THE Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, introduced the first fruits of a six-year-long process to create new liturgical resources for the Church.
Called Times and Seasons, the online-only work was intended to supplement rather than replace the traditional worship material, he explained; it would “enhance, diversify, and liberate our worship”, he hoped. The committee that created Times and Seasons drew up the traditional liturgical calendar to write new prayers and liturgies for a vast range of services and occasions.
The Archdeacon of Newport, the Ven. Jonathan Williams (Monmouth), who also chairs the Standing Liturgical Advisory Committee that created the resource, said that the first tranche of their work would be published soon — in time for Christmas season — as soon as the Church could procure a good Welsh translation of the prayers.
He then presented examples of some of the new liturgies that would soon be available, including prayers for an Advent wreath, the blessing of a nativity scene, the blessing of chalk, and the markings of homes during Epiphany — and even prayers for the blessing of a hot-cross bun at Easter.
He ended his presentation with a warning against simply throwing in extra liturgies just because they were available: “Do be aware of liturgical indigestion: just because you can put in extra things, don’t think you should. Don’t overload it.”
The Revd Dr Adrian Morgan (co-opted), commended the committee for its work, but warned that the Church was facing a “crisis” in the Welsh language. An equal amount of work should go into the Welsh translation process; it could not be rushed out. Furthermore, producing material in Welsh should not always be done via translation from English, he said. Instead, material should be produced in both languages at the same time, in conjunction with each other.
Canon Mounes Farah (St Davids) said that the new resources felt like “more of the same”. Are the young and the radical represented on the liturgical committee, he asked. Doing the same as before was not going to help parishes to reach out to a new generation that knows nothing of church.
The Archdeacon of Llandaff, the Ven. Peggy Jackson, echoed Dr Morgan’s call for Welsh material to be produced independently on English liturgies, not only as a translation.
Canon Patrick Thomas (St Davids) hoped that there would be plenty of non-eucharistic material, given that more and more worship was lay-led.
The Revd Steven Bunting (Swansea & Brecon) said that the Church was in “desperate need” of more working-class liturgy, in language that ordinary people understood.
The Revd Miriam Beecroft (Bangor), who has just completed research on how Welsh speakers engage with worship, said that, too often, the Welsh liturgy used “posh Welsh”, not the actual language that Welsh speakers use in their everyday lives.
Responding to the debate, Bishop Cameron said that the Bench of bishops took very seriously Welsh provision and the commitment to a bilingual Church. “We want to see Welsh liturgy which is lively and exciting and every inch as creative as any liturgy we provide in the English language,” he said. He expressed sympathy for Ms Beecroft’s complaint, and said that, very often, the English in liturgy was also “posh English”. “There is a real need to create liturgy which appeals to the unliturgical. We’re only starting on that initiative”, he said.
It had proven very difficult, he continued, to find good Welsh translators. The Church had also struggled to fill a new post of a provincial officer to lead on Welsh evangelism and discipleship.
Nevertheless, Welsh speakers made up roughly half of the liturgical committee, and there were some younger people in their thirties, too, he said.