Archive for the ‘Consultation on Church Union’ Tag

Feast of Massey H. Shepherd, Jr. (February 19)   1 comment

Above:  The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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MASSEY HAMILTON SHEPHERD, JR. (MARCH 14, 1913-FEBRUARY 19, 1990)

Episcopal Priest, Ecumenist, and Liturgist

Dean of American Liturgists

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O God, whose son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people:  Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

–Massey H. Shepherd, Jr., Contemporary Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Easter; in The Book of Common Prayer (1979), 225

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Massey H. Shepherd, Jr., with his courtly Southern manners, big smile, and love of cats, was an engaging person.  He has come to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via his liturgical work, mainly.

Shepherd helped to revolutionize liturgy in The Episcopal Church, to much praise and condemnation.  He, born in Wilmington, North Carolina, on March 14, 1913, grew up primarily in Columbia, South Carolina.  Our saint eared his B.A. and M.A. at the University of South Carolina.  His Ph.D. (1937) from The University of Chicago followed.  Then our saint matriculated at Berkeley Divinity School, New Haven, Connecticut.  There he became a protégé of William Palmer Ladd (1870-1941), Dean of the seminary and a proponent of liturgical renewal, especially with regard to increasing congregational participation in worship.  As early as 1956, Shepherd advocated having the celebrant face the congregation, not turn his back on it, during the Eucharistic prayers.

Shepherd was an ecclesiastical historian and a liturgist.  The two fields went hand-in-hand, for our saint found influences in ancient liturgies.  (Liturgical renewal was, to a great extent, a process of reviving older, abandoned traditions that predated Reformation-era practices.)  Our saint taught at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts (1940-1954); and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, California (1954-1981).  He also sat on the denomination’s Standing Liturgical Commission from 1947 to 1976 and served as its Vice-Chairman from 1964 to 1976.

Shepherd had a few goals, which became reality.  In 1946 he helped to found the Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission, one purpose of which was to make the Eucharist the central Sunday service in The Episcopal Church.  He also made Baptism a public (never private) rite in The Book of Common Prayer (1979).  Furthermore, our saint wrote The Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper (1967), which began the introduction of modern English into worship in The Episcopal Church.  He, as a member of the Standing Liturgical Commission, had a hand in subsequent trial-use volumes:

  1. Services for Trial Use (1971),
  2. Authorized Services 1973 (1973), and
  3. The Proposed Book of Common Prayer and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church (1976).

Shepherd, author of more than 30 books (mostly about liturgies), the General Article about the Post-Apostolic Church in Volume I (1952) of The Interpreter’s Bible, and the commentaries on the Gospel and three Epistles of John in The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the Bible (1971), had a magnum opus:  The Book of Common Prayer (1979).  He translated the alternative (second) form of absolution (page 448) from Form One of the Reconciliation of a Penitent.  Shepherd wrote:

  1. the Litany of Penitence (pages 267-269) from the Ash Wednesday service,
  2. the postcommunion prayer (page 432) from the marriage ceremony,
  3. an alternative postcommunion prayer (page 457) from Ministration to the Sick,
  4. the postcommunion prayer (pages 482 and 498) from the Burial of the Dead,
  5. the Litany of Thanksgiving (pages 836-837),
  6. the collect for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany (pages 163 and 215),
  7. the collect for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (pages 173 and 225),
  8. the collect for Proper 6 (pages 178 and 230),
  9. the collect for the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter (pages 187 and 238),
  10. the collect for the Feast of Saint Joseph (pages 188 and 239),
  11. the collect for the Feast of Saint Mark (pages 188 and 240),
  12. the collect for the Feast of Saint Barnabas (pages 189 and 241),
  13. the collect for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (pages 190 and 241),
  14. the collect for Holy Cross Day (pages 192 and 244),
  15. the collect for the Feast of Saint Matthew (pages 192-193 and 244),
  16. the collect for the Feast of Saint James of Jerusalem (pages 193 and 245), and
  17. the collect for the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude (pages 194 and 245).

If all that were not enough, Shepherd was also an ecumenist.  He was an observer from the Anglican Communion to the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II).  Our saint, as a member of the worship committee of the Churches of Christ Uniting (COCU, founded as the Consultation on Church Union), wrote much of COCU’s liturgy.  (COCU has become Churches Uniting in Christ.)

Shepherd’s liturgical contribution was great.  It was also controversial. (Bile regarding him is easy to find on the Internet, not that I encourage anyone to read it.)  In the early 1970s, publishing the Lord’s Prayer without archaic pronouns upset many people, for example.  Many members of the Society for the Preservation of the Book of Common Prayer (the Prayer Book Society) have probably never forgiven Shepherd for his work in the revision of The Book of Common Prayer (1928).

C’est la vie.

Shepherd, aged 76 years, died in Sacramento, California, on February 19, 1990.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ANNA ELLISON BUTLER ALEXANDER, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL DEACONESS IN GEORGIA, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF HENRY HART MILMAN, ANGLICAN DEAN, TRANSLATOR, HISTORIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JUVENAL OF ALASKA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MARTYR IN ALASKA, AND FIRST ORTHODOX MARTYR IN THE AMERICAS, 1796

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER THE ALEUT, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MARTYR IN SAN FRANCISCO, 1815

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Massey H. Shepherd, Jr.)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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