For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The Anglican Missal

As per Wikipedia, "The Anglican Missal was first produced in England in 1921 by the Society of Saints Peter and Paul. The book reflected a particular way, drawn from the traditional Roman Rite, of celebrating the Eucharist according to Anglican liturgical use." Apparently the subsequent editions, in the shape of its offspring The English Missal, became more and more Roman, setting aside the Cranmerian Collects where these were overly interpretative of their Latin originals, and replacing them with more correct versions; the Roman Canon was much more strictly translated and followed; and the Sundays were denominated "After Pentecost", instead of "After Trinity" as in the Book of Common Prayer.

I have never been defrauded on the internet: books that I order have arrived thus far in my experience of online shopping. I wasn't particularly hopeful this time, though. I went looking for the Anglican Missal, to find some expensive £40 dodgy computerised reproductions with terrible reviews ("misprints everywhere! I've been fooled!" said one review). And then, lo! I found a sole copy for sale but without a photograph of the book, said to be an ex-library copy, and to have seen better days. It was a mere £11. I half expected - if anything turned up at all - to have a plastic bag arrive with loose leaves of paper inside along with a free-floating battered cover. I found a Sorry You Weren't At Home card from Royal Mail on my return from work yesterday, so I went early this morning and in trepidation to the Woking postal depot.

"Joy cometh in the morning", says the Psalm...

Alright, maybe it was a little beaten up, but with the nice embossed leather cover with the Agnus Dei, and also a title page to prove it was the original 1921 edition printed by the Society of SS. Peter and Paul, I wasn't going to complain about a few D.I.Y additions to the tabs in yellowed sellotape, nor frown at the perished coloured ribbons tied together in a matted dreadlock.

Here is the view of tomorrow's (Passion Sunday) Propers. I can see why Anglo-Catholics weren't quite happy with it and tried to standardise it: the central part of the Missal, with the Canon and so on, looks a bit experimental and probably needed a bit of tidying up, as it is so much tied to the BCP Communion rite that one ends up with two Glorias (or Gloriae?) in the Eucharistic Rite, including one at the end before the Last Gospel. But I suppose it is easy to be critical of a first step; it is still a lot more Catholic looking - in the sense of faithful to immemorial and Apostolic tradition - than the Novus Ordo. Here in this volume are the complete set of traditional Mass lections in sacral English, along with Propers, Prefaces and the like, with a full Easter Vigil with the Twelve Prophecies, and a section containing the plainchant for Holy Week, and a Pentecost Vigil with Six Prophecies, and... oh, it makes me too happy. But - one asks - why, oh why, when the CDF were, it seems, very encouraging towards a maximally Anglican and BCP influenced Ordinariate liturgy, was this excellent piece of patrimony not carried into the Ordinariate almost in a piece? Why try to mix and match a traditional Rite of Mass with a non-traditional triennial lectionary, when all the hard work of translation has already been done here?

I am immensely thankful for the Ordinariate Use, a fact that comes home to me sharply every time I hear the Novus Ordo said with one of the non-traditional alternative Eucharistic prayers: I give thanks for it every time I kneel and hear the words "Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open..." or "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us". However, I suppose that for everything one gets, one wants more. Perfectionism is a bit of an unforgiving trait. I have been thinking today, inspired by a browse in the Anglican Missal, and - relative to the current Ordinariate Rite - this is what I would wish were kept intact, and what I wish were changed:

(1) The Decalogue kept as an option instead of the Kyrie - perhaps for Sundays in Lent and Advent, Ash Wednesday and Ember Days, with Christ's summary of the Law as a Lenten Ferial option.

(2) Change from a twofold to a threefold Kyrie.

(3) The Cranmerian Collects (not the BDW Collects) with minor alterations and replacement where necessary: there seems no reason why one couldn't simply have two collects - one a faithful translation of the Roman, one Cranmer - where Cranmer simply made up a new Collect. It wouldn't be as drastic as the cut and paste - nay, let us say shredder and furnace - approach of the Novus Ordo to the old Collects, for goodness' sake.

(4) The Lessons: switch simply to the lesson scheme as set out in the Anglican Missal, with approval of these particular lections for the KJV for liturgical purposes. (The KJV usage has already been done for the Last Gospel.) Don't try to splice in a Novus Ordo lectionary where it doesn't belong: and on that theme, the traditional Introits etc. are all there in ready made and appropriate English in the Anglican Missal too. Import them.

(5) The Kalendar of the Saints: why can't a pragmatic approach be taken, instead of an all or nothing, one or t'other, new vs. old opposition? Traditional calendar until c. 1930, then for any canonisations since then, add them in around the existing feasts where possible? In that way, one could keep traditional dates that carry a good deal of meaning in their calendar placement e.g. St. Thomas the Apostle on 21st December, without ignoring the raising to the altars of, say, Maximilian Kolbe, Edith Stein and Sister Faustina.

(6) Encourage Bidding Prayers rather than Prayers of the Faithful: exhortation of the faithful to prayer and to include the Church, the weak and the Saints in their sacrifice rather than a series of intercessory petitions. Should the Penitential Rite be understood as leading on naturally from these exhortations, as the next on a series of steps (rather than something essentially different from the Bidding Prayers) that lead up the mountain of the Lord towards Holy Communion, the next step being the Offertory? Perhaps a brief prayer could be inserted to connect the two to get this idea across, making one's Confession an extension of the Bidding Prayer; and maybe Monsignor Barnes is right about the Prayer of Humble Access being in the wrong place (see the Ordinariate Portal magazine, February edition). Should it be after the Penitential Rite, and before the Offertory, as the final prayer of preparation before one starts on the final ascent to the Holy Temple and the Altar of Mercy, impressing on those who intend to communicate their unworthiness and the fact that they stand on the threshold of the Holy of Holies?

(6) The Offertory prayers and the Eucharistic Prayer: keep it simple and traditional. One option (you know which one), not many: and encourage a conversational volume of recitation, not a volume and style to project to the people. It is being said to God; and, incidentally, can be said more briskly but still carefully at a lower pitch.

(7) For the reply to "Pray brethren and sisters...", I would prefer the Sarum response over the traditional Roman for meaning and beauty, and for the theologically subtle and profound comment on the unified action of the Trinity, priest and people in the Eucharist: "May the grace of the Holy Spirit illuminate thy heart and thy lips, and the Lord accept worthily this sacrifice of praise from thy hands for our sins and offences".

(8) Change the Thanksgiving After Communion prayer, "Almighty and everlasting God, we most heartily thank thee...", from a prayer for the people to say, to a prayer for the priest only, said (like the Canon) in an audible but not projected tone. It is just right in what it says, but too long, I think, for recitation in unison. Perhaps it could even be allowed sotto voce for High Mass celebrations where it might jar after a choral work during Holy Communion.

(9) Keep the Last Gospel, with a bit of freedom about its usage, e.g. allowing the Gospel of a major feast to be read where there is a clash - a occurrence I think it is called - in the Kalendar.

I finish this post with a photo the rather splendid final page of the Anglican Missal, to which I return with unsatiated satisfaction, if that makes sense. Maybe it wasn't a bargain - I'm really not sure, but I suspect I've been very blessed. But if you, dear reader, would like this copy, I am heartily sorry, but I am unmoveable. Come with cheques, come even with guns if you wish. Like Solomon, who said when speaking of another matter in his Canticle of Canticles, I say, "if a man would give all the substance of his house... it would utterly be contemned".

P.S. I almost forgot: this book was presented to (and it gives signs of having been used at the altar) Fr. Alec Vidler in 1923, who started life as an Anglo-Catholic and then went a bit wobbly about miracles: his favourite theologian was said to be a certain Mr. Paul Tillich. All the same, it is a Provenance I am pleased about: he was a correspondent of an honoured fellow Ulsterman, C.S. Lewis.

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