Prayer Book Studies
In 1950 the Standing Liturgical Commission published the first issue of “Prayer Book Studies.” This booklet, in a series that would continue through the development of the present Prayer Book, contained two studies: I. Baptism and Confirmation and II. The Liturgical Lectionary. Revision of the 1892 Prayer Book had begun in 1913. From the introduction to Prayer Book Studies one gathers that by 1925 the General Convention had had more debate than they wished. They adopted a book as it stood in 1925 so that the succeeding General Convention could give final approval.
Interestingly, Christian initiation and the lectionary would be issues that would be revisited again and again in the next three decades as Prayer Book revision moved forward. The era after World War II was a very significant one for Christian theology across denominational lines. In the 1950s European and North American populations generally were still practicing Christians. Pope John XXIII, despite the best efforts of conservatives within his community to stop him, called the Second Vatican Council into session. Anglicans and other Christians shared in the ferment of the times. New ecumenical ground was broken, especially at the scholarly level.
Worship has always been central for Christians. Jesus’ friends gathered during and after the crucifixion. When did their worship become Christian worship? From the earliest days they met to break bread in the Lord’s name. For most Christians in most times and places Prosper of Aquitaine’s (390? – 455?) observation stands, “the law of worship constitutes the law of belief.”
Readers of this newsletter know that I frequently deplore the state of liturgical formation and education in our American seminaries. Our largest seminary has never employed a professor with a doctorate in liturgy or sacramental theology. Can it be true that most of those teaching liturgy in our seminaries have doctorates in other fields? Given what goes on in our seminaries, it’s not surprising that many members of the clergy and many lay people feel free to do whatever they want with the rites of the Church in their parishes. Especially given the state of liturgical formation and education of the clergy, it’s a little scary that our Church is experimenting with new rites.
I care deeply about worship, but worship itself is not the point. Christ himself is. It’s something like the stories of healing by Jesus that are recounted in the gospels. Yes, the healing was always important but it always points to something more, to God. Health is a great gift, especially for those who do not have it. But there is a greater gift, life in God.
I think we can do better as a Church with worship. We can be a Church that once again is known for its worship: its open doors, the people and clergy gathered, Offices prayed and Eucharists celebrated. I think we need a new era of Prayer Book Studies by and for clergy and the people of the Church. And of course, those of us who are committed to a liturgical Christianity can and should ask ourselves daily if we are trying to live the words we pray. We can and should ask daily for openness to the Holy Spirit to guide us, for greater humility before the mystery of God and life, and to work for God’s Kingdom in this world as well as the world to come. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Nancy, Margaret, Camelia, Jay, Mabel, Robert, Gloria, Jason, Harold, Billie, Matthew, Virginia, Bart, Margaret, Marion, Hugh, Rick, Mary Angela, religious, and Charles, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Jeffrey, Ned, Timothy, Patrick, Kevin, Christopher, Andrew, Joseph, Marc, Timothy, David, and Colin . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 21: 1977 Edward Parker Amos; January 23: 1964 Walter R. Noe, Jr., 1990 Mary Grantham Adams.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 62:1-5, Psalm 96:1-10, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, January 17, by Father Beddingfield
. . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, January 24, by Father Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The parish office will be closed on Monday, January 19, in observance of Martin Luther King Day. On ordinary federal holidays the church is closed except for the 12:00 Noonday Office and the 12:15 PM Mass . . . Thank you to Eileen Whittle, Dennis Smith and George Handy for braving the frigid temperature and sending out the stewardship pledge cards, the new music schedule and the Angelus! . . . The Board of Trustees meets on Tuesday, January 20 at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . Attendance last Sunday 208.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This week at the Sung Mass, played by associate organist Robert McDermitt, the prelude is Liebster Jesu, BWV 731 and the postlude is Herr Gott, nun sei Gepreiset, BWV 601, both by J. S. Bach (1685-1750). This week at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Plainte and the postlude is Dialogue sur les mixtures, both from Suite brève (1947) by Jean Langlais (1907-1991). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa in simplicitate (1953) by Langlais. It is a grand setting of the Mass, with Langlais’ distinctive polymodal harmonies, despite being set for unison choir. The anthem at Communion is Panis angelicus by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), a refreshing alternative to the more familiar setting by César Franck . . . We continue our series of organ recitals at 4:40. This week Jasmin Lalande, saxophonist, joins Robert McCormick for French and Canadian works by Lioncourt and Bénard for saxophone and organ. Though for an unusual musical combination, these works (mostly based on plainsong themes) are very successful and are interesting to hear!
Reminder from the TreasureR . . . If you haven't already done so, please bring in or mail your pledge cards as soon as possible. It’s of great importance in setting our budget for 2004. Many thanks to those who have already given us their pledge cards.
THE WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY . . . During the nineteenth century, many Christian voices across denominational lines began to call for and pray for the unity among Christian communities. The week begins on the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter, January 18, and concludes on the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, January 25. This year, the observance of each of these feasts is transferred forward one day because this year these dates fall on Sunday. At Saint Mary’s, our observance will begin with Solemn Evensong this Sunday. Two bishops will be with us to preach on different aspects of Christian unity. On Sunday, January 18, the Right Reverend C. Christopher Epting, ecumenical officer of the Episcopal Church, will be with us for Evensong. On Sunday, January 25, the Right Reverend George E. Packard, bishop suffragan for chaplaincies of the Episcopal Church, will be with us for Evensong. Christian unity will be one of the intentions at Mass each day this week.
WEEKDAY MASS SERVERS . . . Right now three people, Andrew Kraebel, Robert McCormick and Dorian Miceli, volunteer regularly to read and serve at weekday Masses. If you are interested in sharing in this ministry, please speak with one of the parish priests. Weekday servers do not need to serve on Sundays or at Solemn Mass! Training is arranged for all who volunteer for either the 12:15 or the 6:20 PM Mass. The parish clergy are very thankful for those who are able to share in the ministry presently and think more may be interested in helping out.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Second Sunday after the Epiphany
Monday The Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle (transferred)
Tuesday Fabian, martyr
Wednesday Agnes, martyr
Thursday Vincent, deacon & martyr
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Francis de Sales, bishop & doctor
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, curate, The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priest,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.