Anglican BCP MMXII

Here continues the discussion of traditional Anglican liturgy in contemporary modern English–without the blandness one generally finds in contemporary English.  As the preface says:

This book is intended for Anglicans regardless of ecclesial affiliation and churchmanship, yet it is the product of two converging paths. The first path is the desire of some for an Anglican liturgy that is truly traditional yet in a contemporary idiom, a liturgy largely for those to whom the Shakespearean style of English in worship is perceived to be a barrier. Several attempts along this path have been made by various groups, yet the products seem invariably unsatisfactory at best and inappropriate at worst to be an offering of praise and thanksgiving to the Most High. The second path is the desire of many for a liturgy that although expressing orthodox theology yet profits from the last century-plus of liturgical scholarship and stands squarely in the Anglican tradition.

In crafting this liturgy, it soon became apparent that both these paths could converge in one book as well as in one text. Following decades of precedent, the contemporary idiom employs, wherever possible, the texts of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, specifically those corrected after the promulgation of Liturgiam Authenticam and intended for the third edition of the Roman Missal. In using these texts, the Church as a whole will be praying again (in English at least) with one voice. Thus this Anglican Book of Common Prayer does what liturgy at its best ought to do, it fosters unity horizontally, in space as it were, and expresses unity vertically, across the centuries of our tradition stretching back as far as the bringing of Christianity to the British Isles in the earliest days of the Church.

To address the first priority, that this book is intended for all Anglicans, the Eucharistic Liturgy offered the greater challenge, especially dealing with wide variations of churchmanship. In order to meet this challenge, the liturgy includes practices widely found yet makes liberal use of the permissive rubric (“may”) so that practices can be tailored to suit each location. The celebrant is free to use or omit many of the practices that in the past caused such strife and unnecessary division in the Church. In order to express the universal nature of Anglicanism, the first Eucharistic Prayer contains elements from Prayerbooks around the world, specifically the U.S.A. (1928), England (1928), Scotland (1970), Canada (1962), South Africa (1954), and the West Indies (1959). Two additional canons are provided, one from the historic source of all Anglican liturgy, the Sarum Missal, and the other from the first BCP, edited to eliminate reduplication of petitions and intercessions from the General Intercession.  The Divine Office is taken from the original BCP, re-sourced, and finally conformed to the wider Church’s practice. Again, note the prevalence of the permissive rubrics; the Eucharist and Office can be as spare or as ornate as desired without violating rubrics.

The book may be examined here, (Anglican_BCP_2012b) and your comments are invited.

26 thoughts on “Anglican BCP MMXII

  1. Chip+

    Sure looks like a lot of work went into this…quite the labor of love. Would really have been inclined to consider the document en toto, if the Marianist aspects were out of it, possibly in an auxiliary edition. As it is, parts of it might be pretty useful for a contemp service, I think.

    Really appreciate your insights and scholasticism in this. God bless ya!

  2. FrSutter Post author

    Chip, nice to hear from you. There has been a lot of work in this, over several years. Most of what remains is, quite frankly, drudge work in producing the Collects, taking the traditional collects and gently tweaking them into contemporary idiom.

    Did you notice the emphasis on the permissive rubric (“may”)? Those who don’t care for the Mother of God can just omit those parts.

  3. Fr. Bob Hackendorf

    1. This BCP reads well, the language is pleasing to the ear.

    2. The offices are extremely well done, perhaps the best I have seen in modern idiom.

    3. I like the Eucharistic Prayers– the options given are all solid, imho, both theologically and historically. The 1549 is my favorite.

    4. I would gladly use this prayerbook as it is, but I would be worried that some of the Marian parts would be problematic for some. (but not for me personally)

    5. I like the RSV, but the ESV now has the Apocrypha and seems to be gaining ground. But for me personally, this is a non-issue.

    Well done. Thanks for doing this and sharing it.

  4. Fr. Frank Gough

    Thank you, Fr. Sutter, for this labor of love. As a Lesser Franciscan, I have a great affection for St. Mary Theotokos. I can see how many including myself) would have problems with the phrase “ever-virgin”. So I echo what you said, if you don’t like it, don’t use it.
    Again, thank you.

    1. FrSutter Post author

      Actually, I believe that the phrase “ever-virgin” is not one of the items that can be omitted. The Perpetual Virginity of Mary is not an optional doctrine, but one that must be held by all the faithful. Heck, even such arch-protestants as Cranmer and Jewel held and taught the PV.

  5. Chip+

    What a huge project, obviously done with care and study. I would echo what Fr. Gough says above, with the addendum–I would leave out direct invocation of saints, and references to the Pope and the merits of the Saints, et al and offer those as a separate document, similar to Lesser Feasts and Fasts. Doubtlessly, we won’t resolve the long-standing disagreement on that aspect of catholic practice, but, if we hope to include reformed catholics in this, I think a nod to their (our) convictions would be advisable. Nice work!

  6. Chip+

    BTW, I don’t hate anyone except Satan. Just not comfortable with direct invocation. Comprecation is another matter, however.

  7. FrSutter Post author

    I’d like to gently repeat again that the BCP MMXII intentionally contains widespread use of the permissive rubric “may.” The idea was that in places where the fullness of the Faith is taught — and where other circumstances allow, such as space and personnel — a completely traditional liturgy in reverent contemporary English could be celebrated. In other places where the fullness of the Faith has not yet been comprehended a curtailed liturgy could still be celebrated in reverent contemporary English, and that both places could use the same book in the pew, truly “common prayer.”

  8. Chip+

    Richard+, you have a great way of affirming and uniting in your responses. I like your reply! One point, though, if I may, please–there is no reliable Scriptural evidence for the Perpetual Virginity claim…not everyone holds to it. Lots of dedicated, heart-committed Christians who would not.

    Still…your work is so very, very good. Thank you so much.

    1. FrSutter Post author

      Thank you so much for your caring and intelligent response, Chip. While I’m not sure what you mean by the phrase “dedicated, heart-committed Christians,” Anglicans should note that the Perpetual Virginity of Mary is an ancient doctrine of the Church, made a dogma in the second Council at Constantinople in 553. The PV is a dogma, that is, a doctrine that must be held by the faithful, for Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglicans in the continuing churches and in the ACNA. (So-called “anglicans” in P/ECUSA/TEC or the AC of Canada, of course, don’t have to believe in anything.) 😉

  9. Chip+

    If I could get a Scriptural basis for the whole EV concept, mi amigo, that would be awesome. Ref TEC–I know. Alas. Heartbreaking.

    I think a better term would be authentic and committed Christ-followers might be more descriptive. There will be lots of different kinds of Christians with us in Heaven.

    Be warm and blessed today!

    1. FrSutter Post author

      Actually, Chip, I’ve never worried about looking for a scriptural basis–it’s a dogma of the Church, decided by an Ecumenical Council, so the belief is required for all Romans, Orthodox, continuing Anglicans, and ACNA2. It’s that simple, really. We don’t need to have something proven, because it’s already been done. Our job is just to say “credo.” I believe.

      The high today is 70 on the Front Range of the Rockies! I love Colorado!

      1. Chip+

        All righty, then, my brother.

        I’m never heard of anyone ever REQUIRING that particular belief before, although I’ve heard it touted. Although I have enormous respect for your belief, I think I would pass on that one me’sef and stick to the Creeds and the Canon of Scripture instead.

        Understand the Councils, but…I’m just not there. This takes nothing away from you who are. When we get to Heaven, and see Jesus face-to-face, that can be one of the things we learn when we are like Him in that moment. Not central to the Faith, from what I can see, and something we can agree to disagree on. After all, if we are for Jesus, we are together.

        Colorado is awesome…hope to visit the Rockies a bit this summer, when it’s a million degrees down here.

        But…thanks for replying, anyway. All God’s blessings to y’all from deep south Texas!

      2. Fr. Frank Gough

        VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
        Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read
        therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be
        believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.

        It seems to me that this shows that it is NOT required of Anglicans to be believed. I asked my friend who is an American Orthodox priest, and he says it is not required of the Orthodox, either. So it would seem neither Orthodox, nor Anglican dogma, but Roman.

      3. Chip+

        Sorry, amigo…I’m with Fr. Frank on this one. Seems it IS an option…one I’ll opt out of. Don’t see this central to the Faith once delivered. Jesus is the Way for me…not the Blessed Mother, although she’s an awesome example to the saints of the Church Militant.

        Be blessed today, pardner!

  10. FrSutter Post author

    Chip, I think you’re missing the point, though. A dogma, defined by an Ecumenical Council, is a doctrine that must be believed for the salvation of one’s soul. It is not an option.

  11. FrSutter Post author

    Having checked with priests of the OCA, Antiochian, and ROCOR, the unanimous response was that “of course the Perpetual Virginity is a dogma of Orthodoxy and must be accepted by all orthodox faithful.”

    As for the position for Anglicans, the Articles of Religion as quoted by Frank above may be interesting but by no stretch of the imagination could be considered as having more weight than an Ecumenical Council of the undivided Church and certainly not contradicting such a Council!

    As a reminder, Anglicans of the continuing churches are bound by the Affirmation of Saint Louis, and Anglicans of the second Anglican Church in North America are bound by their constitution. Both of those types of Anglicans explicitly submit to the authority of the seven Ecumenical Councils. As a blogger who used to comment on the vagaries of the Anglican world used to say, “like it or not, bunky.” The authority that once was recognized only by some is now binding on all.

    Of course, there are always going to be Anglicans who insist their personal opinions are of higher value than the received Tradition of the Church. We call them Episcopalians. 🙂

    1. Chip+

      I can buy the Councils…as long as they don’t conflict with the Canon, which, as we all know, are the best proven texts in all history. Nothing comes close to the Sword of the Spirit!

      We just aren’t going to agree on the whole EV thing…as it conflicts with Scripture, which I, along with a huge part of the Christian world, believe is infallible, albeit incomplete, revelation.

      FWIW, when I took my vows, it said nothing about being bound by the Councils, although I highly value their historical perspective. Discernment is between us and the Father, provided by the Holy Ghost, confirmed by Scripture and further confirmed, according to the Word itself, in signs and wonders. In fact, our instruction from the bishop in those vows enjoins us to the primacy of the Holy Ghost and Scripture:

      “Howbeit, ye cannot have a mind and will thereto of yourselves; for that will and ability is given of God alone: therefore ye ought, and have need, to pray earnestly for his Holy Spirit. And seeing that ye cannot by any other means compass the doing of so weighty a work, pertaining to the salvation of man, but with doctrine and exhortation taken out of the Holy Scriptures, and with a life agreeable to the same; consider how studious ye ought to be in reading and learning the Scriptures, and in framing the manners both of yourselves, and of them that specially pertain unto you, according to the rule of the same Scriptures; and for this self-same cause, how ye ought to forsake and set aside, as much as ye may, all worldly cares and studies.”

      Soooooooo—mi amigo and brother…looks like we’re not gonna agree. But, all God’s blessing to y’all from deep in the heart of Texas.

  12. Father Bob Hackendorf

    I have been enjoying this conversation. I would agree that the Articles probably allow the PV issue to be discretionary. However, I do personally hold to the doctrine for the following reasons:

    1) while not explicitly taught by Scripture, it is not contradicted by Scripture
    2) the Fathers uniformly taught it, and from an early date
    3) it was taught by the Ecumenical Councils
    4) it was taught by the Reformers (including Zwingli, Luther, Calvin, Cranmer and Wesley)

    Can we think of another doctrine that meets the above four criteria that we would reject as orthodox Anglicans? Just sayin’ ….. 😉

    There is a fairly good defense of the Doctrine from a biblical perspective at

    1. Chip+

      Great piece of work there at the link. Will take some time to digest that one. Thanks for sending that!

      Suspect none of us here will shift our position on this, but how cool is it to couch our discussion in terms of godly study like the one you just sent? The Kingdom is diverse, my brother!

  13. Fr. Frank Gough

    “Bretheren of the Lord” is a great treatise, Bob+. Thanks for the link. I enjoyed reading it.

    In paragraphs 10 and 11, the writer poses rhetorical premises without valid antecedents, thus positing himself as the authority for the answers.
    “”How can this be since I have no relations with a man?” (Luke 1:34) From the Church’s earliest days, as the Fathers interpreted this Bible passage, Mary’s question was taken to mean that she had made a vow of lifelong virginity, even in marriage. (This was not common, but neither was it unheard of.) If she had not taken such a vow, the question would make no sense.”

    Yet a plain reading of the Greek quickly reveals that the implication is that she is simply stating that she is AT THAT POINT IN TIME still a virgin.
    34 ειπεν δε μαριαμ προς τον αγγελον πως εσται τουτο επει ανδρα ου γινωσκω

    The verb γινωσκω is present tense, indicative active case, 1st person singular. In none of the 7 times this verb occurs in the NT is it ever perfect (continuous present) tense. In such a case, the verb would be ἔγνωκα, perfect indicative active 1st person singular.

    The very next paragraph is fully dependent on a “straw man” fallacy for it’s conclusion.

    “Mary knew how babies are made (otherwise she wouldn’t have asked the question she did) If she had anticipated having children in the normal way and did not intend to maintain a vow of virginity, she would hardly have to ask “how” she was to have a child, since conceiving a child in the “normal” way would be expected by a newlywed wife.”

    This begins with the a priori assumption that Mary’s question could not be rhetorical nor merely indicative of the fact that she was still an unmarried virgin at that point in time.

    The writer continues: “Her question makes sense only if there was an apparent (but not a real) conflict between keeping a vow of virginity and acceding to the angel’s request. A careful look at the New Testament shows that Mary kept her vow of virginity and never had any children other than Jesus”.

    This conclusion by the author is unsupported by any premise revealed in this work. This does not mean that is impossible that Mary was perpetually virgin, merely that the evidence in Holy Scripture does not support that conclusion to the exclusion of the probability or possibility of her being a faithful Jewish wife to Joseph, and bearing him children.

    It is also possible that those who are referred to as Jesus’ brothers and sisters are his cousins, but the argument from the Hebrew language holds no water against the gospel according to Luke, since it was originally written in Greek.

  14. FrSutter Post author

    Nevertheless, being taught by the Ecumenical Councils makes PV an indisputable dogma of the Church, a mandatory doctrine.

    1. Chip+

      Love ya, father…but no way it’s mandatory, and no way it’s indisputable. The Blessed Mother is not divine, not immaculate, but she’s Theotokos and awesome saint, and certainly worthy of emulation. But you are just not gonna convince me, or any other Bible-believing Christian of this, based entirely on a council of the Church. That concept conflicts with Scripture, which enjoins us to each work our salvation directly with God, not through a council.

      This in no way means I don’t think you’re an awesome scholar and dedicated priest of God. But it is NOT mandatory, unless there is something I don’t understand about it. We are not saved in the name of the council. We don’t heal and cast out demons in the name of the council. Jesus said that He was the Way, Truth and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through HIm. Not his mom or any of the other Saints.

      1. FrSutter Post author

        Really? You place more emphasis on scripture than on an Ecumenical Council? Which came first, the Church and her Councils or the Bible written by the Church and canonized by the Councils?

        I would have liked to meet you again after this life.

  15. Bob Hackendorf

    Frank, I think your textual comments are fair enough. I would not say that PV is explicitly taught by Scripture, but rather that it is not contradicted by Scripture. The argument about the word “brother” being broader than sibling is a valid koine issue, though– notice how the LXX calls Abraham and Lot “brothers” (adelphoi) in Gen 13 and several times after that– also Laban calls Jacob his “brother (adelphos) in Gen 29:15. Adelphos is a pretty broad word in the Koine. This does not prove PV in itself, but it helps show that it is not inconsistent with the biblical witness.

    I guess in some respects I do stand between the two main views here– on the one hand, I do believe PV is true for the reasons I gave earlier, I do think Christians should give serious weight to the seven ecumencial councils (PV is attested during the period of the first four, in fact, Jerome considered the doctrine to apostolic in origin), However, I feel bound by the AOR to say that the doctrine is not essential to salvation, and that if it were, it would have been more explicitly taught in Scripture. I guess I am the typical Anglican fence-sitter.

    But I enjoy the dialogue on this board.

Comments are closed.