We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Friday, June 5, 2015


From catholicity and covenent -- read the whole thing:

And that was 'high' as it got - surplice, stole, north-end, 1662. Definitively low church. Perhaps one could describe it as 'Prayer Book evangelical'.

Here it was, however, that I became a 'Prayer Book catholic'. The rubrics said 'priest' - and the Ordinal was explicit about ministerial priesthood. The Prayer of Humble Access of course taught a Real Presence: "Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood". Eucharistic sacrifice? Of course, the Prayer Book said so: "mercifully accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving". Private confession and absolution? It's what the Prayer Book taught: "let him come to me ... that by the ministry of God's holy Word he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with ghostly counsel".

All this grew for me amidst the quiet, dignified reverence of traditional, low church Communion services. The Prayer Book was followed: no replacing of the Prayer for the Church Militant with open prayer, or more 'relevant' petitions. Year after year, the collects proclaimed the turning points of the liturgical year. The Eucharist commenced not with the secular banalities of 'Good morning' but with "The Communion Office begins on page 138 of the Book of Common Prayer. Let us pray. [Silence.] Our Father ..."

I think if you had asked those attending, after the Prayer of Consecration, 'Is this just Bread?', there would have been a shy, but probably quite clear response: 'No, it's something more than that'. What - Who - would not be stated. But with reverence and quiet devotion, the Holy Communion was received. Week after week. Year after year.

So this year on Corpus Christi I felt a profound gratitude for those years in the low church, Prayer Book evangelical parish of my youth. It has changed, of course, almost out of all recognition - because evangelicalism in Irish Anglicanism has changed almost out of all recognition, particularly in its de facto rejection of the sacramental and the liturgical. The parish no longer has Early Communions. From what I gather, liturgy is tolerated - barely. Cranmer's prayers are looked upon as antiquated oddities, of infinitely less meaning than yesterday's praise song or next week's prayer meeting.

... gratitude for a simple Prayer Book liturgy shot through with richly patristic and catholic characteristics.

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