Andrew Sabisky interviews Jacob Hootman about liturgy
AS: Who are you?
JH: My name is Jacob Hootman. I am a member of the Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force of the Anglican Church in North America, specifically the traditional language sub-committee. I am a lay reader and eucharistic minister in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and I am discerning holy orders. I also happen to be eighteen years of age, a recent graduate from high school, as well as North Central Texas College, and am currently enrolled at the University of North Texas.
I first became a Christian at the age of fourteen, after attending a low mass at the local Anglican parish. I was baptized in 2015 and confirmed the following year. I regularly serve at the altar at my parish, as well as several other parishes in the diocese.
AS: What is the Anglican Church in North America?
JH: The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is the main conservative Anglican province in North America. It was formed in 2009 by various dioceses and congregations leaving the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada due to major doctrinal issues, including the adoption of non-traditional marriage and the rejection by several bishops of basic Christian orthodoxy. Though we’ve had quite a few struggles, we celebrated our first ten years this past June at the ACNA Assembly, held in Plano, Texas.
The ACNA is not entirely ‘traditionalist,’ so to speak. While I am a traditionalist and a card-carrying member of Forward in Faith North America, many in the ACNA would describe themselves as charismatic, and we have a great number of evangelicals as well. Some dioceses in the ACNA practice the ordination of women to the presbyterate, although the majority of dioceses do not. The ACNA can, however, broadly be described as conservative.
I live and serve in the Diocese of Fort Worth, which along with Quincy, San Joaquin, and the Missionary Diocese of All Saints, represent the Anglo-Catholic stronghold in the ACNA. In the United States, it should be noted, Anglo-Catholicism tends to be less spiky and less Roman than it is in the United Kingdom. I personally identify as a Prayer Book Catholic.
AS: Why was a new Book of Common Prayer thought to be necessary?
JH: The ACNA is liturgically diverse—we have parishes using the 1662 Prayer Book, the 1928 American Prayer Book, the American Missal, the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book, the 1979 American Prayer Book, the 1985 Canadian Book of Alternative Services and, since the formation of the province, many trial services based on the 2019 Prayer Book.
The primary prayer book used in North America in the last 50 or so years is the 1979 Prayer Book. It represents a breach in the historic prayer book tradition and was written by authors that were very much involved in the 20th century Liturgical Movement. The majority of services in the 1979 Book use a dynamic equivalence style of English, omit classic parts of western liturgy, and completely destroy the rites of baptism and confirmation in order to conform with 1970s-era theological opinion. In fact, no traditional language services or confirmation itself appeared in the book until the final stage, due to a demand from the bishops. For the contemporary language services (the vast majority of the book), the Anglican Canon disappeared. The Summary of the Law, the traditional confession, and the Prayer of Humble Access were all excised. The Daily Office adopted a two-year lectionary with three readings for every day per year, and a complicated system to maintain two lessons at every office. One rite for Holy Communion became 1,152, not counting the traditional language options.
This was clearly untenable. When the province was formed in 2009, the need for a new prayer book to both unite our fledgling group and to replace the errant 1979 Prayer Book became clear. The 2019 Prayer Book will have two editions—one in contemporary language, and one in traditional. However, the contemporary language is a ‘formal equivalence’ of the older Cranmerian texts. It looks like the 1979 Prayer Book due to the pastoral reality that it has been the dominant prayer book for 50 years. However, the theology is firmly that of the historic Prayer Book tradition. The traditional rites for baptism and confirmation are restored, as is the historic Ordinal. Pandora’s Box has been opened when it comes to ‘create-your-own-adventure liturgy,’ but we have limited the number of possible rites to sixteen. It is, without a doubt, the most orthodox contemporary Anglican liturgy ever created. We in the ACNA owe a great debt of gratitude to Archbishop Emeritus Robert Duncan as Task Force Chairman, and to the other intelligent and capable members of the central committee.
AS: What was your role in the writing of the new BCP?
JH: I have the pleasure of serving on the traditional language sub-committee. In the 1979 Prayer Book, only four services are rendered in Cranmerian English: Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Holy Communion, and the Burial of the Dead. It was an afterthought added by the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music just before the adoption of the book. These services, known as ‘Rite One,’ do not reflect, either in content or rubrics, the rest of the 1979 Prayer Book.
We decided that rather than have only four services rendered in Cranmerian English, the entire book ought to have a traditional rendering. I have been honoured to be the principal composer of the Book of Common Prayer 2019—Traditional Language. It will reflect, hopefully even down to the pagination, the contemporary language version. Essentially, it will be the exact same prayers, collects, readings, et cetera, but in Cranmer’s English.
AS: You are extremely young—it is obviously very unusual to have men so young be so involved with the creation of any new liturgy, let alone a new Book of Common Prayer! How did your involvement with ACNA’s liturgical revision process come about?
JH: Earlier in the ACNA revision process, there was no public indication that a traditional language edition of the Prayer Book would be published. Starting in August 2017, I think, I started to render the trial texts that were published into Cranmerian English. Of course, I never expected any official use, so I personalized them with missal-style additions, et cetera. I published the work online in January 2018 on a website called North American Common Prayer, and I sent it to the Liturgy Task Force to see if they would be interested in any of this. They replied and were very glowing about the work I had compiled, and said they’d get back to me.
By March, I had been invited by Fr Marcus Kaiser, the chairman of the traditional language sub-committee, to join the Task Force. It should be noted this was all done over email. When I was first asked to join I was 17 years old. Of course, they had no indication of this, and several thought I was a learned old fogey instead of a learned young fogey. When we began meeting over video call, however, it became clear that I was the youngest person on the Task Force. I was kept on, as Fr Kaiser has called me, as the wunderkind of the Task Force.
I was lucky enough to go to the Anglican Church in North America’s Assembly 2019 in Plano, Texas this June, and to assist at the dedication of the Book of Common Prayer at Christ Church Cathedral. Several panels were held to talk about the Prayer Book, and in particular the wonderful work of our psalter committee, led by Archdeacon Darrell Critch, to create a contemporary language version of the Coverdale Psalter. They based their work on the psalter of C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot from 1963, and I think that it is a masterpiece.
AS: What Anglo-Catholic influences do you think are particularly obvious in the new BCP?
JH: The 2019 BCP proclaims itself to exist in the tradition of the 1662 Prayer Book, but I think that in many more ways it reflects the 1549 Prayer Book. The traditional western placement of the epiclesis, before the Words of Institution, is an obvious move. In fact, with the exception of the paragraph concerning angels carrying prayers to the tabernacle, the 2019 Anglican Standard Text eucharistic canon is that of the 1549 Canon after the Prayer for the Church. Other ‘1549isms’ are restored, such as the use of oil at consecration. A prayer for exorcism may be said at baptism. Most of the Solemn Collects at Good Friday have been restored, and there are bees in the Exultet. The Ordinal even has prayers suggested for the vesting of a maniple. The 2019 Prayer Book has Anglo-Catholic influences throughout.
AS: What are your views on the future of ACNA, and its relations with the Church of England—in particular, with the traditionalist wing of the CofE?
JH: I would disagree with the doomsayers—the ACNA is here to stay. Ten years on, it is obvious that while we have our usual doctrinal disagreements, we aren’t in any danger of collapse. In fact, we are growing. We’ve planted 500 churches in the last 10 years, and the rate of planting continues to increase.
I think our relations with the Church of England will be interesting to say the least. There are plenty of opportunities for partnership between the traditionalist wing of the CoE and the ACNA, especially traditionalists in Fort Worth, the Missionary Diocese of All Saints, Quincy, the Diocese of the Living Word, and the Reformed Episcopal Church. I don’t think we take enough advantage of the relationships which we in North America have with our brethren across the sea.
Andrew Sabisky is co-host of the podcast ‘The Young Tractarians’.