The Anglican Service Book: A Traditional Language Adaptation of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, Together with the Psalter Or Psalms of David and Additional Devotions
Good Shepherd Press, 1991 - Anglican Communion - 734 pages
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After a lengthy period of "Trial Rites" in various colored covers, the Episcopal Church finally adopted the current 1979 Prayerbook to the dismay of many who preferred the "old" 1928 Book of Common Prayer. However, on of the provisions allowed in the "new" Prayerbook was the right to adopted the contemporary language of Rite Two to the more traditional language found in Rite One. While some parishes did take advantage of this by printing their own in-house leaflets, it was not until 1991 that a dedicated effort to produce a book that would replace the contemporary language with traditional Elizabethan language. This was achieved by The Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, Pennsylvania.
This effort required more work than simply replacing you with thee and thou. A great deal of attention was paid to retaining the sort of cadence found in the work of Thomas Cramner which had made past editions of the Book of Common Prayer so beautiful to say. It is obvious that a great deal of work went into "translating" the 1979 BCP into Elizabethen English and producing a work which had the potential to satisfy if not please the more traditionally inclined Episcopalians. All except the ordination of a bishop was and some of the Eucharistic Prayers was put into Jacobean English: the Coverdale Psalter was retained. Additionally, there are a number of rites and rituals not a part of the Book of Common Prayer but which are practiced in many Anglo-Catholic parishes. When these additions appear in the service that are designated by a line in the margins. There are a lot of lines.
While these additional Anglo-Catholic rites meet the needs of Anglo-Catholics, some of them may be outright offensive to those of the "Low" or "Evangelical" parties in the Episcopal Church. There is no doubt that this book is intended for Anglo-Catholics and Ritualists. One wonders if the appeal of the book might have been broader if the publishers had simply reformed the 1979 Prayer Book.
That being said, there is a lot to like about this volume. In some ways it is an improvement over the 1979 BCP in its layout: congregational responses are printed in bold and therefore it kind of jumps out of you and encourages you to say your part in the Service. It is a nice cloth bound volume that should hold up to the normal weekly (and possibly daily).
Because of the relatively low demand of a book such as this, the cost is rather high. (I cannot help but note that the Anglican Breviary is published for $85.00 in a bonded leather with ribbons -- it would have been nice if this volume were also published in that format). One wishes that the price was lower so more parishes so inclined could afford it. The question is how many traditional language parishes remain in the Episcopal Church, as well as how many "continuing Anglican" parishes would use it. Outside of the "8 o'clock" service and perhaps Lent, one rarely finds Rite One being used which is tragic (one also wishes that the rubrics were two way - that one could modernize Cramner's language).
Overall, I like the book and think that the Church of the Good Shepherd did a fine job in producing an Elizabethan Anglo-Catholic Missal, but it also leaves me with a certain sense of sadness about what our society has lost in its drift away from the language of Shakespeare, Cramner, & King James.