Jimmy Buffett and the Miserable Offenders of the Book of Common Prayer

It’s time to look at another bone that’s been picked with the ANCA’s 2019 Book of Common Prayer: the omission of the phrase “miserable offenders” to the General Confession for Morning and Evening Prayer.  Let’s start with the 2019 text:

BCP2019 MP Confession

And now from the 1928 BCP:

BCP1928 MP Confession

In addition to the modernization of the language, the phrase “miserable offenders” is conspicuously absent from the newer confession.

Modernizing the language is something that, although traditionalists find it offensive, is pretty much a necessity these days; the question is how to do it.  It’s the same fight that “King James Only” people have.

But the miserable offenders?  As was the case with the Creed, there’s a parallel with the Roman Catholic Novus Ordo Missae, and that’s the omission of the “mea culpa” (with breast beating accompanying) from the original English translation of that liturgy.  I did an entire piece on the subject when the “new” translation came out.  Note that there was pushback on it at the time from Roman Catholics.  My guess is that there’s been similar pushback from Anglicans and the 2019 BCP committees decided that keeping the phrase wasn’t worth it.

But in response to the NOM’s revived “starch in the shirt” about our sins, I invoked Jimmy Buffett:

As far as the sins are concerned, the Roman Catholic Church’s (the Jesuits of Pascal’s days notwithstanding) emphasis on the seriousness of our sins is well founded, and anyone with a Biblical understanding of the subject should know this. Even some whose Biblical understanding falls short know this too. In the same 1970’s when the “old” NOM translation was current in Catholic Churches, Jimmy Buffett, wasting away in Margaritaville, knew all too well whose fault it was. His lyrics, although liturgically inappropriate, were in their own way closer to the NOM Latin original than what was recited every Sunday.

The same observation can be made about omitting the “miserable offenders” from the Anglican General Confession, even though if Buffet’s sentiments were put into the BCP, as Latta Griswold would say, the philistines would blaspheme.

I grew up in Palm Beach reciting the 1928 General Confession.  Characterizing a bunch of bratty Palm Beachers as “miserable offenders” is charitable.  Right, Jeffrey Epstein?

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