Praying as the first American Anglicans

Today, I decided to pray the morning prayer in a different way than I normally do. Normally, I pray from the 1928 U.S. BCP. Today, I prayed from the 1786 version. This was before George Washington became President of the United States quite strangely. He became President in 1789. The American Revolution sparked a whole new era of political thought. For the best? One may not know for certain. Of course, I would have more than likely been a Loyalist during the American Revolution if it had occurred when I was the age I am right now. If I was 23 back in 1776, I would definitely be a Loyalist. But if I was 20 or so, I would have been a proud Patriot who then would have later renounced my decision in the War of 1812 if I lived that long.

In the prayer book of 1786, the person leading the services is strictly referred to as a minister and never as a priest. Of course, with so many in the Reformed Wing of the Church of England in America it is very important to navigate carefully so as not to offend any one. The term “priest” may not be used but is never strictly forbidden.

There are no verses for different liturgical days as there is with the 1928 version such as those for Lent, Easter, Trinity, Christmas, Whitsunday, etc. Instead, these are the prayers–

TH E Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him. Hab. ii. 20.
From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of Hosts. Mal. i. 11.
When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Ezek. xviii. 27.
I acknowledge my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Psal. ii. 3.
Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.Psal. li. 9.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psal. li. 17.
Rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Joel ii. 13.
To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him: neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws which he set before us. Dan. ix. 9, 10.
O Lord, correct me, but with judgment: not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jer. x. 24. Psal. vi. 1.
Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. St. Mat. iii. 2.
I will arise, and go to my father; and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. St. Luke xv. 18, 19.
Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. Psal. cxliii. 2.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us: But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousess. 1 St. John i. 8, 9.

Of course, there is still mis-spelled English and for some reason, there is no Nicene Creed. There is only the Apostles’ Creed.

IBelieve in God the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth; And in, Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried; The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; The holy Catholick Church; The Communion of Saints; The forgiveness of Sins The resurrection of of the body, And the life everlasting Amen.

As someone who is a bit more of an Anglo-Phile and a monarchist, what I found most unusual was the fact that the prayer book references the United States as “these United States”. In addition, there is a set of Litanies conducted by the minister that have been removed from the 1928 U.S. BCP.

These morning and evening prayers can be quite boring at times but are very important and it is always interesting to discover how Christians of another era worshiped. The Church is the Communion of Saints and unless we experience how Christians of different eras worshiped, it is difficult to experience the Church for what it is.

Another interesting thing about this 1786 BCP is that in the Articles (of which there were only 20), do not expressly make reference to the other five sacraments. Instead, Article XV reads,

There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.

Of course, the other five sacraments are commonly viewed as being ordained by our Lord via the institution of the Church and so both the Church and our Lord have equal partaking in the institution of our sacraments for Anglicans today. John Henry Newman reflects more on this. Concerning transubstantiation, the statement which John Henry Newman reflected on is also in there in the Article XVII.

Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

Of course, what is being condemned, per se, is not transubstantiation but rather a form of this which was taken to extreme that we are to eat it in a carnal manner. For Article XVII also reads,

The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper of the Lord, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner.

The mystery of how the body and blood of our Lord are given to us in the Anglican tradition is ultimately a mystery. We affirm it to be the body and blood of our Lord but we prefer not to define it as strictly as Catholics do. But there is nothing in this that is contradictory to the Catholic teaching as Newman also claimed.

I also decided to go ahead and do the evening prayer from it today. Some of the prayers are slightly altered a bit. First, the evening prayer starts the same exact way as the morning prayer does (in the 1928 U.S. BCP, different verses are used for morning and evening prayers). But compare the two prayers from 1928 and 1786–

OLord our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the Universe, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers, upon earth; most heartily we beseech thee with thy favour to behold all in authority, legislative, judicial and executive, in these United States; and so replenish them with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that they may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way: Endue them plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant them in health and wealth long to live; and finally, after this life, to attain everlasting joy and felicity, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (1786 Prayer for Civil Leaders)

In contrast…

ALMIGHTY God, whose kingdom is everlasting and power infinite; Have mercy upon this whole land; and so rule the hearts of thy servants THEPRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, The Governor of this State, and all others in authority, that they, knowing whose ministers they are, may above all things seek thy honour and glory; and that we and all the People, duly considering whose authority they bear, may faithfully and obediently honour them, according to thy blessed Word and ordinance; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen. (1928 Prayer for the President of the United States and Civil Authority)

Of course, in 1786, there was no president of the United States to pray for and so they didn’t have prayers for him. So this shows how our country has changed as well. Ironically, the evening prayer version of the Apostles’ Creed for the 1786 book has edited the spelling mistake.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; The Holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints; The forgiveness of Sin; The resurrection of the body, And the life everlasting. Amen.

My parish priest actually has a hard copy of the 1786 U.S. BCP. What is interesting and a major striking difference though is “the United States” vs. “these United States”.

The Lord be with you:
    Answ. And with thy Spirit.
  Minister. Let us pray.
O Lord, shew thy mercy upon us;
    Answ. And grant us thy salvation.
    Minister. O Lord, bless and preserve these United States;
    Answ. And mercifully hear us, when we call upon thee.
    Minister. Endue thy Ministers with righteousness;
    Answ. And make thy people joyful.
    Minister. O God, make clean our heart within us;
    Answ. And take not thy Holy Spirit from us. (1786)

About Emperor Thomas I

Catholic monarch of the New Roman Coalition. Consecrated to the Apostle Thomas, the Holy Martyr Sigismund, and the Holy Martyr Olaf II.
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