3 January 2017

Newman and the Prayer Book

In his semi-autobiographical 1848 novel Loss and Gain, Blessed John Henry Newman mercilessly satirises all non-conformity, Evangelicalism, and vacuous ritualism. He does not criticise solid old-style Anglicanism (although one can easily discern a hermeneutic of its inadequacy).

In Chapter 8, the Misses Bolton, "very Catholic girls", have just been discussing the religious vocation with two rather handsome young ritualists; the discussion has manifestly been little other than a cover for flirtation. When they get home, their mother bursts out "Catholic, Catholic? give me good old George the Third and the Protestant religion. Those were the times! ... I value the Prayer Book as you cannot do, for I have known what it is to one in deep affliction. May it be long, dearest girls, before you know it in a similar way; but if affliction comes on you, depend on it, all these new fancies and fashions will vanish from you like the wind, and the good old Prayer Book alone will stand you in any stead. Come my dears; I have spoken too seriously. Go and take your things off, and come and let us have some quiet work before luncheon time".

One old Anglican custom was to learn the week's collect each week. Since nearly all of these are, of course, translated from the ancient Roman sacramentaries, this was a way of tapping into and being fed by an ancient and deeply orthodox euchological tradition.

Those, of course, who are in the Ordinariate can quite simply learn the collects in the old Prayer Book, which our Rite reproduces verbatim. I am not so sure what we should be commending to other Catholics.

No sane Catholic, of course, would have learned the old ICEL translations of the Sunday collects off by heart. But, given the current translation, Catholics may have a set of texts which could indeed be so treated. I wonder what readers think. Indeed, Liturgiam authenticam sees the provision of sound translations, and a period of stability, as being an important cultural opportunity for liturgical formulae to become a nutrient part of the spirituality of the Catholic worshipper.


mark wauck said...

Question: Are the Ordinariate Collects identical to those in the Prayer Book, or have there been revisions?

Joshua said...

At the very least, any Catholics who customarily pray the Rosary and the Angelus know the fine collects concluding each. What a wealth of doctrine the collect of the Angelus, Gratiam tuam quæsumus, contains! Those of a more trad sensibility might also be familiar with the general collect for all the faithful departed said after the De profundis, Fidelium Deus omnium. I would hope that the collects used at Prime and Compline, including in the latter the collects after the four seasonal Marian anthems, would also sink in; as also many of the collects that are said daily at (EF) Mass, such as Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi and Corpus tuum Domine.

Joshua said...

At this time of year, does the BCP Collect of the Circumcision feature? I hope so; it is felicitous.

ALMIGHTY God, who madest thy blessed Son to be circumcised, and obedient to the law for man; Grant us the true Circumcision of the Spirit; that, our hearts, and all our members, being mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts, we may in all things obey thy blessed will; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr H., not infrequently, the portion of the BCP collect that is its petition is begun with a capital letter (G, in the example - should I say, ensample - above), despite not being a new sentence, there being no full stop intervening; What is the technical term for this usage? Please do tell.

Little Black Sambo said...

It would be easy enough to read both versions and compare them.

B flat said...

You have touched a raw nerve, Father. One of the effective ploys of the Screwtape drudges. has been to proliferate translations in the last sixty years. Scripture is a constant fountainhead of instruction, inspiration, and strength. In my childhood I could quote passages from the Gospel and the psalms verbatim. With changes of version, all has become a muddle, and I search my heart for the exact text in vain, for assurance and comfort. Children who learn one translation, and rehearse it for ensuing years, are well armed for periods of deprivation and persecution. But our leaders had no foresight of this, and blithely "translated the sense" leaving out the meat of the text, and changed and changed again for the sake of relevance and modernity.
St Jerome's Vulgate was not accepted by the people of God, to replace the old roman translation of the Psalter, nor in England did the Authorised Version supersede the Coverdale translation in the "Great Bible" of Henry VIII, I believe, and survives in the Book of Common Prayer. Only after many centuries did "experts" interfere and impose their will on the spiritual life of believers, fed primarily by the public prayers of the Church, so that we have generations of malnutrition leading to weak and disfigured members in the Body of Christ.

Woody said...

Mark, the collects in the old Anglican Usage liturgy were almost without exception taken from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer here in the US, and as Father was saying, no doubt about the 1662 BCP collects, they are largely taken from the old Roman sacramentaries. One could trace their lineage easily by looking at the relevant discussion in Marion Hatchetts book on the 1979 BCP. I have not been able to follow closely how the new DWTM collects were assembled, but of course they are very elegant and edifying. Father can correct me, but I gather from his discussion that they come, at least most recently, largely from the English BCP.

Woody said...

If I might add one more thing, one of my favorite collects is the Good Friday collect which reads as follows: " Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, we pray thee to set thy passion, cross, and death, between thy judgement and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living, pardon and rest to the dead, to thy holy Church peace and concord, and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, now and ever." Hatchett says that this was lifted from an old Book of Hours or Primer, if memory serves, so it imports popular Catholic spirituality into the most solemn liturgy through the back door of the 1979 BCP and then over to our liturgy.

John F H H said...

ALMIGHTY God, who madest thy blessed Son to be circumcised, and obedient to the law for man: Grant us the true Circumcision of the Spirit; that, our hearts, and all our members, being mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts, we may in all things obey thy blessed will; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

It should be a colon after man.

I suspect that it serves the same purpose as in the Missale - to mark the first inflection in the tone for the Collect.

Sadly, this most useful pointing, after centuries of use, has been omitted, not only from modern translations, but also from the latest typical edition of Missale Romanum. I do not know if it has been retained in the Ordinariate Missal.

mark wauck said...

@ Woody,

Thanks for the explanation.

Matthew Roth said...

The collect for Compline made it into many devotional books before the Council.

Claudio Salvucci said...

Two cents from a non-Ordinariate Catholic:

I rejected the new English translation because it lacks "thees" and "thous", but mostly because of the mangled Novus Ordo calendar. For many years I have simply pulled collects from various old Missals for the laity, especially Fr. Lasance's.

This year I settled on the collects from an 1880s prayer book produced by the authority of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore--which never really took off, but was styled a "Book of Common Prayer for Catholics". Missing feasts, like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton today, are then supplied with collects from later sources. Although admittedly the most modern collects are too stilted for even changed pronouns to fix--e.g. St. Katherine Drexel.

It seems clear that in the 1800s the Catholic hierarchy knew the strength of the BCP; today not so much.

Joshua said...

Dear John F H H,

I'm afraid the Church of England's own website gives the Collect for the Circumcision with a semi-colon.


I cannot apologise on behalf of the C. of E. as I am an R. C.

Joshua said...

Dear John F H H,

Further pursuant to your gentle correction, I have checked with those editions of the BCP that I have to hand regarding the exact punctuation of the Circumcision Collect:

An edition published at London by Eyre & Spottiswoode, Queen's Printers, c. 1886, displays a colon in the Collect;

However, both another edition published at London by Eyre & Spottiswoode, King's Printers, c. 1901, and an Oxford University Press edition, c. 1958, display a semi-colon in the Collect.

Turning now to the Internet, Eyre & Spottiswoode's exact reproduction (1892) of the original manuscript annexed to the Act of Uniformity of 1662 - which I consulted online via the following link - does display a colon in the Collect.


Perhaps either is acceptable?

mark wauck said...

@ Woody, thanks for the explanation.

William said...

@Joshua and John F H H: The C of E website generally uses a colon in that position (i.e. after a relative clause), though by my reckoning six others apart from the Circumcision use a semicolon. The most obvious explanation is a simple error in transcription in those cases. (The website also lists "Saint Bartholemew" [sic], so I don't think it is to be trusted as an authoritative source.)

However, an 1866 edition on my shelves consistently uses semicolons in every case after a relative clause. Others at varying later dates follow other practices, including using colons even when there is no relative clause but simply at the first substantive break in the collect text regardless of grammatical context. This last practice would at least tally with the theory that the colon is marking the point of inflection. Otherwise it appears to be down to a question of house style, supplemented by occasional typographical carelessness.

Joshua said...

John F H H,

I am amused but unconvinced by your suggestion that the colon and following majuscule are provided in the BCP to help celebrants correctly chant them. Before the Ritualists arose in the 19th C., I cannot imagine such aping of Popish practices.

While in pre-1662 editions of the BCP a rubric directed the chanting of the Lessons to a modest and distinct tune, after the manner of plain reading, I have not come across evidence suggesting that the Collects were chanted similarly.

Rather, evidence from the many settings of the Responses at Mattins and Evensong suggests that the Collects were only ever sung on a monotone; it was the choral Amen after each that was set to music.

Joshua said...

I have finally rediscovered a source that explains the use of the (semi-)colon and following capital letter within some collects:

The Book Of English Collects
From the Prayer Books of the Anglican Communion: England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, and the United States of America
With Notes, and an Essay on the Collect Form,

by John Wallace Suter, Jr. Harper & Brothers, 1940


Herewith, the relevant extracts:

Of the Prayer Book prayers which are unmistakably Collects, practically all belong to one or another of three literary Types. These we call A, B, and C.
TYPE A […]
1. The Address to God. […]
2. The Descriptive Clause (or Clauses). […]
Between the last word of the Descriptive Clause and the first word of the Petition (or Thanksgiving) a uniform punctuation-mark is used, not simply to perform the usual office of a punctuation-mark but also to signalize the turning-point or pivot of the literary design. (This feature gives the name Pivotal to Type A.) For this, E [the English 1662 BCP], I [the Irish], and US employ a semi-colon; ER [the 1928 proposed revision of the 1662 BCP], C [the Canadian], S [the Scottish], and SA [the South African], a colon. The present book adopts the latter, as more strongly marking the “pivotal moment” in the turn of the pattern. The first word of the Petition (or Thanksgiving) invariably begins with a capital letter.
3. The Petition or Thanksgiving. […]
4. The Ending. […]

Of the three patterns, Type A has the sharpest outline and is the most readily distinguishable. The reason for this is the Pivot, which divides the prayer into two parts (not equal in length) like the stanzas of a poem. The first part is related to the second as a protasis to an apodosis, the sequence of thought turning with the colon. The result is the feeling that the prayer is “through-composed” (as we say in song-writing), the first part making the second part necessary, the second “resolving” the first and carrying the thought through to its logical conclusion. In this type more than in any other, “we see the end from the beginning.”

Introduction to the Notes […] Punctuation […]
The Preface has already noted the Liturgical Colon (semicolon in E, I, and US) which distinguishes the Type A Collect. The juxtaposition of this mark with a capital initial for the word which follows it is a sign that the Collect in question is of Type A. Yet it is not this detail which makes a Collect a Type A Collect; rather would it be true to say that a Collect is first written in such a way as to conform to that type, and then punctuated accordingly.