17 April 2021

Instant canonisation

Probably I have missed relevant material; but I have heard the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of York (ex-Staggers) and the former Bishop of London, and others, and I have not noticed any suggestion that we should pray for Prince Philip that, although  mortal and fallen, he may be given rest among the Saints.

Praying for the departed has an interesting history in Separated Anglicanism. The government suppressed and looted the chantries in 1548 (the first really big intrusion of the Tudor Regime into parochial life). But in the 1549 Prayer Book the Memento etiam of the Canon was actually made longer. However, the 1552 Book cut out Prayer for the Departed (except in as far as it might be implied in phrases such as "all thy whole Church"). And every time liturgical revision has occurred in the Church of England, the Evangelicals have struggled to make sure that (1) Eucharistic Sacrifice; and (2) Prayer for the Dead, are kept well out.

It has been suggested that the Saints crept back into the C of E through stained glass windows; Prayer for the Departed certainy made its reentry through Church Music, 

W J Birkbeck (1869-1916), Fellow of Magdalen College in this University and a great admirer of Slavic Orthodoxy, did a translation of "The Russian Contakion for the Depparted", which appeared in the 1903 English Hymnal. It has achieved great popularity in elite and educated Anglicanism because of its haunting Kievian melodies. It is in the Service of Burial which is due to be used at Windsor today.

Parts of it are used also in Greek Orthodoxy in the order for Nekrosimos. In my (Athens) Mikron Euchologion, the following rubric occurs before the text  Meta ton hagion  anapauson ... "It is the custom in the autocephalous Church of Greece that the following Kontakion be sung by the right hand choir."

I wonder what lies behind this way of putting things ...



Compton Pauncefoot said...

One of the things I found most difficult as an Anglican was the terrible gulf between the living and the dead. Catholicism came as a glorious reunion.

Ben Whitworth said...

In the service of choral evensong broadcast twice on BBC Radio 3, following His Royal Highness’s death, not only were there explicit prayers for the repose of his soul, drawn from the Catholic liturgy, but even a prayer implying that his soul could not be saved without our prayers, which seemed to me heterodox.

Fr Edward said...

I thought I might offer this, which is really on the theological and pastoral importance of gentleness in interpretation and generosity in wiggle-room. Its nothing many don't know already, but I think that the liberal (not-liberal) Roman authorities could learn a thing or two.

If are to judge the belief of a religious system by its official liturgical prayer, then it is clear that the Church of England had no place for prayers for the dead between 1552 and 1912. However, prayers were composed for public use during the Boer War, and of course by the time of the Great War they were taken up with great fervour.

Although the Elizabethan 'Book of Homilies' and 'Injunctions' are dead set against such prayers, and the 1552 and 1662 Prayer Books make no clear provision, there is of course enough wiggle room for a generous interpretation. Not surprisingly earlier Anglican divines such as Bramhall in 1658, maintain that such prayer is implicit within some formularies. Certainly some Prayer Book revisers, such as the great and right--thinking Wren and Cosin (both Masters of Peterhouse, I’m happy to say) thought this too. It's either that, or they were told not to rock the Puritans out of the boat, although that wouldn’t have bothered them, I'm guessing.

The Scottish Prayer Book includes them in 1912, and the Anglo Catholic ‘Universities’ Mission to Central Africa’ introduced them into their liturgical revisions in 1919. Quite quickly the USA, South Africa, Canada and Japan followed. I had better stop now, for I feel a section on the non-Jurors and an exegesis of the good Dr Deacon’s 'Devotions' coming on.

Anonymous said...

To those who have been present when the Ukrainian Catholic Church sing the Our father and also the Creed knows full well the Kievan Longing in the Urkraniam tones, which by
being claimed by moscow as its own.

Simon Cotton said...

Pace Fr Edward's comments, I've always understood that prayer for the departed in the Church of England was given impetus by the slaughter in World War I, and by the grieving that followed.

Jesse said...

With your permission, Father, in the hope that they may be of interest to your readers, I here reproduce some notes on the "Russian Contakion for the Departed" that I made in advance of a lecture I gave in 2013 on Anglican liturgical borrowings from Eastern Orthodoxy. I've divided these into three parts, to satisfy the character limits imposed by blogspot.com.

(Part 1 of 3)

We read the following in The Life and Letters of W. J. Birkbeck, M.A., F.S.A., Magdalen College, Oxford, by his wife [Rose Katherine Birkbeck] (London: Longmans, Green, 1922), pp. 18-19:

"For five years, from 1883 to 1888, he devoted himself to the study of plainsong, visiting Maredsous, a monastery in Belgium, and learning much from his friends the monks there, going also to Solesmes in France, the chief centres of continental study on the subject, and many other places. Thus he mastered the intricate rules of early musical notation, when as yet it was written without lines. Later on he continued this same study in Russia, working at the ancient Russian music with the aid of Professor Smolenski at Moscow, who has written a great deal about the early notation. He brought home many old Russian and Slavonic musical manuscripts, and well understood the mysterious-looking red lines and dots and signs above the black lettering. In 1891 he lectured to the Musical Association, with these MSS. for illustration, a lecture which was published in the periodical account of their proceedings, and which is the only publication at present in the English language that gives any information on the subject. He also translated the Contakion for the dead, 'Give rest, O God,' [sic] and, with the help of Sir Walter Parratt [organist of St. George's, Windsor], corrected the harmonies, and to them fitted the words of this beautiful hymn, which were sung by Queen Victoria's request at the memorial service of the Emperor Alexander III of Russia and also at that of the Duke of Clarence. It now has a place in the hymn-book of the Royal Chapel at Windsor, and in the 'English Hymnal,' and brings comfort to many sorrowing souls of the English Communion."

I have not been able to find out if the memorial service for the Duke of Clarence referred to here was the one held on January 20, 1892, in the private chapel at Osborne House, Queen Victoria's seaside retreat on the Isle of Wight. (The queen had been advised by her physicians not to travel to Windsor for the funeral held on that day, lest she risk exposure to the influenza pandemic that had just claimed her grandson.) "Give rest, O Christ" is not mentioned among the musical items listed in the brief description of the service in The Times for Thursday, January 21, 1892, under the headline "Service at Osborne" (p. 8).

The memorial service for Alexander III took place at Windsor on Monday, November 19, 1894. The Times reported on the service the next day (November 20, 1894), under the headline "The Late Tsar" (p. 6), as follows:

"The Queen and Court attended a special service which was held yesterday in the private chapel at Windsor Castle during the time fixed for the funeral of the late Tsar in ST. Petersburg. The Dean of Windsor officiated. The opening sentences of the Burial Service were first read, and the choral portion, conducted by Sir Walter Parratt, including the hymn, 'The Saints of God,' the anthems, 'Give Rest, O Christ,' and 'Blest are the Departed' (Spohr), sung by the choir of St. George's Chapel. There was also a special prayer."

Jesse said...

(Part 2 of 3)

We learn from a letter to Lord Halifax dated October 12, 1898, that Birkbeck made further translations from Russian musical sources and that he hoped that these would win the favourable notice of Queen Victoria (Life and Letters, p. 85):

“I have been so desperately busy getting some Russian music ready for the Queen. Princess Beatrice wrote to Parratt to beg him to have some ready for her when she comes to Windsor next month. Parratt goes to stay at Balmoral to-day for a few days, and I managed to get a translation of the hymn to the Mother of God out of the Liturgy finished last night and posted off. I do hope and trust it will be approved. If it could be sung before her, Parratt says that there would not be much difficulty in getting it sung in St. George’s on Lady Day afterwards -- I wonder if it is too much to hope for? It is just what is wanted just now."

In the same letter, he reports on a conversation he had lately had with the Bishop of London, Mandell Creighton, which touched on prayer for the dead in general and on the Contakion in particular (Life and Letters, pp. 87-88):

"I then spoke of attempts to put down the 'Hail Mary' and 'May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.' He said that so long as we couldn't shew that any of the recognised forms of the English Church had anything parallel to them, he couldn't sanction such forms of prayer to be read in the public services of the Church. I said 'Would you then forbid the use of the anthem "Give rest, O Christ, to Thy servant," etc.?' He said 'Oh no, that is an anthem, and greater latitude may be allowed in hymns and anthems. I do not expect to be asked to sanction all the hymns and anthems which are used; they must be left to the common sense of the clergy: but it is quite different with definite forms of prayer used in the services on an equal footing with the authorised forms of the Church.'"

Jesse said...

(Part 3 of 3)

The Contakion for the Departed appears again in connection with the death of Queen Victoria herself. We read as follows in John Wolffe, Great Deaths: Grieving, Religion, and Nationhood in Victorian and Edwardian Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 2000), pp. 79-80:

"Within an hour of his mother's death in 1901 Edward VII was discussing arrangements for her funeral with [Randall] Davidson, now Bishop of Winchester. ... Davidson had prevailed on the royal family to drop their initial choice of an anthem from the Russian Kontakion for the faithful departed, 'Give rest O Christ to thy servant with thy Saints' because he feared it would be criticized as prayer for the dead. The incident well illustrated the tension between private preference and public image, and Edward VII agreed with Davidson in seeking to avoid controversy on 'a great national occasion'. The latter recalled:

'I had to keep on assuring them all that personally I had no objection to such petitions, and indeed that personally I believed in, and used such prayers, and should feel no sort of objection to their being sanctioned everywhere. At present, however, that had not been done, and I felt bound to remind them of the fact, reiterating that I was speaking merely in the interests of the King to avoid controversy. The King said repeatedly, "I see. What you want to protect is the Nonconformist conscience.' I said he might put it so without being far wrong. Anyhow it was a near shave, and the blunder might have turned out to be a real misfortune for the Puritanical and old-fashioned outcry [would] have set back the hopes of our getting such prayers to be generally used.'"

Wolffe notes in a footnote (p. 80 n. 127): "The offending piece was, however, used at the memorial service for the Queen at St Paul's Cathedral on the day of the funeral, without apparently arousing controversy (The Times, 4 Feb. 1901)."

It is most interesting to learn from the Order of Service for the funeral of the late Duke of Edinburgh that the royal family retains its attachment to this happy example of "cultural appropriation." I sang this piece several times when I was a choral scholar at King's College, Cambridge. From that experience I can confirm that it sounds fantastic when sung by men's voices transposed a fifth down (as Ralph Vaughan Williams suggested in the music edition of The English Hymnal, no. 744).

Oliver Nicholson said...

Thank you, Mr. Jesse, for your interesting comments on W.J. Birkbeck. There is a story that he was on a train in Russia accompanying Archbishop MacLagan of York when the train was stopped by a party of monks very keen that the great English Archbishop should venerate a particularly holy icon. Birkbeck was not at all sure that the Archbishop would be up for this, so, thinking quickly, he explained that in normal circumstances nothing would please the great English Archbishop better, but that at the moment he happened unfortunately to be dead drunk. Apparently the monks understood perfectly.

Stephen said...

I've never known my own pastor here in our little corner of America to be an Anglophile (not that there's anything wrong with that, a la Seinfeld!), but I would hazard the guess that he would not add, nor subtract, anything to the liturgy without the consent of our ordinary Bishop Michael. So I assume that all the parishes in our OCA diocese included "Prince Phillip" (right before the mitered archpriest Basil, Fred and Barbara) in the prayers for the dead, as did Fr. John during our beautiful Sunday liturgy here around the 52 minute mark https://fb.watch/4ZWeGiyZ4u/
, no doubt in heartfelt recognition of his Orthodox baptism and mourning of his passing. As noted, Prince Phillip was in good company, and at the top of the list. He was also a direct descendent of Tsar Nicholas I. Finally, in June 2001, upon visiting the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge, it is reported that Prince Phillip said “I never renounced the Orthodox Church, I just added the Anglican Church.”
Give rest, O Christ, to thy servant with thy saints:
where sorrow and pain are no more;
neither sighing but life everlasting.
Thou only art immortal, the creator and maker of man:
and we are mortal formed from the dust of the earth,
and unto earth shall we return:
for so thou didst ordain,
when thou created me saying:
Dust thou art und unto dust shalt thou return.
All we go down to the dust;
and weeping o’er the grave we make our song:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.