Wednesday, January 06, 2016

A Modern Version of the 1874 Communion Service of the Reformed Episcopal Church

By Robin G. Jordan

The Communion Service in the 1874 Book of Common Prayer of the Reformed Episcopal Church was modeled upon that of the second Prayer Book of Edward VI, the reformed 1552 Prayer Book. Using the rubrics and textual material from the Lord’s Supper, Form 1, in Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings, I have modernized the 1874 Communion Service, adapting the rubrics and textual material where needed. I have reproduced the rubrics and textual material from the Lord’s Supper, Form 1, solely for instructional purposes to show how it may be adapted to produce a modern version of the 1874 Communion Service.

I have altered the opening rite of the 1874 Communion Service, dropping the versicles and responses and the Lord’s Prayer. I omitted the versicles and response as they begin with the Salutation, “The Lord, be with you; and with thy spirit,” which Cranmer omits completely from the 1552 Communion Service due to its long associations with the Medieval Catholic doctrines of Transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass. If desired the verses from Psalm 51 may be used as an opening sentence of Scripture before the opening hymn or song.

A good guideline in selecting opening sentences of Scripture is to pick them with an eye to the occasion, season, or theme of the service. A well-chosen sentence of Scripture helps to set the tone of the service. Habakkuk 2:22, “The Lord is in temple, let all the earth be silent before Him” would be appropriate on an occasion when no opening hymn or song is sung. It would, however, not be appropriate if it is to be followed by a rousing, foot-stomping, hand-clapping song of praise. Psalm 100:1-2, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” would be far more appropriate on such an occasion. A member of the congregation or a worship leader may read the opening sentence of Scripture.

It is desirable to involve as many people as possible in the service, both young and old, reading the opening sentence of Scripture and the Lessons, taking the collection, reading the petitions of the Prayers, and preparing the bread and wine and the Lord’s Table.

The Lord’s Prayer has been omitted because it was originally a private devotion of the priest before the celebration of Mass.

The whole congregation, minister and people, say the Collect for Purity together.

One of the peculiarities of the 1874 Communion Service is that epiclesis of the Prayer of Consecration concludes the Prayer of Humble Access.
Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord,
so to commemorate in the breaking of the bread
the death of your dear son Jesus Christ,
that we may feed upon him in our hearts by faith
and that we may evermore dwell in him,
and he in us….
I have retained this feature as it is consistent with the Anglican view that the whole Prayer of Consecration, indeed the whole service, sets apart the bread and wine for sacramental use.

Like the 1552 Prayer of Consecration, the 1874 Consecration Prayer has no concluding amen. The communion immediately follows the Words of Institution. The Words of Distribution are taken from the 1552 Communion Service. Before the distribution of the bread the minister says the 1549 Words of Distribution for the bread. Before the passing of the cup he also says the 1549 Words of Distribution for the wine. In small worship gatherings it is possible for the members of congregation standing in a circle around the communion table to give each other the bread and wine.

The distribution of the elements concludes with the Lord’s Prayer, one or both of the Prayers of Thanksgiving and Dedication, and the Gloria in Excelsis, or another suitable canticle or song. 

The Table, at the communion time, shall be covered with a clean white cloth, and sufficient bread and wine for the communion shall be placed on the Table.


1. Verses of Scripture highlighting the character of God and how we should respond to him may be read (e.g. Psalms 98:1-2; 105:1-2; Isaiah 45:22-23; John 6:35; 8:12; Acts 17:24-25; Colossians 3:16-17). A suitable hymn or song may follow.

2. The minister invites all to pray together.

Let us pray.
Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden,
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

3. The minister may read a form of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–17) or Jesus’ declaration of the Two Great Commandments (Matthew 22:37–40).

Hear the commandments which God gave his people Israel.
1. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery; you shall have no other gods besides me.
2. Do not make any idol for yourself; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.
3. Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
4. Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days shall you labour and do all you have to do, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.
5. Honour your father and your mother.
6. Do not murder.
7. Do not commit adultery.
8. Do not steal.
9. Do not give false testimony against your neighbour.
10. Do not covet anything that is your neighbour’s.

After each commandment, the people may say

Lord, have mercy on us and incline our hearts to keep this law.

After the last commandment, or after the commandments have been read together, the people may say

Lord, have mercy on us, and write your commandments in our hearts by your Holy Spirit.


Jesus said: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’.
This is the first and greatest commandment.
The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Lord have mercy on us, and write your commandments in our hearts by your Holy Spirit.

5. The Bible readings follow, one from the Old Testament and at least one from the New Testament. A psalm may be said and suitable songs may follow any of the readings, to express appropriate responses to what has been heard.

6. The Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed is said here or after the sermon, the people standing.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen


We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten not made,
of one being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
he was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

7. The sermon is preached here or before the creed.

8. A song may follow and a collection may be taken. Members of the congregation may be encouraged to support the work of the gospel and provide for the needy by the reading of biblical passages such as Matthew 5:16; 6:19-20; 7:21; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7; Galatians 6:6, 10; Hebrews 13:16; 1 John 3:17.

9. The minister or one or more members of the congregation may pray, using this form or a suitable alternative.

Let us pray for all people, and for Christ’s church throughout the world.

Almighty and eternal God through the apostle Paul you teach us to pray and to give thanks for all people.

In your mercy [accept our gifts and] receive our prayers. Set the nations on the path of righteousness and peace. Lead their rulers to wise decisions and right actions for the welfare of all.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our pray.

We pray for the leaders of our nation (especially …), and for all who exercise authority in this land. Enable them to uphold justice, restrain wickedness and promote integrity and truth.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our pray.

Comfort and sustain, merciful Lord, everyone in this fleeting life who is in sorrow, need, sickness, or any other distress (especially …).

Lord in your mercy
Hear our pray.

Pour out your Spirit on your church, so that all who acknowledge your holy name may agree in the truth of your word, and live in unity and godly love.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our pray.

Give grace, heavenly Father, to all the ministers of your gospel (especially …), to set forth your life-giving word by their example and teaching and rightly administer your holy sacraments.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our pray.

Give grace to your people gathered here, to receive your word with humble and obedient hearts and serve you in holiness and righteousness all the days of our lives.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our pray.

We praise you for all who have died in the faith of Christ (especially …). Help us to follow their good examples, that with them we may inherit your heavenly kingdom.

Hear us, Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our only mediator and advocate. Amen.

10. A song may follow.


11. The minister may say the following exhortation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ,
we who come to receive the holy communion of the body and blood of our Saviour Christ can come only because of his great love for us. For, although we are completely undeserving of his love, yet in order to raise us from the darkness of death to everlasting life as God’s sons and daughters, our Saviour Christ humbled himself to share our life and to die for us on the cross. In remembrance of his death, and as a pledge of his love, Jesus instituted this holy sacrament, which we are now to share.

But those who would eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord must examine themselves, and amend their lives. They must come with a repentant heart and steadfast faith. Above all, they must give thanks to God for his love towards us in Christ Jesus.

And then the minister invites the people to genuine repentance and faith in Christ

You then who truly repent of your sins, and are reconciled with others, intending to lead a new life of joyful obedience to God, draw near with faith, and take this holy sacrament to strengthen and sustain you. But first, let us make a humble confession of our sins to Almighty God.

12. A pause for self-examination may follow. All then say the following confession together.

Almighty God,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
you made all things,
and you call everyone to account.
With shame we confess
the sins we have committed against you,
in thought, word and deed.
We rightly deserve your condemnation.
We turn from our sins
and are truly sorry for them;
they are a burden we cannot bear.
Have mercy on us, most merciful Father.
For the sake of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ,
forgive us all that is past.
Enable us to serve and please you in newness of life,
to your honour and glory,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

13. The minister stands and assures the people of God’s forgiveness.

Almighty God our heavenly Father,
who has promised to forgive the sins of all who turn to him with repentance and faith,
have mercy on you;
pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
strengthen you to do his will,
and keep you in eternal life,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

14. The minister says the following words of assurance.

Hear these words of assurance for those who truly turn to Christ.

Jesus said: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’. Matthew 11:28

‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.’ John 3:16

The apostle Paul said: ‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’. 1 Timothy 1:15

The apostle John said: ‘If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ 1 John 2:1–2

15. The minister leads the people in praise and thanksgiving.

Lift up your hearts,
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
He is worthy of all praise.

Always and everywhere,
it is right for us to praise you, Lord,
holy Father, mighty Creator and eternal God.

On certain days a special preface (see below) is said here.

Therefore, with all those gathered around your throne in heaven,
we proclaim your great and glorious name,
in words of never-ending praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Glory to you, Lord most high.

Special prefaces for use at Christmas, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost and Trinity:

We praise you for giving your only Son Jesus Christ to be made man for us. By the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the virgin Mary his mother, without sin, to make us free from all sin.


We praise you that the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

We praise you especially for the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. He is the true Passover lamb who was offered for us and has taken away the sin of the world. By his death he has destroyed death; by his rising to life again he has restored to us eternal life.

We praise you through Jesus Christ our ascended Lord, who was seen by his disciples after his resurrection and in their sight went into heaven to sit at your right hand and prepare a place for us, that where he is we might also be and reign with him in glory.

We praise you through Jesus Christ our Lord, by whose sure promise the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles to teach them and lead them into all truth, giving them boldness and fervent zeal to preach the gospel to all nations. By that gospel we have been brought out of darkness and error into the true knowledge of you and of your Son Jesus Christ.

You are one God, one Lord, not one person but three persons. For all that we believe of your glory, Father, we believe also of the glory of your Son and of the Holy Spirit. We worship you, one God in Trinity and Trinity in unity.

After each of these prefaces the minister and people continue with the words “Therefore, with all those gathered etc.”

The minister and the people say together.

We do not presume
to come to your table, merciful Lord,
trusting in our own righteousness,
but in your many and great mercies.
We are not worthy
so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table.
But you are the same Lord
whose nature is always to have mercy.
Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord,
so to commemorate in the breaking of the bread
the death of your dear Son Jesus Christ,
that we may feed upon him in our hearts by faith
and that we may evermore dwell in him,
and he in us. Amen.

17. Standing at the table, the minister continues to give thanks. As Jesus’ words of institution are said, the minister breaks the bread and takes hold of the cup before all the people.

We thank you, our Father, that in your love and mercy
you gave your only Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our salvation.
By this offering of himself once and for all time Jesus made a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world and commanded us to continue a remembrance of his precious death until his coming again.

On the night he was betrayed, Jesus took bread and, when he had given thanks, he broke it, then gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.’

In the same way after the meal, Jesus took the cup and,
when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying,
‘Drink from this, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant,
which is poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’

18. The minister first receives the communion in both kinds himself and then gives the bread and the cup to those assisting him and after that to the people.

Before giving the bread the minister says to the communicants around the table,

The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for you, preserve your body and soul to everlasting life.

The minister and those assisting give the bread to each person saying, within the hearing of each person,

Take and eat this [bread] in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your heart by faith with thanksgiving.

Before giving the cup the minister says to the communicants around the table,

The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for you, preserve your body and soul to everlasting life.

The minister and those assisting give the cup to each person saying, within the hearing of each person,

Drink this [wine] in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for you, and be thankful.

19. The minister says

Let us pray.
As our Saviour Christ has taught us, we are confident to say,
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.

20. The minister leads the people in one or both of these two prayers of thanksgiving and dedication
Lord and heavenly Father,
in your loving kindness,
accept our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.
Grant that by the merits and death of your Son Jesus Christ,
and through faith in his blood, we and your whole church may receive forgiveness of our sins
and all other benefits of his suffering.
With gratitude for all your mercies,
we offer ourselves to you as a living sacrifice,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Send us out in the power of your Spirit
to live and work to your praise and glory. Amen.


Almighty and everliving God,
thank you for calling us to the knowledge of the truth,
and faith in your Son Jesus Christ.
Thank you for assuring us of your goodness and love,
that we are members of his body,
and heirs, through hope, of your eternal kingdom.
Keep us faithful to your Son,
and strengthen us by your Spirit
to do the good works you have prepared for us to do
for your honour and praise. Amen.

21. The following hymn of praise or another suitable song may be sung.

Glory to God in the highest
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly king,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy upon us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One;
you alone are the Lord;
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

22. The minister says

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.


May the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever, and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

1 It is the minister’s duty to warn individually any whom he knows to be living in grievous sin, that they presume not to come to the Lord's Table until they give evidence that they truly repent; and if they do not heed his warning, he shall refuse to administer the Communion to them.

2. The minister is to  deal in the same manner with those between whom he perceives malice and hatred to exist, not allowing them to be partakers of the Lord's Table until they be reconciled. But if one of the parties is willing to forgive and, to the best of his ability, to make whatever amends may be proper, and the other party refuses to do so, the Minister shall admit the penitent person to the Holy Communion and refuse him that is obstinate.

3. In conducting this service, except when kneeling, the minister faces the people.

4. Note. The act and prayer of consecration do not change the nature of the elements, but merely set them apart for a holy use: and the reception of them in a kneeling posture is not an act of adoration of the elements. 


Joseph Mahler said...


In your version of the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church, you wrote, "Give grace to all bishops and other ministers (especially …), to set forth your life-giving word by their example and teaching and rightly administer your holy sacraments. " Considering the excesses and map-interpretation that presbyter that have attained the office of bishop, I don't think it is a good idea to single them out and leave out the presbyter. Though the bishop and the presbyter is the same "order" some view the bishop as being superior and not primus inter pares. Since presbyter and bishop are equals, it would be better to replace bishop with presbyter. "Give grace to all presbyter and other ministers....."

Robin G. Jordan said...

I checked the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church in the 1874 Communion Service and corrected the petition in question. In the 1874 Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church, that petition reads"Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all Ministers of thy Gospel, that they may, both by their life and doctrine, set forth thy true and lively Word, and rightly and duly administer thy Holy Sacraments." I did not catch the difference between the two versions of the prayer. The 1874 Prayer Book version does not distinguish between bishops and curates (or other ministers), which 1662 Prayer Book version and 2012 CPRGSG version do. Thank you for drawing the oversight to my attention.

Joseph Mahler said...


The name Easter should also be dropped. It comes from name of a pagan goddess. The Spanish use Pascua or Passover. This would be a far more appropriate name.

Christmas should probably also be changed because it means Christ mass. Reformed Protestants do have masses.

Robin G. Jordan said...


Whatever may the origin of the names of those two major church festivals, these festivals themselves are commonly called by these names in most English-speaking Protestant churches. On the other hand, Easter Orthodox Churches refer to Easter Day as the “Pascha.”

The alteration of the names of the Special Prefaces is to my mind not really warranted in the Communion Service. The compilers of the 1875 Prayer Book did not see fit to change their names and they can hardly be described as Pagan or unreformed Catholic in their leanings. They were comfortable with their use. From what I gather, they were familiar with the etymology of the two words.

If you look at the Collects from An American Prayer Book (2009) on the Exploring of the Book of Common Prayer website, you will see that Christmas is designated as “The Nativity of our Lord, or the Birthday of Christ, commonly called Christmas Day.” If I were to make any changes, it would be to change the designation of the Collect for Easter Day from ”Easter Day” to “The Resurrection of our Lord, or Resurrection Sunday, commonly called Easter Day.”

I would continue to employ the common names of the two festivals elsewhere in the service book for ease of reference. I might include in the book’s rubrics for the more scrupulous a disclaimer to the effect that the denomination does not attach any particular doctrinal significance to the use of the words “Christmas” and “Easter” and their use is not to be understood as implying any doctrines other than those contained in the formularies of the denomination.

But I do not believe that it is necessary. I do not believe that the use of the word Easter honors the goddess Eostra any more than use of the word Sunday honors the sun, Monday, the moon,Tuesday, the god Tyr, Wednesday, the god Woden (or Odin), Thursday, the god Thor, and Saturday, the god Saturn albeit these days were dedicated to the worship of these natural objects and gods. A number of words in the English language are traceable to the different religions of the various peoples that invaded the British Isles in pre-historic and historic times. Others were used in the pre-Reformation Church in the British Isles from Second Century AD on and their use was retained in the reformed Church of England after the English Reformation. I do not believe the use of these two words is going to cause anyone to embrace Neo-Paganism or become a Roman Catholic.

Joseph Mahler said...

The English Protestant Reformation was not completed. I know that any changes to the Prayer Book causes problems. But there seems to be a growing awareness among Evangelicals of the problem with the name "Easter." Your suggested name indicate that you are familiar with it as well. Personally I don't think if the name "Easter" is replace, there would be any backlash. Removing the liturgical season of Trinity did not cause any problem in the Episcopal Church. But calling Christ the Nativity of our Lord is well understood. Leave out Christmas and probably no one would notice. Btw, there were those who would have forbidden Christmas and did. My preference is always for the more Scriptural wording.

The naming of the days of the week and some of the months after pagan gods is long part of our history. But to keep these pagan gods in common speech may not be a good idea.

Robin G. Jordan said...


Our Lord’s institution of the Lord’s Supper, while it most likely took place in the context of the Passover seder, is more than an addition to the Passover meal. The apostles and the early Church understood this. For this reason most Christians do not, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, celebrate the Lord’s Supper once a year at Passover.

Jesus’ resurrection occurred not at Passover but after it. Referring to an annual celebration of his resurrection as Pascha, or Passover, is not entirely accurate.

While a local church may wish to refer to this celebration as the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord, or Resurrection Sunday, for ease of reference in a service book, it is desirable to retain the common name of Easter for this occasion when labeling collects and other liturgical texts for use on that occasion.

Despite its etymology Easter is not associated in most people’s minds with an obscure Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring. It is still associated to a large extent with the Christian Church and its annual celebration of Jesus Christ’ resurrection from the dead.

To my mind it makes sense to retain the name and to preserve and strengthen the Christian associations with it than to replace it with something else. For a millennium the Christian Church did just that.

The Bible does not prescribe a specific name for the Christian Church’s annual celebration of the Resurrection nor does it prohibit the Christian Church from assigning specific name to that occasion. In using the common name of Easter for that occasion, English-speaking Protestant Churches are not doing anything contrary to Scripture.

For a millennium that name has been used for a day and a season in which the Resurrection was celebrated and Jesus Christ was honored. The minor goddess Oestra has almost been forgotten—except in books on the etymology of English words and the usual spate of articles published at Easter time.

A similar case may be made for the retention of Christmas as the common name for the Feast of the Nativity. It has been used for more than a millennium. It still retains strong Christian associations even among non-Christians. The Japanese in their anime recognizing it as honoring Jesus Christ and celebrating his birth. In Somalia Christmas was banned in 2015 due to its Christian associations. Its use is not prohibited by the Bible. For most Christians, including the larger number of Evangelicals, the word Christmas is not associated with the doctrine of any particular denomination.

While I agree that the English Reformation was not complete, a number of changes that subsequent “reformers” promoted would not have made the English Church more Scriptural and Protestant. They would have simply made that Church conform more closely to their own preferences and vision of the Church.

As noted in my previous post, the compilers of the 1874 Prayer Book retained Christmas and Easter. While I am modernizing and in some cases simplifying the language of the services and rites in that Prayer Book, and I am making a number of changes in the rubrics, I am making a concerted effort to adhere to the Declaration of Principles and to not to make any changes to the doctrine of the book. The kind of changes that you are proposing would go beyond the boundaries that I set for myself.

That said, I do appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.

Joseph Mahler said...


The problem with arguments based on tradition is the same problem that the Roman Church has. The Protestant Reformation tried to get the Church back to a Scriptural basis. It was`t completed. But there was a great effort made. The problem with using the names of pagan gods and goddesses in our Prayer Book comes under the following law establishing righteousness.

Ex 20:3 "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

Now, I know that you will bring up Acts 12:4, where the only time Easter is used in the KJV Bible. Of course, and I know you know this that is a mistranslation. It should be Passover. I cannot imagine that the Puritans put that in. NKJV uses Passover, as does the NIV and as did the 1599 Geneva Bible.

Tradition should in no case override the teachings of Scriptures. Sola Scriptura.

Joseph Mahler said...

The nonliturgical churches have their advantages over the liturgical churches. The major point is that the nonliturgical are not locked into a certain set of wording that is forced on all members of the church at large. Unwise, traditional, or just plain bad wording is easily eliminated and changed simply by usage. The liturgy should and must represent the Scripture more closely. The liturgy in a liturgical church becomes part of its doctrine. It is one of the reasons that I have a certain uneasiness about amending the liturgy. Though as you must understand by now that I prefer to avoid any reference to pagan deities in the worship of God, you must also understand that I would prefer to keep the Anglican liturgy intact as much as possible. Any changes should to make it more Scriptural and in keeping with God's righteous laws. Eliminating nonScriptural traditions whether from pagan sources or Roman sources, I consider a great benefit.

Now I also know that many modern evangelical churches tend to do just that. Many of these churches do not use the word "Easter" but rather Resurrection Sunday, or Resurrection of our Lord or something of that nature. The pagan origin of the word "Easter" is well know in America today. So it is becoming harder and harder to defend the use of it. In some cases it is enough to turn off a person from joining a church. Though the word we live in is more dumbed down that before, it is still a more educated world. With the growing tendencies of Christians to homeschool or send their children to Christian schools with a classical education model, these thing about Easter and Christmas are much more known and debated.

Though we may not think something is a matter of great importance, yet nevertheless, we must consider what God demands of us. If we remember that Paul in his letter to the Romans warns us that "the carnal mind is at enmity against God and cannot obey," then we understand that our rationale for anything must be sought in God's word and not in man's tradition.

To be honest with you, I would eliminate Easter and Christmas from any Prayer Book revision. I don't think it would be any problem to anyone except an extreme traditionalist. Again the liturgy should and must reflect Scriptures as perfectly as is possible.

Robin G. Jordan said...

I do not agree with your conclusion that the elimination of the use of the words “Christmas” and “Easter” in an Anglican service book would be only a problem to an extreme traditionalist. In the main your objection to the use of the word “Christmas” is due to the inclusion of the word “Mass” in it and to the use of the word “Easter,” due to the derivation of the word from the name of an obscure Germanic goddess Eostre.

“Mass” is derived from one of the Latin words used to describe the dismissal prayer at conclusion of a celebration of Holy Communion in the Western Church since the sixth century. It would evolve into the Old English word “maesse” and was eventually used to describe the whole service. The Latin term itself was in use by the sixth century. While the reformed Church of England would drop the use of the word “masse” in favor of Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper, the Lutheran Churches would retain it.

Early in the life of the English Church “mass” would be incorporated into the name of certain festivals observed during the church year—Christmas (the Feast of the Nativity), Michaelmas (the Feast of St. Michael), and Hallowmas (All Hallows, All Souls, or All Saints). The use of these names for these festivals is not prohibited by Scripture (the normative principle). The names themselves fall into the realm of adiaphora -secondary matters that are indifferent to salvation. To some people they are, however, like the flesh of animals slaughtered on a pagan altar and then sold in the market were to the Corinthian Christians. The Corinthian Christians' scruples would not permit them to eat this flesh even though the apostle Paul points out, they would not be committing an offense against God if they ate it. Likewise, the scruples of these people will not allow them to use a particular name for a festival even though the use of such name is not prohibited by Scripture either directly or indirectly. Any doctrinal associations these names may have may be peculiar to them and may not widely-shared. Indeed these associations and their weight may be open to debate. Anglicans of the same school of thought may not of one mind about them.

The solution to such a problem in the compilation of a service book is to provide two or more names for a particular occasion. Users of the service book may then use the name with which they are most comfortable. What is causing the difficult for those uncomfortable with using a particular name is not the name itself but their own conscience.

Robin G. Jordan said...

Eostre, is only by way of the Germanic month bearing her name the namesake of the festival of Easter.” “Ēostre is attested solely by Bede in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time, where Bede states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Eostre's honor, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.”

This goddess’ name is also linked to a variety of Germanic personal names and a series of location names in England. Her cultus had vanished in Bede’s time over twelve hundred years ago. The only thing that survives is her name as a root word for these names.

A number of words in the English language have root words which originally had pagan associations. The same is true of Hebrew and New Testament Greek. God did not inspire the human writers of the Scriptures to omit them for this reason.

Here again we have another case of a word whose use is not prohibited by Scripture but whose use troubles the consciences of some people and not the consciences of others. When we refer to the Feast of the Resurrection as Easter, we are not honoring a long-forgotten goddess of the Spring. Worshiping any god other than the true God is a breach of the Ten Commandments. However, the use of the word “Easter,” which has Eostre as its root, is not paying reverent homage and honor to that ancient deity. We are not breaking the First Commandment. As in the case of the names of festivals with “Mass” in them, the solution is to offer a selection of names from which users of a service book can select the one with which they are the most comfortable.

The actual application of the principle of a liturgy reflecting Scripture as perfectly as possible is prone to become a subjective judgment, reflecting not so much Scripture but hermeneutics and preferences of the particular interpreter of Scripture. What may be more realistic standard to apply is that the doctrine and practices embodied in the liturgy comes from Scripture or are consistent with Scripture. In the later case a doctrine or practice, while it may not come from Scripture, it is compatible or agreement with Scripture. A number of doctrines and practices fall in this last category.

I personally am less concerned about the presence of common words like "Christmas" and "Easter" in a Anglican service book than I am about the use of Scriptural phrases to express doctrines that do not come from Scripture and are in conflict with what Scripture teaches.

My object in modernizing and in some cases simplifying the language of the services and rites of the 1874 Prayer Book is to make them more understandable to the younger generations who are unacquainted with the language used in the original services and rites and to make them more translatable into other languages. The rubrical changes that I have made are also to make the rubrics more understandable.

Through the church in which I am sojourning and the classes that I am taking at Murray State University I encounter a sizable number of students. They struggle with the language used in the older service books especially the exchange students who are attending the university to learn English.

Changing the names of feast days and seasons lies outside the scope of this undertaking. Anyone who wants to build upon my work can change their names if they believe that is desirable.

Joseph Mahler said...


"The actual application of the principle of a liturgy reflecting Scripture as perfectly as possible is prone to become a subjective judgment, reflecting not so much Scripture but hermeneutics and preferences of the particular interpreter of Scripture."

Such is the frailty of the human condition as a result of the fall. All liturgies are accused of you statement, and it would include you revision. It is one of the reasons I am reluctant to support much in the area of liturgical revision. The Anglican liturgy of Cranmer attempted to make the liturgy to reflect the teachings of Scriptures. The Roman Church claimed that it was a subjective judgment to promote heresy. The Roman mass was designed to reflect their hermeneutics and preferences. But which of the two liturgies reflect the doctrines of Scriptures best? Is it perfect?

You whole argument on retaining the word Easter is all traditionalist in nature. The obscurity of Eostre that you claim is simply not so today. The modern rise of paganism, Wicca, Satan worship, the revival of the worship of the old Norse gods are all good reasons to distance the liturgy from anything pagan. This is of course the practical reason. Why put the name of a pagan goddess in the worship of God?

The largely Roman Spaniards do not have this goddess in their liturgy. They use Pascuas, Passover, a biblical word.

Robin G. Jordan said...


Because a word in the English language has a root word derived from the name of a pagan goddess whose cultus died out more than a millennium ago does not make the word itself pagan, any more than similar words in Hebrew and New Testament Greek. While we have seen a pagan revival in the recent years, a substantial part of the population is not acquainted with the etymology of the word “Easter.” Those who are familiar with its etymology are for a large part not pagans promoting a revival of the worship of Eostre but Christians.

Some like yourself object to its use for various reasons. Others do not have any problems related to its use. While I cannot speak for all the members of this group of Christians, which includes the English Reformers, the Reformed Episcopal Church’s founders, and modern-day conservative Evangelicals in various Anglican provinces, one of the reasons that they have no problem with the use of the word is that most people do not make any connection between Easter and Eostre. Only someone who was familiar with its etymology and had been a member of a pagan group that worships the old Germanic gods might have ambivalent feelings about the use of the word—a person in the same category as the Corinthian converts to Christianity who were troubled by their fellow Christians’ consumption of the flesh of animals that had been sacrificed to a pagan deity.

As Paul points out to the Corinthian church, its members are not committing an offense against God if they consume the flesh. If they, however, have come to believe even wrongly that they are offending God, then they should refrain from eating it and the other members of the Corinthian church should refrain from urging them to eat it, serving it to them, or eating it in their presence. On the other hand, if they participate in the pagan rites and eat the flesh as a part of these rites, it is entirely different matter.

The same group of Christians also recognizes that God does not judge us by our outward appearances but by the disposition of our heart. Outward appearance includes our choice of words. If we use the word “Easter” in all innocence in honoring God and the disposition of our heart is to pay honor to God, we are not committing an offense against God. If we use the word and secretly, in our heart, pay homage to Eostre, then we are offending God.

“Pascha” as a substitute for “Easter” has its limitations. Technically it refers to the Passover and not to the resurrection of Christ. It has associations with not only the sacrifice of the lambs for the Passover and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross but also the oblation of the Body and Blood of Christ offered anew to God on the altar in the Mass. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“The paschal mystery is celebrated and made present in the liturgy of the Church, and its saving effects are communicated through the sacraments (1076), especially the Eucharist, which renews the paschal sacrifice of Christ as the sacrifice offered by the Church (571, 1362–1372). (P. 891).

My inclination is to identify the church festival in the propers of the service book as “the Feast of the Resurrection, or Resurrection Sunday, while mentioning that its common name is “Easter” and to use “Easter” elsewhere in the service book for ease of reference.

Joseph Mahler said...


Suppose you dropped the word Easter altogether. Would it change any doctrine? I think not.

Robin G. Jordan said...


If it is so inconsequential, why then the need to drop it? I agree that its use may trouble some people but those it troubles do not constitute a very large group. For most people it has no pagan connotation and for many people it has Christian associations. The use of the word is not inconsistent with Scripture since we are not using in a way that dishonors God. Many words that formerly had pagan associations are used in the Bible. They are not used in a way that dishonors God. Alternative wording can be provided in a service book for those with tender consciences while retaining the common word for the festival “Easter” – “the old where it may be well-used.”

I think that you and I are going to go round and round on this one. We have reached an impasse. We both believe that we are right. I think that we should move on to something new.

I am going to post modern versions of the Order for the Administration of Baptism to Adults and the Order for Confirmation from the 1874 Payer Book for those who may be interested. I may post the ordination rites at a later date. I am also thinking about posting the original rites and services for comparison. What do you think?

One of my projects is a conservative revision of the 1662 Communion Service incorporating a number of the better features of the 1552 Communion Service, the 1637 Scottish Communion Service, 1789 American Communion Service, and the 1926 Irish Communion Service. I may write an article about the proposed changes and the rationale for them.

Joseph Mahler said...


I never said that it was inconsequential. How does naming the most important feast of the Christian faith after a pagan goddess honor God?

Joseph Mahler said...


And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth. (Ex 23:13)

It is not inconsequential.

Joseph Mahler said...

It is not some forgotten goddess. Just about every Christian know about her. With the rise of paganism the word is even more insidious. You seem to think the use of Easter is an indifferent matter. Others think differently. But you waste a lot of words on what you call inconsequential. Again in a liturgy, it is far more important to keep to the Scriptures and leave out tradition. If a Baptist does something it is a local church or personal matter. It is not doctrine of the Baptist Church. If it is written in the liturgy it is an institutional matter, it is a doctrinal matter. It is never in a liturgy indifferent. Again my point is that a liturgy should and must reflect biblical orthodoxy and eschew tradition. Jesus Christ himself warned us against the traditions of man in opposition to the law of God. The Reformers tried to use the Sola Scripture principal in reforming the liturgy. There was then as there is now those who would fight reformation tooth and nail. They want their comfortable traditions and ways even if they are in no way edifying. Even if it isolates and offends. Anglo-catholics are perfect examples of this behavior. Though keeping perfectly the Law never saves, because it cannot be done, yet the Law is the teacher of righteousness. It cannot be dismissed. It cannot be trivialized. It is a great part of our sanctification. I simply would throw the word Easter out. Stay away in the worship of God from the names of pagan gods. Do not even mention them.

Robin G. Jordan said...


Some translations of the Bible such as the Holman Christian Standard Bible render the same passage as follows:

“Pay strict attention to everything I have said to you. You must not invoke the names of other gods; they must not be heard on your lips.”

Among the meanings of the Hebrew word “zakar” which the HCSB renders as “invoke” and the King James Bible as “mention” is “to call to mind,” “to think on,” and “to burn incense.” All of these meanings and its other meanings imply intentionality in what is done.

In using a word that has as its root the name of a forgotten pagan goddess, which has become the common name for a Christian festival, intentionally invoking this goddess?

Bear in mind that English has a number of words that have roots with pagan associations as does the Hebrew used in the Old Testament and the Greek used in the New Testament. Are we in using these words invoking pagan deities?

Further on in Exodus 23 we read:

“For My angel will go before you and bring you to the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. You must not bow down to their gods or worship them. Do not imitate their practices. Instead, demolish them and smash their sacred pillars to pieces. Worship the Lord your God…” (Exodus 23:21-25).


“For I will place the inhabitants of the land under your control, and you will drive them out ahead of you. You must not make a covenant with them or their gods. They must not remain in your land, or else they will make you sin against Me. If you worship their gods, it will be a snare for you.” (Exodus 23:31-33).

These passages provide the context in which Exodus 23:13 must be understood. God is warning the Israelites against adopting the religious practices of “the inhabitants of the land,” honoring and worshiping their gods, and making covenant with them. Here again there is the implication of intentionality or deliberateness in what is done.

Does using a word that has a root word that had pagan associations in the past or even may have them in the present meet these criteria?

Here again bear in mind that not only does English, Hebrew, and Greek have a number of such words but so do many of the languages into which the Bible is translated. A number of these words are used in these translations as well as in English translations of the Bible and the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament.

Among the words in the English language that has a root with pagan associations is the word “God.” There is etymological evidence that points to it being derived from the word for “the spirit immanent in a burial mound.”

When we used this word in our liturgies and our own prayers are we paying homage and honor to a forgotten spirit of a mound or to the Creator of heaven and earth?

Are we to disconnect this word from centuries of use to refer to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ among English-speaking peoples and discarded it because it at some remote period in human history or pre-history was used to refer to a mound spirit?

Robin G. Jordan said...

I deleted my last post and reposted it with additions. In the process I may have skipped over your last post. I agree that we must be careful what goes into our liturgies. But omission is not the only way to deal with a word or phrase or practice over which there may be understanding. The Declaration on Kneeling appended to the 1552 and 1662 Communion Services is another way of dealing with such words, phrases, and practices. It incorporates into the rubrics clarification of what is or not meant or intended by the use of the word, phrase, or practice. It includes a disclaimer that no adoration of the sacramental species is intend by the practice of kneeling to receive communion.

Words like "Easter" and "God" have accumulated centuries of Christian associations. Their use is not intend honor any pagan deity or mound spirit. Simply to discard them because some Christians have become uncomfortable with their use is not reason enough to do so. It is also to give pagans power over the words that we use in worship.

There were pagan revivals in the nineteenth and twentieth century but they were passing fads. In England a number of pagan beliefs and practices--"the Old Ways"--survived in remote and rural areas in the eighteenth century and earlier. But Easter was commonly regarded as a Christian festival and with Christmas and Michaelmas was one of the three times of year that parishioners of the English Church received communion.

Robin G. Jordan said...

I have reviewed a number of articles on the Internet criticizing the celebration of Easter. A number of them build on the highly-questionable scholarship of a nineteenth century Scottish Presbyterian minister Alexander Hisrop who claimed that the Anglo-Saxon goddess Oestre was the Middle Eastern goddess Ishtar, also known as Astarte or Ashtoreth. The evidence that he offered to support his claim was conjectural. Despite its copious footnotes his book, The Two Babylons: The Papal Worship Proved to Be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife, is marred by poor methodology, including “numerous misconceptions, fabrications and grave factual errors.” Among his purposes in making this claim was to convince his readers that the passages of the Bible relating to the worship of Ishtar were applicable to the celebration of Easter. The same articles were peppered with all kinds of erroneous statements, for example, the Druids were the priests of the Anglo-Saxons and officiated at the worship of Oestre.

The Druids were member of the educated, professional class among the Celtic peoples of Gaul, Britain, and Ireland during the Iron Age. “The Druid class included law-speakers, poets and doctors, among other learned professions, although the best known among the Druids were the religious leaders.” The Druids predate the Anglo-Saxon invasion of the British Isles.

A number of articles argue that Christians should not celebrate the resurrection of our Lord on Easter Sunday because the Bible does not prescribe such a celebration. They rely on the regulative principle nd negative hermeneutics to make their case. These articles included articles by Messianic Christians and others who argued on the same basis that Christians should not celebrate Christ’s resurrection at all. In the case of Messianic Christians their interpretation of the Bible reflects the legalistic way that the Pharisees interpreted the Bible. They place the Law before grace.

If the same logic evident in this group of article was applied with consistency by those using it, a large number of things that Christians do such as using a fixed liturgy, illuminating their churches with electrical lighting, and sitting in pews should be abolished as they also are not prescribed in the Bible. The problem with the regulative principle and negative hermeneutic is that Christians who use them in their interpretation of the Bible are highly selective in their application. Ultimately their approach to the Bible is a subjective one in which they pick and choose what they are going to believe.

A third group of articles sought to portray Easter as a pagan observance, using the folk customs associated with Easter such as the painting and decorating of eggs. They also sought to characterize the early Christian practice of baptizing new believers at sunrise on Easter morning as sun worship.

The over-all impression that I was given was that the authors of the articles disliked the celebration of Easter as Christian festival marking Christ’s resurrection from the dead and its place in salvation history, they had set their minds against the practice, and they were marshalling as many arguments as they could think of to discourage it. This included the use of all kinds of flawed logic and misinformation.

Two articles that take a balanced approach to the issue of celebrating Easter are “Should Christians Celebrate Easter?” and “Is it wrong to celebrate Easter?” The first article is found at The second article is found at

Joseph Mahler said...


I do not exactly follow the regulus principle. It does have some merit in limiting an overabundance of trivial and frivolous traditions that do creep into the worship of God. God destroyed two of Levi's sons for offering "strange fire." Yes, I know that God did in fact specify exactly how the ceremonies were to be conducted in in worship in the Law. No such detail has been given to the Church. Thus we see what goes on in the Church of Rome and in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Often called veneration but it looks a lot like idolatry. It look exactly like what is forbidden in Scriptures. I am familiar with the hypothesis of Easter being associated with Ishtar. It never quite made much sense to me. No Easter must be from an Anglo-Saxon goddess. It makes more sense. How lshtar got to the British Isle, though not impossible, yes seem unlikely. Though Ishtar may not be the goddess from which the common name for the Resurrection of our Lord, it nevertheless is an inappropriate name for it. To have this goddess' name before Jesus Christ is shameful.

Robin G. Jordan said...


Easter is only the common name for a particular day on which Christians have historically commemorated and celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord and the season associated with it. It is not the name used to describe Christ’s resurrection itself. It is important to keep the two separate. The resurrection is primary; the name for feast day and the season are secondary. Being secondary, it can never eclipse the place of the resurrection in salvation history, which is commemorated and celebrated on that occasion. It can never eclipse our Lord whose birth, ministry, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension are central acts of salvation history. What we do on that day is honor Christ, not any goddess whose name some believe to form the root of the word Easter but which has never been established conclusively.

Etymologists are not in agreement regarding whether the particular root word is actually derived from her name. Scholars are not even in agreement that such a goddess actually existed. The only reference that we have to Oestra is Bede.

German scholar Jürgen Udolph in "Ostern" in Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde, Volume 22 describes Oestra as a “pseudo-goddess, a theoretical construction of the nineteenth century folklorist Jacob Grimm resulting from a misunderstanding. Bede did not write from first-hand knowledge. False patronymics and false etymologies were common in classical and medieval histories and Bede may have repeated an etymology that he had heard from someone else.

In 1959 German scholar Johann Knoblach proposed a different etymology for Easter. He traces the root word to an Old High German name for the church festival of Easter, Ostrun, which has connections to an Indo-Europeans word for the dawn, and links to phrases in Church Latin “with which are associated the French and Italian words for the dawn, and connected it with the dawn service of the Easter Vigil in which those to be baptized faced east when pronouncing their profession of faith.” While the theory that Easter is derived from the name of a Germanic goddess is the most widespread at a popular level, Knobloch's proposal enjoys most support from scholars.

In 1999 Jürgen Udolph published Ostern: Geschichte eines Wortes in which he connects the English and German words for Easter not with the dawn but with a word associated with baptism—the North Germanic verb ausa, "to pour".

Joseph Mahler said...


We're going to have to disagree on this one. There is no reason to use Easter instead of Resurrection Day or something else that better fits the day. If it is not important, why and it is not doctrinal and makes no difference on matters of doctrine, the eliminating the name makes absolutely no difference. But others disagree that it makes no difference. I go back to my point. If it is in the liturgy it is offensive to many. It is bad theology to others. In the same manner I would eliminate the days of the week as well in the title of any Christian feast. Including Good Friday.

Robin G. Jordan said...


From what I gather from my survey of articles on the Internet, the group that to whom the observance of Easter is offensive is not as large as you might think. A number of subgroups in that group are certainly outspoken in expressing their opinions on the subject, which explains why it may appear to be a larger group than it is. I did not come across any statistical research documenting the size of this group. It includes Messianic Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, Quakers, and the Restored Church of God. It is not a homogeneous group. Its sub-groups' reasons for non-observance vary. Some subgroups like the Jehovah's Witnesses have been influenced by Jacob Grimm's theory of a proto-Indo-European goddess of spring and Alexander Hisrop's book.

Agreeing to disagree in regard to the acceptibility of the use of the word Easter is the best course. Between the two of us we have explored the pros and cons of the acceptibility of its use.

Linquistically a variation of Pascha is a widely used name for the feast of the Resurrection in the Northern Hemisphere. According to the Wikipedia article on the names of Easter:

"Latin adopted the Greek term for the feast, and in most European languages, notable exceptions being English, German and the Slavic languages, the feast is today called Pascha or words derived from it.

In Old English the form Pascan was used by Byrhtferth (c. 970 – c. 1020) and the form Pasches in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for 1122. Although now limited to specialized uses, the terms the Pasch or Pascha are sometimes used in Modern English. Pace, a dialect form of Pasch, is found in Scottish English and in the English of northeastern England, and used especially in combination with the word "egg", as in "Pace Egg play.

In nearly all Romance languages, the name of the Easter festival is derived from the Latin Pascha. In Spanish, Easter is Pascua, in Italian and Catalan Pasqua, in Portuguese Páscoa and in Romanian Paşti. In French, the name of Easter Pâques also derives from the Latin word but the s following the a has been lost and the two letters have been transformed into an â with a circumflex accent by elision. In Romanian, the only Romance language of an Eastern church, the word Înviere (resurrection, cf. Greek Ἀνάστασις, [anástasis]) is also used.

Albanian, although not a Romance language, borrows the Latin Pascha as Pashka. The holiday is frequently referred to in the plural, Pashkët.

In all modern Celtic languages the term for Easter is derived from Latin. In the Brittonic languages this has yielded Welsh Pasg, Cornish and Breton Pask. In Goidelic languages the word was borrowed before these languages had re-developed the /p/ sound and as a result the initial /p/ was replaced with /k/. This yielded Irish Cáisc, Gaelic Càisg and Manx Caisht. These terms are normally used with the definite article in Goidelic languages, causing lenition in all cases: An Cháisc, A' Chàisg and Yn Chaisht.

In Dutch, Easter is known as Pasen and in the North Germanic languages Easter is known as påske (Danish and Norwegian), påsk (Swedish), páskar (Icelandic) and páskir (Faeroese). The name is derived directly from Hebrew Pesach. The letter å is pronounced /oː/, derived from an older aa, and an alternate spelling is paaske or paask.

In Russia, Pascha (Paskha/Пасха), is a borrowing of the Greek form via Old Church Slavonic."

Joseph Mahler said...


So as you have well pointed out the pagan name Easter is not much in use outside of English.

Robin G. Jordan said...

As I also pointed out, it is not conclusive that it is pagan. That is only one theory of its origin, dating from the nineteenth century and now questioned by etymological scholars.

There is no proof of the existence of a pagan Anglo-Saxon goddess named Oestra. Only one reference to such a deity exists and that is in Bede's writings. As etymoloical scholars have pointed out, Bede may have been repeating a fabricated etymology which were common in early and medieval writings.

Linguistically the root word for Easter is traceable to one of two early Germanic words one meaning "to shine" and the other "to baptize." It also traceable to a Church Latin word used in writings related to the the Easter Vigil practice of baptizing new converts at the Easter Vigil.

Note that all the languages referenced in the part of the Wikipedia article that I quoted are European languages. The article does not mention what names are used for Easter outside of Europe.

Among the various names used outside Europe are イースター, or Īsutā, pronounce "eesootaa," in Japan and 复活节, or Fùhuó jié in Mandarin, in China.

The word Easter is found in the English, German, and Slavonic languages. It has been used for more than a millenium in the countries where these languages are spoken--before and after the Protestant Reformation. Easter has a long history of Christian associations that far outweigh any theoretical pagan association. The Protestant Reformation began in Germany. Luther in his Easter sermons used the word Easter. He also used it in his hymn Christ lag in Todesbanden, or “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands.” It is used in the first and second Prayer Books of Edward VI and in the Homily, "Of the Resurrection for Easter Day," and numerous Biblically orthodox English hymns. The translators of the King James Bible also used it in their translation.

One might suspect from your repeated description of Easter as pagan that you are hoping to associate pagan and Easter in our readers' minds. However, the view that Easter is pagan is conjectural and speculative, based upon opinions formed without proof or sufficient evidence.