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“That It May Please Thee to Remove All Sects and Scandals”: The Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church in North America, 1857-1913   12 comments

Dr._Hutton's_Church,_University_Place,_from_Robert_N._Dennis_collection_of_stereoscopic_views_crop

Above:  Washington Square Reformed Church, New York, New York (1840-1879), Pastorate of the Reverend Mancius Smedes Hutton, Chairman of the Committee on Revision, 1870-1873

Image in the Public Domain

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U.S. DUTCH REFORMED LITURGY, PART III

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That it may please Thee to remove all sects and scandals.

The Liturgy of the Reformed Church in America, As Approved by the General Synod of 1873, By the Committee on Revision (1873), page 14

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I.  PREFACE AND INTRODUCTION

One of the temptations to which I have refused to yield while planning and writing this post is the lure to include too many details, especially with regard to the minutae of liturgical revision.  No, I have resolved to provide summaries, supported by selected examples, instead.  Those who wish to read all the details may follow my bibliography and hyperlinks.  Such interest makes the heart of this liturgical geek rejoice, actually.  Yet I prefer not to lose that part of my readership which prefers that I not overwhelm it with, for example, every instance of Anglican influence upon revised Dutch Reformed liturgies since 1857.

This post begins with 1857 and concludes with 1913 for excellent reasons.  1857 aside from being the birth year of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA or just CRC), was also the year the first post-John H. Livingston liturgy of the Reformed Church in America (RCA) debuted.  1913 was the year prior to the start of World War I, the de facto beginning of the twentieth century.  1914 was also the year the CRCNA published its first English-language Psalter, a landmark change for a denomination strongly attached to its Dutch heritage.  The war changed the United States, the world, and both denominations.

That  is a long story, part of which I plan to tell in Part IV of this series.

And yes, just in case anyone wonders, I chose the quote for the title of this post with a strong sense of irony.

II.  THE MASONIC LODGE AND THE SECESSION OF 1882

Theological disagreements over Freemasonry, a minor issue in the Secession of 1857, were central to the Secession of 1882, which actually occurred in 1881-1884.

In Part I of this series I wrote that critics of Freemasonry involved in the Secession of 1857 did not distinguish between European Freemasonry and American Freemasonry, for those who seceded from the Reformed Church in America in the Midwest that year thought as transplanted Europeans, not as Americans.  I did not support the first part of that statement in that post, so I do so now.  European Freemasonry was an Enlightenment project.  Many ideals of that intellectual and political movement stood in opposition to Christendom (sometimes appropriately, I am convinced, as in the cases of liberty of conscience and the proposition that political power flows properly from the consent of the governed).  Many European churches from Rome to the Reformed forbade its members to belong to the Masonic Lodge.  U.S. Freemasonry, however, had a different flavor–one which many Christians considered consistent with their faith.  Thus many prominent Christians were also staunch members of the Masonic Lodge.

The question  of whether a member of the Reformed Church in America should or could belong to the Masonic Lodge was a minor issue until 1867, when the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church, which then called itself the True Dutch Reformed Church (TDRC) forbade its members to belong to the Lodge.  Thus the RCA, which had Midwestern congregations competing with CRC/TDRC counterparts, had to address the question, a non-issue in the East yet a major concern in the Midwest.  The 1868 General Synod did nothing, despite the request of the Classis of Wisconsin.  The following year, however, the General Synod, prodded by the Classes of Holland and Wisconsin, referred the question to a committee, which reported to the 1870 General Synod.  The decision in 1870 was that, although no member of the RCA should belong to any secret society, such as the Masonic Lodge, the denomination had no right to impinge upon each congregation’s prerogative to address the issue as it saw fit.  This was a compromise, one which the Reverend Albertus C. Van Raalte (1811-1876), who disliked Freemasonry, accepted.  He was able to contain the controversy in his section of the RCA for a few years, but his absence after 1876 proved critical to the Secession of 1882.

The controversy over the RCA’s handling of financial troubles at Hope College, Holland, Michigan, led to a conspiracy theory, the renewed Masonic controversy, and the Secession of 1882.  Hope College, which the RCA had founded, was in deep financial trouble.  The denomination sent the Reverend G. Henry Mandeville, from the East, to assume the leadership of the school.  The Provisional President closed the theological education program there.  Some critics concluded that this action proved the existence of a Masonic plot, for Mandeville was a Freemason.  The application of Ockham’s Razor would have helped in this instance, would it have not?

Ironically, First Reformed Church, Holland, Michigan, Van Raalte’s former pastorate, joined the Secession of 1882 and kept the building, with its distinctive front pillars.  An RCA congregation, retaining the name of First Reformed Church, continued–and still exists.  The seceded congregation, known alternately as the Ninth Street Church or the Pillar Church,

reestablished itself around a vision of reconciliation

in 2012, retaining its CRCNA affiliation while resuming its old RCA membership, according to its website.

The Secession of 1882 strengthened the Christian Reformed Church, which called itself the Dutch Christian Reformed Church (DCRC) at the time.  Although immediate losses to the RCA were minor, the long-term impact was major.  The CRC/DCRC became stronger in the Midwest, heightening tensions between approximate RCA and CRC congregations.  Furthermore, the main Seceder denomination in The Netherlands switched its allegiance from the RCA to the CRCNA, referring its emigrating members to the latter, not the former.  This influx made the CRCNA more resolute in its opposition to Americanization.

III.  WORSHIP RESOURCES IN THE REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA, 1857-1913

The Liturgy of the Reformed Church in America, long composed of obligatory rites and recommended rituals, has proven to be a matter of controversy and varied opinion.  Liturgical practice in the RCA has spanned a wide range of practices, including the choice of hymnals, for a long time.

The Liturgy of 1857

The High Church wing of the RCA, seeking to reclaim the denomination’s historic status as a liturgical body, resisted the Low Church Evangelicalism which was ubiquitous in the denomination.  Thus the introduction of Anglican influences into the RCA began.  The General Synod of 1853 created a committee to revise the Liturgy.  That committee unveiled its product four years later.  The Liturgy of 1857, although always unofficial and never Constitution, as the majority of Classes never approved it, did circulate widely in the RCA and influence the worship patterns of many congregations.

The Liturgy of 1857 was a milestone.  For the first time the RCA published a complete order of public worship–one which borrowed generously from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (1789).  There were also distinct Sunday morning and evening services, which followed the same basic pattern, but with slight differences distinguishing the two from each other.

Much of the Liturgy of 1857 influenced worship in one New York City congregation, which published its own Church Book (1866).  The service book named neither the congregation nor the minister who edited it at the behest of the consistory, or church council.  Nevertheless, the existence of such a volume, which also contained non-RCA rites, documented a degree of variety of liturgical practice in the denomination at the time.

Hymnals

The General Synod approved a variety of hymnals, most of them not of RCA origin, for use.  A new official hymn book Hymns of the Church, debuted in 1869.  This volume bore a striking similarity–some would even say due to plagiarism–to the Anglican Hymns, Ancient and Modern (1861).  (If imitation is the highest form of flattery, what is plagiarism?)  The strong Anglican-Reformed flavor of Hymns of the Church dissatisfied much of the RCA.  That branch of the church did have options, however.  General Synods had already approved the Sabbath School and Social Hymn Book (1843) and the Fulton Street Hymn Book (1862).  Subsequent General Synods, honoring requests, approved other non-Anglican-Reformed hymnals:

The Liturgy of 1873/1882

Liturgical reform continued.  It resumed in 1868 with a committee chaired by the Reverend Elbert S. Porter, an opponent of the High Calvinistic Mercersburg Theology prominent in the U.S. German Reformed Church.  After two years, however, Porter stepped down and the Reverend Mancius Smedes Hutton, pastor of the Washington Square Reformed Church, New York, New York, assumed the chairmanship.  Hutton supported the Mercersburg Theology, which called U.S. Reformed Christians back to their Protestant Reformation liturgical roots and opposed Pietism and Revivalism.  The chairman, in his report to the 1871 General Synod, listed three guiding principles of liturgical revision:

  1. Greater congregational participation,
  2. Acknowledgement of the RCA’s liturgical roots, and
  3. John Calvin’s Strasbourg Liturgy as a model from which to work.

The Committee on Revision, laboring from 1871 to 1873, increased Anglican influences in the Liturgy, stopping short of creating an RCA version of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (1789).  They drew from the Prayer Book heavily, though.  And the Committee bowed to pressure, revising Datheen’s order for the Lord’s Supper conservatively, mainly by introducing some rubrics and dividing some prayers.  The Committee also adapted a Eucharistic Prayer from the Church of Scotland’s Euchologion, or a Book of Common Order (1869), and placed that prayer in the Prayers for Special Occasions section.  This was a prayer for use in addition to, not in lieu of, the one in the Datheen rite.

A note early in the proposed service book defended the volume’s existence:

This Revised Liturgy is set forth as a general expression of the way in which the public services of religion should be performed.  It is to be understood that it is not of binding authority, but is only recommended as containing suitable offices for public religious service.  The only parts of our service book which are obligatory, are those which are enjoined by the Constitution of the Church.

–Page 5

The Liturgy of 1873/1882 was a combination of the old and the new.  The familiar parts of the RCA Liturgy were present.  There one found forms of the Lord’s Supper; Baptism; Marriage; Church Discipline; the Ordination of Ministers, Elders, and Deacons; and the Creeds; as well as various prayers.  Some of the orders had changed , of course,  and some of the prayers had not appeared in previous service books of the RCA.  And the legacy of the Liturgy of 1857 was evident, as in the Order of Scripture Lessons, a lectionary setting forth an Old Testament lesson and a New Testament lesson for each Sunday morning and Sunday evening service, according to the church year.

The Classes approved the Liturgy, which the denomination republished in 1882.  Even after that years-long process the controversial nature of the book was evident in the 1882 Preface, which noted that the only obligatory rites were the Administration of the Sacraments, the Discipline, and the Order of Worship.  Then the Preface concluded:

With these exceptions, this Liturgy is not of binding authority, but it is set forth as a general expression of the manner in which the Public Worship of God should be conducted, and, in the words of the late Rev. Mancius S. Hutton, D.D., the chairman of the Committee through whose labors the Revised Liturgy was first prepared and presented to the Church, “With the hope that it will so commend itself to the piety and wisdom of the Church, that its increasing use will place us before the world in our true historic position as a spiritual Liturgical and Reformed Church.

–Page 6

The Liturgy of 1906

The process of creating the Liturgy of 1906, in full The Liturgy of the Reformed Church in America Together With the Psalter Arranged for Responsive Reading, required two starts.  The Reverend Mancius Holmes Hutton, son of the second chairman of the Committee which created the Liturgy of 1873/1882, chaired the 1902-1903 committee.  Hutton the Younger, however, was not equal to his father in liturgical scholarship, so the committee made some awkward and arbitrary decisions.  Most Classes rejected the report to the 1903 General Synod, so the 1904 General Synod created a new committee with a different chairman.  The resulting service book lasted for sixty-two years.

The Liturgy of 1906 was sufficiently similar to its 1873/1882 predecessor to be easily recognizable yet sufficiently different as to be distinct.  The Sunday morning and evening orders of worship, for example, were slightly different from their immediate predecessors.  The Eucharistic Prayer of 1873 was still present, but no longer exiled to the Prayers for Special Occasions.  The old form of the Lord’s Supper was also present, for those who preferred it.  And there were two forms of Baptism–one old and the other new.  This practice of including two forms for both the Lord’s Supper and Baptism continued in the 1968 Liturgy and Psalms but not in its immediate successor, Worship the Lord (1987).

The New Metrical Version of the Psalms (1905 and 1909)

The New Metrical Version of the Psalms (first edition, 1905; second edition, 1909) was an ecumenical Reformed project.  Nine denominations participated in its creation.  They were:

  1. The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, the old “Northern Presbyterian Church;”
  2. The Presbyterian Church in Canada, part of which is now in The United Church of Canada;
  3. The United Presbyterian Church in North America, which merged with #1 in 1958 to create The United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America;
  4. The Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, which still exists;
  5. The Reformed Presbyterian Church (General Synod), whose legacy lives on inside the Presbyterian Church in America;
  6. The Reformed Church in America;
  7. The Christian Reformed Church in North America;
  8. The Associate Presbyterian Synod of North America, whose legacy lives on inside the Presbyterian Church in America; and
  9. The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, which still exists.

This Psalter, one of the most widely used books of its genre in the twentieth century, was more significant for the CRCNA than for the RCA, which had established its commitment to church unity and had worshiped God in English for a long time.  The CRCNA, however, had worshiped God mostly in Dutch and had been standoffish, guarding its Dutch identity stubbornly.

IV.  WORSHIP, LANGUAGE, AND IDENTITY IN THE CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH IN NORTH AMERICA, 1857-1913

Prior to the CRCNA’s Psalter of 1914, based on the United Presbyterian Psalter of 1912, in turn based on The New Metrical Version of the Psalms (1905 and 1909), most worship of God in that denomination had occurred in the Dutch language.  The CRCNA had used the old Dutch liturgy and the Psalmen Davids (1773), which included all the tunes from the Genevan Psalter (1562).  There were  no “innovations” in the bulk of the church’s Liturgy, as there were in the RCA.  This conservatism typified the CRCNA, where change came slowly.  Such conservatism also led to more uniformity than in the RCA, a pattern which remains true today.

There was not unanimity, however.  Some German-speaking congregations had joined the CRCNA in the middle 1800s.  They, with CRNCA Synodical approval, continued to use their service book and hymnal, which included all 150 Psalms plus 355 hymns.  (The CRCNA, in contrast, did not publish its first denominational hymnal (as opposed to Psalter) until 1934.)  And in 1890, much of the True Protestant Dutch Reformed Church (TPDRC), also known as the True Reformed Dutch Church (TRDC), an 1822 offshoot of the RCA, joined the CRCNA as Classis Hackensack.  (At that point in time the CRCNA adopted its current name.)  The 1822 group, which had already adopted the 1887 United Presbyterian Psalter and amended it to include 190 hymns (drawn mostly from John H. Livingston’s Psalms and Hymns (1814) and pegged to the Heidelberg Catechism, continued to worship from their familiar resource.

The CRCNA, which began its liturgical transition to English in earnest with The New Metrical Version of the Psalms (1905 and 1909), sped up that process with related projects.  The Synod of 1910 permitted use of the forthcoming United Presbyterian Psalter (1912) throughout the denomination.  Classis Hackensack used a modified version, one which included its 190 hymns.  The 1912 United Presbyterian Psalter, with some material unique to the CRCNA, became the Christian Reformed Psalter of 1914, modified slightly and republished in 1927.

Separatism and the Kuyperian Paradox

The CRCNA, prior to and well into the twentieth century, defined itself not only as a bastion of doctrinal purity but of Dutch identity.  Thus it remained separate from the mainstream U.S. society and other denominations.  In the 1890s reunion talks with the RCA failed, as did merger discussions with the United Presbyterian Church of North America–the former for doctrinal reasons and the latter for ethnic ones.  This separatism had both cultural and doctrinal reasons.  Given the fact that one of the main historic purposes of free public education in the United States has been to Americanize students, the CRCNA’s long-standing practice of operating parochial schools had a cultural purpose.  It also had a theological purpose, as in other denominations.

There were three distinct theological parties within the Christian Reformed Church relative to the Kuyperian Paradox, at the center of which was Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920), a Dutch theologian and politician who served as Prime Minister from 1901 to 1905.  Kuyper, early in his career, favored Christian separatism from society, with all the unredeemed people in it.  Later in life, though, after he had joined a coalition government, Kuyper concluded that even unsaved people could do good things and function as instruments of God.  The label for this theology was Common Grace.  Many members of the CRCNA, caring deeply about what Kuyper had said and written, divided into camps relative to the Kuyperian Paradox:

  1. The Antitheticals supported his first position only.
  2. The Positive Calvinists affirmed his second position only.
  3. The Confessionalists found a way to favor both positions.

This debate, which pertained to salvation, preaching, and sacraments, went to the 1906 CRCNA Synod.  The Antitheticals and the Positive Calvinists were Supralapsarians, meaning that they stated that election (as in Double Predestination) had occurred before the Creation.  Thus, they argued, redemption and damnation were already realities at birth, so preaching and the sacraments merely confirmed regeneration.  The Confessionalists, however, were Infralapsarians, meaning that they stated that election had occurred after the Creation and before the Fall of Man.  Thus, they argued, preaching and the sacraments induced regeneration.  The 1906 Synod sided with the Confessionalists.

The RCA, meanwhile, supported the reforms of the Progressive Era instead of becoming bogged down in polysyllabic theology and the politics of doctrinal purity.

V.  CONCLUSION

The Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church in North America traveled along divergent paths from 1857 to 1913.  They shared a few things, such as The New Metrical Version of the Psalms (1905 and 1909) and resentments and suspicions, however.  The two paths continued to diverge for years to come.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY OF HARDCOPY SOURCES

Brink, Emily R., and Bert Polman, eds.  Psalter Hymnal Handbook.  Grand Rapids, MI:  CRC Publications, 1998.

Bruins, Elton J., and Robert P. Swierenga.  Family Quarrels in the Reformed Churches in the 19th Century.  Grand Rapids, MI:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999.  The Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America, No. 32.

Brumm, James Hart, ed.  Liturgy Among the Thorns:  Essays on Worship in the Reformed Church in America.  Grand Rapids, MI:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.  The Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America, No. 57.

The Liturgy of the Reformed Church in America Together With the Psalter Arranged for Responsive Reading.  New York, NY:  The Board of Education of the Reformed Church in America, 1968.

The Psalter, Doctrinal Standards, Liturgy, and Church Order of the Christian Reformed Church in America.  Grand Rapids, MI:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1927.

Psalter Hymnal:  Doctrinal Standards and Liturgy of the Christian Reformed Church.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Publication Committee of the Christian Reformed Church, 1934.

Smidt, Corwin, et al.  Divided By a Common Heritage:  The Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America at the Beginning of the New Millennium.  Grand Rapids, MI:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006.

Worship the Lord.  Edited by James R. Esther and Donald J. Bruggink.  Grand Rapids, MI:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 22, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD BIGGS, ACTOR

THE FEAST OF JULIA BULKLEY CADY CORY, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ROTA WAITOA, ANGLICAN PRIEST

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Posted May 22, 2014 by neatnik2009 in Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Predecessors, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Predecessors' Offshoots, Reformed (General)

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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

An Incomplete Recovery of the Holy Eucharist   7 comments

Snapshot_20130703_1

Above:  My Copy of the 2004/2005 PC(USA) Book of Order

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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/

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/

Reading them first will enhance one’s comprehension of this post, which refers to the book covered in another post:

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

THE AUTHOR

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BODY

In 1983 The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA) reunited with the mainly Southern Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) [PC(USA)].  At reunion the denomination adopted the Directory for the Service of God, a revision of the 1961 UPCUSA Directory for the Worship of God and the 1963 PCUS Directory for Worship and Work.  The 1983 Directory says in part:

The ordering of public worship shall maintain fidelity to the Scriptures and the practices of the New Testament church, taking account and utilizing the historical experiences of the universal church that are consistent with a right demonstration of the gospel.

The service of worship is to be ordered so that all participate.  Worshipers should not be mere spectators, but participants who, together with the minister, are engaged in a joint ministry of service to God through corporate worship….

Book of Order (Louisville, KY:  The Office of the General Assembly, 1988, S-2.0400)

Of the Holy Communion the 1983 Directory says:

Since the Sacrament is an action in which the whole church participates and is part of the public witness of the church to the power of the Word, it is normally celebrated in the regular place of worship as the culmination of the public worship of God.  It should not be isolated from the acts of worship which precede and follow it.  Thus it will be preceded properly by the reading and preaching of the Word, during which the people may prepare to receive and appropriate the Word of God offered to them in the Sacrament, that the sacramental Word may be shown forth in full unity with the written and preached Word.

–S-3.0500.a

The PC(USA) 1989 Directory of Worship, in continuity with its 1961 and 1983 predecessors, affirms that

In the life of the worshiping congregation, Word and Sacrament have an integral relationship.  Whenever the Lord’s Supper is celebrated it shall be preceded by the reading and proclamation of the Word.

Book of Order (Louisville, KY:  The Office of the General Assembly, 2004, W-2.4008)

This is to occur

regularly and frequently enough to be recognized as integral to the Service of the Lord’s Day.

–W-2.4009

This means

in no case less than quarterly.

–W-2.4012

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CONCLUSION

Last year I reviewed the Book of Common Worship (1993).  Recently I began to review its four predecessors (1906, 1932, 1946, and 1970/1972), contextualizing them.  One recurring theme in this series of seven posts (ordered almost as oddly as novels in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, I know) is the effort to recover that which was lost.  The Worshipbook (1970/1972) and the Book of Common Worship (1993) stand on the shoulders of giants and reflect the times in which committees forged them.  Unfortunately, the recovery of that which was lost–good liturgy and weekly Communion–remains incomplete.  The rejection of Christian tradition (even John Calvin’s tradition) has become a tradition itself.

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 Worshipbook–Services and Hymns (1972)–Services   17 comments

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Above:  My Copy of The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns (1972)

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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/

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

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

THE AUTHOR

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INTRODUCTION

Philip H. Pfatteicher wrote:

…the new is not always found in opposition to the old but arises from the old as natural growth and development.  Stability and continuity are essential elements of catholic Christianity.

Commentary on the Lutheran Book of Worship:  Lutheran Liturgy in Its Ecumenical Context (Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Fortress, 1990, page 10)

Sometimes that which is new is really a recovery of something older than the status quo ante yet lost.  Thus innovation can incorporate deep respect for tradition.  The best of the liturgical renewal of the the 1960s and the 1970s (such as The Book of Common Prayer of 1979) demonstrates this principle.  Its embrace of pre-Reformation (even ancient) liturgies as foundations for new ones (in modern English, fortunately) was a positive development.

The Worshipbook, a remarkable achievement in some respects, fell far short of liturgical greatness.  It, the first major U.S. Protestant book of worship in contemporary English, followed the Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/the-book-of-worship-for-church-and-home-1965/), written in Elizabethan English, by just a few years.  Both books became dated very quickly, but for different reasons.  The 1965 volume’s olden-style language made it a relic of a bygone era by the early 1970s.  But The Worshipbook (Services, 1970 + Hymns, 1972) became dated because of the presentist nature of its language.  The liturgical failure of the volume helped the shapers of the Book of Common Worship (1993) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/book-of-common-worship-1993/) learn vital lessons as they created a modern service book with lovely modern English.

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BODY

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Above:  My Copy of the 1963-1964 UPCUSA Constitution

The Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (PCUSA) merged with the United Presbyterian Church of North America (UPCNA) to form The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA) in 1958.  The pre-merger bodies and the mostly Southern Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) had already collaborated on The Hymnbook (1955), successor to The Presbyterian Hymnal (PCUS, 1927) and The Hymnal (PCUSA, 1933).

The UPCUSA replaced its amended version of the 1788 Directory for Worship with the new Directory for the Worship of God in 1961.  This Neo-orthodox document established the Holy Communion as the normative Sunday service:

It is fitting that it be observed as frequently as on each Lord’s Day, and it ought to be observed frequently and regularly enough that it is seen as a proper part of, and not an addition to, the worship of God by his people.

The Constitution of The United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (Philadelphia, PA:  The Office of the General Assembly, 1963, page 108)

The 1961 UPCUSA Directory rejected Jure Divino and embraced a combination of Scripture and Christian history.  It also established two readings (from the Old and New Testaments) as the norm in public worship and favored the unity of word and sacrament, making that union normative.

The PCUS replaced its 1894 Directory for Worship (amended in 1929) with the new Directory of Worship and Work, a vaguer and more conservative document which stressed the proper relationship of worship to the rest of life, in 1963.  This document, unlike its UPCUSA counterpart, contained some rituals–for Holy Communion, baptism, and confirmation.

These developments and the changes in the Roman Catholic Church and in mainline Protestant denominations during the 1960s influenced the shape of The Worshipbook.  Ecumenical and liturgical convergence also came to bear on the fourth volume in the Book of Common Worship series.  The Worshipbook–Services (1970) was bound two years later as the front part of The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns.  Thus the 1972 volume was the successor to both The Book of Common Worship (1946) and The Hymnbook (1955).  This was an ecumenical effort, being an official publication of the UPCUSA, the PCUS, and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Of the 1972 hymnal I choose to make only one statement, which speaks for itself:  The organizational structure is alphabetical order.  In contrast, The Presbyterian Hymnal:  Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs (1990), its immediate successor, follows a different system for hymns:

  • Christian Year;
  • Psalms; and
  • Topical Hymns.

As I type these words I await the release of Glory to God:  The Presbyterian Hymnal (2013).

The Preface of The Worshipbook explains the rationale for the name change from Book of Common Worship:

The Worshipbook is a new book with a new name, offered in the hope that it will serve a new age in the church.  The old and well-beloved title of the former book, The Book of Common Worship, has been sacrificed because the word common is no longer used as it was in times gone by.  The change in title is symbolic of the attempt to help Christians, and those who may become Christians, to hear God’s word, to worship him, in the language of their needs and aspirations today.

–Page 9

O that the language could have been poetic!  Alas, it was not!

Yet The Worshipbook, consistent with the 1961 UPCUSA Directory, makes the Holy Communion part of the order of worship, not an addition to it.  That relative liturgical innovation was really a return to a long-abandoned (by the Presbyterians) practice, one which John Calvin favored in the 1500s.  He, in turn, took it from fifteen centuries of Christian practice.

Most of the types of rituals in The Worshipbook are boiler-plate material for such a volume–baptism, confirmation, weddings, funerals, Holy Communion, ordination, installation, and recognition.  There are also litanies and many prayers and a plethora of resources for Sundays and holy days of the Christian Year, according to the revised Roman Catholic calendar introduced in Advent 1969.  That is all very good.  And the language is contemporary.  That is also fine, for I prefer modern English.  Furthermore, the desire to speak to the people of the time was noble, but there is such a thing as poetic contemporary English, which is lacking in The Worshipbook.

One element of The Worshipbook does delight me most of all.  The church adopted a slightly modified Roman Catholic lectionary.  My active imagination creates a scene in which Dr. Robert L. Dabney (see the Introduction to this post:  https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/the-book-of-common-worship-1906/) kvetches endlessly.  O bliss!

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CONCLUSION

The Worshipbook is an odd blend of the wonderful and the bland.  Unfortunately, the latter taints the effort for me.

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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