Ad Populum or Ad Orientem?

Discussion in 'Questions?' started by With_the_scripture, May 30, 2019.

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Does the celebrant in your church face the people (ad populum) or face East or towards the church (a

  1. Ad Populum (facing the people)

    5 vote(s)
    38.5%
  2. Ad Orientem (facing God)

    8 vote(s)
    61.5%
  1. With_the_scripture

    With_the_scripture New Member

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    Does the celebrant in your church face the people (ad populum) or face East or towards the church (ad orientem) for the majority of the time?
     
  2. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Ad orientem for me. Surprised/impressed to see how many others are also like that.
     
  3. Fr. Brench

    Fr. Brench Member Anglican

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    I'll share my church's story on this because it's kind of funny.

    We began worshiping versus populum as the vast majority of contemporary Anglican churches do in the US. Then one day our treasurer upgraded our altar cross from a tiny 6 inch tall pewter affair to a two-foot-tall gold-colored table cross. When placed on the table it was about the same height as our interim vicar's face, so he shoved the table against the wall and celebrated ad orientem from then on. When I was ordained, I happily continued that practice, and have enjoyed it ever since. I'm pretty sure ours is the only church in our diocese that regularly worships this way (apart from side-chapel weekday services here and there), and I've come to appreciate it greatly.

    All it took was a cross too big, a thirty-second explanation from the priest, and everyone went with it. No complaints, no scandal, no big deal! So if you're in a versus populum church and want to try another orientation, just try it! :D Chances are it won't be a big deal to anyone.
     
  4. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I don't mind ad populum, or as it referred to in these parts - the westward position - and in some sense it does speak of the gathering around the table of the Lord. There are however times when ad orientem - the eastward position - has a beauty and a dignity and one of the things I especially like about it is priest and people are looking in the same direction.

    In the end I favour a bit of each, for one clearly underlines the transcendence of God and the other the immanence, and in the end I believe it is important for us to retain both, and perhaps in the words of Sir Basil Spence, something of the dialogue between transcendence and immanence.
     
  5. Shane R

    Shane R Active Member

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    I was trained to celebrate Ad Orientem, which is the norm in the diocese. One interesting tell-tale sign of practice and churchmanship is whether a parish has an altar or communion table. Those who have a communion table will tend to face the people and those with an altar will tend to face East. Although, in my area, a number of old TEC parishes (and we have many of them) have taken an old altar, torn off the retable, and set it up functionally as a communion table.
     
  6. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Active Member Anglican

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    Is there a historic Anglican practice? I am not enough of a liturgy nerd to do a deep dive on this.
     
  7. Shane R

    Shane R Active Member

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    I believe it is one of those things that has gone back and forth with time, as so much of Anglican ceremonial has. And, there was a third option for a long time: the table would be turned 90 degrees, moved out into the choir as I understand it, and the celebrant would say Holy Communion from the "North End." This was always an indication of a particular form of low churchmanship.

    Also, Holy Communion was quite infrequent, particularly in country churches for much of the history of Anglicanism. It was probably something most people did not think much about, as I suspect the average congregant still does not.
     
  8. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I don't think there has ever been a documented case of An Anglican liturgy being done "versus populum", until the 1960s. It simply goes against every intuition of the Anglican ceremonial.

    I do know the Puritans strongly tried to push for the introduction of Versus Populum, first in the ritual controversy of the 1570s and then at the Hampton Court in 1604, but the Anglican establishment quite univocally rejected these heinous proposals. Of course now it's crept in quite a bit.

    The biggest enemy for the Anglican ceremonial was not the push from within, but the gargantuan impact from the Roman church after Vatican 2. When they went full-hog on embracing Versus Populum in the 1960s, and pretty much universally enforced it across their what, 500 million (now 1+ billion) church members, the impression was so strong, that it infected the Anglican ceremonial, and we have not recovered since then.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019 at 6:03 PM

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