Friday Link Salad

Blog Recap

Basic Liturgical Reading List

2017 Joint Anglican Synods

 

Churchy links

5 Reasons Every Layperson Should Pray the Liturgy of the Hours

10 Ways You Can Use Sleepless Nights for God’s Glory

 

Random News Articles I think are interesting 

A First Look at the Store All Art Lovers Should Shop   (An old article, but one I only came across yesterday.)

Why the Brooklyn-Queens Border Is Full of Dead People  (New York City is running out of space to bury people)

How eBooks lost their shine: ‘Kindles now look clunky and unhip’

 

Books and things

Istanbul: City of Majesty at the Crossroads of the World (I found this one while looking for the next one. It looks like it would be a great read.)

Istanbul Passage: A Novel (I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this book, but as someone who is interested in the peripheries of the World Wars I think this looks like a fascinating glance into an often underwritten aspect of the war and its aftermath.)

Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ  (This is an ARCIC statement on the Blessed Virgin Mary. Essential reading for those interested in the Incarnation, Mary, and Ecumenism.)

 

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Basic Liturgical Reading List

I was asked by one of the seminarians from my parish recently for a reading list in the subject of liturgy. Between that and a couple other conversations, I put the following list together. (If you don’t already know this, you soon will: I’m a bit of a book nerd.) It is not intended to be exhaustive, nor a graduate course reading list. There are other books in my library that I didn’t include here; there are other books that are very good that are not on this list. There may be works that some are surprised are not here; Ritual Notes, for example. That is not the purpose of this list. This is more theological than technical.

I’m not technically including these on the list, but it should go without saying that the first texts one needs are the Prayer Book itself and the Holy Scriptures.

The Spirit of the Liturgy, Joseph Ratzinger.

This is Ratzinger’s masterpiece on the liturgy. Yes, it is Roman Catholic, but it has been influential to Anglicans and Orthodox as well, and personally, was one of the most important books I read in seminary. It helped open my eyes to the cosmic dimension of the liturgy. Another thing it does very well is sidestep the arguments about the orientation of the priest during the mass, and look at the core of the argument. He proposes the so called “Benedictine Arrangement,” where the celebrant and people do indeed face each other, although with the crucifix on the altar, so that the “enclosed circle” does not leave the image of Our Lord on the outside.

“The glory of God is the living man, but the life of man is the vision of God’, says St. Irenaeus, getting to the heart of what happens when man meets God on the mountain in the wilderness. Ultimately, it is the very life of man, man himself as living righteously, that is the true worship of God, but life only becomes real life when it receives its form from looking toward God.”
― Pope Benedict XVI, The Spirit of the Liturgy

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The Benedictine Arrangement, celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI (Curtesy, New Liturgical Movement)

 

For the Life of the World, Alexander Schmemann

Schmemann seemingly did not intend or expect his “little book” to achieve the level of fame and importance it has. He intended it as merely an outline for students. And yet, it has been reprinted and republished multiple times and in a variety of languages. The edition I use and to which I have linked above is the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press edition, which comes bound with two other essays of Schmemann’s, Worship in a Secular Age and Sacrament and Symbol. Schmemann’s work is similar to Ratzinger’s book above in that it can help to open one’s eyes to the cosmic and spiritual dimensions of liturgy. Consider the following quotes:

“Secularism, I submit, is above all a negation of worship…If secularism in theological terms is a heresy, it is primarily a heresy about man. It is the negation of man as a worshipping being, as homo adorns: the one for whom worship is the essential act which both “posits” his humanity as fulfill it.” — Schmemann, For the Life of the World.

“The Orthodox Church, by celebrating the seemingly “con scriptural” feasts of Mary’s nativity and of her presentation in the temple reveals, in fact, a real faithfulness to the Bible, for the meaning of these feasts lies precisely in their recognition of the Virgin Mary as the goal and fulfillment of the whole history of salvation, of that history of love and obedience, or response and expectation. She is the true daughter of the Old Testament, its last and most beautiful flower.”– Schmemann, For the Life of the World.

 

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The St. Vladimir Seminary Chapel, where Fr. Schmemann was dean.

The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary/ Commentary on the American Prayer Book 

I list these two books together because one is linked to the 1928 Prayer Book and one to the 1979 Prayer Book. I list them both because regardless of which one you use they provide insights into the actual texts themselves as well as (perhaps more importantly) insight into the liturgical thought of the eras in which they were produced. Both of these are dated and both reflect the scholarship of their times, which may no longer be the most correct or accurate information. Dix’s Shape of the Liturgy permeates the 1979 Prayer Book’s Eucharistic Rite, for example, but his conclusions are now viewed with some skepticism.

Disclaimer: Amazon links are Amazon Associate links. 

2017 Joint Anglican Synods

 

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2017, God willing, will see a major event in the life of the Continuing Anglican movement. From October 2-6, in Atlanta, Georgia, four of the major jurisdictions will hold their synods in tandem, while sharing worship and fellowship. From the website:

At the conclusion of the week it is the intention of the Churches to sign an agreement establishing full communion (communio in sacris) among the four bodies as well as a pledge to pursue in a determined and deliberate fashion increasingly full unity. The Churches also will discuss common plans for mission and evangelism.

The Banquet Speaker will be the Fr. George Clendenin, Priest-in-charge of St. Andrews in Greenwood, South Carolina. In September 1977, Fr. Clendenin served as Chairman of the Committee on Arrangements and Speaker, as well as Master of Ceremonies at the Congress of St. Louis.

For additional information, click here.

What’s in your hymnal?

There is an article over at Challies Press that piqued my interest this morning, and I’m glad it did. You should read the article in its entirety, but I’ll include some excerpts here.

I don’t exist in a tradition that has abandoned the use of the hymnal. The Anglican choral tradition, and the musical tradition of the western church in general is part of our tradition. Do I object to the way that “Christian music” has developed over the last few decades? Vehemently so. This article makes a number of good points. For example:

We lost an established body of songs. Hymnals communicated that a church had an established collection of songs. This, in turn, communicated that its songs were vetted carefully and added to its repertoire only after careful consideration. After all, great songs are not written every day and their worth is proven only over time. Therefore, new hymns would be chosen carefully and added to new editions of the hymnal only occasionally. Churches would update their hymnals, and, therefore, their established body of songs, only once every ten or fifteen years.

We lost a deep knowledge of our songs. When we removed the hymnal, we gained the ability to add new songs to our repertoire whenever we encounter one we deem worthy. And we do—we add new songs all the time. As we add new songs with greater regularity, we sing old songs with less frequency. This reduces our familiarity with our songs so that today we have far fewer of them fixed in our minds and hearts. Few congregations could sing even the greatest hymns without that PowerPoint screen.

In an age where wishy washy music and even wishy washier theology is rampant, this makes complete and total sense. Not to mention, if you have an established body of hymnody, you learn it better because there is less to learn.

On top of that, as an Anglican (this obviously doesn’t apply in the author’s generic protestant context) I can go to any parish with a 1940 hymnal (1982 in the Episcopal Church and part of ACNA) and and use the same body of hymnody. (There’s also a lot of overlap between the 1940/1982/New English Hymnal.)

We lost the ability to sing skillfully. As congregations have lost their knowledge of their songs, they have lost the ability to sing them well. We tend to compensate for our poorly-sung songs by cranking up the volume of the musical accompaniment. The loss of the voice has given rise to the gain of the amplifier. This leads to our music being dominated by a few instrumentalists and perhaps a pair of miced-up vocalists while the larger congregation plays only a meager role. In fact, it often seems like all we want from the congregation is their enthusiasm.

We lost the ability to have the songs in our homes. Hymnals usually lived at the church, resting from Monday to Saturday in the little pockets on the back of the pews. But people also bought their own and took them home so the family could have that established body of songs there as well. Families would often sing together as part of their family worship. It is easy to imagine a family singing “It Is Well With My Soul” after eating dinner together, but almost impossible to imagine them singing, “Oceans.”

I won’t argue that every Christian must have the ability to sing every piece of music. The mass settings of Palestrina, Josquin des Prez, Tallis, Byrd, and others are not ones that your average Christian knows how to sing. That is ok. But the hymnal gives music that can be sung by the average Christian to the average Christian. It puts music literally in their hands, in front of their eyes and gives congregations a musical repertoire that they can sing.

One of my major issues with “contemporary christian music,” besides the fact that it is so 1970s, is that it takes the church’s music away from the church. Yes. See the point before this one, where it says, “This leads to our music being dominated by a few instrumentalists and perhaps a pair of miced-up vocalists while the larger congregation plays only a meager role.” Yes. The Great Tradition does not belong to any single person. It belongs to the One Body of Christ, to the totality of that body. It belongs to all of us, to the entire Communion of Saints, which doesn’t begin or end with anyone currently alive.

I found this graphic on Facebook a while back. It makes a good point:

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Morbid? Perhaps. But we will all die, and who wouldn’t prefer the songs of the church over whatever a record label thinks will be hot next year?

 

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Meditations on the Mass: The Blessing

Very often, people fall into the trap of thinking that Jesus came to earth so that we would all be nice to each other and create a world where everything is calm and peaceful and works just the way we think it should work. But we know through Scripture that Jesus has not come to establish the peace the world wants, but rather the peace of God.

The Third piece in my series of meditations on the mass is up at the Living Church’s Covenant Blog. This is the final piece in the series. I really enjoyed it any may do something similar in the future, but for now, Passiontide and Holy Week are upon us.