SMH—Intricacies of Anglican worship on display in Royal Wedding

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By the book and ''explicitly Christian''. That was the assessment by one of Australia's Anglican leaders of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey.

The Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, said the wedding ceremony - conducted to a revised 1928 Church of England rite - was ''in a way more Christian than it needed to be''.

''It was not sentimental about marriage,'' said Bishop Forsyth. ''The [biblical] reading was not gushy and, rather than apologise for being Christian, the service was generous.''

Read it all.

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12 Comments
Posted April 29, 2011 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Terry Tee wrote:

Top marks to the bride’s brother for a superb reading of scripture.  As a priest I have sat through more occasions than I can remember at funerals and weddings, where family members with evident embarrassment read and mangle scripture.  On this occasion the pacing, the phrasing, the delivery, were all first class, and indeed as he looked up for long periods while speaking it was clear that he had learned chunks of the text by heart.  Finally, it was read with feeling, as a text with meaning and profit in it.

April 29, 7:02 pm | [comment link]
2. Tired of Hypocrisy wrote:

Yes, it was outstanding.

April 29, 11:14 pm | [comment link]
3. TACit wrote:

I ‘third’ Fr. Tee’s statement!  It was a highlight of the service, partly just in that, as said above, there was nothing that could cause listeners to cringe or otherwise lose concentration.  Thus the message truly could penetrate.

April 30, 1:04 am | [comment link]
4. recchip wrote:

Two comments I want to make (well three if you include that the service was absolutely fantastic!!).

1) To call this “High Church” is almost funny to me.  To truly classify as “high” in many places in the US you have to have “smells and bells”  (incense and Sanctus bells).  The fact that they did not celebrate Holy Communion at the service makes it “middlle-upper” Church at best.  (Maybe in Sydney, having properly dressed priests/bishops and using the proper form-Prayer Book- count as “High Church!!)

2) I agree that the reading was fantastic but I was shocked out of my seat when he just started reading, and then stopped.  I was expecting the usual “The reading comes (cometh?) from the Letter of Paul to the Romans” and then at the end “here endeth the reading” (or for more “modern” ears-The Word of the Lord).  Again, the reading was FANTASTIC but i was surprised by the lack of the “intro and finish”.  Maybe that is CofE use rather than what we “colonials” do.

God Save the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!!  Long may their marriage prosper.  (They should look at the Duke’s Grandparents who just celebrated 63 years of marriage last November!!)

April 30, 1:06 am | [comment link]
5. TACit wrote:

That’s where I had read high-church - thanks for the reminder, recchip.  I was just looking for that because you can read on Virtue’s blog all the reasons that it was ‘low church’!  So I guess one Protestant Anglican’s ‘high church’ style is another Protestant Anglican’s ‘low church!  (No wonder there’s a lot of confusion and disagreement….) 
I wonder what the royal couple thought it was as they planned it?!

April 30, 1:14 am | [comment link]
6. Teatime2 wrote:

Practically speaking, there was no way they could have Holy Communion with such a mixed congregation without it being an ecclesiastical and PR nightmare. I thought it might be good, though, if they gave only William and Catherine the Eucharist from the Reserved Sacrament but that might have been problematic, too, with the Queen and so many royals there. Protocol would probably frown on not including the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, as well, and then it would snowball from there.

James Middleton did an absolutely fantastic job! Someone needs to encourage that young man to become involved in church and become a lay reader! Since he was so composed and poised, I doubt he forgot to introduce or “end” the reading but it’s possible. Or maybe they didn’t feel it was necessary because the Order of Service Programme had all of the information and was so very detailed?

April 30, 1:39 am | [comment link]
7. MichaelA wrote:

(Maybe in Sydney, having properly dressed priests/bishops and using the proper form-Prayer Book- count as “High Church!!)

I think that’s a fair comment, Recchip! Not to worry, we Sydney-siders will get over it. In fact I think most people here were very impressed. A very beautiful service and I agree that the bible reading was very well done.

April 30, 3:14 am | [comment link]
8. TACit wrote:

But why, MichaelA, would the SMH judge the ceremony to be ‘high-church’ while David Virtue comes up with a checklist proving (to him at least) that it was ‘very Anglican….fairly low church’?  (See bottom of this post: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=14313)
I thought I understood those terms, until this situation arose.

April 30, 3:25 am | [comment link]
9. Katherine wrote:

Interesting list of observations.  He says no one genuflected or reverenced the altar.  Was the reserved sacrament thereon?  That would make a difference in the high-vs.-low discussion.  It may have been low church in relative terms, but not as we say in the U.S. snake-belly low.  Nice to see that so many, from high (Damian Thompson, UK Telegraph, Catholic) to low (Sydney) thought it well-done.  This was a traditional thoroughly Christian wedding service with appropriate sermon witnessed by nearly 2 billion people.  It could have been a lost opportunity and instead was “evangelical” in the sense of presenting the Christian faith to many who do not believe.

April 30, 10:22 am | [comment link]
10. BlueOntario wrote:

Via media, I think, in a good way. Milage may vary, obviously.

April 30, 10:53 am | [comment link]
11. MichaelA wrote:

TACit,

My guess is that the author of the article is not a practicing christian, and lives in Sydney. He has probably been to church for weddings, funerals, maybe Christmas or Easter, all in Sydney. Unless he has been to one of the very few high Anglican churches in Sydney, his concept of Anglican worship would be very low church. Not being used to the glitter and pomp of a service in Westminster Abbey, he probably just thought “wow, that must be the “high church” stuff that my grandmother used to talk about”!

May 1, 10:07 pm | [comment link]
12. MichaelA wrote:

Katherine at #9,

Very good point. I also thought that the service carried a strong basic christian witness that I just was not expecting, for various reasons.

I don’t know what the Christian knowledge and commitment is among the many people involved in planning that service, least of all among the two most important ones. But whether its through the prayer book, or christian heritage, or perhaps the influence of christian friends or grandparents etc, I do think a strong gospel message came through.

Because it has made such an impact (and it certainly has among Sydneysiders, judging by comments on the train going to work), I think the service will influence many young people to give a certain amount of respect to Christianity, to realise that it can be a normal part of their lives. Now, that is not the whole gospel, nor is it evangelical conversion, but its a very very good start for the youth of today. I think we Christians have a lot to be thankful for in that service.

May 1, 10:17 pm | [comment link]
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