Alleluia! Christ has risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Happy Easter, friends!
For anyone involved in the services of Holy Week – whether you attended the services, provided music, created bulletins, designed liturgies, or presided – the Monday after Easter Sunday is usually spent recovering from the vast flood of emotions we experience while observing our Lord’s passion and resurrection. Each of the services provides its own unique opportunity for us to draw closer to our Lord through our worship together.
Good liturgies don’t just happen. While the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) gives us rubrics and an outline of each service, a lot of planning and preparation go into choosing the appropriate music, prayers, incense, lighting, and other elements of our worship services.
Although some of our parishioners are still referring to the 1979 BCP as the “new” prayer book, this beloved resource is now 40 years old! A lot has changed in those 40 years including our understanding of expansive and inclusive language and ways in which we might be more inviting in our liturgies.
While some in the Episcopal Church are calling for a complete revision of the 1979 BCP, revising the Book of Common Prayer is not an inexpensive or easy task! The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) estimated it would cost between $7 and $8 million and would take a minimum of 9 years to completely revise the 1979 BCP. After much debate and compromise regarding a revision of the BCP, the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies came to agreement on the following resolution:
D078 Authorize Holy Eucharist, Rite II (Expansive Language) for Trial Use
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention authorize The Holy Eucharist: Rite II, including Eucharistic Prayers A, B, and D, (Expansive Language) for trial use throughout this church as a proposed revision within pages 355-382 of the Book of Common Prayer pursuant to Article X(b) of the Constitution; and be it further
Resolved, That the period of trial use for these liturgies shall extend until the completion of the next comprehensive revision of the Book of Common Prayer; and be it further
Resolved, That The Holy Eucharist: Rite II, Eucharistic Prayer C, be referred to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music for possible revision for trial use; and be it further
Resolved, That The Holy Eucharist: Rite II, including Eucharistic Prayers A, B, and D, (Expansive Language) be provided to the church at no cost via electronic distribution; and be it further
Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music be directed to engage a dynamic equivalence translation of The Holy Eucharist: Rite II, including Eucharistic Prayers A, B, and D, (Expansive Language) into the Spanish, French, and Hatian Creole languages; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $12,500 for the implementation of this resolution; and be it further
Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music be directed to develop a process for evaluation of the ongoing use of The Holy Eucharist: Rite II, including Eucharistic Prayers A, B, and D, (Expansive Language) among the dioceses and congregations of this church.
The full report regarding a possible revision of the 1979 BCP from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music from General Convention 2018 is available for your reading pleasure.
Mary Frances Schjonberg and Melodie Woerman from Episcopal News Service (ENS) have written a brief article summarizing the work at Convention regarding this resolution. In their article, they include examples of some of the trial language:
- Priests may begin any of the three rites by saying, “Blessed be God: most holy, glorious and undivided Trinity.” The current opening acclamation of “Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit” is also an option. In either case, the people’s response is “And blessed be God’s reign, now and for ever. Amen.”
- At the beginning of the Great Thanksgiving in all three rites, the priest may say, “God be with you,” instead of “The Lord be with you.”
- The Sanctus can now be said using “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” in addition to “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
- In Eucharistic Prayer A, celebrants now have the option of saying, “…you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and maker of all.” In the original version, that sentence ends with “…the God and Father of all.”
- Eucharistic Prayer B contains an optional wording for the sentence “Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” The option reads, “Unite us in the sacrifice of Christ, through whom we are made acceptable to you, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
- Eucharistic Prayer D offers the option of adding the word “matriarchs” after “patriarchs” in this sentence: “And grant that we may find our inheritance with [the Blessed Virgin Mary, with patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, (with ____) and all the saints who have found favor with you in ages past.”
Much has been said about this resolution across the Church – and not all of it fairly represents the intention of its crafters. Father Matthew S. C. Olver has posted a more in-depth explanation of the resolution on the weblog of the Living Church Foundation, Covenant. Also included on this post are links to several articles that were published on other sites right after the resolution was approved that included inaccurate or misleading information. These may be helpful if someone has approached you saying they heard (fill in the blank) about a new Episcopal BCP and may give you the opportunity to set the record straight.
A PDF copy of the new expansive language liturgies is ready in which you will find that the expansive language is offered as an option, not a replacement for the current language.
While diocesan bishop approval is needed for use of this new resource, Bishop Gibbs has already given his permission for its use in the Diocese of Michigan. Bishop Gibbs has also given permission for the use of any of the materials found in the supplemental liturgical resources known as Enriching Our Worship. As usual, it’s always good to let the bishop know when your congregation tries something new and then give feedback as to how it was received.
Church Publishing has made available links to online PDFs of all EOW resources:
Enriching Our Worship 1: Morning/Evening Prayer, The Great Litany, The Holy Eucharist (including Rites 1, 2 and 3, Forms A and B, and a number of optional blessings)
Enriching Our Worship 2: Ministry with the Sick or Dying, and The Burial of a Child
Enriching Our Worship 3: Burial Rites for Adults together with a Rite for the Burial of a Child
Enriching Our Worship 4: The Renewal of Ministry with the Welcoming of a New Rector or Other Pastor
Enriching Our Worship 5: Liturgies and Prayers Related to Childbearing, Childbirth, and Loss
Yet another available resource Bishop Gibbs has approved for use in our diocese is Eucharistic Prayers by Samuel Wells and Abigail Kocher. This book contains a new Eucharistic Prayer for every Sunday in the Church lectionary years A, B and C. This resource is a great compliment to the Eucharistic Prayers found in the BCP and EOW.
The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music has recently announced another great resource for those of us preparing liturgy: The Book of Occasional Services 2018. An article in ENS explains that this book “is a collection of liturgical resources related to occasions which do not occur with sufficient frequency to warrant their inclusion in The Book of Common Prayer. Designed to give congregations resources that form our members in the Episcopal faith, the rites and ceremonies contained in this book are to be understood, interpreted, and used in light of the theology, structure, and directions of The Book of Common Prayer”. General Convention has made this resource available as a free download.
You may have heard the Latin phrase “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi,” which means “the rule of prayer (is) the rule of belief.” In other words, in The Episcopal Church “we pray what we believe.” This is one of the many reasons we so value our Book of Common Prayer and why some in the Church are reluctant to change it. Resolution 078 may be one way for us to hold onto our tradition while continuing to grow through the embrace of new resources.
Let us pray…
Grant unto us, O Lord, nerves of steel
that we may dare to sing a new song –
and teach others to sing it too.
Grant unto us, O Lord, iron hands
that we might grasp the nettle of new music.
Yet, grant unto us, O Lord, velvet fingers
that we may touch tenderly the sensibilities of Your people
Grant unto us, O Lord, feet light as feathers
that we may tread softly on the eggshells placed in our path.
Yet, grant unto us, O Lord, firm footsteps
that we might follow where You would have us go.
Grant unto us, O Lord, occasional failing memory
that we may forget the harsh criticisms of our taste in music.
Yet, grant unto us, O Lord, memory clear as crystal
that we may remember the joy – and comfort –
that our words and music bring.
Grant unto us, O Lord, the tongues of angels
that we may create harmony of discord.
Grant unto us, O Lord, shoulders of Teflon
that the mud that shall be cast shall not stick.
And above all else, dear Lord,
grant unto us space and time in our busy-ness
that our souls may touch your soul –
and we may learn to sing the songs
that our souls shall sing for ever. Amen
~ The Rev. Diana Walworth, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan council