‘The Strange Case of the Elusive Patrimony started when Anglo-Catholicism lost its distinctive identity in the 1960s and 70s. I’m not sure about other countries but in [England] it certainly lost it. From the 1960s onwards, a great multitude of Anglo-Catholics, a great multitude which no man could number, all rushed forward like so many lemmings, in imitation of something they then called ‘modern Rome’. The lemmings rushed forward and then toppled headlong over the cliffs of de-sacralisation and secularisation, most of all in worship. If only Anglo-Catholics had kept their nerve when so many others were going mental. If only Anglo-Catholics had made greater efforts to preserve that exquisite treasury of faith and worship which we know as The English Missal.
The finest patrimony of Anglicanism is the treasure-trove of traditional Anglo-Catholic worship. The precious core of that treasure was forged when The English Missal came to birth in 1912. It then evolved, getting better and better with each subsequent edition. Its use of Sarum and Tridentine liturgical texts in Cranmerian English fired and sustained the Anglo-Catholic movement with remarkable success. The English Missal was the bedrock of those edifying decades when, in the words of Sir John Betjeman, the faith was taught, and fanned to a golden blaze. Then came the hasty reforms of the late 1960s and 1970s. The reformers piped and the lemmings jumped. But let us be fair. It wasn’t just Anglican lemmings who jumped. Roman lemmings also jumped. On both sides of the Tiber far too few had the courage or the honesty to question the glaring discontinuity and to ask: how on earth does this new tune harmonise with what we always heard before?
God is very good and mercifully brings order out of confusion. One particularly bright shaft of light has now emerged to lighten our darkness. That light is the publication of Divine Worship: The Missal. This Missal is a magnificent piece of work. It preserves a large portion of that traditional Anglo-Catholic patrimony which has so much to offer the modern Church in the modern world’.
from an address, ‘Blessed John Henry Newman: Our Guide for Tomorrow’, 15 October 2018, by Fr Ignatius Harrison, Cong. Orat. The full article can be read here.
Fr Lee Kenyon