05 July 2012

The RSV Rite

Though someone else may have already done so, I hereby christen the new Ordinariate liturgies as "The RSV Rite".

Of course, the RSV Common Bible and its version of English has not been the standard for Anglicans in our worship.  Some of our Canticles derive from the Great Bible.  Our Scriptural quotations come from the Authorised Version and the Great Bible.  Our Psalter is a recension of Coverdale's great translation.  Yet based on what we have seen thus far, what we have been told to expect, and the silly claims for the RSV that have been made together with the news that the RSV is to be the only translation from which Scripture quotations shall be taken, The RSV Rite seems apt enough: a little tradition sprinkled atop modernism.

We don't know if the RSV in question is the RSV of the Common Bible or the RSV, 2nd Catholic Edition.  It is the latter that is in the beautiful Lectionary from the West Indies.  The English in the rite -- like that found The Manual of Anglo-Catholic Devotion -- could best be characterised as stately and modern rather than traditionally Anglican.  So, The RSV RITE is born.

Thankfully, the use of a recension of the Coverdale Psalter will be used.  Few are able to explain beyond "we like it; that's why we're using it" what is the proper reason for using it  i.e., it is the traditional Anglican Psalter being the first part of that reason.

The second and most important reason for the Coverdale Psalter is that Coverdale was aware of the sound of the Vulgate chanted. He thought of the Psalter as a text to be sung in worship.  His English with chanting in mind so beautifully fits to Sarum and Gregorian chant.  Later it would prove the perfect text for our  Anglican Chants.  The Authorised Version Psalter in comparison is at a great distance from the original sung tradition of the Church in England before the dreadful divorce.  The Psalter in the Authorised Version (King Jas.) is a literary triumph.  But as a vehicle for singing and chanting day by day it comes in second-place to Coverdale.  For similar reasons the Great Bible texts for the Gospel Canticles were retained (though in various recensions) in all of the traditional Books of Common Prayer.

If there is room for Coverdale's Psalter, why is there no room for those two Bible translations that have been so important to Anglican life and worship: the Great Bible and the King James Bible?  The reason is that this new Ordinariate Liturgy is not one of Anglican comprehension: it is The RSV Rite.