Dear Traditional Worshipers: How Do We Find Our Way?

It’s not about sentimentality. It’s not about taste or preference. It’s about meaning.

Source: Dear Traditional Worshipers: How Do We Find Our Way?

“It’s devastating to see what’s happened to worship in the church… The blindness surrounding the issue is astounding. The insistence that the common trends of the day are most fitting for public worship is wrong and short-sighted. It’s [grievous] that most churches now let Christians choose to not learn the historic creeds, or the great tradition of hymns and songs, or the great privilege of praying together and reading Scripture together. The commercialization of our sacred time, well, it’s nothing short of tragic…

“[But] it’s not enough to say ‘we like [traditional worship].’ That doesn’t matter. The worst thing that ‘contemporary worship’ did when it came on the scene was to promote itself as just another worship option, and then get away with labeling the liturgy as a choice, also. When we make the conversation about preference, we don’t get anywhere… It’s not about sentimentality. It’s not about taste or preference. It’s about meaning. So maybe we need to rethink our plan of action…

A lot of wisdom, here, in my opinion.

John Mason Neale, Presbyter and Hymnodist, 1866 | For All the Saints

Neale was both a scholar and a creative poet whose skills in composing original verse and in translating Latin and Greek hymns into fluid and effective English verse were devoted to the Church. Composer of many original hymns and translations, he greatly enriched English hymnody.

Source: John Mason Neale, Presbyter and Hymnodist, 1866 | For All the Saints

“His Hymns of the Eastern Church (1862) included a number of Easter hymns, and their inclusion in a number of English hymnals introduced an important Eastern emphasis on the Resurrection into Anglican worship. Despite his poor health he was a prolific writer and compiler as well, and his output included such works on hymnody as Medieval Hymns and Sequences and [the aforementioned] Hymns of the Eastern Church as well as Liturgiology and Church History and a four volume commentary on the Psalms.

“He also founded, with longtime Cambridge friend and colleague Benjamin Webb, the Cambridge-Camden Society, later known as the Ecclesiological Society, the arm of the Oxford Movement devoted to recovering (sometimes going behind historic precedent) Catholic practice in Anglican church architecture, vestments, and liturgical acts.

“Gentleness combined with firmness, good humor, modesty, patience, devotion, and ‘an unbounded charity’ describe Neale’s character. Though he never received preferment in England, his contributions were recognized in the wide inclusion of his hymns in Anglican and other hymnals and in such actions as the presentation to him by the Metropolitan of Moscow of a rare copy of the Old Believers’ liturgy. He died on the Feast of the Transfiguration in 1866, having left a lasting mark on worship in the English-speaking world.

“Most hymnals since the late nineteenth century have included many of Neale’s compositions and translations. ‘Come, ye faithful, raise the strain,’ ‘Creator of the stars of night,’ ‘All glory, laud, and honor,’ ‘Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle,’ ‘Jerusalem the golden,’ and ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel’ are just a few of the hymns that will long remain in the corpus of English hymnody.”

Feast of the Transfiguration

 

transfiguration-large-icon

Good morning! Wishing all friends of this blog, and of St. Bede the Venerable Traditional Anglican Mission, both a joyful Sunday, and a holy and blessed Feast of the Transfiguration. It was on this day that the divine nature and glory of Jesus the Christ was manifested on the mountain in the presence of His disciples Peter, James, and John.

If I am reading the Tables of Precedence correctly, this is one of the few feasts in the Church year that takes precedence over a Sunday, although “On these Holy Days the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for the Feast shall be used; but on Sunday the Collect for the Feast shall be followed by the Collect for the Sunday.” Here, then, are the Propers of the Feast:

Propers for the Transfiguration of Christ.

The Book of Common Prayer 1928.

The Collect.

O GOD, who on the mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses thine only-begotten Son wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistering; Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may be permitted to behold the King in his beauty, who with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Collect for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity.

O GOD, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; We humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. 2 St. Pet. i. 13.

I THINK it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,. but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

The Gospel. St. Luke ix. 28.

AND it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance war altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

Is There a Proper Role for “Contemporary” Music at Church? – The Imaginative Conservative

The history of modern music is a history of deliberate rebellion and revolt against the great tradition of Western music. – Peter Kwasniewski

Source: Is There a Proper Role for “Contemporary” Music at Church? – The Imaginative Conservative

In which it is pointed out that “the music we employ in church always embodies and communicates an ecclesiology, a Christology, and an anthropology—it is that significant! There is no escaping it: Every bit of music we perform in church is expressing a vision of the whole and inculcating it in those who listen.”

Therefore the music which becomes part of the liturgy – the “worship experience,” if you will, though I dislike that terminology for its focus on the worshiper and not on the God who is worshiped – is not something extrinsic or incidental to that liturgy. It is, if used at all, intrinsic to the liturgy, for better or for worse: often, what is sung is often remembered better than that which is merely spoken. Therefore the music that we use matters, and matters deeply.

The author contrasts the Church’s tradition of adopting and “baptizing” elements of Pagan culture, including its musical traditions, with the situation in today’s world:

“Today’s Westerners, in contrast, are post-Christian aliens, estranged from their own history and the great cultural synthesis that could and should be theirs. The history of modern music, whether atonal or jazz or rock or pop, is a history of deliberate rebellion and revolt against the great tradition of Western music, against its high art forms, its slowly-developed musical language, its explicitly or implicitly Christian message. In its origins and its inner meaning, much of modern Western music is a rejection of the Catholic (and European) tradition.

“As a result, it is not morally, intellectually, or culturally ‘neutral’; it is already laden with an anti-institutional, anti-sacral, anti-traditional significance. This music is not naïve raw material waiting to be Christianized, but highly articulate anti-Christian propaganda. It rejects the ideals of lofty beauty and grandeur, spiritual seriousness, evocation of the divine, openness to the transcendent, and artistic discipline, in favor of vapidity, frivolity, profanity, sensuality, and banality.”

There are exceptions to this characterization, of course, but they are exceptions which, to my mind, prove the rule. There is more, of course – much more, and all of it worth reading. The modern world is obsessed with many things, but one of them is “relevance”: if a thing, be it music, liturgy, morality, etc., is not “relevant,” it is suspicious at best, easily-dismissed, at worst. Unfortunately, as this article points out, the result is that

“Today’s popular culture… to the extent that it has grown up in revolt against the unifying principles, certainties, and demands of Christianity, is a veritable melting pot of conflicting fashionable ideologies, a volatile mishmash of tribalism, globalism, and techno-barbarism. Its underlying anthropology is suited not for saints and heroes, but for narcissists and manipulators.”

 

Embattled British Anglicans appeal for support | Anglican Ink 2017 ©

British Anglicans have asked Christians around the world to endorse the movement for renewed orthodox Anglicanism, asking supporters to add their names to the letter published in the Daily Telegraph this week calling for the reform and renewal of the Church of England, Church in Wales and Scottish Episcopal Church.

Source: Embattled British Anglicans appeal for support | Anglican Ink 2017 ©

I signed.

I don’t have a great deal of hope that this will meet with success, but when the effort is all that there is, it must needs be enough.

“Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more; you should never wish to do less.”

— Robert E. Lee

Incense – The Morning Offering

Source: Incense – The Morning Offering

From Old Testament times believers have burned incense as an offering when worshiping God… Ancient pagan kings were often escorted with large fans of peacock feathers and burning incense when entering their palaces. Early Christians took both these symbols for their worship in recognition of Christ as their Sovereign King and Lord.

St. Bede’s does not currently have a location where we can use incense! But if or when, God willing, we do, I hope and plan to use it at least for high feasts!

“Let my prayer be set forth in thy sight as the incense [O Lord]; and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice.”

~ Psalm 141:2 (Coverdale Psalter, as found in The Book of Common Prayer 1928)

Trinity Sunday

sbHoly Trinity in images - stained glass - small

Good morning, all, and happy Sunday! Wishing my Christian friends a holy and blessed Trinity Sunday: the only Feast in the Christian Year which is devoted to a doctrine, thus pointing to the importance of this doctrine – the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, one God in three Persons – to the Faith itself.

Why is it so important? Because it protects two of the key insights of the Christian faith: that God is One – Christianity is not tritheism; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three gods – and yet, at the same time, God is relational – not just with regard to His Creation, but in His very nature. And of course, it explains how, without tritheism, Christ can be God, as the Prologue to the Gospel of St. John (“… and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…”) and many of Jesus’ own sayings, recorded in the Gospels, assert.

Indeed, the great battle in the Christian Church has always been the precise identity and nature of Christ Himself. Is He merely a gifted and inspired human teacher and prophet, or is He in fact God? And if so, how is it that He is Divine? Was He created by God, adopted by God, or is He actually Divine in and of Himself? This was a major struggle in the 4th century – between the Arians (disciples of a presbyter named Arius) and the orthodox, catholic Christians, led by St. Athanasius – and it remains a struggle to this day.

Many today, Christians as well as non-Christians, believe Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ – the Messiah, the Anointed One of God – to be the Son of God, if at all, through adoption: that he was a great human religious and moral teacher, perhaps indeed “anointed by God,” but nonetheless human. The problem with this is that, if true – if Christ was only a human teacher, however great – then Christianity is but one human philosophy, one school of thought, among many in the “supermarket of religions.”

Orthodox, catholic Christianity – what some call “the Great Tradition” of Christianity – teaches something more radical, and ultimately far more rewarding: that Jesus the Christ was the Incarnate Word of God: that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” as the Prologue to St. John puts it. That the very Word of God Himself became Man for our sake, walked among us, taught us by word and example, died for us and rose again.

It is this which, to me, gives Christianity its power: not necessarily or primarily its moral teachings – many of which, as others have pointed out, may be found in other religions and philosophies. This is not surprising, if one believes that the human religious impulse comes from God and tends toward God, and that there is such a thing as natural, or general, revelation. But, orthodox Christians believe, Christ is the reality which pre-Christian myths foreshadowed, and toward which pre-Christian philosophies reached. To borrow the Platonic analogy of “the Cave,” they were the shadows on the wall; He is the thing itself.

But as I say, this is a debate which has raged since the earliest centuries of the Christian Church. Is Christ simply a man, however gifted? Or is He God? The solution reached at the Council of Nicaea, 325 AD, under (as Christians believe) the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was to affirm that Christ was indeed homoousios (of one single identical substance, essence, or nature) with God the Father, not (as the Arians would have had it) homoiousios, or “of like substance.” That is to say, Nicaea affirmed the full personal divinity of Christ: “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God.” The first Council of Constantinople (381 AD) further affirmed that the Holy Spirit was the full Third Person of the Trinity; thus, what we nowadays call the “Nicene Creed” should properly be called the “Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.”

The Definition of Chalcedon (451 AD) more fully defined the relationship between the divine and human natures of Christ Himself, and the Athanasian Creed (so-called, it was not actually by St. Athanasius; dated c. late 5th/early 6th century AD) provided further explication on both the Doctrines of the Holy Trinity (one Nature in Three Persons) and the Incarnation (two Natures in one Person), while adding some imprecations against those who do not hold the fullness of these doctrines.

Trinity Sunday, the observance of which developed over time, celebrates the Holy Trinity, one of these two most distinctive and important doctrines of the Christian Church. It is important to note that the Holy Trinity, like the Incarnation, is a Holy Mystery: we can say what we can say about it, but ultimately, the details of this sacred reality are known but to God (“now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face,” as St. Paul said).

As one commentator has put it,

“By mystery the Church does not mean a riddle, but rather that the Trinity is a reality above our human comprehension which we may begin to grasp, but ultimately must know through worship, symbol [see the image in stained glass, above], and faith. It has been said that Mystery is not a wall to run up against, but an ocean in which to swim.”

Rather a fine metaphor, in my opinion! And it reminds me of the analogy of the Eastern Orthodox mystic St. Symeon the New Theologian, who compared our knowledge of God to a man standing beside a vast ocean at night, holding up a lantern… Here, at any rate, is the traditional (English language) text of the Nicene Creed, as used in the Western Church:

nicene-creed

And here is another graphic image in stained glass, reminding us (in Latin) that the Father is neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit; the Son is neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son: but all are God.

Holy Trinity in Latin

Wishing everyone, once again, a holy and blessed Trinity Sunday!