Skip to comments.In The Language of the Book of Common Prayer, 1962
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 Canadas 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 dont 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 its 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. Isnt this fun - its just like those old-fashioned Anglicans used to say the service! Its 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 Id rather say the dreaded p. 185 Eucharist service, complete with its (as I call it) Prayer of Righteous Entitlement.
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.
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