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The Influence of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer on the ‘Bersier Liturgy’ and French Protestant Worship

L’Influence du Book of Common Prayer sur la ‘liturgie de Bersier’ et le protestantisme français
Stuart Ludbrook

Résumés

La liturgie du pasteur réformé français Eugène Bersier, composée pour sa paroisse du Temple de l’Etoile à Paris en 1874-76, fait de nombreux emprunts à la tradition liturgique anglicane. Bien que cette liturgie n’ait été utilisée que par la paroisse de Bersier, son influence sur l’Eglise réformée de France fut importante car elle a constitué le fondement d’une proposition de réforme liturgique que Bersier a élaborée à la demande du synode de l’Eglise réformée de France en 1888 et qui a ensuite conduit à d’importantes évolutions dans le culte réformé. Bersier, dans sa liturgie, n’a pas simplement fait sienne la liturgie anglicane. En effet, si le texte liturgique de Bersier doit beaucoup au Book of Common Prayer et si l’architecture, la décoration et la musique dans son temple parisien reprenaient de nombreux éléments du culte anglican tel qu’on pouvait le voir dans les cathédrales anglaises, Bersier a aussi adapté le Book of Common Prayer à la sensibilité des réformés français et a même minimisé les influences anglicanes pour répondre à ceux qui l’accusaient d’être un ritualiste et d’imiter de façon servile la haute église anglicane.

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1Anglican liturgy has also made its influence felt in denominations outside the English-speaking world and with no historical links with the Church of England. Liturgical reforms in the French Reformed Church in the 19th century provide an example of how the Anglican liturgical tradition was used as a major resource for spiritual renewal in a francophone, non-Anglican setting.

  • 1 This reproduces material from my doctoral thesis: La Liturgie de Bersier et le culte réformé en Fra (...)
  • 2 Liturgie à l'usage des Églises Réformées (Paris: Fischbacher, 1874). The 2nd edition was published (...)

2In 1874, the Swiss protestant pastor Eugene Bersier (Morges 1831, Paris 1889)1 published the first edition of what we shall call the “Bersier Liturgy”.2 It was introduced, on 29th November 1874, into his congregation in Paris, at the Dedication of the “Temple de l’Étoile”. A second definitive edition appeared in 1876. Later printings contain minor corrections. We shall use the 1876 edition.

  • 3 Anglican worship had previously influenced French speaking Protestantism. John-Frederick Ostervald (...)

3The “Bersier Liturgy” had lasting influence on French Reformed worship and some of its characteristics can still be encountered today. For instance, a verse of a hymn was sung as an unannounced response at several points during the first part of the service. This trait, hugely opposed at first, is still a regular feature of French Reformed worship. This service-book not only breaks with Protestant liturgical use in 19th century France, it also reintroduces features into French Reformed worship that go back to Calvin. In so doing it applies the materials imported from the Church of England and reshapes them to French Protestant culture3.

The 1876 “Bersier Liturgy” pioneers liturgical renewal in French Protestantism

4The first edition of the “Bersier Liturgy” opens with the Sunday Services, morning and evening. Then follow Liturgies for Baptism, Communion, Marriage and Burial. The second edition adds a general prayer for each Sunday of the month as well as verses and prayers for the Christian Year: Christmas, New Year, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost. A Service is also surprisingly given for Nov. 1st (All Saints) considered as Reformation Sunday to celebrate the universal Church. Together these prayers give a remarkable overview of salvation history and are one of the most enduring aspects of Bersier’s liturgical reform. Bersier tried to avoid hollow phrases or religious sentimentalism in his prayers which combine poetry and a desire to teach. He customarily resorts to rich biblical imagery. His “Prayer for Christmas Day” (Morning service) is a good example:

  • 4 “Jésus, Rédempteur de tous les hommes, toi que le Père a engendré avant le lever de la première aur (...)

Jesus, Redeemer of all peoples, Begotten of the Father before the rising of the first dawn: Bright Morning Star, eternal Word, Light and splendour of the Father, Visible image of the invisible God, Sun of Righteousness, whose rays bring us healing and life; you have risen on the world asleep in the shadow of death, and your Radiance will have no end.4

In the Morning Service for November 1st, his prayer underlines the specific contribution of the Protestant Reformation:

  • 5 “Ô Dieu qui as été notre Libérateur, nous célébrons en ce jour le souvenir de tes miséricordes. Ind (...)

O Lord, you have been our Deliverer, we celebrate this day remembering your mercies. Unworthy to dwell with you, we were incapable by ourselves to merit your forgiveness. Yet, you have revealed to us your saving grace and granted us access by faith; you have freed us from all fear placing in our hearts the Spirit of adoption by whom we can call upon you as a Father. 5

5The two final sections of the “Bersier Liturgy” are headed respectively “Sacraments” and “Church Acts”. The former includes “Baptism for Adults”, “Admission to Holy Communion”, three orders for “Communion”; the latter has orders of service for “the Ordination of a Minister,” "the Induction of a new pastor” and “the Consecration of a Church”. Next follow services for “Days of Fasting” or “Thanksgiving.” The second edition of the book ends, as in 1874, with the Marriage and Burial Services. Bersier gave birth to a French Prayer Book that encompasses regular services and rites of passage. As such, its scope is comparable to that of the Book of Common Prayer.

  • 6 Henriette Hollard (1840-1875), youngest daughter of the naturalist Henri Hollard.

6Furthermore, the “Bersier liturgy” also presents some similarities in content to Anglican services. At this juncture, we mention two features in particular that did not pass unnoticed. His Liturgy prescribes kneeling at several points. This was supposed to conform to Huguenot practise. The 1662 Prayer-Book restored “the Declaration on Kneeling” and “Kneeling” is stipulated during the penitential parts in both the Offices and the Communion Service. Sung liturgical responses, imitating Anglican cathedral style, were introduced with a simple musical setting by his sister-in-law Henriette Hollard.6

  • 7 Henceforth “Liturgical Project” will refer to Projet de Révision de la Liturgie des Églises Réformé (...)
  • 8 Robert Will, Le Culte, 3 vol., Étude d'Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuse, tome I., Le caractère (...)
  • 9 André Encrevé and Daniel Robert, 227, note 101, “A l'occasion du centenaire de l'Église de l'Étoile (...)

7However, this “Bersier Liturgy” should be clearly differentiated from his “Liturgical Project” (1888).7 The French Lutheran theologian and lecturer Robert Will8 failed to make this distinction and so contributes to obscure the more radical elements of the “Bersier Liturgy”. The “Liturgical Project” is a proposal to revise existing French Reformed liturgy. Bersier produced a full scale service book with a lengthy theoretical and historical introduction to French-speaking Reformed worship and extensive ongoing critical commentary. It is a monumental achievement and a major resource work for all of Bersier’s liturgical production. It is understandable that this technical liturgical work was thought to be the “Bersier Liturgy”. It was to be submitted to the Reformed Synod and had been prepared at their request. The Protestant historian André Encrevé classifies it as: “an intermediate liturgy between the ‘Bersier liturgy’ and that of the French Reformed Churches”9. The “Liturgical Project” (1888) contains some improvements on linguistic and stylistic grounds and occasionally a greater choice of prayers, notably for the Burial Service; and this prayer to be said before the Creed:

  • 10 “Seigneur, nous te rendons grâce de ce que tu nous a appelés à la connaissance du salut par la foi (...)

Lord, we give you thanks for you have called us to the knowledge of salvation through faith in Jesus-Christ, our Redeemer. Keep us holding the truth that we possess, so that, being subject to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, each of us might freely confess his faith and say in communion with the universal church...10

8But the congregational responses are virtually non-existent. It serves a watered-down version of Bersier’s more innovative liturgical reforms, notably for Morning Service and Communion.

  • 11 See Sermons, 7 vol., 1863-1884; Sermons, coll. Protestant Pulpit, 2 vol. (London, 1869); and Freder (...)
  • 12 See Souviens-toi, Sermons de Bersier (Vevey: Groupes Missionnaires, 1965).

9We should add that Bersier had some success as a hymn writer (he adapted Baxter’s “Ye Holy Angels Bright” using music by Croft, an organist at Westminster Abbey) tailoring hymns for use at major christian festivals and for regular Sunday worship. In this he was inspired by the resurgence of hymnody in Victorian England. He was also an outstanding preacher, well known in England ;11 a selection from his printed sermons appeared as late as 1965.12

  • 13 J-D. Benoît, Liturgical Renewal: Studies in Catholic and Protestant developments on the Continent, (...)

10The importance of the “Bersier Liturgy” in French Protestantism cannot be underestimated. J.-D. Benoît affirms: “The real father of the modern liturgical revival was Eugène Bersier.”13 It represents the first major attempt to create a French Protestant Prayer-Book with services — previously centred on preaching — now encouraging worship and congregational participation through said or sung responses.

Bersier and Anglican Worship

  • 14 Marie Hollard-Bersier, Recueil de souvenirs de la vie d'Eugène Bersier (Paris, Fischbacher, 1911). (...)
  • 15 Ibid., 349: “La sympathie innée qu'il éprouvait pour la liturgie anglaise ne l'aveuglait pas cepend (...)

11The Souvenirs recount the memoirs of Marie Bersier née Hollard, and relate what Bersier said about worship as well as some of his wife’s views on the subject.14 She sums up Bersier’s basic approach: “The innate sympathy that he felt toward the English liturgy did not blind him to the need for restraint in adapting it to the Churches of France.”15

  • 16 Ibid., 341.
  • 17 Ibid., 326.
  • 18 Ibid., 349.
  • 19 Sermons, tome VI, 246, this is found in a sermon entitled “César et Dieu”, 229-258 and Souvenirs, o (...)
  • 20 Souvenirs, op. cit., 412. See Liturgical Project, op. cit., XXXVII, note 2, (reproduced in our thes (...)

12She recalls that Bersier’s English mother used to read the Anglican office in her Prayer-Book, and that later on Bersier prayed regularly this liturgy with her.16 During a week-long stay in London in August 1871, Bersier attended Mattins every morning in Westminster Abbey where "the sacred music is so beautiful."17 At the end of 1873, Bersier took himself to “la rue d'Aguesseau” before carrying out his liturgical reform.18 This means he attended services in the Anglican chapel of the British Embassy in Paris, known as St. Michael's Church since the 1970’s. One should also mention his friendship with A.P. Stanley,19 Dean of Westminster Abbey from 1864 and Archbishop Tait.20 These morsels of information, albeit anecdotal, weigh nonetheless when trying to measure the impact of the Book of Common Prayer on Bersier.

  • 21 “Culte” tome III, (1878), 525-526, in Frédéric Lichtenberger, ed., L'Encyclopédie des sciences reli (...)
  • 22 He refers to Hermann Adalbert Daniel, Codex Liturgicus (Leipzig, Weigel, 1847-1853), 4 vols. (repri (...)

13Amongst Bersier’s numerous writings on liturgical matters the 7th section of his article “Worship" (Culte) in the Lichtenberger encyclopedia is devoted to worship in the Reformation Churches. Firstly Bersier summarises the history of Anglican liturgy presenting the Order for Morning Prayer. He provides no liturgical commentary.21 Even so, that he engaged in liturgical research on the Book of Common Prayer is beyond doubt.22

14To this should be added his frequent criticism of the Oxford Movement. Bersier opposed, on exegetical and historical grounds, the return to overtly catholic devotions promoted by this High Church party. His French liberal Reformed opponents accused him of ritualism, though stopping short of calling him an Anglo-Catholic. They did however scent the Anglican influence on his liturgy:

  • 23 “Son assemblée était artiste et sentimentale ; il a cru faire de l'art en introduisant des chants s (...)

His congregation were artistic and sentimental; he thought he was doing art by introducing erudite responses and paid choirs, painted stained-glass windows and prayers to order. His parishioners were for the most part Anglicans, so he served them with a pastiche of their liturgy.23

  • 24 “La question liturgique: deux lettres de M. Bersier”, Le Christianisme au XIXe siècle (27 July 1877 (...)

15However, Bersier claims that the prayers of intercession in his liturgy come from Reformed sources24 and his annotations in his “Liturgical Project” bear this out. This polemic has surely contributed to Bersier’s silence concerning his debt to Anglican cathedral style worship.

16Yet we cannot overlook the neo-gothic architecture of his parish church (imitating the Cambridge Movement) or the reordered interior: the Communion table is now central, carrying an open Bible and the pulpit stands on one side. This ordering has become common in French-speaking Reformed churches. This alone exemplifies the new emphasis on frequent Communion, praise and worship as the prime focus in Sunday services and the less central place given to preaching. All these are hallmarks of Anglican liturgical worship. This leads to a fine tribute from Bernard Reymond, a contemporary authority in practical theology.

  • 25 We translate: “Toutes proportions gardées, Bersier a exercé sur l'architecture et la liturgie des É (...)

17All proportions kept, Bersier has exercised an influence on the architecture and liturgy of French-speaking Protestant Churches, comparable to that of the Cambridge Movement in the Anglo-Saxon world.25

The overall conception of the “Bersier Liturgy” owes much to the Book of Common Prayer.

18The ethos of the “Bersier Liturgy” can be illustrated by this prayer (based on Isaiah 57:15) which encourages a reverential attitude during Sunday services:

  • 26 We translate this prayer: “Seigneur, tu ne méprises point les cœurs contrits et brisés, et, quoique (...)

Lord, you do not despise a broken and contrite heart. Even though you are the Most High and supremely the Holy One you deign to dwell with the humble ... Humble us then, O God, kindly draw near to bless us. May we sense your presence and hear your voice, so that in stillness and silence our souls may contemplate your worshipful face.26

This embodies the numinous in worship and the sense of a transcendent presence that exudes from Anglican worship, almost unconsciously. Thus, Bersier asserts the need for every worshipper to have his liturgical book:

  • 27 “ce qu'on appelle liturgie est un volume à l'usage des seuls pasteurs qui ne sort guère des chaires (...)

What is called ‘Liturgy’ is a tome used only by ministers that hardly ever leaves the pulpit. […] Yet, we consider that a liturgy worthy of the name should be a truly congregational Book for the use of every churchgoer. It furnishes them with all the essential elements of worship when they are deprived of preaching. And it allows them to join more easily in public worship when it is regularly celebrated by the minister’.27

19Bersier thought that a single worship book reinforced unity amongst churchgoers. We might add that it also serves to limit the power of any minister by giving the congregation a greater role in worship.

20The contents of the “Bersier Liturgy” echo those of the Prayer-Book. Both place at their head a calendar of Bible readings (lectionary). The opening services are those for Morning and Evening Prayer. The Te Deum is printed for congregational use. Provision is also made to recite in most services (even sing as in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer) the Apostles’ Creed. These are all features peculiar to the Prayer-Book.

21There is also evidence of direct borrowing from the Book of Common Prayer. The Church of Scotland liturgist William D. Maxwell observes:

  • 28 William Delbert Maxwell, An Outline of Christian Worship, 5th edition (Oxford: O.U.P., 1963), 190, (...)

It was compiled by Mr. Bersier for use in his own congregation in Paris, in it the influence of Morning Prayer in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer is marked, and the book itself has had a wide influence on the worship of the French Reformed Church.28

  • 29 Alexander Elliott Peaston, The Prayer Book tradition in the Free Churches (London: James Clarke, 19 (...)

22We can measure the extent and nature of this influence with the help of this Table:29

TABLE n°1

Morning Prayer, Prayer-Book (1662)

Morning Service, Bersier (1874)

Invocation and response

Scripture Sentences

Scripture Sentences

Exhortation before confession

Summary of the Law with response

Promises of forgiveness

Confession of sin

Confession of sin and Kyrie

Absolution and Lord’s Prayer

Absolution (wish) "Praise the LORD"

Reponses

Responses

Psalm 95 followed by Gloria Patri

Gloria in excelsis Deo (incipit), Gloria Patri (response)

Psalm of the day

OT reading.

OT reading

Te Deum or Canticle of the Creatures taken from Daniel 3 (LXX)

Psalm or hymn

NT reading

Reading from the Gospels or the Epistles

Song of Zachariah or Psalm 100

Apostles Creed

Apostles Creed

Reponses and Kyrie simple and the Lord’s Prayer
Suffrages and Three collects and various prayers

Intercessions (Litany) + Lord’s Prayer + Gloria Patri

Sermon

Hymn, Collection and Notices

Hymn, Collection and Notices

Blessing The Grace 2 Cor 13

Free Prayer, Hymn, Blessing 2 Cor 13

23Yet, Bersier does not incorporate into his liturgy, either entire rites, or specific prayers. He discards the biblical canticles, Venite (Ps 95), Benedictus (Song of Zachariah, Luke 1), and Jubilate Deo (Ps 100), as well as the Apocryphal Benedicite, omnia opera (Daniel 3 Septuagint). Even so, the order in the “Bersier Liturgy follows closely that of Morning Prayer: the Apostles’ Creed and the intercessions come before the sermon in both cases. There exist numerous detailed similarities between the two liturgies, even more so in the 1876 edition of the “Bersier Liturgy”. Here then is a list of the main features that Bersier borrowed from the Anglican service:

1. The principle of reading several Bible verses as introductory sentences and the choice of Psalm 51:17 and Joel 2:13.
2. Among the Promises of forgiveness: Ezekiel 18:27; 33:2 and 1 John 1:8-9.
3. The suffrages (Preces).
4. The use of responses (sung in the manner of English cathedrals).
5. The use of a litany (in the intercessory prayers) and some of its contents.
6. The “Lord’s Prayer” at the end of the litany.
7. The collects for festivals.
8. The prayer at the opening of the Parliamentary session. (The 1662 Book reads “during”)
9. 2 Corinthians 13:13; “the Grace", as a formula of blessing.
10. The Te Deum is printed out in full to be recited by the congregation on a regular basis.

11. The sermon occurs towards the close of the service.

  • 30 La Liturgie ou ordre du service divin à l'usage des Églises réformées de France, ed. Charles Louis (...)
  • 31 Bersier may have taken his opening invocation and responses, as well as his order of service, from (...)

24Items 8 and 9 are peculiar to the 1662 Prayer-Book. We cannot exclude the possibility that the liturgy produced in 1866 by Charles Frossard30 might be a source for item 7, which along with item 8, appears later in Bersier’s Liturgical Project. Whatever his debt to earlier Reformed liturgies, or Lutheran “Agende”31 Bersier has borrowed considerably from Anglican Morning Prayer.

25The Communion service also bears the mark of Anglican influences. Bersier introduces the title "Communion Liturgy", whereas his “Liturgical Project” has "Communion Service". These titles break with usual practise in most French Protestant Churches; the term "communion" is that of the Prayer-Book.

  • 32 Bruno Bürki, Cène du Seigneur, Eucharistie de l'Église, Cahiers Œcuméniques 17B (Fribourg: Éd. Univ (...)
  • 33 See Katie Badie, La Prière de 'l‘Humble accès’, mémoire de maîtrise (Vaux-sur-Seine, 2005) ; and he (...)
  • 34 “Bersier Liturgy”, 227; Liturgical Project, 158.
  • 35 The 1662 Book of Common Prayer made them part of the newly titled “Prayer of Consecration”.

26There appears to be no direct borrowing here from the Book of Common Prayer.32 For instance, he does not use “The Prayer of Humble Access” which became known in France and has even been researched.33 Yet he does introduce Sursam Corda, Sanctus and Gloria in excelsis, the latter albeit in a different position from that of the Book of Common Prayer. We also note the insertion of “Proper Prefaces” in the Communion thanksgiving prayer for use at festivals. Bersier has four “Propers,” Christmas, Good Friday, Easter and Whitsun,34 against five in the Prayer-Book. Furthermore, Bersier, breaking with Reformed usage on two counts, imitates two features introduced into the 1662 Prayer Book. Not only does he use the “words of institution” as a prayer,35 but he also inserts three “manual acts” during the “Institution narrative” against five in the Prayer-Book, a reform jointly supported in 1661 by the Bishops and the Presbyterians. In the “Bersier Liturgy” we find: stretching hands over all the bread and cups; taking the bread; taking the cup; but no black crosses, inherited from Catholicism, that were excised in 1552 from the 1549 Prayer-Book.

27Kenneth W. Stevenson has shown that we also find in Bersier excerpts from the Anglican “Prayer of Oblation” commonly called “We thy unworthy servants”:

And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee; … And although we be unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service; not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • 36 See Kenneth W. Stevenson, The Catholic Apostolic Eucharist, thesis (Southampton University, 1975), (...)
  • 37 Consult John Bate Cardale, The Liturgy and other Divine Offices, 1838, 1842 (London: George J. W. P (...)

28This entered his liturgy via that of the Catholic Apostolic Church36 designed by John B. Cardale.37 A French edition appeared in 1873, the year prior to the “Bersier liturgy”.

  • 38 The Liturgy and other Divine Offices, (1838), 1880 edition, op. cit., 7-8; see Liturgies et autres (...)

Acknowledging Thee to be our God, and ourselves Thy servants, as we are most bound, so we present to Thee ourselves, our souls and bodies, and dedicate ourselves unto Thy service, engaging henceforth to obey Thy holy will and commandments, and utterly to eschew all that Thou abhorrest. O God, Thou knowest our weakness, and our frailty is not hid from Thee; have mercy upon us, and fulfil our vows in us … that we may henceforth yield ourselves to Thee a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable, which is our reasonable service.38

However, Bersier, whilst using Cardale and Romans 12:1-2 can improve the style and stress his own theology as the additions in bold type show:

  • 39 “Nous sommes indignes de rien t’offrir en retour d’un si grand sacrifice. Toutefois, confessant que (...)

We are unworthy to offer anything in return for such a great sacrifice. Whilst acknowledging Thee to be our God, and ourselves Thy servants, we present to Thee, our souls and bodies that you have redeemed and dedicate ourselves unto Thy service. And we make the commitment to follow Thy holy will, to do what Thou commandest and to flee completely that which Thou abhorrest. O God, Thou knowest our weakness, and our faults are not hidden from Thee; have mercy upon us, and fulfil these vows in us, so that we may in future offer ourselves to Thee a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable, which is our reasonable service. 39

29Here then, borrowing by Bersier is proven, even if it is indirect via Cardale. The similarities with the Roman Mass show further usage of Cardale. Calvin is the source for the exhortation. These multiple sources should not however prevent us from acknowledging some influence from the Book of Common Prayer.

  • 40 “Liturgie pour l'enterrement d'un enfant” (au temple), “Bersier Liturgy”, 341-349; see Liturgical P (...)

30The burial service also testifies to the importance of the Book of Common Prayer in Bersier’s liturgical reforms. Bersier is a virtual pioneer in this area for French Reformed worship. In 1874, he even introduced an Order of Service for the Burial of a Child.40 He incorporated psalms 39 Dixi, Custodiam and 90 Domine, refugium into his burial liturgy. Both these psalms were introduced into the burial service in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. He uses excerpts from 1 Corinthians 15, the Prayer-Book epistle for a funeral communion, printed in full since 1549. These details take on greater significance when one recalls that funeral liturgies were absent from most Reformed service-books.

  • 41 “Un service spécial d'actions de grâces”, “Bersier Liturgy”, 291-295.

31That the 1662 Book of Common Prayer provides a liturgical paradigm can also be seen in other occasional or pastoral services. The French title of Bersier’s “Special Service of Thanksgiving” suggests its translation from the English. The whole service reflects Anglican structure and style. It uses a single response, like a litany of thanksgiving.41

32Bersier is probably using the Book of Common Prayer as a source for the Communion of the Sick as few other Reformed liturgies existed at that time. This Prayer-Book Office includes a form of absolution that ends in a traditional formula using the first person:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to his Church to absolve all sinners, who truly repent, and believe in him, of his great mercy forgive thee thine offences; And by his Authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

  • 42 Colin O. Buchanan, The Savoy Conference revisited, op. cit., 12.

33In 1661, the Presbyterians had unsuccessfully requested a declarative form.42 Usually Bersier prefers to “announce forgiveness” following the example of Calvin at Strasbourg. So Bersier avoids the Prayer Book text:

  • 43 “Que le Dieu tout-puissant, qui a donné son Fils Jésus-Christ en sacrifice et en propitiation pour (...)

May Almighty God, who hath given His Son Jesus-Christ as the Sacrifice and Propitiation for the sins of the whole world; grant unto you, for His love’s sake, forgiveness, remission and absolution of all your sins !43

While finding inspiration in Cardale’s liturgy yet again:

  • 44 The Liturgy and other Divine Offices (1838), 1880 edition, op. cit., 2.

Almighty God who hath given His Son Jesus-Christ to be the Sacrifice and Propitiation for the sins of the whole world; Grant unto you for His sake full remission and forgiveness; Absolve you from all your sins.44

34These are none other than the “comfortable words” of the Book of Common Prayer Communion service taken from 1 John 2:1-2. Nevertheless, Bersier modifies the ending to avoid the traditional terminology that harks back to the Book of Common Prayer and beyond that to the Roman Catholic absolution formula.

35The 1662 Prayer-Book contains a service of Baptism initially intended for those not baptized into the Anglican fold during the Commonwealth period. The preface by Bishop Robert Sanderson (1661) justifies this:

an office for the Baptism of such as are of Riper Years: which, although not so necessary when the former Book was compiled, yet by the growth of Anabaptism, through the licentiousness of the late times crept in amongst us, is now become necessary, and may be always useful for the baptizing of Natives in our Plantations, and others converted to the Faith.

  • 45 Liturgical Project, XXX, n. 1, reproduced in our thesis Annexe II, 548.

36Bersier created a service of Baptism for adults. One could claim that he was only copying the previously mentioned liturgy by Frossard since he is aware of his colleague’s work in this area.45 But Bersier realised that Frossard was using Anglican sources. Two items testify to Bersier’s borrowing from the Prayer-Book. Firstly, he follows the 1662 Preface on the need for such a service, referring to Baptists, converts and Christian mission:

  • 46 “Cette liturgie est applicable à l'introduction dans l'Église chrétienne des israélites ou des pros (...)

37This liturgy is to be used to introduce into the Christian Church Jews or converts brought to faith through mission to non-Christian peoples. But it will always be useful in families either won over to Baptist teaching where infant baptism has been suppressed, or where unbelief has led to the disappearance of any religious practise.46

  • 47 Le Synode wallon de 1667 ajouta à la liturgie, des formulaires pour ... le baptême des adultes, des (...)

38He uses similar language when tracing the history of such liturgies in the Reformed tradition: “the Walloon Synod of 1667 added to the liturgy, a formulary for […] the Baptism of adults, Anabaptists, Jews, Mahometans, pagans and idol worshippers.”47

39Secondly, he also uses the Gospel of John, chapter 3, printed in full in the Book of Common Prayer, an unlikely choice for adult baptism as it has been read traditionally as advocating “baptismal regeneration.”

Conclusion

  • 48 See my liturgical study: “La fréquence de la Sainte-Cène dans le protestantisme de langue française (...)
  • 49 This is the case of the French Methodist Liturgy of 1983. The use of the Prayer Book by Methodists (...)

40The Book of Common Prayer remains Bersier’s principal liturgical source as a “mother liturgy”. There are numerous cases of direct borrowing from the daily office. He indirectly uses the Prayer Book Communion Service when he quarries texts from Cardale. The 1662 Prayer Book provides liturgical models for several services. His knowledge of the Oxford Movement, the continental Lutheran liturgical revival and of eastern and patristic texts means that the “Bersier Liturgy” was part of a European move in the 19th century to rediscover and use the liturgical patrimony of the Christian Church. The influence of the “Bersier liturgy” and his “Liturgical Project” was more considerable than has been imagined,48 and remained significant for the French Reformed Church until the 1970’s. More broadly the “Bersier liturgy” signalled the start of a trend in French Protestantism at large in which Anglican liturgy has been used as an important liturgical resource.49

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Notes

1 This reproduces material from my doctoral thesis: La Liturgie de Bersier et le culte réformé en France : ritualisme et renouveau liturgique, (thesis 1999) (Lille: Septentrion, 2001).

2 Liturgie à l'usage des Églises Réformées (Paris: Fischbacher, 1874). The 2nd edition was published in 1876 and reprinted during the 1880s. The Liturgie de l’Étoile, 1892, contains alterations reflecting use in his parish.

3 Anglican worship had previously influenced French speaking Protestantism. John-Frederick Ostervald was the first Reformed pastor whom the 1662 Prayer Book inspired for his liturgy in 1713 at Neuchatel, Switzerland. His Order of Service held sway in the Neuchatel church until the 20th century. See the articles by Bruno Bürki, “La Sainte Cène dans la liturgie de Suisse Romande”, Coena Domini II: Die Abendmahlsliturgie der Reformationskirchen von 18. bis zum frühen 20. Jahrhundert (Fribourg: Academic Press Fribourg, 2005), 484-486; and “Jean-Frédéric Ostervald (1663-1747), le Pasteur neuchâtelois à l’origine des réformes liturgiques modernes au sein du protestantisme francophone”, Les Mouvements liturgiques: corrélation entre pratiques et recherches, Conférence St. Serge, Paris 2003 (Rome, Edizioni Liturgiche, 2004), 97-104. Since Bersier claims that, in 1874, he was unacquainted with this reform, we shall ignore Ostervald for this study.

4 “Jésus, Rédempteur de tous les hommes, toi que le Père a engendré avant le lever de la première aurore, brillante étoile du matin, Parole éternelle, lumière et splendeur du Père, image visible du Dieu invisible, soleil de justice, dont les rayons apportent à nos âmes la guérison et la vie, tu t'es levé sur le monde endormi dans l'ombre de la mort, et ta clarté n'aura point de fin.” “Bersier Liturgy”, 99.

5 “Ô Dieu qui as été notre Libérateur, nous célébrons en ce jour le souvenir de tes miséricordes. Indignes d'habiter avec toi, nous étions incapables par nous-mêmes de mériter ton pardon, mais tu nous as révélé ta grâce salutaire et tu nous y as fait avoir accès par la foi; tu nous as délivrés de toute crainte servile en mettant dans nos cœurs l'esprit d'adoption par lequel nous pouvons t'invoquer comme un Père.” “Bersier Liturgy”, 170-172.

6 Henriette Hollard (1840-1875), youngest daughter of the naturalist Henri Hollard.

7 Henceforth “Liturgical Project” will refer to Projet de Révision de la Liturgie des Églises Réformées de France préparé sous invitation du Synode Général Officieux. Avec une introduction historique et un commentaire critique, Pour être soumis à l'examen des Synodes particuliers (Paris: Fischbacher & Grassart, 1888).

8 Robert Will, Le Culte, 3 vol., Étude d'Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuse, tome I., Le caractère religieux du culte (Strasbourg / Paris: Istra, 1925), 194, 264. Robert Will, (Asswiller 1869, Brumath 1959). See the notice in André Encrevé, ed., Les Protestants: Dictionnaire du monde religieux dans la France contemporaine (Paris: Beauchesne, 1993), 515-516.

9 André Encrevé and Daniel Robert, 227, note 101, “A l'occasion du centenaire de l'Église de l'Étoile Eugène Bersier (1831‑1889)”, Bulletin de la S.H.P.F. CXXV (1976): 211-228.

10 “Seigneur, nous te rendons grâce de ce que tu nous a appelés à la connaissance du salut par la foi en Jésus-Christ notre Rédempteur. Maintiens-nous dans la possession de la vérité, afin que, soumis aux enseignements des Saintes Écritures, chacun de nous puisse confesser librement sa foi et dire en communion avec l'Église universelle…”, Liturgical Project, op. cit., 32.

11 See Sermons, 7 vol., 1863-1884; Sermons, coll. Protestant Pulpit, 2 vol. (London, 1869); and Frederick Hastings, The Gospel in Paris: Sermons (London, 1884).

12 See Souviens-toi, Sermons de Bersier (Vevey: Groupes Missionnaires, 1965).

13 J-D. Benoît, Liturgical Renewal: Studies in Catholic and Protestant developments on the Continent, (Studies in Ministry and Worship) (London, SCM. Press, 1958), 31.

14 Marie Hollard-Bersier, Recueil de souvenirs de la vie d'Eugène Bersier (Paris, Fischbacher, 1911). All page numbers refer to the second edition of 1912. See esp. 340-343.

15 Ibid., 349: “La sympathie innée qu'il éprouvait pour la liturgie anglaise ne l'aveuglait pas cependant sur la mesure à garder pour une adaptation aux Églises de France”.

16 Ibid., 341.

17 Ibid., 326.

18 Ibid., 349.

19 Sermons, tome VI, 246, this is found in a sermon entitled “César et Dieu”, 229-258 and Souvenirs, op. cit., 337-338.

20 Souvenirs, op. cit., 412. See Liturgical Project, op. cit., XXXVII, note 2, (reproduced in our thesis Annexe II).

21 “Culte” tome III, (1878), 525-526, in Frédéric Lichtenberger, ed., L'Encyclopédie des sciences religieuses (Paris: Fischbacher, 1876-1882), 13 vols.

22 He refers to Hermann Adalbert Daniel, Codex Liturgicus (Leipzig, Weigel, 1847-1853), 4 vols. (reprint Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1966). The third volume (1851), given over to Anglican and Reformed liturgies, was in view. See also the information about publication of Anglican liturgies in “Calendrier chrétien”, in Lichtenberger, op. cit., tome II, (1878), 514‑519.

23 “Son assemblée était artiste et sentimentale ; il a cru faire de l'art en introduisant des chants savants et des chœurs payés, des vitraux peints et des prières cadencées. Ses fidèles étaient en grand nombre des Anglicans, il leur a servi un pastiche de leur liturgie” Théodore Maurel, La Renaissance, 22 June 1877, and his reply in the same publication, 6 July 1877. He had previously published: Le puseyisme en Angleterre, dissertation in theology (Montauban, 1860).

24 “La question liturgique: deux lettres de M. Bersier”, Le Christianisme au XIXe siècle (27 July 1877): 234-­235.

25 We translate: “Toutes proportions gardées, Bersier a exercé sur l'architecture et la liturgie des Églises protestantes francophones une influence comparable à celle du mouvement de Cambridge dans le monde anglo-saxon.” Bernard Reymond, L'architecture religieuse des protestants : Histoire, caractéristiques et problèmes actuels, coll. Pratiques 14 (Genève: Labor & Fides, 1996), 122.

26 We translate this prayer: “Seigneur, tu ne méprises point les cœurs contrits et brisés, et, quoique tu sois le Très-Haut et le Saint des Saints, tu daignes habiter avec les humbles ... Humilie-nous donc, ô Dieu, et veuille t'approcher de nous pour nous bénir. Que nous puissions sentir ta présence et entendre ta voix, de telle sorte que, dans le recueillement et le silence, nos âmes contemplent ta face adorable ... » This introduces the prayer: « Dieu tout-puissant, notre Père céleste”, Prayer for the second Sunday of the month” (Morning), “Bersier Liturgy”, 75-76, see “Liturgical Project”, 49.

27 “ce qu'on appelle liturgie est un volume à l'usage des seuls pasteurs qui ne sort guère des chaires […] Or, nous estimons qu'une liturgie digne de ce nom devrait être un véritable livre d'église à l'usage de tous les fidèles, pouvant leur fournir les éléments essentiels du culte là où ils sont privés de toute prédication et leur permettre de s'associer plus directement au culte public lorsqu'il est régulièrement célébré par le pasteur.” Liturgical Project, op. cit., XLIII-XLIV; reproduced in our thesis Annexe II, 556.

28 William Delbert Maxwell, An Outline of Christian Worship, 5th edition (Oxford: O.U.P., 1963), 190, n. 41; reprinted with the title History of Christian Worship (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982). See also his study The Book of Common Prayer and the Worship of non-Anglican Churches, Dr. Williams' Lecture 1949 (Oxford: O.U.P., 1950).

29 Alexander Elliott Peaston, The Prayer Book tradition in the Free Churches (London: James Clarke, 1964), supplies the order for Morning Prayer p. 168.

30 La Liturgie ou ordre du service divin à l'usage des Églises réformées de France, ed. Charles Louis Frossard (Lille, 1866).

31 Bersier may have taken his opening invocation and responses, as well as his order of service, from the United Prussian “Agende” (1822) of Frederick William III. He shows his appreciation for this service in his article in the Lichtenberger Encyclopaedia, op. cit., “Agende”, vol. I. (1877), 115.

32 Bruno Bürki, Cène du Seigneur, Eucharistie de l'Église, Cahiers Œcuméniques 17B (Fribourg: Éd. Universitaires, 1985), 43.

33 See Katie Badie, La Prière de 'l‘Humble accès’, mémoire de maîtrise (Vaux-sur-Seine, 2005) ; and her article “The Prayer of Humble Access”, Churchman vol. 120, n°2 (Summer 2006): 103-117. http://www.churchsociety.org/churchman/documents/Cman_120_2_Badie.pdf

34 “Bersier Liturgy”, 227; Liturgical Project, 158.

35 The 1662 Book of Common Prayer made them part of the newly titled “Prayer of Consecration”.

36 See Kenneth W. Stevenson, The Catholic Apostolic Eucharist, thesis (Southampton University, 1975), 374‑377. See also his, Eucharist and Offering (New York: Pueblo, 1986), 263, n. 26, where he recalls Bersier’s debt to the Catholic Apostolic Eucharist. He gives several extracts from Cardale’s Communion liturgy p. 184‑185.

37 Consult John Bate Cardale, The Liturgy and other Divine Offices, 1838, 1842 (London: George J. W. Pitman / Chiswick Press, 1880, 1892); and Liturgies et autres divins offices de l'Église (Paris, 1873 / Lausanne, 1901). See also John B. Cardale, Readings in the Liturgy and the Divine Offices of the Church, 2 vol. (London: Thomas Bosworth, 1874-1875).

38 The Liturgy and other Divine Offices, (1838), 1880 edition, op. cit., 7-8; see Liturgies et autres divins offices de l'Église, op. cit., 22.

39 “Nous sommes indignes de rien t’offrir en retour d’un si grand sacrifice. Toutefois, confessant que Tu es notre Dieu et que nous sommes tes serviteurs, nous te présentons nos âmes et nos corps que tu as rachetés, nous nous consacrons à ton service et nous prenons l'engagement de suivre ta sainte volonté, de faire ce que tu commandes et de fuir entièrement ce que tu as en horreur. O Dieu, tu connais notre faiblesse et nos fautes ne te sont point cachées; aie pitié de nous et accomplis en nous ces vœux, afin qu’à l’avenir nous puissions nous offrir à toi en sacrifice vivant, saint et agréable, ce qui est notre raisonnable service.” “Bersier Liturgy”, 225-226.

40 “Liturgie pour l'enterrement d'un enfant” (au temple), “Bersier Liturgy”, 341-349; see Liturgical Project, 241-246.

41 “Un service spécial d'actions de grâces”, “Bersier Liturgy”, 291-295.

42 Colin O. Buchanan, The Savoy Conference revisited, op. cit., 12.

43 “Que le Dieu tout-puissant, qui a donné son Fils Jésus-Christ en sacrifice et en propitiation pour les péchés de tout le monde, vous accorde pour l'amour de lui [sic Christ] le pardon, la rémission et l'absolution de tous vos péchés.” In “Administration de la Communion aux malades”, “Bersier Liturgy”, 242-243.

44 The Liturgy and other Divine Offices (1838), 1880 edition, op. cit., 2.

45 Liturgical Project, XXX, n. 1, reproduced in our thesis Annexe II, 548.

46 “Cette liturgie est applicable à l'introduction dans l'Église chrétienne des israélites ou des prosélytes amenés à la foi par la mission chez les peuples non-chrétiens. Mais elle aura toujours plus son emploi par le fait de la suppression du baptême des enfants soit dans les familles gagnées aux doctrines des baptistes, soit dans les milieux où l'incrédulité fait disparaître toute pratique religieuse.Liturgical Project, 139.

47 Le Synode wallon de 1667 ajouta à la liturgie, des formulaires pour ... le baptême des adultes, des anabaptistes, des juifs, des mahométans, des païens et des idolâtres. Liturgical Project, XLI, n. 1, reproduced in our thesis Annexe II, p. 554, n. 34.

48 See my liturgical study: “La fréquence de la Sainte-Cène dans le protestantisme de langue française : en quoi la liturgie d'Eugène Bersier (1831-1889), a-t-elle modifié les pratiques ?”, Les Mouvements liturgiques : corrélation entre pratiques et recherches, Conférence St. Serge, Paris, 2003 (Rome, Edizioni Liturgiche, 2004), 105-125.

49 This is the case of the French Methodist Liturgy of 1983. The use of the Prayer Book by Methodists is hardly surprising, however. More surprisingly, the value of Anglican liturgy is accepted by many French Baptists as can be seen in the French Baptist Federation manuals (1994 ff.) even though Baptists are not used to praying from set liturgical texts. In a recent liturgical resource for the Communion service, the following were included: Collect for Purity, Ten Commandments with Kyrie, Offertory Sentences, Comfortable Words and Humble Access. For marriage, the 1549 collect was borrowed, for funerals the opening funeral sentences, the use of extracts from Psalms 39 and 90 (the 1662 Book of Common Prayer Psalms used by Bersier). And the “Prayer of Committal” occurs before burial in its 1662 form.

Finally various books of prayers and hymnbooks also bear witness to French Protestant interest in Anglican worship. A book of Anglican Prayers (La tradition anglicane [Chambray: Ed. C.L.D., 1982]) includes numerous collects from the Book of Common Prayer (for purity, Ember Collect by John Cosin, “A General Thanksgiving” attributed to Edward Reynolds, and the prayer of humble access). The ccumenical prayer and hymn book, Ensemble (Paris / Lyon: Bayard / Réveil Publications, 2002). reproduces in French several collects (for purity, Advent Sunday; Bible Sunday, Ash Wednesday and “A General Thanksgiving” previously mentioned).

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Stuart Ludbrook, « The Influence of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer on the ‘Bersier Liturgy’ and French Protestant Worship », Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique [En ligne], XXII-1 | 2017, mis en ligne le 02 mai 2017, consulté le 15 décembre 2017. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/1231 ; DOI : 10.4000/rfcb.1231

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Stuart Ludbrook

Fédération Baptiste de France

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Revue française de civilisation britannique est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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