30 November 2017

S Andrew

I normally celebrate this great feast by reminding you of the Reconciliation of England by Cardinal Pole in 1554 and the taking of Durham by the Northern Rebels temp Bloody Bess, which both happened on this day. And the popularity of S Andrew in old English Church dedications, because of the influence of the Gregorian (and hence andreaphile) liturgical texts brought to England by the Augustinian Mission; and I lament the fact that the Novus dating of Christus Rex inhibits celebration of a Sunday External Solemnity of the Apostle in places where he is Patron.

But this year, an Anglican oddity.

The old Roman Collect for today, a most elegant composition, prayed that S Andrew might be "a perpetual intercessor for us in thy sight". Cranmer had by 1549 moved beyond talk of saintly intercession; so he replaced this collect with
Almightie God, which hast geuen such grace to thy Apostle saynct Andrew, that he counted the sharp and painful death of the crosse to be an high honour, and a great glory; Graunt us to take and esteme all troubles and adversities which shal come unto us for thy sake, as things proffytable for us toward the obtaining of euerlasting life.
[Why "thy Apostle" rather than "thine Apostle" when we later have "an high honour"?]

Just a couple of years later, he replaced this with the current Anglican collect which is based upon the ready obedience of S Andrew in following the Lord's call.

Here is my take on this. When our thinking radically develops ... when conceptually we make a big jump ... not every part of our previously held set of assumptions changes instantly and automatically. Some areas lag behind and need subsequently to catch up and to be made consistent with the new structure.

In 1549, Cranmer had put behind him the idea of asking God for a share in the intercessions of the Saints; but the full narrowness of the Protestant preoccupation with sola scriptura was dawdling behind a little in his mind. And so the hagiographical account of S Andrew's martyrdom was still part of its furniture and informed the collect.

By the way: the printed text of the 1549 BCP offers quite a number of examples of hasty composition.

[Could there also be just a weeny hint of merit in the second half of the 1549 collect?]. 


3 comments:

ansgarus said...

Things proffytable for us. . . Werkgerechtigkeit pur. Cranmer did not understand Luther at all.

E sapelion said...

Two years from comissioning to promulgation! No wonder there are signs of hasty composition. And a revised version, after taking on board the criticisms, only another three years!

Matthew Kirby said...

The rewards for good works explicitly referred to in the BCP's Collect for the Sunday next before Advent are perfectly equivalent to the merits gained according to RC doctrine. One does not need to go beyond that Anglican prayer to have the essence of the doctrine clearly preserved without the word.

The denial in the Articles that good works can take away sin or intrinsically endure God's judgement is little different from the standard teaching that Christian merits are not according to strict desert but based on fulfilling the divine gracious promise.