Archaism in Liturgy and Prayer

Discussion in 'Sacraments and Liturgy' started by SirPalomides, Nov 22, 2017.

  1. SirPalomides

    SirPalomides Active Member

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    Since Anglican books, such as the BCP and the King James Bible, are such foundational sources of prayerful language for English-speaking Christians, I thought I'd pick your brains regarding the contemporary question of whether our prayers should persist in retaining the use of the idiom variously called "archaic," "Elizabethan," "traditional English" etc. I know in my communion (Orthodox) it is a mild controversy among English-speakers, with vociferous proponents and opponents. I see sound arguments on either side, and I'm curious how this plays out among Anglicans. My impression is that most or all traditional Anglican jurisdictions retain the use of the classic texts or conservative modifications thereof. Even when vocabulary is updated basic grammatical structures remain in the old style (e.g. "thou [verb]est"). But this is just my observation of Anglicans in North America and I wonder also what Anglicans in England, Australia, and other English-speaking countries think of it.
     
  2. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Yes this is a common point of discussion among our circles as well. The two basic paradigms in every language are,

    Demotic language: https://www.thefreedictionary.com/demotic
    Hieratic language: https://www.thefreedictionary.com/hieratic

    At the Reformation the conversation was about vernacular vs. latin, but little has been said on whether we should use plain or ornate language, demotic or hieratic. And of course in effect the BCP was written in ornate and hieratic language by Archbishop Cranmer... We know that later in the sixteenth and then seventeenth centuries Anglicans preferred to use explicitly hieratic language for religious services, and of course when we look at today today, the classic Anglican liturgies serve the function of strongly hieratic language, that is highly elevated, stylized, very much purposefully non-common

    Certainly some dioceses attempt to use more demotic language, out of a mistaken assumption that the Church needs to condescend and live on the banal level of the regular people, instead of lifting them up to her level, so that the people become elevated through the language. However the worst of the era has passed, in the 1970s. The liturgies composed in ACNA today resemble the classic 1928 Prayer Book and the ones that came before.

    It's not as strongly archaic and hieratic as the old BCPs, so you don't have that many Thous and Est's... However, simply by using the grammar of the old Cranmerian language the Prayer Book 'alienates' the modern-day reader (on purpose).. it puts them in the hieratic frame of mind: do I submit to the teaching, and allow it to elevate me, or do I reject the Church and become an atheist...
     
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  3. Philip Barrington

    Philip Barrington Well-Known Member

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    Speaking about Australia. Anglicanism in Australia in the main is expressed in the Anglican Church of Australia. The liturgy most commonly used in APBA (A Prayer Book for Australia 1995) which does not retain the grammatical structures of the High Elizabethan period. The language used in what might be called the common texts are those suggested by the English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC) in 1988.

    These may be found here: http://englishtexts.org/Portals/11/Assets/praying.pdf

    The second most common use in Australia is the liturgy of the previous rendition AAPB (An Australian Prayer Book 1978) which used for the common texts the work of the International Commission on English Texts ICET, very much in keeping with the later rendition, though perhaps with less of a nod to inclusive language.

    Traditional Anglicans - as in Anglicans who have chosen to walk apart from the Anglican Church of Australia are very much smaller here, I would be guessing less than 20 priests nationwide. I think for the most part they use 1928 (or 1928 +) which retained much of the Elizabethan use.

    I think in most Dioceses the use of Common Worship from The Church of England has been authorised.

    The practical reality of parish life in Australia is that most parishes either hand out a local use photocopied booklet based largely on the the rite they most closely follow with local variations (great and small). The constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia effectively authorises 1661/2 and therefore it can not be de-authorised. At the extremes local use may be indistinguishable from Novus Ordo, and at the other end appears to be a Bible Study with a couple of gospel songs.

    In the language changes the most controversial was the change to the incarnatus in the Nicene Creed which now reads "For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human." Initially I was very alarmed but 20 odd years later I am adjusted to the phrase, and I now find it hard when visiting others who use a more traditional form. I certainly do not think that is the biggest problem with the Nicene Creed as we use it.
     
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  4. Philip Barrington

    Philip Barrington Well-Known Member

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  5. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

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    The Catholic faith has suffered greatly since Vat2 dispensed with what had been the language of the Church almost two millennia , Latin, in favour of the vernacular
     
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  6. PotterMcKinney

    PotterMcKinney Active Member Typist Anglican

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    I personally think we can have a hieratic liturgy while still eliminating archaisms. I think the ACNA is doing this well, personally.
     
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  7. Shane R

    Shane R Active Member

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    Some in the Continuing movement feast on archaisms: it is their way of forming a tribe. Others are more reasonable and will authorize more modern sources so long as they are thoroughly orthodox.
     
  8. SirPalomides

    SirPalomides Active Member

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    I agree. Faithfully translated, Christian prayers are inherently lofty whether archaisms are employed or not. On the other hand I feel archaisms are a legitimate if not always necessary literary device. I myself love them in prayer but I can also understand why some might go without them.
     
  9. SirPalomides

    SirPalomides Active Member

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    Two problems with this comment: 1. Latin was the language of PART of the Church. Identifying Latin with “The Church” as if the Greek, Syriac, etc portions didn’t exist is pretty emblematic of what’s wrong with Rome and its age-old chauvinism. 2. Vat 2 had many problems but allowing the vernacular isn’t one of them. Eastern churches have employed the vernacular for a very long time while retaining dignified and reverent liturgies. Anglicans have done likewise. And at one point Latin was vernacular too.
     
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  10. DivineOfficeNerd

    DivineOfficeNerd Member Anglican

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    An important thing to note, though, is that while these churches all offered vernacular service, most of them were hieratic. Even in Rome, where the majority of people spoke Vulgar Latin, the liturgy was composed and celebrated in a higher more traditional form. The same goes for Churches that utilize Church Slavonic. Vernacular has been used since the earliest days of the Church, but so has hieratic language.
     
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  11. Philip Barrington

    Philip Barrington Well-Known Member

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    There is a current trend in some parts of the Church for a more casual* style in liturgy. A few years back I attended benediction in a RC Cathedral and at the height of the liturgy with the monstrance lifted high I waited for the words 'Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sin of the world' however the words that came were 'this is Jesus your best friend'.

    The great advantage of the formality of the liturgical language we know and love is that it carries with it a sense of reverence and awe, and alludes to the transcendence of God. As Anglicans we value the dignity of worship, and seek things be done decently and in order. I don't doubt that from time to time we need to have this shaken and not stirred. I recall an evening as the then vicar began the evening collect in best Anglican chant Lighten our darkness, Lord we pray to have everything plunged into great darkness and the organ sigh and exhaust as a massive power outage plunged the whole district into a powerless state of darkness, and the two small lights of the Altar defiantly reminded us of what we were missing.

    The risk that hieratic language carries is that it may have to be translated for people to understand. The liturgy of the Church is not simply for our benefit, and not intended to pacify an angry God, but rather it has a proclamatory role as part of the evangelistic task of the Church. If the language of the liturgy leaves the average punter on the street bewildered and bemused and carries no appreciable meaning for them, then it may be failing in this task.

    We need to strike a balance, with language which is beautiful and uplifting, and yet carries meaning for the person off the street, otherwise it may as well be in latin. One of the great principles of the Elizabethan Settlement was that the liturgy was in a language that the people could understand. That did not imply that it was street talk, but people did not need it translated for them. If we simply retained 1549, or 1661/2, as the language then it will be understood by fewer and fewer people. I think in a way to preserve the principles of the Elizabethan Settlement we do need to change the language of the liturgy that attended it.

    So, I would suggest that -
    • The Lord be with you. And with thy spirit. - 1662
    • The Lord be with you. And also with you. - yes
    • Hi, I'm Brian and I'd like to welcome you to worship this morning, so hello to all of you. Hello Brian. - no
    Of course the counterbalance to that is that a great deal of contemporary logic spends far to much time addressing people and not nearly enough time enabling people to address God. The liturgy is not a few trimmings designed to dress a sermon and a bible reading. Indeed the word comes from the greek laos ergon the people's work.

    *possibly deplorable lack of
     
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  12. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

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    In the most recent translation of the Novus Ordo, a few years old but not many, the response has been changed from ".... and also with you" to ".... and with your spirit" which is a direct translation from Latin
     
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  13. PotterMcKinney

    PotterMcKinney Active Member Typist Anglican

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    That's one of the things that are most striking about the ACNA prayers. I always feel somewhat bad out of principle going to the local ACNA plant, since I'm decidedly not on their side of their schism, but I think our liturgy should be closer to theirs, traditional, yet contemporary. Our prayer book does not offer that satisfactorily.
     
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  14. SirPalomides

    SirPalomides Active Member

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    “And also with you” is simply wrong. Nothing to do with contemporary versus archaic.
     
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  15. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Does anyone know where "et cum spirito tuo"/"and with thy spirit" came from? Like, why is that the response when the celebrant says "the Lord be with you"?
     
  16. Philip Barrington

    Philip Barrington Well-Known Member

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    The Sursum Corda is possibly one place to look at the phrase, maybe even a good place.

    Latin Mass
    Dominus vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo.
    Sursum corda. Habemus ad Dominum.
    Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro. Dignum et iustum est.
    Novus Ordo - 3
    The Lord be with you. And with your spirit.
    Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord.
    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right and just.
    Common Worship (CofE)
    The Lord be with you. and also with you.
    Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.
    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give thanks and praise.
    Book of Common Prayer (1662)
    The Lord be with you. And with thy spirit.
    Lift up your hearts. We lift them up unto the Lord.
    Let us give thanks unto the Lord our God. It is meet and right so to do.

    At one level I am happy enough with the response 'is simply wrong'. And indeed assuming that it has greater antiquity we may look at the Greek, where the phrase is as best as I can get it, and I think common to the majority of the rites

    Kaí metá toú pnévmatós sou.
    This is reflected in a number of the Orthodox rites, save the Church of the East which has something a bit different. The mozarabic rite appears to do its own thing as well.

    At a purely linguistic level it would seem that the use of Common Worship, which is largely in common I suspect a great many modern english language rites around the world appears to have shifted from the original term in the Ancient rites both East and West.

    At another level, however, I am prepared to ask the question, what to we mean when we say 'and with your spirit'?

    Are we speaking to the priest at the essential level as a human being? Or are we speaking to a non-quantifiable element of the sacred ministry they represent? Or has the prevalence of Hegelian thought and the notion of Geiste or essence of being become so dominant that we are speaking to the non-physical priest?

    Personally I don't think we do well when we deconstruct human beings, and that we should intend the statement to the whole person of the priest. In that meaning, and with a mind to contemporary formal English, I can't say that and also with you is simply wrong. I believe it conveys the fundamental meaning of the ancient rite as I see it in a language understanded of the people. It probably asks us to ask the question about our anthropology as well as well as what do we mean by spirit in the human setting.

    I am not pontificating on this matter at all, but I think it is worth discussing. The Elizabethan rite is nearly 500 years old, and part of the momentum for it was the desire to have the liturgy in a language that the people could understand - not so much street talk, and a great deal of effort was made to make the language formal and beautiful, meaningful and uplifting. Given that the use of English has changed much since the Tudor and Elizabethan usage that gave birth to the rite we as Anglicans are called to be vigilant to ensure that things be done decently and in order.
     
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  17. SirPalomides

    SirPalomides Active Member

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    The phrase "and with thy spirit" has echoes in letters of Saint Paul (e.g. Galatians 6:18). It's also found in perhaps the most ancient extant Christian liturgy, found in the Apostolic Tradition, which dates at the latest to the third century. What does it mean? I imagine a number of layers of significance could be ascribed to it. Most simply one could say the spirit is being used as a metonymy for the person of the celebrant, which might seem to legitimate the "and also with you" paraphrase, but the antiquity and ubiquity of this prayer should prevent us from substituting a paraphrase. Making liturgy understandable to the people does not mean dumbing it down, and in this case "and also with you" is definitely a dumbing down, carrying as it does the assumption that people are incapable of understanding figures of speech.
     
  18. Philip Barrington

    Philip Barrington Well-Known Member

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    Galatians 6.18:
    May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

    Philippians 4.23:
    The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

    2 Timothy 4.22:
    The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.

    Philemon 1.25:
    The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.​

    Paul uses the expression at least four times. Each time he uses it in the context of the plural - The letter Philemon is addressed to a number of people, and in 2 Timothy it is clear as the 'you' is plural, whilst the 'spirit' is singular. In a sense then we might see some sense of the inherent collective essential unity of the body of believers (the Church) in the expression. Of course much of this is lost in English where you may be plural or singular.

    The text of the Apostolic Tradition, is believed to be authentically a work describing the early 3rd century Roman liturgy, was widely influential on twentieth century liturgical scholarship century and was one of the pillars of the liturgical movement. The anaphora included in chapter four was extensively used in preparing reforms for the Book of Common Prayer and the United Methodist Liturgies found in the current United Methodist Hymnal. This anaphora is also the inspiration for the Eucharistic Prayer II of the Mass of Paul VI.

    I respect the argument for the antiquity of the phrase. Nonetheless I don't think the use of and also with you has changed the intended meaning, nor even represented a dumbing down, and I would certainly be reluctant to suggest that it had done so intentionally.

    I think that this is the question that needs to be answered, and specifically in the context of the layer of meaning that it adds to and with your spirit. Nonetheless, if push came to shove and I had to choose I would opt to include it, but I still think we need to explore it. Part of this may come down to the reality that English is not as polished as Greek in some of these nuances, and modern English even less so. There is a consistency in the Biblical Translations to include it, though a couple uses 'spirits' which I would tend to reject as having missed the point of the collective unity of faith.
     

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