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 Issues | Liturgy | Common Worship Baptism



The main service is in the Sunday services book on page 344 of the Sunday Services book.

Within a couple of years of being authorised it was clear that there was a lot of discontent and many churches had made significant changes.  The Synod therefore made three further changes, all indicating the problems with Common Worship:

1) The ASB decision can be used for 'strong pastoral reasons', this was because some people do not like the sharpness of the questions and promises required of parents and God parents.
2) The term 'Holy Communion' is now used instead of 'Eucharist' reflecting the decision to stick with the more Biblical title.  (The term 'Communion' rather than Holy Communion' is found in the Bible.  The best title however is 'The Lord's Supper'.  Eucharist merely describes one aspect of the service.  See 'What's in a Name?' Cross†Way article)

3) Several texts were made optional because of concerns about length and because some people did not like all the text provided.

Related provision:
Emergency Baptism (page 195 in the Sunday Services book)
Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child (page 337 in the Sunday book)
Confirmation (printed separately)

The service underwent substantial changes during the revision process in General Synod. These involved changes not simply to individual texts but to the shape and overall direction of the service. Over a quarter of the Laity in the Synod voted against authorisation of the service!

The fundamental questions:
What happens at baptism?
Who is baptism for?

Order of service

Holy Baptism apart from a Celebration of Holy Communion

Introduction etc.

  • Preparation
  • The Greeting
  • Thanksgiving Prayer for a Child
  • Introduction *
  • Presentation of the Candidates
  • The Collect *
  • The Liturgy of the Word
    Readings and Psalm
    Gospel Reading

The Liturgy of Baptism

  • Presentation of the Candidates
  • The Decision
  • Signing with the Cross
  • Prayer over the Water *
  • Profession of Faith *
  • Baptism


  • Prayers of Intercession *
  • The Welcome and Peace *
  • Prayers of Intercession *
  • The LordÕs Prayer

The Sending Out

  • The Blessing *
  • Giving of a Lighted Candle
  • The Dismissal

* indicates alternative texts are provided

Significant changes from the ASB 1980:

The decision (page 353)
In the case of infant baptism this is directed to the candidate through the parents and godparents. This 'proxy' speaking is also found in the BCP but for different reasons. People have been embarrassed using the ASB with non-believing parents.

Many people however do not like the starkness of the CW decision, in particular its focus on sin and the devil. They have therefore reverted to the ASB, which the Synod has allowed.

Reversion to ancient practice
All the earliest baptismal services were very simple and candidates were asked to renounce the devil and affirm their faith. The commonest form of baptismal declaration became what we call the Apostles Creed.
In the ASB the Church of England departed from this practice by emasculating both the decision and affirmation of faith. Common Worship has brought us back into line with previous Christian practice. However, the squeamish still able to avoid mentioning the Devil.

Prayer over the water.
In a sacramentalist view, the Holy Spirit changes the water so that it becomes the agent of baptism.
This prayer has been shaped like the 'Eucharistic prayer' and at one stage in the revision process read as follows:

Now sanctify this water by the power of your Holy Spirit,
that your children may be cleansed from sin and born again

The Synod agreed with me that this was inconsistent with the doctrine of the Chuch of England.  However, the final form, whilst similar to the wording of the Book of Common Prayer is open to misunderstanding.

Now sanctify this water that, by the power of your Holy Spirit,
they may be cleansed from sin and born again.

The prayer at Emergency Baptism got through undetected, though it is optional:
bless this water, that whoever is washed in it may be made one with Christ

This is blatantly sacramentalist and shows what some members of the Liturgical Commission wish to see and how they have no regard for the doctrine of the Church.

See also the alternative form for All Saints
Fill these waters, we pray, with the power of that same Spirit, that all who enter them may be reborn and rise from the grave to new life in Christ.

Both these are undiluted 'ex opera operato' teaching and misrepresent the working of the Holy Spirit.

The sovereignty of God.
When compared to the BCP the service is weak on prayer.
The BCP pattern is

  • Exhortation, prayer, prayer
  • Scripture, exhortation, prayer
  • Exhortation, decisions, prayer, prayer,
  • baptism.

Each exhortation is based on biblical teaching. The service thus assumes that in Baptism God is sovereign and our chief part is to plead with God to accomplish what He has promised.

The service reintroduces as options some symbolism which developed from the 4th Century onwards, such as clothing and candles. Earlier in the revision process these were a key part printed in the main service.
The Reformers abandoned these practices because they were not in the earliest liturgies, had been abused and misunderstood and because they distracted from the meaning of baptism itself.

The same accusation can be levelled against 'signing' in the BCP. Its proximity to baptism led people to think of it as part of baptism, particularly if water is used in signing.

The instructions to candidates or parents and godparents is given after baptism whereas in the ASB they are given before.


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Related Links
Common Worship
BulletCommunion Order One
BulletCommunion Order Two


Liturgy Pages
BulletWhy liturgy?

BulletBook of Common Prayer (1662)
Bullet1552 Prayer Book

BulletThe Lord's Supper
BulletWhat do we do?
BulletWhat's in a name?


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