:"this article is on the Anglican church in particular. See
orthopraxisfor ritualism in general."Ritualism, in the history of Christianity, refers an emphasis on the rituals and ceremony of the church, in particular of Holy Communion.In the Anglican church the role of ritual became a subject of great, often heated, debate in the nineteenth century, a debate that was associated with struggles between High Churchand Low Churchmovements. Opponents of Ritualism considered that it privileged the actions of the ritual over the meanings that are meant to be conveyed by it. Supporters believed that a renewed emphasis on ritual was necessary to counter the increasing secularisationof the church and laity.
Defining Ritualism in the Church of England and the arguments generated by it
Anglicanism, the term "ritualist" is controversial (i.e. rejected by some of those to whom it is applied) and often used to describe the second generation of the Oxford Movement/Anglo-Catholic/ High Churchrevival of the 19th century which sought to introduce into the Church of Englanda range of Catholic liturgicalpractices. The term is also used to describe those who follow in their tradition.
When trying to decipher the argument about Ritualism in the
Church of England, it is worth remembering that it is partly shaped by opposing (and often unannounced) attitudes towards the concept of " sola scriptura" and the nature of the authority of the Biblefor Christians.
Common arguments used by some Anglicans in favour of Ritualism
Those who support the Ritualist outlook in the Church of England have often argued that the adoption of key elements of Roman ritual
* gives liturgical expression to the ecclesiological belief that the
Church of Englandis more Roman than English;
* gives liturgical expression to a belief in the
Real Presenceand its concommitant that the Eucharistis the most important act of Church worship and should be the norm;
* is the most effective vehicle for giving expression to the worship of
heavenas it is described in the Book of Revelationin which the use of white robes and incensein a setting of considerable beauty is described;
* is a liturgical expression of the story in the
Gospel of Matthewof the response of the Magito the birth of Jesuswho brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrhas an act of adoration;
* enables worshippers to use all of their senses in
worship- worship with the whole person, not just the mind;
* is "incarnational" - by placing an emphasis on liturgical action and physical objects, it draws attention to the importance that Christians should attach to the fact that they believe that, in
Jesus, "the Word became flesh" (.
Deciphering and evaluating the cultural significance of Ritualism in the Church of England
Perhaps one reflection needs to be made in the light of that aspect of the Ritualist controversy that took it into some of the most economically marginalised communities in
England: maybe it needs to be asked whether part of the appeal of Ritualism, in common with the Gothic Revivalin architecture and the revival of interest in Chivalric forms in art and literature, is an essentially Romantic and nostalgic protest against the growth of industrial and machine civilisation. However, even if such a speculation is true, it cannot provide a global explanation for the phenomenon of Ritualism or its attendant controversies.
From the point of view of many of those open to persuasion by the Ritualist position,
theologicallyspeaking, there can be little doubt that Ritualism, at its best, gave expression to a profoundly incarnational theology that sought to engage the whole body and the imagination in worship — and gave a vehicle for the expression of paternalisticconcern for the poor amongst its politically conservative supporters and a passionate enthusiasm for improving the lot of the powerless amongst its more politically radical supporters.
* James Bentley: "Ritualism and Politics in Victorian Britain": Oxford: Oxford University Press: 1978: ISBN 0-19-826714-2
* Linda Ellsworth: "Charles Lowder and the Ritualist Movement": London: Darlton, Longman and Todd: 1982: ISBN 0-232-51535-2
* Gary Graber: "Ritual Legislation in the Victorian Church of England: Antecedents and Passage of the Public Worship Regulation Act 1874": San Francisco: Mellen Research University Press: 1993: ISBN 0-7734-2216-1
* David Hilliard: " [http://anglicanhistory.org/academic/hilliard_unenglish.pdf UnEnglish and Unmanly: Anglo-Catholicism and Homosexuality] ": "Victorian Studies": (Winter 1982): 181–210.
* Kenneth Hylson-Smith: "High Churchmanship in the Church of England: From the Sixteenth to the Late Twentieth Centuries": Edinburgh: T&T Clark: 1993: ISBN 0-567-09623-8
* John Shelton Reed: "Glorious Battle: The Cultural Politics of Victorian Anglo-Catholicism": Nashville & London: Vanderbilt University Press,: 1996: ISBN 0-8265-1274-7
* Frank Reynolds: "Martyr of Ritualism: Father MacKonochie of St Albans, Holborn": London: Faber and Faber: 1965.
* Martin Wellings, "Evangelicals Embattled: Responses of Evangelicals in the Church of England to Ritualism, Darwinism and Theological Liberalism (1890–1930):" Carlisle: Paternoster Press: 2003: ISBN 1-84227-049-4
* James Whisenant: A "Fragile Unity: Anti-Ritualism and the Division of Anglican Evangelicalism in the Nineteenth Century": Carlisle: Paternoster Press: 2003: ISBN 1-84227-105-9
* Nigel Yates: "Anglican Ritualism in Victorian Britain: (1830–1910)". Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999: ISBN 0-19-826989-7
The Book of Common Prayer
Cambridge Camden Society
*Christian Social Union
The Church of England
Richard William Enraght(prosecuted for Ritualist practices)
T. Pelham Dale(prosecuted for Ritualist practices)
George Anthony Denison
Robert William Radclyffe Dolling
Charles Fuge Lowder
Alexander Heriot Mackonochie
English Church Union
William Augustus Mühlenberg
Public Worship Regulation Act 1874
John Charles Ryle
*SSC (Society of the Holy Cross)
Arthur Tooth(prosecuted for Ritualist practices)
* [http://anglicanhistory.org/ritualism/index.html Project Canterbury: Ritualism]
* [http://www.sanctaecrucis.org/ SSC Official Website]
* [http://www.churchunion.co.uk/ The Church Union Official Website]
* [http://www.anglocatholicsocialism.org/ Anglo-Catholic Socialism]
* [http://www.churchsociety.org/issues/liturgy/iss_liturgy_vestments.htm Contemporary views on ritualism as expressed by Church Society (the current form of the anti-Ritualist Church Association)]
* [http://anglicanhistory.org/misc/denison.html A contemporary view of the Ritualist controversies from one of its qualified supporters: Archdeacon Denison]
* [http://www.infed.org/christianeducation/muscular_christianity.htm Infed's take on Muscular Christianity]
* [http://www.churchsociety.org/publications/leaflets/Leaf_ScarfStole.pdf "Scarfs or Stoles?" - An Evangelical Anglican critique of the use of vestments]
* [http://www.churchsociety.org/publications/tracts/CAT004_RyleRitualism.pdf "The Teaching of the Ritualists not the Teaching of the Church of England", by John Charles Ryle critical of Ritualism]
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