Friday, November 16, 2012

Customary Litany

The first-fruits of Cranmer's liturgical revolution was his English Litany of 1544.  It was a transitional product, still including invocations of the Saints while praying against "the bishop of Rome". The mediæval English Church was fond of the use of the age-old Litany of the Saints in procession, and Anglican usage retained it, albeit as a devotion said kneeling after Morning Prayer, on all Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays; Cranmer first drastically shortened the invocations of the Saints, then abolished them, but retained the other goodly portions of the ancient Litany in general, while adopting into English many feature's of Luther's German recasting of the Litany. The Anglican Litany, in the form it reached by 1662, is generally uncontroversial (especially since that petition against the Roman Pontiff had long since been deleted); to adapt it for Catholic use in the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham was a simple matter.

The following adjustments have been made:
  1. First, the restoration of Cranmer's telescoped invocations of the Saints (vide infra);
  2. The insertion of a petition for the Pope and Ordinary (before that for all the clergy);
  3. Moving the petition for all Bishops, Priests and Deacons to a position before that for the Queen (for the avoidance of any appearance of Erastianism);
  4. Combining the three petitions for the Queen (rather overblown in their deference to the Royal Person as they are) into one, adding reference to "all set in authority under her" (omitting the two petitions for the Royal Family, and the "Lords of the Council, and all the Nobility" respectively);
  5. Revision of that for the Magistrates for more explicitness, by deleting "bless and keep the" and adding instead "guide all Judges and";
  6. Addition of the words "or air" (deleting "by") to the petition for all travellers;
  7. A strange change (perhaps by mistake?) of the response to "Son of God: we beseech thee to hear us" from a repetition of those same words to the usual "We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord";
  8. The insertion of two more petitions immediately before the Agnus Dei, praying for the intercession of the Saints (which seems an odd repetition of the initial invocations) and interceding for the souls of the faithful departed respectively.
Here are the additional texts of the Litany in the Customary, for ease of consultation – firstly, those invocations of the Saints:
Saint Mary, Mother of God, our Saviour Jesus Christ, pray for us.
All holy angels and archangels, and all holy orders of blessed spirits, pray for us.
All holy patriarchs and prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors and virgins; and [1544: all*] the blessed company of heaven, pray for us.
*It would appear that the Customary has missed out "all" by mistake, as it evidently makes better sense. 

Next, those for the Pope and Ordinary, and for the Queen and all in authority (between which the petition for all the clergy is placed): 
That it may please thee to bless N., our Pope, and N., our Ordinary, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee so to rule the hearts of thy servant, Elizabeth our Queen, and all set in authority under her, that they may above all things seek thy honour and glory, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord. 
Lastly, the two final added petitions for the Saints' prayers and the repose of faithful departed:
That it may please thee to grant that, by the intercession of (N. and of) all thy Saints, we may finally attain to thy heavenly kingdom, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to grant to all the faithful departed eternal rest and perpetual light. We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

No comments: