Work on Draft Proposed Prayer Book Nears Completion

Diocesan Press Service. July 1, 1975 [75245]

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In its longest single session in ten years, the Standing Liturgical Commission of the Episcopal Church completed work on most of the services and materials to be included in "The Draft Proposed Book of Common Prayer. " These completed texts are now being sent to the printer.

The Commission met in its second-last session of the year from Monday through Saturday noon, June 16-21, at the Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Paul. The final session to complete all unfinished business will be held for another full week in mid-July. The Draft Proposed Book of Common Prayer is scheduled for publication by The Church Hymnal Corporation on February 2, 1976. It will be the working document of the Minnesota General Convention which opens on September 11, 1976.

As is its custom, the Commission used the revised Eucharistic rites and Daily Offices every day of its meeting. The rites were celebrated or conducted by various members of the Commission.

The Psalter

In its longest single consideration of any one item, the Commission gave a final reading to all 150 Psalms. The Rev. Canon Charles M. Guilbert, Chairman of the Psalter Committee and Custodian of The Book of Common Prayer, read each of the Psalms one after the other. After each Psalm, the Commission's Chairman, the Rt. Rev. Chilton Powell of Oklahoma, called for criticism, questions and comments. The 22-member Commission spent approximately two and a half days of its session on this fifth and final review of every word and comma of the entire Psalter.

ICET Texts

The revised Prayers We Have in Common, published in April by ICET (the International Consultation on English Texts) Westminster Press, Philadelphia, had been studied by a committee under the Rev. Charles P. Price of Virginia Theological Seminary. Dr. Price is also Chairman of the SLC's Theology Committee. The ICET itself had made a number of significant changes in the contemporary translations which were published in "Services for Trial Use" (1970) and "Authorized Services 1973. "

Among the more significant ICET changes accepted by the Standing Liturgical Commission, two relate to the Lord's Prayer. "Hallowed be your Name" will replace "holy be your Name"; and the petition, "Do not bring us to the test, " will now read, "Save us from the time of trial / and deliver us from evil. " The Lord's Prayer in traditional form will appear in all traditional services, but both the ICET and the traditional form will be printed in all Rite II services in contemporary language.

In the Nicene Creed, the Commission accepted the ICET's recommendations on the following points: (1) Insert a comma before the words "seen and unseen." The opening statement will then refer to the Father as "maker of heaven and earth / of all that is, seen and unseen. " This will place the accent on all of creation, both animate and inanimate, rather than on the properties of created things. (2) The ICET revision of one of its most controversial clauses referring to the Incarnation was accepted: "he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary and was made man." (3) After a full discussion and consideration of a proposed alternative, the Commission agreed to continue the omission of the phrase "and the Son" in describing the procession of the Holy Spirit. However, the Commission had also decided to include in Rite I of the Eucharist, with only one significant change, the traditional form of the Nicene Creed as it now appears in the present Prayer Book, along with the ICET text. The Prayer Book version includes the clause "and the Son." The ICET placed this clause, a Western addition to the Creed, in brackets to indicate that some churches "may include the words and others may not. " The ICET did not consider it "to be within the province of this Consultation to make recommendations as to its excision or retention. " (4) Other major changes recommended by the ICET and accepted by the Liturgical Commission include the use of the clause "he suffered death and was buried"; "in accordance with the Scriptures" instead of "in fulfillment of the Scriptures"; and "of one Being with the Father," to replace "one in Being with the Father."

The Commission accepted the view of the CCT (Consultation on Common Texts), a group of U.S. and Canadian churches, that the omission of the word "men" from the phrase "For us men and for our salvation" involved no change in theology, but rather clarified Christ's sacrifice as one made for the entire human race.

The one significant change in the traditional version of the Creed is the restoration of the word "holy" in describing the Church. The present version omits that word for some obscure reason, thus impairing the view of the Church as possessing four marks -- "one holy catholic and apostolic. "

Two other major recommendations of the ICET were also adopted, one regarding the Gloria Patri and one concerning the Sursum Corda, to be used in both Rites I and II. Except where a favorite musical setting calls for the older form, the new form of the Gloria Patri will read: "Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. " The new clause in the Sursum Corda, after the invitation, "Lift up your hearts," reads "We lift them to the Lord."

Historical Materials

The Commission decided to include in the Draft Proposed Book, along with the Thirty-Nine Articles, several other important documents bearing on the content and history of the Faith and of the Prayer Book: the definition adopted by the Council of Chalcedon, 451 A.D., of the human and divine natures of the Person of Christ; the so- called "Athanasian Creed," circa 550 A.D., included in all Anglican Prayer Books but omitted from the American Book over the objections of Bishop Samuel Seabury; the Preface to the First Book of Common Prayer of 1549; and the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886-1888.

Other Actions

The Commission also adopted the final revision of the Catechism, to be entitled "A Summary of the Faith, " prepared by a Committee under the chairmanship of the Very Rev. Robert H. Greenfield of Portland, Ore.; completed work on the Offices of Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Order of Worship in the Evening, Compline, and Personal Devotions (the Rt. Rev. William A. Dimmick of Northern Michigan, Chairman of the Drafting Committee); and on the Ordination of Bishops, Priests and Deacons (the Rev. H. Boone Porter, Jr., of Roanridge Conference Center, Kansas City, Chairman).

The Commission reviewed and revised most of the Occasional Prayers, Thanksgivings and Litanies to be included in the Draft Proposed Book. A small number of such prayers remain to be reviewed at the next meeting. All of them are drawn from "Prayers, Thanksgivings and Litanies," prepared by a committee under the Rev. Charles P. Price and published in 1971 by The Church Hymnal Corporation. The total number of occasional prayers will be approximately the same as in the present Book of Common Prayer. They will be in both traditional and contemporary form.

Most of the Collects in their revised contemporary form were carefully reviewed In the light of detailed comments and criticisms submitted to the Commission. The Rev. Canon Charles M. Guilbert is chairman of the Style Committee responsible for the revisions of the Collects, which were originally prepared by a committee under the Rev. Massey H. Shepherd of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Work on the Collects is to be completed at the SLC's final meeting in July. The Draft Proposed Book will also include the Collects in traditional form, with only minor changes.

At the final meeting, it is expected that work will also be completed on Rite II (contemporary form) of the Burial of the Dead, prepared by a Drafting Committee under the chairmanship of Mr. James Dunning of New York; on the Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child, including a Thanksgiving for the Adoption of a Child, prepared by a committee under Mrs. Virginia Harbour of Gambler, Ohio; and on the final form of the Holy Eucharist, the Rt. Rev. James W. Montgomery of Chicago, chairman of the Drafting Committee. The Great Litany, in traditional form, revised by a Committee on First Services, under the Rev. Donald L. Garfield of New York, was given a first reading and will be acted upon at the final meeting of the Commission.

At the July meeting the Commission is also expected to make a final decision on the Church Calendar.

A preliminary report on the contents and order of the Draft Proposed Book of Common Prayer was presented by the Rev. Robert W. Estill of Virginia Theological Seminary. Final decisions will be taken at the July meeting.

It was announced that committees on design and education have been established under the chairmanship of the Rev. Craig Casey, Assistant to the President of The Church Pension Fund and Church Hymnal Corporation, and the Rev. Canon Charles M. Guilbert, Secretary of the Standing Liturgical Commission. These committees are overseeing the design of the Draft Proposed Book and the preparation of educational materials relating to its contents.

A variety of study and information materials, prepared by the Communication and Program offices at the Church Center in New York, will be available to parishes this fall, prior to publication of the Draft Proposed Book.

The Church Hymnal Corporation has announced that the Draft Proposed Book, which is to be sent free of charge to all Bishops, Deputies and Alternates to the General Convention of 1976, will also be made available to the general public. It is significantly different from both "Services for Trial Use" (1970) and "Authorized Services 1973, " since it represents the SLC's considered and carefully weighed response to the experience of trial use. Because the Draft Book is likely to be revised by the General Convention before the first constitutional action is taken on its adoption, its cost has been set at $3.50 per copy. Pre-publication orders are now being received by The Church Hymnal Corporation, 800 Second Avenue, New York, N. Y. 10017; and by The Seabury Press, 815 Second Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017.

The Standing Liturgical Commission consists of five Bishops, eleven Priests, and six Lay Persons, appointed by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies. The SLC was first constituted in 1928 to prepare for the revision of the Book of Common Prayer adopted that year by the General Convention. It has published over 30 Prayer Book Studies on the various rites. In 1964, the General Convention gave the SLC a mandate to prepare a Plan of Revision using some 300 consultants and reader-consultants, as well as the worship commissions of all dioceses of the Church. The entire membership of the Episcopal Church was to be involved in the revision process by using the various services, as approved by the General Convention, on a trial basis. Trial Use began in 1967 with "The Liturgy of the Lord's Supper." Since then, the Commission's work on revision has been open to the membership of the Church. The views, comments and criticisms of all members of the Church, reflected in a mass of communication running into the thousands, have been taken fully into account in the preparation of the Draft Proposed Book of Common Prayer.