Dear old Fortescue's The Mass records the long debates of liturgists a century ago about where the epiclesis of the Roman Rite originally was before it ... er ... "dropped out". Their assumption, of course, was that the epiclesis was original to Christian liturgy and that the Oriental rites which preserve it were more 'primitive' than the Roman Rite. Now, happily, we know better. We see the Oriental epiclesis as a comparatively late fad in the evolving liturgical tradition. Rather than seeking traces of a lost epiclesis in the Canon Romanus, we realise that the prayer Supplices te rogamus, in which we pray that our offerings be taken to the Heavenly Altar, represents an earlier and lovelier expression of the linkage between our offering and the eternal oblation of the Eternal Son at the Heavenly Altar.Fr Fortescue's work is one I refer to a lot, partly because it is so well written, partly because it is obviously the fruit of great scholarship, but mainly because if there is a newer or better history of the Liturgy, I haven't come across it.
There are specialised publications: Usus Antiquior, now two issues old, will become, I am sure, a focal point for serious students.
But what I am after would be broader, rather than deeper: we need both, but I can only find the deep.
It isn't just liturgical history either: in the same way as I'd like to see a successor to Fr Fortescue, I'd like to see somebody contemporary who could write as well and as meaningfully as Mgr Knox - it's over fifty years since he died.
In the back of my copy of The Mass is an advertisement for Longman's Westminster Library: A series of Manuals for Catholic Priests and Students. The Mass comes before The Christian Calendar, The Study of the Fathers, The Origin of the Gospels and The Breviary. Is there any modern equivalent? Or do I have to throw myself (and my purse) onto Abebooks?