Sunday, December 19, 2010


After celebrating this morning and preaching I am more tired than I thought possible, but the Eucharist is like that sometimes in that it requires a huge amount of energy from us. That being the case, this is going to be very simple: the antiphon and its scriptural background. Maybe next year.

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;
qui aperis, et nemo claudit;
claudis, et nemo aperit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Key of David, * and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openest, and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth : Come and bring the prisoner out of the prison-house, and him that sitteth in darkness, and the shadow of death.
Isaiah had prophesied:

* "I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open." Isaiah 22:22
* "His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore." Isaiah 9:7
* "...To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house."Isaiah 42:7.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

One of the great themes of medieval art is the Jesse Tree. You will find variations of it all over Europe both in parish churches and great cathedrals. The point of these trees is our Lord's descent from the father of King David, but also of something else. In one of his conflicts with the pharisees Jesus asked them if the Messiah who was to come was David's son, why did David then say "The Lord said unto my Lord, set thou on my right hand until I make thy enemies thy footstool?" The only possible answer frightened and confused them. What it was intended to point out was that He who was and is to come was no ordinary king. It is something which in this day and time we need greatly to remember and this is where this one of the Great O's points us.

O Root of Jesse, *which standest for an ensign of the people, to whom kings shall shut their mouths, to whom the Gentiles seeK : Come and deliver us and tarry not.

The text again points to passages in the prophet Isaiah. "A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." Isaiah 11:1
* "On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious." Isaiah 11:10 But Isaiah was not along. Micah also wrote that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and even be born in David's own city. St Paul in his epistle to the Romans reminded the early Roman Christians and, by extension, all of us of this fact.

But the most interesting part of the antiphon for me is to be found in the last words, "and tarry not." He has promised to come and we are supposed to be anxious for his quick coming. But are we? If we are not ready, then this period of the Great O's is one in which we are reminded that we should and must be. We must be excited about it; we must stir up our hearts and the very best way of doing that is the worship of the church, the daily offices and the Eucharist which we have "until his coming again."

Friday, December 17, 2010


The antiphon for the Magnifict on 17th day of December in the Sarum rite was O Adonai. It is with a bit of embarrassment that I have to post the Latin version of this antiphon as sung by Roman Dominican students. I would much have preferred to be post the English equivalent as sung perhaps by the sisters of the Community of St Mary the Virgin at Wantage. After all it was from a book obtained from St Mary's Press that I first learned of the Great O's. That book contained the antiphons for the Magnificat and the Nunc dimittis throughout the Christian year according to the Anglican calendar. It was intended for use with The Sarum Psalter which was also published by St. Mary's Press. Later when Briggs and Frere published their plainchant psalter one of their announced aims was to make sure that it conformed to Palmer's work. Briggs and Frere is still available and every quire in the Continuum should have copies. They might also want to have copies of the Lancelot Andrewes Press' plainchant psalter. it has additional and very helpful material.

But the point here must remain on text of the antiphons themselves and their scriptural references which clarify and expand the the theme of the season of Advent. In O Adonai the most obvious are the events from Exodus 3:2 and 24:12. The title to the antiphon makes reference to Isaiah 33:22 which says :"For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king; he will save us." And its point is taken from Isaiah 11:4-5 "[...] but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins."

O Adonay,* and Leader of the house of Israel, who appearest in the Bush to Moses in a flame of fire, and gavest him in the law in Sinai : Come and deliver us with an outstretched arm.

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,
qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr

Technically, today is the feast of his translation, the return of his relics, what was left of his body after the lions in the Roman circus finished with him, to Antioch for burial. The relics were moved twice after that and now rest in a church in Rome. But the important thing for the Church is that we, as Anglicans, should realize the importance of this great saint not merely for the Catholic Church but for all those who call themselves Christians.

Ignatius who also called himself Theophorus (God bearer)was born in Syria around anno Domini 50 and died in the Roman circus sometime between 98 and 117. He was a disciple of St. John the Evangelist along with his friend and fellow martyr, Polycarp and succeeded St. Evodius as the bishop of Antioch. According to some early authorities he was appointed by St. Peter himself. In the ninth year of his reign, the emperor of Trajan ordered Christians to worship the gods with pagans with the penalty being death for those who refused. Ignatius was at the forefront of the effort to keep the Church together and strong in the face of organized persecution paying special attention to the weakest among the faithful. When his efforts came to the attention of the authorities, he was arrested and brought before the emperor who at that time was in Syria. He was condemned and sent to Rome to be fed to wild beasts in the circus.

During the course of that trip to Rome he wrote at least six letters to various churches and one to his fellow bishop Polycarp which have managed to survive down to this present day. These letters are very important for the Catholic and Anglican understanding of the Church. Indeed, it is one of these letters that the very word "catholic" (according to the whole) is used for the first time. Ignatius also first uses the word "Eucharist" for the service of Holy Communion as well as setting out the tripartite division of the Christian ministry as bishop, priests and deacons. And this relates directly to The Preface in our Anglican Ordinal which states that these orders have existed "from the Apostles' time." It from Ignatius, the disciple of St. John, that we first learn this.

There is also an Anglican involvement in these texts. The seven authentic letters in time were joined by six entirely fraudulent ones. Even the authentic letter became larded with material by latter writers who were attempting to use the saints name and reputation to forward their views on later theological issue. In the thirteenth century the scholarly bishop of Lincoln, Robert Grossteste, carefully edited the later material out in the most careful Latin translation of these works. In the seventeenth century Archbishop Ussher, the primate of Ireland discovered Grossteste's manuscript and published it in 1644.

Ignatius' writings like all of the apostolic fathers should be known to every Anglican in the Continuum. They, after the very apostles and evangelists themselves, are the real basis of the Anglican tradition.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


In the calendar of the English prayer book of 1662 December 16 has this cryptic entry. It is the opening two words for the antiphon for the Magnificat in the Sarum and other pre-Reformation orders of vespers. In the Roman rite this antiphon is found on 17 December but the sequence of antiphons follows the same order as that in the Sarum office with the exception that Sarum had an additional "Great O" not found in the continental rites. What most Anglicans don't know is that this antiphon and those following it go back to the fifth century. We know this because Boethius (480 - 524/5) makes a passing reference to same as if everyone reading him would understand the allusion. The question for prayer book Anglicans is why when so much of the ancient rites were suppressed that the calendar should contain this quite unexplained reference?

It is almost as if there were a secret wish for it to be revived and with the Oxford Movement and its aftermath this has occurred in the English Church. It began with the monastic revival and books like The Day Hours of the Church of England. These books were essentially translations of the Sarum office book which had received these antiphons as part of the common heritage of the Western Church. Further when the Rev'd G. H. Palmer translated the Sarum Diurnal for the use of the Community of St Mary the Virgin at Wantage, he also set the antiphons to their ancient music so even though the words were now in English the tune would be the same. Consequently for the days that the Great O's were sung, the Magnificat would be sung to the solemn version of tone II with the second ending. This is one of the most beautiful of the solemn tones which anciently were always used for both the Magnificat and the Benedictus. They are, as one might imagine, slightly more elaborate than the simple versions of the same tone.

There is another interesting thing about the Great O's. If one uses only the Roman version of them. reading backwards from the last to the first, a Latin phrase is formed, "ero cras" - tomorrow I will come. This is the essential promise of the Advent season and the thread that is woven from all of the biblical texts referenced in the words of the antiphons themselves. In the case of O Sapientia the following verses are evoked in the text: Isa. 11. 2,3; Isa. 28.29; Sirach 24.3; and Wisdom 8.1.

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

O Wisdom, * which camest out of the mouth of the most High, and reachest from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things : Come and teach us the way of prudence.

Monday, December 13, 2010

St. Lucy of Syracuse, Virgin and Martyr

The American Church with its attempt to reconcile the traditions and prejudices of both high and low Anglicans failed to produce its own black letter calendar of feasts or to incorporate that of either of its mother churches. On the other hand it provided a proper for the feast of a saint other than those of the Red Letter days in its calendar and also lessons and proper psalms for evening and morning prayer for various types of saints for whom parishes or missions might be named. It thus, strangely, attempts to have things both ways to the satisfaction of neither party. Indeed, by so doing, it has created and sided with a party of its own and encouraged the very thing which St Paul has written that we should banish, i.e., the spirit of party itself. It has tried to pretend that it has no need for the celebration of the saints and thus of the doctrine of the communion of saints while celebrating the feasts of those disciples of our Lord listed in the New Testament as being his apostles. Unfortunately this has resulted in the very pattern of prayer book worship itself being violated and one of the most important of our Lord's commandments to his apostles and disciples being, for all practical purposes, rejected.

The prayer book intends that the historical pattern of Christian worship that existed from sub apostolic days until the Reformation should be continued. That meant that in any place where there was a church or chapel the priest or other minister in charge was to say daily the morning and evening offices of the Church with the Eucharist being celebrated on all Sundays and other holy days for which the prayer book provided propers, that is to say a collect, epistle and gospel or indicated by rubric that such celebration was appropriate. This provision is found by our low churchmen to be very offensive in that if they acted in obedience to the prayer book as they promised at their ordination, they would appear to be doing what ministers of the Roman Church do. It does not matter that this is what our Lord and his apostles and evangelists ordered and that the entirety of the Church did from Pentecost till the continental reformation (if it can be called that) for no other reason Romans, whatever their other failings, continue to do it. On that ground, you would also expect them to give up their belief that Jesus is "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God" and our savior simply because the Roman Church continues to believe that also.

So be it!

But there is a reason for some of these missing black letter days in they point us to those movable feasts and fast which still retain a place in the prayer book calendar such as the Ember Days. St Lucy's feast is one of those as it occurs on the 13th of December and the Advent Ember Days are ordered to be kept on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after. The next question is will they have remember to announce these fast days and the reason for them on the Sunday previous and will they actually provide so much as a single communion service on any of the three days when we, the Church, are supposed to pray that God will send us a proper supply of men to be deacons, priests and bishops in the next generation. And if they, the deacons, priests and bishops in this day and time don't, will there be faithful lay men and women who will take up their prayer books and bibles and say the offices privately so that the Church's work may be done?

I would like to hear from those where it was done and also from those where the clergy neglected it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Glastonbury Thorn

It is very sad to report that last night vandals cut down the Glastonbury Thorn. This tree, Middle Eastern in origin, has been a symbol of the earliest Christianity in Britain for centuries. As of yet there are no clues to the motive or to the identity of the vandals who destroyed it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Saint Martin's Day - Again!

It should be clear to anyone reading this blog that I have a devotion to Saint Martin of Tours. But then I am an American and his feast days fall upon two major American holidays, his translation on Independence Day and the celebration of his celestial birthday on Veteran's Day. Somehow, in my own mind that makes him an almost essential American saint although he was born in what is now Hungary and died in what is now France.

Not only do I think of him as being uniquely American, but also as being quite a representative of classical Anglicanism. After all, his fame and possibly some of his relics were carried to the British Isles well before it interested the Roman Church. St Ninian of Scotland was a disciple of his and dedicated his major missionary church to him and it was in a church dedicated to St Martin in Canterbury, that the first Roman mission set up practice. In short, his cult was carried to the British well before they fell victims to the papacy.

Since the 1928 American prayer book has no calendar of black letter holy days although it does have liturgical provision for "A Saint's Day," those of us in the Continuum who reject the pseudo-papalism of the missals must look to the calendars of the English and Scots' prayer books with perhaps a nod to that of the Welsh Church with its richness of Celtic and early British saints. We can also look to their revisions of the 28/29 period for propers appropriate to these days as being well within the prayer book and Anglican tradition. We could, of course, look backwards to the Sarum and other English missals, but as long as we have recourse to the British books, I think we need not look elsewhere. The important thing is to look to our own history and its heroes to inspire us to do what they did which was to seek God completely and embrace and live the Christian faith fully which means we are called to follow the example of the saints.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Third Sunday Before Advent

Last Sunday was not only the Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity and the Sunday in the Octave of the Feast of All Saints, but it was also the Third Sunday Before Advent. As the Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity, the prayer book rubrics requires that the collect, epistle and gospel shall be used at the celebration of Holy Communion. Because it was also the Sunday in the Octave of All Saints, the collect for that feast will be read at the communion service which will also be marked by the proper preface for that feast at the Sanctus. But what is required by it also being the Third Sunday before Advent?

Here reference must be made to pages xl and xli of the 1928 American Book of Common Prayer. There you will find a series of proper psalms, and lessons for both Morning and Evening Prayer These are ordered for every day, morning and evening, from the Mattins of the Third Sunday before Advent through Evensong before Advent Sunday itself. These psalms and lessons reflect the theme of the approaching Advent season so that we will be better prepared for the season to come.

Now I know that most of the parishes in the Continuum do not have daily celebrations of the offices. Indeed Evensong is almost extinct among us. This is extremely unfortunate because anything less complete use of the prayer book where missions or parishes have their own buildings is something which harms all of us who call ourselves Anglicans. Now the public reading of the offices does not have to be done by the priest. He should be doing so but there are times when he cannot. That means that the lay people in the parish have a very important role here and should be taught how to properly and in accordance with the rubrics properly read the offices. This is a legitimate part of the priesthood of all believers.

But even in those places which don't have buildings or other permanent meeting places, the congregation can be taught and encouraged to read the offices either by themselves or in their families. This will make us all more familiar with Holy Scripture. In fact the two things which we all need to know better is the Bible and our Book of Common Prayer.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Riposte on Puritans and Puritanism

"The Puritan party from the days of Elizabeth to the present time have never honestly accepted the Prayer Book : its members have been too much of Churchmen to leave the Church, but too little of Churchmen to value its principles: They have remained in a false position, attempting to subvert the system to which they nominally conformed. It has been pointed out how openly the attempt was made in Elizabethan times; and, though it has in God's good Providence failed all along to win any substantial recognition, it has been able at times to establish an evasive and false tradition of Prayer Book interpretation which has practically popularized and sought even to justify a system of disloyalty to the Prayer Book. The party has had its conflicts with more loyal and wholehearted churchmanship, and the issues have hitherto not been finally decisive. The failure of the Elizabethan attempt to puritanize the Church inaugurated the period of loyalty of the early Stuart times: the success of this recovery was too rapid and too injudicious, and so the revenge came speedily; for a while sectarianism and even puritanism had their way, until a short experience of their results under the Commonwealth produced a fresh reaction. The failure of the Puritans at the Savoy inaugurated another period of loyalty under the later Stuarts, but, when Church life was systematically crushed in the 18th century by Whig politicians and Latitudinarian bishops, the reign of the false tradition and the evasive, disloyal or merely torpid attitude to the rules of the Church's worship again set in; and those who tried to be loyal to the Church system, whether early followers of Wesley, Clapham Evangelicals or Oxford Tractarians, were all alike in turn charged with innovation, disloyalty and even with Popery. The contest still survives; the Puritan party still works for a system, which is not the system of the Catholic Church or of the English Prayer Book, and defends its disregard of plain rubrics (e.g., as to fasting or daily services), and its want of sympathy with the system (e.g., as to the frequency and discipline of Communion by appealing to the evasive tradition, which in the dark days of the history it has been able to form, and would like to fasten permanently upon the Church. Thus there is no feature more marked in the history of the Prayer Book than this contest between the Church system of worship expressed in the Prayer Book and the false interpretation which has grown up through a continuous tradition of evasion and rebellion."

This quotation, taken from Proctor and Frere's New History of the Book of Common Prayer, is still as true as the day it was written and published. The Continuum has been repeatedly split by this fight which has been made the worse by those who should have been the best of Churchmen adopting and practicing a tradition equally at varience with the Prayer Book and the Church, i.e., an imitation of the very worse of what even Roman authorities have labeled as "Roman bad taste." The result is that those who know and actually practice the Anglican tradition seem to have become fewer every year. But it is that tradition, the way of the classical Prayer Book Catholic, which this blog has embraced and will continue to do our best to set before all those who call themselves Anglicans and the world at large.

The above was originally posted in my first year and I am putting it back up now because of recent opinions on other Anglican sites, I think this long quotation from Proctor and Frere needs to be revisited. In both the English and American churches men who had no loyalty to the doctrine, discipline and worship to be found and still found in all of the classical prayer books stood for orders and accepted ordination to an office which they didn't accept or believe in precisely for the reason of destroying first the Church of England and now all of Anglicanism. The purpose of this blog is to support Anglicanism according to the one official document of the Church which is the Book of Common Prayer.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Independence Day

Tomorrow is Independence Day and its propers will replace those for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity. on pages xlii and xliii of the American Book of Common Prayer you will find the psalms and lessons for Morning and Evening Prayer. Strangely, it does not rate a first evensong. That may be because it is not entirely a feast of the Church although the Church does give it great importance as well it should.

Why? Because the American struggle for independence, for liberty was a struggle born from the very teaching of the prayer book tradition itself just as the revolt against King John which led to the Magna Carta was likewise a struggle born in the Gospel's vision for all men. Most of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and who wrote the Constitution of the United States were Churchmen. Consequently it is no wonder that the ideals upon which this nation was founded and built sprang straight from the Old Testament and the New.

As we celebrate our independence tomorrow appropriately in attendance at Morning Prayer and Holy Communion let us remember all those who have given their lives both to make and keep us free. And let us also renew our faith in the Faith which inspired them, the faith which every day reminded them that there is a God in "whose service is perfect freedom."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Feast of the Visitation

This is the first evensong of the feast of the Visitation. It was instituted by Urban VI in 1389 and celebrates the occasion of the Magnificat. It is found in the black letter calendars of the English book of 1662 and the deposited book as well as those of Scotland and Canada. It was also to be found in the calendar of Sarum and the rest of English Uses.

G. H. Palmer's Antiphons upon Magnificat and Nunc Dittis provides antiphons for both the first and second evensong. According to this the tone of the first is solemn version of the sixth and the second the solemn of the fourth with the second ending. The text of the first antiphon is as follows:

To an instrument * of ten strings singeth the Royal maiden, magnifying the Lord her Savior who hath wrought in her so wondrously : Who putteth down the mighty from their seat, in righteousness, and exalteth the humble in his loving kindness.

The Collect in The English Liturgy is as follows:

Almighty God, who for their mutual comfort, didst cause the Blessed Virgin, mother of thine only Son, to visit Saint Elizabeth; Mercifully grant that we, being sheltered by thy defense from all adversaries may ever be comforted by his continual visitation, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

At the Altar of Incense

Sorry, this one is personal. But surrounded as I am both by little groups and mega churches which claim to be 'Biblical' I always find myself asking those who adhere to them how often they use incense. The answer is always "never!" And for me that ends the argument because it is my firm belief that in order to understand something of the mind of God, you have to be open to the continual use of incense in the services of the Church. This is both the teaching of the Book of Common Prayer and of Holy Scripture, however much we, both as individuals and as Churchmen, tend to ignore it. But on the feast of the Nativity of Saint John Baptist we should find it especially hard to do.

Why? Because it was when John's father, the priest Zacharias, was at the altar of incense in the temple that the angel Gabriel announced to him John's birth and told him what the child was to be called. That place and time have, as the sainted Dr. William Howard Frere, C.R., wrote in his revision of Procter's A New History of the Book of Common Prayer always bothered 'Protestants' because it seemed to close to the ceremonial law of Israel which they have rejected. I suspect they are also bothered by the fact that one of the magi's gifts was frankincense as well. It speaks to strongly of the fact that Christianity is a "yon side religion" with just too many things beyond the bare rationalism of Reformation fundamentalism.

The Book of Common Prayer never specifically orders the use of incense in the services of the Church, but from Elizabeth I's prayer book of 1559 the Act of Uniformity has ordered; "Such Ornaments of the Church and of the Ministers thereof, shall be retained, and be in use, as was in this Church of England by the Authority of Parliament in the second year of the reign of King Edward the sixth . . ." Certainly thuribles and incense boats were among them and we know by the complaints of Elizabeth's bishops to their friends in Zurich that incense was used. Bosher in his book The Restoration of the Church of England pointed out by quotes from the period that prayer book services in the chapels in France during the Commonwealth astonished the French by their copes, profound bows, and clouds of incense. And incense continued to be used in the cathedrals of England until a canon of Ely brought to an end in 1770 by complaining that it caused him headache. Rationalism and the beginning of secular humanism had set in.

But the prayer book reminds us of its scriptural intent and importance with the Sentences as the beginning of Morning and Evening Prayer. "From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my Name shall be great among the Gentiles: and in every place incense shall be offered unto my Name, and a pure offering: for my Name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts. Mal. i, 11." "Let my prayer be set forth in thy sight as the incense; and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice. Psalm cxli. 2."

And then there is the Book of Revelations with its description of the worship in heaven. Hard core Evangelicals and 'Protestants' of all varieties just might as well consign themselves to hell because you know they are not going be be comfortable with all those bowls of incense burning before the throne of God. And that is why every oratory, mission, parish or cathedral in the Continuum ought to be preparing its people for heaven by the regular use of incense because if Holy Scripture teaches us nothing else, there is no way that we can escape the fact that God likes it, likes it a lot and "the Bible tells us so!" It even gives us his own recipe as to how it is supposed to be mixed.

So if we as Anglicans are going to be good Biblical and New Testament Christians, we need to make sure that we imitate the worship of heaven as it is revealed in Holy Scripture. And that means that we are going to have to use incense both at the offices, in processions and at the celebration of Holy Communion. After all, we have he words of Jesus in the parable of Dives and Lazarus, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them." We read them as well, but it is only too plain that we frequently don't hear what they say, what they order. We are so stuck in our own defense against the very word of God that we can not hear it and certainly don't want to obey it. In things great and very small, it is time for that to change.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

An Interesting Bit of Verse

'For this, Seditious Spirits in disguise
Swarm in the Church, tho' they that Church despise:
Loudly they boast her Ancient rights and Fame,
Whilst underhand they play a Popish Game.
The Seed of Loyola with Artful Pains
First fixt this High-Church Poyson in our Veins,
Infecting too, too many of our Youth,
Who, blindly led, fell from the Cause of Truth.

Does that read like an attack upon the Tractarians, the early ritualists or even the late nineteenth century Anglo-Catholics? If you thought so you would be wrong. It was written and published in 1708, more than a century before the beginning of the Tractarian Movement. Those lines came from a poem titled: The Seditious Insects: or, the Levelers assembled in Convocation. I present it as evidence that as Frere wrote in the early twentieth century, the Church has always had its enemies who were in his words "too little of Churchmen to obey her, but too much of Churchmen to leave her."

And so the battle persists. Those of us who think of ourselves as Prayer Book Anglicans or Prayer Book Catholics and who believe that real high churchmen value the Church and express that by a full and complete obedience to our own version of the Book of Common Prayer, must remain aware that the Church still contains those whose real loyalties remain outside "the doctrines, discipline and worship . . . .of the church" as expressed in her classical formularies.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Geneva Bible of 1559

One of the advertisements which I receive regularly on the internet is for the Geneva Bible of 1559. It is touted as the version of the Bible brought to America by the Puritans and consequently as the Bible not only of the Reformation but also of the American Revolution. It is a clever sales idea, but as an Anglican one that I must reject. Why? Because one of the things which an American child is quite unlikely to learn in the government schools is that the major leaders of the American revolution and the writing of the Constitution were not members of the denominations, but Anglicans. And that would make the real Bible of the American Revolution and the American founding precisely The Authorized Version of 1611, commonly called the King James version.

Since most American know very little of English history even as most Britons know very little of American history, it is probably time that we run through the facts. One of the great myths of American history is that the Pilgrims who came to what is now Massachusetts in 1620 were coming to this country for purposes of religious freedom. Absolutely nothing could be farther from the truth. For some period of time these folk had been living in Amsterdam and not in England, and in the Dutch states they had every bit of religious liberty which they could have desired. They didn't like it. Why? Because the freedom of Amsterdam threatened the absolutist ideas of this little group. They were afraid that in the middle of all that freedom their children would wander away from their version of the "True Faith." Hence their choice to come to America where they could set up their own little version of a religiously totalitarian state which allowed of no freedom of religion to anyone whose views or faith differed from their own. We face a similar situation today in that the very political and ideological heirs of the Puritans have done their best to control the levers of public opinion and admit no orthodoxy except their own.

A few years later with the Cromwellian revolution and the overthrow of both the monarchy and the Church of England, the same experiment was tried in England. It did not take very long for the majority of the English to decide that they didn't like it and the king returned from exile in 1660 and both the monarchy and the Church were restored. That meant a return to the services of the English Book of Common Prayer and the use of the King James version of the English Bible. And it was this version of both prayer book and Bible that a clear majority of the leaders of the American Revolution were raised on. The result was that when the Declaration of Independence was adopted two thirds of those who signed it were Anglicans. And the convention in Philadelphia which wrote the American Constitution was comprised of fifty per cent Anglicans plus one. There was another nominal Anglican but he was one of the two delegates to that convention who were deists.

One of the great American myths generally told by persons of a certain political persuasion is that the framers of the American system of government were deists and not Christians. These are the people who in fact hate the Church and hate Christianity, because the faith of English Christians has always led them to demand greater freedom for ordinary people. Take that first great document of liberty, the Magna Carta. The leader of the Baron's revolt against King John was none other than the archbishop of Canterbury and the place where it is easiest to see an original copy of that great document is at Salisbury Cathedral. By modern standards it was not much, but it contained that magical phrase, "the Church of England shall be free." John Lackland had attempted to sell it to the papacy.

One of the features of the Geneva Bible is the included commentaries. Rather than giving the reader the freedom to "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest" the text of Holy Scripture, these commentaries told the reader what the Scriptures meant and what he was to believe. And of course it was an interpretation heavily slanted from a continental Calvinist view. Among the reasons that King James authorized a new translation of the Bible based upon the best available Hebrew and Greek manuscripts was precisely the political and religious slant of these commentaries. He and the Church of England wanted a text that was the most faithful to the meaning of the original without the inclusion of later opinions.

In modern America we have a like situation in that we have people telling us what the Constitution means which is frequently almost the precise opposite of what the text actually says.

The point of this, if there is one, is that the English Church and her daughters who have been and remain true to the faith of the Bible and the prayer book as we have received it, that is to the 'doctrine, discipline and worship' of the Catholic and Christian church as Jesus handed it over to the apostles and they in turn to the sub apostolic Church is the greatest guarantor of human freedom and dignity which the world has ever know. Those who strike out at the faith and practice of the prayer book are also striking out at the very dignity and freedom of every man. One of the doctrines of the framers of the American Constitution and government was that we receive our rights, not from government but from God. And that is a doctrine which they learned both from the Bible, the Authorized Version, and from the Book of Common Prayer.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Feast of St George, Martyr

Today is the feast of St. George, the patron not only of England but of a very large number of countries, cities and provinces besides. It was made a feast day of the English church in the Synod of Oxford in 1222. But its importance in England increased when Edward III made him the patron of the Order of the Garter in 1348. The British war cry of "England and St George" began with the Hundred Years War as Edward III began his attempt to achieve the French crown, a claim based upon his descent from his mother, the French princess Isabella.

The prayer book collect: Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy holy Martyr George triumphed over suffering, and despised death : Grant, we beseech thee, that enduring hardness, and waxing valiant in fight, we may with the noble army of martyrs receive the crown of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blessed George Selwyn

George Augustus Selwyn (5 April 1809 - 11 April 1878) was the first missionary bishop of New Zealand under the title of Bishop of Auckland and subsequently its first primate. Afterward he was the 90th bishop of Litchfield and died in that office.

O God, the light of the faithful and Shepherd of souls, who didst set blessed George Selwyn to be a bishop in the Church that he might feed thy sheep by his word and guide them by his example : Grant us, we pray thee, to keep the faith which he taught and to follow in his footsteps, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Scottish Book of Common Prayer

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Elizabeth I, March 24, 1603, R.I.P.

As she came into the world on the eve of the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, so Elizabeth I died on the eve of the feast of the Annunciation in 16o3. Without her and her own vision of the Christian faith and the Church, there would be no Anglicanism. With what her half sister Mary had done in terms of her Spanish marriage with the introduction into England of the Spanish inquisition, any lingering sentiment for the Roman See and the Roman faith was largely vanished. But without Elizabeth's policy of re-introducing the Book of Common Prayer and supporting the English Church, it would have been overwhelmed by the doctrine of either Geneva or Zurich. Instead she returned it as close as it was humanly possible to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Church as she herself put it of "the earliest bishops and Catholic fathers."

There have been many who have attempted to portray her as a person largely without religious faith. If that had been true it would have been much easier for her to have retained the Roman religion in England. But her actions, and chiefly those kept from the scrutiny of the world, reveal her as a person of deep faith. She attended daily morning and evening prayer in her own chapel. And there the Eucharist was celebrated with her bishops, largely against their will, acting as priest, deacon and subdeacon (to quote one of them) "in the golden vestments of the papacy" with music provided by Byrd and Tallis. In addition it was her practice to read a chapter of the New Testament in Greek and a chapter of the Old Testament in Hebrew every single day while the book in which she wrote prayers of her own composition remained a secret until her death.

Many Anglicans know of the quote which once graced the newletter of the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen and has appeared in many Anglican blogs including this one, But let me conclude this post with another. "There is one thing higher than Royalty: and that is religion, which causes us to leave the world, and seek God." Elizabeth could not leave the world because she saw her rule as an act of service to her people, but in her very first interview with the Spanish ambassador after she became queen she told him that her colours were black and white, those of a vowed religious. I doubt if he understood but he reported everything she said faithfully to Philip, his master. And we, from the long view of history, have a much better chance of knowing that she meant every word so that in the end, she, more than any other, deserved the title of "Defender of the Faith."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Some Verses to Consider

As we near the end of Lent, and indeed we are already in Passiontide, I would like to give those who read this blog three verses from the New Testament to consider prayerfully. We all know them, but how often to we isolate them and apply ourselves to them and them to our own lives as Christians and Churchmen. I am not going to do more than give you book, chapter and verse so that you have to look them up yourselves.

The first is Matthew 18:3.

The second Luke 9:24.

The third Luke 17:10.

These should be your preparation for Holy Week and your Easter communion - if you dare.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

An Anglican Passiontide

Passiontide begins with tonight's evensong. Because of that I though I should post what the second edition of the second volume of the Alcuin Club's Directory of Ceremonial has to say about its observance. This is important in that we, in the Continuum, need to let people know that we are neither Papists nor Episcopalians, but that we are indeed the old Church believing in the old Religion and keeping it in the old ways. As the Council of Nicea said, "let the ancient customs prevail."


Passiontide begins with the first Evensong of the fifth Sunday in Lent. The altar frontals should be changed to red, and red vestments are worn. The remainder of the Lenten array continues as before. The red need not be dull or dark (the symbolism is, of course, the precious blood of our Saviour), but the materials should be simple, e.g. linen, with apparels of blue or black.

Red-letter days falling between Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday are celebrated as usual, but those occuring in Holy Week are transferred to the week after Low Sunday. Black-letter days fallin in Holy Week are omitted altogether for that year. If, however a black-letter saint is the patron of the place, the day is treated as a red-letter day, and transferred to the first free day after Low Sunday, but this cannot be earlier than Tuesday if the feast is to have a first Evensong, since the second Evensong of Low Sunday must not be displaced.

While in recent years, there are some who have adopted the custom of using the dalmatic and tunicle even during these period, in ancient times that would not have been done. Instead the dalmatic of the deacon and the tunicles of the sub-deacon and clerk would have been given up for the more ancient use of the folded chasuble. According to the rules of Sarum, Wells and Exeter, these would have been used daily until Maundy Thursday while York and Hereford wore them on only the Sundays in Lent and Passiontide. Maundy Thursday would have been kept in dalmatic and tunicle as would have been the case on Holy Saturday. Good Friday would have been kept in albs only. As one who believes that the chasubles proper to the Ornaments Rubric were the ancient conical ones as the surviving example from the Elizabeth I's Chapel Royal was before being cut down, it would seem appropriate for the same to be used during this period.

The most important thing to remember is that until all of the services appointed for this period in the Book of Common Prayer are used, it is very inappropriate to do anything else liturgically. The prayer book services must come first.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Saint Kessog's Day

Saint Kessog was an Irish missionary of the mid-sixth century active in the Lennox area and southern Perthshire. Kessog was Scotland's patron saint before Saint Andrew, and his name was used as a battle cry by the Scots. Son of the king of Cashel in Ireland, Kessog is said to have worked miracles, even as a child. He left Ireland and became a missionary bishop in Scotland. Using Monks' Island in Loch Lomond as his headquarters, he evangelized the surrounding area until he was martyred, supposedly at Bandry, where a heap of stones was known as St Kessog's Cairn. Kessog was killed in 520 AD.

The St McKessog's church in Luss on the banks of Loch Lomond is named after Kessog and in the church resides his effigy. Kessog is claimed to have brought Christianity to the area around Luss in 510AD and 1500 years of continuous Christian presence in the area will be celebrated in 2010AD.

Those of us who have Celtic or Scots' ancestry should regard this as a great day. Indeed, as the patron saint of Scotland before Rome saw that he was replaced by St Andrew as evidence of the native church's submission to Rome. It should be especially important to American Anglicans in that we received the apostolic succession from the Catholic remnant of the ancient Church of Scotland.

Monday, March 8, 2010

An Anglican Lent

We are already too late in Lent with next Sunday being the fourth, Mothering Sunday, but I hope to make up for my failures by posting just a bit about how the true prayer book Anglican approaches the fast. First, we should all know that Lent was originally the period in which people were prepared for the sacrament of baptism. While they were previously allowed into the Church for the first part of the Eucharist, but were expelled before the prayers of the people. When they determined that they were ready to make the step of becoming Christians they were invited to give in their names on Septuragesima Sunday. On Sexagesima Sunday they were given what they pretty much already knew, the bad news about just what might happen to them if they were actually Christians. This was in those days 'Exhortation Sunday,' as even with the bad news they were exhorted to make good in their intent to be baptized. Quinquigesima Sunday was 'Commencement Sunday,' and the process of their training as Christians would begin.

That should tell us that what we who are already baptized should be doing with Lent is engaging in the process of re-newing our own Christian commitment, reminding ourselves of what we are supposed to know, believe and do not only as Anglicans, but as classic Catholic Christians because in this world we need constantly to be renewing our own baptismal vows. The first and best way of doing this is pointed out in the collect for the second Sunday in Advent in which we are urged to "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest" the Scriptures themselves. That means that we not only need to attentively hear them in the offices of the Church and in the Communion Service, but to actively meditate upon what we have heard in our private prayers. It is there that we need to apply them to our own lives, own failings and falling from grace, our own need for grace and salvation in Jesus.

Lent is also a period in which we are expected to fast with the two most important fast days being Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. But after that the Book of Common Prayer also reminds us that "The Forty Days of Lent" are all fast days with the Ember days which occured on the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday following the First Sunday in Lent. Now the Church does not tell you what you must do in terms of fasting because it does not believe that any Christian should injure their health by extemes of austerity, but this is a matter which each of us need to be reminded should be worked out either with our parish priest or spiritual director and adviser.
We should also remember that the money we have saved by fasting should be used for purposes of charity either through the church or of our own choosing.

There is also another thing which we should know and expect as Anglicans. And that is what the Ornaments of the Church and of its ministers are supposed to look like. Most of us know that in the Roman Church Lent is marked by the use of purple. The altar frontal is purple as are the vestments of the priest and attendant ministers. But this was not the case with the English church or indeed most of the Church in Northern Europe prior to the Reformation and the Counter Reformation in Trent. Then things were different. Rather than attempt to list them myself, I am going to give you what the Alcuin Club's Directory of Ceremonial has to say about was done and should be continued in Lent.


During Lent is is desirable to express the spirit of the season by as complete a transformation of the interior of the Church as possible. This can be achieved by adopting a practice at one time widely prevalent on the Continent and which in England survived in some places until the nineteenth century. The custom was to cover all crosses, pictures, statues, and other decorative work with veils of whitish linen or light holland, and the effect was to make these objects sink, as it were, into the background of th church's whitened walls. These veils were often marked with crosses or emblems of the Passion or other symbols relating to the object covered, in red or blue. In addition the leaves of triptychs were kept closed. This gives the church a quiet devotional aspect suitable to a pentitential season, while avoiding the gloom produced by purple or black hangings.

The colour prescribed by the older English Cathedral sequences was usually red, but in practice in parish churches the altar-frontal and vestments were universally of the same material and colour as the veils, up to Passion Sunday, when in fact the red came into use for vestments and frontals. It is desirable to emphasize the change of teaching between Lent and Passiontide by some such outward sign as this.

This whole arrangement is often referred to as the 'Lenten Array.' A special processional cross of wood, painted red, was often reserved for use in Lent and Passiontide. Three silver nails were sometimes painted on this processional cross.

To mark this season albes may be worn unapparelled. Deacon, Subdeacon and Clerk will dispense with dalmatic or tunicle, though maiples will be worn and the stole by the Deacon.

In addition it is an old and wholesome custom that unaccompanied singing should, so far as possible, be the rule during Lent, except on Refreshment Sunday, Palm Sunday (during the Procession only), and at the Eucharist on Maunday Thursday, and on any festivals (such as the Annunciation or a Patronal festival) which may occur during the season.

For those who would like to see what this looks like, I would ask readers to Google "Lenten Array," and follow the wonderful photographs which they are going to find on sites featuring medieval church art and on Flikr. You will find a beauty which is now particularly Anglican and which should be part of the tradition of any parish or mission which calls itself Anglican.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday?

I find it very interesting that we live in a culture in which "Fat Tuesday," the outrageous party with all of its excesses, has come to replace our good Anglican Shrove Tuesday. Of course, given the failure of bishops and priests to teach "doctrine, discipline and worship" of the Church over the past half century it should come as little surprise that so many don't know the meaning of that name or the practice which it recommends. Or being more Episcopalian that Anglican, they don't understand that the practice of confession and absolution is part of our Anglican heritage.

Let me quote part of The Exhortations which the English prayer directs to be read when the priest gives warning for the celebration of Holy Communion:
"if there be any of you, who by this means cannot quiet his own conscience herein, let him come to me, or to some other discreet and learned Minister of God's Word, and open his grief; that by the ministry of God's holy word he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with ghostly counsel and advice, to the quieting of his conscience, and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness."

Further in The Visitation of the Sick there is provided a form for the sick person to say before listing the sins of which he is repenting. And that is followed by one of the most beautiful sentences in the whole of the English prayer book, one that I very much wish had been retained in our American version but which is used, I believe, by good priests through out Anglicanism when absolving sinners.

"Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to his Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in him, of his great mercy forgive thee thine offences : And by his authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

It is a formula I have heard a good deal because I was lucky enough to be well instructed in the teaching of the faith as set forth in the traditional and classical prayer books in my teens. One of my fondest memories was of setting on the steps of my parish church with my university pals as we each waited for our turn to go in and confess our sins and be absolved. We were unusually happy sinners because we had discovered that the simple practice of acknowledging the particularity of our sins and receiving the absolution of the Church made it easier to grow in grace and charity. It was a way of saying to ourselves and to our Lord that we were serious about our faith and our commitment to live as Christians. I think it was also comforting to know that we were not alone in our habit.

Indeed, I have had other incidents which has ever reminded me that no matter how high or low one's station in life, there are times when noting will quite do the job like confession. First there was a sermon by Michael Ramsay when he was archbishop of Canterbury. He pounded the pulpit as only he could and told us that the best assurance of God's forgiveness of all our sins was auricular confession. And then thee was the time when I found my bishop standing in the center of the quire in the glory of his scarlet rochet and chimere. He called me by name and sent me to fetch the rector, saying, "Tell him that I have come to make my confession."

We live in a world that likes to party and Fat Tuesday as it is celebrated in New Orleans or Mobile is certainly partying at its wildest. But for true Christians there is certainly no better party in this world or the next than the wedding feast of the Lamb. And the best way to go there is in the spotless wedding garment that a good confession provides. It is a good way to start Lent and an even better way to prepare for Easter. And it is certainly not to late to get on your kness and ask God to help you prepare a true bill of your sins, large and small, and then arrange with your priest to come and make your confession.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dearmer - Again!

In the bloging world you sometimes come upon a quote that is so good that you just can't leave it where it was. This is one of them. I became a fan of Deamer's when I was yet a teenager in the very far ago fifties. It was one of those periods when a number of influences seemed to be warring for my intention. I was reading all of the Henry Bradshaw Society volumes the university library possessed and the works of as many Russian Orthodox theologians which I could find. And then I came upon the Parson's Handbook. It had a beauty and a logic that seemed to pull a good deal of the rest together. Anyway, this is a quote from a book of his of which I have never been able to find a copy, but like what it says so much that I think it belongs here. Hopefully those of you who appreciate the classical Anglican prayer book tradition will as well.

“The English Church happens to base herself in a special manner upon history–she appeals to the Scriptures and primitive antiquity for her theology, [* Articles VI., VIII., etc.] to the ancient Fathers for her ritual, [* The Preface Concerning the Service of the Church, Article XXIV., etc.] to Catholic tradition for her ceremonial; [* The Preface Of Ceremonies, Canon 30 (1603), Canon & (1640), etc.] she refers us to the second year of Edward VI for her ornaments, [* The Ornaments Rubric] and to the later middle ages for the arrangement of her chancels. [* "And the chancels shall remain as they have done in times past." (First inserted in 1552.)] [24/25] Her formularies, therefore, cannot be understood without a good deal of historical knowledge. Some people may object to this, and may ask–Why should they be bound by documents that are two or three hundred years old? But the fact remains that they are so bound, whether they like it or not; and that the whole intention of the Reformers, as shown from end to end of the Prayer Book, Articles, and Canons, was to bind them to principles that are nearer two thousand than two hundred years of age. Nor will they be released from this bondage to historic continuity till the same authority that imposed it shall have removed it,–which will not be for a long time to come. The attempts that have been hitherto made at throwing off this light yoke have not been so conspicuously successful in their results as to encourage us to proceed. Therefore I ask Churchmen to renounce those futile experiments of private judgment, and to throw themselves into the task of realising in its entirety that sound Catholic ideal which the defenders of the English Church preserved for us through the most troublous period of her history. “– Dearmer, Loyalty to the Prayer Book

Friday, January 15, 2010

Words From A Strange Place

Sometimes in reading things far from either scripture or the Fathers of the Church we find words which reinforce our view of what Anglicanism means to us. At the moment I am reading Brian D'Amato's In The Courts Of The Sun where I found the following couple of sentences which express exactly what I feel and thing about the current status of classical, prayer book Anglicanism.

"And now I was finally drawing a bead on the little gray personal demons I'd been swatting at for my whole glam-ass life. I wanted the books back. I wanted my beaten, maimed, raped, infected, abandoned, and all-but-deceased culture back, and I wanted it right the hell now."

When I read that, my reaction was "Yes, yes, damn yes!" I realize that there are probably very few outside of those who watched the radical leftists and others who had infiltrated and taken over one after another of the churches of the Anglican establishment and turned them into less than unitarian, universalist camps of pseudo-Christians obsessed by the insanity of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-and Transsexual agenda.
Instead they seem to think, to believe that we who are the inheritors of the great tradition of the very best of Western, Christian civilization are the strange ones.

But when I turn to the altar, and uncover the bread and the cup to begin those marvelous words at the beginning of all the greater Anglican canons, I feel and know that the doors of eternity are opening and that i stand so close to the wounded feet of the blessed one that I would only have to incline myself only the slightest bit more to actually kiss them. But I have an even greater task to accomplish, that of actually obeying His commandment to "Do this . . ." In that moment and until the ablutions are finished after the blessing, all of my culture and civilization are present - and not to me only.

Am I alone in understanding and wanting this with every atom of my being? I think not; indeed I know not. Our 'Amens' are alleluias and affirmations of the existence of the eternal even here in the midst of unpleasant present. I, and all who worship with me; all those in the very words of that canon "shall be partakers of this Holy Communion . . ." are saying, "yes, Lord; here I am, send me."