By Robin G. Jordan
In 2006 and again in 2012 I posted on Anglicans Ablaze “A New American Prayer Book,” an article in which I identifies a number of characteristics that I believe are needed in a Prayer Book for use on the North American mission field. The article was originally prompted by the publication of Services in Contemporary English from The Book of Common Prayer of 1662, a joint effort of the AMiA and the PBSUSA, in 2006. Two years later in 2008 An Anglican Prayer Book was published, a second joint effort of the AMiA and the PBSUSA. The late Peter Toon, then president of the PBSUSA, was the editor of these two service books.
In 2008 I launched the blog, Exploring The Book of Common Prayer, on which posted a number of articles critiquing An Anglican Prayer Book. I subsequently put together a rough draft of a Prayer Book in which I sought to incorporate the characteristics that I had identified in “A New American Prayer Book." The book was designed as an alternative to An Anglican Prayer Book. It stuck more closely to the doctrine of the Anglican formularies and the liturgical usages of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. It incorporated features of some of the older Prayer Books from around the Anglican Communion as well as features and textual material from a number of the more recent Anglican service books. It also retained some of the better features of the American Prayer Book.
In 2009 I used this book to produce three more books—An American Prayer Book, Alternative Forms of Service, and Alternative Services.
An American Prayer Book was a further refinement of the first book. I have posted a number of services from An American Prayer Book on Exploring The Book of Common Prayer. They include Prayers at the End of the Day (Compline), Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Alternative Forms of Morning and Evening Worship, A Penitential Service, and The Holy Communion. I also posted on that blog texts from An American Prayer Book. They include introductory and offertory sentences, canticles, collects, and prayers for various occasions.
Alternative Forms of Service was a response to the challenge of the doctrinal and worship standards articulated in the Anglican Church in North America’s Fundamental Declarations. While recognizing the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as “a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline,” the ACNA Fundamental Declarations adopts as “the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship” the 1662 Prayer Book, “with the Books which preceded it.” This worship standard could be interpreted to include the Medieval Sarum Missal and the ill-fated 1637 Scottish Prayer Book—the infamous “Laudian Liturgy.” From the services of Holy Communion in Texts for Common Prayer it is clear that the ACNA's liturgical commission and its College of Bishops does interpret that standard to include these books.
Alternative Services was a proposed contemporary English revision of the 1956 Free Church of England Prayer Book. I have posted the Free Church ofEngland’s revision of the Thirty-Nine Articles on Anglicans Ablaze.
In all three books I did my best to incorporate the characteristics identified in “A New American Prayer Book.” Alternative Services was designed as a service book shaped for mission in the United Kingdom.
Alternative Forms of Services represents the kind of service book that North American Anglican churches need if they are going to be effective in carrying out the great commission, preach the gospel to the remotest corners of the United States and Canada, and make disciples of unreached and lightly reached people groups in these two countries. A large part of the population in the United States and Canada falls into these two categories. North America is the largest English speaking mission field in the world. It is also home to a number of ethnic groups that speak other languages.
Anglicans ablaze should describe all North American Anglicans—on fire for the gospel. Posting the three services of Holy Communion from Alternative Forms of Service (see the accompanying article, “Three Contemporary English Services of Holy Communion for North American Anglicans”) on Exploring The Book of Common Prayer is a part of my commitment to the building up of Christ’s Church in North America and beyond. I hope that these services prove useful.