9 March 2016

The Roman Canon in the Church of England

I reprint this from June 2009 in answer to an enquiry.
One of our greatest English Liturgists in the twentieth century was E C Ratcliff. His closest academic collaborator, Canon A H Couratin, long-time Principal of our greatest Anglican Catholic seminary, S Stephen's House in Oxford, wrote:
"As a schoolboy he attended a church in South London which was notoriously 'Anglo-Catholic'. Here the Communion Service of the Book of Common Prayer was celebrated with all the ceremonial of High Mass of the Roman Rite, and the Canon Missae was silently interpolated under the cover of elaborate music. Whatever may have been the devotional value of such a performance, it could not fail to arouse the intellectual curiosity of a highly intelligent schoolboy. Ratcliff never escaped from the influence of this upbringing".

Couratin goes on to decribe the conclusions Ratcliff came to:
"The Canon Missae fascinated him, and references to it are to be found in numerous places in his writings. He regarded it ... as sui generis, 'a combination of the Irenaean and Cyprianic traditions of worship', representing'a stage of liturgical usage earlier than that of the Rites of Jerusalem and Constantinople' ".

Ratcliff's regard for the Canon is the more significant in that he was not a papalist. Indeed, Couratin revealed that he was preparing "to seek communion with the Orthodox, when he died".


William Tighe said...

It would be interesting to compare Ratcliff and Willis on the Roman Canon. Also, I don't know anything about Willis's ecclesiological stance beyond what Fr. Moreton wrote in the introduction to Willis's posthumously-published *A History of Early Roman Liturgy* (1994), but from what I have read of Willis he does not strike me as having been a papalist.

mark wauck said...

Pure speculation off the top of my head, but ...

Since the Roman Church appears, from all the evidence, to have been a very early foundation, connected intimately to Peter himself, it would stand to reason that there might be a strong tendency in the Roman Church to preserve very early traditions, including liturgical traditions. Most writers I've seen--and I say this strictly as an amateur--seem to regard the earliest Latin prayers as having a distinctively Roman character: terse, very much to the point, etc. Nevertheless, perhaps the general shape and character of the liturgy at Rome preserved the general shape and character--and perhaps even some of the content--of those early traditions?

Marco da Vinha said...

Has there ever been any study done compairing the Roman Canon with Temple prayers?