Vol I No. 7

PART II of A Response to ACNA’s Proposed 2019 Prayer Book * by Drew N. Keane

by sinetortus



By Drew Nathaniel Keane

(*This original article was first published online on Covenant,

the weblog of The Living Church to whom grateful thanks is most warmly extended) 

This first section of the article (published here earlier)  covered the proposals for Morning Prayer, Baptism.This section now looks at the proposals for Holy Communion and the Lectionaries in the forthcoming ACNA Prayer Book


By way of introducing this second Section of the original Article it will be useful to cite some words from the opening of the article as a whole:

The Anglican Church in North America has been preparing a new revision of the Book of Common Prayer for several years. Its Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force began gathering feedback once working drafts were made available for use in 2013. The task force is near the end of the work, and the texts now available  can be found here: http://anglicanchurch.net/?/main/texts_for_common_prayer and represent years of work and incorporate the feedback of hundreds of worshipers…

I am an Episcopalian, but I think it’s important for Episcopalians to be aware of developments in the ACNA, especially as we contemplate the possibilities of comprehensive liturgical revision in our church. I offer the following observations on these latest drafts as friendly responses from a fellow Anglican and a scholar of the prayer book.


…The overall approach seems to begin with the 1979 prayer book as a base text and bring it into closer alignment with historic Anglican prayer books. So, for instance, Holy Communion and baptism begin with the “opening acclamation” that was new to the 1979 BCP (adapted from the Eastern Orthodox tradition)…

All the liturgies are in contemporary English. The advantage of this approach lies in having only one version for all the liturgies, rather than including two versions of some of the liturgies as the 1979 BCP does.

In the case of Holy Communion, two slightly different rites are included (though they could easily be combined). The difference in the two Communion rites isn’t one of linguistic style; rather, the first rite represents what the task force calls a Standard Anglican Text and the second rite a Renewed Ancient Text. The preface to Communion, “Concerning the Service,” allows for the original text of 1662, 1928, or the Canadian 1962 to be substituted. The ACNA’s bishops passed a resolution in 2017 that allows parishes to substitute the older texts for any services, with the diocesan permitting. They also authorized a contemporary language version of the 1552 prayer book’s Communion Rite. While that text is not in the current revision, it would continue to be authorized and available for use as an alternative.

One of the unique features of this proposal is the use of the English Standard Version for most content derived directly from the Bible, except for the Psalter. Rather than follow the translation of the psalms newly prepared for the 1979 book or the classic Coverdale Psalter, the task force prepared a revision of the Coverdale Psalter in contemporary idiom.

(Below) I will note

(1) how the proposal follows the 1979 prayer book,

(2) how this edition departs from 1979 by restoring elements from the old prayer book tradition, by which I mean the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Episcopal Church’s 1928 revision (I will specify where these differ), and

(3) elements original to this proposed revision. I have tried to be thorough, but this is not comprehensive.




Following the 1979 prayer book


  • Provides two rites. This is the only service in this proposed prayer book for which two different rites are provided. As I said earlier, one is called “Anglican Standard Text” (similar to Rite I from the 1979 BCP, except in contemporary idiom) and the other “Renewed Ancient Text” (similar to Rite II in the 1979 BCP).


  • Although the Renewed Ancient Text is clearly based on 1979 Rite II, the preface “Concerning the Service” seems less than forthcoming regarding the source: “The Renewed Ancient Text is drawn from liturgies of the Early Church [and] reflects the influence of twentieth century ecumenical consensus.” Yes, 1979’s Rite II did draw from some ancient liturgies and reflects the influence of the mid-20th century ecumenical Liturgical Movement, but the particular text — its selection of which ancient liturgies to follow, where, and to what extent — constitutes an original liturgy, a source that this preface obscures.


  • Regarding the Anglican Standard Text, the preface says it is: “essentially that of the Holy Communion service of the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 and successor books through 1928, 1929 and 1962.” While that seems to be true, this text follows elements of 1979 Rite I that are not present in any of these older editions. In this case too, then, the use of 1979 as a source seems to have been obscured.


  • The line between the two rites is less clear than in 1979. Both rites look almost exactly like 1979 Rite I (rendered in contemporary idiom that is modeled on the style of 1979’d Rite II) until the Prayers of the People, for which the Anglican Standard Text follows 1979 Rite I and the Ancient Renewed Text follows 1979 Rite II Form I. Fewer options are provided for the Prayers of the People —one for the Anglican Standard and another for the Ancient Renewed (only two, in contrast to the seven options in 1979), but either of these two may be used in either rite. The two rites then return to exact alignment (following 1979 Rite I very closely) until the Prayer of Consecration, for which the Anglican Standard Text closely follows 1979 Rite I and the Ancient Renewed Text follows 1979 Rite II Eucharistic Prayer A. Considering how similar they are overall, I wonder why the task force decided not to provide only one rite, but with two options for the Prayers of the People and the Consecration.


  • As in 1979 Rite I, the Gloriafollows the Kyrie, rather than following the reception of Communion, as in historic BCPs; the Trisagion is given as an alternative to the Kyrie; the Creed follows the sermon rather than the other way round; the Creed is given in plural rather than singular; the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church is called the Prayers of the People, is assigned to a deacon, and offered for “the Church and the World”; only “one or more” of the Comfortable Words are to be said, rather than the whole set; the passing of the peace is included; the text of the Prayer of Consecration is a contemporary version of the 1979 Rite I adaptation of the Prayer of Consecration from the U.S. 1928 BCP; the post-consecration Fraction and Agnus Dei are included.


Following the historic prayer book tradition

  • The preface “Concerning the Service” explains: “The Anglican Standard Text may be conformed to its original content and ordering, as in the 1662 or subsequent books; the Additional Directions give clear guidance on how this is to be accomplished.” The original text of older editions of the Prayer Book may be substituted.
  • The lines from the Prayer of Humble Access removed in 1979 have been restored.
  • Elements from historic BCPs have been inserted into the Renewed Ancient Text, which is otherwise taken from 1979 Rite II. For example: the Summary of the Law has been inserted after the Collect for Purity; the Comfortable Words are inserted after the Absolution; the presiding minister may break the bread during the Words of Institution; the Prayer of Humble Access is inserted following the Lord’s Prayer and (optional) Fraction.


New to this proposal

  • This footnote is provided to the Creed: “The phrase ‘and the Son’ (Latin: filioque) is not in the original Greek text. See the resolution of the College of Bishops concerning the filioque in Documentary Foundations.”
  • Responses have been inserted between the paragraphs of the Prayers of the People in the Anglican Standard Text. This was allowed as an option in 1979 Rite I, whereas here it is the norm, while the reading of the prayer without the responses is allowed as an alternative.
  • At the Offertory, 1 Chronicles 29:11 and 14 (“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness”) is included as a scriptural sentence for receiving the offerings in both rites. Although not found in the 1662 or 1928 BCPs, this scriptural sentence came to be commonly used. The 1979 BCP’s includes it as one of eight options for the offertory sentences.
  • The Benedictus qui venit is included in the Sanctus. This is not included in the historic prayer book tradition, but by the late 19th century was commonly inserted in High Church circles; it was provided as an optional addition in 1979’s Rite I.
  • Parts of the Prayer of Consecration are marked (by a line running vertically beside the text) as appropriate for omission from a shorter service.
  • The Agnus Dei follows the Prayer of Humble Access rather than the other way round as in 1979. This order was common in American Anglo-Catholic parishes that inserted the Agnus Dei into the 1928 prayer book service.
  • Along with the Invitation from 1979, “The gifts of God for the People of God,” a second option is provided in both rites: “Behold the Lamb of God.” Taken from John 1:29 and Revelation 19:9, Anglo-Catholic parishes commonly inserted these scriptural sentences into the old text as an Invitation to Communion, and a version of this invitation is part of the Church of England’s Common Worship.





Following the 1979 prayer book

  • Uses a three-year cycle for the Eucharistic propers. The historic one-year cycle is not used or given as an alternative option. A discussion of the differences in these two approaches (and a vigorous case for the ancient one-year cycle) can be found here.
  • Includes the Red Letter Days (or required feast days) added to the 1979 prayer book


Following the historic prayer book tradition

  • A one-year daily office lectionary is given. A principle of continuous reading is followed based on the civil rather than the church year; however, lessons are provided for feast days.
  • Since 1928, the daily office lectionaries of the Episcopal Church have notoriously omitted sections of Scripture that that might not easily square with modern American sensibilities. This proposal abandons this approach; rather than tiptoeing around these passages (which, ironically, seems only to draw more attention to them), it includes the Scriptures as they are, and leaves grappling with the difficulties posed by these passages to the teaching office of the clergy and individual study.

New to this proposal

  • What the 1979 prayer book calls “days of optional commemoration” (also known as lesser feasts) have been divided into two types: Anglican and Ecumenical. The rationale for inclusion under one or the other of these two lists raises significant ecclesiological questions.

Those commemorated in the Anglican list include pre-Reformation British saints as well as post-Reformation Anglican figures. In other words, Anglican here does not mean of or relating to the Church of England — the Reformation is irrelevant to this usage of Anglican — nor does it mean ethnically English, for there are plenty of Celtic figures on the list. I can only take it to mean of or associated with the British Isles, and in that sense, it is similar to the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham in use among the Anglican Ordinariates of the Roman Catholic Church.

The ecumenical column includes non red-letter biblical feasts and Church Fathers — many of whom were commemorated by English Christians both before and after the Reformation — and medieval saints. Also included in the ecumenical column are post-Reformation Roman Catholic saints and more recent figures.

What is the reason for these two lists? Do Anselm and Aquinas really belong on different lists of optional commemorations because of their different places of origin? But then, Anselm wasn’t of English origin at all; he hailed from the Aosta Valley of the Italian Alps. Moreover, Anselm is recognized by Rome among the Doctores Ecclesiae — doesn’t that make him ecumenical? Yes, he was an Archbishop of Canterbury, but he was not officially commemorated within Anglicanism from the Reformation until the 20th Century and then along with many other Catholic saints. In that case, it was foremost his place in the Church Catholic that motivated the commemoration. Would anyone inclined to commemorate Anselm Cantuar not also commemorate Aquinas or Athanasius? Would they regard them as belonging to different lists? What is the motivation to have a separate list of Anglican commemorations if not a kind of ethnocentrism?



This brief survey of the ACNA’s proposed Book of Common Prayer indicates that conversation regarding liturgical renewal in the ACNA differs a great deal from the parallel conversation in the Episcopal Church. Covenant (the online ‘blog’ ofThe Living Church) has published several pieces on Resolution A068 passed by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church this August in Austin, such as this one by the Rev. Dr. Matthew Olver. This proposed prayer book in ACNA seems to indicate that expansive language for God played no major role in the conversations or work of their liturgy task force. It also is difficult to see any direct emphasis on “liturgical, cultural, racial, generational, linguistic, gender, physical ability, class and ethnic diversity,” which Resolution A068 instructs the Episcopal Church’s new Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision to “utilize” (though, what exactly that may mean in practical terms is difficult to say).

The ACNA proposal, of course, does not allow for marriage between people of the same sex (one of the areas of fundamental disagreement that led to the creation of the ACNA in the first place).

This proposed revision of the 1979 BCP reflects concern for (1) continuity with the historic prayer book tradition, (2) liturgical developments in the Church of England since 1979, and (3) ecumenical relations with the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. The last of these concerns might lead some to wonder how ACNA will address the ordination of women; this proposal reflects its current “dual integrities” status quo. These three concerns, it should be noted, are also reflected in the language of A068, so it may be helpful to TFLPBR to see how the ACNA handled those concerns and how well their approach plays out “on the ground.”

Finally, this proposal also shows that the ACNA, like the Episcopal Church, is moving into a future of more authorized liturgical alternatives and options.


Drew Nathaniel Keane is a lecturer at Georgia Southern University,  a member of St. John’s Church, Savannah, Georgia and has served on the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of the Episcopal Church