February 23, 2012 at 9:40 am #650
In my post thinking about Ash Wednesday, I mentioned the continuing value to me of Ritual Notes; in her comment, Susan Wilson pointed to Robert Hovda’s brilliant book on presiding, Strong, Loving, and Wise: Presiding in Liturgy. There are some great resources in this category: from the how-to books like Dennis Michno’s A Priest’s Handbook: The Ceremonies of the Church to the theoretical like Daniel Stevick’s The Crafting of Liturgy. For us Canadian Anglicans, a list like this can’t omit Paul Gibson’s small but magisterial Make Preparation–available for a free online download here, thanks to the good people of ABC Publishing.
What do you turn to, again and again?March 21, 2012 at 2:54 pm #1177
“The Parson’s Handbook” by Fr. Percy Dearmer would be an option for those who are interested in Sarum and English Catholicism, as would of course “Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described” by Bishop Peter Elliott, especially for those parishes that use modern catholic ceremonial.March 24, 2012 at 2:48 pm #1282
I use Dennis Michno’s “A Priest’s Handbook-The Ceremonies of the Church”. It’s a bit heavy on detail, but as the priest who taught liturgy once said to me as a student at Trinity “It’s easier to take away than to add on”.May 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm #2145
This has been a difficult thing because we live in a time of liturgical ‘lawlessness’. How does a clergyman make a decision this way or that? My experience has been that many priests simply do what they have been taught by whomever taught them. “Why do you hold your hands that way?” “Uh, I’m not really sure…” To me that’s simply not good enough.
I was trained in the Anglo-Catholic tradition—Ritual Notes (for the BCP), with Bp. Eliott’s “Ceremonies…” (for the Novus Ordo). For a variety of reasons, this didn’t seem appropriate for the Congregations that I serve in the Diocese of Brandon. The biggest problem was, however, that I didn’t have a rationale as to why this authority over that except my own ‘upbringing’ and personal preferences. What to do? I never wanted my own ideas of ‘what’s best’ to be the deciding factor… indeed my personal preferences are at the bottom of the list. I think the rationale as to why this kind of ceremonial, or that, is very important. Why this authority over that authority?
I’ve finally come upon an approach that I think works well but it really did take some heavy thinking regarding my own deepest liturgical/theological/cultural assumptions. What was most difficult is that I wanted a solid footing which simply wasn’t available because of this time of ‘lawlessness’ in the Anglican Church of Canada. I have to say, so much of what is being done is sloppy and ugly. It’s not even as simple as answering the question: what kind of Anglican are you? High, Low or Broad Church? Evangelical or Catholic? Urban or rural? Liberal or conservative?
In any-case, I won’t bore you with any more!June 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm #2428
Fr. Bengry I agree with knowing the rationale behind liturgy, what is the point of doing it without an understanding of why and what it symbolises? My beloved altar copy of the Knott Missal helps a lot to understand, but I still ask lots of questions because the knowledge and history behind the actions help me perform them with solemnity. Now that it is summertime there will be times when the MC and Thurifer will be away for some of the weekends and it will fall to me to preform those duties. I do not want to be a mindless robot going through motions that I do not know the reason why we do them.June 26, 2012 at 12:42 pm #2429
Jesse DymondKey Master
Lee, I suspect that Ritual Notes, The Parson’s handbook, or the contemporary (American/Episcopal) A Priest’s Handbook mentioned above may be of use to you. They aren’t cheap, so it may help to borrow them from someone local to see if they work for you.June 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm #2435
I can think of several books that would be helpful in understanding the liturgy more deeply, describing why things are done a certain way as well as the theology and history that give meaning to our actions. Here are a few texts that I would recommend.
A Priest’s Handbook by Dennis Michno (as referenced earlier, definitely an elaborate and high church sensibility)
A Commentary on the American Prayer Book by Marion Hatchett (It’s American, but as the Book of Alternative Services is in many respects a modest revision of the US Prayer Book you’d find much of what you need. It is extensive and gives very helpful historical insight)
Prayer Book Rubrics Expanded by Brian David Stuhlman (also focusing on the 1979 American book)
Eucharistic Celebration: 1789-1979 by Brian Stuhlman (on the history and development of the US Prayer Book)
On the Ceremonies of the Eucharist by Howard Galley (a sort of more simplified customary on Eucharistic celebration)
Rites for a New Age: Understanding the Book of Alternative Services by Michael Ingham (a Canadian book! written before Ingham was bishop of New Westminster)
There are a couple older classics that are also very helpful. One is the Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary by Massey Shepherd. It focuses on the history, theology, and development of the 1928 Prayer Book. As the Canadian BCP is quite similiar and is actually newer a lot in this classic would be quite relevant.
The other is one of my favorite liturgical studies from an earlier age in the Church of England. It is Liturgy and Society by A. G. Hebert, written prior to WWII. Hebert was a leader of the Parish Communion movement, urging the church away from Morning Prayer on Sundays to the Eucharist. The book is not so much a how to guide, but more of a theological and historical reflection on the meaning of liturgy in the church and in society. I often assign portions of this to divinity students at Trinity and it is always very well received. I think it’s brilliant.
Perhaps some of the above will be helpful. They all enjoy places of prominence on my bookshelves and I refer to them often.June 27, 2012 at 11:25 am #2451
Thanks for the titles, I will add them to my shopping list for when I make the rounds of the local used bookstores, there were only two books on it before this, a pew edition of the Knott Missal (fifth edition 1958) and the Plainsong Psalter (BCP 1962).June 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm #2460
I have several books regarding liturgy. The biggest resource has already been mentioned. That is Hovda’s book “Strong , Loving and Wise.’
I am in the market for his second book “Weak, Mean, and Stupid.’ if anyone knows here I could obatan a copy.June 28, 2012 at 10:28 am #2466
Michael Perham’s little manual “The Eucharist” (published in 1978 by SPCK for the Alcuin Club) helped me greatly in the early years of my priestly ministry. I believe it is out of print, but used copies should be available. I lent my copy to a newly-ordained priest a number of years ago, and I hope she is making good use of it. For details about particular celebrations, I also keep Michno close at hand.
I was fortunate to have a couple of professors at seminary who inculcated in their students an approach to liturgy from the point of view of understanding why we did what we did. For me, the central purpose of liturgy is to tell the story, making it ever anew the people’s story. I believe that good ritual can help to tell the story, but too much ritual in the wrong place can serve to obscure it. It’s a matter of discernment.
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