Antecommunion: What, Why, and How?

The Saint Aelfric Customary

Something we’ve touched upon here before is the subject of the service of Antecommunion. I figured it’s about time we revisit that idea with a more direct address of its identity, purpose, and execution.

What is ‘Antecommunion’?

The prefix ante- means ‘before’, so the service of Antecommunion is the Service of Holy Communion before, or leading up to and excluding, the actual celebration of Communion.  Basically from the Introit to the Offertory, this is the non-sacramental part of the Communion liturgy.  The only difference is that this is done on purpose, and ends with a few different prayers, making this specifically the Service of Antecommunion rather than the Service of Holy Communion Except We Stopped Short Just Before The Important Bit.

Why would anyone do this?

Antecommunion is a uniquely Anglican practice; I’m not sure if any other tradition has ever had a liturgy on the books like this.  In…

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COMMON AUTHORITY IN THE MIDST OF UNCOMMON PRAYER

The advent of the ACNA 2019 Book of Common Prayer raises an important question: what authority does it have in comparison with the other historic Books of Common Prayer? After all, the 1979 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer varies from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer not merely in liturgical form but also in doctrine and rubrics. For example, the classic prayer book requirement that none be admitted to communion unless they are confirmed or “ready and desirous” of the same is omitted in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the baptismal service shifts its focus from regeneration to initiation. Indeed the 2019 Book of Common Prayer also lacks this requirement, although it has restored confirmation to a rite that is required for Anglicans and not optional.

What then should an ACNA Anglican look to when trying to discern how to act when the 2019 ACNA BCP is silent? After all, the prior authorized prayer books (including the 1979) remain authorized for use in ACNA, so there is certainly conflict between the 1928, and 1979 BCP’s. What is an Anglican to do?

Read more here: http://northamanglican.com/common-authority-in-the-midst-of-uncommon-prayer/

Now available: another episode of the “Miserable Offenders” podcast on “Knowing God in the Liturgy” by Peter Toon

Prydain

From our friends at The North American Anglican, here is the latest episode of their podcast, Miserable Offenders.  In this episode, Deacon Andrew and Jesse pick up the reading and discussion of Peter Toon’s “Knowing God Through The Liturgy” which can be found at New Scriptorium (http://newscriptorium.com/toon-collection ). They note “As always, we digress and bring the insight of Toon into our present situation.”  As always this is worth listening to!

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Moving to TNAA

It’s official, I’m moving the blog to The North American Anglican. Don’t worry, the old blog posts will remain here and I may have the occasional post here if it isn’t something that fits under the mission of The North American Anglican.

You up can find my first post at this link. Be sure to subscribe to new posts over at The North American Anglican so you don’t miss out.

Thank you for reading my posts over the years. I saved this WordPress domain in 2007 and finally started blogging in 2013. It is hard to believe it has been almost exactly six years since that first blog post. The journeying in a strange land continues and I hope to see you there as we keep walking towards the final rest.

Now available: the next episode of the “Miserable Offenders” podcast on “Knowing God in the Liturgy” by Peter Toon

Prydain

From our friends at The North American Anglican, here is the latest episode of their podcast, Miserable Offenders.  In this episode, Deacon Andrew and Jesse discuss the recent heated debates over the 2019 ACNA Book of Common Prayer and eventually turn back to the Toon text for answers.  If you have been following those debates, this is certainly worth hearing.

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Rev. Jefferies Response Re: ACNA 2019 BCP & Prayer Book Society USA’s Updated 1662 BCP

Glad to see Rev. Jefferies respond and do so on the same outlet that has mainly hosted as the battlefield of opinion on the new ACNA 2019 BCP, The North American Anglican.

A few items worth noting:

Some priests and theologians might explain the prepositions in the sacramental rites as causative, some as promissory, but in either case, we can all pray the same prayers. This was the theological genius of 1662.

. . .

And, certainly, the 1662 has strengths that the 2019 does not have. Most definitely. In unity, simplicity, beauty, the 1662 easily beats 2019.

Agree on all counts, which is why I hate to see us lose common prayer with so many options and would have rather seen an updating of the 2003 REC BCP as the baseline instead of “Starting from what is known and nearly-ubiquitous (the 1979 structures etc) . . . .”

I agree that some things have been lost that were in the 1662, but I don’t think they are the core — which I would argue is theological — of the legacy of the 1662.

I would disagree here. Losing language like “miserable offenders” in the daily office confession is excising theological language while adding additional prayers for the faithful departed does reflect minimizing one aspect of Anglican theology (original sin) while emphasizing a theology of remembrance for the dead. Likewise, it is unfortunate that the classic, short prayer book catechism (the basic requirement for confirmation and admission to Holy Communion) is not retained while additional daily offices are included and the word “regeneration” is made optional.  Such losses do not render the ACNA 2019 BCP a deviation like the 1979, but I do lament not restoring what was loss in the 1979 BCP. This was a crucial opportunity to restore what American Anglicanism loss and while the end result is a solid step in the right direction, but not a full restoration.

This makes the Prayer Book Society – USA’s recent announcement in publishing a new edition of the 1662 BCP with minor alterations to make it more global in usage quite interesting. Additionally, the United Episcopal Church of North America recently voted at National Council to allow usage of the 1662 BCP and a deanery has been formed in CANA West that will solely use the 1662 BCP.  Although personally, I prefer retaining the American inheritance of our 1892/1928 BCP and adapting it to conform to the 1662 (Athanasian Creed restored, Luther’s Flood Prayer restored, etc.). Hence, I remain a broken record for the 2003 REC BCP and REC Modern Language BCP, which does this but could still have been improved upon slightly in the modern language aspect.

. . . the BCP 2019 is un-apologetically an inheritor of the 1979 BCP and the Liturgical Movement it participated in . . .

. . .

. . . in a world indelibly shaped by the Liturgical Movement, . . .

Which is quite a shame, considering the errors spurred by Dix and the resulting Liturgical Movement. (See pages 1-2 here for more.)

A point of clarification, before closing out, the letter states:

That it could be approved both by John Cosin AND Richard Baxter, even though these two men had very different theological convictions; Indeed, the 1662 is clearly what we might with hindsight call a via media between those who emphasized the reformed aspect of their reformed catholicity, and those who emphasized the catholic heritage within that same description.

However, Richard Baxter was a nonconformist in part due to the 1662 BCP being enforced in the Act of Uniformity (1662), so the 1662 BCP is not exactly the “via media” between Bishop Cosin and Baxter but I agree the 1662 prayer book is truly representative of “reformed catholicity.”

This is why I support the traditional language version that ACNA Liturgy Task Force member Jacob Hootman has drafted, namely due to the restoration of prayer book language previously disregarded, and not because it is in traditional language.  I continue to urge readers to write the ACNA Liturgy Task Force and show your support for this project. Perhaps the ACNA BCP will once again restore some of the loss language and we can catechize those raised on the 1979 BCP with the reformed catholicity our forefathers professed and passed onto us in the historic liturgies and in the Articles of Religion.

Returning to the Old Paths: A Traditional (and Restored) Language ACNA BCP

The ACNA blogosphere and social media has been dominated by the new kid on the block, the ACNA 2019 Book of Common Prayer. Meanwhile, I overlooked an emerging project to render the 2019 BCP into the language of Cranmer.  But this isn’t simply a Rite I job on the ACNA prayer book, instead, it is actually restoring key language. Exhibit A, from the Daily Office Confession:

We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and there is no health in us.

What you may notice is the omission of “and apart from your grace” preceding “there is no health in us.” This was an addition to the 2019 ACNA BCP that Professor Samuel Bray took to task over at the North American Anglican.

Now enter Exhibit B, also from the confession:

But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.

Ah, there it is. Miserable Offenders unite.

It is my understanding this project has the blessing of the Liturgy Task Force (there is a rubric allowing for traditional language in the ACNA BCP).  There is potential this work will be published officially by the ACNA with the College of Bishops’ blessing. I hope some of the changes to the classic canticles are also reversed and for heaven’s sake, put the Opening Sentences, well, in the opening of the offices.  Also, based on my use of the ACNA BCP when compared to using the 2003 REC BCP offices, it would be a huge and simple improvement to place the supplemental canticles and seasonal antiphons within the text of the offices to prevent from needlessly flipping several times during the offices.  When using the 1928 BCP or 2003 REC BCP I have found a congregation does not miss a beat so long as you print the page number in the bulletin for the canticles that will be used in the service or simply announce “turn to page x” and read the title of the canticle being read/sung next.  It is far easier to tell a congregation to skip a page or two on an optional canticle than jump to the back and hold your place in the office and then pick up where you were without confusing someone (see, I can be “missional”!).

It is with great joy that the twenty and thirty somethings have been pushing for this project (and I do believe Jacob Hootman, who spearheads this project was not yet nineteen when he started this work!).  Please contact the Liturgy Task Force AND the College of Bishops and let them know you support the project and want the restoration of important, classical Anglican language.

My wish list for this noble project would include restoring the simple, yet theologically heavy, classic catechism as it can be memorized and truly provides a new Anglican with the core of what is necessary for confirmation. This is not meant to degrade the ACNA Catechism as we do need their longer catechism to educate persons in a post-Christian society, but for the purpose of ensuring each confirmand knows what is key prior to confirmation the shorter catechism is better-suited and is based on the model of St. Cyril’s Catechetical Lectures (the Lord’s Prayer, the 10 Commandments, and the Creed).  Perhaps merely re-adopt the 1928’s Offices of Instruction would suffice since it is a liturgy for the entire church to recite and learn the catechism together (something we recently did at Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd). Additionally, instead of noting Ash Wednesday and Good Friday “are encouraged” for fasting, it would be important to note that these are required days of abstinence and all Fridays are days for fasting to keep within the prayer book tradition. If my memory serves me correctly, the American prayer books dropped the requirement in the 1662 BCP, in the “Concerning the Service of the Church”, requiring “And all Priests and Deacons are to say daily the Morning and Evening Prayer either privately or openly, not being let by sickness, or some other urgent cause.”  This should be restored in this traditional language version as a requirement for the clergy in a rubric before the major daily offices.

Please note, I am not opposed to contemporary language prayer books as I submitted my proposals to the task force, but I do believe words have meaning and excising words or providing additional contextual language comes dangerously close to crossing the boundaries of revision to revisionism. I do not believe the Liturgy Task Force had any intent of the latter and this traditional language ACNA BCP project provides the opportunity to ensure ACNA “not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28) but instead to “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16).