Vol II No. 5
Daily Thought

The Logic of the Lord's Supper in Cranmer's Common Prayer

by sinetortus


The Spiritual Architecture of the Church’s Worship:

The Logic of the Lord’s Supper in Cranmer’s Common Prayer

A Paper by the Revd Fr Gavin Dunbar

President of the Prayer Book Society

In this paper (attached) Fr. Dunbar addresses  the “order of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion” as it is found chiefly in the Prayer Books of 1552, 1559, and 1662, and specially its logic or rationale.

He notes that among modern liturgists this logic has been found deficient but argues that

“In my observation, however, the criticism heaped on the 1552-1662 Prayer Books rarely proceeds from a careful consideration of its rationale and logic” and his paper promotes a better understanding of this logic arguing that,   “There is indeed a “spiritual architecture” in the Church’s worship”, which he begins to unfold first by reference to the  triadic structure present writing:

“I begin with the observation of another conservative evangelical Anglican with a sympathy for the Prayer Book and Articles, J. I. Packer, that the building block of much Prayer Book liturgy is a triad which he names “sin, grace, faith”, but which could perhaps more historically be named “guilt, grace, gratitude”, or “repentance, faith, charity”.  In one form or another this triad originates, perhaps, in Luther’s reading of the Epistle to the Romans, as mediated by the 1521 Loci Communes of Philip Melanchthon.  By the mid-sixteenth century, it was a commonplace of Protestant orthodoxy[1], and it is, as one might expect, the logic of the gospel.  In faith alone we grasp hold of the grace of God proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ; and yet this faith is not alone; for it is necessarily preceded by repentance of sin, and is naturally followed by good works (of hope, and every virtue, but especially those of love), done in obedience to the commandments, which are the fruits of a living faith, and which testify to gratitude for this grace. ”

To read more see the whole article

The Spiritual Architecture of the Church’s Worship

[1]  Commenting on the similar structural triad of “guilt, grace, and gratitude” in the Heidelberg Catechism of 1562, Lyle D. Bierma traces it to Luther’s reading of the Epistle to the Romans, as mediated by Melanchthon’s own treatise, the Loci Communes Theologici of 1521, for which it supplied the overall structure.  He notes, however, that “By the mid-sixteenth century, the triad of law-gospel-good works or sin-faith-love had become so much a part of the common stock of Protestant theology that the threefold division of the [Heidelberg Catechism] cannot be traced with any certainty to a particular source of author.” (Lyle D. Bierma et al:  An introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism:  sources, history, and theology, 2005, p. 86).  In the Prayer Book liturgy, a similar triad appears (in the Catechism of 1549 and in the Baptismal rite of 1662) in the threefold baptismal vow, to renounce, believe, and obey.