for all Christian Rulers and Magistrates; for the faithful ministry and godly life of the Clergy; for the sending forth of labourers into the spiritual harvest at home and in the Mission Field; for all “God’s people;” and, beyond this, for the unity and peace of all nations.
(2) The next series of Petitions embraces, in prayer both for ourselves and for others, all the chief needs and graces of human life. Thus it asks for the gift of the love and fear of God and for obedience to His will, which are the duty of man as man; and next for grace to receive the revealed Word and Spirit of God, which is God’s gift to Christians as Christians. Then, dealing with special forms of trial, it asks for guidance to the erring; for increase of strength, support of weakness, restoration of the fallen, and victory over Satan, for the tempted; for succor, help, and comfort of the distressed; for special protection to those who are in different kinds of danger; for defence of the desolate and oppressed. Finally, it prays for mercy upon all men and especially for forgiveness and change of heart in our “enemies, persecutors and slanderers.”
(3) Lastly there follow two petitions, the first for temporal blessing in the gift and preservation of the “kindly fruits of the earth”; the second a comprehensive prayer – peculiar to our Litany – for spiritual blessing – for repentance and forgiveness to the penitent, for the gift of the Spirit, and for power to use it to amendment of life.
This portion of the Litany closes (after the ancient models) with the Agnus Dei – the prayer to our Lord, as the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world” (St. John 1:29), that is, emphatically as our Redemption and Propitiation. The Prayer is for Peace and Mercy. For both we pray, “O Christ, hear us.”
The second part of the Litany is more broken and varied than is the first part, and differs from it in that it is addressed to God the Father through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Notice the Versicles following the Lord’s Prayer – praying that God will deal with us in mercy, and not as in the strict justice our iniquities deserve. Study these Versicles in the light of St. Matt. 18:23–35, and St. Luke 7:41–50, and compare Psalm 103:10. Notice also how the next prayer strikes the note of confidence in God’s acceptance of penitence and His promise to hear our prayer. It presupposes sincere penitence and prayer on our part such as runs all through the Litany.
As a fitting close to this study we quote a fine paragraph from page 136 of The American Prayer Book by Bishop Parsons and Dean Jones:
“The extraordinary power and appeal of the Litany as a form of words is not approached by any other service. It is a pure flight of the spirit, unaccompanied by any ceremonial or dramatic action. The tenor of its supplication is unique to the Christian religion. Ancient faiths cried for mercy to gods whom they feared: they had no solution of the problem of suffering but avoidance, by the propitiation of dread divinities who inflicted or withheld it by their own caprice. Their despairing petitions contained none of the trust in the prevailing goodness of God’s providence which inspires the Litany. On the other hand, popular modern cults attempt to evade and ignore suffering; but they must needs shrink to silence in the presence of irremediable disaster. Christianity alone accepts the fact of suffering as enshrined in the heart of God himself, lifts it up in sacrifice to him, and nails it to the Cross of Christ. The Christian religion alone has power not only to scale the heights, but to descend into the depths; alone among religions, it dares to pray: ‘In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment, Good Lord, deliver us!’”
(Quoted by permission of Charles Scribner’s Sons.)
V. A PENITENTIAL OFFICE
for Ash Wednesday.
This Service, put in our Prayer Book in 1892, is a part of the Commination Service of the Church of England. It is a Service of penitent Confession and Supplication, even more so than the Litany, and is peculiarly appropriate for use during Lent. Look at the Heading and the rubrics that follow it and note when this Office is to be used. Notice also that it is to be said with “Minister and People kneeling.”
The Service begins with one of the Seven Penitential Psalms (the 51st), the other six being used as Proper Psalms for Ash Wednesday. (See page viii of the Prayer Book.) This, the 51st Psalm, has long been regarded as King David’s heart-rending lament and humble penitence after his great sin (2 Sam. 11 and 12:1–23), and for centuries has been, to Christians as well as Jews, the deepest and most fervent expression of “the godly sorrow which worketh repentance unto salvation.” “While it is full of penitent humility, a deep sense of sin, and of the most intense supplication for the cleansing and renewing grace of the Holy Spirit, it still cherishes an unshaken faith in God’s unfailing mercy, a sure hope of restoration, through that mercy, to purity and gladness, and a confidence that He will accept the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart.” In these lies the distinction between true repentance and remorse; and to us these convictions should be even more vivid than to David, because we know the perfect Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 48, 49.]
The remainder of this Service is in keeping with the spirit and purpose of the 51st Psalm. Study it for yourself and see how “the distinction between true repentance and remorse” runs on through the whole Service, and note that the Blessing is an old Jewish Blessing (Num. 6:24–26). Note also that it is in the form of a prayer in which the Minister includes himself, as is evidenced by the word “us” oft repeated. Minister and people alike turn to God in true repentance for their sins, as is shown by the “Turn thou us, O good Lord” said by Minister and people together, as directed by the rubric on page 62.
VI. THE ORDER FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF
THE LORD’S SUPPER or HOLY COMMUNION
This is the Supreme Service of the Church and from the earliest times has been the chief Service of the day, certainly the chief Sunday Service. (Acts 2:46–47; 20:7.) That it is intended by our Church to be the chief Service, on Sundays and Holy Days, if not every day, is evidenced by the fact that this is the only regular Service in the Prayer Book in which provision is made for a Sermon and an Offering (see last rubric, p. 71).
And fitting indeed it is that this should be the Chief Service of the Christian Church, from the beginning until now. This Sacrament was instituted by our Blessed Lord Himself on the last night of His life – the same night in which He was betrayed. He was eating the last Passover Supper with the twelve Apostles and he said to them, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer” (St. Luke 22:15). This Scripture seems to indicate that it was our Lord’ s purpose to emphasize the connection between that Passover and His Passion. Israel’s deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, under their God-given leader Moses, was the type of man’s Redemption from the bondage of sin and death, through a Saviour’s Sacrifice. It was at this Paschal Supper that our Lord Jesus Christ instituted His own Memorial Supper, and He thus marked the two as type and antitype. Whatever else the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper may be, it is certainly the commemoration of our Redemption. It is the perpetual observance of a scene witnessed once in Jerusalem; it is the perpetual commemoration of an event which lies at the foundation of the Christian Religion. It is the perpetual carrying out of a command given by the living voice of the Christ-Man who declared Himself about to die for the sins of humanity, “to give his life a ransom for many” (St. Matt. 20:28; St. Mark 10:45).
Such were the circumstances of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Note carefully our Lord’s words: And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it (and gave thanks to Him who created bread for man’s use – see St. Luke 22:19), and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body,” and St. Luke adds the words, which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (St. Matt. 26:26–28; St. Mark 14:22–24; St. Luke 22:19–21; 1 Cor. 11:23–26.) Read all these passages and note their likeness and their unlikeness. Both St. Luke and St. Paul say, after the breaking of the bread, “this do in remembrance of me;” and after the giving of the cup, both St. Luke and St. Paul say “this cup is the new testament in my blood.” And St. Paul’s record adds further, “This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Should anyone ask the meaning of this Service – this eating and drinking as a solemn part of our most earnest worship – it would be worth while to call their attention to two things which any worshipper can easily see for himself, with his very eyes.
First, the bread and wine. Bread, says the Psalmist, strengthens and wine maketh glad the heart of man (Psalm 104:15). Ordinarily to eat bread and to drink wine is to strengthen and refresh the body. But this symbolic eating and drinking commanded in the Gospel, and which is done in the church, must have something to do with benefit to the soul. It is designed to show the soul’s need of strengthening and refreshing; also to point out a way of such strengthening and refreshing of the soul; and finally to apply and make use of, here and now, the means of soul strengthening and refreshing which Christ Himself commanded.
Second, this symbolic eating and drinking, which plainly has respect to the soul, is not done simply by each person singly and alone. It has in it something of society and companionship – something of communion and fellowship which has to do, not with the self-life alone, but also with the common and corporate life of all Christians.
This is perhaps an appropriate place to call attention to another point. The Christ who said of the bread He had blessed and broken, “This is my body,” was sitting there in the midst of His disciples holding the broken bread in His hand. He could not have meant them to take His words literally, for He was there before them with His body as yet unbroken; and He held, handled, and handed on, that bread of which He spoke when He said “This is my body.” The bread was bread, bread still when His hand passed it on.
Spiritual things in God’s sight rank higher than anything carnal, and even a small flow of grace into the Soul is a higher thing than a partaking of the most sacred form of any material thing. Let us remember that Christ Himself said, “Whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast Out into the draught” (St. Matt. 15:17). He also said “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (St. John 6:63). Read the whole of this 6th chapter of St. John’s Gospel and note how the Jews who took him literally were confused (vs. 51–53); note also the confusion of His own disciples (vs. 60–62), and His explanation in verse 63.
“This is my body . . . This is my blood.” That bread, that wine, remind us that Christ died for us. More than that, our partaking of the same in this Sacrament is a witness to the world that Christ died to save the world. St. Paul says: “as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26).
But all this might be true if we only gazed upon the Holy Table, and ate those sacred emblems on it as if they were only an exhibition, a symbolic representation to the eye of the crucified body and outpoured blood of our Blessed Lord. This Sacrament is a symbol; but it is more than that. In St. John 6, verses 53 and 54, we read: “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
In the fullness of what OUR LORD MEANT when, at the institution of the Lord’s Supper, He said “This is my Body,” “This is my Blood,” the consecrated bread is His body, and the consecrated wine is His blood. In that sense, and in that sense alone, we eat and drink of His flesh and His blood when we partake worthily of the Lord’s Supper. This Blessed Sacrament then, is more than a commemoration; more than a memory supper; more than the offering of prayer and praise. Our Lord Himself says that we must spiritually eat Him and drink Him (St. John 6:53–58); that we must receive Him into our very being, by a faith which not only contemplates but appropriates and spiritually assimilates Him. In this sense the sixth chapter of the Gospel according to St. John is very significant; and, in the light of our Lord’s words at its institution shows this Sacrament to be not only a commemoration, but also a very real means of grace.
In the headlines at the beginning of this Service, the words “The Order for the Administration of” refer to the Service as printed in the Prayer Book. The primitive name for this Service was The Liturgy, a term derived from the Greek word Leitourgia, which in classic Greek signified any public ceremonial. In the Greek Septuagint Version of the Old Testament its use was restricted to the public Service of the Sanctuary (Num. 4:12, 26) and in the Christian Era it passed on to the Worship of the Christian Church, which at first consisted chiefly of the Holy Communion. This was the most sacred if not the first of all Christian Services, and naturally became the most distinctive Service of the Church. In it the public worship of Christians took a fixed traditional form. The word Liturgy soon came to be associated with the Communion Service and it is still so used, though sometimes it is loosely used of the Prayer Book as a whole.
The words “Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion” in the title of the Services are different names for the Sacrament itself. The earliest name given this Sacrament is “The Breaking of Bread” (Acts 2:42, 46 and 20:7). A title much used in the Primitive Church was “The Eucharist” or “The Holy Eucharist,” the word Holy being reverently prefixed as it is in the name The Holy Bible. This name is from a Greek word Eucharistia, meaning the giving of thanks, and is used by St. Paul of the eucharistic prayer to which the people respond “Amen” in 1 Cor. 14:16, and again in 1 Tim. 2:1, but it had not as yet a technical or exclusive significance. It occurs often as a title in the writings of St. Ignatius, and after that constantly. The ancient name Holy Eucharist is still used frequently. Though it does not appear expressly in our Prayer Book (except once in a rubric on page 574), it is represented there in paraphrase by the, words “the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” in the Oblation (p. 80–81); also in the great Eucharistic Thanksgiving that follows the “Comfortable Words” (p. 76–77). The Proper Prefaces coming between the Sursum Corda and the Ter Sanctus (see first rubric, p. 77) are in a sense a part of this burst of praise, being thanksgivings for, as well as commemorations of, each advancing stage in the unfolding Life of Our Incarnate Lord – “the Manifestation of Godhead in Humanity.”
Another name for this Service and Sacrament, not found in the Prayer Book, though used in some of our parish churches, is the Mass. In the First Prayer Book of Edward VI (1549) the title prefixed to this service was “THE SUPPER OF THE LORD and THE HOLY COMMUNION commonly called the Mass.” It is worthy of note that the mention here of the name Mass seems to be incidental, simply making the observation that it had been in general use in the Anglican Church as it had been for centuries in the whole Western Church, and is still used by churches of the Latin Rite. It has no doctrinal meaning, nor does it embody in itself anything of the meaning and the spiritual atmosphere of the Blessed Sacrament. The name “Mass” was dropped from the English Prayer Book at the Revision of 1552, and has never since had any authoritative use in the Anglican Churches, including our own Episcopal Church.
The two names by which this Service is designated in the Service itself are THE LORD’S SUPPER and THE HOLY COMMUNION. Both names are Scriptural, the first being taken from 1 Cor. 11:20, and the second from 1 Cor. 10:16.
The first name “THE LORD’S SUPPER,” found repeatedly in the Catechism, the Offices of Instruction, and the Articles of Religion, has a deep devotional appeal, for it takes us back to the scene in Jerusalem where our Blessed Lord, after He and His disciples had eaten the Passover Supper, took bread and wine and instituted His own Memorial Supper, saying “this do in remembrance of me” (St. Luke 22:14–20; cf. 1 Cor. 10:26).
The second name “THE HOLY COMMUNION” is fuller and deeper in meaning, and brings out the true sacramental efficacy of this Holy Ordinance as the divinely appointed means of spiritual communion with God in Christ.
The rubric immediately preceding the Service is the last of three rubrics that were there prior to the last Revision, simplified and clarified. The other two are now in the General Rubrics at the end of the Communion Service, and will be studied there.
3. DIVISIONS OF THE SERVICE.
The Service divides naturally into three parts: (a) The Ante-Communion, to the end of the prayer “for the whole state of Christ’s Church”; (b) The Communion Service Proper, to the end of the Administration; (c) The Post Communion.
A. THE ANTE-COMMUNION SERVICE.
This part of the Service follows the line of the threefold preparation (required in the Catechism) of Repentance, Faith, and Love – of Repentance, judging ourselves by the standard of the Ten Commandments read in our hearing, with our penitential responses of prayer for forgiveness and grace to amend; of Faith, by the Special Lessons from God’s Word (the Epistle and Gospel) and our answer to them in the Creed; of Love, by the charitable contributions at the Offertory, and the Prayer for the whole state of Christ’s Church.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 221.]
This general and full rounded preparation, fine as it is for congregational use, does not in any sense do away with the need for special individual preparation, especially if conscience stricken by wrong-doing or by malice and hatred in our hearts. If we believe Christ to be really present in the Blessed Sacrament, and we are to come into real communion and fellowship with Him there, we must in some very definite way get out of our lives and minds and hearts anything and everything that would stand between us and Him either now or at the Day of Judgment, and get into our minds and hearts and lives what would please Him and draw Him close to us in that communion and fellowship we heartily desire.
1. THE LORD’S PRAYER.
This prayer, as always, opens the Service; but it and the Collect following were originally used in the private preparation of the Priest. Of this there is still a trace in the all too common practice of its recital by the Priest alone.
2. THE COLLECT.
This Collect is an exceedingly beautiful one. It seems to stand us up before God spiritually naked, with hearts open, desires known, and no secrets hid; and, thus open before God, we pray Him to cleanse us from all that may defile, and to fill us with all that will purify and ennoble, not outwardly and superficially, but in the secret recesses of our minds and hearts, from which all conduct springs. It would be difficult to put deeper meaning in so few words.
3. THE DECALOGUE.
Read carefully the rubrics on page 67 and note the mention of kneeling again, though the Priest remains standing while he reads the Commandments. The second rubric gives the meaning of the response after each of the Commandments, while the third and fourth rubrics (p. 67) indicate when and to what extent the Decalogue may be omitted. The purpose of this “Litany of the Decalogue” as a penitential preparation for the Service and the Communion is important.
4. COLLECT, EPISTLE AND GOSPEL for the day.
At this point in the Service are read two portions of Scripture, preceded by an appropriate Collect. Collects, Epistles and Gospels “to be used throughout the Year” are printed on pages 90–269, and will be treated more at length when we come to them. Read the rubrics pertaining to them on page 70, and note three things: first, how precise are the directions for announcing both Epistle and Gospel, to make sure that all is done “decently and in order,” and compare the last rubric on page 9; second, that a hymn or Anthem may (not shall) be sung between the Epistle and the Gospel; third, that the doxology “Glory be to Thee, O Lord” shall (not may) be said when the Minister announces the Gospel. After the Gospel may (not shall) be said “Praise be to thee, O Christ” (inserted in 1928).
5. THE CREED.
The Creed in the Communion Office is the Nicene Creed. The rubric immediately preceding it (bottom of page 70) provides that the Apostle’s Creed may be said instead, except on the five great Festivals named in the rubric, when the Nicene Creed shall (not may) be said.
The Apostles’ Creed grew naturally and gradually out of the Baptismal Formula given by our Lord Himself (St. Matt. 28:19). When converts were made, whether Jew or Gentile, they were taught, as our Lord commanded (St. Matt. 28:20), and in the course of time the fundamental elements of that teaching assumed the convenient and easily remembered form in which it now appears in the Apostles’ Creed.
The Nicene Creed, an expansion or fuller form of the Apostles’ Creed, was formally adopted at the Council of Nicea for the distinct purpose of meeting the Arian heresy and other heresies that grew out of the Arian heresy. It was in part drawn up at that First General Council at Nicea, A.D. 325, hence its name; but it was not a wholly original composition. In the East or Eastern Churches, the Creed had grown gradually and naturally, as it had done in the West, but had grown into a fuller form. The Nicene Creed was based upon the already existing but fuller forms of the Creed as used in the Eastern Churches and produced at the Council, particularly the form known as the Creed of Caesarea; but with the addition of the phrase “being of one substance with the Father,” to bring out unequivocally the true Godhead of the Lord Jesus Christ, on which the whole controversy turned. So drawn up, it was substantially – though not literally – our present Creed, down to the words “I believe in the Holy Ghost.”
The latter portion of our Creed was added to meet further heresies which arose in that speculative age. Not till after the council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) did the present form supersede it absolutely. Subsequently, in the Latin version of the Creed, the words “and from the Son,” Filioque, were added, and they are what is known as “the Filioque clause.” This clause brought forth strong protest, and out of its insertion arose an unhappy division between the Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) Churches. With this exception it had been the Creed of the whole Catholic (Universal) Church for more than 1,500 years.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 224a, 224b]
The heresies of the time made this or a similar form of the Creed absolutely necessary for the preservation of the essentials of the Christian Faith, and it has proved its priceless value as a standard of theological and Scriptural truth. It asserts, without endeavoring to explain, the great mystery of the Gospel – the true Manhood and Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ – and subsequently the true Nature and Personality of the Holy Ghost, the two points which this heresy had brought into question.
Rev. John Henry Blunt, in his Annotated Book of Common Prayer, makes the following comment on this Creed:
“The Nicene Creed, from the solemn sanction thus given to it by the great Ecumenical Councils, stands in a position of greater authority than any other; and amid their long-standing divisions is a blessed bond of union between the three great branches of the One Catholic Church – the Eastern (Greek), the Roman, and the Anglican, of all whose Communion Offices it forms a part. It is very seriously to be regretted that the American portion of the Anglican Communion has made its use in the Communion Office optional, giving the Apostles’ Creed as an alternative.”* [*Blunt, The Annotated Book of Common Prayer, 170]
6. THE OFFERTORY.
The collection of Alms at the Holy Communion is described by Justin Martyr (A.D. 139) as an invariable part of the Service. Such collection is alluded to by St. Paul in 1 Cor. 16:2. It represents to us the regular duty and privilege of religious almsgiving for the relief of the poor and for the maintenance of the service of God. It is the expression of practical Christianity, and many Christians tithe on the principle that if the Jews could give a tenth for the maintenance of their religion, Christians surely should do as much. It is an interesting record of fact that people who do tithe, prosper even more than when they give less. This record of fact seems to be a literal fulfillment of that Scripture which says: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).
The sentences of Scripture to be read during the collection are a fine summary of Scripture teaching on the subject, and should be studied by all. The religious significance of this Offering is indicated by the direction in the rubric that “the Priest . . . shall humbly present and place it upon the Holy Table.”
In the Prayer “for the whole state of Christ’s Church” (p. 74) the words “and oblations” following the word “alms,” are variously interpreted. Some understand them to refer to the other devotions of the people, which are called oblations in the old Scotch Liturgy. Others think they refer to the bread and wine just solemnly placed upon the Altar before God. The words may fairly bear either interpretation, and may have been intended to admit both.
7. THE PRAYER FOR THE WHOLE STATE OF CHRIST’S CHURCH.
This prayer, like the “Prayer for all Conditions of Men” in Morning and Evening Prayer (pages 18 and 32) shows the breadth and comprehensiveness of the Church as she speaks for herself in her Book of Common Prayer. This Prayer embraces the Church Militant here on earth in its petitions for the Universal Church including “all those who do confess thy holy Name;” also all Christian Rulers as well as all Bishops and other Ministers, and all thy People especially all those who are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity. From the Church Militant here on earth, this Prayer goes on and touches also the Church Expectant in Paradise, with a petition “for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear,” ‘that God may grant them continual growth in thy (God’s) love and service. It then reaches out toward the Church Triumphant with a petition that we may have grace so to follow the good examples of the Faithful who have gone on before, “that with them we may be partakers of thy ‘heavenly kingdom.” The wide reaches of this prayer and the particular quality of each petition in it are worthy of careful study.
With the prayer “for the whole state of Christ’s Church,” the Ante-Communion Service, i. e. the Introductory and Preparatory portion of the Liturgy, ends. It was at this point that the Church in former times dismissed with the Latin words Ite, missa est those who were not admissible to the Communion, and it is at this point now that those who wish to leave are given opportunity to do so. From this point on the Service addresses itself directly to those who desire to communicate, and there is a corresponding deepening of fervor in the tone of the Service.
B. THE COMMUNION SERVICE PROPER.
1. THE INVITATION, “Ye who do truly and earnestly . . draw near with faith,” with which this part of the Service begins, takes it for granted that those present have made the proper spiritual preparation of repentance, love, and the purpose to lead a new life of obedience to God, “walking from henceforth in his holy ways,” as outlined in the last Question and Answer in the Catechism (p. 582). Notice that it does not invite those who are sinless, but sinners who are sorry and repent of their sins, intending to lead a new life, following God’s Commandments, and who are in love and charity with their neighbors. The difference is exactly the difference between the Pharisee and the Publican who went up into the temple to pray (St. Luke 18:10–14). The Pharisee thanked God that he was quite worthy and fit, enumerating his virtues; while the Publican smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” St. Luke tells us which of the two our dear Lord commended.
2. THE GENERAL CONFESSION.
Notice that the rubric directs that this be said “by the Priest and all those who are minded to receive the Holy Communion, humbly kneeling.”
This Confession should be compared with the Confession in Morning Prayer (p. 6). There emphasis is put on the various phases of sin. Here greater and more emphatic stress is put on sorrow for sin, the grievousness of its remembrance, and the sense of its intolerable burden, which may be expected to be felt by communicants more intensely than by an ordinary congregation.
3. THE ABSOLUTION.
As in the case of the Confession, this Absolution should be compared with that in Morning Prayer for both their likeness and their unlikeness. They are alike in two important respects: (1) both base all Absolution on the Love of God and His promises in and through our Lord Jesus Christ; (2) both make all real reception of Absolution conditional on real repentance and faith. They are unlike in three particulars: (1) this Absolution, like the most ancient forms, has the tone and quality of a Blessing or Benediction, not simply Declaratory; (2) this is addressed to the congregation as a whole, not to “all who truly repent and unfeignedly believe,” presumably on the assumption that all who remain for the Holy Communion meet the required condition of repentance and faith; (3) this brings out with great clearness the various elements of God’s blessing – pardon of the guilt and deliverance from the bondage of sin – the strengthening by His grace of all positive goodness – and the consummation of all in the gift of “everlasting life.”* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 231.]
4. THE COMFORTABLE WORDS.
The scripture sentences on page 76 are so called because they are comforting words of strengthening and refreshment from the lips of Our Lord Himself and from His great Apostles St. Paul and St. John, to all those who do feel the burden of their sins and mourn over them. More than that, they also confirm the words of Absolution with the words of Christ and His Apostles.
5. THE GREAT EUCHARISTIC THANKSGIVING.
Here, as in Morning Prayer, Confession and Absolution are followed by a burst of Praise and Thanksgiving. The three parts of this Eucharistic Thanksgiving – The Sursum Corda (“Lift up your hearts”), the thanksgiving (“It is very meet, right. . . to give thanks"), and the Ter Sanctus (“Holy, Holy, Holy”), sometimes called the Trisagion, are found in all extant Liturgies of the Churches of both the East and the West.
6. PROPER PREFACES. (See rubric, top of page 77.)
Inserted here on the great Festivals, these Prefaces mark the chief acts of the Manifestation of the Godhead in Humanity – the Incarnation, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Ghost – and then sum up all in the adoration of the Godhead itself in the Holy Trinity.* An additional Preface for All Saints Day was inserted in the 1928 revision. [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 232.]
7. THE PRAYER OF CONSECRATION.
Dr. Blunt says: “This is the most solemn part of the whole ministration of the Liturgy. Standing before the flock of Christ in the Presence of Almighty God, the Priest stands there as the vicarious earthly representative of the invisible but one true and only Priest of the Heavenly Sanctuary: acting in His Name and by His commission and authority (see Article XXVI, p. 608 of the Prayer Book), he brings into remembrance before the Eternal Father the one only and everlasting Sacrifice which was once for all made and finished upon the Cross (Article XXXI, p. 608) but is perpetually pleaded, offered, and presented, by the One Everlasting Priest and Intercessor in Heaven. . . And this He does in two ways. (1) In Heaven, openly, as one may say, and by His own immediate action. (2) On Earth, mystically, but as really, acting mediately by the Earthly Priest as His visible instrument. . . Where two or three are gathered together in His name. (and where so truly are we thus gathered as when we meet to celebrate the great Memorial Sacrifice specially appointed by Himself?) there is He in the midst of us (St. Matt. 18:20) . . . The great and only Sacrifice once made (on the cross) can never be repeated. But it is continually offered, i. e., brought into remembrance and pleaded, before God. They who are called Priests because, and only because they visibly represent to the successive generations of mankind the one immortal but invisible Priest, are through God’s unspeakable mercy privileged to bring it into remembrance before Him; by His order Who said, Do this for a Memorial, a Commemoration of Me.”* [*Blunt, The Annotated Book of Common Prayer, 188.]
Look at your Prayer Book and notice that the Prayer of Consecration (p. 80–81) falls naturally into four main parts, indicated by separate paragraphs.
(1) The first part begins with a striking preamble commemorating the one oblation of Christ, once for all offered, through the tender mercy of God, so that its propitiating sacrifice can never be repeated, and expressing with great clearness and completeness the whole doctrine of the Atonement as being a full sacrifice, a perfect oblation and a sufficient satisfaction; next, it recites our Lord’s command to His Church (on which alone the Sacrament depends for its efficacy) to continue a perpetual memory or remembrance of His precious death and sacrifice, pleading that Atoning Sacrifice until His coming again; and lastly, it recites the Institution itself in a form corresponding closely to the records of St. Paul and St. Luke (1 Cor. 11:23–26; St. Luke 22:19, 20) – with rubrical directions to the Priest for the performance of the manual acts, which represent the acts of our Lord Himself at the Institution.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 235]
(2) The second division, following the ancient models, proceeds with THE OBLATION, which means an act of giving, with special reference to an offering to God, as of the Eucharistic Elements and the Alms for the support of the clergy, the relief of the poor, and other offerings. The consecration of the elements of Bread and Wine is not complete till after the Priest has said the Invocation.
(3) THE INVOCATION. This is an earnest prayer to God the Father to bless and sanctify, with His word and Holy Spirit these His gifts of bread and wine so that to us receiving them according to the institution of His Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, we may be partakers (1 Cor. 10:16) of His most blessed Body and Blood. Four things should be noted here: (a) the Invocation is of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; (b) the words “creatures of bread and wine” repudiate the theory of Transubstantiation and kindred theories; (c) there is a marked stress on the idea of this Sacrament as a Communion, emphasized by the words “that we receiving . . . may be partakers of His most blessed Body and Blood”; and (d) at the end of the Invocation the Consecration of the Bread and Wine is complete, and it is not complete till then.
(4) The last division of the Prayer of Consecration beginning “And we earnestly desire,” brings out the whole idea of sacrifice, closely connecting the Memorial of the One great Sacrifice, which pleads it before God, with the Eucharistic Sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and the Dedicatory Sacrifice of ourselves. Note especially the sentence – “And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee” – and see Hebrews 13:15, 16.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 235]
8. THE LORD’S PRAYER, which in the 1928 Revision was transferred from the Post Communion to its present position following the Prayer of Consecration, is introduced by a sentence read by the officiating Priest which says: “And now, as our Saviour Christ hath taught us, we are bold to say, Our Father,” etc. That word “bold” (used here as in the Prayer Book of 1549) may be liturgically correct, but many sincerely hope it will be replaced by something that is more in the spirit of a devoted child’s approach to a loving father – a loving Heavenly Father.
9. THE PRAYER OF HUMBLE ACCESS.
This beautiful prayer (Pr. Bk., p. 82), and The Lord’s Prayer, which it follows, form a fitting and feeling transition from the solemn Prayer of Consecration to the Administration of the Communion. Bishop Barry says it is a Prayer of spiritual preparation, of singular fervour and beauty, and expresses our trust that God is always the same God in that attribute of perpetual mercy, which is of the essence of Him who is love.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 235.]
10. THE ADMINISTRATION.
The history of the words of Administration is both interesting and instructive. The First Prayer Book of Edward VI (1549) had the first sentence only, “The Body (or Blood) . . . life,” which brings out clearly the gift in the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; and praying that, according to Our Lord’s promise, it may preserve both body and soul to eternal life. In the Revision of 1552, as a concession to Puritan arguments, these words were omitted and in their place was put the second sentence, “Take and eat . . . thanksgiving;” “Drink . . . thankful,” which simply bids us receive the Sacrament in remembrance of His death with thanksgiving. In a subsequent revision the two sentences were combined, and since then have continued as they now appear in our Prayer Book. The two Sentences thus combined serve to bring out, in perfect clearness and harmony, both the reality of God’s gift in the Sacrament and the need of man’s conscious reception of it through faith. God’s part and man’s part are both vital, and we may well be thankful that both are so clearly presented in these Sentences.
The rubric just before the Sentences directs that the officiating Priest shall first receive the Holy Communion in both kinds himself, and then proceed to deliver same “to the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, in like manner, and, after that, to the People.” And note that it is to be given “into their hands, all devoutly kneeling.” Also that “sufficient opportunity shall be given to those present to communicate.” The idea of partaking is inherent in the Service itself, and at no time, for any reason, can the officiating Priest make a mere gesture of participation to the people, then turn back to the Altar and conclude the Service before the people do in fact have sufficient opportunity to communicate, without violating the fundamental law of the Church embodied in this rubric.
11. THE RECEPTION.
The officiating Priest is directed by the rubric to deliver the Bread and Wine “into their hands.” Here is a helpful comment from Blunt’s Annotated Book of Common Prayer (page 190): “Communicants ought, instead of taking it with their fingers, to receive the consecrated Bread in the palm of the right hand, according to St. Cyril’s direction in his fifth Catechetical Lecture, ‘Making the left hand a throne for the right which is about to receive a king, hollow thy palm, and so receive the Body of Christ, saying thereafter the Amen.’”
Women should take care never to go to the altar rail with gloved hand, nor with veil down over the mouth. Remove gloves, and remove or push up securely the veil before going to the Lord’s Table.
Now a word about the consecrated Wine. Tilt the cup so that the Wine just moistens your lips; one drop is as efficacious as a spoonful, and to take more than a drop or two is irreverent to say the least. Men with a mustache should be careful not to let it dip into the consecrated Wine.
The modern germ theory, and the fear some have of the common cup, has led to the Administration by Intinction in some parishes. That is done usually by dipping the edge of the consecrated Bread into the consecrated Wine, sometimes by the Priest, sometimes by the communicant to whom the Bread has been delivered. The use of Intinction is something for the Bishops to pass on in their respective Dioceses till the General Convention acts on it for the whole Church. It is sufficient here to observe that when the administration is by Intinction some liberties must necessarily be taken with the rubrics as they now stand, and also with the Sentences at delivery of the consecrated Elements.
C. THE POST COMMUNION SERVICE.
This consists of a Thanksgiving Prayer, the Gloria in excelsis, and the Blessing.
1. THE THANKSGIVING PRAYER.
This Prayer was composed in 1549. A prayer of thanksgiving formed a prominent part of the primitive Liturgies, but had dropped out of the medieval services, except in the form of a private prayer of the Celebrant. The compilers of our Prayer Book restored it. It is a thanksgiving dwelling on the Sacrament just received and its meaning to us, with the prayer that since we are “members incorporate” in “the blessed company of faithful people” God will give us grace to “continue in that holy fellowship,” and by God’s help and grace to show the fruits of it in the “good works” God expects us “to walk in.” How fitting! What a high mark to reach for!
2. THE GLORIA IN EXCELSIS.
This glorious hymn as a climax to the Communion Service has a striking appropriateness and beauty. It is of great antiquity, apparently of Greek origin. Like the Te Deum it is at once a hymn, a creed, and a prayer; and, like the Te Deum it is offered explicitly to the Holy Trinity. The Communion Service comes to its climax and its close on the note of prayer and praise to the Blessed Trinity.
3. THE BLESSING.
Notice the rubric before this: the People kneeling. How often throughout the Prayer Book the emphasis on kneeling occurs! It reflects an attitude toward God that no other posture does.
The Blessing is a quotation of Philippians 4:7, with an added blessing in the Name of the Holy Trinity – to be amongst us as a Power for peace, wisdom and love, and to remain with us to eternal Salvation.
D. EXHORTATIONS AND GENERAL RUBRICS.
Following the Service come several pages, which might be called an Appendix, consisting of a series of general rubrics, and three Exhortations, all of which are important and should not be overlooked by either Priest or People.
1. GENERAL RUBRICS.
The first of these rubrics, permitting a Deacon to say the Ante-Communion to the end of the Gospel is a new rubric, inserted in 1928.
The second and third rubrics are not new. Prior to 1928 they stood practically where they now are, in the “Appendix” to the Communion Office. The second rubric provides for the use of the Ante-Communion Service down to the end of the Gospel, even when there is no sermon or communion; the third gives directions to the officiating Priest for proper and authoritative procedure in the event he consecrates more bread and wine than is necessary for the Administration of the Communion to those who are present and wish to communicate.
The fourth and fifth of these rubrics prior to 1928 stood at the very beginning of the Communion Service between the Title and the one rubric, slightly revised, which is there now. In 1928 these two rubrics were transferred to a relatively obscure position here among the general rubrics, but they do not thereby lose their significance and importance nor should they be either overlooked or neglected. Both of these rubrics have to do with the discipline of communicant members; the first of the two applies to any the Minister shall know to be a notorious evil liver or to have done any wrong to his neighbors by word or deed, so that the Congregation be thereby offended. The other of the two (the fifth of these general rubrics) directs that the same order shall the Minister use with those, betwixt whom he perceiveth malice and hatred to reign; but notice that in no case can the Minister lawfully act in an arbitrary or inquisitorial manner; for, at the end of the fifth and last rubric is this explicit proviso: “Provided, that every Minister so repelling any, as is herein specified, shall be obliged to give an account of the same to the Ordinary (the Bishop) within fourteen days after, at the farthest; so that the Bishop may make such investigation and take such action as he may think fit.
Except in so far as these rubrics give discretionary authority, the Minister, as in the case of the Absolution, is simply a Minister, and cannot rightly impose any other condition for reception of the Sacrament or refuse it to anyone who has presumably the requisite qualification. The inner spiritual fitness can be absolutely judged by God alone.
Practical problems involved in administering the Discipline provided for in these rubrics have brought about their general disuse, but they are important for at least three reasons: First, in case discipline is necessary in some extreme situations, proper provision is here made for it; Second, these rubrics indicate to Priest and People alike that the requirements of the Catechism (p. 582) for rightful preparation to come to the Holy Communion, are to be taken seriously, and not treated as merely pious phrases; Third, these rubrics likewise indicate to Priest and People alike that the Church expects of them a quality of life consistent with their Christian profession – for the good name of the Church as well as for their own eternal salvation.
2. THE EXHORTATIONS.
There are three of these Exhortations, each for a definite purpose. One characteristic of the genius of the English Prayer Book is its series of Exhortations in its various services, for information and for inspiration. In these we see the Church exercising her teaching function in a special and effective way.
The first Exhortation (p. 85), prior to 1928, was printed in the Communion Service itself immediately following the prayer for the whole state of Christ’s Church, and was designed to be read at every celebration of the Holy Communion, but a Note in the rubric said the Exhortation may be omitted if it hath already been said on one Lord’s Day in that same month. Clearly, the ideal was to say it at every celebration; the minimum requirement was on one Sunday every month. The rubric now says: “At the time of the (any) celebration of the Communion, after the prayer for the whole state of Christ’s Church, the Priest may say this Exhortation. And Note, that the Exhortation shall be said on the First Sunday in Advent, the First Sunday in Lent and Trinity Sunday.” Thus the present rubric permits each officiating Priest to say it or not to say it throughout the whole year, except on those three Sundays. It is devoutly to be hoped that the Clergy will, of their own volition, use it with sufficient frequency for it to serve its high purpose.
This Exhortation is designed simply to urge upon all who intend to receive the Holy Communion the necessity of a right spiritual preparation; and one who reads it carefully can hardly miss the meaning and purpose of it. At the beginning it repeats the warning of St. Paul, “to try and examine” ourselves before we presume to partake of the Holy Communion (1 Cor. 11:27–32), and thus reminds us of the great benefits of worthy, as well as the danger of unworthy, reception. It then outlines the right kind of preparation (as in Catechism, last answer, p. 582) in repentance, faith, and charity with all men; and particularly in the true Eucharistic spirit of thankfulness to God “for the redemption of the world by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ,” who “ordained these holy mysteries to our great and endless comfort.” Then, in the spirit of continued thankfulness we are bidden to “submit ourselves wholly to his holy will and pleasure” and “to serve him in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life.”
Too much emphasis cannot be laid upon the importance of such preparation, made privately and personally; and neglect of it by Priest or People is a grave matter. It should be carefully noted that a right preparation and a worthy reception are not conditioned on our being sinless, but upon repentance, i. e., being sorry for our sins, and steadfastly purposing to lead a new and better life from this day forward. If we could get it into our minds and hearts (as this Exhortation bids us do) that the appeal of the Holy Communion is, by God’s help, to rise above the weaknesses of the past and grow into a greater holiness in the future, the Blessed Sacrament would be an inspiration and a power that it cannot be so long as we hold to the mistaken view that to partake worthily we must be sinless. If we had to be sinless none of us would partake; but if, by being penitent for our sins and purposing to live a better life henceforth, we can come worthily, then all of us may partake, and to our everlasting benefit. It was not to receive unto Himself sinless people that our Lord came to earth. It was rather to redeem sinners from their sins and make them more like Himself. For the redemption of sinful man He died upon the Cross, and it is to sinful man, mourning over his sins and eager to be set free from them that He offers the Sacrament of His broken body and shed blood. (See St. Luke 18:9–14.)
The second Exhortation (p. 86) like the first, is intended for general use. The rubric says the Minister shall (not may) read this Exhortation, in whole or in part, when he gives warning, i. e. notice of, the celebration of the Holy Communion, and adds parenthetically but significantly “which he shall (not may) always (not sometimes) do upon the Sunday, or some Holy Day, immediately preceding.” The self-evident intent of this is that the people shall have due notice of every celebration of the Holy Communion in order that they may have opportunity to make that proper preparation for it which the Church stresses as being so important.
Read the second Exhortation and notice how in the first paragraph it emphasizes the solemn nature and character of the Sacrament, and urges all to make due preparation for it, in order that they may receive it “worthily.” In the second paragraph it offers definite suggestions about the proper way to make that preparation, step by step, in accord with the Catechism Instruction. In the third paragraph it deals with the extreme case where, if there be any who in private preparation “cannot quiet his own conscience,” his duty is to go to the officiating Minister or some other Minister of God’s Word and “open his grief; that he may receive such godly counsel and advice, as may tend to the quieting of his conscience, and the removing of all scruple and doubtfulness.” This paragraph is significant in that it shows that the Church not only approves but in certain extreme cases advises confession to a Minister as being both needful and helpful, and more people might well avail themselves of that privilege; while all our Clergy owe it to themselves and their flock to prepare themselves for just such service, that they may be able to render it properly when the call comes. But remember always that such confession is voluntary and from an inward sense of need, not compulsory.
The third Exhortation (page 88) is for occasional use, as both the rubric and the Exhortation itself show. If and when the Minister “shall see the People negligent to come to the Holy Communion, instead of the former he may use this Exhortation.” Read it carefully and weigh the arguments, point by point, especially those against the plea of having material and personal interests that keep them away. “Such feigned excuses” it declares “will avail little before God,” and the clear implication is that what really lies underneath these “feigned excuses” is ingratitude and a lack of love for God. Very seldom is this Exhortation read to the congregation, but many of us in private may read it to our soul’s health.
VII. THE COLLECTS, EPISTLES, AND GOSPELS
To be used throughout the Year.
Read carefully the rubrics on page 90, and watch for other rubrics telling how the Collects, Epistles and Gospels are to be used.
1. VARYING AND UNVARYING.
The Communion Service, sometimes called “The Liturgy,” consists of a fixed unvarying portion, and of a portion that varies at least once a week. The fixed part is printed by itself on pages 67–89 of the Prayer Book, which we have just reviewed. The variable part is that printed under the title “The Collects, Epistles, and Gospels to be used throughout the Year,” on pages 90–269, which we are now ‘to notice.
From the earliest times, readings from the historical or from the doctrinal portions of Holy Scripture formed a regular part of the Communion Service. The arrangement of varying Epistles and Gospels as in all the ancient Liturgies, provides for the reading of the Word of God, necessary to any complete Service, and corresponds to the series of Lessons at Morning and Evening Prayer. As a rule, the Gospel contains the record of some act or teaching of our Lord, and the Epistle the Apostolic or, in some cases, the Prophetic exposition of some doctrine represented in the Gospel. On a Saint’s Day the Gospel may give some historical mention of the Saint, and the Epistle some word of his or some lesson which his life suggests. There are a few exceptions to this rule; e. g., on Whitsunday, and on Special Days like Thanksgiving and Independence Day, the Epistle and Gospel are selected for topical appropriateness. In the regular Epistles and Gospels we have the two foundations, one of actual fact and the other of Divine teaching, on which the Christian religion is built. The Collect may be considered as the gathering up of both Lessons into prayer, and applying them, not only on the Day to which they properly belong, but through the whole ensuing week.
2. PRINCIPLE OF ARRANGEMENT.
The principle on which portions of Holy Scripture are selected for the Epistles and Gospels is that of fitting into the spirit and purpose of the two great divisions of the Christian Year – Advent to Trinity, then Trinity to Advent again. In the first half-year from Advent to Trinity, which is the Festal and more emphatic half of the Christian Year, our Blessed Lord is set before us in a life-like word picture of Him in selections taken from the Gospels, which tell us about Him and His work, not as mere past history, but as a present and living force in our lives. Nowhere does the Church exercise her teaching function (St. Matt. 28:20) more effectively than in the way by which the “Gospels for the Day” from Advent to Trinity are made the means of our living over again, year by year, the time and events of our Lord’s Incarnate life, from Bethlehem to the Mount of Ascension; while in the Pentecostal out-pouring of the Holy Spirit, and in the faithful following of the Church’s Master and Head in our second or non-Festal half of the Christian Year (Trinity to Advent) we see the Church’s continuance by the power of daily lives. In the first half of the year (Advent to Trinity) the emphasis is on Christian doctrine; in the second half (Trinity to Advent) the emphasis is on Christian living, with the moral law the keynote.
As printed in the Prayer Book there comes first the Series for the Sundays of the Year, with certain Holy Days connected with the Manifestation of our Lord interspersed therein. This Series follows what is more and more recognized and spoken of as the Christian Year.
3. THE CHRISTIAN YEAR.
This falls naturally into two practically equal parts: the Festal half from Advent to Trinity, and the non-Festal half from Trinity to Advent.
A. THE FESTAL HALF OF THE YEAR.
This again falls naturally into two parts:
(1) Connected with Christmas:
(a) The Four Sundays of Advent
(b) Christmas, with the three attendant Festivals of St. Stephen, St. John Evangelist, and The Holy Innocents, also the Sunday after Christmas and the Feast of the Circumcision.
(c) The Epiphany with Six Sundays following.
(2) Connected with Easter:
(a) Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima Sundays.
(b) Ash Wednesday and the Five Sundays in Lent.
(c) Holy Week—Palm Sunday; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before Easter, Good Friday, and Easter Even.
(d) Easter Day, with Monday and Tuesday in Easter Week.
(e) The Five Sundays after Easter.
(f) Ascension Day and Rogation Sunday following.
(g) Whitsunday, with Monday and Tuesday in Whitsun Week.
(h) Trinity Sunday.
B. THE NON-FESTAL HALF OF THE YEAR.
This consists of the Sundays after Trinity, which may be as many as twenty-seven, the exact number being dependent on whether Easter comes early or late. The Sundays after Epiphany likewise vary in number inversely. (See rubric at bottom of page 224.)
Through both halves of the Christian Year runs the series of Minor Holy Days, beginning with St. Andrew’s Day (November 30th) and ending with All Saints’ Day the following November 1st. Some of these Holy Days, notably the Purification, the Annunciation, and the Transfiguration, are connected with that Manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ which is the theme of the first half or Festal portion of the year. The rest – the Saints’ Days properly so called – are selections to commemorate a limited number of individual saints, and the list confines itself strictly to those individuals found in the record of Holy Scripture. Following All Saints’ Day (p. 256–7) comes a new Series for various special occasions, added in 1928.
4. THE COLLECTS.
The name Collect seems to come from the Gallic term Collectio or Collecta, indicating that the thought of some longer prayers or of the Epistle and Gospel for the day has been “collected” and condensed into a short prayer, of a particular type.* [*Parson-Jones, The American Prayer Book, 142, 143. cf. Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 51-b.]
A Collect therefore is a short compact prayer, usually of a single petition with a preamble before it and an ascription following it. But the comprehensive Preamble, Petition and Ascription of the typical Collects, are capable of division showing a very exact and definite character in the structure of the Collects, as follows:
1. The Invocation, usually addressed to God the Father.
2. Statement of some doctrine or of some Gospel fact as the ground on which the petition is based.
3. A single petition.
4. Mention of the benefits hoped for.
5. The conclusion, when the prayer itself is not addressed to Christ our Mediator, is always through Him as our Mediator, often with a Doxology or Ascription of praise.
Dr. Blunt, in his Annotated Book of Common Prayer, page 69, illustrates this by what he terms two of our finest specimens of Collects, as follows:
6th Sunday After Epiphany
2. Fact on which the Petition is to be founded.
Who as at this time didst teach the hearts of Thy faithful people by sending to them the light of Thy Holy Spirit,
Whose blessed Son was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life;
grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things,
grant us, we beseech Thee, that having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even as He is pure;
4. Benefit hoped for.
and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort;
that when He shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto Him in His eternal and glorious Kingdom,
5. Mention of Christ’s Mediation, or Ascription of praise: or both.
through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end.
where with Thee O Father, and Thee, O Holy Ghost, He liveth and reigneth, ever one God, world without end.
There are a few Collects that call for special mention because of the rubrical directions that follow them.
1. Collect for The First Sunday in Advent (Pr. Bk. p. 90). A rubric following the Collect requires that it be repeated every day, after the other Collects for the Day in Advent, until Christmas Day.
2. The Collect for Christmas Day (Pr. Bk. p. 96) is to be said daily throughout the Octave (i. e. eight days), together with the Collects for other special days that come within those eight days.
3. The Collect for Epiphany (p. 107) to be said daily throughout the Octave.
4. The Collect for Ash Wednesday (p. 124) is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.
5. The Collect for Palm Sunday (p. 134) is to be said every day, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Good Friday.
6. The Collect for Easter Day (p. 163) is to be said daily throughout Easter Week.
7. The Collect for The Ascension Day (p. 177) is to be said daily throughout the Octave.
8. The Collect for Whitsunday (p. 180) is to be said daily throughout Whitsun Week.
5. THE EPISTLES AND GOSPELS.
The Holy Communion was celebrated and received by the faithful for nearly twenty years before St. Paul wrote his first Epistle, and for nearly thirty years before the first Gospel was written by St. Matthew . . . The Scriptures of the New Testament did not, therefore, form any part of the original Liturgies. It has been supposed by many liturgical scholars that (at first) portions of the Old Testament were read at the time of celebration, and that the introduction of our present system was gradual.* [*Blunt, The Annotated Book of Common Prayer, 70.]
It is a noticeable and illuminating fact, which you have but to open your Bibles to see, that the New Testament Scriptures were addressed to the Church, or to congregations (sometimes individuals) in the Church. (See St. Luke 1:1–4; Acts 1:1–2; Rom. 1:1, 7; 1 Cor. 1:1–2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1–2; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:1–2; 1 Thes. 1:1; 2 Thes. 1:1, 4; 1 Tim. 1:1–4; 2 Tim. 1:1, 2, 5, 6; Titus 1:1, 4–5; Philemon 1:1–2; Rev. 1:1, 4.) This is an array of Scriptural evidence too overwhelming to be denied, and too important to be overlooked. It shows beyond dispute that the Church was organized and doing her work before the New Testament was written. Since the Scriptures were written by Churchmen to the Church and for the Church, the Church may properly say how the Scriptures may be most helpfully read in her public Services.
6. SOME POINTS OF SPECIAL INTEREST.
Before we leave this part of the Prayer Book, let us notice a few points, familiar to some but perhaps not so familiar to others.
From the first institution of the great Festivals of the Church each of them occupies a central position in a series of days; partly for the greater honor of the Festival itself, and partly for the sake of Christian discipline. Thus Christmas is preceded by the Sundays and Season of Advent, and followed by twelve days of continued Christian joy which end with Epiphany. Similarly Easter is preceded by the forty days of Lent, and followed by the forty days to Ascension Day, plus ten more days to Whitsunday.
The rule for finding the date of Advent is given on page xxxiv of the Prayer Book. Inasmuch as St. Andrew’s Day is always November 30th, and Advent Sunday the Sunday nearest to it, the earliest date Advent Sunday comes is November 27th, and the latest December 3rd. A simple rule by which it may be determined is this: Advent Sunday is the Sunday next after November 26th.
Dr. J. H. Blunt says: “The ancient Church of England welcomed Christmas Day with a special Service on the Vigil (Eve), a celebration of the Holy Communion soon after midnight, another at early dawn, and a third at the usual hour of the midday mass. . . The midnight celebration commemorates the actual birth of our Lord; the early morning one its revelation to mankind in the persons of the shepherds; that at midday the Eternal Sonship of the Holy Child Jesus.”* [*Blunt, The Annotated Book of Common Prayer, 77.]
(3) The Pre-Lenten Season.
The three Sundays before Lent, called Septuagesima Sunday, Sexagesima Sunday, and Quinquagesima Sunday, make a fitting transition from the festal Epiphany Season to the penitential Lenten Season. Various explanations are given as to the origin of the names of these Sundays. The one most generally received in modern times is that the forty-day fast of Lent being called Quadragesima, and the name being especially applied to the first Sunday in Lent, these three preceding Sundays were named from analogy, and as representing in round numbers the days which occur between each and Easter. Septuagesima is, indeed, only sixty-three days distant from Easter, but Quinquagesima is forty-nine; and the nearly correct character of the appellation in the latter case seems to support this theory.* [*Blunt, The Annotated Book of Common Prayer, 88.]
(4) Ash Wednesday, and Lent.
The popular name of Ash Wednesday, given to the first day of Lent, comes from the ancient custom of blessing ashes made from the palms used in the church on the Palm Sunday of the preceding year, and sprinkling them, or signing the cross with them, on the heads of penitents.
The forty days of Lent mean forty week-days. The Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty-day fast because every Sunday is a little Easter, commemorating each week of the year the Resurrection of our Lord. Sundays are, therefore, always Feast Days, never Fast Days.
(5) Passion Week and Holly Week.
Because Good Friday, commemorating the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, comes during the last week in Lent people sometimes make the mistake of calling that week Passion Week. From time immemorial the second Sunday before Good Friday (Fifth Sunday in Lent) has been known as Passion Sunday, because on that day our Lord began to make open predictions of His coming sufferings, and the week which that Sunday begins is Passion Week. The last week of Lent has ever been observed by Christians as a time of special solemnity; and from the important events which occurred in the last week of our Lord’s life, and which this week represents to us, it has for centuries been called “the Great Week” and “the Holy Week.” It is now almost universally called Holy Week. The Sunday with which it begins is called Palm Sunday in commemoration of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem when the multitude “took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet Him (St. John 12:12, 13).
(6) Maundy Thursday and Holy Thursday.
The fifth day of Holy Week commemorates the Institution of the Lord’s Supper. The English name, Maundy Thursday, is derived from the Latin word Mandatum, referring to the command given by our Lord in connection with the washing of the disciples’ feet (St. John 13:14, 34), also the command “Do this in remembrance of me,” both commands being spoken at the Last Supper. (Read St. Luke 22:14–23 and St. John 13:2–35; then compare St. Luke 22:19 with St. John 13:34 for “the commands” from which Maundy Thursday gets its English name.)
Probably because Maundy Thursday comes in Holy Week it is sometimes mistakenly called “Holy Thursday.” Holy Thursday, properly speaking, is Ascension Day. That Festival, forty days after Easter, concludes the yearly commemoration of our Blessed Lord’s earthly life and work, and reminds us of His entrance on His Mediatorial Kingdom in glory.
(7) Good Friday.
This day is not one of man’s institution but was consecrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when He made it the day of His Passion. It is impossible that the anniversary of our Lord’s sufferings could ever have passed by as a common day in those times when the memory of them was so recent; yet, in these times many make of it a holiday instead of a holy day spent in fasting and prayer.
“This beautiful name (Good Friday) of old standing, is peculiar to the English Church.”* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 118.]
(8) Easter Day.
“They who went about ‘preaching Jesus and the Resurrection,’ and who observed the first day of the week as a continual memorial of the Resurrection, must have remembered with vivid and joyous devotion the anniversary of their Lord’s restoration to them. It was kept as the principal festival of the year, therefore, in the very first age of the Church. Easter had become long familiar to all parts of the Christian World as early as the day of Polycarp and Anicetus, who had a consultation at Rome in A.D. 158, as to whether it should be observed according to the reckoning of Jewish or Gentile Christians.”* [*Blunt, The Annotated Book of Common Prayer, 103, 104.]
Easter Day, as the day of the Resurrection of our Lord from which the first preaching of the Gospel actually started, was naturally the first great center of the Festal year.
(NOTE: This throws light on the oft-repeated question as to when and by whose authority the Sabbath of rest and worship was changed from Saturday to Sunday – a question still pressed by the Seventh Day Adventists who seem unable to grasp the significance of the change. (See St. Mark 16:2, 9–15 St. Luke 24:1, 33, 36; St. John 20:1, 19: Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2.)
(9) Low Sunday.
The First Sunday after Easter is sometimes called “Low Sunday” probably because of the contrast between the unusual joy and festivity of Easter Day and the quiet calm of the first return to the usual Sunday services.
(10) Rogation Sunday and the Rogation Days.
The Fifth Sunday after Easter, being the first day of the week in which the Rogation days occur, has taken its name from them and is sometimes called Rogation Sunday.
“The institution of the Rogation Days is attributed to Mamertus, Bishop of the French (Gallic) diocese of Vienne. A terrible calamity is said to have visited the diocese and city of Vienne, on account of which Mamertus set apart the three days before Ascension Day as a solemn fast, during which processions with Litanies were to be made throughout the diocese. The custom is supposed to have been taken up by other dioceses, and to have extended itself from France to England, but not to have been recognized at Rome until the eighth or ninth century.* [*Blunt, The Annotated Book of Common Prayer, 110.]
(11) Ascension Day.
(See “Maundy Thursday and Holy Thursday” above.)
This great Festival commemorates the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, symbolized by the rushing mighty wind, the emblem of invisible and mysterious power, and by the tongues of fire distributed to the Apostles, the emblems of an indwelling life shining out and enkindling the world, to abide in the Church forever according to the promises of Christ. (Acts 1:8; 2:1–4; St. John 14:26; 16:13–15.)
Whitsunday is one of the high Festivals, being second only to Easter and Christmas. We love to think of it and speak of it as the Birthday of the Church, because then for the first time, the disciples of our Lord, under the leadership of the Apostles and in the power of the Holy Spirit just poured out upon them, began to act as a corporate body on their own initiative, without the bodily presence of Christ who had been their Leader and by whose direction they acted while He was with them in person. Now that Christ had ascended (Acts 1:9), they had to act on their own corporate responsibility, guided by the Holy Spirit, as Christians ever since have done. In that sense Whitsunday was the Birthday of the Church, but it was not the beginning of the Church’s life. The Church was in existence before “Pentecost” (St. Matt. 16:18; 18:17), and its chief Ministers had been “chosen,” “ordained,” and “sent forth to preach” (St. Mark 3:13–14; Acts 1:17, 25), with specific instructions as to the essentials of the Faith into which converts were to be baptized, and what they were to be taught (St. Matt. 28:19–20). The Birthday of the Church, like the birthday of a child, does not mark the beginning of its existence, but the date when it took its place as a corporate entity in the world of men.
On Whitsunday we see the crowning point of the work of Redemption, and Whitsun Week brings to a close the Festal half of the Christian Year; while Trinity Sunday, one week after Whitsunday, begins the Non-Festal half of the Year.
7. TRINITY SUNDAY AND THE TRINITY SEASON.
The Sunday after Whitsunday has been observed in honor of the Blessed Trinity from a very early age of the Church, though the name “Trinity Sunday” was not general till a later period. The observance of the day fitly sums up the whole series of Festivals of the Manifestation of God in Christ. It is significant that the beginning of our Lord’s public life was associated with a revelation of the Three Persons of the Trinity (St. Matt. 3:16–17), and His last command to His Apostles was a commission to make disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (St. Matt. 28:19). As on Whitsunday we see the crowning point of the work of redemption, so on Trinity Sunday we see the perfect revelation to the Church of the Three Persons in one God, as the sole object of adoration, before Whom we bow down and sing, with the Church Triumphant, saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come . . . Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev. 4:8, 11. See Epistle for the Day.)
NOTE: The number of Sundays between Trinity Sunday and Advent varies according to whether Easter comes early or late; and the number of Sundays after Epiphany varies accordingly, but inversely, i. e. the more Sundays there are after Trinity the fewer there are after Epiphany, and vice versa.
PART FOUR: THE OCCASIONAL OFFICES
ALSO THE PSALTER AND FAMILY PRAYER
THE OCCASIONAL OFFICES
Unlike the preceding Services, which are used over and over again all through life, the Offices to which we are now come (with the exception of the Catechism and Offices of Instruction) can be used for each individual only once, or at most, occasionally, in his natural life; and they embody the religious consecration of the chief phases of that natural life. The Baptismal and Confirmation Services hallow its beginning and its early stages of growth; and between them comes the Instruction needed for an intelligent and wholesome Christian life. The succeeding Services deal with the later stages of Marriage, Child-birth, Sickness, and Death; and thus the whole of human life is covered from the cradle to the grave. With the exception of the Offices of Instruction, which were inserted in our American Prayer Book at the Revision of 1928, all these Services are taken, with alterations (in some cases slight, in others considerable), from the English Prayer Book.
I. THE MINISTRATION OF HOLY BAPTISM
1. The History of Baptism.
The two great Sacraments of the Gospel, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, were both instituted by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and are, therefore, as old as Christianity itself. Baptism was not even then a new Rite, but an old one. Because water has naturally the power of cleansing, it has been made the symbol of purification by various nations and religions, ancient and modern. The Jews baptized their proselytes, and by baptism received them into the family of Israel. Our Lord Himself had been baptized by John the Baptist. Furthermore, when the Jews baptized converts, they called it their “New Birth,” “Regeneration,” or “being born again,” and when our Lord used this phrase to Nicodemus, He seemed surprised that a “master of Israel” should not understand (St. John 3:3–5, 9–10) but instead should take His words literally.* Having thus at hand a rite so simple, so easy, and so generally understood, it was in keeping with our Lord’s practical wisdom that He should adopt it as the door of entrance into His Church, the sacrament of admission into the fellowship of His faithful followers – born into the family of God’s children (cf. Catechism: “in Baptism; wherein I was made. . . the child of God”). [*Bishop Brownell’s Commentary On The Prayer Book, p. 397. Compare Evan Daniel on The Prayer Book, p. 335; also Edershein, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, I, 273 and II, 746; also Blunt, The Annotated Book of Common Prayer, 208.]
But here is a point never to be forgotten: in the Christian Church this old familiar rite was to be distinguished from all previous baptisms by being administered with the most solemn words man can use, an invocation of the One God in Three Persons (St. Matt. 28:19).
2. The Essential Elements of Baptism.
The essential elements of Christian Baptism are the application of water (St. John 3:5) administered in the Name of the Blessed Trinity (St. Matt. 28:19). Any Baptism known to be lacking in either of those essentials is regarded by our Church as invalid, and rebaptism follows.
3. The Importance of Baptism.
Two things make this clear and emphatic. First, our Lord’s own words regarding it: “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (St. John 3:5). Again, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth AND is baptized shall be saved” (St. Mark 16:15–16). And again, “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (St. Matt. 28:19).
Second, scarcely less impressive is the literal exactness with which the Apostles carried out our Lord’s command, making Baptism mark every stage of the spread of His Kingdom: e. g. the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost, saying “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:37–41); the extension of the Church to the Samaritans (Acts 8:5, 12 and 16); to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:27, 36–38); to the Gentile Cornelius, his kinsmen and his friends, even after the outpouring of the Holy Ghost (Acts 10:22–24, 44, 47–48); to the jailor at Philippi, the first fruits of European Christianity (Acts 16:35); and the conversion to the full faith in Christ of those already baptized with the Baptism of John (Acts 19:5). In the Epistles of the New Testament Baptism is referred to again and again, as a matter of course, as the regular means of entrance into the Christian Covenant. St. Peter speaks of it as that which “doth now save us,” (1 Pet. 3:21); and St. Paul makes this significant declaration: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26–27). In like vein the Church puts into our mouths these words: “in Baptism; wherein I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven” (Catechism, Pr. Bk., p. 577). Everywhere, scripturally, historically and doctrinally, Baptism is regarded as the normal condition of entrance into the Christian life – the “birth of water and of the Spirit” for entrance “into the kingdom of God” (St. John 3:5). Thus has the importance of Holy Baptism been stressed throughout the whole history of the Church.
4. The Meaning of Baptism.
The use of water, outwardly applied, is for cleansing. The water at Baptism is for outward application, hence for cleansing. But it cannot in reason be for the cleansing of the body outwardly as in a bath. It must be, and is, symbolical. The outward washing in this sacrament typifies a spiritual washing, and here we have the most significant meaning of Baptism in the suggestion that the soul of man, as well as his body, needs cleansing from some defilement that attaches to it, either by nature or circumstance, or both. A little child, it is true, is not sin-stained or defiled through any act or fault of its own, for which it needs to repent, but none of us can well forget that every child is born with certain tempers, dispositions and desires, that tend to become self-willed, self-indulgent and selfish all together; and if left alone will develop into faults and sins that will make wreckage of its adult life. And so the little child, ignorant as yet of evil, and innocent as yet of the very power of sinning, is brought to the Church to be washed with that water which typifies both cleansing and purification. From henceforth he (or she) is to be taught that he (or she) is “a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” (Catechism, p. 577.) Christ died to redeem childhood and youth as well as old age.
Prior to 1928 there was in the Baptismal Service an exhortation (unfortunately omitted in the 1928 Revision) designed to impress upon the Sponsors their proper part in the teaching and guiding of the child they are Sponsor for, and ending with these significant words: “remembering always, that Baptism doth represent unto us our profession; which is, to follow the example of our Saviour Christ, and to be made like unto him; that, as he died, and rose again for us, so should we, who are baptized, die from sin, and rise again unto righteousness; continually mortifying all our evil and corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living.” That is a superb statement of the meaning of Baptism, and the Prayer Book is the poorer because of its omission.
5. The Prayer Book Service.
Prior to 1928 there were in the Prayer Book three separate and distinct Services for Baptism. One was for the Public Baptism of Infants, to be used in the Church; one for the Private Baptism of Children, in houses; and one for the Baptism of Such as are of Riper Years, and able to answer for themselves. The 1928 Revision combines all these Services into one single Service which may be followed easily.
The Title of this Service is impressive in at least three ways: (a) Its brevity and appropriateness. (b) It fittingly speaks of the Sacrament of Baptism as Holy Baptism in the same reverent tone that we speak of the Holy Communion and the Holy Bible. (c) It makes mention of neither Infants nor Adults, nor of either Public or Private use. The plain implication is that this one Service is for all occasions when there is to be a baptism or baptisms; and its simple rubrical directions make it easily serve that broad purpose.
Note carefully the language of the first rubric: The Minister of every Parish shall (not may) often (not occasionally) admonish the People: (1) that they do not defer the Baptism of their Children, as may be done through carelessness, indifference or procrastination. Holy Baptism is so “necessary to salvation” (Catechism and St. John 3:3, 5), and the blessing conferred by it so great, that infants should be brought to the font as early as possible; (2) that Baptism should be administered upon Sundays and other Holy Days except in great necessity, presumably at a regular Service in the presence of the congregation; (3) that, except for urgent cause, they seek not to have their Children baptized in their houses. Baptism is neither the whim of an individual nor a social function. It is a solemn Sacramental Rite by which we are initiated into “the fellowship of Christ’s religion,” and “born” into the family of God’s children. The Church therefore rightly calls on all to put personal consideration aside and have this Sacrament duly administered in the Church and in the presence of the congregation.
The second and third rubrics (p. 273) are the familiar provisions for Godfathers and Godmothers for Children.
The fourth rubric, brought over (with some changes) from the old Service for the Baptism of Adults, reflects today something of the attitude of the Primitive Church as regards proper preparation to receive the Sacrament of Baptism; and the second rubric on page 281 makes it clear that adults thus baptized are expected to go on to Confirmation and the Holy Communion, completing communicant membership in the Church.
Particularly important are the rubrics bearing on the Matter, the Mode, and the Minister of Baptism. As to Matter, the last two rubrics on page 279 specify water administered in the Name of each Person of the Triune God. Regarding Mode: in the same two rubrics the Church specifies either Immersion or Affusion (pouring, not “sprinkling”). In each of these rubrics the Church names first the primitive mode of Immersion, though in actual practice it is seldom used; then names Pouring (Affusion) as an authoritative and equally valid alternative presumably on the ground that since Baptism is the initiatory Rite by which persons are received into Christ’s Church with water as symbolic of cleansing, the symbolism of the water is the same whether the person is dipped in or the water is poured on. And NOTE that in the third and fourth rubrics on page 281, about emergency Baptism in case of extreme sickness the direction is to pour Water upon him, without mention of any other alternative. There are times when Immersion is impracticable if not impossible. NOTE further that the term pour is explicit in the rubrics, and by cupping the palm of his hand the Minister can, and as a rule does, pour on enough water for it to flow freely over the head of the person baptized.
The next to the last rubric on page 281 makes it unmistakably clear that under normal conditions the Minister of Baptism should be a regularly ordained clergyman, but in case of emergency should it not be possible to get a clergyman any baptized person present may administer the Sacrament, and validly, if water is used according to the prescribed form.
One more interesting rubric remains to be noticed. Near the top of page 280 is a rubric directing the Minister to make the sign of the cross on the forehead of the Child or Person received by Baptism “into the congregation of Christ’s flock.” The sign of the Cross in baptism is as perfect a suggestion of the life into which the baptized is born as the water itself is of the cleansed soul.* [*Parsons-Jones, The American Prayer Book, p. 301.] Prejudice against making the sign of the Cross at Baptism has disappeared in both England and America, and the prejudice against making it in private devotion is also disappearing. On the fly-leaf of an old and well-worn Prayer Book was recently found scribbled these words:
THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
Two fingers = Christ, both God and Man.
To the head = I believe in Him,
To the breast = I love Him.
From left to right shoulder = on my shoulders will I bear His Cross.
The Vows made at Baptism and renewed at Confirmation are not perfunctory things. They are solemn promises made before God and meant to be kept. The same is true of vows at Marriage and at Ordination.
One of our Missionary Bishops in a recent address to the Convocation in his District said: We are all denouncing certain present-day war lords as “men devoid of honor, who deliberately break their solemnly pledged word whenever it suits them to do so. How about ourselves? Go back to that pristine day when we willingly, nay eagerly, accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour; or when we were ordained or married. Consider how we have kept our pledged word of honor!” That is indeed severe; but it is something all of us, Priest and people alike, may well ponder.
II. THE OFFICES OF INSTRUCTION
The Prayer Book Catechism is a body of formal Instruction, thoroughly sound, compact yet comprehensive, and set forth with Authority by the Church, for the edification of her children. “Every Person” is called upon (required?) to “Learn” this Catechism “before he be brought to be Confirmed by the Bishop.” (Pr. Bk., p. 577, top lines.)
The Offices of Instruction, inserted new in 1928, are this same Catechism little changed except for the omission of the “Desire” and the addition of a few questions about the Historic Ministry of the Church, but cast into the form of a public service suitable for use by a general congregation particularly when the Minister gives instruction “in the matter contained in these Offices” as required in the rubrics on page 295, and the first of these rubrics makes such instruction mandatory, not optional.
For what seems to be the reason and purpose of this change, compare the rubrics at the end of the Offices of Instruction (page 295) with the rubrics at the end of the Catechism (page 582). In the rubrics following the Catechism the Minister is called upon “diligently” to instruct the “children” of his Parish, “sent unto him.” The same rubrics say that Fathers and Mothers “shall cause” their children “to come” (i.e. send them) for such instruction. In the rubrics following the Offices of Instruction (page 295) the Minister is called upon to instruct “the Youth” of his Parish, while Fathers, Mothers, Guardians aid Sponsors are bidden “to bring” (not send) “those for whose religious nurture they are responsible” to the Church at the time appointed “to receive instruction by the Minister,” and the third rubric mentions instruction “in the matter contained in these Offices.”
From the nature of these Offices of Instruction, and from the rubrics just referred to, the following points, though not specifically stated, seem to be implied:
(1) That these Offices of Instruction make of the Catechism a Series of Offices for Public use, designed not for children alone but for a general congregation, in which children, young people, parents and others, sit together for religious instruction given “by the Minister.”
(2) That these Offices show a tendency to return to the ancient practice of general instruction of the whole congregation, by the Minister himself, in the elemental principles of belief and practice embodied in the Church Catechism.
(3) That the Minister, by reason of his special training, is best fitted to give such instruction, and that the Church expects him to be “diligent” in so doing at fairly regular intervals.
(4) That the various Lesson Courses now in use in our Church Schools, however valuable they may be, are supplementary to, and not a substitute for, the Church Catechism.
(5) That the placing of the Offices of Instruction among the Occasional Offices, between the Services for Baptism and Confirmation where the Catechism formerly was, indicates a disposition on the part of the Revisers to displace the Catechism and use in its stead the Offices of Instruction in the Preparation of Candidates for Confirmation.
(6) That the retention by General Convention of the Catechism in its old form at the end of the Prayer Book, indicates a consciousness that “a form of sound words written indelibly on the mind, and waxing in meaning with ripening experience,” is of too great value to be lightly disposed of. There is a need for the new form adapted to congregational use; but there is also a need for the old form which the children of the Church can and should commit to memory.
III. THE ORDER OF CONFIRMATION OR LAYING ON OF HANDS UPON THOSE
THAT ARE BAPTIZED, AND COME TO YEARS OF DISCRETION.
Three passages in the New Testament (Acts 8:12–17; 19:1–6; Heb. 6:1–2) state with remarkable clearness and precision the place of Confirmation (“Laying on of Hands”) in Apostolic practice. It was administered as the natural sequence and completion of Baptism. The outward sign is the laying on of hands after prayer, and the grace is the gift of the Holy Ghost. At first it was administered only by Apostles (the first Bishops) and in Heb. 6:1–2 it is spoken of immediately after the mention of Baptism as one of “the principles of the doctrine of Christ.”
The New Testament name for this Rite (the laying on of hands) is obviously derived from the ceremony used in administering it. The converts in the early years of the Christian Church were adults who needed to be instructed in the Christian faith and in the principles of Christian living, even before they were baptized. Before baptism there was for them a period of probation and of intensive instruction; and when they were deemed ready and fit they were baptized and confirmed at the same time* if and when there was present a Bishop to confirm, after the example of the Apostles (Acts 19:1–6). There is also a New Testament precedent for having Confirmation at a subsequent date if no Bishop is present to administer Confirmation at baptism (Acts 8:12–17). [*Ladd, W. P., Prayer Book Interleaves, 75.]
As time went on and Infant Baptism became widespread, practically superseding Adult Baptism as the rule of the Church, it was felt that a Rite such as the Apostolic Laying on of Hands, which signified full fellowship with the Faithful, would be inappropriate unless and until those baptized in infancy had come to “years of discretion,” and then personally declared their allegiance to the Christian Faith and to the principles of the Christian Life.* In the course of time the Apostolic Rite of “Laying on of Hands” came to be called Confirmation; and, without losing the prominence of its true ancient idea as a strengthening by the gift of the Holy Ghost, was also used for the purpose of a solemn rededication of themselves on the part of those baptized, by confirming in their own persons the vows taken for them by their Sponsors. [*Parsons-Jones, The American Prayer Book, 242.]
The name “Confirmation,” now so familiar to us, appears first in the writings of St. Ambrose, – “Ye have received the spiritual seal . . . God the Father hath signed you, Christ our Lord hath confirmed you, and, as ye are taught by the Apostolic lection, hath given you the pledge of the Spirit in your hearts.” – (Ambros. de Myst. vii. 42, quoted by Blunt, p. 251.) Notice that St. Ambrose says “Christ our Lord hath confirmed you. . . and hath given you the pledge of the Spirit in your hearts.” Important as is the “ratifying and confirming” on our part of the promises and vows made for us by our Sponsors; much more important is the act of Christ our Lord in sending into our hearts the promised grace of the Spirit to “confirm us”* in our purpose and promise “to follow Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.” In both senses the name “Confirmation” for this ancient Apostolic Rite is singularly appropriate. [*Ibid., 245.]
Dr. Blunt makes this statement: “The outward sign of Confirmation is the same as that of Ordination, the laying on of hands by a Bishop; and this fact suggests that there is some analogy between the two rites. Confirmation is, indeed, a kind of lesser Ordination, by which the baptized person receives the gift of the Holy Ghost for the work of adult Christian life; and hence it is the means of grace by which that ‘priesthood of the laity’ is conferred, to which St. Peter refers when he writes, ‘Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.’” – (1 Pet. 2:9.)
IV. THE FORM of SOLEMNIZATION of MATRIMONY
Marriage as a social institution is as old as the human race. It was “instituted of God” in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 1:27–28; 2:18, 24) and obviously is not of Christian origin. It belongs to all mankind – to Jew, Gentile and Christian alike. The essence of marriage is the mutual agreement between a man and a woman for a lifelong union, voluntarily assumed and publicly acknowledged. The Church provides a fitting occasion and a beautiful ceremony for its announcement and public ratification, doing all in its power to safeguard the union and to make of it what a marriage ought to be. The mutual contract between bride and groom can be acknowledged and publicly ratified before a Justice of the Peace or other officer of the State; but such marriage, though legal, lacks a very definite something which a religious service gives it, something which starts the newly married couple out into life with the blessing of the Church on their marriage.
The genius of the compilers of our Prayer Book is nowhere better shown than in the series of Exhortations running all through the Prayer Book “Offices” to provide instruction for the people in the meaning of the Services in which they are to join. The first thing in the Marriage Service is one of those Exhortations. It declares that marriage is “an honourable estate (see Heb. 13:4) instituted of God” (Gen. 1:27; 2:18, 23, 24). Following this very emphatic declaration of the sacredness of marriage as belonging to unfallen humanity by Divine Institution, comes an equally impressive reminder that it was honored of Christ by His presence and first miracle at Cana of Galilee (St. John 2:1–11), and is commended on Apostolic authority as being honourable among all men (Heb. 13:4). These simple but strong statements present the true position of Marriage among men as first created by God and as later redeemed by Christ, and refutes any argument that marriage is unbecoming in any class of people, or that it is a condescension to weakness. The Exhortation then goes on to declare that it must be undertaken “reverently, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God.”
The Exhortation is addressed to the assembled congregation. Immediately following that is a Charge addressed directly to the couple being married, and is a solemn appeal to them to confess any known impediments that would make their marriage unlawful, e. g. kinship nearer than the law permits; being under legal age, or lack of required parental consent. In England these “impediments” are more or less clearly defined. This shows how great care has always been taken by the Church to prevent making improper marriages.
The Betrothal or “Mutual Consent” consists of questions to both bride and groom and may seem like a needless formality, but the Church has always been strict about it. In civil contracts the State is equally strict, for when a woman signs a deed she must be examined separate and apart from her husband to ascertain if she signed of her own free will and accord, and that fact must be certified in the deed. Forced marriages in the feudal age were not uncommon, and even in modern times may occur, for personal, political or economic purposes. For this reason the Church inquires of both the bride and the groom if they desire of their own free will and accord to enter into this marriage; and the question is so worded that it is in effect a declaration of willingness and purpose to fulfill the duties cited in the Vows they will later be called upon to make. They are thus fully informed in advance of the nature of the Vows they are to make, and no advantage is taken of them in any way.
The question “Who giveth this Woman to be married to this Man” harks back to a day when women were regarded as dependents under parents, or some sort of guardianship, who were responsible for their support, and to whom they owed obedient service. When the father or friend gave the woman away he transferred his responsibility to the groom, her new protector and defender, on whom she must now lean, and whom she promised to serve and obey. In other words the bride was transferred from one state of dependence to another. In the latest revisions, American, English and Scotch, the “obey and serve” clause has ‘been omitted. As the Service now stands the man’s part and the woman’s part are practically the same, the “giving away” being a transfer from the loving care of the father or friend to that of the groom, not to a state of subservience and obedience; and the promises are of mutual love and companionship.
The Marriage Vows, which in the Betrothal they said they were willing to make, they now do make with their own lips, each to the other, repeating same after the Minister as he lines it out to them. Each promises to be a stay to the other, according to their respective positions and capacities, on their way through life; and it is emphatically declared that this pledge is to be kept through all the changes and trials of life, till the union shall be severed by death.
Three things about these Vows seem deserving of special notice:
(1) These Vows are spoken of in both the rubric and the text as giving or plighting their troth. This word troth is often explained as being equivalent to truth, but truth substituted for troth in either text or rubric does not make sense. The dictionary defines troth as meaning “good faith, fidelity,” and only secondarily as “truth,” while the word plight is defined as meaning “to promise formally and earnestly, as one’s word.” When each says to the other “and thereto I plight thee my troth” it is equivalent to saying “and to this solemn promise I pledge my unfaltering fidelity.”
(2) These solemn promises of undivided allegiance each to the other, whatever may be the vicissitudes of life, are not for a day, or a season, or while fancy pleases, but “till death us do part.” “Those whom God ‘hath joined together let no man put asunder.”
(3) “The joining of hands,” says Bishop Barry, “is from time immemorial the pledge of covenant, and is here an essential part of the marriage ceremony.” Sometimes people ask the clergyman “Why make the couple join hands, then loose hands, then immediately join hands again?” That is a natural question for people not familiar with the genius of the Prayer Book; but the Prayer Book does not here use the expression “joining of hands.” The Prayer Book says it differently, and the way it says it is in itself significant. The last rubric on page 301 directs that the Minister “shall cause the Man with his right hand to take the Woman by her right hand, and to say,” etc. The point is that instead of a formal and perfunctory “joining of hands,” the Man prompted by the Minister “takes” the hand of the Woman in his hand, and of his own free will “plights his troth” to her. Then he releases her hand, leaving her free to respond as she pleases – free, even to refuse to go through with the marriage if she feels so moved. If she wishes to “plight her troth” to him she must now do her part and, “taking the Man by his right hand” (rubric, top of page 302), make to him the same promises he has just made to her and pledge to him the same unfaltering fidelity. Emphasis is thus put on the free and voluntary action of each individually, as well as on the solemn nature of the promises they make, each to the other.
The significance of the Wedding Ring has been variously interpreted, the most familiar interpretation being that, as it has no beginning and no end, it is an emblem of eternity, constancy and integrity – a very appropriate interpretation. In point of fact it is a daily reminder of those solemn Vows in which he who gave the ring, and she who received it, pledged their unfaltering fidelity each to the other. Notice in the Collect following The Lord’s Prayer the statement that “this Ring given and received is a token and pledge” of the “vow and covenant betwixt them made.” That is the Church’s way of making its own explanation of the significance of the ring.
The familiar Sentence, “Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder,” at the bottom of page 303, is in the words of our Lord Himself, and is quoted from St. Matt. 19:6 (read verses 3 to 9). The two optional prayers on page 303 deserve special attention. One prays for “the gift and heritage of children,” and that they may be “brought up in thy faith and fear, to the honour and glory of ‘thy Name.” The other prayer is for the home, “that their home may be a haven of blessing and of peace.” Any couple who live in accord with the ideals and principles of this prayer will have a home that is a “haven of blessing and of peace.”
In the final Declaration (top of page 304) the Minister names the important elements of Marriage (note what they are) and declares that inasmuch as these things have been done by the couple present he pronounces them Man and Wife in the Name of the Blessed Trinity.
The Blessing, of particular beauty and solemnity, not only invokes God’s favour to “bless, preserve, and keep” them in this world, but looks beyond to “the world to come,” which depends so largely on the course of our life in this world; and prays for them such fullness of “spiritual benediction and grace” that they may “so live together in this life” that in the world to come they may have “life everlasting.” That is an exalted note on which to end the Service, and no person with a soul attuned to spiritual things can hear it and easily forget it.
V. THE THANKSGIVING AFTER CHILDBIRTH
This Service is a primitive one, and was used early in the Christian Church. It was derived from the Jewish rite of Purification, and associated with the Purification of the Virgin Mary. (See Leviticus 12:1–8 and St. Luke 2:22–24.) It is still in general use in England, but is seldom used in our American Episcopal Church. The American revision of 1928 removed it from its odd position between “The Burial of the Dead” and “Prayers to be Said at Sea,” and put it in its logical place after the Marriage Service.
VI. THE VISITATION OF THE SICK
Our Lord explicitly bestowed the gift of healing upon the Apostles (St. Matt. 10:1, 8; St. Luke 9:1, 2) and the duty of visiting the sick is specially enjoined on other Ministers in the New Testament (St. James 5:14–15). The Early Church, says a modern authority, regarded it as a normal function of the ministry;* not as displacing the physician but as a co-worker with him. (See Colossians 4:14.) The visitation of the sick is not therefore, for the minister of Christ, a mere piece of civility or neighborly kindness, but an act of religion. He comes in the name of Christ to pray with and for the sick person; if necessary, to reconcile him to the Church by the blessing of absolution, and to communicate to him the Sacrament of our Lord’s body and blood.** At our 1928 General Convention this Office was thoroughly and completely revised, making it in effect practically a new Office. It added among other things a brief form of UNCTION OF THE SICK. The anointing of the sick was practiced in the early Church and on down through the Middle Ages. It was omitted from the English Prayer Book of 1552, for reasons which the Revisers of that day thought good. A rubric in our present Prayer Book (p. 320) authorizes the ministry of healing through either Anointing or Laying on of Hands, when in humble faith such ministry is desired. [*Parsons-Jones, The American Prayer Book, 259. ** Blunt, The Annotated Book of Common Prayer, 275, 276.]
The special attention of both Priest and People is called to the three longer rubrics on page 313 of the Prayer Book. A report on the Ministry of Healing at the Lambeth Conference of 1930, shows that the whole trend of modern psychology is to recognize the fundamental place of spiritual wholeness in bodily healing.* The best of the modern healing cults insist that hate in the heart and sin in the life are obstacles that stand in the way of letting God enter and do His perfect work in the healing of the body. [*Parsons-Jones, The American Prayer Book, 259.]
Too much emphasis cannot be put on the importance of Clergymen knowing how to minister to the Sick, as-well as on faithfulness in that phase of the minister’s work. If not trained for this work at the Seminary, a clergyman owes it to himself and to his people to get that training elsewhere, and at the very outset of his Ministry, or he will live to regret it. The attention of both Priest and People is called to the last rubric on page 320.
VII. THE COMMUNION OF THE SICK
In case of sickness, particularly of serious illness, one of two things is sure to happen: the sick person dies, or he continues to live; and in either case the Holy Communion should be to him comforting and calming as well as strengthening and refreshing. In point of fact, as the first rubric in this Office reminds us, “all mortal men are subject to many sudden perils, diseases and sicknesses, and ever uncertain what time they shall depart out of this life; and should be always in readiness to die, whenever it shall please Almighty God to call them.” All Ministers are therefore called upon “diligently from time to time . . . to exhort their parishioners to the often receiving of the Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ, when it shall be publicly administered in the Church; that so doing they may, in case of sudden visitation, have the less cause to be disquieted for lack of the same.”
Our Blessed Lord said: “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. . . He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him” (St. John 6:54, 56). According to this Scripture, the Christian, sick or well, who makes his Communion, after sincere preparation in accordance with the requirements given in the last Question and Answer of the Catechism, is prepared either to live right or to die right, and in either case should be filled with peace, courage and hope.
For the benefit of sick persons who are not able to come to the Church, yet desirous to receive the Communion, this special Office is provided, by which a celebration of the Holy Communion may be in his house. The service there may be the same as in the church; or a special Collect, Epistle and Gospel as provided in this Office, may be substituted for the collect, Epistle and Gospel for the Day; or, if necessity requires, the Service may be further shortened as directed in the rubrics on page 323. The rubrics on pages 321 and 322–23 indicate that others are expected to communicate with the sick person, and the sick person is called upon to inform the Minister how many. This provides a “congregation” and preserves the true character of the “Communion,” safe-guarding against the possibility of having the private celebration of same wrongly interpreted as a superstitious or magical thing.
VIII. THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD
Four things need to be said about this Service:
(1) The burial of a devout Christian should be from the church, unless there is some very real and weighty reason for doing otherwise. The journey to man’s long home should start from his Father’s House – the House of God.
(2) The Service should when possible be in charge of the Rector or of some other Minister. Fraternal Orders may, and often do, have part of their ritual at the grave by arrangement with the Minister. Under no circumstances should any Fraternal Order have sole charge of the Service, with the Minister given a part by their courtesy: for the reason that no other organization stands on a level with the Church of Christ; and for the further important reason that in some cases the Fraternal Order service is not a Christian burial.
(3) There are two Burial Services in the Prayer Book; one for people of riper years, mature in Christian Faith and Christian character, and another Service for the burial of children.
(4) The old rubric which forbade the use of this Office for those who die excommunicate, or who have laid violent hands upon themselves, was omitted at the last revision, but a rubric on page 337 says: “It is to be noted that this Office is appropriate to be used only for the faithful departed in Christ, provided that in any other case the Minister may, at his discretion, use such part of this Office, or such devotions taken from other parts of this Book, as may be fitting.” This permits the Minister to officiate at any burial, and to improvise a special Prayer Book service in cases where the regular service, suitable for the burial of the faithful, is not appropriate.
The Prayer Book Psalter is the Bible “Book of Psalms” so arranged that by reading an appointed few at Daily Morning and Evening Prayer all of the Psalms are read once each month where ever Morning and Evening Prayer are said daily, and the Psalms are read as arranged in the Prayer Book for each day of the month.
The Book of Psalms was the Hymn Book of the Jewish Church – the lyric poetry of the Old Testament, and the Psalms have proved to be the most enduring part of the Old Testament as an expression of thought and emotion in all ages. They deal with that relation of the soul to God, which is always the same in essence, though for us they are exalted, by our higher consciousness of God, through the light and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Psalms were sung in the worship of the Tabernacle and of the Temple (see 2 Chron. 5:13; 7:3). It was by such use that the Psalms became so familiar in the Jewish Church, and afterwards in the Christian Church. Of all the quotations from the Old Testament found in the New Testament, approximately two-fifths are taken from the Psalms.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 328c.]
The original Hebrew title of the Book of Psalms signified “the Praises” or “Song of Praise.” The name “Psalms” originated in the Greek Septuagint Version and passed from it into all modern European languages.* It describes simply their poetical form and musical setting as “songs accompanied by musical instruments.” (See Bible title to Ps. 4, 5 and 6; cf. Eph. 5:19.) [*Ibid., 328d.]
In the Jewish Church the Psalms had a great influence on the spiritual education of individuals, and also on the religious faith and character of the nation. In form they are the outpouring of private devotion, in which the soul is alone face to face with God;* but in their relation to worship they express and tend to preserve the spirituality of devotion. Everywhere in the Psalms is the recognition of the presence of God in the soul and of the devotion of the soul to Him. In such consciousness of the Presence of God to the soul (as in Ps. 139) and in the “thirst for God” (as in Psalms 42 and 63) is expressed the vital principle of true spiritual religion.** [*Ibid., 328n. ** Ibid., 328o.]
It was but natural, therefore, that from Jewish usage in the Temple and in the Synagogues, with which our Lord and His Apostles were familiar, the Psalms should pass into the public and private devotions of the Church of Christ. In the very first account given us of an assembly of the disciples we find a quotation from Psalm 69:25 rises at once to the lips of St. Peter (Acts 1:20) in his address to the brethren, and in St. James 5:13 we read, “Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” An even more significant reference is found in 1 Cor. 14:26 where St. Paul says: “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm,” etc. So the Psalms entered naturally and spontaneously into the worship of the Christian Church, until at length the whole body of the Psalms was incorporated in our forms of worship, and may be said to have moulded the whole of the element of Praise and Thanksgiving in the Services of the Church.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 328p.]
The “Imprecatory Psalms” (see especially Ps. 35:4–8; 69:22–28; 109:6–20) crying out for vengeance on the enemies of the Psalmist, as enemies of goodness and of God, are in the spirit of their day not the spirit of Christ.* But in spite of their fierceness they have a message for us. As Bishop Barry so well says: “These Psalms have their lesson for us still, warning us against weak condonation of evil and lukewarmness in the battle against it. It is eternally right to hate sin, to recognize the unceasing need of struggle against it and those who sustain it, to long for and trust in a Divine retribution, to rejoice in believing that the enemies of God must fall. But our Lord has taught us, while we hate the sin, to love and pity the sinner . . . and to beware of thinking that the enemies of God’s servants are necessarily enemies of God Himself.** [*Ibid., 328r. ** Ibid., 328s.]
Attention has already (Part I) been called to the fact that the Psalter in the Prayer Book is taken from the “Great Bible” of 1540, rather than from the Authorized (King James) Bible Version of 1611, and for the simple reason that the older Version had become by familiarity so endeared to the people that it was felt undesirable to change it; and for the further reason that it lends itself with special appropriateness and beauty to Liturgical use,* and is by reason of its poetic rhythm more easily set to music (they were sung, not said). Furthermore the Psalms are devotional, not doctrinal, and there is therefore no great reason for insisting on exact literal translation. [*Ibid., 328y.]
It is an amazing thing that the Jewish Hymns (the Psalms) with which the Apostles were familiar, and which they brought over into the Christian Church with them, have continued through two thousand years to be an important part of Christian worship. The Church has written Christian Hymns and given them an authoritative place in her system of worship, but they are supplementary to, not a substitute for, the Psalter. It would seem that the Psalms can never be displaced, and for the simple reason that they are matchless religious literature. They voice the outpouring of the soul to God as no other literature has ever done, and they endure because they are worthy to endure. As an expression of calm love and trust we say now as feelingly as David did three thousand years ago, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Ps. 23); or, when conscience stricken we cry “Have mercy upon me O God, after thy great goodness” (Ps. 51); and as an expression of exuberant praise, what can surpass this: “O clap your hands together, all ye peoples: O sing unto God with the voice of melody” (Ps. 47). Yes, the Psalms live on because they deserve to live; because they voice in a matchless way the outpouring of the soul to God in all its moods and under every conceivable condition of life. With the Gloria Patri added to each Psalm making it a Christian Hymn, the Psalms are a Treasury of Devotion as precious to Christians as they were to the Israelites of old.
“Forms of Prayer to be used in Families,” ‘printed near the end of the Prayer Book (p. 587) where they are easy to find, are so deeply devotional it seems fitting that they be noticed here rather than at the end of the book.
What a difference there would be in our home life, and our life as a whole, if all hearts were filled with the spirit and purpose of these beautiful prayers, and their language graven by daily use on the minds of both children and parents! No man or woman fortunate enough to be brought up in a home where these prayers had their place day by day can ever forget them, nor can he cease to be thankful that his early years were spent where such an influence prevailed. For all of us there is a very real message in the following poem:
You say you are busy this morning,
In the bustle of family cares;
The husband must rush to the office,
And there isn’t a moment for prayers.
The children are sent to the schoolroom,
And the grind of the day thus begins.
No word from God’s book to remember,
Nor the echo of strengthening hymns.
What wonder the burdens are heavy,
And the hours seem ever so long;
What wonder that rash words are spoken,
And that life seems discordant and wrong.
Then pause for a little each morning,
And again at the close of the day,
To talk to the Master who loves you—
Remember, he taught you to pray.
—Christian Workers’ Magazine.
PART FIVE: THE ORDINAL AND WHAT COMES AFTER IT
I. WHAT COMES AFTER THE ORDINAL
The Ordinal (Pr. Bk., p. 527 f.) with its witness to a Historic Ministry in the Historic Church, is of such paramount importance that this book would seem to come to an anti-climax if it commented first on the Ordinal and then on what comes between the Ordinal and the end of the Prayer Book. Let us then glance first at the several parts which follow the Ordinal, leaving the Ordinal itself for later consideration.
1. The Form of Consecration of a Church or Chapel.
This brief Form explains itself. Little comment is needed unless it be to focus attention upon the Exhortation (Pr. Bk., p. 564), read by the Bishop, in which is declared the “godly purpose of setting apart this place in solemn manner, for the several Offices of religious worship;” also that it is “for the public worship of God, and separated from all unhallowed, worldly, and common uses, in order to fill men’s minds with greater reverence for his glorious Majesty.” This idea is repeated in even fuller form in the prayer that immediately follows the Exhortation.
A dedicated church is more than an auditorium. It is more than a social or fraternal hall. In the words of Jacob at Bethel, we may say of it “this is none other than the house of God”!* [*Genesis 28:17, American Standard Version.]
2. An Office of Institution of Ministers into Parishes or Churches.
This Office is remarkable, for at least five things. (1) Its emphatic assertion of Episcopal authority.* (2) The stress on sacerdotal Functions of the Ministry.* (3) The Minister being Instituted is called both Priest and Presbyter.* The terms Priest and Presbyter are often used interchangeably in the Constitution and Canons of the Church, but in the Prayer Book the title “Priest” is used almost exclusively for the Second Order of the Ministry. (4) The specific mention of “the Ministers of Apostolic Succession” in an universal Apostolic Church,* and (5) the clear implication that the Minister for whose Institution this office was intended to be used is such Minister of Apostolic Succession in an Apostolic Church.* [*cumulative: Prayer Book, 569: Form of Letter of Institution. Prayer Book, 572, Second Collect; and 574, Prayer.]
3. A Catechism. (See page 575.)
4. Family Prayer. (See page 585.)
5. Articles of Religion. (See page 601.)
These Articles, generally called The Thirty-Nine Articles, were adopted by the Convention of our Church in 1801, as is shown by the Title page (601). They are almost identical with the Articles of Religion of the Church of England, and have an interesting history.
The Articles of Religion of the Church of England form one of many declarations on faith and discipline, which were put forward in the 16th century by such religious bodies as had thrown off allegiance to Rome. At such a time it became necessary for the various Reformed bodies not only to say what they repudiated, but also to declare positively what they held in faith, and what ecclesiastical constitution they recognized. Not only did every Reformed body put out its own Confession, but even those which retained their position, as was done by the promulgation of the decrees of the (Roman) Council of Trent.
The Church of England also felt this necessity, for at the very moment of the repudiation of the Papal Supremacy, it was expressly declared upon her behalf (in 1533) that there was no intention “to decline or vary from the congregation of Christ’s Church in things concerning the very Articles of the Catholic faith, or in any other things declared by Holy Scripture and the Word of God necessary to Salvation.” This sound declaration, which was remarkably exemplified in the composition of the Prayer Book, also guided the Church of England in ‘the formation of the English Articles of Religion. With only a few alterations, the chief of w’hich was the omission of the Athanasian Creed, the English Articles were adopted by our General Convention of 1801, and thus became the established Articles of Religion for our Protestant Episcopal Church.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 554a, 554b, 554q.]
Although these Articles of Religion were drawn up for the immediate needs of the 16th century, and probably under the expectation of future Revision, they have remained substantially unchanged as a standard of doctrine down to the present time, and have shown themselves to be extraordinarily fit to serve the purpose for which they were designed. They refrain from pronouncing on points, on which it is impossible or unnecessary to pronounce. They avoid as far as possible technical theological systems, and go back to the simple language of Holy Scripture. It would be unreasonable to suppose that they could not be amended, in the light of the experience and advance of knowledge gained in the last three hundred years. But substantially they embody the two fundamental principles of Christian faith and Ecclesiastical constitution, which still meet our needs.* [*Ibid., 555.]
II. THE ORDINAL
It has been said that the character of a given Christian Communion, its effectiveness in the world, and its relation to other bodies of Christians, have been largely determined by the kind of meaning which it has given to its official ministry.* That statement gives a good idea of the importance of the Ordinal in our Book of Common Prayer, (pages 527–562). [*Parsons-Jones, The American Prayer Book, 283.]
The Ordinal includes three separate and distinct Forms of Ordination Services, one for each of the three Orders of the Historic Ministry. These different ranks of ministers meet the varying needs of the work of the Church so effectively that some of the denominations have a gradation of official responsibility that roughly corresponds to them. The Form for the Ordering of Deacons seems to follow the pattern of the first Seven Deacons ordained by the Apostles;* and, like those first Deacons, they are to serve “in this inferior Office, that they may be found worthy to be called unto the higher Ministries in thy Church.”* The Form for the Ordering of Priests is more nearly akin to the ordaining of Elders (Greek, Presbyters) by the Apostles;* and it is distinctly implied in the Service that the Office to which Priests are ordained is one of the same divinely appointed orders of ministers to which the Apostles ordained Elders (Presbyters).* A modern commentary on the Prayer Book says that the long Exhortation which the Bishop is called upon to read to those who are to be ordained Priests* dates back to Archbishop Cranmer; that it was the expression of Cranmer’s highest ideals for the personal and pastoral side of the priest’s office such as has never been equaled; and that it has led the souls of generations of clergy to more absolute devotion to the obligations of their high calling.* [*cumulative: Prayer Book, 531 and 532. Collect and the Alternate Epistle from Acts 6:2f. Prayer Book, 535. Prayer Before and Rubric After the Benediction. Acts of the Apostles 14:23. Prayer Book, 537, Collect; and 539, Exhortation to Ordinands. Ibid., 539. Parsons-Jones, The American Prayer Book, 279.]
The Form for the consecration of Bishops clearly implies that when a Priest is thus elevated to the Episcopate he is placed in a position of responsible leadership, supervision and direction, much like that to which St. Paul ordained Timothy.* Emphasis from the start is put upon being a good shepherd to the flock of Christ, and that emphasis reaches its climax in the short exhortation read by the Presiding Bishop, when he says: “Be to the flock of Christ a shepherd, not a wolf; feed them, devour them not.”** No one who has heard those words spoken in the booming but soulful voice of that great Presiding Bishop, Daniel Sylvester Tuttle, can easily forget them. [*1 Tim. 5:1–22, and 2 Tim. 1:6. **Prayer Book, 558.]
An outstanding characteristic of all three Ordination Services is their emphasis upon the Holy Scriptures. Bishops, Priests and Deacons are all asked if they believe that “the Holy Scriptures contain all Doctrine required as necessary for eternal salvation”; and both Priests and Bishops pledge themselves to teach nothing, as necessary to salvation, but that which they shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the Holy Scripture.
The Preface to the Ordinal is remarkable for its brevity, for its simplicity, and for its far-reaching significance. It presents a few facts gleaned from “Holy Scripture and ancient Authors,” then leaves the facts to speak for themselves. Apostolic Succession is not mentioned, nor is it mentioned in the Ordinal; though in its broader and truer sense it is clearly implied. As one writer puts it, “the Ordinal is definite in its expression of faith that the historic ministry is historic; it is quite as definite in its expression of its purpose to continue that Ministry.”* [*Parsons-Jones, The American Prayer Book, 286.]
In the Office of Institution is this prayer:* “O Holy Jesus, who hast purchased to thyself an universal Church, and has promised to be with the Ministers of Apostolic Succession to the end of the world;** Be graciously pleased to bless the ministry and service of him who is now appointed to offer the sacrifices of prayer and praise to thee in this house, which is called by thy Name . . .” In this prayer the Prayer Book makes it specifically clear that it regards Christ’s Church as “an universal Church”; that when properly ordained its ministers are “Ministers of Apostolic Succession”; and that our Lord intended such Ministry to continue “to the end of ‘the world.” The Ordinal has to do with this continuing ministry. [*Prayer Book, 572. ** St. Matthew 28:19–20.]
Many of our clergy use the term “Apostolic Succession,” and in its true sense, while others prefer to use the term “Historic Episcopate.” In the broader sense of Apostolic Succession the Historic Episcopate is of Apostolic Succession.
It seems fitting to bring this comment on the Ordinal to a close with a few brief paragraphs from learned men both within our Church and outside of it. The first is from the pen of our well-known Bishop Frank E. Wilson, quoted by permission of the Morehouse-Gorham Company. (Italics are the Bishop’s):
“Our Lord did not write a Book; neither did He erect an organization. The one thing He did was to issue a Divine Commission to certain selected persons, which Commission they were to perpetuate. Apostolic Succession, therefore, is not a mere convenient policy; it is the express gift of Christ, placed in trust with His immediate followers.”* [*Wilson, F. E. The Divine Commission, 11.]
Here are a few lines written by Dr. W. P. Ladd, late Dean of the Berkeley Divinity School, quoted from Prayer Book Interleaves by permission of the Oxford University Press.
“Why Bishops? This question is often asked of Episcopalians, and every well-informed member of the Episcopal Church ought to be able to say not only why his Church has bishops, but why bishops are so important that they give their name to the Church – for an Episcopal Church means a Church with an episcopate, i.e. a Church which is organized under bishops. A short and practical answer might be this – we have bishops because everywhere and always anything to be well done has to be done by an organized group under the right leadership. Individualism does not work in the sphere of religion or anywhere else in life. No man liveth to himself. Man is a social being. Organization means cooperation, fellowship, brotherhood, love. Church organization is thus not a mere human device; it is a divine thing.
“We come now to the question of leadership. And first we must recognize that leadership as well as organization is a divine and necessary thing. Every social group must have leadership, and on the quality of that leadership its effectiveness and its very life depend. This is a principle which we all recognize in politics, in education, in business. More and more in these days the tendency grows to put responsibility on leaders, be they presidents, premiers, or highly paid business executives.
“And Christianity is a religion of leadership. The great leader is Jesus Christ. He trained the apostles to be leaders, and sent them forth to preach the gospel. Just how this leadership passed from the apostles to the bishops is, as a matter of historical knowledge, not altogether clear, but in the beginning of the II century we find Ignatius the martyr Bishop of Antioch, using such phrases as this: ‘Do nothing apart from the bishop.’ And a century and a half later Cyprian of Carthage, another martyr bishop, writes: ‘If anyone is not with the bishop he is not in the Church.’ These quotations are typical of the early Church, and from that time to the Reformation in all branches of the Church, European, Asian, and African, leadership was recognized as belonging to the bishops, the successors of the apostles. Thus Episcopalians feel that the historic episcopate unites them to Christ, to the New Testament Church, and to the Church of all ages and lands.”* [*Ladd, W. P., Prayer Book Interleaves, 167, 169, 170.]
Another important witness is Dr. Charles Clayton Morrison, the well known editor of The Christian Century. Dr. Morrison is not a member of the Episcopal Church, but a minister in “the Disciples denomination,”* and that makes the following excerpts from his writings quoted by his permission all the more significant: – “I like to think that the genius of Anglicanism is more clearly disclosed in the Episcopal Church in America. Here it is unseduced and untrammeled by any connection with the state, and its exemplifies in a high degree the true nature of catholicity.”** [*Morrison, C. C., What is Christianity?, 264. ** Ibid., 254 and note on 255.]
“Anglicanism comes by the historic episcopate through no deliberate choice of its own, but by historical continuity. The English church broke away from Rome in the sixteenth century, but it conserved unbroken (as it believes, and as is now generally agreed) the succession of its ministry in the historic episcopate as far back as history allows it to be traced. . . The Anglican communion cannot compromise with any order of ministry which lies outside of it. Within this succession, the ministry is lifted to a dignity which the ministry itself will not voluntarily relinquish. The conviction is deeply rooted that the Anglican communion has been entrusted by historical circumstances with an institution which belongs to the catholicity of the church, and that it must guard this treasure until the rest of the church is willing to receive it.”* [*Ibid., 294, 295.]
“The acceptance of the historic episcopate by Protestant churches,” Dr. Morrison goes on to say, “would involve a much less radical departure from their present practice than is generally assumed, and would require the surrender of no vital principle. It would have the effect of unifying the sectarian successions which now exist in Protestantism by their inclusion in a succession which goes back, if not to the apostles, at least as far back as historical knowledge can trace the development of church organization. . . I see no other way to recover the church’s lost catholicity at this point than by the acceptance of the historic episcopate which the Anglican communion offers.”* [*Morrison, C. C., What is Christianity?, 298, 299.]
No bishop could speak more eloquently of our Ordinal and the Ministry for which it stands.
In a booklet entitled Other Things A Churchman Ought to Know, by the late Rev. Geo. W. Dame, Jr., S.T.D. a Virginian and a Virginia Churchman, is the following question and answer:
“What do you mean by the Historic Episcopate?"
“There are Churches, of which the Episcopal Church is one, which trace their descent from Apostolic times in an unbroken succession down to the present day through an Order called the Episcopate. It is not sufficient for a modern Church to be ruled by Bishops to entitle it to this honor. These Bishops must be able to trace their official descent back to the Apostles.”
After giving the line of succession in the Church of England to Archbishop Moore, A.D. 1783; also the line of succession in the Church of Scotland to Archbishop Kilgour, A.D. 1782, Dr. Dame continues as follows:
“Archbishop Kilgour with Bishops Petrie and Skinner, on November 14, 1784, consecrated Samuel Seabury, Bishop of Connecticut, first Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
“Archbishop Moore, of Canterbury, with Archbishop Markham, of York, and Bishops Moss and Hinchcliffe on February 4, 1787, consecrated William White, Second Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
“Through Bishops Seabury and White the Apostolic Succession is given to every Bishop in the Protestant Episcopal Church.”* [*Dame, Geo. W. Jr., Other Things A Churchman Ought to Know, 26–30.]
I. The Succession of Bishops
For the benefit of those who may wish to see a list of the succession of bishops, as such list has at times been published, there are reproduced below a few pages from a tract on The Apostolic Ministry, published some years ago by The Protestant Episcopal Tract Society, New York. This tract gives what it says is the succession of Bishops from the Apostle St. John, through the Gallic Church and the Church of England, to Bishop William White of Philadelphia (consecrated Feb. 4, 1787), the second in line of our American Bishops, and head of the line in the Canterbury succession. Bishop Samuel Seabury, of Connecticut, first Bishop of the American Church, was consecrated at Aberdeen, Scotland, on the 14th of November, 1784.
With this introductory statement the last three pages of the tract are here given, quoted verbatim.
Tract No. 174 (Part only)
THE APOSTOLIC MINISTRY
“One of the Apostolical canons enjoins that two or three Bishops at least shall unite in every consecration. The succession therefore does not depend upon a line of single Bishops in one Diocese running back to the Apostles – because every Bishop has had at least three to ordain him, either one of whom had power to perpetuate the succession. . . The securities therefore, are incalculably strong – and the claim of any duly consecrated Bishop to the Apostolic succession, is more certain than that of any monarch upon earth to his hereditary crown. Lists of the Apostolical succession, in descent from the different Apostles, have been carefully preserved by Eusebius and other early writers – and they have been continued in different lines down to the present day. Any reader who desires to consult them is referred to Percival on Apostolical succession, and Chapin’s Primitive Church. Rome may trace its line to St. Peter – the Greeks to St. Paul – the Syrians and Nestorians to St. Thomas, and the American Episcopal Church to ST. JOHN.
“Bishop White, the head of the American line of Bishops, was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. We will therefore present a list beginning with St. John, and coming through the Episcopate of Lyons, in France or Gaul, and that of Canterbury in England, till it connects with ours in the United States of America.
I. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna.
BISHOPS OF LYONS.
19. Eucherius, 1.
25. Eucherius, 2.
31. AEtherius. A.D. 589.
32. A.D. 596. AUGUSTINE, missionary to the Anglo-Saxons, was consecrated by Virgilius, 24th Bishop of Arles, assisted by AEtherius, 31st Bishop of Lyons.
33d from St. John.
34. Lawrence, A. D. 605
35. Mellitus, 619
36. Justus, 624
37. Honorius, 634
38. Adeodatus, 654
39. Theodore, 668
40. Brithwald, 693
41. Tatwine, 731
42. Nothelm, 735
43. Cuthbert, 742
44. Bregwin, 759
45. Lambert, 763
46. AEthoelred, 1, 793
47. Wulfred, 803
48. Theogild or Feogild, 830; consecrated June 5th, and died September 3d.
49. Ceolnoth, Sept. 830
50. AEthelred, 2d, 871
51. Phlegmund, 891
52. Athelm, or Adelm, 923
53. Wulfelm, 928
54. Odo Severus, 941
55. Dunstan, 959
56. AEthelgar, 988
57. Siricus, 989
58. Aluricus, or Alfricus, 996
59. Elphege, 1005
60. Living, or Leoning, or Elkskan, A. D. 1013
61. Algelnoth, or AEthelnot, 1020
62. Edsin, or Elsin, 1038
63. Robert Gemeticensis, 1050
64. Stigand, 1052
65. Lanfranc, 1070
66. Anselm, 1093
67. Rodulph, 1114
68. William Corbell, 1122
69. Theobold, 1138
70. Thomas á Becket, 1162
71. Richard, 1174
72. Baldwin Fordensis, 1184
73. Reginald Fitz-Joceline, 1191
74. Hubert Walten, 1193
75. Stephen Langton, 1207
76. Richard Wethersfield, 1229
77. Edmund, 1234
78. Boniface, 1245
79. Robert Kilwarby, 1272
80. John Peckham, 1278
81. Robert Winchelsea 1294
82. Walter Reynold, 1313
83. Simon Mepham, 1328
84. John Stratford, 1333
85. Thomas Bradwardine, 1348
86. Simon Islip, 1349
87. Simon Langham, 1366
88. Wm. Whittlesey, 1368
89. Simon Sudbury, 1375
90. William Courtnay, 1381
91. Thomas Arundel, 1396
92. Henry Chichely, A. D. 1414
93. John Stafford, 1443
94. John Kemp, 1452
95. Thomas Bourcher, 1454
96. John Morton, 1486
97. Henry Dean, 1501
98. William Wareham, 1503
99. THOMAS CRANMER, 1533
100. Reginald Pole, 1555
101. Matthew Parker, 1559
102. Edmund Grindall, 1573
103. John Whitgift, 1583
104. Richard Bancroft, 1604
105. George Abbott, 1611
106. William Laud, 1633
107. William Juxon, 1660
108. Gilbert Sheldon, 1663
109. William Sancroft, 1677
110. John Tillotson, 1690
111. Thomas Tennison, 1694
112. William Wake, 1715
113. John Potter, 1737
114. Thomas Secker, 1738
115. Thomas Herring, 1747
116. Matthew Hutton, 1757
117. Frederick Cornwallis, 1768
118. John Moore, A.D. 1783
119. From St. John, is WILLIAM WHITE, of Pennsylvania, consecrated February 4th, 1787, by John Moore, Archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and the Bishop of Peterborough.
“The compilers of the lists from which the above was taken, have consulted the best authorities, and no more doubt of its authenticity can be entertained, than of any chronological table of historical events, or list of the sovereigns of any country, drawn from its official registers and archives. The dates attached to the names of the Archbishops of Canterbury, indicate in several instances, not the time of their consecration but of their translation to that see.”
—Tract No. 174, pages 26–28.
II. The Theory of Apostolic Succession
While this doctrine or theory may sometimes be misinterpreted, and applied in ways that the Church of England and our own Protestant Episcopal Church do not teach, there is a true, interpretation which Churchmen of all schools of thought agree the Church does teach. In a book entitled The Protestantism of the Prayer Book, page 238, the late Rev. Dyson Hague, a Canadian clergyman of the Church of England, says the true interpretation of Apostolic Succession is this:
“That, according to reasonable inference from Holy Scripture, and the facts of primitive Church history, there were three orders in the ministry; and as a matter of fact there has been a succession of carefully ordained episcopal ministers from the Apostles’ times to the present.
“That the ordaining power is properly exercised by bishops who represent, for example, Timothy and Titus, to whom, and not to mere presbyters, the ordaining function was committed.
“That all ordinations performed by such bishops are valid and regular, and that ordinations by others are irregular.
“That this, moreover, is a matter which concerns the form and ecclesiastical government of the Church, but is not to be considered as touching the very nature and essence of a Church.
“It is, in short, the theory of the Historic Episcopate.
“This theory or doctrine,” continues Dr. Hague, “is the theory or doctrine of the Church of England. The Preface to the Ordinal, the Twenty-third and Thirty-sixth Articles, unquestionably teach it. . .”
III. High Church and Low Church
The Book of Common Prayer is neither High Church nor Low Church. It is not the book of any particular party. It is the official Book of Worship and Instruction for the whole Anglican Communion, of which our own Protestant Episcopal Church is a part. The Book of Common Prayer is used and loved by Churchmen of every kind – high, low, and broad.
My thinking has never been in terms of either “High Church” or “Low Church,” yet recently the issue of High Church and Low Church has thrust itself upon me from two different sources – one from the clergy and one from the laity – and in such a way that I felt the issue could not be ignored.
Wishing the opinion of men well known in the Church, I wrote in January 1943 to the Very Rev. Alexander C. Zabriskie, D.D., Dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary, and to the Rt. Rev. Frank E. Wilson, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Eau Claire, in Wisconsin, asking them to define the terms, “High Church” and “Low Church,” also to explain if the difference consists merely in ritualistic matters, or if it goes deeper.
Both of them replied promptly, and by permission I quote from their letters. Dean Zabriskie, said:
“The High Church and Low Church bodies emerged in England in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. At that time the difference was primarily one of doctrinal emphasis. The High Church (of which the ablest men were chiefly Non-Jurors) laid very great stress on the Church as a society independent of State control, coming down in unbroken continuity from the Apostles’ days with its own distinctive customs, faith, heroes, etc. In stressing the Church they laid a good deal of emphasis on the Episcopate as having been in continual existence from earliest days and, therefore, providing a link with the past and also as existing in the major part of Christendom and, therefore, forming a source of unity in the present. Some of them urged that non-Episcopally ordained ministers were not true ministers at all, but most of them did not draw this deduction. They laid great store by the Sacraments as means of grace instituted by our Lord in which the reality was there quite independently of the individual’s appreciation thereof.
“The original Low Churchmen were the ‘Latitudinarians’. They wanted the closest possible connection between Church and State and were prepared to allow the State to have the upper hand. Having as their goal a Church which should include all Englishmen, they minimized anything which might distinguish Anglicans from other Christians. Therefore, they laid little store by the Episcopate except as an administrative feature. They also laid very great stress on the subjective aspect of the Sacraments. They had little real feeling for the Church as an independent corporation of ancient lineage.
“The Evangelicals in England were not at first Low Churchmen. They fought the ‘Latitudinarians’ vehemently because they thought the latter tended to Arianism and Pelagianism. Some of the early Evangelicals were vigorous proponents of the Apostolic Succession, laid great store on the objectivity of the Sacraments, thought membership in the Church essential to any full Christianity, thought the Church was founded by Christ and came down directly from Him and therefore had the resulting dignity and claim on men. Then came the Tractarian revival. It stressed vehemently Apostolic Succession, a view of the Sacraments approaching toward Transubstantiation, etc. The Evangelicals thought the Tractarian view was a new version of justification by works; that the great stress on the Sacraments seemed to imply that men won forgiveness and justification by doing such good works rather than being granted it by the undeserved mercy of God; and this seemed to them to minimize the importance of Christ and, therefore, to be very near blasphemy. Consequently, the Evangelicals fought the Tractarians over these issues. In the controversy both sides became more extreme. The Tractarians became Anglo-Catholics and the Evangelicals became Low Churchmen. It was not till this scrap had been going for several years that the ritualistic issue arose and became a major dividing line.”
Bishop Wilson replied as follows:
“The real distinction between High Church and Low Church is that High Churchmen place a very strong emphasis on the essential necessities of the Church as the immediate family in which the Christian life is meant to be lived. Low Churchmen, on the other hand, tend to a weaker emphasis on the need of the Church, assuming that the Christian life can be lived either inside or outside of the Church family. Another distinction might be to point out that the High Churchmen stress the Sacramental character of the Christian Religion while Low Churchmen are likely to stress the preaching of the Gospel. It would also be true to say that High Churchmen place greater value on the Historic Ministry while Low Churchmen are more likely to be satisfied with an inward call.
“Unfortunately, these fundamental distinctions become easily tangled with the externals of ritual and ceremonial. In this field you run into outright prejudices. Low Churchmen are apt to call anything High Church which they do not happen to like, or to which they are not accustomed. . . It is a difference of emphasis. High Churchmen place a high value on the Church as the Church. Low Churchmen place a lesser value on the Church as being merely a means by which the Gospel is preached.
The following paragraph is from an article by Bishop Conkling of Chicago, and published in The Living Church under the general head of RELIGION AND LIFE.
“At the Centenary Congress of the Oxford Movement, Bishop Taitt of Pennsylvania remarked characteristically that in his early ministry he was not permitted to belong to one clerical society because he was ‘too high’ and now he would not be acceptable to another because he was ‘too low’ and yet he himself ‘hadn’t changed a bit!’”
The Anglican Communion, including our own Episcopal Church, recognizes the fact that people naturally differ; and it makes room within the Church for different tastes and different opinions. The one thing it asks of all is that they be loyal to The Book of Common Prayer. Within that common loyalty there are diversities which puzzle mere onlookers; yet in that very diversity there is a unity which surpasses any purely external uniformity, for it rests upon the well known principle: – “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
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