This article was originally posted on Anglicans Ablaze on September 14, 2009. I am reposting it as part of the 350 year anniversary celebration of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
By Robin G. Jordan
The late Peter Toon argued that the best way to introduce North American Anglicans to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer was through the Prayer Book tradition of the Episcopal Church—through the 1928, 1892, and 1789 Prayer Books. Dr. Toon did not believe that they should jump into a time machine as he put it and go back directly to the 1662 Prayer Book, skipping 200 odd years of intervening Prayer Books. Rather than fostering the interest that North American Anglicans showed in the 1662 Prayer Book, he sought to divert that interest to the 1928 American Prayer Book.
This is a circuitous route to the 1662 Prayer Book and one that is likely to prevent those who take it from reaching their destination. Rather than leading them to the 1662 Prayer Book, it will lead them away from it. Indeed, it is liking trying to go north or south by going in the opposite direction. The 1662 Prayer Book is substantially the Reformed 1552 Prayer Book. The 1928 American Prayer Book, on the other hand, is essentially a repudiation of the 1552 Prayer Book. From 1789 on the American Prayer Book moved further and further away from the 1662 Prayer Book. It became increasingly more Catholic and unreformed first in interpretation and then in substance.
A far better way of introducing the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is to offer a short introductory course on the classic Anglican Prayer Book. This course should be designed to achieve two goals. The first goal is to acquaint the participants with the history, services, doctrine, and liturgical usages of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The second goal is to gather a core group interested in taking an active part in a regular weekly, biweekly or monthly service in which the 1662 Prayer Book is used.
In introducing the 1662 Book of Common Prayer a good place to start is to address the question “why liturgy?” A sound liturgy can be used along with a sermon to teach biblical doctrine and to prevent error. Good liturgy is congregational and participatory, engaging the entire assembly in worship. It gives structure and order to our worship gatherings and ensures that no essential parts of these gatherings are forgotten or minimized. It provides us with biblical texts and prayers that we can memorize and use in times of difficulty.
After the uses of liturgy has been fully explored, the next step is to move onto the Prayer Book on which the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is based – the Second Prayer Book of Edward VI, the 1552 Prayer Book, Archbishop Cranmer’s masterpiece. In The Shape of the Liturgy Anglo-Catholic scholar Dom Gregory Dix wrote:Compared with the clumsy and formless rites which were evolved abroad, that of 1552 is the masterpiece of an artist. Cranmer gave it a noble form as a superb piece of literature, which no one could say of its companions; but he did more. As a piece of liturgical craftsmanship it is in the first rank - once its intention is understood. It is not a disordered attempt at a catholic rite, but the only effective attempt ever made to give liturgical expression to the doctrine of ‘justification by faith alone’.
Careful attention should be given to how the structure, form, and doctrine of the 1552 Prayer Book differ from that of the First Edwardian Prayer Book of 1549. The transitional character of the 1549 Prayer Book should be emphasized.
Then the changes to the 1552 Prayer Book that were introduced with its 1559 and 1604 revision should be examined with their implications. Two or three sessions should be devoted to the 1662 revision. The 1637 Scottish Prayer Book, the Laudian Liturgy, should be briefly examined and its influence upon the 1662 revision explained.
The 1686 Liturgy of Comprehension and the 1785 Proposed American Prayer Book might be examined as two early proposals for the revision of the 1662 Prayer Book. The 1926 Irish Prayer Book might also be examined as an example of a conservative revision of the 1662 Prayer Book. Morning Prayer One and Holy Communion One of An Australian Prayer Book (1978) might be examined as an example of one of the better translations of services of the 1662 Prayer Book into modern English. Other examples may be found in A Prayer Book for Australia (1995) and Common Worship (2000).
The 1958 Lambeth Conference’s recommendations regarding Anglican worship and their influence upon subsequent Prayer Book revision should covered as well as the wide use of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer in the global South provinces and the GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration’s endorsement of the use of the 1662 Prayer Book.
At least one session should be devoted to the language of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The use of the second person familiar and the meaning of archaic and unfamiliar words and phrases should be explained. At least one session should be devoted to music and the 1662 Prayer Book. A major objective of this session should be to deal with any misconceptions that participants may have regarding what kinds of music may be used with the 1662 Prayer Book and the types of instruments on which this music may be accompanied or performed.
By the conclusion of the course the participants should have a thorough grounding in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, its history, its services, its doctrine, and its liturgical usages. They should be excited about starting a regular weekly, biweekly or monthly service from the 1662 Prayer Book and committed to doing whatever they can to make it a success.
Saturday, February 04, 2012
Introducing the 1662 Book of Common Prayer
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 11:01 AM