“Go Use a Prayerbook”
I am an avid lover of The Book of Common Prayer. In the history of Protestantism no other prayerbook even comes close in my estimation of things. The BCP is a repository of what its title implies, common prayer for all, and its richness is found in its timeless prayers and structure.
Just recently I was pasting some prayers that are not in the modern 1979 Prayerbook into one of my own. I pasted in the solemn Commination service of the Authorized and still authoritative 1662 Book of Common Prayer. This 17th century version of the Prayerbook is still in use in the Church of England today. I also added some more Anglo catholic prayers to my copy— like the Angelus and the Regina Coeli. These additions are only a series of recent ones to my cherished copy of the Prayerbook. This particular Prayerbook I have been using (and I have many from 1549-1928) is our current version with many aforesaid additions included. A number of many tabs have also been added along the just-now-aging pages.
In my process of some old-school cutting and pasting, I got to thinking about how others may use their personal copies of the Prayerbook— or if parishioners even have one. In days of old many a good Anglican carried their personal slim copies to church for Mattins and for services on the Lord’s Day. Now far and wide the advent of the copy machine has allowed for almost all Anglican and Episcopal parishes across the world to print a bulletin containing all the necessary elements of the liturgy, thereby relegating the physical Prayerbook to the dusty backs of Pews.
With “concerns” about new reader accessibility aside, I find it a rather sad thought that the Prayerbook is hardly handled on a Sunday by many Episcopalians across the country. This repository of our prayer, anglican theology, and wisdom is barely known in its entirety by even so-called cradle Episcopalians. Luckily societies and online groups exist to help promote a resurgence of Prayerbook literacy among Anglicans and Episcopalians, in order to reawaken people to the fact that we all have a pretty special series of prayer books to utilize and worship God with.
Prayer will be the year’s theme for the Middle School Group I lead at St. Paul’s. Each time we meet (either in person or via a zoom meeting) we will make time for exploring what prayer looks like for Anglicans, and how it is we can utilize our prayerbooks. It is my goal to help our youth better understand their own tradition even more, and inspire others to do so. I also hope that this brief message inspires you to acquire your own personal copy of The Book of Common Prayer if you don’t already have one. They’re pretty cheap. You can go get one on Amazon, or from Church Publishing’s website, or the Christ Church Bookstore even if you want. When you do buy your own copy, put your name in it. Next all you have to do is sit with it , stand with it, or kneel with it, and use it as past Anglicans have in years and decades and centuries past. May I suggest starting with the simple “Daily Devotions” every day and then see where the Spirit leads you? Oh, and families, you can use it for grace at meals, or prayers before bedtime or for a funeral service for a beloved pet if you’re into that.
God bless you.
Fr. Eric E. Fialho+