Monday, August 18, 2008

What Lambeth Once Taught!

"We do here solemnly record our conviction that unity will be most effectually promoted by maintaining the faith in its purity and integrity, as taught in the Holy Scriptures, held by the primitive Church, summed up in the Creeds, and affirmed by the undisputed General councils."

At least this is what they said at the Lambeth Conference of 1867. It would be wonderful if they could have reaffirmed this at the one just ended. St Luke's version of it, recorded in Acts 2:42 goes "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer." But this is the teaching and the practise of the classical prayer books when followed closely and exactly, both in the letter and in the spirit which is why the evil one so seeks to destroy us.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

One Use

And where hertofore there hath been greate diversitie, in saying, and singyng in churches within thys realme, some folowing Salisburye use, some Herford use, some the use of Bangor, some of Yorke, and some of Lincolne: now from hence furth, all the whole realme, shall have but one use. Preface, 1559 prayer book.

And although the kepyng or omitting of a Ceremonye (in it selfe considered) is but a small thyng : yet the wilfull and contempteous transgression, and breakyng of a common ordre, and discipline : is no small offence before God. " Of Ceremonies, 1559 prayer book.

The Morning and Evening praier shalbe used in the accustomed place of the churche, chapel, or Chauncell, except it shalbe otherwise determined by the ordinary of the place: and the chauncels shall remain, as they have done in tymes past.

And here is to be noted, that the Minister at the time of the communion, and at all other tymes in hys ministracion, shall use suche ornamentes in the church, as wer in use by aucthoritie of parliament in the second yere of the reygne of king Edward the .VI. according to the acte of parliament set in the beginning of thys booke."
The Order for Morning Prayer, 1559 prayer book.

And (to the ende the people maye the better heare) in suche places where they do synge, there shall the lessons be songe in a plaine tune after the maner of distinct readinge: and likewise the Epystle and gospell.

The above extracts and rubrics from the restored Book of Common Prayer of Elizabeth I are here quoted to show the Church of England's intent in what the Church and services were intended to look and sound like.
The purpose of this blog was to both inform and persuade. First it was to inform Anglicans and those thinking of becoming Anglicans about what it actually meant to be a classical prayer book and Biblical Anglican. Actually, I don't believe that there are truly any other kind. The others, high, low or broad, are not to my mind really Anglicans but folks who have infiltrated the Church for the purpose of subverting its faith and practise and using it for their own ends. That means that they feel very little and possibly even not the slightest obligation to believe what the Catholic Church (there really isn't any other) teaches in terms of Holy Scripture as interpreted by the creeds, the general councils and the writings of the fathers or to obediently participate in the worship of the Church as set forth in the classical Books of Common Prayer.

It was our purpose to persuade those who wanted to be know as Anglicans that they had to look Anglican, smell Anglican and sing Anglican. It short, it is the old duct test, i.e., if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it's a duck. But Anglicans have always had a great deal of difficulty of understanding that. A great deal of the problem was, as Bishop Cosin wrote, "those who came back from Geneva." They may have wanted positions in the Church of England under Elizabeth I and been willing to accept them, but what they did not want and did their best not to do was to look, walk and sound like an Anglican. Instead, while taking the Church of England's bread, they wanted to remake said Church in the image of Calvin and his Geneva. And in spite of those who would attempt to persuade us that the Church of England was greatly influenced and intellectually, spiritually and morally in debt to certain of the continental "reformers," what was ordered in Elizabeth's Book of Common Prayer was a great deal different from the type of church they wanted to create. The result was a running battle with Elizabeth and those who served her and the Church of England for the entire duration of her reign. Unfortunately Elizabeth never entirely won the day and the battle spilled over into the reigns of James and Charles where it finally resulted in the English Civil War. The Puritans and their allies won, the Church of England was abolished, the prayer book outlawed while outright Calvinist congregationalists intruded themselves into the ancient parishes of England and Wales.
It was fortunately not a victory that lasted forever because Charles II was called back to the British throne in 1660 and the Church and the prayer book returned with him. But the recovery was not complete because the destruction done during the days of the Cromwellian interregnum was never going to be erased and has not been to this day. Yes, the prayer book (slightly revised) was restored, the intruders in the parishes forced either to conform or to go their way, but there were rubrics in the prayer book that would never be enforced again by the bishops and only partially come to be obeyed after the beginning of the Church revival that we know as the Oxford Movement. Part of the reason was that the king, Charles II, was financially beholden to the French king who had hopes of him converting to the Roman Church and bringing the Church of England back under the rule of the bishops of Rome. And Charles did convert, but only upon his death bed. Having no legitimate heirs the throne went to his younger brother, James, who had already become a papist who only too soon made the people realize the danger to their liberties of a papist king. The bishops revolted and went to the tower only to have James back down and free them. However when his second wife gave birth to a male heir, the whole country rose up and James, wife and baby fled to France while Parliament called his eldest daughter and her Dutch husband William to the throne.
This in its own way was another disaster for the Church. William who outwardly conformed to the church was actually a Calvinist. The result was the best bishops and the best clerics in the country were not able to deny that they had taken an oath to James II and that such an oath precluded them not taking one to William (and Mary). The result was that they were forced from their sees and benefices which were given over to political place seekers while the Church of Scotland was entirely dis-established and Presbyterianism made the established church in that country. William tried to have the prayer book entirely rewritten in such a latitudinarian direction that it offended no one and everyone but the lower houses of convocation rejected it. Eventually William also died and Mary's sister Anne came to the throne. She tried as best she could to undo the harm that first James and then William had done to the Church. But she had too little time and when she too died without a direct heir, Parliament called George I from Hanover rather than accept another descendant of James II. That gave the English the four Georges and Victoria plus time and reason for the American colonies to declare their independence and secure it by war.

That independence left the American church in a terrible place. It had been the established state church in a number of the colonies and where it was it was disestablished. That generally meant that it was left without income and the clergy departed, some for England and some for Canada. But they were gone and could not be replaced because the English Church had never appointed bishops for the American Colonies and now, because of the matter of allegiance to King George and the British throne, it would be illegal to ordain deacons and priests for the new American states or consecrate bishops for them. So without clergy some of the churches sat empty or were claimed by others where one merely had to proclaim oneself a preacher. This was what happened to the parish church where my Virginia ancestors worshiped.

The recovery began with the consecration of the Rt Reverend Samuel Seabury by the bishops of the non-juroring Church of Scotland, but it is not finished yet. Nor will it be until those who are ordained to minister to Anglicans and in the Anglican manner consistently and obediently use the Book of Common Prayer as it was intended and give up all practises that would set either papal or puritan innovations above the directions of the Church.

"Just what is the Book of Common Prayer"

Sometimes when you are bouncing around the Internet you find something so excellent that you simply want to bring it to the attention of everyone possible. This is the case with "Just what is the Book of Common Prayer" which I found on the under the heading of BCP(2). It is the work of Father Robert Hart who is in my opinion one of the star theologians of the Continuum. Please go there and read it and the comments as well. It is a superb piece which I thing should be brought to the attention of every sound Anglican churchman. It is a priviledge to comment it to anyone and everyone.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Other Book

I found this in an old note book of mine. It was something which I said in a sermon about the first step in converting our neighbors and the world was in being as completely open as we were able to ourselves being converted to the fullness of the Christian faith.

"The Book of Common Prayer is a real school of Practical Christianity: it teaches the Catholic Faith, provides Orthodox Worship, contains Apostolic Order and it is true Evangelical Witness."

It is as simple as that and as complex and mystical. It embodies the via media. Like the Benedictine Rule it is neither too severe nor too lax, but it always - if we will but permit it - leads us to Jesus as Risen Saviour and Lord.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Why Christians Sing

In doing the previous blog I forgot to include two details which I believe to be very important in terms of why Christians and especially Anglicans are intended to sing. Beyond the joy and the emotions which music adds to the tone of worship, there are some things which I suspect primitive peoples knew almost instinctively but which we moderns have had a tendency to forget. The first of these is that anything which we either sing or hear sung we tend to remember when other things will be forgotten. That is why that tune from the thirties which was playing when you confessed your love for the four year old next door still haunts you without giving you a clue as to why. Advertisers know this which is why they set their silly jingles to music so whether you want to or not, you will remember them. Consequently when we sing the creeds either to a monotone or to the ancient tune, we set them in our memories like concrete, hard wired into our brains forever.

The second is that when we sing or our attentively listening to singing is the only time that both sides of our brain are working at the same time. In the case of anything else it is either left brain or right brain with the electrical stuff flashing at speed beyond our ordinary comprehension. But when we are singing both sides of the brain light up on the neurologists machines. Who knew?

Beyond this, we need to understand that when we stand singing or simply listening to others sing, we begin to breath in unison with the singers which tends to lengthen our breath intervals. This cuts off oxygen to the brain and creates a very mild form of oxygen starvation known as nitrogen narcosis. It is something also experience by deep sea divers where it can be far more serious and dangerous. But for those singing the psalms to either Gregorian or Anglican chant, it is simply the brain creating its own natural high. It allows the brain to focus on what is being sung and cut out distracting events and information which I think is a good thing.

Of course these things are among the reason why some folk, such as my late mother-in-law hate and fear music. It overwhelms their rational minds and frees parts of them which they would rather keep under control, enslaved perhaps. But they also allow the serious worshipper to focus on God and come one step closer to the true purpose of worship, an offering of ourselves in all of our parts to God.