Saturday, August 31, 2002

Liturgical Music After Vatican II

Director of Sistine Chapel Choir Views the State of Affairs

ASSISI, Italy, AUG. 30, 2002 ( Post-Vatican II reform opened great possibilities for composers "so long as they enter into the spirit of the rite," says the director of the Sistine Chapel Choir.

For the past 10 years Monsignor Giuseppe Liberto has been the official composer of the national Liturgical Week, which was just held in Assisi. Here, he evaluates the liturgical evolution since the Second Vatican Council.

Q: Next year the liturgical reform will be 40 years old. How do you evaluate it, from the musical point of view?

Monsignor Liberto: Not everything has been valid, and not everything should be despised. Perhaps we should follow the advice of the parable of the wheat and the darnel. Let them grow together, because the time of the harvest has not yet come. But in the meantime, let's discern.

Q: What are the distinctions to be made?

Monsignor Liberto: Above all, there is confusion between liturgical music and sacred music. This is already a first distinction. The term sacred music is quite ambiguous, whereas the object of liturgical music is the celebration.

And the one who composes for the celebration must be conscious of the fact that in the liturgy we celebrate Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Instead, many times it is thought that the music during the rite must only celebrate itself, in a sort of narcissistic self-complacency which serves itself only instrumentally of the celebration. In this way, the liturgy is turned into pure performance and sterile ritualism -- precisely what the council eliminated forever.

Q: It should certainly not be a performance, but your musical colleagues lament the fact that, in favoring the participation of the assembly, the liturgical reform has reduced their own bounds.

Monsignor Liberto: There must be understanding of this issue, also. The assembly is all the people of God, who gather to celebrate Christ.

Now, this assembly is articulated in its different forms of ministry. Therefore, the president of the assembly sings as president of it, the deacon as deacon, the psalmist as psalmist, and so, [also] the choir. The response comes from the people of God, who acclaim, etc.

Not all should sing everything, but each one according to his ministry. And one must write differently for each one, which is, precisely, the challenge. Often, there are those who approach liturgical music without being clear about these differences.

Q: Is it, then, just a question of formation?

Monsignor Liberto: I think so. There are areas for composers and musicians, and these are very great, on the condition that they enter into the spirit required by the reform, also as regards musical forms. Today, many old musical forms are no longer workable in the liturgy of Vatican Council II. And we must be conscious of this.

Instead, many reason the opposite way: "Since my music does not fit the liturgy, the liturgical reform has failed." Or, on the contrary, as they are incapable of writing music in more elaborate and complex ways, they reduce everything to a kind of musical minimalism, which often is nothing other than bad taste. Instead, the right way is formation. The musician who wishes to compose for the liturgy must have a specific liturgical education.

Q: To conclude, what is the advice of the director of the Sistine Choir for someone who wishes to be faithful to Vatican II?

Monsignor Liberto: Given that the work is only just beginning and that we are all searching, my advice is to avoid three very dangerous attitudes: idealism -- music as the expression of subjectivism; romanticism -- music in which everything is the resonance of a sort of unknown God; and functionalism -- music reduced to a pure ornament centered on oneself.

However, if sacred music does not become holy music, namely, at the service of the celebration, we will never have true liturgical music.


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Friday, August 30, 2002

Wherein do the worshippers of the YOU-God agree and disagree with the worshippers of the THOU-God?

Let us suppose that the worshippers in question are on the one hand those who use a contemporary language Rite from Common Worship of 2001 (or Rite II from the American Prayer Book of 1979) and on the other those who use The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 or 1928 (USA) or 1962 (Canada).

First of all wherein they agree:

1. They agree that they are to use the English language in a meaningful way for their worship and sermons.
2. They agree that until the 1960s there was only one basic form of Religious English, the language of prayer and worship used by all churches (when not using Latin).
3. They agree that it is good and right to aim to use or attend the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer and that on the first day of the week, where possible, they should attend Holy Communion (Holy Eucharist).
4. They agree that their GOD is to be addressed in terms of confession of sin, thanksgiving, praise, petition and intercession.
5. They agree that their God is above, through and around them and that they may know that Presence as communion and friendship.
6. They agree that the local assembly of Christians is to be united in fellowship and reveal in word and deed, in ministry and outreach, the Christian Faith and Love.
7. They agree that in matters of common interest they ought to cooperate as far as in them lies to promote that which is agreed to be good and right.

Secondly, wherein they disagree:

1. The one side states that God should be addressed in the same type of language that people use one to another; the other side claims that God should be addressed in the language of prayer developed and perfected over the centuries by the English-speaking people.
2. The one side insists upon a modern version of the Bible and of the Psalter while the other uses a traditional version of both.
3. The one side accepts that in adopting contemporary "secular" language, it is difficult, if not impossible, not to accept changes in that language as it reflects cultural and social change - e.g., in human rights, particularly women's rights. And thus it is admitted that this language is never stable but always open to revision. In contrast, the other side refuses to change the language of prayer to meet the changing agenda of modern secular society and claims that this classic form and style of language is the embodiment of biblical standards and doctrines.
4. The one side tends to emphasize God's nearness, friendliness and familiarity with people and to make little of human sin and rebellion against God. Thus forms of confession are simple and often optional. In contrast, the other side tends to emphasize the transcendent holiness and majesty of God, and to paint sin in dark pictures as wholly offensive to God. Thus confession of sins is thorough and required as normal.
5. The one side tends to be brief and general in its references to the Death of Jesus on the Cross while the other side tends to describe and explain this Death in specific and expansive terms and ways.
6. The one side tends to think of Celebration in a general way - of rejoicing in Creation, Daily Experience, Redemption, and in the Community of Faith - whereas the other side specifically sees the Death, Resurrection and Exaltation of Christ as the unique source of Celebration.
7. The one side is driven by a sense of wanting in the Rite used to make the worship simple, accessible, intelligible and acceptable to as many people as possible. In contrast, the other side is driven by a sense of doing justice in language to the greatness of the theme of worshipping the eternal, infinite God, the Holy Trinity, and asking people to grow into this style.
8. The one side contains a lot of people who see religion and modern Rites as a means of strengthening self-worth, self-respect, self-fulfilment and self-realization. Thus they look to the sense of familiarity in community, the minimal stress upon human sin with the maximum emphasis on God's love, and the use of the passing of the peace to achieve these ends. In contrast, the other side contains a majority of people who see that human dignity is best gained from the very activity of looking unto God the Holy One with the proclamation in the worship that we are made in the image and likeness of God, that God loves us and has provided salvation and friendship for us through Christ by the Holy Ghost.
9. The one side contains many who like to see the use of modern music along with or in place of the organ; the other side tends to be only in favour of music that is classical or traditional and preferably from the organ.

And so on.

In charity, the worshippers of the THOU-God believe that the conservative worshippers of the YOU-God who desire to have biblical doctrine and standards are really in truth worshippers of the THOU-God, but afraid or unable for other reasons to admit to being so. At the same time conservative worshipper of the YOU-God believe that worshippers of the THOU-God need to move with the times and transfer their allegiance to the up-to-date YOU-God, who is inclusive.

Also in charity the worshippers of the THOU-God seriously ask whether those worshippers of the YOU-God who have made this God the patron of such causes as full feminism and total Lesbigayism do actually worship a different God - an idol of their creation! And in the opposite direction the radical worshippers of the YOU-God believe that the conservative worshippers of the THOU-God are either to be pitied or to be driven out of the church for they stand in the way of necessary progress.

August 30, 2002.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

ZEITGEIST, the spirit that will not go away

Those who advocated in the 1960s the adoption of what they called "contemporary English" for public prayer/worship[ and Bible translation were not to know (though they could have guessed) what difficulties lay ahead.

There is general agreement that it was the Zeitgeist, the revolutionary spirit of the 1960s that indwelt the West, that was the root cause of the decision in the 1960s & 1970s to adopt a new language of prayer/worship, a language that was directly related to the language of the street, instead of separate from it as was the traditional language of prayer.

It was not particularly the presence of "thou/thee/thine/thy" but of the verb endings (thou - art, hast, doest, didst, desireth etc.) that became the presenting reason to drop the addressing God as "thou." These endings were said to be difficult, archaic and obsolete. They sounded and felt odd! In other words, if the differences in verb endings had been as simple for Thou and You as they were/are for I and We, then it would have been more difficult for the Zeitgeist to remove the "Thou" from the new language for God.

But then the Zeitgeist would have concentrated upon other examples of archaisms, obsolete words/phrases and sentence construction. For the Zeitgeist had entered the camp of the Evangelicals, Charismatics, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists etc. in a big way and It intended to be triumphant and of course was - 90 per cent perhaps. Relevancy to the present, intelligibility & accessibility for all were the demands of the Zeitgeist. And, what is quite amazing, is that Catholics and Protestants with little or no consultation went rushing in the same direction into modernity blown by this one powerful wind (the effects of which the Catholics called by the Italian name of aggiornamento). God who had been somewhat majestic and transcendent in the 1950s now became more familiar and immanent. From now on Deity was the YOU-God not the THOU-God. There had been a revolution!

Having moved the majority of English-speaking Christians, within the space of a decade or so, away from their previously normal language of prayer and worship into an experimental stage of using contemporary language for prayer, the Zeitgeist did not cease to blow.

First of all, its effects were seen in the continuing and to this day never ending efforts to find a suitable form of contemporary English for Bible translation and for church worship - note the seemingly endless versions of the Bible or parts thereof, experimental liturgies, new hymns and choruses and so on , and note particularly the troubles in the RC Church over a correct English for the Missal, Breviary, Sacramentary and so on.

Secondly, its effects were seen in the presenting of new proposals for amending, developing, and changing the emerging language of prayer. The most obvious of these were those from feminism and included radical changes in the use of pronouns for Deity, for the naming and addressing of God, for removing the generic "he" and "man" and "mankind" and "brethren" for human beings and so on. To the feminist proposals we can add those of civil and human rights, environmentalism, lesbigayism and others. And who knows what is yet to come?

Thirdly, its effects were seen in the gradual elimination of the pursuit of excellence and the acceptance of mediocrity in all areas of worship. Charges of elitism were levelled against those who wanted to provide for God the very highest and best that human art had created.

Then, its effects were felt in the general toning down of the sense of the numinous, the holy and the transcendent and the intensifying of the familiar, the immanent and the psychotherapeutic. Worshippers now assembled in the circle and half circle and made into a sacrament the passing of the peace.

Of course we must also note that the Zeitgeist payed some attention to the traditional folks, those who address the THOU-God. It got many of them to throw up their hands in holy horror, to huddle in a corner and complain and do their own thing as the world passed them by! A few of them resisted and sought by intelligent means to point out what was occurring, but their cry was muffled by the powerful winds caused by the Zeitgeist.

If there is any truth in what is stated above about the use of so-called contemporary language for God - which is apparently here to stay, then a greater effort has to be made by its advocates (and more especially by bright people who are linguists and lovers of the Lord our God) to work out what is to be the logic of the new language of prayer. That is what style it could and should develop and how it can develop without becoming a receptive container for each one of the latest offerings of the Zeitgeist working in post-modern culture. Right now we have got to the stage that many sensitive and devout people, who are prepared to use contemporary language for worship, are confused as to what is such language and they even hesitate to enter a church building on a Sunday not knowing what to expect! The Zeitgeist has them on the run or in fear.

Let those who knock and ridicule [my] calls for space and provision be made in churches today for the use of the traditional language of prayer, tell [me]us what is the logic, style and limits of their contemporary language for prayer.

August 30, 2002
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

Thursday, August 29, 2002


Within English there are many specific forms of English used by a group, large or small, for its particular enterprise or need. In Language Schools in Asia there are courses in such things as Scientific English, Pilots' English, Lawyers' English and so on. For about as long as English has been spoken, and most decidedly since it became the dominant and first language of Britain, there has been what we may call RELIGIOUS ENGLISH --more specifically the language/idiom of prayer & worship.

Within this form of English the most obvious (but not only) difference from the English used by the BBC for news on the World Service is the retention of the second person singular (Thou, Thee, Thine) for addressing God.

This Religious English exists in what we may call a maximum form and a minimum form. The minimum form is found in the RSV Bible where "Thou" is used for addressing Deity but not for man. The maximum form is in the KJV Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, where "Thou" is retained as the second person singular for both God and man.

Here my discussion is presuming only the minimum form and its use in public worship of any denomination.

The basic doctrinal reason (belonging to the dogma of the Holy Trinity) for retaining the second person singular Pronoun [Thou, Thee, Thy, Thine] for God is that the God whom Jews and Christians worship is One Lord, One God. He is one Deity, One Godhead and One Divinity. Thus the singular pronoun. The problem with using "You" for Deity is that this Pronoun can be either singular or plural and thus does not communicate with absolutely clarity the uniqueness of the unity of God as the LORD God. The pronoun "You" can suggest tritheism while "Thou" for Deity can only suggest monotheism.

Further, since the essential mystery of Christianity is belief in the Unity of the One God [Deity/Divinity/Godhead] where there is Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, the use of "Thou" is also important for addressing each one of the Trinity, the Father & the Son and the Holy Ghost, when prayer so requires.

Thus "Thou" is used when the One God [as the unique Three in One and One in Three] is addressed or when one or another of the Three Persons, each one of whom possesses the one Godhead entirely and wholly, is addressed.

The other doctrinal reason (belonging to the doctrine of worship) is that "Thou" in long centuries of usage has acquired a double function for worshippers who use the Pronoun. It carries with it the sense of Reverence & Awe & Humility before the Majesty of God and also at the same time communicates the sense of intimacy and friendship with God. And this double religious feeling is entirely what true worship must include for Christians. They must gratefully acknowledge and never forget either that God is the LORD, their eternal and infinite Creator and Judge or that the same God in Jesus Christ and by the Holy Ghost has drawn near to them to adopt them as children and to call them His friends.

Thus "Thou" performs this double function for the devout. Now it is clear that in the Hebrew & Greek of the Bible there is no obvious justification in the use of pronouns used for God and man for distinguishing in translation between God and man where pronouns are concerned. And this point is made in the prefaces of modern versions of the Bible and prayer books where the modern "You" is used of God and man. However, what we can say is that the whole way of addressing Deity is very different from the addressing of man within the Bible and so what is not there in pronouns is there in syntax!

This said, we can move to claim the following. First, both "thou" and "you" in modern English are used for the second person singular, where only one person is in mind. "You" is most common but everyone with a little education recognizes "thou" when the newspaper has the headlines, "Thou shalt not..." Therefore, since both words are second person singular pronouns then in translating ancient texts the translator can use either or both words and still be faithful to the original and to modern English. So where there is an ancient tradition in Religious English [and even in Standard English] of always and only using one of these, "Thou," for deity then the translator can use it with integrity and the worshipper use it unto edification.

Thus in the NIV and in the RC English Mass of the 1960s/1970s there should have been the use of "Thou" for Deity as there had been in the RSV & NEB! Much later confusion would have been avoided!

The real [and only] reason why "Thou" was removed from Religious English in the 1960s was to satisfy the pressure from the powerful Zeitgeist of that decade which deeply affected both Evangelicals ( see the NIV) and Roman Catholics (see the Mass in English) simultaneously. By the spirit of the age the need was felt to make God available and familiar, relevant and intelligible, accessible and NEW - therefore the YOU-God was invented.

August 29, 2002
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

The Evangelical Bible, half-truths & the YOU-God: Is the Preface to the NIV honest? A discussion starter

The Preface to The New International Version (1978) of the Bible makes it very clear that it is most decidedly a Bible translated by worthy and right-minded evangelical scholars and for the use of evangelical churches and people. To underline these points the scholars have not translated, and the churches have not called for a translation of, the Apocrypha (which is in the KJV, the RSV, the NEB etc. and even the Living Bible).

Begun in the mid 1960s it was completed in the mid-1970s and was intended for both public worship and private prayer, for liturgy and personal meditation.

The aim was to produce a "clear and natural English" that was "idiomatic but not idiosyncratic, contemporary but not dated." It intended to avoid obvious "Americanisms and Anglicisms" for it was intended for an international market. In this way its aim is very much parallel to that of the translators of the Roman Catholic Mass in the same period, for they too sought to provide a translation for the whole English-speaking world in the vernacular after Vatican II (1962-1965).

Like the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the Vatican and the USA, the NIV Committee decided that contemporary English meant avoidance of traditional English, and in particular the religious English found in the KJV, the RV and the RSV, not to mention the evangelical hymnbooks, denominational hymnbooks and The Book of Common Prayer.

The Preface makes this commitment very clear: "As for the traditional pronouns 'thou', 'thee' and 'thine' in reference to the Deity, the translators judged that to use these archaisms (along with the old verb forms such as 'doest', 'wouldest' and 'hadst') would violate accuracy of translation. Neither Hebrew nor Greek uses special pronouns for the persons of the Godhead. A present-day translation is not enhanced by forms that in the time of the King James Version were used in everyday speech, whether referring to God or man."

I can only surmise that this paragraph was written without careful thought. The writer was so carried along with the mood of the 1960s & 1970s that he was convinced that in order to be relevant Christians must address God in the same way that they address one another - thus "you" not "thou". But, he offered a justification and an explanation that are at best only half-truths.

Let us note that from the mid-1500s the English-speaking peoples had been addressing God as "Thou/Thee" whether they used a Prayer Book or prayed in an ex tempore way. Their hymns were all addressed to the THOU-God and all public worship from the earliest days through to the 1960s was everywhere by all types of Christians in traditional English, addressed to the THOU-God. In his book on Grammar for young children the great John Wesley taught them
thus: "We say 'Thou' to God and 'you' to man." No-one challenged this simple rule for standard English until the 1960s.

Thus to address God as "Thou" is not an archaism. Its use was in 1960, and still is today, a part of living language. We recall that both the RSV and the NEB both retained address to the THOU-God but their replacements NRSV & REB do not!

And for the Preface to call the traditional use of THOU from the Middle Ages through to the RSV and NEB (the 1970s) as VIOLATING ACCURACY OF TRANSLATION is strong talk indeed.

How should we respond to such excessive condemnation of a thousand years of translation?

First of all, we can say that the NIV translators were rendering into ENGLISH and that in ENGLISH (not in Hebrew or Greek but in ENGLISH) the normal way - indeed the ONLY way for centuries - of addressing the Deity is as "Thou/Thee/Thy/Thine" with appropriate verb endings (which are easily learned). They should have translated into real English, not a supposed contemporary English which was their own creation (as was the English of the R C translators of the Mass at the same time).

Secondly, we can say that there is in the Hebrew and the Greek a clear distinction between the second person singular and the second person plural and this is indicated by different words and verb endings. Therefore, the English Bible (see Tyndale, Coverdale, Geneva, KJV, RV etc.) used two distinct pronouns, one for the singular and one for the plural. Likewise in translating Latin, Cranmer in The Book of Common Prayer (1549) used both "thee" and "you." Thus in these translations there was a correspondence between the original documents and the translation, and thereby the English readers knew when God addressed the individual person and when He addressed people in general.

Thirdly, we can say that in 1611 the chosen style of the translators of the Bible which we call the AV/KJV was not in the street language of the day! By this time the "you" was serving both for the singular and the plural in ordinary speech and "thou" was being used only for addressing inferiors or as talk between lovers. Thus the Preface is wrong in what it claims about the way in which people spoke in 1611! There was a religious English in 1611 and afterwards and this usage was part of standard English.

The translators should have retained at least the distinctive second person singular for the addressing of God! This is what is in the originals and this is what was the long-standing usage in the English language. Indeed the long standing use in English could be said to have given a doctrinal force to the addressing of God as "Thou" and to lose this very important pronoun in worship is to doctrinally to change the status of the relation of man and God!

But why did the evangelicals reject this ancient usage and why were they so
attached to the "You-God"? There can be only one basic answer which then
can be expanded in detail. The answer is: Because they lived in the 1960s and were deeply affected by the Zeitgeist of the time. They looked for immediacy, relevance, intelligibility, accessibility, familiarity and so on for this is what culture inside and outside evangelical colleges, seminaries, churches and organizations demanded. They wanted to indicate that God could be addressed in the same way as people were addressed - in the familiar! And they justified this --- and no doubt they were sincere in so doing for their eyes were blinded --- by appealing to the original tongues and to the history of the English language. The trouble is that they were so blown over by the spirit of the times (as were most of us then!) that they did not think straight.

The result is that evangelicals were loosed from their commitment to the inherited language of faith, hope and love and were released to swim in an ocean where the salt is often too much for them. They have lost the language wherein they could be both reverent and still before the LORD God and also in intimate communion with him. They went for familiarity and relevancy and thus lost the traditional means in language to attain both intimacy (which is not the same as familiarity) with God and holy reverence and awe and wonder before His majesty.

Change in language was followed or accompanied by change in dress, music, seating arrangements, types of sermons and forms of piety and spirituality.

And into the new contemporary language of the NIV quickly came the beginnings of the feminist agenda and this has caused all kinds of debate and division and is far from settled to this day. Once the YOU-God is embraced then with this Deity there comes a very modern agenda which (as the NRSV & REB show) is difficult to keep at bay.

To this day of writing (August 2002) there is yet no agreed form of religious English which is committed to the You-God. There is a babel of confusion in terms of versions of the Bible, forms of prayers, contents of hymns and choruses and in public ex tempore prayer.

There is no reason why we cannot have today the use of traditional religious English for worship. We are very familiar in life with differing forms of the language for different activities and occupations. It is less difficult to learn religious English than the modern language of computers or American football and what is gained in the use of the former is great - access to a vast store of literature of many kinds written in classic, traditional, accessible religious English.

August, 26 2002
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

Monday, August 26, 2002

The NEB & the REB & the identity of GOD

The translators of the New Testament in The New English Bible (1970) state in the "Introduction" that they have rendered the Greek "into the English of the present day, that is, into the natural vocabulary, constructions, and rhythms of contemporary speech." In the "Introduction" to the Old Testament a similar claim is made for the rendering of the Hebrew & Aramaic into English. Then in the Preface to the whole Bible, written by the Archbishop of York, Dr. Donald Coggan, it is stated that the purpose was to produce a translation in "a contemporary idiom" with "a delicate sense of English style."

The publication of the New Testament in 1961, followed by the publication of the Old Testament with the [revised] New Testament in 1970 (and also as a further revision in 1972) as the complete Bible, were greeted enthusiastically by church leaders in Great Britain and Ireland, as well as in the British Commonwealth. Here, it seemed to them, was the Bible in a contemporary English free from the archaic and obsolete words and expressions. This NEB would speak God's word to modern people in a modern world.

Amazingly, neither in 1961 nor in 1970, is there any explanation given in the Preface or Introductions for the retention of the second person singular "Thou" and "Thee" for the addressing of the God of the Old and New Testaments. This usage was judged to be so much part of religious English that it was preserved as being part of contemporary English and thus no comment was needed! Looking back this is quite amazing!!!

We recall that over the Atlantic Ocean in the United States of America, The Revised Standard Version (1952, revised 1971) had also retained the "Thou" and "Thee" form of address for the Deity as part of modern standard English usage. For the addressing of human beings "you" was used throughout for this had been standard English for several centuries.

Yet, this long established usage within the English language did not last for too long within the new generation of versions of the English Bible. Revision of the NEB began in 1974 in order to make it more acceptable and useful for a dual purpose. Dr. Coggan explained that: "The widespread enthusiasm for The New English Bible had resulted in its being frequently used for reading aloud in public worship, the implication of which had not been fully anticipated by the translators. As a result it became desirable to review the translation." So the revised translation of the full Bible was published in 1989 as The Revised English Bible, and was intended both for reading in public and for private reading, study and devotion.

In the Preface, Dr. Coggan explained once again the commitment to contemporary English, this time the English of the 1980s.

"Care has been taken to ensure that the style of English used is fluent and of appropriate dignity for liturgical use, while maintaining intelligibility for worshippers of a wide range of ages and backgrounds. The revisers have sought to avoid complex or technical terms where possible, and to provide sentence structure and word order, especially in the Psalms, which will facilitate congregational reading but will not misrepresent the meaning of the original texts. As the 'you'-form of address to God is now commonly used, the 'thou'-form which was preserved in the language of prayer in The New English Bible has been abandoned."

Thus within the space of ten to twenty years there has been a decisive change in the language of prayer in the British Churches and the translators had decided to accept it as inevitable (just as the liturgists had done in the 1970s). Apparently, this change occurred or was assisted within the churches because of changes in the general culture, wherein familiarity between persons of differing rank and position became more common. Thus the feeling was abroad that if God is real and we are honest then we should speak to him as we speak to each other as "you."

But this change to familiarity in address to God is not the only one. There is yet another significant change. Let Archbishop Coggan explain it:

"The use of male-oriented language, in passages of traditional versions of the Bible which evidently apply to both genders, has become a sensitive issue in recent years; the revisers have preferred more inclusive gender references where that has been possible without compromising scholarly integrity or English style."

Evidence of this new principle at work is seen in Psalm 1 which in the REB (1989) begins, "Happy is the one who." This contrasts with the NEB (1970) which begins, "Happy is the man who." [Other renderings of Psalm 1 from this period prefer, "Happy are they who."]

So it would seem that the two innovations go together, or perhaps, follow on from each other. Once the traditional language of prayer (which as John Wesley wrote in 1760 is that "We say 'Thou' to God and 'you' to man") is set aside then immediately there are adjustments, great or small, made towards the demands of the feminist lobby [which of course includes men and women]. Whether these adjustments are appropriate or not is here not the point - which is that once the "Thou"-God disappears then the "You"-God who replaces Him is much more tolerant of modern agendas in the world that seek to become part of the Gospel of the churches. We know that what happened in this regard to the R.E.B. has happened to virtually all modern versions of the Bible from Protestant or Roman Catholic sources either in their first edition or subsequently in revised editions [see the Jerusalem Bible, the New Revised Standard Version etc.].

And, of course, what has happened in versions of the Bible has also happened in the new liturgies and prayer books as well as the new hymnbooks and chorus books. It seems that once God is addressed as "You" then this Deity welcomes the major social agendas of the culture that originally pressured the Church to use "You."

We shall see how tolerant is the "You"-God to the current lesbigay agenda and to forthcoming manifestations of the Zeitgeist within the versions of the Bible, liturgies and hymns/songs of the next decade.

August 26, 2002
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

Forward in Faith Asks Presiding Bishop To Have Two Priests Elected As Bishops


Contact: Canon Warren Tanghe
Forward in Faith North America

For Immediate Release:

Fort Worth, TX: August 23rd, 2002

Yesterday, Forward in Faith, North America (FIF/NA), asked the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to have two of its priests elected and consecrated as bishops to provide alternative pastoral oversight for its congregations, and for other congregations which hold fast to the Church's historic ministry, and do not accept the ordination of women as priests and bishops.
The bishops of the worldwide Anglican Communion have said that such members should be given alternative episcopal oversight by bishops of like belief. The Episcopal Church and its Presiding Bishop have promised to provide such oversight for its traditionalists, but with some local exceptions have failed to do so, to the grave concern of many of the Communion's leaders. Indeed, one root of the conflict between the Rt. Rev'd Charles Bennison, Bishop of Pennsylvania, and the Rev'd Dr. David Moyer of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, is the former's termination of such oversight for Rosemont.
The two priests chosen are Fr. Moyer, who is FIF/NA's President, and the Rev'd William Ilgenfritz of St. Stephen's Church, Whitehall, in the Diocese of Bethlehem, who is FIF/NA's newly-elected Vice-President. They were put forward by affirmative vote of deputies representing the organization's regional convocations and affiliated parishes at FIF/NA's annual Assembly, which was held in Belleville, IL, from the 18th through 22nd of August.
The Episcopal House of Bishops, at its meeting in Texas last Spring, declared that appropriate oversight could be provided within the laws and structures of the Episcopal Church. FIF/NA is therefore asking the Presiding Bishop to act within those laws and structures, so as to make the men FIF/NA has chosen and supports bishops, and to give them the care of the organization's constituency. Should he and his fellow-bishops fail to do so within the church's structures, it will increase the likelihood that Anglican leaders overseas will contemplate an intervention to ensure that what the Communion has promised its traditionalists is provided in the American Church.
Forward in Faith, North America, is the first and largest traditionalist organization in the Episcopal Church, and the only one which represents those who uphold the Church's historic ministry.
For further information, contact FIF/NA's national office at 817-735-1675, or Canon Warren Tanghe, its Secretary, at 404-872-4169 or 404-873-1453. Fr. Moyer can be reached at 610-525-7070 or 610-525-9583; Fr. Ilgenfritz, at 610-435-3901 or 610-435-9818.

The following is the text of the letter sent by Forward in Faith, North America, to Presiding Bishop Griswold:

August 22nd, 2002

The Most Rev'd Frank Griswold
Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Dear Bishop Griswold;
I write on behalf of Forward in Faith, North America, the first and largest body representing traditionalists in The Episcopal Church, and the only body representing those who, adhering to the historic ministry of the Church, do not accept the ordination of women as priests and bishops.
In its pastoral letter read on April 1, 2001, the House of Bishops noted that "the Primates have also called upon us to provide pastoral care for all in our Communion, as we grow in Christ's wisdom", and pledged, "we mean to respond faithfully to that call". You yourself, in your letter to the Primates of June 19th, 2001, observed that "at Kanuga we agreed about the importance of sustained pastoral care", and stated, "this is for me a continuing concern and commitment".
On March 13th, 2002, the House of Bishops issued "A Covenant on Sustained Pastoral Care" which asserted that "the present Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church are sufficient for dealing with questions of Episcopal oversight, supplemental episcopal care, and disputes that may arise between the bishop and a congregation".
On August 20th, 2002, by the affirmative vote of delegates representing FIF/NA's regional convocations and affiliated parishes, that body's annual Assembly put forward the names of two priests whom we believe are called to provide such sustained pastoral care, and whom our constituency will support in that ministry. The two priests are the Rev'd William Ilgenfritz, Rector of St. Stephen's Church, Whitehall, in the Diocese of Bethlehem; and the Rev'd Dr. David Moyer, Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. The Communion, the House of Bishops, and you yourself have promised our constituency sustained pastoral care: these are the men we ask to have provide it.
The Council has therefore directed me to write you, to ask that, in keeping with the House of Bishops' pledge and your own, you secure within the laws and structures of The Episcopal Church the election and consecration of these two priests as bishops to provide sustained pastoral care to the congregations affiliated with Forward in Faith, North America, and to other congregations which might request such care.
Yours sincerely,

(The Rev'd Canon) Warren Tanghe, SSC
Secretary, FIF/NA

Saturday, August 24, 2002


Once again I want to make the same point - there is as yet only one English language/idiom/dialect/register of prayer. Experiments to create a new one since the 1960s are still in process and are far from conclusive.

I want to emphasize that the prose language of Thomas Cranmer in The Book of the Common Prayer (1549 & 1552) is emphatically not the street language of the sixteenth century. And it is not the normal prose of that period. It was special and formal from the beginning because it was created for a unique task.

In fact the language of The Book of Common Prayer was already formal in 1600, old fashioned in terms of colloquial speech by 1662 and not more obscure in 2000 than it was in 1800.

Cranmer's prose may be said to be unique in that it was prose designed for worship from the very beginning. It was meant to be the English equivalent of the liturgical Latin (rather than the Latin of academia) of divine worship. He sought to provide in English what had been the norm for centuries in Latin.

Each human activity has its own type/style/form of language and it fell to Cranmer (with others) to produce the particular one for religious worship. (The linguistic concept of register is very important here.)

In this language of worship the THOU for the human singular is NOT doctrinally important, though of course it does make a sensitive distinction between address to worshippers collectively ("lift up your hearts") and individually ( thus "which was given for thee"). But for the DIVINE PRONOUNS (thou, thee, thy, thine with their special verb endings) the language of worship quickly acquired and has kept a special note of reverence before God along with a sense of intimacy through communion with God. So it was that children were taught: "We say 'Thou' to God and 'you' to man." And this was maintained in all branches of English-speaking Christendom until the 1960s when the practice began (influenced by the radicalism of the 1960s) of saying: "We say 'you' to God and to man."

But retracting our steps to the sixteenth century, it can be said that by the middle of the sixteenth century (when Cranmer did his fine creative writing) the distinction was growing between YOU as the normative form (for singular and plural) with THOU as the singular only in specific situations - for speech between intimates and for speech of the superior to the inferior in the social class system. (Compare TU in French.) This situation was marked by the end of the century but less marked a century later for YOU had become more universally used of singular and plural in most situations.

The reason why Cranmer used the old system of THOU for singular in all circumstances for both God and man was that this was the usage of TU/TE in his Latin originals (and of course in the Vulgate Bible). He used YOU only once in the singular in the BCP and that was in the Catechism and was meant to indicate that the relation to God through godparents is indirect not intimate (thus "you") but personally and by faith is direct (thus "thou")- thus totally in line with the usage of his day.

The translators of the KJV followed the same principle that Cranmer followed for in both the Greek and Hebrew there are distinctly different words for 2nd singular and 2nd plural. So in the KJV we have THOU and YOU used appropriately. But God who is ONE is never "YOU"; he is always and only the THOU-God.

However, in sermons and addresses to people in churches in the 17th century and afterwards, people were addressed both as individuals and as a plurality as YOU.

Thus in asking that this unique and much used and loved language of worship be available and be used in the 21st century is merely asking that the one and only language of worship known in English before the 1960s be still available for use today in churches and homes. For it is neither more archaic nor antiquarian in 2002 than it was in 1702, 1802, 1902 or 1959. It is simply the specific English language of prayer and worship that had no competitor before the revolutionary 1960s.

August 24th 2002 The Revd Dr Peter Toon

Friday, August 23, 2002

Perfecting YOU language for God

The English language has a vast vocabulary with great variety of usage and pronunciation. Within this language and using its general structure (grammar & syntax) there are specific usages, types or idioms used for specific purposes in particular circumstances. So there is a specific type of English used in the Courts of Law, in the British Houses of Parliament, by commentators on American Football, in books and talk about computers, by scientists in specific fields of study, and so on. To be able fully to appreciate these different forms of English one has to be an insider, familiar with the context. Otherwise one may well think one understands and get the wrong idea of what is being said!

For centuries there has been a language of prayer and worship, a religious form of English, used within the churches for public worship. It may be found in the King James Version of the Bible, The Book of Common Prayer, traditional Hymnody and books of devotion and spirituality. At its minimum this idiom is recognized by the fact that always and everywhere it uses the second person singular pronoun for God. He is always "Thou/Thee" with the accompanying "Thy/Thine." But it is more than a matter of pronouns, it is a matter of style, a particular way of using English grammar and syntax to create a sense of reverence before God, of the need to repent and confess sins before Him, and of intimacy and friendship with Him through Jesus Christ by grace.

This language of prayer and worship was given its familiar form through the work of Tyndale, Coverdale and Cranmer in the sixteenth century and by the translators of the King James Version in the seventeenth century, and then perfected in general use for the next three centuries. Amazingly, in the third millennium it is still known and used but less so than thirty or forty years ago.

In the 1960s the decision was taken simultaneously by many groups - from Roman Catholics through Anglicans to Southern Baptists and with little or no direct cooperation amongst themselves - to address God in the same way that people addressed one another. Evangelicals and Roman Catholics, Liberals and Conservatives, agreed that in order to be relevant to the swiftly changing culture and society (for the 1960s was a revolutionary period for western culture) there had to be a massive up-dating
(aggiornamento) of the language of the church. No distinction was made between the internal language of worship and the external language of evangelism. It was felt that the crying need was for a contemporary form of English by which to speak to God and to speak about him. And to be truly contemporary and appeal to the young, it had to be different from, obviously different from, the traditional language of prayer and worship used in all churches (along with Latin in the R C Church) up to this time (the 1960s).

The euphoria of the time caused many to think that the production of such a language was relatively straightforward - just imitate the way that reasonably educated, but not too educated, people speak to one another and add where necessary some theological vocabulary, or look for the common denominator in everyday speech and seek to use that as the basis. There were a few, usually linguists, who studied the English language professionally and were convinced that to produce a contemporary English style for worship was easy to state but very difficult, even near impossible, to achieve. One member of the Church of England Liturgical Commission, Dr Stella Brooks, a linguist from Manchester University, pointed out the difficulties and problems to her colleagues on the Commission in the mid 1960s but she was not taken seriously by them or by the house of bishops. The general feeling was that the production of a contemporary language of prayer which addressed God as YOU was possible and only by making the effort would it be achieved.

The New English Bible, which belongs to the early 1960s, had gone some way to providing a contemporary language that could be called a new religious English but yet it had not taken the big step of addressing God as You. This revolution came with the Good News Bible in 1966 and 1967, and then appeared in an increasing number of versions as the next decade rolled by. Again these versions were criticised by competent and experienced linguists as being nothing less than bad English and not even genuinely contemporary, but the critics were dismissed as being mere traditionalists (a dirty word then and now).

Meanwhile the Vatican had decided that the Mass should be in the vernacular and that there would be one form of English for the Mass for use in the whole English-speaking world. Those who were given this task of translation were told to produce a modern rendering of the Latin original, a translation that could be used wherever people spoke English. Regrettably, none of those directly involved apparently had any experience of such work before and none had carefully studied the traditional English language of prayer to discover its genius and logic. Yet they went ahead and produced the new Mass and Roman Catholics began to address God as "You" and say, "and also with you" to the priest when he said to them, "The Lord be with you."

So by the 1970s the decision to create a contemporary language of prayer had produced a variety of attempts, each based upon different principles (e.g., "dynamic equivalency" in translation) and each working with a different definition of what is contemporary English. There were attempts to agree on how certain common texts, like the Creed and the Lord's Prayer, should be translated but this was only minimally successful.

So it is not surprising that not any of the texts produced - whether liturgy or version of the Bible - lasted very long. They were revised and revised again. Meanwhile people lost the discipline and the art of memorising Scripture portions or beautiful prayers.

Further, having gone into the contemporary mode it was felt necessary by liturgical experts in the pursuit of relevance to accommodate to contemporary pressures to adapt the language to create or to mirror social change. The most obvious example of such pressures were the changes made - and still being made - to make women feel that they are included in the church and taken note of by God. This involved the dropping of the generic "man" and the pronoun "he," the adding of "sisters" to "brothers" and even the cessation of naming God as "Father" and "King" and "Lord."

Feminism today, civil rights and peace with justice yesterday, lesbigay concerns today, and what tomorrow will the Liturgy be asked to take note of and celebrate?

Then, to make the task more difficult, modern experts find that there is no longer an English Bible to draw upon and to be influenced by. There is a Babel of versions on the market and in use, but which should be used and how long will it be available before being updated or revised?

So the modern changing social climate and cultural context, the international dimension [as English is a world-wide language], the demands of the feminists and other groups, and the lack of a common Bible, make the task of producing a modern and contemporary language of prayer to be exceedingly difficult.

What we can expect in the immediate future is a variety of efforts that are short-lived and that vary in quality and depth. And this will possibly be as true of the Roman Catholics as the Protestants, although instructions from the Vatican in recent days suggest that we can expect an improved English being used in prayer in the massive Roman Catholic Church.

Christians affected by this constant change will certainly have the intensifying feeling that they are pilgrims and sojourners in this world and will look forward in hope all the more to speaking classical Hebrew in heaven! And not being wholly sure of the true identity of the new YOU-God because of much change they will the more faithfully look forward in hope to seeing the glory of the Father in the face of Jesus the Christ as they are indwelt by the Holy Ghost.

Thus the virtue of hope is being stimulated by much change on earth, as is also the virtue of patience!

Meanwhile, in the English-speaking world, a minority ask for tolerance and space to be able to continue to use the traditional language of prayer and to follow what in 1760 John Wesley told the children. "We say 'Thou' to God and 'you' to man."

August 23, 2002

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Is ABBA the THOU-God or the YOU-God?

In response to my brief tracts on the contrast between the THOU-God and the YOU-God, I received the following response from a distinguished Anglican gentleman who is in holy orders.

"Don't you remember that Jesus brought the revolution with "Abba, Father." The intimate form. There is a place for the formal. There is also a place for the informal, even in liturgy."

In response, let me say that I do not remember that Jesus is the cause of the 1960s revolution in the way that the Churches address God in worship. I see the cause as the Zeitgeist, which in part I am told comes from God's enemy called Satan! But I take it that he means that, from the 1960s, the church began to talk to God as people talked to each other on the street, and this innovation was similar to the way in which Jesus talked to God, for he took a key word from the language used in the Jewish home and made it into prayer language.

But let us try to determine precisely what he is saying.

He refers to "the revolution" and by this intends my contention that the 1960s brought a revolution not only in culture & society but also in the addressing of God in public worship. Nowhere before that revolutionary decade had any main-line/old-line church used "You" of God in public prayer and certainly not in written texts that we call liturgy. The THOU-God reigned supreme in all God-language in Bible translations used, in hymnody sung and in liturgies and prayers addressed to heaven until the 1960s. Then from 1970's the YOU-God took over.

He refers to intimacy. In English there is a second person singular, THOU, and a second person plural, YOU. Certainly from the 17th century (at least) onwards YOU was used both for singular and plural as it is today [for evidence see the large Oxford English Dictionary]. However, as you can see in Shakespeare's plays for example, THOU is the language of intimacy and familiarity in the 17th century and onwards (my father's generation in Yorkshire used "thou" in such a way in the family in the 20th century). So the language of intimacy in English is traditionally the "Thou" form - " I love thee!" So it may be said that if we want intimacy with God we should be revolutionary and, rejecting the common "you" of today, dare to use Thou."

But let us look at the word "Abba" upon which my good friend builds his case. This is not an English word, not even a Hebrew or Greek word. It is an Aramaic word and it appears three times in the New Testament without translation -- once on the lips of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:36 where it means "my dear Father" or "O dear Father" ) and twice from the pen of Paul (Romans 8:15 & Galatians 4:6). In the latter two cases it is joined as a total expression to the Greek definite article "ho" and the Greek noun, "Pater" (thus literally, "Abba, the Father"), and this combination suggests use in this form in early Christian worship. (See further J. Jeremias, "The Prayers of Jesus," pp.11-65.)

Certainly in contrast to the rabbis of his time, Jesus was revolutionary in addressing God by this Aramaic word "Abba" ["my dear father"] taken from the language of the intimate Jewish Palestinian family circle -- specifically the way a boy spoke to his father when he felt close to him. So "Abba" is a way of speaking that presupposes an intimate relation between the speaker and the person who is addressed, and it also at the same time - given the culture of the OT & Judaism - presupposes an intimacy within a patriarchal order (and thus includes profound respect as well). Thus "Abba" as a form of address is both intimate and respectful. It was never merely a familiar term, but always reverent in its intimacy. It was never sloppy and sentimental but solid, respectful even as it was intimate.

The first Christians heard Jesus pray "Abba" and it so impressed them that even when they were using Greek (the language spoken through much of the Roman Empire and used by the early Church) they joined "Abba" to the Greek "ho Pater" to establish that they were praying in the Name of Jesus to God his Father - thus the usage preserved by Paul (who understood Aramaic, Hebrew & Greek) in Galatians and Romans.

So the usage "Abba, the Father" or "Abba, O Father" by Christians is based upon grace and mercy that we, sinners, can address the God and "Abba" of Jesus as "Abba, O Father." So we are saying, "Our dear Father" or the like. Let us remember that Jesus alone, the only-begotten and unique Son, can truly say "My Father." He taught us to pray "Our Father." not "My Father." For "in, with and through him" we are related to his Father as our Father.

Certainly we can and, in grace, should pray "Abba, ho Pater" in both the fixed portions of formal Liturgy and informal Prayer Sessions within Liturgy. Or if we are not congregations that use no fixed liturgy then in our prayers and in our hymnody. And when it comes to the use of the pronoun for the "Abba" who is our Father then if we strictly follow the New Testament it will have to be the most accurate form of the second person singular available to us which is THOU [remember that in doctrine the Father is one Father and thus singular, even as the Trinity is One God (thus
singular) even while being Three Persons].

So I suggest that the use by our Lord Jesus Christ of "Abba" points to exactly the opposite to what my good friend believes it points. It does not in any way shape or form support the revolution of the 1960s but undergirds the language of prayer in the KJV, RSV and the BCP. As John Wesley expressed to the children at his Kingsmead School in 1760: " We say 'Thou' to God and 'you' to man." And that is how it is in the 4,000 hymns from the Wesley brothers!

Let us in public worship and in ex tempore reverent prayer address the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in the way that Jesus taught us, "Abba, ho Pater." Thus "Our Father, the Father of Jesus, hallowed by thy name!"

August 22nd, 2002

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Sin, Community, Celebration & the YOU-God

Briefly I want to indicate that from the 1960s the new definitions of sin, the search for community and an emphasis upon celebration required the new YOU-God, the caring, ever-present, Deity, the God of immanence known in the here and now. The old THOU-God of the pre-1960s King James Version of the Bible and Book of Common Prayer just did not fit the bill. He was too transcendent, majestic, and holy and over concerned with redemption & eternity and thus with heaven and hell.

Let us begin by recalling that the culture of the 1960s put the human self into the forefront and called for everyone not only to be afforded dignity but also to possess self-respect and to pursue self-realization and self-fulfilment. So to have a low self-esteem was seen as a serious psychological fault to be remedied by psychotherapy. Religion with its community of faith serving the YOU-God was expected to be supportive of the psychotherapy and rejoiced to be so.

The description of sin, the calls for repentance from sin, and the confessions of sin found in the ancient Book of Common Prayer and old devotional books were seen as leading people into low self-esteem, or confirming them in such. This form of piety attempted to humble human beings in the dust before an omnipotent God, the THOU-God, making them feel themselves to be guilty, sinful creatures and to cry out, "There is no health in us!" before they could receive redemption.

What was needed, it was felt in the 1960s, was a more educated and realistic understanding of sin as mistakes and errors of the individual and community, rather than an incurable cancer of the soul leading to mindless acts of rebellion against the transcendent THOU-God. Only before the immanent and affirming YOU-God could such a new appreciation and understanding of sin in self and others be held.

And to make sure that affirming selves did not even attempt to plumb the depths of self-abasement required by the old religion, it was often emphasized that the assembly of the new style Christian community is for Celebration. That is a joyful gathering and affirmation before the YOU-God, rejoicing in all that he means and provides.

The primary assembly, the parish Eucharist, was held in mid-Sunday morning and participation was seen as the badge of membership and the statement of belonging, and the central act of celebration. In this act, which created and confirmed community, creation with its gifts and bounty were celebrated, and this affirmation found practical expression in environmental concerns. Celebration of God's justice and righteousness easily found expression in concerns in the world for human dignity, peace and justice for all peoples. Then the spiritual gifts of the YOU-God through and in Jesus Christ were celebrated, leading to an emphasis upon life, living life to the full and for others. Further, there was celebration of solidarity in community, given vivid expression in the extended passing of the peace.

If still permitted celebration before the THOU-God using the old rite was pushed to 7.30 or 8.a.m. and not much advertised. It was seen as a concession to the old and infirm, those who were unlikely to join the vibrant community of faith for they were stuck in their individualism and frozen in their habits, but yet [and this could not be discounted] they were those who helped to pay a sizeable proportion of the bills.

In this Order for Holy Communion addressed to the THOU-God there was no music, only minimal ceremonial to accompany the words. While there was thanksgiving for creation and its gifts the primary emphasis before the THOU-God was on the redemption from this fallen world by the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary's cross. By his blood there is forgiveness and redemption for repentant sinners leading to membership through Christ of the mystical Body of Christ and fellowship/communion one w ith another and supremely with God the Father.

We need not labor the point that this theme of redemption from sin and the fullness of life in heaven with the THOU-God stands in contrast to the abundant life on this earth in peace and justice with the YOU-God.

Let us continue by emphasizing that from the 1960s one cultural current inimical to the retention of the BCP & the KJV and traditional hymnody with its THOU-God was a concern for Christian COMMUNITY, which was presented as a positive response to contemporary individualism and atomisation. Liturgical reformers looked for a recovery of organic relationships within a Church set over against a fractured society.

Expressions like "God's Frozen People" in vogue at the time portrayed rows of people boxed and immobilised in pews, using an old prayer book, Bible and hymnbook with outdated language, and worshipping the THOU-God.

Liturgists decided that these unfortunate people had to be unfrozen and integrated into the new community and so the communitarian impulse from the zealous reformers found expression in various ways (which are not all bad in themselves but were directed to a questionable end!). Here are some of them:

1. The use of the Kiss of Peace/Passing of the Peace was attractive for it offered to unfreeze people in their private space.

2. Baptism had to be in the main service on a Sunday and not semi-privately at Noon or in the Afternoon. No private baptisms - infants and families must be on public view and publicly made part of the community of faith.

3. Community of Faith became a sacred term even though not a biblical model for the church. Koinonia also was now translated as "community" instead of "communion" or "fellowship."

4. Relationship became a sacred term both God-ward and humankind-ward.

5. There was a preference for circles and half circles for worship to allow direct eye contact and to make the minister a real part of the community. Gone were the catholic eastward and the evangelical north-side celebrations! The minister looked westwards towards his/her people who faced him/her in the divine circle or half-circle.

6. The Creed was changed from "I" [which it had been as Credo for 15 centuries in the Mass] to "We" to make its recital an act of the community not of isolated individuals.

7. All-member ministry and shared ministry became the norms and so as many as possible had to have a part in the service and ministry, whether or not they were competent in music or reading or whatever.

8. Music became that of the common denominator which meant that classical church music was seriously neglected.

9. Sharing, proximity and cooperation were emphasized and differences minimized.

10. Shared and fellow feeling (immanence) took precedence over reverence and awe (transcendence) in worship services and especially in "the Eucharist." The YOU-God was in the celebration of togetherness and community.

11. No learning by heart or memorisation of Bible and Liturgy but rather an experience of the REAL through variety of rites and forms of and versions of the Bible used in the community worship and teaching.

12. A dumbing down in quality and standards in order to make all feel good, and with a general emphasis upon the therapeutic dimensions of pastoral care.

13. An appeal [often spurious] to the Early Church in justification of some of the above practices to give them a superiority over BCP forms and ways

So it was that God in, with and through all the community and its activities needed to be addressed in ordinary speech - just like the members of the community addressed each other -- thus YOU. To use THOU was to hanker after the old religion and to make God outdated, remote and irrelevant. It was also to destroy the modern, community faith and spirit. So modern liturgy, modern Version of Bible and modern songs and choruses are addressed to the YOU-God for they belong to each other.

August 20, 2002

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

Sunday, August 18, 2002


The English language in its high flexibility has the ability to form relative clauses, an asset not shared by other languages as diverse as Welsh and Hebrew. This confers upon English both convenience and accuracy of expression as well as rhetorical power in the construction of long sentences. It can be well studied in The Book of Common Prayer (1549 & 1662 & USA 1928) where it is embodied in the English (Anglican) language of prayer for it occurs in numerous Collects and Prayers. We owe this presence to the hand of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, who perfected in English translation what he found [Deus qui] in some of the Latin originals with which he worked.

Of the 45 Collects that use the relative clause in the B.C.P. (1549) there was already such a clause in the original Latin of 36 of them. Further, Cranmer made use of the relative clause in no less than seven of the Collects for Saint's Days. And of the total of 82 Collects in the BCP there is no relative clause in 36 of them (including a blank run from Trinity XIV to Trinity XXII), leaving 46 of them with it.

The Prayer of Consecration and Relative Clauses

This said, the most attractive and interesting (perhaps unique) use and exploitation of the relative clause on a big scale is in the Prayer of Consecration in the Order for the Administration of the Lord's Supper. Here the opening address to & invocation of God ("Almighty God, our heavenly Father") is followed not by one relative clause but by two, with one inside the other: "which of thy tender mercy didst give." and "who by his one oblation of himself." And on the wings of these two relative clauses the single, vast and profound sentence soars to its first exclamatory climax, "Hear us, O merciful Father." And, importantly, it is in another relative clause ("who in the same night that he was betrayed.") that the actual words of consecration are framed and thus the Words of Institution remain part of the Consecration Prayer.

If Cranmer's Prayer is compared with the Latin prayer in the Sarum Missal we find that the formula of consecration there is in a subordinate clause, "who, the day before he suffered, took bread"; but if we may dare say so, the whole exordium is less attractively constructed in Latin than in Cranmer's English.

In modern Eucharistic Liturgies in English the architectural structure of the Prayer of Consecration has been demolished, usually with the removal of the first two relative pronouns & clauses. Instead of the people of God being reminded of what their God is to them and has done for them by use of carefully constructed relative clauses, the Deity himself is told by his creatures of what he has done in words such as these: "You gave your only Son.." [which invites the response from Heaven, "Oh! Did I do so?"]

Reverence before God assisted by appropriate words

Indeed, one of the many differences between the classic language of prayer in The Book of Common Prayer and the "contemporary language" in post 1970s Anglican liturgies is in the contrast of attitude in prayer as created by the form of words used. In the former idiom, language is stretched and poetically formed in order to produce reverence and awe before Almighty God who is the merciful One, while in the latter it tends to be used in a commonplace and pedestrian manner in order to make worshippers feel welcomed by and near unto God, present amongst them. Perhaps this is to overstate it, but such may be argued rather convincingly.

Taken over from the Latin idiom of prayer and developed by Cranmer, the use of the relative clause became one of the means used by the Anglican language of prayer to be reverent and humble before God while, at the same time, recognizing that in Christ Jesus and by divine revelation we have been brought near unto the Father and have by his design a duty to ask petitions of him that he will grant. Thus there is both a logical and a linguistic use of the relative clause. Its use is a means by which the worshippers point out to God in a suitably humble and reverent way that he has both the means and the propensity to grant the petition.

In the Communion Service the relative clause may be seen in the Collect for Purity:

"Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse." [Modern liturgies proceed to inform God by saying "Almighty God to you all hearts are open and desires known.."]

It is also there in the Absolution: "Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all them that with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; pardon and deliver you from all your sins.."

Finally, as we have seen, it is there in glorious proportions in the one sublime prayer that is the Prayer of Consecration.

And of course it is there in the Communion Service in many of the Collects used on Sundays and Saint's Days. Here are two examples from the many:

"Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve: Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy." [Trinity XII]

Almighty and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do grant unto thee true and laudable service: Grant, we beseech thee.." [Trinity XIII]

Contemporary Language of Prayer

The usual way that these and others have been rendered into "contemporary English" is not by using the "You" form for the "Thou" but by abandoning the relative clause altogether. Thus we get, "Almighty God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray." etc.

And sometimes when the use of the relative clause has been maintained in the contemporary English, the form of the verb has been wrong! This is seen in "The Book of Common Prayer for use in the Church in Wales" where not a few Collects have bad grammar. For example, "Almighty God, who has [have!] created the heavens and the earth." and "Almighty God, who shows [show!] to those who are in error the light of the truth." [In the address to God "Thou hast" becomes "You have" and "Thou showest" becomes "You show".]

In this case, and all cases where this approach is used (and it is often in modern prayer books), the pronoun-and-verb forces upon the Almighty information about himself. It can do no other for the English language does not provide for the juxtaposition of the prayed vocative and an independent clause of statement. The manner in which the information is imparted in this new prayer language presumes a God who listens, but the minister moves out of prayer for a few seconds whilst he enters into what looks like [at best] a vote of thanks for services rendered and [at worst] congratulates himself/herself on his/her powers of understanding in relation to Deity.

If the aim of the liturgist is to cater for the lowest common denominator and to make what he writes to be immediately intelligible and accessible to everyone on first hearing it, then the use of the relative clause in prayer language is probably out. The way forward is to say, "You are God and we praise you," and the like.

However, it is now in 2002 that the Vatican, which in the late 1960s pioneered the move into the most accessible forms of the vernacular for the translation of the Latin Mass, is calling for the restoration of the DEUS QUI, the relative clause, to prayers and collects in English where it is there already in the Latin originals! Amazing turn around.

(For more sophisticated discussion of this and related matters see the brilliant essay, "The Question of Style", by Ian Robinson in the book, "The Real Common Worship," edited by Peter Mullen from Edgeways Books, The Brynmill Press, Norfolk, IP20 0AS - ISBN 0 907839 67 3 --- )

The Revd Dr Peter Toon Trinity XII in 2002

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

Friday, August 16, 2002


Here is the SUBSTANCE (without personal references and allusions) of an address I expect to give within the marriage services I shall take this weekend of couples who are graduate students:

In the marriage service the bride and the bridegroom each say several times, “ I will.” They do not say “Yes” or “I do” but “I will.” This form of the verb is not by accident but is based on both sound teaching and experience of relations in marriage.

First, think of “will.” Let us agree that this form of the verb points to INTENTION, PURPOSE, DECISION and COMMITMENT.

It is rooted not in raw and unstable emotions, feelings and affections that ebb and flow like the ocean tides. Not in the raw and passionate love that is celebrated in many popular songs. Rather “will” is rooted in the conviction and determination of the mind to act and behave in a certain way towards the other.

Therefore the use of WILL emphasises that love, true love, genuine love, lasting love is rooted not so much in the affections as in the mind/will. Love is a committed intention & purpose to do good to the other person, to think of his or her true good and always to work to that end.

Now think of the “I” in “I will”.

Here we have to think very carefully. For many younger people today the “I” is the mix of feelings that they have about themselves, those feelings that are unique to the specific individual. So I am unique because of the unique feelings that I have of myself, of others and of things in general. And of course this modern understanding of who I am is much fortified and encouraged by the media, by pop songs and modern culture.

But the more sensible understanding of “I”, and one upon which this marriage service and the Christian religion is based, is that of personal identity – that is, the I/ ego, is rooted in personal relations.

So if I ask, “Who are you?” the answer is NOT: “I am I myself with my own unique feelings possessed only by me;” BUT “I am who I am because of unique relations, relations of order. I am the daughter of my parents, the sister of my brother, the granddaughter of my grandparents, the cousin of my the children of my uncles and aunts and so on.”

Personal identity is rooted in the fact that I am a unique creature of God the Creator and that I am related in the order of creation to specific fellow human beings.

Thus the “I” who says “I will” has both a very specific identity as a human being and a very specific commitment, intention and purpose to do good unto the other.

Now to complete this reflection, in this marriage service the relatedness of the “I” and the range of the “ I will” are both being extended. The relations of identity now include a spouse who takes first place amongst the relatives; and the meaning of “will” to do good is directed specifically and for all time under all conditions to that spouse.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

Monday, August 12, 2002

On the Language of Worship: Liturgy, Bible Versions and Hymnody - 1960-2000

From the vantage point of 2002 and looking back into the last century, we can see three basic phases to the massive linguistic changes that took place in translating the Bible, creating Liturgies and producing hymns for the English-speaking parts of the Christian Church... Read More

Saturday, August 10, 2002

You = Thou in the Catechism (1549, 1662, 1928) of the BCP – or does it?

Today people [even those “experts” who produce modern language services for the churches] assume that “you” was not used in 16th century English to refer to an individual person. In those far off times, it is believed, people always said to one person, “Thou art” and to more than one “You are.”

There is of course truth in this but it is not the whole truth. “You” is used as the second person singular and thus as equivalent grammatically to “Thou” from well before the reign of Henry VIII (See “You” the Oxford Dictionary for examples).

The Revd Dr Peter Toon

Eight bishops propose new plenary council of U.S. (Roman Catholic) church

PLENARY COUNCIL Aug-6-2002 (850 words) xxxn
By Jerry Filteau
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Eight U.S. bishops have asked their fellow prelates to consider convoking a national plenary council to promote holiness, priestly celibacy and sound sexual morality in the U.S. Catholic Church.

Such a council would be the first in the United States since the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1884, which lasted nearly a month and led to the development of the Baltimore Catechism and strong efforts for Catholic schools throughout the country.

In a letter sent to the bishops in mid-July and obtained by Catholic News Service Aug. 6, the group said the bishops "took a first step in dealing with the crisis of sexual abuse of minors" at their June meeting in Dallas.

The letter added, however, that the bishops still need to address "the root causes of this crisis" and the challenge posed by Pope John Paul II April 23 when he called on the American hierarchy to "bring a purification of the entire Catholic community ... a holier priesthood, a holier episcopate and a holier church."

The proposal calls for the plenary council to have the aims of:

-- "Solemnly receiving the authentic teaching" of the Second Vatican Council and postconciliar teachings on the identity, life and ministry of priests and bishops, on sexual morality in general and on celibate chastity as an authentic form of human sexuality.

-- "Giving unequivocal endorsement and normative force to the means" set out in church teaching "to foster the acts of virtue required of pastors and the means needed to achieve those virtues, especially celibate chastity."

-- "Confirming the bishops in the authoritative exercise of our ministry" and strengthening priests in teaching the Gospel "especially in regard to sexual morality, so that we can give support to the lay faithful in responding to their call to holiness."

It asks the bishops to bring the question of a plenary council to a debate and vote when they gather in Washington this November for the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It calls for the bishops to designate the metropolitan archbishops of the country as the members of a general preparatory commission that would have chief responsibility to work out the preparations for a council.

In a five-page background paper two of the signers, Auxiliary Bishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit and Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Helena, Mont., outlined what the proposed plenary council would do and some of the pros and cons of convening such a council.

The others who signed the letter were Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin of Hartford, Conn.; Archbishop James P. Keleher of Kansas City, Kan.; Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb of Mobile, Ala.; Archbishop John G. Vlazny of Portland, Ore.; Bishop Raymond L. Burke of La Crosse, Wis.; and Bishop Daniel N. DiNardo of Sioux City, Iowa.

CNS was unable to reach any of the eight for comment Aug. 6.

One of the recipients, Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly of Louisville, Ky., said he was not convinced that the bishops should call a plenary council at this time, "but I'm very willing to listen to the arguments in a debate over this."

The idea of a plenary council "is very much alive in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. One of the tasks of the episcopal conference is to see if we think we need one," he said. "It's a legitimate form of coming together" to deal with pastoral issues confronting the church, he added.

The code says, "A plenary council, that is, one for all the particular churches of the same conference of bishops, is to be celebrated whenever it seems necessary or useful to the conference of bishops, with the approval of the Apostolic See."

It adds that it is up to the bishops' conference to convoke such a council, to decide where it is to be held, to select a president -- subject to Vatican approval -- and to set the agenda, topics to be treated and its opening and duration. The conference also can decide to transfer, extend or dissolve a council.

All diocesan bishops, coadjutors and auxiliaries in the territory of the bishops' conference and bishops who work in the territory by Vatican or bishops' conference assignment are automatic council members with a deliberative vote. Retired bishops can be invited, and if they are, they have a deliberative vote.

The code spells out a number of other participants who have a consultative voice in a plenary council but not a deliberative vote. These include all the vicars general and episcopal vicars throughout the territory, a determined number of representatives of major superiors of religious orders, rectors of all Catholic universities and deans of faculties of theology and canon law, and a determined number of seminary rectors.

Other priests and lay Catholics can be invited to participate with a consultative voice, but their number is not to exceed half the total of the other participants combined.

In addition, the bishops' conference can invite others, such as representatives of other churches, as guests.


Tuesday, August 06, 2002



From the Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Wales and Bishop of Monmouth

Tuesday, 23rd July

My dear friends,

You will be hearing today the news that I have accepted appointment as
Archbishop of Canterbury. My first reason for writing is to ask for your
prayers; I am deeply thankful that we are not strangers to each other, and I
hope that the friendships formed in the Primates' Meetings will continue and
flourish as we work together under God. At the moment, I am chiefly
conscious of bringing to the task only the fear, the confusion and the sense
of inadequacy that come from my personal resources. I have to trust that God
will give (not least through your fellowship and intercession) what is needed
-and that I shall have the grace to receive and respond to what he gives.

I also write because I know that some disquiet has been expressed over the
possibility of my appointment because of what are believed to be my views on
certain questions, in particular on human sexuality. On this matter, I wish
to say two things. First, an archbishop is not someone elected to fulfil a
programme or manifesto of his own devising, but to serve the whole Communion.
He does not have the freedom to prescribe belief for the Church at large. I
have indeed in the past written briefly on the subject of theology and
sexuality, and hope that what I have written has contributed to the
continuing discussion; but my ideas have no authority beyond that of an
individual theologian. Second, the Lambeth resolution of 1998 declares
clearly what is the mind of the overwhelming majority in the Communion, and
what the Communion will and will not approve or authorise. I accept that any
individual diocese or even province that officially overturns or repudiates
this resolution poses a substantial problem for the sacramental unity of the

In both respects, I have to distinguish plainly between personal theories
and interpretations and the majority conviction of my Church, and have always
tried to make such a distinction when I have been questioned on this subject.
Since the Lambeth resolution also commends continuing reflection on these
matters, my main hope will be to try and maintain a mutually respectful
climate for such reflection, in the sort of shared prayerful listening to
Scripture envisaged by Lambeth. I hope too, very earnestly, that we can hold
to the urgent common priority of mission and evangelism, and avoid the
temptation of becoming trapped in questions where the politics of our culture
sets the agenda. I believe with all my heart that through Christ we are
given a unique and immeasurable gift, and that all our work as apostles and
pastors and teachers must grow from our thankfulness to God.

Once again, I ask your continuing prayers, and hope that we shall be able to
work together in love and trust. I rely on all of you to 'speak the truth in
love' to me and to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to me so that I may
be strengthened to speak for Christ to others. This comes with warm
affection and gratitude.

In Christ,

Monday, August 05, 2002

Do "mankind" and "man" really exclude or include women?

An answer from a brilliant Victorian woman!

The translator into English of the famous German book, Wesen des Christentums (1841) by Ludwig Feuerbach was George Eliot (= Marian Evans) and she entitled it, The Essence of Christianity (1854).

Here is one small part of this brilliant woman's choice translation:

"What is virtue, the excellence of man as man? Manhood. Of man as woman? Womanhood. But man exists only as man and woman. The strength, the healthiness of man, consists, therefore, in this: that as a woman he be truly woman, as man, truly man." (page 91)

Oh that we could say today with this Victorian feminist -- "that as a woman he be truly woman" - and not be found guilty of a major crime against humanity!

We recall that certain stigmatized words (by liturgists and biblical translators) such as "man" and mankind" do have feminine equivalents (woman, womankind), BUT whereas the feminine has traditionally been used to DISTINGUISH, and to EXCLUDE the male counterpart, the masculine has traditionally been taken as always INCLUDING the female.

Then can we bowdlerize virtually all hymns written before 1970?

Think of John Henry Newman's

Manhood taken by the Son.
And I trust and hope most fully
In that manhood crucified.


O generous love, that he who smote
In man for man the foe
The double agony in man
For man should undergo.

Or Wesley:

Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus our Immanuel.
Born that man no more may die!

How can we change these and keep any purpose in the verses?
I close with the Creed:
Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven.

If we leave out "men" we change the doctrine of the Creed!

Dr Peter Toon August 5, 2002

Sunday, August 04, 2002

Moscow Patriarchate Says Preaching by Catholics "Unacceptable" New Attack on Religious Liberty in Russia

MOSCOW, JULY 31, 2002 ( The Russian Orthodox Church has denied the Catholic Church the right "to preach the Gospel to all people," particularly in territories under the Moscow Patriarchate.

The patriarchate made that announcement through its Department for External Church Relations. The department published a statement after the Catholic Church responded to the agency's charges of "proselytism."

The response forms part of the letters sent by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Catholic Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz at Moscow.

The Orthodox patriarchate stated that in the letters, the "Catholic hierarchs insist on the right of their Church 'to preach the Gospel to all people.'" It adds, "This position is unacceptable for the Russian Orthodox Church."

"From the experience of the last years, we know that by this they mean missionary work aiming to convert to Catholicism as many people as possible, including those who belong to Orthodoxy both by baptism and national and cultural tradition," the patriarchate's statement says.

"All these facts not only complicate dialogue with the Vatican and its Church structures in Russia and other countries of the commonwealth, but also make it doomed to failure beforehand," the document adds.

"An even more serious damage to relations between the two Churches has been caused by the recent Vatican decision to establish new dioceses in historically Orthodox regions of Ukraine," it further states.

The statement says: "No lesser concern is aroused by the plans of the leadership of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church to move from Lviv to Kiev and establish their patriarchate there."

The original accusations of proselytism were presented in a letter by Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, chairman of the patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations.

Cardinal Kasper and Archbishop Kondrusiewicz said that the problem in the dispute consisted in defining the world "proselytism."

Cardinal Kasper previously explained: "'If a women's religious congregation is called, for example, 'Missionaries of the Sacred Heart,' the fact that the name includes the term 'missionary' is not a proof for the accusation of proselytism. The Church itself is missionary, but it does not proselytize." (See

"There are many facts that are not convincing, and yet it is possible to engage in dialogue," the cardinal had added. "The Holy See's policy with the Russian Orthodox Church is clear: We want dialogue, we want collaboration, we reject proselytism, we want ecumenism, we want to promote the pastoral care of our Catholics."

The Holy See believes that the Orthodox refusal to allow the Catholic Church to have its own hierarchy in the country is a serious attack against religious liberty.

In recent statements (see, Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states, reminded the Orthodox that this position is a violation of the final document of the 1989 Vienna Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which the Russian Federation has followed.

Thursday, August 01, 2002


Are these laudable aims?

It has been assumed by the majority of those pushing for liturgical reform since the 1950s in the Roman Catholic Church that key ingredients of new Rites (Liturgies with attached symbolism & ceremonial) should be simplicity, intelligibility, development of community & a theatrical role for the Celebrant & ministers. Within the Anglican Churches it has been a similar story with similar ingredients, with "relevance to/for modern people" being a high priority.

It may be argued that the Church has a duty to make her message to the world, of the Lord God the Creator who is also the Redeemer through His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, as simple and intelligible as possible. Not simplistic but simple in the sense of introducing as few difficult concepts and words as possible. Yet as St Paul declares "No man can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Ghost" (1 Corinthians 12:3). Evangelism without the effective work of the Holy Ghost in the human mind and heart will never succeed even if be simple as simple can be. And minds touched by the Holy Ghost understand much more truth than without that divine illumination and inspiration.

But back to public worship & common prayer in the house of the Lord. Let us look briefly at the emphases of modern liturgists.

SIMPLICITY There is no evidence that a simple form of service is more effective in leading people to God than an elaborate, lavish and elaborate service. Likewise there is no evidence that the simplest form of English in terms of vocabulary, grammar and syntax is more effective in leading people to God than a rich form of English in terms of its vocabulary, rhythm and sentence construction. The art of lifting the soul from the cares and joys of this world to the heights of heaven is not necessarily achieved in the shortest, quickest and simplest manner be it of words or symbolism.

INTELLIGIBILITY It is doubtful whether making every part of the service as clear as possible (in terms of modern notions of clarity) does justice to the fact that the engagement in worship is with the supernatural, the transcendent and ultimately the infinite and eternal God who makes himself known as he will. The relation that is established in worship with God is of such a nature as to stretch language in several directions so that scientific intelligibility is not a realistic aim. The intelligibility that is to be sought in the language of worship belongs to the unique sphere of the worshipper actually engaging in communion with the Lord God. For this the language of poetry and metaphor of sign and symbolism is more appropriate. And this is so, in fact supremely so, even when we allow for the important fact of the Incarnation of the Son of God and his presence as the exalted Lord with the worshippers through the Holy Ghost.

COMMUNITY The effort to create community, to make people feel they belong to one another and thus to God in this or that local congregation, must by its nature put the emphasis upon what we may call the horizontal rather than the vertical, that is on the immanent rather on the transcendent. The Christian Hope is that of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come within the new Household of God, the Body of Christ. In this world only a taste and sampling of this future fullness of communion is possible. If the emphasis in worship is upon God and by his grace upon the heavenly calling and the future fellowship/communion, then there is likelihood that a real foretaste of this will be known in the assembly. But community as community is not a worthy end of public worship and leads to over-use and mis-use of such things as the passing of the peace!

LITURGICAL AGENCY. THE ROLE OF THE MINISTER(S). When the minister(s) are covered by robes or vestments and when they use a well-established service in traditional language where one part follows another smoothly and without announcement, then their role is not that of an individual named Joe or Jean doing his or her thing, but of an official minister of the Church of God. Here the laity participate spiritually, often in silence, and they only make a noise when singing or engaging in public responses. The ministers are part of the Liturgy and they facilitate it so that it may be the means of leading people to God. The aim is to lift up the soul to God as he in grace descends to assist in that uplifting.

But when the minister takes on the role of the actor, plays a part, reveals his or her personality, makes everyone feel wanted and welcome, and guides the people through the service with explanations and light-hearted comments and expects them to participate in obvious ways, then the whole orientation is not vertical but horizontal. God is seen as present in the horizontal experience.

Thus, Simplicity has to be joined to complexity, Intelligibility to mystery and Community to communion (koinonia) and the theatrical role of the minister has to decrease, if there is to be worship of the Father through the Son and with the Holy Ghost.

It seems to be the case that the rejection of the accumulated wisdom of the centuries beginning in the liturgical revolution of the 1960s and 1970s has led to an understanding of worship and to forms of worship which seem to be more for the self-development of human beings than for the adoration and greater glory of God as God. This modern form of worship is seen everywhere from the entertainment-type worship of the interdenominational community church to the modern folk mass of the Roman Catholic parish. It exists on the horizontal plane and aspires not to the vertical.

Happily there is a still a remnant found across the denominational spectrum which believes that the chief purpose of Christian humanity is to adore God and in adoring the Blessed Trinity to enjoy and glorify him for ever, unto ages of ages.

August 1st, 2002

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America