March 22: James De Koven, Priest, 1879

Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.

James De Koven was born in Middletown, Connecticut, in 1831, ordained by Bishop Kemper in 1855, and appointed professor of ecclesiastical history at Nashotah House. In addition, he administered a preparatory school, and assisted at the Church of St. John Chrysostom in Delafield, Wisconsin.

Nashotah House was associated, from the time of its foundation, with many of the principles of the Oxford Movement, above all in its emphasis on the sacramental life of the Church and the expression of devotion to the Eucharist—including such practices as bowing to the Altar, at the name of Jesus, and before receiving Communion. In 1859, De Koven became Warden of the Church college at Racine, Wisconsin, where he emphasized the life of worship. He died there in 1879.

De Koven came to national attention at the General Conventions of 1871 and 1874, when the controversy over “ritualism” was at its height. In 1871, he asserted that the use of candles on the Altar, incense, and genuflections were lawful, because they symbolized “the real, spiritual presence of Christ” which the Episcopal Church upheld, along with the Orthodox and the Lutherans. He cited a recent decision of an ecclesiastical court of the Church of England, which affirmed as the teaching of the Church of England that “the spiritual presence of the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Holy Communion is objective and real.”

Because of his advocacy of the “ritualist” cause, consents were not given to his consecration as Bishop of Wisconsin in 1874, and of Illinois in 1875.

To the General Convention of 1874, De Koven expressed the religious conviction that underlay his Churchmanship: “You may take away from us, if you will, every external ceremony; you may take away altars, and super-altars, lights and incense and vestments; … and we will submit to you. But, gentlemen … to adore Christ’s Person in his Sacrament—that is the inalienable privilege of every Christian and Catholic heart. How we do it, the way we do it, the ceremonies with which we do it, are utterly, utterly, indifferent. The thing itself is what we plead for.”

Collects

I     Almighty and everlasting God, the source and perfection of all virtues, who didst inspire thy servant James De Koven to do what is right and to preach what is true: Grant that all ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may afford to thy faithful people, by word and example, the knowledge of thy grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II     Almighty and everlasting God, the source and perfection of all virtues, you inspired your servant James De Koven to do what is right and to preach what is true: Grant that all ministers and stewards of your mysteries may impart to your faithful people, by word and example, the knowledge of your grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Exodus 24:1-8

2 Timothy 2:10-15, 19

Matthew 13: 47-52

Psalm 132: 1-7

Preface of a Saint (I)

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

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We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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47 Responses to March 22: James De Koven, Priest, 1879

  1. Michael Hartney says:

    New Hebrew Scripture reading: There is lots of blood-letting in this reading. Is it really edifying for Father De Koven’s day? I am not convinced.

    Bio. He needs a ‘He died in 1879 and is buried on the grounds of Racine College, now the DeKoven Center, in Racine, Wisconsin.’statement.

    • Lin Jenkins says:

      I agree on both points, although these are the same readings as found in the Satucket Lectionary Page. The selection from Timothy is nice.

      As an Anglo-Catholic myself– and one from Wisconsin, at that– I was sorry to see no mention of the Order founded in his name: the Solitaries of the Blessed James DeKoven. Living in surplus WWII-era Quonset huts at the Vigeat Radix Hermitage in North Central Texas, they make their living crafting Anglican Prayer Beads, which are sold (among other ways) through the National Cathedral. Sadly, they are a dying breed.

      On the other hand, while I am confident that he believed that he was ” doing what is right and preaching what is true,” to say so in the Collect seems to come down on one side of a heap of controversies. Although this is the wording of the previously used Collect and not new, this might bear thinking about.

      Finally, I recommend another look at James Kiefer’s hagiography, which I think does a better job of explaining the ritualist controversies and DeKoven’s stance in them. An “official” icon of DeKoven may be seen at the Center’s website, http://www.dekovencenter.org/history.

      • John LaVoe says:

        I want to underline Lin’s comment about “doing what is right.” Since it doesn’t say what that refers to, and since the bio is largely focused on aesthetic preference in the way one embodies one’s spirituality, it sounds as if it’s meant as a poke in the eye and a way of saying “your aesthetic way is WRONG!” (Maybe that’s why the blood-letting, Michael.) If we said what he DID, instead of just a value judgment ABOUT IT, maybe this impression could be avoided (regardless of one’s “ascetic aesthetic”!).

    • John LaVoe says:

      Michael, If you think there’s blood-letting in the OT lesson, which is confined to temple sacrifice, — I just looked at the Psalm selection (137). We skip the last two verses, bashing the babies against the rock. I think the assumption is, if you skip over the curse verse, that turns the psalm into a nice sentimental melancholy lament about how hard it is to play music and sing about home while in exile. Verses 5, 6 and 7 are included, though. I’d be embarrassed if I had selected this psalm for a contentious commemoration, no matter who I might be.

  2. Celinda Scott says:

    I thought this part of the bio made clear that it wasn’t the aesthetics that was important. DeKoven is quoted as saying ““You may take away from us, if you will, every external ceremony; you may take away altars, and super-altars, lights and incense and vestments; … and we will submit to you. But, gentlemen … to adore Christ’s Person in his Sacrament—that is the inalienable privilege of every Christian and Catholic heart. How we do it, the way we do it, the ceremonies with which we do it, are utterly, utterly, indifferent. The thing itself is what we plead for.” Is this a statement on which “evangelicals” or “low church Episcopalians” (not really a synonym for “evangelicals”) and “liberals” would agree, as well as Anglo-Catholics?

    • Lin Jenkins says:

      I’m not really sure whether all the wings/parties/factions CAN agree on this, regardless of whether I think they SHOULD. Kiefer states that “He reminded his hearers of the numerous assertions by prominent Anglican theologians from the Reformation on down who had taught, and the ecclesiastical courts which when the question came up had ruled, that it is Anglican belief, shared not only with Romans but with Lutherans and East Orthodox, that the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament is a real and objective presence. However, he was eloquent and firm in saying: The gestures and practices by which we recognize the presence of Christ do not matter. Only Christ matters.” It’s kind of hard to argue with that! But the Adoration of the Sacrament as “the privilege of every Christian and Catholic heart?”– I think that goes a little beyond the Real Presence as formulated in the beloved quatrain. (And what the Word doth make it/I do believe, and take it.) I know many honest Episcopalians who would not regard this as acceptable. And so I think saying that DeKoven– or, as they say in Milwaukee, the Blessed James DeKoven “did what was right and preached what was true” is a fair description of his own honest belief, but could be a stumbling block to others in our family.

      • Lin Jenkins says:

        Sorry– And what THAT Word doth make it.
        Full quatrain, though I can’t imagine many here don’t know it:
        He was the Word, that spake it.
        He took the Bread, and brake it.
        And what that Word doth make it,
        I do believe, and take it.

        Brain not in gear– it’s Spring Break.

  3. John LaVoe says:

    The Romans have Transubstantiation.
    Lutherans have Consubstantiation.
    We haven’t substantiated either,
    which leaves us with (blush)
    …Unsubstantiation!

  4. Celinda Scott says:

    Elizabeth Seton left the Episcopal Church for the Roman Catholic church mainly, she said, because of the doctrine that Christ was physically present in the Eucharistic bread and wine, and she wanted to be in a church where that doctrine wasn’t ambiguous. As John says above, “the Romans have Transubstantiation.” –I think the Anglican phrase “Real Presence” means, however, that the believer can take it the way Elizabeth I did and Lin quotes above. It was part of the genius of Cranmer that at least in the liturgy, the believer could have it “either way”: that is, “Real Presence” could mean either “the spiritual and physical body and blood of Christ” OR the body and blood of Christ in a strictly spiritual manner, but equally “real” and deserving of adoration. Maybe not “lifted up and carried about,” as one of the 39 articles forbids, but “real” and “deserving of adoration” nevertheless. So I ask again: is DeKoven’s phrase “to adore Christ’s Person in his Sacrament” not acceptable across the board with us Anglicans? It doesn’t have to mean transubstantiation.

  5. Suzanne Sauter says:

    Thank you Lin Jenkins for the quatrain.

    I did not know the quatrain but I see that there are two versions,
    one attributed to Elizabeth I :
    Twas God the word that spake it,
    He took the bread and brake it;
    And what the word did make it;
    That I believe, and take it.”

    The other is attributed to John Donne.
    He was the Word, that spake it.
    He took the Bread, and brake it.
    And what that Word doth make it,
    I do believe, and take it.

    I suppose for the sake of full disclosure I should say that I am a cradle Episcopalian though my genetic roots for the past nearly 500 years run deep into the Reformed and Calvinist traditions. I have felt very uncomfortable with the commemoration of the Blessed James DeKoven since he appeared in the liturgical calendar. Commemorating DeKoven is, almost by definition, going to spark the old debate on the “real presence” of Jesus Christ in the wafer and wine we receive at Communion. Fortunately John LaVoe provided a spark of humor! I am far from certain that what Father DeKoven preached is true so therefore I cannot pray that God inspired him “to preach what is true.” I am sure thay Father DeKoven contributed to the richness of current liturgical traditions in the Episcopal Church but that does not make those of us from the “low-church” tradition wrong. The biography and collects almost seem a slap in the face or a poke in the eye of those of us who are wary of incense and bowing and genuflection.

    • Lin Jenkins says:

      Suzanne– Thank you for your interesting response; you make the point I was concerned about much better than I did.

      On the quatrain– if you are so inclined you can have fun reading up on this controversy in the July-December, 1879 edition of “Notes & Queries” which bills itself as a “Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, etc.” It’s in Google Books, and the article on the quatrain is on page 229 of that edition. (It seems to have been discussed in an earlier edition, as well.) The writer acknowledges that there’s no clear answer as to whether the author was Elizabeth or Dr. Donne (minor variations in wording being the norm in Elizabethan publishing– vide Shakespeare)– but then he suggests that it might have been Lady Jane Grey who composed it, or a paraphrase of it, just before her execution. He also offers several other versions… (“Christ was the Word…. Look what that Word doth make it…, etc.). This sort of abundance of online riches is why my theology papers never get finished, I’m afraid!

  6. Celinda Scott says:

    This line from a Wikipedia article on the Eucharist seems to say that Calvin’s heirs, the Presbyterians, also believe in the Real Presence: “The Presbyterians hold that Christ is spiritually present in the Bread and Wine and we do share the body and blood of the Lord spiritually.”

  7. Celinda Scott says:

    Am talking too much, but just wanted to add that “adoration” doesn’t have to include incense, bowing, genuflecting, vestments, etc. and I thought DeKoven made that clear. They are just “gestures and practices.”

  8. Philip Wainwright says:

    Since the primary thing mentioned in the bio is something I don’t think is right to do, I can’t say ‘Amen’ to the collect as written. Is his advocacy of eucharistic adoration really the only reason for his commemmoration? That hardly seems to meet the guidelines.

  9. Celinda Scott says:

    Unless “Eucharistic adoration” means the recovery of something that was present in the early days of both the continental and the English Reformations, in thought if not in gestures and incense, that was lost to the church for a couple of centuries and brought back through the witness of DeKoven and others. It certainly is true that Nashotah Seminary has had a great influence on the American church. I’ve heard it was a combination of Anglo-Catholics and Liberals which made the changes effected by the 1979 Prayer Book possible, with evangelicals helpless to make their voice heard. But is the “eucharistic adoration” itself (not the gestures and incense, or even the frequency of celebration, just a consciousness of the Real Presence) a matter for disagreement?

    • Lin Jenkins says:

      Celinda, I think the phrase “Eucharistic adoration” has pretty specific connotations. The late Bishop of Rome, John Paul II, was a fervent advocate of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the very high toes-in-Tiber Anglo Catholics I have known– many from Nashotah House, since I am from the Diocese of Milwaukee– mean exactly that: prayer before the consecrated Host in which Christ is perceived to be truly present. This is not during the Eucharist (despite the terminology), but during “down time” in a chapel or sanctuary. Having been on retreat to DeKoven House (which now seems to be less retreat house & more wedding venue, alas) , the opportunity to participate in Eucharistic adoration did not simply mean believing in the Real Presence. I guess it’s all in how you use the terms, but I think this one is not as flexible as one might like. I think that is what Philip is getting at, though I’m open to correction.

  10. Michael Hartney says:

    There is nothing like re-convening of the General Conventions of 1871 and 1874 to excite those Episcopalians!

    One wonders what we shall do with the Monstrances, Humeral Veils, Tabernacles, and Sanctuary Lamps when all of this conversation is said and done.🙂

    All of us admit that the Collect needs a little ‘lightening’ up …but let’s not fight the Ritualist arguments all over again in this venue. Or else we shall have to insist that the Communion Rails come down, the Choir give up their vestments, remove all candles from the Sanctuary, and push all of our Altars back against the East Wall.

    Instead, I suggest that we all turn to Hymn 314 (The Hymnal 1982), light a votive candle and sing along http://www.fisheaters.com/audio/adorotedevote.mid

  11. Steve Lusk says:

    Given that the most intransigent of the anti-Oxfordites had split off as the Reformed Episcopal Church in 1873, leaving the high churchmen in the ascendent, there must have been something more than De Koven’s liturgical preferences that kept him from gaining his consents in ’74 and ’75. Like maybe being unable to disagree without being disagreeable? Or unwilling to take “yes” for an answer?
    De Koven’s in the calendar to stay, but his collect raises my hackles every time it comes up. Could someone go back to Ken’s prayer (in Celinda Scott’s comment day before yesterday), meditate on it for a bit, and come up with a new collect that doesn’t make old low churchmen think we should be looking for a new denomination?

    • John LaVoe says:

      Good suggestion, Steve. Here it is.

      “Our God, amidst the deplorable division of your church, let us never widen its breaches, but give us universal charity to all who are called by your name. Deliver us from the sins and errors, the schisms and heresies of the age. Give us grace daily to pray for the peace of your church, and earnestly to seek it and to excite all we can to praise and love you; through Jesus Christ, our one Savior and Redeemer.”

      • Lin Jenkins says:

        Lovely, and appropriate for any Office– but not particularly tied to De Koven. I am going to insert it into Evening Prayer tomorrow, by which time we’ll be on to Gregory the Illuminator.

    • Lin Jenkins says:

      Well, how about this for starters?
      Almighty and everlasting God, the source and perfection of all virtues, your inspiration led your servant James De Koven to honor your presence at our altar above all things, and to remind us that in all times and all places, only your Christ truly matters: Grant that all ministers and stewards of your mysteries may impart to your faithful people, by word and example, the knowledge of your presence and a sense of your grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

      Also, Philip, does this help clarify why he is honored? Yes, he was highly Romish in his ways, but it’s also true that at the time there was (again) a nascent split in PECUSA (as was) over whether Christ was in some way actually present in the Eucharist, or whether it was merely was a memorial. Smells and bells aside, his central position (the Real Presence) was actually quite mainstream and, as noted above, positively Elizabethan.

      • Philip Wainwright says:

        There’s no mystery about why he is honored by those in the catholic wing of the church. The question is why the church should commend him to be honored by all its members. The biography as written suggests only his attachment to the practice of eucharistic adoration, a practice that many in the church believe encourages a wrong understanding of what is meant by ‘real presence’ (which is itself a doctrine understood in several different ways within Anglicanism).

        The American National Biography says that his students at Racine admired him as ‘a model of great learning, gracious manners, personal holiness, and extraordinary compassion’. That’s the kind of thing the bio needs to focus on, showing us that he is a good role model even for Christians who have no sympathy for his liturgical tastes.

  12. John LaVoe says:

    James De Koven
    .
    TITLE: It only says “priest” in his title. Professor, Church Reformer, or Educator seem possible.
    .
    BIOGRAPHY: Paragraphs 1 through 4 seem factual, straightforward, and without controversy, so far as I can see. Michael has noted the need for a final “he died” statement at the end.
    .
    I think paragraph 5 could be eliminated without loss. Failing that, two difficulties in it need to be addressed in some helpful way. One is ambiguity about “Eucharistic adoration” – i.e., whether it means adoration in the church’s celebration of Holy Eucharist, or merely venerating the consecrated bread in some other way (Benediction, Exposition, Corpus Christi procession, etc.), the former indeed being the “privilege of every Christian.” The second difficulty is ambiguity with the word “indifferent” in relation to church practices. Theologically, it means “not necessary to salvation,” and therefore not restricted to one particular required mode of practice. More colloquially, “indifferent” means not important enough to cause disagreement, which was (and evidently is) clearly not the case. The quote from DeKoven in paragraph 5 is thus clearly problematic, since it probably doesn’t mean “celebrating the Holy Eucharist” and even though he claims indifference regarding the manner of doing things, there was (and is) ongoing disagreement rather than the alleged indifference.
    .
    It seems to me the opening sentence of that paragraph also misstates the case where it claims, “DeKoven expressed the religious conviction that underlay his Churchmanship” by the quotation cited. He clearly argued for tolerance in the quote, but the foundation of his churchmanship lay elsewhere and is here unarticulated. Personally, I can’t believe, either, the claim that if convention were to “take away altars, and super-altars, lights and incense and vestments; … we will submit to you.” It just doesn’t seem to have been that docile and malleable a movement.
    I judge there are problems and objections enough to eliminate paragraph 5.
    .
    COLLECT: The phrase “to do what is right” is offensive to many, is vague as to its referent, is weak as a divisive element in the church’s prayer. I assume “to preach what is true” refers to the gospel, which is what Christian preaching is supposed to be for all, and on that premise is not meant to be contentious. The rest of the collect suffers from two vapid assumptions and absence of a “so that” element. First, that “your faithful people” are not ministers and stewards of your mysteries”; second, that “knowledge of your grace” is imparted by one group to another (on analogy with a bucket brigade?), and that grace is something properly “known” rather than given, lived, or otherwise embodied. Third, there is no purposive consequence expressed in the collect for what is asked in its petition – no “so what” result. It’s as if it doesn’t matter if anything happens, and God is just presumed to be given some busy work to do.
    .
    READINGS: The OT lesson describes animal sacrifice as worship a bit more vividly than gentle souls may prefer, but I see nothing wrong. (We need some background, rather than a total vacuum of context, for Jesus’ words when he speaks of “my blood of the new covenant.” )
    .
    The gospel is fine, except that the last verse just hangs there like a non-sequitur.
    The epistle is acceptable, notwithstanding the irony of verse 14 in a contentious commemoration (“warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening.”)
    .
    The psalm selection is an outrage. First, it says we have no regard for the canonical integrity of scripture so long as we can bend it to our use. This is a vengeance psalm, and by omitting the last two verses we use it as a sad little tale about forlorn musicians homesick for Zion. This is the Episcopal Church – ve dunt do dot heer!
    .
    Secondly, it’s not at all responsive to the content of the OT lesson, and it should be – that’s its role in liturgy. Third, to use a “good guy versus bad guy” psalm for a commemoration that carries as much divisiveness as this one does, is grossly insensitive and insulting, no matter what one’s own churchmanship is. Again – ve dunt do dot heer! Find a suitable psalm.
    .
    CONCLUSION: Was he really that outstanding a Christian? He advocated for the Oxford Movement, addressed conventions, nearly became a bishop, taught history, assisted in a parish, and administered a prep school. I guess all that is supposed to show holiness, but I think something is missing. I’ll bet someone could do those things and still be a stinker. This just doesn’t tell me.

    • John LaVoe says:

      Philip — Thank you for the following paragraph. It’s exactly the kind of thing I was groping for in my “CONCLUSION” paragraph (above). I was unaware of its existence, but I couldn’t have found a better example. It has to be challenging to walk the line between what I think of as “resume entries” (and also dates and places of biography and obituary) on the one hand, and on the other hand the elements that would identify someone as a “HOLY’ woman or man, which the title of this book properly underlines as its unvarying concern (regardless of how different the resume elements may be from one commemoration to the next.) I really rejoice greatly for this paragraph and your comment. I hope others will “get” its importance.

      “The American National Biography says that his students at Racine admired him as ‘a model of great learning, gracious manners, personal holiness, and extraordinary compassion’. That’s the kind of thing the bio needs to focus on, showing us that he is a good role model even for Christians who have no sympathy for his liturgical tastes.”

  13. Michael Weylandt says:

    Continuing on what Mr. Lusk had to say, I (an avowed Anglo-Catholic) found the collect too vague for Fr. de Koven’s life:

    […] Grant that all ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may afford to thy faithful people, by word and example, the knowledge of thy grace; […]

    It seems to me that, if we want to give Fr. de Koven (and a fortiori his sacramental convictions) official approval, the relevant means by which the “knowledge of [God’s] grace” should be “afforded to [God’s] faithful people” is not “by word and example” but rather “by prayer and in the breaking of the bread” (or perhaps a Eucharistically stronger statement, but that would only seem to invite needless controversy which this phrase from the Baptismal liturgy certainly gets the point across).

    Of course, such a change probably necessitates a change from “ministers and stewards of thy mysteries” (both of which refer to far broader classes than just priests & bishops, as anyone who has ever seen the three ring circus of an Anglo-Catholic solemn high mass can surely attest) to something more restricted to those who have attained the prebyterate which might just start to open a whole new can of worms…. I, for one, have no problem asking special grace for our P&Bs, God only knows how hard their ministries can be, but I’m not sure if not praying for all present at the Eucharist/Office at which the collect will be used will ruffle any feathers.

    –MW

    PS. I just found this site but I hope to continue in the discussion for the rest of the trial period.

  14. Lin Jenkins says:

    Philip– thank you for that info from the ANB. Very apropos.

    John– your comments on the readings are sharply observed. Both for the readings & for the collect, though, these are the selections in LFF; are they still up for re-consideration? (I hope so.) And since when did being a stinker disqualify anyone from being reverenced?

    Is this adaptation more palatable?
    Almighty and everlasting God, the source and perfection of all virtues, your inspiration led your servant James De Koven to honor your presence at our altar above all things, and to remind us that in all times and all places, only your Christ truly matters

    • Michael Hartney says:

      The Hebrew Scripture reading is new to HWHM. All else is from LFF06.

      • Lin Jenkins says:

        Yes; I misspoke (mistyped), but of course you are right. The added reading is on the Lectionary page from Satucket, but it’s not in LFF.

    • John LaVoe says:

      Lin — Touche! Afterwards, I remembered the last sentence in the commemoration from St Jerome,
      “…Jerome was seldom pleasant, but at least he was never dull.” (Just to clarify — or further obfuscate? — I’m not saying he was a stinker, just that the commemoration should have at least one sentence indicating more than what would appear on a resume — something reporting his prayer life, his charitableness, — “holiness” approached in whatever way fits best. (Is there such a thing as holy stinkerocity?)

      • Lin Jenkins says:

        John– Funnily enough, Jerome was exactly who I had in mind. Points to you!

        Seriously, though– I don’t know about his extraordinary compassion, etc, but I believe that, in a time of confusion and change, DeKoven was the pre-eminent voice not just for the Oxford Movement/ritualists, but for remembering that– in whatever way– Christ himself is present at our altar. And when are we not in a time of confusion & change?

        Finally– I have heard some schoolchildren described as “holy stinkers” but I’m not sure that what’s you had in mind…

  15. John Morrell says:

    Since we’ve moved on to Gregory the illuminator , few may read this post, but here goes anyway.

    Suzanne, like you, I am a cradle Episcopalian, though my genetic roots are Anglican all the way back to Henry VIII. I am also a fourth generation Anglo-Catholic (my great grandfather was a student of Dr. Pusey). I had no idea that certain ritualistic practices initiated in the mid-19th century could still cause such commotion in the early 21st century. I’m not sure whether to be disturbed or amused, but at any rate I will light a candle and say a Hail Mary for those who are put out by the commemoration of Blessed James.

    • Suzanne Sauter says:

      I can only claim three generations as Episcopalians. Before that the family was Reformed (English Puritan, Dutch, Swiss and French), Presbyterian, and a lonely lapsed Roman Catholic. That takes my family back to the 1870s when the Oxford Movement was busy changing the Episcopal Church.. I just think it is ashame that the Anglo-Catholics in the Episcopal Church forget that there are still some who prefer the beauty of the words of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the chanting of psalms to all the adornments, movements, smells and bells of a High Church service. And the great strength of the Episcopal church and the Church of England before that was the willingness to encompass both its “Puritan” and “Catholic” wings without each insisting that its form of worship was the only acceptable form. So Mr. Morrell light your candle and say your Hail Mary and remember that some of us might prefer to sing a Venite as we go about our daily work.

  16. Celinda Scott says:

    Thanks to everyone for their comments and John Morrell, I’m here after you so obviously I read yours. –One of the best rectors I ever knew was a Nashotah grad, who brought the “centrality of the Eucharist” to our eastern KY parish (in the middle of Presbyterian and Baptist territory) in the mid ’70s. A lot of us were quite wary of what we were in for. But he was also Evangelical; for instance, one of the members of the calling committee’s “litmus test” for candidates for the position was to mention Sam Shoemaker (strong Evangelical of the 1950s) and see the reaction. Fr. Jack very much admired Sam, and that was one of the reasons that he was called. He was also a “liberal”; he had marched on Selma. And he could explain aspects of the charismatic movement w/o showing disapproval. “Something to offend everyone,” one could say. –However, for the eleven years he was there he brought our quarreling, disparate bunch together and we were truly a “Christ-centered parish.” When it came time for us to leave KY for our home state, I didn’t want to move; I was afraid we wouldn’t find a parish like that again.

  17. John Morrell says:

    Suzanne, the Oxford Movement began in the 1830s, not the 1870s. And the Tractarians were much more concerned with doctrine–ritualism came later. Further, before them, there was no “catholic wing” of Anglicanism. It seems to me that the intolerance in worship style came from those who opposed high-church ritual, such as the ones who denied de Koven the episcopate, than from the Anglo Catholics, who just wanted the option. I certainly do not seek to impose a style on others, and just ask that I be allowed my high-church preferences in my high church parish.

    As for Cramner, I am so in agreement with you that when I daily read the Venite, it’s in the 1928 BCP, which I prefer to the 1979 version because the later version contains no “traditional language” psalter. If you refer to that monstrosity called the Anglical MissaI, which tried to graft the Tridentine rite onto the BCP, I never liked it, and, I am happy to say, its seems to have fallen into disuse after the 1979 BCP came along.

    I imagine that English Plainsong (what you call “chant”) is much more prevalent in high church parishes than in other ones (where, in my experience, the psalter is usually just read).

    • Suzanne Sauter says:

      Mr. Morrell, you may have misread me or perhaps I did not make myself clear. I was not implying that the Oxford Movement started in the 1870s. I am well aware that it took about 40 years for the its impact on the Episcopal Church to be manifest in the actions of the 1871 and 1874 General Conventions. Actually there are a couple of sentences from an 1871 report about that year’s Convention which I think are apt: “‘Ritualism is mainly a question of taste, temperament and constitution, until it becomes an expression of doctrine.’ As such, since the tastes, temperaments and constitutions of men cannot be reduced to uniformity by any known process …” Fortunately attempts to impose uniformity within the Episcopal church has never been especially successful.

      And as for singing and not just saying or reading the Psalms, I will remind you that even Jean Calvin recommended the singing of psalms in his Preface to the Geneva Psalter of 1543, noting that the singing of psalms can be traced to the early Church.

      English plainsong whether heard in one of the cathedrals of the Church of England or at the parish church were I attend is one of the glories of sacred music.

      • Philip Wainwright says:

        Just to celebrate the full range of churchmanship, let me say you’re both too high church for me–singing a metrical setting of the psalm to a rousing hymn tune with not a chorister in sight was one of the glories of my last parish! I hope to find another like it soon…

      • John Morrell says:

        What a fascinating quote from the 1871 convention report. Is this available in an on-line resource?

        I did not mean to imply that plainsong is exclusive to Anglo-Catholics. An 18th century Geneva Psalter (in English) is a treasured family heirloom. And certainly most English cathedrals are not particularly high-church. I was merely noting, based on very anecdotal evidence (visits to various churches around the country over the years), that, at least in smaller churches with voluntary choristers, plain-chanting the psalter, gospel, creed, etc. seems to be more prevalent in high-church locales than broad- or low-church ones. Which is a shame, since, as you note, is a glory of sacred music.

      • Suzanne Sauter says:

        The quote is from a report ABOUT the General Convention of 1871 on a Project Canterbury website. http://anglicanhistory.org/usa/acu/gc1871.html

      • John LaVoe says:

        What? ” … the singing of psalms can be traced to the early Church”?. Oy vey!

      • What about Anglican Chant?

  18. Nigel Renton says:

    The subtitle needs to be changed. I suggest “Leader of the Oxford Movement”.

    How is the rule that more than one commemoration may now take place on a single day to be interpreted? He died on March 19, when we commemorate Saint Joseph. Is the move to 3/22 occasioned because Saint Joseph was the adoptive father of Our Blessed Lord?

    Perhaps this commemoration could replace the dubious one for Thomas Ken on 3/20?

    Line 1, first paragraph: substitute “on September 19,” for “in” after “Connecticut,”.

    Line 7, second paragraph: substitute “on March 19” for “in”.

    • Lin Jenkins says:

      Nigel,
      DeKoven was not a leader in the Oxford Movement. That movement took place entirely in England, led by fellows of Oriel College at, well, Oxford; it is generally dated from 1833 to 1845 (when J H Newman became a Roman Catholic).

      There were a number of pioneer figures in PECUSA who could be considered heirs of the Oxford Movement and James DeKoven was among them. A 1933 Centennial commentary in TLC lists these American Churchmen and says “James DeKoven brought the question of the Catholicity of the Church squarely before her leaders and the public.” (Thanks, Project Canterbury: http://anglicanhistory.org/usa/acb/17.html) I think, though, that to use that expression (“the Catholicity of the Church”) would open up what are clearly some pretty tender wounds.

  19. Pingback: March 22 – James De Koven : St. Paul's Episcopal Church

  20. As a cradle Anglo-Catholic, this man is one of my heroes. Receiving the Blessed Sacrament is THE very most important thing I do all week. Wherever I am, I make sure I get to Mass, even if it means driving hundreds of miles or attending another denomination of the catholic genre if no Episcopal Church is available. I only wish Fr. DeKoven’s alma mater would welcome female priests to celebrate Mass at its (or should I say, God’s) Altars on it campus. I wonder if he were alive today, would he permit that shameful state of affairs to continue?

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