Archive for the ‘Book of Common Prayer (1662)’ Tag

All This I Steadfastly Believe: Baptismal Vows in Rites of The United Methodist Church and Predecessor Denominations, 1901-1992   6 comments

017380pv

Above:  Community Methodist Church, Half Moon Bay, California

Image Created by the Historic American Buildings Survey

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca0808.photos.017380p/)

Reproduction Number = HABS CAL,41-HAMOB,1–7

The Congregation’s Website:  http://cumc-hmb.org/

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All this I steadfastly believe.

The Methodist Hymnal:  Official Hymnal of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (1905), page 87

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I.  MY PURPOSE

My purpose in this blog post is to write about baptismal vows in rituals of The United Methodist Church (UMC) and its predecessor bodies since circa 1901.  The UMC is the product of the union of two denominations, each of which was the result of other mergers.  UM roots in the United States sink back into the soil of the past as deeply as the 1700s.

This post and the immediately preceding one (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/solemn-promises-baptismal-vows-in-rites-of-the-presbyterian-church-u-s-a-and-predecessor-bodies-1906-1993/) are spin-offs from a post (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/and-all-his-works-u-s-lutheran-baptismal-vows-1917-2006/) about U.S. Lutheran baptismal vows from 1917 to 2006.  Yes, I am a liturgy geek.  Where is my Prayer Book pocket protector?

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II.  THE METHODIST PROTESTANT CHURCH HYMNAL (1901)

The Methodist Protestant Church Hymnal (1901) (http://archive.org/details/protest00meth) is an excellent, if arbitrary place to start.  My explorations at http://archive.org/ have yet to reveal a ritual for that denomination in a book prior to 1901.

In the ritual for the baptism of a child, the minister reminds the parents/guardians to

guide its feet in the paths of righteousness, and raise it up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

The parents/guardians promise to

by precept and example, to bring up this child [or these children] in the nurture and admonition of the Lord

and to pray earnestly

to God for the assistance of the Holy Spirit

in accomplishing this goal.

Those baptismal candidates able to speak for themselves affirm that they

believe in the existence of God, and that he is a rewarder of all those who diligently seek him,

that

the Lord Jesus Christ is the redeemer and Saviour of the world,

affirm that they are

now determined to forsake every evil way, to look to Christ as your only and and all-sufficient Saviour, and to walk in all the commandments of God

and vow to

endeavor to be faithful in the discharge

of certain duties:

to search the Holy Scriptures, and to attend on all the ordinances of the house of God.

Probationary members received into the church ratify the baptismal covenants others made for them, affirm the the resurrection of Jesus, repent of their sins, and affirm that they

rely only upon the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ

for salvation and that they intend

to obey him

as their

Prince and to conform

their lives

to his teaching and example.

They also promise to attend church services,

co-operate with the pastor and members, and contribute

as able

to the religious enterprises of the church.

Full members received into the church agree to

all its rules of government; to contribute

as able

for the support of the gospel ministry of and the benevolent enterprises of the church; to seek earnestly its peace and purity; to walk with all its members in meekness and sobriety.

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III.  THE METHODIST HYMNAL (1905)

The Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939) and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (1845-1939), separated because of a controversy over chattel slavery–a fact which does not place the Southern Church in a favorable historical or moral light.  The two denominations were, however, on sufficiently friendly terms as to produce a shared hymn book, The Methodist Hymnal (1905) (http://archive.org/details/methodisthymnalo00meth).

I have provided a hyperlink to an electronic file, although I worked from a physical copy in delicate condition.

The minister reminds the parents/guardians of their duties:

Dearly Beloved, forasmuch as this child is now presented by you for Christian Baptism, you must remember that it is your part and duty to see that he be taught, as soon as he shall be able to learn, the nature and end of this Holy Sacrament.  And that he may know these things the better, you shall call upon the appointed means of grace, such as the ministry of the word, and the public and private worship of God; and further, you shall provide that he shall read the Holy Scriptures, and learn the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, the Catechism, and all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe to his soul’s health, in order that he may be brought up to lead a virtuous and holy life, remembering always that Baptism doth represent unto us that inward purity which disposeth us to follow the example of our Saviour Christ; that as he died and rose again for us, so should we, who are baptized, die unto sin and rise again unto righteousness, continually mortifying all corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness.

They

therefore solemnly engage to fulfill these duties, so far as is in

them

lies, the Lord being

their helper.

Those who can speak for themselves

renounce the devil and all this works, the vain pomp and glory of the glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the carnal desires of the flesh, so that thou wilt not follow nor be led by them.

That language comes verbatim from The Book of Common Prayer (1662).

Then the baptismal candidates affirm the Apostles’ Creed and vow to

obediently keep God’s holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of thy life.

Those who join the church affirm that they desire to be saved from their sins, that they endeavor to guard themselves

against all things contrary to the teaching of God’s word

and

to lead a holy life, following the commandments of God,

and are determined to

give reverent attendance upon the appointed means of grace in the ministry of the word, and the private and public worship of God.

That is one form of Reception of Members.  In the other rite the new member renews his or her baptismal covenant, states that he or she trusts he or she has

saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,

affirms the doctrinal statements of the Methodist Episcopal Church,

cheerfully to be governed by the Rules of the Methodist Episcopal Church, hold sacred ordinances of God, and endeavor,

as able,

to promote the welfare

of the brethren

and the advancement of the Redeemer’s kingdom.

Then the new member promises to contribute, as able, of his or her

earthly sustenance

for the purpose of supporting

the Gospel and the various benevolent enterprises of the Church.

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IV.  THE METHODIST HYMNAL (1935) AND THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1945)

The Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South reunited in 1939 to create The Methodist Church.  First, however, they produced a common hymn book, The Methodist Hymnal (1935).  Ten years later the merged denomination published its Book of Worship for Church and Home (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/the-book-of-worship-for-church-and-home-1945/), the first volume of its kind in U.S. Methodism since John Wesley’s failed Sunday Service.

Much of the 1935-1945 baptismal ritual content looks familiar, for its primary foundation seems to be the Ritual from the 1905 Hymnal.  So I focus on elements which differ from that.

Children and youth answering for themselves vow to put away from themselves

every known sin, of thought, word, or deed, and accept and confess Jesus Christ

as Savior and Lord, to

diligently study the Bible as God’s Holy Word, and in all things to make it the rule

of life, and to

faithfully endeavor to live so as to be pleasing unto Him.

Adults baptized repent of their sins, confess Jesus as Saviour and Lord, and

earnestly endeavor to keep God’s Holy Will and commandments.

New members renew their baptismal covenants, confess Jesus as Saviour and Lord,

pledge allegiance to His kingdom,

receive

and profess the Christian faith as contained in the New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ,

and swear loyalty to the denomination, vowing to

uphold it

by their prayers, presence, gifts, and service.

Children and youth who join the the church affirm belief in God as their Heavenly Father, accept Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, state their belief

in the Bible as God’s Holy Word,

and swear loyalty to the denomination, vowing to

uphold it

with their prayers, presence, gifts, and service.

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V.  THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965) AND THE METHODIST HYMNAL (1966)

The Methodist Church (1939-1968) published its hymnal and book of worship (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/the-book-of-worship-for-church-and-home-1965/), complete with revised rites of Christian initiation with echoes of and quotes from older forms.

The minister asks the parents/guardians if they accept their

bounden duty and privilege to live before this child a life that becomes the Gospel; to exercise all godly care that he be brought up in the Christian faith, that he be taught the Holy Scriptures, and that he learn to give reverent attendance upon the private and public worship of God

and to

endeavor to keep this child under the ministry and guidance of the Church until he by the power of God shall accept for himself the gift of salvation, and be confirmed as a full and responsible member of Christ’s holy Church.

Youth and adults repent of their sins, accept Jesus as Savior, and affirm belief in

God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord; and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life

before vowing to

obediently keep God’s holy will and commandments and walk in the same

all the days of their lives.

Those who join the church renew their baptismal covenant, confess Jesus Christ as Savior and pledge

allegiance to his kingdom

affirm that they

receive and profess the Christian faith as contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments,

and promise

according to the grace given

them to

live a Christian life and always remain a faithful member of Christ’s holy Church.

They also promise, as in the 1935 rites, swear to be loyal to the denomination, and to uphold it with prayers, presence, gifts, and service.

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VI.  THE UNITED EVANGELICAL CHURCH, 1894-1922

The Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/rituals-of-the-evangelical-united-brethren-church-1946-1968/) united with The Methodist Church (1939-1968) to form The United Methodist Church.  The Evangelical United Brethren Church was the union of the Evangelical Church and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.  The Evangelical Church was the reunion of the Evangelical Association and its offshoot, the United Evangelical Church.

My searches, including those at http://archive.org/, have not turned up any Evangelical Association ritual.  I have sought yet not found.  But I have located a copy of the ritual (ratified in 1894), of the United Evangelical Church in its Discipline (http://archive.org/details/doctrinesdiscipl00unit).

The minister reminds the parents/guardians of their duties to teach him or her

early fear of the Lord; to watch over

his or her education that he or she

be not led astray; to direct

his or her youthful mind to the Holy Scriptures, and his or her

feet to the house of God; to restrain from evil association and habits,

and, as able, to bring him or her

up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

The parents/guardians agree to do this.

Adult baptismal candidates affirm the Apostles’ Creed and, in the words of the 1662 Prayer Book and the Methodist Ritual,

renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world….

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VII.  THE CHURCH OF THE UNITED BRETHREN IN CHRIST

I have confirmed the existence of a consistent ritual of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ since at least its 1897 Discipline (http://archive.org/details/origindoctrineco1897unit).

The minister, in language almost identical to that quoted in the previous section, reminds the parents of their duties.

Baptismal candidates able to speak for themselves consecrate themselves

to Christ and his service

and vow to

endeavor henceforth to keep God’s holy commandments and to walk in the same

all the days of their lives, a passage which the 1965 Methodist rite echoes.

New members swear that they

believe the Bible to be the Word of God, and that therein only is revealed the way of salvation,

take

this Word

as the

rule of faith and conduct,

affirm belief

that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,

and as their

personal Savior,

state their determination

by the grace of God to follow Christ, renouncing the world and all ungodliness, seeking to lead a life of holiness and devotion to God and his cause,

affirm their willingness

to be governed by our church rules as laid down in the Discipline,

and to

attend the various means of grace and the services of the church whenever practicable,

vow to

prayerfully study to know

their duty

as a Christian steward,

and to contribute

to the support of the local church and the benevolent interests of the church

as God enables them to do so.

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VIII.  THE EVANGELICAL UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH, 1946-1968

The Evangelical United Brethren Church published the Book of Ritual, a separately bound portion of its Discipline, in 1952, 1955, and 1959, each time with slight revisions, but not in the baptismal rites.

The minister instructs the parents (chiefly via the Apostles’ Creed) of their duties, which are to

set before this child the example of a godly life, instruct him in the elements of the Christian faith, seek to lead him to acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior, nurture him in the Christian life, and endeavor to bring him into the membership of the church.

The parents vow to do these things.

The minister, addressing baptismal candidates able to speak for themselves, recites the Apostles’ Creed then asks them to

acknowledge and profess the Christian faith as taught in the Holy Scriptures,

to

repent from sin,

and acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord, and to be

determined by the grace of God to live the Christian life.

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IX.  THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL (1989) AND THE UNITED METHODIST BOOK OF WORSHIP (1992)

The United Methodist Church has four Services of the Baptismal Covenant in its hymnal and book of worship (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/the-united-methodist-book-of-worship-1992/):

  • I is for Holy Baptism, Confirmation, Reaffirmation of Faith, and Reception of Members.
  • II is Baptism of Children, based on the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren rites.  The Book of Worship, unlike the Hymnal, divides this into II, II-A (the Brief Order), and II-B.
  • III is Baptism of Adults, based on the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren rites.
  • IV is for Congregational Reaffirmation.

There is little left to write which is different except that, having read the preceding rites in the last few hours, these look very familiar relative to the older rites.  I note that the first three questions and answers are very good and indicate a social conscience and a sound theology of the Image of God:

Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?

I do.

Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?

I do.

Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?

I do.

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X.  CONCLUSION

As I wrote in the corresponding Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) baptismal vows post,

There is no single correct way to cover the serious theological work of baptismal vows.

The denominations of which I have written in this post have done that job well and in a variety of ways.  Such variety is the spice of liturgical life.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 30, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM PINCHON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HORATIUS BONAR, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RUDOLF BULTMANN, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, ABOLITIONIST

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First I acknowledge my brain, given the years I grew up in United Methodist parsonages and have spent studying U.S. Methodist history.  Citing my brain is quicker and easier than seeking print sources for certain details.

I consider any document to which I have provided a hyperlink cited properly already.

I also used certain books while drafting this post.  Those credits follow:

Book of Common Prayer, The.  The Church of England, 1662.

Book of Ritual of The Evangelical United Brethren Church, The.  Dayton, OH:  Otterbein Press, 1952.

Book of Ritual of The Evangelical United Brethren Church, The.  Dayton, OH:  Otterbein Press, 1955.

Book of Ritual of The Evangelical United Brethren Church, The.  Dayton, OH:  Otterbein Press, 1959.

Book of Worship for Church and Home, The.  Nashville, TN:  Methodist Publishing House, 1945.

Book of Worship for Church and Home, The.  Nashville, TN:  Methodist Publishing House, 1965.

Church Hymnal:  The Official Hymnal of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, The.  Dayton, OH:  United Brethren Publishing House, 1935.  Reprint, 1943.

Methodist Hymnal:  Official Hymnal of The Methodist Church, The.  Nashville, TN:  Methodist Publishing House, 1935, 1939.

Methodist Hymnal:  Official Hymnal of The Methodist Church, The.  Nashville, TN:  Methodist Publishing House, 1966.

Methodist Hymnal:  Official Hymnal of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, The.  New York, NY:  Eaton & Mains, 1905.

United Methodist Book of Worship, The.  Nashville, TN:  United Methodist Publishing House, 1992.

United Methodist Hymnal:  Book of United Methodist Worship, The.  Nashville, TN:  United Methodist Publishing House, 1989.

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The Book of Common Worship (Revised) (1932)   17 comments

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Above:  The Title Page of a 1942 Reprint of The Book of Common Worship (Revised)

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This post follows these:

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/a-brief-history-of-u-s-presbyterian-worship-to-1905/

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/the-book-of-common-worship-1906/

Reading them first will improve one’s comprehension of this one.

THE AUTHOR

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INTRODUCTION

U.S. Presbyterian worship was changing in the late 1800s and early 1900s–not uniformally, to be sure.  Yet more church architecture was formal, choirs were more common, music was more formal in many congregations, and opportunities for congregational participation in worship were more numerous via responsive readings and recitations of the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

The Apostles’ Creed proved difficult (at least officially) for U.S. Presbyterianism for a long time.  Did the Bible grant permission to recite it?  Did that matter?  Many people, advocates of Jure Divino, claimed that the answers were “no” and “yes” respectively.  The 1906 Book of Common Worship followed an extant resolution of the 1892 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (PCUSA) permitting

He continued in the state of the dead and under the power of death, until the third day.

in lieu of

He descended into Hell.

Our Lord and Savior’s descent into Hell remained an official PCUSA hot potato in 1932, when The Book of Common Worship (Revised) permitted a different substitution:

He continued in the state of the dead until the third day.

(Lord Jesus, save me from your followers!)

With The Book of Common Worship (1946), however, there is ceased to be any such substitution.  Jesus descended in to Hell.  That was it.

The saga of the U.S. Presbyterian Book of Common Worship is somewhat like that of Dune–far from over.

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BODY

The Book of Common Worship (Revised) was the final labor of Dr. Henry Van Dyke, who had edited the preceding volume, that of 1906.  That book had become dated by 1928, so the PCUSA General Assembly that year appointed a committee, consisting partially of 1906 BCW committee members, to undertake the revision effort.  Committee membership changed from 1928 to 1931, for some people died.  Dr. Louis Fitzgerald Benson, for example, departed this life in 1930.  The 1931 PCUSA General Assembly approved the revised book unanimously then applauded it.

A careful reading of the Preface to the 1906 BCW and that of the 1932 BCW(R) reveals a less defensive tone the second time around.  The 1906 Preface is four pages long and full of push-back against allegations of uniform ritual and of ritualism.  In contrast, the 1932 Preface is two pages long and contains less strenuous reminders of early Reformed liturgies and of the voluntary nature of the new volume, just in case anyone missed

For Voluntary Use

in boldface on the title page.

The 1932 BCW(R) is an expansion of its 1906 predecessor.  The Table of Contents of the revised book organizes the rites and prayers into categories:

  1. Public Worship;
  2. The Sacraments;
  3. Holy Rites;
  4. Church Ordinances;
  5. The Treasury of Prayers;
  6. The Psalter and Other Responsive Readings; and
  7. Ancient Hymns and Canticles.

In the Appendix one finds the following:

  1. A Lectionary of the Holy Scriptures, and
  2. A List of Sources.

Some of the rites from the 1906 BCW are relabeled.  Others appear for the first time in the BCW(R).

In the Public Worship section one finds the following:

  1. Morning Service on the Lord’s Day;
  2. Evening Service on the Lord’s Day;
  3. General Prayers and Litanies;
  4. A Brief Order of Worship;
  5. The Commandments; and
  6. The Beatitudes.

The orders of worship continue to place the sermon at the center of Presbyterian worship, unfortunately.

The Sacraments section contains the following:

  1. The Baptism of Infants;
  2. The Baptism of Adults;
  3. The Communion of the Lord’s Supper;
  4. A Brief Order for the Communion;
  5. Reception to the Lord’s Supper; and
  6. The Reception of Communicants.

The Holy Rites are:

  1. The Marriage Service, and
  2. The Funeral Service.

The Church Ordinances are:

  1. The Licensing of Candidates;
  2. The Ordination of Ministers;
  3. The Installation of a Pastor;
  4. The Ordination of Elders;
  5. The Installation of Elders;
  6. The Ordination of Deacons;
  7. The Installation of Deacons;
  8. The Recognition of an Assistant Pastor;
  9. The Public Recognition of Church Trustees;
  10. The Setting Apart of a Deaconess;
  11. The Organization of a Church;
  12. The Laying of the Corner-Stone of a Church;
  13. The Dedication of a Church; and
  14. The Dedication of an Organ.

The Treasury of Prayers has seven parts:

  1. For Seasons of the Christian Year;
  2. For Certain Civil Holidays;
  3. For Special Objects and Times;
  4. Personal Intercessions;
  5. Brief Petitions for Grace;
  6. Ascription of Praise; and
  7. Family Prayers.

The expanded prayers for the Christian Year cover the following:

  1. Advent,
  2. Christmas,
  3. Lent,
  4. Palm Sunday,
  5. Good Friday,
  6. Easter,
  7. Pentecost and Missions, and
  8. All Saints.

The Civil Year prayers are for the following:

  1. New Year’s Day,
  2. Independence Day, and
  3. Thanksgiving Day.

The Independence Day prayers are original to the BCW(R).  Since I am entering this post on July 3, to include those prayers seems especially appropriate.  So here is the first one:

O Thou blessed and only Potentate, who hast granted unto our country freedom, and established sovereignty by the people’s will:  we thank Thee for the great men whom Thou hast raised up for our nation, to defend our liberty, preserve our union, and maintain law and order within our borders.  Ever give unto the republic wise and fearless leaders and commanders in every time of need.  Enlighten and direct the multitudes whom Thou hast ordained in power, that their counsels may be filled with knowledge and equity, and the whole commonwealth be preserved in peace, unity, strength, and honor.  Take under Thy governance and protection Thy servants, the President, the Governors of the States, the lawgivers, the judges, and all who are entrusted with authority; so defending them from all evil and enriching them with all needed good, that the people may prosper in freedom beneath an equal law, and our nation magnify Thy name in all the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Here is the second prayer:

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; we humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will.  Bless our nation with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners.  Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way.  Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues.  Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth.  In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

There is a lectionary of sorts on pages 333-338.  It does not assign readings to specific Sundays, however.  No, instead it lists suitable passages of scripture for seasons of the Christian Year, the Civil Year, and Special Occasions, such as Times of Rejoicing, Times of Adversity, and International Peace.

The sources of the BCW(R) include the following:

  1. Henry Van Dyke;
  2. Louis FitzGerald Benson;
  3. The Book of Common Worship (1906);
  4. The Book of Common Prayer (1662);
  5. The Book of Common Prayer (1928);
  6. Editions of the Scottish Presbyterian Book of Common Order;
  7. Charles W. Shields, The Book of Common Prayer as Amended by the Westminster Divines, A.D. 1661 (1864), the first in a line of unofficial and unauthorized U.S. Presbyterian worship books;
  8. Pre-Reformation liturgies; and
  9. William E. Orchard (1877-1955), a U.S. Presbyterian minister who converted to Roman Catholicism.

Not only did the 1931 PCUSA General Assembly approve the BCW(R) without controversy, but the mostly Southern Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) approved the volume in time for an advertisement on the second page of the January 1932 issue of Presbyterian Survey magazine.  The advertisement noted that the PCUS had approved the BCW(R) 

for optional and selective use of our ministers.

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CONCLUSION

The Book of Common Worship (Revised) (1932) was a great advance in the line of authorized U.S. Presbyterian worship books.  Its DNA, so to speak, reached back to before the Protestant Reformation, although its branch of the family sprung from the work of Charles W. Shields in 1864.  A greater stride followed in 1946, with the third Book of Common Worship.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 3, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY THOMAS SMART, ENGLISH ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERRARD, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN

THE FEAST OF JOHN CENNICK, BRITISH MORAVIAN EVANGELIST AND HYMN WRITER

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Rituals of the Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968)   8 comments

086792pv

Above:  Otterbein United Brethren Church, Baltimore, Maryland, July 1936

Photograph by E. H. Pickering

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = HABS MD,4-BALT,54–4

In 2013 this is Old Otterbein United Methodist Church, Baltimore, Maryland.

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Hoyt L. Hickman, writing of increasing levels of formality among U.S. Methodists (particularly the forebears of The United Methodist Church), wrote:

A few Methodist choirs had begun to vest as early as the 1890s, and by the mid-twentieth century one could expect to find vested choirs in medium-sized and larger congregations.  Black clergy robes were already appearing in Methodist services in the 1920s and became commonplace by the 195os.  By the 1950s and 60s a stole in the seasonal color might be worn with the robe, and the robe might be white in the summer.

Worshiping with United Methodists:  A Guide for Pastors and Church Leaders (Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1996, page 59)

George Washington Barrett (1873-1956), one of my great-grandfathers, was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (extant 1845-1939), then of The Methodist Church, into which his original denomination merged.  He had no use for what he described as “externals”, such as

emphasizing…the manner of religious ceremony.

He was a product of his time and subculture, having become clergy in the North Georgia Conference in 1899.  (http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/spiritual-religion-and-ritualism/ and http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/family-tree-of-george-washington-barrett/)

The United Methodist Church (1968-) is the result of the merger of two denominations with roots in 1700s America.  The Methodist Church (1939-1968) was immediate successor of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939) and two of its offshoots, with which it reunited.  Hoyt L. Hickman, in the portion of his book which I quoted, described liturgical and ritualistic developments on that side of the denominational family tree.  I would be surprised if the other side of the family tree advanced faster.  That other side of the denominational family tree was The Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968) (abbreviated as E.U.B.), the combination of the former Church of the United Brethren in Christ (1816-1946) and the Evangelical Church (1922-1946).  The latter body formed by means of the reunion of the Evangelical Association (1800-1922) and the United Evangelical Church (1894-1922).

The Order of Worship from the Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home (1945) provided for one reading of Scripture, as did the “Aids to Worship” section of The Church Hymnal (United Brethren in Christ, 1935).  Yet the Order of Worship from the Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965) provided for readings from the Bible, specifically,

…one from the Old Testament, and one from the Epistles or Gospels.”

–page 5

The Hymnal of The Evangelical Brethren Church (1957) contained two orders of worship.  The second (page 10) provided for “Reading of the Scriptures,” and the first (page 9) specified an Epistle reading and a Gospel reading.

Of Communion rituals I have slightly less information than I prefer.  The Evangelical Hymnal (1921) contained no such ritual.  Mainly it offered hymns, indices, and responsive readings.  But The Church Hymnal (United Brethren in Christ, 1935) contained two versions of “An Order for Service for the Holy Communion,” both based on and reduced greatly from The Book of Common Prayer (1662) and

revised in accordance with the usage of non-liturgical churches and adapted to meet the needs of our own Communion.

–page 418

“The Ritual of the Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper,” from the E.U.B. Hymnal (1957), came also from the 1662 Prayer Book, with reductions and other modifications.  The E.U.B. Book of Ritual (1952, 1955, and 1959) contained two Communion rituals.  The Longer Form was the one printed in The Hymnal (1957).  The Briefer form was reduced from the Longer Form.  The 1950s Briefer Form was different from the 1935 abbreviated rite.

The Church Hymnal (United Brethren in Christ, 1935) contained a section entitled “Aids to Worship.”  There were Orders of Service, occasional services (such as confirmation and baptism), responsive readings (from the Bible), “Responsive Hymn Services” (which used hymn verses in lieu of responsive readings), and litanies for opening and for closing worship.

Likewise the E.U.B. Hymnal (1957) contained an “Aids to Worship” section, which, the book said,

…may be supplemented by the rich resources, ancient and modern, which are available in the Bible and in other books of worship.

–page not numbered

In this section were calls to worship, invocations, offertory sentences, suggested Bible readings specified by topic, the Decalogue, Old Testament Beatitudes (from various Psalms), New Testament Beatitudes (from Matthew 5:3-12, Revised Standard Version), and responsive readings (from the Bible).

The Book of Ritual of The Evangelical United Brethren Church (1952, 1955, and 1959) was a separately bound portion of the denominational Discipline.  All editions of The Book of Ritual contained the following rites:

  • Baptism of Infants;
  • Baptism of Adults;
  • Dedication of Infants (in lieu of Baptism of Infants);
  • Holy Communion (the Longer Form and the Briefer Form);
  • Reception of Members;
  • Holy Matrimony (with identical vows for the bride and the groom);
  • Burial of the Dead (a Christian form and a General form);
  • Ordination of Elders;
  • Breaking Ground;
  • Laying a Cornerstone;
  • Dedication of a Church;
  • Rededication of a Church;
  • Dedication of an Educational Building;
  • Dedication of an Organ;
  • Dedication of a Home;
  • Dedication of a Parsonage;
  • Mortgage or Note Burning;
  • Installation of a Conference Superintendent;
  • Installation of General Church Officials;
  • Installation of a Bishop; and
  • Retirement of Elders.

The 1955 Book of Ritual added a separate rite for receiving children as members and dropped the General Installation service from 1952.

The 1959 Book of Ritual replaced the 1952 rite for the Commissioning of Missionaries with a new ritual for the Recognition of Missionary Commitment.

As The Book of Ritual (1952) said,

Divine worship is the inestimable privilege of man who, in the presence of Deity, bows in humility and adoration.  Worship in its deepest and purest sense is the response of the human to the Divine.  The object of a worship service is to lead souls to an act of pure adoration and self-dedication.  A profound and wide-spread desire for enriched worship services marks the age in which we are living.

The true object of worship ever lies beyond the full comprehension of man; therefore he bridges that gap by the use of symbol and ritual.  Great liturgies are of slow growth, and are the product of an ever-enlarging spiritual experience.  They gather up that which has been the most helpful and noble in the faith and devotion of the ages.  The church has a rich literature of worship, which is stimulating and uplifting, and by its use, worship is given concrete expression.

The ultimate value of rituals and formulas depends largely upon the devotional spirit of the Minister in the leadership of worship.  Orderliness in procedure commends itself to all who understand the meaning of true worship….

Now, of course, The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992) (abbreviated as UMBOW) is the official collection of United Methodist liturgies, some duplicated from The United Methodist Hymnal (1989).  Both volumes contain the following, “A Service of Word and Table IV,” which borrows from Methodist and E.U.B. service books.  The Hymnal (1989) contains the former Methodist and E.U.B. versions of the Lord’s Prayer (identical except for some punctuation and the debts vs. trespasses issue).  The UMBOW (1992) offers the following:

  • The Baptismal Covenant II-B (for children and based on former Methodist and E.U.B. rites),
  • The Baptismal Covenant III (for adults and based on former Methodist and E.U.B. rites), and
  • A Service of Christian Marriage II (based on former Methodist and E.U.B. rites).

The Hymnal (1989) also contains The Baptismal Covenant III and offers the following:

  • The Congregational Pledge 1 (for use with the former E.U.B. rite) and
  • The Congregational Pledge 2 (for use with the former Methodist rite).

Both of these are for use with The Baptismal Covenant II.  The UMBOW (1992) contains not only the text of The Baptismal Covenant II but The Baptismal Covenant II-A and The Baptismal Covenant II-B, the latter two of which are briefer than the former.  II-A in The UMBOW (1992) incorporates The Congregational Pledge 2 and II-B features The Congregational Pledge II-A.  But the Hymnal (1989), for the sake of  simplicity, has simply The Baptismal Covenant II, followed by the two options for The Congregational Pledge.  The wording of both Congregational pledges changed slightly between the Hymnal (1989) and The UMBOW (1992), but with no theological importance I can discern.

There is no rite for the Dedication of Infants anywhere in The UMBOW (1992).  Neither was there one in the 1945 or the 1965 Book of Worship for Church and Home.

The Evangelical United Brethren Church offered a Book of Ritual with a narrower range of options than the Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home.  Yet the 1957 E.U.B. Hymnal, with its worship aids, compensated somewhat for that fact.  A review of E.U.B. Church rituals reveals a growing sense of the importance of more congregational involvement in worship as the twentieth century progressed.  That was already evident in The Church Hymnal (United Brethren in Christ, 1935).  The E.U.B. Church, for a “non-liturgical” denomination, seemed, officially at least, aware of the need for more ritual as they approached union with the Methodists, their ecclesiastical cousins.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 31, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF MARY TO ELIZABETH

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The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1945)   12 comments

4a09249v

Above:  Methodist Church, Streator, Illinois, Circa 1900

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-D4-13897

In 2013 the congregation bears the name “First United Methodist Church of Streator” and has a different yet still graceful structure.

(http://www.igrc.org/churches/detail/755)

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Last Summer I began to write reviews of current worship books for denominations.  Among those reviews was one of The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992). Now, with this post, I commence a series of reviews of superceded worship books.

Cyclopedia of Methodism (Fifth Revised Edition), edited by Bishop Matthew Simpson and published in 1882, contains an article on John Wesley’s Sunday Service, an abridgment of The Book of Common Prayer (1662) of The Church of England.   The article (on page 842) concludes:

The general feeling of the American people was averse to these forms and ceremonies which were being used in the English Church, and especially to the wearing of gowns and bands, and the liturgical services.  In addition to this, many of the congregations were gathered in sparsely-settled sections of the country, where the people had no books, and where the long travels of the minister prevented his being able to supply them.

Yet much of U.S. Methodism became more formal–genteel even–in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Thus a widespread acceptance of more structured worship emerged.  The Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939) and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (1845-1939), each having reprinted Wesley’s Sunday Service and increasingly elaborate orders of worship, produced jointly The Methodist Hymnal (1905), the first U.S. Methodist hymnal to feature a psalter structured for responsive readings.

Enough support for even more formal worship existed in 1940, when the General Conference of the reunited Methodist Church (1939-1968) approved the creation of the Commission on Ritual and Orders of Worship, mandated to provide liturgies which would

draw upon richer and wider sources than those that have been available up to the present time.

Four years later the General Conference approved the first Book of Worship for Church and Home (BOW), published in 1945.

The focus of the 1945 BOW is daily devotion, for much opposition to any Prayer Book remained widespread, hence the redundant disclaimer on the title page:

FOR VOLUNTARY AND OPTIONAL USE.

Nevertheless, the book provides orders of worship for the Morning (three of them), the Evening (three of them), and the Morning or the Evening (four of them), as well as major festivals and seasons in the Church Year:  Advent, Christmas Sunday, Lent, Good Friday, Easter Day, Pentecost, et cetera.  There are also services for other occasions, such as Kingdomtide (since absorbed into Ordinary Time), agricultural observances, Thanksgiving Day, and an ecumenical service.

The 1945 BOW includes many other features, such as the extant Methodist Ritual, hence rites baptism, confirmation, marriage, and burial services, plus a variety of truly occasional rites, such as the dedication of a home or a cornerstone.  The extensive collection of prayers and graces draws upon a variety of sources, including the 1906 and 1932 editions of the U.S. Presbyterian Book of Common Worship and the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (1928).  There is also a section of Daily Readings and Prayers for a Month (pages 286-323).

The 1945 BOW was a good start, but I find it uncomfortable to use.  The volume was not meant for me, an Episcopalian accustomed to more elaborate rites, so the 1945 BOW seems deficient according to my sensibilities.  And I, as one born late in the twentieth century and used to contemporary language in worship, dislike using the archaic language in which the book is written.

In 2013 The United Methodist Church is on the third book (The United Methodist Book of Worship, 1992).  That volume, like its 1945 predecessor, seems to have made no great impact on United Methodism, for most United Methodists do not even know that it exists.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 30, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA, HISTORIAN AND ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF APOLO KIVEBULAYA, ANGLICAN EVANGELIST

THE FEAST OF JOACHIM NEANDER, GERMAN REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPHINE BUTLER, WORKER AMONG WOMEN

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The Book of Common Prayer (2004)   2 comments

Ireland_amo_2010284_lrg

Above:  Ireland, October 11, 2010

Image Source = Jet Propulsion Laboratory

(http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=49687)

Image Courtesy of Jeff Schmaltz

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A NOTE ABOUT SOURCES:

The contents of this post flow from Bishop Harold Miller’s chapter in The Oxford Guide to The Book of Common Payer:  A Worldwide Survey (Oxford University Press, 2006, pages 431-437), his lecture at the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University (http://www.yale.edu/ism/colloq_journal/vol3/miller1.html), my online research, and my use and study of The Book of Common Prayer (2004).

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SOME ONLINE RESOURCES:

The Texts Themselves:

http://www.ireland.anglican.org/index.php?do=worship&id=12

Worship Homepage, Church of Ireland:

http://ireland.anglican.org/worship/1

Previous Editions of the Irish Prayer Book:

http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/Ireland.htm

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Eternal God and Father,

whose Son at supper prayed that his disciples might be one,

as he is one with you:

Draw us closer to him,

that in common love and obedience to you

we may be united to one another

in the fellowship of the one Spirit,

that the world may believe that he is Lord,

to your eternal glory;

through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (2004), page 335

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PREFACE

Liturgy interests me.  My childhood experiences of bad liturgy in rural United Methodist congregations in southern Georgia interacted with my innate interest in ritualism to make me an Episcopalian.  There were other factors, of course, but those two constituted major factors in my decision to convert.  So I have become attached to versions of the Book of Common Prayer.  I know the 1979 BCP of The Episcopal Church the best.  Indeed, I am a Rite II person.  The 1928 Prayer Book is nothing more than an artifact to me; may it reside only as an exhibit in the proverbial museum of liturgy.  A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/a-new-zealand-prayer-bookhe-karakia-mihinare-o-aotearoa-1989/), among my favorites, has carved out a niche on the vanguard of Prayer Book revision and liturgical renewal.  I seek it out when I want more adventurous and less traditional rites, more experimental than even The Episcopal Church’s Enriching Our Worship series offers.

The language of prayer interests me.  My private name for God–the one I use when speaking to God alone–is simply “You.”  It is a modern English word, for I speak modern English.  “You” is intimate without committing anthropomorphism.  To call God “Thee” in this age is to rebuild a barrier which Jesus tore down via the Incarnation.  And, in the romance language versions of the Bible I have seen, the text uses the informal form of the second person to refer to God.

I understand that it is impossible to avoid committing anthropomorphism when calling God anything other than “You,” given our human perspectives and the limitations of language.  This is especially true in public worship and liturgies for private prayer.  Yet me must remember that our language for God contains many metaphors and that the reality behind them exceeds our capacity for understanding.  So I choose not to take offense at gendered metaphors, which can prove spiritually helpful if one knows that they are merely metaphors.

REVIEW

The Church of Ireland has produced and authorized a new edition of the Book of Common Prayer which contains both Elizabethan and modern English, preserves poetry in the modern English portions, and offers a relatively conservative example of Prayer Book revision.  The Church’s previous Prayer Books (that of 1926, for example) were based mostly on the 1662 BCP.  Liturgical renewal and Prayer Book revision, starting with the publication of the first new rites in 1967, led to the Alternative Prayer Book (1984) and subsequent services in the 1990s.  There were 1926 BCP parishes, 1984 APB parishes, and parishes that alternated between the two books.  But now, with The Book of Common Prayer (2004), the Church of Ireland has just one legal Prayer Book.

Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore, lecturing at the Institute of Sacred Music of Yale University, summarized the volume as follows:

A quick review of prayer books in the Anglican Communion would show many liturgical volumes that are more flexible, more inculturated, more imaginative, and more “on the edge” theologically than the liturgies of the Church of Ireland.  For example, apart from a list of Celtic saints and their dates, and one or two Irish propers, some of the Irish hymns in the hymnal, and the fact that there is an Irish edition of the new BCP, there are very few signs of Celtic spirituality in the formal worship books of the Church of Ireland.  While characteristics such as flexibility, inculturation, and imagination and not in any sense absent from the 2004 Book of Common Prayer, the book is nevertheless characterized above all else by a desire for unity in the worship of God’s people–something greatly treasured in the Church of Ireland, not least because of our other political, cultural, and theological divisions on the island of Ireland.  This desire is, therefore, part of our own inculturation in a varied and sometimes divided community.  The theme song of the 1878 preface to the Book of Common Prayer is very much part of the psyche of the Church of Ireland when it states:  “What is imperfect wiht peace is often better than what is otherwise excellent without it.”

Indeed, unity is what The Book of Common Prayer (2004) is meant to maintain.  For example the rite for the Ash Wednesday service does not mention the imposition of ashes.  As Bishop Miller said at Yale University,

Reference to such a custom might divide.

My use of the book  has been restricted to private devotional purposes.  So I am not equipped to comment on whether the volume has had a unifying effect.  Bishop Miller says that it has had such an effect; I take his word for that.

The book itself is a handsome volume.  The green hardcover book features a Celtic cross and the words

THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER

on the front cover.  The spine displays smaller versions of each of those features.  There are three ribbon bookmarks (white, light green, and dark green) for the user’s convenience.  The paper quality inside is excellent and the font is easy to read.  The rubrics are even printed in red ink.  The volume demonstrates the care which people took in preparing it.

The services and prayers are a combination of Elizabethan and modern English.

  1. Morning and Evening Prayer (printed together with morning and evening portions labeled plainly) come in both forms.
  2. The rites for Holy Communion come in both forms.
  3. The rituals for Christian Initiation come in both forms.
  4. The marriage ceremony comes in both forms.
  5. The Funeral Services come in both forms.
  6. The ordination rites come in both forms.
  7. The Collects and Canticles come in both forms.
  8. Compline comes only in Elizabethan English yet A Late Evening Office comes only in modern English.
  9. The ashless Ash Wednesday service comes only in modern English.
  10. The Daily Prayer service, which comes only in modern English, features a seven-day cycle of thanksgivings and intercessions–a nice touch.
  11. The Psalter, borrowed from The Church of England’s Common Worship (2000), is stately modern English.  Those who prefer the modified Coverdale Psalter from The Book of Common Prayer (1926) have the option of using it instead.
  12. The “Some Prayers and Thanksgivings” section contains both Elizabethan and modern English language.

The most non-traditional service in the 2004 BCP is the Service of the Word, outlined on page 165 with three pages of instructions following.  The rubrics use the word “may” often, as in

A Psalm and/or a Scripture Song may precede or follow readings.

It reminds me of An Order for Celebrating the Holy Eucharist, a.k.a. Rite III, from The Book of Common Prayer (1979) in flexibility of structure.

The 2004 Prayer Book contains the Revised Common Lectionary for Sundays plus readings for major holy days and saints’ days.  The retention of the practice of numbering Sundays after Trinity, not Pentecost, is a holdover from olden times.  (The Episcopal switched to counting Sundays after Pentecost in the 1970s.)  The absence of a Daily Office lectionary seems odd to me, but the Worship Homepage of the denominational website provides that information.

I detect a careful Protestant-Roman Catholic balancing act taking place in the 2004 BCP.  This becomes evident not only in the ashless Ash Wednesday service but in a comparison of Holy Communion One (traditional) and Holy Communion Two (contemporary).  The language in both refers to the body and blood of Jesus in relation to the bread and the wine of the sacrament, but Holy Communion Two contains something crucial which Holy Communion One lacks.  The priest, at the breaking of the bread, says:

The bread which which we beak

is a sharing in the body of Christ.

The congregation responds:

We being many are one body,

for we all we share in the one bread.

Where is the Incarnation of Jesus in the sacrament located?  Is it situated in the bread and wine themselves?  Or is it a non-localized spiritual presence, as in Reformed theology?  The texts are vaguer on that point in Holy Communion Two than those of Holy Communion One are.  And one can read the language (without stretching them too much) in both rites to find them consistent with Transubstantiation or Consubstantiation, the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion not withstanding.  This vagueness need not be negative and my comments are not criticisms.  Much of the beauty of Anglicanism is located in its fence-straddling between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.  My own theology borrows generously from both sides.

CONCLUSION

The Book of Common Prayer (2004) has become a valuable part of my library.  I found its services online a few years ago, printed two of them, placed the pages in sheet protectors, and used the rituals.  But it is better to have a book sometimes, and I am a man of books.  True, the 2004 BCP is not a cutting-edge volume in regard to inclusive language or any other criterion, for it is a relatively cautious revision.  But it is a nice and graceful revision, a copy of which occupies space on the same shelf as A New Zealand Prayer Book, my favorite source for good cutting-edge liturgies.  I recognize the good in both and praise them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR

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A New Zealand Prayer Book/He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (1989)   2 comments

Flag of New Zealand

Above:  Flag of New Zealand

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The entire volume is now available here:

http://anglicanprayerbook.org.nz/contents.htm.

But a hardbound copy is still better.

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One may find other resources here:

http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/world.htm

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A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989) is a thoroughly modern resource.  It is also a departure from its predecessor, which resembled closely The Book of Common Prayer (1662).  But time and language march on, as should liturgy.

I will not attempt to replicate the excellent analysis of this volume from The Oxford Guide to The Book of Common Prayer (2006), edited by Charles Hefling and Cynthia Shattuck.  Kenneth Booth’s chapter on A New Zealand Prayer Book provides fine explanations of the book itself and its multicultural, theological, and liturgical contexts.  I refer you, O reader to The Oxford Guide for such analysis.  My purpose here is to provide personal reflections based on private use of the book.

A New Zealand Prayer Book, the prayer book of The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, is the result of a quarter-century of liturgical revision.  The result is a book in English, Maori, and Tongan.  And the English is modern and inclusive.  In the Night Prayer ritual, for example one finds a Maori translation and two English versions of the Lord’s Prayer.  One English rendering is fairly traditional, minus archaic language.  Be banished, Elizabethan English, from Prayer Books!  Get thee to the hills and remaineth there!  (That last part is just me being punchy.) The other English translation is wonderfully non-traditional:

Eternal Spirit,

Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,

Source of all that is and that shall be,

Father and Mother of us all,

Loving God, in whom is heaven.

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!

The way of your justice be followed by the people of the world!

Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!

Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.

In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.

From trials too great to endure, spare us.

From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,

now and for ever.  Amen.

Sometimes texts become so familiar in a certain translation as to become old hat.  Hearing or reading them in different translations helps one to encounter them afresh.

The Calendar is distinct to New Zealand, with the usual Universal Church holy days, of course.  So the Conversion of St. Paul is still January 25, the Annunciation is still March 25, the Transfiguration is still August 6, et cetera.  English and Maori saints (of various denominations) of the islands populate the Calendar, as do great Roman Catholic saints from antiquity to modern times.  And the Calendar includes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pope John XXIII, and Martin Luther King, Jr., as it should.

A New Zealand Prayer Book offers not only public services but private and family ones.  The rites for Daily Devotions fill pages 104-137, providing distinct morning and evening rituals for each day of the week.  In contrast, The Book of Common Prayer (1979) of my own Episcopal Church provides one form for a daily morning devotion, another for a Noontime devotion, a third for early evening, and a final one for the close of the day–one page each, four pages in all.

A New Zealand Prayer Book also provides a service called Midday Prayer, whereas The Book of Common Prayer (1979) offers An Order of Service for Noonday.  The New Zealand service provides more options, not that the Episcopal service is not lovely and meaningful.

Sometimes, in The Episcopal Church, we hear the lector read an unpleasant portion of Scripture, one which ends with people dead, injured seriously, struck blind, and stricken with a disease.  Then he or she says the prescribed prompt:

The Word of the Lord.

The congregation replies,

Thanks be to God.

If the reading comes from one of the Gospels and a deacon or priest reads it, he or she says,

The Gospel of the Lord.

The congregation replies,

Praise to you, Lord Christ.

This has proven to be awkward sometimes.  I recall that, on some occasions, the congregation has offered up a pregnant pause before saying half-heartedly,

Thanks be to God.

Someone has just died terribly or come down with a disease in the reading; are we to be thankful?  Fortunately, A New Zealand Prayer Book reduces the non-Gospel awkwardness.  The lector says,

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

Then the congregation answers,

Thanks be to God.

That is what I think when I use A New Zealand Prayer Book:

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church./Thanks be to God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 3, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF EDWARD CASWALL, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD PERRONET, BRITISH METHODIST PREACHER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GENEVIEVE, PROPHET

THE FEAST OF GLADYS AYLWARD, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY TO CHINA

The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992)   11 comments

Above:  Logo of The United Methodist Church

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The United Methodist Church (1968-) descends immediately from The Methodist Church (1939-1968) and The Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968), both products of mergers of older denominations with roots in the 1700s.  Methodism began as a revival movement within The Church of England, and so inherited part of the Prayer Book tradition.  John Wesley, a lifelong member of the See of Canterbury, abridged the 1662 Book of Common Prayer into the Sunday Service, which the first U.S. General Conference adopted in 1784.  Yet the General Conference of 1792 all but threw away the Sunday Service, under the pressures of revivalism and frontier realities.  And Holy Communion, which Wesley advised taking as often as possible, even daily, became in infrequent practice–perhaps once every three months.

The history of U.S. Methodism tells of increasing gentility during the Victorian Era, hence the proliferation of impressive church buildings in towns and cities.  (Presbyterians did much the same, by the way.)  And more formality in worship followed within such structures.  Yet the old ways persisted in many quarters.  Nevertheless, there was enough support for reclaiming a measure of Methodism’s Anglican heritage to warrant the beginning of the process of creating (in 1940-1944) The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1945).  Just in case one was especially livid and/or oblivious to disclaimers, the title page contained the phrase,

FOR VOLUNTARY AND OPTIONAL USE.

Meanwhile, the new Evangelical United Brethren Church published its first Book of Ritual in 1952.  Subsequent editions followed in 1955 and 1959.  And the church’s 1957 Hymnal contained prayers for various topics and occasions.  These special prayers did not replicate material from any edition of The Book of Ritual.  (I have copies of all four books, by the way.)

As the two denominations neared their 1968 merger The Methodist Church, with EUB input, prepared its 1965 Book of Worship for Church and Home (this time without any disclaimer on the title page) and Methodist Hymnal (later The Book of Hymns.)  [The United Methodist Church, by the way, had two official hymnals during its earliest years; the EUB Hymnal was only eleven years old in 1968.  And I have early 1970s official United Methodist magazines which refer to the two official hymnals.]  The 1965 Methodist Hymnal/Book of Hymns, like its 1905 and 1935 predecessors, contained communion rituals based on the one from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.  Any practicing Episcopalian of the time would have known, based on the 1928 Prayer Book in use at the time, what to do next.  I recall that, when I first encountered Holy Eucharist Rite I from the 1979 Prayer Book, I knew what to do next because of the old Methodist rituals.

All that said, I had the misfortune to grow up in United Methodist congregations which followed the old frontier pattern, including quarterly Holy Communion.  This did not satisfy me, for I was developing a form of piety centered on that sacrament.  By the time I had joined the See of Canterbury The United Methodist Church was trying to reclaim its

strong Wesleyan eucharistic tradition.

–Andy Langford, Blueprints for Worship:  A User’s Guide for United Methodist Congregations (Abingdon Press, 1993, page 42)

That word seems not to have reached the United Methodist congregations in the South Georgia Conference with which I had contact through late 2010, however.

The United Methodist Hymnal:  Book of United Methodist Worship (1989) and The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992) stress the centrality of Holy Communion, but the language of the modern rite is sadly uninspiring.  It has all the lack of appeal of too-old bread.  Although both volumes–companions, for the Book of Worship refers one to the Hymnal frequently–introduce forms for morning and evening prayer, the language there is likewise unsatisfactory.  And the less I write about the Compline analog in the Book of Worship, the better.  Modern English liturgies can be graceful; witness The Book of Common Prayer (1979) and A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989).  I also find the Irish Book of Common Prayer (2004) quite impressive and poetic.  So there is no excuse for the bad modern English of these United Methodist rituals.

On the other hand, the 1992 Book of Worship contains much that is useful.  One finds, for example, resources for Martin Luther King, Jr., Sunday and for a Quinceanara; the denomination has become more diverse and racially progressive since 1965.  The healing prayers seem as if they would be helpful in the presence of another person–such as a member of the clergy–or alone.  The topics of these prayers range from AIDS to divorce to addiction.  Of course, one would have to remove the Book of Worship from the church office for that to happen.

Therein lies the main problem:  the Book of Worship is not in the pews, except perhaps here and there.  Almost all United Methodists to whom I have mentioned the book learned of its existence from me.  Low Church inertia has been the rule in U.S. Methodism since the late 1700s, and I do not know that this fact will ever change.  When, in 1792, the General Conference all but threw away Wesley’s Sunday Service, it set a bad pattern into motion.  As Frederick A. Norwood wrote in The Story of American Methodism (Abingdon Press, 1974, page 229):

Although forms were later provided, the damage was done.

The editions of The Book of Worship and The Book of Ritual  have been noble attempts to do liturgy properly, but, if nobody follows one, one is not a leader; one is merely taking a walk.  And, if relatively few people follow….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 28, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PLUTARCH, MARCELLA, POTANOMINAENA, AND BASILIDES OF ALEXANDRIA, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT IRANAEUS OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF RANDOLPH ROYALL CLAIBORNE, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

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