The ever interesting Fr. Hunwicke

Fr. Hunwicke has an interesting piece that relates to the origins our our Ordinariate Divine Worship.

He writes:

When poor Dr Cranmer composed his Liturgy there was not a lot of evidence about how the Early Church actually did worship. Despite his threefold appeal to ‘the auncient fathers’ in the preface to the 1549 book, we now know that in that and subsequent books a lot of primitive baby got thrown out and a lot of medieval bathwater got retained. This became clear over the next 200 years. And, as early liturgical texts gradually emerged from the presses, those who kept their reading up-to-date became aware that Cranmer’s Liturgy fell far short of what could be shown to be the’godly order of the auncient fathers’.

This left two possibilities: the Protestant option: Cranmer’s Liturgy may not be primitive but it is scriptural and that rules, OK; the Catholic option; his Rite must be reformed in accordance with what is now known about the worship of the Early Church, if we are to be faithful to what he himself set as his gold-standard.   (snip)
” . . . during that century there was an assumption that the newly discovered early Eastern liturgical forms were ‘more primitive’ than Western forms such as the Canon of the Roman Mass. The Victorian Ritualists knew better, and a succession of Altar Books increasingly supplemented Cranmer with Roman material (sometimes diplomatically described as ‘Sarum’). This tradition of Altar Books culminated in the English Missal, which dominated Anglo-Catholicism until, after the Council, it lost its nerve and aped the progressive liturgical corruptions adopted by ‘Rome’. Our Ordinariate Missal is, of course, the final and splendid product of the English Missal tradition.

Is there any other of the ‘Reformation’ ecclesial bodies which has had such a succession of theologians and liturgists, since the 1630s, who assented to papal primacy, discarded Reformation texts or supplemented them with ancient liturgical texts, believed in the full reality of the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist, believed in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, offered it daily or weekly?

6 thoughts on “The ever interesting Fr. Hunwicke

  1. As you say, the ever-interesting Fr Hunwicke. He has another recent piece on reciting the Divine Office. He prefers the Latin, but there are those on the ‘thread’ who raise interesting questions about just how far one can go as members of the various Ordinariates in using Anglican forms as we await the official Ordinariate Breviary/Office Book. As a lay member of the Ordinariate here in England I find the bittiness of the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham’s Lectionary very offputting, and would find it much easier to use the C of E’s 1961 Lectionary, with the Customary’s readings for Ist Evensong, Mattins and Evensong on Sundays, Solemnities and Feasts. Does this come within the ‘Norms’ we should follow? Also, does anyone out there know how near to being authorised the official Book is? If it is as good as the Missal and Occasional Services, it will be well worth the wait!


    • Hi Jeff,
      I’m not sure when the approved divine offices will be coming out—soon, I hope, but John Covert has put together a great website that is as close to what the new offices might be without his actually having a document in hand. You don’t need any books or pages to shuffled around, or an ordo. The collects, the readings, the canticles are all at for morning, midday and evening prayer. I use it all the time now. Check it out and let me know how you like it. I am not familiar with the OLW Customary, though some of my friends have it.


      • Hi Deborah,
        Greetings from a very wet UK! Thanks for your reply. I’m not sure if there’s a glitch on my admittedly quite old computer but the website doesn’t let me access the full Office for Mattins and Evensong. The links to Mid-day Prayer and Compline work fine.
        As regards the Customary, which is authorised over here Ad Interim by Mgr Newton, it is a beautiful compilation. It provides for Mattins and Evensong based on the English norms of 1662 and (our) 1928 BCPs, with extras like the ‘O’ Advent antiphons at the Magnificat and the Invitatory verses for the Venite. There is a Catholicised form of The Litany, Office Hymns, Collects – many superceded by the publication of The Missal – and Non-Scriptural Readings at Mattins for optional use from Anglican sources – the Oxford Movement, the Caroline Divines, some 20th century scholars like Eric Mascall, Archbishop Michael Ramsey, etc, a form of Mid-day Prayer and Compline, and the full Psalter. On top of all this there are one or two extras that are much loved by us all, like forms for the Nine Lessons and Carols at Christmas. On the whole, its excellent.
        As I said in my original posting, I personally believe that its only drawback is the Lectionary. One of the Readings at Mattins is the Scripture Reading from the Office of Readings, the other seems to be drawn from a variety of sources. Sometimes it is a consecutive reading from a particular book, as we are all used to, sometimes it is the Gospel from that day’s Mass – useful if you can’t get to daily Mass, but not quite so if you are reading something that you’re going to hear later. Sometimes the same short lesson is read more than once in the same week! The readings for Evensong as printed in the Customary have already been superceded by a decision to use the Evensong readings from the Book of Divine Worship, and they are the ones referenced in the Ordo. I’m sure that all this will be sorted out when the final, official form is published. It is also very interesting to be part of a ‘work in progress’, as you can see how bits that don’t work very well are being tweaked.


      • I have had some difficulties viewing documents in PDF format in the newest browsers. The affected documents display properly when I download them and open them in a copy of Acrobat Reader that is not running within the browser.



    • Lay persons do not have a canonical obligation to pray the divine office, so we can do whatever we want when praying the office privately.

      Clergy of the ordinariates, who have an official obligation to pray the office, obviously must use a form of the office that has official sanction. The Liturgy of the Hours or the approved office of a monastic community or a cathedral chapter of canons clearly would meet this requirement. For clergy of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, that ordinariate’s customary apparently has official approval for interim use. The clergy of the other ordinariates might have an indult to use the form of the office that they used as Anglicans on an interim basis. And for clergy of all three ordinariates, the office in the Book of Divine Worship is approved if one can obtain a copy.

      And, for clergy, these might not be the only options. The Vatican actually published a guide for preparation of office books, which contains the norms to which the books for offices of monastic communities and cathedral chapters of canons must conform. My understanding is that any office that conforms to those norms is acceptable.



  2. Interesting you should have that problem with the site, Jeff. I have a similar problem accessing it through my phone, a BlackBerry, though I used to get it all no problem. On my computer I get it fine, using Google Chrome as my browser.


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