11 December 2013

Whatever happened to Genesis? (4)

Dom Gregory Dix, who did little to endear himself to bishops (had he tried to join an Ordinariate, the Catholic bishops would undoubtedly have been apprehensive that he would turn upon them the the same bright beams of wit and erudition which their Anglican opposite numbers had for so long endured) characteristically observed in 1944 that "even when the stately summer of the Carolines was over, the 'Whig grandee' bishops of the eighteenth century and the 'Greek Play' bishops of eighty years ago still had something for which the genial energy of a business man in gaiters does not always quite compensate". Dix's list of episcopal styles missed out a certain breed of English Anglican bishops, still alive only two decades before he wrote, who were, even by Dixian standards, very impressive men. The Tractarian  movement had already leavened Church of England to a considerable extent. There were members of the episcopal bench who, having been trained in our ancient universities in the Classics, and imbibed [this is Manning's bitter, angry, true comment upon B John Henry Newman:] "the old Anglican, patristic, literary, Oxford tone", were learned men, far from being Papalists but very much further from being Reformation Protestants. And English Academe was replete with scholars who had spent their lives immersed in the Fathers and in the ever increasing number of hitherto unavailable liturgical texts, in the process of being published by the Henry Bradshaw Society.  During the First World War, a liturgical committee was formed including such bishops as Robertson of Exeter, Chase of Ely, Gibson of Gloucester, and scholars including Swete, Frere, Brightman,Christopher Wordsworth, H A Wilson, J N Dalton ... as well as dear old Percy Dearmer. (Several of those, of course, later became bishops.)

This was the Liturgical Committee which bore responsibility for, among other things, the Lectionary which the Church of England ... well, actually the Crown, but you know what I mean ... authorised in 1922. It was this Lectionary which finalised the return to the old Roman lectionary system which Quinones had wished to preserve and to expand into a full reading of Genesis from Septuagesima onwards; an intention which Thomas Cranmer had once shared but, most unfortunately, had abandoned.

I suppose that Lectionary could be called the Back to Gregory the Great, Back to the Early Roman Rite, Back to Sarum, Back to Cranmer's best draft, Lectionary system.
One more episode ...

1 comment:

Matthew Roth said...

The Roman lectionary is not perfect. But it is a shame we abandoned it for one so complex that we aren't actually retaining Scripture.