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Re-shaping Australian Anglicanism 1962-1978: from Book of Common Prayer to An Australian Prayer Book.

During its first 174 years in Australia the Anglican church stood out as a bastion of English culture and the embodiment of a religious faith whose roots lay in, England. The Australian church bore the name not of the country in which it was located but that from which it came. Most of its leaders were born, educated and ordained in Britain and the church was legally bound so tightly to the parent body as to possess virtually no freedom in matters doctrinal and spiritual.(1) Before the Second World War the Englishness of the church did not create major problems, for the Anglo-Saxon element to which it was traditionally linked was dominant in Australia, and society and culture were largely British. The years after 1945, however, saw Australia move closer to Asia and the Pacific while Britain turned to Europe. Australian migration policies, dictated by the need to increase population for economic and strategic reasons, resulted in an influx of non-British migrants and the emergence of a multi-cultural society. These developments, together with the progressive abandonment of longstanding discriminatory policies towards `coloured races', indigenous and otherwise, created a new situation to which the Anglican church was obliged to respond in order to retain its national influence. After nearly sixty years of debate, it finally reached agreement on a new constitution severing the legal bonds that subjected it to English courts. In 1962, when the constitution came into operation, the church changed its name to that of Church of England in Australia and in 1981 became the Anglican Church of Australia. By then it had re-positioned itself in a number of areas.

Foremost amongst these was the prayer book which the church sought to bring more fully into line with its assessment of Australia's needs. The task proved complex and is still not complete. Nevertheless in 1978 an Australian prayer book did appear, becoming the first of its kind in Australia. Stimulating and perceptive appraisals have already been made of its contents and the forces that shaped it, but these accounts are mostly the work of theologians writing close to the event and from a standpoint affected by their participation in the reform movement.(2) Historians, in contrast, have displayed little interest in the subject despite the fact that it impinged deeply on the lives of a substantial section of the Australian community. Sufficient time has now elapsed for the process of liturgical revision to be seen from a wider historical perspective. Ample means exist for doing so. Because most existing writings were produced by participants they are valuable as historical documents, particularly when supplemented by church newspapers and manuscript material. The present paper uses these sources, to look afresh at changes which were significant in the life of the church and that of the nation.

The fact that the church became more independent owed much to the growing influence of Australian-born bishops and clergy. This was particularly important so far as the episcopacy was concerned, for through their public utterances and positions of leadership its members were well placed to influence the course of debate. The episcopacy included Australians even before the Second World War but such prelates were in a minority and the occupants of the more powerful sees continued to come from England. Moreover, even those prominent bishops like Ernest Burgmann and J. S. Moyes who were staunchly nationalist, retained a strong commitment to Britain and the empire. This was less so after the 1960s when a new, generation of Australian leaders came to the fore, taking charge of major dioceses including that of Sydney. While still pro-British, their main allegiance was to Australia and they ceased extolling a heritage that they could see was fading.

The need to revise the prayer book had long been appreciated and was a potent force influencing those who straggled for a new constitution.(3) As matters stood before 1962, the church was bound by the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Although able to accept or reject revisions made in England the Australian church could not itself initiate change, a situation to which many objected for national reasons and on grounds of churchmanship. The last in a succession of prayer books dating from 1549, that of 1662 had aimed at a via media between practices and beliefs deriving from Rome and those of the sixteenth-century Genevan reformers. It rested on compromise and while in general remarkably successful in creating harmony, left unresolved important issues dividing Catholic from Protestant. These differences came to the fore in the nineteenth century after new life had been breathed into the spiritual life of the church, first by the evangelicals and then by Tractarians who became increasingly ritualistic, developing beliefs and forms of worship that to evangelicals savoured of Rome. There ensued a bitter struggle which aroused the concern of church leaders, exposing obscurities and omissions in the prayer book and pointing to the need for revision. After lengthy discussions majority support was obtained for a revised prayer book, but in 1927 and 1928 conservative elements in a parliament containing many non-Anglicans rejected the proposals as divisive and undesirable. Church leaders were angered and turned a blind eye when clergy continued to use the 1928 book.(4)

These developments were watched in Australia with great interest. Anglo-Catholics and high churchmen, like their English counterparts, favoured the revisions because they offered greater scope to their beliefs and practices. Evangelicals, none more so than those in the Sydney diocese, remained committed to the 1662 Prayer Book which they saw as enshrining the gains of the Reformation. They viewed the 1928 version as unduly Anglo-Catholic and were relieved when it was rejected. Their response underlined longstanding divisions within the Australian church which were highlighted some sixteen years later when a civil action was brought against Bishop Wylde of Bathurst by a group of Sydney evangelicals for sanctioning the use in his diocese of a variant of the 1928 Eucharist.(5) The participation of a secular court in an issue involving questions of doctrine and episcopal power alarmed many churchmen and generated ill feeling. The resulting trial and the appeal which followed proved a partial setback for the Bishop but did not entirely satisfy evangelicals. They were determined that nothing should occur in future to threaten the 1662 prayer book, and their desire to guarantee its protection greatly influenced their response to successive drafts of the constitution. They accepted this document only after a special status was conferred on the Book of Common Prayer whose `standards of worship and doctrine' were specified as binding on all.

Nevertheless, the constitution did represent a major step forward so far as prayer book revision was concerned. For the first time, the Australian church was able to act independently of its parent body. It was recognised that action by General Synod was likely and in the meantime individual parishes were permitted to deviate from the existing prayer book provided they had the approval of diocesan bishops acting within the terms of the constitution. These concessions stemmed partly from awareness of developments occurring elsewhere within the Christian church.(6) Everywhere, except in the traditionally conservative Greek and Russian orthodox churches, liturgical reform was under way. New forms of worship were introduced designed to incorporate advances in biblical scholarship, strengthen the church and more fully satisfy the spiritual needs of worshippers. Major changes to the Roman Catholic Mass, including the replacement of Latin by the vernacular, were introduced following the Second Vatican Council of 1962 to 1965. Renewal also occurred throughout the Anglican communion. The report of the 1958 Lambeth Conference affirmed the need for global reform and was followed by `intense liturgical activity'. A Liturgical Consultation, established after the Pan Anglican Congress at Toronto in August 1963, produced guidelines for change.(7) Meanwhile, in 1959 Japan and the West Indies adopted new eucharistic liturgies, and the Canadian church, after sixteen years' deliberation, approved a new prayer book. During the following year India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon accepted the final version of a book which was the fruit of nine years' experimentation. In England, where a Liturgical Commission had been established in 1954, alternative services were issued for trialling in 1962.

This `liturgical ferment' influenced Australia's Anglican leaders, underlining the need for action if they were to keep abreast of the wave. Admittedly, attachment to the 1662 prayer book was still strong.(8) The book bore the imprint of the martyr, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, a master of liturgy. For three centuries it had helped to define Anglicanism and had acted as a source of inspiration and a bond of unity. Since 1788 it had been central to the Australian church, implanting itself in the minds and hearts of successive generations of Anglicans. As the celebrations held in 1962 to commemorate its tercentenary revealed, the Book of Common Prayer still had a powerful hold over the affections of the church. Anglo-Catholics, no less than evangelicals wrote, or spoke glowingly of what it meant to them. No one could contemplate an Anglican church from which the 1662 prayer book was absent. Yet, already widespread variations in usage were current. Some were sanctioned by measures originating in England such as the 1872 Shortened Services Act which allowed various omissions and a briefer version of morning and evening prayer. Additional variations, some inspired by practical needs, others by doctrinal considerations, had come into existence without parliamentary sanction.(9) `There is probably not one single parish church in all the continent', observed the Anglican with some exaggeration in 1962, `in which the Book of Common Prayer is strictly followed without addition or diminution'.(10) The need to introduce greater regularity and prevent further deviations certainly influenced those who supported prayer book revision. More important was a recognition that the church had to develop a new missionary role in a society exposed to rising secular pressures.(11) Low churchmen, were no less conscious of this threat than were those of other persuasions. Indeed, now that constitutional safeguards were in place, evangelicals were willing to become involved in change, although they did exercise a restraining influence and watched closely over their high church fellows. Although largely united on the need for revision, the church was divided on the direction which should be taken and on the question of how far the process should go.

Evidence of a desire for change emerged in 1962 at the first meeting of General Synod held under the new constitution. Although most members accepted the need for reform they were uncertain about procedures and anxious to avoid reviving earlier controversies. Some feared that divisions were so entrenched that revision would take an impossibly lengthy time. Others drew attention to a supposed lack of expertise in a church which had `hitherto engaged in hardly any liturgical consultation across its diocesan and provincial boundaries'.(12) Nonetheless two churchmen of different backgrounds, the evangelical Marcus Loane of Sydney and T. B. McCall, the Anglo-Catholic Bishop of Rockhampton, came to the meeting anxious for action. Following a motion moved by McCall and seconded by Loane, Synod agreed to establish a Prayer Book Revision Commission but in the interests of caution instructed it not to undertake revision but to determine whether it was feasible.(13) Thirty-two members including six bishops, twenty-one clergy and five laymen, were appointed, making for an unwieldy but representative body. Bishop R. G. Arthur, previously Coadjutor Bishop of Canberra-Goulburn and currently Bishop of Grafton, was elected chairman. A former Methodist, he was deeply attached to the Book of Common Prayer and left his church partly because its liturgy was unsatisfactory. His guiding hand and sense of what was desirable influenced the course of events for some thirteen years.(14)

From the outset the Commission agreed that change was desirable and its report to the 1966 Synod contained what Felix Arnott, when Archbishop of Brisbane, described as `perhaps the best apology for the need for a new prayer book'.(15) Although the Commission had not been instructed to undertake revisions it decided to begin the process so as to test its practicability and the reaction of the church. Principles were discussed and it was decided to prepare alternative drafts of services, one set containing minor alterations, the other more radical changes that were partly inspired by what had already been accomplished in Africa and South India.(16) The actual work of drafting was entrusted to regional groups of members each with a specific task. Once prepared, services were trialled by the Commission and the outcome was appended to its report. The Commission became convinced that revision should not be imposed from above but must involve the whole church, laity as well as clergy.(17) It was aware that the 1928 English prayer book had failed partly through inadequate consultation. In England the Church had learned its lesson and was introducing experimental services for widespread trialling. The same was happening in other branches of the Anglican communion, and the Australian commission appreciated the wisdom of following similar lines. This procedure was, indeed, the more desirable in Australia because of the way in which the church was structured. The powers of General Synod, although greater than before 1962, were nevertheless limited. Diocesanism had been a potent force since the nineteenth century and each of the twenty-five dioceses had the right to decide whether to accept canons of General Synod. Those seeking reform of any kind were aware that the various elements within the church needed to be in agreement before the national body became involved. This was even more the case with the prayer book because of the emotions it raised and the doctrinal questions involved.

The Commission's report was considered by General Synod in 1966 and, interestingly enough, debate was said to have `cut across the usual considerations of churchmanship'.(18) A motion by Felix Arnott proposing that revision proceed by stages, the first involving the preparation and trial of services, was accepted, as was the Commission's recommendation that it be replaced by a smaller Liturgical Commission to take the form of a Standing Committee of Synod.(19) Like its predecessor, this new body was appointed by the House of Bishops, and elected Bishop Arthur as its chairman. Members included Bishop Arnott, then at Melbourne, and Ian Shevill of North Queensland, together with J. N. Falkingham, the Dean of Newcastle, two parish priests and four academics from theological and secular tertiary institutions. It was `neither entirely clerical in its outlook nor confined to any one ecclesiastical tradition and it represented all States except Tasmania'.(20) The Commission followed the path marked out by its predecessor, further refining services already revised along conservative as well as more radical lines and embarking on new ventures. Drafts were sent to the various dioceses and experimental use of new services developed elsewhere, particularly in England, was encouraged. A Music Advisory Committee was established to prepare new settings for revised services.

Not everyone responded positively. A branch of the English-based Anglican Society was established to protect the Book of Common Prayer.(21) Conservative parishes remained indifferent prompting one observer to assert that reform, far from being widely accepted, was `merely a hobby for the few'.(22) Interest, however, was growing and several dioceses, including Melbourne, Rockhampton, Brisbane and Tasmania established working parties of their own to encourage experimentation.(23) In Canberra, the innovative Reverend Douglas Hobson, rector of St Philip's Church, O'Connor, produced a new and highly influential liturgy for the eucharist, many features of which were incorporated in the new service of Holy Communion brought out by the Commission in 1969.(24) Earlier, an Association of Parish and People, with its own journal Liturgy and Laity, had been established to foster the development of the liturgical movement in Australia.(25) Particular groups such as the Anglo-Catholics also came together to promote change.

By June 1969 almost all dioceses reported some kind of liturgical experimentation.(26) The process gathered pace after the Liturgical Commission presented its report to General Synod, together with a new version of the Holy Communion service built on that of 1966. Australia '69, as it became known, was approved for trialling, as were new versions of the eucharist developed in England, and overseas translations of the Lord' s Prayer and the Apostles' Creed.(27) General Synod renewed the charter of the Liturgical Commission and, although three members subsequently resigned because of other commitments, continuity was preserved by replacing them with experts already well versed in what was going on. Arthur remained chairman and the balance of churchmanship was preserved. Australia '69 proved highly popular and over 100,000 copies were sold. Additional interest in prayer book revision was aroused by the religious press and by the publication of books including two edited by C. O. Buchanan, a member of the English Liturgical Commission, who provided details of every new Anglican liturgy from 1958 to 1975. Particularly illuminating was the enthusiasm displayed by evangelicals. `We yield to no one', observed the Sydney conservative evangelical Australian Church Record, `in our desire to see real progress made in Australia towards Prayer Book revision. We would welcome even radical changes in some of our services so that our worship may meet the spiritual needs and express the spiritual aspirations of modern man'.(28) In August 1971 the National Evangelical Anglican Congress strongly supported moves for change along both moderate and radical lines, and commended Australia '69.(29) Those present, observed Archbishop Loane, will not lightly forget the spontaneous and enthusiastic demand from the younger members of the Congress for a radical revision of our forms of worship'.(30) The Australian Church League was also described as being almost unanimous in seeking change.(31)

There was, however, some disquiet among church leaders. Some feared the Book of Common Prayer might be marginalised and in Perth the Archbishop ordered its use at least once a month.(32) There was also concern that experimentation might get out of hand. Parishes could still seek permission for deviations of their own and the `atmosphere of liberty' was said to have resulted in changes that were not approved.(33) In 1966, following the General Synod, the bishops had agreed on common procedures when requests for change were received.(34) Some administered these rules strictly, amongst them Archbishop Reed of Adelaide who warned of the dangers of liturgical reform and urged caution. He feared that if individual parishes gained the initiative, congregationalism might gain a hold, threatening the episcopacy.(35) He was willing to allow experimentation but only under tight control. Others, such as the Bishop of Bathurst and Archbishop Gough of Sydney, advocated a similar course.(36)

By the early 1970s the whole movement for reform seemed in danger of losing focus. Nearly ten years had elapsed since revision began and although it had stirred the spirit of the church there were no signs of the process coming to an end. The response to questionnaires sent to parishes using Australia '69 provided no clear indication as to what was wanted.(37) Misunderstandings became evident, forcing the Commission to explain what it was doing.(38) Although later questionnaires produced a more helpful response, uncertainty still existed. Accordingly, the Liturgical Commission resolved to bring matters to a head and in May 1971 announced plans to complete its work in time for the General Synod of 1977.(39) Already, steps had been taken to improve efficiency. Meetings were difficult to arrange because members were only part-time and lived far from each other. In 1969 an executive committee, drawn from those resident in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, was appointed to meet regularly between gatherings of the full Commission.(40) Each member of the Commission was allotted specific tasks and was asked to seek local assistance in carrying them out. Diocesan bishops were invited to act as consultants and form Liturgical groups which could provide further guidance.(41) General Synod, on the advice of the Liturgical Commission, appointed a Commission on Doctrine to help resolve matters of dispute.(42) Resort was also available to the Appellate Tribunal which served as a judicial body for the church. From the outset the Commission established links with other churches and overseas bodies, especially the English Liturgical Commission on which Ian Shevill, formerly Bishop of North Queensland served as liaison officer from 1971.

These developments were approved by General Synod along with a new version of the widely used Holy Communion service, Australia '73 which Dr Evan Burge, Lecturer in Classics at the Australian National University and later Warden of Trinity College Melbourne, had done much to draft.(43) There was now a definite goal and this gave additional momentum as well as a clearer focus to the whole movement. It also imposed greater strains on the already overburdened Commission, chaired since 1975 by Bishop J. B. R. Grindrod who had served on that body for some time and who was a prominent worker for liturgical reform in Rockhampton.(44) Arthur, who had served as Rector of St Philip' s, O'Connor, after retiring from Grafton, moved to an English parish but also served as Liaison Officer with the English Commission. By 1975 it was evident that the combined task of revising the liturgy and producing a new prayer book was too great for one body. In April, on the recommendation of the Commission, the Standing Committee of General Synod appointed a seven member Prayer Book Production Committee to act in concert with the Commission on content, form, style and publication.(45) The committee, chaired by Bishop Warren of Canberra-Goulburn, contained two members of the Commission--D. W. B. Robinson, formerly vice-principal of Moore College and now a bishop who had moved for the Committee's appointment, and Brother Gilbert Sinden SSM of St Michael' s House, Adelaide, formerly a consultant to the Commission.(46) Originally, it was intended to publish three books, one containing Sunday and daily services, another the ordinal and occasional services, and the third the daily offices.(47) In March 1974, however, the executive reduced this to a People's Service Book and a Book for Ministers, but ultimately, on grounds of cost, only one volume appeared. (48) Brother Sinden served as executive editor, playing a major role in the production of the book, and Bishop G. A. Garnsey was appointed co-ordinator.

The task of completing the new prayer book was formidable. Experimentation continued and reports and criticisms flowed in from all over Australia. Attention had to be paid to developments in other parts of the Anglican communion and the response to questionnaires had to be analysed. On the Commission fell responsibility for interpreting the mind of the church while at the same time guiding and directing developments. Differences of churchmanship had to be accommodated, and against local needs had to be balanced broader considerations arising from the fact that the Australian church belonged to a global communion. Such problems had always been present but the existence of a deadline made them more testing. Nevertheless, they were surmounted. Commission and Production Committee worked harmoniously and the final outcome bore testimony to the dedication and skill of those involved.

Crucial to all that occurred was the capacity of the Commission to overcome differences within its own ranks. The first meeting of the Prayer Book Revision Commission in April 1963 had revealed `serious divergences', some of which were feared to be insuperable.(49) Since then numerous contentious issues had arisen generating `vigorous debate'. From the outset, however, members sought `to understand and allow for differing emphases in faith and worship'. Throughout, there was a willingness to probe behind differences and re-examine scriptural and other writings in an effort to discover where the troth lay. Rather than lock themselves into a party stance, members tested their beliefs against reason and modern biblical scholarship. Sometimes their existing position was confirmed, but on other occasions views emerged different from those originally held. One observer was struck by the rapidity with which the Commission could `suddenly become of one mind and produce a brilliant solution' to a seemingly intractable problem'. Grindrod wrote of the `real readiness to search for the truth behind controversies' and observed that the `bond of personal unity' permeated this endeavour. (50) This by no means meant that every point of view was accommodated, but it did make creative achievements possible. Those who have argued that the existence of differing traditions within Anglicanism have weakened rather than strengthened the church would do well to keep the work of the Liturgical Commission in mind.(51) Here was an example of how those traditions could influence each other and produce positive results.

It was one matter, however, for a small group of experts, communicating regularly and enjoying personal contact, to find common ground, another for the church as a whole to do the same. Resistance to change was still evident and there were some who queried the need for an Australian prayer book, preferring to depend on English forms. Divisions of churchmanship were deep-rooted and there was also a split between those who valued the `timeless aspects of liturgy' and those who sought relevance. At every stage through which the process of revision had passed, opposition had been encountered. The Reverend R. I. Burrell, writing in the Anglo-Catholic Australian Church Quarterly, praised the language of A Modern Liturgy, which appeared in 1966. But he compared the service unfavourably with other liturgies, arguing that it failed to reconcile the 1549 and 1552 traditions and clung `to one side of a worn-out debate made otiose by so much modern research'.(52) Australia '69 proved even more contentious. `Almost before the ink was dry,' observed the Reverend T. P. Grundy, `the new liturgy was assailed from various quarters. It was accused of being the product of a sinister Anglo-Catholic plot or of a Protestant conspiracy'.(53) At least one bishop, who was said to represent a fairly solid body of opinion, would not authorise its use.(54) Australia '73 also attracted critics, amongst them Dean Hazlewood of Perth who produced a detailed and largely unfavourable appraisal to which others reacted adversely. (55)

Dissent centred on a number of issues, amongst them the language of worship. The Book of Common Prayer was produced in the age of Shakespeare when the English language reached unprecedented heights. The beauty, timelessness, imagery, cadences and rhythm of the words and phrases used by Cranmer formed one of the book's glories. Numerous phrases had passed into common usage and generations of worshippers had grown up under their spell. No modern version, some claimed, could match Cranmer's achievement and any alterations would necessarily be inferior. Moreover, to attempt anything new amounted to sacrilege and threatened the whole basis of worship. `Sacral English' it was argued, formed part of a liturgical language common also to Eastern religions. To modernise it was to denigrate God and subvert religious faith.(56) Opponents of this viewpoint observed that words and grammatical forms had often either changed since the seventeenth century, or their meaning had become obsolete. Change was essential if the church was to hold its congregations and attract young people. The twenty-fourth of the thirty-nine Articles insisted that public prayer and the sacraments should be in a tongue `understood of the people'. This injunction had been directed against the use of Latin but it was also seen as sanctioning everyday language. The whole Anglican communion was moving in the direction of modernisation, prompting the 1968 Lambeth conference to describe the trend as irresistible. Within the Australian church, Archbishop Loane perceived a `vehement, sustained and outspoken demand for the use of modern language'.(57) Church leaders took up the cry. `For us today', observed Archbishop Arnott, `Tudor English however lovely, is almost as lacking in meaning for the modern Australian who comes to church as the Latin of the Roman rite'.(58)

The debate over language to some extent cut across divisions of churchmanship but other issues exacerbated those differences. The burial service in Australia '69 contained the phrase `and in faith and trust we leave in your keeping N'. These words were approved by a commission which included evangelicals, but outside this body they aroused a storm of protest. They were seen as tantamount to a prayer for the dead which, although included in earlier versions of the prayer book, had been excluded in 1662. Taking their lead from sixteenth-century Protestant reformers, evangelicals claimed that once life was over prayer could achieve nothing. To suggest otherwise was to support the unscriptural Romish concept of purgatory. Prayers for the dead were also contrary to the Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith which formed part of Anglican doctrine.(59) Anglo-Catholics and some high churchmen claimed otherwise, drawing support from the teachings of the church fathers and scripture. Intercession for the dead was in their view desirable and fully justified. The practice had grown stronger during the twentieth century particularly in wartime, and it was important that the new prayer book should acknowledge and validate it.(60)

Controversy also arose over other matters that evangelicals saw as taking the church closer to Rome. Particular concern was expressed at proposals to allow bread and wine consecrated during the Holy Communion service to be kept in the church after the ceremony was over. Reservation of the Sacrament was considered to have been forbidden by Article 28 and raised the spectre of the bread and wine attracting superstitious acts of idolatry similar to those for which Roman Catholics were criticised. Anglo-Catholics and some high churchmen took a contrary view as did others of more moderate outlook who pointed out that it was sometimes desirable for consecrated bread and wine to be available for distribution to the incapacitated between Sunday services.(61) Similar sensitivities existed in connection with the wording used when administering the bread and wine at communion. The controversy over transubstantiation emerged once again and so too did the question of whether the eucharist involved an act of remembrance or a re-enactment of Christ' s sacrifice. These had long been matters of debate and so too had questions relating to the way in which initiation into the church should take place. In England some sought a return to the days when baptism, confirmation and communion had been linked as essential prerequisites for church membership. Existing practices rested on the view that baptism was sufficient in itself, and this belief was re-affirmed by the English synod in 1958. Similar divisions of opinion existed within the Australian church along with other uncertainties. Increasing numbers of non-church-going parents sought baptism for their children, raising the question of how the church should respond.(62) Again, many who doubted the propriety of infant baptism nevertheless wanted a service of thanksgiving for the birth of a child. The Commission saw these questions as involving matters of doctrine and began revising services only after the Doctrinal Commission had been consulted.

Given these points of contention the Liturgical Commission had every reason to tread carefully. It remained obvious that controversy would not disappear and, rather than risk rejection of the prayer book, it decided on compromise. At the insistence of the Prayer Book Production Committee it agreed in 1975 to include in title and content nothing already known to have generated dissent.(63) While recognising that new and unanticipated controversies might arise once the book appeared, it was determined to avoid stirring unrest. Care was also taken with the title of the book. As a further safeguard arrangements were made for a nationwide series of conferences before Synod met. Opportunity was provided for full examination and discussion of draft services and members of the Commission were present to explain them. Criticism and comments were then forwarded to the full Commission which made further appropriate adjustments.(64) The Bill to be brought before General Synod was itself submitted both to the Legal Committee and to the Appellate Tribunal for a ruling concerning the effect of the new book on the standing of the Book of Common Prayer. Every attempt was thus made to anticipate loose ends and to tie them up.

There was still, however, the question of the procedure to be adopted by General Synod. If presented as a special bill and accepted by each house the canon would then need to be referred to every diocese. Objections would have to be brought before the next Synod, which would then consider the matter again. This would involve a delay of at least four years before the prayer book was approved. The alternative was to resort to an ordinary bill which, if accepted, could be sent for approval to each diocese without further reference to the central body.(65)

Since 1962 General Synod had not faced so testing an issue but it had developed a capacity to act constructively and to offer stronger leadership than had earlier been the case. Its reaction now reflected these changes and the strength of the desire for change. An accommodating spirit hung over proceedings that also bore testimony to the skill displayed by the Liturgical Commission in paving the way for debate.(66) Synod members were warned that amendments would prove costly and time wasting and were asked to keep them to a minimum. They heeded this advice and the debate was conducted amicably and completed in far less time than had been expected, only one member opposing the motion for a special bill. The Right Reverend L. E. W. Renfrey, Dean of Adelaide, who had earlier resigned from the Liturgical Commission, was said to have planned to protest against the bill itself but nothing eventuated and the measure passed unanimously.(67) This opened the way for the book to be published and it was launched in Sydney on 5 April 1978.(68) Entitled An Australian Prayer Book, it attained a level of national use `beyond ... the wildest dreams of its compilers'.(69)

It says much for those on Synod who possessed misgivings that they acted as they did. The fact that controversial issues had been excluded from the prayer book meant that even the radical revisions had moved in a more moderate direction and the book as a whole was tilted more towards the evangelical position than to that of other churchmen. Although in a minority on the Commission, evangelicals found able spokesmen in D. W. B. Robinson and Edwin Judge, Professor of Ancient History at Macquarie University. Both took a great interest in proceedings and Robinson played a leading role throughout. Behind these two stood powerful figures such as Archbishop Loane and organisations such as the Sydney-based Anglican Church League which closely monitored what was going on. Nearly half the Anglican population of Australia lived within the confines of the Sydney diocese and its more moderate Melbourne counterpart. Where necessary, as in its insistence that the thirty-nine Articles be included in the new book, Sydney was prepared to flex its muscles, and everyone was aware that without its support the prayer book would not be accepted.(70)

There were, however, other forces at work which help explain the response of Synod. The book had an expected life of ten to fifteen years and work began immediately on further revisions that gave those who possessed misgivings further opportunity to make their voices heard. Lessons had been learned from the earlier lengthy and often acrimonious constitutional debates which had harmed the image of the church. Moreover, the 1960s formed a decade of religious crisis in which the Australian protestant churches experienced a drop both in self-confidence and membership relative to the total population, together with a decline in clergy morale.(71) Secular forces gained a stronger hold and the Anglo-Saxon ascendancy was threatened by the influx of non-British migrants and a rise in the status of the large Irish-Australian minority. Social changes of this kind favoured the Roman Catholic church which had taken the lead in liturgical reform. If Anglicans were to maintain their position they needed to put their house in order and show that they were capable of pushing disagreements to one side. There had always been within the church powerful elements willing to rise above party difference and these played an important role during the 1960s.

Opposition to the new prayer book did, however, surface after the book appeared. Supporters of the Book of Common Prayer had earlier established a branch of the English Prayer Book Society. Bishop Renfrey, patron of the Adelaide branch, published, under the auspices of the Movement for the Defence of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith in the Church of England in Australia, a critique of the Australian Prayer Book. In a lengthy, reasoned exposition, he justified his own unwillingness to use it, arguing that it represented `so serious a declension from the Book of Common Prayer, in both the doctrine it displays and the dignity of the language it uses, as to be unworthy to stand beside it'.(72) Others were also critical but the overwhelming response was positive and all dioceses accepted the book.

The Australian church now possessed two officially sanctioned manuals of worship. First was the Book of Common Prayer which was enshrined in the constitution and given a special status. Supplementary to it was the Australian Prayer Book which contained radical alongside conservative revisions of services. In its approach to Sunday worship the Commission recognised that Cranmer's combination of Morning Prayer, Litany and Holy Communion, had long since been abandoned with the Litany falling into disuse. Separate services of Matins, Holy Communion and Evensong had been introduced but most worshippers came only in the morning preferring a shorter service which included communion. The Commission prepared alternative forms of morning and evening prayer for Sunday and daily use. Most attention, however, was focused on the Holy Communion for which two quite different services were produced. The conservative revision was a shorter, less heavy version of that of 1662. The radical form incorporated some elements of morning prayer and contained much that was new, adopting a structure similar to that proposed at Toronto in 1963. Compared to that in the Book of Common Prayer the Australian service was an act of praise and thanksgiving rather than one of penitence. Although the priest still occupied a central role, stress was placed on corporate worship, the congregation participating through verbal responses, prayer and the greeting of peace. This made it a service `celebrated by priest and people together'.(73) Elsewhere in the book provision was made for alternative forms of the baptismal, confirmation and marriage services and for a service of thanksgiving for the birth of a child. Canonical and legal requirements, however, stood in the way of radical change to the ordinal and the service of ministration to the sick being included.

The desire to avoid controversy helped determine the content of the new book but did not prevent the use of modern language. Here the Commission had moved cautiously for the task was complex. Central to it, as Archbishop Loane observed, was the problem of how to make language `contemporary, intelligent, meaningful, without robbing it of essential dignity or of proper accuracy'. Nevertheless, despite the Commission's awareness of opposition, it did use modern words and phrases, removed obscurities and corrected grammar. For the psalms it turned to a translation prepared by a panel of overseas scholars headed by Dr David Frost, a Cambridge don and later Professor of English at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales. Biblical readings were drawn from the Revised Standard Version which appeared in 1957.(74) Resort was also had to the International Commission on English Texts, an outgrowth of a post-Vatican II Roman Catholic body which undertook translations of basic liturgical material such as the Lord's Prayer and the Creeds. The fact that both were common to all denominations necessitated the avoidance of forms that might threaten future unity. Knowledge that Australian churches were likely to use at least two versions of the Lord's Prayer for some time resulted in both being included. One was traditional, the other replaced `thy' and `thine' by `your' and `yours' when addressing God--a form whose directness some considered inappropriate.

Despite these changes the Australian Prayer Book bore the imprint of its progenitor. The language still drew on that of Cranmer and even the more radical services contained much that derived from the Book of Common Prayer. In this it resembled the major revisions introduced in England and elsewhere. Each had their own characteristics but it was still possible to recognise as distinctively Anglican services adopted in different parts of the communion. All had roots in the 1662 prayer book and none sought to reject this heritage. The new prayer book was therefore more than Australian and there were those who firmly believed that it should be so. An article in the Anglican pointed out that liturgy could not be equated with nationalism and that to use a prayer book simply because it was produced in Australia was senseless.(75) `Do we understand ourselves as the representative of the Church universal on Australian soil?' asked Donald Robinson. `In pressing for an Australian identity ... are we making of our religion a private or sectarian thing?'(76) From a small group in North Queensland in 1967 came concern at the prospect of a liturgy embodying `a narrow nationalism which breaks historic roots and affects the relationship with other parts of Christendom'. `We are convinced,' it was later observed, `that a universal rite rather than a National rite is the good to which we must strive.'(77) Few would have disagreed. The Liturgical Commission, in response to comments from North Queensland, stressed that common sense, not nationalism, inspired its work.(78)

Yet it would be misleading to claim that national feeling played no part in the movement for reform. The church was well aware that if it was to play a national role it needed to become more Australian.(79) Australia '73 was criticised because there was little in it `that could have grown in no other soil and from no other experience'.(80) The Commission itself argued for `an Australian liturgy not that of another country adapted for Australia'.(81) The North Queensland Synod favoured a prayer book which would `keep the Anglican ethos intact', but express `the aspirations of the Australian people'.(82) A writer in the Australian Church Record believed that the main object of liturgical reform should be `an order of service which enables people to express themselves in a manner congenial to their national temperament'.(83) Bishop Shevill, ever the exponent of a church adapted to Australian conditions, looked to a prayer book which would express the `aspirations and nature of the Australian people'.(84) Bishop Arthur stressed the need to overcome the problems of diocesanism. `Australia is one nation', he observed, `and we need to think much more in terms of an Australian Church'.(85) The new prayer book certainly had an Australian flavour. Sketches of native ferns and wattles embellished each section prompting one observer to predict that it may become known as the `bottle-brush book'.(86) There was also a warmth of expression that was characteristically Australian. Formality was kept to a minimum and the principal services were made open and welcoming. Above all the book was the product of a process that reflected the democratic and egalitarian principles in which Australians took pride. A New Zealand observer noted that the book `probably marked a major step towards the emergence of a truly national church in Australia'.(87) Bishop Grindrod believed that `the making of a common Prayer Book will do much to enable us to become more deeply and truly an authentic Australian church'.(88)

The nation to which the church sought to accommodate itself was still largely dominated by men and their aspirations were paramount in the movement for liturgical reform. Women had been given an opportunity to express their views at the parish level but as yet they played no part in the running of the church and were not represented on liturgical bodies. One consequence was that the language of worship remained male-oriented. This matter was to come to the fore in the continuing process of liturgical revision that eventually resulted in another prayer book. That of 1978 had left many issues unresolved but it was nonetheless an achievement of considerable significance which showed how hollow were claims that Australian churchmen lacked the skills and scholarship to engage in liturgical reform. Its appearance meant that by 1978 the church had a new prayer book as well as a new constitution that reduced dependence on the parent body in England. Such changes helped promote national consciousness amongst Anglicans and contributed to the process by which Australians were weaned from reliance on British heritage. Prayer book revision, while important to the spiritual life of the church, thus had a broader significance that deserves to be recognised.


(1) B. H.Fletcher, `Anglicanism and Nationalism in Australia 1901-1962, Journal of Religious History, vol. 23, no. 2, June 1999, pp. 215-33.

(2) See especially, J. B. R. Grindrod, `A Story Within a Story: Anglican Liturgical Change in Australia, Liturgical News, December 1991, pp. 1-3; J. B. R. Grindrod, `The Story of the Draft Book, An Introduction to An Australian Prayer Book', St Mark's Review, June 1997, pp. 3-7; T. P. Grundy, We do as He Commanded: An Introduction to Australia '69, Melbourne, 1969; M. Loane, `An Age of Liturgical Reform', Australian Church Record, 1 November 1973, pp. 3--4; D. W. B. Robinson, The Church of England in Australia', in C. O. Buchanan (ed.) Modern English Liturgies 1958-1968, London, 1968, pp. 297-319; D. W. B. Robinson, `The Church of England in Australia', in C. O. Buchanan (ed.), Further Anglican Liturgies 1968-1975, Bramcote, 1975, pp. 315-52; G. Sinden, When We Meet for Worship: A Manual for using An Australian Prayer Book, 1978.

(3) J.C. Davis, Australian Anglicans and their Constitution, Canberra, 1993; also the comments by R. C. Halse, Anglican, 5 Jan. 1962; D. B. Knox, Australian Church Record, 27 September 1963, p. 1.

(4) R. C. D. Jasper, The Development of the Anglican Liturgy 1662-1980, London, 1989.

(5) R. M. Teale, `The "Red Book" Case', Journal of Religious History, vol. 12, no. 1, 1982-83, pp. 74-89.

(6) A. Dougan, `Some Problems of Contemporary Liturgical Reform', Australian Church Quarterly, September 1992, pp. 6-15; Buchanan, Modern Anglican Liturgies, 1968, pp. 3-21.

(7) Buchanan, Modern Anglican Liturgies, 1968, pp. 22-31.

(8) See for example letter by A. V. S. Maddick in Church of England Messenger, 27 June 1962; Anglican, 23 February 1962, 5 July 1962; Australian Church Record, 28 February 1962; Presidential Address, Sydney Diocesan Synod Proceedings, 1974, pp. 222 ff.

(9) Letter by L. Crossland, Australian Church Record, 25 October 1962, p. 5; List of Deviations, Australian Church Record, 20 December 1962, p. 3.

(10) Anglican, 3 March 1962, p. 5.

(11) Address by Bishop R. G. Arthur, Anglican, 25 November 1965, p. 7; also Church of England, Messenger, 27 July 1962, p. 102.

(12) Anglican, 29 July 1969, p. 5; letters by D. Peters, Anglican, 5 July 1962 p. 5; A.Harris, Anglican, 12 July 1962, p. 5.

(13) Anglican, 17 May 1962, p. 1; Church Scene, 20 April 1978, p. 9; Proceedings of General Synod Official Report, 1962, p. 108.

(14) D. Morgan (ed.) They Became Anglicans: The story of sixteen converts and why they chose the Anglican Communion, London, pp. 2-12.

(15) Brisbane Diocesan Yearbook, 1977, p. 299.

(16) D. W. B. Robinson, `From Cranmer's Reformation to Australia's Bicentenary: Reflections on the Continuity of the Book of Common Prayer', A Way of Life, Proceedings of the National Bicentennial Conference on the Book of Common Prayer in Australia, Melbourne, 1988, p. 38.

(17) For the work of the Committee see especially Archbishop's Office, Correspondence, Prayer Book Revision, Minutes 1963-65, Sydney Diocesan Archives 1992/26/186, 1992/26/187; also Prayer Book Revision in Australia, Secretary's Correspondence re Committees 1963-66, General Synod Archives, 1990/35/5; Proceedings of General Synod Official Report, 1966, pp. 113-14. I am most grateful for the generous help given me in the General Synod Office.

(18) Tasmanian Diocesan Yearbook, 1966, p. 51.

(19) Proceedings of General Synod Official Report, 1966, pp. 113-14, 1969, pp. 232-37.

(20) Report of Liturgical Commission 1973, Proceedings of General Synod Official Report, 1973, p. 281.

(21) Letter from Dean of Hobart, Church of England Messenger, 13 April 1962, p. 5.

(22) T. P. Grundy, `The Road to Renewal', St Mark's Review, November 1969, p. 7; also the later comment by Bishop Arthur in Southern Cross, March 1975, pp. 14-15; Robinson's chapter in Buchanan, Modern Anglican Liturgies, 1968 p. 300; Newcastle Diocesan Yearbook, 1967, p. 290.

(23) President's Report, Melbourne Diocesan Yearbook, 1975, p. 26; Tasmanian Diocesan Yearbook, 1966, p. 52.

(24) E. L. Burge, `Renewing the Liturgy Hopes and Problems', St Mark's Review, September 1974, pp. 5-6; Report of Liturgical Commission, Proceedings of General Synod Official Report, 1969, p. 234; Liturgical Commission, Secretary's Working Papers 1967-1975, Folder 1971-2, General Synod Archives 1900/35/12.

(25) Copies of this journal will be found in General Synod Archives, Secretary's Correspondence 1990/35/11.

(26) Liturgical Commission Report 1969, Proceedings of General Synod Official Report, 1969, p. 232.

(27) A Service of Holy Communion for Australia 1969; T. P. Grundy, We do as He Commanded: An Introduction to Australia '69, Melbourne, 1969.

(28) Australian Church Record, 18 September 1969, p. 2, 28 February 1963, p. 3.

(29) National Evangelical Anglican Congress Preparatory Studies, Melbourne, 1971, p. 25; L. R. Shilton (ed.) The Official Report of the National Evangelical Anglican Congress, Melbourne, 1971, pp. 28 ff.

(30) Presidential Address to Sydney Synod, Diocese of Sydney Synod Proceedings, 1974, pp. 227-8.

(31) Australian Church Record, 27 September 1962, p. 1; also report of conference at Gilbulla, Australian Church Record, 28 February 1963, p. 3, 28 March 1963, pp. 1-2.

(32) Diocese of Perth Synod Report, 1970, pp. 52-3.

(33) D. W. B. Robinson, `An Australian Prayer Book. Are we ready for it?', File, Liturgical Commission Executive 1971-76, General Synod Archives A 1973/1/68.

(34) Tasmanian Diocesan Yearbook, 1966, pp. 51-2, Newcastle Diocesan Yearbook, 1967, p. 269.

(35) Anglican, 9 March 1962, p. 1, 4 May 1967, p. 1, 31 August 1967, p. 8; Church Scene, 27 September 1973, p. 7.

(36) Anglican, 16 March 1962, p. 5, 14 October 1965, p.1; Australian Church Record, 21 October 1963, p. 5.

(37) For the questionnaires see Correspondence re Liturgical Experiment 1967-69, General Synod Archives 1990/35/6.

(38) E. L. Burge, `What Is Our Liturgical Commission Up To?', Australian Church Quarterly, June 1972, pp. 36-8.

(39) Proceedings of General Synod Official Report, 1973, pp. 281-94; Church Scene, 7 December 1973, p. 7.

(40) Meeting of Liturgical Commission 24-28 November 1969, General Synod Archives 1990/17/3.

(41) Report of Liturgical Commission, Meeting of Standing Committee of General Synod 10 April 1970, General Synod Archives.

(42) Report of Liturgical Commission Meeting Standing Committee of General Synod, 18 April 1969, General Synod Archives, Report of Liturgical Commission, Proceedings of General Synod Official Report, 1973, pp. 281-94.

(43) Church Scene, 9 May 1974, p. 1.

(44) Anglican, 19 May 1961, p. 1; Church Scene, 15 February 1973, p. 1.

(45) Liturgical Commission Report 10-11 April 1975, Standing Committee General Synod, General Synod Archives, Proceedings of General Synod Official Report, 1977, pp. 109-11.

(46) For a comment on Sinden's talents see J. B. R. Grindrod, `The Story of the Draft Book: An Introduction to An Australian Prayer Book', St Mark's Review, June 1977, p. 6.

(47) Meeting of Standing Committee of General Synod 20-26 February 1974, General Synod Archives.

(48) Proceedings of General Synod Official Report, 1977, pp. 229-40.

(49) Prayer Book Revision Commission Report in Minutes of General Synod Standing Committee 22 March 1966, General Synod Archives.

(50) Grindrod, `A Story Within a Story', Liturgy News, December 1991, p. 3; also Southern Cross, March 1975, p. 15.

(51) A. Nichols, The Panther and the Hind: A Theological History of Anglicanism, Edinburgh, 1993; for a different view see David Hilliard, `The Ties that used to Bind: A Fresh Look at the History of Australian Anglicanism', Pacifica, 11 October 1998, pp. 265-80.

(52) `Some Notes on Prayer-Book Revision', Australian Church Quarterly, May 1967, pp. 31-3.

(53) `The Road to Renewal. The Problem of Liturgical reform in Australia', St Mark's Review, November 1968, pp. 5-11; T. P. Grundy, `The Road to Renewal', St Mark's Review, November 1969, pp. 3-11; Anglican, 23 September 1969, p. 6, 28 October 1969, p. 11, 4 November 1969, p. 6, 11 November 1969, p. 6; `Some Observations on Australia 1969 by the Australian Church Union', Australian Church Quarterly, March 1972, pp. 11-16.

(54) Liturgical Commission, Secretary's Correspondence 1663-1976, General Synod Archives 1990/35/10.

(55) Church Scene, 27 September 1973, p. 2, 11 October 1973, p. 2, 8 November 1973, pp. 2, 6, 7 December 1973, p. 2; for other comments see Australian Church Record, 9 August 1973, p. 1, 4 October 1973, p. 2; Church Scene, 30 August 1973, p. 1.

(56) J. S. Martin, `Liturgy, Language and Renewal', A Prayer Book Society Address, 1 May 1982, published by the Victorian Sub-Branch of the Society (copy in Moore College Library); L. E. W. Renfrey, What Mean Ye By This Service? A Critical Examination of An Australian Prayer Book, Adelaide, 1978, pp. 38-46.

(57) Sydney Diocesan Synod Proceedings, 1974, p. 224.

(58) Sermon at Brisbane Synod Evensong, Brisbane Diocesan Yearbook, 1971, p. 332; D. Robinson, `Cranmer into Australian Speech, St Mark's Review, June 1977, pp. 8-10.

(59) See especially the comments by Marcus Loane, Southern Cross, May 1971, p. 13.

(60) Australian Church Record, 18 September 1969, 21 October 1969, p. 1, 31 October 1969, p. 1, 13 November 1969, p. 5, 27 November 1969 p. 5, 19 March 1970, p. 3, 16 April 1970, p. 5, 17 June 1970, p. 4, 16 April 1971, p. 4; Grundy, `The Road to Renewal', St Mark's Review, November 1969, p. 6.

(61) Sinden, When We Meet For Worship, p. 93.

(62) Sinden, When We Meet For Worship, pp. 202 ff, E. Burge, `Tension and Change, The Second Order for the Eucharist', St Mark's Review, June 1977, pp. 23-5.

(63) Report of Liturgical Commission to Standing Committee General Synod, March 1976, General Synod Archives A1973/1/68.

(64) Proceedings of General Synod Official Report, 1977, pp. 229-40.

(65) Report Prayer Book Production Committee 23 September 1975, Standing Committee of General Synod, General Synod Archives.

(66) For an account of the debate see Grindrod, `An Introduction to An Australian Prayer Book', in Sinden, When We Meet For Worship, pp. 22-9; also Church Scene, 8 September 1977, p. 1; Southern Cross, October 1977, p. 15.

(67) Church Scene, 8 September 1977, p. 23; for a copy of the Canon see Proceedings of General Synod Official Report, 1977, pp. 50-1.

(68) Church Scene, 20 April 1978, p. 5.

(69) J. Grant, `The Book of Common Prayer and the Recent Liturgies: The Rock and the Lapping Water?', A Way of Life, Melbourne, 1989, p. 22.

(70) Prayer Book Production Committee Report, General Synod Standing Committee 30 April 1976, General Synod Archives.

(71) David Hilliard, `The Religious Crisis of the 1960s: The Experience of the Australian Church', Journal of Religious History, vol. 21, no. 2, June 1997, pp. 209-27.

(72) Renfrey, What Mean Ye By This Service?, also K. C. Westfold, `An Australian Prayer Book 1978 Some Dissentient Thoughts', St Mark's Review, June 1971, pp. 31-5; for more favourable comments see Australian Church Record, 7 July 1977, pp. 1-2; Church Scene, 14 July 1977, p. 1.

(73) Church Scene, 6 November 1980, p. 2.

(74) D. Frost and Colleagues, `A New Translation of the Psalms', St Mark's Review, June 1977, p. 27-31.

(75) Anglican, 23 September 1969, p. 6.

(76) D. W. B. Robinson, `From Cranmer's Reformation to Australia's Bicentenary': A Way of Life, p. 34.

(77) Correspondence re Liturgical Experiment 1967-69, File Liturgical Consultants 1968-75, General Synod Archives 1990/35/6.

(78) Correspondence re Liturgical Experiment 1967-69, also File Liturgical Consultants 1966-75, General Synod Archives 1990/35/6.

(79) See the article by Dr John Nurser, Anglican, 8 July 1969, p. 11.

(80) Church Scene, 11 April 1974, p. 6.

(81) Anglican, 9 May 1968, p. 12.

(82) Anglican, 6 June 1962, p. 1.

(83) Australian Church Record, 7 February 1974, p. 2.

(84) Australian Church Record, 7 February 1974, p. 2.

(85) Southern Cross, May 1975, p. 15.

(86) Church Scene, 14 July 1977 p. 1.

(87) Church Scene, 8 September 1977, p. 11.

(88) Southern Cross, March 1975, p. 1.

BRIAN H. FLETCHER University of Sydney
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