Review of a Western Rite Liturgy

I have recently had the opportunity to examine one of the liturgies in use by the Western Rite Orthodox and must admit to no little surprise.  Let me begin with some simple factual observations.

To begin with, the liturgy includes with it a traditional Gregorian chant setting, the Missa de Angelis. In terms of order, the liturgy follows the basic shape of Western (Roman) Rite in general, with a few noteworthy changes: a Preparation of the Gifts before the liturgy, the Asperges seems to be intended for every celebration, an optional Litany from the Gelasian Sacramentary which may be used in place of the Kyrie, the sermon precedes the optional Dismissal of the Catechumens, followed by the Creed (appropriately sans filioque), and the prayers of the faithful in the form of the Prayers of Supplication of St Martin. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the altar is prepared accompanied by congregational singing of the hymn “Let all mortal flesh keep silence.”  The Anaphora seems to be as expected, followed by Ecce and Domine non sum dignus, and then a lengthy didactic congregational prayer “I believe, O Lord, and I confess….”  During communion comes an invariable sung Psalm 34.  After the blessing and dismissal follows the seasonal anthem of Our Lady, familiar to all Western Christians, and the liturgy closes with what appear to be congregational recitations of the Anglican General Thanksgiving (from the daily office) and four traditional prayers, another Kyrie, and the Gloria Patri and another final dismissal.

What is most striking in this liturgy is that it is presented in a modern English idiom that is formal and worshipful.  All in all, I found it to be a reverent and very workable liturgy, accessible and accurate.  It is truly a fine piece of work. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, whose liturgy this is, is to be commended.

This liturgy may be found at this site.

12 thoughts on “Review of a Western Rite Liturgy

  1. FrSutter Post author

    Just to add, what I was commending here is the quality of the translation and the setting in plainsong. The negatives are that this liturgy shows the signs liturgical scholars are accustomed to seeing, that the “soft” points of beginning, ending, and transitions are susceptible to having things “tacked on” or added in. This liturgy would be immeasurably improved by removing the extra preparation of gifts at the beginning and the extra additional prayers at the end and letting the dismissal be the dismissal.

    1. FrSutter Post author

      I appreciate the deprecation of that prayer, just as I disapprove of didactic prayers in the first place. Nevertheless, that prayer follows the canon; it isn’t interpolated, and it certainly doesn’t “mutilate” it.

      Personally, I find the Gregorian canon one of the most balanced and beautiful prayers in Christendom–East or West.

  2. FrSutter Post author

    It seems that the liturgy is no longer available online; sadly, as it was indeed a commendable liturgy that pre-viewing of it might have made some Anglicans more comfortable as they contemplate becoming WRO.

  3. Bishop Anthony

    I know this is an old file which was only brought to my attention this morning. For clarification the Asperges / Vidi aquam is used only on Sundays. And theprayers after the liturgy are said as the clergy remove their vestments then join the congregation.

    1. Bishop Anthony

      Father Sutter, one more comment… You wrote “This liturgy would be immeasurably improved by removing the extra preparation of gifts at the beginning… ” The reason for the preparation of the gifts BEFORE Mass is that we use prosphora not mass produced hosts.

      1. admin Post author

        So it’s a Byzantinization caused by another Byzantinization of Western praxis. Still, the rite would be improved by being consistent in following Western use of unleavened hosts. Don’t confuse Orthodoxy with Easternism.

      2. Bishop Anthony

        Respectfully Father, it was the West that changed form leavened bread to unleavened bread.
        When the Old Catholics came into the Russian Church, the bishops, admittedly in ignorance of the Roman Rite, made some requirements. But the greater good in the long run was that a Patriarchate which had no unity with the West for close to 1,000 years now had a number of Western parishes it was in communion with. Perhaps this was God’s plan to re-acquaint the Easterners with their brothers. I invite you to see all of this from a pastoral perspective, not purely a liturgical one. In the last few years a number of parishes have begun using the hosts and all reserve the sacrament this way. Patience my dear brother, even Rome wasn’t built in a day!

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