Archive for the ‘Book of Common Worship (1906)’ Tag

Incense, Mustiness, and Sanctity   7 comments

Book of Common Worship 1993

Above:  The Title Page of the Book of Common Worship (1993)

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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One does not plead for the use of incense–Presbyterians are not likely to come to that–but at least one may protest against mistaking a general odor of mustiness for the odor of sanctity.

–Kenneth J. Foreman, Professor of Philosophy and Bible, Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina, in “Better Worship for Better Living,” Presbyterian Survey, August 1932, page 482

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Foreman’s words struck a chord with me a few years ago, when I found the quote while conducting research.  In fact, I chuckled quietly, as I was in a library at the time.  And, as I have affirmed since, Foreman was correct.

The worship of the living God ought to be an activity characterized by decorum and great dignity.  This attitude of mine explains why I dislike revivalism, the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, and contemporary worship, and why I gravitate toward good liturgy.  And yes, I like the use of incense.  Some of the rural United Methodist congregations my father served in southern Georgia, U.S.A., were musty by Foreman’s standard.  Prolonged exposure and subjection to bad liturgy starved my soul.  Now, fortunately, good liturgy has become my steady diet.

U.S. Presbyterianism, despite its strong Puritan-influenced rejection of formal worship, comes from the Church of Scotland, which had a formal liturgy in the 1500s.  (The Church of Scotland, which has had its liturgical ups and downs over the centuries, retains an edition of the Book of Common Order.)  Formal worship–including frequent Holy Communion–is part of the Reformed Christian heritage–its tradition.  Yet this fact constitutes news to many pious Reformed Christians, especially in the United States, where many such congregations follow worship patterns influenced more by Puritanism and bygone rugged frontier conditions than their Protestant Reformation heritage.  As The Worship Sourcebook, Second Edition (2013), a product of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, states:

The biblical Psalms may well have functioned as a prayer book for the people of Israel.  Some of the earliest Christians compiled their advice about forms and patterns of worship into church order documents, the first of which, the Didache, dates back perhaps into the first century A.D.  Over time, especially in the early Medieval period, these documents grew very complex, with detailed instructions about every aspect of worship.

In the Reformation period Martin Luther and John Calvin called for significant changes to recommended or dictated patterns of worship by simplifying the structure and testing every text by theological criteria.  Out of the various Reformation traditions, the Anglican and Lutheran traditions retained the most detailed instructions.  The Anglican tradition preserved common patterns and texts for worship in the famous Book of Common Prayer, while the Lutherans did so in several editions of service books, adapted for use in each town. The Reformed tradition was also a service book tradition, albeit with far simpler liturgy.  In addition to the influence of Huldrych Zwingli’s liturgy, Calvin’s Genevan liturgies were adapted for use in Scotland and Hungary, while new liturgies that were developed near Heidelberg, Germany, became influential in the Netherlands.  Throughout the early decades of the Reformation, pastors did not create new orders of service for worship each week, as so many do today.  Worship was, to the surprise of many contemporary readers, “by the book.”

Despite this tradition, most evangelical and even many Reformed and Presbyterian congregations in North America have resisted the use of formal service books and set liturgies.  This resistance resulted partly from the influence of Puritan critiques of “by the book worship, which were much more stringent than critiques offered by the Reformers.  Other influences included the formation of early Methodist, Baptist, Anabaptist, and other “free church” congregations. as well as the spread of North American populism, pragmatism, and revivalism.  Congregations in many streams of North American Christianity have long resisted being told how to structure worship and have cherished their ability to respond to their own preferences and sense of what is most effective.

As a result, thousands of North American congregations today owe a great deal both to both a two-thousand-year history of service books and to the legacy of North American freedom and populism.  In recent years amid remarkable changes in the practice of worship, hundreds of those congregations are looking for new ways to appropriate both of these aspects of their identity.  Some efforts go by the names “blended worship,” “convergence worship,” or even “ancient-future” worship.  But despite vast and remarkable growth in contemporary music based on popular styles, many of the best-selling books on worship today are, ironically, studies of worship in the early church, prayer books for formal daily prayer, and books about the recovery of the sacraments.  Recent innovations under the umbrella of terms like “postmodern worship” and “alternative worship” sometimes feature even greater interest in traditional forms and texts than in the “contemporary worship” of the 1980s and 1990s–though in configurations that elude easy categorization.

–Pages 28 and 29

Worship the Lord 2005

Above:  The Cover of Worship the Lord:  The Liturgy of the Reformed Church in America (2005)

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Laudable Reformed Christian rituals and service books exist.  I point, for example, to the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (1993)  and Book of Occasional Services (1999) as well as to the Reformed Church in America’s Worship the Lord (2005), all of which grace my liturgy library (the Book of Occasional Services as a free PDF).  But how many PC(USA) churchgoers know of their Book of Common Worship?  And how many Reformed Church in America worshipers attend congregations which make little use of the 2005 liturgy?

The first words which enter my mind when I ponder worship in the Presbyterian Church are

decently and in order.

In other words, I think of decorum and great dignity–even if the forms are simpler than they are elsewhere.  Worship patterns vary within denominations, of course, so this generalization does not apply universally among Presbyterians (or members of other denominations).  Yet I affirm the historic Presbyterian commitment to dignity and decorum in worship.

There is a High Church Presbyterian movement; it has existed in its renewed form since at least the middle 1800s.  I have availed myself of archive.org and downloaded certain congregational and semi-official and official service books from Reformed churches.  Such downloaded files join volumes, such as every edition of the U.S. Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (starting with the 1906 edition) as invaluable parts of my liturgy library.  I have found denunciations of these “Episcoterian” tendencies in certain online forums.  Perhaps the authors of some of these posts need to review the history of their own tradition and ponder Professor’s Foreman’s critique.

I will be in my Episcopal parish, bowing to the high altar and to processional crosses most Sunday mornings.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 7, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES HEWITT MCGOWN, HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DRAUSINUS AND ANSERICUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF SOISSONS; SAINT VINDICIAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF CAMBRAI; AND SAINT LEODEGARIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF AUTUN

THE FEAST OF EDWARD OSLER, ENGLISH DOCTOR, EDITOR, AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT PERPETUA AND HER COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

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Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal (2013)   3 comments

Glory to God The Presbyterian Hymnal November 16, 2013

Above:  My Copy of the Hymnal

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I am, in the words of someone I know, a “liturgy geek.”  I am also the kind of Episcopalian who, though closer to Lutheranism than to the Reformed tradition, understands U.S. Presbyterian history better than most U.S. Presbyterians.  Part of my family tree is Presbyterian, so that interest comes to me naturally, even though my spiritual type is Anglican-Lutheran-Catholic, in that order.  (Yes, I was born to be an Episcopalian, even though I had to convert to that denomination.)

My credentials for writing about U.S. Presbyterian worship are strong.  I have written at length on the topic at this weblog, focusing mostly on editions of the Book of Common Worship (1906, 1932, 1946, 1970/1972, and 1993).  My library includes official Presbyterian hymnals from 1874, 1901, 1927, 1933, 1955, 1972, 1990, and now 2013, not to mention all editions of the Book of Common Worship.  Reference works on U.S. Presbyterianism sit on shelves, as do copies of the Book of Order and the Book of Confessions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  Once upon a time I was on a track to become a historian of U.S. Presbyterianism, focusing on the prehistory of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) via analysis of the racist and reactionary magazine which midwifed it, but that path ended when my major professor at The University of Georgia (UGA) cut my doctoral program short seven years ago.  Perhaps it is for the best that I have taken a different path; I prefer to focus on the positive side.  But, in the words of an old song,

No, no, no, they can’t take that away from me.

I remain well-informed on U.S. Presbyterianism.  And I still have every note card documenting every editorial defense of racial segregation (usually recycled defenses of slavery) and every criticism of the Civil Rights Movement.  (At least the PCA General Assembly had the decency to apologize for such racism about ten years ago.  I give credit where it is due.)

Presbyterian Books November 16, 2013

Above:  The Presbyterian Hymnal (1990), Book of Common Worship (1993), and Glory to God (2013)

Some explanation of the background of Glory to God might help.  The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns (1972) was a combination service book-hymnal, a successor to the 1946 Book of Common Worship and The Hymnal (1933) and The Hymnbook (1955).  Unfortunately, the organization of hymns in The 1972 volume was alphabetical order.  The Worshipbook‘s two immediate successors were The Presbyterian Hymnal:  Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs (1990) and Book of Common Worship (1993).  Now the latter volume has a new companion:  Glory to God:  The Presbyterian Hymnal.

The Presbyterian Hymnal (1990) broke new ground in U.S. Presbyterianism by using the church year as an organizing principle.  Thus “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” was hymn #1.  Glory to God, without abandoning the church year, subsumes it inside the organizing principle of salvation history, focusing primarily on what God has done, sequentially, in good Reformed fashion.  Thus Trinitiarian hymns lead.  The first hymn is “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!”  After the Trinitarian hymns come other sections (also under the heading, “God’s Mighty Acts”) labeled:

  • Creation and Providence;
  • God’s Covenant with Israel;
  • Jesus Christ;
  • Gift of the Holy Spirit;
  • The Church;
  • The Life of the Nations;
  • Christ’s Return and Judgment; and
  • A New Heaven and a New Earth.

Then the headings “The Church at Worship” and “Our Response to God,” each subdivided, follow.

The Theological Vision Statement explains the rationale for the salvation history theme:

This collection of hymns and songs, however, will be published different conditions than those that molded previous hymnals.  It will be offered in a world in which trust in human progress has been undermined and where ecclectic spiritualities often fail to satisfy deep spiritual hungers.  It will be used by worshipers who have not had life-long formation by Scripture and basic Christian doctrine, much less Reformed theology.  It is meant for a church marked by growing diversity in liturgical practice.  Moreover, it addresses a church divided by conflicts but nonetheless, we believe, longing for healing and then peace that is beyond understanding.

To inspire and embolden a church facing these formidable challenges, the overarching theme of this collection will be God’s powerful acts of creation, redemption, and final transformation.  It will also bespeak the human responses that God’s gracious acts make possible.  In other words, the framework for the collection will be the history of salvation.

Glory to God, page 926

Glory to God, unlike its 1990 predecessor, includes my favorite hymn, “I Bind Unto Myself Today.”  (Score one for the new book!)  In The Hymnal 1982, which I use each Sunday, that hymn has seven verses and fills three pages.  The Presbyterian version, however, has six verses and fills three pages.  The omitted verse follows:

I bind unto myself the power of the great love of cherubim;

the sweet “Well done” in judgment hour;

the service of the seraphim;

confessor’s faith, apostles’ word,

the patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls;

all good deeds done unto the Lord,

and purity of virgin souls.

The last two lines cross run afoul of Reformed and Lutheran theology, for the the current U.S. Lutheran hymnals I have checked which include this hymn also omit that verse.

Glory to God contains more services than most of its predecessors, with The Worshipbook (1972) being the exception.  

  1. The Presbyterian Hymnal (1874) and The New Psalms and Hymns (1901) offered just words, music, and indices.  
  2. The Presbyterian Hymnal (1927) included responsive readings.
  3. The Hymnal (1933) included responsive readings, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, one page of Opening Sentences, and the two-page Brief Statement of the Reformed Faith (1902, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.).
  4. The Hymnbook (1955) contained responsive readings plus a short section called “Aids to Worship,” which included Calls to Worship, Invocations, Prayers of Confession, Assurances of Pardon, Prayers of Thanksgiving, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Nicene Creed, and the Apostles’ Creed.  
  5. The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns (1972) incorporated the entirety of The Worshipbook–Services (1970), really the fourth Book of Common Worship.
  6. And The Presbyterian Hymnal (1990) included the outline of the Service for the Lord’s Day (with texts) as well as the Creeds in English, Spanish, and Korean.
  7. Glory to God offers the Service for the Lord’s Day, the Sacrament of Baptism, Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant, Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Prayer at the Close of Day.  These services are edited versions of the full forms from Book of Common Worship (1993), sometimes with material not in the 1993 volume.  The new hymnal also offers the Creeds, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the denominational Brief Statement of Faith in English, Spanish, and Korean.

I have read of some minor controversy regarding Glory to God online.  The hymnal committee, unable to acquire a copyright holder’s permission to alter a certain new hymn, chose to omit it.  C’est la vie.  The omitted hymn, in its unaltered form, affirmed the Penal Substitution understanding of the Atonement, a barbaric theology.  I am more of a Classic Theory of the Atonement man, so I have no problem with this editorial decision.  And I know that Presbyterians have been arguing about hymnals in North America since at least the 1750s, when the New York City congregation purchased an Isaac Watts hymnal which included hymns not based on Psalms.  Those who seek an argument will always find a basis for one.  I dislike contemporary praise music and most spirituals, preferring wordy European hymns.  Thus I would have made some choices which the hymnal committee did not.  But the book contains more meritorious content than dross, so I affirm the good and focus on it.

Among the meritorious aspects of Glory to God is its Lectionary Index, which lists hymns matched to the Revised Common Lectionary.  The three-year break-down by Sunday and holy day impresses me.  I think of The Book of Common Worship (Revised) (1932), with its lectionary barely deserving of that title, and realize how far these Presbyterians have come.

I look forward to exploring the riches of Glory to God:  The Presbyterian Hymnal (2013) for years to come.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 17, 2013 COMMON ERA

PROPER 28–THE TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSE-PHILIPPINE DUCHESNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC CONTEMPLATIVE

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUGH OF LINCOLN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROQUE GONZALEZ DE SANTA CRUZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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Revised slightly on November 19, 2013

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Solemn Promises: Baptismal Vows in Rites of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Predecessor Bodies, 1906-1993   8 comments

124002pv

Above:  Pulpit and Baptismal Font, First Presbyterian Church of Ulysses, Trumansburg, New York

Image Created by the Historic American Buildings Survey

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ny1328.photos.124002p/)

Reproduction Number = HABS NY,55-TRUM,1–10

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I.  MY PURPOSE

My purpose in this post is to write about baptismal vows in Directories for Worship and baptismal rites of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its predecessor bodies, following chiefly the five editions of the Book of Common Worship (1906-1993) so far.  I am aware of germane material relating to this topic in certain other bodies, such as the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARPC), the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), and the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).  Yet that material resides beyond the purview of this post and my interests today.

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II.  BACKGROUND

The first of four denominations (two of them concurrent) to bear the name Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.) (PCUSA) met in General Assembly for the first time in 1789.  The commissioners adopted the Directory for the Worship of God (http://archive.org/details/formofgovernment00pres), adapted from the original Directory for the Publick Worship of God (1645).  Although John Knox had provided ritual forms for the Church of Scotland in the 1500s, Presbyterianism came under Puritan influence shortly thereafter, this Directories, with their guidelines and suggestions, replaced service book (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/a-brief-history-of-u-s-presbyterian-worship-to-1905/).  The Church of Scotland, by the way, recovered Knox’s service book in the 1800s (http://archive.org/details/bookofcommonorde01chur).  And High Churchmanship here and there in the PCUSA during the 1800s led to the first, authorized Book of Common Worship (http://archive.org/details/bookcommonworsh00assegoog) in 1906.  But Puritan influences continue to shape Presbyterianism.  And Puritanism clashes with my spiritual type.

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III.  THE DIRECTORY FOR THE WORSHIP OF GOD (1789)

The Directory for the Worship of God (1789) was in effect in the succession of bodies called the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (PCUSA) through 1958 (when the last one merged with The United Presbyterian Church of North America to form The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.)., in The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.  (UPCUSA) through 1961, and in mostly Southern Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) through 1894.  Thus the 1906, 1932, and 1946 versions of The Book of Common Worship had to conform to this document.  That fact makes the 1789 Directory more relevant than it would be otherwise to my inquiry today.

The 1789 Directory contains guidelines for conducting baptism.

The minister, when conducting the baptism of a child, reminds the parents/guardians that children are holy but

that we are by nature, sinful, guilty, and polluted, and have need of sanctifying influences of the Spirit of God.

Next the minister instructs the parents/guardians

That they teach the child to read the Word of God; that they instruct it in the principles of our holy religion, as contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; an excellent summary of which we have in the Confession of Faith of this Church, and in the Larger and Shorter Catechisms of the Westminster Assembly, which are to be recommended to them, as adapted by this church, for their direction and assistance, in the discharge of this important duty; that they pray with and for it, that they set an example of piety and godliness before it; and endeavour, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring up their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Then the minister blesses and baptizes the child.

Later, when the baptized has learned to recite the Catechism, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer, has learned the faith as taught to him or her, and has

come to years of discretion,

while being

free and scandal,

appearing

sober and steady,

and having

sufficient knowledge to discern the Lord’s body,

therefore being ready to begin to take Communion, he or she, before the church elders,

shall be examined

as to his or her

knowledge and piety

to the elders’ satisfaction.

Unbaptized people seeking to join to church must

after giving satisfaction with respect to their knowledge and piety, make a public profession of their faith in the presence of the congregation; and thereupon be baptized.

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IV.  THE DIRECTORY FOR THE WORSHIP OF GOD (1894)

The Southern Presbyterian Directory for the Worship of God (1894) (http://archive.org/details/constitutionofp00pres) contains some optional forms, but not one for baptism.  Its guidelines regarding Christian initiation retain the 1789 standards, adjust some language slightly, and add questions.  There are now, for example, three optional model questions to follow the minister’s instructions to the parents/guardians:

Do you acknowledge your child’s need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit?

Do you claim God’s covenant promises in his behalf and do you look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for his salvation, as you do for your own?

Do you now unreservedly dedicate your child to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that you will endeavor to set before him a godly example, that you will pray with and for him, that you will teach him the doctrines of our holy religion, and that you will strive, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

Likewise, the 1894 Directory establishes four model questions for those professing their faith and seeking to join the church:

Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving his displeasure, and without hope save his sovereign mercy?

Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Saviour of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon him alone for salvation as he is offered in the gospel?

Do you now reserve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to walk as becometh the followers of Christ, forsaking all sin, and conforming your life to his teaching and example?

Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the church, and promise to study its purity and peace?

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V.  THE UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF NORTH AMERICA, 1858-1958

The United Presbyterian Church of North America (UPCNA)  (http://archive.org/details/testimony00unit) adopted its revised Book of Government and Worship (http://archive.org/details/digestofprinci00unit) in 1910.  The 1926 version of it, containing amendments passed from 1911 to 1925, provides guidance regarding baptism.

Parents/guardians must answer the following questions:

Do you now take God as your God in covenant, and as the God of your children?

Do you renew the profession you made when you were admitted to the Church?

Do you solemnly promise, if God shall spare your life and that of your children, to train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; to instruct them in regard to their lost condition by nature, and to lead them to the Saviour; to pray with them and for them, to worship God regularly in your family; to set before them an example of piety; and to use all the appointed means of salvation?

People baptized as adults make a public profession of faith and receive baptism by water.  They promise

to cultivate the spirit of Christian fellowship and brotherly love, and to seek the welfare of the congregation

while a member of it.

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VI.  THE BOOK OF COMMON WORSHIP (1906), THE BOOK OF COMMON WORSHIP (REVISED) (1932), AND THE BOOK OF COMMON WORSHIP (1946)

The 1870-1958 incarnation of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. published three versions of The Book of Common Worship (BCW).

The 1906 BCW (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/the-book-of-common-worship-1906/), although authorized by the General Assembly, was unofficial and optional.  And many PCUS ministers found some of its contents useful, despite the fact that the Southern Presbyterian General Assembly never authorized its use.  The PCUS General Assembly did authorized the use of the PCUSA’s 1932 and 1946 versions of the BCW, however.

The 1906 ritual for baptism requires the parents/guardians to answer the following questions affirmatively:

Do you accept, for yourself and for your Child, the covenant of God, and therein consecrate your Child to Him?

Do you promise to instruct your Child in the principles of our holy religion, as contained in the Scriptures, to pray with him and for him, and to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

Adults being baptized answer the following questions:

Do you receive and profess the Christian faith and in this faith do you desire to be baptized?

Do you confess your sins, and turn from them with godly sorrow, and put all your trust in the mercy of God, which is in Christ Jesus; and do you promise in His strength to lead a sober, righteous, and godly life?

One who confirms baptismal vows confesses

Christ as Lord,

adhering

to the Christian faith,

ratifying and confirming his or her baptismal vows, and promising

with God’s help to serve the Lord, and keep His commandments all the days

one one’s life.  Then one answers the the following question:

Now desiring to be received to the Lord’s Supper, do you promise to make diligent use of the means of grace, submitting yourself to the lawful authority and guidance of the Church, and continuing in the peace and fellowship of the people of God?

The 1932 (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-book-of-common-worship-revised-1932/) Christian initiation rites are identical to those of 1906.

The 1946 (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-book-of-common-worship-1946/) Christian initiation rites are similar to those of 1906 and 1932, with one notable change:  Adults being baptized and renewing their baptismal covenants affirm the Apostles’ Creed also.

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VII.  THE WORSHIPBOOK (1970/1972)

Different language appears in the baptismal rites in the late 1960s and early 1970s (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-worshipbook-services-and-hymns-1972-services/).

The questions (with answers), directed to parents/guardians or to the baptismal candidates, follow:

Who is your Lord and Savior?

Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.

Do you trust in him?

I do.

Do you intend (your child) to be his disciple, to obey his word and show his love?

I do.

Will you be a faithful member of this congregation, giving of yourself in every way, and will you seek the fellowship of the church wherever you may be?

I will.

At confirmation one answers the first two questions and a variant of the fourth.

These rites are consistent with the 1961 Directory of The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA) and the 1963 Directory of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS).

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VIII.  BOOK OF COMMON WORSHIP (1993)

The Directory for Worship (1989) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) lists the required elements of baptism in that denomination.  Among these are:

Those desiring the Sacrament of Baptism of their children or for themselves shall make vows that

(a)  profess their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,

(b)  renounce evil and affirm their reliance on God’s grace,

(c)  declare their intention to participate actively and responsibly in the worship and mission of the church,

(d)  declare their intention to provide for the Christian nurture of the child.

–W-3.3603

The Book of Common Worship (1993) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/book-of-common-worship-1993/) provides a variety of baptismal texts, which I will quote here quite partially.  The renunciations, long parts of the baptismal rituals in many denominations, appear now in Presbyterian rites.  The baptismal candidates, for example, renounce

evil and its power in the world

in two options and

all evil, and powers in the world which defy God’s righteousness and love

plus

the ways of sin that separate you from the love of God

in another.  There is also the Consultation on Common Texts service for baptism, in which one renounces, in order:

Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God;

the evil powers of this world, which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God;

all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God;

evil and its power in the world, which defy God’s righteousness and love;

the ways of sin that separate you from the love of God.

The renunciations and affirmations associated with baptism recur in the confirmation ritual and the rite for the public profession of faith.

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IX.  CONCLUSION

There is no single correct way to cover the serious liturgical work of baptismal vows.  One can do much of it via renunciations, but, if one words affirmations properly, one can cover the same content in purely positive terms.  How to do it best is a matter of taste.

As I read the texts for this blog post I noticed much continuity amid change from one generation to the next.  I chose not to quote extensively from the 1993 texts, but they echo and quote previous Presbyterian liturgies while expanding upon them.  The 1993 texts are, I think, the best which the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) tradition offers.

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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 have spent becoming an expert on U.S. Presbyterianism.  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 Worship.  Louisville, KY:  Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993.

Book of Common Worship, The.  Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1906.  Reprint, 1922.

Book of Common Worship, The.  Philadelphia, PA:  Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, 1946.

Book of Common Worship (Revised), The.  Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, 1932.  Reprint, 1942.

Confessional Statement and The Book of Government and Worship of The United Presbyterian Church of North America, The.  Pittsburgh, PA:  United Presbyterian Board of Publication and Bible School Work, 1926.

Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), The.  Part II.  Book of Order 2004-2005.  Louisville, KY:  Office of the General Assembly, 2004.

Psalms and Hymns Adapted to Social, Private, and Public Worship in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.  Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Education, 1843.

Worshipbook:  Services and Hymns, The.  Philadelphia:  Westminster Press, 1972.

KRT

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He Descended: Christ’s Descent in the Apostles’ Creed   4 comments

Harrowing of Hades

Above:  The Harrowing of Hades

A Medieval Russian Orthodox Icon

Image in the Public Domain

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U.S. LUTHERAN LITURGY, PART XVII

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Christ himself died once and for all for sins, the upright doing for the sake of the guilty, to lead us to God.  In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life, and, in the spirit he went to preach to the spirits in prison.

–1 Peter 3:18-19, The New Jerusalem Bible

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…He descended into hell….

The Book of Common Worship (1946), page 47

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I.  INTRODUCTION

I take a break from focusing on specific U.S. Lutheran volumes to write about a related theological question instead.  When I grew up in The United Methodist Church, we said the Apostles’ Creed weekly.  Item #738 in The Methodist Hymnal (1966), renamed The Book of Hymns after the 1968 merger, is the Apostles’ Creed.  That version omits

He descended into Hell,

relegating it to a footnote.  Items #881 and 882 in The United Methodist Hymnal (1989) are the Apostle’s Creed–traditional and ecumenical versions.  Both follow the 1966 Hymnal‘s practice.  And both explain that “catholic” means universal, something which the editors of the 1966 Hymnal saw no need to do.  But that is a different matter and a rabbit I will not chase here.

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II.  POSSIBLE MEANINGS OF THE DESCENT

Philip H. Pfatteicher, the great Lutheran liturgical scholar, points out that the literal translation of the Latin text of that line from the Apostles’ Creed is:

He descended to the lower [world].

Furthermore, Pfatteicher writes, there are three main interpretations of what that means:

  • It emphasizes that Jesus was dead.
  • It indicates that Jesus went to battle Satan.
  • It indicates that Jesus freed the souls of the dead.

The English Language Liturgical Consultation (1988) version of the Apostles’s Creed renders that line:

he descended to the dead,

which applies to all three interpretations.

I prefer the traditional form:

He descended into hell.

This has been the standard U.S. Lutheran rendering, based on my secondary reading and opening of hymnals-service books in my liturgy library.  It remains the text in conservative U.S. Lutheran hymnals-service books and was likewise in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) line until Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), which uses the ecumenical version, with

He descended to the dead,

and places the traditional

He descended into hell

in a footnote.  But the descent is present.

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III.  MATTERS LUTHERAN AND REFORMED

Christ’s descent has been a hot potato for many Protestants over time.  Methodists have tended to avoid it, but at least Presbyterians have wrestled with it.  The Book of Common Worship (1906), of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., for example, placed

He descended into hell

inside brackets and provided an alternative text in a footnote:

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

The Book of Common Worship (Revised) (1932) removed the brackets but provided a different alternative text:

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

The Book of Common Worship (1946) said simply that Christ descended into hell, but our Lord and Savior has descended to the dead since 1970.  That is more than many Calvinists were willing to say for along time.  The Heidelberg Catechism (1562), Question 44 explains the descent into hell this way:

That in my severest tribulations I may be assured that Christ my Lord has redeemed me from hellish anxieties and torment by the unspeakable anguish, pain, and terrors which he suffered in his soul both on the cross and before.

The Book of Concord, however, affirms Christ’s descent into hell.  The Formula of Concord, Epitome IX (1577), says:

This article has also been disputed among some theologians who have subscribed to the Augsburg Confession:  When and in what manner did the Lord Christ, according to our simple Christian faith, descend to hell?  Was this done before or after His death?  Was this done before or after His death?  Did this happen only to His soul, only to the divinity, or with body and soul, spiritually or bodily?  Does this article belong to Christ’s passion or to His glorious victory and triumph?

This article, like the preceding article, cannot be grasped by the senses or by our reason.  It must be grasped through faith alone.  Therefore, it is our unanimous opinion that there should be no dispute over it.  It should be believed and taught only in the simplest way.  Teach it like Dr. Luther, of blessed memory, in his sermon at Torgau in the year 1533.  He has explained this article in a completely Christian way.  He separated all useless, unnecessary questions from it, and encouraged all godly Christians to believe with Christian simplicity.

It is enough to know that Christ descended into hell, destroyed hell for all believers, and delivered them from the power of condemnation and the jaws of hell.  We will save our questions and not curiously investigate about how this happened until the other world.  Then not only this mystery but others will be revealed that we simply believe here and cannot grasp with our blind reason.

The Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration IX (1577) affirms:

Even in the Ancient Christian teachers of the Church, as well as among some of our teachers, different explanations of the article about Christ’s descent to hell are found.  Therefore, we abide in the simplicity of our Christian faith.  Dr. Luther has pointed us to this in a sermon about Christ’s descent to hell, which he delivered in the castle at Torgau in the year 1533.  In the Creed we confess, “I believe….in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who…was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell.”  In this Confession Christ’s burial and descent to hell are distinguished as separate articles.  We simply believe that the entire person (God and man) descended into hell after the burial, conquered the devil, destroyed hell’s power, and took from the devil all his might.  We should not, however, trouble ourselves with high and difficult thoughts about how this happened.  With our reason and our five senses this article can be understood as little as the preceding one about how Christ is placed at the right hand of God’s almighty power and majesty.  We are simply to believe it and cling to the Word.  So we hold to the substance and consolation that neither hell nor the devil can take captive or injure us and all who believe in Christ.

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IV.  CONCLUSION

The descent of Christ is an important theological point, not one which any Christian should sweep under an ecclesiastical rug.  But it is also a theological point replete with mystery and ambiguity.  Self-identified orthodox Christians have, since the Patristic era, offered competing interpretations of it.  I prefer the Harrowing of Hell version, but it is sufficient for me that a version of the Apostles’ Creed contain Christ’s descent.  Whether it says that he descended into hell or to the dead is a minor issue.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 26, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANNE AND JOACHIM, PARENTS OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship.  Minneapolis, MN:  Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, 1994.

Book of Common Worship.  Louisville, KY:  Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993.

Book of Common Worship, The.  Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1906.

Book of Common Worship, The.  Philadelphia, PA:  Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, 1946.

Book of Common Worship (Revised), The.  Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, 1932.

Book of Hymns.  Milwaukee, WI:  Northwestern Publishing House, 1917.  Reprint, 1932.

Christian Worship:  A Lutheran Hymnal.  Milwaukee, WI:  Northwestern Publishing House, 1993.

Commission on the Liturgy and Hymnal, The.  Service Book and Hymnal.  Music Edition.  Philadelphia, PA:  United Lutheran Publication House, 1958.

Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church.  Philadelphia, PA:  The Board of Publication of The United Lutheran Church in America, 1917, 1918.

Concordia:  A Collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Publishing House, 1917.

Concordia:  The Lutheran Confessions–A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord.  2d. Ed.  Paul Timothy McCain, General Editor.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 2006.

Concordia Hymnal, The:  A Hymnal for Church, School and Home.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Publishing House, 1932.

Constitution of the Prebyterian Church (U.S.A.), The.  Part I.  Book of Confessions.  Louisville, KY:  Office of the General Assembly, 1996.

Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary.  St. Louis, MO:  MorningStar Music Publishers, Inc., 1996.

Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America, The.  The Lutheran Hymnal.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1941.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Fortress, 2006.

Fevold, Eugene L.  The Lutheran Free Church:  A Fellowship of American Lutheran Congregations, 1897-1963.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Publishing House, 1969.

Hymnal and Order of Service, The.  Lectionary Edition.  Rock Island, IL:  Augustana Book Concern, 1925.

Hymnal for Church and Home.  3d. Ed.  Blair, NE:  Danish Lutheran Publishing House, 1938.

Hymnal Supplement 98.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1998.

Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship.  Lutheran Book of Worship.  Ministers Desk Edition.  Philadelphia, PA:  Board of Publication, Lutheran Church in America, 1978.

__________.  Lutheran Book of Worship.  Pew Edition.  Philadelphia, PA:  Board of Publication, Lutheran Church in America, 1978.

Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship for Provisional Use.  Contemporary Worship 2:  Services–The Holy Communion.  Philadelphia, PA:  Board of Education, Lutheran Church in America, 1970.

Lutheran Hymnary Including the Symbols of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, The.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Publishing House, 1935.

Lutheran Intersynodical Hymnal Committee.  American Lutheran Hymnal.  Music Edition.  Columbus, OH:  The Lutheran Book Concern, 1930.

Lutheran Service Book.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 2006.

Lutheran Worship.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1982.

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

Pfatteicher, Philip H.  Commentary on the Lutheran Book of Worship:  Lutheran Liturgy in Its Ecumenical Context.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Fortress, 1990.

Pfatteicher, Philip H., and Carlos R. Messerli.  Manual on the Liturgy:  Lutheran Book of Worship.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Publishing House, 1979.

Reed, Luther D.  The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study in the Common Service of the Lutheran Church in America.  Philadelphia, PA:  Muhlenberg Press, 1947.

__________.  The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study in the Common Liturgy of the Lutheran Church in America.  2d. Ed.  Philadelphia, PA:  Fortress Press, 1959.

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

With One Voice:  A Lutheran Resource for Worship.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Fortress, 1995.

Worship Supplement.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1969.

Worshipbook, The:  Services and Hymns.  Philadelphia, PA:  Westminster Press, 1972.

KRT

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The Book of Common Worship (1946)   14 comments

Snapshot_20130702

Above:  The Title Page of The Book of Common Worship (1946)

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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/

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-book-of-common-worship-revised-1932/

Reading them first will enhance one’s comprehension of this post.

THE AUTHOR

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INTRODUCTION

The Church of Scotland, in 1940, published its landmark Book of Church Order, which became one of the two primary foundations for The Book of Common Worship (1946).  The other main foundation was The Book of Common Prayer (1928).  Hugh Thompson Kerr (1872-1950), who had served on the committee which prepared The Book of Common Worship (Revised) (1932) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-book-of-common-worship-revised-1932/), served also on the committee which prepared the 1946 volume.  Kerr, who had earned his Th.D. from an Episcopal seminary, prepared the Eucharistic rite in the 1946 book.

The Book of Common Worship (1946), the third U.S. Presbyterian volume to bear that name yet the first to be not just authorized but official, is something of a historical-liturgical oddity.  It is a product of a time (1937-1948) when the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (PCUSA) and The Episcopal Church (then known officially as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, or PECUSA for short) were discussing a possible merger.  With all due respect to my Presbyterian brethren, I am glad that the organic union did not occur.  (Many of my Presbyterian brethren agree with me, I am sure.)  The merger would have been unworkable.  Sometimes it is better to remain separate and to cooperate when possible than to combine institutionally.

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BODY

The Book of Common Worship (1946) is light-years ahead of The Book of Common Worship (Revised) (1932), which it replaced, and of The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1945) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/the-book-of-worship-for-church-and-home-1945/), of The Methodist Church (1939-1968), another denomination part of which was breaking out of the shackles of long-term liturgical inadequacy.

The 1946 BCW, after the Preface and the Acknowledgments, gets down to business with prayers for preparation for worship–preparation by the congregation, preparation by the minister, and prayers with the choir.  Then follow six orders of Morning Worship, five orders of Evening Worship, two Services for Children, two Services for Young People, five Litanies, and the Commandments.  The orders of worship keep the sermon at the center of worship.

This was also true in The Episcopal Church at the time.  Prior to liturgical renewal in the 1960s and the 1970s, it was common for the usual Sunday service in Episcopal congregations to be Morning Prayer, with the Holy Communion on one Sunday each month.  The Book of Common Prayer (1979) has defined the Holy Eucharist as the central act of Christian worship, fortunately.

Back to the Presbyterians…..

Section III of the 1946 BCW is “The Sacraments and Ordinances of the Church.”  It contains rites for baptism, confirmation of baptismal vows, Holy Communion and preparation therefor, Holy Communion with the ill, marriage, the blessing of a civil marriage, the funeral, ordaining people and installing them in clergy and lay positions, recognizing various ministries of people on the congregational and larger church levels, dedicating a church, dedicating an organ, dedicating a gift to a congregation, laying a church cornerstone (now spelled without a hyphen), and organizing a church.

Section IV, “The Treasury of Prayers,” draws heavily from The Book of Common Worship (1906) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/the-book-of-common-worship-1906/), The Book of Common Prayer (1928), The Book of Common Worship (Revised) (1932), and The Book of Common Order (1940).  This section’s nine divisions are:

  1. Prayers for the Christian Year;
  2. Prayers for the Civil Year;
  3. Prayers for Special Use;
  4. Prayers for Special Graces;
  5. Dedication of Offerings;
  6. Ascriptions;
  7. Benedictions;
  8. Assurances of Pardon; and
  9. Family Prayers, subdivided into Special Intercessions, Brief Petitions, and Grace Before Meat.

The twenty-four pages of Prayers for the Christian Year are more impressive than anything in the two preceding books (1906 and 1932).

Since I am typing this post on July 3, I want to mention that the two Independence Day prayers from the 1946 BCW are those from the 1932 BCW(R).

The 1946 BCW closes with a two-year lectionary taken from The Book of Common Order (1940).  This detailed plan for reading the Bible provides a Psalm, an Old Testament lesson, an Epistle lection, and a Gospel lesson for morning and evening worship on Sundays as well as lections for each day of Holy Week and for Ascension Day.  Thus the 1946 BCW is the first U.S. Presbyterian volume of its sort to contain a full lectionary.

The 1946 BCW omits the Psalter and the previously customary Ancient Hymns and Canticles, for The Hymnal (1933) contains those.

The 1946 General Assembly of the mainly Southern Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) approved the third BCW 

for optional use in our churches.

The prominent Anglican influences on the 1946 BCW were unmistakable.  In the services, for example, the Collect for Purity, the Agnus Dei, and the Nicene Creed came from the Prayer Book.  Such elements proved intolerable to many Evangelical-minded Presbyterians, however.  One of these opponents said of Kerr:

[He] is so enamored of high ritual that I think he wants to lead our church further and faster than it is willing to go.

–Requoted in Harold M. Daniels, To God Alone Be the Glory:  The Story and Sources of the Book of Common Worship (Louisville, KY: Geneva Press, 2003, page 37)

Thus the 1946 BCW, allegedly more Episcopalian than Reformed, touched and irritated many raw nerves of inheritors of reactive anti-ritualism and never received the acclaim its framers had hoped that it would.  That was unfortunate.

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CONCLUSION

The Book of Common Worship (1946) constituted a bold step into the deep waters of Christian tradition.  Unfortunately, it was–and is–ahead of its time for U.S. Presbyterianism.  The next book–called clunkily The Worshipbook (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-worshipbook-services-and-hymns-1972-services/)–was simultaneously a great advance closer to the Roman Catholic homeland of tradition and an awkward attempt at innovation.  Unfortunately, it was artless innovation.

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

Snapshot_20130702_2

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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The Book of Common Worship (1906)   16 comments

Snapshot_20130701

Above:  The Title Page of a 1922 Reprint of The Book of Common Worship (1906)

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This post follows this one:

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

Reading it will improve one’s comprehension of this post.

THE AUTHOR

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Online Access to the text:

http://archive.org/details/bookcommonworsh00assegoog

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INTRODUCTION:

In 1894 the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS), the former “Southern Presbyterian Church,” adopted a new Directory for Worship, one which included three services:  marriage, a child’s funeral, and a general funeral.  A vocal minority of members of the denomination remained opposed to any iota of ritualism, however.  One member of that anti-rituals school was Dr. Robert L. Dabney (died in 1893), who complained about the state of affairs which culminated in the new Directory for Worship.  An 1894 volume contained this scathing critique from Dabney:

A comparison of the prevalent usages of today and of seventy years ago in the Methodist, Baptist, Congregational, and Presbyterian Churches [except those of the Secession] would startle any thinking mind.  Every one of them now admits usages which were universally rejected by them, such as architectural pomps, pictured windows, floral decorations, instrumental and operatic music.  One may say that these are matters of indifference which cannot be proved anti-scriptural; but every sensible man knows that they proceed from one impulse, the craving for more spectacular and ritualistic worship.   That is precisely, the impulse which brought about prelacy and popery in the patristic ages.  The strictest Protestant communions are now moving upon the same incline plane.

–Quoted in Ernest Trice Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, Volume Three:  1890-1972 (Richmond, VA:  John Knox Press, 1973, pages 345-346)

Other critics of that school pointed to more offenses, such as the congregation reciting the Lord’s Prayer and the Deacons taking the offerings to the pulpit during the service.  Would the horrors and apostasies never cease?

One should be able to tell from my sarcastic tone in the previous sentence where I stand.  To be precise, I am a ritualistic Episcopalian–an unapologetic one.  I have the same opinion of Dabney that he would have had of me.  And I can only imagine the spasms of discontent into which The Book of Common Worship (1906) would have thrown him.

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BODY

The 1903 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (PCUSA) appointed a committee to create

a Book of Simple Forms and Services which shall be proper and helpful for voluntary use in Presbyterian churches in the celebration of the Sacraments , in marriages and funerals, and in the conduct of public worship.

Dr. Henry Van Dyke directed the project and edited the book.  Among the more notable members of the committee was Dr. Louis FitzGerald Benson.  The committee drew upon The Book of Common Prayer (1892) and worldwide Reformed liturgies, such as those of the Church of Scotland.  It created a book which added a congregational Prayer of Confession, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer to worship.  The 1905 General Assembly required a few changes.  Those changes made, the final product rolled off the presses just in time for the 1906 General Assembly commissioners to debate and approve the volume.   Dr. Van Dyke stood by a table stacked high with copies of the BCW.  Some commissioners were not amused and were quite offended.  One flung a copy, as if it were tainted, saying:

Faugh!  It smells of priestcraft.

Another pounded his fists on the table.  Dr. Van Dyke asked him if he would deny anyone the liberty to use the book which, according to the title page, was for voluntary use.

The Preface to the 1906 BCW is a four-page-long defense of the volume’s existence.  The book is of voluntary use, and therefore not an infringement upon the freedom of Presbyterian worship, it says.  The volume is consistent with early Reformed traditions and the Bible, the Preface tells the reader.  And the book contains forms and prayers helpful for both public and private use, it says.

The 1906 BCW contains the following rites:

  1. The Order of Morning Service;
  2. The Order of Evening Service;
  3. A Brief Order of Worship;
  4. The Commandments;
  5. The Beatitudes;
  6. The Order for the Celebration of the Communion;
  7. The Order for the Administration of Baptism to Infants;
  8. The Order for the Administration of Baptism to Adults;
  9. The Order for the Reception of Communicants from Other Churches;
  10. The Order for the Solemnization of Marriage;
  11. The Order for the Burial of the Dead;
  12. The Order for the Licensing of Candidates to Preach the Gospel;
  13. The Order for the Ordination of Ministers;
  14. The Order for the Installation of a Pastor Who Has Been Previously Ordained;
  15. The Order for the Ordination of Ruling Elders;
  16. The Order for the Installation of Ruling Elders Who Have Been Previously Ordained;
  17. The Order for the Ordination of Deacons;
  18. The Order for Laying the Corner-Stone of a Church; and
  19. The Order for the Dedication of a Church.

There is also The Treasury of Prayers, divided into five sections:

  1. General Prayers for Common Worship;
  2. Prayers for Certain Times and Seasons;
  3. Intercessions for Special Objects and Persons;
  4. Brief Petitions; and
  5. Ascriptions of Praise.

Family Prayers labeled for each day of the week follow.

Finally there follow The Psalter and Ancient Hymns and Canticles.

The Orders of Service omit the Holy Communion, unfortunately, but I suppose that replacing the sermon as the focus of public worship and restoring the Eucharist to its proper place as the central act of Christian worship would have been too much at the time, even though John Calvin would have approved.

The 1906 BCW found a certain level of acceptance, for the fact of its existence indicated a constituency favorable to it.  This constituency expanded into the mainly Southern PCUS, whose General Assembly never approved the volume but many of whose ministers used it anyway, at least for funerals and weddings.

The Treasury of Prayers has proven to be the part of the 1906 BCW I have consulted most often.  Due to my linguistic preferences, I have modernized the personal pronouns, turning “Thee” into “you,” for example.  Style aside, there is much excellent content in that portion of the book.

The inclusion of some of prayers germane to certain days and seasons (especially Advent, Christmas Day, Good Friday, and Easter Day) indicated that, in 1906, the PCUSA was more favorable than the PCUS to observing Christmas and Easter.  The 1899 PCUS General Assembly had forbidden the celebration of Christmas and Easter as contrary to Reformed Christianity and the simplicity of the Gospel in Christ and as conducive to will-worship.  The 1903 and 1913 PCUS General Assemblies forbade the Committee on Christian Education to publish Christmas and Easter Sunday School lessons.  Only in 1950 did the PCUS General Assembly affirm the religious observance of Christmas and Easter.  This constituted a de jure recognition of what had been a de facto reality since the 1920s.

The 1906 BCW lasted for twenty-six years, having made a great impact on U.S. Presbyterian worship.  The revolutionary book, possible because of a generation of unauthorized predecessors, was still, compared to its predecessors, a humble beginning.  But that was enough.

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CONCLUSION

History is inherently revisionist.  Those who condemn “revisionist history” need to do more and better homework and to choose an accurate label for what they criticize.  History is inherently revisionist because historians ask interpretive questions from their standpoint.  So I, writing in 2013, think of The Book of Common Worship (1906) through the prism of 107 years and four successor volumes.  That reality affects my judgment, for I compare the 1906 BCW to and contrast it with its successors.  My evaluation is therefore relative in a way that it would not have been if I were undertaking a similar exercise in 1932, 1946, or 1972.

I also consider the book from the perspective of a ritualistic Episcopalian.  Thus I notice two glaring omissions:  the absence of a lectionary and the barest semblance of a church calendar.  Nevertheless, the 1906 BCW was impressive for its time.  The march toward the thing of great beauty that is the Book of Common Worship (1993) was a process, and the 1906 BCW was crucial to it.  That long walk began in 1864, when Charles W. Shields published The Book of Common Prayer as Amended by the Westminster Divines, A.D. 1661 (1864).  But the 1906 BCW, being the first official worship book of its denomination, crossed the Rubicon River.  That volume was a cornerstone, one which many people rejected and others never knew existed.

Next:  The Book of Common Worship (Revised) (1932).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 2, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH, WASHINGTON GLADDEN, AND JACOB RIIS, ADVOCATES OF THE SOCIAL GOSPEL

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