The ACNA blogosphere and social media has been dominated by the new kid on the block, the ACNA 2019 Book of Common Prayer. Meanwhile, I overlooked an emerging project to render the 2019 BCP into the language of Cranmer. But this isn’t simply a Rite I job on the ACNA prayer book, instead, it is actually restoring key language. Exhibit A, from the Daily Office Confession:
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and there is no health in us.
What you may notice is the omission of “and apart from your grace” preceding “there is no health in us.” This was an addition to the 2019 ACNA BCP that Professor Samuel Bray took to task over at the North American Anglican.
Now enter Exhibit B, also from the confession:
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
Ah, there it is. Miserable Offenders unite.
It is my understanding this project has the blessing of the Liturgy Task Force (there is a rubric allowing for traditional language in the ACNA BCP). There is potential this work will be published officially by the ACNA with the College of Bishops’ blessing. I hope some of the changes to the classic canticles are also reversed and for heaven’s sake, put the Opening Sentences, well, in the opening of the offices. Also, based on my use of the ACNA BCP when compared to using the 2003 REC BCP offices, it would be a huge and simple improvement to place the supplemental canticles and seasonal antiphons within the text of the offices to prevent from needlessly flipping several times during the offices. When using the 1928 BCP or 2003 REC BCP I have found a congregation does not miss a beat so long as you print the page number in the bulletin for the canticles that will be used in the service or simply announce “turn to page x” and read the title of the canticle being read/sung next. It is far easier to tell a congregation to skip a page or two on an optional canticle than jump to the back and hold your place in the office and then pick up where you were without confusing someone (see, I can be “missional”!).
It is with great joy that the twenty and thirty somethings have been pushing for this project (and I do believe Jacob Hootman, who spearheads this project was not yet nineteen when he started this work!). Please contact the Liturgy Task Force AND the College of Bishops and let them know you support the project and want the restoration of important, classical Anglican language.
My wish list for this noble project would include restoring the simple, yet theologically heavy, classic catechism as it can be memorized and truly provides a new Anglican with the core of what is necessary for confirmation. This is not meant to degrade the ACNA Catechism as we do need their longer catechism to educate persons in a post-Christian society, but for the purpose of ensuring each confirmand knows what is key prior to confirmation the shorter catechism is better-suited and is based on the model of St. Cyril’s Catechetical Lectures (the Lord’s Prayer, the 10 Commandments, and the Creed). Perhaps merely re-adopt the 1928’s Offices of Instruction would suffice since it is a liturgy for the entire church to recite and learn the catechism together (something we recently did at Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd). Additionally, instead of noting Ash Wednesday and Good Friday “are encouraged” for fasting, it would be important to note that these are required days of abstinence and all Fridays are days for fasting to keep within the prayer book tradition. If my memory serves me correctly, the American prayer books dropped the requirement in the 1662 BCP, in the “Concerning the Service of the Church”, requiring “And all Priests and Deacons are to say daily the Morning and Evening Prayer either privately or openly, not being let by sickness, or some other urgent cause.” This should be restored in this traditional language version as a requirement for the clergy in a rubric before the major daily offices.
Please note, I am not opposed to contemporary language prayer books as I submitted my proposals to the task force, but I do believe words have meaning and excising words or providing additional contextual language comes dangerously close to crossing the boundaries of revision to revisionism. I do not believe the Liturgy Task Force had any intent of the latter and this traditional language ACNA BCP project provides the opportunity to ensure ACNA “not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28) but instead to “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16).