Thursday, November 28, 2013

Alternative Forms of Service (2009): Interpretation, The Preface, and General Notes


No doctrine or practices should be construed or based on these forms of service apart from those that are authorized by The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and/or The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 and are agreeable to the Scriptures.


Alternative Forms of Service seeks to provide Anglicans in North America with forms of service in contemporary English, which are recognizably Anglican and embody the Biblical and Reformation theology of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 and its predecessors -- the Prayer Books of 1549, 1552, 1559, and 1604; and which at the same time are sensitive to 21st century pastoral needs.

One of the aims of Alternative Forms of Service is to offer worship planners the kind of flexibility they need to tailor services to a wide variety of circumstances – composition, size, ministry target group, and worship style of the congregation, cultural context of the community, availability of clergy and musical resources, worship setting, and other variables. The services of Alternative Forms of Service can be used in the informal setting of a living room, an office, a hotel conference room, a school auditorium or cafeteria, a movie theater, a picnic shelter in a park, or a storefront – all the places where 21st century North American Anglicans can be expected to meet for worship - as well as in the more formal setting of a parish church.

Alternative Forms of Service is a service book that both a congregation with a formal, traditional style of worship and a congregation with a more informal, more free-flowing worship style can use. It does not seek to force the worship of all congregations into the same mold. Rather it encourages congregations to explore a range of options and discover what they can do well, and what works best for them in reaching the spiritually-disconnected and the unchurched and in drawing both seekers and believers closer to God in their particular circumstances. It recognizes that in the 21st century all sorts of churches and all kinds of worship are needed to fulfill the Great Commission and to make disciples of all people groups.

Those using Alternative Forms of Service will note the continuity between the book and earlier Anglican service books. Alternative Forms of Service incorporates modern English versions of the collects, confessions, absolutions, exhortations, prayers and thanksgivings from the classic Anglican Prayer Book, using the old where it may be well used rather than devising everything anew. The order of each form of service and the order of the forms of service in the book is largely that of the classical Anglican Prayer Book. Material used in Alternative Forms of Service from newer Anglicans service books has been carefully selected so as not to incorporate anything that compromises the book’s Biblical and Reformation theology.


Where they occur, the directions to stand, sit, or kneel are suggestions only.

The words in square brackets may be omitted.

Words in bold type are said or sung by the congregation.

All persons, clergy or lay, reading any part of the services in this book shall speak distinctly, reverently, and in an audible voice.

All persons present in the time of divine service shall audibly with the minister make the answers appointed and in due place join in such parts of the service as are appointed to be said or sung by all present.

In addition to the places where they are printed in the service, traditional versions of texts may be used.

Where a rubric states a section is to be ‘said,’ this is to be understood to include ‘or sung’ and vice versa.

Where parts of the service are sung to a musical setting, the words for which these settings were composed may be used.

Hymns may be sung in these services otherwise than where provision is made for them. In the selection of hymns, careful attention should be given both to the appropriateness of the words to the themes of the Bible readings and the sermon and also to the relation of the hymn chosen to the position within the service.

Metrical psalms may be substituted for prose psalms. Hymns may be substituted for canticles.

Informal worship songs may be used in addition to or in place of hymns. The same attention should be given to the selection of these songs as to hymns.

A sermon should be preached on Sundays and on the major feast days.

A sermon may be preached without the use of Morning or Evening Prayer or any other prescribed service provided that one or more prayers from this book precede and follow the sermon.

The use of the terminology, ‘the sermon’, does not rule out a variety of ways of proclaiming the message of the Gospel; these may include less formal exposition of Scripture, drama, interviews, discussion, audio-visual aids, and other techniques.

A short period of silence may be kept at any point in the service at the discretion of the minister. Appropriate points for silence are before the Collect of the Day, after each reading, after the sermon, in the Prayers, and after the Communion.

Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, the Alternative Forms of Morning and Evening Worship, the Litany, and The Holy Communion may be used as separate services, or in any combination, at the discretion of the minister. One or more of these services, in whole or in part, may be omitted.

The minister who officiates at Morning or Evening Prayer or the Alternative Forms of Morning and Evening Worship may be a priest, deacon or a licensed catechist or reader or other authorized lay person.

The Psalms, the Reading from the Old Testament, and Reading from the New Testament at Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer may be taken from one of the modern lectionaries of the Church of England or another Province of the Anglican Communion. The Psalms and the Readings may also be taken from Proper Lessons To Be Read at Morning and Evening Prayer, on the Sundays, and Other Holy-Days Throughout the Year and the Psalm from Proper Psalms on Certain Days or The Calendar, with The Table of Lessons and The Psalter of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer or any other approved source such as the Table of Proper Psalms for Sundays and Holy Days, The Psalter and the Table of Lessons of the Church of Ireland’s 1926 Book of Common Prayer.

Whatever lectionary is being used for the Sunday or weekday services will normally determine the selection of the readings for the Alternative Forms of Morning and Evening Worship. On occasion one of the readings may be presented in dramatized form.

A time of Children’s Ministry may be associated with the readings at Morning and Evening Prayer, in the Alternative Forms of Morning and Evening Worship, and at The Holy Communion.

The priest who presides at The Holy Communion must be episcopally ordained.

When the bishop is present, it is normal for him to preside over the celebration of The Holy Communion and to preach. Even when he does not preside, he pronounces the Absolution and the Blessing.

A deacon may read the Gospel, preach the Sermon when licensed to do so, read the Prayer of Intercession, prepare the elements of bread and wine, administer the Communion, perform the ablutions, and dismiss the people.

Lay persons may read the Old Testament Lesson, the Epistle, the Gospel, and the Prayer of Intercession. A licensed catechist or reader may preach the Sermon and licensed communion assistants may distribute the consecrated elements of the Lord’s Supper.

The Ten Commandments should be read at least one Sunday of the month, and are especially appropriate on the feasts of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost (Whitsunday). They are also appropriate to read on the Sundays in Advent and Lent.

The Exhortation on pages 127-129 should be read at least three times a year and is especially appropriate on the feasts of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost (Whitsunday). It is also appropriate to read at the beginning of Advent and Lent.

Baptized persons who are communicant members of other Churches that subscribe to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and are in good standing in their own church shall be admitted to the Holy Communion.

Additional notes for the conduct of these services will be found at the beginning and the end of each service.

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