Consecration of Samuel Seabury, first Anglican Bishop in North America, 1784 | For All the Saints

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Samuel Seabury, the first Bishop in the Protestant Episcopal Church, was consecrated to the episcopate by “Non-Juring” Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1784.

Source: Consecration of Samuel Seabury, First Anglican Bishop in North America, 1784 | For All the Saints

A most important commemoration for all American Anglicans: the consecration to the episcopate of Samuel Seabury, the first Anglican Bishop not only in the newly-minted United States, but North America! (AFIK, that includes our friends to the north in Canada, but if I am wrong about that, I’m sure someone will correct me.)

“Samuel Seabury, the first bishop in the Protestant Episcopal Church, was born in Groton, Connecticut, on the thirtieth of November 1729. After ordination in England in 1753, he was assigned to Christ Church, New Brunswick, New Jersey as a missionary for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel…

“After the War, a number of Connecticut clergymen, meeting in secret on the twenty-fifth of March, 1783, named Seabury or Jeremiah Leaming, whoever would be willing and able, to seek episcopal consecration in England. Leaming declined, while Seabury accepted and set sail for England.

“After a year of negotiation, Seabury found it impossible to obtain episcopal orders from the Church of England because, as an American citizen, he could not swear allegiance to the Crown… Seabury then turned to the Non-Juring bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and on the twenty-fourth of November 1784, in Aberdeen, he was consecrated by the bishop and the bishop coadjutor of Aberdeen and the bishop of Ross and Caithness, in the presence of a number of clergy and laity.”
Continue reading “Consecration of Samuel Seabury, first Anglican Bishop in North America, 1784 | For All the Saints”

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Percy Dearmer on the Prayer Book system

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Percy (Percival) Dearmer (1867-1936) was an English priest and liturgist who was and is best known as the author of The Parson’s Handbook, a liturgical manual for clergy of the Church of England. His appointments included:

• Vicar of St. Mary the Virgin, Primrose Hill, 1901-1915
• Professor of Ecclesiastical Art, King’s College, London, 1919-1936
• Canon of Westminster Abbey, 1931-1936

Although on the Anglo-Catholic side of the Anglican liturgical spectrum, he was decidedly not an ultramontanist (Romanist), favoring, rather, ritual forms drawn from the pre-Reformation “English Use.” Wikipedia notes that he also had a strong influence on the music of the church and, with Ralph Vaughan Williams and Martin Shaw, is credited with the revival and spread of traditional and medieval English musical forms.

As the title of “The Parson’s Handbook” indicates, he had a strong concern for the parochial; that is, the ordinary, day-to-day spiritual and religious life of ordinary Christians, and found (as many have, both before and after him) the classical Prayer Book pattern – the core of Anglican tradition – to be an excellent model and aid for growth in holiness.

He was also a prolific writer. The following excerpt is from one of his tracts, entitled “A Christian’s Life According to the Prayer Book,” and is rather shamelessly cribbed from the blog of St. Bede’s Productions, which notes that the whole tract is available on Project Canterbury, but this is the heart of it.”

[As I prepare to post this, it occurs to me that I may have posted it, or parts of it, earlier; but if so, no matter! If I have, it’s been a while, and this is the sort of thing that one needs to revisit from time to time, if one is even the least bit serious about what Martin Thornton called “Christian Proficiency.” I hope some may find it helpful!]


A CHRISTIAN’S LIFE ACCORDING TO THE
PRAYER BOOK

Let us see, then, what the Prayer Book system will be when we have come back into the habit of carrying it out. Continue reading “Percy Dearmer on the Prayer Book system”

Saint Mary the Virgin | For All the Saints

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In the person of the Virgin Mary, the Church has seen an image of itself, the representative of the community of the faithful, a model of what each Christian ought to be.

Source: Saint Mary the Virgin | For All the Saints

I have been rather remiss in posting saints’ day recently, for which I offer my humble apologies. Here is a rather important one, for many Christians, although it does not appear in either the 1662 or 1928 Book of Common Prayer: the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin.

While those coming from a more Protestant / Reformed tradition tend to look with suspicion at the Virgin Mary, or at least de-emphasize her and her role, in reaction to the extremely (one could argue, excessively) high pinnacle on which she is set by the Roman Catholic Church, the fact remains that she is the Theotokos (“God-bearer,” as the Eastern Orthodox tradition calls her), and that without her humble response, “behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to Thy will,” the Incarnation could not have happened – or at least, not the way it did!

It is appropriate, then, that we recognize, celebrate, and even venerate the Ever-Blessed Virgin Mary, even as we are cautious to avoid placing her on the level with God. As this essay points out,

“In the person of the Virgin Mary, the Church has seen an image of itself, the representative of the community of the faithful, a model of what each Christian ought to be: prayerful, humble, joyfully submissive to the will and word of God, devoted to her Son and loyal to him even when she did not understand him.”

Amen, and amen.

Glories of the West: Music Of Cathedrals and Monasteries – Plainsong & Gregorian Chant

Three hours of what is to my mind the most glorious and holy form of sacred music ever composed: the Gregorian chant, other forms of plainsong, and medieval motets of the Age of Faith, when European Christendom was at its height, and maintained an essential unity which transcended the often bitter and violent bickering of rival kingdoms. The “Peace of God” in musical form!


If three hours of this celestial music is not enough for you, here is another excellent assortment, by the Tudor Consort:

Note that many of these are not in fact Gregorian chants, but polyphony. They are, nonetheless, both beautiful and holy – although not, to my mind, possessed of the simple and profound purity of true plainsong, particularly in the Gregorian mode.

Te Deum – 5th Century Monastic Chant (Solemn)

This form of Christian chant – Gregorian chant – is, of course, of unquestionably Western provenance! As the notation on the linked YouTube page notes,

“Monks of the one of the Abbeys of the Solesmes Congregation sing this beautiful chant. The Te Deum is attributed to two Fathers and Doctors of the Church, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, and is one the most majestic chants in the Liturgy of the Church. It is sung in traditional seminaries and monastic houses at the Divine Office and for Double feasts of the First Class, The Nativity, Easter, Corpus Christi, Epiphany, Pentecost and those which have an Octave. The solemn Te Deum is sung on all occasions of public [liturgical] rejoicing, in Traditional Catholic Churches.”

And in English translation, it is sung (or recited, in the Office of Morning Prayer) in not a few traditional Anglican churches, as well!


Nota Bene: The Abbey of Solesmes, under Dom Prosper Guéranger, was largely responsible for the rebirth and liturgical restoration of Gregorian Chant, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and remains the mother-house of a Benedictine community to this day (with several interruptions along the way!). For more information, check out this fascinating brief account of its history, or the Abbey’s own history page.


Here is the Te Deum in traditional English translation:

Te Deum laudamus.

WE praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud; the Heavens, and all the Powers therein;
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee;
The Father of an infinite Majesty;
Thine adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost the Comforter.

THOU art the King of Glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst humble thyself to be born of a Virgin.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants, whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints, in glory everlasting.

O LORD, save thy people, and bless thine heritage.
Govern them and lift them up for ever.
Day by day we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name ever, world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy be upon us, as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.

Here is an English-language plainsong (chant) version:

The Oxford Movement Begins | Ritual Notes

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Most Anglo-Catholics know that 185 years ago today, John Keble ascended the pulpit at the University Church of St Mary’s in Oxford to deliver the sermon at the opening of the Assize Court. If the date is not remembered, the result certainly is…

Source: The Oxford Movement Begins — Ritual Notes

“Most Anglo-Catholics know that 185 years ago today, John Keble ascended the pulpit at the University Church of St Mary’s in Oxford to deliver the sermon at the opening of the Assize Court. If the date is not remembered, the result certainly is. John Henry Newman wrote that this sermon, easily forgotten during any other time, was the beginning of the Oxford Movement.”

The UEC, parent jurisdiction of the Oratory of St. Bede the Venerable and St. John’s Church, Westminster, is not located on the Anglo-Catholic wing of traditional Anglicanism, but rather considers itself Reformed Catholic, being devoted to the classic formularies of the Anglican tradition, and sometimes tends to look askance at the Oxford Movement (which admittedly, in its later manifestations, became rather ultramontane). Yet this essay makes some excellent points, noting that John Keble’s Assize Sermon of 1833,

“entitled National Apostasy, is unexpectedly good. Once you get through the dense beginning and understand the building argument, it not only speaks clearly to the times in 1833 but it has a remarkable resonance in 2018.

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“In a nutshell, this is Keble’s argument:

“Like Samuel’s Israel, we prefer the lure to live in prosperity and so-called freedom like other non-Christian nations. Nations, and by-extension individuals, find justification for throwing off the yoke of Christ and the demands of discipleship. We look to threats outside and threats within to abandon godly principles (sound familiar?). We then blame government or religion for our ills and never ourselves. We rationalize and excuse every decision and act. We become so tolerant that we believe nothing and we persecute those who believe in the name of inclusion (oh my goodness!). This rebellion moves from individuals to public officials. The officials begin to attack Christ by attacking His Church, beginning with apostolic authority – bishops. This attack will come in the name of popularity and expediency…

“Keble calls the Church to follow the example of Samuel through constant intercession, which then gives grounding and strength to protest. Christians should continue to glorify God in their daily lives and routines and should not be so consumed with the concerns of the day that they neglect ordinary duties, especially prayer and devotion. This is an important point he makes. While we may not live to see wrongs righted, we are on the right and, ultimately, victorious side.

“Every one of his points deserves further reflection and exposition, but is this not the climate of 2018?”

I would certainly say that there are plenty of similarities and parallels! The article goes on to point out – cogently, I think – that

“The Catholic Revival in the Church of England had nothing to do with gin, lace, and backbiting, as is often caricatured. Yes, elaborate ritual and church building followed in the next generation, but this was a logical development of the belief that the Church is not the same as the Post Office. [Or, as I sometimes put it in defending the use of traditional language in worship, “The liturgy – the worship of God – is not Uncle Joe’s barbecue.”] The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives and not the same as chicken tetrazzini at the weekly Rotary Club. The development of ritual and devotion was the servant, the handmaid, to the truths Keble turned our minds to 185 years ago.”

May they never be forgotten!

 


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Episcopal Church considers making God gender neutral | Fox News

Episcopal Church leaders called for revisions to masculine language in the Book of Common Prayer.

The Episcopal Church formed a committee Wednesday to “provide a pathway” toward revising the Book of Common Prayer to include gender-neutral language.

Source: Episcopal Church considers making God gender neutral | Fox News

“Church leaders called for immediate revisions to correct the ‘overwhelming use of masculine language’ throughout the book, arguing that the language is now a hindrance to spiritual inclusion, according to the Episcopal Church website.

“’As long as ‘men’ and ‘God’ are in the same category, our work toward equity will not just be incomplete. I honestly think it won’t matter in some ways,’ Wil Gafney, a professor of the Hebrew Bible and strong advocate for the edit, told the Washington Post.”

This is old news for me, in some ways; they were talking in the same terms at Vanderbilt Divinity School back in the mid-90s. I stopped attending chapel there when a lesbian trio sung a “Doxology” to “the Mother, and the Daughter, and the Holy Spirit.”

The problem is, as C.S. Lewis pointed out in “Priestesses in the Church,” when you remove that “masculine language” and replace it with either feminized language or, as is the fad these days, “gender-neutral” language, you change not only the language but the content of the faith.

“Christians think that God Himself has taught us how to speak of Him. To say that it does not matter is to say either that all the masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin, or else that, though inspired, it is quite arbitrary and unessential.

Change the language with which we speak of God, and we end up with something quite different from Christianity – or at least, quite different from orthodox Christianity. Of course, for many of these neo-reformers, that’s the point…

In His ultimate essence, of course, God far-and-away transcends human gender. The problem is, by trying to make God “gender-neutral,” we also end up making Him neuter, and therefore impersonal (we are also, as Lewis points out above, challenging the inspired and therefore authoritative character of the Holy Scriptures – placing our contemporary social views and mores above the given-ness of revelation: in effect, creating God in our own image).

We can have a personal relationship – whether for good or ill – with a Father. We can’t have a personal relationship with an amorphous blob! I’m reminded of another Lewis quote, in which he commented,

“A girl I knew was brought up by ‘higher thinking’ parents to regard God as a perfect ‘substance’; in later life she realised that this had actually led her to think of Him as something like a vast tapioca pudding. (To make matters worse, she disliked tapioca).”

While that may elicit a wry smile, it also makes a very good point! It is a short step from non-gendered to “nothing in particular.”

There are other Biblical metaphors for God that can be used, of course, that don’t have specifically gender-oriented connotations – “Vine” and “Rock” are two that come immediately to mind – but there is a reason that the more traditional, masculine images of God are vastly more common: they tell us things about God, and about our relationship with Him, that the less-commonly-used ones do not.

Besides that, and perhaps even more importantly, our Lord Jesus Christ called God “Father,” and instructed us to do so as well (“When you pray, say ‘Our Father…'”). We can call God other things in addition to Father, of course, as I commented above; but we cannot fail to call Him “Father” and make any kind of claim that we are obeying our Lord’s teachings. And while God transcends human biology, of course, fathers are biologically male. It does violence to biology, language, and theology alike to pretend otherwise!

The Fatherhood of God – unavoidably masculine though it be – is an essential component of Christianity. Remove it, and you have a different faith.

 


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