From the Rev'd Dr Peter Mullen:
It gets harder for an Englishman to find a parish church where he can worship according to traditional usage. My needs are plain and few. I don’t require 'quires and places where they sing', and I can manage very cheerfully without an organ display. So this morning I entered a glorious country church, full of high hopes, sunlight and flowers.
It didn’t begin well. The priest faced the congregation across the altar for what was clearly going to be the cafeteria service. He was the thespian type, insisting on putting meaning into the words and usually the wrong ones: no OF or UNTO went unstressed and yet he contrived a wonderful jollity with BEWAIL. He had a macabre, echo-chamber voice, as if he were trying to frighten the children with a ghost story. Like tropical fruit gone bad.
The church declared that the rite would be from Your Grace’s Book of Common Prayer and indeed so it turned out, only with much ornament and a superfluity of intercession which sounded like the itinerary of a world tour. Your Grace’s prayer for the church militant is a masterpiece of inclusiveness while yet avoiding the scandal of particularity. But this was not regarded as sufficient to the task and so it was prefixed by extempore prayers for various exotic locations, apparently chosen at random. For instance, we supplicated on behalf of Pennsylvania whose citizens, I believe, are not presently discomfited; but we did not pray for New Zealand where they most definitely are by the dysteleological surd of an earthquake registering 6.9 on the Richter scale.
At least in the 'sermon', the preacher hesitated to find serious fault with the words of the Son of God and confined himself to the mild rebuke: “While not wishing to detract from Our Lord’s words in the Gospel…”
Why can’t they leave well alone? Why this obsessive tinkering with what is already, Your Grace, well-nigh perfect? I came away with those words from Your Grace’s book throbbing in my ears: 'Such men as are given to change, and have always discovered a greater regard to their own private fancies and interests, than to that duty they owe to the public.'
It is hard to kick against these pricks.