Book of Common Prayer in Worship
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The name of the Book of Common Prayer says it all. First, it is a book. It is held on our hands, taken home to our families, and becomes a part of our lives. Second, it is Common. That is, it is shared by other Anglicans from now and the past, and even by many Christians of other traditions since it is such an eclectic work. And it is a book of Prayer. Prayer is communion with God. Prayer is the proper activity of a redeemed people. Prayer is God making himself present with man. And the Book of Common Prayer is our heritage of worship that sits quietly as the framework of a simple, catholic and reformed worship tradition.
In Prayer Book worship, the people and the worship leaders have a back-and-forth prayer conversation of call and response. Often the “regulars” have memorized much of the people’s response, making a visitor feel like an observer rather than a participant, even with a printed guide or book in hand. But participation is part of the nature of contemporary Anglican worship – a component reality that was present in the early church, lost for a time, and now restored. The people worship God in full participation led by the clergy and lay leaders. Everyone baptized Christian has a part.
It goes without saying that just as in any church tradition, no one Anglican parish will conduct worship in exactly the same way as any other. But the basic pattern and shape of Prayer Book worship brings together Anglicans not only from disparate parts of the world today, but from the time of the Reformation in England and even long before that. Our look at Anglican Sunday worship will focus mainly on the big picture, but the details can be filled in through experience in an Anglican parish.
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