07 July 2012

A Thousand Million Gems

During Whitsuntide I went looking for my old Cuddesdon Office Book in search of a Doxology that was sung at the end of the hymns in Whitsuntide. It was a book that survived the destruction of the rest of my library when Hurricane Ike struck Galveston Island and destroyed my home.  The pages look like they have seen better days, but they are worn from use over many years rather than the ravages of a vicious storm and its flood waters.

You may think it a small thing — this Doxology — and wonder why I would draw attention to it. I do so because the many and various Office Books all hold their treasures, a thousand million gems. It takes a great effort to gather these things together and then regard how they may be used if they may be used. Yes, it is easier to leave it to one or two men and their personal judgements. Cranmer tried that in 1549 and it did not go swimmingly well at that time.

A committee is no gift either because it depends upon who is on the Committee. As in the production of the 1661 Book of Common Prayer it could be a committee of the second tier.  The result would be serviceable and durable.  In time it would become Tradition, Tradition! and dearly loved for all of its many storied uses and occasions.  One cannot help but wonder with what theological depth the Book might have been anchored had the first tier of theologians and liturgists been employed.   Ah, well ... perhaps in a different quantum reality there is a well beloved Book of Common Prayer touched by the wisdom of Jeremy Taylor and drawing deeply from the Divine Liturgy of St. James of Jerusalem.  

One can say that a committee of lesser lights may be better able to gather in the harvest, so to speak.  Such a committee (or a commission) if properly directed can go out and gather in the materials, solicit the expert opinions, tabulate the experiences of test groups, and consider unsolicited opinions and recommendations ... so that the brethren may reason together and produce something well researched and well considered. 

 One organisation I know -- a secular group -- makes use of Jesus' organisational pattern: one CEO, twelve subordinates, twelve serving under each of the subordinates, and the salesforce working two by two. No, I won't name them because I do not wish to appear to endorse a secular business, but I do salute the vision of the founder. One would be hard pressed to know this was one of the secrets of the company's success as it is not advertised and not discernible from the outside. Too bad such an idea could not be used by working groups of this or that within the Church.

So back to the little gem from the Cuddesdon Office Book:

Thou who didst bless thy saints of old
With inward graces manifold;
Now banish all our sins away,
And give us peace, O Lord, to-day.

To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, praise be done;
And Christ the Lord upon us pour
The Comforter for evermore. Amen.

+Veni Sancte Spiritus