By Robin G. Jordan
What follows is a list of the sections one would expect to find in a Prayer Book designed for the twenty-first century North American mission field.
Proper lessons for Sundays and special days for Services of the Word
Calendar with table of lessons for daily use
Services of the Word – In addition to orders for Morning and Evening Prayer the Prayer Book would contain several alternative patterns of worship for Sundays and other occasions. All forms for the Service of the Word, including Morning and Evening Prayer, would be tailorable to the particular circumstances of a congregation – size and composition of the congregation, its ministry target group, its music resources, its meeting place, and the like. Their overriding purpose would be to enable a congregation no matter how small to gather around God’s Word on Sundays and at other times.
Orders for Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, including a selection of seasonal and penitential sentences and provisions for shortening the Orders for Morning and Evening Prayer for daily use.
Alternative forms for the Service of the Word, including guidelines that congregations may follow to develop their own forms for Services of the Word and liturgical material that they may use in these forms. The alternative forms for the Service of the Word contained in the Prayer Book would serve as models.
Additional canticles – a selection of canticles for use in the rites and services contained in the Prayer Book and not contained in a particular rite or service.
A Service of Light - The ancient office of the lucenary has been revived in a number of more recent Anglican service book. It is a useful addition to the Prayer Book. It may be used at the beginning of Evening Prayer, one of the alternative forms of the Service of the Word, or one of the Services of the Lord’s Supper, or with the addition of Scripture readings, a canticle, and prayers as a separate service. This service and the following service are particular useful at conferences, weekend retreats, and other special events.
Prayer at the end of the day, also known as Compline
The Litany and other forms of general intercession that may be used in the rites and services contained in the book.
Prayers and thanksgivings for various occasions, include a selection of general confessions and endings for Services of the Word.
The Propers - Scripture readings and collects for Sundays, special days, seasons, and occasions for use at the ministration of the Lord’s Supper
A service of the Lord’s Supper – a contemporary English translation and modernization of the Communion Service of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
An alternative service of the Lord’s Supper –a service along the lines of the Third Order in A Prayer Book for Australia with the changes recommended by the Diocese of Sydney’s Diocesan Doctrinal Commission. Provision would be made in this service and the preceding service for the use of the Liturgy of the Word as a separate service when there is no communion.
A shortened order for the Lord’s Supper including a third Prayer of Thanksgiving and Consecration and guidelines for the order’s use with alternative forms for the Service of the Word.
An office for making a catechumen like the one in the Church of South India’s The Book of Common Worship.
A service of Baptism for those able to answer for themselves
Thanksgiving for a child
A service of Baptism for infants and children
A form for the reception of infants and children baptized in an emergency
A catechism, or outline of the faith, based upon the teaching of the Bible and the doctrine of the Anglican formularies
A form for the admission of children to the Lord’s Supper including guidelines for their admission. This form would be use to admit to the Lord’s Supper baptized children who evidence a genuine repentance and a vital faith and have undergone suitable preparation. It would be used between the visits of the bishop to the congregation.
A service of confirmation in which those baptized in infancy would make a public declaration of their faith in Jesus Christ and receive the prayers of the congregation.
A form for reception into communicant membership
A form for renewal of baptismal vows
A marriage service
A form for the blessing of couples married in a civil ceremony
Prayers and guidelines for ministering to the sick and the dying including a shortened order for the Lord’s Supper for communion of the sick
Funeral services for adults and children, including a form for the internment of ashes
A penitential service based upon the Commintation and used on the first day of Lent and other occasions
A form of thanksgiving for the blessings of the harvest
A liturgical psalter
Forms for the ordination of deacons and presbyters and the consecration of bishops
A form for the commissioning of lay readers
A form for the installation of ministers for use with lay readers assigned pastoral responsibility for a congregation as well as deacons and presbyters
The Articles of Religion
Among particular features one would expect to find in a Prayer Book designed for the twenty-first century North American mission field is that Christ’s saving work on the cross, the need for repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ would be major themes running through that Prayer Book. They would permeate the rites and services contained in that book. Emphasized would be the importance of spreading the gospel and making new disciples as well as living a life worthy of the gospel and in the service of Christ.
What would be also notable about the rites and services contained in such a Prayer Book would their simplicity and ease of use. Both their order and their language would be easy to understand.
The rites and services would use modern English and would be limited to the essential elements of the rite or service. Optional material would not be printed in the rite or service itself but would be placed in a separate section after the rite or service along with any additional directions.
When an element is printed in a rite or service, the tendency is to use it even though it is optional. The result is that a rite or service of a reasonable length is made unnecessarily long.
Optional material in its doctrine would be consistent with the overall doctrine of the rite or service and the Prayer Book. It would not change the doctrine of the rite or service or the Prayer Book.
Any ceremonies used in a rite or service would be kept to a minimum, would conform to “the requirements of functional action and rhetorical gesture,” and would have a discernible connection to the rite or service. They would also conform to the structure, rationale, and theology of the rite or service and the Prayer Book and would be understandable as to their meaning and their use.
A Prayer Book designed for the twenty-first century North American mission field would provide the maximum of flexibility where it is needed the most. The forms for a Service of the Word, including the orders for Morning and Evening Prayer would exhibit the greatest degree of flexibility.
Where they occurred, directions to stand, sit, or kneel would be suggestions only.
Where parts of a rite or service may be sung to a musical setting, the use of the words for which these settings were composed would be permitted provided the doctrine of a particular setting was consistent with the doctrine of the rite or service and the Prayer Book.
Hymns, canticles, and other worship songs would be permitted in the rites and services other than where provision is made for them. The substitution of metrical settings of the Psalms for prose settings would be permitted and the substitution of hymns or other worship songs for canticles. Versions of the psalms other than those printed in the Prayer Book would also be allowed.
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