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One Use

One Use

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Published by TheLivingChurchdocs
The real pressure on our unifying liturgical order relates not to the changed circumstances of the digital age but to changes in our own understanding of the church
that diminish it.
The real pressure on our unifying liturgical order relates not to the changed circumstances of the digital age but to changes in our own understanding of the church
that diminish it.

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Published by: TheLivingChurchdocs on Jun 06, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE LIVING CHURCH • June 17, 2012
 The Book of Common Prayeras Constitutional Document
One Use
By John C. Bauerschmidt
“All the whole realm shall have but one use”
with this phrase the preface of the first Book of Common Prayer marked the end of the old liturgicalregime that had prevailed in England in the Middle Ages, with various liturgical “usesprevailing in dif-ferent dioceses, religious orders, and cathedralchurches, and the establishment of one use through-out England, authorized by Parliament and enforcedby the power of the Crown.The liturgical rites andceremonies in medieval England were all variants of the liturgy of the Church in Rome, as were most of the liturgies of the Church throughout WesternEurope.Though different bishops on occasionwould set liturgical use within their dioceses, orarchbishops within their provinces, or even mon-archs within their realms, Dom Gregory Dix arguesthat the principal authorizing force behind the liturgywas custom, with variation depending on the gravi-tational force exerted by the liturgical uses of the principal sees and the major cathedral and monasticchurches(
The Shape of the Liturgy
, 2nd edn., p.716).The Act of Uniformity of 1549 established some-thing new, what Dix called“the statutory liturgy,” public worship with the force of law.Implementationof the Book of Common Prayer not only abolishedthe different usesof the English Church but alsobrought in a new order. The old liturgy had rested onthe sanction of custom, but now the new statutoryliturgy became first a revolutionary force in the reignof Edward VI before settling down under ElizabethI as part of the comprehensive Anglican “settlement.”Clergy were required from the first to use it and noother; and though Dix is merciless in exposing theinadequacies of any liturgy that is promulgated andenforced by statute either civil or ecclesiastical, it ishard not to acknowledge that this liturgy came overtime (through its very statutory nature) to have theancient authorizing force of custom as well.The Episcopal Church has inherited this pattern of liturgical life, with a liturgy authorized by GeneralConvention for use in all dioceses of the church(Constitution, Article X). The prayer book’s pres-ence here makes it a “constitutional document,” oneof those usages that helpto define the way in whichthis church not only prays but is governed.A large part of Title II of the canons is devoted to ensuringthat copies of the prayer book used in this churchconform to the Standard Book of Common Prayer, tothe role of the Custodian of the Standard Book, andto the extensive process required for revision of thebook. Training in the use of the prayer book andother authorized liturgies is also required for those preparing for ordination.Conformity to the rubricsof the Book of Common Prayer is part of the “stan-dards of conduct”for all clergy, who are also torefrain from neglect of public worship and HolyCommunion “according to the order and use of theChurch” (Title IV, Canon 4, sections 1a and h). All clergy at ordination vow “to conform to thedoctrine, discipline, and worship of the EpiscopalChurch,” including use of the prayer book thatstands as a constitutional document of the church(BCP, p. 513, etc.). Supplemental liturgies find their

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