Following up on my last article, I went to see if there were liturgical influences from the Free Catholics in the United States. Since there is some overlap with the liturgical portions of Hymns of the Spirit, why not look on that leading Unitarian liturgist and minister, Von Ogden Vogt? He was on the hymnal’s editorial committee, after all.
That search led me (as usual) to the Internet Archive, and a — to my surprise — a full-text copy of his Modern Worship. (There are several scans, this one is the most “book-like.”) Ah: i published in 1927, it came into the #PublicDomain in the United States on January 1. I’m looking forward to reading it, but since I read slowly, here’s the opening passage. It’s hard not to see later influences, down to the title of the subsequent hymnal, Hymns for the Celebration of Life. On page one:
“Our first thoughts together will remark some of the relations of form and content in worship considered under the aspect of celebration. The second lecture will discuss the place of form in worship by a brief note of the formal elements in any work of art, whether pictorial, structural, musical or other, and the application of the findings to the particular art of worship. The third lecture will offer some definite suggestions of concrete material for the different parts of the liturgy, some specific content for modern worship. The fourth and last lecture will seek to discover the formal values and content possibilities to be developed not through the liturgy but by the church building, its structural forms and the symbolisms of its decoration.
There are many ways of approaching the problem of worship, some of them of great value and suggestiveness. For the sake of simplicity and clearness I am proposing abruptly to consider worship as the celebration of life. For the sake, also, of the so-called religious outsider, I put the matter thus. There are many modern men and women of high spiritual gifts who do not find themselves at home in any of the households of specific faith.”