Horace T. Allen, Jr. Rest in Peace

The Presbyterian News Service reports that the Rev. Dr. Horace T. Allen, Jr. died on February 5, 2019.

Professor Allen, described as “a fierce advocate for ecumenical liturgical reform,” was instrumental in the production of the Revised Common Lectionary. For many years he collaborated with various church organizations to produce common liturgical prayer texts as well.

He will furthermore be remembered by Pray Tell readers as a prominent voice raised in criticism of Liturgiam authenticam, because of its effective undermining of ecumenical collaborations which had long existed prior to that instruction. In a post at Pray Tell in 2010, Professor Maxwell Johnson commented: “One of the great joys that I have experienced in my life of faith has been the ability to join with Roman Catholics and Christians of several differing traditions in occasions of worship, including ecumenical events, and to already know the words of many of the prayers and other liturgical texts. As a result of what has appeared to many Christians as a unilateral liturgical move, Presbyterian scholar of liturgy Horace Allen claimed that ‘the entire ecumenical liturgical conversation and dialogue is over-finished, dead, done.’ While I find that sentiment somewhat premature, I do think its survival is not automatically assured any longer without serious attention and sustained reflection and conversation by those of us who remain committed to the liturgical implications of the pursuit of full, visible Christian unity.”

A memorial service for Horace Allen will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 3, in Marsh Chapel at Boston University, 735 Commonwealth Ave., Boston.

May he rest in peace, and may God grant that his dream of ecumenical liturgical reform, to which he devoted so much of his life’s work, may yet be realized. You can read the entire obituary here.


  1. I had the great pleasure of taking Horace Allen’s course on liturgy at Harvard Divinity School back in the 1980s. (He was a visiting lecturer in a field one would not ordinarily associate with HDS.) Besides his unmatched interest in and passion for a shared lectionary, he was perhaps even more renowned for his wit. Though some may not associate such a quality with liturgists, Horace Allen was one of the funniest men I have ever met.

  2. Peter J. Scagnelli+, of blessed memory, often expressed to me the greatest admiration for The Rev’d Doctor Horace T. Allen who was his academic mentor at BU.

    He was especially pleased with Dr. Allen’s oft repeated remark of appreciation that the Catholic Church by means of her ‘new’ three year lectionary taught modern Protestantism how to read the Bible once again.

    A singular accomplishment indeed.

    Memory Eternal!

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