Monday, September 22, 2014

History of the Anglican Church LXXXIX

Anglican Evensong

Pardon for the hiatus but I had some unscheduled travelling that interrupted my normal routine.  And I realized that in my history of the Anglican Church, while I dealt with the Ordinal and its rites, I overlooked the development of the Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer.  So before proceeding to Anglicanism in the reign of King James VI and I, let’s go back a bit to Thomas Cranmer and his Prayer Book.  Well—actually to see what Cranmer did, we need to go to a reform of the Breviary ordered by Clement VII—the same Pope who refused Henry VIII his annulment. 
Francisco de Quiñones was a Franciscan friar from Spain and a distant relative of and close advisor to the Emperor Charles V.  He belonged to the Reformed Franciscans—today’s O.F.M. group—and served as Minister General of the Observant Franciscans from 1523-27. In 1528 Quiñones was created Cardinal with the titular Church of Santa Croce in Gerusalamme.  About this time, Pope Clement VII commissioned Quiñones to reform the Roman Breviary and his very popular revision of the breviary was published in 1535 after several years of careful research of the ancient liturgies.   It was widely used but it also had its critics who were alarmed at Quiñones’ simplification of the rubrics and elimination of many of the accretions that had been added to the liturgy over the centuries.  The Cardinal did not design his breviary for the formal liturgical celebration of the daily offices, but to be used for private recitation and, much like the liturgical reforms that followed Vatican II, the Cardinal wanted to avoid the redundancies that made the Divine Office burdensome and detracted from its prayerfulness.  He expanded the scripture readings, ordered the psalms to avoid repetition, and eliminated unhistorical legends about the saints.  In his first edition, he also eliminated the antiphons, but this caused such a strong objection they were re-inserted the following year in a second edition and it was this second edition that enjoyed the greatest popularity. Despite its design for private prayer, it was often used in monasteries and collegiate churches for the public liturgical celebration of the daily prayers. Quiñones’ breviary  was banned by Paul IV in 1558 but continued to be used by many until it was replaced by the more traditional breviary of Pius V in 1568.  While it had no lasting influence among Catholics, Quiñones’ breviary reforms would be used by both Lutheran and Anglican reformers in their liturgical reforms. 

Herman von Wied was the Prince-Archbishop of Cologne who embraced Lutheranism in the 1540’s.  He also, with the help of the Reformed theologians Martin Bucer and Philip Melancthon, revised the daily liturgical offices in his diocese along the lines set out by Quiñones of avoiding repetition of the psalms and ordering sequential use of the lectionary.  Given the influence of Bucer it was an even more radical revision than Quiñones had proffered, removing any emphasis on the saints and eliminating any non scriptural readings.     
Thomas Cranmer had also tinkered with the Divine Office and his first proposal—still in the reign of the conservative King Henry VIII—retained the traditional order of Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones, Vespers, and Compline, but by the time he was ready to publish a definitive Prayer Book in the reign of Edward VI, Cranmer had conflated Matins and Lauds into a Morning Prayer and Vespers and Compline into a single Evening Prayer, all but eliminating the “Little Hours.” Cranmer was familiar with the work of  both Quiñones and von Wied and drew on their reforms in producing his liturgy.  Bucer had moved from Germany by this point and was staying with Cranmer, pushing him ever more and more in a truly Protestant direction, and so Cranmer retained only the Te Deum from among the non-scriptural canticles, though he did make provision for a hymn to be sung at the Office. 
Cranmer’s structure seems a bit complex by our standards today—hardly “reformed” compared to the post-Vatican II Liturgy of the Hours.  It can be divided into several sections
Borrowed from the Private Prayers said to prepare one for the Morning Office.
A sentence of scripture with a penitential theme
An exhortation to repentance
A prayer of general confession of sin
A general confession.
A prayer of absolution by the priest
The Lord’s Prayer (first time)
A set of versicles and responses known as the preces
Borrowed from Matins
The Domine, labia mea versicle and response
The Deus in adjutorium versicle and response
The Gloria Patri
The invitatory psalm—psam 95
The psalmody (usually only one psalm unless in a Cathedral or Collegiate Church)
The Old Testament Lesson
A Canticle
Borrowed From Lauds
A New Testament Lesson
The Benedictus
The Apostles Creed
The Kyrie
The Lord’s Prayer—a second time
The suffrages
The Collects—the Collect of the Day, of Lent or Advent in those seasons, Collect for Peace, the Collect for Grace,
The Anthem or hymn
The Collect for the Sovereign and other State Prayers
The Prayer of Saint Chrysostom
The Benediction. 

Cranmer’s evening Prayer, drawn from Vespers and Compline, was somewhat more simple. 
The Lord’s Prayer
The Domine, labia mea versicle and response
The Deus in adjutorium versicle and response
The Gloria Patri
The Psalms 
The Old Testament Lesson
The Magnificat (Vespers)
The New Testament Lesson
The Nunc Dimitis  (Compline)
The Creed
The Collects
Of the day
For peace
Against peril
Overall, this reform of the Divine Office has been very successful.  My own experience is that while I prefer the Roman Breviary (current rite) for private prayer as it seems more conducive for a reflective personal recitation, the Anglican Liturgy with its expanded readings and reduced psalmody and with some cutting back on the number of collects and extraneous prayers works better for liturgical celebration.  I am not inclined to think that was always the case as for most of the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries it was simply a read service that droned on in a clerical monotone.  Cathedrals and the Oxbridge College Chapels most often had choirs to sing the services, but the average parish was mostly devoid of the musical talent to make these services the things of beauty they often are today.  Moreover, the Puritan disdain for organs and for music in general meant that most churches had no choice but to have a read service.  In many parishes, both in the Church of England and in the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, read Morning Prayer was the standard Sunday Service with Holy Communion being celebrated only once or twice a month.  Combined with the long and too often dark sermons of the times, this just made Sundays an exercise in a relentless and turgid verbosity.  Sung Solemn Sunday Vespers, common in Catholic Churches of the larger European cities, by contrast was a riot of sound, color, and the smell of incense.  The Catholic service, being in Latin, was unintelligible to most of its congregation, of course, but remained relatively popular while the Anglican services drew only the most devout, leading over the centuries to an ever-steadingy decline in church attendance.  The Romantic revival and Oxford Movement of the nineteenth century would remedy this lack of the aesthetic aspect of Anglican Worship but that story is still a long way off.  We have a lot of Puritan ground to cover first.   

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