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The Mexican Prayer Book

New York: The Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society, 1896.

Transcribed by Iris Howorth for the Archives of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2010.




Representing the Archdeaconry of New York
and the
New York Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society


The “Provisional Offices of the Mexican Episcopal Church, or Church of Jesus” is a small, neat volume, with the Spanish and English versions printed on opposite pages, so that those interested in the subject can see at a glance wherein the new Liturgy differs from our own. The changes are many, and doubtless there will be some to question their necessity and expediency, for we are apt to prefer that to which we are accustomed, especially after the associations and sanctions of many years of helpful use. To all such “Advertisement,” written by the Presiding Bishop, whose scholarship and churchmanship no one calls in question, is the best answer:

“It is the prerogative of every autonomous branch of the Church to establish its own formularies of worship, so it is not to be expected that Liturgies and Offices should be the same in all places, ore even among those national Churches that are of the same communion.  It is not, therefore, a valid ground of objection to the formularies of the Mexican Episcopal Church that they depart somewhat widely from the Anglican type.  It is sufficient to justify them that, liturgically, they are sanctioned by the Mozarabic rite, from which the greater part of them is derived, and by other ancient orthodox liturgies; and that, theologically, they are in harmony with the Catholic faith.”

To this it may be added that none of the liturgies of the ancient Churches were identical; each had its own until the growing power of the Roman Church swept them all away, and compelled the substitution of that which it authorized.  The Mozarabic is an early Spanish liturgy, supposed to have been derived from the Church of Ephesus, which was preserved by the Christians of Granada after its conquest by the Moors.   It is one of the sources from which the Anglican use was derived.  It has a certain oriental warmth and richness, and is therefore better adapted to the Mexican temperament than our cooler and more stately compilation.

These Mexican formularies are said to be “provisional, in the sense that they are still undergoing the criticism of the Church, where they have been in use for upwards of a year, with a view to curing any defects that may be realized in the light of experience; and are also subject to the control of the Bishop, in the exercise of his power of license.”

The book contains offices for Morning and Evening Prayer, Baptism, and Confirmation, and an order for the Holy Communion, also Introits and Proper Prefaces for every season of the Christian year.  Besides the Collects, Epistles and Gospels for the day, there is always a “prophecy” from one of the prophets.  The Psalter and Lectionary of the American Church are retained for the present.  The book will well repay examination, if only for its store of beautiful ancient collects.

There is also a catechism, by the Rev. Henry Forrester, following our own Church Catechism in its main lines, but with such amplifications definitions and Scriptural references as are necessary to fit it for constant use in Sunday-schools and Bible classes, without exacting too much of the teachers.  It is one of the best things of the kind that we have ever seen, and Mexican children trained up in it will lack nothing essential of Christian or churchly teaching.

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