By Robert W. Jenson
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Extra resources for Alpha and Omega. A Study in the Theology of Karl Barth
The rite for “The Visitation of the Sick” begins with a generous and confident plea in this collect: O Lord look down from heaven, behold, visit, and relieve this thy servant: Look upon him with One Book for One Country 35 the eyes of thy mercy, give him comfort, and sure confidence in thee: Defend him from the danger of the enemy, and keep him in perpetual peace, and safety: through Jesus Christ our Lord. ” For anyone accustomed to traditional Catholic practices, these liturgies are most noteworthy for what they lack: the saints, the blessed departed, the whole panoply of ritual and invocation that connects those now alive on earth with those now alive in the presence of God—or suffering the pains of Purgatory.
For Cranmer, regularization of the actual liturgy was important, but thorough knowledge of the Bible—by which alone people could be “stirred up to godliness” and enabled to “confute them that were adversaries to the truth”—was more important still. Indeed, one could argue that Cranmer’s chief reason for implementing standard liturgies was to provide a venue in which the Bible could be more widely and more thoroughly known. Each service would require the reading of several biblical passages. In the service of Holy Communion there were (and indeed are) typically four: an Old Testament passage, a Psalm, a passage from some part of the New Testament other than the Gospels, and a Gospel reading—all this in addition to the many sentences and phrases from Scripture woven into the liturgical language.
Thus when Cranmer rose to his archepiscopal seat, he might have heard Latin employed everywhere in England, but otherwise a wide range of practice. ) So the Easter 1548 promulgation of his “Order of the Communion” was not just concerned to shift worship services from Latin to English; it was the first unambiguous indication that Cranmer meant all the public services everywhere in England to be conducted identically. ”10 One Book for One Country 25 Perhaps even more important to Cranmer than the establishment of one use was the regularization of the Kalendar, including what we now call the lectionary: the set of prescribed readings from Scripture.
Alpha and Omega. A Study in the Theology of Karl Barth by Robert W. Jenson