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How the Ordinariate could influence liturgical developments in the Catholic mainstream

Traditional liturgical language will be part of the Anglican patrimony; and one day, we might be able to use it, too

By on Friday, 8 April 2011

Mgr Keith Newton, the head of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham celebrating Mass

Mgr Keith Newton, the head of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham celebrating Mass

Shawn Tribe has written an interesting piece on his New Liturgical Movement website about the possible contribution of the Ordinariate to the development of the vernacular liturgical tradition in the Catholic Church.

He points out the growing interest in the use of Latin in the liturgy, both in the Extraordinary form and in the Novus Ordo. But, as he says, the vernacular is here to stay, and we have to address what has been one problem over recent decades: “our experience with the vernacular”, as he says, “has been rather lack-lustre at best and banal at worst”.

The problem has been addressed, he says, IN PART in the new translation of the liturgy. I would have thought it had been addressed fairly thoroughly by the new translation: but Mr Tribe thinks we can go further, and I have to say that I find his argument compelling. “Enter”, he says, “the Anglican Ordinariate”:

“Within the context of Anglican liturgical patrimony one cannot fail to be stirred by the hieratic English liturgical tradition found there. This hieratic tradition presents a majestic and liturgical form of English that very clearly sits outside the day-to-day world and day-to-day speech. In this regard, it might be understood as similar to the early Latin liturgical tradition itself.

“This aspect is not only worth pursuing and preserving as part of the Ordinariate, but here the Anglican Ordinariate can bring something to the table for broader liturgical consideration within the Roman rite. Indeed, I think it is no exaggeration to say that it can be a tangible, living witness as to how to approach and pursue vernacular liturgical forms in a way which is eminently liturgical and sacral.”

Part of the trouble with that is that most Anglo-Catholics in England today use the Novus Ordo in modern English, both in solidarity with Rome and because, banal though it often is, it is nevertheless, unlike the Anglican modern rite, which is equally banal, undeniably orthodox. This is something they care about (there are Anglo-Catholics so called who don’t and just like a nice service, but we Anglo-papalists—I was one of them — don’t/didn’t have anything to do with them).

So the predominant use in the Ordinariate here will be of the new translation of the Mass (though we English should understand that Anglicanorum Coetibus is addressed to Anglicans throughout the word, and that many of them prefer traditional Anglican liturgical English).

That of course raises the question: what, then, in Parishes which use the Novus Ordo IS the “Anglican patrimony” they are bringing? Well, I’ve addressed that question elsewhere in a series of posts; it isn’t just about liturgy.

But it’s certainly, in part, in the great CARE taken over the liturgy, and in the reverence which characterises its celebration (something not, I fear, always evident in Roman Catholic churches, where often, before Mass, the congregation chatters away without any apparent notion that preparatory prayer for the reception of Holy Communion is necessary).

Despite the fact that the predominant use among converting Catholics is the language of the novus Ordo, what Shawn Tribe calls “hieratic” (roughly “priestly”) English does have its place in the Anglican patrimony—and let’s face it, we’re mostly talking here about the English of Thomas Cranmer, who although a heretic and apostate was nevertheless a master of the English language, and who formalised a style of liturgical English which is still unsurpassed: we recognise that every time we say the Our Father at Mass—in Cranmer’s translation (with one or two minor adjustments) because, frankly, nothing else was good enough.

But Cranmer wasn’t the only master of liturgical English: arguably greater (and himself a clear influence on Cranmer) was Miles Coverdale, translator of the Book of Common Prayer’s very beautiful psalter, and author (in his days as an Augustinian canon) of a majestic pre-Reformation English translation of the Roman Canon, which was authorised for the first time by Pope John Paul over 4 centuries later for use in traditional language parishes of the Anglican Use jurisdiction in the U.S. (a kind of forerunner of the Ordinariate).

I don’t know how many Ordinariate Parishes of this kind there will be in England: but they should be catered for (their liturgical traditions certainly fall under the rubric of “Anglican patrimony”), and when the Ordinariate publishes its liturgical books, the traditional language Anglican Catholic liturgy already in use in America should appear in it.

So that you can see how majestic this language is, here is the Miles Coverdale translation of the Roman Canon, which I now reproduce entire and unabridged (ah, the wonders of the internet) and without any further comment, except to say that if you can read THIS without being moved, you have a heart of stone:

Most merciful Father, we humbly pray thee, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord.

[He joins his hands and, making the sign of the cross once over both bread and chalice, says]:

and we ask, that thou accept and bless + these gifts, these presents, these holy and unspoiled sacrifices.

[With hands extended, he continues]

We offer them unto thee, first, for thy holy Catholic Church: that thou vouchsafe to keep it in peace, to guard, unite, and govern it throughout the whole world; together with thy servant N., our Pope and N., our Bishop and all the faithful guardians of the Catholic and apostolic faith.

Commemoration of the Living

Remember, O Lord, thy servants and handmaids [N. and N.]

[He prays for them briefly with hands joined. Then, with hands extended, he continues]

and all who here around us stand, whose faith is known unto thee and their steadfastness manifest, on whose behalf we offer unto thee, or who themselves offer unto thee, this sacrifice of praise; for themselves, and for all who are theirs; for the redemption of their souls, for the hope of their salvation and safety; and who offer their prayers unto thee, the eternal God, the living and the true.

United in one communion, we venerate the memory, first of the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord Jesus Christ; of Joseph her spouse; as also of the blessed Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Thaddaeus; Linus, Cletus, Clement, Xystus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian and of all thy Saints: grant that by their merits and prayers we may in all things be defended with the help of thy protection.

[Through Christ Our Lord. Amen]

[With hands extended, he continues]

We beseech thee then, O Lord, graciously to accept this oblation from us thy servants, and from thy whole family: order thou our days in thy peace, and bid us to be delivered from eternal damnation, and to be numbered in the fold of thine elect. [Through Christ our Lord.]

Vouchsafe, O God, we beseech thee, in all things to make this oblation blessed, approved and accepted, a perfect and worthy offering: that it may become for us the Body and Blood of thy dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

[He joins his hands].

Who the day before he suffered, [On Maundy Thursday he says:

Who the day before he suffered to save us and all men, that is today],

[He takes the bread and, raising it a little above the altar, continues]:

took bread into his holy and venerable hands,

[He looks upward]

and with eyes lifted up to heaven, unto thee, God, his almighty Father, giving thanks to thee, he blessed, broke and gave it to his disciples, saying:

[He bows slightly.]

Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which will be given up for you.

[He genuflects, shows the consecrated Host to the People, places it on the paten, and again genuflects in adoration. Then he continues]:

Likewise, after supper,

[He takes the chalice, and, raising it a little above the altar, continues]:

taking also this goodly chalice into his holy and venerable hands, again giving thanks to thee, he blessed, and gave it to his disciples, saying:

[He bows slightly.]

Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.

[He genuflects, shows the Chalice to the People, places it on the corporal, and again genuflects in adoration].

[Then with hands extended, the Priest says]:

Wherefore, O Lord, we thy servants, and thy holy people also, remembering the blessed passion of the same Christ thy Son our Lord, as also his resurrection from the dead, and his glorious ascension into heaven; do offer unto thine excellent majesty of thine own gifts and bounty, the pure victim, the holy victim, the immaculate victim, the holy Bread of eternal life, and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.

Vouchsafe to look upon them with a merciful and pleasant countenance; and to accept them, even as thou didst vouchsafe to accept the gifts of thy servant Abel the Righteous, and the sacrifice of our Patriarch Abraham; and the holy sacrifice, the immaculate victim, which thy high priest Melchisedech offered unto thee.

[Bowing, with hands joined, he continues]

We humbly beseech thee, almighty God, command these offerings to be brought by the hands of thy holy Angel to thine altar on high, in sight of thy divine majesty; that all we who at this partaking of the altar shall receive the most sacred Body and Blood of thy Son,

[He stands up straight and makes the sign of the cross, saying]

may be fulfilled with all heavenly benediction and grace. [Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.]

Commemoration of the Dead

[With hands extended, he says]

Remember also, O Lord, thy servants and handmaids, [N. and N.], who have gone before us sealed with the seal of faith, and who sleep the sleep of peace.

[The Priest prays for them briefly with joined hands. Then, with hands extended, he continues]

To them, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, we beseech thee to grant the abode of refreshing, of light, and of peace.

[Through the same Christ our Lord.]

[The Priest strikes his breast with the right hand, saying]

To us sinners also, thy servants, who hope in the multitude of thy mercies,

[With hands extended, he continues]

vouchsafe to grant some part and fellowship with thy holy Apostles and Martyrs; with John, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicitas, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia and with all thy Saints, within whose fellowship, we beseech thee, admit us, not weighing our merit, but granting us forgiveness;

[He joins his hands and continues]

through Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom, O Lord, thou dost ever create all these good things; dost sanctify, quicken, bless, and bestow them upon us;

[He takes the Chalice and the paten with the Host and, lifting them up, sings or says]

By whom, and with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty, world without end.

The People respond: Amen.

  • Anthony Ozimic

    “[T]the vernacular is here to stay” in the liturgy only because neo-conservatives keep propping up the Novus Ordo, instead of calling for it to be buried along with all the other liturgical innovations of the 60s and 70s.

  • Mark Gliddon

    I used such sublime language in saying Mass as an Anglican Priest God willing I will be able to use it again as a Catholic Priest. It is one of the few things I miss, the language and the music.

  • Bwaj

    The Pope will not bury the vernacular just because of a disgruntled lay person. Your duty as a Catholic is to obey as is mine (Heb:13.7,17). The duty of priests is to obey the bishops who must obey the Holy Father (1 St. Peter:5.1,5). The difference is between traditional English or modern English – the latter of which is pathetic. Before the Coucil of Trent we used the Sarum Mass in this country – remember that fact.

  • Mike from Devon

    Hear, hear!

    Catholics of Anglican heritage are able to draw upon the lived history and collective experience of over 450 years of vernacular liturgy which is truly a treasure to be shared with the whole Church.

    Anglican clergy often have an instinctive ability to get the tone ‘right’ in various circumstances. Perhaps a mastery of the different registers of English enables them to select the most appropriate one to any given situation.

    A mastery of the English language is a prerequisite to evangelisation in today’s world, surely? So there is a real pastoral element here as well.

  • Little Black Censored

    Can anybody say exactly where this version of the Canon was discovered? It looks the same as one of the several variants used in different editions of the English Missal, apart from several N.O. alterations (“which will be given up for you”, “for you and for all”, “do this in memory of me”). The version attributed to Coverdale quoted in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is very different, and quite earthy (“all who here stand round about”,”holy and reverend hands”, “take this, ye all”, “excellent cup”). Did Coverdale make more than one translation, or did editors keep revising the original?

  • Lee

    I find it disconcerting but by no means thy fault Mr Oddie that Latin is now seen as a mere ‘interest’ when it should be the norm of the church. 2000 years + use of a language grounded compared if i’m to be excused pidgin cum slang which developed from Latin and the use of vernacular in general (barring those languages which can sustain important concepts contionously like Greek, Syriac etc). It’s about high time that the Real Catholics in the body of Christ stand up and be heard so that we can get back to proclaiming truths ‘properly’ as opposed to the malaise we now contionusly find ourselves in with vernacular use and thus ambiguity.

  • W Oddie

    I absolutely agree that Latin should be the norm. It’s ridiculous, for instance, to go to Mass at St Mark’s Venice to find that at least 80% of the congregation is not Italian and obviously doesn’t understand italian, but the Mass is in Italian when it should clearly be in Latin, which is as you say, internationally THE NORM. Why is it that in the a “global” age only the once global CXhurch has turned its back on globalism in the liturgy? MAD, MAD, MAD.

  • W Oddie

    Wholly unrealistic, Anthony. Thank God you have more common sense (and more much-needed information) about the world-wide Church and its rights and its needs.

  • Shawn Tribe

    Permit me to quote the full paragraph from my article on this point:

    Within the context of the English-translation of the Roman rite, it is no secret that our experience with the vernacular has been rather lack-lustre at best and banal at worst. Further compounding this problem is that fact that, despite the clear directives of the Second Vatican Council, Latin has been virtually supplanted within parish liturgical life. Accordingly, many rightly and laudably pursue the recovery of the use of Latin within Latin rite worship (and should most certainly continue to do so). That said, there can also be a rejection, avoidance or laissez-faire disposition which can be taken by some of those interested in continuity and re-enchantment toward the vernacular question, and this seems to be conditioned by these aforementioned accidents of post-conciliar history and a reaction to them. While understandable, this is not terribly desireable since it is reasonable to suppose that vernacular is not going away at this point. As such, the question must be thoroughly addressed…

  • Giles H


    Goodness only knows, these things are so easy to find out these days with the internet; The Sarum USE was but one variant of the Roman Rite used in this country prior to the so-called Reformation, along with the Bangor, Ebor etc… If you’ve seen a parallel text of these uses next to the pre Tridentine Roman Rite you may see how fractional the differences were. Also not worth pointing out that the constituion of the most recent oecumenical council requires the retention of the latin language in the sacred rites and merely permits the use of vernacular in them. Aren’t we meant to obey councils?

  • Patricia

    Maybe English will be the universal language in the future.

  • Conchúr

    It seems to be the version used in the current edition Book of Divine Worship. It will be closer to the original (if not the actual original) in the revised edition currently being worked on.

  • David Lindsay

    The Ordinariate could only do this if it received anyone who had ever used anything other than the Modern Roman Rite. No sign of that as yet, any more than of much or any take-up in the Anglo-Catholic heartlands of Wales, the North and the West Country. We seem to be ingesting only the Anglo-Papalist fringe of London and the South East, plus similar pockets elsewhere. And that has all sorts of “baggage” of its own…

    Oh, and please note that the Ordinariate is about to receive and ordain a married clergyman who was a Catholic layman from birth until well into adult life, and who has been an Anglican for only about a dozen years, if that.

  • Ken Purdie

    One can only hope at least some of this comes to pass.

  • Ken Purdie

    Goes as far north as Inverness actually Mr Lindsay. Try to be a little more welcoming. These people will serve only to enrich the Church. It is so badly needed.

  • Fabsbooks

    The Canon was translated ‘after the Use of Salisbury’ and Coverdale, properly, included the Sovereign after the prayer for the Bishop.

    “Which, first of all, we offer unto thee for thy holy catholic church, that thou vouchsafe to pacify, keep, unite, and govern it throughout the whole world, with thy servant our pope N. and our bishop N.,” [that is his own bishop only] “and our king N.” [Foxe's Book of Martyrs The Tenth Book; The beginning of the reign of Queen mary; 240 The Abominable Blasphemy of the Mass.]

    When this was dropped, I don’t know, but surely this is the original translation and, in England, should be kept intact.

  • David Lindsay

    If the Ordinariate followed the general pattern of Anglo-Catholicism, then, beyond London and the South Coast which have histories of their own, it would become thicker on the ground the further north or west you went, with a strong showing in Wales. The alleged Catholic sympathies of the Episcopal Church in Scotland have always been rather more complicated than has often been suggested, Scotland having been telling one of those Anglican Provinces, along with Canada and New Zealand, where hardly any opposition to the ordination of women has ever been expressed. But even so, three or four groups might have been expected to show interest.

    Yet the opposite is the case. The Ordinariate is concentrated heavily in the South, and very heavily in the South East. At whatever stage, while it does exist, it does so only barely in Wales, or Scotland, or old citadels such as Devon, Cornwall, and South Yorkshire. Or, indeed, in the Diocese of Durham, which has been in something approaching a state of civil war ever since November 1992, and where Forward in Faith holds three of the six lay seats on the General Synod, but where interest has been expressed by precisely one parish, a legendary, and undoubtedly thriving, “shrine” with no discernible “Anglican patrimony”.

    There are also a good many such “shines” in and around Sunderland, for example. But even they have shown no apparent inclination to join the Ordinariate. The incense belt either side of the Tees, partly in Durham and partly in York, has no Ordinariate take-up whatever. All Saints, North Street in York itself, one of extremely few places where they really are still using the sort of Tridentine Rite translated into Cranmerian English for which the Ordinariate was conceived, is also conspicuously absent, as is the very similar Saint Stephen On-The-Cliffs in Blackpool. And as, indeed, is the entire Diocese of Blackburn, into which East Lancashire parishes currently under Bradford are resisting transfer because it is so High and because two out of the three bishops, including the diocesan, do not ordain women to the presbyterate.

    One could go on. Meanwhile, the recently resigned Bishop of Fulham joins his most recent predecessor among the Monsignori, the recently resigned Bishop of Richborough becomes Ordinary to his only predecessor, and the recently resigned Bishop of Ebbsfleet is set to be joined in the Ordinariate by the Folkestone final parish of the more recent of his two deceased predecessors (my father’s successor but one in Saint Helena, although he certainly did not use the Roman Rite there). But the Bishop of Beverley and the Retired Bishop of Beverley, neither of them anything less than the most dyed-in-the-wool of Anglo-Catholics, both remain in the Church of England.

  • Ken Purdie

    Not really sure what your point is.I am a little confused as to your own adherence.

  • AgingPapist

    Mike from Devon, Hear, hear, to you what you say.

    The “Anglican Use” liturgy in the United States is the best English liturgy in the American Catholic church today. Traditionalists wedded to the Tridentine Mass it will prove to be too popular and that it will replace both the Tridentine Mass and the current Novus Ordo liturgy in the affections of the laity. They’re right. They have everything to fear because Latin rite Catholics are flocking to the few Anglican Ordinariate parishes in the U.S. There will be a cascade to new Ordinariate parishes as they come into existence.

    English is the lingua franca of the world now, not Latin. Let us keep the Latin MUSICAL tradition (which Henry VIII and Elizabeth I themselves would have known and cherished), but subject to the local bishop’s desires, as the Constitution on the Liturgy provides, but let us incorporate it into the equally beautiful English language heritage left to us by Cranmer, Coverdale, Byrd and the Carolines. To create a Mass and offices truly fitting for today’s Catholics using that lingua franca.

    To wish for a return to Pius V’s Tridentine Mass to supplant the Novus Ordo and to replace the liturgy of the Ordinariate’s and it’s unique gifts which it will bring to the Roman Church, is pure folly. The stuff of hopelessly romantic dreamers who seriously entertain the return of the Papal States, the use of the tiara, and other ridiculous trappings. All suggestive of a Church which is gone for good, lives within our history books and museums, and should be kept there and only there permanently.

  • AgingPapist

    I find it disconcerting but by no means thy fault Mr Oddie that Latin is now seen as a mere ‘interest’ when it should be the norm of the church
    This is a minority view within the Anglophone Church. Latin is dead and Vatican II laid the trap for having it killed.

    By calling for Latin to be retained and to have “a pride of place”, the Council also killed and arranged for it’s burial. The genii was let out of the bottle as soon as bishops left Rome and returned to their dioceses. Pope Paul VI himself lost control of the liturgy’s direction, and most bishops ignored him anyway. One can blame that wicked old archbishop Bugnini, but Pope Paul was running the show and John Paul II. The latter who, until 1988, had bigger fish to fry and couldn’t have cared less about the state of the liturgy.

  • AgingPapist

    Does anyone know when the Anglican liturgy for the Ordinariate in the UK will be ready? It will be interesting to see what revisions are made to the “Book of Divine Worship” for the American Ordinariate.

  • AgingPapist

    Anthony seems to forget that old “neo-conservative” Pope Benedict is approving a new, and I might add a very disappointing, English missal this year. This is a clear sign the Novus Ordo is here to stay, but with revisions and reforms to be sure.

    Traditionalists, SSPX and their ilk will eventually break with this pope, as they have with his predecessors and probably declare Benedict’s election invalid and his chair vacated. Their great hope of supplanting the Novus Ordo with the Tridentine Mass is a leap into Fantasia and little more than that.

  • AgingPapist

    PS We mustn’t forget the value of Anglican matins and evensong in restoring an appreciation of psalmody, the rich hymnody and choral tradition associated with these services,. Providing a central role for more scripture in the day to day parish liturgical schema. The public chanting of the Roman and Novus Ordo offices are gradually being introduced in more Latin rite parishes, but the Ordinariate’s retention of these offices will give a further impetus to this, as more Latin rite Catholics come to encounter this marvelous tradition. Just as Byzantine daily offices served as a powerful example to follow in restoring the liturgy of the hours to Roman parishes.

  • AgingPapist

    I think it is now.

  • W Oddie

    I’m sorry, rereading this that it opens distinctly discourteously, in reponse to someone who deserves better of any Catholic than that.

  • Fabsbooks

    For those that are interested the Foxe’s Book of Martyrs Canon can be found here:

  • Ordinariate Bound

    David Lindsay’s regular and ill-informed diatribes seem to continue to be a lone voice in opposition to the Ordinariate amongst Catholics of a more traditional persuasion. Whatever his experience of Anglo-Catholicism, in whatever form and in whatever part of the country, there is a serious lack of understanding of the movement, of the people, and of the context in which the Ordinariate has been established.

    The insistence that Anglican Patrimony must mean traditional language Eucharistic rites is to miss the point entirely. Nobody ordained in the Church of England after 1980 will have been using a rite along these lines on a regular basis as a matter of course, even if they have worked in an English Missal or Prayer Book parish. Dr Oddie’s analysis is spot on in this regard – it is about CARE, not rite/use/form.

    That said, many of these parish – even those which use the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite at the Mass – will have a tradition of celebrating Evensong according the Book of Common Prayer, or in the very least using elements of the 1662 Prayer Book in their devotions.

    The exact reason why so many of the northern ‘shrines’ are not joining the Ordinariate at this stage has nothing to do with the sort-of Ordinary Form gang-mentality which David Lindsay suggests, but rather because many of these places are *exactly* what Dr Oddie refers to when he describes Anglo-Catholics who are not concerned with orthodoxy. Many of these places use the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, yes, but they have an attachment to being “high” and “extreme”, rather than Catholic. It is often the case that the clergy of such parishes will make a big “thing” about using the Roman Rite but publically disagree with the Catholic Church’s teaching on major issues (and I don’t just mean women priests or homosexuality).

    Amongst those joining the Ordinariate in England & Wales this year are clergy who have never worked in Roman Rite parishes, but have always used Anglican liturgical books – however dire they can be – and who will now be moving to celebrate the Ordinary Form, or indeed the Anglican Use, in a way which reflects the intrinsic dignity and reverence of all forms of worship in many Anglican parishes, no matter what book is on the altar.

  • Czarina

    I’m a post-Vatican II baby, long lapsed.
    Returned to the Church one year ago, after attending my first Latin mass.
    Priests should be able to deliver mass in both Latin and the vernacular.

  • Timothy McHugh

    One observation:  the “pro multis” is here rendered “for all”.  A little bit surprising.  

  • Catholic365

    For someone who appears so erudite , it amazes me that you would speak so vehemently on a subject of which your ignorance is obvious. “Traditionalists, SSPX and their ilk will eventually break with this
    pope, as they have with his predecessors and probably declare Benedict’s
    election invalid and his chair vacated.” What? The SSPX has never broken with any pope and have never advocated any of that sedevacantist nonsense. Such a statement reveals both prejudice and ignorance. I don’t care if you are for them or against them, but at least make an effort to know what you are talking about.

    While I am not with the SSPX and have never even been to one of their Masses, I think I can safely say what you call “…a leap into Fantasia…” they refer to as Catholic Tradition.