The Shape of the Liturgy
Dom Gregory Dix
A new edition with an introduction by Dr. Simon Jones
London, Continuum, 2005. ISBN 0 8264 7942 1, Price £35
It is somewhat remarkable that Continuum have seen fit to publish a new edition of Gregory Dix’s The Shape of the Liturgy. First published in 1945 it is now 60 years old. And a great deal has happened in those 60 years with regard to our understanding and knowledge of the historical sources, and with regard to the liturgical practice of the Churches today. It is rare indeed to find a treatment of the Eucharistic liturgy which does not make reference to Dix’s ‘fat green book’ as he referred to it (and of which colour more anon). It is equally rare to find any scholar who will not immediately proceed to suggest where Dix’s basic thesis needs correcting.
Dix’s basic premise was the original shape of the Liturgy was the seven fold-action scheme of Jesus at the Last Supper the taking of bread; giving thanks over it; and distributing it, saying certain words; and after the meal taking the cup; giving thanks over it; and distributing it saying certain words. In time, and before the scriptural accounts came to be written, the meal element had fallen away, said Dix, and the seven-action scheme was replaced by a fourfold shape:
- The offertory bread and wine are ‘taken’ and placed on the table together
- The prayer the president gives thank to God over the bread and wine together
- The fraction the bread is broken
- The communion the bread and wine are distributed together
Although most of the ancient Eucharistic rites known to us do reveal this pattern, not all do. Dix was probably to quick to distinguish between Eucharist and agape in the early literature. As Paul Bradshaw notes in Search for the Origins of Christian Worship ‘for some communities, agape was the name given to their eucharistic meal’.
This volume includes a new introductory essay by Anglican scholar Dr Simon Jones which admirably describes the critiques and the present day state of play concerning scholarship of the practice of the early Church.
The essay also describes in a clear and concise way the impact that Dix’s work has particularly had on the reform of Anglican eucharistic rites, and especially with regard to the Offertory. Jones seems to enjoy telling the ups and downs of debate over the meaning and significance of this action in the reforms of liturgy in the world wide Anglican communion over the past 50 years and more.
Popular liturgical writings in the Roman Catholic context in recent years have tended to downplay the significance of the offertory. In the post conciliar reform of the Missal the rite was to be more or less omitted until the present prayers were inserted at the insistence of Paul VI. Even so, it has commonly been taught that the language of offering is properly reserved to the offering of the sacrament of the sacrifice and used in the Eucharistic Prayer itself, not in the action preceding it.
If in previous times the Offertory accrued too much significance to itself, at the expense of the sharing in the eucharistic gifts as Holy Communion, maybe its meaningfulness as an expression of faithful commitment to share in Christ’s self-giving in love to the Father needs to be recovered in our age.
Simon Jones quietly acknowledges that Dix’s book can no longer be relied on as a liturgical encyclopedia but commends it as a means of exciting interest in the study of Christian worship, a source of infectious enthusiasm for the topic and of a sense of wonder at the mystery which lies at its heart. It is a splendid read, and anyone who has the time to give to its 750 pages will find their reward in using it thus.
Finally, why the loss of the familiar green in the design of its cover? Why if Continuum wanted to use for the cover design another of Matisse’s maquettes for the red chasuble intended for the chapel at Vence? (Another was used recently to decorate the collection of essays, Liturgy in a postmodern world edited by Keith Pecklers.) Even were they are persuaded of virtue in the modernity of the image why not use one of the maquettes for the green chasuble. It would have been a nice gesture to the tradition of this book!
Gathering for Worship: Patterns and Prayers for the Community of Disciples.
Edited by Christopher J. Ellis and Myra Blyth for the Baptist Union of Great Britain.
Norwich, The Canterbury Press, 2005, ISBN 1 85311 625 4, £30
Others will be able to compare this volume to previous resources provided for the Baptist Church. For myself I have been interested to compare and contrast this volume written for a market still obviously somewhat suspicious of books of liturgical/ritual texts, and the sorts of volumes which are taken for granted in the Roman Catholic church, where sometimes, indeed it seems to be assumed that of themselves they can produce authentic liturgy and promote healthy Christian living.
First a description of the contents:
Part One: Worship in the Community of Disciples
Gathering and Sending
- Planning for Dynamic Worship
- Gathering for the Celebration: The Lord’s Supper
- Presenting Infants and Children rites for Presenting Blessing and Dedicating children (Baptists retaining baptismal rites only for adult disciples)
- Welcoming Disciples baptism rite, including laying on of hands, receiving members through transfer, reaffirming baptismal vows etc
- Covenanting together Making and renewing covenant, including a pattern for a congregation including people with learning difficulties, affirming fellowship
Calling and Serving
- Ministry in the Community of Disciples Commissioning of Deacons and elders and ordaining for Ministry, also induction and commissioning for wider ministry
Living and Caring
- Entering and Celebrating Christian Marriage Patterns for Christian marriage, for blessing a Civil Marriage, Thanksgiving for Marriage and renewal of vows
- Confronting Death Celebrating Resurrection Patterns for Funerals and additional materials for the more exceptional cases.
- Gathering and Praying for Healing
- Visiting the Sick and praying with those near death
Part Two: Prayers in the Community of Disciples
- Community in Prayer Prayer resources in various forms openings, confessions, lament, thanksgiving etc
- Disciples on the way: worship through the Year resources for Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter plus, for example, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Mothering Sunday (although the prayers are for families, thus no separate provision for Father’s Day), One World Week and Remembrance Sunday.
- Devotional Prayers for Disciples
I like the way the sections are titled. It seems to me that these titles do not only name but describe, remind, of the context and the purpose of these rites and the realities they bring about and engage the participants in. I’m not sure that the titles of Roman Catholic ritual books do that. Our books will have their General Instructions but how many ministers read those once, let alone dipping into them again and again as a reminder of what ‘this’ is all about.
Some would say the titles don’t matter, and that we are formed in our awareness and appreciation and use, for example, of ministry and of funeral liturgies by the catechesis we receive. That maybe so though personally I doubt the efficacy of the formation processes we generally provide, even at the basic level of establishing patterns for continuing reflection and support. But again these titles in Gathering for Worship are just simple triggers, reminding, to stay with the same examples, that Ordination is not an end in itself, that other ministries are not just about helping Father, and that funerals are not just about the burying of the dead/or celebrating their lives.
It would take an essay to compare and contrast the Baptist provision for celebrations of the Lord’s Supper and our provision for Mass. There are very different patterns of worship here to what is found in the Missale Romanum. But the contrast of practice is interesting and what I find most impressive, again, is the constant reminder in a variety of ways that celebrations of the Lord’s Supper are intended to inform and enable faithful Christian living. Of course, this is the context in which we Roman Catholics celebrate too it is implicit in the ‘Ite missa est’ and made more explicit in the English translations thereof; it is expressed in, some of, the Post-Communion Prayers; and in the Eucharistic Prayers and elsewhere. There is a most forceful reminder of it in Section IV of Mane Nobiscum Domine, Pope John Paul II’s letter for the Year of the Eucharist. And yet it is not something we ‘hear’ very clearly or often in our Sunday celebrations of Mass. Why is that? That would take another essay to answer.
We Roman Catholics do not have such great freedom with our liturgical rituals as our Baptist brothers and sisters. Even dipping into this volume might suggest some of the dangers we face as a consequence, and prompt us to consider how we might best guard against those through stronger catechesis, through more careful preparation of liturgy, through making the most appropriate selections from the many more options we are given than many avail of, and through the other forms of worship and devotional practice that complement our celebration of the Liturgy proper. And, for these latter, Gathering for Worship offers a valuable resource.
Closing, let me offer a section from Gathering for Worship’s Preface. It is an interesting exploration of Sacrosanctum Concilium’s concise teaching about the Liturgy being source and summit of Christian living:
The Worship of God
The gathering of a church for worship is very difficult to define because it is such a rich and multi-faceted event, but here is an attempt from a Baptist perspective:
Christian worship is a gathering of the church in the name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit in order to meet God, through scripture, prayer, proclamation and sacraments and to seek God's kingdom.
This reminds us of some important truths:
- Worship is communal and its most usual form is in the gathering of a local fellowship of believers.
- In worship, Christians meet God, though the nature of that meeting will vary and include various activities.
- This encounter will be mediated through various means, such as prayer, the sacraments, the reading of scripture, preaching and singing.
- Therefore, regularly in worship, God's word will be proclaimed, the Lord's Supper celebrated and new Christians baptized.
- However, the purpose of worship is not only to meet God but to seek God's kingdom. It is not primarily for the benefit of the participants but for the sake of God's future for all creation.
- Worship is in the power of the Spirit. As we worship we participate in the Triune life of God, for the Spirit draws us through the work of Jesus Christ towards the Father. God prompts and inspires, calling and filling us, as well as receiving our worship.
- The whole event is 'in the name of Jesus' which means not only that our approach to God is made possible by his mediation but that the whole event should have the character of Christ and those worship-ping will seek to be formed increasingly into his likeness.
What the statement doesn't explain is that the event of worship will include the various dynamic ways in which we relate to God. As we are gathered by God and sent into God's world, there will be praise and adoration, confession and lament, intercession and petition, dedication and blessing. Nor does it communicate that personal commitment which each worshipper is called to bring to the communal activity of the church, for outward action must be accompanied by inward intent and devotion. Worship must also be a focus of that which is always true in the life of the Church and of its members, so a way of life which lives out what is expressed in worship, rather than underlines it, will be vital. Worship is the focus of Christian lives spent in witness and service, the dedication of discipleship at work and the consecration of all we are and do to God.
Worship and the Church
The Church is most truly itself when it is assembled to worship God, and in worship it expresses something fundamental about its own nature. It demonstrates that it is a community which owns God as supreme in all things, a community which listens expectantly for God's word and which prays for and dedicates itself to serving the kingdom. It is what the New Testament calls ecclesia - an assembly called by God to be his people - and in worship. (Gathering for Worship p xv)
Entrance Antiphons for the Church Year
Kevin Mayhew, Stowmarket, 1 84417 312 7. 36pp, £6.99
This is a surprising publication from Kevin Mayhew but it may be a canny harbinger of things to come. John McCann has written a short antiphon and psalm for all the Sundays of the year as well as Christmas Day and Holy Thursday. This is practical music with a single musical phrase used as the basis for a sequence of Sundays. So for Lent the same short two bar phrase in D minor is used for teach Sunday. For Palm Sunday it is satisfyingly transformed into D major. The psalm verses are sung to a simple two line tone and this again is repeated from Sunday to Sunday making it attractive to parish cantors. If you are looking for what is described on the back as ‘from the Celtic mists of Ireland’ combining ‘mysticism with a thoroughly practical appreciation of vocal writing’ you will recognise the latter statement but the rest may come as a disappointment.
The text for the antiphons is drawn from the Entrance Antiphons of the Missal but compressed to a short phrase. For example the antiphon for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time in the Missal is:
Listen, Lord, and answer me. Save your servant who trusts in you. I call you all day long, have mercy on me, O Lord.
Save your servant, Lord, who trusts in you.
For this Sunday, as is the case with a number of others, the first two cantor’s verses are the complete antiphon with the succeeding verse from the Grail translation used for the third verse. On the whole I think John McCann does a good job of extracting a phrase as the essence of the antiphon. But if I have a criticism it would be a large one that the settings are too short. Though the antiphons are concise and would be easily picked up by a congregation I guess they would soon want something more to get their vocal chords into. But more than that there is only enough music to cover the shortest of Entrance processions. A suggestion for using extra verses would be helpful or including one of the short doxologies used in the Grail Psalter for use in any week.
With that reservation there is much to commend about this collection which should be of interest to anyone wanting to develop good ritual music. John McCann has brought imagination to Entrance Antiphons which should inspire others to explore this neglected dimension of music for the Mass.
Choral Praise Comprehensive - Second Edition with Readings
Oregon Catholic Press, Portland, OR, edition 12035, c. 800pp.
Choral Praise is designed to make life easier for users of Oregon Catholic Press's annual Missal programmes such as Breaking Bread. It is designed to save the choir member having to deal with lots of different pieces of paper for a single liturgy by bringing together in a single volume over 500 pieces. The repertoire draws heavily from OCP's own publications but also includes hymnody and material from other publishers such as GIA and World Library.
The music is clearly laid out on the page with page turns avoided. To state what may be obvious Choral Praise only contains vocal lines so does not offer keyboard accompaniment or guitar chords these are found in other editions.
Has Choral Praise anything to offer musicians in England and Wales? Though it is founded on a series of participation aids that are not available in England and Wales there are some musicians from whom this might be a useful edition to their shelves. It provides a useful reference to much of the repertoire published by OCP which can be recommended in some planning aids an opportunity to look at text and melody. It also shows what choral arrangements are available for pieces. Some I suspect are only available here - such as the arrangement of Bernadette Farrell's 'Your Words are Spirit and Life'. For many US parishes it presumably provides a relatively cheap way of getting a lot of music for a choir. Though I can imagine that it would be economically less viable here it is a pity that none of our hymnbooks provides a choral edition or at least choral collection. My impression is that since the influence of the music of Taizé and later Iona there is an expectation once more that parts be sung and the music enhanced.
In Faith, In Hope
Portland, OCP Publications, 2005. Choral Songbook 12749, Compact Disc 12750
Distributed in UK by Decani
There is something about Christopher Walker’s music that tells you that it has been prayed by people. Even the loud exuberant numbers are expressions of dynamic faith rather than just spectacle.
In Faith, In Hope is graced by a picture of Lindisfarne Priory on its cover. Inside it is a rather a mixed bag not in terms of quality but because of the styles and origins of the various pieces.
Some of the pieces are from in the RCIA resource collection Christ we proclaim: the title song In Faith, in Hope and Great is the power we proclaim, written for the Silver Jubilee of Clifton Cathedral and first published in Laudate. There appearance here not only gives a wider audience to these pieces but is also a reminder that music for rites is integral to parish music.
Christ’s victory over death is the striking theme of three of the songs. O Death, where is your power uses couplets of scriptural and liturgical images:
On the tree he died for our redemption.
On the tree he claimed the victory.
The short, strong verses gives the song a feeling of proclamation. Christ, my hope, has risen is a gospel style setting of the Easter Sequence with a punchy refrain for the assembly. In Christus Vincit Christopher Walker acknowledges his debt to Laurence Bévenot who resurrected the piece from the Worcester Antiphoner. Instead of the Latin verses the text is drawn from the Exsultet and Romans 6. It would make an energetic entrance song for the Easter Season.
Walker’s UK roots are acknowledged in the arrangement of the traditional carol A Virgin most pure and the use of the tune of the Skye Boat Song with a text about the Spirit of God.
Interesting are the inclusion of three pieces not involving the assembly. As in previous collections there is a clear understanding of the ministry of the choir or cantor within the liturgy and the place for the solo piece. May the mind of Jesus with a text by Alan Rees is reminiscent of the Grail Prayer. Set me as a seal draws its texts from the Song of Songs. They will never hunger is provided as a choral postlude or meditation to the simple setting of the Funeral Litany from the Order of Christian Funerals.
Following One in body, heart and mind in the collection At the Name of Jesus it is good to see the composer continuing to work on music for the communion procession. Two examples are given in this collection, the title song In Faith, in Hope and Call us to your table. In Faith, in Hope could be used at other times as well. The verses, of which there many, are intercessory leading into the refrain which is a request for unity, to be in communion. There are two sets of verses for Call us to your table: the first set about the physicality of communion; the second set based on the Ephesians canticle from Evening Prayer. Call us to your table is perhaps the most striking piece in the collection. One of the common aspects of many of the pieces in the collection is a richness of harmony and harmonic language. Call us to your table clothes a simple melody with deft harmonic sidesteps that leap between keys. The effect is neither awkward or attention seeking. The harmony seems to be about the opening up of a mystery and an invitation to participate in it Call us to your table.
At Home with the Word 2006
Chicago, Liturgy Training Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-56854-535-5. $8.00
Distributed in UK by McCrimmons
Daily Prayer 2006
Bryan M Cones
Chicago, Liturgy Training Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-56854-539-8. $15.00
Distributed in UK by McCrimmons
Each year Liturgy Training Publications publishes a range of annual publications to assist fruitful participation in the liturgy and the prayer life of the Church. Other useful publications are the annual Sourcebook for Sundays and Seasons and the Year of Grace Liturgical Calendar.
At Home with the Word provides the text of the Sunday readings for each week (using the US Lectionary) together with ‘Scripture Insights’ and a ‘Practice of Virtue’ an idea to act on the scriptures in our daily lives. For each season there are prayers for use both before and after the reading the word and an outline of the Weekday readings for the Season. There are helpful introductions to the Gospels of Mark and John and to studying and praying with Scripture.
Daily Prayer offers a simple form of a daily office. It differs from A time of prayer in offering material for everyday. There is a seasonal psalm, scripture reading, a reflection many of them drawn from the tradition of the Church ideas for intercessions and a concluding prayer. It uses NRSV and Grail psalter so the scripture texts would be familiar to English and Welsh readers. Even if the book was not followed as a daily pattern of prayer many would find it an excellent resource to draw upon when leading prayer for others.
God Among Us
John Foley sj
Portland, OCP Publications, 2005. Choral Songbook 12793, Compact Disc 12792
Distributed in UK by Decani
Tryin’ to get ready
Janét Sullivan Whitaker
Portland, OCP Publications, 2005. Choral Songbook 12023, Compact Disc 12024
Distributed in UK by Decani
Initial impressions of God among us may be misleading snow falling on a floodlit church but there is nothing specifically for Christmas in this wide ranging collection of hymns and psalms. There are settings of texts by Genevieve Glen, Timothy Dudley Smith and James Quinn and of psalms 39 and 129.Of particular note are the ‘title track’ God among us, O Silence a reflection on the paradoxical nature of God and Spirit of God drawn from Veni Creator Spiritus.
Tryin’ to get ready is a collection of music for the Advent Season in an eclectic variety of styles: chant to gospel. Included are settings of psalms (24, 79 and 84). A haunting setting of the ‘O antiphons’ Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus and a Marian song, You Humbly Followed that would work effectively as a Communion processional song. If I had to choose one, which would be an unfair comparison, I would opt for Tryin’ to get ready for the greater variety it offers.