Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Liturgical Sense: The Logic of Rite

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Liturgical Sense: The Logic of Rite

Article excerpt

Liturgical Sense: The Logic of Rite. By Louis Weil. (New York: Seabury Books, 2013, Pp xiv, 140. $18.00 paper, $14.00 digital.)

In this focused and extremely accessible work Louis Weil systematically outlines the historical development of the role of the présider in Anglican worship, from the early church, through the Medieval church, Reformation church, Oxford Movement, and the twentieth century Liturgical Renewal Movement: all in service to helping us more fully understand the essential (and non essential) aspects of our current Episcopal rites.

Despite the almost comic book like effect created by the over-sized print and wide margins, the actual content of the book is, in true Weil fashion, solid and challenging. Clergy, seminarians, church musicians, and other lay leaders interested in exploring the liturgy, particularly with regard to what it does and does not mean to lead worship, will all find sections of the book stimulating, provocative, or perhaps gratifyingly reaffirming of their current practices. Adult formation classes could benefit greatly from reading this book together, and it is unfortunate that a set of study questions was not included.

Weil focuses on how structural design, gestures, and musical decisions can either support or unhinge the liturgical sense of a rite or occasion. Implicit and explicit in his work is the realization that rites are more than just texts: They are performative. They are enactments by human bodies as well as minds, enactments that lead us into central life truths and into relationship with the Divine. Weil repeatedly emphasizes the power of Christian symbols for our lives and warns of the dangers inherent in diluting or thwarting symbolical liturgical structure for the sake of personal preferences, local pietistic proclivities, or uncensored pragmatics. (Just because it is faster to put all the chalices on the altar before the Eucharistic prayer begins does not mean it is theologically prudent to do so. …

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