Sunday, December 21, 2014

What H40 can learn from H82

Today was lessons & carols, an excuse to sing Christmas carols a few days early during the season of Advent.

I'm currently attending (for better or worse) a Hymnal 1982 parish — which presumably describes 99+% of ECUSA/TEC and the ACNA. I’ve previously complained about the political correctness of the H82 hymns, which is why it’s not my favorite hymnal. However, the Hymnal does correct one deficiency of Hymnal 1940: missing Christmas carols.

1. Joy to the World

The original Hymnal 1940 had an unfamiliar tune for “Joy to the World,” but was missing the familiar Handel tune that we all sing. In 1981, this was finally corrected in Supplement II (i.e. the 3rd edition of H40) when the familiar carol was added as #775. Supplement II also adds replaces the older Sanctus with a Sanctus+Benedictus for all eight variants of the service music.

2. Gabriel’s Message

All editions of Hymnal 1940 are missing “The angel Gabriel” aka “Gabriel’s Message” (H82: 265). A 13th or 14th century Basque text was published in 1895, translated into Victorian English by Sabine Baring-Gould (author of “Onward Christian Soldiers”). Sting (the 80s pop star) made a jazzy CD recording and music video of this carol.

It's not in H40, in Songs of Praise (1925) or the SOP Enlarged Edition (1931). Two carols (#37, #102) with similar names are published by the authors of the latter (i.e. Vaughan Williams and Dearmer) in The Oxford Book of Carols (1928), but the Basque version is nowhere to be found. The New Oxford Book of Carols (1992) has it (#196) with the original Basque text and a more literal translation.

3. Of the Father’s Love Begotten

There was another hymn from this week’s H82 service that I couldn’t find in my copy of Hymnal 1940: “Of the father’s love begotten.” However, in researching this blog post, this omission seemed implausible given the familiar associations with my childhood (which is why I blogged about it back in 2008. )

The carol uses a 4th century text translated into English by John Mason Neale, and paired by Neale with an 11th (13th?) century tune in Hymns Ancient and Modern in the 1860s. As it turns out, this hymn (H82: 82; H40: 20) is in Hymnal 1940, just not in the index where I thought it would be. And the older hymnal has an extra verse (albeit one marked as optional in 1940).

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The sacred and the mundane

My family was recently visiting a (Catholic) medieval gothic cathedral in Europe, when it turned out it was time for the weekly organ concert. I stopped to listen, and was pleased to see (from the program afterwards) that the final two pieces were, in fact, by J.S. Bach. The organ was obviously the finest in town and for miles around.

Alas, less than 10% of the audience was under 40. That's probably true for most churches in Europe — and many I’ve seen in the U.S., too.

Still, it reminds me of a time — less than a generation ago — where church music was something unique. In the medium-sized church (ca. 200 ASA) in the medium-sized town (perhaps 80,000) where we worshipped, the best organist in town was at our church. I’d hazard to say that 4 of the 5 best organists in town were at our church. And the church where I grew up in a big city, the organist (and choir director) had one of the best music jobs in town.

We also had the best organ in town. It was nothing compared to the organ we visited (which apparently still has pipes from the 16th to 18th centuries), but it was obviously better than any organ that anyone had at home.

Today, children and young adults don’t listen to organ music or even classical music in general. Most churches play CCM because they believe that’s what people want, and it’s certainly plausible to conclude that few people are breaking down the door demanding organ music.

The problem is, the praise band is not set apart from the world — it is not only in the world, but (except for the J-word) it’s more or less of the world. Not only is the sound comparable to what you’d hear on the radio or in a bar, but (with one exception) the praise bands I’ve heard aren’t as good (even as the band in the corner dive bar.)

So instead of church music that is the awe-inspiring, sacred, set apart from the world — such as the Messiah or a great organ concert — what we have today is the profane of the ordinary life of the world (to use Durkheim’s formulation). And this profane (i.e. ordinary) music is rather mundane.

I’m not sure I have an answer here, but this seems like yet another reason why many of my most Anglican friends are — as the Episcopal and Anglican denominations teeter around them — skipping Catholicism and heading straight to the Orthodox faith. The liturgy is not my cup of tea, but (like the theology) has retained a millennial-old emphasis of being set apart, of being organized around the holy mysteries, rather than adapting and bending to the contemporary culture.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday Hymnody

After going to church services this morning, I thought I’d update my earlier thoughts on the canon of Palm Sunday hymnody.

Everyone’s Standard Palm Sunday Hymns

Both four years ago and two years ago, I noted the two preferred Palm Sunday hymns:
In the earlier posting, I also noted how a LCMS pastor-blogger listed these as the preferred processional and recessional for this day. Not surprisingly, the Lutheran Service Book provides the same (Lutheran) tune for the former, but a different (German) tune for the latter.

As is often the case, the text of H82 has problems, while the text of H40 is more consistent with the original text.

The other problem with Hymnal 1982 is that it uses King’s Majesty as the tune “Ride on” — a tune that is hard to sing. Meanwhile Hymnal 1940 provides the easier Winchester New — mimicking the earlier CoE hymnals, The English Hymnal (#620) and Hymns Ancient & Modern.

All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name

In the three year rotation of the RCL, the Liturgy of the Palms (rather than the Passion) uses three different gospels are used to mark Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem:
To introduce these gospels, each would seem to suggest as a gradual “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” (H40: 355.1; H82: 450). This is based on an 18th century American text, set to the tune of Coronation:
All hail the power of Jesus' name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him Lord of all!

Crown him ye martyrs of your God,
who from his altar call:
Praise him whose way of pain ye trod
and crown him Lord of all!

Hail him, the heir of David's line,
whom David Lord did call,
the God incarnate, Man divine,
and crown him Lord of all!
At the Name of Jesus

A similar theme is called out by one of the Epistles assigned for this date. In the RCL, all three years (for the Liturgy of the Passion) assign Philippians 2:5-11. This passage concludes (in the KJV):
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This is the basis for “At the Name of Jesus” (H40: 356.1; H82: 435):
At the Name of Jesus
every knee shall bow,
every tongue confess him
King of glory now;
'tis the Father's pleasure
we should call him Lord,
who from the beginning
was the mighty Word.
The text was published by Caroline Noel in 1870.

Since 1925 — with the publication of Songs of Praise by Oxford University Press — this hymn has been sung to the tune King’s Weston by Ralph Vaughan Williams. (RVW coincidentally, helped edit this hymnal). This is the tune used both by Hymnal 1940 and Hymnal 1982.

Together, this suggests four standard (and very familiar) hymns for Palm Sunday. The latter two were not commonly used 70 years ago, but match the latest fashion in liturgical readings for this feast day.

Hymnal 1940 and other guides may recommend the use of Good Friday hymns — such as “O Sacred Head Sore Wounded” (H40: #75) and “Ah, Holy Jesus” (H40: #71.1). And they certainly may be appropriate for supporting the Liturgy of the Passion on Palm Sunday. However, in my opinion, it seems like these hymns are more suitable to be saved for Good Friday, or to used on other days in Lent (such as Lent V).

Monday, February 10, 2014

Credo: We do NOT believe

As seems to have been mandated (or at least strongly encouraged) by the ACNA, our parish has been using the proposed ACNA liturgy since Advent 1 of this liturgical year. On the one hand, it kills all the traditional language of the 1662/1789/1892/1928 prayer books; on the other hand, in terms of theology and form, it is more faithful to them than was the contemporary language of the 1979 ECUSA prayer book.

I Believe

Even after two months, there’s one thing I’ve been unable to accept: the plural form of the Nicene Creed. The 1549 liturgy was created from the creed of the Sarum rite, which begins:
Credo in unum Deum, Patrem Omnipotentem, factorem cœli et terra, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.

Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum, et ex Patre natum ante omnia sæcula: Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero, Genitum non factum, consubstantialem Patri, per quem omnia facta sunt.
In fact, the word “creed” comes from the credo that begins it. Credo is the latin word for “I believe.”

The Cranmer translation of the liturgy set the standard for all other English-language Protestant liturgical worship. It was not just the Methodist church when it split off from the Church of England, but it also was used for the English-language liturgy of the Presbyterian church (coming from Geneva) and the Lutheran church (coming from Germany and Scandinavia).

If you attended any American Protestant worship through the mid-1970s, you would hear Cranmer’s words (with the 1789 ECUSA modernized spellings):
I believe in one God,
the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only begotten Son of God,
begotten of his Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father;
by whom all things were made;
This is the text (for example) in the 1941 The Lutheran Hymnal, used by the Missouri Synod until their 1982 hymnal. (Being slightly anti-Papist, the Lutherans did change “one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” to “one Holy Christian and Apostolic Church.”)

We Believe

The use of “we believe" came to ECUSA in the 1970s with the 1979 prayer book via the ICET. As Hatchett (1980: 29) writes in his 670 page commentary on that book:
For rites in contemporary language the last revision of the Prayers We Have in Common: Agreed Liturgical Texts Prepared by the International Consultation on English Texts [ICET] is used for common texts, with a few exceptions. … The word “men” has been deleted from a phrase in the Nicene Creed.
In discussing the Nicene Creed later on (p. 334), he writes:
The ICET translation, which left the inclusion of the filioque clause optional, has been adopted for this Book. The plural form is restored, true to the document of the council and fitting for use in the Eucharist as a proclamation of the faith of the Church.
While rejecting many of the theological changes of Rite II, the ACNA task force embraced this philosophy with the first word of their creed. As the ACNA FAQ explains
Nicene Creed: Why, in the Nicene Creed, are we saying "We believe" rather than "I believe?"

The original Greek text used "We Believe" because this Creed reflects the belief of the whole Church as a united body, as contrasted with the Apostles' Creed which is a personal profession of faith used at baptism. The translation we are using for the Creed is that used by The Church of England in "Common Worship," an adaptation of 1662 BCP.
The citation of Common Worship is slightly misleading. In Order One, the CoE uses “we believe” but Order Two of the latest CoE liturgy retains the Cranmerian credo.

Ecumenical Disharmony

That the ACNA used a CoE modernization rather than inventing its own is somewhat reassuring. However, its decision on "we believe" is still in disharmony with the ACNA's most likely ecumenical partners.

For much of the past century, the CoE and Anglicans more broadly have been trying to repair the Tudor rift with Rome. However, in their new liturgy, adopted in 2008 and put into effect in 2011, the Order of Mass dropped the “We believe” in favor of the “I believe.”

In the US, the ACNA has been courting the Orthodox church for the past five years, inviting Metropolitan Jonah to address the 2009 convention, and a delegation of Orthodox clergy last fall to Nashotah House. The various American branches of Orthodoxy still use “I”.

Then there is the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. Of the liturgical churches among US Protestant denominations, it is one of the largest — in fact, the largest of the traditionalist denominations (with only the UMC, ELCA and PCUSA mainline Protestants being larger). In fact, with 2.3 million members it has more than the 2.0 million of TEC (vs. 100,000-140,00 for the ACNA).

Maybe that’s why the ACNA has actively courted the LCMS as a liturgical partner, with a series of “dialog” meetings that led to a 2012 joint communique.

While the Orthodox (being Orthodox) stick to traditional language, the RCC demonstrates it is possible to do contemporary language while keep the credo in the creed.

Why Others Do Not Believe

After joining with the ICET pluralism with a 1970 decision of the ICEL, the RCC consciously reverted to the singular with their 2011 liturgical revision.

In anticipation of that shift, Rev. James V. Schall, then a Jesuit priest and Georgetown professor wrote a July 2011 essay explaining the RCC theology behind the change:
In the Denziger collection of Church documents, however, all the ancient creeds, except the Apostles’ Creed, begin, following the Greek, in the first-person plural: Credimus – “we believe.” From its earliest appearance in the Church, the “I believe” version is for liturgical use. Those present affirm their own personal belief.

Why the English translation currently in use from the 1960s changed to “we believe” is open to speculation. Obviously, if it was good enough at Nicea, it ought to be good enough in Kansas City. When the Church Fathers at Nicea and Constantinople said “we believe” or “we affirm,” however, they were speaking definitively in the name of the tradition. They affirmed authoritatively what the Church held, what is to be believed as true. At Mass, the individual parishioner is not so speaking with authority. He is articulating his personal acceptance and knowledge of what is held. He is not defining it, but he does understand it.

The problem with the formula “we believe” is that the one who recites it may not in fact be affirming what is in the Creed. Instead of saying “I believe” as a public expression of what he holds, he means rather, “We believe” — that is, this is what this organization holds, though not necessarily what I hold myself. The unity of belief is broken.
I recommend the entire article for reading.

The Orthodox church is certainly not a fan of the RCC position on the creed — in particular three words added by Rome the 11th century that helped prompt the Great Schism. And the “we” form — gone in the West by the 5th century — lasted longer in the East.

That said, an official statement of the Orthodox Church in America, comments on the evolution of the creed after it was finalized in 381:
This whole Symbol of Faith was ultimately adopted throughout the entire Church. It was put into the first person form “I believe” and used for the formal and official confession of faith made by a person (or his sponsor-godparent) at his baptism. It is also used as the formal statement of faith by a non-Orthodox Christian entering the communion of the Orthodox Church. In the same way the creed became part of the life of Orthodox Christians and an essential element of the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church at which each person formally and officially accepts and renews his baptism and membership in the Church. Thus, the Symbol of Faith is the only part of the liturgy (repeated in another form just before Holy Communion) which is in the first person. All other songs and prayers of the liturgy are plural, beginning with “we”. Only the credal statement begins with “I.” This, as we shall see, is because faith is first personal, and only then corporate and communal.
As best I understand, the LCMS position is the same as the Catholic and Orthodox. When (during my Lutheran period) I asked my LCMS pastor why the creed we recited was "I" and not "we," he answered simply: “because I don’t know what is in your heart — only what is in my heart.”


When the ACNA created its liturgy task force, it was pre-ordained that they would create a single modern language service: their “Guiding Principles” of 2009 made that clear, calling for “a modern language adaptation of the Rite I.” It claimed the primacy of Scripture and the creeds — but which creeds?

Verbally, I heard statements that the task force was trying to avoid the theological errors of the 1979 prayer book, but the word “theology” only appears twice in the Guiding Principles.

With the discussion of “What is Anglican worship?” several of the principles would suggest a desire to hew to first millennial church practice:
Although profoundly influenced, over several generations and in diverse directions, by the Continental 16th-century Reformation, the Church of England claims a direct !continuity of faith, governance and practice from before the arrival of St. Augustine of Canterbury in 597 to the present.

The central identifying marks of the Anglican version of Reformed Catholicism were and remain:
a. The primacy and sufficiency of Scripture
b. Credal orthodoxy
c. Justification by grace alone through faith alone
d. Patristic Heritage, including the 3-fold ministry of bishops, presbyters, and deacons.
e. Historic liturgy in continuity with ancient catholic tradition, but “purged” of late Medieval aberrations.
That the creeds entered the liturgy of the one true and (pre-Schism) undivided church with “credo” — first person singular — would seem to point to keeping the only form that Anglicans used for 400 years. Instead, the ACNA seems to favor the congregational feel of the “we,” while ignoring the theological change this represents.

Theological and ecumenical continuity would support support “I” while emotion supports ”we.” This key decision provides a window into the future character of the Evangelical Church in North America and its founder, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan.


Common Worship, London: Church House Publishing, 2000

Hatchett, Marion J., Commentary on the American prayer book, New York : Seabury Press, 1980

International Consultation on English Texts, Prayers We Have in Common: Agreed Liturgical Texts, 2nd revised edition, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lex orandi, lex credendi

Since the ACNA released its new liturgy in October, I’ve wanted to go through and systematically analyze what the task force did. Defining its liturgy helps reveal what the ACNA does (and does not) stand for. It's a sizable task, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin.

Liturgy is what distinguishes the worship of the liturgical Protestant churches (Anglican, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Methodist) from the more freeform denominations (Assembly of God, the various Stone-Campbell movement churches). For centuries, many have remarked that the Anglican faith is defined more by a shared BCP than by any particular doctrine or theology.

Finally, there is the principle of “lex orandi, lex credendi,” attributed by Wikipedia to a 5th century Augustinian theologian. Since the liturgy is corporate worship — how we pray together — it is statement of what we believe, both by the fact that we say it — but also because by saying it every week, the members of the congregation commit these ideas to memory.

Since October, the new ACNA liturgy has been slightly updated to fix typos. The ACNA website also makes clearer the status of the new liturgy:
The Liturgy and Common Prayer Task Force is pleased to announce that the the following Texts for Common Prayer are now available in PDF and Microsoft Word format:
  • Morning & Evening Prayer
  • Holy Eucharist
  • The Ordinal
Reception Process
With the exception of The Ordinal, which has been authorized and adopted, and is The Ordinal of the Province, the other materials offered in Texts for Common Prayer are “working texts” approved for use by the College of Bishops. These working texts are not yet finalized, awaiting response from the experience of their wide use in the Church. With that in mind, these rites are commended as appropriate forms for worship in the present season. The Archbishop’s instruction to the Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force was the production of rites that were “so faithful and attractive that the Church would want to use them.” The hope in making Texts for Common Prayer available now is to give evidence that the assignment is well underway, and to invite the whole Body of Christ into the process of receiving and perfecting.
Much as I’d love to analyze Morning Prayer, nowadays it’s the communion service that shapes the weekly lives of American Anglicans. Given I have limited time, I’ll focus on the mass.

Contrasting Liturgies

I can think of two ways to systematically analyze the new liturgy. One is by comparing it to its antecedents. This includes the ECUSA, CoE, the Edwardian and the Cranmer original in English, as well as the Sarum and other pre-reformation Latin texts.

However, since the explicit goal of the new liturgy was modernization — without the theological aberrations of the 1979 prayer book — I think it’s also fair to compare the new texts to other modern translations from those who are theologically orthodox, notably the RCC Roman Missal (2010) and the LCMS Lutheran Service Book (2006). For the latter, the LSB has five different settings (rites), but many of the specific passages (such as the Lord’s Prayer) are common across all settings.

It should be noted that Cranmer was the first to put the Latin mass into English. Even if they had differences with his theology, English (and American) liturgical Christians — Catholic, Lutherans, Methodists and others — started with Cranmer’s text (or some derivative thereof) when creating their own liturgies. So when comparing ACNA to other 20th (or 21st) century English texts, we are comparing various attempts at modernization of the original Cranmer original.

Parts of Service

The other way to analyze it to break it down by parts, such as to look the first half of the service (Word) and then the second half (Sacrament).

I think it’s more useful to break it down as
  1. The corporate (congregational) prayers, including the Lord’s Prayer, Confession and Prayer of Humble Access. I’m also going to include the Nicene Creed here — theologically it’s not a prayer, but in terms of length and usage, it is more similar to the Lord’s Prayer than to (say) the Gloria.
  2. The Ordinary of the Mass: Kyrie, Trisagion, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei. (The classification of the Ordinary normally includes the creed)
  3. Misc. responsorial sentences, e.g. Sursum Corda
  4. Clergy prayers, e.g. Prayer of Consecration
  5. Other texts, such as the Prayers of the People.
Due to limited time, I probably won’t be able to get to #4 and #5., because they are not part of the corporate worship (the laity listen rather than participate in these prayers). Also, it seems to me that #5 (especially the Prayers of the People) have varied the most over the centuries, so a claim of “normal”, “historic” or “ecumenical” norms would be hard to make.

For #3, today I’ll contrast the Sursum Corda of 2013 with earlier texts.

Sursum Corda

For the Sursum Corda, the Sarum rite lists this as the text:
Dominus vobiscum.
Et cum spiritu tuo.
Sursum corda.
Habemus ad Dominum.
Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.
Dignum et justum est.
Below are the comparisons of the early (and most influential) Church of England prayer books, the last three ECUSA prayer books, two ecumenical texts and the ACNA text. (Here I use “P” for priest and “A” for answer, although the books might say “minister”, “celebrant”, “congregation” etc.).

1549 BCP
1552 BCP
1662 BCP (CoE)
1892 BCP (ECUSA)
1928 BCP
1979 Rite II (ECUSA)
2006 LSB (LCMS)
P: The Lorde be with you.
A: And with thy spirite.
P: Lift up your heartes.
A: We lift them up unto the Lorde.
P: Let us give thankes unto our Lorde God.
A: It is mete and right so to do.

P: Lift up your hearts.
A: We lift them up unto the Lord.
P: Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.
A: It is meet and right so to do.

P: The Lord be with you.
A: And also with you.
P: Lift up your hearts.
A: We lift them to the Lord.
P: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
A: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

2013 ACNA2011 Roman Missal
P: The Lord be with you.
A: And with your spirit.
P: Lift up your hearts.
A: We lift them to the Lord.
P: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
A: It is just and right so to do.
P: The Lord be with you.
A: And with your spirit.
P: Lift up your hearts.
A: We lift them up to the Lord.
P: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
A: It is right and just.

As indicated, from 1662-1928, the Sursum Corda was not preceeded by the dominus vobiscum (but the original “with thy spirit” is found elsewhere in the liturgy).
A few observations:
  • The 2013 liturgy (as does the latest Roman liturgy) fixes the most egregious Protestant error of the late 20th century, by now translating “cum sancto spiritu” to be “and with your spirit”, the only plausible contemporary translation.
  • On the fourth and fifth phrase, the ACNA seems unduly deferential to the 1970s modernization. 
  • In the final phrase, the task force changed just one word, “meet” to “just”, and eliminated the other egregious error of the 1970s translation (“thanks and praise”).
  • On two of the four phrases where Cranmer’s text is changed, the ACNA changes match the Roman Catholic changes.
Given the goals of modern , the choices seem reasonable. The one tweak I would be inclined to make is to match the RCC text for the fourth phrase — “We lift them up to the Lord” — both for greater continuity with 400 years of Anglican worship, and ecumenical compatibility.

In future postings, I’ll look at the Ordinary and the main congregational prayers.