Archive for the ‘Liturgy’ Tag

Muhlenberg’s Dream: The Road to the Common Service, 1748-1888   23 comments

148685pv

Above:  St. John’s Lutheran Church, Charleston, South Carolina

Image Created by the Historic American Buildings Survey

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/sc0169.photos.148685p/)

Reproduction Number = HABS SC,10-CHAR,42–12

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

U.S. LUTHERAN LITURGY, PART I

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

I.  BACKGROUND

European Lutherans began to settle in the colonies successfully (at New Netherland, to be precise) in the 1620s.  Then there was New Sweden, settled beginning in 1638 at the site of present-day Wilmington, Delaware.  The first Lutheran church in America dated to 1646 on Tinicum Island in the Delaware River, when about five hundred people lived in the colony.  Peter Stuyvesant, Governor of New Netherland, conquered New Sweden in 1655.  Then New Netherland became New York in 1664.  The Lutherans (many of them Finns, for Sweden used to encompass much of Finland), cut off from Sweden, waned, and many of their leaders returned to the old country.  King Charles XI of Sweden revived the flagging Lutheran churches in the 1690s by sending ministers, catechisms, Bibles, and other books.  The founding of new congregations (many of them now Episcopalian) commenced.

There was initially much resistance in the territories which did, in time, become the United States of America to worship in English.  Many colonists with heritages in countries with languages other than English preferred the foreign language, at least for church purposes.  Many of those who preferred to worship in English became Anglicans, and many English-language Lutheran congregations abandoned the Lutheran identity for The Church of England or (after 1788) The Episcopal Church.  The Evangelical Lutheran Synod of New-York (formed in 1786) favored German initially.  And, although there was an English-language hymnal and service book in that synod in 1795, the Synod’s official position just two years later was to encourage those who wished to worship in English to become Episcopalians.  Yet, as Lutherans moved into various colonies, many of them wished to worship in English and remain Lutherans.

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

II.  HENRY MELCHIOR MUHLENBERG AND THE 1748 AND 1786 LITURGIES

The chaos which was American Lutheranism in early colonial times called out for the creation of order.  That task fell to Henry Melchior Muhlenberg and his assistants.  The thirty-one-year-old German arrived in America on November 25, 1742, and began his great and daunting work.  Who was a legitimate Lutheran minister?  Many imposters roamed the landscape, wreaking havoc in their wake.  To make a long story short and a complex story simple, he died in 1787, having done his work faithfully and laid a firm foundation for U.S. Lutheranism.

Muhlenberg and others gathered at St. Michael’s Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1748 to constitute the Ministerium of Pennsylvania.  At that meeting they also approved the first American Lutheran liturgy, one based on German forms and the service at St. Mary’s Lutheran Church, London, England.  Muhlenberg had worked on the service with the help of two other German pastors, Peter Brunnholtz and John Frederick Handschuh.  This was a compromise liturgy, for there was a variety of Lutheran liturgies in America, and the Swedish rites, with their singing of the Collects, was too “Papist” for many Germans.  The Ministerium vowed to use the 1748 liturgy exclusively, but pastors had to copy out the text, which the Ministerium did not have published.

The 1786 revision did go the printing presses, however.  An English translation of it appeared in the Hymn and Prayer-Book For the Ufe of Fuch Churches as Ufe the Englifh Language (1795) (http://archive.org/details/hymnprayerbo00kunz).  The Reverend John C. Kunze, who had organized the Synod of New-York, wanted to encourage those who preferred to worship in English to remain Lutherans.

The form of the Communion Service is, by 2013 standards, quite sparse.  But the Liturgy of the 1795 book does contain prayers for various settings and for congregations, families, and individuals to use.  And one finds there a catechism (or catechifm), pentitential psalms, and documents explaining Christian history, Lutheran history, and the theology of salvation, aw well as forms for funerals, weddings, and baptisms.  The well-developed lectionary is another nice touch.  Also, the Communion service ends with the Aaronic Blessing (from Numbers 6:23-26) and the Trinitarian formula:

The Lord bless thee, and preferve thee.

The Lord enlighten his countenance upon thee,

and be gracious unto thee!

The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee,

and give thee peace.  Amen.

In the name of God the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The liturgy specifies that members are to celebrate Communion at least on Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost.

Muhlenberg wanted Lutherans to think beyond their local and provincial interests and to focus on broader goals.  Thus he dreamed of a unified liturgy–one he never saw.  In a letter he wrote on November 5, 1783, the Lutheran Patriarch said:

It would be a most delightful and advantageous thing if all the Evangelical Lutheran congregations in North America were united with one another, if they all used the same order of service.

–Quoted in Luther D. Reed, The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study of the Common Service of the Lutheran Church in America (Philadelphia, PA:  Muhlenberg Press, 1947), page 181

Yet others kept that dream alive.

Negative liturgical developments occurred as early as 1786.  The revised liturgy of that year omitted the Gloria, the Collect of the Day, and the Nicene Creed, for example.  The 1748 order of worship had specified the following order:

  • Hymn
  • Congregational confession of sins
  • Gloria
  • Collect of the Day
  • Epistle reading
  • Hymn
  • Gospel reading
  • Nicene Creed
  • Sermon
  • General Prayer
  • Announcements
  • Peace
  • Hymn
  • Closing Collect
  • Benediction

But the 1786 revision, in making corporate worship minister-focused, left the congregation with little to do.  This tendency became more prominent as time passed, unfortunately.

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

III.  MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION AS SINGING KNOTS ON LOGS

In 1814, for example, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of New-York (yes, they hyphenated the name then) published A Collection of Hymns and a Liturgy for the Use of the Evangelical Lutheran Churches; To Which are Added Prayers for Families and Individuals (http://archive.org/details/collectionofhymn00evan and http://archive.org/details/cluthe00evan).  The driving force behind this book and its 1814 liturgy (not 1817, as Abdel Ross Wentz says in The Lutheran Church in American History) was Dr. Frederick H. Quitman, D.D., President of the Synod.  This new liturgy was minister-focused.  And gone was the Aaronic Blessing, replaced with a rubric:

The service is concluded with a hymn and one of the usual benedictions.

Dr. Wentz, in his book on American Lutheran history, criticized the Rationalistic tendencies with which Quitman infused the 1814 liturgy and with which he also influenced the 1818 German-language liturgy of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Luther D. Reed, Lutheran liturgical expert extraordinaire, noted the lack of interactvity in the 1818 rite.

Studying the 1814 New York book has revealed some interesting touches.  There is, for example, a prayer for a servant to say on pages 121 and 122.  That prayer reflected its times and the interests of those who had servants, not those of the servants themselves.  And there was a nice portion of the Eucharistic rite:

How can we ever be sufficiently grateful to thee, for preparing such a table for us in the wilderness of this world!  What good thing can we ever want, whilst we have thee for our Shepherd?  What mercy wilt thou refuse to those, whom thou hast redeemed, not with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ!  What consolation and joy are poured into our hearts, whilst we contemplate him crucified and risen again, triumphing over all his fores and ours, seated at thy right hand, and raising his disciples to his own glory and happiness!

–Page 61 of the Liturgy section, 1814

Various synods–Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia and Maryland–covering more states than those names indicate–joined forces in 1820 to form the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States of America.  This national body did not include the Joint Synod of Ohio or the Tennessee Synod, which formed out of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania and the North Carolina Synod respectively.  The General Synod published an enlarged version of the New York 1814 liturgy in an 1837 English-language hymnal.  A 1832 English-language liturgy commissioned by the General Synod and published in a 1834 edition of the New York Collection of Hymns (http://archive.org/details/collectionofhy00evan), was incredible minister-focused, allowing the singing of hymns as the only form of congregational participation.  This restricted role for laypeople continued in the General Synod’s 1842 German-language liturgy (a revision of the 1818 rite) and its 1847 English-language counterpart.  However, the General Synod did publish a revised edition of its 1847 liturgy in 1856, adding the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed to the ritual.  And, in the Creed, the Church was “Catholic.”

In other liturgical news, the Joint Synod of Ohio (1818-1930) published an 1830 English-language liturgy which gave the people little to do.  The Joint Synod worked on the General Synod’s 1847 liturgy.

Frontier conditions made doing proper liturgy difficult.  Thus going to a minister-focused model was practical.  Yet that act constituted bad theology, for “liturgy” means “work of the people.”  The people did not “work” much when all they did was sit, stand, and sing.  To borrow words from  the much-maligned 1814 New York liturgy, Lutherans lived “in the wilderness of this world.”  Breaking away from a frontier mentality was a requirement for doing proper–or at least better–liturgy.

That liturgy was on the way, starting with the Pennsylvania Liturgy of 1860.  A new liturgical age was about to dawn.

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

IV.  LITURGICAL RENEWAL

In 1860 the Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Other States published A Liturgy for Use of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (http://archive.org/details/liturgyforuseofe00np).  This liturgy, based on Muhlenberg’s 1748 forms and pre-Reformation rituals, laid the foundation for subsequent services in the next few years while appropriating parts of The Book of Common Prayer generously.  One who reads the 1786 and 1860 liturgies carefully then pays close attention to the Common Service of 1888 should recognize the lineage.

Some particulars of the 1860 Liturgy follow:

  • The Nicene Creed is present as an “occasional” substitute for the Apostles’ Creed.  In both Creeds the Church is “Christian,” not “Catholic,” a pattern which repeats for the rest of the century and beyond.
  • The Liturgy keeps the long General Prayer before the sermon not because it works best there but because people have become used to it being there.  Later (by a few years) services move the General Prayer to a spot after the sermon, thereby not interrupting the flow of the service.
  • There is, as in subsequent liturgies influenced by this one, a section of rites for “Ministerial Acts,” such as funerals, weddings, baptisms, and installations.
  • The fixed feasts in the book are Christmas Day (December 25), the Circumcision of Jesus/New Year’s Day (January 1), the Epiphany (January 6), and The Festival of the Reformation (October 31).

The General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States of America (1820-1918) divided twice during the 1860s.  First the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Confederate States of America organized in 1863.  It renamed itself the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America in 1866 then merged with the Holston Synod and the Tennessee Synod to create the United Synod of the South, known simply as the United Synod of the South, in 1866.  The General Synod split again in 1867, when the more conservative General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America constituted itself.  By the way, the antecedents of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) (1918-) helped to form the General Council then left it–one in 1869, another in 1871, and the third in 1888.  Also, the General Synod, the United Synod of the South, and the General Council reunited in 1918 to create The United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA), which merged into the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) in 1962.  The LCA helped to create the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in 1987.

The Southern Church, called the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America in 1867, published The Book of Worship (http://archive.org/details/bookofworshi00gene) that year.  This book, which owed much to the  1860 Pennsylvania Liturgy, constituted a great liturgical advance.  The order of Morning Service set the General Prayer after the sermon, unlike the 1860 rite.  Hints of the Common Service of 1888 began to become prominent , as in the Confession of Sin.  And the presence of rituals for other occasions, as in the Order of Ministerial Acts, indicated that the liturgy was not an afterthought tacked onto a hymnal.

The Church Book (1868) (http://archive.org/details/chuse00gene) was another great liturgical advance and foreshadowing of things to come.  The 1868 Book, revised over the decades to include music (http://archive.org/details/evanluth00gene), Ministerial Acts (http://archive.org/details/congruse00gene), and more options for Introits and Collects (http://archive.org/details/chuluth00gene), was in English.  Its German-language counterpart debuted in 1877.  The Church Book, owing much to The Book of Common Prayer and the 1860 Liturgy, set the pattern for the Common Service Book (1917).  There were no Matins of Vespers yet, but the lectionary, two forms for Morning Worship, and the prayers were impressive.  Also, the General Prayer followed the sermon and the Aaronic Blessing ended the service.  The Church Book gained slightly wider acceptance in 1872, when the Tennessee Synod accepted it in place of that body’s 1840 liturgy.

The General Synod revised its liturgy further in the 1860s, 1870s, and 1880s.  The Provisional Liturgy of 1866, never authorized, became the basis of the “Washington Service” of 1869, authorized by the General Synod.  This was the Provisional Liturgy plus the Gloria Patri, the Kyrie, and the Gloria in Excelsis.  It constituted a great advance in recovering a historical Lutheran order of worship.  This Service appeared in the Book of Worship (1871) (http://archive.org/details/bookofworship71gene). an unfortunate volume which consisted mostly of hymns with about twenty pages of services tacked onto the front and prayers, the Augsburg Confession, and Martin Luther’s Small Catechism tucked in at the back.  The Liturgy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (1881) (http://archive.org/details/liturgyofevangel00gene), however, added more material and kept up will and with the Lutheran Joneses–the General Council’s Church Book and the Southern Church’s Book of Worship.

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

V.  THE SHORT TRAIL TO THE COMMON SERVICE, 1870-1888

In 1870, the Reverend Doctor John Bachman, Pastor of St. John’s Church, Charleston, South Carolina (hence the photograph at the top of this post), wrote the leaders of his denomination, the (Southern) General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America, telling them that greater liturgical uniformity among U.S. Lutherans would increase domestic and foreign respect for U.S. Lutheranism and enable the Lutheran churches to accomplish more good in the world.  That proposal failed in 1870 yet passed six years later.  The General Council agreed to cooperate with its Southern counterpart in 1879.  And the (original) General Synod, parent to the other two bodies, joined the party in 1883.

Work got underway in 1884.  All three denominations worked out their disagreements over the committee’s proposed liturgy and the Common Service debuted in 1888 (http://archive.org/details/congruse00gene).

Analysis of the Common Service will wait until the next post in this series.

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

VI.  OTHER LITURGIES

I have focused on the mainstream of Lutheran liturgical development so far.  That has been appropriate.  Yet I would be negligent if I were to ignore other liturgical traditions within U.S. Lutheranism through 1888.

It was commonplace for many Lutheran services in the United States to occur in German or some other foreign language into the twentieth century.  In fact, foreign language Lutheran services continue to occur.  Southwest of my location, in Atlanta, Georgia, the Church of the Redeemer (http://www.redeemer.org/) hosts a German-language service, for example.

Back in the nineteenth century….

It was commonplace for English and foreign-language services to coexist within the same denomination.

  • The Norwegian Synod produced its first English-language hymnal in 1879.  Some members of the Missouri Synod used this volume.
  • The Missouri Synod, which used the Saxon and Loehe Agendas primarily for worship, published the unofficial Lutheran Hymns For the Use of English Lutheran Missions in 1882.
  • The Buffalo Synod (1845-1930), of German origin, produced its first English Language hymnal, The Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal, in 1880, with the Joint Synod of Ohio and Other States (http://archive.org/details/evangelicalluthe00evan).  The music edition appeared in 1908 (http://archive.org/details/evangelicalluthe08van).  The service 1880 service was either the 1867 Southern Lutheran service or a variant thereof, where as the 1908 rite was either the 1860 Pennsylvania Liturgy or a variant thereof.
  • Finnish Lutheran congregations began to form about 1867.  Prior to that date Finnish Lutherans had joined Norwegian or Swedish congregations.
  • The (Swedish) Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church published its first English-language hymnal after 1888.
  • Danish Lutherans in the U.S. published their first English-language hymnal after 1888.

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

VII.  CONCLUSION

The Common Service of 1888 did not impose liturgical uniformity upon U.S. Lutheranism.  It has yet to do so, as a review of hymnals and service books in use among U.S. Lutherans confirms.

There is, God willing, more to come.  With these words I conclude this post, the first in a planned series.  Next I will read for and prepare part two.

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 14, 2013 COMMON ERA

PROPER 10:  THE EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL OCCUM, PRESBYTERIAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT CAMILLUS DE LELLIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

As much as possible I prefer to work with primary sources, although secondary sources frequently prove invaluable in making the best sense of those primary sources.  And I prefer to work with actual bound volumes as much as possible.  For this post, however, most of my sources have been electronic, and I have provided links to them.  So I consider those linked ones cited properly.  I did find certain bound volumes invaluable.  Those credits follow:

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

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

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

Stulken, Marilyn Kay.  Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship.  Philadelphia, PA:  Fortress Press, 1981.

Wentz, Abdel Ross.  The Lutheran Church in American History.  2d. Ed.  Philadelphia, PA:  The United Lutheran Publication House, 1933.

I also found some PDFs helpful:

Marggraf, Bruce.  “A History of Hymnal Changeovers in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.”  May 28, 1982.

Schalk, Carl.  “A Brief History of LCMS Hymnals (before LSB).”  Based on a 1997 document; updated to 2006.  Copyrighted by The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

KRT

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

An Incomplete Recovery of the Holy Eucharist   7 comments

Snapshot_20130703_1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snapshot_20130702_1

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

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

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

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

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.

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

BODY

Snapshot_20130703_3

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!

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

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

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

Ode to Liturgy   3 comments

Snapshot_20130702_4

Above:  A Portion of the Liturgy Section of My Library, July 2, 2013

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

Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness;

let the whole earth tremble before him.

–Psalm 96:9, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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

Come, let us bow and kneel,

even light a candle,

in a place of reverence;

may we draw near to God.

Yet about rituals some feel

badly; the forms they cannot handle;

at Prayer Books they take offense;

to such “externals” they refuse even to nod.

+++++

They mistake simplicity for purity,

plainness for earnestness,

mustiness for piety,

and chaos for freedom.

But in order there is liberty,

in beauty there is holiness,

in smells and bells there is propriety,

and in liturgy there is decorum.

+++++

So from mystery and beauty

may we not run;

majesty may we embrace,

not reject;

from awe may we not flee,

but seek as flowers turn toward the sun;

proper ceremony may we adopt when it we detect.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 2, 2013 COMMON ERA

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

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

Published originally at TAYLOR FAMILY POEMS AND FAMILY HISTORY WRITINGS:

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/ode-to-liturgy/

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

Posted July 2, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Psalm 96

Tagged with , , ,

The Book of Common Worship (1906)   16 comments

Snapshot_20130701

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

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

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

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

Online Access to the text:

http://archive.org/details/bookcommonworsh00assegoog

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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/)

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

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.

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

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)

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

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

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

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/

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

Rituals and Their Value   5 comments

Above:  A Chart of the Western Christian Year

Image Source = Patnac

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

Galatians 4:1-5:1 (Revised English Bible):

This is what I mean:  so long as the heir is a minor, he is no better off than a slave, even though the whole estate is his; he is subject to guardians and trustees until the date set by his father.  So it is with us:  during our minority we were slaves, subject to the elemental spirits of the universe, but when the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to buy freedom for those who were under the law, in order that we might attain the status of sons.

To prove that you are sons, God has sent into our hearts the Spirit of his Son, crying,

Abba, Father!

You are therefore no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, an heir by God’s own act.

Formerly, when you did not now God, you were slaves to gods to gods who are not gods at all.  But now that you do acknowledge God–or rather, now that he has acknowledged you–how can you turn back to those feeble and bankrupt elemental spirits?  Why do you propose to enter their service all over again?  You keep special days and months and seasons and years.  I am afraid that all my hard work on you may have been wasted.

Put yourselves in my place, my friends, I beg you, as I put myself in yours.  You never did me any wrong:  it was bodily illness, as you will remember, that originally led to my bringing you the gospel, and you resisted any temptation to show scorn or disgust at my physical condition; on the contrary you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as you might have welcomed Christ Jesus himself.  What has become of the happiness you felt then?  I believe you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me, had that been possible!  Have I now made myself your enemy by being frank with you?

Others are lavishing attention on you, but without sincerity:  what they really want is to isolate you so that you may lavish attention on them.  To be the object of sincere attentions is always good, and not just when I am with you.  You are my own children, and I am in labour with you all over again until you come to have the form of Christ.  How I wish I could be with you now, for then I could modify my tone; as it is, I am at my wits’ end with you.

Tell me now, you that are so anxious to be under the law, will you not listen to what the law says?  It is written there that Abraham had two sons, the one by a slave, the other by a free-born woman.  The slave’s son was born in ordinary course of nature, but the free woman’s through God’s promise.  This is an allegory:  the two women stand for two covenants.  The one covenant comes from Mount Sinai; that is Hagar, and her children are born into slavery.  Sinai is a mountain in Arabia and represents the Jerusalem of today, for she and her children are in slavery.  But the heavenly Jerusalem is a free woman; she is our mother.  For scripture says,

Rejoice, O barren woman who never bore a child; break into a shout of joy, you who have never been in labour; for the deserted wife will have more children than she who lives with her husband.

Now you, my friends, like Isaac, are children of God’s promise, but just as in those days the natural-born son persecuted the spiritual son, so it is today.  Yet what does the scripture say?

Drive out the slave and her son, for the son of the slave shall not share the inheritance with the son of the free woman.

You see, then, my friends, we are no slave’s children; our mother is the free woman.  It is for freedom that Christ set us free.  Stand firm, therefore, and refuse to submit to the yoke of slavery.

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

Christian liberty is a theme which runs through the Letter to the Galatians.  This liberty frees us to fulfill our spiritual potential as heirs, not servants, and as children of God.  That is the context for Paul’s words which follow:

Your religion is beginning to be a matter of observing special days and months and seasons and years.–Galatians 4:10, The New Testament in Modern English, J. B. Phillips, 1972

Paul referred to the legalistic observance of Jewish fasts and feasts, as well as to certain Gentile (Pagan) celebrations.  The key word in the previous sentence is “legalistic.”  Many rituals are inherently neutral; the good or bad of them comes from those who observe them.

I am an Episcopalian and an unrepentant ritualist.  I remember a conversation from the early 1990s.  Some students from the Baptist Student Union at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tifton, Georgia, criticized formal worship, saying that it consisted of merely going through the motions.  The wording they used suggested that they understood the most sincere worship to be the simplist worship.  They did not grasp that one can go through the motions regardless of whether one has two or thirty-two of them.  And, as Father Peter Ingeman, Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia, has said correctly, a liturgy is simply an agreed-upon, regular, and predictable pattern of worship.  So anyone who attends a church with an agreed-upon, regular, and predictable pattern of worship goes to a liturgical church.

There is a story, which might be true.  The pastor of First Baptist Church in a county seat town in the U.S. South hosted a community Thanksgiving service.  The local Episcopal priest participated.  At the appointed time, the host pastor introduced the priest:

Now Father Jones from the Episcopal Church will say one of his…written prayers.

The priest walked to the pulpit and said,

Let us pray.  Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name….

Paul did not write that Christians should no longer observe festivals and keep the Sabbath, although an inaccurate reading of the passage can point in that direction.  Indeed, the interpretation of Galatians 4:9-11 has led to the condemnation of the religious observance of Christmas and Easter.  A textbook example of one variety of Calvinist Jure Divino theology is the following resolution, which the 1899 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, the old “Southern Presbyterian Church,” passed:

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.

The Journal of the General Assembly, 1899, page 430

Rituals mark time and transitions.  This time differs from that time, and a certain ritual divides them.  One can argue convincingly, for example, that a couple is (or ought to be) spiritually married prior to the marriage ceremony, but the ritual does define the moment they become married in the eyes of the church, the state, or both.  This is an important distinction in law and society.  And I had become a de facto Episcopalian prior to my confirmation, but now I have a date to observe every year.  (The anniversary of my confirmation is December 22.)  Rituals help with regard to social cohesion.  What separates boys from men, informal couples from married people, lay people from clergy, and students from graduates?  Rituals.  And what gives unique characters to the seasons of Advent, Christmas, the Season after Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and the Season after Pentecost?  Rituals.

Paul meant that one ought not observe certain days then think that one has fulfilled one’s duties.  Religion ought not to consist entirely of such occasions, but they can enrich it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 3, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD HOOKER, ANGLICAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF DANIEL PAYNE, AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL BISHOP

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF PAKISTAN, 1970

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

Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on November 3, 2011

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/week-of-proper-23-monday-year-2/

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