Wednesday 1 June 2016

Where did they find THAT?

We have been using the Ordinariate Missal and none other for some weeks now in our small corner of Hants and Dorset. Increasingly I have found it's been little details which have become most trying. Many of the prayers from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer I remember from years of use, so when there are tiny but apparently meaningless alterations I have to keep my eyes fixed on the page instead of just praying the prayer. Why did they do it? Where did they find it?

There are several such trivial amendments in the Prayer of Thanksgiving - the invariable post-communion prayer in our Divine Worship Missal. So, for example, the original Prayer Book version reads "we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son which is the blessed company of all faithful people". Divine Worship omits "which is"... and so provides an unnecessary jolt for those of us brought up on BCP.  Another dislocation occurs when  "we most humbly beseech thee" becomes baldly "we humbly beseech thee".  Changes made for no perceptible reason.

A longer omission occurs earlier in the prayer. "We most heartily thank thee for, that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us, who have duly received these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food" &c. In Divine Worship this is abbreviated to "that thou dost feed us in these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food". Now if there were some consistent attempt to abbreviate and simplify such an emendation might be make sense. But that appears not to be the case. When it comes to the prayers over the gifts, far from simplifying there is a sudden outbreak of volubility.

I had supposed that we have to thank our transatlantic cousins for all the annoying oddities in our Missal. Certainly the ones I have so far quoted can be laid at the door of the "Book of Divine Worship" of the old American "Anglican Use" Roman Catholics. So I went to that book to see if the prayers at the preparation of the gifts came from there. "Whence it shall" seemed a  peculiarly American construction. Not so, and I apologise for having thought it. No, BDW has, like the Roman Missal in its most recent English form,"It will become for us the bread of life".

The Upstart Crow at work (rt): with Kit Marlowe 
So perhaps someone can help me understand just whence this verbiage comes? Is it maybe from the so-called "English Missal" beloved of many Anglican Papalists (most of whom, it seems, managed not to hear about Anglicanorum Coetibus).  And why? It is a terrible case of half-timbered English, which is used much more effectively in 'Upstart Crow' - incidentally one of the best things on Television for the Shakespeare Centenary. Perhaps that is the answer. When our Liturgy is revised, as surely it needs to be before it infects other parts of the Catholic Church, the Commission might ask Ben Elton to look at the language. At least he would give us a few laughs.


  1. Take a look at "The Tutorial Prayer Book" circa 1910, an evangelical pub on this prayer. It seems that the Vatican was unaware of this book. It differentiates very importantly between "doth" and "hath". I'm an ex US pre-Vatican II AC and now Antiochian WR Orthodox. I'd like to send you some alterations to the Thanksgiving and several other prayers via email that the Antiochians are considering. We use an much altered, non-Cranmerian Canon while our Gregorian Rite is straight Latin translation with the expected deletion of the filoque and for church politcal reasons an inserted epeklises. Prof Tighe here in the US linked me to your blog.

  2. My dear Monsignore

    These things are a matter of taste. I share your view about small changes ... I always got irritated in the C of E by the constant fiddling with the end of the Humble Access (the Ordinariate Missal happily abandons these changes and returns to the 1662 text). But as for the Prayer After Communion ... Cranmer originally wrote (1549)" hast vouchsafed to feede us in these holy Misteries". By 1552 he had shrugged off his last instinctive vestiges of Lutheranism and Calvinism and embraced the pure Zwinglian truth that we are not fed IN the mysteries. Moreover, Gardner had plausible referred to such phrases as this in the case he made for 1549 having a Catholic sense. Hence the change to "feed us which have duly received ..." so as safely to dissociate the reception of the elements from any risk of the idea that they conveyed an eating of Christ's Body. For the same reason, he deleted "in these holy Misteries" from his original version of Humble Access.

    I know that this doesn't refute your basic plea, but it is only fair to acknowledge that there was a plausible reason behind this change!

    John Hunwicke

    PS I can't stand these "Western Rite Orthodox" who pervert the teaching and logic of the Gelasian Canon by inserting Byzantine Epicleses!! If Rome were to Latinise the rites of the Uniates by eliminating the epiclesis in the Byzantine Rite, I would complain equally strongly about such an act of arrogant imperialist vandalism. However, in this matter, Rome has always been less arrogantly imperialist than "Orthodoxy"!

  3. Thank you Fr Hunwicke for your most Christian detestation of all Western Rite Orthodox and your assertion that Rome is less and has been less arrogant, imperialist, and guilty of vandalism. Sounds very similar in tenor to something coming from Mt Athos or some other parts of Greece. That said I still enjoy your blog.

  4. Love the sinner, hate the sin, ey? Nothing unchristian about that...

  5. Why change Cranmer's prose for any reasons other than doctrinal? Certainly there appears to be some fiddling with the wording of Cranmer's prayers. However as an admirer of both the Tridentine Mass and the 1662 BCP I have found attendance at the Ordinariate Mass a great joy as it brings the two together by uniting Cranmer's Communion Devotions with the Great Prayer. What a pity it was not available in 1993 when so many BCP loyalists found that the C of E was for them no longer habitable.