From Mr John Chilver
Canon Roger Bellamy (ND letters, Nov) says that Common Worship is ‘vital for the work of mission’ as it is ‘of today’. Yet we worship in a medieval church using ancient Roman vestments, listening to Tudor anthems accompanied by a Victorian pipe organ. Why should the language of the liturgy be contemporary when nothing else is? The problem with Common Worship is that it is anything but common. With its 12 different eucharistic prayers, 3 versions of the Apostles’ Creed and multiple choice collects we have moved far away from the 1662 understanding of Common Prayer. Nor is it a book suitable for the ‘common man’ (or woman). Endless permutations and complex rubrics make it a technical manual for liturgy geeks rather than a simple devotional aid. It is IKEA liturgy: all tastes catered for, endless variety, self-assembled, but ultimately flat.
11 Greenfields, Adstock, Bucks
From Mr Christopher Pierpoint
Jesus said ‘what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder’, yet Geoffrey Kirk (ND, November) considers that a breach of this command is a minor technicality which no reasonable person may any longer take seriously. I consider myself to be a reasonable person and I take the above very seriously indeed. Anyone marrying a divorcee condones the divorce. Mr Kirk is entitled to his opinion, but is it really necessary to so belittle opinions which happen to differ from our own?
7 Greenway Close, Crossgates, Llandrindod Wells, Powys
From a member of the College of Readers
May I congratulate Fr Roger Bellamy on his letter in November’s edition. I agree whole-heartedly that the language of the Book of Common Prayer does make Church services inaccessible to many people, especially younger ones. The same is true of the Authorised Version of the Bible, the publication of which we have been celebrating. Both those books are worthy of celebration as they put the prayer book and the Bible into the hands and language of the people – yes, that was how people spoke in the seventeenth century, but we are now in the twenty-first century. True, the language is beautiful, but so is the language of Shakespeare and Chaucer, neither of which are easy reading and it is so easy to miss the real point of what was written. The same is true of the BCP and AV. As Fr Roger writes, such archaic language does not aid the cause of mission. The better modern translations of the Bible and Common Worship are much more in line with current usage. There are places where I think Common Worship could have done better and the format of the Eucharist in the Altar Missal could have been made easier to use. That apart CW and the Revised English Bible or the Jerusalem Bible are in much more the language of our time and are more help in mission and evangelism. The difficulty of the constant change of English will remain a problem unless the Church keeps abreast of the times. Consider the following in light of modern English use, especially among young people: ‘It’s wicked to commit murder’ – isn’t that an invitation to try it?
Roy M. Cashmore
Church Farm Cottage, Blaston, Market Harborough
Letters for publication should be sent to:
2A The Cloisters, Gordon Square
London WC1H 0AG