Archive for the ‘Presbyterian Survey’ Tag

Incense, Mustiness, and Sanctity   7 comments

Book of Common Worship 1993

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

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Pages 28 and 29

Worship the Lord 2005

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

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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

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

decently and in order.

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 7, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES HEWITT MCGOWN, HUMANITARIAN

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

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT PERPETUA AND HER COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

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

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

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This post follows these:

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

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

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

THE AUTHOR

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INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

in lieu of

He descended into Hell.

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

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

(Lord Jesus, save me from your followers!)

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

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

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BODY

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

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

For Voluntary Use

in boldface on the title page.

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

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

In the Appendix one finds the following:

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

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

In the Public Worship section one finds the following:

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

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

The Sacraments section contains the following:

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

The Holy Rites are:

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

The Church Ordinances are:

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

The Treasury of Prayers has seven parts:

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

The expanded prayers for the Christian Year cover the following:

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

The Civil Year prayers are for the following:

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

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

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

Here is the second prayer:

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

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

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

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

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

for optional and selective use of our ministers.

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CONCLUSION

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 3, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY THOMAS SMART, ENGLISH ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERRARD, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN

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

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