Monday, June 20, 2011

A Modern Language Version of the Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer: Morning and Evening Prayer


By Robin G. Jordan

In this article series I will be examining A Modern Language Version of the 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. I will also be looking at the 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer since the two books are essentially the same book, except that the Modern Language Version has been rendered into contemporary English. The 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and its Modern language Version are for a large part based upon the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. The 1928 BCP was the first major revision of the American Prayer Book and introduced far-reaching and even radical changes in the American Prayer Book. The 1928 BCP would move the American Prayer Book much further away from the doctrine and liturgical usages of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer than its predecessors. In this article I examine the Orders for Morning and Evening Prayer in the Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version.

With some notable exceptions the 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and its Modern Language Version slavishly follows the 1928 BCP in their Orders for Morning and Evening Prayer, both in their choice of rubrics and texts. Consequently, the Daily Offices in the two books suffer from the same defects as the Daily Offices in the 1928 BCP.

As in the 1928 BCP the Penitential Sentences have been replaced by a selection of Seasonal Sentences, eliminating what Samuel Lueunberger identifies as an important evangelistic or revivalistic element in the 1662 Prayer Book. Those using the book are not given the option of reading a Seasonal Sentence and then a selection of Penitential Sentences before the Exhortation. An Australian Prayer Book (1978) contains this option, preserving the evangelistic or revivalistic element of the Penitential Sentences while making provision for a Seasonal Sentence.

As in the 1928 BCP, the rubrics of Morning and Evening Prayer permit the omission of the Exhortation, which, like the Penitential Sentences, constitutes an important evangelistic or revivalistic element in the 1662 BCP. A short Invitation, “Let us humbly confess our sins unto almighty God,” may be substituted for the Exhortation.

The substitution of “beg” for “beseech” in the Exhortation in Morning and Evening Prayer and elsewhere in the 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer’s Modern Language Version is a poor choice. To beseech is to ask earnestly for something, to entreat. While to beg can mean to ask earnestly, it has acquired in modern usage a number of negative associations, for example, to ask for something by the way of alms, to panhandle, to clamorously or noisily ask for something, and to wheedle.

A number of modern language service books retain “beseech” rather than replacing it with another word. It is not completely an archaic or unfamiliar word. While it may not be used in everyday English, it is found in literature, for example, “she gave him a beseeching look.”

“Entreat” or “implore” would have been a better choice of word than “beg”. Both words are closer to “beseech” in meaning and both words, like “beseech,” contain two syllables. They also do not have the negative associations attached to them that “beg” does.

The book’s editors also show a lack of consistency in their handling of archaic or unfamiliar words. For example, they retained “pray,” used in the sense of asking earnestly a person to do something, in the Exhortation in Morning and Evening Prayer while substituting “beg” for “beseech.” Instead of the awkward and inconsistent phrase “I pray and beg you” in the Exhortation, a better choice of phrase would have been “I beg and entreat you.” It retains the meaning, emphasis, and cadence of the original phase “I pray and beseech you.” Cranmer often paired two words with the same meaning for emphasis.

As in the 1928 BCP, the rubrics of Morning and Evening Prayer in the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version permit the substitution of the Absolution from the Order for Holy Communion in place of the Absolution or Remission of sins printed in the service. When the minister is a deacon, licensed lay reader, or other lay person, the rubrics direct that he remain kneeling and read the Collect for the Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity, a provision that is found in the 1926 Irish Prayer Book.

As in the 1928 BCP the rubrics of Morning and Evening Prayer in both books also permit the omission of the General Confession and the Absolution or Remission of sins. As in the 1928 BCP, if the Exhortation, the General Confession, and the Absolution or Remission of sins are omitted, the rubrics direct the minister to pronounce the Salutation, “The Lord be with you. And with your spirit,” followed by an invitation to pray, “Let us pray,” after the Seasonal Sentence and before the Lord’s Prayer.

In the 1662 BCP the Salutation is used to introduce the Lesser Litany in Morning and Evening Prayer. It is not used anywhere else in the two services. Indeed Cranmer makes very sparing use of the Salutation in the 1552 Book of Common Prayer and the Restoration Bishops followed his practice in the 1662 Prayer Book.

The frequent use of the Salutation is one of the characteristics of unreformed Catholic liturgies. Medieval Catholics believed and modern day Anglo-Catholics and Roman Catholics continue to believe that the Salutation is more than a greeting or an introduction to a call to prayer but is a prayer for the priest, in which the congregation ask God to arouse the special grace given to the priest in ordination so that God will accept the offerings that the priest makes on the behalf of the people, at the Daily Offices, in the form of prayers and intercessions, and at the Mass, in the form of the representation or reiteration of Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross. This interpretation of Salutation is closely tied to the Medieval Catholic view of the sacerdotal character of the ministry of the priest who acts as an intermediary between the faithful and God, and is intimately associated with the Medieval Catholic doctrines of Baptismal Regeneration, Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Real Presence. This special grace is believed not only to infuse the water in the baptismal font with power to remove sin when the priest blesses the water but also to transmogrify the bread and wine of the Holy Communion into the substance of the body and blood of our Lord when the priest recites the Words of Institution over the elements. Having brought Christ into being in the bread and wine in this manner, the priest extinguishes Christ by eating the bread and drink the wine, thereby by repeating Christ’s death and sacrifice for the remission of sin for the living and the dead. Before consuming the elements priest elevates them for the faithful to adore.

Like the 1928 BCP the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version dilute the 1662 BCP’s doctrine of sin. The 1928 BCP embodies the early stages of the reinterpretation of the Bible and accompanying change in attitude toward sin that has come to characterize the modern-day Episcopal Church. In their slavish use of texts and rubrics from the 1928 BCP the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version adopt the same doctrinal position, which plays up God’s love while playing down His wrath. This represents a decided shift away from Reformed theology to a more unreformed Catholic, semi-Pelagian, and liberal theology.

The services of Morning and Evening Prayer contain two versions of the Lord’s Prayer. The second version is more commonly used in non-liturgical churches and is rarely found in Anglican service books. Indeed the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version are the first Anglican service books in which I have come across it. In more than 25 years of studying The Book of Common Prayer, its history, its language, and its revision I have examined a large number of historic Prayer Books and more recent service books.

As in the 1928 BCP Psalm 95:1-7 and 96:9 and 13 are substituted for Psalm 95 for the Venite in both books, and the Venite may be omitted on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. As in the 1928 BCP and the 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book (a High Church, Anglo-Catholic revision of the 1662 BCP, which the English Parliament rejected) a number of seasonal Invitatories, or Antiphons, that were prefixed to the Venite in the Medieval Breviary and which Cranmer omitted as part of his reform of the Daily Offices have been restored.

The rubrics of Morning Prayer in the 1662 BCP direct that Psalm 95 should be said or sung, except on Easter Day upon which the Easter Anthems are appointed, and on the nineteenth day of every month when it is read in the ordinary course of the Psalms.

The 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version make no provision for the use of other versions and forms of the Venite, except that the whole text of Psalm 95 may be used in place of Psalm 95:1-7 and 96:9 and 13. They do not make any allowances for congregations that worship in acoustical environments not conducive to chanting the Psalms and canticles of the Daily Offices, lack the strong music leadership required for good chant, are unable to chant, or contain large numbers of children. Singing the Venite is much more effective than reciting it. When Morning Prayer is a congregation’s principal service on Sunday morning, the lack of a provision for the optional use of other versions and forms of the “Venite” is a serious drawback.

As in the 1928 BCP the Gloria Patri may be said or sung after each Psalm and each canticle at Morning and Evening Prayer (the practice of the Western Church) and must be sung or said after the whole portion of Psalms (the practice of the Eastern Church). The latter provision has been a distinguishing characteristic of the American Prayer Book and originally came from 1689 Proposed English Prayer Book, also known as “the Liturgy of Comprehension.” As in the 1928 BCP and the earlier American Prayer Books the canticle Gloria in excelsis may be substituted for the Gloria Patri after the whole portion of Psalms at Evening Prayer.

In the 1789 BCP the Gloria in Excelsis could also be substituted for the Gloria Patri at the end of the whole portion of Psalms at Morning Prayer, restoring this canticle to its ancient place in the Morning Office, but this provision was dropped in the 1892 BCP. Its restoration to the Order for Morning Prayer either after the whole portion of Psalms or after the First or Second Lesson is desirable. The Gloria in Excelsis may be sung after the Second Lesson at Morning Prayer in the Church of England’s Alternative Service Book 1980, the Church of Ireland’s Alternative Prayer Book 1984, and 2004 Irish Prayer Book. In these service books the Jubilate may be used as an alternative Invitatory Psalm to the Venite, which is consistent with its function as Psalm of Entrance in the Book of Psalms.

The appending of the Gloria Patri, or Lesser Doxology, to the Gloria in Excelsis, or Greater Doxology, at Evening Prayer in the 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer's Modern Language Version is superfluous. The Gloria in Excelsis is a thoroughly Christological and Trinitarian doxology, and the appending of the Gloria Patri to it makes no sense and defeats the whole purpose of the rubric permitting the substitution of this great hymn of praise for the more pedestrian Gloria Patri. It ranks among serious defects of the 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer’s Modern Language Version.

After every Lesson the minister is given the option of saying, “This is the Word of the Lord,” to which the people respond “Thanks be to God.” This option is not found in the 1928 BCP but it is found in a number of more recent service books, including the 1979 BCP, the Church of England’s Alternative Service Book 1980, and the Anglican Church of Canada’s 1985 Book of Alternative Services.

As in the 1928 BCP a rubric before the Magnificat at Evening Prayer permit the use of any one Lesson followed by any one of the evening canticles.

As in the 1928 BCP, a rubric before the Te Deum at Morning Prayer and a similar rubric before the Magnificat at Evening Prayer allow the minister to pass at once to the Holy Communion, after any one Canticle of Morning or Evening Prayer has been said or sung following the First Lesson.

The Order for Morning Prayer in the 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer’s Modern Language Version contains two versions of the Benedicite. In the second version the words “praise Him, and magnify Him for ever” may be omitted except after verses 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 28, 31, and 32. The rubrics of the 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book permits a similar abbreviation of the Benedicite. As in the 1928 BCP the canticle Benedictus es, Domine is offered as a third alternative after the First Lesson. The Psalm, Magnificate Dominum, from Psalm 34, is also provided as an alternative to the Te Deum or Benedicite. This alternative is peculiar to the Reformed Episcopal Prayer Book tradition and is found in the 1930, 1932, and 1963 Reformed Episcopal BCPs as well as the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version.

The 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version make no provision for the omission of the nine verses appended to the end of the Te Deum.. This verses, beginning “O Lord, save your people…” and concluding “O Lord, in you have I trusted…,” were originally capitellum, a selection of verses taken from the Psalms and used as supplications in the ancient cathedral office of Lauds. They first became attached to the Gloria in Excelsis, which was originally a canticle in the office of Lauds, and subsequently became attached to the Te deum. A number of more recent service books omit them from the Te Deum or permit their omission. The rubrics of 1979 BCP authorizes their use as alternative Suffages before the Collects at Morning Prayer, restoring them to their ancient use as capitellum.

As in the 1928 BCP the rubrics of Morning Prayer permit the use of a truncated version of the Benedictus Dominus Deus after the Second Lesson. This was a peculiarity of the 1789 BCP and one of its chief defects. Alternately the Jubilate Deo may be used.

As in the 1928 BCP, the Magnificat, Cantate Domino, or Bonum est confiteri may be said or sung after the First Lesson at Evening Prayer, and the Nunc dimittis, Deus misereatur, or Benedic, anima mea may be sung or said after the Second lesson.

The 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern language Version make no provision for the use of a number of canticles that enjoy wide use in more recent service books such as the First Song of Isaiah, Gloria in Excelsis, Glory and Honor (Dignes es), and Great and Wonderful (Magna et mirabilia), which have proven their usefulness in worship, and for which numerous high quality musical settings are available. They also make no provision for the substitution of hymns for the canticles as well as other versions and forms of the canticles. This greatly limits the usefulness of the services of Morning and Evening Prayer in the mission field, in non-traditional settings or with congregations lacking strong musical leadership, unable to chant, or containing large numbers of children.

As in the 1928 BCP a rubric permits the substitution of the Nicene Creed for the Apostles’ Creed at Evening Prayer.

As in the 1928 BCP the Lesser Litany and the second Lord’s Prayer are omitted in the Orders for Morning and Evening Prayer in the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version. The Lesser Litany is the remains of a longer Litany that eventually replaced the capitellum in the ancient cathedral offices of Lauds and Vespers. The only place that the Salutation is used in the Orders for Morning and Evening Prayer in the 1662 BCP is immediately before the Lesser Litany and it introduces the Prayer Section of the Daily Offices.

The omission of the second Lord’s Prayer from Morning Prayer in the 1928 BCP, the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version is a serious defect. It shows a lack of familiarity with the history of the Daily Offices. The second Lord’s Prayer was originally the only Lord’s Prayer in the Daily Offices and formed the original conclusion of the Daily Offices. When the bishop or a priest officiated at the Daily Offices, they concluded with a Collect. The bishop might then bless the congregation but this episcopal blessing was not a part of the Daily Offices. However, when a deacon or a reader officiated, they concluded with the Lord’s Prayer. The initial Lord’s Prayer was a later Medieval addition as were the Suffrages and Collects that follow the second Lord’s Prayer. It was a private devotion of the priest who said it inaudibly before the Daily Offices, and was not a part of the Daily Offices. Cranmer appears to have retained the initial Lord’s Prayer in the 1549 BCP because its recitation at the beginning of the Daily Offices as a preliminary devotion had become a long-standing practice by the sixteenth century. The 1549 Prayer Book was only a partially reformed service book designed to ease the transition from the pre-Reformation Medieval service books to a fully Reformed liturgy. In the 1552 Book of Common Prayer, which reflects Cranmer’s mature thinking, the initial Lord’s Prayer comprises a part of the initial Penitential Section of Morning and Evening Prayer and constitutes a response to the minister’s words in the Absolution or Remission of sins, “Wherefore let us beseech him to grant us true repentance….” If the General Confession and the Absolution or Remission of sins ae omitted, the initial Lord’s Prayer should also be omitted.

As in the 1928 BCP, if it has not already been said, the Lord’s Prayer may be said after the Apostles’ Creed or Nicene Creed and the Salutation at Evening Prayer.

The editors of the 1928 BCP’s use of the unreformed Medieval Breviary and the Orders for Morning and Evening Prayer of the partially reformed 1549 Prayer Book as models for the Daily Offices in the 1928 American Prayer Book partially explain their defects. In modeling the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version upon the 1928 American Prayer Book, the Standing Liturgical Commission of the Reformed Episcopal Church perpetuated the same defects in these two books.

As in the 1928 BCP the Suffrages at Morning Prayer are abbreviated to two versicles and responses in the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version; a fuller set of Suffrages, also taken from the 1928 BCP, is provided for use at Evening Prayer.

The substitution of word “harmony” for “concord” in A Collect for Peace is unnecessary. “Concord” is retained in this Collect in a number of the more recent service books, for example, the 2004 Irish Prayer Book. “Concord” is not an archaic word. While it may be unfamiliar to some American, its omission from the Collect will further contribute to its disappearance from Americans’ vocabularies. One of the reasons is that Americans are unfamiliar with a number of words is their shrinking vocabularies. If we keep dropping words from the Prayer Book because they are no longer used in the popular culture, we may eventually find ourselves worshiping God with grunts and monosyllables.

“Harmony” is also not really a good substitute word for “concord,” which means “harmonious relations.” “Harmony” is also comprised of three syllables while “concord” is comprised of two syllables. The addition of a third syllable affects the cadence and rhythm of the Collect.

The contemporary English version of A Collect for Peace in the Order for Evening Prayer in the Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer’s Modern Language Version would benefit from redrafting. It tries to follow exact structure of the Tudor English version and substitute contemporary English words for the Tudor ones, principally “thou” and “thee.” The result is awkward and stilted, and inferior to contemporary English version of this Collect used in a number of more recent service books. For example:

O God from whom all holy desires, all good judgments, and all just works proceed: Give to your servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey your commandments, and that we, being defended from fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

The invariable use of “beg” as a substitute word for “beseech” detracts from the contemporary English version of A Collect for Aid against Perils. The following contemporary language version of the same Collect comes from the 2004 Irish Prayer Book and substitutes “we pray” for “we beseech thee” and “in your great mercy” for “by thy great mercy.”

Lighten our darkness, O Lord, we pray and in your mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of your only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The first two of the three rubrics that follow A Collect for Grace at Morning Prayer are taken from the 1928 BCP; the third rubric comes from the 1662 BCP. In the 1662 Prayer Book the third rubric follows immediately after A Collect for Grace and precedes the rubrics directing how the service may be concluded. Its relocation to after the rubrics directing how the service may be concluded opens this rubric to more than one interpretation. First, the hymn or anthem may be sung after the Third Collect where it is sung in the 1662 BCP and most other Anglican service books. Second, the hymn or anthem may be sung at the conclusion of the service. What is the intent of the REC Standing Liturgical Commission in the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version is unclear.

The rubric authorizing the singing of a hymn or anthem is placed immediately after A Collect for Peace at Evening Prayer and the REC Standing Liturgical Commission’s intent is quite clear: the hymn or anthem is to follow the Third Collect.

The rubrics that precede the State Prayers in the Orders for Morning and Evening Prayer in the 2003 Reformed Episcopal Prayer Book’s Modern Language Version conflict with the second rubric after A Collect for Grace at Morning Prayer and the second rubric after A Collect for Aid against perils at Evening Prayer, which gives the minister discretion to end the service “with such general intercessions taken out of this Book, with extemporaneous prayers, or with the Grace, as he shall think fit.” The rubrics refer to the first of each selection of the State Prayers as “the State Prayer” but actually they all are State Prayers and should have been identified as such.

The rubric, “The following State Prayer and the one after shall be said by the Parishes in the United States of America,” refers to the two versions of A Prayer for the President of the United States and All in Civil Authority, which were taken from the 1928 BCP. As in the 1928 BCP, the rubric “Or this,” is inserted between the two prayers. The rubric preceding the two prayers appears to direct the saying of both prayers by REC parishes in the United States whenever Morning Prayer is read. If the saying of one of these prayers is optional, the rubric preceding the two prayers should read, “One of the following State Prayers may be said by Parishes in the United States of America and its territories.” This rubric would be consistent with the second rubric after A Collect for Grace.

The rubric, “The following State Prayer and the three after shall be said by the Parishes in Canada,” is also unclear as in the previous case. It also appears to direct the saying of four prayers by REC parishes in the Dominion of Canada. If the saying of these prayers is optional, the rubric preceding should read, “The following State Prayers may be said by Parishes in the Dominion of Canada.” This rubric would be consistent with the second rubric after A Collect for Grace.

In the Order for Morning Prayer in the 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer’s Modern Language Version the rubrics immediately preceding the State Prayers and the misidentification of the State Prayers are not the only problem as far as the State Prayers are concerned. The first version of A Prayer for the President of the United States and All in Civil Authority is poorly worded. “Does” in contemporary English is not used in quite the same way as “dost” in Tudor English. “O LORD, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, Who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth…” should have been rendered, “O LORD, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, Who from Your throne beholds all the dwellers upon earth….” As previously noted “beg” is a poor substitute for “beseech,” which is particularly true in this prayer. A better choice would have been to retain “beseech” or to substitute “implore” for “beseech.” For example, “Most heartily we implore You, with Your favor to behold….” Or the word order might have been rearranged. “We most heartily implore You with Your favor to behold and bless….” In recasting Tudor language prayers in modern idiom, qualifying clauses like “Who from Your throne…” are often rephrased in the following manner, “O LORD, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the Universe, You behold from Your throne all the dwellers upon the earth. We most heartily implore You, with Your favor, to behold and bless….

To endue means to clothe. “Clothe them plenteously with heavenly gifts” would be more faithful to the original meaning of the first version of A Prayer for the President of the United States and All in Civil Authority.” “Empower” changes the meaning of the prayer and is usually is used in conjunction with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The phrase, “heavenly gifts,” in this prayer may refer to more than charismata, or manifestations of the Spirit. The use of “empower” limits the meaning of this phrase, and may give it a meaning different from the one that was originally intended by the drafter of the prayer.

In the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book only a Prayer for the Queen and A Prayer for the Clergy and People are required. The minister may choose from one of three Prayers for the Queen printed in the Order for Morning Prayer—the Prayer for the Queen’s Majesty, the Prayer for the Queen and Commonwealth, or the Prayer for the Queen and All in Authority. Or the Prayer for the Queen, the Prayer for the Royal Family, or the Prayer for the Common Wealth from the Prayers and Thanksgivings may be said. In none of the Prayer Books used in countries in which the Queen of England is the head of state such as Canada and Northern Ireland is a prayer for the Prime Minister placed before the Prayer for the Sovereign. In former English colonies in which there is both a head of state, e.g. President, and a head of government, e.g. Prime Minister, the prayer for the head of state precedes the prayer for the head of government.

A Prayer for the Queen’s Majesty in the 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer’s Modern Language Version is poorly worded for the same reasons as the first version of A Prayer for the President of the United States and All in Civil Authority. A Prayer for the Royal Family is also poorly worded, substituting “empower” for “endue,” when “clothe” or “give” would have preserved the original meaning of the prayer.

The use of “beg” in place of “beseech” detracts from A Prayer for the Governor-General of Canada and A Prayer for All Conditions of Men. “Entreat” would have been a better choice in A Prayer for Governor-General of Canada and “pray for” in A Prayer for All Conditions of Men. For example, “…we earnestly entreat You…” and “…we humbly pray for all sorts….” The retention of “beseech” or the use of a selection of substitute words for “beseech” would have been preferable to the rather unimaginative and wooden use of “beg” in the 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer’s Modern Language Edition.

The rubric that follows A General Thanksgiving in the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP, “Note, That the General Thanksgiving may be said by the congregation with the Minister” is omitted in its Modern Language Version. Unless this omission was an error, congregations using the 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer’s Modern Language Version no longer have permission to say A General Thanksgiving with the minister, as with the omission permission to do so has been withdrawn. If the omission is not an error, then it represents a significant reduction of the corporate vocal part of the people in the service, which is unwarranted. One of the reasons that people are attracted to liturgical forms of worship is that they provide greater opportunity for congregational participation than do non-liturgical forms of worship. Consequently a number of Anglican provinces have not only adopted modern language in their more recent service books but they also increased the people’s corporate vocal part in the services. Its deliberate omission would represent a major step backwards.

A Prayer of St. Chrysostom in the 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer’s Modern Language Version is poorly worded. As previously noted, “does” in contemporary English is not used in quite the same way as “dost” in Tudor English. The following modern language version of A Prayer of St. Chrysostom is used in a number of more recent service books.

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplications to you; and you have promised that when two or three are gathered together in your Name you will grant their requests; Fulfil now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of your servants, as may be most expedient for them; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen.

Note how the rephrasing of the qualifying clause as well as the substitution of “to” for “unto” and “have promised” for “dost promise.”

The substitution of “communion” for “fellowship” in 2 Corinthians 13:14, also known as the Grace, in 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer’s Modern Language Version is unnecessary. “Communion” is no more familiar than “fellowship”; “fellowship” is retained in the more recent service books that I have surveyed.

The REC Standing Liturgical Commission is inconsistent in its omission and retention of archaic and unfamiliar words, phrases, and expressions in the 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer’s Modern Language Version. The guiding principles behind what is omitted and what is retained are unclear.

The Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version make no provision for a sermon at Morning or Evening Prayer. They contain no equivalent of the following rubrics at the conclusion of the Orders for Morning and Evening Prayer in the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book.

A Sermon may be preached here and the offerings of the people received and presented at the Lord's Table. Or the Sermon may be preached immediately after the Hymn or Anthem following the Third Collect. The Minister shall then proceed to the intercessions and thanksgivings, ending with the Prayer of St Chrysostom and the Grace.

Among the principal reasons that Bishop George David Cummins and the founders of the Reformed Episcopal Church left the Protestant Episcopal Church was their belief that 1789 Book of Common Prayer, the first American Prayer Book, contained “germs of Romanism”: incipient in the 1789 BCP was pre-Reformation Medieval Catholic and post-Tridentian Roman Catholic doctrine. Whether this truly is the case is debatable. The Tractarians’ reinterpretation of the 1789 BCP in “a Catholic sense,” however, made them suspicious of its doctrinal content to the point that they were no longer comfortable using the 1789 Prayer Book. The 1928 revision, adopted at a time in the history of the Protestant Episcopal Church when Anglo-Catholicism and Broad Church Latitudinarianism were the dominant theological streams in the Protestant Episcopal Church, on the other hand, unquestionably incorporates both pre-Reformation Medieval Catholic and post-Tridentian Roman Catholic doctrine and practice. It is also more theologically liberal in doctrine than its predecessors—the 1789 and 1892 BCPs.

For the Reformed Episcopal Church’s Standing Liturgical Commission, the “true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer” as far as the Daily Offices are concerned appears to be the High Church, Anglo-Catholic, Broad Church Latitudinarian 1928 American Prayer Book, not the more Reformed 1662 Prayer Book. As we further examine these two books, we will see that this is to a large extent true for the other services in the two books.

The 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer has been advertised as being based upon the 1662 BCP. As we shall see, this claim is patently untrue. A more accurate description is that the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP is an adaptation of the 1928 BCP for use in the Reformed Episcopal Church. This description also applies to its Modern Language Version. The two books might also be described as being designed to facilitate the transition of the Reformed Episcopal Church to the 1928 BCP as its principal service book, retaining some token elements from earlier Reformed Episcopal Prayer Books to mollify old-timers and to make the change to the High Church, Anglo-Catholic, Broad Church Latitudinarian liturgy of the 1928 BCP easier. They certainly give this appearance. The Reformed Episcopal Church’s adoption of a Prayer Book based on the 1928 BCP shows how far the REC has drifted from its Protestant and evangelical roots.

4 comments:

RMBruton said...

I hope that at least some people will take the time to read your analyses of these recent Prayer Books. As I see it there are perhaps a very small number of REC parishes which may still be using the old REC Prayer Book of 1932, Then there are those which use the later one, which I think was introduced in the 1960s. Then there are those which may be using the 2003 Book, along with an increasing number who use the 1928 American Book. The 2003 Book hasn't had achance to take much of a hold and now they have this updated 2011 version. Add to that the other Book which you recently reviewed, introduced by Bishop Richard Boyce and others which claims to be a con-temporized version of the 1549, and what do you have but a Denomination that is rather divided and using books which vary quite a significantly in doctrine and origin. I cannot see these parishes spending so much money to obtain the 2003 and just eight years later supplement it with the 2011. What I do see is that the leadership will absorb the changes and there will most definitely be a trickle-down effect.

wyclif said...

Right out of the gate, there is a great deal of confusion going on in this review. You write:

"The 2003 Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and its Modern language Version are for a large part based upon the 1928 Book of Common Prayer."

Actually, the 2003 REC BCP is made up primarily of the 1662 Rite, and secondarily of the 1928 Rite. It attempts to bridge the gap between these two which have regulated the worship of American Anglicans. It seems you have conveniently left out the large amount of 1662 text in this book in order to arrive at a predetermined conclusion.

Jordan said...

I'm glad you pointed out the differences between the 1928 and 1662 BCP. The REC has always followed the 1689/1785 BCP trajectories in regards to the Daily Office which is remarkably different from the 1662 BCP.

Robin G. Jordan said...

wyclif,

As I note in the opening paragraph of my article, it is the first article in a series of articles. I plan to write up my examination the Collects and the Order for the Holy Communion next and then the Occasional Offices and the Catechism. I most likely will do the Quicunque Vult, the Litany, and the Occasional Prayers and Thanksgivings last.

My analysis so far shows that the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version are far more indebted to the 1928 BCP than the 1662 BCP.

I do not need to omit material to show the heavy dependence of the two books upon the 1928 BCP. I am surprised that you would resort to such a clumsy attempt to discredit a fair and honest appraisal of the two books, suggesting that I would deliberately misrepresent their content.

What are you afraid of--that my examination of the two books will expose the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP for what it really is?

I think that my readers are entitled to know the truth about the 2003 Reformed Episcopal BCP and its Modern Language Version. I think that they would agree.