Thursday, November 09, 2006

BCP 1662—Contemporary Language form of it

There is an increasing realization and call from a growing number of sources (e.g. the Prayer Book Society of the USA, the Moderator of the ACN, the AAC, the AMiA, the Common Cause Partners of the ACN) to make the BCP 1662 the standard of doctrine and liturgy for the whole of the North American (Orthodox) Anglican Family (Families). This makes sense since the BCP 1662 is the primary Formulary of most of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion, and it exists in 150 different languages through translation. And it was the first edition of the BCP used in America. Further, it is the basis of the 1962 Canadian edition of the BCP and of the (regrettably rejected by ECUSA) American 1789-1928 edition of the BCP.

At the same time there is a rapidly growing desire to make the basic services of the same BCP 1662 available in a form of “contemporary” or “modern” English which is accessible to generations of people who have lost the art of praying in the classic form of English Prayer.

Therefore the AMiA decided to make such a contemporary form available for trial use. I assisted on behalf of the Prayer Book Society and there is now a book (“The Green Book”) wherein are the Daily Offices, Holy Communion, Baptism, Confirmation, Burial and Marriage. The Bible used is either the RSV or the ESV. While the BCP of 1662 has been followed, some use has been made of the Canadian BCP of 1962 to allow an extended Consecration Prayer This set of services is not for general use but for testing. I am conscious that it can be improved in various ways. I have it in PDF and serious minded people may take a look at it and make comment to help in the improvement of it for the future.

Perhaps out of this experimental use will come –as the AMIA Primate and Bishops hope—a prayer book that is wholly 1662 in doctrine but in an acceptable form of current English. There needs to be some basic standardization of liturgy in North America, for too many options are in play and it is very confusing both for people inside and wanting to enter from outside.

But alongside the AMiA project there is no reason why there should not be similar projects in operation and that when the current crisis of Anglicanism ceases down the road, out of these similar versions a uniform version will be agreed to become the 1662 BCP in current American English—with few options and alternatives within it—for the new unified Province. So I hope that the Prayer Book Societies of the world—especially those in Canada and the USA-- will both initiate and be asked to engage in such work, both to preserve the 1662 in its original form as formulary and to make available suitable equivalents of it for trial use today. The Anglican Way has strayed from the narrow highway and gone off into all kinds of side-roads and its needs some liturgical security to help it get back on track!

The temptation in this work of editing and modernizing is to say “I prefer this” and “I like that” and if this approach is followed then there are so many options (from a continent where having an opinion is regarded as a sacred privilege) that the idea of a fixed and authoritative text is lost. What is needed is a text that has the same doctrine and ethos and style as the 1662 itself but is in a language form that is accessible to modern folks. To achieve this is a high calling and great task and the more able and committed people involved the better.

The Anglican Way needs a basic Uniformity (if it is not to disintegrate wholly in the USA & Canada), but one which allows varieties of churchmanship and local color and style. Please think and pray about this idea and proposal

Please pray for me as people continually ask me for advice in this matter of both updating and standardizing the received Liturgy

Thank you.

The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon MA., D.Phil (Oxford)

3 comments:

wyclif said...

Dr. Toon:

Where may "serious-minded" people obtain a copy of said 'Green Book' and the mentioned .PDF file?

Anonymous said...

Why do we need a version of the 1662 BCP in contemporary English, i.e., the language of tabloid journalism?

I can't support you in this. I don't believe that people of ordinary intelligence can't understand the 1662 BCP, just as I can't believe they can't understand the KJV. As I found myself saying to the rector of my church last week, there's lots of poor black people in NYC. Most of us wouldn't consider them very educated or highly literate. One sees many of them on the subway reading the bible. What version are they reading? They're reading the KJV. Nobody doubted that the KJV or the 1928 Prayer Book was accessible until sometime in the past few decades, when, I suppose, everybody in the English-speaking world just got dumb.

Admirer of Cranmer said...

I couldn't agree more. There are Anglicans in the inner city who joined the Episcopal Church when the 1928 was the norm. They liked the formality, dignity, and reverence in the old version. They had no trouble understanding it, either. There are only a few words that need to be "translated" because the meaning has changed (i.e. "comfort" should be "strengthen.") Granted, the 1928 and 1662 could be improved upon, but not by using journalistic English!

I would like to obtain a copy of the "Green Book" too. I am a cradle Anglican and have used the BCP in Canada, England, Scotland, and the USA. Three versions.
AND: Will the omission of prayers for the Sovereign be replaced by the 1928 prayers for the President, etc.? ALSO: Is "FAITH and fear" left in?
(Our Presidents may not always be Christians!)