Friday, September 15, 2006
A fine looking new blog from an Anglican Province of Christ the King priest, appropriately entitled:
"Anglican Parish Priest"
Rev'd Dr. Daniel James McGrath
(A comment from the Anglican Cleric: Fr. McGrath appears to be an old fashioned High Church Anglican Catholic--the type we need more of in the Continuum)
And a fine post from his blog:
The Decalogue in Holy Communion
The liturgical use of The Decalogue (Ten Commandments) as the opening act of worship is a unique and powerful feature of the Anglican Mass, commonly known to us as ‘The Order for Holy Communion’.Among the liturgical ancestors of the prayer book rite (the medieval Roman and Sarum rites) we find that the mass typically began with a 9-fold ‘Kyrie eleison’, or ‘Lord, have mercy’. This hymn of the Early Church had come to be seen in medieval times as a penitential entrance rite. Together with the offering of the ‘Gloria in excelsis’, it was both a preparation for Communion with God and offering of praise to God. This Kyrie/Gloria opening formula continued to be reflected in the 1549 prayer book rite.
In 1552, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer (no doubt motivated by the desire that his people should become better acquainted with The Decalogue) juxtaposed it upon the 9-fold ‘Kyrie’. Each ‘Kyrie, eleison’ was now read as a response to a particular commandment, “Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law. Of course the addition of a 10th ‘Kyrie’ was also needed, “Lord, have mercy upon us, and write all these thy laws in our hearts we beseech thee.” In the same year, Cranmer removed the ‘Gloria’ to the end of the Service, where it came to serve a new function as the hymn of praise and thanksgiving from the faithful upon having received the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. This has been the prayer book Order of Service since 1552. For the addition of a little ‘atmosphere’ to the use of The Decalogue, the priest may chant each commandment, and the congregation or choir respond using any one of the 5 musical settings of the Responses to the Decalogue in The Hymnal, 1940. A very good choice, and my personal favorite at the moment, is the setting by Sir Edward Bairstow, number 725.
The Decalogue serves a number of important functions in the Anglican mass: it keeps God’s Law at the forefront of our consciousness; it reminds us that without obedience to God’s Law there is no possibility of Communion with God; it provides us with the context in which to receive our Lord’s summary of the Law, to Love God and to Love our neighbor as ourselves; and, it prepares us to hear and receive with gladness the Holy Gospel in an effective liturgical sequence of Law/Gospel.
The liturgical use of The Decalogue is not ‘merely’ a teaching device or a means of imparting information, however. In the context of our Service, it is also a means of meditation upon, and humble worship of, the Most Holy Trinity One God. Together with the Psalmist, we may say, “Blessed art thou, O Lord; O teach me thy statutes.” (Ps. 119:10)Our use of The Decalogue is completed by the Collect on page 70 of the prayer book, “O ALMIGHTY Lord, and everlasting God, vouchsafe, we beseech thee, to direct, sanctify, and govern, both our hearts and bodies, in the ways of thy laws, and in the works of thy commandments; that, through thy most mighty protection, both here and ever, we may be preserved in body and soul; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ… Amen.”In the American Prayer Book of 1928, the rubrics allow for the Summary of the Law (“Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith…”) together with a 3-fold ‘Kyrie’, to take the place of The Decalogue, PROVIDED that The Decalogue still be read one Sunday in each month. Happy is that parish which heeds the wisdom of the fathers of our Church, and thus benefits from the use of The Decalogue. A parish which regularly hears and prays The Decalogue will no doubt be well-formed in biblical/catholic morality, and will be equipped to Love God and to Love Their Neighbor.The presence of the Decalogue as a liturgical formula, together with the positioning of the ‘Gloria in excelsis’ at the end of the Service, are features of the Anglican Service that critics of the Book of Common Prayer are wary of, and that admirers of the Book of Common Prayer cannot get enough of. The fact is, as present-day “Anglicans” in the APCK in 2006, we cannot escape the beauty and the singularity of the prayer book liturgy that has defined our Way for over 450 years. I am of the mind that “Godliness, with contentment is great gain” and that it is a great joy to simply be content with the great treasure that we have received from our spiritual heritage, to use it with integrity and to profit from it.
Visit our parish website over the course of the next Sundays, for my Series of Homilies on The Decalogue, via www.st-bartholomews.org