Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Historical Revisionism, Liturgics, and the BCP

“The vision of the Western Rite as an essential part of the Orthodox Mission in America belonged to Archbishop Tikhon of the American Archdiocese under the Moscow Patriarchate. About ninety years ago he examined the existing Anglican Book of Common Prayer and sent it to the Holy Synod of Moscow. That Liturgy, derived from the ancient use of the Orthodox West, and first expressed in English in the edition of 1549 by authority of King Edward the Sixth of England, was corrected and approved by the Holy Synod for Orthodox Church use.” – WesternOrthodox.com (1/16/2008)

Question: Why all this quoting of pedigree, pre-schism pedigree, post-schism pedigree, when it’s basically a revised Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer? Even the Anglicans, with their notions of doctrinal development collaborating with liturgical development, didn’t bother so much as to claim this flawless a pedigree for their innovations. Is this rewriting history?


January 17, 2008 - Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , ,


  1. Excellent point – thank you. Theoretically, then, it is possible to satisfy even the concern for the texts being ancient w/o necessarily satisfying the concern for continuity, if the result is a hodge-podge. But not picking nits, the concerns over their current anglican rite, as I prefer to call it, include (not to be comprehensive):
    * misleading pedigree
    * lack of continuity w. the fullness of Orthodox worship
    * a protestantizing flavour
    * lack of sufficient textual relationship w. pre-schism rites
    * the very atmosphere of impressions, attitudes, and pieties conveyed by using an Anglican or Roman Catholic prayer book
    * the presence in said books of post-schism heterodox pieties
    * the use of the Anglican or Roman Catholic pedigree of the books as an evangelistic tool, and the impression that conveys about the pedigree of Orthodoxy herself
    * the prevalence of ordinary BCPs in the use of the faithful, since there is, after all, precious little difference for practical or private use
    * one could go on…

    Comment by tuD | February 20, 2008 | Reply

  2. Also the statement that the BCP is “derived from the ancient use of the Orthodox West” needs some clarification. It does indeed, but only in the same way that the modern-day Lutheran, Methodist, Congregationalist, Novus Ordo, and 1979 BCP rites derive from the ancient use of the Orthodox West. There is no substantive continuity in these cases with pre-Schism Orthodox worship as bequeathed to us by the Saints and Fathers of the Occident.

    Comment by hieromonachusaidanus | February 20, 2008 | Reply

  3. It is true the AWRV’s Divine Liturgy of St. Tikhon was never, in its current form, reviewed, read, or approved by St. Tikhon (in fact, St. Tikhon never used or approved for use any Western rite liturgy). The Liturgy of St. Tikhon incorporates features of the liturgy used in the West in Orthodox times, which are not present in the 1892 BCP which is what a committee looked at in St. Petersburg in 1907. It is therefore more Anglo-Catholic than what the Russian committee reviewed (and was so critical of), and more resembles historic Western liturgies more closely. The 1892 BCP was a rather low-church recension of the BCP. Of course, none of the BCP rites comes close to the Orthodox worship practiced in the West in Orthodox times. That is, none of them come close to its historical integrity, its fullness once it reached what Russian Orthodox scholars call “maturity” of rite, its emphasis, in the case of the Sarum use, on the role of the Holy Spirit in consecrating the gifts, and so forth.

    Comment by hieromonachusaidanus | February 20, 2008 | Reply

  4. Wow.

    Comment by tuD | February 20, 2008 | Reply

  5. It seems some parishes are even still using the BCP even when the Bishop visits.

    Comment by occidentaltourist | February 20, 2008 | Reply

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