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The language of liturgy

June 28, 2015

Lord Williams.

Lord Williams.

“One of the reasons we are so bad these days at the language of scriptural translation and the language of liturgy is, I suspect, the terrible and false universalism of global culture and atomised humanitarianism, our peculiarities smoothed out by the promises of a universal distributive justice and (what in fact sits very awkwardly with the former) a universal set of consumerist goals, homogenised objects of desire the world over. Our speech betrayeth us.”

Rowan Williams, Anglican Identities (Cambridge, Mass. : Cowley Publications, 2003), 23.


June 27, 2015


The Most Reverend Michael Curry, XXVII Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

Dear Father Allen

June 18, 2015


77 St Mark’s Place
New York City 3

Nov. 26th

Dear Father Allen:

Have you gone stark raving mad? Aside from its introduction of a lesson and psalm from the O.T., which seems to me admirable since few people go any more to Mattins or Evensong, the new ‘liturgy’ is appalling.

Our Church has had the singular good-fortune of having its Prayer-Book composed and its Bible translated at exactly the right time, ie, late enough for the language to be intelligible to any English-speaking person in this century (any child of six can be told what ‘the quick and the dead’ means) and early enough, ie, when people still had an instinctive feeling for the formal and the ceremonious which is essential in liturgical language.

This feeling has been, alas, as we all know, almost totally lost. (To identify the ceremonious with ‘the undemocratic’ is sheer contemporary cant.) The poor Roman Catholics, obliged to start from scratch, have produced an English Mass which is a cacophonous monstrosity (the German version is quite good, but German has a certain natural sonority): But why should we imitate them?

I implore you by the bowels of Christ to stick to Cranmer and King James. Preaching, of course, is another matter: there the language must be contemporary. But one of the great functions of the liturgy is to keep us in touch with the past and the dead.

And what, by the way, has happened to the altar cloths? If they have been sold to give money to the poor, I will gladly accept their disappearance: I will not accept it on any liturgical or doctrinal grounds.

With best wishes

W.H. Auden

Decently habited, CLXXVII

June 17, 2015

The Revd Christopher Keene, rector of Immanuel Church on the Green, New Castle, Del.


Decently habited, CLXXVI

June 9, 2015

The Revd Dr Martin Henig, in all appropriate professorial dishevelment outside St Margaret’s, Binsey, at Easter.


The majesty of Cranmer

June 8, 2015

Bishop_of_London“Far be it from me to promote a cult of quaintness, but the power of the Prayer Book to connect with many of those who find the ordinary diet of the church banal, should not be ignored. There is now a younger generation who are realising afresh the importance of complementing the argot of Twitter and SMS with the majesty of Cranmer.”

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London

How it’s done, XXI

June 6, 2015

The Master of the Choristers leads the boys of the Wells Cathedral Choir to rehearsal before Evensong.



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