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In The Language of the Book of Common Prayer, 1962
Anglican Philosopher ^ | 7/3/2006 | Sarah Daley

Posted on 07/30/2006 4:09:06 PM PDT by sionnsar

Those who know me will know that my dislike for the Anglican Church of Canada’s Book of Alternative Services (The BAS, or as I usually call it, the BS) is strong. Today, at our summer parish (which uses only the BAS) we said the Eucharist service “In the language of the Book of Common Prayer, 1962″ (p.230, BAS) I have always been very uncomfortable saying that service, and only today have I really understood why.

There is first the fact that it is physically in the BAS, and I like to avoid having to use that book wherever possible. Second, the fact that, while I have never carefully compared the services, things seem to be a bit different than the BCP Communion Service - the Gloria is at the beginning, everything seems a little mixed up, and the prayers I dearly love are missing. If it were only these two reasons, however, I think I would not mind the service that much. I do try to avoid being an uptight Prayerbooker (I don’t often succeed).

The most serious reason it bothers me is the language of “language.” In the preface of the BAS (worth a read for all of those who mistakenly think the BAS is just a case of updated language), there is a fairly strong condemnation of those who cling to “dead” or “archaic” languages. I wish I had a copy of the BAS on hand so I could report it verbatim, but it essentially made three claims: 1. Clinging to dead/archaic language is sentimentalist. 2. Using dead/archaic language is elitist. 3. The Reformers would abhor us using the BCP these days.

All that being said, what on earth is a service in a dead/archaic language doing in the BAS? I have to think that it’s some kind of “concession” to those of us who are backwards and elitist, or perhaps a way of being able to claim that the BAS really does supercede the BCP. (I wonder, as a side note, if the BAS were intended to supercede the BCP, why is it called the book of “alternative” services instead of the New Prayer Book or something of the sort? The very title “Book of Alternative Services” suggests that it is meant to be used alongside the BCP, not instead of it.)

So the editors of the BAS are suggesting this: using archaic language is bad, but here is a service to use, made up of archaic language. Not only that, they have altered the service so it resembles the BAS Eucharist service, and the BAS is really just about updating the language anyway (right?), so from their perspective, the only unique thing about the service is its old-fashioned language.

What that means for the person sitting in the pew is this: saying the service feels like play-acting. “Isn’t this fun - it’s just like those old-fashioned Anglicans used to say the service!” It’s kind of like having a garden party and dressing up in bonnets, or having a Victorian tea party - nostalgia mixed with play-acting. This, in a church service? I think I’d rather say the dreaded p. 185 Eucharist service, complete with it’s (as I call it) Prayer of Righteous Entitlement.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 07/30/2006 4:09:06 PM PDT by sionnsar
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2 posted on 07/30/2006 4:09:27 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d, N0t Y0urs | NYT:Jihadi Journal)
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To: sionnsar
I must defend the BAS on one point: the excellent collection of Proper Offertory ("Prayer over the gifts") and Post Communion prayers, many of which are redactions or close parallels to the 1962 Roman Missal and hence derivations of classic prayers which have endured through the centuries.

My Lutheran parish has been using these propers for at least three quarters of the Church Year for well over a decade.
3 posted on 07/30/2006 7:39:19 PM PDT by lightman (The Office of the Keys should be exercised as some ministry needs to be exorcised.)
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To: sionnsar

Many of the same problems of course can be found in "Holy Eucharist Rite I" of the 1979 prayerbook in the USA. They grafted prayers from the Order for Holy Communion to the "shape" of the new liturgy, so they are not the same. The exchange of the peace and the breaking of the bread are in the contemporary fashion in Rite I. Moreover, Rite I parishoners still hear the lessons and the psalms in contemporary "inclusive" translations.

4 posted on 07/31/2006 6:08:07 AM PDT by tellw
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