Commentary on the American Prayer Book [Paperback]

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Traces and comments upon the sources, history, and development of each of the rites and formularies of the book from the earliest known forms until the present day.

Publishers Description
IntroductionThe first Christians had no explicitly liturgical books. Apparently they continued the ritual pattern of Judaism, but interpreted and remodeled it in accordance with the Christian gospel. Once the church moved further from its Jewish roots and sought to adapt itself to the languages, culture, and thought of the Gentile world, there developed a type of book, the church order, which contained descriptions of various liturgies, models for prayers, and directions for the conduct of rites. The most important of these orders still extant are: the Didache, an Eastern document probably dating from the second century; the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, usually considered a Roman document, dating about A.D. 215; the Didascalia, a third century Syrian document; and the Apostolic Constitutions, a Syrian document of the late, fourth century which used the three earlier church orders as sources.Early in the fourth century, Christianity was officially recognized by the Roman State. The monastic movement and the theological controversies of the period led to elaboration of the liturgy, more theological definition within the rites, strict regulation of the functions of various orders of ministers, and the establishment of fixed, written texts. During the fourth and fifth centuries the church orders were supplemented or replaced by "libelli (booklets) which were eventually put together to form books for those responsible for various parts of the rites. The celebrant, for example, had a sacramentary which contained the prayers to be read by him. The reader's parts were written or indicated in a lectionary which might have been in any of three forms: (1) a table which indicated thebeginnings and endings of the readings; (2) a marked Bible; (3) a collection of pericopes or selections. In another book were the litanies and any other portions of the rites for which a deacon might be responsible. The cantor and choir had antiphonary, psalter, gradual, or hymnal as might be appropriate. Fixed portions of the rites were said from memory. A gathering of participants was necessary at the celebration of a eucharist, daily office, baptism, marriage, or burial.As liturgies developed in various parts of the empire, they acquired different characteristics. Eastern forms retained ancient practices and structures, with a highly developed ceremonial and hymnody, and texts rich in biblical and homiletic content. In theory, the rite has always been in the vernacular, with litanies and icons having a prominent place in the liturgy. The theology is centered on the resurrection (eschaton) and retains more tension between "chronos," chronological time, and "kairos," the fulfillment of time, than that of the West.Western liturgies are of two principal kinds, the Gallican and the Roman. Until late in the eighth century, the Roman rite was limited to Western North Africa, Roman missionary outposts, and the city of Rome. The Gallican was the rite of Western Europe until the Roman gradually superseded it. In contrast to the Eastern and Gallican rites, the Roman was characterized by simplicity, brevity, and a somber quality. It contained little popular hymnody or vocal participation by the congregation. At a relatively early date, the number of readings was reduced, and preaching and the prayers of the people were dropped.Gallican rites, largely suppressed between the eighth and twelfthcenturies, differ from the Roman in certain general characteristics. They were characterized by a multiplicity of texts and elaborate ceremonial; like the Eastern liturgies, Gallican liturgies were basically conservative in structure (for example, they retained the custom of three readings and the prayers of the people after these had been dropped from the Roman rite). Within a fixed framework there was a variety of elaboration drawn from both Eastern and Western sources, allowing much vocal participation by the congregation. Homiletic material was extensive, and the rites as a whole had a highly poetic quality.Some prayers and formularies in the 1979 Prayer Book have been derived from, or strongly influenced by, ancient church orders and the Eastern liturgies. Numerous prayers and formularies come from early Roman and Gallican sacramentaries. (In the text these are identified by number in the current scholarly, critical editions.) Most important among the Roman sacramentaries are the Leonine, the Gelasian, and the Gregorian.The alliance of the papacy with the Holy Roman Empire stimulated a concerted effort to suppress the Gallican rites, making the Roman rite a symbol of unity. The ninth century was a time of illiteracy and superstition; few of the laity could understand the Latin of the rites, and many of the clergy were poorly educated, unable to preach competently, unskilled in the words and actions of the Mass. Monks occupied the more prominent positions in the church and, as the parochial system expanded rapidly, bishops were no longer able to function in the role of "pater familias to the people. Presbyters often took on many of the responsibilities formerly belonging to theepiscopate. The eleventh century brought massive reorganization and revision of liturgical books; further efforts were made to suppress the Gallican rites. The Fourth Lateran council in 1215, in company with the papal court and the Franciscan Order, supported further revision and moves toward uniformity.Romanizing of the Gallican rites had begun even before the days of Charlemagne, as Roman commemorations and texts gradually replaced or supplemented Gallican forms. In the Bobbio missal, for example, is a eucharistic rite that is Gallican through the Sanctus, then Roman to the close of the rite. The Celtic Stowe missal contains a Roman canon in its Eucharist, but the canon has all the elements of a Gallican eucharistic prayer: a Gallican post-Sanctus, Gallican expansion of the institution narrative, and a normal Gallican postinstitution supplication. Even the es

Item Specifications...

Pages   670
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.06" Width: 5.99" Height: 1.91"
Weight:   2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 1995
Publisher   HarperOne
ISBN  0060635541  
EAN  9780060635541  
UPC  099455030007  

Availability  1 units.
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More About Marion J. Hatchett

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Marion J. Hatchett was professor of liturgics and music in the School of Theology at the university of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Everything you want to know about Episcopalian Worship  Sep 8, 2005
Since, after serving many years in Roman Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran Church of America congregations, I have just taken a position in an Episcopalian congregation, I was casting about for a meaty but accessible reference about worship. Hatchett has done a great job. Any serious church worker or congregant needs this book at hand for constant, lucid and easy reference. At almost 700 pages one will certainly not want to read it in one sitting but the style and importance of the book will invite periodic forays into the text and ideas it contains.
A grand reference  Dec 23, 2004
Though I am no longer a part of an Anglican jurisdiction, the 1979 Book of Common Prayer is a part of the modern liturgical landscape of the Western Church, and as a result, happening across this book necessitated a purchase.

While the "Oxford Commentary on the American Prayer Book" (published for the 1928 BCP) is a far superior work, this book is a worthy addition to that volume on the bookshelf of any liturgist.

Hatchett clues into the history of the entire Christian Church, the Latin Church before the reformation, the vast expanse that is Anglicanisim, and even into the modern liturgical movement - using each section of history to show the sources and aims of the 1979 BCP.

Whatever your opinion of the 79 Prayer Book, Hatchett's volume will provide you with a worthy source of information on the liturgy and practice of the 79 Edition of the BCP, and will serve any serious liturgist well.
Why does it say that?  Jun 3, 2004
Many people who study the Bible are familiar with the ways that commentaries work - some are line by line, some are passage by passage; some commentaries focus on particular elements (historical, linguistic, etc.) and others try to be general in approach. Marion Hatchett's book, 'Commentary on the American Prayer Book', is a general commentary that will seem at home to such readers as are familiar with biblical commentaries, only the subject is in this case the 1979 Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church USA.

There are several Books of Common Prayer, around the world, and through history. They all trace their development back to the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, whose formation began with the break with Rome during Henry VIII's reign, and continued until being more or less solidified in the 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer. The American church, as with many provinces within and outside of the British Empire, found need to develop its own liturgies, owing much and holding true in many respects to the founding liturgy (which itself hearkens back to liturgies of the ancient and medieval church). Some of this history will be found in Hatchett's commentary, in the introduction, as well as scattered throughout the text and introduced as appropriate for the matter at hand.

This is a commentary on the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, the most recent full-scale revision of the BCP; however, it does not ignore its predecessors, and particularly highlights the 1928 BCP, both in terms of convergence and difference liturgically and theologically. There is a still a faithful core of Anglicans in America who use the 1928 BCP; this commentary is not specifically helpful for that text, but can give general guidance in some respects.

This commentary goes page by page and passage by passage. Nothing is too small or trivial - the commentary includes discussion of the title page, the certificate page, the table of contents, even the overall design format of the book. The most interesting sections will naturally be those commentaries on the liturgies most commonly performed - Eucharistic liturgies, Baptism, and various pastoral offices.

Hatchett's commentary on the section of the Psalter is a bit disappointing. He doesn't address the actual psalms at all - granted, this is not a theological or biblical commentary on the psalms, and such a book could fill volumes on its own. Still, it was disappointing to find this large section of the BCP addressed with only a few general pages of commentary.

Most sections are introduced with background information, historical/developmental in nature, prior to the actual commentaries. The commentary gives appropriate page numbers for the 1979 BCP. The overall structure of this text follows the table of contents of the 1979 BCP. For comparison/contrast purposes with other books from other provinces or times, the page numbers will not be useful, but the section headings will be sufficient to find the similar sections in other prayer books.

Hatchett does plead the case for some exclusions and decisions based on sheer length and size of the volume - weighing in at almost 700 pages as it is, it is already a formidable text. To prevent the need for it expanding to two volumes (and thus becoming prohibitive in cost), certain decisions were made, such as not including the text of the actual BCP. One assumes that the typical reader of this commentary will have her or his own BCP, just as the typical writer of a biblical commentary will assume the reader has a Bible. However, not all readers will have both the 1928 and 1979 books; I think there is a place in the church's publishing realm for a two-volume (or multi-volume) format of this text with the BCP texts integrated within the same pages.

While this text is a commentary on the Episcopal (official American version of Anglican) Book of Common Prayer, given the shared history of liturgical development shared by churches in the English-speaking world, worshipers of other denominations will find interesting and useful information contained herein also.

Anglicans rarely tire of discussing the liturgy, be they high, low, or broad church types. This book can sustain many a conversation, settling some questions, and raising others.

An Excellent Book!  Dec 7, 2002
I can't really add too much to the previous review. Just suffice it to say that this is a treasure of a book for those who want to know the history of, and the whys and wherefores of the BCP of the Episcopal Church USA. Without reservation this is a 5-star book!
A marvelously useful and readable reference work.  Jan 31, 1999
For American Episcopalians and others seriously interested in the 1976 Book of Common Prayer this work serves excellently as a reference handbook for looking up any part of the liturgy and its history. In addition the book reads eminently well. Any dedicated student of the Episcopal liturgy should find the book both a delight and indispensible.

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