A Statement on Prayer Book Revision in Canada Prepared at the Request of the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada.
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This statement was prepared by the Right Reverend Howard H. Clark, Bishop of Edmonton, Chairman of the Central Revision Sub-Committee, a sub-committee of the Committee on Prayer Book Revision appointed by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. It was presented to the House of Bishops, and also to certain members of the Revision Committee, and then was revised by the Bishop of Edmonton in the light of their criticisms and suggestions. Although this statement was designed originally to provide information for one of the committees of the Lambeth Conference of 1958, the Canadian House of Bishops felt that it should be made available for distribution in Canada, and therefore directed its publication.
Prayer Book Revision in Canada
The Prayer Book authorized for use in the Anglican Church of Canada is that which was approved by the General Synod of 1918, and confirmed in 1921. It follows the Prayer Book of 1662 fairly closely, and there are only minor changes in language. The chief difference between the two” books is that in the Canadian Book a number of services for special occasions are added. Besides this, in the rubrics, “may” frequently replaces the “shall” of 1662.
It is difficult to estimate how closely to rubrical direction, and indeed to strict wording, the Prayer Book is used in Canada. There is certainly no liturgical chaos. Taking it by and large there is a deep loyalty to the Book of Common Prayer, but many of the clergy have felt free to turn to other Anglican prayer books for special prayers and even occasionally for a whole service. For instance, the Office for Holy Baptism in the English Book of 1928 was used by some of the clergy. There has been a tendency for variations, permitted in the Prayer Book for certain occasions, to become the prevailing practice. In churches where the Psalms are sung, a selection of Psalms chosen from the provisions in other prayer books, or even on the whim of rector or organist, often replaces the Psalms for the day. At the Eucharist, our Lord’s Summary of the Law is an alternative to the Ten Commandments, with the careful provision that the Ten Commandments shall be said at least once on Sunday and on the great festivals. But in some churches the Ten Commandments are hardly ever heard. On the whole at the Holy Communion the Prayer Book is otherwise faithfully followed.
But it has been understood for some time that the Prayer Book of 1918 was only a first step towards revision, and accordingly at the General Synod of 1943 it was decided that the work should be taken up again. Under the leadership of the late Bishop Hallam (at that time Bishop of Saskatoon) the committee began its work, and in 1955 was able to present a Draft Prayer Book to General Synod. This was given general approval, but as there was not time to consider it in detail, it was referred back to the Revision Committee for “correction and revision”.
Since that time there has been some experimental use of the book (when the Ordinary permits it) and much discussion of it. The committee has reviewed its work in the [3/4] light of many criticisms and suggestions, so that the final draft which will be considered by the General Synod in 1959 will be somewhat different from the published Draft Prayer Book. If it is accepted, it must still wait for confirmation at the General Synod three years later, although it is likely that there would be some permission to use the book in the meanwhile.
Anyone studying the Canadian Draft Prayer Book of 1955 should keep two facts in mind:
1. The work of revision was not complete when the Draft was published. The Table of Lessons, the Ordinal and some of the occasional services, had not been considered and were printed with little change from the Prayer Book of 1918.
2. A great deal of work has been done since the publication of the Draft, and some of the more distinctive innovations have been modified.
PROBLEMS OF REVISION
1. Doctrinal Implications.
When the Canadian Church began the work of revision in 1911, the General Synod, in accord with the express direction of Lambeth and the historical traditions of the Anglican Communion, clearly ordained that there must be no change in text or rubric which would involve or imply a change of doctrine or principle of the Church of England (1918 Preface).
In the present Revision the Revisers have also honoured this limitation, not indeed because of any newly expressed order of General Synod, but by their own understanding of their task. However, it seems clear that they have worked without the hesitation that their predecessors felt in dealing with liturgical material which has doctrinal implications.
Of course the real question, which puzzles the outsider and sometimes embarrasses those within the Church is this: What is the “doctrine of the Church of England”? To take but two examples, what is its doctrine about sacrifice or about prayers for the faithful departed? Some of the criticisms of the Canadian Draft seem to imply that in our [4/5] public worship, even as in our teaching of what is necessary for salvation, we are limited to that which can be plainly proved from Holy Scripture. This is, however, a limitation which it would be difficult to justify from the aims of the English Reformers, as expressed in the early Prefaces to the Book of Common Prayer.
The Canadian Draft has not escaped the charge that it involves a change of doctrine. This charge has been made specifically in regard to the proposed Prayer of Consecration and also in regard to the optional intercessions for the dead. Now as far as Eucharistic doctrine is concerned, the revisers have been forced to recognize that it is still impossible to find full agreement in our Church, despite the liturgical emphasis now found in the theology of evangelicals and the new insights about sacrifice which are modifying even the Roman Catholic view.
The Eucharist cannot be made a grab-bag in which all the different theological viewpoints find expression. But the revisers did seek, especially in the Prayer of Consecration, to find a form which all reasonable Anglicans can use with honesty and conviction, even if there be some differences in their interpretation of the words used. That is the reason why the 1662 Prayer of Oblation has not been incorporated in full in the Prayer of Consecration. We find that the eucharistic beliefs of many in the Church makes them value the offering of themselves, their souls and bodies, after the Communion. Also, because a number of theologians have expressed the fear that the wording of the Prayer of Consecration in the 1955 Draft opens the door to unscriptural theories concerning the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the revisers have modified one clause. The words that caused difficulty were these: “We present unto thy divine majesty this holy Bread of eternal life and this Cup of everlasting salvation.” Yet while it appears that this actual wording will not be acceptable (because open to misinterpretation) the Revisers would endeavour to conserve the values which in the first instance they had intended through the inclusion of this phrase.
As for what are popularly known as “prayers for the dead”, it is clear that there has been thankful remembrance of the faithful departed in every prayer book since 1549. But intercessions for the departed disappeared in 1552, and were not provided again until the modern revisions. There was general agreement among the Canadian Revisers that [5/6] such intercessions should not be made an integral part of any service; but it was decided that some might be proposed as optional prayers. This, surely, in view of the fact that such intercessions are found in every recent revision except the Irish, may be considered not so much a change in the doctrine of the Church as a development in its practice. The fact is that neither in the Church of England nor in the Anglican Communion as a whole, has there been an official declaration for or against such intercessions.
Strangely enough, two other services in the Canadian Draft which, as revised, might seem open to the charge that they represent a change in doctrine, have provoked little comment. These are the Solemnization of Matrimony and the Ministry to the Sick.
All this, however, illustrates the difficulty of doing any revising if there is too rigid an interpretation of the undoubtedly valid principle that we should not change the doctrine of the Church by the means of alterations in, its public worship.
But something more needs to be said. One of the remarkable features of our work of revision has been the harmony which the revisers experienced as they worked together. It is difficult to remember any single vote on which the division was on “party lines.”
This, no doubt, has been the experience in the other Churches of our Communion, but it is a fact which needs to be known and understood. Whatever theological tensions may be found in our Communion, they are not great enough to prevent us meeting together in harmonious determination to produce forms of worship which can be used by churchmen of all viewpoints.
2. Theological Motives of the Revisers
After reading the published debates on Cranmer’s theological intentions in his two Prayer Books, it is revealing experience to read the comments on the theology of a revision on which one has personally worked. One writer accused the Canadian revisers of a “fear of the Old Testament”.
The Church Times found in the Canadian Draft Book a “questionable, unscriptural and emasculated theology which removes all reference to the pitiable state of mankind, and makes no attempt to translate traditional terms describing the judgment of God”.
This sharp criticism, provoked by the Canadian Draft [6/7] Prayer Book’s omission of certain phrases found in Cranmer’s Litany and in his Confession in the Eucharist, was a complete misunderstanding. The Revisers shortened the General Confession, not because they found it intolerable that we should declare the burden of our sins to “be intolerable, but because they were influenced by the example of older confessions which simply and briefly say all that corporate Christian penitence can be expected to say.
The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, in a letter to the Church Times, pointed this out. He noted that the Confession in the Eucharist has for its chief source Archbishop Hermann’s Consultation but that the words omitted in the Canadian Draft are not found in Hermann, who “was content with milder phrases”. He also referred to the old words used by the Mediaeval Church. The Bishop ended by asking if it was wise to attack the Canadian Prayer Book “on ground on which it appears to stand where the Catholic Church has stood for centuries.”
We, however, would wish to urge a somewhat different point. The theological intention of the revisers is, on the whole, irrelevant, unless they have publicly announced an intention that is not in harmony with the mind of the Church. It is often difficult for a committee made up of men of many viewpoints to know clearly its intention on any one change. What matters is the finished product.
A proposed revision should be examined carefully in the light of theology. We do not hold to the opinion that the chief purpose of public prayer is to enunciate doctrine (at times Gregory Dix seemed to come close to this notion), but the worship to which it gives expression should certainly be inspired by a true theology. Briefly, then, the question to consider about such a change as the shortened confession is not the intention of the revisers but the adequacy of the new Confession, as compared to the old, as an expression of corporate Christian Penitence.
3. The Expert and the Pastor
A revision committee needs to turn continually to the liturgical scholar for guidance and counsel. Yet it cannot take his word as final. If its work is to result in a new Prayer Book, it must win the approval, not of the expert, but of the bishops, priests and laymen who are members (in the case of Canada) of General Synod and, in the long run, of our Church people generally. The arguments for [7/8] liturgical, correctness must be weighed against pastoral considerations.
For the revision of a liturgy must be a joint enterprise; the liturgical expert, the scholar with his mind trained and informed, the parish priest who knows and loves his people, all have their contribution to make, and, indeed, we must not neglect the contribution of the devout layman.
In every modern revision there will be features that will make the liturgist raise his eyebrows. But need this cause undue concern? No doubt the amateur in liturgy can commit fatal blunders. No doubt also reference to the scholar might protect us from such blunders. But the archaeological spirit can also cause blunders.
These considerations are relevant to the most important task in prayer book revision— the revising of the Service of Holy Communion. Anglicans must recognize that modern liturgical research does not result in a vindication of the 1662 rite. Some of its distinctive features are developments of the popular devotions of the late Middle Ages or the Reformation period, with the result that the great eucharistic moments of the early liturgies seem to the student to be obscured or given meagre expression in our rite. For instance the Exhortation, Confession, Absolution and Comfortable Words break into the movement from Offertory to Consecration to Communion.
Yet the “deficiencies” of the 1662 rite are easily overstated. Liturgies is not an exact science, and we need to beware of the fashion of the moment. The 1662 rite has its own logic, and when it is accepted and understood many of the criticisms of the scholar do not seem so important. Its “shape” may not be that of the primitive liturgies, but it is a shape that is, when understood, congruent with the primitive meaning of the Eucharist. After all, the Roman rite also seems wanting and dislocated to the exact student of liturgies, yet it is a rite that seems to have a fatal fascination for some of the most vocal critics of the English liturgy.
The Canadian revisers, at any rate, were not led to propose any fundamental change in the 1662 order, which of course is also that of our present Canadian rite. The governing reason for them was practical and pastoral. A drastic revision of the Eucharist would almost certainly fail to win the approval of General Synod; nor would it appeal to the majority of worshippers, who are not eager [8/9] for change. The wiser course seemed to be to accept the 1662 order as a starting point and make such changes (e.g. the increased emphasis on the Offertory and the more fully developed Prayer of Consecration) as could be made within that limitation.
There is a number of places in the Prayer Book of 1662 in which the translation of ancient collects or other material may be questioned. This is no recent discovery: Bishop Dowden, for example, had suggestions for a better English version of the Te Deum. From the point of view of strict scholarship the Te Deum, the Nicene Creed, the Sanctus, the Gloria in Excelsis, and the whole of the Psalter all need revision. Yet in each case the result would be a change in those parts of our services which belong to the people, are familiar to them, and are loved in their present form.
The Canadian revisers endeavoured to give these questions careful and balanced consideration. The result is that they propose changes in the Nicene Creed, the Gloria in Excelsis, and the Psalter.
4. Discipline and Rubrics
The Revisers from the first realized that they could not discipline, by means of Rubric, the clergy who disobey the Prayer Book. Yet, at the beginning of their labours they were undoubtedly under the influence of that idea of rigid uniformity which caused the rubrics to be interpreted as if they were legal documents.
This caused some discomfort as the logic of our work forced us to frequent “mays” in the rubrics and also to some alternatives. But slowly we have come to that view which finds expression in Bishop Frere’s “Correspondence on Liturgical Revision and Construction”: “A return to the old conception of rubrics: some directive, reminders of positive ecclesiastical laws concerning the services; others suggestive and elastic, giving hints to recall the approved customs of the Church.” (p. 24)
Sometimes, in examining modern revision, a critic will amuse himself by counting the number of possible combinations of the permitted variations in some service. By this method, a dismaying total could be reached after a study of Morning and Evening Prayer in our Draft Prayer Book. But actually, in the use of the services the basic pattern will probably not be seriously disturbed by these variations. Besides this, as the work of the Revisers continues, they [9/10] tend to reduce the number of these suggested variations. There is a further comment that needs to be made regarding the relation of rubric to discipline. In every revision there is pressure to allow some change because some of the clergy have already adopted it as their practice. But just as rubrics should not be used to enforce discipline, neither should they serve to legalize lawlessness. However, prevailing practice may reveal some needs in worship which the present liturgy does not meet.
5. The Problem of Language
The English Reformers quoted the authority of St. Paul in urging that the language spoken to the people in the Church should be such as they might understand and have profit by hearing the same. There are some who think that this principle, if taken seriously, would mean a revision of the Prayer Book so drastic that little of the Reformers’ graceful and rhythmic prose would remain. There are others who consider that this is an extreme view and that the people in the church can understand sufficiently the language of the Prayer Book and can also profit by its historic idiom.
It is difficult for the parish priest—and even for the experienced layman—to estimate the difficulty that people experience in understanding our Prayer Book worship. Yet it may be that the real difficulty is not so much the language as the ideas expressed by the language. The average churchman does not know his Bible as well as his fathers did, and the great Bible words and images are strange to him. To change the language in such cases would only result in impoverishing our worship.
But there are other ideas to which the Prayer Book language gives expression which are merely the reflection of the social and economic conditions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Perhaps this happens most obviously in the State Prayers. There are few people who could not understand every word of such passages as this: “O Lord our heavenly Father, high and mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only Ruler of princes ...” But will such words, in this democratic age, give them a clear and true idea of God? It is perhaps along these lines that careful revision is needed, as well as in those cases where a word has changed its meaning—“indifferent,” “prevent,” “wealth,” etc. But in attempting to remove the imagery that may seem to reflect the conditions of Tudor times, we need to [10/11] be careful that we do not rob our prayer book language of all its colour.
The Canadian revisers were anxious to keep as much of the rhythm and language of the English Prayer Book as they could. We met continually the difficulty of inserting a modern word or phrase in a passage of Tudor English. It is not easy to be consistent in such a task, for each case had to be decided on its merits. For example, the word “prevent” has been retained in the Collect for Trinity XVII because no reasonable alternative seems to be available; but it has been omitted from the Collect of Easter Day, where it is not essential. We know something of the cursus rhythms of which Cranmer was such a master. Yet merely to make sure that any change preserved these rhythms would not guarantee worthiness of language. The change might still be undistinguished and unreal when judged as the language of worship.
Moreover, we have found that critics are often unfair in their judgment of the rhythm of some proposed change because the old words are fixed in their memory, and make them stumble as they read the new wording.
The real need is that any prayer show reality and the deep passion of worship in its language. This can best be achieved by seeking for honesty rather than for style. Many modern prayers are conventional in language because the thought behind them is unreal or at least woolly.
Moreover, we have to realize what is happening to the English language. Some words in current use have been used so much that they are like pebbles worn smooth; the pictures these words once conveyed have been rubbed off. This is the explanation for many of those mistakes in English which are repeated until they become accepted. No one could say “under the circumstances” if he saw the picture in the word “circumstance”. Yet it looks as if that phrase may become accepted English, at least in North America.
What success has met the Canadian revisers in this task of finding language intelligible yet worthy of worship they will have to leave to the judgment of the Church. They were not ignorant of the problem facing them, and they tried to solve it. On the whole, if they have to make the choice, they would prefer the intelligible phrase to the graceful but difficult one.
6. Effect of Independent Provincial Action
There can be no doubt that, as each national Church in the Anglican Communion continues its work of revision, there is danger that the unity in worship which has been one of the bonds of our Communion will be somewhat lessened. Yet the Canadian revisers have felt that this danger at the present time, cannot be avoided. It is conceivable that in the future an interprovincial Liturgical Commission might produce a Prayer Book which, with minor adaptation, would be acceptable to all the Churches, but such a project does not seem feasible at present.
Failing that, each Church has a choice between producing its own Prayer Book or of accepting and adapting the Prayer Book of some other Church in our Communion. This last course is the one that the Canadian Church followed in 1918, for our present Prayer Book is basically that of 1662.
But the Prayer Book of 1662 can no longer meet the needs of the Church. What other Prayer Book then could Canada adopt? No Prayer Book that departed seriously from 1662 at the Holy Communion would prove acceptable to our people. Yet the Prayer Book they are most likely to meet in their travels is that of the American Church, with its Eucharist derived from the Scottish Liturgy.
The Canadian committee has felt that its only course has been to go ahead with its own revision, while seeking never to depart seriously from Anglican precedent.
We live in a period of liturgical change (and there have been several of these in the history of the Church) and we must accept the inconveniences of such a time as well as the gains. Perhaps none of the recent revisions in the Anglican Communion will have a long life. Yet if they help the Church to maintain that standard of worship we have received from the English Reformers—a worship that is simple, intelligent and truly corporate,—they will, before they are replaced, have served their purpose.
AN OUTLINE OF THE CHANGES IN THE PROPOSED REVISION
Rubrics. The Rubrics have been rewritten throughout the book in simple, direct language. The Revisers have felt that the argument for “modern” language is more compelling in regard, to the Rubrics than it is in considering the rites themselves.
Calendar. Some 48 names have been added, many of them from the history of the Anglican Communion, with the note that “such commemorations are not intended to enrol such persons as saints of the Church.” It seemed fitting that Canadian names should be included: Charles Inglis, the first of our bishops; John Horden of Moosonee; John West, the first Church of England missionary in the West; Edmund Peck of the Arctic.
A reviewer in the Manchester Guardian said this: “This Calendar strikes me as the most human I have ever seen, and therefore the most Catholic. It covers virtually the whole world in nearly every generation of its Christian history.”
Mattins and Evensong. The alternative Canticles have been placed in an appendix, “At Morning and Evening Prayer.” They include Cantate Domino from Isaiah 42 and Surge Illuminare from Isaiah 60; these Canticles were found in the Service for Missions in 1918. Invitatories for use before the Venite are also in this section. The Jubilate, which is at present frequently used instead of the Benedictus, is not printed either at Mattins or in the Appendix, but a rubric refers to it in its place in the Psalter.
The Litany. The chief change is in the omission, in all the intercessions except the first, of the words “That it may please thee”, and, in the Response of, “to hear us.”
A sample may be given:
“To be her defender and keeper, giving her the victory over all her enemies,
We beseech thee, good Lord.”
The second part of the Litany, from “O Lord, arise etc.” is recognized as a separate Supplication.
Occasional Prayers and Thanskgivings. This section is more comprehensive than in 1918, and in the selection of prayers the Revisers are not a little indebted to Dr. Milner White, the Dean of York.
 The Holy Communion. The title page reads “The Holy Communion or Holy Eucharist with the Collects, Epistles and Gospels.” The service itself makes no serious departure from the 1662 shape. In the Draft an attempt was made to bring out the Christian meaning of the Ten Commandments by the addition of our Lord’s “New Commandment”—but this suggestion has not proved generally acceptable. The Prayer for the Queen before the Collect of the Day is now optional. In the Nicene Creed there are some changes in the interests of exact translation: “God, of God; Light, of Light; Very God, of Very God.” “Through whom all things were made.” “The Holy Ghost, the Lord, the Giver of Life.” “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.”
The due emphasis on the Offertory has been restored and the provision is to be noted that “the Churchwardens, or other representatives of the people, may bring to the Priest the Bread and Wine for the Communion.” Then may be said or sung a brief passage from 1 Chronicles 29.
At the Prayer for the Church Militant four alternative Biddings are provided. The Prayer itself has been developed somewhat with the addition, for example, of a missionary petition: “Prosper we pray thee, all those who proclaim the Gospel of thy Kingdom to the nations,” and also of a fuller commemoration of the faithful departed. In the Exhortation before the Confession there is a small change which has provoked comment: “... and intend to lead the new life.” Three Proper Prefaces have been added, and the Benedictus may be said after the Sanctus.
The Prayer of Consecration begins “Blessing and glory and thanksgiving be unto thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father ...” A third paragraph has been added, briefer than those found in recent Anglican revisions. The wording of this is still under discussion, but it includes the Anamnesis, an Oblation, and part of the present Prayer of Oblation— without the offering of “ourselves, our souls and bodies.” After the Consecration and a period of silence the priest says “The peace of the Lord be always with you,” with the response, “And with thy spirit.” Then the Priest and People say together the Prayer of Humble Access.
Then follows the Communion, and after it the Lord’s Prayer, a new prayer which is a conflation of parts of the present Prayers of Oblation and Thanksgiving, the Gloria in Excelsis (with the omission of one “Thou that takest away the sin of the world”) and the Blessing. The Ablutions may be either after the Communion or after the Blessing. [14/15] The Exhortations, condensed into two, are printed at the end of the Service.
The Black Rubric has been dealt with in a novel way: It is printed as in 1662 with the omission of one clause, down to “Corporal Presence of Christ’s natural Flesh and Blood.” Then, this is added from Article XXVIII, “The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.”
The Collects, Epistles and Gospels. There has been considerable work on this section. It may well be, that this, with the Psalter, will prove the most notable contribution to Prayer Book revision in the Canadian Draft. Some primitive commemorations have been restored, such as that of St. Peter and St. Paul on June 29th, with an alternative Collect, Epistle and Gospel for use within the Octave. St. Mary Magdalene becomes a Red Letter Day and All Saints Day has an Octave. There has been a careful revising of the translation of the Epistles and Gospels, and some ancient lections have been restored. An example of this revision is the Collect of the Epiphany, which reads, in the latest proposals before the Committee, “. . . we, who know thee now by faith, may be led onward through this earthly life until we see the vision of thy heavenly glory.” There will be provision for Black Letter Saints Days and for Votives, but in a way somewhat different from that in the published Draft. It is now proposed that any authorized. Epistle or Gospel be printed in full.
The Psalter. This is a considerable revision of Coverdale’s Psalter. These examples must suffice:
Psalm 2: 11-12: “Serve the Lord with fear; and bow down unto him with reverence; Lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way; for his wrath is greatly kindled. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
Psalm 19: 3-4: “There is neither speech nor language; no voice of theirs is heard; Yet their sound is gone out into all lands; and their words into the end of the world.”
Note also in Psalm 25: 13 “The friendship of the Lord” (for “The secret”) and in Psalm 66: 11, “into a place of freedom,” (for “a wealthy place.”)
Proper Psalms at Morning and Evening Prayer are [15/16] provided for all Sundays and Greater Feasts, as well as Psalms for the Introit and between Lections at the Eucharist. There is also a table by which, in places where the regularly monthly course of Psalms is not advisable, the Psalter may be read through in two months. It is not expected that this will be extensively used. Nine passages in the Psalms are omitted on the view that, without questioning their place in Scripture, they may be deemed unsuited for liturgical use.
Holy Baptism. The Baptism of Children was the first service produced by the Revision Committee, and, with some changes, it has been used with permission since 1949. The opening Exhortation has been changed to read, “Dearly beloved in Christ, seeing that God willeth all men to be saved from the fault and corruption of the nature which they inherit, as well as from the actual sins which they commit, and that our Saviour Christ saith. . .”
This, of course, is an echo of Article IX. The Gloria Tibi and Laus Tibi are said before and after the Gospel, The first of the four short prayers at the Blessing of the Water is omitted, and another (from 1549) is inserted in third place. The Blessing of the Water is given eucharistic form. The questions to the Godparents all begin: “Do you, in the name of this Child. . .?” The Apostles’ Creed is said by the Congregation with the Godparents and the Parents. The godparents promise that they will “pray for this child, and take care that he may learn and do all these things.” They are also required to accept their Duties, as outlined in the Exhortation at the end of the service. There is a prayer for the home of the child.
The Baptism of Such as are of Riper Years has distinctive features. It is not an adapting of the service for children, but rather takes the earlier historical service as its pattern. It begins with questions to the candidate so that he may declare his desire for Baptism. Before the Blessing of the Water, two of the prayers reflect the old exorcisms. The service provides for Confirmation to follow immediately, when possible.
The Catechism. The work which has been done on the Catechism has been governed by the consideration that it is not primarily an outline of doctrine, but a liturgical act. In 1918, the influence of modern catechisms resulted in the provision that the answer include most of the question. For example, “By this word Sacrament I mean an outward....” Now we propose to return to the more natural, “I [16/17] mean an outward. . .” A sample of the revision may be given in the answer to the question, “What do you chiefly learn in these Articles of your Belief?” “I learn to have faith in the one true God: in God the Father who made me and all the world; in God the Son who redeemed me and all mankind; and in God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies me and all the people of God.”
A Supplementary Instruction is added on the Church, the Ministry, and the Bible, followed by a Rule of Life (that commended at the Lambeth Conference of 1948). As a sample of this section, showing similarities and differences when compared with the American and Indian books, we give questions and answers about the Church, in the form in which they will be proposed to the next General Synod: “Why is it called Catholic? Because it is universal, and holds for all time, in all places, and for all people, the whole truth as it is in Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.” “Why is it called Apostolic? Because it received its divine mission from Christ through his apostles, and continues in their doctrine and fellowship.”
Confirmation. This Service is still under review. Almost certainly the third Scripture passage” provided in 1918 (Hebrews. 5: 12ff) will disappear.
Solemnization of Matrimony. Isaac and Rebecca, Abraham and Sarah disappear, also the “dreadful day of judgment” (in place of the latter: “I require and charge you both, in the Name of God, from whom no secrets are hid.”) The bride does not promise to obey, and her promises are practically identical with the man’s. There is a blessing of the ring, and provision (in a Rubric at the end of the service) for the woman giving a ring. The provisions for the Holy Communion at a marriage are emphasized. The Collect begins, “O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named—.” There is a prayer for the home of the newly-married couple. The Exhortation, to be used when there is no sermon, disappears altogether.
The Ministry to The Sick. This has been completely recast. It was recognized that the present Visitation of the Sick is one of the least satisfactory parts of the Prayer Book, reflecting as it does a view of illness not in accord with the Teaching and Ministry of our Lord. In this revision the continuing, note is that Healing, Health and Wholeness are within the content of the Gospel of the [17/18] saving Grace of God. There are five offices: On Visiting a Sick Person, an Act of Faith and Prayer, Form of Confession and Absolution, A Supplication for the Sick and the Dying (this last includes a short Litany), Forms for the Laying on of Hands and Anointing of the Sick. The Epistle and Gospel for the Communion of the Sick are 2 Cor. 1: 3-5 and John 10: 14-15, 27-28.
The Burial of The Dead. Provision is made whereby all the service, except the Anthem and the Committal followed by Rev. 14: 13, may be taken in the Church. Opening sentences are John 11: 25-6, John 14: 1-2, Job 19: 25 (shortened), 1 Tim. 6: 7 with Job 1: 21, Romans 14: 8-9, Romans 8:. 38-9, 1 Peter 1: 3-4. Psalms 90, 121 or 130 are provided as alternatives. The Lesson (1 Cor. 15) has been shortened by omitting verses 27 to 34, and there have been some changes in translation (e.g. “Foolish man” for “Thou fool.”) The Creed is permitted as in 1918 but now is printed in the service. The prayer, “Almighty God with whom do live—.” ends thus, “And committing our brother N. to thy gracious keeping, we pray that we with him, and with all those that are departed in the true faith of thy holy Name, may have our perfect consummation . . .” Other prayers, commending the departed to God, are provided but are optional. At the grave, the Anthem is shortened and “vile body” of 1662 (“corruptible body” in 1918) becomes “mortal body.”
A Penitential Service: This is in place of the Commination Office. It begins with sentences—Mark 1: 14-15, John 6: 37, Matthew 11: 28-30, followed by an Exhortation markedly different from 1662, and a Lesson (Joel 2: 12-18). Then Psalm 51 is said kneeling, with Lesser Litany, Versicles and Responses, and prayers, including “Turn thou us”, and there is the Versicle “Remember, O Man that dust thou art,” etc. Then Communion may follow, or a reading of Matt. 5: 1-20 with an Instruction. The Service ends with devotions, consisting of Versicles and Responses and two prayers. Then may follow the Anthem, “O King all glorious amid thy saintly company. . .” and finally the Aaronic blessing.
Other Occasional Services. In the final Draft this part of the Prayer Book will probably be shorter than in 1918, for such special services as those for Dominion Day and Missions, in the latest proposals are taken care of by provisions in the Table of Lessons, etc. In 1918 there was a Service for Children, but the Revisers are experiencing [18/19] difficulty in framing one that is worthy of inclusion in the Prayer Book. Yet they must attempt this, for the service was valued in many small missions. Compline is now introduced, and there will be an order for Family Prayers, as before, although further revised, and probably placed at the very end of the Book to give it added emphasis.