Write, if you have any answers to the
questions listed at the end of this section, or would like to add
to the answers below.
On occasion (as recently at
Pentecost), the events described in the lectionary's Gospel
reading chronologically precede what is described in other
readings of the day. Is there any liturgical authority for the
Gospel to be read first?
It must be remembered that the
criterion used to arrange the eucharistic readings has not been
the order of the biblical canon or the time sequence of events
recorded in the scriptures; otherwise, the Acts of the Apostles
would, at least on occasions such as Pentecost, come last - the
possibility suggested by the questioner.
This cannot be authorised, because in
all liturgies, from the fourth-century Antiochene Apostolic
Constitutions onwards, there has been a strict rule that the final
reading shall be from the Gospels, and, just as in a procession of
clerics the highest in rank comes last, so, too, in the series of
readings, thereby highlighting the centrality of the Gospel as the
"good news" that fulfils the past and, in the words of Christ,
addresses the present and future life of the People of God.
At the climax of the Liturgy of the
Word, in the Gospel we encounter Christ, the Living Word of God,
to whom honour is given, not least by standing to hear its
(Canon) Terry Palmer
As a general principle, this is what
always happens: the Old Testament reading (if any) of course
precedes the New, but the epistle is about life in the Primitive
Church, while the Gospel is about the life of Christ, which, though
often written later, looks back half a century or so to an earlier
The earliest liturgical guides are
silent on the readings (Didache, AD c.95) or
ambiguous (Justin, c.160, and Hippolytus, c.205).
Early sequences are: Old Testament or Acts, (Pauline) epistle,
Acts, trisagion, and Gospel (Egyptian Anaphora of St Basil).
The Reformation introduced new
sequences. For example, Zwingli's Action and Use of the Lord's
Supper of 1525 had the sermon well before the epistle and
Gospel readings, while Martin Bucer's Complete Church
Practice of 1539 had only a psalm followed by the Gospel and
sermon. Fortunately, Archbishop Cranmer was more
I know of no case where the Gospel is
read before the other readings.
East Molesey, Surrey
Are there any churches where
the Prayer Book baptism service is still in regular use? If so, do
parents request it, or is it the priest's preference?
Our services are mainly Prayer Book,
although we also use Common Worship. For baptisms, we ask
the candidate (or the infant's parents) which service they would
prefer. Most choose Common Worship, but some opt for the
(The Revd) Alan Isaacson
High Bradfield, Sheffield
Four years ago, when I came to faith
in Christ, aged 19, and having become very fond of the Prayer Book
as a living and relevant form of liturgy, I requested the form of
Baptism for those of Riper Years, believing that it put into words
exactly what I wanted to profess and promise.
This was the first time in more than
two decades of ordained ministry that my priest had used the rite,
and also that anyone present, including several other priests, had
witnessed it. In our rural Sussex parish, where matins and evensong
are the primary services, the Common Worship rite of
baptism is solely used, and no alternative is given.
Even though our church
normally has two priests present, our new vicar has replaced the
parish eucharist on the first Sunday of the month with a family
service, and replaced the eucharist on the third Sunday with matins
"to create consumer-choice variety". He refused his NSM's offer to
celebrate a eucharist on those days at an earlier time, "as it will
divide the congregation". Now we have been informed that his
actions are in breach of canon law. Is this correct? We do not wish
to go the same way as a neighbouring church that is now in rapid
decline after ten years of a similar experiment.
What are the duties of a royal
chaplain? B. R.
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