‘The idea that there is a unique Anglican approach to Scripture was first proposed to me years ago during those first conversations that would eventually lead to the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. I must confess, initially I found this idea puzzling, partly because the greater incorporation of Sacred Scripture in the liturgical life of the Church is one of the express desires of the Second Vatican Council and even more recently underscored by the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God and the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini of Pope Benedict XVI. And yet, consistently and from various sources both Anglican and Catholic, historical and contemporary, one finds the assertion that the Anglican liturgy is distinguished by the prominence it gives to Scripture in the conduct of public worship and in the promotion of biblical piety.
There is a culture within Anglicanism wherein scriptural words, and images are almost a default starting position, a culture nourished and preserved in the parochial celebration of the Divine Office. This bears witness to the hallowed tradition of English monasticism which informs so much of Anglican worship. Additionally, the inclusion of the various scriptural “touchstones” throughout the Eucharistic liturgy (the Summary of the Law, the Comfortable Words, the Sentences, the fraction anthem “Christ our Passover”) is a distinctive Anglican feature which informs, underscores and punctuates the liturgical action. While the biblical intuition is present from the very beginning of Anglicanism when the insistence on the vernacular found expression in the beauty of the King James Bible and “Prayer Book English”, this approach to Scripture is more about reading the Bible liturgically, allowing the words and poetic cadences to linger, penetrate, and take root in the soul as a sustained, communal lectio.
Let us be mindful, though, that this approach to Holy Scripture is what one might call “less tangible” patrimony. One cannot point to it as demonstrably as one would point to, say, Evensong. As patrimony goes, its contours are much more subtle, defying both simple definition and replication. And yet, one need but read some of the Pastoral and Plain Sermons of John Henry Newman to see an eloquent example of this approach’.
from a talk entitled The Mission of the Ordinariate given 2 February 2013 in Houston
by Bishop Steven Lopes
Fr Lee Kenyon