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Book: The North American Liturgy: A Critical Edition of the Liturgy of the Reformed Dutch Church in North America

Daniel J. Meeter. Available through University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1989.510 pages.

The author, a Reformed Church in America pastor in New Jersey and frequent contributor to Reformed Worship, completed this work as his doctoral dissertation at Drew University. Meeter has provided an invaluable historical service in the study of this liturgy, which was officially approved as the English text for the Dutch Reformed Church when it became independent of the Church in the Netherlands in 1793.

The study includes a review of the various sources and developments in the Netherlands Liturgy, both before and after the Synod of Dort. A number of significant variations, omissions, and additions occurred over the more than two centuries that followed the publication of the Liturgy of Peter Dathenus in Heidelberg in 1566. Meeter also provides a comparison of the various English translations of parts or all of that liturgy leading up to the 1793 version. The author has researched widely, and has provided a valuable trail of liturgical life for those who cannot read the many Dutch sources.

A large part of the book is devoted to introducing the 1793 English text, in parallel columns with the Dutch text, with notes on the critical variations, an overall analysis, and commentary on the particular texts (including public prayers, and forms for baptism, communion, church discipline, ordination of church officers, and marriage). The availability of the 1793 English text helps underscore the form and language still reflected in forms used in Reformed denominations in North America.

Meeter observes that there has never been a critical edition of the 1793 North American Liturgy. His work will help to illuminate, to displace misconceptions, and to give readers a more accurate sense of the dynamics of liturgical forms, especially where translation has been involved.