Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Liturgical Revolution: Prayer Book Revision and Associated Parishes: A Generation of Change in the Episcopal Church

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Liturgical Revolution: Prayer Book Revision and Associated Parishes: A Generation of Change in the Episcopal Church

Article excerpt

The Liturgical Revolution: Prayer Book Revision and Associated Parishes: A Generation of Change in the Episcopal Church. By Michael Moriarty. New York: Church Hymnal Corporation, 1996. xiv + 272 pp. $29.95 (cloth).

Episcopalians who remember the 1928 prayer book and the process of revision leading to the 1979 book will have no difficulty recognizing the truth of the title The Liturgical Revolution. As Moriarty says in his introduction, the 1979 prayer book "abandoned a Tudor worldview and the liturgical and theological context of the Reformation, and embraced the language, values, and insights of the twentieth-century liturgical movement" (pp. 1-2). The story of this change is told through the lens of the history of Associated Parishes (A.P.), an organization founded in 1946 to consider how the principles of the liturgical movement could be implemented in parishes. Moriarty demonstrates that A.P. did not create the 1979 prayer book but served "as a catalyst for the change" (p. 214).

Growing out of the author's doctoral work at the University of Notre Dame, the book is meticulously researched, using archival material as well as interviews and correspondence with longtime members of A.P. Numerous references to opinions expressed in church periodicals such as The Living Church and The Episcopalian offer a flavor of the heated debate during the process of revision.

Moriarty sets the liturgical movement and prayer book revision in the context of contemporary social and cultural change. His concluding chapter enumerates succinctly the factors which contributed to liturgical change in the Episcopal Church during the twentieth century and eventually led to prayer book revision. The final pages analyze the 1979 rites in light of contemporary theological and ecclesiological understandings.

An important dimension of these changing perspectives is the Church's emphasis on the ministry of all the baptized. Moriarty identifies the first layperson elected to A.P. and the first layperson to serve as its president. But recent decades have also seen new emphasis on the inclusion of women and racial and ethnic minorities. Moriarty gives an account of A.E's debate about civil rights and its eventual commitment to desegregation, but nowhere does he discuss whether A.P. considered the integration of its own ranks. He also describes the decision not to take a stand on the ordination of women, but again does not reflect on the inclusion of women in A. …

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