Enriching Our Worship (1998)   1 comment

episcopal-shield

Above:  The Episcopal Shield

Enriching Our Worship (1998), authorized by the General Convention in 1997, is the first in a series (of five books so far) of thin paperback volumes of supplementary liturgical resources for The Episcopal Church.  My copy, which predates Enriching Our Worship 2-5, lacks has the simple title Enriching Our Worship, not Enriching Our Worship 1 (hereafter abbreviated as EOW1), as subsequent printings do.

The 88-page book contains alternative texts for Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, the Great Litany, and the Holy Eucharist.  The purpose of these texts is to expand the range of metaphors for God beyond the predominance of masculine imagery contained in The Book of Common Prayer (1979).  The metaphors for God in EOW1, although not exclusively feminine (some are masculine), are primarily so.  The Standing Liturgical Commission, which prepared the book, drew from the Bible and prayers and writings of saints to accomplish a more balanced approach.  Thus Isaiah 66:10-14, which personifies Jerusalem as a mother, has become Canticle E.  Thus we read Canticle Q, a prayer of St. Anselm of Canterbury (died 1109)  in which he addresses Jesus as a mother.  Thus we see generous use of the writings of Julian of Norwich.  And thus we read the following blessing:

May the blessing of the God of Abraham and Sarah, and of Jesus Christ born of our sister Mary, and of the Holy Spirit, who broods over the world as a mother over her children be upon you and remain with you always.  Amen.

I found an insightful comment on page 13:

All liturgy is based upon a set of agreed-upon assumptions.  Whenever those assumptions are altered, there is the possibility of congregational reaction ranging from confusion to anger.

Masculine imagery for God is among the most traditional assumptions regarding Christian liturgy.  Yet feminine images for God occur also in the Bible, so they too are part of the range of Christian tradition reaching back to antiquity.  Patriarchal thinking, however, has ignored and minimized these for thousands of years.

The expansion of the range of prayers in EOW1 pertains to other issues also.   For example, the 1979 BCP version of the Great Litany  contains one petition for the President of the United States and all in positions of authority.  The EOW1 version of the Great Litany has three petitions.  We still pray for the President and all in authority, of course.  But we add the Mayor, the Governor, our state legislators, the members of Congress, and the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.

One of the most graceful ways to become more inclusive is to mention women from the Bible; EOW1 does this well.  In Eucharistic Prayer 1, for example, the celebrant says:

Through Abraham and Sarah

you called us into covenant with you.

–page 58

Did not Sarah play a vital role in salvation history?  I think that she did.

If EOW1 is a sign of what the next U.S. BCP will resemble, I anticipate that volume confidently.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS REMACLUS OF MAASTRICHT, THEODORE OF MAASTRICHT, LAMBERT OF MAASTRICHT, HUBERT OF MAASTRICHT AND LIEGE, AND FLORIBERT OF LIEGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT LANDRADA OF MUNSTERBILSEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND SAINTS OTGER OF UTRECHT, PLECHELM OF GUELDERLAND, AND WIRO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT PASCHASIUS RADBERTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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  1. Pingback: Guide to Posts About Anglican and Episcopal Worship | BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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