Caslon Revival 1853 edition is a treasure
LAST CHRISTMAS I RECEIVED the gift of a facsimile edition of the 1853 Caslon Revival edition of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. What a treasure. I had quite forgotten how beautiful our English language can be when used effectively. But what a change between then and now.
Recently I attended the funeral of a beloved aunt. It was conducted in an Anglican setting. The family announced the first service would be Evening Prayer. How comforting, I thought...The Day thou gavest, Lord, has ended sung to St. Clement and all that.
Here comes the rude awakening. The service was conducted by two women clerics. What I found too distracting, however, was that one of the clerics could not manage to read the service without stumbling over the words, and 'umming' and 'awing' whenever she came across a word strange to her. Now, she was reading from the modernised, supposedly simply worded service. It's written at a grade four reading level, mind.
Well, if that is what my cousins wanted, and if they found that service comforting, then that is the way it shall be. I am not an Anglican, so they haven't done anything to my prayer. I just wanted to evoke the song.
In his preface to the Caslon Revival 1853 prayer book, Sir Patrick Cormack has this to say:
THE LAST FORTY years have been years of liturgical anarchy... . The quest for modernity has left congregations confused, and although many traditionalists have been alienated, the young have not been attracted in great numbers. One of the reasons surely is that the command of the modern liturgists over the language does not begin to equal Cranmer's. The language of the bus queue is not appropriate for worship, and to suggest that young people cannot be moved by noble and stirring language is to insult their intelligence.