Monsignor Barnes on some tricky text changes in the Divine Worship Missal

Where did they find THAT?

We have been using the Ordinariate Missal and none other for some weeks now in our small corner of Hants and Dorset. Increasingly I have found it’s been little details which have become most trying. Many of the prayers from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer I remember from years of use, so when there are tiny but apparently meaningless alterations I have to keep my eyes fixed on the page instead of just praying the prayer. Why did they do it? Where did they find it?

There are several such trivial amendments in the Prayer of Thanksgiving – the invariable post-communion prayer in our Divine Worship Missal. So, for example, the original Prayer Book version reads “we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son which is the blessed company of all faithful people”. Divine Worship omits “which is”… and so provides an unnecessary jolt for those of us brought up on BCP.

Another dislocation occurs when “we most humbly beseech thee” becomes baldly “we humbly beseech thee”. Changes made for no perceptible reason.

A longer omission occurs earlier in the prayer. “We most heartily thank thee, for that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us, who have duly received these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food” &c. In Divine Worship this is abbreviated to “that thou dost feed us in these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food”. Now if there were some consistent attempt to abbreviate and simplify such an emendation might be make sense. But that appears not to be the case. When it comes to the prayers over the gifts, far from simplifying there is a sudden outbreak of volubility.

I had supposed that we have to thank our transatlantic cousins for all the annoying oddities in our Missal. Certainly the ones I have so far quoted can be laid at the door of the “Book of Divine Worship” of the old American “Anglican Use” Roman Catholics. So I went to that book to see if the prayers at the preparation of the gifts came from there. “Whence it shall” seemed a peculiarly American construction. Not so, and I apologise for having thought it. No, BDW has, like the Roman Missal in its most recent English form,”It will become for us the bread of life”.

So perhaps someone can help me understand just whence this verbiage comes? Is it maybe from the so-called “English Missal” beloved of many Anglican Papalists (most of whom, it seems, managed not to hear about Anglicanorum Coetibus). And why? It is a terrible case of half-timbered English …

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4 Responses to Monsignor Barnes on some tricky text changes in the Divine Worship Missal

  1. EPMS says:

    One person’s “annoying oddities” are another person’s familiar phrases, taken from the BCPs in use in North America before they appeared in the BDW. Since a typical OCSP member is far more likely to have previously worshipped in an Anglican parish that used the BCP than would be the case in the OOLW, it seems only fair that wording familiar to them be given priority.

    • EPMS says:

      Coincidentally, an article cited in the newsletter from the Scottish Ordinariate refers to the influence of the Scottish Episcopalian BCP on that used in the Episcopal Church in the US.and reminds us that AC refers to the “liturgical traditions of the Anglican Communion”, not “the Church of England”. So perhaps the “transatlantic cousins” have equal rites, and rights here and should not be regarded as poor relations.

  2. Fr Gerard says:

    When I was first ordained, and for many subsequent years, I found myself having to be aware of he older prayers for the penitential rite and the response to the “Ecce Agnus Dei”. 25 years on, I now have to be aware of the prayers I grew up with, but are now supplanted by the recent translation. I find that the faith of the individual is the same and I fit in accordingly, not allowing the best to confuse the good of those I visit. I would perhaps suggest the same for your good self, Monsignor.In the end, God knows.

  3. thomasabeyer says:

    The thoroughness and attention-to-detail which so clearly attended the commission Anglicanae traditiones in the compilation of the Divine Worship Missal have led me to reason that in those places where the final text differs from the 1662 BCP (which appears to have been their most preferred source, followed closely by the English Missal) it does so quite deliberately.

    My theory is that phrases which appear in the 1662, such as “who have duly received,” were deemed doctrinally unsound for one reason or another. In this case probably it was the potential interpretation of that phrase as espousing the heresy that the Sacrament isn’t the Sacrament when the unworthy receive it. That being the case, the commission preferred to resort to alternative Anglican renderings with at least some historical provenance rather than edit them from scratch. Often that seems to have meant the 1979 American Prayer Book, which had already excised much of the “offending” wording by way of copycatting the Catholic liturgical revisions of those years, having the added benefit of being familiar to many of us CoSP folks.

    If ever an authoritative Ordinariate Daily Office is published, I guarantee the General Confession will follow suit, omitting both “and there is no health in us” and “miserable offenders” as the ’79 BCP did on account of their Calvinistic overtones.

    That said, there are a number of instances which perplex me as well. The “which is the blessed company” you mentioned is one of them. Also “art THE Most High” in the Gloria and “the Lord, the Giver of Life” in the Creed. It seems to me whatever doctrinal issues they or the Vatican might have had with these particular wordings couldn’t possibly justify changing texts so central to the Faithful’s liturgical participation. But they didn’t ask me.

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