Saturday, May 22, 2010

An American Use?

Some years ago the Anglican Society published a little booklet that outlined a ceremonial to be used with the 1928 BCP Communion service which they entitled "An American Use." In outline it was somewhat similar to the forms set forth by the Alcuin Club and by Dr Dearmer in the Parson's Handbook. It was also vocal in its defense of the integrity of the Anglican Rite, something which I fear many Continuers fight shy of because they have been taught that, when it come to liturgy, the Rome of Pius V and Pius X is right. This is the product of that unfortunate tendancy to look to Rome as the sole standard of Catholicity. And that, to put it mildly, is a mistake.

However, given the history of the Continuing Anglican Movement, I feel that one needs to be subtle about reintroducing the bulk of Anglicans to the idea that their liturgical tradition has an integrity and a ceremonial of its own. After all, we do not need another series of divisive liturgy wars. The tide has been running in favour of the Romanized version of Anglicanism for some fifty to sixty years which is about as long as the "Ritual Notes and Water" approach has been dominant. That said, I cannot help but feel that the times are changing.

Firstly, I think the Roman Catholic Anglican Ordinariates are going to syphon off the more enthusiastic and active Anglo-Papalists to Rome. This will be healthy for them, as it will enable them to realise the full logic of their position. Secondly, this will tend to make the unhypenated Anglican identity stronger within the Continuum, but this constituency will need to be educated. Thirdly, thanks to the late Peter Toon and others there is a greater awareness of "Classical Anglicanism" than there was at the end of, say, the 1980s. So what are the implications of this for the liturgy?

The first thing is to train more of the clergy to allow the BCP to be the BCP. In other words, we need to teach them a ceremonial that fits the BCP and does not cram it into the straight-jacket of someone else's ceremonial. The second step should be for some parishes to opt for being very definitely - even narrowly - BCP in their liturgical Use, though I hope that the Bishops and Rectors involved will use their collective loaves and authorize some suitable additional resources for minor holydays and Holy Week - for example "Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 1963" and the 1967 Scottish "Lent and Holy Week" booklet. Thirdly, there needs to be a concerted effort to reclaim the "Prayer Book Catholic" liturgical tradition from the taint of moderation and liberalism it has picked up in both the Church of England and TEC.

In order to get the ball rolling, so to speak, I want to conclude this posting with a few notes on the Scottish/American Prayer of Consecration.

1. Origins.
The Canon or Prayer of Consecration used in the 1928 BCP derives from that of the Non-Jurors as revised by Bishop Rattray in 1746 and 1764. The structure of the prayer is modelled on the Pseudo-Clementine Liturgy, which exerted a great fascination on early eighteenth century Anglican. In Pseudo-Clement, the Words of Institution are placed before the invocation of the Holy Spirit. However, much of the detailed wording derives from Cranmer's text of 1549 as modified in 1552 and 1637.

2. Structure.
The opening words of the 1764/1928 Prayer of Consecration are intended to follow on from the Sanctus. It is therefore best not to intrude the "Benedictus, qui venit" between the Sanctus and the Prayer of Consecration as the "Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High" of the Sanctus is echoed in the "All Glory be to thee" at the beginning of the Canon. After a brief passage stating the basis of the sacrament, the prayer passes first to the words of Institution; then to the Amnesis, which states what we commemorate by this sacrament; and then to the Invocation of the Word and Holy Spirit, which represents the climax of the consecratory monologue. This is then followed by the Oblation of ourselves as sanctified by the Eucharistic gifts to be a "reasonable, holy and living sacrifice." The prayer closes with a doxology.

3. Ceremonial.
After removing the cover from the Ciborium and the Pall or folded Corporal from the Chalice, the celebrant begins the Prayer of Consecration in a clear, loud voice opening and raising, then closing and lowering his hands at the opening words. He then continues with his hands in the "Orans" position until he reaches the words "until his coming again." He then performs the manual acts as prescribed in the BCP making sure that he lifts the large wafer to about face height to perform the fraction then replace it on the paten. He should also briefly raise the chalice to about face height at the words "he took the Cup." In the next paragraph he may elevate the paten and chalice together to about shoulder height at the words "which we now offer unto thee." This is a well attested Non-Juror custom that was preserved in the Scottish Episcopal Church until late in the nineteenth century. At the Invocation the celebrant should first join his hands and bow at the words "we humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father." He should sign the cross over the paten and chalice together either once or thrice at the words "bless and sanctify with thy word and Holy Spirit." The priest then continues with his hands extended in the Orans position. At the end of the prayer he bows at the words "through Jesus Christ our Lord" then elevates the paten and chalice together whilst he recites the rest of the doxology. After the "Amen" he replaces the paten and chalice on the Corporal, bows (or genuflects) and then says the introduction of the Lord's Prayer.

By the way, it should be noted that in the above notes I took it for granted that the priest will join his hands and bow at the name of Jesus. This bow at the holy Name is required by the 1604 Canons, and is one of the few ceremonial gestures ever mandated by Anglican Canon Law. I should perhaps also add that one should be careful about changing existing ceremonial customs. If done at all, it must be done slowly!

Hopefully, that will get you thinking...


  1. Thank you for this, Bp. Peter. The text of "The American Use" is posted here, on The Anglican Society Archive:

  2. I've had a copy of this for years. Others have borrowed it for copying. This one is handy to Parson's Handbook (Pocknee edition is handier for practical use). I am of mixed mind about litugical colour schemes, though. While I prefer an Anglican use scheme, the common Roman scheme is better known. However, it all depends upon the resources available. I note that what we see in the catalogues seems trite and unimaginative. We do need to look at the old stuff. The trick is in getting things made.
    The beauty of the booklet +Peter discusses is that it is simple enough to work in surplice & stole. One doesn't need all the fancy vestments, really. Far better that our altars be properly vested before we vest the clergy. The altar first, please. The old 'uns firmly held with this. Brass was deemed an inferior metal by them. We would blanch if we knew what the old high churchmen considered adequate. Silver all the way, perhaps silver-gilt. Benton

  3. Overall, I am highly sympathetic. But why either one or three crossings over the species, when the 1549 Book clearly specified two?
    And it may be an example of Romanizing, but I just love the bells snd genuflections after the consecration of bread and cup.
    And I pray for rhe day when the Epiclesis will be restored to its true Western position before the Verba, as in 1549 and 1637.
    Better a Romaniinf endency than using using "Anglican Use" to smuggle in Byzantine ceremonial!

    One further question: These suggestions are designed for a simply choral communion, with priest, lay-rewader and perhaps an acolyte inside the rail (which is the norm I am used to). Any thoughts on how liturgical Deacons and Subdeacons (Gospellers and Epistlers) should stand, sit, and move around? To be blunt, I don't care for the dog-and-pony show which normally ensues when you get "three blind mice"
    dancing around on the footpace.

  4. Dear LKW,

    When I used to celebrate the Eucharist according to the "Interim Rite" or Series One in England, I did the major elevations. The former has no invocation of the Holy Spirit, whilst the latter has it placed before the Words of Institution or Consecration. The concensus was that the 1549 ban on those elevations was obsolete. We did not do sanctus bells though. That was a bridge too far even in a parish that accepted occasional use of incense.

    When we have a deacon and "subdeacon" at a Solemn celebration of Holy Communion in this parish we place them either left and right on the lowest of the altar steps in the line with the ends of the altar when they are not doing something, or use the in-line and box positions depending on whether the celebrant is facing the people or the altar. In both cases this eliminates the "top step tag" which is such a characteristic and distracting feature of the Tridentine style ceremonial during the Prayer of Consecration.

    We also follow the Sarum custom of having the three sacred ministers sit celebrant-deacon-subdeacon, rather than D and SD sitting on either side of the celebrant. This simplifies the movement from the altar to the sedilia, as with ours being on the North side the D and SD would have to cross which looks awkward in a small sanctuary.

    This brings me to another point that is often overlooked. The ceremonial should fit the space. We use either taperers or three sacred ministers because once we have more than five men in the sanctuary we have traffic problems. It should be remembered that the taperers in the Sarum Use Mass spent a lot of their time approximately where the altar rails would be in a Victorian Church, standing and facing east. It should also be remembered that standing was the normal position of the ministers in the sanctuary at a Sung Mass in olden times.


  5. The interim BCP we use is broadly 1662 in ordering, but with a few differences.

    Our Sanctus is the full form with Benedictus qui venit, and replacing "Glory be to thee..." with a Hosanna.

    The Prayer of Consecration itself is basically 1662, but with the clause leading into the Institution Narrative being taken from 1549, asking for the Word and Holy Spirit to consecrate the Gifts. Amen comes after the Epiclesis, not after the Verba.

    Here is the ceremonial I use:

    Sursum Corda: Turn to people

    Preface: Face East, Orans Position

    Sanctus: Hands joined, bow through first Hosanna in the Highest. Stand erect for the Benedictus qui venit.

    Prayer of Consecration: Face East, Orans position. At "hear us" bring hands together, at "send your Word and Holy Spirit" extend hands over the elements, at "bless and sanctify" make one slow sign of the cross over elements. Hands remain joined from this time until manual acts.

    Verba over Bread: Fraction at word Break, and hold the bread so it can be seen at the words "Do this in remembrance of me." Deep bow follows.

    Verba over the wine: Take cup into hands at appropriate words, and hold the cup so it can be seen at the words "Do this in remembrance of me." Deep bow follows.

    Agnus Dei: fraction bread into smaller portions.

    Invitation: Turn to people holding chalice and paten while saying, "The Gifts of God..."

    Prayer of Humble Access: Our form is based on a blend of the classical form and the 1689 Liturgy of Comprehension text. Deacon or priest leads from beginning through "always have mercy and forgive." People join in and complete the prayer.

    Presbyter and assisting ministers commune, then people.

    Deacon gives an invitation to the Lord's Prayer. All recite together. Presbyter is at Holy Table facing East in Orans position.

    In parish use, I wear cassock, surplice, and stole. We have two candlesticks on the Holy Table, which is covered with a fair linen. I prepare the gifts before liturgy and place them upon the Altar covered with a chalice veil.


  6. Rather solid MOTR Anglicanism in most respects, Fr. Rob!

  7. +Peter,

    Once we get our final BCP complete and rolled out, I'll (hopefully!) make my final revisions to my ceremonial and be done with it.

    I do so wish I could find my missing box with my various missing liturgical volumes and guides (including Dearmer and Pocknee); said box went MIA during the move after an apartment fire, and I have been missing them for nearly two years now. Really wish I could find them...


  8. Very, very sensible, Bp Robinson. As far as seating is concerned, the only time I get off my feet is during the Epistle. So after the Collect(s) I go over to the Gospel side and sit in a chair beside the cathedra. After the lay-reader reads the Epistle (from the Altar Service Book, not from a small Prayer Book), he moves ASB and small desk over to Gospel side, picks up book, turns around (it is forbidden to walk backwards!) steps down, then faces me and holds book so I can read Gospel.

    The layreader and acolyte (oops, I meant altar server!) sit or kneel at sedilia most of the time, unless they are doing something.

    These things have to be worked out locally, in terms of space, seating available, ingrained customs, etc.

    Recently I had occasion to observe a very strange (strange to me at least) custom in a church out of state. When the adult layreader moved the book after the Epistle, he stopped mid-point and elevated it as high as his arms would reach toward the cross. He did the same thing when he moved the book back after the ablutions. This sort of low-church ceremonial affectation annoys me as much as the fussy nonsense in Ritual Notes. But once a lay-reader (or Altar Guild member) has been trained in such a procedure, re-tooling them can require the utmost in pastoral gentleness.

  9. Fr Lyons: My only quibble with your procedure is allowing the Deacon to give what you call the "Invitation" to the Lord's Prayer. The formula "And now, as our Saviour Christ hath [commanded and] taught us, we are bold to say," is not an invitation addressed to the congregation, but a prayer in itself and really should be introduced by an "Oremus." It continues the Prayer of Consecration and is sacerdotal in nature.

    Contrary to Roman use, it seems to me that priest should say the Introduction with hands in Orans position and bring them together at "who art in heaven" since that is the point what which he is joined by the People. That is analogous to Roman custom of priest joining his hands at "Sed libera nos a malo" where the servers united with him.

  10. Fr. Wells: In our interim BCP, the Lord's Prayer follows the communion of the people (see 1662 UK, 1892 US, etc.), and is introduced with the following bidding, derived from the Eastern rites:

    "And now, having been nourished by the life-giving Body and Blood of Christ, let us complete our prayer to the Lord, commending our entire life to the Father in the words that our Savior has taught us."

    The people say the Lord's Prayer up to "evil one." and the presbyter concludes with the doxology.

    It is a restricted text, however. If a deacon is not present, it must be said by the Presbyter, No rubric allows a lay assistant to read this bidding, as opposed to the Prayer of the Church, the rubrics of which allow a deacon or, in the deacon's absence, the lay-reader, to recite the petitions (though not the opening form or closing portion of the prayer, which is restricted to the presbyter).

    As to other fussiness, I myself find using epistle and gospel horns to be somewhat out of place. My preference would be for the entire Ante-Communion to be lead on the opposite end of the assembly from the Altar (i.e., the place appointed for Morning and Evening Prayer) ala Monastic arrangement, with a single ambo for the proclamation and preaching of the Word. The presbyter and his assistants then go to the Altar at the offertory. Of course, I do not serve in a place where this is possible, so I do my best to place the Missal stand behind the vested chalice on the altar, and leave it centrally located, reading the Scriptures from a Lectionary in the Ambo.



  11. LKW, One of the nice things about Low Church in the UK and Ireland is the lack of those peculiar little ceremonies that seem to be part of the Low Church tradition in the US. On my original side of the pond, "low" tends to mean "no" - or very little - when it comes to ceremonial. This is usually confined to the necessary dignified movements, raising the minister's hand in absolution and blessing, and the gestures mandated by the BCP. None of the odd, "cute" things with the ASB that seems to be so common over here.

  12. No elevation of the tithes and offerings, please! I find it ironic that it is most often the same low-church parishes that feel elevating the Eucharistic elements is idolatry are often the same ones to lift up money and cans of corn and beans and such to show God just how good we really are.

    Smacks of works-righteousness to me!


  13. I agree entirely concerning the silly ceremony known as Grand High Oblation of the Cash. But having enjoyed a very sheltered life, I have not experienced the elevation of cans of corn and beans.

    Since you bring this up, I am a fanatic on a strict construction of the rubric on this point. During the collection of the people's offerings, I go as far as unvesting the chalice and spreading the corporal. At that point I receive the alms bason(s) from the altar server and lay them discreetly (without any oblation or other ceremony) toward the back of the Epistle side. The lay reader and I then prepare the bread and wine, as the Offertory Hymn is being sung. Preparing the species before the alms are presented is irrubrical and places the wrong emphasis. And although some will disagree, The lay reader quietly removes the alms bason(s) at "which we offer unto thee."

  14. Fr. Wells,

    Personally (and I am OK here because my BCP doesn't require it) I do not place the offering plate on the Altar. Of course, that's mainly because I don't use one. I place a basket at the door for people to put their money in, and pick it up after the Service is completed. I experimented with some other ways of doing this; the other one that worked in a previous parish was when I invited communicants into the chancel for the Prayer for the Church through the Benediction, allowing non-members and other non-communicants to either remain in their pews during the Liturgy of the Faithful. Those who came to commune offered their offering as they took their place at the rail, and that was that.

    Either way, the GHOotC has no place in my parochial life!


  15. PS- Among other things I hate to see on the Holy Table, stacks and stacks and stacks of books. BCP's, Hymnals, Lesser Feasts and Fasts, Lectionary books, etc. The Lord's Table should have upon it what is necessary for the celebration of the Eucharist, and perhaps the candles and flowers (if pavement standards are not avaliable or space is limited). That's it! I hate seeing a cluttered altar!

  16. I haven't looked at the comments since I made my own.
    The old-time practice was for communicats to come into the chancel after the Offertory and to kneel at the rail at the Invitation to the Confession.
    My old parish practice was to leave the alms bason on the altar until the Invitation, when the server would quietly remove it to the credence. Another practice might be to leave
    the bason on the altar and cover it with the silk chalice veil and remove it during the ablutions AFTER the blessing.
    The practice in my old parish was for the lay reader to come up to the altar, leave his open Prayer Book next to the desk or cushion, take the Altar Service, read the Epistle, return the book, pick up his Prayer Book, and return to his normal position.
    I agree with the writer about clutter---including altar cards. I've been a sacristan long enough to dislike flowers or plants on the altar. Leave 'em long enough and they stink or get knocked over, dribbling dirt or water or dead leaves and petals all over the linens Fair linens cost to have made and to have cleaned. In the old days, the fair linen wasn't put on the altar until just before the Communion. Nowadays, we use dustcovers, but they cost, too. Indeed, the altar should have nothing on it but that which is necessary for the service when needed. Chalice & Paten belong on the credence until the Offertroy In sum, candlesticks (two for preference), the cross/crucifix or alms bason, the desk or pair of cushions for the book, maybe the Gospel Book on a cushion in the midst. Tabernacle belongs elsewhere---hanging pyx or aumbry. The presence of the Tabernacle on the altar involves ceremonial difficulties since no-one should directly turn his back to it.

    Enough for now. Benton

  17. At the offertory I elevate the chalice and paten to about shoulder height, but not the alms basin. If you have a look at the rubric on page 73 of the 1928 American BCP you will be able to see why. The bread and wine are "offered" and "presented" whereas the collecton is simply "received" and "presented." I try and get the servers to leave the alms basin on the altar until after the Prayer for the Church, but with a couple of them previous training gets the better of my standing orders.

  18. I guess one could say I "cheat" a little bit. I receive the alms basin and make the sign of the cross with the alms basin while the Offertory Anthem is being sung. I then touch the alms basin to the altar and return it to the acolyte who places it on a side table. This is because of the restriction to the physical size of the altar table.

  19. Some of us are aware of my being peeved at unnecessary additions and subtractions, imitation of other rites and ceremoy.
    The BCP is meant to be clearly heard. This means that the service is to be clearly, distinctly, devoutly read. No sacred mutter. Does the pre-occupation with ceremonial details distract from the proper reading of the prayers? Too much business with the hands can get into the way of conveying the meaning and import of the 'words of our worship'. The old Low churchmen used very little ceremonial because many of them concentrated on what they were reading. They tried to use the voice effectively for their people. We need to regain this aspect of Prayer Book worship. All too often, the Canon becomes a formula, to be read off while the hands are moving and all the rest. KISS?

    In +,

  20. A very good discussion, all in all. I must disagree with Father Wells (of whom I have long been a great fan) on the Western position of the epiclesis. In the oldest known canon it followed the verba which had the same relation as in our present American canon. Since the bells and genuflections were an invention of Alexander VI's master of ceremonies in 1502, I think they are best omitted. In my view older Roman is better than newer Roman.

    In my case the burse is brought to the altar between the epistle and the gospel with the corporal being spread by the minister who is going to read the gospel. The patten and chalice are made at the offertory but brought to the altar after the alms.

    Nothing is placed upon the altar except what is necessary for the celebration, two candlesticks, the cross, the pillow and the book.