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Episco-Fact #3
July 3, 2016

Mattie Ross (to LeBeouf):"I figured you for some kind of kneeler."
True Grit

1928 v. 1979 (A final reflection, for the moment, on kneeling)

I am a child of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP 79), 1979. I was confirmed at St. Bartholomew's Church, Manhattan in 1986. This means that my liturgical formation is also BCP 79, which is different in its language and approach to the Eucharist from its 1928 predecessor. Kneeling versus standing, taken up last week is one of the highlighted differences between the two services in the two books.

For years I never understood the above quote. This week I took out my copy of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP 28), 1928 and read The Order for the Administration of the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion. It is a service rich in language, meter, and posture. Most of the influences are late medieval and early Reformation from Elizabethan and Stuart England, not wrong or bad, but different from our current book.

Here are some interesting observations: 1) The Lord's Supper could be done without Morning Prayer, but it was certainly expected that Morning Prayer would precede Holy Communion. 2) The primary posture for the Communion is detailed as kneeling: from the beginning's Our Father, Collect for Purity, Decalogue, Summary of the Law, Lord have mercy, Collect of the Day, and Epistle reading. To standing for the Gospel, the Creed (Apostle's or Nicene), the announcements, the bidding prayer, and prayers and intercessions. Seated for the sermon, and offertory sentences. Then kneeling again for the General Confession, the Great Thanksgiving, the distribution of communion at the altar, and Postcommunion Prayer at one's pew. At the last all stand to sing the Gloria, and receive the Blessing.

Specific changes are too many to detail here, although those details are interesting and contain important theology. Excluding the detail, however, it is still apparent that kneeling for BCP 28er's was important. It illuminates the quote from Mattie Ross in True Grit above.

Episcopalians, like LeBeouf, before 1979 were kneelers, an honored posture before the God of all creation. I understand the deep attachment of my BCP 28 brothers and sisters to this habit of piety, completely changed by the instructions of the BCP 79—not better or worse, bad or good, but certainly different.

The Rev. David Lucey

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