By the Rev Canon William Odom
The Church Bookroom (Published Prior to 1923)
Part IV - I am a Churchman because I Prefer a Liturgical Form of Service.
The ancient Church had its Liturgies and Service Books. The Reformers gave us not only an English Bible, but also an English Prayer-Book revised and purified from the many superstitions and legends which had encrusted the previous Service Books. The judicious spirit which pervaded the minds of those who compiled our Prayer-Book may be gathered from the Preface, which should be carefully read. The book is the “Book of Common Prayer”—i.e., it is for “all sorts and conditions of men.” It must not, however, be put on a level with the Word of God, for “it is not the greater light to rule the day, but the lesser light to shine upon our night of ignorance and infirmity, and to guide our feet along the pathway of prayer and praise.”
Far-reaching proposals are before the National Church Assembly for the revision and enrichment of our Prayer-Book with a view of bringing it into closer relationship with present-day requirements. It is hoped that no changes will be allowed which may tend to assimilate the doctrine and ritual of our Church to those of the Church of Rome, or which are not in accord with God’s written Word.
Christian worship is adoration—a tribute of reverence and love to the God of love from His children, in which the soul holds communion with the God of Heaven: “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” Worship in spirit and in truth is characterized by humility, simplicity, reverence, liberty, and “the beauty of holiness.” The spirit of true worship seems to reach its highest level in the Te Deum and the Gloria in Excelsis. Cowper’s familiar words are in accord with Holy Scripture:
“Jesus! where’er Thy people meet,
There they behold Thy mercy-seat;
Where’er they seek Thee, Thou art found,
And every place is hallowed ground.”
CONFESSION.—In two special cases only—perplexity with reference to Holy Communion, and a troubled conscience on a sick-bed—are directions given in our Prayer-Book for persons to open their minds to, and seek counsel of, the minister. But these exceptions prove the rule, and the Church’s silence in other cases is noteworthy. “We will venture to say that neither Scripture, nor our Church’s teaching, gives the slightest encouragement to that sort of systematic and habitual confession, the periodical carrying to a priest of the secrets of the conscience and of the life, which had its natural place amongst the many errors of Romanism, and which some would bring back in these days into the bosom of a Reformed and Protestant Church” (Dean Vaughan).
>> Part V. - I am a Churchman becasue I prefer an Episcopal Form of Church Government and a Duly-Ordained Ministry.