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Bow the head at the holy Name?

19 December 2014


How does the practice of bowing at the mention of our Lord Jesus Christ during, for example, the Creed match the belief in the equal status of the three Persons of the Trinity? 

The doctrinal standpoint that sets this question in perspective finds classical expression in the Athanasian Creed. Two verses are particularly relevant: "But the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal and the majesty co-eternal," and, "In this Trinity there is no before or after: no greater or less."

Bowing the head at the mention of the Name of Jesus has always been coupled with a full acceptance of the equal status of the three Persons of the Trinity, and it is, therefore, completely compatible and theologically matched.

Medieval sources, both missals and devotional literature, supply abundant evidence of double acts of personal reverence, in the Creed and at the Gloria Patri. Although the latter reverence ceased to be generally observed in England after the Reformation, the practice of bowing at the Name of Jesus was most certainly maintained. Canon 18 of 1604 ordered: "when in the time of Divine Service the Lord Jesus shall be mentioned, due and lowly reverence shall be done by all persons present, as it hath been accustomed."

With the ceremonial revival in the Anglican Church, it again became customary to show an equal sign of reverence not only at the Name of our Lord, but also when ascribing praise to the Trinity. An outstanding example that demonstrates a perfect matching of reverence in this way is the common custom of inclining the head twice during the Nicene Creed - at the first mention of the Lord's Name, and in celebrating the Holy Spirit within the life of the Divine Trinity, at the words "who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified".

In this question, it may not be amiss to mention that a Canon XXIV of the Scottish Episcopal Church was deliberately incorporated in the Scottish Prayer Book. In language almost identical to that of the old English Canon of 1604, it draws attention to the requirement to show accustomed reverence at the Name of Jesus, especially, but not exclusively, in the creeds.

Observance of this and other simple but meaningful acts of outward devotion has to be taught and encouraged as a helpful means of concentrating the mind at worship.

(Canon) Terry Palmer
Magor, Monmouthshire


Are any churches holding special requiems for the Great War this year?

At All Saints', Blackheath, we will be commemorating each of our 39 Fallen, the daily mass being offered as a requiem on the anniversary from 2014 to 2020. While so many in the field were known only by number, we pray that their names live for evermore.

(The Revd Dr) Nicholas Cranfield
London SE3


In the Parish Church of St John the Baptist, West Byfleet, Surrey, we held a requiem eucharist on Sunday 3 August marking the outbreak of the First World War.

We took care not to duplicate what usually happens on Remembrance Sunday, but 36 poppies were carried to the altar by parishioners of all ages representing the 36 men of the parish killed during that war. Some sources say that the total casualties worldwide in the First World War was 37 million; so each of our poppies also represented more than a million casualties.

While keeping the local history in mind, we tried also to remember all those affected, friend and foe alike, in that terrible conflict.

(The Revd) Clive Kirk
Send, Surrey

London, Durham, and Winchester are the senior sees after those of the two Archbishops. Why is this? And what practical difference does it make?

T. W.

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Sun 26 Jun @ 03:48
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