Saturday, December 4, 2010

Episcopalians for H40

In looking for Advent hymns, I found a couple of unexpected tributes to my favorite hymnal in the blog of a TEC priest. Not a cradle Episcopalian, Fr. Daniel Martins notes the role that Hymnal 1940 played in his selecting ECUSA:
I became an Episcopalian in the early 1970s, and a semi-mystical experience with the Hymnal 1940 in a piano practice room at Westmont College played a big role in setting me on that path. I was so moved that I thought to myself, “Where have these hymns been all my life? If there’s a church that actually sings them, I need to be in it.” And so I am.
The first hymn he highlights is Hymn 451, which begins “Lord, forever at thy side Let my place and portion be; Strip me of the robe of pride, Clothe me with humility.”

In a subsequent posting, he talks about Hymn #438 (“Jesus, gentlest Savior, God of might and power”) by Anglican Catholic lyricist F.W. Faber. As it turns out, he has many posting on Hymnal 1940 across the years of his blog. It appears as though he’s a learned man of Anglo-Catholic tastes. The comments on his H40 postings seem to come from a mix of TEC and post-TEC Anglicans.

As it turns out, Fr. Martins is actually Bishop-elect Martins, 11th Bishop of Springfield — assuming he gets the necessary consents. Apparently having worked in San Joaquin has convinced some TEC leftists that he’s a closet schismatic, even thought the liberal faction of his new diocese takes him at his word that he won’t try (nor could he) take the diocese out of TEC.

There are certainly others like Fr. Martins. A few of my friends have stayed in the TEC; they haven’t changed what they believe, but don’t (as I do) think it’s a problem that the PB and the majority of the HOD and HOB key elements of the traditional faith. Or their institutional loyalty (or aversion to schism) outweighs any doctrinal differences with the majority faction.

I wonder if there will be a bridge for liturgy between Schism I, II and TEC near-traditionalists. The obvious stumbling block is gender-neutered language, supported by the high church faction of TEC and many in ACNA and adamantly opposed by the BCP28 Schism I. Still, I could see sharing hymns between us — although by definition, a BCP28 traditionalist isn’t going to be composing a lot of new hymns.

It may be that those of us who are theologically doctrinaire Anglo-Catholics will cooperate with those we left behind in TEC in South Carolina and a few other dioceses. Or perhaps when (if) Hymnal 1940 goes out of print, it will be up to a Schism I group to keep it alive forever as the politically incorrect language becomes anathema to TEC, even if it can make a buck from it.

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