Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Some Straight Talk on Cranmer

Certain critics of St. Tikhon's Liturgy use this "logic":

St. Tikhon's Liturgy is in some way related to the Book of Common Prayer;
The Book of Common Prayer was written by Thomas Cranmer, who was a heretical Protestant; therefore
St. Tikhon's Liturgy is heretical and Protestant.

In addition to being condescending toward the Church -- do our critics think the Holy Synod of Russia, the Patriarch of Antioch, the Patriarch of Alexandria, ROCOR, and others did not thoroughly investigate the rite before setting out guidelines and approving its celebration within Orthodoxy?? -- this "reasoning" is also just plain wrong. Our friend The Continuing Anglican Churchman points out the second premise is completely false:


I am almost finished reading the MacCulloch's biography on Thomas Cranmer...My thoughts on Cranmer after reading this have changed. I guess I do not see him as a great liturgical genius. He did not write the BCP from scratch. It is better to say that he compiled it, as he borrowed from ancient, medieval, and contemporary sources. To be sure, he did write certain parts of it - certain prayers here and there...but much of the rest of it was borrowed from other sources. I don't think there is anything wrong with that, mind you, but it only goes to show that he was not some "fountain" of fine liturgy in and of himself.
The Book of Common Prayer was never simply "Cranmer's Rite"; he drew from ancient practices, particularly the Sarum Use the BCP displaced in 1549. He did not even complete the 1549 BCP by himself but had the assistance of others who did not share his views and did not allow him to have a free hand on the resultant liturgy.

Remember both the fallacious logic and the faulty premise the next time you hear St. Tikhon's Liturgy described only as "the Cranmerian Rite."

Finally, I'll throw this quotation in for my friend, the Inquisitor:

I used to feel sorry for him since he was martyred under Mary, along with Latimer and the others, at Oxford. I mean, who can't feel sorry for a martyr? But I actually learned that he had people burned at the stake (traditionalists, anabaptists, etc.) too when he was in power. So it seems that he got what he deserved. It is funny, because this morning the Psalm appointed for the morning office in the 1928 BCP is Psalm 18, which speaks of one being rewarded according to his works.
I can only imagine how much IG will appreciate living that vicariously.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Aristibule said...

I'll bet the source of that tag of 'The Cranmerian rite' is a certain monk from an Old Calendarist group (with Theosophical Old Catholic origins) who has been working for years to displace the Orthodox Western Rite use with his own publications. He's quite well known for saying he's supportive of their efforts, then turning around and calling them (Antiochian and ROCOR) 'Cranmerian' and 'Zwinglian Protestant'. Of course, 'Itching Ears' love that stuff... he says it, it isn't true, but some folk *want* it to be true. Even worse, that some buy that his work is legitimate when it has no canonical basis inside the Church, and is idiosyncratic (its the work of one man.) If he can do it, it means any one of us Orthodox would have just as good of an excuse to try to compile our own liturgy of what we think 'it was like, and should be like'. Oh, what fun....

5:55 AM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Ari, you're right the aforementioned monk (former monk? I don't know he's currently in any monastery) is a frequent promoter of this canard. As you mentioned, he has an audience among certain neophytes and anti-WRO Byzantines.

In addition to its apparently being the work of one man, it is also uber-secretive: he has provided no scholarly basis for where he found his uber-Byzantine rubrics and wording. Nor would I hold my breath. And it's worth pointing out: he did this not as an Orthodox but as an Old Catholic. (One of his early publications was "The Old Catholic Prayerbook.")

As for the rest of your e-mail....Dibs on the Milanese and Mozarabic! Look for details on how to order "The Old Milan Rite" missal on this webpage for a mere $700 per five-volume set (printed in four colors on high-quality paper).

God bless,
Ben

11:25 AM  
Blogger Eric John said...

I, too, have been wondering about his sources. I'm a historian and am used to things being footnoted and explained. I'm not surprised that this monk has not done this. The vast majority of Orthodox texts (whether historical, spiritual or, especially, devotional) are not footnoted, but most are put together by folks of some scholarly authority. I would love to see some good academic texts on Western liturgy and Church history covering Orthodoxy in the West, as long as they can speak to a beginner like me. I grew up in the Lutheran Church and am now Eastern Rite Orthodox, so I don't have a great Western Rite foundation.

1:37 PM  

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