Gregory Dix: The Shape of the Liturgy

The Rev Wm D Maxwell, BD, Ph D, Hillhead Parish Church, Glasgow

This article is a response by the Rev Dr W D Maxwell to the book by Dom Gregory Dix, a Benedictine Anglican Monk who had a considerable influence on revisions to Anglican liturgy in the mid 20th century. That Maxwell’s own, probably unsurpassed, “Outline of Christian Worship had been published just ten years earlier gives added interest.

Maxwell is warm in his praise and appreciation of the work, but he is often highly critical and one feels might have written “could have done better” at the foot of the opus. Some of his comments refer to the lack of footnotes and incomplete indexing, but graver still for a work of such importance, he also cites arguments set down carelessly and with the lack of supporting evidence. Inevitably perhaps, some of Maxwell’s misgivings arise from conflicting positions held by Scottish Presbyterian and Anglican liturgists, but he also questions Dix’s interpretation of the writings of some of the Reformers, notably Calvin. In spite of all his reservations, Maxwell is still generous towards Dix’s scholarship in what amounts to a lengthy review. One has to remember it is written across a considerable Scottish/English divide, and the article would be of considerable use to the serious student. Maxwell in no way ‘damns with faint praise’, but he does urge the reader not to allow his gratitude to dull his critical faculties.

Volume 18 1948, p3