27 April 2022

An interesting little old document (1)

More than half a century ago, there emerged an Anglican document called Alternative Services 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.

What is the relevance of all this to today's problems? That only the Canon Romanus can without mendacity be seen as the Roman Eucharistic Prayer. Unless our ingenious friend Archbishop Roche can explain what continuity he can discern between The Roman Canon and the prayer erroneously attributed to 'Hippolytus'.

My argument: those Anglicans 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 remembrance 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. It is a shame that the compilers of the Ordinariate Missal, feeling obliged to allow something shorter than the Canon for optional use on weekdays, did not select this rather than Pseudo-Hippolytus. 

{and looking for the coming of his kingdom} I attribute to the enthusiasm of the 1960s for seeing everything Eschatologically. As Fr Jack Hegarty explained to Bishop Brennan during the Visitation of Craggy Island, most 'questions' are Eschatological ... at least to the extent that this magical word has a extraordinary capacity to silence bores.

To be continued.


frjustin said...

The eminent Orthodox theologian Fr. Alexander Schmemann was aware of the word's extraordinary capacity to silence bores. When he was asked to comment on
the idea of a Pan-Orthodox Synod, he referred to it as an “eschatological concept".

Jesse said...

The phrase used to such good effect by Fr. Jack Hackett was, I'm afraid, "That would be an ecumenical matter." It was addressed, not to his diocesan (Bishop Brennan), but to three other prelates (Bishops O'Neill, Facks, and Jordan) who had been dispatched to Craggy Island to elevate the Holy Stone of Clonrichert to the status of a "class two relic."

I suppose that the inserted phrase "and looking for the coming of his kingdom" may indeed reflect a 1960s-era fad for eschatology. But it could equally reflect an Evangelical concern to incorporate St. Paul's own explanation of the Eucharist as a "shewing forth" of the Lord's death "till he come" (1 Cor. 11:26).

This had already found euchological expression in the BCP Prayer of Consecration, which from 1549 onwards had characterized the Eucharist as a fulfilment of Christ's command to celebrate (1549) or continue (1552 onwards) "a perpetual memory of that his precious death, until his coming again."

william arthurs said...

Here is a PDF scan of the service booklet.

FrB. said...



Jonathan said...

True, but it's a lovely mistake. It made me imagine an updated Fr Ted style scene.

Pope (in Argentinian accent) : What do you think?

Priest (out of his depth, bluffing) : Well Holy Father ... that would be a scatological matter.

Pope (enthusiastically): Yes, I suppose it would!

Matthew said...

Most interesting, but before the evangelicals scuppered the words of oblation there was that inadequate petition that the elements might "be unto us" the Body and Blood of Christ rather than "become" them for us.

William Tighe said...

"there was that inadequate petition that the elements might "be unto us" the Body and Blood of Christ rather than "become" them for us"

Daniel Brevint (1616-1695), Dean of Lincoln, in his anti-Catholic work, Missale Romanum (1672) interpreted the nobis in the Quam oblationem of the Roman Canon in precisely the same "receptionist" manner. He was making the claim that the oldest parts of the Roman Missal, including the Canon, were evidence that "transubstantiation" was not "primitive."

dunstan said...

So now I understand why Fr Ursell, late of Pusey House, regarded Prayer B as indispensable. Do they use its Common Worship equivalent at Pusey now?