In this fourth article of my series on An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), I examine the Ministry of the Word in The Order for Holy Communion in An Anglican Prayer Book (2008). An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) was published by Preservation Press of the Prayer Book Society of the USA for the Anglican Mission in Americas in February 2008. It is a revision of the services that were issued for restricted trial use in Anglican Mission churches for a limited period in 2006.
In An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) the service of Holy Communion may begin with the Minister’s welcoming of the people and the singing of a hymn. The rubrics, however, make no provision for the singing of a medley of "spiritual songs" either here or at any other point in the opening rite of the Order for the Holy Communion, a common practice in Anglican Mission churches. They neither give permission to sing hymns, psalms, canticles or worship songs at points other than those indicated in the Service nor to substitute worship songs for hymns, psalms, or canticles and visa versa. They make no provision for the substitution of metrical versions or other forms of the canticles and psalms for prose ones. They also do not give permission to sing worship songs in medleys, except before the Prayer of Intercession and during the distribution of Communion. Anglican Mission churches that are accustomed to making extensive use of worship songs will discover that their use is greatly restricted in An Anglican Prayer Book (2008). As in case of the Daily Services of Morning and Evening Prayer the Order for the Holy Communion in An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) presupposes the musical resources of a cathedral or large established parish church rather than an average congregation in the mission field. There is a considerable disconnect between An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) and the way in which a number of Anglican Mission churches worship and the conditions under which they worship. I am reminded of Archbishop William Laud’s efforts to impose Thorough upon the Church of England.
In the seventeenth century Archbishop Laud sought to reform the worship of the Church of England after the pattern of medieval worship. Among the usages that he reintroduced into the Church of England was the decoration of churches with stained glass windows and gilded angels; the placement of the Lord’s Table against the east wall of the chancel, fenced off from the rest of the chancel with a rail; and the positioning of the priest before the Lord’s Table in the eastward position with his back to the congregation during the prayers of the Communion Service. The last two usages have strong associations with the Medieval doctrine of the sacrifice of the Mass, and were contrary to The Book of Common Prayer of 1604, the Prayer Book in use at the time, and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Church of England’s confession of faith.
Laud’s reforms were not popular. They earned him the reputation of being a "papalist" and a "Romanist." The harsh measures that Laud employed to force the Church of England into a High Church mold generated a great deal of resentment and contributed to his eventual downfall and the outbreak of the English Civil War.
The Order for the Holy Communion in An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) retains the opening Lord’s Prayer that is a feature of the Communion Services in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the 1928 American Prayer Book, and the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book. Like the 1928 American Prayer Book An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) permits the omission of the opening Lord’s Prayer at the discretion of the Minister. This opening Lord’s Prayer was originally a private devotion of the priest in the Medieval Sarum Rite, which Archbishop Thomas Cranmer incorporated into the First and Second Prayer Books as a public prayer. Consequently a number of more recent Anglican service books omit the opening Lord’s Prayer altogether. The opening Lord’s Prayer is not one of those elements of the liturgy, the omission of which would make it less evangelistic. An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) leaves its omission to the discretion of the Minister.
The optional opening Lord’s Prayer is followed by the salutation "The Lord be with you" "And also with your spirit," which the Introduction claims is more of a prayer than a greeting (see the third article in this series.) In the 1549 Prayer Book the salutation is placed before Collect of the Day and the Collect for the King; in the Communion Services of the 1552, 1559, 1604, and 1662 Prayer Books, the salutation is omitted altogether, largely due to its association with the doctrine of Transubstantiation rejected by the English Reformers and classical Anglicanism. It is also omitted from the 1789 and 1892 American Prayer Books. It reappears in the 1549 position in the Communion Service of the 1928 American Prayer Book, the first major revision of the American Prayer Book, adopted during the Anglo-Catholic ascendancy in the Protestant Episcopal Church in the early twentieth century. It also appears in the 1549 position in the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book, a book that shows in a number of places the strong influence of the 1928 American Prayer Book.
The salutation is followed by the Collect for Purity. In a number of the more recent Anglican service books such as An Australian Prayer Book (1978) and An English Prayer Book (1994) the congregation has the option of joining the Minister in the Collect for Purity or the entire congregation says the Prayer of Preparation. This adds another participative/interactive element to the liturgy. The segments of the emerging generations that are attracted to liturgical worship are attracted to those forms of liturgical services that are highly participative and interactive. An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), however, makes no provision for the congregation to say this preparatory prayer with the Minister.
The Book of Common Prayer, as Horton Davis points to our attention, is uniquely the book of both priest and people, in contrast to the Medieval Missal and Breviary, which were the books of the priest and the Latin scholar.  Genuine Anglican worship is at its best an enacting of the liturgy that involves both priest and people. The Anglo-Catholic practice of the "assisting" the priest at Mass, in which the people give their silent "Amen" to the prayers spoken by the priest, and which was borrowed from nineteenth century Roman Catholicism, is as alien to authentic Anglicanism as is the Puritan "tyranny of the ministerial voice."  The former practice can be traced to the Middle Ages in which the people engaged in their own private devotions during the Mass as they awaited the highpoint of the Medieval Mass, the elevation of the consecrated host for adoration, while the priest sung or said Mass in an unknown tongue behind a rood screen, concealed from the eyes of the vulgar and the profane. Both practices overemphasize the ministry of the priest or minister and reduce the people to the role of passive spectators. In Puritan worship the voice of the minister was frequently the only voice heard in prayer. The congregation was mute, and frequently said the allowed "Amen" without much conviction. 
Horton Davies writes:
"In yet another sense, the prayers of the Prayer Book are common—that is, they have a richly responsive construction and character, whether in the Litany, or in the versicles and responses of the Suffrages, or in the general confessions, and elsewhere. This means that there has always been in Anglican worship, a continuing dialogue between priest and people, an ongoing liturgical ‘conversation.’" 
He further notes:
"As Hooker was to point out to the Puritans, these ‘arrow prayers’ are likelier to provoke the people to devotion than the long pastoral prayers of the Reformed Churches which are likelier to turn the church militant into the church somnolent. Not only praises, but prayers are shared in the Anglican…rites." 
One of the main grievances of the Puritans with the Book of Common Prayer was the use of spoken sentence responses in the Prayer Book services. They would have eliminated these responses and substituted lengthy set or extemporaneous prayers. With the Decalogue the compilers of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) appear to have adopted the position of the Puritans and reduced the responses after each Commandment to two—one after the Fourth Commandment and one after the Tenth. They would have done better to have taken a page from the Irish Book of Common Prayer of 1926, and provided two options. The first option follows the pattern of the 1552, 1559, and 1662 Prayer Books with the people saying a response after each Commandment. The second option permits the omission of the congregational response after all the Commandments except the Fourth and the Tenth. This would have permitted congregations that desired to recite the Ten Commandments in litany form as in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, 1928 American Prayer Book and the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book to do so. It would have also provided an alternative for congregations that did not want to follow this practice.
The recitation of the Ten Commandments is, with the reading and exposition of God’s Word and the Exhortation, General Confession, Absolution, and Comfortable Words, a part of congregation’s preparation for the Holy Communion. When congregations choose to omit the Decalogue, its omission tends to weaken that preparation. As the Apostle Paul wrote the church in Rome, the law serves to draw our attention to our own sinfulness (Romans 7:7-13).
The rubrics require that the Decalogue be read at least once a month and permit the substitution of Our Blessed Lord’s Summary of the Law on all other occasions. We then encounter one of the peculiarities of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008). Anglican service books that permit the substitution of the Two Great Commandments of the Law for the Decalogue usually provide as a congregational response the last congregational response to the Decalogue:
"Lord, have mercy upon us, and write these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee."
Some Anglican service books such as the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book permit the recitation or singing of "Lord have mercy upon us, Christ have mercy upon us, Lord have mercy upon us" in addition to the foregoing response, and others such as An Australian Prayer Book (1978), in addition to or in place of that response. An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) permits the recitation or singing of the Kyries as the response to Our Blessed Lord’s Summary of the Law, as does the 1928 American Prayer Book. But then almost as an afterthought, permits the use of the last congregational response to the Decalogue as an alternative to the Kyries. It would have, for the sake of stylistic consistency and liturgical flow, made more sense for the structure of the Two Great Commandments of the Law and their response to have paralleled that of the Ten Commandments and their responses. The rubrics could have then given permission to recite or sing the Kyries in addition to or in place of the response to Our Blessed Lord’s Summary of the Law.
An Australian Prayer Book (1978) permits the use of the ancient hymn, "Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal, have mercy upon us," thrice repeated, in addition to or in place of the Kyries. The responsive recitation of the Kyries between priest and people tends to be very perfunctory. The singing of the Trisagion is much more prayerful.
An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) makes provision for an optional Old Testament Lesson and Psalm in the Ministry of the Word. The Eucharistic Lectionary provides an Old Testament Lesson and Psalm for each Sunday, Festival and Holy Day as well as a Collect, Epistle, and Gospel. The Introduction to The Order for the Holy Communion recommends that if the Service is not preceded by Morning or Evening Prayer, that an Old Testament Lesson and a Psalm be inserted after the Collect of the Day and before the Epistle and Gospel. This recommendation is unrealistic because the days when Morning Prayer, Litany, and Holy Communion was the usual pattern of worship on Sunday mornings and every parishioner faced a fine if he or she was not present for all three are long gone. While some churches may offer Morning Prayer and Holy Communion on Sunday morning, few people attend both and only those who do have opportunity to pray the Psalter and hear a reading from the Old Testament on Sunday morning in churches where no Old Testament Lesson and Psalm is included in the service of Holy Communion on Sunday morning. Since few people are likely to attend two services on Sunday morning, the insertion of an Old Testament Lesson and Psalm in the Ministry of the Word is recommended even when a church does offer Morning Prayer before Holy Communion. This not only gives those attending the service of Holy Communion an opportunity to hear an Old Testament Lesson and to pray a Psalm but also adds to Biblical content of the service of Holy Communion. It gives expression to an important doctrine articulated in Article 7 of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion:
"The Old Testament is not contrary to the New Testament. In the Old as well as the New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind through Christ; that is because as both God and man, he is the one Mediator between God and man."
The addition of an Old Testament Lesson and Psalm are also edifying to the congregation, an important New Testament principle (1 Corinthians 14:26).
The rubrics permit the singing or recitation of a psalm, hymn, canticle, or anthem (but not a "spiritual song") after each or any of the readings. They make no provision for the singing of a Gospel Acclamation such as an Alleluia before the reading of the Gospel, which for a small congregation with limited musical resources is often a better option than singing a hymn or canticle between the Epistle and the Gospel.
As the rubrics are presently written, one congregation may choose to sing a hymn after the Old Testament Reading, recite a psalm after the Epistle, and then offer an anthem after the Gospel, before the Creed. Another congregation may choose to alternately sing a canticle and a hymn between the Epistle and the Gospel. The rubrics permit other possibilities—a congregation may choose to recite a psalm after each of the three readings or sing a hymn after each of the readings and so on.
A more desirable pattern for the use of music in this part of the Ministry of the Word, one that makes for more orderly worship (1 Corinthians 14:40), is to permit a psalm to follow the Old Testament Reading and to allow a canticle, hymn, psalm, anthem or acclamation to be sung after the Epistle, before the Gospel. This pattern conforms more closely to that of the early liturgies, establishes some needed order to this part of the liturgy, contributes to the smooth flow of the liturgy, and creates a sense of continuity with the historical liturgies. It also keeps the liturgy at this point from deteriorating into a "hymn sandwich," as well being unnecessarily protracted. The service of lessons and carols should be reserved for the Advent and Christmas seasons.
The Ministry of the Word is a part of the liturgy at which provision for the substitution of metrical versions or other forms of the canticles and psalms for prose ones is highly desirable. This would enable congregations that cannot chant, that include the presence of a large number of children, or that do not have the strong musical leadership and right acoustics needed for good chant, to sing the canticles and psalms. Metrical psalmody has a long tradition of use in Anglican worship. Later versions of Sternhold and Hopkins Old Psalter and the Tate and Brady New Psalter included metrical versions of the Prayer book canticles, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer, as well as the psalms. Permission to substitute worship songs for hymns, psalms, or canticles is also desirable since a number of the better worship songs are based upon the psalms and other Scripture songs and have fairly accessible tunes. They not only can be sung by the congregation but also can be used as simple choir anthems.
A sermon may be preached after the Gospel or after the Creed. If a sermon is preached after the Gospel, the rubrics direct that it must immediately follow the Gospel. In this way the sermon can flow out of the Gospel, opening the Gospel to the gathered people of God and building upon what God is saying in the Gospel, without a song and/or the Creed coming between the Gospel and its explication and diverting the congregation’s attention from the message of the Gospel appointed for the day. The sermon, instead of having the appearance of something that has been inserted into the liturgy, is an integral part of the liturgy.
The practice of saying the Creed immediately after the Gospel is a carryover from the Medieval Mass when the priest read the Epistle, the Gospel, and Creed in Latin. In the late Middle Ages a preaching office, the prone, was inserted into the Mass after the Creed. While the Mass was said or sung in Latin, the sermon was preached in the vernacular. Medieval sermons were often moralistic and unrelated to the readings appointed for the day.
The rubrics direct that the Notices should be given and forthcoming holy days and fast days should be announced after the sermon or after the Creed if it follows the sermon. The Notices is one of the points in the service at which the Minister at his discretion may add the exchange of the Peace. The rubrics go on to direct that after the Notices "sentences from the Scriptures concerning the joy and duty of giving unto the Lord" should be read and then "the Offering" should be "taken up and received".
Unlike the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Books that preceded it, An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) does not provide a selection of suitable sentences from the Scripture that may be read at the Offertory. The omission of these sentences is an impoverishment because it reduces the amount of Scripture in An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), which already contain considerably less Scripture than the older Prayer Books as the Readings appointed for use in the Communion Service and the Psalter have, for practical reasons, been omitted. The prominence and quantity of Scripture in the 1662 Prayer Book and its predecessors reflect the centrality of the Word of God in classical Anglicanism. It has fostered "the growth of lay spirituality of depth."  The Biblical content of the Prayer Book is also one of its vital evangelistic elements, and has brought forth "good fruit in accordance with the principle of Isaiah 55:10-11, that the God’s Word does not return void." 
After the people’s offerings have been received, the rubrics direct that the Lord’s Table should be prepared. During the preparation of the Table an anthem, spiritual songs, or hymns may be sung. The rubrics make no provision for the priest to offer the bread and wine before placing them upon the Table, a practice that is associated with the Medieval doctrine of the sacrifice of the Mass. This practice, it must be note, does not conform to the doctrinal and worship standards that the Common Cause Partnership agreed to accept in their Theological Statement. It is contrary to the doctrine of the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and is not found in the 1662 Prayer Book or its predecessors, including the 1549 Prayer Book.
The Prayer of Intercession immediately follows the preparation of the Table. No provision is made for the Minister to bid special prayers and thanksgivings before the Prayer of Intercession. No invitation to prayer such as "Let us pray for the Church and the world, and let us thank God for his goodness" precedes the Prayer of Intercession.
For the Prayer of Intercession a congregation has two options. A contemporary English version of the Prayer for Christ’s Church Militant may be read. This prayer makes provision for the insertion of name of the leaders of the nation and locality the names of the bishop and the clergy. As noted in my second article, the prayer contains no petition for those laboring to spread the Gospel or for places of education and learning. It makes no provision for the insertion of the names of those in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity, for whom the prayers of the congregation are desired or even include the phrase, "especially those for whom our prayers are desired." The prayer is read continuously as a whole and makes no provision for a versicle and response after each paragraph, a provision that would have made the prayer much more participatory and interactive.
As an alternative to the contemporary English version of the Prayer for Christ’s Church Militant, the rubrics permit the use of a series of biddings, led by the Minister or a layperson. After each bidding the leader says: "Lord in your mercy," and the congregation respond: "Hear our prayer," as in the preceding form. At the end, the Minister says, "Merciful Father," and the congregation responds, "Accept our prayers for the sake of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen." In their choice of the phrase "a series of biddings" the compilers of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) appear to have in mind biddings like those in the 1962 Canadian Order for the Holy Communion: "Let us pray for Christ's holy Catholic Church." "Let us pray for peace on earth and for the unity of all Christian people." "Let us pray for our missionaries at home and abroad."
"Let us remember before God those of our brethren who have departed this life and are at rest."
Instead of being followed by short periods of silent prayer, as in the 1962 Canadian Order for the Holy Communion, each bidding is followed by a versicle and response.
An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) does not provide any guidelines as to what intentions that these biddings should cover.
The compilers of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) do not make any provision for the use of litanies, such as the General Supplication in the 1926 Irish Prayer Book, which consist of a series of petitions and thanksgivings and in which a versicle and response such as "Lord, in your mercy" "Hear our prayer" or a response, "Lord have mercy," "O Lord, hear our prayer," or "Kyrie eleison" follow each petition and thanksgiving. Nor do they make any provision for the use of prayers consisting of series of versicles and responses like the Suffrages in Morning and Evening Prayer or the second alternative form for the Prayers in An Australian Prayer Book (1978).
The limitation of the Prayer of Intercession to these two forms is definitely an impoverishment of this part of the service for congregations that have become accustomed to a wider range of choices.
An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), unlike the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, makes no provision for the conclusion of the service after the Prayer of Intercession with one or more collects and the Blessing if there is no Communion, and provides no concluding collects for this purpose. The 1926 Irish Prayer Book and a number of other traditional Prayer Books permit, if there is no Communion upon Sundays and holy days, the Minister to say everything that is appointed until the end of the General Prayer (the Prayer for Christ’s Church Militant), after which he concluded the service with one or more collects, followed by the Blessing. The rubrics of the 1962 Canadian Order for the Holy Communion state:
"If there be no Communion, the Priest or Deacon may say all that is appointed, until the end of the Intercession, together with one or more of these Collects and the Lord's Prayer, concluding with the Grace."
Since the Anglican Mission has agreed to accept the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as the standard for Anglican doctrine and as the primary standard for the Anglican tradition of worship, I would have expected to find a similar provision in a service book compiled for its use. However, my examination of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) so far has revealed that the compilers of the An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) were very inconsistent in their application of these standards if they indeed applied them at all.
From a missional perspective it makes good sense to have another worship option available to congregations, especially those targeting segments of the unchurched population who are unbaptized, have no Christian background, and no previous experience with Christian prayer. A service of Ante-Communion would also, from a musical perspective, be much easier for a congregation with limited musical resources to pull off than a service of Morning Prayer. A congregation in which a deacon or lay reader is in charge of the congregation and leads service on most Sundays would not be faced with an unfamiliar service when a priest was available to preach and administer the sacrament of Holy Communion.
In my next article I will take a look at the Preparation for the Holy Communion—the Exhortation, General Confession, Absolution, and Comfortable Words—and the Ministry of the Sacrament in An Anglican Prayer Book (2008).
 Horton Davis, Worship and Theology in England 1534-1603, Princeton New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1970, p. 165
 Ibid., p. 225
 Ibid., p. 225
 Ibid., p. 225
 Ibid., p. 225
 An Anglican Prayer Book, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Preservation Press of the Prayer Book Society of the USA, 2008, pp. 212-213
 John E. Booty, ed., The Book of Common Prayer 1559 The Elizabethan Prayer Book, Charlottesville: The University of Virginia Press, 1976, p. 360
 Horton Davis, Worship and Theology in England 1534-1603, Princeton New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1970, p. 225
 Samuel Leuenberger, Archbishop Cranmer’s Immortal Bequest The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England: An Evangelistic Liturgy, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company , 1990, p. 249