15 July 2012

Bracketing the Gospel

I once heard a liturgy professor who spoke of "bracketing the Gospel".  From my background I thought he meant to set aside one's personal knowledge as one considered the text.  He was simply referring to the Announcement of the Gospel and the Concluding Versicle and Response.  It proved to be a rather hilarious state of general confusion during the discussion which reminded me yet again that we are a people divided by a common tongue.

The recollection of this has put me in mind of something beautiful, true, and good that I hope editors of new liturgical orders will not overlook.  In the 1929 and 1970 liturgies of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Gospel is announced and the people respond in basically the same manner as is found in The Book of Divine Worship.  At the conclusion of the reading, however, the Gospeller says:

Thanks be to thee, O Lord, for this thy glorious Gospel.

Wherever Anglicans and Episcopalians possess something unique and beautiful not found in the current Latin rite we should expect our liturgical compilers to employ it ... otherwise why engage in this at all?

So now to the proposal of what I pray I will see in the future liturgical rites of those who are serious about the Anglican Patrimony and its liturgical riches.

Before the reading of the Gospel, the Announcement shall be given including the name of the Gospel but omitting the Chapter and Verse.  

During the Announcement all shall make a small sign of the Cross upon the forehead, mouth, and heart.  All shall incline the head forward at the saying of the Sacred Name of JESUS.  

The Faithful shall bow from the waist when saying their responses before and after the Gospel reading.  These bows of the Faithful are to the Lord himself whose icon is the Book of Gospels.

The Gospeller  The Holy  Gospel 
                        of  Our LORD and Saviour JESUS  Christ    
                        according to Saint (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John)
The Faithful   Glory be to thee, O Lord.

At the Conclusion of the reading of the Gospel, the following shall be said,
The Gospeller Thanks be to thee, O LORD
                          for this thy glorious Gospel.
The Faithful   Praise be to thee, O Christ.

I concede the necessity of printing the Gospel authors' names as being preferable to 'St. N.' or 'Saint ______', but otherwise I am opposed to Optionitis infecting a printed liturgical order. I believe the Order should be printed as it is to be normally prayed without a single "or this" infecting it.  Then after the end of the printed service, permissive rubrics may be given allowing for clearly stated pastoral adaptions as may be necessary for the Celebrant and his congregation of the Faithful.  It would be in this location and fashion, that one could provide the optional versicle and response as found in The Book of Divine Worship i.e., The Gospel of the Lord. Praise be to thee, O Christ.