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Creating a New Zealand Prayer Book

Clarifying NZ Eucharist history

Creating a New Zealand Prayer BookOn page 85 of Bishop Brian Carrell’s excellent book, Creating A New Zealand Prayer Book, we find an account of the development of An Alternative Great Thanksgiving – Celebrating the Grace of God [now to be found in A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (NZPB/HKMA) pp. 436-439].

On that page (p.85), Bishop Brian counters a claim that he says I made.

I never made the claim he suggests. And setting that record straight may enhance understanding of New Zealand’s Prayer Book history.

Bishop Brian writes:

Contrary to what some have suggested (e.g. Bosco Peters, The Anglican Eucharist in New Zealand 1814-1989*, p. 39), this was not a ‘party’ effort, engineered by the Commission, to satisfy Evangelicals who felt their eucharistic theology was not catered for in The Great Thanksgivings so far produced by the Commission. It was a purely personal contribution on my own initiative, accepted as such by the Commission for its own merits.

Let me be clear: nowhere have I ever written that An Alternative Great Thanksgiving was a ‘party’ effort, engineered by the Commission, to satisfy Evangelicals who felt their eucharistic theology was not catered for in The Great Thanksgivings produced by the Commission prior to 1984.

What is correct, is that some Evangelical dissatisfaction had still persisted after the 1970 NZ Eucharistic rite. Some people continued to identify the institution narrative, the Last Supper story, as “the consecration” (following the BCP heading confusedly added in 1662). For such people, “extending” the eucharistic prayer after the “consecration” (for them essentially the Last Supper story) was seen as “irrelevancies”. As well as this, those who identified themselves as “Evangelical”, found issues with:

  • offertory material, (offering God the bread and wine – at what in 1970 was titled “The Offertory” and from 1984 became called “The Preparation of the Gifts”; but there was also mention of offering within the Eucharistic Prayer);
  • the Benedictus (usually after the Sanctus: “Blessed is he who comes in the name…”) present in the more catholic BCP1549, but absent from the more protestant BCP1552 (and through BCP1662);
  • lack of sufficient reference to the Cross;
  • the epiclesis, (again present BCP1549, absent from BCP1552);
  • the position of the Lord’s Prayer (the catholic position, BCP1549, being between the Eucharistic Prayer and receiving communion);
  • other material before communion (eg. Agnus Dei, “Lamb of God…”)

The members of The Evangelical Churchmen’s Fellowship wrote, “We believe the Commission has allowed the cross to become merely another one of the aspects of Christ’s saving work rather than its crown and quintessence.” They felt there had been the “introduction of irrelevancies into the service.” “These include invocation of the Holy Spirit, Benedictus, the final paragraph of the Eucharistic Prayer as it stands, and Agnus Dei.” [Source: Provincial Archives, St John’s College, PA MS PCPBR 2/3,7 See my thesis p.159.]

Bishop Brian Carrell, a self-professed Evangelical, prepared a Eucharistic Prayer, An Alternative Great Thanksgiving – Celebrating the Grace of God, with “anti-offertory” words within it (“…our hands are empty until you fill them…”), with no Benedictus, with strong references to the Cross (tending towards the patripassian, “In your Son you suffered with us and for us”), and with a section that, if it is classified as an epiclesis, must be towards the weaker end of that spectrum (“As we eat this bread and drink this wine, through the power of your Holy Spirit feed us with your heavenly food, unite us in Christ, and bring us to your everlasting kingdom.”)

In the 1984 NZ Liturgy of the Eucharist, An Alternative Great Thanksgiving was a prayer printed by itself, located after the conclusion of the eucharistic rite, much like an appendix, which one could turn to after all the offering prayers of The Preparation of the Gifts in the eucharistic rite, and, after using it, one needed to return to the main text for The Communion, which began with the Lord’s Prayer and the other material prior to communion. In other words, one still encountered material that Evangelicals objected to – even though one did not use these.

Bishop Brian had argued for a different way of ordering The Ministry of the Sacrament in his article “Revising the N.Z. Liturgy” in the Evangelical magazine, Latimer (March 1981, pp.6-7). In the NZPB/HKMA 1989 revision, some very clever typographical changes were made, a few texts were added after An Alternative Great Thanksgiving. This would not have looked to be making any point in particular, but meant that the material Evangelicals had taken issue with now did not appear. After The Peace and a possible hymn, one could immediately direct people to page 436. There, no offering prayers are provided; the Alternative Great Thanksgiving follows; no text of the Lord’s Prayer is provided following this prayer; there is no need to turn elsewhere for the words of the fraction which are provided; no text for Agnus Dei is provided; there is no need to turn elsewhere for the words of The Invitation which are provided – the next time a page number is needed would be after receiving Communion. This layout essentially followed the suggestions made by the Rev. Colin Clark and Rev. (later Bishop) Maurice Goodall in the overtly Evangelical Latimer Foundation response to liturgical reform, Worship for Today.

What I wrote (see my thesis pages 65-66) was:

Some Evangelical dissatisfaction had still persisted after 1970. The growing consensus over a theology of “consecration by thanksgiving” as being Biblically based had quelled discontent with what were once seen as “irrelevancies” extending the eucharistic prayer after the “consecration” (i.e. the institution narrative). However, dissatisfaction still continued over offertory material, the Benedictus, lack of sufficient reference to the Cross, the epiclesis, and the Lord’s Prayer and other material before communion (Agnus Dei, “Prayer of Humble Access”).

By 1984, a step had been made to satisfy some of the Evangelical preferences when the Rev. Brian Carrell produced an Alternative Great Thanksgiving. This was written to be acceptable to all, but embodying some of these leanings. The Benedictus was not an option, there was a special focus on Christ’s suffering and death, and the material after the institution account had the very opposite of offering: “we were far off until you brought us near and our hands are empty until you fill them.” In 1984 it was included after the first rite as almost an appendix.

In A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa some ingenious typographical additions were made which, without being immediately obvious, fulfilled all of the above goals. While in 1984 one needed to turn back to main text after the eucharistic prayer, in the Prayer Book this is no longer necessary. In this alternative, however, only the text of the fraction and the Invitation have been included (much as suggested in Worship for Today p.23). Furthermore one can move to this eucharistic prayer immediately from the Peace, so that the offering overtones of the (optional) texts at “The Preparation of the Gifts” can be omitted without immediately appearing to be making a point.

– o – o – o –

*The Anglican Eucharist in New Zealand, 1814-1989 (Joint Liturgical Studies), is a published reworking of my thesis of the same name. Also for sale here.

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