16 March 2023

An Anglo-Papalist Liturgist in the time of King James II

The Revd Edward Stephens, who died in 1706, was a late Stuart Anglo-papalist; he wrote that 'the dignity of the Church of Rome, and the authority of the Bishop of Rome, as the chief patriarch in the Kingdom of Christ, I do heartily embrace, and am resolved, by the grace of God, to assert against all schismatical acts whatsoever' (although he was a less extreme papalist than the Master of Sidney Sussex College Cambridge, the probable author of A Proposal for Catholic Reunion in 1704). Stephens also was a keen advocate of the Daily Mass ("Certain it is that the taking away of the Daily Sacrifice is as notorious a Mark of the Spirit of the Antichrist ... as any "). He composed a pamphlet called The Cranmerian Liturgy, Or, The subtilty of the Serpent in corrupting the True English Liturgy, by Cranmer and a Faction of Calvinists. He rather neatly wrote of the Prayer Book as 'hug'd [by the C of E] like a Bastard Child by a silly abused husband'. You can find his liturgies, and copious extracts from his writings, in the 1958 volume of the Alcuin Club Collections, Anglican Liturgies of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, by Jardine Grisbrooke ... a lovely exploration of the protohistory of Anglican Catholic and Ordinariate worship.

Stephens was quite rhetorician ... and what a superb blogger he would have made (he wrote about the Church of England's "execrable Schism and Separation from the Whole Catholic Church of all Ages").

As well as a liturgy to be used privately (rather Eastern in style), he produced one for public use which owed a lot to the book of 1549. In this he sharpened up Cranmer's English by writing 'who made there by his own oblation ...' (a modification made easier by the fact that the English word 'one' had not yet universally acquired the pronunciation wun). He justified his divergences from the Book which he had, by his oath of canonical obedience, promised to use, with the words 'we must obey God rather than Man, and prefer the Authority of the Catholick Church before that of any particular Church whatever'; a very typically Catholic Anglican observation. I am sure he would have been with us in the Ordinariate.

The admirable game of making Cranmer's texts less heterodox continued in the Scotch Liturgy of 1764. As well as incorporating Stephens's emendation 'own', 1764 omitted the word 'there', so that the Sacrifice of Christ was not limited to his Crucifixion.

All these attempts at a specifically Anglican and Catholic Liturgy are but ancestors and antecedents of the Ordinariate Missal. Ecclesiologically, they demonstrate that as soon as Anglicans started studying the early history of Christendom, they realised the appalling mistake which had been made in the casting off of papal authority; and as soon as they began to study the actual evidences of 'primitive' worship, they were not slow to understand that  the Cranmerian inheritance had been, essentially, a disaster.

Except for its linguistic register and its Divine Office and its collects and some particular gems ...


Arthur Gallagher said...

Excellent post.

Joshua said...

I am glad to be reminded both of Edward Stephens and the eight or so volumes of the "Anglican Liturgies of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries", both of which I first encountered in dusty libraries in my undergraduate days in the nineties, and to which I have returned (online) from time to time ever since. I must say, though Stephens' liturgies were mightily wordy, and would have gone on, and on, and on... he is a prime example of the Anglican pastime of cutting and pasting to produce an ideal liturgy, which all Catholics ought flee (let the reader understand).

Matthew F Kluk said...

Father, Would you please be recommend a book on English Reformation exiles' lives on the Continent after some of them left? Something general? Thank you.