A Suggested Order for the Administration of the LordŐs Supper or Holy Communion (1935)


This proposed revision of the American 1928 Prayer Book service for Holy Communion was published by an anonymous group of Ňfour presbytersÓ using the address of All Angels Church, Manhattan, during the rectorate of George Augustus Trowbridge (1898-1977). It was a reply to another such (untraced) proposal, An Order for the Administration, published in 1934 by ŇA Committee of Four Priests.Ó


This text was digitized by Richard Mammana in 2012 from a copy of the belonging to the late Thomas N. Rae.



A Suggested Order for

The Administration of the LordŐs Supper


Holy Communion




HE following suggested revision of the Order for the Administration of the LordŐs Supper or Holy Communion, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, has been compiled by four priests of that Church. To the Committee of Four who recently published a similar revision they are indebted not only for the precedent of submitting proposals to the Church in this form, but also for friendly co-operation in their task, and for the example of their genuineness and reverence in carrying it out. The compilers believe that reality in Christian worship to-day demands consideration of modern needs and modes of thought, and that this can best be secured in harmony with the essentials of the Christian liturgical tradition.

Their detailed aims in this revision are:

(1) to eliminate phrases which are to-day easily misunderstood, which are historically questionable, or which express the theology of a particular past period, rather than universal Christian devotion.

(2) to eliminate redundancies of language where not justified by rhetorical effect;

(3) to provide for the permissive shortening of the service, especially on week-days;

(4) to bring the service more nearly in accord with ancient liturgical precedent, especially as represented by the Prayer Book of 1549;

(5) and to bring the parts of the service translated from Greek and Latin closer to their respective originals.

Conscious of the value of familiar phrases, they have not changed the words of the prayers except where there seemed strong reason for doing so. The rubrics, however, have been treated more freely in an effort to formulate current practice.

            The revision is issued at this time, not that the compilers think an immediate revision of the Prayer Book advisable; but in order that the ideas herein set forth may have opportunity to become familiar and, in the course of time, be accepted or rejected by the Church; so that when a new edition is undertaken, there may be a common mind as to what changes are then desirable. Criticisms or suggestions would be welcome from any into whose hands this service may fall. These should be sent to the Four Presbyters, 251 West 80th Street, New York, N. Y.


Four Presbyters

New York City,

The Epiphany, A.D. 1935.


A Suggested Order for

The Administration of the LordŐs Supper


Holy Communion


¦ At the Communion-time the Holy Table shall have upon it a fair white linen cloth. And the Priest, standing reverently before the Holy Table, shall say the Collect following, the People kneeling.



LMIGHTY God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.


¦ Then shall the Priest say,


Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith.



HOU shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.


¦ Here shall be said,


Lord, have mercy upon us.

Christ, have mercy upon us.

Lord, have mercy upon us.


The Lord be with you.

And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.


¦ Then shall the Priest say the Collect of the Day. And after the Collect the Minister appointed shall read the Epistle, first saying, The Epistle is written in the — Chapter of —, beginning at the — Verse. The Epistle ended, he shall say, Here endeth the Epistle.


¦ Here may be sung a Hymn or an Anthem.


¦ Then, all the People standing, the Minister appointed shall read the Gospel, first saying, The Holy Gospel is written in the — Chapter of —, beginning at the — Verse.


¦ Here shall the People say,


Glory be to thee, O Lord.


¦ And after the Gospel shall the People say,


Praise be to thee, O Christ.


¦ Then shall be said the Creed commonly called the Nicene, or else the ApostlesŐ Creed; but the Creed may be omitted on week-days; Provided, That the Nicene Creed shall be said on Christmas Day, the Epiphany, Easter Day, Ascension Day, Whitsunday, and Trinity Sunday.



 BELIEVE in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible.

            And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; Through whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried: And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, The Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake through the Prophets: And I believe One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.


¦ Here may follow, as occasion may require, Notices, a Hymn, and a Sermon.


¦ Then shall the Priest begin the Offertory, saying one or more of the Sentences following.



EMEMBER the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts xx. 35.

            To do good, and to distribute, forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Heb. xiii. 16.

Freely ye have received, freely give. St. Matt. x. 8.

Let every man do according as he is disposed in his heart, not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Cor. ix. 7.

Be merciful after thy power. If thou hast much, give plenteously; if thou hast little, do thy diligence gladly to give of that little. Tobit iv. 8.

Ye shall not appear before the Lord empty; every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee. Deut. xvi. 16, 17.

While we have time, let us do good unto all men; and especially unto them that are of the household of faith. Gal. vi. 10.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. St. Matt. vi. 19, 20.

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his Name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. Psalm xcvi. 8.

I will offer in his dwelling an oblation, with great gladness: I will sing and speak praises unto the Lord. Psalm xxvii. 7.

Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High. Psalm l. 14.

            I will offer unto thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the Name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord, in the sight of all his people, in the courts of the LordŐs house. Psalm cxvi. 15, 16.

            Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. 1 Chron. xxix. 11.

All things come of thee, O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee. 1 Chron. xxix. 1.4


¦ And Note, That these Sentences may be used on any other occasion of Public Worship when the Offerings of the People are to be received.


¦ The Deacons, Church-wardens, or other fit persons appointed for that purpose, shall receive the Alms for the Poor, and other Offerings of the People, in a decent Basin to be provided by the Parish; and reverently bring it to the Priest, who shall humbly present and place it upon the Holy Table.


¦ And the Priest shall offer, and shall place upon the Holy Table, the Bread and the Wine.


¦ And when the Alms and Oblations are being received and presented, there may be sung a Hymn, or an Offertory Anthem in the words of Holy Scripture or of the Book of Common Prayer, under the direction of the Priest.


¦ Here may the Priest bid special intercessions and thanksgivings.


¦ Then shall the Priest say,


Let us pray.



LMIGHTY and everliving God, who hast taught us to make prayers, and supplications, and to give thanks for all men: We humbly beseech thee most mercifully to accept our [alms and] oblations, and to receive these our prayers, which we offer unto thy Divine Majesty; beseeching thee to inspire continually the Universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord; and to give grace to all Bishops and other Ministers, that they may, both by their life and doctrine, set forth thy true and life-giving Word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments.

            We beseech thee also to lead all nations in the way of righteousness and peace; and so to dispose the hearts of their Rulers, that under them thy People may be godly and quietly governed.

            Guide and prosper, we pray thee, those who labour for the spread of thy Gospel; and enlighten with thy Holy Spirit all those engaged in education and learning, that the world may be filled with the knowledge of thy truth.

And to all thy People give thy heavenly grace; and especially to this congregation here present; that, with meek heart and due reverence, they may hear, and receive thy holy Word; truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life.

            And we most humbly beseech thee, of thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succour all those who, in this transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness or any other adversity. And we also commend to thy gracious keeping all thy servants departed this life in the true faith of thy holy name; beseeching thee to grant them continual growth in thy love and service.

And here we give thee most high praise and hearty thanks for the wonderful grace and virtue declared in all thy Saints, who have been the lights of the world in their several generations; beseeching thee to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of thy heavenly kingdom. Grant this, O Father, for Jesus ChristŐs sake, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.


¦ Then shall the Priest say to those who come to receive the Holy Communion; But Note, That on week-days he may say instead, Let us humbly confess our sins unto Almighty God.



E who do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, devoutly kneeling.


¦ Then shall this General Confession be made, by the Priest and all those who are minded to receive the Holy Communion, humbly kneeling.



LMIGHTY God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings. Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus ChristŐs sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee in newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


¦ Then shall the Priest (the Bishop, if he be present) stand up, and turning to the People, say,



LMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all those who with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


¦ Then may the Priest say,


Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all who truly turn to him.



OME unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St. Matt. xi. 28.

            So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. John iii. 16.

            Hear also what Saint Paul saith.

            This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Tim. i. 15.

Hear also what Saint John saith.

If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins. 1 St John ii. 1, 2.


¦Then shall be said,


The Lord be with you.

And with thy spirit.


Lift up your hearts.

We lift them up unto the Lord.


Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.

It is meet and right so to do.


¦ Then shall the Priest turn to the Holy Table, and say,



T is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.


¦ Here shall follow the Proper Preface, according to the time, if there be any specially appointed; or else immediately shall be said by the Priest,



HEREFORE with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name; evermore praising thee and saying,

¦ Priest and People.

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of thy glory: Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High.

¦ Here may be said by the Priest and the People,

Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.






¦ Upon Christmas Day, and until the Epiphany; and upon the Feasts of the Purification, Annunciation, and Transfiguration.



ECAUSE, in the Mystery of the Word made flesh, thou hast caused a new light to shine in our hearts, to give the knowledge of thy glory in the face of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.




¦ Upon the Epiphany, and seven days after.



HROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord, who, in substance of our mortal flesh, manifested forth his glory; that he might bring us out of darkness into his own glorious light. 




¦ Upon Easter Day, and until Ascension Day.



UT chiefly are we bound to praise thee, in this Paschal Feast, for the glorious Resurrection of thy Son Jesus Christ; who by his death hath destroyed death, and by his rising to life again hath opened to us the way of everlasting life.




¦ Upon Ascension Day, and until Whitsunday.



HROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord; who, after his most glorious Resurrection, manifestly appeared to his disciples, and ascended into heaven; that where he is, thither we might also ascend.




¦ Upon Whitsunday, and six days after.



HROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord; who, as at this time, poured forth upon the Church thy Holy and Life-giving Spirit; that through his glorious power the everlasting Gospel might go forth into all the world; whereby we have been brought into the clear light and true knowledge of thee, and of thy Son Jesus Christ.


Trinity Sunday.


¦ Upon Trinity Sunday.



HOM, with thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, we worship and confess as one God, one Lord, in Trinity of Persons and in Unity of Substance.


All Saints.


¦ Upon All SaintsŐ Day, and seven days after.



HO, in the multitude of thy Saints, hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses that we, rejoicing in their fellowship, may run with patience the race that is set before us, and, together with them, may receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away.


¦ When the Priest, standing before the Holy Table, hath so ordered the Bread and Wine, that he may with the more readiness and decency break the Bread before the People, and take the Cup into his hands, he shall say the Prayer of Consecration, as followeth.



LL glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there, by his one oblation of himself, once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice and oblation for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his hoy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death and sacrifice, until his coming again:  For in the night in which he was betrayed, (a) he took Bread; and when he had given thanks, (b) he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, (c) this is my Body, which is given for you; Do this in remembrance of me. Likewise, after supper (d) he took the Cup; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of this; for (e) this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins; Do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me.


(a) Here the Priest is to take the Paten into his hands.

(b) And here to break the Bread.

(c) And here to lay his hand upon all the Bread.

(d) Here he is to take the Cup into his hands.

(e) And here he is to lay his hand upon every vessel in which there is any Wine to be consecrated.


The Oblation.



HEREFORE, O Lord and heavenly Father, according to the institution of thy dearly beloved Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, we, thy humble servants, do celebrate and make here before thy Divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto thee, the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to make; having in remembrance his blessed passion and precious death, his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; rendering unto thee most hearty thanks for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same.


The Invocation.



ND we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father, to hear us; and, of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus ChristŐs holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood.



ND here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee, that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with thy Son Jesus Christ. And although we are unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice; yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service; not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord; through whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honour and glory be unto thee, O father Almighty, world without end. Amen.


And now, as our Saviour Christ hath taught us, we are bold to say,



UR Father, who art in heaven; Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, And the power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.


¦ Then may be said,


The Peace of the Lord be always with you.

And with thy spirit.


¦ Here, or else immediately after the Prayer of Humble Access, may be said by the Priest and the People,



 LAMB of God, that takest away the sins of the world; have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world; have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world; grant us thy peace.


¦ Then shall the Priest, kneeling down at the LordŐs Table, say, in the name of all those who shall receive the Communion, this Prayer following.



E do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to receive the precious Body and Blood of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, that we being cleansed from our sins, may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.


¦ And when the Priest delivereth the Bread, he shall say,



HE Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving.


¦ And the Minister who delivereth the Cup shall say,



HE Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Drink this in remembrance that ChristŐs Blood was shed for thee, and be thankful.


¦ Or else, when the Communion is administered only by Intinction, the Minister shall say,



HE Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which were given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving.


¦ During the Communion of the Priest and the People Hymns and Anthems may be sung.


¦ If the consecrated Bread or Wine be spent before all have communicated, the Priest is to consecrate more, according to the Form before prescribed; beginning at All glory be to thee, Almighty God, and ending with these words, partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood.


¦ When all have communicated, the Priest shall return to the Holy Table, and reverently place upon it what remaineth of the consecrated Elements.


¦ Here, or else immediately after the Blessing, the Priest (with the help of other Communicants, if necessary) shall reverently eat and drink what remaineth of the consecrated Bread and Wine. And Note, That he may reverently reserve in the Church so much of the consecrated Elements, as need may require.


¦ Then shall the Priest say,


Let us pray.



LMIGHTY and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee, for that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us who have duly received these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ; and dost assure us thereby that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, the blessed company of all faithful people. And we humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may ever continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.


¦ Then may be said the Gloria in excelsis, all standing, or some proper Hymn.



LORY be to God on high, and on earth peace, good will towards men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.

            O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy upon us.

For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord; thou only, O Jesus Christ, art most high, with the Holy Ghost, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.


¦ Here may be said such special prayers as the Priest may deem fitting.


¦ Then, the People kneeling, the Priest (the Bishop, if he be present) shall let them depart with this Blessing.



HE Peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: And the Blessed of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.




¦ In the absence of a Priest, a Deacon may say all that is before appointed unto the end of the Gospel.


¦ Upon Sundays and other Holy Days, though there be no Communion, may be said all that is appointed at the Communion, unto the end of the Gospel, concluding with the Blessing.


¦ If among those who come to be partakers of the Holy Communion, the Minister shall know any to be an open and notorious evil liver, or to have done any wrong to his neighbours by word or deed, so that the Congregation be thereby offended; he shall advertise him, that he presume not to come to the LordŐs Table, until he have openly declared himself to have truly repented and amended his former evil life, that the Congregation may thereby be satisfied; and that he hath recompensed the parties to whom he hath done wrong; or at least declare himself to be in full purpose so to do, as soon as he conveniently may.


¦ The same order shall the Minister use with those, betwixt whom he perceiveth malice and hatred to reign; not suffering them to be partakers of the LordŐs Table, until he know them to be reconciled. And if one of the parties, so at variance, be content to forgive from the bottom of his heart all that the other hath trespassed against him, and to make amends for that wherein he himself hath offended; and the other party will not be persuaded to a godly unity, but remain still in his frowardness and malice; the Minister in that case ought to admit the penitent person to the Holy Communion, and not him that is obstinate. Provided, That every Minister so repelling any, as is herein specified, shall be obliged to give an account of the same to the Ordinary, within fourteen days after, at the farthest.



This revision was reviewed by Frederick C. Grant in Anglican Theological Review, April, 1935, Volume XVII, Number 2, pp. 119-123:


A Suggested Order for the Administration of the LordŐs Supper or Holy Communion.

New York: E.S. Gorham, 1935.


This little pamphlet deserves careful study by those who are interested in liturgical reform. The compilers Ňbelieve that reality in Christian worship for today demands consideration of modern needs and modes of thought, and that this can best be secured in harmony with the essentials of the Christian liturgical tradition.Ó Hence they aim to eliminate phrases which are today easily misunderstood, which are [119/120] historically questionable, or represent a limited theology; to eliminate redundancies of language; to provide for the permissive shortening of the service; to bring it closer to the Book of 1549; and to approximate translations from Greek and Latin more closely to their originals.


The Prayer for the Church is much improved. The Comfortable Words are made optional. The Agnus Dei is inserted for optional use, and the Prayer of Humble Access is somewhat shortened.


The Suggested Order is evidently a reply to An Order for the Administration etc. which appeared last fall—likewise from the hands of a Committee of Four. The present proposals do not approach by any means the limit of the earlier, and it is a question if either Order will be entirely acceptable to every group in the Church. The time may be coming when we shall have alternative orders for the celebration of the Holy Communion. The principle was recognized in the English Proposed Book of 1928, and it is difficult to see any valid objection to it in principle. The religious spirit is not to be ŇcribbŐd, cabinŐd, and confinŐdÓ by rubrics, but demands the richest possible variety for its expression. Provided the central and essential Act remains, we fail to see any legitimate reason for restricting the growth of variety in use. Of course a Use which seized the opportunity afforded by this freedom, and made the Holy Communion the vehicle of a false theology—here the Church would naturally have to draw the line. Suppose some theosophical Catholic who had become convinced of the Christ Myth theory, but nevertheless found a deep meaning and a ready access to Reality in the Holy Communion—suppose such a man were to devise a service setting forth his doctrines; the Church would naturally have to withhold its approval. But who imagines such a danger to be real? The far worse danger at present is that we shall fail to bring our services into touch with the deep earnest desires and aspirations of people in this generation, and while we go on repeating ancient formulas, the hungry sheep, having [120/121] wearied of looking up unfed, will begin wandering afar in search of green pasturage. There is little doubt that some of the flock have begun their search already! The rolling periods of Archbishop Cranmer, the luxurious sententiousness of Elizabethan prose, may require just a bit too much of historical understanding and appreciation on the part of the rank and file of our laity.


It may be asked why such proposals as those now before us are published without any ecclesiastical authority. In reply, let us say that it seems to us this is one of the healthiest signs we have observed in a long time. Hitherto it has apparently been assumed that liturgical revision in the Episcopal Church could take place only through the formal appointment of a Commission, the regular publication of reports, and the final acceptance or rejection of the Commissions recommendations by successive General Conventions. Our experience has been, as a Church, that this is not the most satisfactory way in the world to proceed with Prayer Book revision. How can a General Convention decide by majority vote which of a CommissionŐs recommendations are likely to serve the best interests of the Church? It is a purely academic question when presented in the form of a Commission report. What is needed is long-continued, intelligent, and carefully studied experiment. On such a basis the recommendations of a revision committee could be sympathetically discussed.


The limitations upon the formal and academic kind of [121/122] revision indulged in by the Church hitherto are quite clear from the aftermath of the 1928 Book. That revision did not go far enough to satisfy either Liberals or Conservatives. In many points it was simply not up to the standards of Anglican scholarship, and its value as a book of personal devotion (over and above its use as a book of common prayer) was only slightly increased. The high hopes which many had formed for it during the early twenties were only half realized. Hence suggestions have been passing about throughout the Church, looking toward a further improvement of the Prayer Book. It has been assumed, at least by all save the Anglo-Catholics, that the only possible way to secure added liberty and the right to optional uses was by formal action of the General Convention. How mistaken was this view is evident from the fate which has overtaken even the few and mild changes suggested—and unanimously approved—by the Atlantic City Convention. The opponents turn ought to be, not hide-bound ecclesiastics in high places—but the Prayer Book publishers, who have certain investments tied up in bound and unbound copies, plates, bindery supplies, etc. Even though the Convention entirely approved the few changes proposed, the action was swiftly and dexterously checkmated by one move of the kingŐs bishop. And this from publishers who greeted the 1928 Book with the announcement of their own publication, The American Missal!


One wonders why the Church does not more strictly safeguard its own publications. The Church of England, for example, permits its Prayer Book to be published by the University Presses at Cambridge and Oxford, and it is in a position to insist upon good printing and a fair price. In this country, where anybody can print the Prayer Book if he feels like it, and in any format—so long as the paging conforms, up to a point, with that of the Standard Book: even with lines too longer and ill-spaced and a cheap type—under such conditions there is naturally more money invested in the publication than is really warranted. Naturally, [122/123] likewise, we have objections from publishers who resent the prospect of changes which must be introduced into their plates. One still wonders why the proposal of our own Pension Fund, to produce the finest possible book typographically and at the lowest possible price, was not adopted. Other publishers rushed in and have admittedly published the Book at a loss.


Out of this experience the Episcopal Church ought to begin to learn some lessons. For one thing, a book of worship must grow out of the minds and the lives of the people and not be created by a fiat of a Convention. For another, variety in liturgical expression is not only compatible with the unity of the faith, but is in a true sense demanded by it; in all the great ages of the ChurchŐs history, variety of worship has gone hand in hand with earnest devotion, deep faith, and missionary ardor. For still another, the vested interests of competing publishers ought not to exercise any power of veto—though it be uttered apparently by the highest voice in the Church—upon the free and considered action of the ChurchŐs own representative body.