Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Desire of our Soul

If you're Church of Ireland, you might well recognise these words, and could even finish them off... 'The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee'. Words, of course, from the Urbs Fortitudinus, one of the Canticles we sing, which is taken from Isaiah 26 - 'We have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks; Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in...'

Why I say Church of Ireland, and not Anglican per se, is because it is only used in Ireland! It is our own canticle - the Canadians used it for a while, but it isn't in their latest BCP.

But anyway, why am I writing about that? I finished reading a book of the same name last night - written by Bishop Harold. It's subtitle is 'A User's Guide to the Book of Common Prayer 2004' and is a very good read. It basically goes through the book, and more especially the contemporary services, highlighting new things, raising concerns and commenting on why we do things the way we do them in the C of I.

It might not be a book for outsiders to understand what we do, but I think that members of our church might well find it useful to see the structure and thinking behind the new Prayer Book (Harold was the Chairman of the Liturgical Revision Committee which did the spadework for it).

Harold writes with humour, and even reveals some interesting facts (e.g. that the Urbs are only sung in Ireland, and that the phrase 'hocus pocus' comes from a word play on 'the Body of Christ' from the mass, indicating the funny business that goes on in transubstantiation.

However, one thing that is annoying in the book is the numerous spelling mistakes and typos - it does distract from the points being made. I'm not sure who is was, but the spell-checker or sub-editor or whoever needs to be fired or replaced!

All in all, though, it was a good read, and well worth it.

Oh, and 'the Desire of our Soul' - that is of course God! The Book of Common Prayer is not to be worshipped itself, but it is a vehicle to worship, containing ways in to worship, and material (all Scriptural) to aid in worship. But the words are just words, unless they are heartfelt and earnest words.


  1. mmmmmmmm intresting but a comment, Why did I say i'd comment on every blog???

    Do u check my spelling an grammer?
    oh dear :-S

  2. Is the BCP really all Scriptural? Even the bit about the Blessed Virgin Mary and provision made for the worship of her?

  3. David! I am shocked indeed! There is no provision made for the worship of the BVM (although we now know when her birthday is... coming up soon too!)

  4. Must get that book Gary!

    Are you sure that It wasn't just Bishop Harold's wee way with all the spelling mistakes etc.,

  5. I got the book a year ago, sorry subsequent reprints haven't fixed the typos.

    The other thing about it is that Harold forgot about Holy Baptism 1998 altogether - the one which bridged the gap to BCP 2004. I haven't compared them properly yet.

  6. I enjoyed your comment that it's all just words if not heartfelt. God knows our hearts better than we know them ourselves, and a prayer for forgiveness is a waste of time if it doesn't come from the depths of our hearts.