Anglicanism & incense

Discussion in 'Liturgy, and Book of Common Prayer' started by Rejoice, Oct 11, 2012.

  1. Rejoice

    Rejoice New Member

    Posts:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1
    Do you use incense in worship at your church? If so, why? If not, why not?

    It's just concerning to see the use of something which the Lord says is an abomination to Him: Isaiah 1:13. Do you see that condemnation of incense as conditional to that period of Jewish history, or is it absolute?

    Thoughts appreciated...
     
  2. Aaytch Barton

    Aaytch Barton Active Member

    Posts:
    124
    Likes Received:
    50
    Country:
    usa
    Religion:
    Anglo-Reformed
    Jesus Himself is the sweetness in God's nostrils. To use man-made incense or burn the flesh of bulls is to insult the Lord of Heaven. It declares His sacrifice as small and our sacrifice as great. The incense of priests in the OT church is a foreshadowing of the incense of the High Priest (Jesus) in the NT church. We should not worship in gnostic shadows, but rather worship in the Light. Behold, the Light has come into the world.
     
  3. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    2,723
    Likes Received:
    2,563
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Here is a fascinating article (from the Anglican journal the "Churchman"), about how the Early Church did not use incense:

    http://www.churchsociety.org/churchman/documents/Cman_117_3_Brattston.pdf
     
  4. historyb

    historyb Active Member

    Posts:
    243
    Likes Received:
    199
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    CEC (Anglo-Catholic)
    At present we do not use incense because of practically reason, we are a very small parish (12 to 13 people in all) but in the future and on certain holy days we may use incense. Of course being an AC I and my parish are the odd man out it seems.
     
  5. Aaytch Barton

    Aaytch Barton Active Member

    Posts:
    124
    Likes Received:
    50
    Country:
    usa
    Religion:
    Anglo-Reformed
    Not at all. You're right in the thick of it, although many (or most??) of the ACs have moved over to ACNA.
     
  6. historyb

    historyb Active Member

    Posts:
    243
    Likes Received:
    199
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    CEC (Anglo-Catholic)
    I am CEC, not TEC we are AC there :)
     
  7. Patrick Sticks

    Patrick Sticks Member

    Posts:
    59
    Likes Received:
    50
    Country:
    England
    Religion:
    Christian- Anglican
    Unfortunate interpretation of Isaiah 1.13 I would say; the man is actually heavily indebted to the cult, as a Jerusalemite prophet (shown by Isaiah 6 for instance). Cultic worship of course is never abandoned until the fall of the Temple in 70AD the Jews clearly didn't see it as invective against their worship- the problem is not the offerings per se, but when they are offered by those who do evil and are unjust- it's formalism without rightness of heart- truthfully still a problem in every church, but it is not a critique of the actual worship of the temple.

    For Incense specifically, Revelation 5.8; 8. 3-4 make it clear that the use of incense is part of heavenly worship before the altar of God, our own use of incense is a symbolic reflection of the heavenly worship and entirely proper and clearly practised since the earliest days of Christianity.

    On a practical level it is of value for engaging the body, as well as mind and spirit in worship of God by stimulating both sight and smell, recalling our own prayer rising to heaven and as an example of the ecstasy of worship- that literal standing outside of ourselves, our normal lives being left behind to enter into a space where creator and created almost mingle, where we are transformed into that redeemed people once more in a place that is extraordinary. Incense is part of that world that brings alive sanctity and holiness.

    Finally, I happen to find it superior to the smell of damp and mildew that you get in a lot of old churches.

    In my old parish, we had it every Sung Mass on Sunday, here it's slowly working its way in, but only on great feast days during the morning Eucharist and evensong; though we use a small burner for morning and evening prayer every day. The trouble is this weird incense-phobia which I'm informed is a peculiarly Anglican trait not experienced in other traditions. The thurible is a tool used not without much contention in most parishes I fear.
     
    CWJ and Scottish Monk like this.
  8. Patrick Sticks

    Patrick Sticks Member

    Posts:
    59
    Likes Received:
    50
    Country:
    England
    Religion:
    Christian- Anglican
    This is certainly an interesting article and stimulates much thought. However, I rather feel the writer is confusing and blurring statements which criticise the idea of an incense oblation with blanket condemnation of the use of incense. The key question I would ask is why they keep bringing it up if its not a part of the worshipping life of some churches somewhere? The article is silent. Frustratingly, there is no attempt to explain the context of much of the writing, nor a solid quote so it's quite hard to assess in many ways.

    A more pernickety note which makes me question the scholarship or at least query the date of publication a bit is the fact he considers the Apostolic Tradition to be an ante-nicene document by hippolytus- academic consensus has swung quite far away from this- it's now considered a mashed up document with different strands, the oldest surviving but incomplete MS being 5th century verona latin version- the next are oriental and mediaeval in date.
     
  9. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    536
    Likes Received:
    385
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    The Episcopal Church
    Nope. Incense is really absent from classical Anglicanism for good reasons.
     
  10. Scottish Monk

    Scottish Monk Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    429
    Likes Received:
    317
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian
    Hackney...

    What are those reasons?

    ... Scottish Monk
     
  11. highchurchman

    highchurchman Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    683
    Likes Received:
    539
    Country:
    Britain
    Religion:
    Anglican/Catholic
    The Jewish Church, our predecessors, did use it and it was used after the Reformation and up to Tractarian times, if I read aright.
    Certainly, when I was a youth, the Church that I attended, a classical Highchurch one, definitely had incense at both the Holy Liturgy and Morning and Evening prayer. When I was ordaine, as a High Churchman, I used it and it still is used.Like a lot of things use fluctuated, after the later reformation and the Calvinist takeover it fell away except in Cathedrals, I suspect it went out of fashion because of the expense.
    I too would like to hear Hackney's explanation. Another reason it was used was to cover the oder after burials within the Nave and Chancel,or under them!
     
  12. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    536
    Likes Received:
    385
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    The Episcopal Church
    It allows perfumatory incense (for smell) but not censing. The former replicates biblical imagery of the prayers of the saints. The latter involves a theology of sacramentals alien from our own tradition.
     
  13. Aaytch Barton

    Aaytch Barton Active Member

    Posts:
    124
    Likes Received:
    50
    Country:
    usa
    Religion:
    Anglo-Reformed
    It's no wonder that Anglicans get confused between "high-church" and "Anglo-Catholic" when the matter depends on such delicate distinctions. Should it not be better to let our yea be yea and our nay be nay?
     
  14. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    536
    Likes Received:
    385
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    The Episcopal Church
    If you want to ignore history, sure, you can say whatever you want but that doesn't change anything. The fact is that incense was used in the Elizabethan church as a perfume for church buildings. It was not used to cense. If that's not a meaningful distinction to you, I'd recommend some further theological reading.
     
  15. Seeker

    Seeker Member

    Posts:
    52
    Likes Received:
    46
    I think it is a beautiful thing to use it to perfume and not in any other meaning. It is like Church art and flowers.
     
    Scottish Knight likes this.
  16. highchurchman

    highchurchman Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    683
    Likes Received:
    539
    Country:
    Britain
    Religion:
    Anglican/Catholic
    It was certainly used in Early Stuart times, probably until the Georgian lot came in! Certainly even then it went on regularly in Cathedrals. Hierurgica Liturgica. (I've probably spelled the Book Name wrong, but it is always mentioning Incense.


    Numbers 16:46-47 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun. And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people.

    Revelation.8:3/4
    • And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
      • Matthew 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and Myrh.
        Revelation 5:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
        .

     
    CWJ and Kammi like this.
  17. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    536
    Likes Received:
    385
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    The Episcopal Church
    Yes, it was used as perfume, not in the services.
     
  18. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    351
    Likes Received:
    519
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    Anglican, CofE
    Post Reformation (pre Tractatian/Ritualist) English church accounts quite often show entries for the purchase of frankincense.

    Whilst incense was certainly used in a non liturgical manner to perfume churches, I'm not entirely convinced that this was the only manner in which it was used.

    From my Diocese is this record:

    " This Indenture made at Bodmin the Sunday after the feast of St. Michael the Archangel in the eighth year of our Sovereign Lady Elizabeth witnesseth that the wardens and their successors wardens, hath taken and received into their hands and keeping to be used and occupied to the honour of God in the same church from the day and year aforesaid forthward all such goods and ornaments as followeth...a ship of tin, and a censer of latten..." (Other items included were a lamp before the High Altar, a sacring bell, two Lent cloths for the Communion Table, vestments green and white, and one whole suit of blue with a vestment and copes for Good Friday).

    In +Andrewes chapel the ornaments included a triquertral censer "wherein the clerk putteth frankincense at the reading of the First Lesson." (This was a private chapel however).

    An example from the late 17th century is found in the form for consecration of a church by Archbishop Sancroft in 1685:

    " When a censer is presented and received they (the chaplains) say, While the King sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof. Let my prayer be set forth in Thy sight as the Incense."
     
    CWJ and highchurchman like this.
  19. highchurchman

    highchurchman Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    683
    Likes Received:
    539
    Country:
    Britain
    Religion:
    Anglican/Catholic
    As a matter of interest what would be the difference between simply perfume and myrh as part of the service! Thanks in anticipation.
     
  20. CatholicAnglican

    CatholicAnglican Active Member

    Posts:
    188
    Likes Received:
    162
    Country:
    Canada
    Religion:
    Traditional Catholic
    The church I was with when I was still in the ACoC used incense at every Sung Mass, Solemn High Mass, Solemn Processions and Solemn Evensong and Benediction of The Blessed Sacrament. I was a thurifer and m.c there. As of yet the parish I am with in ANiC since we are a small house church up to 13 people, we do not use incense. Our Priest went to Nashotah House Seminary and is A.C, and he does love incense. So we probably will be using it once we have a building to celebrate Mass in.