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Divine Worship - Standing, Bowing, Kneeling

posted Nov 5, 2013, 9:08 PM by Rochester Ordinariate   [ updated Nov 11, 2013, 5:32 PM ]
Before going into the details of the further changes in the wording of the rest of the mass, there are important changes to discuss made in the rubrics of Divine Worship concerning posture.  In the previous Book of Divine Worship, the rubrics indicated that the congregation would kneel after responding "May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your [now thy] hands for the praise and glory of his name...", and remain kneeling throughout the consecration.  The new instruction is to remain standing through the Sanctus (although bowing), and to kneel following the Benedictus.

Here is the Ratio:

Ratio: In keeping with the Roman Rite, the People remain standing for the Sursum Corda (Preface Dialogue), and then, according to custom, bowing deeply at the Sanctus and making the sign of the cross at the Benedictus. The People then kneel before the beginning Prayer of Consecration: "Therefore, most merciful Father..."

This change is, therefore, to bring us into line with the posture during the Ordinary form of the Roman Rite.  However, that is not all!  Following the consecration prayers, we find that after the "great Amen", we are to stand for the Lord's Prayer, and remain standing during the kiss of peace that is placed at this point.  The Ratio is again:

Ratio: In the modem Roman Rite, after the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer, the Lord's Prayer is recited standing, just before the embolism and the offering of the Peace.

So, this is once again to mirror the practice of the Ordinary Form.
We are not quite done.  After the Lord's Prayer is followed the embolism, and then the peace.  The people then kneel again before the fraction and remain kneeling through the rest of the communion.

Why is this practice done in the Ordinary Form?  Let us dig in a bit and try to understand.  Fr. Cornelius has let us know in no uncertain terms that the Lord's Prayer - as a prayer of petition - should be prayed kneeling in his opinion.   

Looking back at the older books, there are no rubrics for the laity at all - which seems quite sensible to me; to simply leave it to local custom.  I understand the common practice in the Extraordinary Form is to simply kneel from the Sanctus straight through until after communion.  This is certainly what we were used to in traditional Anglican worship.   Previously the priest would say the prayer alone.  I would be grateful if someone knowledgable about this could give some greater explanation of the rational of this practice.  [I have edited this in light of the information kindly provided below.]

I should say again, that of course we will do as we are asked.  A good deal of this is also a sign of unity with the practices of the Roman rite.

In my next post, I will discuss the remaining changes made regarding the directives about the canon of the mass, as well about the changes following it - which I think are quite good.

Update: Our friend Prof. William Tighe has this to say:
I don't know the answer for sure, but I have the notion, somehow, from reading about such matters over the decades, that the posture which you are being asked to abandon was that which prevailed at Low Mass, almost universally from the Counter-reformation onwards but prior to that mostly in northern Europe, while something like what is being required for adoption was (more-or-less) the posture required for those within the sanctuary during "High Mass" or Pontifical masses.

Indeed, I consulted Fortescue and O'Connell, The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, and found that during High Mass the choir and acolytes are instructed to stand following the elevation of the chalice until the end of the priest's communion. 

Update 2:  Msgr. Andrew Burnham comments: I imagine this is because, where polyphonic music is used, the Benedictus is sung after the elevation of the chalice. Thereafter there is the Agnus Dei in due course.

A further comment from the inimitable Fr. John Hunwicke:
The enthusiasm for standing among modern liturgists is, I presume, indebted to the customs of the first millennium (and most Orthodox). I further presume that the practice in novus ordo communities is a compromise between this preference for standing, and older occidental customs.