The Word in the Desert: Anglican and Roman Catholic Reactions to Liturgical Reform

By Barry Spurr

The first systematic, historical and critical study of the effects that the revision of liturgical language has had on the Western Church.

ISBN: 9780718829216


This is a study of one of the most extraordinary religious phenomena of the last thirty years. The disappearance of the Tridentine Mass and the unrelenting assault on the Book of Common Prayer have created widespread hostility and a substantial loss of church membership.

An informed and well-researched survey of this diverse and burgeoning movement is timely and will be of considerable interest to church people throughout the world. The topic also has linguistic and sociological implications, and relevance to liturgiology, theology, Church history and literary criticism. Barry Spurr’s book provides this broad cultural analysis in a clear and illuminating account.

While it deals fairly with all views, the book is written from a conservative standpoint, and will undoubtedly be considered controversial in liberal circles. What is certain is that all sides will want to read it.

Additional information

Dimensions 216 × 138 mm
Pages 224

Trade Information LGEN

About the Author

Barry Spurr has been an active member of the Prayer Book Society and has published several articles on liturgical changes. He is currently Professor of Poetry and Poetics in the University of Sydney where he has been teaching since 1976, and has published extensively on Renaissance and Modernist poetics, religious literature and liturgical language.


Preface and Acknowledgements

1. The Liturgical Movement
2. Conservative Reactions: The Roman Catholic Church
3. Conservative Reactions: The Anglican Communion
4. The Book of Common Prayer and English Literature
5. Feminism and Renewal
6. Church Music and Renewal
7. The Language of Liturgy

Appendix: The Satirical Critique

Endorsements and Reviews

… this book is a must. Members of all churches are deeply indebted to Dr Spurr for presenting such a vast amount of information and learning in one slim volume.
Financial Times

… a lively and informative book … undoubtedly well-researched … His thoughts on Feminism and Renewal are on the whole well-founded … His chapter on Church Music and Renewal is again well-founded .. well-informed and serious work … Spurr proves that most liturgical reform has been carried through with a deplorable lack of awareness of the resonances of language and the sensitivities of those who use it.
New Directions

… a lively contribution to the debate on reform … an extended and well documented account … a well argued piece of writing … good, lively
Church Times

… this is a book to inform, to challenge and to delight
Margot Thompson

Highly stimulating and enjoyable.
Faith and Heritage