High Church low church—a primer

[The image is of a triple-decker pulpit at Gibside Chapel, which was built on the Bowes-Lyons estate, Gateshead, England. The central placement of the pulpit reflects Anglicanism’s Low Church, Calvinist wing.]

Anglicanorum Coetibus Society Blog

Br. John-Bede Pauley had an excellent response in the combox of yesterday’s post that I think warrants a post of its own.

In it, he helps us to better define our terms when we speak of low church and high church distinctions.  He writes:

Even if the best one can manage are what we call working definitions, an attempt to define the terms “High Church” and “Low Church” is necessary in these kinds of discussions, I think.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary offers the following definitions.

High Church: favoring especially in Anglican worship the sacerdotal, liturgical, ceremonial, and traditional elements in worship

Low Church: tending especially in Anglican worship to minimize emphasis on the priesthood, sacraments, and ceremonial in worship and often to emphasize evangelical principles.

To distill things down even further, the adjective “high” refers to a high—by which is meant a sacerdotal—view of the priesthood. The adjective “low” thus refers…

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