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 Issues | Book of Common Prayer | 1928 Revision

Joynson-Hicks : On the doctrine of the proposed 1928 Prayer Book

Part of a Memorandum showing reasons why the Deposited Book should not receive the authority of Parliament, submitted for the consideration of the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament by .the Right Honourable SIR WILLIAM JOYNSON- HICKS, Bart., M.P.

From "The Prayer Book Crisis : Joynson-Hicks (G.P. Putnam, London, May 1928).

In the same casual and incidental way that this Measure profoundly modifies the constitutional system of the Church, does the Deposited Book modify its doctrine. It goes far towards undoing the work which was accomplished for the Church of England at the Reformation. There is no expressed intention of any change of doctrine. Indeed, the intention is expressly denied. But many things are brought back into the Prayer Book which were removed for definite doctrinal reasons at the Reformation. A prominent Roman Catholic ecclesiastic, the Rev. F. Woodlock, S.J., has stated that " the new Alternative Order of Communion included elements, previously lacking, which quite definitely brought it in line with the Mass." Among the changes may be mentioned the following :-

(a) The addition of the anthem “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” immediately before the Prayer of Consecration. This may easily be overlooked, as it is printed not in the place where it is to be used but at the end of the alternative Service, on p. 230. Coming where it does, it suggests a presence of Christ as a result of the words of Consecration, and for this reason it was removed by the compilers of the present Prayer Book.

(b) The change in the Prayer of Consecration strengthens this suggestion of a Presence of Christ in the consecrated Bread and Wine. The new words are: “Hear us, O merciful Father, and with Thy Holy and Lifegiving Spirit vouchsafe to bless and sanctify both us and these Thy gifts of Bread and Wine, that they may be unto us the Body and Blood of Thy Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ”; instead of, as in the present Book: “Hear us, O merciful Father, we most humbly beseech Thee; and grant that we receiving these Thy creatures of bread and wine, according to Thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution, in remembrance of His death and passion, may be partakers of His most blessed Body and Blood.” It is further strengthened by the new words addressed to the communicant: “Draw near and receive the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for you, and His Blood which was shed for you.”

(c) By the permission of the practice of Reservation additional support will be given to the doctrine of a Real Presence in the consecrated elements. There is to be no corporate service of Devotions or Adoration; but, for private prayer, access will be permitted to the chapel in which the Sacrament is reserved.

(d) The restoration of the Roman commemoration of Corpus Christi under the title of "Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion,” where the Roman Collect, Epistle and Gospel appointed for Corpus Christi Day are given. The purpose of this Festival in the Roman Church was to commemorate the doctrine of Transubstantiation.

(e) The restoration of the sacrificial Vestment (the Chasuble) for use at Holy Communion. This is the Vestment worn by the officiating priest in the Roman Church when he celebrates Mass. The use of the Chasuble in some Lutheran Churches is not a parallel, for in them it is not confined to the Holy Communion, but is used at other Services also. Lord Halifax, in words which have often been quoted, said “We value the Vestments because they are a witness to the fact that the Lord's Supper is neither more nor less than the Mass in English.”

(f)The provision of a Service of Preparation for Holy Communion, as in the Mass, where the words “I will go unto the Altar of God” are twice repeated.

(g) The restoration of the pre-Reformation use of Wafers instead of Bread, and of the mixed chalice.

(h) The re-insertion into the Consecration Prayer of the words: “And though we be unworthy to offer unto Thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech Thee to accept this our bounden duty and service.” The Reformers rejected the doctrine that the Priest offers a Sacrifice of Christ's Body and Blood, and therefore removed from the Prayer Book all expressions which taught a Presence of Christ in the consecrated elements, and all expressions which implied the offering of them as a Sacrifice. For this reason they removed the word “Altar,” and all words in the Consecration Prayer relating to any offering of Sacrifice by the Priest; and they discarded the sacrificial vestments. It is admitted that these revisions effected a doctrinal change, and it may fairly be contended that their reversal also involves a change of doctrine.

(i)The restoration of the “Commemoration of All Souls” with special Collect, Epistle and Gospel, which involves the use of a Service of Holy Communion in connection with it. It is in the Calendar for November 2nd, and the Collect, etc., are given at the end of the New Prayer Book, on pp. 439 and 440. This commemoration arose in the 9th Century, that Masses and intercessions might be offered for the departed who were suffering in Purgatory. The Commemoration of All Souls was removed from the Prayer Book at the Reformation when the doctrine of Purgatory was rejected.

It can hardly be denied that the above changes, with others that might be mentioned, do make a change in doctrine and that in the direction of Roman teaching, which the English Church emphatically rejected at the Reformation. The words of the Royal Commission of 1904-6 may, mutatis mutandis, be considered to bear on this point:

“It is not our duty to attempt to reconcile disavowals of Roman doctrine with the use of services and prayers which state that doctrine in the very terms which the Roman Church itself employs for the purpose of setting it forth.” (Royal Commission on Ecclesiastical Discipline, 1906. Report, p. 48.)

and again :

“But it must be recognised, and we understand that it has been recognised in judicial decisions, that an accumulation of such practices in a service may, under certain conditions, have an aggregate effect which is more serious, and further removed from the standard of the Prayer Book and the type of worship inculcated by the Church of England, than the several practices taken singly would appear to have. In a large number of the Services of Holy Communion as to which evidence has been given, vestments, the Confiteor, illegal lights, incense, the Lavabo, the ceremonial mixing of the chalice, the wafer, a posture rendering the manual acts invisible, the sacring bell and the Last Gospel, are all or nearly all in use, and unite to change the outward character of the service from that of the traditional service of the Reformed English Church to that of the traditional service of the Church of Rome.” (ib., p. 53.)

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