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The Logic of the Lord's Supper in Cranmer's Common Prayer

The Logic of the Lord's Supper in Cranmer's Common Prayer
The Spiritual Architecture of the Church's Worship

A Paper by the Revd Fr Gavin Dunbar

In this paper (attached) Fr. Dunbar addresses the "order of the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion" as it is found chiefly in the Prayer Books of 1552, 1559, and 1662, and specially its logic or rationale.

He notes that among modern liturgists this logic has been found deficient but argues that, "In my observation, however, the criticism heaped on the 1552-1662 Prayer Books rarely proceeds from a careful consideration of its rationale and logic" and his paper promotes a better understanding of this logic arguing that, "There is indeed a "spiritual architecture" in the Church's worship", which he begins to unfold first by reference to the triadic structure present writing:

"I begin with the observation of another conservative evangelical Anglican with a sympathy for the Prayer Book and Articles, J. I. Packer, that the building block of much Prayer Book liturgy is a triad which he names "sin, grace, faith", but which could perhaps more historically be named "guilt, grace, gratitude", or "repentance, faith, charity". In one form or another this triad originates, perhaps, in Luther's reading of the Epistle to the Romans, as mediated by the 1521 Loci Communes of Philip Melanchthon. By the mid-sixteenth century, it was a commonplace of Protestant orthodoxy[1], and it is, as one might expect, the logic of the gospel. In faith alone we grasp hold of the grace of God proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ; and yet this faith is not alone; for it is necessarily preceded by repentance of sin, and is naturally followed by good works (of hope, and every virtue, but especially those of love), done in obedience to the commandments, which are the fruits of a living faith, and which testify to gratitude for this grace."

To read more see the whole article, The Spiritual Architecture of the Church's Worship go here:


The Rev. Fr. Gavin Dunbar is President of the Prayer Book Society

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