|The original Book of Common Prayer, published by Thomas Cranmer, 1547/1549|
It’s been a true labor of love.
And it’s finished. At last!
Last spring Father Keith Acker of Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity, a small fellowship of the Reformed Episcopal Church in the hamlet of Alpine, thirty miles east of San Diego, asked if I could help edit a project.
I had no idea of the journey ahead of me.
You see, conservative Anglicans are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the Book of Common Prayer, the basis of Anglican liturgy and worship. If one wants to remain true to Anglican and biblical doctrine, then one must use the antiquated 1928 Book of Common Prayer. A beautiful book, the 1928 BCP uses the Great Bible of 1540 as its Scriptural basis. The Great Bible is beautiful, but it predates the King James by seventy years and thus is not extremely accessible to today’s modern Christian (unless they’re a medieval fan like myself--and the Psalms are extraordinary!!!). But the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, although accessible, contains significant changes in doctrine; basically, it’s far too watered down for most conservative Anglicans.
So there lies the dilemma. Does one side with doctrine over accessibility? Or vice-versa?
This new 2011 BCP solves this conundrum. Using the English Standard Version Bible (published in 2001 and with their kind permission, of course) as its Scriptural core and retaining the historical, traditional, and biblical basis of the Anglican and the catholic (universal) Church, it’s both doctrinally sound and linguistically accessible.
And Father Acker sent it to the printer on Thursday.
Basically, as the title page reads:
This Book is for trial use by the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America for liturgical review.So here we are. Father Acker will be setting up a web site with an electronic version, and we’ll be selling copies of the BCP merely to recoup printing costs. We’ll also be sending copies to bishops in the REC and ACNA to see how interested they are. Bishop Richard Boyce has been overseeing this project from the beginning and is very enthusiastic about its possible use here in North America.
Our prayer is that the REC and ACNA will adopt this BCP for use in their churches in the US and Canada.
Father Acker has done an incredible job of pulling together the best of all the prayer books, including prayers from the Early Church, then revising them into modern American English usage while retaining the power and the poetic rhythm and usage of the original documents. He also translated hymns and prayers from Latin, picking up a beautiful rhyme and meter; they read beautifully. And he also restored Compline, one of my favorite prayers, and did a wonderful job on the Family Prayers. I just came along as an editor, pointing out awkward phrasings and unifying punctuation.
Father Acker, his lovely wife Alice, and I have spent many a Wednesday afternoon at our homeschooling table, reading the BCP aloud to catch anything amiss, discussing what was unclear, rewording sentences, and clarifying the grammar. There were some days in which he had to patiently explain the theology and/or doctrine behind a certain prayer or sentence to this ignorant evangelical, and we moved very slowly through the Collects (prayers for each week of the year, prayed “collectively” by God’s people). On other days, we breezed through fifty-some pages in one sitting. Then during the week he e-mailed me changes, and I e-mailed him my suggestions for improvement. Sometimes we went back and forth several times, getting each prayer down, just so.
I feel so blessed to have been part of this project. It’s been hard work–sometimes frustrating work–but I’ve learned so much about Anglican doctrine and worship, tradition and history. It’s been rather like an extended Confirmation Class…with the student giving the priest grammar lessons along the way. :)
And it’s DONE! I’ll post the website here when the electronic version is up.
To close, here is the Collect from Family Prayers: For Grace in Our Daily Life:
O GOD, you know our human weaknesses, our fallen nature, and our daily temptations; Always look on us with your compassion and give us the help of your Holy Spirit; Keep us from sin and prompt us to duty; Imprint our hearts with a sense of your goodness and a desire to remain constant in your righteousness; And, above all, keep in our minds the coming of your kingdom, so that our thoughts, words, and actions may be pleasing in your sight; Through your Son who comes to judge the living and the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.And thus I wish you all a wonderful day! I’ll be posting here much more often now that this project is finished, although I am sure that I’ll be helping out with editing parts of the website.
(Isaiah 54.8; 1Corinthians 10.13; Matthew 6.33)
Wishing you the blessings of our Lord, now and always,