Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Splitting the Difference

When Luther infamously rejected the Roman Canon as "reeking of oblation", retaining alone the Verba Testamenti (the words of Our Lord instituting this Sacrament) found "[captive] like the Ark in the Temple of Dagon", he little kenned that the Canon is among the oldest surviving Eucharistic Prayers, being attested to in substantially the same form by St Ambrose in his authenticated late fourth century De Sacramentis, and most probably being of earlier origin, as for example the phrase quod tibi obtulit summus sacerdos tuus Melchisedech is objected to in the Quæstiones Veteris et Novæ Testamenti (circa 370) on the grounds that Melchisedech is not called "high priest" in Scripture, but rather "priest of God most High" - and this implies that the offending phrase is a mistranslation of the Greek τὴν προσφορὰν Μελχισεδὲκ τοῦ ἱερέυς σοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου.

The mediævals of course expressed the highest praise for the most sacred mysteries of the Canon of the Mass, without, however, always understanding much of it - for instance, Paul the Deacon wrote of the Supplices te rogamus that it was not so much as to be comprehended as to be feared!  In the meanwhile, they supplied from Gallican and other sources many proleptic prayers to be used during the Offertory, to the extent that these almost formed a doublet of the Canon, and indeed were known collectively as the Little Canon or Canon minor.

To return to Luther, in his Formula missæ he made the radical but surprisingly 'traditional' suggestion that the consecratory words of the Lord ought be transferred from their silent recitation in the midst of the Canon to a public chanting in the midst of the Preface - I say this is 'traditional', for it actually well corresponds, surprisingly enough, to the consecratory Prefaces of the Roman Rite, such as those for ordinations.  I say this is in a manner 'traditional', further, because there is good evidence from early sources, including in Italy, that the Sanctus is a later addition to the Eucharistic Prayer, being perhaps Syrian in origin, and so the no longer extant original of the Canon may well have passed from praise of God in what is now the opening of the Preface straight into the consecratory and oblatory passages of the Canon, thus constituting what's called a two-step prayer, rather than the somewhat later three-step Eucharistic Prayers (such as those of the Byzantine Rite), with their successive thanksgiving series, Verba and epiclesis, each tidily attributed to Each of the Divine Persons in due order.  

(En passant, the fact that the epiclesis occurs in different places in different rites, sometimes explicitly calling upon the Spirit to consecrate the elements, sometimes doing so inchoately or not mentioning the Holy Ghost, as famously in the Roman Canon itself, shews that this is a later explicitation of the liturgical and sacramental action, and not an original and absolutely necessary element thereof - Our Lord certainly blessed the bread and wine He transsubstantiated, but didn't invoke the Holy Ghost by name to do so: the words He spoke as the Word Incarnate effected what they signified.)

By emplacing the Verba in the midst of the Preface, the Sanctus could then follow, and the elevation of the Sacrament - which Luther considered a happy and salutary custom - would be carried out directly before the Benedictus, thus as much as he felt possible conserving the accepted shape of the liturgy.  Now, it goes without saying that I hardly approve of such highhanded mucking about with the liturgical order laid down by Holy Church, inspired by the Holy Ghost, but I feel called to speculate a little about this...

Some few Lutheran Agendæ kept a modified and invariable Secret as an epicletic prayer, but in general, as I understand it because it to them smacked of Calvinist practice whereby the Reformed sectaries pretended that prayer to the Holy Spirit obtained that the elements be set aside as mere instruments and tokens, Lutherans dropped any prayer asking for the Sacrament to be effected, considering that the Verba alone sufficed (as indeed they do, after all).  However, Luther in his Deutsche messe introduced what became very popular and almost standard: to sing the Preface and Sanctus, then (in inverted order) the Lord's Prayer before the Verba, so rendering, in popular acceptation at least, the Our Father an epicletic, even consecratory prayer begging God to "Give us this day our daily bread" - in a sense reducing the Eucharist to Holy Communion only.  

He did I recall recommend the Pax Domini be kept, recognizing it quite shrewdly for what liturgiologists have established it originally was, a pre-communion blessing, and likewise kept the Agnus Dei: Lutherans have maintained both of these.  He also allowed for what has fallen out of use among them irregardlessly, the precommunion private prayer Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi.

So, why this great long curious winding detailing of orthodox and heterodox liturgy?  (For even more of the same, consult my posting about Swedish Lutheran liturgical history.)  Well, seeing as there is the Anglican Use Book of Divine Worship, what would be proposed for, so to speak, Uniate Lutherans?  I make bold to suggest that recovery of the Suscipe sancta Trinitas as a sort but complete formula of anamnesis and oblation for the living and the dead would supply the missing element to Lutheran formulas!  Here is the suggested schema:
  • Epicletic Secret Prayer (Oratio super oblata), fixed - as for example derived, oddly enough, from the Secret of the orations pro rege:
Munera, Domine, quæsumus, [hæc tua] sanctifica: ut [...] nobis Unigeniti tui corpus et sanguis fiant [...].  Qui tecum vivit...

(Hallow, Lord, we beg, these Thy gifts: that they may become for us the Body and Blood of Thine Onlybegotten.  Who with Thee liveth...)
  • Sursum corda and Preface, with the Verba inserted (Qui pridie or somesuch), but then continuing on with the usual conclusion describing the angels' worship;
  • Sanctus and Benedictus, with the Elevation between, and...
  • Prayer Suscipe sancta Trinitas - I am thinking of the very short but complete Dominican Rite variant (the Roman or another would do as well*), which oddly enough is identical to that of the Use of Hereford, and expands upon the Pauline statement that the use of the Sacrament makes manifest the saving death of the Lord until He come (I Cor. xi, 26):
Suscipe sancta Trinitas hanc oblationem, quam tibi offero in memoriam Passionis Domini nostri Jesu Christi: et præsta ut in conspectu tuo tibi placens ascendat; et meam et omnium fidelium salutem operetur æternam.
(Receive, holy Trinity, this offering, which I offer thee in memory of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ: and grant that it may arise pleasingly in Thy sight unto Thee; and may it work my eternal salvation and that of all the faithful.)
  • Doxology Per ipsum, sung aloud;
  • The Lord's Prayer, concluding, as the Lutherans like, with its Doxology;
  • Pax Domini and Agnus Dei;
  • Preparatory prayer(s) (Domine Jesu Christe, qui dixisti and) Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi.
Given the addition in particular of the Suscipe sancta Trinitas*, the previous intercessions offered earlier in the service would be linked to the supreme oblation of the Holy Sacrifice made present in the Consecration.


* If one wishes to continue to play the happy if dangerous game of liturgical recomposition beloved of various Vatican II types, to which yours truly is obviously not entirely immune if only as a parlour game, perhaps instead the Byzantine formula would suit:
Μεμνημένοι τοίνυν τῆς σωτηρίου ταύτης ἐντολῆς καὶ πάντων τῶν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν γεγενημένων, τοῦ Σταυροῦ, τοῦ Τάφου, τῆς τριημέρου Ἀναστάσεως, τῆς εἰς οὐρανοὺς Ἀναβάσεως, τῆς ἐκ δεξιῶν Καθέδρας, τῆς δευτέρας καὶ ἐνδόξου πάλιν Παρουσίας, Τὰ Σὰ ἐκ τῶν Σῶν Σοὶ προσφέρομεν κατὰ πάντα καὶ διὰ πάντα.

(Therefore, remembering this command of our Saviour, and all that He had endured for us: the Cross, the Grave, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into Heaven, the Session at the Right Hand [of the Father], and the Second and glorious Coming again, Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee, on account of all and through all [that Thou hast done for us].)

Controversial, but hopefully interesting? - at least to readers of Sentire cum Ecclesia, I hope!


Schütz said...

I am, perhaps, not unsurprised, Joshua, that no-one has commented on this blog to this point! Somewhat arcane for this time of year, don't you think? In any case, there are probably only three or four blokes in the whole of Australia who would actually care about this (and as far as I know, the other two or three aren't blogging during this holiday season!).

While your analysis of the fate of the Roman Canon among Lutherans is quite correct (Luther definitely regarded the Lord's Prayer preceding the Verba as consecratory), I don't think you should have wasted your efforts on trying to put together an anaphora for Uniate Lutherans!

Consider this:

1) Lutherans are Western Christians
2) their form of the Mass is that of the Roman Rite MINUS the Canon
3) the Canon was excised because of Lutheran arguments against the whole theology implicit (and sometimes explicity) involved in including the verba in an anaphora
4) Were a Lutheran Church ever to be reconciled to Rome holus bolus one of the things one would expect the reconciliation to be based upon would be the admission that Luther was in error (or at least gravely mistaken) to remove the anaphora for the reasons he did
5) While it is unlikely that the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer No. 1) would ever become a favourite of such an imaginary "Uniate Lutheran Church", it is conceivable that there would be no problems with the other three prayers (Many Lutheran Churches have already reintroduced anaphoras on the model of these prayers - sans the sacrificial language).
6) The resultant "Uniate Lutheran Rite" would look so similar to the current Roman Rite as to make no difference.

IOW, if a Lutheran Church was ever to be reconciled with the Roman Church it would not (unlike the Orthodox or even the Anglicans) merit its own special rite.

Anglicanism may (I emphasis MAY) have a claim to be continuing an older Catholic English rite. Lutheran Ordos represent no such ancient rite, and are merely sectarian variations of the Roman Rite. When the sectarianism comes to an end, so will any need for a different rite.

To put it even more simply: Lutheran Masses are Catholic Masses without the Canon.

Joshua said...

Yes, I do love recherche speculation, and on my blog I write about exactly what I please; I've actually toyed with all this for years... what you say is quite true; in some ways I wonder, though, if any High Church Lutherans dared (as did Ritualist Anglicans) to insert such sacrificial prayers sotto voce... my other speculation (parallel to what I've written) is that, seeing as the Canon was regarded with awe but not so much understanding in the late medieval period, while the Little Canon of sacrificial offertory prayers had greatly increased in importance, it is conceivable that one unfollowed path of liturgical development would have led to the Canon being curtailed, and the Action transferred to the Offertory, if you get my meaning...

BTW, Frank Senn wrote an article in Worship a few years back that came to scarily similar conclusions!

Joshua said...

Here's the reference to Frank Senn's article, a photocopy of which I found today inter alia:

Frank Senn, "Towards a Different Anaphoral Structure", in _Worship_, vol. 58, no. 4, July 1984, pp. 346-358.