"Book of Common Prayer (2019)" of the ACNA. A Review
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It had to happen sooner or later. The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has been playing around with an updated version of the Book of Common Prayer for years (I have some of those trial runs in my library). Finally, they have landed on an 812 page standardized volume, the "Book of Common Prayer (2019)". I actually picked up the deluxe edition, which is an imitation leather binding, but all the inner details are the same. I will say, after using it for a month, I'm pleased (overall) with what I have found. The way it is printed makes it easy on the eyes, and many of the details between its covers are quite satisfying. If you're looking for a way to shape and form your daily devotions and prayers (morning, midday, evening, and night time) this volume is very useful.
The internal matter of this Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is too big to dissect in depth and detail. I will simply hit things I, as a non-Anglican-pesky-Presbyterian have noticed. All of the hours of prayer are nicely set up and robust. There is even a miniature rendition of Morning Prayer (MP), Midday, Evening Prayer (EP), and Compline for family worship. There are a few extra petitions that follow, and then a whole basket full toward the end. There is also a section of extra Canticles close by that appear to follow the translations of the 1979 BCP. There are two formats for the Eucharist ("Anglican Standard Text," and the "Renewed Ancient Text"). Additionally, the New Coverdale Psalter sits in the middle of the volume, and the "Documentary Foundation" which houses all of the doctrinal statements, declarations and the preface for the 1549 BCP. The book includes all the other items important to Anglicans, from pastoral offices, to ordination liturgies, etc.
Since it has more than I have time to comment on, I will point out just a few items that pique my interest. First, all or most of the Canticles do appear to have come straight from the 1979 BCP. That's fine, in and of itself, and I have no problem with that. It does mean that they don't always sound exactly like the Biblical texts themselves. For example, the newer BCPs' version of Revelation 15.3-4 always sounds tamer to me than what you read in that passage. Also,because the BCP (2019) takes these Canticles from the 1979-BCP, when you come to the presentation of Isaiah 12, both BCPs leave out Isaiah 12.1, which I have always found hugely disappointing. Isaiah 12.1 reminds us what we deserve and why God's salvation should make you shout and give thanks; "You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me."" You sing/chant/recite that, then you're primed to praise God with the remainder of Isaiah 12!
Second, I noticed in both the "Anglican Standard Text" and the "Renewed Ancient Text" for communion, that the door is open for those with more Anglo-Catholic affections. The liturgical technicians could tease this out better and further, but an easy way for me to see it is in what happens after the bread is "fractured" or broken. The celebrant is allowed two options in the words, drawing from 1 Corinthians 5.7c; either "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" or "Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us". The "has been" follows more the Scriptural emphasis of Christ's once-for-all sacrifice that benefits us in the present (in 1 Corinthians 5.7c, ἐτύθη is aorist passive, rather than a present active. "Has been" fits better). The "is" keeps the door open for the more Catholic Eucharistic direction of Christ's sacrifice somehow breaking in at the present moment. I recognize that the KJV uses "is" and the case can be made that it is a biblical statement.
Further, the Collects for the day are the standard ones. But I noticed in the "Ordinary Time" after Trinity Sunday, they don't necessarily follow the order of either the 1928 BCP or the 1979 BCP. Not a big deal, I'm sure; I simply thought it was worth noting.
Next, in MP, there is the general confession of sin. It is the standard one included from the 16th Century. The 1979 BCP took out the short line "and there is no health in us." The 2019 BCP restored it, and amended it, and I love the amendment, "and apart from your grace, there is no health in us." That amendment is also an allowable addition to the Eucharistic "Prayer of Humble Access" bringing it to say, "Apart from your grace we are not worthy etc." This makes my teeny Reformation-heart sing happy songs!
Lastly, the Psalter is a modernized version of Coverdale's Psalter. If you plop open a 1928 BCP to the Psalter and set it side-by-side with the 2019 version, you will see how they fit. And I'm delighted to note that the gender-specific language, softened or downright changed in the 1979 BCP, has been restored, especially in the places where a particular Psalm is looking forward to the Messiah. This New Coverdale Psalter, because of the modernizing, may not be as poetic as the original, but it is quite usable and and a loyal offspring of its sire.
The "Book of Common Prayer (2019)" is a worthwhile addition to my devotional library. I have been using it for the past month, and will continue to do so for some time to come. I think that Protestants of all flavors and family-groups would find this volume valuable and helpful in their own times of prayer. I especially would encourage pastors to snatch up a copy and thoughtfully use it as they can. I highly recommend this "Book of Common Prayer (2019)".
You can purchase a copy here: Book of Common Prayer (2019)
View all my reviews