Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Oops; The "Cranmerian" Liturgy of St. Tikhon Addendum

In reviewing my recent post on how some critics of the Western Rite refer to it as the "Cranmerian Rite," I realized I had omitted the most important section. True, Thomas Cranmer did not draft the Book of Common Prayer alone, but:

Most importantly, St. Tikhon's Liturgy is not simply the "Book of Common Prayer" rite. The Orthodox Church adapted this material in accordance with the Russian Observations Upon the American Prayer Book to bring it into liturgical and theological conformity with Holy Orthodoxy. Not only were these necessary changes made, but the liturgical commission of the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate added rich ceremonial and prayers expressing the Church's liturgical heritage, especially reverence for the Real Presence. Similar to the Anglo-Catholic movement of the day, it incorporated the Western structure of the Mass. Asperges, Introits, graduals, alleluias, tracts, sequences, offertory prayers, prayers at the foot of the altar, communion verses, post-communion prayers, Agnus Deis, Non Sum Dignuses, Last Gospels, and other devotions reappeared where the Protestant Reformation had done its damage, and the Gloria returned to its traditional position: following the Kyrie on most Sundays (outside certain penitential seasons). This was a full, glorious, comprehensive, catholic, Apostolic, and Orthodox liturgy.

No honest human being could describe this as "The Book of Common Prayer." Although Anglo-Catholics would recognize it, and most Western Christians feel an instant and familiar sense of worship while praying it, St. Tikhon's Liturgy far exceeded any edition of the BCP, whatever Cranmer's role in drafting any particular rendition thereof. In other words, describing the Liturgy of St. Tikhon as "Cranmer's Rite" is like describing the United States of America as "Jamestown."

Remember the fallacious logic, the faulty premise, and the blatant misrepresentation the next time you hear St. Tikhon's Liturgy described only as "the Cranmerian Rite," a charge born either of historical ignorance or ecclesiastical envy.

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