Book of Alternative Services
The Book of Alternative Services (BAS) is the contemporary, inclusive-language liturgical book used alongside the Book of Common Prayer (1962) (BCP) in most parishes of the Anglican Church of Canada. When first published, the BAS included the Common Lectionary, unlike the BCP; in printings since the publication of the Revised Common Lectionary, the latter has superseded the original lectionary.
The BAS was published in 1985, and was based on a number of experimental liturgical texts that had were developed throughout the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the American Book of Common Prayer of 1979 and the Roman Missal as reformed by Paul VI. The book's theological and linguistic soundness has sparked controversy, with some concerned that the book deviates from biblical teachings, and others criticizing its less traditional language and service format. In response to the publishing of the BAS, the Prayer Book Society of Canada was formed in order to maintain awareness of the older book and increase awareness of the shortcomings of the BAS. The controversy has sometimes been called the "trad-rad" debate (i.e. "traditional" vs. "radical").
The BAS contains an order for the Eucharist in contemporary language, as well as one more in line with the language of the 1962 Prayer Book. The latter text, developed at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene (Toronto), rearranges the prayers of the 1962 BCP Communion service in an order conforming to traditional Western shape adopted by the BAS and in use by both Roman Catholics and Lutherans. A Eucharistic Prayer more palatable to Anglo-Catholics is provided as an alternative to the 1962 form, which lacks an epiclesis and oblation. The variable collects, prayers over the gifts, and prayers after communion are in contemporary language only. There are also contemporary rite versions of Morning and Evening Prayer; these have not been widely used, in part because the service of Morning Prayer has in large part been supplanted by weekly Eucharist as the main Sunday service in most Anglican parishes. Contemporary-language wedding, funeral, and other pastoral rites, however, have been welcomed more widely.
Use of the BAS varies from parish to parish. In some congregations, the principal Sunday service is according to the BCP, while in others, the contemporary liturgy dominates. The use of the BAS has been known to contribute to the decline in young people's church attendance. In most dioceses, however, the trend is increasingly toward the use of the BAS, a trend which marks it as Canada's contribution to the dissolution of the Anglican Communion. Many parishes that primarily make use of the BAS offer a plain "early celebration" or Low Mass from the BCP on Sundays.
Bishop Michael Ingham is the author of an apologia for the BAS, called Rites for a New Age.
- Webster, John, et al. Anglicans Share Their Views [about] Using the Book of Alternative Services: the Report of a Survey Conducted for the Book of Alternative Services Commission, September 1993. Toronto, Ont.: Anglican Book Centre, 1993. N.B.: On verso of t.p.: "Prepared ... by Canadian Facts, Toronto, Ontario." ISBN 1-55126-075-1