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HOLY COMMUNION -- 1662 Book of Common Prayer

HOLY COMMUNION -- 1662 Book of Common Prayer

By Chuck Collins
February 4, 2023

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer is the standard - the norming theological and liturgical norm for all subsequent revisions of the Prayer Book.

I have long known about the rubric in the 1662 Book that states that the priest will stand at the north end of the table (not altar!) to preside over Holy Communion.

This means that the celebrant is neither facing the people nor has his back to the people, both of which communicates in not-so-subtle-ways that he is the intermediary between us and God.

It communicates that he who has magical hands and words, and not God, is the consecrator of the bread and wine in Holy Communion. I love this liturgical message that dates back to the 1552 Book of Common Prayer, but I've sometimes thought that those who insist on calling an altar a "table," and who preside at Holy Communion on the north side of the table are fussy, legalistic liturgical Protestants.

My friends Andrew Pearson and David Browder are studious and thoughtful, but not pretentious, about this. Then this morning another friend, Daniel Stoddart, sent me the concluding chapter of Arthur Bennett's book, Table and Minister, that states what I believe is the heart and mind of Thomas Cranmer and the original intent of the Prayer Book worship: "When the position of the celebrant is under revision, the leading question is whether his stance truly expounds the doctrine of justification by faith. If it obscures it, or teaches something other, it must be condemned."

I am overwhelmed thinking about how modern-day Anglicans have imported all sorts of Roman Catholic, Tractarian, and ritualist ideas and practices that betray the original intention of our Anglican fathers.


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