Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Anglican Network in Canada's Trial Service of Holy Communion Marks Its First Year of Use This Coming Easter


By Robin G. Jordan

This past Easter the Anglican Network in Canda (ANiC) authorized for trial use in its churches in Canada and the United States for a period of two years what the ANiC describes as a modern language version of the 1552 communion service. In this article I examine the service, compare it with the 1552 service, and recommend a number of changes which I believe would make the service more flexible for use on the North American mission field and would improve the service in other ways.

The service is posted online in PDF format in two editions--a Canadian edition and a US edition. The main difference between the two editions is spelling. 

The order of the service is essentially that of the 1552 communion service but with a number of additions and alterations. These additions and alterations include the omission of the Lord’s Prayer at the very beginning of the service, the addition of an optional sentence of Scripture or opening acclamation in the place of the initial Lord’s Prayer, the addition of the Summary of the Law as an alternative to the Decalogue, the addition of a Psalm between the Readings, the addition of an Old Testament Lesson, the substitution of a contemporary version of the Nicene Creed for the traditional version, the addition of the Peace, the addition of the exordium, “all praise and glory belong  to you…” to the Post-Sanctus, the addition of the Benedictus to the Sanctus, the substitution of the 1559 Words of Administration for the 1552 Words of Administration, and the addition of third Post-Communion Prayer as an alternative to the second Post-Communion Prayer.

All of these additions and alterations come from later Anglican service books from the 1559 Prayer Book on. Most of the additions and alterations are optional so it is possible to approximate the 1559 communion service but unfortunately not the 1552 service. The 1559 communion service was the communion service of the Protestant Elizabethan Settlement.

Missing are the 1552 Words of Distribution and the Declaration on Kneeling. Otherwise the service is substantially the 1552 communion service, as was the 1559 service.

The service retains one very important feature of the 1552 communion service. The distribution of the communion elements immediately follows the Words of Institution. Cranmer believed that nothing should come between the consecration of the elements and communion itself. The omission of even an amen at the conclusion of the Words of Institution is integral to his theology of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

The 1552 communion service is important because unlike the 1549 communion service it is thoroughly reformed. It gives liturgical expression to the New Testament doctrine of justification by grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone. It embodies the mature thinking of Archbishop Bishop Cranmer as a Reformed theologian on the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. In its 1559 form it was the communion service of the post-Reformation Church of England for almost a hundred years. In its 1662 form it comprises along with the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and the 1661 Ordinal the longstanding doctrinal and worship standard of the Anglican Church.

I recommend the following changes in the service:

1. The addition of a rubric which states that, where they occur, the directions to stand, sit, or kneel are suggestions only. This would give the service greater flexibility for use in non-traditional settings on the North American mission field.

2. The addition of a rubric stating that hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs may be sung with this service other than where provision is made for them.

3. The addition of a rubric permitting the substitution of metrical versions of the psalms and canticles in place of their prose versions.

4. The addition of a rubric permitting the singing or recitation of a psalm or canticle or the singing of an anthem between the Readings if two Readings are used or between the first two Readings if three Readings are used. Most anthems are based upon the psalms or other passages of Scripture and make effective reflections on the Reading preceding it and/or following it. A small choir or music group might lead the congregation in the singing of a metrical psalm or canticle at this point in the service. Or it might sing a metrical psalm or canticle as a simple anthem
.
5. The addition of a rubric permitting the introduction of the gospel reading with a sung alleluia or some other gospel acclamation. Even a small congregation with limited musical resources can learn a number of alleluias and gospel acclamations.

6. The addition of a rubric permitting the substitution of the Apostles’ Creed for the Nicene Creed. This feature is found in a number of the older Anglican service books as well as the more recent ones.

7. The addition of a rubric permitting the recitation of the Creed before or after the Sermon. This would give worship planners the flexibility to follow the proclamation of God’s Word immediately with its explication and to use the Creed as an affirmation of faith in response to the Sermon. A number of the more recent Anglican service books permit the recitation of the Creed in either position
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8. The addition of a rubric permitting the use of alternative forms for the Prayers for Christ’s Church printed in the service.

9. The relocation of the Benedictus from the position after the Sanctus to the notes. Because it is printed with the Sanctus, it is likely to be used without much thought.  The Benedictus carries theological freight that worship planners may wish to consider before they decide to use it. It has strong associations with the medieval Catholic doctrines of transubstantiation and the sacrifice of the Mass. It was omitted from the 1552 communion service in its original, 1559, and 1662 forms.

10. The addition of a rubric permitting the substitution of one of the following alternative Prayers of Humble Access for the one printed in the service:

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 eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ,
and to drink his blood,
that we may evermore dwell in him,
and he in us. Amen.


or

We do not presume to come to your table, merciful Lord,
trusting in our own righteousness,
but in your boundless goodness and mercy
We are not even worthy
to eat the crumbs under your table.
But you are the same Lord, always rich in mercy.
Enable us by faith to eat
the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ,
and to drink his blood,
that we may be cleansed from sin
and forever dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

The first alternative Prayers of Humble Access is found in An Australian Prayer Book (1978). A Prayer Book for Australia (1995), and Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings (2012). The second alternative Prayer of Humble Access comes from Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings (2012).

11.The addition of rubric permitting the use of the 1552 Words of Distribution as an alternative to the 1559 Words of Distribution as in An Australian Prayer Book (1978) and Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings (2012). The 1552 Words of Distribution should also be printed in the service where they will not be overlooked. For example:

Instead of these words the following invitation together with the following alternative words of distribution may be used; and the communicant may answer Amen

The Minister may say:

Come let us eat and drink in remembrance that Christ died for us, and feed on him in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving. 

The bread is given with these words:

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

The cup is given with these words:

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

12. The addition of a rubric permitting the use of other versions of the Gloria in excelsis or when appropriate, another suitable hymn of praise. This would give the worship planners the flexibility to use a musical setting of the Gloria in excelsis familiar to the congregation; a metrical version of the Gloria, set to a familiar hymn tune; or a spiritual song based upon the Gloria such as the “Peru Gloria;” or a general or seasonal hymn of praise. Jesus and the disciples sung a psalm of praise before they departed into the night.

In addition to these changes the Declaration on Kneeling should be included in the notes after the service along with a concise explanation of Cranmer’s theology of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

I believe that the ANiC should be commended for authorizing this service for trial use in its churches. It is the first Holy Communion service produced by a subdivision of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), which conforms to the doctrinal and worship principles of the Anglican Formularies and stands in the heritage of the English Reformation and the Protestant Elizabethan Settlement. 

All of the rites and services that the ACNA has produced at the provincial level have been Catholic Revivalist in their doctrine and practices even though Catholic Revivalism is only one of the schools of thought represented in the ACNA. The adherents of this school of thought appear to be taking advantage of their positions of authority in the province to impose their ideology upon the province at the expense of the other schools of thought represented in the province.

Whether this service will be incorporated into the 2019 Proposed Prayer Book or the ANiC will be permitted to continue to use the service upon final approval of the 2019 Proposed Prayer Book is unknown. The 2019 Proposed Prayer Book is far from unitive, favoring, as it does, the doctrine and practices of the Catholic Revivalist school of thought over those of the other schools of thought represented in the ACNA.

What we are observing is a repetition of what happened in the Continuing Anglican Movement in the 1970s and 1980s. The Catholic Revivalists in the first Anglican Church in North America and in the several jurisdictions into which it fragmented seized the place of power in these jurisdictions, entrenched their own views, and marginalized those who did not agree with them.

The omission of this service from the 2019 Proposed Prayer Book and the discontinuation of its use in the ANiC in my opinion would constitute further grounds for the establishment of a second alternative North American Anglican province, one which is faithful to the Bible and the Anglican Formularies and fully Anglican in its doctrine and practices. 

3 comments:

Rev L F Nowen said...

Thanks for your comments on this service. As we will soon begin using it, I'll consider your suggestions and perhaps pass them on to the committee.

Alan Wilmot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin G. Jordan said...

As you can see, most of the changes that I suggest are simply refinements. There was one other suggestion that I overlooked. It is to add a rubric permitting the use of a prayer for mission or another suitable prayer immediately before the Blessing or immediately after the Collect of the Day as in the 1926 Irish Prayer Book. This provision helps to eliminate the liturgical clutter, typically in the form of prayers and devotions after the Blessing, which has a tendency to accumulate at the conclusion of the service and to unnecessarily lengthens it. The Anglican Church of Kenya’s Our Modern Services (2002, 2003) has an excellent selection of prayers for mission, which are very appropriate for use after the Collect for the Day or before the Blessing