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Introduction - Cultural Transfers in Religion: Circulating the Book of Common Prayer in Europe

Introduction – Transferts culturels en religion: la circulation du Book of Common Prayer en Europe
Rémy Bethmont and Aude de Mézerac-Zanetti

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  • 1 The Book of Common Prayer: The texts of 1549, 1559 and 1662, ed. Brian Cummings (Oxford: Oxford Uni (...)

And in these our doings, we condemn no other nations, nor prescribe any thing, but to our own people only. For we think it convenient that every country should use such ceremonies, as they shall think best to the setting forth of God’s honour or glory, and to the reducing of the people to a most perfect and godly living, without error or superstition. And that they should put away other things, which from time to time they perceive to be most abused, as in men’s ordinances it often chanceth diversely in diverse countries.1

  • 2 One should specify that a Latin translation came first, right after the publication of the 1549 Pra (...)

1Thus concludes “Of Ceremonies: Why Some be Abolished and Some Retained,” a text justifying liturgical reform at the end of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, the first version of the English prayer book published under Edward VI, and reproduced in the preface of every subsequent edition. It is an important reminder of the fact that the Book of Common Prayer was primarily seen as an English document: the first vernacular, national liturgy, breaking with the use of Latin on the one hand and with the medieval custom of liturgical diversity on the other (different dioceses used different rites in medieval England as indeed in the rest of medieval Christendom). Thomas Cranmer, Henry VIII and Edward VI’s archbishop of Canterbury and the chief architect of liturgical reform, never foresaw imperial expansion and the development of a worldwide Anglican Communion, which have made his liturgies a cherished part of the religious heritage of a great number of Americans, Africans and Asians. The Book of Common Prayer has become the object of various cultural transfers; it was translated (and, as autonomous Anglican churches or “provinces” appeared worldwide, increasingly adapted) into a great many vernacular languages, starting with a 16th-century French translation, for use in Calais and the Channel Islands. 2 And yet at the same time, because the Anglican Church grew with the Empire, the sense of the liturgy being primarily English lingered on. To some extent this has had consequences on the nature of scholarly interest for the Book of Common Prayer.

  • 3 Judith Maltby, Prayer Book and People in Elizabethan and Stuart England (Cambridge: CUP, 2000) ; Ti (...)
  • 4 Francis Procter and Walter Howard Frere, A New History of the Book of Common Prayer, with a Rationa (...)
  • 5 See Phillip Tovey, Inculturation of Christian Worship: Exploring the Eucharist (Aldershot: Ashgate, (...)
  • 6 Beyond the numerous studies that deal with ecumenical cooperation and cross-fertilising within the (...)

2Much attention has been paid to the influence of the Prayer Book on English polity, language, culture and society (affecting Christians from all denominations in Britain). 3 The Book of Common Prayer has also attracted studies on its formation and the influence of various strands of European Christianity on the development of what came to be seen as a quintessentially English liturgy. 4 In our postcolonial age, in which churches have increasingly repented of centuries of Eurocentrism, the question of liturgical inculturation in different provinces of the Anglican Communion has given rise to various studies, 5 testifying to the recognition that Anglican liturgy and the Anglican Communion generally in the postcolonial world cannot be defined by its Englishness. However little attention has been devoted to the attraction that the specificities of liturgical practice in Anglican churches has constituted for religious groups beyond Anglicanism, both in and beyond the English-speaking world. 6

  • 7 Manuela Rossini and Michael Toggweiler, "Cultural Transfer: an Introduction", Word and Text: A Jour (...)
  • 8 The theory of cultural transfers was crafted in the 1990s in the context of the study of the influe (...)
  • 9 To name but a few recent works on cultural transfers : Michel Espagne, Svetlana Gorshenina, Frantz (...)

3This issue seeks to explore how elements of Anglican worship were transferred to other languages, countries and denominations, thus giving the lie to the idea that the Book of Common Prayer was just an ad-hoc national liturgy. Discussing these attempts at inculturation as cultural transfers invites one to focus on how “things become grafted from one cultural body to another” and how the original intention of 16th-century authors for the English liturgy was altered in the event of such cultural transplantations.7 In a new confessional and cultural context the Book of Common Prayer or the parts that were transferred almost always take on new meanings.8 The theory of cultural transfers has been applied to a diversity of fields: intellectual history, literature, material culture, technical knowledge, science and the arts but could also very well apply to the movement of religious ideas, including to the circulation of liturgical practices.9 This issue focuses on religious transfers from England to continental Europe and hopes to invite further research on the mobility of religious beliefs and devotional practices.

  • 10 See Jeffrey Rowthorn, “Anglican Churches in Europe”, The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer, (...)
  • 11 Pour une prière commune aux anglicans et aux catholiques : « Seigneur, ouvre nos lèvres”, Document (...)

4Today there are four Anglican jurisdictions in Europe (the Church of England Diocese in Europe, the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe of the American-based Episcopal Church and the small indigenous Anglican churches of Spain and Portugal). This contributes to making Anglican liturgy known on the Continent. The Diocese in Europe and the Convocation of Episcopal Churches have both engaged in a work of translation to make Common Worship, today’s official, contemporary Church of England liturgy alongside the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, or the American Book of Common Prayer of 1979 available in other languages than English in their congregations on the Continent.10 Anglican presence in continental Europe has also given rise to some significant interest by ecumenical partners. The French branch of the Anglican Roman-Catholic International Dialogue has recently published a document recommending ways for the two churches in France to celebrate morning and evening prayer together, using one another’s liturgies.11 There is growing interest among French Catholics for Anglican liturgical patrimony.

5But continental interest in Anglican liturgy in a number of cases seems to have started independently from this Anglican presence. Various denominations with no historical links to the Church of England have even used Anglican liturgy as a resource for worship in their own context and in languages other than English. In the case of the French Reformed Church, Anglican influence in the 19th century was the source of lasting changes in worship.

6Anglican liturgy is known and loved far beyond its natural linguistic and cultural borders, even though initially it claimed little else than being the expression of a decidedly English settlement with no pretension to cross-cultural influence. Indeed 16th-century liturgical debates centred on how much one should import from, not export to the Continent. The liturgies of the French or Swiss Reformed churches were the models to look up to for the “godly,” as the Puritans called themselves. The links that the English liturgy continued to entertain with the medieval past made its Protestant credentials suspicious to many Protestants in England. The irony however is that since the 19th century, especially, it is precisely these links, along with a lively liturgical spirituality, that have made the Book of Common Prayer attractive to both Protestants and Catholics on the Continent.

  • 12 The process by which different territories adopted a specific religious identity to the exclusion o (...)
  • 13 As David Holeton points out “Anglicans, like Christians in general, are increasingly exposed to one (...)

7This issue seeks to underline that the role played by Anglican liturgy in the Christian West has been more diverse than is usually acknowledged. The double reference to the Reformation and to an earlier tradition has made Anglican liturgy an important contributor to the liturgical experiments of several denominations in various European countries. The liturgical half-way house the Prayer Book represented infuriated the Puritans in the 16th and 17th century and led to entrenched, permanent divisions within English Protestantism after the Restoration. But today — this is ironic — the Anglican liturgical tradition the Prayer Book has brought forth is particularly well-suited to help recover the common liturgical patrimony of the West and repair to some extent the divisions caused by the process of confessionalisation.12 This obviously would not be the case without the contemporary context of ecumenism and interdenominational cooperation, strengthened as they have been by the Liturgical Movement, which has sought to renew worship in the churches of the West.13 But Anglican liturgy has some genuine ecumenical appeal which is inseparable from its being steeped in a liturgical spirituality whose form is quite unique among churches who claim a Reformation heritage and which was shaped by centuries of daily use of the Book of Common Prayer by ordinary Anglicans.

  • 14 Judith Maltby, Prayer Book and People, op.cit.; Mark Goldie, “Voluntary Anglicans”, The Historical (...)
  • 15 Christopher Haigh, “The Church of England, Catholics and the People”, The Reign of Elizabeth I, ed. (...)
  • 16 See Alexandra Walsham, Church Papists: Catholicism, Conformity and Confessional Polemic in Early Mo (...)

8However significant 16th- and 17th-century criticism of the Prayer Book may have been, its rites nurtured the spiritual lives of generations of English people. Conformity to and acceptance of the Book of Common Prayer in England has become the focus of significant attention in the last decades, correcting the earlier emphasis on non-conformity and Puritanism. Judith Maltby placed the “committed conformists”, “the Prayer Book Protestants” squarely at the heart of her study of the Book of Common Prayer. Mark Goldie encouraged scholars to focus on “voluntary Anglicans”.14 And Christopher Haigh’s characterization of the bulk of church-goers as “parish Anglicans” has done much to rehabilitate the Prayer Book as a source of religious unity and harmony.15 Provided some elasticity, the notion of conformity could even be extended to include church papists.16

  • 17 Jeremy Gregory, op.cit., 31.

9As Jeremy Gregory points out, “studies of lay religion in [the sixteenth and seventeenth] centuries have moved on from earlier interpretations which saw the laity reacting either antagonistically or indifferently to the offerings of the church, and finding solace in a lay-led Puritanism or in folk religion, to an appreciation of what Martin Ingram has called the ‘unspectacular orthodoxy’ of the majority of parishioners and in this attention has been given to the ways in which Prayer Book services resonated in their hearts and minds”. Gregory suggests that something similar might be said about the 18th century.17 It may well be this resonance in ordinary people’s hearts and minds which has commended the Book of Common Prayer and more broadly Anglican liturgical tradition to Christians outside the Anglican fold on both sides of the Protestant-Catholic divide.

  • 18 Anglican liturgies in Spanish produced as early as the 19th century are a case in point (see Don Ca (...)
  • 19 See David Holeton, Liturgical Inculturation in the Anglican Communion: Including the York Statement (...)

10The readiness the Anglican Communion has displayed since the 1980s in making a distinction between Anglican liturgical patrimony and the particular textual form and performance of the English Book of Common Prayer has reinforced the sense of an Anglican liturgical spirituality whose integrity is not inextricably tied to the Cranmerian heritage. Even though some amount of liturgical inculturation had already taken place in several Anglican churches,18 it was thanks to the 1988 Lambeth Conference and the subsequent work of the International Anglican Liturgical Consultations (IALC) that the question of developing liturgies for other cultural contexts within the Anglican Communion was made explicitly part of its liturgical agenda.19

11Whereas the questions that inculturation raise for the denominational identity of Anglicanism has ensured scholarly attention to the process of liturgical translation, adaptation and creation within the Anglican Communion, little consideration has been given to the same process in those churches that borrow from the Anglican tradition. The interdenominational cross-fertilizing that the ecumenical movement has made possible has produced modern liturgies throughout Western Christianity that have a family resemblance. But the question of why some denominations would look up to Anglican resources specifically, not only in this ecumenical age but also in earlier times, is left largely unexplored. Anglican liturgy has helped redraw the confessional boundaries that were rigidly established on the Continent in the 16th and 17th centuries between Protestant and Catholic forms of worship. The essays in this issue suggest that this has turned Anglican liturgy into an important resource thanks to which Protestants and Catholics alike may safely think through the meaning of their denominational identity within their own cultural context. Are they called, as denominations, to reclaim a forgotten part of their liturgical heritage for missionary purposes in their national contexts? Are they called to broaden and deepen the liturgical expression of their denominational identity for purposes of spiritual renewal? Are they called to celebrate their catholicity in a way that does not blur denominational borders with Roman Catholicism? Anglican liturgy is a valued contributor in the attempts of mainline denominations in the West to create liturgies that are suited to their time and place, while being true to the riches of the liturgical patrimony of the West.

12The first four contributions focus on how the Book of Common Prayer became a prominent marker of Anglican spirituality and identity in the course of the 16th and 17th centuries. Liturgical experiments were led in constructive dialogue with England’s liturgical past and combined with politics to fashion a liturgy that came to be seen as incomparable at the Restoration. The failure to revise this prayer book — still essentially a mid-sixteenth century text —  in the following centuries made it possible for the Book of Common Prayer to become the stable anchor of a spirituality whose expression was unique in the confessional landscape of the West.

13In an overview of the 16th and 17th centuries, the first paper by Claire Cross sketches the history of opposition to the Book of Common Prayer from Edward VI’s reign to 1662. Maintaining uniform liturgical practices in a church which gathered Protestants of varied hues proved increasingly difficult over the period as the godly sought to purify the Prayer Book of its “popish” and “superstitious” overtones. Questions of uniformity, obedience and submission trumped calls for further liturgical reform or experimentation in preaching the Gospel. The political enforcement of loyalty included repression against religious dissidents throughout the religious turbulences of the 17th century. The content of the Book of Common Prayer was a highly political matter; hence the proclivities of the successive sovereigns and their reactions to demands for further reform did much to shape the liturgical patrimony of the Anglican Church.

  • 20 See chapter 5 of Geoffrey J. Cuming’s A History of Anglican Liturgy (London : Macmillan, 1969), 94- (...)

14However, something more than politics was also at play. The history of liturgical revisions in 16th- and 17th-century England provides evidence that liturgical reformers paid considerable attention to their own liturgical practice and sought some experiential continuum. This continuum was all the easier to experience because liturgical reforms in England were an experiment in incremental change. This was the case not only between the first and the second Book of Common Prayer20 but from the Henrician liturgy to the 1549 Prayer Book. Henrician liturgical innovations provided the basis for a certain degree of continuity between medieval liturgical performance and the Edwardian prayer books. This is the focus of the second article by Aude de Mezerac-Zanetti. Thomas Cranmer’s use of multiple sources of inspiration in his crafting of the first Books of Common Prayer is well-known but there is also a more immediate wellspring for the English liturgies: the newly created practices of the 1530s and 1540s when Henry VIII sought to harness the liturgy to promote the break with Rome and the royal supremacy. These changes became deeply ingrained in the worship habits of the clergy and were embedded into some sections of the Book of Common Prayer. Conversely those Henrician developments which did not make it into the new liturgy illuminate the particularities of both the Henrician and Edwardian Reformations.

15By shifting the scholarly focus from emphasizing change to seeking continuity, this contribution addresses one of the enduring historiographical questions relating to the English Reformation: why is it that a radical and wholesale liturgical reform was readily accepted by the people in 1549? Actually, the change appears less radical than previously thought if one examines how Henry VIII’s regime refashioned prayers to promote its policies. Thus by the mid-1540s, the English church’s liturgy was no longer seen as the immutable public prayer of the universal church but as a text which could be reformed at will by the government and which was increasingly being challenged by reform-minded clergy and parishioners.

  • 21 On the kind of worship promoted by Laudians, see the masterful study by Kenneth Fincham and Nichola (...)

16Incremental change also made it possible to keep some sense of continuity in the aesthetic experience of the liturgy. The beauty of holiness of the Laudians is a well-known 17th-century example of reintroducing those elements of medieval ceremony that the Book of Common Prayer either allowed or did not explicitly rule out. Laudians thus created an aesthetic liturgical experience that brought them closer to the medieval past.21 Less dramatic because far less controversial was the use of psalms. Charles Whitworth’s paper also illustrates how liturgical practices were transferred back and forth in time, resulting eventually in the (quasi) restoration of the status quo ante. It charts the liturgical and devotional use of the penitential psalms (Ps. 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143) from the late medieval Sarum liturgy to the Ash Wednesday commination in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. These psalms continually generated numerous commentaries in the vernacular by clergy and laity from the late medieval period to the seventeenth century. They were translated, put to music and used by congregations whose enthusiasm for metrical singing prompted the publication of psalters set to music. Hence, these texts were deeply embedded in the devotional fabric of early modern Catholic and Protestant piety alike and some aspects of their liturgical use in the medieval Ash Wednesday service survived in successive versions of the Book of Common Prayer. This exercise in liturgical archaeology illustrates the power of devotional traditions and habits: evolution through accretion and sedimentation in the use of the penitential psalms from one edition of the Prayer Book to the next eventually led the Church of England back to a form of Lenten liturgy that was closer to medieval usage in 1662 than it had been in the days of the Edwardian Reformation.

17Appreciation of and respect for a continuum of liturgical practice gave the Book of Common Prayer a status in the Church of England which politics alone could not explain. Attachment to the Prayer Book gave rise to a peculiarly Anglican brand of spirituality in which a single liturgical text became the basis for a devotional experience fusing private and public prayer. This can be strikingly seen in Thomas Comber’s commentaries on the prayer book, on which Rémy Bethmont’s article centres. Published in the last third of the 17th century, Comber’s Companions to the Book of Common Prayer had a novel dimension. Prior to Comber, Prayer Book commentaries were essentially attempts to defend the liturgy against its critics. While this desire is still visible in Comber, there is also a strong devotional streak which is quite novel. Reconciling several strands of conformist tradition, Comber seeks to help clergy and laity alike to use the Book of Common Prayer as a school of devotion: the words of the liturgy become the outward, audible form of the prayer of the heart, both at home and in church. Comber’s thorough commentaries and prayerful paraphrase of the entire liturgy contributed to the spread of a form of liturgical spirituality, whereby every Anglican's devotional life, both personal and communal, was grounded on two inseparable books: the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.

18The importance of the Prayer Book in Anglican spirituality should be remembered when accounting for Anglican attempts to export it, not only as part of missionary endeavours in the Empire but also in dealing with other churches on the European continent. Whereas political reasons were undoubtedly paramount, what comes through (sometimes quite rightly) as Anglican arrogance in trying to make others adopt their liturgy also combined with the sincere, though naive, conviction that the Book of Common Prayer was truly the best path to prayer that was compatible with Protestant principles. The following contributions examine several case studies of such cultural transfers through translations, deliberate adaptations and concealed borrowings. The case of Anglican dealings with Italian Christians, which Stefano Villani examines, is a case in point.

19A significant number of Italian translations of the Book of Common Prayer were made in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. They served purposes that often had little to do with worship, including providing a convenient way for English people to learn Italian. But some were part and parcel of grand plans to undermine the Pope’s influence in Italy and promote a Protestant church whose catholicity would appeal to the Italian temperament and culture, in other words a church established on the same principles as the Church of England. In the early 17th century, the first Italian translation of the Prayer Book was part of a strategy seeking to convince Venice that the Anglican Church provided an alternative model to the Church of Rome that Venetians might adopt at a time when Venice was in conflict with the papacy. In the 19th century, a number of Anglicans vainly engaged in attempts to convince the Waldensian Church to become the instrument of the conversion of Italy to Protestantism by encouraging them to adopt episcopacy and the Book of Common Prayer. The story of these Italian translations of the Book of Common Prayer is the story of English illusions about the possibility of exporting the Prayer Book, stock and barrel, to a completely different ecclesiastical setting with its own culture and traditions.

20In its desire to inculturate liturgies, contemporary Anglicanism has moved a long way away from such attempts. As we have said, the Anglican Communion provides several examples of how Anglican liturgies have recently attempted to fuse with local cultures and traditions. But Anglicans are not the only ones who have sought to adapt Anglican liturgy to local ecclesiastical or cultural needs. Other churches provide fascinating examples of how the Anglican liturgical heritage has served all kinds of Christians in finding uplifting forms of worship that are suited to their own ecclesiastical context while connecting them to a rich and diverse liturgical patrimony. Far from being seen as a problem, the elements of continuity between the Book of Common Prayer and medieval liturgical usage have contributed to the attractiveness of the Prayer Book. Borrowing from the Anglican liturgy, or even considering the possibility of doing so, has been the occasion of questioning, deepening or celebrating one’s denominational identity.

21The Methodist case, studied by Jérôme Grosclaude, is interesting given the Anglican roots of the movement. The question of the place and role of the Anglican liturgical heritage in the movement was controversial and reflected the need which Methodists felt, to a varying degree, of claiming their own separate identity. Even though they separated from the Church of England in the 1790s, Wesleyan Methodists, the majority group, followed John Wesley’s instructions and practice by making it compulsory to use the Book of Common Prayer, while allowing at the same time for impromptu prayers, also dear to their founder’s heart. Non-Wesleyans, on the contrary, were eager to distinguish themselves from the detested Church of England and did not use any set liturgy for most of the 19th century. Consequently their services were generally improvised.

22From the 1860s however the British Methodist churches started to adopt their own set prayers. While Wesleyans moved away from the Book of Common Prayer (though retaining many Anglican elements), Non-Wesleyans started to adopt set — though not compulsory — liturgies. This objectively brought the two Methodist traditions a little closer to each other liturgically and paved the way for the adoption of a new common service book in 1936, four years after most Methodist churches united to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain. The 1936 Book of Offices contained different types of liturgies to satisfy all brands of Methodists, but it thus turned forms of worship indebted to the Anglican tradition into resources for Non-Wesleyans. The two subsequent service books of 1975 and 1999 betray the influence of the Liturgical Movement while keeping the diverse liturgical traditions of Methodists. As the need to affirm and bolster Methodist denominational identity has receded, Anglican liturgy can be claimed as a valued heritage.

23A little further away from the Anglican fold, the often-unacknowledged dialogue with Anglican liturgy in French Reformed worship, examined by Stuart Ludbrook, provides another case-study of the influence of Anglican liturgy in a context in which issues of local ecclesiastical identity were important. French Reformed minister Eugène Bersier’s liturgy, which he composed for his congregation at the Temple de l’Etoile in Paris in 1874-76, is an example of extensive borrowing from Anglican liturgical tradition. Although this liturgy was only ever used by Bersier’s congregation, its influence on the French Reformed Church was far-ranging because it constituted the basis of a proposal for liturgical reform that Bersier drafted at the request of the French Reformed synod in 1888 and which led to considerable change in French Reformed worship. The Bersier liturgy is not a case of merely adopting the Anglican liturgy as it was. The liturgical text of the Bersier liturgy owes much to the Book of Common Prayer, and the architecture, decoration and music of his Paris church were influenced by Anglican cathedral worship. But Bersier adapted the Book of Common Prayer to French Reformed sensibilities and even downplayed Anglican influence as he responded to criticisms of ritualism and servile imitation of the Anglican high church party. Even though Bersier’s influence on French Reformed worship was lasting, the resulting, greater proximity of the latter with Anglican worship was rarely acknowledged, an example of an unobtrusive cultural transfer.

  • 22 Old Catholic churches, born of a split in the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of the First Vatica (...)

24The question of local ecclesiastical identity has taken a very different turn in the case of the extensive borrowing from Anglican liturgies by Old Catholics22 in their recent liturgical revisions. This is the object of the article by David Holeton and Petr Jan Vinš. Old Catholics have leaned on full communion ties with Anglican churches to create forms of worship which, although decidedly Catholic, are just as decidedly non-Roman, thus strengthening the sense of Old Catholic identity. Full communion, established by the Bonn Agreement of 1931, although slow in making an impact on the life of the two denominations, provided a favourable context for extended liturgical consultations from the 1980s, resulting in Old Catholic use of Anglican liturgical resources in drafting new liturgies. The 1995 Altar Book of the Old Catholic Church in Germany, in particular, owes much to the 1985 Canadian Book of Alternative Services, which had itself borrowed heavily from the 1979 revision of the Book of Common Prayer by the Episcopal Church. What is at play here is less the influence of the traditional Cranmerian heritage than the use of modern Anglican liturgical texts which are themselves the product of the ecumenical Liturgical Movement. But the reason why German Old Catholics turned to Anglican resources in the first place was determined by their perception of the Anglican liturgical tradition as Catholic but devoid of Roman Catholic theological idiosyncrasies, which the Old Catholics had repudiated.

25Although modern Anglican worship is the product of ecumenical liturgical research and has in some cases retained little from Cranmer’s texts, it is because Anglican liturgical spirituality has the potential to be seen, experienced and affirmed as both Catholic and Reformed that Anglican liturgy continues to play a significant role in the liturgical reforms of various churches in the West. Anglican liturgy provides a door to worship traditions that are not otherwise easily accessible. The contribution of the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church, the small Spanish branch of the Anglican Communion, provides a striking illustration and is examined by Bishop Carlos Lopez-Lozano. The Anglican Church in Spain has resurrected the Mozarabic rite for contemporary worship in its prayer book. It thereby seeks to provide Christians in Spain with a door to their own indigenous liturgical heritage, which has virtually been forgotten in Spanish Roman Catholic practice. The Spanish, national identity of Anglicans in Spain is thus affirmed and celebrated.

26The last paper, by Peter Doll, examines the mutual influences of Roman Catholic and Anglican liturgical performance and highlights the fact that even with the impact of the Liturgical Movement and its focus on the worship of the Early Church, historical liturgical traditions of the Christian West remain important. From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, the Church of England was particularly conscious of close affinities with the Gallican, nationalist tradition in the French church, but at either end of this period the Tridentine baroque would also prove seductively fascinating to many Anglicans. The tension between the ‘Gallican’ and ‘Tridentine’ tendencies within Anglican high churchmanship, epitomised in the early twentieth century by the ‘British Museum religion’ of Percy Dearmer’s Parson’s Handbook and the Roman tendencies of the Society of SS. Peter & Paul, remains alive to this day. In the nineteenth century, influential Anglican converts to the Church of Rome (A.W.N. Pugin, John Henry Newman, Henry Edward Manning, Edmund Bishop) brought with them their contrasting convictions about the appropriate architectural setting for the liturgy. Pugin, firmly committed to liturgical Gallicanism, advocated medieval music, architecture and Sarum ceremonial, while Newman and his fellow Oratorians insisted on an ultramontane liturgy and architecture. The latter won the day in the Roman Catholic Church and Pugin was left isolated: his dream of a gothic revival was now best carried out by the Anglican Church he had left for Rome. The Liturgical Movement has brought Anglican and Roman Catholic worship very close together but the two communions still feel the need to deal with the heritage of Tridentinism and Gallicanism.

27Anglican liturgy has had a remarkable ability to claim a diverse heritage and accommodate continuity in the midst of reforms, today as much as in the 16th century. This ability has enhanced its potential to be grafted with some measure of success onto the liturgies of denominations seeking to rejuvenate their spiritual tradition. Because Anglican liturgy is often a mirror in which various denominations may contemplate how their own identity may be expressed liturgically, religious transfers involving the Book of Common Prayer and more generally Anglican worship tradition have a rich history and remain a feature of European Christianity.

28The variously successful transfers of elements of Anglican liturgy from one cultural and religious sphere to another as well as Anglican openness to other liturgical traditions suggest that it would be a mistake to overemphasize, as has sometimes been done, the insularity of Anglicanism. For all its specificities and its reluctance to be labelled, as a denomination, according to the broad confessional categories of Protestantism and Catholicism, Anglicanism has been a prominent actor and partner in European ecclesiastical history, contributing to shaping Christian churches far beyond the borders of England and its Empire.

Ce numéro de la Revue française de civilisation britannique a été mis en forme utilisant le logiciel LODEL, par John Mullen.

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1 The Book of Common Prayer: The texts of 1549, 1559 and 1662, ed. Brian Cummings (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 216.

2 One should specify that a Latin translation came first, right after the publication of the 1549 Prayer Book (Ordinatio ecclesiae seu ministerii ecclesiastici, in florentissimo Regno Angliae, conscripta sermone patrio, & in Latinam linguam bona fide conuersa & ad consolationem ecclesiarum Christi, ubicunque locorum ac genitium, his tristissimis [sum]ptoribus, edita, ab Alexandro Alesio Scoto sacrae theologiae doctore [London, 1551]). The first extant French translation is of the second Prayer Book, Le liure des priers communes, de l'administration des Sacremens & autres ceremonies en l'Eglise d'Angleterre. Traduit en Francoys par Francoys Philippe, seruiteur de Monsieur le grand Chancelier d'Angleterre, London : Thomas Gaultier, 1553. (Diarmaid MacCulloch, Cranmer [London/New Haven: Yale Univeristy Press, 1996], 525). See also the classic work on prayer book translations by William Muss-Arnolt, The Book of Common Prayer among the Nations of the World (London: SPCK, 1914); David N. Griffiths, “The French Translations of the English Book of Common Prayer”, Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of London, 22 (1972): 90-114. See the classic work on prayer book translations by William Muss-Arnolt, The Book of Common Prayer among the Nations of the World (London: SPCK, 1914); see also David N. Griffiths, “The French Translations of the English Book of Common Prayer”, Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of London 22 (1972): 90-114.

3 Judith Maltby, Prayer Book and People in Elizabethan and Stuart England (Cambridge: CUP, 2000) ; Timothy Rosendal, Liturgy and Literature in the Making of Protestant England (Cambridge : CUP, 2007); Daniel Swift, Shakespeare's common prayers: the Book of Common Prayer and the Elizabethan Age (New York/Oxford : OUP, 2013) ; Christopher Marsh, “‘Common Prayer’ in England 1560-1640: The View from the Pew”, Past and Present 171 (May 2001): 66-94 ; Jeremy Gregory, ‘For all sorts and conditions of men’: the social life of the Book of Common Prayer during the long eighteenth century”, Social History 34.1 (2009): 29-54.

4 Francis Procter and Walter Howard Frere, A New History of the Book of Common Prayer, with a Rationale of its offices (London: Macmillan, 1902), esp. 68-90 for the influence of foreign divines ; F.E. Brightman, The English Rite, Being a Synopsis of the Sources and Revisions of the Book of Common Prayer (London: Rivingtons, 1915), 2 vols.; Geoffrey Cuming, The Godly Order, Texts and Studies Relating to the Book of Common Prayer, Alcuin Club Collection 65 (London : SPCK, 1983), 1-122. There are several relevant articles in Paul Ayris and David Selwyn, Thomas Cranmer, Churchman and Scholar (Woodbridget: Boydell & Brewer, 1999), especially Bryan D. Spinks, “Treasures Old and New: A Look at Some of Thomas Cranmer’s Methods of Liturgical Compilation”, 175-188; Kenneth W. Stevenson “Cranmer’s Marriage Vow: Its place in the Tradition”, 189-198 and Basil Hall, “Cranmer, the Eucharist and the Foreign Divines in the Reign of Edward VI”, 217-258.

5 See Phillip Tovey, Inculturation of Christian Worship: Exploring the Eucharist (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004); Paul M. Collins, Christian Inculturation in India (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007); Stephen Burns and Anita Monro, Christian Worship in Australia: Inculturating the Liturgical Tradition (Strathfield, New South Wales: St Pauls Publications, 2009); Graham Kings and Geoff Morgan, Offerings from Kenya to Anglicanism: Liturgical Texts and Contexts including “A Kenyan Service of Holy Communion”, Joint Liturgical Studies 50 (Cambridge: Grove Books, 2001); and part five of The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer: A Worldwide Survey, ed. Charles Hefling and Cynthia Shattuck (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), devoted to the modern prayer books of the Anglican Communion. For recent Anglican liturgical texts, see Colin Buchanan, Anglican Eucharistic Liturgies: 1985 – 2010 (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2011).

6 Beyond the numerous studies that deal with ecumenical cooperation and cross-fertilising within the liturgical and ecumenical movements of the 20th and 21st centuries, little has been done on the attraction of Anglican worship and its specificities in other denominations. There are studies of Methodist liturgy which deal with its ties with the Book of Common Prayer (see A. Raymond George, “From The Sunday Service to ‘The Sunday Service’: Sunday Morning Worship in British Methodism”, Karen B. Westerfield Tucker, ed., The Sunday Service of the Methodists: Twentieth-Century Worship in Worldwide Methodism [Nashville: Abingdon/Kingswood, 1996]; and Karen B. Westerfield Tucker, American Methodist Worship [Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2001]). The section on the Prayer Book and other traditions in The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer (op. cit., 209-228) has short pieces on the revision of the Book of Common Prayer for use in the Unitarian King’s Chapel in Boston (by Carl Scovel) and on the use of prayer book language in English-speaking Lutheranism in North America (by Philip H. Pfatteicher, the author of the standard Commentary on the Lutheran Book of Worship: Lutheran Liturgy in its Ecumenical Context [Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 1990]), on top of a short essay on the liturgy of continuing Anglican churches (by Lesley A. Northup). Beyond this one has to look at dispersed studies about different denominations, like Thaddeus A. Schnitker, “Eucharist and Catholicity. The influence of The Book of Alternative Services on the New Altar Book of the Old Catholic Church in Germany”, Liturgy Canada V.3 (Michaelmas, 1996): 4-6, or Stuart Ludbrook’s doctoral thesis, La liturgie de Bersier et le culte réformé en France: ritualisme et renouveau liturgique (Lille: Septentrion, 2001).

7 Manuela Rossini and Michael Toggweiler, "Cultural Transfer: an Introduction", Word and Text: A Journal of Literary Studies and Linguistics vol. IV n° 2 (December 2014) : 8.

8 The theory of cultural transfers was crafted in the 1990s in the context of the study of the influence of French culture in Germany and the emergence of a German national identity. At heart, this concept is an invitation to examine how cultural transfers change the object that is transplanted (objects, persons, texts, ideas, concepts) and the host culture; see Michel Espagne and Michael Werner, Transferts. Les Relations Interculturelles dans l’espace franco-allemand (XVIIIè-XIXè siècles) (Paris: Editions Recherches sur les civilisations, 1988). For a theoretical examination of the concept see, for instance, Béatrice Joyeux, "Les transferts culturels: Un discours de la méthode", Hypothèses no. 1 (2003), and more recently, Michel Espagne, who has revisited the concept, in Revue Sciences/Lettres no. 1 (2013) : “Tout passage d’un objet culturel d’un contexte dans un autre a pour conséquence une transformation de son sens, une dynamique de resémantisation, qu’on ne peut pleinement reconnaître qu’en tenant compte des vecteurs historiques du passage. On peut donc dire d’emblée que la recherche sur les transferts culturels concerne la plupart des sciences humaines même si elle s’est développée à partir d’un certain nombre de points d’ancrage précis. Transférer, ce n’est pas transporter mais plutôt métamorphoser, et le terme ne se réduit en aucun cas à la question mal circonscrite et très banale des échanges culturels, C’est moins la circulation des biens culturels que leur réinterprétation qui est en jeu”.

9 To name but a few recent works on cultural transfers : Michel Espagne, Svetlana Gorshenina, Frantz Grenet, Shahin Mustafayev and Claude Rapin, eds., Asie centrale : transferts culturels le long de la route de la soie (Paris: Vendémiaire, 2016); Stefanie Stockhorst, ed., Cultural Transfer through Translation: The Circulation of Enlightened Thought in Europe by Means of Translation (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2010); Lise Andries, Frédéric Ogée, John Dunkley and Darach Sanfey, eds., Intellectual Journeys: The Translation of Ideas in Enlightenment England, France and Ireland (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2013); Ann Thomson, Simon Burrows and Edmond Dziembowski, eds., Cultural Transfers: France and Britain in the Long Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2010); Stephen Greenblatt, Ines Županov, Reinhard Meyer-Kalkus, Heike Paul, Pál Nyíri, and Friederike Pannewick, eds., Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009). Christophe Charle, Julien Vincent and Jay Winter, eds., Anglo-French Attitudes, Comparisons and Transfers between English and French Intellectuals since the Eighteenth Century (Manchester/New York: Manchester University Press, 2007); Jean-Philippe Genet, and François-Joseph Ruggiu, eds., Les idées passent-elles la Manche? Savoirs, Représentations et Pratiques (France-Angleterre, X-XXè siècles) (Paris : PUPS, 2007).

10 See Jeffrey Rowthorn, “Anglican Churches in Europe”, The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer, op. cit., 438-442.

11 Pour une prière commune aux anglicans et aux catholiques : « Seigneur, ouvre nos lèvres”, Documents Episcopat n° 4 (avril 2015).

12 The process by which different territories adopted a specific religious identity to the exclusion of competing others (cujus regio, ejus religio). This religious identity shaped politics, society and state building in that territory. The confessionalization thesis was first developed by early modern German historians Heinz Schilling and Wolfgang Reinhard with reference to the Holy Roman Empire. See in particular, Heinz Schilling Religion, Political Culture and the Emergence of Early Modern Society (Leiden: Brill, 1992); Wolfgang Reinhardt,“Reformation, Counter-Reformation and the Early Modern State: a Reassessment‟, Catholic Historical Review vol. 75 no. 3 (July 1989): 385-403. Innumerable studies have explored and exploited the concept but for recent discussions and debates on its continued influence and relevance, see the forum discussion with Marc Forster, Bruce Gordon, Joel Harrington, Thomas Kaufmann, Ute Lotz-Heumann in “Religious History beyond Confessionalization”, German History vol. 32 no. 4 (Dec 2014) : 579-598; Peter Marshall, “Confessionalization, Confessionalism and Confusion in the English Reformation”, Thomas Mayer, ed., Reforming the Reformation (Farnham: Routledge, 2012), 43-64; and Naïma Ghermani, “Confession” in Dictionnaire des concepts nomades en Sciences Humaines, ed. Olivier Christin, vol. 1 (Paris: Editions Métailié, 2010), 117-132.

13 As David Holeton points out “Anglicans, like Christians in general, are increasingly exposed to one another’s celebrations through both attendance and the television media. When they visit or watch the liturgical celebrations of other churches (particularly Baptism and Eucharist), there is a feeling of ‘being at home.’” (David Holeton, “Anglican Liturgical Renewal, Eschatological Hope and Christian Unity”, James F. Puglisi, Liturgical Renewal as a Way to Christian Unity [Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2005],18). For a history of the Liturgical Movement, see John Fenwick and Bryan Spinks, Worship in Transition: The Liturgical Movement in the Twentieth Century (New York: Continuum, 1995).

14 Judith Maltby, Prayer Book and People, op.cit.; Mark Goldie, “Voluntary Anglicans”, The Historical Journal vol. 46 n° 4 (2003): 977-990. See also Margaret Spufford, “Can we Count the Godly and the Conformable in the Seventeenth Century?”, The Journal of Ecclesiastical History vol. 36 n°3 (1985): 428-38 and Keith Wrightson, English Society, 1580-1680 (London: Hutchinson, 1982), 213.

15 Christopher Haigh, “The Church of England, Catholics and the People”, The Reign of Elizabeth I, ed. Christopher Haigh (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1984), 195-220.

16 See Alexandra Walsham, Church Papists: Catholicism, Conformity and Confessional Polemic in Early Modern England (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 1993).

17 Jeremy Gregory, op.cit., 31.

18 Anglican liturgies in Spanish produced as early as the 19th century are a case in point (see Don Carlos Lopez-Lozano’s paper in this volume).

19 See David Holeton, Liturgical Inculturation in the Anglican Communion: Including the York Statement "Down to Earth Worship", Joint Liturgical Studies 15 (Nottingham: Grove Books, 1990). The York Statement was the fruit of the 1989 IALC meeting and furthered the reflexion on inculturation that Lambeth had commended. A number of principles were set down to reconcile the integrity of Anglican tradition on the one hand and the necessary taking into account of cultural diversity. A meeting of African liturgists at Kanamai in 1993, under the leadership of the Archbishop of Kenya, David Gitari, can be seen as following up on the York Statement. The meeting more specifically addressed the issue of inculturation in the African context and came up with guidelines for liturgical inculturation. See David Gitari, ed. Anglican Liturgical Inculturation in Africa: The Kanamai Statement ‘African Culture and Anglican Liturgy’, Joint Liturgical Studies 28 (Nottingham: Grove Books, 1994). Colin Buchanan gives an overview of the impact inculturation had on recent Anglican liturgical texts in Anglican Eucharistic Liturgies: 1985 – 2010, op. cit., 2-8.

20 See chapter 5 of Geoffrey J. Cuming’s A History of Anglican Liturgy (London : Macmillan, 1969), 94-116.

21 On the kind of worship promoted by Laudians, see the masterful study by Kenneth Fincham and Nicholas Tyacke, Altars Restored: the Changing Face of English Religious Worship, 1547–c. 1700 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

22 Old Catholic churches, born of a split in the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of the First Vatican Council (Old Catholics refused the dogma of papal infallibility), constitute a significant part of the ecclesiastical landscape in Germany and central Europe.

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Rémy Bethmont and Aude de Mézerac-Zanetti, Introduction - Cultural Transfers in Religion: Circulating the Book of Common Prayer in EuropeRevue Française de Civilisation Britannique [Online], XXII-1 | 2017, Online since 02 May 2017, connection on 13 June 2021. URL:; DOI:

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Rémy Bethmont

Université Paris 8, TransCrit

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Aude de Mézerac-Zanetti

Université Lille 3, CECILLE

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