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1928 Prayer Book

March 20, 2009

When the American Episcopal Church brought out its new Prayer Book, it banned the use of the 1928 Book. This caused a new wave of people exiting ECUSA. How much wiser it would have been to make the new Book an alternative use, as the Church of England has with its modern liturgies. Every one of them is an alternative to the 1662 Prayer Book.

The experience of the Church of Rome is instructive here. After Vatican II, the Tridentine Mass was forbidden. That Mass which had sustained centuries of Catholic devotion and nurtured hundreds of saints was outlawed in favour of a Mass which in almost every way was a poor watered-down substitute. Not just thousands but millions of Roman Catholics left the Church in the years following Vatican II – not only because of the new Mass, but often because of the “nuns on guitars” culture that accompanied it.

But now, Pope Benedict is encouraging Catholics to restore the old rite to an honoured place in the Church’s worship. And he has extended forgiveness and given a welcome back to some who went into formal schism because of the new Mass.

I wish I could believe that the Episcopal Church would show a similar wisdom and rescind the ban on the 1928 Book. Of  course, that in itself would not heal all the schisms that have been taking place, but it would signal a new openness to an adult ability to live  with differing opinions and different theologies.

But I do not believe that will happen. There are too many liberals in places of influence in the Church  whose liberalism only stretches to those who agree with them. How this differs from Fascism I find it hard to understand. 

But there is hope. I find that it is often young people who are drawn to the traditional Mass, who love the numinous worship, the old English of Cranmer, and Mozart Masses. One day, these youngsters may oust the aging hippies who love to go to General Convention and then, who knows, tolerance and a rejoicing in diversity may come back.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 20, 2009 2:03 am

    I remember some dramatic battles between a former Bishop of Michigan and two 1928 BCP parishes in Detroit in the 1980s. One parish went independent, but the other thrives now and is using the 1928 book completely, having gone back even to the 1928 Sunday lessons as given in that BCP. I believe this is fine with the current bishop as long as they use 1979 Rite I when he visits. The reconciliation between diocese and parish was sweetest when diocesan convention was held there, and while the main Eucharist had to be 1979 Rite I, it was close enough to foster a deep sense of unity, and Healey Willan’s Sanctus was never so joyfully sung…the roof nearly flew off! I don’t see any reason to ban the 1928 from being used.

    • saintclementsblog permalink*
      March 20, 2009 2:12 am

      That’s good to hear, Scott.

  2. March 20, 2009 4:24 am

    But now, Pope Benedict is encouraging Catholics to restore the old rite to an honoured place in the Church’s worship. And he has extended forgiveness and given a welcome back to some who went into formal schism because of the new Mass.

    Hooray for Pope Benedict and his Catholic revival in the Roman communion.

    To be fair to the SSPX as I always try to be, I hope, with everyone, was it formal schism, Father? Unlike the German Old Catholics in 1871, Archbishop Lefebvre and the four bishops he consecrated never intended to set up a separate church in principle. It was just a canonical glitch, one that the Pope is correct in trying to fix.

    • saintclementsblog permalink*
      March 20, 2009 2:13 pm

      I love your phrase “the Catholic revival in the Roman Communion”! Now in the Anglican Communion, maybe we need a new Oxford Movement.
      As for the SSPX, I think if any Bishop begins to consecrate other Bishops in defiance of his Metropolitan’s authority, it looks like a schism to me. But schisms can be bridged, thank God.

  3. John White permalink
    March 20, 2009 9:10 pm

    I believe there was in a later General Convention a resolution passed that allows for the use of the 1928 BCP under the condition that the parish must be given permission by their bishop.

  4. saintclementsblog permalink*
    March 20, 2009 9:17 pm

    I didn’t know that, John. But nothing that important should be left to the whim of a single Bishop.
    However, since at St Clement’s we use a mixture of the Roman rite and the 1928 Prayer Book, I suppose we got permission for that long before I arrived. Or maybe not – defiance of Bishops is a good old-fashioned Anglo Catholic principle!

  5. Bob Glassmeyer permalink
    March 21, 2009 2:24 pm

    Dear Father!

    Your blog is delightful! I’m so glad you started it! This particular entry I can certainly relate to, and I remember you published similar thoughts in the St. Clement’s newsletter.

    Years ago, when I was a seminarian at the Josephinum, we had a contingent of guys with a particular agenda, and it was very facscist in spirit. Anyone with any kind of traditional piety was suspect, and God help you if you wore black socks more than twice a week! Not only did these students keep watch for any vestige of traditional Catholicism, but the faculty and administration did, too. It was very sad. Thankfully, there were many good things that outshone those unhealthy practices.

    It’ll be interesting to see the developments in the Roman Church with the resurgance of the Extraordinary form of the Mass. I hope the pendulum doesn’t swing too far in the other direction, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. Surely it takes time for a balance of sorts.

    Like in your situation with the 1928 Prayer Book, Father, I think if the 1970 Missal was proposed as an alternative, rather than implemented the way it was, we’d be living in a very different way in the Church.

  6. clementone permalink
    March 25, 2009 3:00 am

    Out in Liberal-Land I find I have to be very careful about extolling the virtues of traditional liturgy. People are afraid that I must be saying that it’s the only right way of doing things, ergo theirs is wrong. Probably they think *I* think that way because that’s how *they* think about the way *they* do things. They can’t understand how one can value a liturgy without thinking everyone else should follow it. They think it’s a zero-sum game: any positive comment about another way is a negative comment on theirs. Very threatened, very defensive indeed. I always say: I think there should be a solid place in the Anglican church for traditional liturgy–not necessarily at the center, but not persecuted, either. It’s not for everyone, and for some, it’s not for all the time (not everyone wants to drink Champagne at every meal), but the Anglican communion would be far, far poorer without it. I have found that this stance is new to many people and they are surprised by it, and even by their own agreement with it. They are just not used to thinking charitably, it seems!

  7. Rodney permalink
    March 25, 2009 6:37 pm

    Fr. Reid,

    A blessed Feast of the Annunciation to you, Fr. Wall, and St. Clement’s.

    What a pleasure to see the new blog. Many blessings on this new venture.

    It is also interesting to note how many ‘traditional’ bishops forced the use of the ’79 BCP in their dioceses as well. To confirm an earlier post, although PECUSA’s 2000 General Convention in Denver had far more ‘pressing’ matters to address, it did actually apologize for the grief caused by the sudden, forced change of prayer books with the ’79, and allowed the use of the ’28 once again (under what provisions I’m not aware).

    My wife and I look forward to our next visit to St. Clement’s. Blessings during this Lenten season.

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