Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Msgr Burnham muses on the Ordinariate Liturgy

And now for a British take on Ordinariate Use liturgy . . .

The Ordinariate Liturgy

THERE IS a story about Mgr Graham Leonard, formerly Anglican Bishop of London, being asked by Cardinal Hume what he valued in the worship of the Church of England and would miss as a Catholic. He replied that it would be the Prayer Book Offices of Matins and Evensong, and in particular the psalms in course, following the Coverdale Psalter, as set in the Book of Common Prayer. 
Msgr Graham Leonard, Anglican Bishop of London  1981-1991
received into full communion, ordained priest conditionally,
created a Prelate of Honour to His Holiness Pope John Paul II 
There is no doubt that the daily services are the jewel in the crown and, when both Pope Paul VI and Pope Benedict XVI expressed their admiration for Anglican worship, it was the public celebration of the Offices that they had most clearly in mind. Small wonder then that the Ordinariate clergy in the United Kingdom particularly value the availability to them, as Catholics, of Morning and Evening Prayer in the Prayer Book tradition, as distilled in the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham.

But what of the Mass? Looking back at the classical Anglican rite of Holy Communion, this is clearly a Protestant service. Yet there is much that can be rescued. The Ordinariate’s Order of Mass incorporates this material and presents it in a shape largely familiar to congregations of the period up to about 1965 in such unlawful but widely used adaptations of the Roman Mass as the English Missal and Anglican Missal. 

Fifty years have now elapsed and Anglo-catholic congregations in England and Wales have almost entirely used the modern Anglican and Roman rites during this period. Nevertheless, it is good that there is a distinct Ordinariate Order of Mass, that it is in the sacral language of the Prayer Book, and that, though it will not be usable in many pastoral contexts, there will be some in which it is entirely right. It is, and will be, a milestone in the journey of Western liturgy and, like the other material incorporated into the Roman Rite through the Ordinariates, it will be very influential in the future evolution of the Roman Rite as it is expressed in English.

Work is nearly complete on the Missal, or Sacramentary, for the Ordinariate. Though the Order of Mass has already begun to be used the largest task for Anglicanae Traditiones, the liturgical Commission set up by the Holy See, has been the editing of the Propers. For almost every day and almost every occasion there are Propers. 

There is the Introit, or Entrance Antiphon, the Collect, the Gradual, the Alleluia or Tract, the Offertory, the Prayer over the Gifts, the Communion, and the Prayer after Communion. Add to these the Prefaces, for use with the Eucharistic Prayers, and the special rites for such occasions as Candlemas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, the Easter Triduum, and the Vigil of Pentecost, and it is not hard to see why the Missal is likely to weigh in at well over a thousand pages.

Anglicans who are familiar with older versions of the Missal – the English Missal or Anglican Missal – will be surprised, perhaps, to discover that there are almost no readings in the Ordinariate Missal. One of the conventions of modern liturgy is that the Mass Lectionary is published separately and, indeed, we already have that for the Ordinariates in the Revised Standard Version, 2nd Catholic Edition. 

Those who have attended Ordinariate Masses everywhere will have felt the impact of this version of Scripture. It is much better suited for public reading than the Jerusalem Bible, used in most Catholic churches in England and Wales. The Jerusalem Bible, itself a very fine piece of work in its day, had its roots in an original French translation but the RSV is directly within the tradition of English Bible, stretching back to the work of Coverdale in the sixteenth century and the King James Version of the seventeenth. It will be good to notice how well the psalm texts of the Ordinariate in Tudor English counterpoint with the readings in a modernised sacral style.

Most of the minor Propers – Introit, Gradual &c – are psalm texts and many of them will be familiar to elderly folk because they are found at the back of the English Hymnal and were used for the English Gradual. Some additions were necessary – there are Catholic solemnities not recognised by the English Hymnal – and some necessary revisions. 

The Gradual, Alleluia, and Tract are alternatives to the Responsorial Psalm and Acclamation in the Lectionary. This, incidentally, is not the innovation it might appear to be: the Graduale Romanum of 1974 remains an official liturgical book and that contains all these texts too. In fact, one of the revisions of our Gradualia is to make the corpus of English texts conform more closely to the Graduale Romanum which, itself, has been conformed in minor ways to the post-conciliar Lectionary.

A marvellous feature about the Ordinariate Missal is that it preserves the Prayer Book collects and something of the logic of the Prayer Book seasons – Time after Epiphany, 
the ‘-gesima’ Sundays, the Pentecost Octave, Time after Trinity. All of this reflects not only the inherited Sarum Use of England but also that of the Latin Church from earliest times. The Prayer Book not having Prayers over the Offerings or variable Prayers after Communion, the Ordinariate Missal has drawn these from the translations of Latin originals offered variously by the English Missal and Anglican Missal. 

There has been a similar policy with regard to the Collects for the very many ‘black letter days’, for which the Prayer Book makes no provision. 

We shall have two collections of these, temporarily at least, because the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham has an adaptation of the Common Worship traditional language collects, brought together in England during the twentieth century. Whether the two collections co-exist for a long time, we shall have to see but it would be a shame to see the English collection disappear, because some of it is very fine, much is associated with cathedrals and praying communities that generated them, and it indubitably is one of the sets of official Anglican texts which it was the intention of Anglicanorum Cœtibus to incorporate into the Roman Rite.

We now know that the Ordinariate Use will be called, as a whole, Divine Worship. At present this title is being used sparingly in Britain because it could easily be confused with the Book of Divine Worship which it replaces and which is still around. Nevertheless we already have our first official liturgical book. Divine Worship – Occasional Services is a very beautiful production, the work of the Catholic Truth Society, and it is heartening to know that the Missal, when it appears, perhaps later this year, will be of similar beauty.

Mgr Andrew Burnham 

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