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Why is ‘Holy Father’ omitted from the 1662 Trinity Preface?

21 August 2020

Email if you have any answers to the questions, below


Why does the Prayer Book direct that the words “Holy Father” be omitted in the Preface to the Prayer of Consecration on Trinity Sunday? Surely, above all days, this is the day when they should be included?


Your answers: In the English Prayer Books of 1549, 1552, and 1662, all the Proper Prefaces except the Proper Preface “upon the Feast of Trinity only” address God the Father. On Trinity Sunday, however, the Trinity is addressed: “Who art one God one Lord; not only Person, but three Persons in one Substance . . .”. “Holy Father”, therefore, has to be omitted from the common Preface.

In later revisions, including BCPs of other Anglican Provinces, the Trinity Preface is addressed to God the Father — as in the 1928 Prayer Book rejected by Parliament, whose provision in this area was later authorised by the Convocations under Series 1. The Proper Preface begins: “Who with thine only-begotten Son and the Holy Ghost art one God, one Lord . . .”.

In this respect, the revisers were simply reverting to the form of the Latin original, which began: “Qui cum unigenito Filio tuo, et Spiritu Sancto, unus es Deus, unus es Dominus. . .”

Marjorie Grove
London SW4


. . . Surely one of the overriding themes of Trinity Sunday is for us to reappreciate that “we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity” (as the Athanasian Creed puts it), not a Father who just happens to have a Son and Holy Spirit tagged on as afterthoughts.

Mark Harrison (Trainee LLM)


Your questions:

The future Victorian Archbishop of Canterbury Edward White Benson, was born on 14 July 1829 and baptised at St Martin’s, Birmingham, aged eight months old. (Father of The Bensons, 1998, by Geoffrey Palmer and Noel Lloyd). Three other children were baptised at the same time, but only the parents and sponsors were allowed to be present. No other family members were permitted, because his father considered public christenings to be scandalous. At St Martin’s, baptisms were held every Sunday, and babies and children up to the age of ten who were to be baptised were arranged along the communion rail and then sprinkled with water from the font with a watering can. In these Covid-conscious days, might this practice, which seemed so ridiculous just a few months ago, be the new norm, and the last laugh be on us?

G. B.

The parish register of St Nicholas’s, Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk, records 530 baptisms in 1798. Of these, 515 were private, 15 public, and one is unclear. Why would so many baptisms have been conducted privately? They were all conducted by Samuel Edwards, Curate.

H. L.

[We think readers may wish to answer the above together. Editor]


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