Category Archives: Liturgy

How Anglicans Worship – Part 8


Interrupting the order here to answer questions I’d received from earlier in the “How Anglicans Worship” series.

Let me begin by observing that there are six general types of processions: Entrance, Gospel, Offertory, Exit, Holy Day, and Special Occasion. Order in processions ought be pretty straightforward. Older manuals used to prescribe slightly different orders for different types of processions, but in practice, as those older rules tended to be easily forgotten, it’s better to stick with one invariable order, and to make that invariable order the one most often seen, the Entrance. The following assumes that there is no Asperges or other rite preceding the Mass.

Entrance Processions

It has become commonplace in those places that have been infected by the liturgical sloppiness of the 1960s and since, to begin every celebration of the Divine Liturgy with a lengthy Entrance procession of choir and ministers and clergy. This is neither necessary nor traditional, and frankly, not even desirable.  To begin with, an entrance procession really should not include a choir. We are not speaking here of “clergy in choir,” but of the choir of singers. The vocalists, like other musicians, whether vested or not, should be encouraged to take their places informally and quietly before the liturgy begins, and if possible before any instrumental prelude, even if the choir are seated in stalls in quire. As each person takes his or her seat, it is appropriate to kneel and pray in silence for a few moments or minutes, using the same pre-service prayers as other laity in the congregation. All should be in place before the end of the prelude, if there is one.

Incense is put on without ceremony by the thurifer, and then acolytes and clergy enter up the center where possible, in the following order:

(candle)  (crucifer)  (candle)
torchbearers (in pairs)
Clergy in choir

If there is a boat bearer, he should be at the thurifer’s left, unless the thurifer is given to elaborate swings, in which case, for safety’s sake, the boat can be borne after the cross. It may be most convenient for the boat simply to be waiting on the credence.

If there is no crucifer, the candlebearers follow the thurifer side by side. If there are no candlebearers, two of the torchbearers may take their place. If there are three readings, a licensed and trained lay lector may vest in cassock and cotta and process after the torches and before the Master of Ceremonies. Any clergy in choir, that is, clergy who are not administering communion but are present, vest in choir habit (one would think that obvious) of cassock, surplice, hood, tippet, (and biretta,) and follow the MC but precede the Sacred Ministers. Any assisting clergy, such as may be assisting with communion would follow the clergy in choir and precede the subdeacon. (They may instead simply enter by a convenient short way at the communion time and withdraw the same way afterwards.)

There are some Anglican bodies that have restored the subdiaconate, and those subdeacons should vest in amice, alb, cincture, maniple, (and tunicle if possible, and biretta.) It has long been customary in Anglican circles to consider parish clerks or licensed lay-readers as “lay subdeacons,” and they may vest in amice, alb, cincture, (and tunicle if possible, and bladeless biretta.) Either subdeacon or lay subdeacon will precede the deacon.

The deacon, vested in amice, alb, cincture, maniple, stole, (biretta), and dalmatic if possible, immediately precedes the celebrant. Despite trendy modern practices, it is best not to include a gospel book in the procession, but to have it waiting at the credence or a shelf below it. It is never appropriate to include a lectionary or Bible in an entrance.

The celebrant, vested in amice, alb, cincture, maniple, stole, (biretta), and cope or chasuble is at the end of the procession, unless there is a bishop present, in which case the bishop will be at the end, but ceremonies with bishops are beyond the scope of this article, so it is best to consult one of the usual sources. Even a lesser prelate who is not the celebrant will not follow the celebrant in the bishop’s position, but instead enter with the clergy in choir or assisting clergy, as described above.

If there are not sufficient clergy to administer the sacrament, it may be necessary to have one or two laymen licensed as extraordinary eucharistic ministers. If these absolutely must be used, they should vest in amice, alb, and cincture (or better, cassock and cotta,) follow the lector and precede the MC.

Arriving at the steps to the choir (or gate in the altar rail), the cross and candlebearers pivot to their right so they are facing south and the rest of the ministers and altar party enter the sanctuary, lining up facing the altar, leaving room in the center for the sacred ministers. SD and D separate to north and south respectively, and assist the celebrant in entering (which may include grasping cope and drawing him in.) After the sacred ministers arrive, they remove birettas and pass them to the right to the MC as the crucifer and candlebearers pivot back to their left and enter to stand behind the celebrant in the center, then all except crucifer and candlebearers make the appropriate reverence together at the same time: genuflecting if the Blessed Sacrament is present, bowing otherwise. Then all go to their places, except the sacred ministers and MC.

If they have not already been said in the sacristy, the preparation prayers are said, culminating in the Collect for Purity, then the sacred ministers ascend the altar for the censing.

Note:  All the preceding references to thurifer and boat assume that incense is used at every Eucharist. If the custom of the place is to employ incense only occasionally, one should note that there are only two smells in eternity that are mentioned in Scripture: brimstone and incense. It is the invariable practice in the Eastern church that there is no divine liturgy wherein incense is not offered, and this should be our practice as well.

The exit procession (never “recession,” is essentially the reverse of the entrance, logically enough.

A word about pace is appropriate here. When entering, the speed should be stately and solemn, about a second per step, and participants four to six feet apart. When leaving, the speed may be a normal walking pace, but the spacing again the same, four to six feet apart. Consider the speeds of processions at typical weddings: slow in, normal out, which developed in imitation of the normal liturgical entrance and exit processions.

Gospel and offertory processions, and processions for specific holy days will be considered in another article later.



How Anglicans Worship – Part 7


Now we reach the very heart of the Eucharist.  For those awaiting my recommendation here, I would have thought it was obvious: the Gregorian Canon.  Naturally I refer to the one printed in the Anglican Missal, specifically, the American edition, but the version found in the English Missal is just as good.  I recommend it for a few reasons.  First, it is our ancient tradition, the canon brought to the British Isles by St Augustine, and not much different from that used for centuries prior to him.  Second, it is free from the distortions of anti-catholic changes of the reformation.  Third, it includes commemorations of the Communion of Saints, and of the Faithful Departed. Fourth, it has the epiclesis before, not after, the consecration.

As for technique, the traditional manuals deal in detail with those concerns, and if you follow Lamburn or Fortescue, you can’ t go wrong.  If you find yourself forced to use the 28 American canon, of course the Fraction should not occur in the Consecration.

There are, I understand, ecclesial bodies that will mandate the use of the 1928 American canon, and of course, in those places we must make use of the usual corrections that Anglicans have made over the years: moving the epiclesis to its proper place preceding the Qui pridie (to be more accurate, in this case I suppose we ought to call it the Qui eadem nocte) and inserting the commemoration of the departed.  These aren’t ideal, of course, but we do what we must.  I once knew an otherwise fine Anglo-Catholic bishop who forbad the Gregorian canon in his diocese, but he has since retired, and his successor did not continue the proscription, thanks be to God.  If you are forbidden the Gregorian but not required to use the 28 American Canon, then my secondary recommendation would be the 1549, with the needed adjustments, of course.

Our Father

Following the Canon we encounter the Our Father.  Ideally your congregation will have been taught properly and allow you to begin the prayer, then joining in with “who art in heaven.”  If they have been infused with modernist notions, though, you will probably have to teach them.  A reasonably gentle way to do so is to not even hesitate between “say” and “our;” they will eventually catch on.

I support praying the embolism in its traditional place, after “but deliver us from evil,” but there are many places that are not used to that and will barrel on right through the ascription.  One can often get the laity accustomed to the embolism by praying it afterwards, as the Anglican Missal prints it, and then gradually swinging them around to praying it in the customary place.  I value the embolism not merely because it has centuries of use, but because it offers some doctrinal reminders that Anglican laity often need to hear, so as much as I oppose the very concept of didactic prayers, here’s one I value.

How Anglicans Worship – Part 6

From the Offertory through the Sanctus

The final prayer of the Offertory, Suscipe Sancta Trinitas (“Receive, O Holy Trinity”) is one I urge to be prayed out loud, not only as a signal to the faithful, but as a reminder of some essential doctrinal elements.  As a reminder, that prayer is:

Receive O holy Trinity, this oblation which we offer unto thee, in memory of the passion, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honour of blessed Mary ever-Virgin, of blessed John Baptist, of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, of these and all the saints, that it may be to their honour and our salvation, and that like as we remember them on earth, so in heaven they may plead for us. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Immediately following this is the most appropriate place for the intentions to be read out, along the lines of something like this:

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered to the glory of God and in honor of blessed Mary Ever-Virgin and all the saints, and with special intention for this parish, for N., N., … and thanksgiving from N., N., … and for the peaceful repose of the souls of N., N., and all the faithful departed.

Then the Orate Fratres, and the people’s response, and finally the Secrets, the Prayers over the Oblations, as the modern books list it.  After following these directions, the Intercessions (Prayer for the Whole State) are redundant and not wanted.  The General Confession, it could be argued, is also redundant, if the proper preparation has been followed at the beginning, and it could also be omitted.  In any event, even if the General Confession is done here, the so-called “Comfortable Words” are unnecessary and best omitted, as Anglo-Catholics and High Church Evangelicals did for nearly a century before the unpleasantness of the 1970s..

We’ll pick up next time with a discussion of the Canon – and some perhaps surprising recommendations for which Canon to be prayed, as well as some necessary corrections.

How Anglicans Worship – Part 5

The Offertory
Here we reach a part of the Mass about which many have written much, usually intensely polemical, about the prayers to be used by the celebrant.  Rather than tread through that minefield I will simply say that I don’t see that it really matters whether one use the prayers based on the Jewish berakah prayers that were used by the Church for five or so centuries and in the Ordinary Form today, or the prayers of sacrifice that were used by the Church for fifteen or so centuries and in the Extraordinary Form today.  As far as I’m concerned, I think they are equally valuable for different reasons, and it is actually a shame we can’t use them both, but can you imagine how long that would stretch out the offertory?   (A private email pointed out to me that I didn’t discuss on which side of the altar the celebrant stands, and I admit I left that out intentionally.  It should be clear that I write for those who celebrate eastward, leading the prayers of the assembly, not slipping in behind the altar like a bartender.)
All I want to say specifically about the Offertory is this: pick up Lamburn or Fortescue and follow it as much as you can.  The directions are perfectly clear, and I cannot improve on them at all.
I will add a word about the volume of prayers.  The tradition for at least fifteen or more centuries (and still, in the Extraordinary Form) has a number of prayers said in what was called the mystic voice, that is, not quite silent, yet audible only to the celebrant and the Almighty.  At the time of the deformation, anything that was said this way tended to disappear from protestant rites, as if nothing mattered that the congregation didn’t hear.  Now, I am not a fan of the incorrectly labeled ‘silent canon’ but neither do I think that the post-Vatican II notion of bellowing everything in one volume an improvement.  I have not come to any conclusions about a good middle way here, and am open to suggestions.  Perhaps if everything that used to be in the mystic voice were to be said softly (yet audibly) and everything else in a normal (yet not loud) voice, that would work best.  Please let me know what you think.

How Anglicans Worship – Part 4

Before diving into this post I should answer a question I was emailed about processions.  I didn’t deal with processions when I wrote about the opening rites because I plan to treat processions separately later.  The emailed question really referred to entrance processions, but we’ll look at all types of processions in one post, after we finish the Mass.

Liturgy of the Word or Mass of the Catechumens

As you know, the Mass can be thought of as having two parts, plus an Opening Rite and Closing Rite.  We’ve dealt with the opening, so the first half, nowadays often called the “Liturgy of the Word,” as it focuses on the Scripture, is more traditionally known as the “Mass of the Catechumens,” because it was the only part of Christian worship that catechumens, that is, those who were preparing for Baptism, were allowed to attend.  This restriction made sense in the first through fourth centuries,  when the Christian Church was surrounded by a pagan culture, but the restriction was dropped with the rise of Christendom.  It may well be, as we’ll see later, that the Church should consider returning to that discipline now that we are again islands in a pagan culture.  Nevertheless, the Liturgy of the Word was the only public part of worship for centuries.

Originally, this section was based on the synagogue service, and included readings from Scripture alternating with psalms.  The Psalter, of course, was Israel’s hymnbook, and the Church, which is the new Israel, simply carried on in the same practice.  The Scripture readings included readings from the Tanakh, that is, to use the terms Jesus did, the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.  In other words, what we today call the Old Testament.  As apostolic letters were written and circulated, they were added to the readings, being seen as commentary on the Old Testament scriptures, and eventually also were the Gospels added to the readings, as the culmination, the telos of all Scripture.  The Church didn’t settle on which apostolic writings were allowed to be read in worship until very late; the first list that corresponds to what we now call the New Testament didn’t appear until St Athanasius’ festal letter!  Our protestant friends are always embarrassed to find how long the Church was around before she canonized the New Testament.  After all, Christ founded a Church, not a literary society!
In time these alternating readings and psalms were pared down until they reached the form we have today, an epistle reading and a Gospel reading, with a psalm between.  In the Anglican rite we see the final form in the Western Church: after the Collects (one for the day and two that vary by season) come an Epistle reading and then a Gradual psalm (so-called because it was sung from the step, or gradus.)  After the Gradual follows a verse that is preceded and followed by “Alleluia” except in Lent and the three preceding weeks, when a longer section is sung, called the Tract, and the Alleluias are omitted.  Following these verses on some major feasts is a longer song called the Sequence (because it follows, sequentiae.)  At last we have the third (of seven) salutation and then a reading from the Gospel.  After the Gospel follows the Nicene Creed on Sundays and major feasts, and a homily either before or after the Creed, and a word here about order is important.
The Book of Common Prayer lists the sermon after the Creed, which is an alteration of the tradition and turns the creed into a simple segue. The best practice is for the sermon to be preached immediately after the Gospel, which underlines the fact that the sermon is meant to be an explication of the Word just read, and then the Creed sung as the climactic festal hymn responding to Word read and preached, as well as the introduction to the second half of the liturgy, the Mass of the Faithful.

Now having looked at what, let’s talk about the major point of these posts, how.  There are two major ways this can be done, and I’ll address each way.

Foremass at the Altar

This is the most traditional method.  Let me preface this by saying that parishes with one or more deacons and one or more subdeacons and a fully trained server corps should offer the High Mass as detailed in Lamburn or Fortescue, but for those without the full range of clergy and servers, do as much of what follows as you can.  I will leave out the instructions for incense and bells, as those can be found in all the regular manuals, which should be followed. Again, what follows is for places that can’t mount a High Mass with all three sacred ministers and trained servers.

After the Collect for Purity, the Celebrant ascends to the altar,greets the altar with a kiss in the center, where the corporal will be spread, and goes to the epistle horn where the book is waiting, square with the front edge of the altar–this is usually referred to as the epistle position. The acolyte moves to kneel below the first step in front of the gospel corner (remember to stay on the opposite side of the book) but if there is an MC, he should stand next to the book, but off the steps.  After the kyrie, the celebrant moves to the center, and the Gloria in Excelsis, when appointed, is begun.  It should be intoned by the celebrant, and then all join in , unless he absolutely cannot sing, in which case all should begin together.  All make the sign of the cross at “the glory of God the Father,” at the end. Then the celebrant turns by his right (all turns should be made in such a way as to keep the heart closer to the tabernacle), parts his hands approximately shoulder width (a greeting gesture) and gives the salutation, then brings his hands together during the response.  Some clergy bow slightly during the response, but I can find no authority to support that practice and in fact find it a little precious; it’s probably best to simply turn back to the altar.  The celebrant returns to the epistle position and prays the collects.

A brief word about moving at the altar is in order here: always turn and walk toward where you’re going. I actually saw a priest once, who had never been competently trained, sliding sideways back and forth at the altar like a crab. Follow the advice of the old song: walk like a man.

After the collects, at a High Mass, the subdeacon takes the epistle book, goes to the rail and sings it there, then returns to the south side of the altar, holding the closed book up as he kneels, and the celebrant, who has been facing the altar, turns, blesses him and places his hand on the top of the  closed book for the subdeacon to kiss.  In smaller celebrations, it may be that the MC or acolyte (if there is no MC) will sing or read the epistle, and whoever does so should return to the south side of the altar for the blessing.  There is no good basis for an often seen modern practice of unvested laity stepping up to a lectern to read the epistle.  The same rule holds true for places where the local bishop has permitted use of the Ordo Lectionum Missae, the reader of the Old Testament reading should be the MC or acolyte, or a subdeacon or vested lay reader, if you have one. Reading scripture in worship is a ministry, not a way to “include” untrained and often sloppy readers. Just because your local Roman Catholic church does it does not make it a valid part of the Western tradition of the Church.

The celebrant returns to the middle, and if there is a deacon, the deacon kneels as the celebrant blesses him.  If there is no deacon, the celebrant himself quietly prays the prayer “cleanse my lips…” and turns to the gospel corner of the altar.  While this blessing or prayer is happening, whichever it is to be, the book is moved: the MC or acolyte picks up the book and stand together, goes down the steps to the center and, facing the altar, bows (NEVER genuflect when carrying something), then back up the steps to the gospel corner and plaes the book there, angled slightly in for the convenience of the deacon or celebrant. The path followed here is best thought of as a “V.”  The MC or acolyte should stand beside the book and with his right hand flat against his breast use his left hand to point to the beginning of the gospel reading.  A gospel procession, if it is not a High Mass, is neither necessary nor desired, it should be saved for a High Mass.  After the deacon or priest has announced the gospel and made the sign of the cross at its opening words, the MC or acolyte should pick up the book and move in front (i.e. west) of the deacon or celebrant, down a step (or two, depending on the relative heights of the men involved), and hold the book as the gospel is sung or read.
If it is desired, one can do a gospel procession, but but it is better to have a separate book of Gospels (not a NT, not a lectionary, not a whole Bible), which can live on the credence table or better, on a shelf above it, with appropriate lights. If one absolutely must do a gospel procession, the best way is to take the Gospel book to the crossing–not any farther into the nave–and read it there, facing North, in order to make use of the ancient symbolism. The Gospel book alone is sufficient, but if you have the acolytes, it can be accompanied by lights, cross, incense, just as at High Mass. If you have the acolytes, it is best to use them, after all, as the old saying goes, ‘acolytes don’t hold candles; candles hold acolytes.’
After the reading, the deacon or celebrant, whoever read the gospel, should kiss the opening words of the gospel with the usual prayer, said softly, and the MC or acolyte returns the book to its place and moves it closer to the center for the Creed, which will be begun by the celebrant in the same way and position as the Gloria in Excelsis.

Foremass from the Sedilia

This method is more in keeping with the current Western Rite, and may be in many ways easier to follow for places with smaller staff. Everything is as above, except that after osculating the altar, the celebrant moves to the sedilia at the epistle side of the pavement facing north. The sedilia, traditionally three in number, should never be occupied by acolytes; if you have no deacon or subdeacon, the seats for them should not be taken by others, and even should be left in place, empty, as a sign to the congregation that there are ministers missing from the community. There will be no missal on the altar, as it should be with the celebrant. Although a stand for the book may be found useful in front of the celebrant, the use of a prie-dieu will not be convenient, as the height is far too low for a standing celebrant to read from while praying. The best practice will be for the MC or an acolyte to hold the book standing in front of the celebrant. All else in the Mass of the Catechumens is just as above, except the celebrant is at the sedilia instead of the altar.

It should be emphasized that neither of these two methods is more correct than the other, both have good authority to support them, and both equally are part of the Anglican Tradition in the Western Rite of the Church.

I find I need to append here a word about rubrics. Although no one wants to promote a narrow rubricism that verges on what may be neologized as “rubriolatry,” it is important to note that Dom Aidan Kavanagh was fond of observing that “the rubrics are the floor beneath which the liturgy must not be allowed to sink.” I agree. I am reminded of the ad clerum letter from a newly appointed Roman Catholic bishop after he had just taken possession of his see, a diocese notorious for sloppy practices. He greeted his clergy with affection and appreciation, then issued the instruction “all the rubrics will be followed by everyone, all the time.” This is good advice. Unless there is very, very good reason to the contrary (such as following the tradition of the Western Rite of the Church, or holding explicit permission from the bishop of the place so to do), always follow the rubrics. You will find that where the instructions given in these writings differs from the rubrics, the former has both better provenance and better logical basis than the latter.

How Anglicans Worship – Part 3

Parish Mass – Neither Low nor High

After receiving some private comments by email, I think I should pause the walk through the Mass and share a couple notes about the project.  As I had said, this is not intended to be descriptive, as there is far too much variation and sloppiness, not to mention simple personal idiosyncracy out there.  These blog posts are meant to be, insofar as possible, prescriptive.  That is, this is what ought to be done.

Now with that out of the way, let me address a question I was sent, “is this for Low Mass or High Mass.”  Frankly, my answer has to be neither.  Now,  I am familiar with the traditional distinction here, but perhaps I ought to appropriate the term “Parish Mass” to use in place of either of the traditional terms.  Here’s my reasoning.  There aren’t many places that can mount a proper High Mass, with three Sacred Ministers and a fully trained acolyte corps, but that doesn’t mean that the laity should be deprived or the clergy should get lazy.  On the contrary, places that cannot mount a full High Mass will need to try even harder, because the glory of Christian worship is that it is directed to God, not ourselves.  We owe him the best we can manage, and if that means tweaking it up a bit more than is strictly comfortable, then so be it.  God forbid any parish be satisfied with just squeaking by.  Shame on them!  Better to stay home and watch TV than to do a bare bones or the least common denominator and call it worship.

So by “Parish Mass” do I mean some sort of hybrid?  Well, no to that, too.  I don’t mean mix and match.  Let’s look at particulars.  If there is a Deacon available, by all means, he should take his proper ministry–and all of it.  Any text that can be sung, should be, and if that means extra work to do it and do it right, by all means, sing it!  And I don’t mean just the dialogues or the major propers, I mean the minor propers, and the Creed, and the Our Father.  He who sings prays twice.  I also think a proper Parish Mass needs to have incense.  Our Orthodox brethren are absolutely right that there is no such thing as Divine Liturgy without incense. I know the modern Roman Rite allows parts to be sung and incense to be used in any places without regard to whether other parts are sung or incense is used, and I think that valuable, so long as the rubric isn’t used in a minimalist way.  Don’t try to figure out what the least is one can get away with, but rather maximize the Mass!  Sing everything you possibly can.  Offer incense at every point in the liturgy you can.  And not just on high holy days, but on every Sunday.  Every Sunday is a festival of the Resurrection, so every Sunday Mass should be our maximal Parish Mass. Ring the bells, light the candles, fire up the thuribles, tune the organ, and give to God the glory he revealed in the Revelation to St John the Divine!   If your parish doesn’t have a Subdeacon, why not?  I would go further and suggest that every parish should have a Deacon as well.  Look around and see who may have a calling he doesn’t know he has.  You may be surprised how God will bless your worship if you give up getting by and give him the best!

How Anglicans Worship – Part 2

The Opening Rite (continued)
The rest of the opening rite, after the preparation, starts with the Introit.  This is one of the so-called minor propers, that change for the day and match the readings and prayers.  The Introit begins with the celebrant ascending to the altar, kissing it in reverent recognition of its holiness and sign of Christ’s presence with his people, and then going to the epistle side of the front, that is, the right as you face it, making the sign of the Cross on the book and reading the antiphon, a psalm verse, and the Gloria Patri, finishing with the antiphon again.  In places where they sing, which should be everywhere, the Introit is sung by the cantor or choir.  I have seen parishes where the music is printed in the bulletin and the people sing along with the choir, a practice I heartily commend, as the tunes are easily learned and sung by anyone.  It was customary for the preparation to be said by the celebrant while the choir sang the Introit, but I discourage the practice.  Multitasking is for computers, not God’s people in his worship!

After the conclusion of the Introit, the celebrant goes to the center of the altar and offers the first salutation (as commented on in the previous post by Fr. Fodor.)  Then he prays the Collect for Purity.  The word “collect,” emphasis on the first syllable, is a prayer of specific form, more about which below.  This collect is really a remnant of the priest’s private prayers, and in some places may be prayed quietly, but never silently.  Then the priest reads the short Summary of the Law, or in penitential seasons may be substituted the Decalogue in litany form.  The Book of Common Prayer prescribes the Decalogue once a month, but it seems to me a logical and more salutary practice to use it only on purple Sundays–when the Gloria in Excelsis will not be sung.

The Kyrie Eleison follows.  Again, the tunes are simple and the people should sing this.  I favor singing it nine-fold, that is, each trope thrice, on Sundays and feasts where the Gloria in Excelsis will not follow, and singing it three-fold, that is, each trope once, at any Mass for which the Gloria is appointed.  The kyrie, although it sounds like it in English, is not really a penitential lament, but was originally a greeting that was given the Emperor, taken over by the Church and addressed to the great Ruler of all.

Immediately following is the Gloria in Excelsis.  The Book of Common Prayer prints it at the end of Mass, but that was the result of wicked protestant influences on the second Edwardine Book, 1552.  This song belongs where Christendom has traditionally placed it, here, and where it is found in the Anglican Missal, English Missal, and American Missal, and naturally all the great Western liturgies, including the Anglican liturgies of the first BCP of 1549, the Scottish BCP (1929, and their 1970 Eucharist), South African BCP (1954), West Indies BCP (1959), and Nigerian BCP (1996).  All stand for this great hymn, of course, and the celebrant stands in the center of the altar.

After the Gloria, the celebrant turns to the people and offers the second of seven salutations in the Mass, then returns to the book at the epistle corner and prays the Collect of the Day, followed by the two collects appointed for the season.  A collect is a prayer in a specific form, almost the sonnet of prayers, in that it always consists of an invocation, an address to God mentioning one of his attributes or actions, follows with a petition, and then closes with the trinitarian formula.  In Latin, the collect was always one single sentence, and in English, collects composed with taste and good form are as well.

The Collect is the last act of the openng rites, and was originally the opening itself.  Over time, things tend to be added to the liturgy, usually at the “soft” points, the beginning, the end, and transitions.  When the Church began to worship openly in public, it was found that the Collect should have an opening song, so the Gloria was added.  Soon that began to be considered part of the Mass, and another opening was needed: the Kyrie.  As you can see, things kept being added to the beginning until now, a parish could have four opening songs: a hymn, the Introit, the Kyrie, and the Gloria!

There is another rite that in some modern circles has supplanted the opening: the Asperges, or Sprinkling with Holy Water.  I’ll be looking at the Asperges in a later post, after we have finished the whole Mass, but I will note that traditionally the Asperges precedes the primary Sunday Mass, a practice I think should be commended to all.

Next time we will look at the first half of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word, also called the Mass of the Catechumens.

How Anglicans Worship – Part 1

I thought it might be a good time to begin a new series of blog posts, walking through the liturgy as it were, and focusing on things as they come up.  We’ll come back later to talk about private preparation prayers, and instead we’ll begin with the public part of the service.  What I hope to do in this series is more prescriptive than descriptive, that is, not trying to cover all the different ways you might see things done–and misdone–but trying to walk through an ideal Anglican Mass the way it ought to be done everywhere and by all.

The Opening Rite
Some places will do the preparation privately, in the sacristy, but properly it ought to be done publicly in front of the people.  I think it best if the people pray along with the servers’ part, but in places where an opening hymn is sung that could be difficult unless the preparation is deferred until the opening hymn is finished, which is probably best.
The clergy halt at the foot of the altar, uncover (remove birettas, more about those in another post), and the celebrant begins the entire Mass with the Trinitarian invocation: “In the Name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” to which all answer “Amen.”  This act is not really a greeting, as some modern scholars assert, but rather a dedication that places all that follows in context: we are beginning the worship of the Almighty God in the way he has revealed himself, One God in Three Persons.  Immediately we know that we are not Arians, Moslems, Mormons, or modern trendy heretics, but we are Christians in the great tradition of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. In responding “amen,” the people agree, and, as is the case everywhere the word appears, make the prayer their own.
Next, except in Masses of the Dead or in Passiontide (more about seasons later), follows Psalm 43 (42 in the LXX), with antiphons: “I will go unto the altar of God,” to which comes the answer “Even unto the God of my joy and gladness.” The antiphon frames the psalm, puttting it in context. The psalm is recited responsively, priest and people alternating verses. In the psalm we pray to approach the altar of God devoutly, we express our confidence in God (confidence given by him), and finish with our adoration of the Most Holy Trinity in the Gloria Patri. The antiphon is repeated, which closes the frame around the psalm.
The celebrant then moves on by acknowledging our unworthiness: “Our help + is in the Name of the Lord.” The people agree: “Who hath made heaven and earth.” Now we each prepare our hearts by confessing our sins, praying the ancient prayer called by its first word in Latin, Confiteor. The priest prays it first, “I confess to Almighty God, to Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you, brethren, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed (striking the breast thrice), through my fault, through my own fault, through my own most grievous fault. Therefore I beg Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you, brethren, to pray to the Lord our God for me.” All reply “Almighty God have mercy upon thee, forgive thee thy sins, and bring thee to everlasting life.” The priest agrees: “Amen.” Then comes the people’s turn: “I confess to Almighty God, to Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to thee, Father, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed (striking the breast thrice), through my fault, through my own fault, through my own most grievous fault. Therefore I beg Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and thee, Father, to pray to the Lord our God for me.” The priest replies “Almighty God have mercy upon you, forgive you your sins, and bring you to everlasting life.” The people agree: “Amen.” (Note that “thee” is singular and “you” plural.) The confession is completed with the priest praying that the confessions be accepted: “Almighty God have mercy upon you, forgive you your sins, and bring you to everlasting life.” All reply “Amen.” Then the priest grants absolution: “The Almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, + absolution, and remission of our sins.” Again, all agree “Amen.”
The preparation concludes with verses and responses. Our setting has been established. Next we will look at the Introit, Collect for Purity, Summary of the Law, and the Kyrie Eleison, more preparatory prayers!

How to Use the Anglican Missal

One stumbling block a layman (or for that matter, a priest) may encounter when beginning to use the Anglican Missal is trying to find things and get organized.  To that end, I had prepared the attached little document.  You may find it handy to print it double sided on card stock and slip it into the missals you have in your pews.

How to use the missal

What’s that you say?  You don’t have missals in your pews?  Well, get on the ball and order them!


Ancient Worship…Timeless Faith

A few years ago, a fellow priest (hi Jerry!) and I began using the phrase with which I’ve titled this post on websites and printed matter to refer to our traditional Anglican liturgy.  We had realized that the word “traditional” had come to have some bad connotations…for example, to a Roman Catholic, it meant “all Latin, all the time,” to a certain type of middle aged person, it meant “stuffy crap I hated as a kid,” to a number of folk it was a signal of an embattled, besieged mindset.  One of the larger continuing Anglican churches at that time was using for an advertising slogan the phrases “traditional faith…traditional worship…traditional teaching,” without much success.  It didn’t help that in theological circles was popular the amusing tagline that defined tradition as “the living faith of the dead,” but traditionalism as “the dead faith of the living,” causing no end of tittering amongst the affected and soi-disant trend-meisters of the new age, the real embodiment of “dead faith of the living.”

About the same time, the neo-evangelical and charismanic exodus from Anglican Communion churches had begun, and in their attempt to co-opt the desire amongst gen-X and gen-next for the ancient, they produced the phrase “Ancient-Future Worship” to describe their adaptation of some elements of traditional liturgy overlaid with bad rock music and pagan hysterical utterances.  In a critique of this clumsy blend of so-called “three stream” religions, one wag was wont to observe that “Ancient-Future Worship is ‘oh for three’; it is not Ancient, one prays that it not be Future, and by no exaggeration could it be called Worship.”

And yet the three-stream pretenders had hit on a third of the right answer.  The word “Ancient” strikes a gong of harmony in our racial subconscious, and, as it were, grabs us by our hippocampi, tweaks our amygdalae, and draws us in.  We are, in a word, hard-wired for Ancient Worship.  Gongs are struck, candles glow, smoke rises, incense caresses the olfactory, and we see what Saint John the Divine saw when he was shown what Real Worship looks like in the heavenly places of which each of our sanctuaries is a pale Platonic reflection.

Ancient Worship…Timeless Faith.  Only insofar as we proclaim and practice these four words will we succeed–and remain in the center of divine will.