Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Rector's rambling for this past Sunday

As I do each second and fifth Sunday of the month, I marvel at the wonderful breadth of powerful worship available to us in The Book of Common Prayer. Although my preference liturgically (how we worship) is the Solemn High Mass (full-blown ritual like we do on Corpus Christi), I am also enamored with the worship of Morning Prayer.
In years past it was a mark of Churchmanship, High Church v. Low Church, whether your primary Sunday Service was Holy Communion (The Mass), or Morning Prayer. And of course there was the Broad Church party, which tended to weekly Communion but with without much fancy ritual.
Even in years past at St. John’s there has been a pendulum swing in High Church v. Low Church. From her founding in 1858 to 1932 St. John’s was considered a Prayer Book Catholic (High Church theology, Broad Church worship) Parish. Such High Church things such as statues, candlesticks, crosses and vested choir were the signs of the Catholic expression of the Episcopal Church (in some dioceses priests were suspended for putting candles on the Altar for being too ‘romish’). Although Morning Prayer was prayed as well as Holy Communion on Sunday, the real “mark” of a catholic parish was the frequent celebration of Holy Communion on weekdays (in 1926 Communion was celebrated 170 times during the week plus twice every Sunday compared to Low parishes who only had it twice a month=24 times a year).
In 1932 the parish swung towards Low Church, with weekday Communion Services being pared down to Wednesday only, and Sunday Communion or Morning Prayer alternating.
Since 2001 St. John’s has swung back to Prayer Book Catholic, restoring the primacy of The Holy Communion as THE worship of the Church – Sundays and weekdays. But on these second and fifth Sundays we retain our heritage by offering as the “ante-communion” (first half of the service) the service of Choral Morning Prayer. And God willing, Evensong (done weekly on Sundays from 1858 to 1932) will be restored on Sunday evenings in the near future. Thank God for the beautiful, rich worship of our Anglican Tradition – Morning and Evening!