Volume 07, Number 01 May 1977
The article, an abbreviated form of the Centenary Lecture, 1976, suggests that developments in secular historiography have brought the discipline closer to remembering encountered in biblical thought. A key text is Max Thurian’s ‘The Eucharistic Memorial’. Secular views of history are surveyed, including those of Ranke and Acton; we see the past in the light which the present throws upon it and seek to learn the lessons which it has to teach our time. In the biblical understanding, memory is indissolubly connected with a whole structure of thought and experience which give to it new possibilities and functions, and this is captured in the concept of ‘memorial’, a cultic act performed not only before humanity but before God, in which the future is laid hold of as in a manner present. The differences between the two approaches are that in the biblical reading it is not man who chooses, but God; that it is not an encounter with what is now over but a living being; that it is oriented to the future.
The article explores the unresolved tension in the Church of Scotland’s understanding of marriage, when the Westminster Confession and Directory make no mention of Ephesians 5 which refers the image of mystical union, whereas Knox’s Liturgy does. One strand is almost Pelagian in its emphasis on the responsibility of the couple to make the marriage ‘work’, while the other seems to suggest that marriage for the baptized Christian is something more than a legal institution. We should, first, learn from the Orthodox Marriage Service which not only recognises the free will of the couple but signifies the bestowal of a special grace; second, we should consider celebrating marriage in the context of Holy Communion. The importance of preparation for marriage is stressed
A detailed survey both of church buildings in Edinburgh now demolished and those now put to alternative use. The difficulties of maintenance are noted. There is also discussion of who should have the responsibility for preserving buildings of historic or architectural merit.
Although it was not intended that the Church Service Society be concerned with matters of doctrine or other issues beyond the practical ordering of worship, it was not possible to avoid this. Some called for a separation between the sphere of dogma and the sphere of devotion (criticising the prominent place given to the Creed, prayers of confession that were more statements of doctrine than statements of experience, intercessions which were too church-centred). This ‘broad church’ group prepared the fifth morning service in ‘Euchologion’ of 1890. The other view believed that the more dogma, the more devotion. Milligan, for example, saw a greater distinction between church and society, emphasizing the heavenly priesthood of Christ and a weekly celebration of Holy Communion. The high church group also objected, unsuccessfully, to the change in the sixth edition of ‘Euchologion’ by which the intercessions were placed before the sermon (the same pattern as in Anglican Matins). This gave rise to the founding in 1892 of the Scottish Church Society. Although members remained office bearers of the Church Service Society, some ‘broad church’ members also formed, for a while, the National Church Union.
The history of the development of the Daily Office is reviewed and four sources for Luther’s assessment and reform outlined. High on his agenda was the restoration of the Word to the Office as currently practised. In Concerning the Order of Public Worship, eight Offices were to be retained, but in Deutsche Messe only Matins and Vespers are mentioned as Public Worship. Detailed outlines are given in these sources, with readings, canticles and psalms, and instruction in the Vespers for Saturday afternoon. These reforms were not systematic and details are lacking, but reference is made to 1 Cor.14:26-31 as a ‘backbone’, exegeted by Luther as requiring ‘prophesying, teaching, and admonition’. The Litany, first found in the Apostolic Constitutions after which it became detached from the Eucharist, had become common in processions, which Luther did not encourage. However, it was given a place in regular worship, minus invocations of the saints and other material and with the addition of petitions for help against the enemies of the time.
The Canadian upbringing and influences on this pre-eminent reformer of Presbyterian worship (he served in Canada and Ceylon as well as in Scotland) are explored. As well as worship, Sprott affirmed the threefold ministry of the church according to Reformed principles, always lodged in apostolic tradition: ministers, elders, deacons. He had a high doctrine of ordination, against views of the time, and attacked ‘low and defective views of sacramental grace’, reaffirming the centrality of the Lord’s Supper, which should be celebrated more frequently. Against an emphasis on ‘worthy receiving’, he affirmed the objective event, arguing for the epiclesis and the setting apart of the elements, for the minister communicating first, and the return to the old custom of communicants coming forward to receive. He also deplored the schisms of the Presbyterian Church and looked forward also to larger scale union involving the two national churches in Britain. It was in response to his writings and proposals that the Church Service Society was formed on January 31, 1865.
These report on the 1976 Regional Conference in St. John’s Kirk, Perth, when Rev James Weatherhead spoke on the place of children in worship, particularly Holy Communion; on the Centenary Lecture (a biennial lecture for the promotion of liturgical study, included earlier in this issue of the journal); and announce the forthcoming 1977 conference to take place at Scotstoun West Church, Glasgow, when the speaker would be Rev Kenneth Hughes.