Common Worship contains four communion services
and an outline order. One of these follows the
principles of the Book of Common Prayer but in
There are certain key biblical truths underlying
the administration of the Lords Supper in the
BCP and Order Two. These are the central concerns
of reformed theology.
centrality of the cross of Christ - at
the Lord's Supper we are proclaiming
death until He comes. Other themes must be secondary
meal for the people of God - it is not something
remote from the people, but the Lord's
people gathered at the Lord's table. Unlike
the Medieval Mass where the people were mere spectators this
is a meal for all believers.
Word and Sacrament
are inseparable - you cannot
have the sacrament without the word of God explaining
and expounding what is happening.
Human sinfulness - examination and repentance must
be fundamental to the service, we come only by
grace not by our own merits.
All is by faith - sola
fide - 'by faith alone'.
The bread and wine do not convey anything in their
own essence, the benefits are available only to
those who receive by faith.
of the Lord's Supper are conveyed in a spiritual
through the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit.
For generations scholars have recognised that
the liturgy of the BCP, primarily the work of Archbishop
Thomas Cranmer was both faithful to these reformed
principles and a work of powerful and eloquent
Order Two in Contemporary Language follows almost
exactly the order of the Book of Common Prayer.
The only substantial change is the omission of
the first and second long exhortations (which
are sadly ignored by churches) and a shortened
form of the third exhortation is included.
Where texts are common to other services (such
as the Creed and Collect for Purity) then the ordinary
modern language form is used. Some of these are
internationally agreed English language texts which
often appear to be driven more by political correctness
than biblical theology.
It is perfectly permissible in the new services
to substitute a traditional language text, the
creed for example. Mixing old and new is very 'post-modern'
and congregations may prefer to do it for their
In the production of the service there was a considerable
difference of opinion about how to handle some
of the other texts. One example will serve to illustrate
Confession in the Book of Common Prayer is
a powerful prayer, written in a particular style,
focusing heavily on the gravity and consequences
of sin, but with many now outdated expressions.
Every attempt simply to update the English has
resulted in a prayer that feels and sounds much
weaker. Some therefore argued that it was best
to allow people to use the BCP confession at this
point but provide another confession which follows
the principles of reformed theology whilst being
in modern English. This was rejected by the revision
committee. Indeed it was suggested that it was
impossible to express reformed theology in anything
other than 16th century English. The committee
decided that the texts must follow as closely as
possible the wording of Cranmer.
Theologically, this seems to betray a fear of
admitting that reformed theology has any contemporary
value - it is only of antiquarian interest.
Liturgically it has made for a certain inconsistency
in the service.
The Confession and Prayer after Communion are
all slightly unsatisfactory in that their language
is stilted in places. In both instances a theologically
weaker alternative is provided in the text. The
only other significant issue of language is the
retention of the word ÔoblationÕ in
the Prayer of Consecration.
Outline of the Service
- The Lord's Prayer
- Collect for Purity (As ASB)
- Commandments (NRSV text). These are part of
the opening prayers; we ask GodÕs help
to live by His standards. They are not intended
to be used to make us feel guilty. The Summary
or Kyrie can be used instead.
- Silent Prayer
- The Collect for the Day
is identical in format to the ASB, except there
is an introductory 'acclamation' to
the Gospel. Two readings are
obligatory, three suggested, one must be the
Gospel - we are after all remembering
Christ at this service.
- The Nicene Creed is part of our response to
the word of God (There are
a couple of significant inclusive language changes.)
- The Sermon
Offertory & Intercessions
- The collection of monetary gifts. Sentences
- The table is made ready for the Lord's
together around the Lord's
table the people of God pray.
- A shorter exhortation encapsulates what is
to follow, people are exhorted to remember
promises and warnings, examine themselves,
give thanks, receive, and resolve to serve. (This
text is new and based on the third long exhortation
in the BCP.)
- The invitation to confession (updated form
- Confession (two forms, one close to BCP, the
- Absolution (BCP updated)
- Comfortable words (as ASB)
- Sursum Corda - 'lift up your hearts' (this
is an international text, the 'him'
has been removed in the fourth line)
- Preface (updated ones are provided)
of God - Sanctus (ASB form)
- Prayer of Humble Access (As ASB but with the
missing lines put back - and an alternative provided)
- Prayer of Consecration (BCP updated with all
the terms Cranmer piled up to avoid misunderstanding)
- Giving of Communion (Following immediately
after the command of Christ.
He says it, we do it, without interference. The
full form of the words are provided, though they
can be split up to make it easier to use - remember
it was Elizabeth I who had Cranmer's
liturgy altered at this point making the words
- The Lord's
- Post Communion Prayer (One of the BCP prayers,
but it does not sound
contemporary. Alongside this is one of the prayers
from the ASB which is far more likely to be used,
- Gloria (praising God)
- The Blessing
about the Peace?
is no provision for the Peace. It can be used,
but be sensitive.
- At the start - making peace before we come
- Immediately before the short exhortation -
in response to the word of God making
peace with others before we make peace with
God in the confession.
- At the end
There is scope for variation within what is allowed
although churches should be careful not to lose
the doctrine and power of the liturgy as it stands.