A Festschrift for Bryan Spinks
Ed. Note: On March 2 colleagues, students, friends, parishoners, and well-wishers of Bryan Spinks gathered in the YDS Common Room to celebrate the publication of a festchrift in his honor, released by Continuum Press, entitled The Serious Business of Worship. These are excerpts of Prof. Spinks's remarks on the occasion.
Festschrift photos courtesy
Today is one of those occasions in my life that can be summed up as grace and gratitude. Melanie and Simon, you have graced me with this collection and the ISM also with this celebration. It honors me, but it also honors the subject of liturgy and vindicates the decision I made some forty years ago. Having just received the results of my BA Honours theology at Durham -- that is our professional degree -- the tutor of St. Chads, Eric Franklin, stopped me in the Bailey and congratulated me, and said my results were good enough for me to do research in any of the theological disciplines. He added, "If every you want to teach in a college or university, on no account do liturgy." Well, I ignored his advice, and the rest is history, as they say.
Liturgy, however, remains the Cinderella subject in many seminaries and universities, and even today in England there is no full time position in liturgy in a university, other than Birmingham where the holder of the chair is a sociologist.
I am sure my teachers – Arthur Couratin, Geoffrey Cuming, and Ronald Jasper – often wondered about the future of their subject. I can say that with Melanie and Simon, I know at least two of my former students who are making magnificent contributions to the subject. This celebration honors the study of liturgy, and liturgy as a serious subject.
But this for me is an occasion of immense gratitude to so many people. Of course, to my former teachers and those who have helped me on the way, and my family for the support they gave me. It is a delight that Fr. Elie Kesrouani is here; thanks to him I was able to get to Lebanon to look at marriage manuscripts in the middle of the civil war, and now of course that has confirmed your suspicions that I am totally crazy. But deep gratitude to Simon and Melanie for deciding to undertake the task of approaching scholars to ask for essays; and even more, the task of extracting them months
later when everyone forgot they had said yes – I know these problems! And then finding a publisher and seeing it through the press. Thank you both so much, and I am very proud and honored to have been part of your own liturgical training and studies.
My thanks go to all those friends and colleagues who contributed to the book; to my colleagues at the ISM for their support and friendship, and especially to Martin Jean, for his total support and encouragement. Each day I thank God for the marvelous opportunities I have here to undertake the study of my subject.
I extend thanks also to my YDS and BDS colleagues for their friendship and support; and to students past and present, because without them there would be no reason for me to be at Yale. And without them I would not have become reacquainted with a former student who came to Convocation to hear Peter Hawkins, and who has allowed me to smile again inside: my wife Care.
Thanks are due to all those friends who have come here today – friends from the Overseas Ministries Study Center where I escape from the craziness of the Divinity School for a good English afternoon cup of tea brewed in a teapot; new friends from North Haven, and older and dear friends from the congregations of the Middlesex Area Cluster Ministry. The congregations of those churches very kindly allow me to lead worship and preach every week, and that grounds me in reality, and I hope makes me a better teacher. They put up with my strange English ways, and allow me to smuggle in liturgical material from the English book, and also from places even farther East.
I am most humbly grateful to you all!