18 August 2021


From Eric Mascall:

"It has often been pointed out  ... that the idea of a liturgy as something composed by a committee and then imposed by authority is a very novel one. Its first appearance seems to be in England in 1549, though it was followed soon after in the Roman Church with the issuing of the Pian Missal in 1570. In all the great periods of liturgical development the governing factor was the liturgical consciousness of the worshipping Church, though synods and even secular rulers might exert a more or less wholesome influence upon it, as, for example, Charlemagne and the Byzantine emperors."

I would add a couple of qualifications to this:

(1) The Pian Missal of 1570 had very few differences from what went before ... you could have continued to use your old books ... while Cranmer's 1549 Prayer Book was an overnight radical change ... you could not have used your Sarum Missal from yesterday without breaking  the Act of Parliament enjoining the Prayer Book. 

(2) The technological advance of Printing was/is necessary to put a new committee-liturgy into immediate, enforced, country-wide effect. 


PM said...

.... (3) and as Marshall McLuhan pointed out, just as printing was the indispensable precondition for Protestantism, so was the invention of the microphone for the changes of the 1960s.

william arthurs said...

Indeed, "the medium is the message."

The post-1960s pick-and-mix approach where you have endless choices to make, could not have taken off without the availability of duplicating machines and, more recently, computer printers, to generate service sheets, to be used instead of books. This, combined with secularisation trends, have brought about a bizarre situation where second-hand copies of the respective hard-cover books are both hard to obtain and at the same time almost valueless. However this does not apply to prayer books bought by the devout for their personal use, the model for which is the primer.

frjustin said...

The result of a committee-liturgy is reminiscent of the old definition of a camel as a horse designed by a committee.