The Book of Common Prayer in November

For the month of November, The Advocate will be using the Book of Common Prayer in our worship at both the 9 AM and the 11 AM. An essential (as in “of the essence”) aspect of Episcopal and Anglican worship is our common prayer. And while there are increasing options approved for worship in the Episcopal Church, many of which we use at our 11 AM liturgy through the year, the vast majority of Episcopal churches worship with the Book of Common Prayer.

The Episcopal Church website describes the Book of Common Prayer as: a treasure chest full of devotional and teaching resources for individuals and congregations, but it is also the primary symbol of our unity. As Armentrout and Slocum note in their Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, that “Anglican liturgical piety has been rooted in the Prayer Book tradition since the publication of the first English Prayer Book in 1549.”

We, who are many and diverse, come together in Christ through our worship, our common prayer. The prayer book, most recently revised in 1979, contains our liturgies, our prayers, our theological documents, and much, much more.

We use the Book of Common Prayer in our Sunday worship at the 9 AM each week.

The current Book of Common Prayer was approved in 1979 after more than a decade of discernment and trial rites. It replaced the previous BCP which had been in use since 1928. The 1979 BCP placed a greater emphasis on the Eucharist as the principle act of worship on Sundays, and also introduced options for the Eucharistic rites. These options have nuanced theological distinctions and histories.

There are 6 different Eucharistic Prayers in the Book of Common Prayer. Two are in the more traditional language, reminiscent of the language of the Kings James Bible and found in the the 1928 BCP. These are called Rite One. Four are in a language contemporary in the 1960s and 70s, capturing the beginnings of gender-inclusive language. These are called Rite Two. The Rite Two prayers also reflect a wider spectrum of theological influence. On All Saints Sunday, November 10 and November 24 we will use Rite Two prayers. On Sunday, November 17, we will use a Rite One setting. It will be, in some ways, archaic, penitential, gender-biased, and clergy-centric. In other ways it will be beautiful and nostalgic. Our hope is that it will offer an opportunity to reflect on the language of our liturgy and the language of our faith.

Come and visit The Advocate this month and see how the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer expresses and forms our faith.