Anglican Service Book

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The Anglican Service Book was an edition in traditional language of the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church (United States). The book was adapted from the 1979 version as well as other sources such as the Anglican Missal, the Sarum Missal and the Book of Occasional Services. The rubrics of the 1979 book allow for such a work without providing all of the necessary texts. The book was offered to facilitate worship in the traditional language of Anglicanism. The Anglican Service Book was published by the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, Pennsylvania. The book is principally used by Anglo-Catholics.


The 1979 Book of Common Prayer emerged in the midst of the liturgical renewal movement that began early in the 20th century and produced the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. While the various Anglican prayer books published during and after the English Reformation in the 16th century had already addressed many of the concerns of this movement (such as the use of the vernacular and a daily office for the use of all), the movement did have a profound effect on contemporary prayer book revision in the churches of the Anglican Communion. The 1979 BCP provides many additions to the liturgical life of the church, such as Compline and the Proper Liturgies for Special Days.

The rubrics of the 1979 prayer book provide for traditional language without providing all of the necessary texts: "In any of the Proper Liturgies for Special Days, and in other services contained in this Book celebrated in the context of a Rite One service, the contemporary idiom may be conformed to traditional language." and "When it is desired to use music composed for them, previously authorized liturgical texts may be used in place of the corresponding texts in this Book." (page 14, 1979 Book of Common Prayer). These rubrics cannot be followed without the use of "supplemental texts", as the traditional idiom involves more than substituting "thee" and "thou" when addressing God; syntax and cadence are also important. Since 1976, when the proposed book was issued, many parishes have sought to work within the confines of these rubrics while not having the resources in one book to make this easily possible. Congregations have produced many photocopied drafts of service material and parishioners have had to balance prayer books, parish Mass books, and bulletin inserts. This has not made it easy for newcomers or regular members to follow services.


The Anglican Service Book was a compilation of material from a number of sources focused around the structure of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. It provided all Rite I services, together with rites, offices, and services in traditional language which appear solely in the modern idiom in the 1979 BCP. Additional supplementary service material, commonly used in many parishes, was included, in the hope that the work might meet devotional needs which are not addressed in the prayer book. Brief essays on the sacraments and services of the Church were placed before the rites as a teaching tool. The Coverdale Psalter was also included to provide the texts in the traditional idiom.

Throughout the book (except in Additional Devotions), material within a rite which is supplementary was delineated by a line along the left hand side of the page or by brackets and italics. In a few places, however, traditional forms of services were substituted or added (e.g. Communion of the Sick and the Absolution of the Dead). Most of the supplementary material was from the 1928 and older editions of the Book of Common Prayer, The Anglican Missal, and the American Missal. Almost all of it was commonplace in the worship life of many parishes and was therefore included for their convenience. To facilitate corporate worship, effort was made to make the services as easy to follow as possible and conventions such as bold-face type for all congregational responses were adopted.

A few elements in the 1979 prayer book were beyond the scope of the project, specifically the Lectionary, the Ordination of a bishop, and the Catechism. Other resources are available for those items. The project began at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, from the need to consolidate service material in a form which would be easy to follow.

The Anglican Service Book project has since been abandoned by the Church of the Good Shepherd, and seems to be moribund. No further editions or printings are forthcoming, and the Church no longer has any copies of the Service Book.

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