Saturday, August 23, 2008

For Tomorrow: Anglican Worship and the Prayerbook

Adult Christian Education between services starting at 9:15am in the parish hall: We'll finish our brief focus on Anglicanism tomorrow morning and move more broadly to an overview of the development of Protestant denominations following the Reformation. Next Sunday we'll continue on that course but talk also about how ecumenical relationships between Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches developed and trace that development to the present.

For tomorrow, please read this brief article on the prayerbook and Cranmer's vision for Reformed Catholic worship. Here is an excerpt:
...Archbishop Cranmer was well versed in the progress of church reform on the continent. Throughout the 1520s and early 1530s he had traveled Europe in the service of Henry VIII. He came into contact with the teachings of the reformers, Luther and Calvin among them, and learned the politics of reform. In time, Cranmer was instrumental in bringing Lutheran, Calvinist, and Zwinglian scholars to university posts in England. The orders of worship, the postures and language of prayers, and the understanding of the sacraments contained within the 1549 prayer book reflect a complex synthesis of Reformed and Catholic theology and practice.

While much could be said about the structure, style, and influence of the Book of Common Prayer, perhaps most important for Christians in the Reformed tradition is the language of its prayers and the centrality it gives to the Lord’s Supper. To some extent, the prayer book maintained aspects of Calvin’s heritage for his direct descendants until we were ready to receive them.

The Language of Prayer

In the sixteenth century, the language of worship was a central concern. Worship in the language of the people was not a new debate in the 1500s, nor was it the initial point of contention for many of the reformers. But the translation of worship from Latin into German, French, English, and many other local languages quickly followed initial theological disputes. Each reformer had his poet. Cranmer was no exception (although his may have been a committee!). In any event, from the first edition in 1549, a mark of the Book of Common Prayer has been the beauty of the text...

If you missed last week's class, you can listen to the recording on the podsite. See you tomorrow.

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