8 March 2021

Whatever happened to "the Thanksgiving Series"?

When I was at Staggers, 1964-1967,  we heard a great deal about the liturgical "Thanksgiving Series". This related to the strongly held conviction that the 'primitive' pattern of the Eucharistic Prayer, after It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty ... began with a Thanksgiving to the Father for Creation and Redemption (which ended with the Sanctus). While I was in the House, a request was submitted to the Ordinary of the Place, Bishop Harry Carpenter of Oxford, that the House be permitted to use ad experimentum a Preface which did just that. It was composed mainly by taking the seasonal prefaces of the Book of Common Prayer and gumming them together (so there was nothing wild or popish about it).

Readers may remember previous posts in which I have recalled the constant scrutiny the House was under, from 'Inspectors' anxious to discover 'illegalities' and 'Popery'. That, I am sure, is why the Principal, Canon Derek Allen, sought episcopal consent; and why Bishop Carpenter said No.

In June 1965, the Church of England published a draft liturgy, for discussion but not yet for use. Members of the Liturgical Commission included Arthur Couratin, long-time former principal of the House, together with Craddock Ratcliff, Austin Farrer, and (as Secretary) G G Willis ... names of very great distinction. The preparatory notes explain that "we have attempted to produce a Thanksgiving for the Creation of the World, the Redemption of of Mankind, and the Sanctification of the People of God through Christ." But this feature did not survive into permanent use in the texts currently in use of the Church of England. 

I suspect that the reasons why the Thanksgiving Series, which was a matter of such Anglican enthusiasm in the 1960s, dropped out of view may be twofold. (1) Some of the liturgists in the Commission of 1965, notably Couratin, dropped out because the C of E's synodal proceedings resulted in an 'Evangelical' veto on the words we offer; and, (2), in the texts which emerged from the Vatican after the Council, the Thanksgiving Series played no part. Instead, the emerging Novus Ordo reverted to a Gallican, or Ambrosian, profusion of proper prefaces. And this process of 'revision' in Rome was (unnecessarily) influential in Anglican circles


Anonymous said...

Fr H, Can one read this thanksgiving series anywhere?

Joshua said...

The 1718 Liturgy of the Nonjurors contains such a thanksgiving series, though as a Post-Sanctus, described thus: “The most signal Instances of the Divine Providence and Bounty are likewise briefly recounted, as introductive to the Words of Institution. This Recital is Paraphrastically taken from S. James’s Liturgy.” Here it is, with what to me are its most beautiful final phrase in bold:

Holiness is thy nature and thy gift, O Eternal King; Holy is thine only begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom thou hast made the worlds; Holy is thine Ever-blessed Spirit, who searcheth all things, even the depths of thine infinite perfection. Holy art thou, almighty and merciful God; thou createdst Man in thine own image, broughtest him into Paradise, and didst place him in a state of dignity and pleasure: And when he had lost his happiness by transgressing thy command, thou of thy goodness didst not abandon and despise him. Thy Providence was still continued, thy Law was given to revive the sense of his duty, thy Prophets were commissioned to reclaim and instruct him. And when the fullness of time was come, thou didst send thine only begotten Son to satisfy thy Justice, to strengthen our Nature, and renew thine Image within us: For these glorious ends thine Eternal Word came down from heaven, was incarnate by the Holy Ghost, born of the Blessed Virgin, conversed with mankind, and directed his life and miracles to our salvation:

Unknown said...

Ah, yes, Gallican/Ambrosian profusion of proper prefaces as in the Codex Veronensis LXXXV.

Joshua said...

Sorry, "is" not "are"!

William Tighe said...

I'm not sure that the "Thanksgiving series" idea has held up at all well in later scholarship. I find much "origins of the Eucharistic Prayer" scholarship tedious to read in much the same way one may easily find "dating the New Testament" books tedious, that is, all too often a field in which speculative notions based in very little evidence and many a priori postulates run rampant and uncontrolled by historical good sense. That said, ever since I read "From Berakah to Eucharistia: A Reopening Question," by Thomas J. Talley, Worship, 50:2 (March 1976), 115-137 at the time of its publication (although I really made little effort to keep up with the scholarship of the subject after the late 1980s) I have entertained the view that Dix and many others were wrong in equating the verbs eulogein and eucharistein, both meaning "to give thanks." Rather, I incline to the view that eulogein = berakah = to praise, while eucharistein = todah = to give thanks. Talley argues that this structure dervies ultimately from the Jewish Birkat ha-Mazon or prayer after solemn meals, which two thousand years ago (it has since then been expanded) seems to have consisted of three paragraphs, one of praise, the second of thanksgiving, and the third of supplication. Talley sees this structure as that upon which the great formulators of Greek anaphoras in the Fourth Century - St. Basil the Great, St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Anaohora of St. James) and St. John Chrysostom (and others both perhaps known and unknown)- constructed these prayers, with "praise" often coming before the Sanctus and "thanksgiving" and "supplication" after it. (The Egyptian anaphoral tradition, being on this argument older, was rather different, as was the Roman.) He also sees verbal echoes of this origin - the use of the verbs barekath and oudith - in Syriac euchology. So my point is that the "Thanksgiving Series" theory was rather too narrow to hold up over time.

Interested readers may wish to peruse this posting dealing with much the same subject on a Lutheran pastor's blog from 2009: