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Historical Figures, III

July 27, 2011

William Reed Huntington, Priest

“How good and pleasant it is, when brethren live together in unity,” says the psalmist.  This Sewanee graduate would be remiss not to mention the contributions of the Reverend William Reed Huntington to the life of our Lord’s Church.  This psalm draws attention to the particular blessing of unity through community, a goal which Huntington sought to achieve in the writing of The Church Idea (1870) and the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, in his work as a member of the House of Deputies, and as rector of Grace Church, New York.  Today, we might find his wisdom especially pertinent as we face discord and strife in our own communities.  The psalm does not stand to remind us that community is complicated, or hard, or annoying – it reminds us that community is a joyful blessing from God, refreshing like the dew upon the hills or extravagant like oil upon the head.  Huntington’s work, like the psalm, bring to mind the challenging balance we seek in our communities between responsible inclusivity and good churchmanship.

Moreover, Huntington’s memory is living proof that you do not have to be a bishop or a church musician to contribute to (nay, to care about) prayer book reform and liturgical gravitas.  His prayer for grace is used today in the Morning Prayer liturgy on Fridays, and beautifully interweaves the theme of the Exhortation to the Sick from the 1662 Prayer Book.

Almighty God, whose dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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