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THE TRIVIAL ROUND, THE COMMON TASK

 

For a few years now, Episcopalians have been offered a variety of extra liturgical texts and hymns with which to supplement the Prayer Book. I sometimes think that we are becoming more and more like denominations which do not enjoy the heritage of Common Prayer. Clergy seem to want to introduce new elements in weekly worship and to enjoy designing services which contain much which is not familiar and not normal.

 

I really don’t see how we are to be nurtured and grow in faith and love, from which comes all good works, unless we embrace our Prayer Book and permit its words sink in to become the bedrock of our “spirituality”. Common Prayer requires liturgical texts which are normal or at least that has been the source and foundation of the Anglican Way until now.

 

If clergy and worship committees now emulate non-liturgical churches and visit upon eucharistic communities constant change, we will lose that which I believe to be one of the gifts Anglicanism has enjoyed: to be a people rooted and grounded in the liturgical heritage of the Western Church within the Anglican tradition.
Twice in the last six years, if I may be personal, I have been gravely ill –   largely as a result of the cure rather than the disease – and it has been the spiritual foundation in which I have grown throughout my life, the words of the familiar liturgy, the psalms and prayers, the sacrament brought to me when I couldn’t be with the people of God, which has sustained me. I would commend the good habit of Daily Offices, of Word and Sacrament which form the treasury of corporate and personal devotion, and urge that we value and treasure the normality of a fixed liturgy to which we are heirs. I am not opposing liturgical flexibility or innovation, as long as it is remembered that it is familiarity in rite and ceremony which sticks in our consciousness and through which we grow “into the fulness of the stature of Christ.”

2 Responses

  1. I have just got home from presiding at Evening Prayer with three parishioners in a freezing cold church. No matter how cold it is I always feel warm and surrounded by past worshippers as we recite the Nunc Dimittis. The 1662 bcp reaches back far behind the rupture of the 16th Century. My little 13th Century church continues to echo to words and prayers that are centuries. Old and ever new. I think many churches in the West are realising that many babies were thrown out with the bath water in the ’60s. A gentle rediscovery of prayers and common theological language is happening.

  2. Thank you David.

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