13 October 2016

An interesting little old document (1)

We are about fifty years from the publication of an Anglican document called Alternative Service Second Series. It was a significant moment in liturgical reform within the Church of England. I want to share a few words about its (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to provide a Eucharistic Prayer which would rescue the Church of England from the Reformation dichotomies.

My argument: that it produced a very clever immensely brief summary of the Roman Canon which, on the (certainly questionable) assumption that such a brief summary was actually needed, was in every possible way better than the Pseudo-Hippolytan Trattoria-in-the-Trastevere Prayer which is now all but universal in the Latin Church. I will print this Prayer, indicating which of the paragraphs in the Canon each line summarises. I have put within {curly brackets} those words which do not relate to the central part of the Canon Romanus.

Hear us, O Father, through Christ thy Son our Lord;        Te igitur
through him accept                                                                 Te igitur
our sacrifice of praise;                                                            Memento
{and grant} that these gifts                                                    Te igitur
of bread and wine may be unto us his body and blood    Quam oblationem
Who ...                                                                                       Qui ...
Wherefore, O Lord, having in remembrace his saving passion, his resurrection from the dead, and his glorious ascension into heaven, {and looking for the coming of his kingdom,} we offer unto thee this bread and this cup;                                                                  Unde et memores
and we pray thee to accept                                                     Supra quae
this our duty and service                                                        Hanc igitur
in the presence of thy divine majesty,                                  Supplices
through the same Christ our Lord;                                         Per quem
By whom and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty,                                                                                   Per Ipsum
from the whole company of earth and heaven,                    Communicantes and Nobis quoque
throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.                   Per omnia saecula ...

In the discussion which will occupy the second half of this piece, I do not intend to go over the (ultimately successful) Evangelical campaign to eliminate we offer ... this bread and this cup. I am more interested in the fact that there is here no Invocation of the Holy Spirit to consecrate the Eucharistic Elements. What we do have here is best understood as an intelligent (and amazingly terse!) expression of the old Roman (and rather 'binitarian') idea, preceding the sudden fourth century explosion of interest in the Holy Spirit, that the elements are 'consecrated' by their acceptance by the Father. This would, I admit, be a trifle clearer if the Prayer had omitted the superfluous words {and grant}. 

[{and looking for the coming of his kingdom} I attribute to the enthusiasm of the 1960s for seeing everything Eschatologically.]

To be continued.


Colin Spinks said...

Dear Father,

I think you may be mis-remembering the Eucharistic Prayer of Series 2 slightly. I agree that it does provide a terse rendering of the Roman Canon, significantly not including an epiclesis of the Holy Spirit. However, the oblatio "we offer this bread and this cup" does not appear in this prayer. It in fact says: "Wherefore O Lord, with this bread and this cup we make the memorial of his saving passion, his resurrection etc", not quite as orthodox as you fondly remember. Perhaps the closest the C of E has come to a proper oblatio is Eucharistic Prayer 3 from ASB: "we bring before you this bread and this cup".

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Colin

No, I have the text befote me. What you are quoting is the version eventually authorised by the C of E, after the the Evangelicals had made a great fuss about 'offerrimus'.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

In fact, I alluded to this in my piece when I referred to the ultimately successful Evangelical attempt ... etc..

Colin Spinks said...

Sorry, I misunderstood. Thanks for clarifying.