Thinking allowed

Additional liturgical materials for baptism

The Agenda for the July meet­ing of the Gen­er­al Syn­od is now avail­able and con­tains the fol­low­ing snippet:

Update (4 June): The Agenda has been revised and the updated agenda is here but it does not yet con­tain the actu­al texts to be intro­duced at the Syn­od. The timetable for Sunday is the same as in the ori­gin­al agenda.

Sunday 13 July

(if Art­icle 7 Ref­er­ence Meet­ings are not required)
2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Arch­bish­ops’ Council’s Annu­al Report 2013
Litur­gic­al Business
    Addi­tion­al texts for Holy Bap­tism – First Consideration 
Churches’ Mutu­al Cred­it Uni­on (CMCU): Presentation

(if Art­icle 7 Ref­er­ence Meet­ings are required)
4.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Litur­gic­al Business
    Addi­tion­al texts for Holy Bap­tism – First Consideration 
Churches’ Mutu­al Cred­it Uni­on (CMCU): Presentation

At the moment the papers per­tain­ing to this litur­gic­al busi­ness are not avail­able. We’ll add details when this is published.


Additional liturgical materials for baptism

As repor­ted on the main TA blog the House of Bish­ops of the Church of Eng­land met at Bish­op­thorpe Palace in York on Monday and Tuesday.

Amongst lots of oth­er busi­ness, the State­ment issued by the House con­tains this paragraph:

The House of Bish­ops received a report from the Litur­gic­al Com­mis­sion on the use of addi­tion­al texts for use in ser­vices of Bap­tism fol­low­ing the pilot­ing of new mater­i­als in par­ishes. The House heard that the feed­back from the par­ishes to the use of the texts had been largely pos­it­ive and wel­com­ing. Fol­low­ing a debate and minor amend­ments to the text the House voted for the new texts to pro­gress to being debated by Gen­er­al Synod.

This is the nor­mal route for any mater­i­al which comes under the terms of the Wor­ship and Doc­trine Meas­ure 1974, i.e., any mater­i­al which is altern­at­ive to text in the 1662 Book of Com­mon Pray­er — any draft is first reviewed by the House of Bish­ops, and only when agreed by that House is it intro­duced into the Gen­er­al Synod.


Alcuin of York, Abbot of Tours, 804

Today the Church of Eng­land com­mem­or­ates the dea­con Alcuin who rose to high office in the court of Char­le­magne, and who is par­tic­u­larly remembered in the Church for his litur­gic­al work. The Alcuin Club was foun­ded in 1897, to pro­mote and pub­lish litur­gic­al scholarship.

Alcuin was des­cen­ded from a noble Northum­bri­an fam­ily. Although the date and place of his birth are not known, he was prob­ably born in the year 735 in or near York. He entered the cathed­ral school there as a child, con­tin­ued as a Schol­ar and became Mas­ter. In 781, he went to Aachen as adviser to Char­le­magne on reli­gious and edu­ca­tion­al mat­ters and as Mas­ter of the Palace School, where he estab­lished an import­ant lib­rary. Although not a monk and in deacon’s orders, in 796 he became Abbot of Tours, where he died in the year 804. Alcuin wrote poetry, revised the lec­tion­ary, com­piled a sac­ra­ment­ary and was involved in oth­er sig­ni­fic­ant litur­gic­al work.

God of Wis­dom, Etern­al Light,
who shone in the heart of your ser­vant Alcuin,
reveal­ing to him your power and pity:
scat­ter the dark­ness of our ignorance
that, with all our heart and mind and strength,
we may seek your face
and be brought with all your saints
to your holy presence;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Rites of Ordination: Their History and Theology

book cover
Paul F. Brad­shaw Rites of Ordin­a­tion: Their His­tory and Theo­logy Lon­don: SPCK, 2014 ISBN 978–0‑281–07157‑9. pp. ix + 218. £19.99 pbk.

What does it mean to be ordained as a min­is­ter? This ques­tion stands in large print on the back cov­er of Paul Bradshaw’s excel­lent book. If it attracts those hop­ing to find voca­tion­al dir­ec­tion or insight into min­is­teri­al iden­tity, they will be sur­prised by the con­tents. Brad­shaw is not unin­ter­ested in these mat­ters as they are expressed in ordin­a­tion rites, but they are not at the centre of his study. 

With an envi­able com­bin­a­tion of pro­fund­ity and eco­nomy, he has pro­duced a sur­vey of east­ern and west­ern rites of ordin­a­tion that stretches from the prac­tices of the earli­est Chris­ti­an com­munit­ies to the present day. This approach makes it pos­sible to show what ele­ments have been essen­tial, which bib­lic­al images have been sus­tained in the lan­guage and theo­logy of ordin­a­tion, how rela­tion­ships between orders have been under­stood, how the role of the laity has been acknow­ledged or eclipsed, and how can­did­ates have been chosen. The first three chapters, which deal with typo­logy of min­istry, min­istry in the earli­est Chris­ti­an com­munit­ies, and min­istry in the earli­est ordin­a­tion rites are par­tic­u­larly help­ful in set­ting the scene for what is to come.

Brad­shaw is the sort of his­tor­i­an who makes the evid­ence of his work­ings excit­ing. As his explor­a­tion moves to the rites them­selves, we learn a good deal about how to estab­lish a likely ‘ori­gin­al’ text by com­par­ing ver­sions of it in dif­fer­ent near-con­tem­por­ary doc­u­ments, or by sift­ing out com­mon fea­tures of later rites which must have come from a shared source. The account of the East takes up one chapter to five which might be defined as pre­oc­cu­pied with the West. This does not neces­sar­ily mean that the ori­gins of the East­ern rites of ordin­a­tion are more straight­for­ward: only that they sta­bil­ised where­as pat­terns in the West con­tin­ued to change. Thus it was not too long before bish­ops began to be appoin­ted by the Pope and not by the pop­u­lar acclaim of the loc­al community.

Rites con­verged as the Church grew and spread. The ordin­a­tion ser­vices which res­ult from the meet­ing of Roman and Gal­lican tra­di­tions become far more elab­or­ate than the indi­vidu­al streams which have come togeth­er. At the same time, there was a move away from loc­al acclaim, rela­tion­ship to place (the idea of a title), and the involve­ment in the laity in the choice and ordin­a­tion of min­is­ters. What increased was an emphas­is on the sac­ri­fi­cial priest­hood, to the exclu­sion of oth­er aspects of this order, like shep­herd and proph­et. This attrac­ted the cri­ti­cism of the Reformers, begin­ning with John Wyc­liffe and trenchantly uttered by Luth­er and Calv­in. Once again the ques­tion of what clergy were for, and how they differed from the laity, was at stake.

These are ques­tions that the Churches, includ­ing the Church of Rome, have gone on ask­ing – although it was not until 1990 that Rome had an ordin­a­tion rite sig­ni­fic­antly dif­fer­ent from the first prin­ted pon­ti­fic­al of 1485. There is now con­sid­er­able con­ver­gence on many of the desir­able char­ac­ter­ist­ics named by the World Coun­cil of Churches doc­u­ment, Bap­tism, Euchar­ist and Min­istry (1982). But Brad­shaw gives us a pic­ture of work still very much in pro­gress. Churches con­tin­ue to pon­der how to accom­mod­ate the lay­ing on of hands in the ordin­a­tion pray­er without split­ting it into three. They go on seek­ing ways to allow the voice of the laity to be heard in the rite and to rep­res­ent loc­al com­munit­ies where ordin­a­tion is cel­eb­rated in cent­ral loc­a­tions. They keep try­ing out sec­ond­ary sym­bol­ism to accom­pany the lay­ing on of hands and pray­er for the work of the Holy Spir­it. No Church seems as yet to have got this quite right, and part of Bradshaw’s achieve­ment is in show­ing how cho­reo­graphy can assist in solv­ing cer­tain prob­lems. There is plenty of mater­i­al here to guide prac­tice, and to root it his­tor­ic­ally without allow­ing any irre­spons­ible and badly-informed appeals to the Early Church. It is unlikely that any Church will embark on the revi­sion of its ordin­a­tion rites in future without first study­ing this book. 

Buy this book.


Gregory Dix, Priest, Monk, Scholar, 1952

Gregory DixToday the Church of Eng­land com­mem­or­ates Gregory Dix, whose name was added to the Cal­en­dar in 2010.

Excit­ing Holi­ness con­tains this bio­graph­ic­al information:

Born in 1901, George Dix was edu­cated at West­min­ster School and Mer­ton Col­lege, Oxford. After ordin­a­tion to a Fel­low­ship at Keble Col­lege, Oxford, he taught his­tory before enter­ing the noviti­ate of the Bene­dict­ine com­munity at Per­shore, tak­ing the name Gregory. Shortly after­wards the com­munity moved to Nash­dom in Buck­ing­ham­shire, where Dix even­tu­ally made his life pro­fes­sion and was appoin­ted Pri­or. Dix was one of the most influ­en­tial fig­ures of a gen­er­a­tion of Anglo-Cath­ol­ics who worked enthu­si­ast­ic­ally towards reunion with Rome. A gif­ted and pop­u­lar preach­er and spir­itu­al dir­ect­or, Dix is best remembered as a litur­gic­al schol­ar whose monu­ment­al work, The Shape of the Liturgy, has had an unpar­alleled influ­ence over litur­gic­al study and revi­sion since it was first pub­lished in 1945. He died on this day in 1952.

We plan to include occa­sion­al anniversar­ies of sig­ni­fic­ant litur­gic­al events or people. Text of this entry is from Excit­ing Holi­ness and is repro­duced by per­mis­sion of the editor.


The Study of Liturgy and Worship

Ben­jamin Gor­don-Taylor and Juli­ette Day The Study of Liturgy and Wor­ship Lon­don: SPCK, 2013 ISBN 978–0‑281–06909‑5. pp.272. £25.00 pbk.

Back in the day when ‘Liturgy’ was Dix and ‘Wor­ship’ was Under­hill, ‘Study’ ten­ded to focus on detailed ana­lys­is of increas­ingly nar­row top­ics. When those who stud­ied liturgy had been nur­tured on a Tri­dentine Mass or a Pray­er Book Com­mu­nion ser­vice, much could be taken for granted.

So a book that takes litur­gic­al study out of its strait­jack­et is highly wel­come. Here, in a single volume are 22 essays of roughly equal length, grouped under four head­ings. ‘Found­a­tions’ opens with essays on Wor­ship and Liturgy. The second sec­tion, ‘Ele­ments’, looks at Time, Space, Music, Lan­guage and Min­is­tries. The third sec­tion, ‘Event’, deals with spe­cif­ic occa­sions for liturgy, whilst the most chal­len­ging chapters are per­haps those of the fourth sec­tion of the book, described as ‘Dimen­sions’. Here, in the chapter on Eth­ics, Siob­hán Gar­rigan notes how at times ‘liturgy has failed to change, and might even have aided, some of the world’s greatest uneth­ic­al situ­ations.’ She notes that the Old Test­a­ment proph­ets were only too well aware of the need for wor­ship to be eth­ic­al. We neg­lect their warn­ings at our per­il (‘I hate, I des­pise your fest­ivals’ Amos 5.21 and ‘Do not trust these decept­ive words “This is the temple of the Lord”’ Jeremi­ah 7.4). She notes how Karl Rahner, at the Second Vat­ic­an Coun­cil, argued that ‘if you do not get life right, you can­not get liturgy right.’

Ruth Mey­ers in the fol­low­ing chapter reminds us of the place of wor­ship in form­ing people for Mis­sion, and build­ing a ‘Mis­sion-Shaped Church’. Philip Tovey’s chapter on Cul­ture reminds us of how slowly and grudgingly pro­gress has been made. The Second Vat­ic­an Coun­cil had raised the issue but going bey­ond ver­nacu­lar masses (which was a huge step), real change express­ive of dif­fer­ent cul­tures has been lim­ited. He also notes that The Anglic­an Com­mu­nion, with pray­ers for ‘us and for all men’ has been slow to adopt inclus­ive lan­guage and pro­duce litur­gies for occa­sions when a sig­ni­fic­ant pro­por­tion of com­mu­nic­ants are children.

‘Dimen­sions’ con­cludes with Myra Blyth’s chapter on Ecu­men­ism. She writes as a Baptist min­is­ter who spent many years at the World Coun­cil of Churches. Churches have moved from prid­ing them­selves on fine dis­tinc­tions and divi­sions to heed­ing Jesus’ pray­er that all should be one. The Lima doc­u­ment on Bap­tism, Euchar­ist and Min­istry was a real mile­stone. But, Blyth notes, there have been set­backs. She writes, ‘For Mar­garet Käss­mann, former Bish­op of Ber­lin-Branden­berg, the (2003) report and espe­cially the frame­work for com­mon pray­er, rep­res­ents a back­ward step on the ecu­men­ic­al jour­ney. It is “a doc­u­ment of fear which takes great care to estab­lish the bound­ar­ies that divide us”’.

The inclu­sion of these themes as equal has pro­duced a well-roun­ded study. But this has meant that much has had to be abbre­vi­ated and the valu­able list of fur­ther read­ing at the end of each chapter will need to be accessed in order to explore each top­ic in more depth. I might have looked for a longer chapter on ‘Euchar­ist’ but the chapters on ‘Ritu­al’, on ‘Pray­er’ and on ‘Sign and Sym­bol’ and ‘Word and Sac­ra­ment’ provide valu­able insights to add to what is found there.

The import­ance of ‘Word’ is also stressed in chapters on litur­gic­al lan­guage, and on Pro­clam­a­tion, which can bring us back to not­ing the import­ance of a chapter on Eth­ics. These dis­crete essays fit togeth­er superbly. The rich­ness and diversity of con­tent has meant that the review­er has found a great deal of import­ance bey­ond what might have been expec­ted; essays on Euchar­ist, Ser­vices of the Word, and those which mark mem­ber­ship and rites of pas­sage. The way the book is con­struc­ted means that no aspect can be treated in isol­a­tion, and the total­ity of what it offers will make a great con­tri­bu­tion to enabling those respons­ible for wor­ship to make it a trans­form­ing and enrich­ing experience.

Buy this book.

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Liturgy Matters

Does liturgy matter?

I recently par­ti­cip­ated in a ‘course’ inten­ded for those con­sid­er­ing for the first time ques­tions of spir­itu­al­ity and reli­gion. (I won’t name names, but it prob­ably isn’t a course you’ve heard of.) I wasn’t able to be involved in very many of the ses­sions, but what struck me was that the con­tent was about me — what I think, what I believe. Maybe that is a good way to try and approach people with little or no exper­i­ence of Christianity.

But it is quite a long way from what Chris­tian­ity is. Although much is made of what Chris­ti­ans should or should not believe, at its heart Chris­tian­ity is about what we do.

In that phrase both the pro­noun and the verb are import­ant: the ‘we’ and the ‘do’.

We intend through this blog to explore the ‘we’ and the ‘do’ in the con­text of liturgy — not because liturgy is neces­sar­ily the most import­ant thing that we do, but because it is part of what we do.

And we shall con­sider liturgy in the con­text of how we as Chris­ti­ans live our lives. That’s a col­lect­ive thing, as our wor­ship trans­forms the com­munity in which we belong — and also as our com­munity trans­forms our wor­ship. We shall con­sider the view that we are engaged in a pub­lic theo­logy, that is, debate and engage­ment in the pub­lic space with those who are inside the Church, those who are on the fringes — and those, if they care to join us, who con­sider them­selves as out­side. In tak­ing this view we are fol­low­ing the example of Jesus, for whom pub­lic min­istry and pub­lic theo­logy were at the heart of all that he pro­claimed. Liv­ing as a pub­lic fig­ure, and dying the death of a pub­lic crim­in­al, a primary form of his min­istry was at the table. For Jesus, this rad­ic­al table min­istry became the means by which he not only preached but also lived and exem­pli­fied the king­dom of God. And ulti­mately — as Robert Kar­ris wrote — ‘Jesus got him­self cru­ci­fied by the way he ate’. 

It is per­haps para­dox­ic­al, at first sight, that the con­tinu­ation of Jesus’s table min­istry lies at the heart of our wor­ship. The Euchar­ist is in many places an act of great mir­acle, great sym­bol­ism and doc­trin­al sig­ni­fic­ance, and great per­son­al devo­tion. Yet when we break bread togeth­er at the Euchar­ist, we are shar­ing that table fel­low­ship which he began and which has been con­tin­ued by his fol­low­ers. Over­laid with oth­er mean­ings and theo­lo­gies though it may be, this is cent­ral to our litur­gic­al life. Because when we break bread togeth­er in this way, we recog­nize the pres­ence of the ris­en Christ among us, once again.

There are lots of sub­tleties and theo­lo­gic­al ideas to con­sider in among all that — and we intend to look at some of them in this blog — but fun­da­ment­ally we intend to explore the con­tinu­ing rel­ev­ance of that table min­istry in the Church today, how it relates to our euchar­ist­ic wor­ship, how it relates to our mis­sion to the world, how it meets (or doesn’t meet) people’s spir­itu­al needs and how it relates to the pro­clam­a­tion of the king­dom of God, with its call for mutu­al recon­cili­ation and for social justice.

In addi­tion, liturgy should be worthy of offer­ing to God; and it should inspire and ful­fil us, refresh and enthuse us, and help form us and oth­ers to live that life in all its full­ness which Jesus preached. We will look at all that too.

We shall try not to be overly con­cerned about doc­trine and dogma. Doc­trine and dogma have their place; but here we want to think about what we say and what we do, and how by say­ing and doing, both in wor­ship and in life, we pro­claim and live where God’s king­dom is at hand.

Yes, liturgy matters.


Introducing Thinking Liturgy

A dec­ade or so ago we began Think­ing Anglic­ans with the express inten­tion of proclaiming

a tol­er­ant, pro­gress­ive and com­pas­sion­ate Chris­ti­an spir­itu­al­ity, in which justice is cent­ral to the pro­clam­a­tion of the good news of the king­dom of God. Our spir­itu­al­ity must engage with the world, and be con­sist­ent with the sci­entif­ic and philo­soph­ic­al under­stand­ing on which our mod­ern world is based. It must address the changes which sci­ence and tech­no­logy have brought into our lives.

Impli­cit in that was a con­nec­tion between what we do in Church and what we do in the world. We seek to share our food with the hungry, we seek justice for the oppressed and the cap­tive, we seek a new start for all and recog­nize the wrongs that we and oth­ers have done to indi­vidu­als and groups, as well as to oth­er creatures and the phys­ic­al world. 

These things are intim­ately linked with what we do in Church. We gath­er around lectern and table to hear and receive the Word of God; we share for­give­ness and peace with our neigh­bours, and eat with them, recog­niz­ing the pres­ence of Christ as we do so. We are the body of Christ, not just in Church, but in the world. Our table fel­low­ship is not just a sym­bol­ic table fel­low­ship exist­ing only with­in the con­fines of the church build­ing; rather, all these things are one.

This close rela­tion­ship was redis­covered both by the Evan­gel­ic­al reviv­al and by the Oxford Move­ment. It was fun­da­ment­al to the rise of Chris­ti­an Social­ism and lay at the heart of the Par­ish Com­mu­nion movement.

And so in this new blog we shall look at the link and explore how our wor­ship can reflect the social justice that we have pro­claimed, and at the con­tinu­ing rel­ev­ance of this in the second dec­ade of the twenty-first cen­tury. The title ‘Think­ing Liturgy’ con­nects this blog to the par­ent ‘Think­ing Anglic­ans’ and also indic­ates the inten­tion to think about liturgy and pro­mote liturgy that is thought­ful. We shall cov­er a range of litur­gic­al top­ics and news, and try not to be con­fined to any par­tic­u­lar theo­lo­gic­al or doc­trin­al stance or ‘church­man­ship’, though our focus will be largely Anglic­an and Eng­lish. We shall con­sider too how our wor­ship, our liturgy, impacts on our mis­sion. We intend to pro­mote and share good litur­gic­al prac­tice, among both laity and clergy, and we shall explore litur­gic­al pres­id­ency. We may provide sample mater­i­al, and news of syn­od­ic­al author­iz­a­tion and com­mend­a­tion. We intend to review books and also ser­vices and build­ings, and we will cov­er related blogs and oth­er mater­i­al on the inter­net. We expect to have a num­ber of guest con­trib­ut­ors and we wel­come spir­ited litur­gic­al discussion.