3 May 2018

Chesterton on the Anglican liturgical tradition (2)

"Let anyone recall for himself the very finest passages in the Book of Common Prayer and he will soon see that they are concerned specially with spiritual thoughts and themes that now seem strange and terrible; but anyhow, the reverse of common; ".. in the hour of death and in the day of Judgment". Who talks about the hour of death? Who talks about the Day of Judgement? Only a litter of shabby little priests from the Italian Mission. Not certainly the popular and eloquent Dean of Bumblebury, who is so Broad and yet so High. Certainly not the charming and fashionable Vicar of St Ethelbald's, who is so High and yet so Broad. Still less the clergyman helping in the same parish, who is frankly Low. It is the same on every page, where the spirit inspires that style. "Suffer us not, for any pains of death, to fall from Thee." ... "Ah, that's what gets you" (or words to that effect), as Lord Peter Wimsey truly said of this phrase, in the detective tale of Miss Dorothy Sayers; who, like Lord Peter, knows a good deal about other things besides poisons; and understands her hero's historical traditions very well. But did you ever hear the curate fresh from the cricket-field, or the vicar smiling undr the Union Jacks of the Conservatuive Rally, dwell upon that penultimate peril; or the danger of falling from God amid the pains of death? Very morbid. Just like those Dago devotional books. So very Roman."

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