William Oddie comments on Anglican liturgical traditions

12 10 2011

This section comes from a longer piece about the liturgy by Dr William Oddie at the Catholic Herald:

My only regret about my absence from England was that I missed the reception at Archbishop’s House, Westminster, organised for the Ordinariate. I don’t need by now to convince my usual readers of my support for the Ordinariate and especially of the way in which it is repatriating into the Catholic Church a patrimony much of which is of Catholic origin, but with which the mainstream Church has lost touch. As I wrote a month or two ago, after a celebration of Evensong and Benediction at Blackfriars, Oxford: “What the Pope, God bless him, has actually done is to re-appropriate a liturgy whose origins were in the first place entirely Catholic. As the Anglo-Catholic liturgist and divine Percy Dearmer (a friend of G K Chesterton) pointed out, the first Anglican Prayer Book ‘was not created in a vacuum, but derives from several sources. First and foremost was the Sarum Rite, or the Latin liturgy developed in Salisbury in the 13th century, and widely used in England. Two other influences were a reformed Roman Breviary of the Spanish Cardinal Quiñones, and a book on doctrine and liturgy by Hermann von Wied, Archbishop of Cologne’.”

Cardinal Quiñones’s attempt at streamlining the Breviary was adopted virtually in its totality. The Morning Office – a conflation of Lauds and Matins, and the Evening Office, Evensong – a conflation of Vespers and Compline (thus containing both the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, both of course in wonderful Tudor English) – were thus irreproachably Catholic in their origins and content.” And except of course from the Eucharistic liturgy, which was written expressly to exclude a Catholic interpretation of its meaning, it was all perfectly consistent with a Catholic understanding of what was taking place.

The difference, of course, was that unlike its sources, the Anglican liturgical tradition was a vernacular one. And though I have been calling for nearly a decade for something like what has now emerged in the Ordinariate (sometimes bringing down on my head the extreme displeasure of the powers that be for doing so) that is ultimately why, though I shall continue enthusiastically supporting the Ordinariate, I shall continue to attend the liturgy wherever possible in Latin, either in the Ordinary or the Extraordinary Form, and calling for the Mass in Latin to be much more widely available.