By Robin G. Jordan
The 1662 Communion Service has a number of unique characteristics that reflects its Protestant and Reformed theology. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer is substantially the reformed 1552 Book of Common Prayer, and its Communion Service is substantially the 1552 Communion Service, with some additions and alterations. Dom Gregory Dix described the 1552 Prayer Book as “the only effective attempt ever made to give liturgical expression to the doctrine of ‘justification by faith alone.’” A liturgical commission guided by the theology of the 1662 Communion Service will take pains to ensure that these characteristics or commensurate characteristics are included in any order that it develops for the administration of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion. Among these characteristics are the following features:
1. Gives far greater weight to Scripture than to antiquity. What is incorporated in an order for the administration of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, is clearly agreeable with Scripture. The wording of a text not only is taken from Scripture or is agreeable to Scripture but the use of the text also conforms to the plain teaching of Scripture. The same principle applies to liturgical usages. Among the implications is that in adopting a practice the first consideration is not its great age or its wide use but the consistency with Scripture of the practice and the use to which it is put.
Even in ancient times the Church was given to error and superstition. Errors and superstitious beliefs may be transmitted from one generation to the next. They may become entrenched in Church tradition but such entrenchment does not make them any less errors and superstitious beliefs. While Archbishop Cranmer applied the principle of retaining and using the old where it might be well-used, he used Scripture as his rule in determining what should be retained and used. He kept and used what was agreeable to Scripture or which could be adapted to make it agreeable to Scripture, purging from it anything that was contrary or repugnant to Scripture. Otherwise, he discarded it. He did not assume that it was agreeable to Scripture on the basis of its antiquity. He also used it in a manner that was agreeable to Scripture.
2. Adopts a language and order that is plain and easily understood by all who are participating the celebration of the Holy Communion—the congregation as well as the ministers. Among the characteristics of the order for the administration of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, is brevity and plainness. The rubrics are few and easy. No extraneous or unnecessary elements are included in the rite.
3. Keeps ceremonial simple and to a bare minimum. Whatever ceremonial is used, it is readily understandable as far as its meaning and the use that it serves. It does not require complicated or lengthy explanation.
4. Makes the service as congregational as possible as within a particular context. When the liturgies of the 1662 Prayer Book are compared with the seventeenth century Latin Mass and the proposals of the Puritans at the 1661 Savoy Conference, one of their outstanding characteristics is that they are far more congregational in relation to their particular context—a period in English history before the introduction of public education and the advent of widespread literacy at all levels of society.
Common prayer is by its very nature congregational. The congregation is an active participant in the liturgy, not a passive observer. The use of set forms that facilitate the participation of the congregation is one of the characteristics of common prayer.
Common prayer is shared prayer. It gives tangible expression to the priesthood of all believers. When a minister says a prayer, he is acting as the representative of the congregation, not as an intermediary or mediator between the congregation and God. He is serving as the voice of the congregation. The congregation affirms the prayer as its own by the addition of its “Amen.”
Alterations and additions to the order for the administration of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, which expand the role of the congregation in the liturgy, are consistent with the principles of common prayer reflected in the 1662 Prayer Book,. They include general directions that require the use of members of congregation to read the lessons, lead the general intercession, and to distribute the consecrated elements and rubrics that direct or permit the congregation to join with the minister in saying the Collect for Purity, the Prayer of Humble Access, and the Post-Communion Prayers. They also include the insertion of a congregation response after each section of the Prayer for State of Christ’s Church and the use of alternative forms for the general intercession, which give a larger role to the congregation.
5. Avoids all language and ceremonial which suggests that the Lord’s Supper is a reiteration or representation of Christ’ sacrifice or a participation in Christ’s ongoing sacrificial activity. This includes any reference to the communion table as an altar.
6. Omits the salutation, “The Lord be with you; and with thy spirit” from the entire service. This salutation has a long association with the Medieval doctrines of Transubstantiation and the sacrifice of the Mass. Archbishop Cranmer uses the salutation only once in the 1552 Prayer Book – before the second Lord’s Prayer in the services of Morning and Evening Prayer, a position where it is not open to interpretation as a prayer for the priest that the Holy Spirit will stir up the special gift that Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholics believe is given him at ordination to confect the bread and the wine into Christ’s Body and Blood and to offer Christ’s sacrifice on the altar for the sins of the world for the living and the dead. The 1662 Prayer Book follows suit.
7. Begins the service with the recitation of the Ten Commandments. The rehearsing of the Ten Commandments at every celebration of the Holy Communion is not only an important part of the Reformed heritage of the 1662 Communion Service but also a major evangelistic, or revivalistic, element in that service. Revisions that permit the omission of the Ten Commandments and the substitution of the Summary of Law defeat the purpose of the Ten Commandments. Their recitation initiates a sequence that lies at the heart of the 1662 Communion Service and which culminates in the commemoration of Christ’s saving work on the cross and the appropriation of the benefits of his passion and death by repentance and faith. It concludes on a fitting note of thanksgiving, self-dedication, and praise. As J. I. Packer and Roger Beckwith point out in The Thirty-Nine Articles: Their Place and Use Today, the 1662 Communion Service emphasizes what God has done for us. Anglican churches that adopt the order for the administration of the Lord’s Supper and the doctrine of eucharistic sacrifice that the Subcommittee on the Holy Communion Service recommended to the 1958 Lambeth Conference and which the 1958 Lambeth Conference commended to the Anglican Communion emphasize what we are doing for God.
8. Retains the Prayer of Humble Access in its 1552-1662 position—after the Sanctus and before the Memorial of the Institution of the Lord’s Supper. For an explanation of why Archbishop Cranmer moved the Prayer of Humble Access to this position in the 1552 Communion Service and the rationale for its retention in that position, see Karen Batie’s Churchman article, “The Prayer of Humble Access.”
9. Omits a petition for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the eucharistic elements during the consecration. Archbishop Cranmer omitted such a petition from the consecration of the eucharistic elements in the 1552 Prayer Book for three reasons. The first reason was that it suggested a change occurred in the bread and wine when they were consecrated, a change in which they became in substance the Body and Blood of Christ while retaining the appearance of bread and wine. The second reason was that he found no basis for such a petition in Scripture. What he did find was a number of instances where the Holy Spirit descended upon people, in some cases in response to prayer. But he found no instances where the Holy Spirit descended upon inanimate objects. The third reason was that he concluded from his study of the Holy Scriptures that the Holy Spirit did not work in that way. This view of the Holy Spirit is one that evangelicals share with Cranmer and the English Reformers.
Evangelical theology is different from Catholic and Orthodox theology primarily in the realm of Christian experience, which is the work of the Holy Spirit. We believe that the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer is primary and immediate. Without such a work a human being cannot know that he is saved and therefore cannot really be called a Christian. It is also to say that the Spirit’s work is not necessarily mediated through other agencies like the institutional Church with its ministry and sacraments, even if these may be (and usually are) the means of grace that God chooses to use. What we mean by this is not that a person will not come to know God through the ministry of the Church but that the Church has no right to claim control over the believer on the ground that without its ministry, salvation for the individual is impossible. The practical implications of this for the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit can be seen in two areas. (1) We cannot subscribe to the view that the double procession somehow increases the authority of the pope, because we do not accept that he is the Vicar of Christ on earth. (2) We do not believe that the Holy Spirit comes down into the sacramental elements by an act of invocation or epiclesis (as it is known in Eastern theology). That idea fits in very well with the mystical notion of the resting of the Spirit on the Son, but it is unacceptable to evangelicals because we do not believe that the Spirit works in that way. It is not through the ministry or the sacraments but by a direct conviction of sin in our hearts that the Spirit builds up the Church. [Gerald Bray, “The Double Procession ofthe Holy Spirit in Evangelical Theology Today: Do We Still Need It?” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 41/3 (September 1998), p. 425]The Restoration bishops could have incorporated a petition for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the eucharistic elements in the consecration in the 1662 Prayer Book. Bishop Cosin had drafted such a petition for possible use in that book. However, they wisely chose to make no changes in the consecration other than the addition of an “Amen” at the conclusion of the Words of Institution.
10. Omits any offering of the eucharistic elements at the offertory or during the consecration. The Lesser Oblation and the Greater Oblation have no place in an order for the administration of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, based upon the 1662 Communion Service and its theology. Neither does the elevation of the unconsecrated bread and wine at the offertory and the elevation of the consecrated bread and wine during the consecration or at its conclusion.
11. Places the prayer of oblation after the distribution of the consecrated elements where it cannot be construed as inferring that the Lord’s Supper is a sacrifice in any way other than an offering of thanksgiving and praise for Christ's saving work on the cross and its benefits.
12. Avoids any ceremonial suggestive of Christ’s presence in the consecrate eucharistic presence and any texts associated with such ceremonial. This includes showing the consecrated bread and wine to the people while saying “Behold the Lamb of God….”
13. Avoids any reference to Christ’s presence in the consecrated eucharistic elements. Dyson Hague points out a number of significant differences between the partially reformed 1549 Communion Service and the reformed 1552 Communion Service and its 1662 revision.
In the First Prayer Book of Edward, the doctrine of the Real Presence (in the Romish sense) was countenanced, and the most objectionable expressions were employed. For instance, in the exhortation which the curate is enjoined to give to the people, he says, " He hath left in those holy mysteries, as a pledge of His love, and a continual remembrance of the same, his own blessed Body and precious Blood, for us to feed upon spiritually." In the prayer of consecration, which in the First Book came before the "You that do truly repent," etc., he prays that the "Bread and Wine may be unto us the Body and Blood of Thy most dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ." Both in the prayer of humble access, and in the prayer after the communion, the words are used, " to eat the flesh of Thy Son, and to drink His Blood, in these holy mysteries," and, " that Thou hast vouchsafed to feed us in these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of Thy Son." In the revised Prayer Book, as we now have it, all these expressions are carefully avoided, the only approach to them being the unobjectionable thanksgiving to God for giving Christ to be our food in the sacrament. While not actually teaching, in so many words, the doctrine of transubstantiation, and the Real Presence, these expressions hinted in that direction, and were capable of being distorted into a direct support of these doctrines. The Reformers, therefore, carefully removed them, not by accident, or in ignorance, but because they thoroughly understood their work.* Another decided Protestant mark. [Dyson Hague, The Protestantism of the Prayer Book, pp. 46-47]
14. Avoids a protracted delay between the consecration of the eucharistic elements and their distribution. The 1552 Communion Service moved immediately to the distribution of the consecrated bread and wine following its consecration. The 1662 revision placed an “Amen” between the consecration and the distribution. Both rites avoid preceding the distribution of the consecrated elements with a series of devotions that suggests that Christ is present in under or under the forms of the consecrated bread and wine either substantively or spiritually. The two rites do not exclude Christ’s presence but it is not localized in the consecrated elements.
15. Includes the Declaration on Kneeling in the rubrics after the service. The Declaration on Kneeling, sometimes called the "Black Rubric," is a important statement of the eucharistic doctrine of the 1662 Prayer Book.
These features are not the only ones that characterize the 1662 Communion Service. They are, however, characteristics that can be used even in a cursory examination of an order for the administration of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, to determine whether whoever drafted the rite was guided by the theology of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
A number of changes that Protestant Episcopal Church introduced in the the Communion Service of the first American Prayer of 1789 were consistent with the theology of the 1662 Communion Service, for example, the addition of the introductory phrase, “All glory be to thee” to the Memorial of the Institution of the Lord’s Supper and of the rubrical permission to omit the first Lord’s Prayer and to substitute “a proper hymn” for the Gloria in Excelsis . Several changes, however, were at odds with that theology and reflected the influence of the American High Church party and Scottish Usager Non-Juror Communion Office of 1764. They included the addition of an Anamnesis-Oblation of the Elements, Invocation of the Holy Spirit, and Oblation of the Communicants to the Consecration and of the rubrical requirement that a hymn, or a part of the hymn, should be sung before the distribution of the consecrated elements. This rubric not only delayed the distribution but also permitted the singing of the Agnus Dei, which had a long association with the Medieval doctrines of Transubstantiation and the sacrifice of the Mass.
With 1789 Communion Service the Protestant Episcopal Church set off down the path that would lead it further and further away from the Protestant and Reformed doctrine and principles of the Anglican formularies. Since 1928 revision of the American Prayer Book that path has split in two directions—a liberal direction observable in the modern-day Episcopal Church and an Anglo-Catholic direction seen in its conservative counterpart, the Anglican Church in North America.
Neither of the two orders for the administration of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, which the Anglican Church in North America’s Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force has produced to date, evidences these characteristics or commensurate characteristics to the extent that the 1662 Prayer Book’s theology may be described as having guided the task force. It remains to be seen whether the task force will make an about-face under former Archbishop Duncan’s chairmanship and retreat from its present Anglo-Catholic direction. Duncan has called for the establishment of a “new settlement” to replace the Elizabethan Settlement which has shaped historic Anglicanism and in which the Anglican formularies (including the 1662 Book of Common Prayer) are grounded. During his arch-episcopate Duncan showed a decided preference for unreformed Catholic teaching and practices in the rites of the Church and its structure and form of governance.
The two new Eucharistic Prayers to which former Archbishop Duncan refers to in The Apostle’s article, “Taking the Next Steps toward a New Prayer Book” are based upon Eucharistic Prayers A and D in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Eucharistic Prayer A is “a shorter, modern adaptation of the prayers of the previous American Prayer Books and of Prayer I of Rite One.” Eucharistic Prayer D is “adapted from the Liturgy of Saint Basil….and an abbreviated and revised form of this lengthy prayer is one of the four eucharistic prayers of the Roman sacramentary of Paul VI.” Needless to say neither prayer conforms to the theology of 1662 Prayer Book. One the other hand, an eucharistic prayer based upon Eucharistic Prayer D holds a strong appeal for that segment of the Anglican Church in North America which seeks to reshape the Anglican Church along the lines of the purportedly undivided Church of the early High Middles ages before the East-West schism in the eleventh century.
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