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The Eucharistic liturgy in the English independent, or congregational, tradition: a study of its changing structure and content 1550 - 1974

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  • Religious Science

Abstract

The Independent tradition emerged as a distinct movement in the 1640’s but its background must be sought in the Puritan and Separatist Movements of the previous century. During the history of this tradition the attitude towards liturgical forms has varied from total opposition to any form of set prayer to the advocacy of a directory form of worship. The Eucharistic liturgy in this tradition originates with the Puritan rites derived from Calvin and h Lasco, adaptations of the Book of Common Prayer, and the Separatist rites. Another source of inspiration seems to have been the liturgy of the Dutch Reformed Church. In 1645 the Westminster Directory was a compromise between Independent and Presbyterian practices. After the Restoration the Independents rejected written forms their Eucharistic rites being similar to that of the Directory, but shorn of the Presbyterian concessions. In the nineteenth century the changing status of dissenters contributed to a liturgical revival, and the Book of Common Prayer was adopted by some Congregational Churches. John Hunter's Devotional Services became particularly popular within the denomination, providing the first Congregational liturgy worthy of the name. Without much influence, but remarkable on account of its Catholic character was Dr. W. E. Orchard's Divine Service of 1919 and 1926.The Congregational Union itself produced liturgies in 1920 and 1956, the latter being heavily influenced by Liberal Theology. Since 1948 a 'Genevan' or Neo-orthodox Movement, together with the influence of the Liturgical and Ecumenical Movements, has resulted in Eucharistic rites based upon liturgical history and theology. The study of this wide variety of rites can benefit the Liturgical Movement and the denomination's own understanding of its Eucharistic liturgical tradition.

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