English Missal

Today is the day we are asked to pray for the intention of the founding of the Ordinariates in the United States, Canada, and Australia, as well as those intentions going with it. Quite by accident, I ended up saying the noon mass using the English Missal. One of our parishioners was interested in it and we got to talking about the differences between it and the American Missal, which is our norm here at St. Mary's. So I decided to say my third mass using the English Missal today with him serving. I must say, the more I use it, the more I love it. It turned out to be quite appropriate to use for saying mass with special intentions for the erection of the Ordinariates! It is a splendid blend of Cranmerian prayers and the Missale Romanum. So on that note, I thought reposting Fr Hunwicke's thoughts from nearly three years ago would be of some considerable benefit.
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For most of the 20th Century, Anglican Catholic worship meant a volume called "The English Missal". It contained the whole Missale Romanum translated into English; into an English based on the style of Thomas Cranmer's liturgical dialect in the Book of Common Prayer. The "EM" took everything biblical from the translation known as the King James Bible or Authorised Version. Cranmer's Eucharistic order was incorporated into Ordo Missae of the Missal of S Pius V. On days for which Cranmer provided a collect, that collect of his - whether it was a translation or a new composition - was provided.

The book, however, was a trifle protean. As the century progressed, the (anonymous) editors grew more and more uneasy about diverging from the strict letter of the Missale Romanum (translated); you might call them forerunners of Liturgicam authenticam. So, where Cranmer had translated a little freely (and, as I explained some time ago, he had a natural tendency to expand his Latin originals), later editions of the English Missal pruned his texts down to conformity with the Latin. And the collects which were Cranmer's own compositions were either removed or allowed to survive as mere alternatives to versions of the Latin. It was deemed necessary to provide translations of the Masses for all the "Sundays after Pentecost", where earlier editions had assumed that Anglican Catholic priests would be happy to use Cranmer's propers, taken from the Sarum Rite, for the "Sundays after Trinity" (supplemented by the portions which Cranmer had omitted: Introits, etc.). It was assumed that clergy were getting less and less willing to interpolate Prayer Book formularies into the Roman Rite, and also more anxious to say as much as possible in Latin. This had an unfortunate effect: the book on the Altar increasingly offered different texts from those the devout laity found in their hand editions. I prefer the more 'Anglican' earlier editions. Like Joseph Ratzinger and the other Vatican supporters of the Book of Divine Worship (the Liturgy used by those American ex-Anglican communities who are the "Anglican Use of the Roman Rite"), I think there are excellent reasons for Anglican Catholics to have there own distinctive dialect of what remains the one Roman Rite: Extraordinary Form, Anglican Form, Ordinary Form, Dominican Form. After all, whatever undesireable ruptures accompanied the birth of our English rites in the 16th century, 450 years of devout use to carry their own sanctification. But, in whatever edition, the English Missal is a very fine vernacular version of the classical Roman Rite, in a very fine liturgical, hieratic, dialect. When the great Christine Mohrmann lamented that modern European vernaculars did not possess a hieratic form, she had not met the English Missal.

 

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