23 June 2009

The Roman Canon in the Church of England

One of our greatest English Liturgists in the twentieth century was E C Ratcliff. His closest academic collaborator, Canon A H Couratin, long-time Principal of our greatest Anglican Catholic seminary, S Stephen's House in Oxford, wrote:
"As a schoolboy he attended a church in South London which was notoriously 'Anglo-Catholic'. Here the Communion Service of the Book of Common Prayer was celebrated with all the ceremonial of High Mass of the Roman Rite, and the Canon Missae was silently interpolated under the cover of elaborate music. Whatever may have been the devotional value of such a performance, it could not fail to arouse the intellectual curiosity of a highly intelligent schoolboy. Ratcliff never escaped from the influence of this upbringing".

Couratin goes on to decribe the conclusions Ratcliff came to:
"The Canon Missae fascinated him, and references to it are to be found in numerous places in his writings. He regarded it ... as sui generis, 'a combination of the Irenaean and Cyprianic traditions of worship', representing'a stage of liturgical usage earlier than that of the Rites of Jerusalem and Constantinople' ".

Ratcliff's regard for the Canon is the more significant in that he was not a papalist. Indeed, Couratin revealed that he was preparing "to seek communion with the Orthodox, when he died".

1 comment:

William Tighe said...

It would be interesting to compare Ratcliff and Willis on the Roman Canon. Also, I don't know anything about Willis's ecclesiological stance beyond what Fr. Moreton wrote in the introduction to Willis's posthumously-published *A History of Early Roman Liturgy* (1994), but from what I have read of Willis he does not strike me as having been a papalist.