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Marion Hatchett RIP

Marion Josiah Hatchett

1927 – 2009

No liturgical bookshelf would be complete without some work by Rev. Dr. Marion Hatchett who died August 7. He was central in the development of the 1979 Prayer book and the 1982 Hymnal for The Episcopal Church (USA).

His writings include:

Sanctifying Life, Time and Space: An Introduction to Liturgical Study (1976)
A Manual for Clergy and Church Musicians (1980)
Commentary on the American Prayer Book (1981), and
The Making of the First American Book of Common Prayer (1982).

About leading worship he regularly asked the question “Is that particular action edifying to the people?” Ask that question before you do something you like, or think is nice, or have seen someone else do. Look at the tradition and ask, “Will this edify the people?”

Here are a couple of quotes from Hatchett that I can really identify with (to be read aloud slowly with a Carolina drawl):

The prayer book committee had operated on the assumption, apparently mistaken, that clergy, lay leaders and church musicians could read italics.

The word ‘may’ indicates that something is not normative. I once attended a rite two liturgy where all three opening sentences were said, followed by the Collect for Purity, followed by the Gloria, followed by the Kyrie in English, followed by the Kyrie in Greek, followed by the Trisagian. I was just glad that all six forms of the prayers of the people were not printed in the same place as the eucharistic liturgy and that they did not opt for all four forms of the eucharistic prayer.

I had just been organising to contact him to ask if he could provide an explanation for the pattern of Episcopalians and Roman Catholics praying the same opening prayer/collect. More on Marion Hatchett here.

Most recently he was in the news for a speech he gave recently at General Theological Seminary:

The American Church jumped way out ahead of the Church of England and other sister churches in a number of respects. One was in giving voice to priests and deacons and to laity (as well as bishops and secular government officials) in the governance of the national church and of dioceses and of parishes. The early American Church revised the Prayer Book in a way that went far beyond revisions necessitated by the new independence of the states.

At its beginning the American Church legalized the use of hymnody along with metrical psalmody more than a generation before use of ‘hymns of human composure’ became legal in the Church of England. At an early stage the American Church gave recognition to critical biblical scholarship.

The American Church eventually gave a place to women in various aspects of the life of the church including its ordained ministry. The American Church began to speak out against discrimination against those of same-sex orientation, and the American Church began to make moves in establishing full communion with other branches of Christendom.

Historically the American Church has been the flag-ship in the Anglican armada. It has been first among the provinces of the Anglican Communion to take forward steps on issue after issue, and on some of those issues other provinces of Anglicanism have eventually fallen in line behind the American Church. My prayer is that the American Church will be able to retain its self-esteem and to stand firm and resist some current movements which seem to me to be contrary to the principles of historic Anglicanism and to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.

Here is the full text which includes several chuckles.

Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Marion. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.

May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer (TEC) page 465

Thanks to @seanferrell for letting me know

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7 thoughts on “Marion Hatchett RIP”

  1. Peggy Blanchard

    A wonderful professor and a fine friend–with his passing, it seems as though there is the passing of an era in the American church. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

  2. Michael Sullivan

    The Church has lost a saint indeed. I fear there are few well read and scholarly enough to take his place.

  3. It was thanks to him that I learned a lot about where some of the prayers of the current American Book of Common Prayer came from, especially Brent’s famous prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms on the hard wood of the cross…”

    May he rest in peace.

  4. He played the organ like a calliope, had an encyclopedic mind, and has shaped my ministry in worship for 30 years, as a proof reader for the “Commentary.” You are loved. “Enter into the blessed rest of all the Saints in Light.”

  5. Jack Noble White

    My times working with Marion on the various commissions and committees are treasued memories. I learned more during those years than I ever had before – or have since. RIP, honest and faithful servant.

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