02 December 2001

"Wyclif" recently pointed me to An English Prayer Book (Oxford University Press, 1994), a version of the 1662 BCP updated in language and some usage. It is available most inexpensively from Church Society in the UK.

I've been browsing through it some and do like it. It is a vast improvement over the archaic language of the original 1662 edition. And some of the changes in usage and order are definitely for the better. For instance, moving the "Our Father" from the very beginning of the communion service into the actual communion rite itself seems to be a sensible change (though I'm puzzled why it is placed after the distribution rather than as part of the eucharistic prayers by which the congregation offers themselves up to God in Christ). So it seems to me that the revisions are all headed in the right direction.

But I'm mystified why some Anglicans still want to perpetuate the peculiarities of the English liturgical tradition (e.g., putting the Gloria in excelsis at the very end) at the expense of the wider traditions of the church as they have been maintained or recovered within Lutheran, Reformed, and Catholic communions. The Church of England's Common Worship materials (which supercede the earlier 1980 Alternative Service Book), seem to me to do a better job of preserving the flavor and language of Cranmer's genius while, at the same time, bringing the Anglican tradition more into line with the church catholic and the past century of liturgical scholarship.

That is, however, simply my considered opinion. I'm open to argument from other perspectives.