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Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Book of Common Prayer

Stir up Sunday collect from 1637 Book of Common Prayer (St Andrews copy)

"The Book of Common Prayer provides for Anglicans worship that is majestic, beautiful, above the ordinary level of their lives, and orderly and dependable.  It is Scripturally based, it has been developed by the Holy Catholic Church through the centuries and it is thoroughly beloved by Anglicans in all its similar forms everywhere." - Perry Laukhuff

I have long lamented the replacement of prayers in the Book of Common Prayer by trendy language which rarely if ever adds anything, and more often detracts from the beauty of the original. Take the beautifully explicit Prayer of Humble Access, admirably explained here, which is frequently dropped from services despite its enduring popularity, or updated by a word here and a word there until it almost becomes - Actually, we really do presume...! It is in that regard that a remark by a speaker at the recent Church in Wales' The Time is Now Conference (here) stuck in my craw, not for what he was trying to say but for what he is reported to have said about the Anglican prayer book, one of the jewels of Anglicanism:

"John explained that the Church has started to get alongside the community and they did this by thinking about the language people use in Caia Park. Now referring to themselves as “St Mark in the Park”, they are starting to work with local voluntary groups in the area. John said the language of the Church has been alien to the culture – especially from the Anglican prayer book. Instead the Church, led by Revd Eric Owen, have started to use positive language that people can relate to."

Now what could be clearer than this? This prayer from what is affectionately known as the Church in Wales 'Green Book' seems to me to go to the heart of the matter without any qualification and should be readily understood from Caia Park to Llys Esgob:


Almighty God, who has taught us that we are members one of another: remove, we beseech thee, from among us all distrust and bitterness; and grant that, seeking what is just and equal, and caring for the needs of others, we may live and work together in unity and love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Or from the unexpurgated version:

A Collect or Prayer for all Conditions of men, to be used at such times when the Litany is not appointed to be said.
(The Church of England)

O GOD, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for the good estate of the Catholick Church; that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those, who are any ways afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate; [*especially those for whom our prayers are desired;] that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them, according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions. And this we beg for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen.

And from The Episcopal Church, now with great irony as it follows its liberal agenda:

For the Church
Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it
with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt,
purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is
amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in
want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake
of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.

It is not that the language of the Church has become alien, rather congregations have become alien to the language of mystery as they indulge in trendy new-speak, apart from some notable exceptions which liberals are doing their best to get rid of.

If the language of the Church has been "alien to the culture", how are we to respond in a multicultural society? If we are to believe the former Bishop of Oxford, architect of Wales 2020 we will be having readings from the Koran at the next coronation. Would that be "kill the infidel wherever you find them" or "cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers"... Listen here. Christians in Syria, Iraq, Africa, and around the world are being killed or driven out of the homes by people who believe that the only religion is Islam. Is there no limit to the stupidity of some liberal Anglicans?

LIGHTEN our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.


  1. These new rites are all part of the process of stripping us of our language, our identity, our doctrine, so that we can be made to act in ways which are contrary to our Christian faith and profession. It is the mirror image of the work of the (Marxist) Frankfurt School in western society, which is slowly but steadily subverting everything we stand for, in order to reduce us all to slaves of a vile ideology. Our bishops are in the forefront of the process in the Church in Wales, almost certainly ignorant of the disease to which they have succumbed, but none the less useful idiots in its cause.

  2. "Is there no limit to the stupidity of some liberal Anglicans?"


  3. Perhaps this is why attendance at weekday worship (dominated by BCP choral Evensong) has doubled in English cathedrals over the past decade? It demonstrates that people are seeking beauty, transcendence and, above all, God. This is expressed as much in language as it is in architecture and music.

    Do these dim-wit, 'Desperate Dan' clergy, who are hell-bent on putting bums on pews, not realise that their asinine endeavours repel so many thoughtful people?

    In a church of snakes and ladders, Peggy the Pilot, the cart-wheeling Ass Bishop, and a music free cathedral on The Green at Llandaff, is it any wonder that people who are seeking the 'mysterium tremendens et fascinans' are abandoning the C in W in droves?

    1. Exactly so - cathedrals are the only place to worship almighty God where one is not likely to be confronted by entertainment dressed up as religion, overhead projectors, rock bands - or by silent church organs. The only exception appears to be Llandaff, where the campaign seems to be directed at getting the bums off the pews as soon as possible. Perhaps the intention is eventually to turn it into a museum or a mosque, like the National Cathedral in Washington?

  4. Talking to regular worshippers in my parish, I get the clear impression that they come NOT because the liturgy is - or is not - in Cramnerian language; but because they experience a basic quality in the worship offered. As this year's Reith lecturer said (speaking about surgical practices) 'discipline can be the only basis from which we take risks.' That's a good motto for all liturgical celebrants. If you have a firm grasp of the history, theology and pastoral consequences of the liturgy at which you preside, you are well equipped to venture into new territory. The problem is that because the culture of clergy training over the past 40 years has had a phobia about liturgical formation, fewer and fewer clergy have any basic grasp of how the liturgy has come into being. This is why we see such indiscriminate 'tinkering' from people who do not understand what they are doing. Too many former primary school teachers, and others, who think that worship is all about 'learning outcomes' are reducing the liturgy to a didactic event, where were are supposed to 'understand' what is happening. Consequently, we are subjected to interminable waffle about 'what we are about to do' - rather than allowing us to enter into the mystery of the liturgy and discern God's self-revelation for as long as it takes.

    Barry is part of this 1970s/80s momentum, where we are all supposed to 'understand' through infantile language and a dismantling of the body-language of worship which has sustained Christians throughout much of our history. The near-total demise of Non-Conformity has shown us that 'functional Protestantism' is not capturing the imagination. People are seeking much more, as previous comments demonstrate.

    Let those with ears...

    1. Nobody is listening in Llandaff, Fr Moote.

    2. And the commonest objection to religion that one sees on blog-comments by non-believers is that they have given up on fairy tales and the Sky Fairy. When I was a child I thought as a child..... One cannot help sympathizing. Of course children should be brought to church, but if all worship is designed to please children, then it will necessarily be childish (and that is not the same, of course, as childlike - as in 'except ye be as little children...').


    The Archbishop of Wales will address people who work for the emergency services at a service at Llandaff Cathedral on Thursday evening (Dec 4). Dr Barry Morgan will preach at a combined service for police, fire service, ambulance and lifeboat personnel at the Cathedral.
    He will say, “If you wanted to sum up God’s work, He is a God who is in the rescue business. That is the root meaning of the word ‘salvation’ – it means being saved from something or someone."

    When will God rescue the Church in Wales and in particular the Diocese and Cathedral of Llandaff from Darth ++Insidious, his coven, his glove puppet?

    1. The learned Lux Et Veritas has a common habit . His 'Darkness' is the Archbishop for the 'Church in Wales' not 'Wales'.

      Furthermore, Barry's address on the 'rescue business' is as old as the 'golf club' sermon which by now must surely be 17 - 19 years. The 'Hubris Syndrome' knows not of any cure. R.I.P everyone.

    2. It's not my habit Enforcer, merely a quote taken directly from the CinW website (see link).

  6. What you forget is that the language of the Prayer Book was the language of the people. Cranmer's intention was to create a prayer book that used the vernacular - the language of ordinary people. I am assumung that what's happeming in Caia Park is just that. So I disagree with the whole tenor of what's expressed here (there's a surprise). The prayer of humble access in the new rite is every bit has beautiful and memorable as that of 1662 -

    Lord Jesus Christ,
    you draw and welcome us,
    emptied of pride and hungry for your grace,
    to this your kingdom’s feast.
    Nowhere can we find food for which our souls cry out,
    but here, Lord, at your table.
    Invigorate and nourish us, good Lord,
    that in and through this bread and wine
    your love may meet us
    and your life complete us in the power and glory of your kingdom.

    Modern liturgy at its best - in the vernacular, but beautiful.

  7. Llandaff Pelican3 December 2014 at 18:05

    But, Lux et Veritas, it's not a patch on the David Frost alternative Prayer of Humble Access written for the ASB/Common Worship, which is not only less contrived, but deeply resonant of scripture, and bears repetition in the way that the C in W version does not:

    Most merciful Lord,
    your love compels us to come in.
    Our hands were unclean,
    our hearts were unprepared;
    we were not fit
    even to eat the crumbs from under your table.
    But you, Lord, are the God of our salvation,
    and share your bread with sinners.
    So cleanse and feed us
    with the precious body and blood of your Son,
    that he may live in us and we in him;
    and that we, with the whole company of Christ,
    may sit and eat in your kingdom. Amen.

    David Frost is an Orthodox scholar, of course, and this prayer is resonant of the language of the Liturgy of St Basil. It stands in stark contrast to the 'made up from scratch' prayer Lux et Veritas is fond of. Which begs the question - again - why is the novel to be preferred over and against the rooted and traditional? Boredom, perhaps?

  8. The Prayer of Humble Access is part of the rite for the Mass of the Ordinariate.