Archive for the ‘Charles W. Shields’ Tag

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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The Book of Common Worship (1906)   16 comments

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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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A Brief History of U.S. Presbyterian Worship to 1905   10 comments

4a03648v

Above:  First Presbyterian Church, Detroit, Michigan, Between 1889 and 1901

Image Published by the Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/det1994003327/PP/)

Reproduction Number = LC-D4-3750

Currently the home of Ecumenical Theological Seminary (http://www.etseminary.edu/)

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INTRODUCTION

As early as 1560 the Church of Scotland recognized in The First Book of Discipline that Word (the Bible) and Sacrament were essential elements of worship.  Yet much of the history of U.S. Presbyterian worship has been a tale of the missing Holy Communion.  John Knox, the Presbyterian founder in Scotland, insisted on the frequent celebration of the Holy Communion and provided a liturgy for the service (http://archive.org/details/liturgyofchurcho00cumm).  John Calvin favored weekly celebration of that sacrament.  Yet much of the history of U.S. Presbyterian worship is a story of hostility to written forms of worship.

The purpose of this post is, without pretending to be a comprehensive explanation of the topic, to provide historical background on U.S. Presbyterian worship, with an emphasis on liturgy, through 1905.  Why 1905?  I plan to research and write a series of reviews of now-superceded editions of The Book of Common Worship (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/book-of-common-worship-1993/), starting with 1906.  So this post can stand alone quite well or function as a prelude to that series.

Before I proceed I need to define a term.  A liturgy is an agreed-upon, predictable pattern of worship.  It means literally “the work of the people.”  As Father Peter Ingeman, the now-retired Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia, said years ago, any church with an agreed-upon, predictable pattern of worship is liturgical.  There are degrees of being liturgical, for some liturgies are more elaborate than others.

One more matter requires attention now.  The Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1869-1958) (PCUSA) was the alleged “Northern” church, just as the Presbyterian Church in the United States  (1861-1983) (PCUS) was the “Southern” Church.  The PCUS was mostly Southern, with congregations in the former Confederacy, border states, Oklahoma, and some New Mexico counties.  (It did organize in 1861 as the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America.)  The PCUSA, in contrast, was national–Northern, Western, Midwestern, Eastern, and Southern.

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BODY

Back in Great Britain, Puritanism influenced Presbyterianism.  During the English Civil Wars the Westminster Assembly of Divines outlawed the allegedly idolatrous Book of Common Prayer and introduced the Directory for the Worship of God in the 1640s.  The English Parliament imposed the Directory on England, Ireland, and Scotland in 1645.  The document established the Bible and a sermon as the center of worship.

I, as an Episcopalian in 2013, find certain religious opinions (especially some from the past) puzzling.  For example, why be hostile to the frequent celebration of the Holy Communion when the founder of one’s own tradition (John Knox, in this case) insisted upon the the practice one opposes?  And whey oppose instruments in church?  (The Church of Scotland lifted its ban on organs in the late 1800s.)  The sole use of psalms or paraphrases thereof for singing was long a Reformed characteristic.  In fact, some very conservative Reformed denominations retain that practice.  These days many Presbyterian congregations left, right, and center use psalms, psalm paraphrases, and hymns for singing.  In the 1750s the Presbyterian congregation in the City of New York replaced its psalter with an Isaac Watts hymnal.  Were human-composed hymns suitable for public worship?  This was a controversial topic.  The Synod of New York and Philadelphia ruled that the hymns of Isaac Watts, being theologically orthodox, were suitable for use in public worship.  The fact that this was even a controversy mystifies me.  I understand it academically, but not otherwise.

The mindset which opposed singing even theologically orthodox hymns because people wrote them was Jure Divino.  This point of view argued that one needed biblical permission to do anything in church.  There were–and remain–competing interpretations of Jure Divino.  The strictest one forbid even the celebration of Christmas and Easter.  One can find such arguments on the Internet today.  And one can find examples of it by examining Minutes of Presbyterian General Assemblies.  In 1899, for example, the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS), the former “Southern Presbyterian Church,” passed the following resolution, found on page 430 of the official record:

There is no warrant for the observance of Christmas and Easter as holy days, but rather contrary (see Galatians iv. 9-11; Colossians ii. 16-21), and such observance is contrary to the principles of the Reformed faith, conducive to will-worship, and not in harmony with the simplicity of the gospel in Jesus Christ.

Such simplicity manifested itself traditionally in plain church buildings, sermon-focused worship services, and quarterly Holy Communion.  The spoken word occupied the center of worship.

Yet there were Presbyterians who favored formality in worship.  Some ministers, influenced by Anglicanism, came to admire The Book of Common Prayer (1789).  And, in the 1850s and 1860s, support for formality grew among lay members.  Beginning in the 1840s congregations built Romanesque and Neo-Gothic structures.  Compatible with those new old-style buildings was an interest in Reformation-era Reformed liturgies.  One Charles W. Baird published Eutaxia:  or the Presbyterian Liturgies:  Historical Sketches, in 1855.  He made a case that written forms of worship were consistent with Reformed Christianity.  That same year St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, Rochester, New York, opened in a new Romanesque building.  In the pews were copies of a manual of worship for the purpose for increasing congregation participation, restricted traditionally to singing (http://archive.org/details/musicws00stpe, http://archive.org/details/churchbookofstpe00roch, and http://archive.org/details/bookofworshipinu00stpe).  Ironically, the Presbyterian traditionalists who objected to all this formalism opposed a pattern of worship more traditional than the one they favored.  So were not the formalists really the traditionalists recovering a lost heritage?

The 1882 PCUSA General Assembly declined to prepare and publish an official book of worship yet authorized ministers to use any Reformed book of worship they desired.  Such books existed.  There was an anonymous Presbyterian Church Union Service, or Union Book of Worship, from the Liturgies of the Reformers (1868) (http://archive.org/details/presbyterianchur00newy).  In 1877 Alexander Archibald Hodge published the first edition of Manual of Forms (http://archive.org/details/manualofforms00hodg), used widely in upstate New York.  A second edition followed five years later.  The granddaddy of these books was The Book of Common Prayer as Amended by the Westminster Divines, A.D. 1661 (1864) (http://archive.org/details/bookofcommonpray00shie), by the Reverend Charles W. Shields, a Princeton College professor.  He had added Roman Catholic elements to worship at his congregation, Second Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and written rituals for weddings, baptisms, and Holy Communion.  In this volume Shields argued that the Presbyterians had as much a historical claim to The Book of Common Prayer as did the Episcopalians, for there was an attempt at an Anglican-Presbyterian union in England in 1661. His argument won few followers, his book did not become a bestseller, and he became an Episcopal priest in time. But Shields had laid the foundations for successor volumes.

Other unofficial volumes followed in the 1880s and 1890s.  Samuel M. Hopkins, a Professor at Auburn Theological Seminary, New York City, published A General Liturgy and Book of Common Prayer (http://archive.org/details/generalliturgybo00hopk) in 1883.  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, bank President Benjamin Comegys published three such books:

And Herrick Johnson, the 1882-1883 Moderator the the General Assembly, published Forms for Special Occasions (1889 and 1900).  (http://archive.org/details/formsforspecialo00john).

The 1778 U.S. Directory of Worship remained in effect in the PCUS into the 1890s and in the PCUSA into the twentieth century.  The 1788 Directory of Worship provided mostly general advice on worship and a few forms, which most Presbyterian ministers ignored for a long time.  The 1894 PCUS Directory for Worship contained forms for a wedding, a child’s funeral, and a general funeral as well as prayers adapted from John Knox and unofficial PCUSA worship manuals.  Nevertheless, there was less support for liturgical renewal in the PCUS than in the PCUSA.

This is a good time to add to support the previous statement while adding responsive readings to the list of formerly controversial topics.  PCUS traditionalists were reluctant to add responsive readings to worship services in the 1890s.  In the PCUSA, the 1874 General Assembly had declared responsive readings

without warrant in the New Testament

and

unwise and impolitic

in their

inevitable tendency to destroy uniformity in our mode of worship.

Furthermore, congregations were to

preserve, in act and spirit, the simplicity of service indicated in the [1788] Directory for Worship.

Yet the 1888 General Assembly affirmed the decisions of the Presbytery of Washington City and the Synod of Baltimore not to hear an official complaint against two ministers for introducing responsive readings at their churches.

Then there was the matter of the Apostles’ Creed.  The 1892 PCUSA General Assembly ruled that using the Creed was consistent with the 1788 Directory of Worship and useful for educating children in the Christian faith.  If a minister did not want say that Christ descended into hell or to the dead, he could substitute the following:

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

I wonder why serious students of the Scriptures would have difficulty with the original statement, for 1 Peter 3:19, 1 Peter 4:6, and Ephesians 4:9-10 point to it.  If one stands on Scriptural ground on the basis of Sola Scriptura, one ought to have no difficulty affirming the descent of Christ into Hell.  But, if one is perhaps especially opposed to Roman Catholicism, one might make room for theological hypocrisy in the name of defending one’s own Protestant identity.  I, as an Episcopalian, stand on Scripture, Tradition, and Reason, not Sola Scriptura, and I affirm our Lord and Savior’s descent into Hell.

The 1896 PCUSA General Assembly noted

the present freedom under the limits of our Directory for Worship,

calling such freedom

more reliable and edifying

than uniform rituals.  Seven years later the General Assembly appointed a committee to prepare what became The Book of Common Worship (1906) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/the-book-of-common-worship-1906/), an authorized yet voluntary volume.  But, as we will see in the review of that book, even the existence of the volume proved offensive to many in the denomination.  As Harold M. Daniels wrote,

…in a church born in reactive Puritanism, fixed prayer was too easily dismissed as “canned prayer.”

To God Alone Be the Glory:  The Story and Sources of the Book of Common Worship (Louisville, KY:  Geneva Press, 2003, pages 31-32)

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CONCLUSION

Something which we today take for granted and find inoffensive probably offended someone greatly in a previous age.  In this post alone we have seen some examples of this generalization in public worship:  hymns, responsive readings, the Apostles’ Creed, and voluntary books of worship.  Some people needed to relax more.  Going through life that easily offended must have raised their stress levels.

Here ends this history lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 1, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAULI MURRAY, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY AND EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF CATHERINE WINKWORTH, TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF HARRIET BEECHER STOWE, ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF JOHN CHANDLER, ANGLICAN PRIEST, SCHOLAR, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

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Other Posts in This Series:

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/

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-book-of-common-worship-1946/

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-worshipbook-services-and-hymns-1972-services/

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/an-incomplete-recovery-of-the-holy-eucharist/

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/book-of-common-worship-1993/

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