Saturday, December 06, 2014

More on God-wottery: the English vs. the American Anglo-Catholic experiences

Following up on Msgr. Barnes on "God-wottery" (English Anglo-Catholic alumni think thous and thees sound put on), which I posted yesterday, Msgr. Andrew Burnham writes:
I have enjoyed the correspondence on God Wottery (what a fabulous technical term for Tudorbethan!). It was a datum of Divine Worship Mark II that traditional ‘thou’ and ‘thee’ language be used and there were clear reasons for this, partly to do with the association of a corroding liberalism with modern Anglican liturgical reform. Thus the contemporary language psalter in Divine Worship Mark I abandons the Christocentric typology of the obedient, suffering servant in favour of the more generalised (male and female) poor and needy. Meanwhile Common Worship in England, though restoring much that was excised a quarter of a century earlier, puts side by side an ecumenical eucharistic order and a Calvinist communion service. Matters are made worse by the inclusion in the eucharistic order of the infamous Prayer H, which, if certain criteria were judged essential in a eucharistic prayer, would fail the test.

The other issue is the weight of Anglican liturgical patrimony in traditional language, in contrast to the modern corpus. One might hazard a third reason too: the experience of the Holy See of Anglican liturgy, especially since 1980, has made them more attuned to, and better informed about, North American praxis than about English praxis and certainly the American lobby has been more emphatic about traditional language and BCP 1928 America than about the modern effusions of 1979, as preserved in the BDW.

The way all this plays out in the two worlds is that North America, in Divine Worship Mark II, receives something which is in continuity with previous practice and expectations (broadly speaking), whereas England receives something which it has not really known since 1970. People in their sixties, and older, may remember it and a few congregations may have stuck with it, but most of us moved on to modern language in 1970 – 1980 if we were cautious – and now have solid experience for at least a generation of a modern-language eucharistic rite. Most clergy not yet retired know little else. Evensong is a slightly different matter: though Sunday Evensong fell away during this period, the only version of sung Evening Prayer that has persisted has been Evensong on an occasional basis. Thus the Prayer Book Offices (which had largely been superseded for private clerical use in Anglo-catholic circles by the Liturgy of the Hours) remain part of the story.

The reason why Anglo-catholics in 1970 went for modern language was quite simple. The moderates saw in the new Order (Series III then Rite A) an ecumenical consensus emerging, aided by the ICET/ELLC texts. The papalists saw in the new Order sufficient similarity to the Novus Ordo for them to proceed with a more extreme (but arguably no less ecumenical) agenda. Some presented their congregations with the Roman Mass but with an Anglican Eucharistic Prayer (usually the crypto-Hippolytan but sometimes the Interim Rite version). Others presented their congregations with the Anglican liturgy but with a Roman Eucharistic Prayer (usually II or III). There were reasons for both policies. The extremists (forgive the lingo) simply moved lock, stock, and smoking barrel to Roman liturgy.

If we examine the two cultures – American and English – we can see some of this played out in the way Prayer Book reform had taken place. Moderate American Anglo-catholics prized BCP 1928 America whereas English Anglo-catholics despised Proposed BCP 1927/8. Both had the full Eucharistic Prayer, with the epiclesis in the later position. This was thought tolerable in America but intolerable in England. I imagine that this was not entirely to do with Alexandrian v. Antiochene shapes but about authority. Certainly the English position was weakened by the Parliamentary rejection of 1927/8 and, ironically, the bishops’ position was weakened by their encouragement of use of parts of 1927/8. Sauce for the goose and sauce for the gander. Some of it was because of the English Missal, and ultramontane Anglo-catholicism in England was never mainly about language but about re-appropriating the Latin Rite. This they were able to do in 1970. The liturgy was in the vernacular and therefore useable.

The Ordinariate Use is therefore somewhere between a crisis and a challenge for the UK Ordinariate. Some of the younger clergy like it, because they see it as a large step towards the Reform of the Reform. They are likely to celebrate in a fashion which is very close to EF. The older clergy are perplexed because they are suddenly back in the mid-1960s. The middle ground is challenged because of the pastoral problems of presenting the laity with something rather different from, and rather less apparently Roman Catholic than what they had known as Anglicans. How all this plays out will be very interesting.

My own hopes had been that in the RSV 2nd Catholic Edition, our lectionary, there would have been a touchstone. I think that hasn’t quite worked out. Broadly the Englishman wants to say ‘pray’ where the American says ‘beseech’, and ‘grant’ rather than ‘vouchsafe’. We certainly have no more handmaids knocking around in England, except in the Ecce ancilla Domini. I don’t quite agree with Mgr Barnes (all this started with his blog) on ‘thou’, ‘thee’ and ‘thy’ but I can see where he is coming from. Many of us had hoped to continue to do what we were doing: enriching the modern Roman Mass (especially now that it is in nobler language) with some of the devotional pearls of the BCP. Collect for Purity. Humble Crumble. Prayer of Thanksgiving. We were more than happy to see restored such features as the Preparation, the traditional Offertory, and the Last Gospel – all options – but are struggling a bit with the cultural implications for our small communities of this weighty new liturgy.
In my view, the good news about the ordinariates' official services: "Some of the younger [English] clergy like it, because they see it as a large step towards the Reform of the Reform. They are likely to celebrate in a fashion which is very close to EF." The best of the American Anglican Use experience: eastward-facing with maniples so to the casual observer it looks like the Tridentine Mass. Part of Pope Benedict the Great's unfinished work restoring the Roman Rite.

My liturgical life in English is more the approach of the English Missal: Winfred Douglas' Monastic Diurnal; as Gabriel Sanchez says, old Catholic books translated by and for Anglicans, not really Anglican books or an attachment to uniquely Prayer Book things such as reading the Collect for Purity (actually a missal thing, in the priest's sacristy prayers) aloud in the Mass and the Prayer of Humble Access. (I know history in Newman's sense and have been to Catholic martyrs' shrines in England, so I don't miss Anglicanism as such. Hooray for Evensong, though.) Rather, in a way both papalist and very American, old Catholic prayers in the Prayer Book Tudorbethan I grew up with and associate with orthodoxy. So I use the old BCP for the Nicene Creed in English. I'm not an Anglican but a Catholic who uses Coverdale's psalter.

P.S. Most former Anglican bishops in the ordinariates are monsignori. That's great.

P.P.S. There's the sad irony, living down to detractors' expectations, that the old, famous extreme papalist parishes (Bourne Street, Kentish Town, Clerkenwell, etc.) ended up NOT coming into the church, with one happy exception, a faction that ran St. Clement's, Philadelphia (long the Episcopal Church's only papalist parish?) for many years, now Holy Trinity Catholic Church; not ordinariate, Tridentine. The Episcopalians got control of their building back; we got another Tridentine Mass. Everybody wins.

P.P.P.S. Unlike Catholic liberals, Anglican/Episcopal liberal high church loves our traditional Mass.


  1. Btw, it's worth noting, and spreading the word among priest friends the experience of Fr McDonald of the Southern Orders blog. Early this summer, Father was on a lengthy trip to Rome. During that time he had occasion to visit the CDF. While there, discussion of the new Ordinariate Order of Mass came up. Father inquired as to whether a non-Ordinariate priest might use the liturgy. He was told that would be a possibility if priests wrote for permission. Father posted about it back in May or June, I'd have to search for it, but I'm sure he'd be glad to share the details with any interested priest.

    1. Thanks for that news; praying that it's true. If so, it would be perfect for helping finish Pope Benedict's work restoring the Roman Rite, getting around the mainstream Catholic and liberal Catholic opposition to Latin (since it's not in Latin!), and making a dated but still effective appeal to ecumenism (make our liberal opponents look parochial and bigoted if they try to oppose prayers Anglican in origin).

    2. I think the Ordinariate liturgy was essential to Benedict's plan for universal - not just parochial - restoration all long. I think the floodgates would open if permission is granted. The only thing keeping the EF in its ghetto is Latin. The model has been smashed, and too many are Latin-phobic. But give them a traditional liturgy in hierarchic vernacular, protected by traditional rubrics, and it'll take off like a rocket.

    3. That's exactly my thinking, and a source has told me that was part of Benedict's plan with the ordinariates: primarily, part of universal restoration, so only secondarily ecumenical rescue.

  2. now Holy Trinity Catholic Church; not ordinariate, Tridentine. The Episcopalians got control of their building back; we got another Tridentine Mass

    Sadly, it wasn't "another" Tridentine Mass as the noon TLM at St. Paul's in South Philly (which I honestly think was a better location than Holy Trinity, even though I've not yet attended the latter) was cancelled at the same time.

    1. The Mass at St. Paul's WAS the core group from St. Clement's; I don't know if it began with them but I think so. So it wasn't canceled; it was just moved. St. Paul's has better parking: a lot across the street.


Leave comment