Page images
PDF
EPUB

PRAYER FOR ONE ABOUT TO RECEIVE CONFIRMATION, Almighty FATHER, who calledst me in baptism, and receivedst me for thine own child, by adoption and grace, perfect, I beseech thee, the good work which thou hast begun in me: dispose me in this holy ordinance to receive thy Heavenly favour, and seal to me thy mercy by an increase of thy Holy Spirit ; that, with his mighty aid, I may do what of myself I cannot_avoid sin, and keep thy commandments: that the thoughts of my heart, and the words of my lips, and my outward actions, may be acceptable in thy sight: that I may be worthy to partake in the communion of the body and blood of thy son, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Eucharist; that I may walk in thy fear, and in the belief and hope of thy mercy all the days of my life, and at length be received into thine everlasting kingdom, through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, dominion and power, henceforth and for ever. Amen.

OBSERVATION OF THE RUBRICS. MR. EDITOR,—These are days when grievances are not likely to remain undiscovered or unuttered; and among other reforms in the church, likely to render much more efficient both her general arrangements and the comfort and usefulness of her clergy, we have heard much of reform in her liturgy. Now I would not say that it is incapable of improvement; but I would not willingly touch a service or a prayer, as to doctrine, sentiment, or expression, except it were to obviate certain perplexities which harass the mind of some of her lessinformed members, because they are apt to think the church says what assuredly she does not mean to say. A great advantage would indeed arise, were the admirable, but superabundant materials of our morning service distributed over the day, in order that servants and others, who do not or cannot attend in the morning, might sometimes hear the commandments, and join in the litany, and have the opportunity to receive the Lord's supper. All this requires merely an alteration of recent custom, with the sanction of episcopal authority and recommendation, to be in many respects advantageous. It would be a return to the practice of better times; it would not require the alteration of a prayer or rubric; it would relieve the feeling of lengthiness in our tripled morning service; it would present much greater variety, in a mode which would tend to greater edification; and I have the surest ground to think, that it would increase both our congregations and our communicants.

ỉ know you do not much admire liturgical reform; but what I have stated above may not seem to deserve the name, in

any objectionable sense of the word. Whether I may ever trouble you, or any one else, with practicable suggestions on the subject alluded to above, I will not at present determine. But I do not see so bright a prospect of benefit resulting in practice from such modification and adaptation of our full and comprehensive materials for the guidance of our devotions as I should wish to anticipate, even though I think it is required by the present exigences of the church ; and I will give my reasons.

The clergy do not at present apply the contents of the liturgy to the best advantage: they are wofully ignorant of the rubrics. Now, as the entire body of them might be got up for examination much more

easily than the second book of Euclid, this argues some inattention. I wish I could venture to say, that I believe the majority have paid due attention to those little matters, the neglect of which is sometimes unseemly, sometimes less edifying, but in all cases not better than according to due order. Now, if convocation were to issue a new book of common prayer, in which every excellence was combined, and in which not the most punctilious ritualist could suggest an amendment, still, if the next generation of clergy were to be as little versed in the rubrics as many now are, in practice its beauty would be grievously impaired. I will briefly enumerate some of the little grievances which the liturgy and rubrics might specify, in a petition to the bishops or to both houses of convocation.

1. About five of the introductory sentences are read frequently, the rest very rarely. Now, how appropriate for the Sundays in Advent, and those of Lent, would be that from Matt. iii. 2,“ Repent ye,” &c. The value of all, and the importance of rendering them all familiar to our congregations, will be seen from Dean Comber's classification of them.

2. Does not the direction at the end of the absolution, “ The people shall answer here, and at the end of all other prayers, Amen,” seem to suggest that the mental prayer, for a space, of all assembled, to which the conclusion of the absolution exhorts us, was not meant to be discontinued. See Palmer's Origines Liturg., p. 107. Here I speak doubtfully; rather as suggesting a query, whether such a silence for a few moments in that place might not be solemnizing and profitable, before the commencement of the Lord's prayer.

3. Although there is no direction to announce the day of the month and the Psalms, yet we are expressly directed how to announce the lesson. We are nowhere directed to say, “ The first lesson appointed for this morning service is _.” I have known a clergyman suppose that, because another had said “Here beginneth such a chapter of such a book,” he must have read some other lesson than that appointed.

4. Why are the Benedicite and Benedictus, in many churches, rarely, if ever, used? The former I always read after the first chapter of Genesis instead of chanting the Te Deum, and have the Benedictus always chanted on Sacrament Sundays. In a large county town I quite astonished the vicar, for whom I took the desk on Trinity Sunday, by asking if I should read the Benedicite after the first lesson. He scarcely appeared to remember that it was in the morning prayer; but it was read that day, to his great and unexpected satisfaction.

5. Why do so few ministers say Amen at the end of the general confession, the Lord's prayer, and the creed? Do they not remark that it is printed, or ought to be, in the same type, and not in italics ; because it is a continuation and close of the same jointly-repeated prayer, and not a responsive Amen, in those cases ?

6. Why do so many congregations kneel down before the minister has first pronounced, with a loud voice, “ The Lord be with you," &c.?

7. Why are the collects at the end of the communion service never introduced after the collects of morning or evening prayer, or litany, by the discretion of the minister ?” The first, second, and fourth would be very suitable for the first and last Sunday in the year; the first and third for sick societies, or the commencement of any public work.

8. Why do clergymen often forget to observe the proper use of the collects ? I do not allude to the question what is to be used on a saint's-day, &c., but to the fact, that many overlook the change arising from the varying number of Sundays after Epiphany and Trinity, and have perhaps scarcely observed the directions given before and after the collect for the first Sunday in Advent, and after those for St. Stephen's day, Ash Wednesday, and the last Sunday after Trinity. I remember a clergyman reading the collect for the Nativity on New-Year's-eve, when the congregation was specially assembled for worship on the last evening of the year, and that for the Circumcision would have been peculiarly appropriate. In another church, so frequent has been the blundering, of course from mere inattention, about the collects, that a layman offered to supply the vestry and desk with clerical almanacs, if the clergy would promise always to look what Sunday it was.

9. Why are the beautiful prayers “ for those to be admitted to holy orders," in the Ember weeks, so seldom heard ? I have actually written above them in the church book the four times of the year at which they are ordered to be used; and I always find that ordinations have taken place in some of the dioceses. And I hope I am not very blameable in always using them whenever I know of one in my own diocese, and in specially requesting the prayers of the congregation when a labourer is to be ordained for our own parish. As our ordinations are distant in place from many of our parishes, it was intended that our parishioners should be thus present in spirit. Might not a greater interest in the clergy, and a greater blessing from God upon them, be expected, if the duty of prayer for them were not neglected at these seasons ? The church, at least, is guiltless.

I could enlarge upon many other matters in relation to the celebration of the communion, and several other of the offices of the church; but not being quite sure whether the above remarks may meet your approbation, I will pause for the present; and if you should deem the present letter suitable for insertion in your Magazine, I will gladly, at a future time, extend the enumeration. Believe me, yours very truly,

F. V. H.

MAKING THE RESPONSES.

SIR, I have often seen it remarked by those who write either in defence or in eulogy of our church, that one of the great beauties of our liturgy is, that the people are not only allowed, but required to take a vocal part in the public devotions. And yet it is surprising in how few churches this is done. For my own part, being bred up from childhood in a parish in which so full a body of voice rose throughout the church that the voice of the clerk was barely distinguishable, and having always felt how cheerful a thing it was to attend divine worship in my parish church, I cannot describe the damp and chill it cast over me when I first attended divine worship in a church in which that practice was not observed. It appeared like being debarred of a rightful privilege, for I durst not venture to raise my voice amidst a general silence. I was, however, told by my tutor that it was my duty to conquer what he called a false shame, and give the Almighty the public honour which the church ordained, whatever others might do. I accordingly did so, and have continued the practice of responding, in a voice more or less audible, wherever I was.

Sometimes this led to unpleasant remarks; but I remember particularly that, upon one occasion, on entering church in a strange place, not a voice was heard in the part of the church in which I took my seat; but I had not been there ten minutes when there had arisen by degrees a general murmur all around me—all being willing to take their part, but none having resolution to make a beginning. Ever since I have been in orders, I have directed my attention to the subject, and have spoken to my congregations from time to time, sometimes at length, sometimes more incidentally, and always with some degree of success. But it is only in my present parish, and recently, that I have arrived at anything like a complete accomplishment of my wishes. The plan I have adopted is the same pursued by the vicare of the parish I have alluded to. Besides repeated addresses on the subject, I trained my Sunday-school children to respond aloud. It is true that there are some harsh voices amongst them, and there are some who are occasionally too zealous; but they supply a great desideratumviz., a body of voice to support those who are too diffident to like to hear their own voices. Most persons, however, after a time, become indifferent upon that subject. But my great triumph has been getting my singers to join in a body, and in something of a chanting tone. It supplies a kind of rude music, it encourages others to raise their voices a pitch higher, and it adds a cheerfulness to our worship which makes us all feel that it is pleasanter than formerly to be in the house of God; and the feeling that we are not alone in our approaches to the throne of grace makes our prayers and praises more hearty and more delightful. If any other of your correspondents have any questions to ask, or any objections to make, I shall be ready to reply.

I remain, Sir, yours, &c., J. B-N. Leigh, March 15th, 1836.

SERVICES IN LENT. Sir,—Permit me to call your attention to an absurdity which has forced itself into my notice. I happen to reside in a parish where the

The Rev. Samuel Hey, brother of Hey, of Cambridge, Vicar of Steepleashton, Wilts, a man absolutely revered through all that neighbourhood for his primitive and apostolical habits, and manners, and appearance, his strict attention to his duty, his striking manner of performing his public offices, and his close adherence in his own person to old-fashioned church-of- England principles and practices, without any of the spirit of party.

only regard that the clergyman vouchsafes to the season of Lent, is the reading prayers on the morning of Ash Wednesday, and also on Good Friday, when a sermon follows them. The church, except on Sundays, and for the performance of parochial duties, remains, as at other times, closed. Nevertheless, in each of the Sunday's sermons, we are regularly edified by a string of allusions to “ this time of humiliation,” “ the season of fasting ordained by the church,” &c., &c. Now this method of proceeding would, in every-day matters, be deemed farcical ; nor do I see why it should gain greater credit when adopted in religious observances. Either the keeping Lent is a worthless ceremony, an infringement of Christian liberty, a relic of popery, or else an wholesome and salutary discipline; if the former, let it be wholly neglected, or observed just so as to escape ecclesiastical censure; let it be dealt with as I have described; but let it not, while practically scorned, be obliquely recommended and extolled; if the latter, he surely is not clear of guilt who, through carelessness or sloth, omits to give the people committed to his charge every opportunity of benefiting by it. This kind of conduct, either with regard to Lent, or any other fast or festival of the church, must disgust thoughtful men, afford an excellent topic for ridicule to the profane, and be passed unheeded only by the merest triflers.*

H. F.

EFFECT OF LIBERAL PRINCIPLES PREDICTED. MY DEAR SIR,—The clergy of the present day are not the only ones who have foreseen the effects which liberal principles would produce. I have just, by chance, hit upon what might almost be called a prophecy of the excellent Bishop Lancelot Andrews. I found it in Chalmers' “ Biographical Dictionary;" but not perhaps where any one of your readers would look for it. It is under the article, “ Matthew Wren.” This man may be heard of in the chapel of both Peterhouse and Pembroke, Cambridge; his introduction to Andrews may be found in Wilson’s “ Merchant Tailors' School,” p. 142, and in the “ British Critic," vol. v. (1816) p. 390.

(1816) p. 390. He became chaplain to Andrews; and in the same capacity attended “baby Charles," as his father, if I err not, nised to call him, in his unhappy matrimonial voyage to Spain. Chalmers says, p. 314—“ After his return to England, he was consulted by the Bishops Andrews, Neile, and Laud, as to what might be the prince's sentiments towards the church of England, according to any observations he had been able to make. His answer was, • I know my master's learning is not equal to his father's,

* “H. F.” is surely not a little hard on his pastor. The duties of Lent are, selfexamination, repentance, humiliation, mortification, fasting. These are to be recommended by the pastor, and practised by the people in private. Prayers on Wednesdays and Fridays (in those small parishes where this is not the case throughout the year) would surely be desirable. There is a great demand for more sermons, but surely the benefit of this holy season cannot be done away by there being no more sermons than usual, if those which are preached are appropriate to the

The desirableness of more must depend on circumstances.-Ed.

season.

« PreviousContinue »