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New Zealand Prayer Book

General Synod liturgy – vote yes 2

New Zealand Prayer BookPrayer shapes belief. As we worship – so we live. “Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi”.

We need to be very careful, then, in the regular and central fare that nourishes most of us, most of the time.

At core moments prayer has placed us, by being drawn into Christ’s body, to pray with, in, and through Christ, empowered by the Spirit, to God. And that dynamic works both ways, as God then sends us, empowered by the Spirit, to be Christ in the world and to continue Christ’s mission.

Prayer addressed to God, through Christ, in the Spirit is the norm as we give thanks with bread and wine in the eucharist, as we give thanks over the water at baptism, as we ordain someone, and so on. It has been the norm for centuries as Christians gather (are collected) around the scriptures to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church. The central prayer of the Gathering of the Community, the collect, has addressed God, the First Person of the Trinity, through Christ, in the Spirit.

A motion before next month’s General Synod Te Hinota Whanui seeks to preserve this, at least as an option within the actual text in each celebration, in any revision of a New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa:

Moved Ven Canon Andrew Starky Seconded Rev Brian Dawson

That this synod

notes plans for a revision to A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa which would align printed collects with the Revised Common Lectionary, reducing the current provision of three collects per celebration (Sundays, Holy Days) to one collect per celebration (Sundays, Holy Days),

(1) has been intended to be a helpful revision which brings our prayer book’s printed pages into line with common usage of the Revised Common Lectionary

(2) this means that not all celebrations would be provided with a collect following the traditional norm of addressing God, the First Person of the Trinity, through Christ, in the Spirit inherited from the early Church via Cranmer and so shared with the rest of the Anglican Communion; and

therefore resolves,

that in any revision of A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa every celebration be provided, in the text, with at least one collect which follows the taonga/treasure of Trinitarian collects (that is, addressed to God, the First Person of the Trinity, through Christ, in the Spirit); and that, as far as possible, such a collect be provided in Te Reo Maori as well as English.

Once again, this is a highly irenic motion, accepting that some intentionally want to have an alternative available, but seeking that, similarly, there be respect for those of us who want to be able to easily reach for a collect as outlined in the first few paragraphs of this post (and here). And respecting that those who want this option, end up generally praying the same collect (ie. common prayer). It understands that people like me, who want the collect to bear the weight of the dynamic expressed in those early paragraphs of this post, see many of the prayers addressed to Jesus and the Holy Spirit in ANZPB as useful in a different context, but an impoverishment in comparison with the richness that the collect structure and dynamic brings to its role as central to the Gathering of the Community and the Ministry of the Word.

This motion is not merely seeking that all members of the Trinity be named in a prayer (as if, for example, praying to the Holy Spirit is somehow turned into a “collect” by adding reference to the Father and Jesus at the end). The collect (as traditionally understood) is seeking a living out of a particular Trinitarian dynamic in our praying and in our living.

As strongly as possible, I urge members of General Synod Te Hinota Whanui to vote yes to this motion. If you are not a member of GSTHW, I hope you will urge those who are to think seriously about this and allow for the flexibility and ease that this motion calls for.

Yes, this will mean seeking to leave Bill 5 on the table until further work has been done on it. But it is already clear that Bill 5 is rushed. Bill 5’s text for Palm Sunday, just to offer one example, talks about “Use collect for Lent 6:3” and “6:1”. These are obviously instructions left in the text accidentally from earlier cross-referencing drafts. Bill 5 surprisingly refers to other resources (I cannot recall anything similar in any of our formularies), allowing us to use “A Prayer Book for Australia, or in Revised Common Lectionary Prayers.” An amendment is being suggested that would extend this to make it similar to our current ability to use any appropriate resource and such an amendment needs, at the very least, to be part of the further improvement of Bill 5. But having our own option readily available in the collect format on each occasion (as well as this rubric allowing prayers from other resources) is far preferable.

This motion to GSTHW expresses well the intentions of both the Christchurch diocesan synod and the Dunedin diocesan synod, the position of membership in Tikanga Pakeha Liturgical Working Group, and many others in our church.

Our diocese was formally informed that there is international, ecumenical debate about the collect format. I have asked to be pointed to such scholarship by our church – I have not yet received a single example of this debate.

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5 thoughts on “General Synod liturgy – vote yes 2”

  1. Again, Bosco, can you swend all the material relevant to this to me at my email address. I would appreciate it.

    Naku nei, Turi

  2. Probably the best recent work on the collect form is in Bridget Nichols (ed) The Collect in the Churches of the Reformation (SCM Studies in Worship & Liturgy Series).

    It is not for someone from the C of E to comment on debate in New Zealand, but even a brief flick through Cranmer’s collects (to suggest a source of anglican usage) suggests much greater diversity in form than the motion would allow. I understand the concern which has led to the motion that your post refers to but the tradition is not as tightly drawn as you suggest.

    1. Thanks for your visit and comment, Harvey. Bridget Nichols’ book is heading here as fast as possible, and I will review it on this site a.s.a.p.

      I see no problem with someone commenting on a debate here – it can be very helpful. What is not helpful is a general, ill-defined, denigration of the motion, and the implication that I, the movers of the motion, and those who support and vote in favour of the motion have not even had a brief flick through Cranmer’s collects! We have.

      You are going to have to be far more specific in your criticism of the motion, please. Your comment reinforces prejudices rather than moving the discussion forward. Please point to a single collect in Cranmer’s collection addressed to the Holy Spirit. When it comes to addressing Jesus, in Cranmer’s collect collection for Sundays, I can only think of the First Sunday in Lent as being addressed to him (“Lord, which for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights…”) I do not believe that this single exception is sufficient to conclude that the tradition is not as tightly drawn as I suggest, considering especially that I have acknowledged this variation within the tradition.

      Just as there is, within the tradition, a eucharistic prayer addressed to Jesus; just as there is, within the tradition, a eucharistic prayer that does not include the full Last Supper account; just as there is, within the tradition, baptism without the verbal declaration “in the name of the Father…” – I would suggest one exercise caution and careful reflection if authorising eucharistic prayers to Jesus, removing the Last Supper from eucharistic prayers, and no longer baptising “in the name of the Father…” Generalising from an exception may be valid, but it needs much more careful exposition than a brief flick.


  3. Harvey Howlett

    I do apologise, my comment was not meant as an attack on the motion. The desire to see trinitarian ordered prayers at the heart of the liturgy is a good thing. But the specific form to God, through Christ, in the Spirit is simply not found consistently in the texts of collects. In many cases the relationship is suggested but is not stated in the text.

    So to look at the text of 1662 – which will be a text widely available for those reading this – and without attempting a comprehensive survey, you find : collects addressed to God the Father through Christ but only mentioning the Spirit (eg Advent 1) ; prayers address to God only mentioning Christ ( eg advent 2); prayers addressed to God through Christ with no mention of the Spirit ( eg Epihany and all the collects for the Sunday’s of Epiphany and most after trinity); prayers addressed directly to Christ some which mention the other persons of the trinity ( eg Advent 3, lent 1 ; prayers addressed to Christ alone ( eg St Stephen ) ; prayers to God, through Chist , in the spirit ( the Whitsun prayers ) .

    I beliveve you are correct that Cranmer did not include a collect addressed to the Holy Spirit and indeed such prayers are rare in the western church and have appeared with more frequency only relatively recently.

    I applaud the attempt to ensure that there is an ordered trinitarian prayer available each week. This seems to me a good thing, particularly when there are so many modalist approaches to prayer creeping into public liturgies. I was merely commenting on the appeal to tradition which I felt needed more care.

    I apologise again if the brevity of my initial comments could be taken as an attack on the motion or the scholarship of those raising important issues in the life of the Church. That really was not my intention and I hope this longer reply gives that some context.

    1. Thanks, Harvey, for your apology. Accepted. I hope, then, that this is an opportunity for clarification, rather than your comment being a confirmation for those here who might casually brush off the hopes of those behind this motion (which includes that of the Christchurch and of the Dunedin dioceses).

      I hope that you have read the background that has led to this motion. General Synod Te Hinota Whanui will have a Bill before it to revise the New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa. This revision will provide only one collect in the text for each celebration. Currently there are three prayers provided in the text for each celebration. There are a significant number addressed to Christ and to the Holy Spirit, but the norm is that there is at least one provided for each celebration that follows the inherited tradition of addressing God, the First Person of the Trinity. As you say, in that tradition, praying through Christ in the Spirit is understood, and often stated explicitly. The revision will distribute those three prayers across the three years, so that it is pure luck which Person of the Trinity the prayer provided in the revised Prayer Book will be addressing.

      There is a response, that a person can add other members of the Trinity at the end. A prayer to Jesus can then mention the Father and the Spirit. A prayer to the Spirit can add Jesus and the Father. This random mentioning of Persons of the Trinity is different to the dynamic of praying to God, the First Person of the Trinity, through Christ, in the power of the Spirit.

      I do not read the motion, as you do, that this dynamic of praying necessitates that every dimension of that be verbalised in every collect in the inherited tradition. Where it is not, I would see it as understood, just as I see it as understood in the collects in the current NZPB/HKMA addressed to God, the First Person of the Trinity.

      The motion is not seeking that those who wish to address a prayer to the Spirit, for example, rather than follow the dynamic of praying to God, the First Person of the Trinity, be denied this. The motion is seeking that for those who, like myself, the dioceses I mentioned, and others, want to follow the latter collect dynamic, be provided with that as an easily accessible option within the text of our Prayer Book rather than make use of a rubric that allows us to look elsewhere in such cases.

      Your shifting your attention for your details to the 1662 revision, over a century after Cranmer’s death, is, of course including material not Cranmer’s. Cranmer’s Advent 3, for example, is quite clearly not “addressed to Christ alone”. Cranmer’s Advent 3 collect is a translation of the ancient Sarum collect addressed to God through Christ:

      Lord, we beseech thee, give ear to our prayers, and by thy gracious visitation lighten the darkness of our heart, by our our Lord Jesus Christ.

      In conclusion, Harvey, I think you are reading into the motion. All that is being sought is availability within the printed text of an option – in each celebration I would hope there is normally a collect that is understood to be addressed to God, the First Person of the Trinity, as we pray through Christ, in the Spirit.

      In addition, this pausing I hope will enable the inclusion of a collect at least in Te Reo Maori also.


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