Presenter: Archdeacon Peter Armstrong

Precis: Liturgy is the work of the people, our worship to God which takes a certain shape.

Why do we have a liturgy in the first place? If it is going to be something in which everyone is involved, there needs to be some coordination.

Traditional Anglican prayer has been called “common” prayer because we pray in common together.

The prayer of Confession & Assurance rids us of the “junk” so we can focus more clearly on our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

In the offices of Morning and Evening Prayer, we alternate between hearing the bible and responding in praise with canticles. The sermon comes after the Bible message is proclaimed, and typically is to help us understand the message. Regardless of which book we use, there is a shape to our worship.

Anglicans do not have a Pope or Magisterium or a strict set of principles like the Augsburg Confession for Lutherans or the Westminster Confession for Presbyterians. Instead we say that if you want to know what we believe, see how we pray together. That is partly the reason why liturgical change has been important for Anglicans.

Rev. Armstrong speaks briefly about the overall principles and then how to use the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Alternative Services. He reviews the history of the B.C.P. which was first introduced in 1549, its suppression during the Englich Civil War, and its reintroduction in 1662. The aim of this edition was to have a service in English that was consistent with:

The gospel revealed through the Bible.

Overall teachings of the early church.

Today the BCP remains the official authorized liturgical standard throughout most of the Anglican Communion including Canada.

Language has evolved over time. We know more about liturgy than ever before. Change started among German Roman Catholic monastaries in the 1930’s and 1940’s and began to have an influence on Anglican scholars in the 1940’s. By the 1958 Lambeth Conference, alternatives to the B.C.P. were envisioned. In 1962, the Canadian Book of Common Prayer was introduced for full use. In 1971, the Canadian General Synod passed a motion providing alternatives for the B.C.P. to be developed. In 1981 the Third Canadian Order was developed, followed in 1985 by the Book of Alternative Services.

The introduction of the B.A.S. did not always go smoothly. Rev Armstrong outlines some of the problems with the B.A.S. transition:

1. Pastoral issues in parishes around change.

2. Genuine theological questions about changes.

In most parishes the use of the B.A.S. now predominates. The B.C.P. is still used periodically in the majority of parishes in this diocese. Further revisions are anticipated.

Practical comments on how to use the books.

1. The Rubrics provide a general guide.

2. Be mindful of local parish customs.

3. Our worship is about our praying together.

4. Leading worship improves with practice.

It is noted that Lay People and Deacons pray with the people. A Priest prays on behalf of the people. After the prayer of confession in the B.A.S. Morning or Evening Prayer, use “our” in the assurance of pardon which follows. For the B.C.P. use the Collect for Trinity 21, Trinity 24, or the Prayer for Pardon through the Cross which follows the Compline service.

In the B.C.P. Offices, the priest stands after the shorter record of the Lord’s prayer. A Licensed Lay Minister traditionally would not stand.

Most parishes in this diocese use the Revised Common Lectionary to be read through the Bible. If your parish uses the older B.C.P. lectionary, Rev Armstrong suggests that you use McAusland’s Order of Divine Service or get instruction from your Rector about how to find the passages and when to use them.

For the Eucharist, the order of Sunday Readings is typically:

Old Testament


New Testament


(In a few parishes, the Psalm is used as a sort of Gradual before the Gospel is read- generally during a weekday communion service.)

According to Parish Custom, a Licensed Lay Monister may:

Serve at communion

Lead the Prayers of the People

Assist with readings

Administer the chalice

Occasionally preach

During the Eucharist, the priest may look to the Licensed Lay Minister:

Prepare the invitation to confession, the summary of the Law, or other places in the liturgy.

In Morning Prayer, Psalm 95, or the first seven verses of Psalm 95 is the traditional opening canticle. Generally, one alternates between a proclamation of the word, and a canticle of praise. For example:

Psalm 95

Old Testament Reading


New Testament Epistle Reading


Gospel Reading

In the B.A.S., the Sermon immediately follows the Bible readings. In the B.C.P., the sermon is either preached at the end of the service, or following the third collect.