Today the church remembers Thomas Cranmer

RublevRublev Shipmate
edited March 21 in Ecclesiantics
Today is the Festival of Thomas Cranmer. He didn't reach the status of a saint or a martyr - but he made a towering contribution to the church in England and was burned at the stake.

So all are invited to record their appreciation for the genius of poor old Cranmer whom we remember here today.

For example, I think his legacy of the three year lectionary with years A, B and C devoted to Matthew, Mark and Luke was a great gift to the Anglican church and it has forced me to preach on texts and themes that otherwise I might not have chosen to reflect upon.
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Comments

  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    Cranmer's three year lectionary???
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited March 21
    Yes, we got it from him originally. Not in its final form but the idea of a rolling lectionary programme was his conception.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    I’m sorry to say this, but No
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Within the English Church, a major contribution was his commitment to prayer in the language used by the people, and his outworking of that in liturgical texts.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited March 21
    From 1549 BCP provided readings at Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer to read through whole books of the Bible on a daily basis throughout the year. It's the basis of the Daily Office which was another aspect of his genius to compress the traditional pattern of the seven monastic daily offices into two which were accessible to laypeople as well.
  • We owe Cranmer (and Tyndale) a huge debt in providing memorable phrases and sayings that have passed into everyday life and usage. The liturgy as penned by Cranmer is memorable in a way that modern liturgists have signally failed to match.
  • Well, that's a matter of opinion, and is surely an unwarranted slur on many hard-working modern liturgists.

    And yes, the liturgy as penned by Cranmer may be memorable, but some of it isn't particularly comprehensible to today's congregations (many of those attending Our Place don't have English - modern or Tudor - as their first language).

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Well, that's a matter of opinion, and is surely an unwarranted slur on many hard-working modern liturgists.

    And yes, the liturgy as penned by Cranmer may be memorable, but some of it isn't particularly comprehensible to today's congregations (many of those attending Our Place don't have English - modern or Tudor - as their first language).
    Agreed. The reality is that Cranmer's language is beautiful and memorable, but it is no longer the vernacular. Common prayer in the vernacular was what he was about, and I wonder what he would think of the suggestion that his liturgies should continue to be used even though they are not in English as it is currently spoken.

    Yes, some modern liturgies don't hold a candle to Cranmer, but some, I think, do. It's just that there's this idea that Cranmerian English is "church English," much as neo-Gothic is "church architecture."
  • Surely you would not want to take away from our ability to cast slurs on the hard-working modern liturgist! Only the wicked among shipmates would suggest that it is difficult to tell their results from the lazy modern liturgist!

    Cranmer, to my mind, should be commended primarily for his collects, which were masterful interpretations of (and IMHO improvements on) the Latin originals; and as well for his daily offices. Here he took Cardinal Cisneros' ball and ran with it brilliantly, providing a gold standard for corporate daily prayer, opening it up to non-clerics and working people while still providing a platform for artistic excellence (it's surely not an accident that BBC's Choral Evensong is the world's longest-running radio broadcast).

    These alone will allow us to overlook his politics and his Zwinglianism, aspects of turbulent times. The Canadian BCP lists him as a martyr on this day, although he has to share his feast day with Saint Benedict; one imagines that they will have things to talk about.


  • Surely you would not want to take away from our ability to cast slurs on the hard-working modern liturgist! Only the wicked among shipmates would suggest that it is difficult to tell their results from the lazy modern liturgist!

    Cranmer, to my mind, should be commended primarily for his collects, which were masterful interpretations of (and IMHO improvements on) the Latin originals; and as well for his daily offices. Here he took Cardinal Cisneros' ball and ran with it brilliantly, providing a gold standard for corporate daily prayer, opening it up to non-clerics and working people while still providing a platform for artistic excellence (it's surely not an accident that BBC's Choral Evensong is the world's longest-running radio broadcast).

    These alone will allow us to overlook his politics and his Zwinglianism, aspects of turbulent times. The Canadian BCP lists him as a martyr on this day, although he has to share his feast day with Saint Benedict; one imagines that they will have things to talk about.

    :lol:

    Choral Evensong - yes, if well-performed, a platform for artistic excellence, indeed.

    But personally I find it rather tedious, and Mattins (whether Choral or otherwise) even more so. YMMV, obviously.

    Sorry, but there it is. I'll get me coat.....

  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    @TheOrganist

    What are the memorable sayings of Cranmer that have passed into everyday use? Do you mean his famous liturgical prayers like the humble crumble and the general confession? They are very poetic. And I like a nice reflective Evensong on a Sunday evening.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Rublev wrote: »
    @TheOrganist

    What are the memorable sayings of Cranmer that have passed into everyday use?
    Not TheOrganist, but among those that come to mind are:
    • speak now or forever hold your peace
    • with this ring I thee wed
    • lawfully wedded husband/wedded wife
    • 'til death do us part
    • ashes to ashes, dust to dust
    • strength to strength
    • hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest
    • the quick and the dead
    • the kingdom, the power and the glory

    I don't think it's accidental that some of the more well-known phrases come from the marriage and funeral services.

  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    Indigenous theology before the phrase was invented!
    And he did it all without using the word "relevant"!
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    @Nick Tamen

    Thank you for these memorable sayings of Cranmer. They are really very lovely - and most interesting. They have reminded me of how C19th novels are permeated with the language of the KJB and the BCP. And the impact this has had upon English language and culture for the past 400 years.
  • Memorable? How about these:

    this miserable and naughty world
    like brute beasts that have no understanding
    We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep


    Taken from The Visitation of the Sick, the Order for Holy Matrimony, and Evening Prayer.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited March 21
    ... We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts... And there is no health in us.

    How Lenten!
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Memorable? How about these:

    this miserable and naughty world
    like brute beasts that have no understanding
    We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep


    Taken from The Visitation of the Sick, the Order for Holy Matrimony, and Evening Prayer.
    Rublev wrote: »
    ... We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts... And there is no health in us.
    FWIW, I would question whether these phrases have entered general everyday use. I'd never heard the first two quoted above, as best I can recall.

    I think it could well be the case that they have entered Anglican everyday use, and perhaps English everyday use. But outside England and outside an Anglican context, I'm not so sure.

    And even in a non-English Anglican context, I have some doubts. In an American context, for example, I'd wager that most Episcopalians who grew up in or became members of TEC since 1979 are going to be much more familiar with the more modern-language Rite II versions of Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and the Eucharist, which do not include these phrases as best I recall. TEC Shippies, please correct me if I'm wrong. "We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep" and "We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts" (without "and there is no health in us") only occur in Rite I of Morning and Evening Prayer in the 1979 BCP, and it seems that few Episcopal churches pray Morning Prayer publicly these days, and even fewer pray Evening Prayer publicly. My experience—without question, anecdotal only—is that of those that do tend to use Rite II.

  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I think TheOrganist and I must be getting old...
  • ...or brought up proper-like!
    :wink:

    Some of the phrases from the BCP marriage or funeral services will be familiar-ish to older folk, who may well have been to such services more often than Matins, Evensong, or the Lord's Supper.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    Cranmer's language, imbibed through weekly use of the 1928 BCP, had a major impact on my appreciation and use of language.

    I know that his Early Modern English is no longer the vernacular; I also know that comparing the 1662 BCP and the 1979 same makes painfully plain the difference between a genius (who was able to take charge) and a committee.

    (I do toss Cranmerian phrases into my speaking and writing from time to time. It's always interesting to see who recognizes them.)

  • These phrases are well-known in Anglican circles in Canada but, outside those few folks (5%) I think they would only be recognizable in an anglophone literary milieu.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    It's always struck me that

    "... We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, And we have done those things which we ought not to have done, ..."

    is a pretty good summary of our human condition. It neatly categorises where I've fallen short.
  • LaudableLaudable Shipmate
    In the Australian Calendar Archbishop Cranmer has 21 March to himself: the f.d. of St Benedict is 11 July.

    The present Australian Prayer Book was compiled by a committee with the inevitable tin ear: occasional echoes of Cranmer survive as pale ghosts of their former glory.

    But then (with the miraculous exception of the KJV), what work of art ever came from a committee?
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I use the Episcopal Calendar - it's readily available online, and simple to use. Apart from that, you get the pleasure of James Kiefer's commentary. It lists Cramer for 21 March and also as an alternative date for St Benedict.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited March 22
    As it is a Friday in Lent:

    Morning Prayer BCP: Confession

    Almighty and most merciful Father,
    we have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
    We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
    We have offended against thy holy laws.
    We have left undone those things
    which we ought to have done;
    And we have done those things
    which we ought not to have done;
    And there is no health in us.
    But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
    Spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults.
    Restore thou them that are penitent;
    According to thy promises declared unto mankind
    in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    And grant, O most merciful Father, for His sake
    that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous and sober life,
    to the glory of thy holy name.
    Amen.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited March 22
    Yes, well, he certainly had a way with words....

    Whether many (or any) genuinely feel that way about their sins is known only to God.

    IMHO, his major contribution to liturgy was the 1549 'Masse', which is still useable today (though IIRC you need your Bishop's permission to do so!). As I've observed before, I personally find his versions of Matins and Evensong a tad tedious (despite having been brought up with them, so to speak), but that says more about me than about Cranmer.

    Actually, a shortened form of Evensong (no Confession, only one reading, and going straight to the Prayers after Magnificat) makes for a nice service of Vespers..... :wink:

    Which means you can save the Nunc Dimittis for Compline, of course.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited March 22
    Yes, he was a poet among liturgists. He also compressed the entire Anglican liturgy into a single small volume of BCP which set the pattern for the next 400 years which is another sign of his genius. Today we have a whole library of CW books in its place.

    The Reformers thought that when every ploughboy could read the Bible in the vernacular then we would all be living in utopia. Somehow it didn't quite work out that way. But later on their humanist ideals did give the impetus to founding church schools in local parishes and paved the way to free universal education. A colleague of mine likes to remind me that the Church of Scotland got there first.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    Yes because the Church of Scotland really believed that reading the Bible was important. At one time although most the population could read, very few could write.

    The thing is that Cramner, along with his deathless prose, also gave you the tin-eared liturgists that you complain about. Cramner spent forty years writing his liturgy. To get a good sense of liturgy and what works you need to be writing and using it continually for a good while. It is not knowing the theory that makes a good liturgist but practising that theory. If you look around liturgical texts that are not authorised the dominance of those writing are Methodist, URC and Baptists. Why? Well because they have been writing this stuff for years.

    Historically the vast majority of URC liturgy ended up in the fire after Sunday lunch and that is where most of it deserved to be. Today I guess in the rubbish bin on a clerical computer. The few bits that survived, survive because the minister was recognised as doing liturgically interesting things and therefore managed to get a selection published. The thing is that come the Monday after the Sunday, the minister would be back at his desk with next Sunday's worship to prepare including all the liturgy. Yes, you do not write from scratch, Cramner did not write from scratch, However, the discipline of writing week after week develops good liturgical writers, admittedly along with an awful lot of crap ones. The tragedy was that Cramner, with his deathless prose, stopped anyone else from carrying out the necessary practice to be a good liturgical writer. The result is when someone gets to write official liturgy, they have no practical experience, at best they are liturgical scholars who know the theory and theology behind what they are trying to do.

  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited March 22
    What both Cranmer and the KJB translators had an awareness about was the sound of their prose. They were conscious that these words would be read aloud in the church and they wanted them to sound good, which they do. They are marvellously poetic and as Nic Tamen and The Organist have noted they were very influential on English language and literature.

    The use of rhythm, repetition and alliteration in Cranmers BCP confession makes it very powerful and memorable, especially when it is said out loud and communally. It also references scripture with the introductory image of the lost sheep. It is a text which takes you on a profound spiritual journey of repentance, leads you into the presence of God and brings you out into a new place. It works like a psalm in moving the worshipper into a positive orientation. Which is just what a good piece of liturgy should do. And yet it is not long and has a marvelous economy with not one wasted word.

    One of the surviving notes of a KJB translator mentioned altering the syntax of a sentence in order that it would 'sound more majestic.' It reflected their view of a transcendent God. So liturgies and Bible translations tend to present the image of God which resonates with their contemporary culture.
  • JengieJon, I entirely agree. Anglican and RC liturgists should not be allowed into daylight without being accompanied by a poet versed in the relevant liturgical tradition. Knowing about a liturgical tradition should not make you a slave to it, unless you are a rather imagination-free scholastic pedant, like a person of my acquaintance who had a baleful influence on the collects in Common Worship by stuffing them with pseudo-Cramnerisms. I can enjoy Cramner's own contribution, in small doses, but I dislike the liturgy soup that is his communion service, and the humble grumble should, IMHO, be consigned to oblivion as being a constant, shared, refusal of grace. On the other hand, phrases like "devices and desires", "changes and chances of this moral life" and other similar gems, live on - as does the Time Lord collect, of course.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Well, I must say that I have never heard of the Time Lord collect. And you get some very strange results trying to Google it. Which one is it?
  • O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed: Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that both our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee we being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

    I have checked with everyone I heard recite or intone this since I was a schoolboy chorister. Clearly, an increasing number are Dr Who fans, as they carefully pause after "both"
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    That reminds me of Jesus riding into Jerusalem seated on two donkeys in Matthew 21: 5.
  • :lol:

    I spotted the potential misunderstanding in the Time Lord Collect when I was licensed as a Lay Reader many aeons ago, without realising that it might have anything to do with the good Doctor! I've always carefully pronounced the non-existent comma (IYSWIM) after 'both'.....
  • LaudableLaudable Shipmate
    E V Rieu, commenting on his translation of the Gospels (I952), suggests that the author of Matthew did not understand the device of parallelism in Hebrew poetry, and so misinterpreted Zechariah 9:9 as implying two animals, and narrowly avoids telling us that Our Lord sat on both of them.

    Regarding the parallelism in Cranmer, there is a lovely theologs' joke that it arose from Mrs Cranmer's prompting, thus:

    C. (composing): . . . we have erred . . .

    Mrs C. And strayed, dear.

    C. We have followed too much the devices . . .

    Mrs C. And desires, dear.

    (. . . and so on.)
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    According to Luke the shepherds arrived to find 'Mary and Joseph and the child lying in a manger' (Luke 2: 16).
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    :lol:

    I spotted the potential misunderstanding in the Time Lord Collect when I was licensed as a Lay Reader many aeons ago, without realising that it might have anything to do with the good Doctor! I've always carefully pronounced the non-existent comma (IYSWIM) after 'both'.....

    Or to ever so slightly alter the words to both that our hearts and... Rather than describing his writing as in timeless prose, I'd say that it's written in a style which still appeals to many people although now out of date.

    He was a very human man. His fear of the flames prompted him to recant many times, but at the end he stuck to his declared principles and underwent his death bravely. You have to admire him for that, especially as he had been forced to witness the deaths of Latimer and Ridley.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    edited March 23
    Rublev wrote: »
    According to Luke the shepherds arrived to find 'Mary and Joseph and the child lying in a manger' (Luke 2: 16).
    No. That isn't ambiguous. The Greek may be but I haven't checked. In English it's grammatically correct. It would only be misleading (wrong is better) if it had been rendered, 'Mary, Joseph and the child lying in a manger'.
  • Ah, how useful a thing is the Oxford Comma.....
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    Ah, how useful a thing is the Oxford Comma.....
    I had exactly the same thought.

  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    edited March 23
    Gee D wrote: »
    :lol:

    I spotted the potential misunderstanding in the Time Lord Collect when I was licensed as a Lay Reader many aeons ago, without realising that it might have anything to do with the good Doctor! I've always carefully pronounced the non-existent comma (IYSWIM) after 'both'.....

    Or to ever so slightly alter the words to both that our hearts and... Rather than describing his writing as in timeless prose, I'd say that it's written in a style which still appeals to many people although now out of date.

    It was written in dated prose. Secondly, the KJV translation method was that a rough draft would be produced of a section. It would then be read out loud to the assembled divines who would then request alterations. It would then be edited producing another rough draft which was read out aloud and so on until none of the divines raised an issue with the draft. It is a painstaking way to work and I cannot see many modern Bible translators wanting to do that. Yet if you want something to sound good then you really do need to read out the roughs to an audience.

  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    Jengie Jon wrote: »
    ... Yet if you want something to sound good then you really do need to read out the roughs to an audience.
    You can always tell when a lector hasn't practiced the reading in church, too.

    I was asked to look over a pre-readers' children's book written by a family member. It was a clever idea, but the author had clearly not read it out loud. I did read it out loud, and then made some suggestions that would make it scan better. (I also corrected a misstatement of fact.) Happily, my relative welcomed the feedback and made the changes - and I found myself credited as editor in the published version. (No pay, but a free autographed copy.)

  • Rossweisse wrote: »
    Jengie Jon wrote: »
    ... Yet if you want something to sound good then you really do need to read out the roughs to an audience.
    You can always tell when a lector hasn't practiced the reading in church, too.

    I was asked to look over a pre-readers' children's book written by a family member. It was a clever idea, but the author had clearly not read it out loud. I did read it out loud, and then made some suggestions that would make it scan better. (I also corrected a misstatement of fact.) Happily, my relative welcomed the feedback and made the changes - and I found myself credited as editor in the published version. (No pay, but a free autographed copy.)

    Very true. Our Place has a goodly number of volunteer lectors, but one or two do indeed require a modicum of training.

    One of our affiliated Scouts (a young lass of 12) reads with Clarity, and Comprehension. I am very much hoping, and praying, that she will be with us on Mothering Sunday (31st March here in Ukland).

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Jengie Jon , yes, I should have said either dated, in language well removed from present day usage, or something else along those lines. It would be familiar to those who first heard it about 60 years or more ago (and I'm looking in the mirror when I say that) but not understood by most of those you pass in the street. It's that failure which means that it should not be normally used these days. The same goes for the KJV.

    Totally agree with that method you outline.
  • I think I've said this before, but we do well (in Ukland, at least) to remember that, for some/many people in our congregations today, English may well NOT be their 'first language'.

    Indeed, a Lithuanian friend reckoned that Polish was her first, or 'family' language, her people (of Polish ancestry) having lived in Vilnius throughout that city's turbulent history!

    Either way, the Tudor/Elizabethan/early Jacobean English of BCP and KJV was not easily comprehended....which does nothing to denigrate the beauty etc. of that form of English.
  • O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed: Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that both our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee we being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

    I have checked with everyone I heard recite or intone this since I was a schoolboy chorister. Clearly, an increasing number are Dr Who fans, as they carefully pause after "both"

    I have always put a definite pause in here, just as I do between 'our' and 'souls'.
  • AlbertusAlbertus Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    It's always struck me that

    "... We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, And we have done those things which we ought not to have done, ..."

    is a pretty good summary of our human condition. It neatly categorises where I've fallen short.

    And it gets it, IMO, in the right order. For most of us, most of the things we need to confess are things that we *haven't* done.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited March 24
    Yes, that's right. I was having a chat yesterday with an elderly couple (RCs by birth, upbringing etc.), who clearly appreciate the more informal (not sure if that's the right word) or pragmatic approach to Confession that is enshrined (don't tell the Evangelicals! :anguished: ) in the 1662 Prayer Book.

    Cranmer, once again, got it right. The fact that I, personally, find him liturgically rather prolix, doesn't mean that I reject the sheer common-sense found in so much of what he wrote.
  • The other thing that Cranmer got spot on IMHO is I believe: the current use of We believe sticks a bit - why are we supposed to know and affirm what the rest of the congregation believes? Sure, we might be able to say what we think they should believe but do they?

    BF - may I borrow your "liturgically rather prolix please? Although I adore the cadences of Cranmer I know a BCP-or-nothing fanatic who needs to be stunned :grin:
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    I have been on these boards long enough to know the answer to your question. You have the referent of the 'We' wrong. It is not the present congregation but the church catholic, through all space and time and we are affirming as part of its body what it has maintained as true through millennia. Your worry is like a drop of saline solution in a bottle worrying whether the drops around it have enough salt to be called saline while what really matters is how much salt is in the whole bottle.
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