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scott

A tip of the biretta to John Dixon over at St. Athanasius for letting me know about Melville Scott’s The Harmony of the Collects, Epistles and Gospels. Originally published in 1902, this little gem is available in reprint from Lulu for $20.00 in hardcover or a paltry $10.00 in trade paperback.

Apart from the fact that the Lulu edition has a typeface that proves actually readable,  the book begins with an analysis of the themes and teachings of the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels of the Christians Year as set out in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.   Scott shows not only the theme of the day and how the lessons and collect relate to each other, but also how the propers for each Sunday interrelated with those of the Sundays both previous and following.

This is an outstanding “secret weapon” for preachers who use the traditional propers of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and with the 1928 American book favored by us unreconstructed traditionalist folk.  The book also serves well for laymen at two levels.  In the first and most basic instance, it affords folks a great devotional commentary to supplement the Sunday sermon.  Secondly, it shows the genius of an actual BCP (as opposed to post-1979 imitations) in presenting a cycle of Scripture that draws a parson into the themes of the Christian year and, eventually, brings newcomers to the Church into a common place in the annual readings with parishioners who have been around a bit longer.

The benefits to catechesis are apparent, and, a shared thematic approach to the propers is a great avenue for building community in parishes of any size.  Finally, the expository treatments of each lesson provide a great, off-the-shelf Bible study that works with the homily wherever the priest is preaching from the lessons appointed for particular Sundays.

Williams

A great companion to Scott’s book is the weightier Sermons on the Epistles and Gospels by Isaac Williams and also available from Lulu. (No, I don’t get a commission.)   Originally published in the mid-19th Century, this book is more a commentary on the Sunday propers than a short-cut for desperate preachers who are looking for a little something to fill up an otherwise blank page.

Williams’ sermons exhaustively cover the Epistle and Gospel lessons found in the eucharistic lectionary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and it works just fine for the 1928.  For each set of lessons, the reader has a solid exposition of the day’s Epistle as a lead-in to an exposition of the Gospel.  Williams then concludes with devotional thoughts and practical application of the text.  Williams does an remarkable job showing the theme of each set of lessons, and offers examples of how the lessons tie into the theme of the day.  In this way, the reader or the preacher (whether desperate or not) can handily move from exegesis to exposition to practical application.

The publisher, listed as The Anglican Expositor of British Columbia, deserves thanks for bringing these works back into an accessible, reasonably-priced, and well-made book.

 

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