Thursday, April 27, 2017

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer and Prayer Book Revision in North America

By Robin G. Jordan

According to the GAFCON Theological Resource Group’s explication of the Jerusalem Declaration in Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today the 1662 Book of Common Prayer provides the standard against which the doctrine and liturgical usages of a province’s eucharistic rites should be measured. The further a particular eucharistic rite departs from this standard, the further it departs from authentic historic Anglicanism. The Anglican Church in North America, however, adopted a different standard, a standard which reduces the 1662 Prayer Book to one standard among a number of standards that may be used in measuring a rite’s doctrine and liturgical usages. These standards include the pre-Reformation Medieval Latin Mass and earlier eucharistic rites. In its standard the ACNA departs from that of GAFCON and authentic historical Anglicanism to embrace a standard compatible with Catholic Revivalist doctrine and liturgical usages. The 1662 Prayer Book is viewed as a standard only where it may be interpreted as embodying Catholic Revivalist doctrine and liturgical usages.

This standard is one of a number of ways that the ACNA departs from the Global Anglican Future Movement and authentic historic Anglicanism. As prominent Catholic Revivalist leader Jack Iker stated in so many words on returning from the first GAFCON conference, the ACNA would be marching to its own drummer, not to the beat of the GAFCON drum.

For North American clergy and congregations who are loyal to the teaching of the Bible and the principles of the historic Anglican formularies, such a loose standard is unacceptable. It permits the development of rites and services that go far beyond adaptation to local circumstances, in other words, indigenization, and which are in their doctrine and liturgical usages at odds with both biblical teaching and historic Anglican formulary principle. For these clergy and congregations the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies are the touchstone by which the authenticity of the Anglican character of a rite or service must be tested. They reject any revisionist reinterpretation of Anglicanism – liberal or unreformed Catholic – that, while pretending to accept this long-standing standard of doctrine and worship for Anglicans, in practice evades it.

The three eucharistic prayers that the Anglican Church in North America’s Liturgy Task Force and Bishops Review Committee have produced to date fall into this dubious category. These eucharistic prayers may employ textual material taken from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer but they and the eucharistic rite in which are found represent a significant departure from the doctrine and liturgical usages of the 1662 Prayer Book. Together with that eucharistic rite, they give liturgical form to a revisionist reinterpretation of Anglicanism.

The 1552-1662 Prayers of Consecration consist of eight elements – the Sursum Corda, a Preface, a variable Proper Preface, the Sanctus, a Prayer of Humble Access, a Commemoration of Christ’s death (amnesis), an Epiclesis, and the Words of Institution. To the 1662 Prayer of Consecration the Restoration bishops added the Manual Acts and a concluding Amen. The addition of these two elements is where the 1662 Consecration Prayer differs from the 1552.

In the 1552 and 1662 Orders of the Administration of the Lord’s Supper the Communion immediately follows the consecration. Both orders embody Biblical and Reformed doctrine. Dom Gregory Dix would begrudgingly acknowledge that with the 1552 Communion Service Archbishop Thomas Cranmer had created an order for the administration of the Holy Communion that effectively gave liturgical expression to the New Testament doctrine of salvation by grace alone by faith alone. The same observation is applicable to the 1662 Communion Service. Neither order contains anything suggestive of a sacrifice other than the references to Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross and our offering of our thanksgiving and praise and ourselves in response to that sacrifice.

While the 1552 and 1662 Prayers of Consecration are sometimes criticized for their narrow focus upon Christ’s suffering and death on the cross, this focus is consistent with the New Testament’s view of this particular event in salvation history. At the Last Supper our Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper as a remembrance of him, a remembrance of the breaking of his body and the shedding of his blood for our salvation. According to the apostle Paul, when we share the Lord’s Supper, we proclaim his death until he returns. The bread and the cup are a participation in his body and blood, that is, in the benefits of his saving death. 1552 and 1662 Prayers of Consecration echo all these themes.

The only reference to sacrifice in the 1552 and 1662 Prayers of Consecration is to what our Lord did for us on the cross. The articulation of the Church’s response to that sacrifice follows the Communion and is an articulation of the Church’s response to the benefits of the sacrifice and the believer’s appropriation of its benefits by faith. In the 1552 and 1662 Communion Services the reference to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and the articulation of the Church’s response are kept separate to avoid any confusion of the two – a problem which Cranmer encountered in 1549 Communion Service. This confusion is characteristic of all subsequent Prayers of Consecration that are modeled at least in part upon the 1549 Canon. This includes the three ACNA eucharistic prayers.

In the case of the three ACNA eucharistic prayers the confusion is not accidental but deliberate since a careful examination of the three eucharistic prayers reveals that they embody a doctrine of eucharistic sacrifice very close to if not identical with that of the Roman Catholic Church. According to this doctrine, through the priest Christ offers himself under the forms of bread and wine to God at every celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The sacrifice offered on the altar and the sacrifice offered on the cross are one and the same. This is the very doctrine that Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformers rejected on solid biblical grounds. For the same reason the use of these eucharistic prayers is unacceptable to North American clergy and congregations who are loyal to the teaching of the Bible and the principles of the historic Anglican formularies.

The 1552 and 1662 Prayers of Consecration are also sometimes criticized for its apparent lack of an epiclesis. This criticism is unfounded. An epiclesis in its basic sense is a humble petition to God and the two Prayers of Consecration contain such a petition, “Hear us, O merciful Father, we most humbly beseech thee….” The 1552 Baptismal Order has its parallel in the petition, “Regard, we beseech thee, the supplications of thy congregation….” Both petitions humbly ask that those receiving the sacrament benefit from receiving it.

While the 1552 and 1662 Baptismal Orders recognize that God has sanctified all water for the purpose of baptism by the baptism of his Son in the Jordan River, the Restoration bishops added the extraneous petition, “sanctify this water to the mystical washing away of sin,” which is not only unnecessary but also unbiblical. It asks God to set apart what he has already set apart, suggesting as it does that God’s sanctification of water by his Son’s baptism was temporary and that God needs to renew its sanctification for each baptism. We find no passage in Scripture that remotely suggests that the early disciples offered prayer asking God to sanctify the water in which they baptized new converts or which otherwise provides precedence for the practice. Even primitive Catholic doctrine does not require such prayer in order for a baptism to be valid. This petition further seeks to explain how those receiving the sacrament benefit from receiving it, contradicting the connection that the Scriptures make between baptism and a clear conscience.

Archbishop Cranmer dropped the invocation of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the elements from the 1552 Prayer of Consecration because the practice has no basis in the Scriptures, as well as suggested that the elements underwent a change in substance when they were set apart for sacramental use. According to the Scriptures our Lord blessed the bread and the cup before he gave them to his disciples at the Last Supper. However, the Scriptures also tell us that he gave thanks to God over the bread and the cup before he gave them to the disciples. When the Scriptures speak of blessing, it is either referring to blessing God’s Name or blessing people. It is never refers to blessing inanimate objects such as bread and wine or water. The Jewish practice at the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry was to bless God’s Name before breaking bread at the beginning of a meal and likewise to bless his Name before sharing the final cup of wine. When the Scriptures describe our Lord as blessing the bread and the cup, they are referring to this practice, which the Scriptures themselves make plain in describing him as also giving thanks over the bread and cup.

Typically criticism of the 1552 and 1662 epicleses boil down to their omission of an invocation of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the elements. In this regard the 1552-1662 Prayers of Consecration are far more Scriptural than eucharistic prayers that contain such an invocation.

A contemporary English eucharistic prayer modeled upon the 1552-1662 Prayers of Consecration might look something like this eucharistic prayer.
Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks and praise to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is indeed right, it is a good and joyful thing, at all times and in all places to give you thanks and praise, gracious Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.

A special preface proper to the feast or season (see below) may be said.

You sent your Son Jesus Christ to redeem us from sin and death and to make us inheritors of everlasting life; that when he shall come again in power and great triumph to judge the world, we may with joy behold his appearing, and in confidence may stand before him.

Christmas; the Presentation of Christ in the Temple
You gave your only Son Jesus Christ to be born for us. By the work of the Holy Spirit he was made true man of the flesh of the Virgin Mary his mother. He was without sin, to make us free from all sin.

In coming to dwell among us as man, your Son Jesus Christ revealed the radiance of your glory and brought us out of darkness into your own marvelous light.

Your Son Jesus Christ was in every way tempted as we are; yet remained sinless. By his grace we are able to overcome our sinful desires and to live not for ourselves, but for our Lord who died for us and rose from the dead.

Passiontide; Holy Week
Though he is one with you and the Holy Spirit, your Son Jesus Christ humbled himself and was obedient, even to death on a cross, that we might have life through him.

But chiefly we praise you for the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ. 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.

After his glorious resurrection, your Son Jesus Christ revealed himself to all his apostles. In their sight, he ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us, so that we might also ascend to where he is and reign with him in glory.

Pentecost (or Whitsun)
By the sure promise of your Son Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit came down from heaven upon the apostles with the sound of a mighty wind and in tongues of fire. The Holy Spirit came to teach them and to lead them into all truth. He enabled them to speak other languages and gave them continuing boldness to preach fervently the gospel to all nations. By that gospel we have been brought out of darkness and error into the light and into true knowledge of you and of your Son Jesus Christ.


When your Son Jesus Christ had ascended into heaven and was enthroned at your right hand, he poured out the promised Holy Spirit on his chosen people. At this the whole earth greatly rejoices, praising your name with many tongues.

Trinity Sunday
You are one God, one Lord, not one person but three persons in one substance. What we believe of the glory of the Father, we believe also of the glory of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, without any difference or inequality.

Other occasions
Your Son Jesus Christ is the true high priest who has cleansed us from sin and made us a royal priesthood called to serve you forever.

And so, with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we praise your glorious Name and join their unending hymn:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.

This anthem may also be used.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

This prayer of preparation may be said here or immediately after the declaration of God’s forgiveness following the confession of sin.

[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 be cleansed from sin and forevermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.]

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in your loving 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 he made a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world; and instituted and in his holy gospel commanded us to continue a remembrance of his precious death until his coming again.

Hear us, merciful Father, and grant that we who receive these gifts of your creation, this bread and this wine, according to our Savior’s command, in remembrance of his suffering and death, may be partakers of his body and blood.

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

The bread may be broken here

In the same way after the meal, he 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. Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me.

For as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Christ has died,
Christ is risen,
Christ will come again.

Renew us by your Holy Spirit, unite us in the Body of your Son, and bring us with all your people into the joy of your eternal kingdom.

All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ. By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory is yours, almighty Father, now and forever. Amen.
The rubrics permit the optional use of the Benedictus with the Sanctus. The prayer of preparation is an adaptation of the 1552-1662 Prayers of Humble Access and addresses a longstanding criticism of the two prayers which is that they too narrowly define the cleansing power of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. In addition to the basic elements of the 1552-1662 Prayers of Consecration, this eucharistic prayer contains three new elements – a Memorial Acclamation, a Petition for the Church, and a concluding Doxology. When desired, the prayer may be shortened by the omission of these three elements and may conclude with an Amen immediately after the Words of Institution. The Amen may also be omitted.

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