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Friday, December 25, 2009

Now, Western Rite in England

Yes, England (which for so many decades seemed to be a land impenetrable to Western Rite Orthodoxy) now has an active W. rite mission, thanks to the labours of Fr. Hieromonk Michael (Mansbridge-Wood) of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and the protecting omophor of its Metropolitan, Hilarion.

On Dec. 21, 2009, Fr. Michael wrote:

"We have now celebrated the Western Rite on two successive Sundays in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition at Chiswick in London. The Cathedral has a Lower Church (the original) and an Upper Church - which has just been finished. They have given us the Lower Church to use for Western Rite. So we celebrate our Western Rite in the Lower Church at the same time as they celebrate the Eastern Rite in the Upper Church..."

Here is a picture of the lower church as arranged for a modern Western rite service:

Describing the services being celebrated in London, Fr. Michael continued:

"Given that this is Advent and we are doing Mattins, the Great Litany and the Divine Liturgy as a continuous service, we end up only slightly ahead of them - so we all have lunch together in the church hall afterwards."

Matins, in the pre-Protestant form of W. rite, requires two hours to complete (an hour and a half, if managed extremely expeditiously). The Great Litany is a Protestant service. From these indications, it is surmised that the services being offered in the Russian Orthodox cathedral of London, are of the Protestant Rite.

May God bless the Western rite mission in England, and its faithful people. And, if it is pleasing to God, may the Western rite services which once prevailed in that land, when that land was Orthodox, also find some place there--through the prayers of all Saints of Britain and Ireland.


JHunt said...

Fr. Aidan bless!

Could you please explain the statement that the Great Litany is a Protestant Rite? If the Western Rite used in ROCOR is based on the Pre-Schism Sarum, why would this Western Rite include a Post-Schism Protestant rite?

In Christ,


Fr. Aidan said...

Dear Jason,

The Lord bless. The Great Litany was drawn up by Protestant Reformers and first used in 1544. It is noticeably similar to the ancient Western-Orthodox Litany of Saints, but drops and adds petitions, and clusters them together. To understand this, imagine the Litany of Peace from the Byzantine Liturgy, if every four or five petitions were clustered as one, with only one "Lord have mercy" following each "mega-petition," and with about half the wording being the same as in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and half different (or, perhaps, one-third different). That's how the Great Litany differs from the Orthodox Litany of Saints.

In Old England, in Benedictine houses, they'd sing the Litany of Saints before Liturgy or Mass on certain occasions (so I've read; I've not seen primary evidence of it). Doing the Litany before Liturgy or Mass is not a Sarum Use practice, since in the Sarum there are appointed chants and prayers which change with the seasons and feasts, to be done as the procession is made prior to the start of Liturgy/Mass.

ROCOR's Western rite is not based on Sarum. Its three principal usages are: (a) Tridentine Use of the Roman rite, which is the pre-Vatican II Roman Mass, with an epiclesis; (b) Protestant Rite of historic Anglicanism, with various modifications; and (c) Sarum Use of the Roman rite, with the addition of an epiclesis.

The first (a) is kept at Christminster in Canada and in Oklahoma, the second (b) in Tasmania and New Zealand and now in England; and the third (c) at Holyrood in Florida, and occasionally at St. Nicholas Monastery, Florida. At some point there will probably be a Sarum liturgy offered in Bournemouth / London, since Fr. Michael uses the Sarum as well as the Protestant; Fr. Michael will know.

There is also a Western rite priest in our ROCOR in Brazil, but I am unsure what rite he uses for services there.

Fr. Aidan+ a sinner


Fr. Aidan likes to use the word "Protestant" because it makes him feel superior. In fact what is used in England is Orthodox through and through. It comes from a book compiled in part by his own Metropolitan, proof read by him and authorised by him. I doubt very much that Fr. Aidan knows what Litany is used - or he would realise that what we use is somewhat different from that used after the reformation in England. He would also know that no one in ROCOR - including Fr. James at Christminster uses the Tridentine form of the Romabn mass.

Fr. Aidan said...


1. What is your name?

2. I have no grounds to feel superior to anyone, and I actually don't. Liturgical usages which came from the pen of Protestant heretics, represent Protestant liturgy. If we can't call those products "Protestant," then we can't call Lutheran liturgy "Lutheran," and we can't call Coptic liturgy "Coptic." These liturgies have an objective content and origin--our wishes to portray them more in one light or more in another light, must take a secondary place.

3. I noted that Fr. Michael, in describing his celebrations in London, used a term ("Great Litany") which refers exclusively to a Protestant form. But if I am wrong, simply provide us here with the full text of what was used, and that will quickly settle the matter.

4. Bishop Jerome of Manhattan wrote, Oct. 5, 2008, "Fr. James Deschene follows... a more or less Tridentine form of the Mass." Fr. Anthony in Oklahoma City uses the Overbeck form of Western rite Liturgy, approved over a hundred years ago. It is clearly a Tridentine form of the Roman rite.


Fr. Aidan+ a sinner

Dale said...

Fr. Aidan is quite correct about the tradition of the 'Great Litany," which was the only part of the liturgy that King Henry VIII would allow to be chanted in English during his reign. Having said that, I must say that I think his use of the word "Protestant" was perhaps not the best word choice, and I also sincerely doubt that the ROCOR would permit the celebration of a Protestant service in their cathedral!

I would also take issue with a fixation on what or what not is Orthodox simply because of the ethnicity of the composer; let us not forget that it was St. Clement of Alexandria who stated, "The way of truth is one. But into it, as into a perennial river, steams flow from all sides." Perhaps one of these streams could indeed be the Great Litany!

What I do find pleasing about Fr. Michael's celebrations of the western rite in Byzantine churches is that he bothers to setup a truly western style altar.

David Gould said...

Fr. Aidan I assume from the photos that the western-rite altar is in front of the iconostasis? Why not simply use the Holy Table - in the altar or bema?

Fr. Aidan said...

Regarding the shape of the altar table, it should be noted that the shape now associated with the Byz. rite, a more or less square cube, is definitely an authentically Western shape. It is known in many of the earlier Western churches. However, the rectangular-shaped altar table is also found in the West at a very early period, and not only the West, but the Eastern Orthodox Church as well. So both cube-shaped and rectangular-shaped altars are legitimate for the Western rite, one being simply an earlier form and the other having prevailed later in history.

Of course the existing altar table behind the iconostas/roodscreen could have been used, but what is seen in the photo is reminiscent of a late-mediaeval usage which came in just a hair prior to the Reformation: the placement of a "Jesus altar" before the screen, where Mass was often said, without music, on weekday mornings, so that all the people could hear. The arising of this late phenomenon gave rise to two strains in liturgical style in England: the more ancient form of singing the Mass completely, behind a screen, and the style of saying it without note without any screen. It is this 15th-16th century usage which has, it seems, been adopted in the chapel in London.

I would like to point out that, while I or others may opine this or that about WR liturgics, the fact is that we have something to gather 'round in discussion, we have some picture to discuss, and we have something beyond a mere intellectual exercise, solely due to the labours of Fr. Hieromonk Michael. He actually DID something and set up something. It's a lot easier to opine, than to act and do.

One cannot refine liturgics, if there is nothing there to refine. Those who work and sweat, get the reward.

Fr. Aidan+ a sinner

Ari said...

Father, bless

You might not be aware, but the term 'Great Litany' was never used by the Protestants (with one singular exception - in quite conscious imitation of the Catholics.) The term the Protestants used for their litany, of which they only had one, from the Books of Common Prayer were:
"The Litany/Letany/Letanie/Letani" - English ASB, 1946, 1559, 1552, Scottish 1929, 1637, Irish 1666.
"The Litany or General Supplication" - English 1928 Proposed, 1913 Revised, 1689 Proposed, 1662, Scottish 1912, Irish 1926, USA 1928, 1892, 1789.
"The Letany and Suffrages" - English 1549.
"The Exhortation and Letany" - English 1544.

The USA 1979 was the first to use the term 'Great Litany', and they derived it from the Catholic use. You can find the Catholic use of 'Great Litany' in Fr. Alban Butler (see his entry for St. Mark in the Lives of the Saints), in Challoner, etc. It is simply one of the English translations of 'Litania Maior'(also 'Litaniae Sanctorum') - the Great Litany (of(the)Saints). You should recognize this as that also called Litania Septiformus or Litania Romana - being that litany propogated by St. Gregory the Great (and existing in many variations). We also have the Litania Minor (or Gallicana, 'of St. Mamertus' - called by the Gallicans 'Litania Maior'.) This is one of the only 6 litanies now allowed in public prayer by the Roman Church (the rest are not so ancient.)

Fr. Michael's Great Litany is just that: the Great Litany of the Saints from *Sarum*, with variations from the Corby and other English sources (as it states in the Saint Colman Prayer Book.) Nothing Protestant about it, nor about Evensong or Mattins or any of the other ROCOR SCPB offices (which are all Sarum derived, not Book of Common Prayer derived.)

To sum up 'Great Litany' - Catholic term, 'The Litany' - Protestant term. The Protestant litany you describe? Not used by Fr. Michael or any of us.

I would hope an end could be put to this absolutely false rumor about 'Protestantism', and the attempts to connect Fr. Michael, Saint Petroc Monastery, or anyone else with Protestantism. It is doing great damage to the unity of the Church and to missionary efforts.

Fr. Aidan said...

Dear Ari, the Lord bless.

In my limited experience, Anglicans call their version the Great Litany, Roman rite people of all stripes call the older version the Litany of Saints. So it may be a case of popular nomenclature vs. formal.

The Letania Major, although it can translate to "Great Litany," is a different occasion and a special group of litanies, which differ in content from the Litany of Saints.

> ... Fr. Michael's Great Litany is just that: the Great Litany of the Saints from *Sarum*, ...

I'm glad for the correction. But my complaint is, since there is no way for me to purchase a copy of the services, and Fr. Michael has banned me from his discussion group, I'm forced to read between the lines, to "surmise," as I had put it.

> ... Nothing Protestant about it, nor about Evensong or Mattins or any of the other ROCOR SCPB offices (which are all Sarum derived, not Book of Common Prayer derived.)

I'll have to take your word for it, until such time as the texts are opened up to the public.

> ...l I would hope an end could be put to this absolutely false rumor about 'Protestantism', and the attempts to connect Fr. Michael, Saint Petroc Monastery, or anyone else with Protestantism.

I have never accused any of my brethren of Protestantism. The connection is limited to the use of Protestant Rite liturgy, which is simply a matter of record. But "Protestantism" as opposed to employing the "Protestant Rite," enters into areas of doctrine and spirituality. I assume that in these areas all of our clergy are fully Orthodox, and not at all Protestant.

> ... It is doing great damage to the unity of the Church and to missionary efforts.

If calling our existent, and blessed-for-use, Protestant Rite "Protestant Rite" is harmful, then let's consider two possible solutions (though there may be more):

#1 Stop calling the Protestant Rite "Protestant Rite." Call it something more euphonious.

#2 Stop using the Protestant Rite and use a Western rite from before the Protestant Reformation.

Which of these two solutions, do you think, will be more effective for missionary work, in the long term, and given the eagerness of some people to be critical of any and all Western rite work?

Ari said...

Father, bless

There are multiple litanies termed 'Great Litany'. The term is used, of course, for that litany on the feast of St. Mark, Rogation, Wed/Fri in Lent... etc. The Litania Sanctorum is also called 'Great Litany of the Saints'(a simple matter - you can google the whole term.) Same way the Byzantine rite has a Great Ektenia (Great Litany) also called Litany of Peace or Great Litany of Peace.

The Saint Colman Prayer Book has been public for some time, never 'secret' as some have wished to charge. Many clergy in several churches have it, it was available on the web from Br. Edward in Melbourne as well. The issue with the forum? That is another matter and has to do with ground rules and violations thereof. I would say that that is quite a 'spin' that you have put on Fr. Michael here altogether (and the 'Occidentalistas') - and I've noted it happening since 1999 at least.

As for a 'Protestant use liturgy' it is a matter of record that we use no such thing. The English Liturgy of the SCPB is not Protestant derived, not representative of Protestant liturgy. Fr. Michael has cleared that up on numerous occasions.

Your two proposed 'solutions' simply wouldn't work, as the premise of the 'problem' is wrong. There is no "Protestant Rite" to be renamed as per No. 1. And No. 2? No one can stop using said "Protestant Rite" because they aren't using it in the first place. It is effectively the old "Do you still beat your wife?" question - it is all based on assumption of a falsehood.

Fr. Aidan said...

Dear Ari, the Lord bless.

> The Saint Colman Prayer Book has been public for some time, ...

How, then, may one order a copy?

> ... The issue with the forum? That is another matter and has to do with ground rules and violations thereof.

There is no "violation" of anything involved. It unfolded like this: A year ago or so, Fr. Michael allowed me on his discussion group (Ely Forum) for a day or so, since I'd agreed beforehand to make a statement in support of Fr. Michael. My public statement having been given, my usefulness was at an end, and I was immediately re-banned. For my part, I've invited Fr. Michael to participate in my discussion group, and he is welcome to join it at any time.

> ... As for a 'Protestant use liturgy' it is a matter of record that we use no such thing. The English Liturgy of the SCPB is not Protestant derived, not representative of Protestant liturgy. Fr. Michael has cleared that up on numerous occasions.

Fr. Michael recently stated that his "English Liturgy" is the Book of Common Prayer eucharistic rite, with a few modifications.

> ... Your two proposed 'solutions' simply wouldn't work, as the premise of the 'problem' is wrong. There is no "Protestant Rite" to be renamed as per No. 1.

Some claim that the Book of Common Prayer eucharistic rite is not Protestant, but it was written by Protestants to undermine Orthodox dogmas. And if that's not Protestant, nothing is.

My own take is identical to the findings of the Russian Orthodox standing committee in 1904: (a) the Book of Common Prayer is entirely unsuitable for Orthodox worship, for reasons of confession of faith, and (b) with a hierarchical blessing, it can be used. I hold no opinion that would be different from the findings of the committee as published in 1904.


The Roman Catholic writer Gilbert Keith Chesterton said of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer that it was not the first Protestant Prayer Book, but the last Catholic Prayer Book.
The SCPB "English Liturgy" as celebrated in the ROCOR cathedral here in England is taken from the 1549 BCP Rite and from the Sarum - with some few additions from the non-Jurors liturgies.
I think that G K Chesterton has settled the point: the English Liturgy is not Protestant derived. So let's stop once and for all this silly usage by Fr. Aidan.


And incidentally, Fr. Michael is using the Altar in front of the iconostasis at the cathedral because Archbishop Mark forbade him from using "their" eastern Altar - which was Fr. Michael's original intention. Apparently Archbishop Mark has only reluctantly agreed to Western Rite and might have been afraid that it would somehow contaminate their Altar. As I understand it, Fr. Michael intended to put just two candles and a crucifix on the eastern Altar (which has been cleared by the cathedral authorities of all Eastern Rite fittings).

Ari said...

Copies of the Shorter Saint Colman Prayer Book have been available for over a year through Brother Edward’s – the Paypal link was recently broken, I’m not sure if they’ve been able to fix it. The contact person is Brother Edward.

Your understanding of the events on Ely Forum does not bear any resemblance to the events – I was the administrator. Certain people were allowed on Ely Forum with the caveat that they not promote their own various schemes and rather focus on the stated purpose of the forum. That was violated. The background was the Occidentalis situation: Vladyka Hilarion’s Western rite work had been lied about there since 1999 (focusing on Fr. Michael usually). No variant opinion was allowed up to people being banned, posts not being allowed through, and even some people accused of being ‘other people’ (me in one instance - when I was not on the forum in any shape or form. Further irony in the fact that I had never even had contact with the persons being accused of being me.) Simply put – Occidentalis is not a fair forum. It has always been tightly controlled by Milan Synod interests, and taking an oppositional stance to Fr. Michael regardless of what he actually does or says.

“Fr. Michael recently stated that his "English Liturgy" is the Book of Common Prayer eucharistic rite, with a few modifications. “
I do not doubt that is how you interpreted it – but that is not what he states about it, and I know that for a fact. The descriptive title in its full (with primary sources first) is “The English Liturgy. According to the Western Rite, derived from the Sarum, 1549, 1718 etc., adapted using the rules authorized by the Holy Synod of Russia.”

To unpack that (and Fr. Michael has said all this multiple times public and private) – the English Liturgy is the Sarum rite in English, but adapted for Orthodox parish use *inside* the Orthodox Church under direction of an Orthodox bishop. The only ‘material’ from the 1549 BCP is that the BCP ‘Prayer for the Church’ was edited back into the Memorials, some phrasing in the Canon, the Prayer of Humble Access, and the fixed Post-Communion (actually from the liturgy of St. James), and the placing of the Peace. At best we could not really say ‘Book of Common Prayer derived’, as most of this is only ‘Anglican-ISH’, familiar wording. The language used was primarily that of Bishop Cosin or Pearson, where it was Orthodox – otherwise they did new translation in that style trying to match that language.

The only other ‘differences’ are things inherited from the Russian tradition of Western rite: an epiclesis (Visigothic in this case), a Cherubic hymn (borrowing that from the use of Mount Royal), and fixing hymns at this time with the view that it would be in use by convert clergy, and thus discouraging experimentation. It is also intended as a ‘school for Sarum’. Still, as Fr. Michael has said for over a decade – it is Sarum derived, still mostly Sarum, though not ‘purist’ except as Orthodox purist.


Ari said...

Claims about the ‘Book of Common Prayer Eucharistic rite’ not being Protestant don’t have any bearing on this discussion. Fr. Michael has never made that argument. He never has used the St. Tikhon liturgy or offices (in fact, when first being received it was suggested, and he dismissed the idea out of hand.) However he does know the history which you seem unaware of. There are two trajectories of BCP tradition. There was no intention to undermine Orthodox dogmas – in fact, for the Latin Sarum 1544 - English Sarum1548 - 1549 - 1687 – 1718 was done by people who consciously looked to the Orthodox as their elder brothers (and hopeful union with the same.) The 1550-1662 succession? Fr. Michael has always condemned that as Protestant Presbyterian and forced through by Parliament.
Your own take on the Russian Observations are not in sync with the document itself, the history of that ‘committee’, or the Russian acceptance of the same. It was actually a Synodal Commission set up by the Synod in 1904 – it included St. Tikhon (Belavin) and Bishop Sergius (Stragorodsky) among its members. The question on the prayer book came from a letter not only from St. TIkhon (Belavin) but signed also bySt. John Kochurov. The report was in 1907 and was the formal adoption of a report submitted by an official commission of the Synod – and as such, an agreed action of the Synod. They determined that the implementation of the same would be carried out by the local diocesan bishops – as is stated in the Observations. Of course, the Revolution meant nothing went beyond that – until the late 20th c. when Vladyka Hilarion acted on it. That report was indeed negative about the American Book of Common Prayer 1892 *as it was, without adaptation* - they were positive about implementation by bringing it into line with older Western liturgy and Orthodox doctrine. The SCPB English Liturgy exceeds this (mostly by starting from the older Western liturgy and by-passing the Protestant BCPs altogether.)
Whether it was Archbishop Tikhon in 1908 or Archbishop Hilarion in 1998 who eventually took the action authorised by the Synodin 1907 is neither here nor there, the fact of the matter is that within ROCOR, the decision made is that it was lawful to take action based on the 1907 report, and accordingly the "English Liturgy" came about and was duly included in the Saint Colman Prayer Book which has since been authorised for use in other ROCOR dioceses

So, until that is understood (and read as intended, and not with the usual strawman of the Fr. Michael/Anglican-Boogeyman) we should finally be able to quit talking past each other.

Aboonah said...

Two comments - (though quite a few others come to mind [:-(======

1) I received my copy of the SCPB by sending an email to Fr. Michael - who didn't know me from Adam, at the time - about 3 years ago. I received nicely printed and bound copies from Australia - at no charge. So I suspect that it's safe to assume that the SCPB is no secret document.

2) The SCPB contains an entry titled, "The Great Litany" - described as follows:
"Consisting of the Litany of the Saints, elements of the Anglo-Saxon, Corby, Sarum, and other English litanies rendered as suitable for use at the time of the Divine Liturgy."

I think it's a great litany, no matter what it's called.

Oh, a third comment (yes, I know it's beginning to sound like a Monty Python episode - but, hey, it's High Church English):

We do use - in Oklahoma City - the St. Gregory Liturgy as approved by the Synod of Moscow at the presentation of Overbeck...but with local variation based on Dom Augustine's work.

And finally, a fourth comment (No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!)

I think that as soon as I can bother to make the Latin translation we will add to the Litany before the Offertory the petition,

"That our God will deliver us from the bishop of Rome and all of his detestable enormities, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy."

Not *THAT's* protestant. And rolls off the tongue quite nicely, too.

Fr. Anthony

Fr. Aidan said...

I still have heard nothing about how one may order a copy of the St. Colman book. The name "Edward" doesn't help much, unless there is an email, an address, etc. Some kind of contact information. The blog mentioned, has nothing.

Still no way indicated, for ordering a copy.

Fr. Aidan said...

An Orthodox clergyman, noting the exchange here, wrote to me privately, "Don't let the Western Rite ducks nibble you to death, Father!" I suppose it's a bit like that, but I admit I both nibble and am nibbled. Serves me right! Well, I had a hearty chuckle today, reading over it all. I hope that you who appear, in these discussion points, to be "adversaries," realise that I don't see you as that. We may hold forth on our respective points, but I do respect your faith, your work, your love for God and His things, not to mention your being fashioned in the image and likeness of God, and that we drink the same Blood and struggle through the same fasts.

Ari, your politeness is noted and it is having a good influence on this sinner. Although I disagree with you on certain points!

I wish all of you a joyful Epiphany.

Michael Oleksy said...

Dear Father,

As far as I know, there is no ROCOR WR presence in New Zeland (although there are two Antiochian WR missions there) and in Brazil (where there is no WR presence whatsoever).

In Chist,