Making “1662 choices”

An interview with Samuel Bray: Part 3
By Jake Dell

We are moving farther and farther away from the idea of a single book of common prayer. The 1979 book opened the door to that with Rite 1 and Rite 2 and now more and more alternative liturgies are being authorized. Is the best we can hope for is that the BCP 1662 IE will become just another “authorized liturgy”? 

Well, this isn’t the first time there’s been massive divergence in liturgies. Once upon a time someone could say “there hath been great diversity in saying and singing in churches within this realm – some following Salisbury Use, some Hereford Use, and some the Use of Bangor, some of York, some of Lincoln” (from Archbishop Cranmer’s “Concerning the Service of the Church,” on page xvi of the 1662 IE).

It’s hard to see how that changes in the immediate future. Given ecclesiological fragmentation, among other things, it’s hard to imagine truly common prayer anytime soon. But it’s a spectrum. Just as there have been many moves over the last century that have given us less common prayer, we can also have a greater degree of common prayer than we do now. With the ever-present caveat that there needs to be ecclesiastical authorization, we can simply use the 1662 IE, or use its catechism for catechesis, or use its lectionaries for readings. And we can use the enormous variation allowed in other prayer books to make “1662” choices in how we use them, which brings a greater measure of liturgical stability and commonality.

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