Thinking Anglicans

Birnam Wood comes to Westminster

The Marriage Service from the book commonly referred to as The 1928 Prayer Book has been getting a lot of attention recently.

This has, in more recent times, also been known as Alternative Services, Series One: The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony which was first authorized in 1966. (Since July 1929 it had been in widespread use despite Parliamentary defeat of ‘The Deposited Book’.)

It should not be confused with The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony in The Book of Common Prayer which was authorized in 1662.

The most usual form now used in the Church of England is neither of these, but rather the Common Worship Marriage Service.

Here is a collection of views about the church service last Friday:

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cryptogram
cryptogram
10 years ago

Not, I fear, a very perceptive piece from Geoffrey K Pullum. “I do” has never been part of the Church of England’s Marriage liturgy because it is not action that is being asked for at this stage, but consent. The Latin in 1559 has it exactly as “Volo” – “I am willing”. t is only with the joining of hands and the vows that the action begins, and the verb here is an active, transitive one, “I take”. “I do” simply reflects American civil practice, and is just another bit of cultural imperialism from the Land of the Free. I… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
10 years ago

All right, I believe in God, maker of heaven and Earth and of all things both visible and invisible. My partner and I attend a synagogue or an Episcopal church occasionally. So, maybe my lens of reference is wrong, but I think Jonathan Chaplin protests too much, or is thin-skinned. Did anyone who watched William and Kate/Catherine get married not know they were having a religious ceremony? Did not the building itself, the presence of a couple of men dressed in rather fancy garb and adorned with rather fancy titles (Bishop, Archbishop), the music, the dropping of “God” and “Jesus”… Read more »

robert ian williams
robert ian williams
10 years ago

So little attack on the couple as regards their living together for eight years. Will it take an openly gay royal to do the same?

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
10 years ago

I listened to some of the service while driving. The hour or so before it started was characterised by some of the most mindless and uninformative interviewing I have ever heard on BBC Radio4. And as soon as the music of ‘I was glad’ began, the commentator immediately started to talk over it and no silence could be left unfilled by his words. As far as I could tell there was absolutely nothing, and there hasn’t been anything, about the religious significance of the media event of the year. No wonder that some of us have found the whole thing… Read more »

Counterlight
Counterlight
10 years ago

I can think of no faster path to The Republic of Britain than requiring the Royals (especially the younger generations) to abide by standards of pre-marital chastity that mean nothing anymore to their subjects, especially from the same generation as themselves.

Father Ron Smith
10 years ago

“So little attack on the couple as regards their living together for eight years. Will it take an openly gay royal to do the same?” Posted by: robert ian williams on Sunday, So, Robert, your immediate response to the Royal Wedding was to attack the couple for their modern decision to actually experience what most couples in today’s world experience – the value of finding out – before their ultimate commitment to marry one another – whether they are compatible? Shame on you. I’m sure many of your fellow Roman Catholics do exactly the same. It is only the need… Read more »

Randal Oulton
Randal Oulton
10 years ago

The Montreal Gazette is reporting that there was no pre-nup: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/royal-wedding/Wills+Kate/4705091/story.html

Counterlight
Counterlight
10 years ago

The dreaded Mad Priest of Newcastle made the excellent point that this was OUR fantasy wedding, not theirs. Nice kids that they are, they did what was expected of them, but I seriously doubt such a media circus and state spectacle was what they both really wanted.

robert ian williams
robert ian williams
10 years ago

I couldn’t care less about the tin pot United Kingdom, but what about the Kingdom of God.

Spirit of Vatican II
Spirit of Vatican II
10 years ago

Republicans, right but repulsive; Royalists, wrong but romantic — some things never change!

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
10 years ago

By the way, what happened to Pete Broadbent?

Is he back in harness?

I missed most of the Royal Wedding coverage, did he get a mention?

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
10 years ago

Counterlight – I think that there may be some signs of reality dawning in some parts of the CofE. At the fairly recent marriage of a nephew who had been living with his bride for some years, the parish priest commended the couple for coming to church, not condemning them for living together, because it was a public manifestation of their already existing commitment to each other. Isn’t it also true that the elevation of virginal marriage, at least for the woman, is a relatively late, and probably Victorian, invention? In previous times engagement for ordinary people was a signal… Read more »

david rowett
10 years ago

I note RIW is out of step with the leader article in The Tablet….

Simon Sarmiento
10 years ago

peterpi

Jonathan Chaplin was specifically referencing the BBC Newsnight programme transmitted in the evening after the wedding (linked in article but only good for a few days) and the visible reaction of the programme’s presenter while Martin Bashir was speaking. I think his comments are accurate in that context.

David Shepherd
10 years ago

Ron: ‘Virginity is not what it once presumed to be. Why do Church people want to continue the prevailing myth’; ‘This is probably why the cult of Virginity in the Church has been proved to be such a disaster.’ How does this position square with the exemplary status of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Anglo-Catholic tradition? I refer to your blog: http://kiwianglo.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/the-b-v-m-and-the-church/ Maybe we can add a twist to the angel’s reply after Luke 1:34: ‘“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”, thereby endorsing the modern view of pre-marital devotion. Something cynical like: ‘Now,… Read more »

Counterlight
Counterlight
10 years ago

Let’s remember folks that marriage for centuries was primarily about property and inheritance (especially for royals). People didn’t marry for love as a matter of course until the dreaded 18th century Enlightenment (blame Rousseau for that one). In much of the rest of the world, marriage is still a contract between 2 families with mutual interests, not a pledge between people who love each other. Thank the Philosophes, not the clergy, for finally making it possible for Romeo and Juliet to marry publicly. It is no accident that all of the love stories before the 18th century (including Dante’s divine… Read more »

Richard Thornburgh
10 years ago

I have to disagree with your statement that “The most usual form now used in the Church of England is neither of these, but rather the Common Worship Marriage Service.” In the 11 rural parishes of this Benefice in north-east Suffolk the choice between 1928 and CW is fairly evenly balanced. The traditional words appeal to many, whilst others want more everyday language. I am happy to offer both forms of service to those couples who come to us for their ceremony.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
10 years ago

Simon, thank you for the clarification.

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
10 years ago

Both 1662 BCP and 1928 say that ‘marriage is an honourable estate instituted by God’. Is that so and to what does it refer? CW has a different formulary it being ‘God’s gift in creation’.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
10 years ago

There were a number of features of the service which seemed to me to merit comment. Two which have passed almost unnoticed and uncommented are:

(i) the use of a modern translation of the Bible (perfectly proper) with an older version of the service (400th anniversary anyone?)

(ii) the singing of Jerusalem as a hymn in the presence of the Bishop of London.

robert Ian Williams
robert Ian Williams
10 years ago

First of all Ron…do you know the difference between chastity and celibacy? God never approved polygamy in the OT… he simply tolerated it as he did divorce. The Christian dispenation swept this away, and returned to the pattern established in Genesis…. one man and one woman. I do wish the royal couple well, but I feel they have been failed by their spiritual guardians, particularly the Bishop of London. Yes the wedding dress was stunning..but why choose white? As for the comments of Archbishop Sentamu.. I expected better of him. All within living memory of an Archbishop of Canterbury who… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
10 years ago

“How does this position square with the exemplary status of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Anglo-Catholic tradition? I refer to your blog”
– David Shepherd –

David. Perhaps you haven’t quite got the point. The fact that the Conception of Jesus – via the Blessed Virgin Mary – was different. That is how Jesus was both divine and human! Jesus was, indeed, different from the rest of us. Agreed?

Recall the hymn: ‘Virgin-born, we bow before Thee; Blessed was the womb that bore Thee’ Says it all!

None-other amongst us can claim that provenance.

Old Father William
Old Father William
10 years ago

Bravo, Fr. Ron! I am officiating at the wedding, on Saturday, of a couple who have been living together for two years. In a discussion last week, they said how helpful this had been in preparing to make their ultimate commitment before God and the Church. And I think that it is not the least insulting to the Blessed Virgin Mary to say that the Middle Ages produced a bizarre and unhealthy cult of virginity itself.

john
john
10 years ago

I didn’t watch it. The whole thing is degrading. There are arguments for maintaining the Established status of the C of E (the main one being that if it didn’t have it it might well fall to bits), but heavy negatives. There may have been good things here, but only incidentally: essentially this was a display of power (astute comments on this in Will Hutton’s column in the Observer): note, e.g., the tawdry snub to Blair and Brown. Would Jesus have done it (‘it’ being the whole razzmatazz)? Certainly not.

MarkBrunson
10 years ago

Well, we really can’t consider Mary to be an exemplar. After all, she and Joseph weren’t married in a Christian Church by the laws of Christendom as validated by Christ and Christians everywhere, Christco Inc. No. They just *lived* together. That’s all. Maybe by the rituals and customs of the tinpot nation of Israel, but not really. And, of course, Mary and Jesus’ *real* father never married in church, so . . . I am so over all the little spiritual vultures circling to find which of their personal jots or tittles were omitted, the pharisaic hyenas yelping over each… Read more »

David Shepherd
10 years ago

Ron: Contrary to RIW, on one hand, and the usual uncharitable accusations on the other, I don’t see any value in dredging up the royal couple’s past (or anyone elses). I was challenging your notion that suggested that pre-marital chastity was a relatively modern invention. Despite your clarification, Mary did maintain her virginity unaware of her role as Theo-tokos until the annunciation itself. In which case, her own declaration of virginity in betrothal until she married Joseph was a simple and very human virtue for the betrothed to emulate. I’m not a Catholic and don’t subscribe to ‘ever a virgin’… Read more »

rick allen
10 years ago

“It is no accident that all of the love stories before the 18th century (including Dante’s divine love for Beatrice Portinari) were adulterous.” That’s putting it rather too strongly. Of course there were lots of medieval tales of adultery, just as there are plenty of modern ones (Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina come to mind). They are great entertainment. But, without going into some sort of exhaustive listing of medieval and early modern works, consider the comedies of Shakespeare, which most educated English-speaking adults know something of: Love, obstacle, resolution, with a festive marriage at the end. Love and marriage… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
10 years ago

RIW, the pattern established in Genesis? You mean one man, one woman, and one handmaid? One man, one daughter, and then circumcise all the adult males of the groom’s village, rendering them physically weak for a few days (since this is a “G”-rated or “U”-rated site, I’ll leave out the thrilling conclusion of that particular episode)? These two stories, if I recall my bible correctly, were all recorded of Abraham, admired or revered by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. I believe polygamy occurs throughout the Jewish Scriptures/Old Testament, including Genesis. So, God sure showed a lot of tolerance. But, God… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Robert Ian Williams
10 years ago

In my account of Genesis God created Adam amd then Eve, not Adam, Eve, Leonie and Rebecca.

Polygamy was tolerated, but when God raised up righteous seed it was always through the legitimate first wife.

I was not commentiong on the personal morals of Edward the eighth…but the fact that the Church of England once upheld the sanctity of marriage.

As for the snub to Blair and Brown ..the royal family still can’t get over the hunting ban and the decimation of the inherited peerage in the Lords!

MarkBrunson
10 years ago

Adam and Eve were never married! No certificate! No church wedding! Why they just *shacked up*! IF you actually literally believe a fable. Otherwise, the most consistent representations of marriage, the ones most believably presented, are of polygamy as a matter of economic transaction. Love is absent, however lust is usually apparent. Even where there is love – as in the story of Sarah and Abraham – failure to come through on the deal by Sarah means Abraham can bring in a third-party surrogate . . . a slave, in fact. If you do – amusingly enough – believe literally… Read more »

Robert Ian williams
Robert Ian williams
10 years ago

“because you’re just wrong and the debate ends there.” ……thats liberal Infallibility for you.

Geoff
10 years ago

“In my account of Genesis God created Adam amd then Eve, not Adam, Eve, Leonie and Rebecca.” Shades of henotheism from our resident RC! Who, then, created them? It’s interesting how ready the selectively “conservative” (selective because a truly conservative approach to family values would encourage the stability and Christian nurture of families rather than breaking them up as the antigay lobby advocate) are to read a normative moral imperative into the simple empirical observation that human beings are (for the most part!) created gendered. In the context of the same-gender debate, the professed desire of antagonists merely to uphold… Read more »

David Shepherd
10 years ago

The Law of Moses maintained a provisional declaration of God’s will through Israel as mankind progressed towards the advent of Christ. As a provisional dispensation, it contained concessions and commandments that partially reflected the culture and experience of the time. Paul uses the word, ‘paidogogos’ to describe the Law: a slave who escorted his master’s children to school. Instead of endorsing the old provisions, arrangements and concessions, Paul declared to his gentile audience, ‘In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent.’ So, in Mark 10:5 – 9, Christ explains the Mosaic concession… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Bill Dilworth
10 years ago

“Polygamy was tolerated, but when God raised up righteous seed it was always through the legitimate first wife.”

Ummm, no. Joseph (“the All-Comely,” as the EO call him) was the son of Rachel, Jacob’s second wife.

Simon Sarmiento
10 years ago

I think we are in danger of wandering off the topic of the article…

MarkBrunson
10 years ago

Well, David, all that is lovely. You’re still left with problems, though. 1) You still can’t claim that the current conservative understanding is “what marriage always was.” 2) Christ’s words still describe nothing about love, simply legal requirements. 3) Christ’s words speak of *a* man and woman partnering, not explicitly forbidding *a* man to join and “become one” with *a* woman, and *another* woman, and *another* woman . . .it simply isn’t there. The closest you even get in the NT is saying that a bishop should be the husband of one woman – curious they’d need to spell that… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Bill Dilworth
10 years ago

RIW, I’ve read that many medieval couples lived together prior to the actual wedding ceremony. And I know that isolated couples on the various American frontiers did not wait until a clergyman happened by to live together as man and wife. I think our ancestors were a lot less squeamish about the practical aspects of family life than many give them credit. But even if you believed that pre-modern people viewed marriage just exactly the same way that you do, I can’t see that scolding “transgressors” on the day of their wedding would encourage abstinence in others (besides being appallingly… Read more »

Sara MacVane
Sara MacVane
10 years ago

On Dante and Beatrice: if memory serve me well (in my dotage) Dante never even spoke to Beatrice, much less did anything else. To call their ‘relationship’ adultery seems a bit far-fetched.

Bill Dilworth
Bill Dilworth
10 years ago

“Well, we really can’t consider Mary to be an exemplar. After all, she and Joseph weren’t married in a Christian Church by the laws of Christendom as validated by Christ and Christians everywhere, Christco Inc”

No, certainly not a valid marriage, at least not in the Western Church. Never consummated…

David Shepherd
10 years ago

Mark: 1. Those who call themselves liberal have highlighted objections to polygamy. Is there a liberal consensus regarding the morality of polygamy? If liberals can vary on polygamy, I can distance my reasoning from ‘current conservative understanding’ regarding ‘what marriage always was’. The conservative consensus is not my cause to defend. 2. The NT exhortations on love are enjoined upon the whole Church by Christ and the apostles. His commands on love inform NT teachings to the married: ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church’ 3. If the early church tolerated polygamy, Paul would not have mandated… Read more »

Sara MacVane
Sara MacVane
10 years ago

@Bill Dilworth: never consummated? Our Lord had 4 brothers and ‘all his sisters’ which not being dual in Greek probably means at least three…..

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