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Anglican Missal: Special Type, Bombings, Sinkings Caused Some Delay

By Leon McCauley

The Living Church, March 18, 1942, p. 22.

Probably few stories of the trials and tribulations of religious publishing are more evident of sincere determination and more romantic than the story of the American edition of the Anglican Missal. The volume is being published by the Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation of Mount Sinai, L.I., N.Y., with permission of the Society of SS. Peter and Paul, London. Copies will be ready for distribution this spring.

The Anglican Missal, the most widely used in the Anglican communion, was brought out in England about 1922. It is widely known for its liturgical scholarship and Prayer Book English. A new edition of this book is being prepared now.

The American edition, it was originally intended, was to be published in England. Because of the interference of the war, however, the English editors came to the conclusion that they would have all they could do to get out their own edition. They asked Fr. Joseph, superior of the Order of St. Francis, to serve as editor of an American edition. He agreed, little knowing what he was letting himself in for.

"Hitherto the Anglican Missal has appeared only in editions based on the English Book of Common Prayer, with the addition of the Consecration Prayers, etc. from the other Anglican uses." A good many changes had to be made, so that the first American edition would "omit such other Anglican uses, and give only the Consecration Prayer and the Rubrics from the American Book, with other Rubrics and with Notes, to show the relevance or irrelevance of the traditional ceremonies to Prayer Book usage.


When Fr. Joseph got the manuscript into shape, he sent it to the English editors for checking. They returned it in three parts. One ship carrying part of the manuscript was bombed from the air, another was torpedoed, and two-thirds of the manuscript went to the bottom of the sea. There was no copy.

Fr. Joseph prepared and forwarded to England new pages of two-thirds of the manuscript. The preparation entailed many difficulties in correspondence, and air mail had finally to be resorted to. This was more satisfactory, but also more expensive. On its return from England, the second manuscript was sent to the printers. More difficulty. The book would run over 1,000 pages--too expensive for our priests.

So a third manuscript was prepared. Again there were correspondence difficulties. The English editors wrote their letters and looked over the manuscripts in air raid shelters. Bombs fell close by as they calmly set down notations for Fr. Joseph. But at last the third manuscript was in the hands of a printer here in America.


Meanwhile, a war had broken out in America. Type for plainchant is made only in Axis dominated countries. A substitute had to be obtained. Special paper was needed, and at first this could not be had. To top matters off, just as Fr. Joseph received the proofs, he was bitten by a little dog.

Fr. Joseph and nine other members of the Franciscan community had to undergo shot treatments for weeks, and they all declare the treatment was more than the bite.

By this time obstacles had become so usual that Fr. Joseph and his secretary would have felt rather lost without them. And apparently since they were all prepared for more trouble, no more came.

It was decided to print an edition of 500 copies, and announcements were sent to all interested clergy. At first the Missal was offered at $25 as a pre-publication price, but rising costs have advanced the price to $32.50. Almost 300 copies of the volume have already been sold. It is expected that the entire edition will sell out quickly when it is off the press.

The page size is 7 3/4 by 10 3/4, and it will have a red, leather-grained washable binding, with title stamped in gold leaf. The paper is to be specially made of high rag content.

Correspondence regarding the forthcoming Missal should be addressed, not to Fr. Joseph personally, but to the Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Box 8, Mount Sinai, L.I., N.Y.

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