The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has recently released its 2019 Book of Common Prayer (BCP). In the interest of making the new ACNA Book of Common Prayer 2019 accessible, we’ve put together a Rookie Anglican Guide to the ACNA Prayer Book!
- You can order a physical copy here: http://anglicanliturgypress.com/the-shop/.
- You can access the 2019 BCP digitally (PDF and Word) here: http://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net.
What is the Book of Common Prayer (BCP)?
As I explain in the Rookie Anglican Guide to the Book of Common Prayer (AKA “BCP,” “Prayer Book”), the Book of Common Prayer is the comprehensive service book for Anglican churches (churches that trace their lineage back to the Church of England).
It contains the written liturgies for almost any service that would be held at an Anglican church. These include:
- daily prayer services (the Daily Office)
- weekly worship (Holy Communion, AKA “Lord’s Supper” or “Holy Eucharist”)
- special services for Lent and Holy Week (like Ash Wednesday and Good Friday)
- ordination services (for a Bishop, Priest, or Deacon)
- services used to celebrate new ministries or churches (Institution of a Rector, Dedication of a Place of Worship)
- services held throughout one’s life (Baptism, Confirmation, Wedding, Funeral)
Most Books of Common Prayer also usually contain:
- a calendar to help you follow the Church Year
- prayers and thanksgivings that you use throughout the Church Year and/or at any time
- the book of Psalms (AKA the “Psalter”), because these get used a lot in Anglican worship
- a catechism and other documents to teach the basics of the Christian faith
- lectionaries, which let you know what passages of Scripture to read during all the services mentioned in the previous list
Basically, with just a Bible and a Prayer Book, you should have all the text you need to hold Anglican worship services.
Why does the ACNA have a new Book of Common Prayer?
In June 2008, the leaders of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) issued a statement containing the “Jerusalem Declaration.” Among other things, this statement called for “the formation of a province in North America.”
One year later, in June 2009, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) held its first Provincial Assembly.
Ever since its birth, one of the ACNA’s goals has been to develop a new Book of Common Prayer—one that is closer to the tradition of the 1662 BCP than some other recent BCPs in use throughout the global Anglican Communion.
Concerning the importance of the 1662 BCP, read what the ACNA’s “Fundamental Declarations of the Province” has to say:
(6) We receive The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline, and, with the Books which preceded it, as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship (p. 767).
This is very much in line with GAFCON’s 2008 Jerusalem Declaration:
(6) We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture (p. 792).
The Preface of the 2019 BCP, written by Archbishop Foley Beach and Archbishop Emeritus Robert Duncan, situates the ACNA’s new BCP within Anglicanism’s Prayer Book tradition.
They pull no punches while taking issue with recent BCPs:
The liturgical movement of the 20th century and the ecumenical rapprochement in the second half of that century had an immense impact on the Prayer Book tradition. The Book of Common Prayer (1979) in the United States and various Prayer Books that appeared in Anglican Provinces from South America to Kenya to South East Asia to New Zealand were often more revolutionary than evolutionary in character. Eucharistic prayers in particular were influenced by the re-discovery of patristic texts unknown at the Reformation, and often bore little resemblance to what had for centuries been the Anglican norm. Baptismal theology, especially in North America, was affected by radical revisions to the received Christian understanding, and came perilously close to proclaiming a gospel of individual affirmation rather than of personal transformation and sanctification (p. 4).
According to Archbishops Foley and Robert, the 2019 BCP is a part of the 21st century’s “global reassessment of the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 as ‘the standard for doctrine, discipline, and worship” (p. 4).
They conclude the Preface with the following words:
The Book of Common Prayer (2019) is indisputably true to Cranmer’s originating vision of a form of prayers and praises that is thoroughly Biblical, catholic in the manner of the early centuries, highly participatory in delivery, peculiarly Anglican and English in its roots, culturally adaptive and missional in a most remarkable way, utterly accessible to the people, and whose repetitions are intended to form the faithful catechetically and to give them doxological voice.
The Book of Common Prayer (2019) is the product of the new era of reform and restoration that has created the Anglican Church in North America. The Jerusalem Declaration of 2008 located itself within the historic confines of what is authentically the Christian Faith and the Anglican patrimony, and sought to restore their fullness and beauty. The Book of Common Prayer (2019) is offered to the same end (pp. 4-5).
NOTE: If you’d like to learn more about the motivations and principles behind the development of the ACNA’s 2019 BCP, it’s worth checking out the “Initial Report of the Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Task Force.”
If you’d like an even deeper dive into the history of the 2019 BCP’s development, you can read the following reports of the Liturgy Task Force:
How do you use the ACNA 2019 Book of Common Prayer?
So much for the motivations and history behind the 2019 BCP. How do you use the thing?
At this point, it’s important to remember that the BCP is designed to be a comprehensive resource.
That means that, unless you’re Anglican clergy (and even then!), you won’t use the entirety of the BCP very often.
Instead, you’ll come back to certain sections time and time again. And you’ll use others maybe once in your life!
So, we’ll focus on the sections of the 2019 BCP that you’ll use most often.
First, get oriented to the Church’s worship.
Take a close look at “Concerning the Divine Service of the Church” on pages 6-8. It’s well worth your time, especially if you’re a newcomer to Prayer Book worship.
The following are “the regular liturgies appointed for worship in this Church (the ACNA)”:
- Daily Office (Morning and Evening Prayer)
- Great Litany
- Holy Communion
If you’re not familiar with what these services are, I’ll quote the 2019 BCP’s definitions/descriptions for you.
Daily Office (pp. 9-88)
Daily Morning Prayer and Daily Evening Prayer are the established rites (offices) by which, both corporately and individually, God’s people annually encounter the whole of the Holy Scriptures, daily confess their sins and praise Almighty God, and offer timely thanksgivings, petitions, and intercessions.
Great Litany (pp. 89-101)
The Great Litany is commonly used before the Holy Eucharist on the First Sunday of Advent and the First Sunday in Lent, and may be used on other Sundays as needed or as the Bishop directs.
The Great Litany is especially appropriate for Rogation days, other days of fasting or thanksgiving, and occasions of solemn and comprehensive entreaty. It can be used as an independent rite, or at the conclusion of Morning or Evening Prayer.
Holy Communion (pp. 103-158)
The Holy Communion, commonly called the Lord’s Supper or the Holy Eucharist, is a chief means of grace for sustained and nurtured life in Christ. It is normally the principal service of Christian worship on the Lord’s Day and on other appointed Feasts and Holy Days. Mindful of the admonition in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29, participation in Holy Communion requires a penitent heart and lively faith.
Baptism (pp. 160-173)
Holy Baptism is the initiatory rite of the Church, which seals adoption in Christ and is the means of grace for new life in him.
Confirmation (pp. 174-181)
Confirmation (or Reception) through the laying on of hands by a Bishop is the rite of public profession of faith that is expected of every adult member of the Church. In it the Holy Spirit gives grace to the believer for discipleship and ministry as a mature Christian.
What about other liturgies/services?
The 2019 BCP makes the following provision for other liturgies/services:
In addition to these liturgies and the other rites contained in this Book, the Minister, subject to the direction of the Ordinary (Diocesan Bishop), may use other forms of occasional service set forth by authority within this Church. Special devotions taken from Holy Scripture, and other services consistent with the Scriptures, may be authorized by the Bishop.
What about other languages?
Although the 2019 BCP is in English, it makes provision for the translation of its services into other languages as needs arise.
Furthermore, although the 2019 BCP is predominantly in contemporary idiom, it allows for the “translation” of its services into traditional (thee/thou) language.
Why are certain things italicized?
When nouns/pronouns and verbs are italicized, this just means that you can change between the singular and plural if needed (he/she <-> they, etc.).
What are the vertical lines in the left margins for?
If there’s a paragraph with a vertical line in the left margin, this just means that the minister can decide whether or not to include this section—it’s optional.
What do the asterisks mean?
In the 2019 BCP, asterisks “are used to denote the responsorial, antiphonal, or musical break points in canticles and other texts frequently sung or corporately recited.”
Which Scripture translation is used?
The English Standard Version (ESV).
However, whenever you see a superscript “T” (like on page 26 after 2 Cor. 13:14), that means that the translation is following previous Prayer Book translations, not the ESV.
And when you see a superscript “V” in a citation from Psalms, that means that the verse number(s) indicated are from the New Coverdale Psalter (pp. 267-467), and that they’re different from verse numbers in other translations.
Then, start with the Daily Office.
If you’re using the 2019 BCP, you’ll use pages 11-88 and 734-763 the most often. These contain the daily prayer services (“Daily Office”) and the Scripture readings assigned for each day (“Daily Office Lectionary”), respectively.
Daily Morning Prayer (pp. 11-31) and Daily Evening Prayer (pp. 41-56) are the best places to start.
However, there’s also:
- Midday Prayer (see page 33),
- Compline (for right before bed, see page 57), and
- Family Prayer (shorter services for families with children, see page 67).
Pay attention to the italicized instructions.
To figure out how to do each prayer service in the 2019 BCP, simply pay attention to the italicized instructions (AKA “rubrics,” because they used to be printed in red with rubrica, the Latin name for red pigment).
“Officiant” refers to the person leading the service, whether clergy or a layperson. “People” refers to everyone gathered for that particular service.
When you see the words “or this” in the rubrics, that simply means that you’re being given various options to choose from. Just pick one. You’re not supposed to do all of them!
Use the Daily Office Lectionary to figure out what passages of Scripture you should read.
Whenever you get to “The Psalm or Psalms Appointed” or “The Lessons” (“as appointed”), that means you’re supposed to consult the Daily Office Lectionary on pages 738-763.
Look up what day it is, and read the passages that are assigned for either Morning (the left-hand pages) or Evening (the right-hand pages) Prayer.
Whenever possible, I would encourage you to read the psalm(s) for the day from the New Coverdale Psalter included in the 2019 BCP.
See page 268 for an introduction to the Psalter, which is an updated version the Coverdale Psalter of 1535.
According to Dr. John Crutchfield, who served on the translation committee:
The committee consisted of three Hebrew scholars and one liturgist. We were given specific guidelines from the College of Bishops (update archaic language, make it gender neutral without being obtrusive, etc.). Our methodology was to start with the original Coverdale Psalter as it appeared in the 1662 BCP; then we consulted the Hebrew text to make sure Coverdale’s rendering was acceptable (if it wasn’t, we were free to correct it). Then, as we revised Coverdale’s language, we consulted both the “Revised Psalter of 1963” [which T.S. Eliot and C.S Lewis contributed to) and the Psalter in the 1979 BCP.
If you’d like to read through all 150 psalms every month, use the one-month psalm cycle on page 735. Or, you can simply pay attention to the headings included in the Psalter itself (“Day 1: Morning Prayer” on page 270, “Day 1: Evening Prayer on page 274)..
Figure out what liturgical day it is in order to pray the Collect of the Day.
As Greg Goebel explains, a Collect is “simply a prayer meant to gather the intentions of the people and the focus of worship into a succinct prayer.”
At various points in the Daily Office services, you’ll see “The Collect of the Day” referenced (like on page 22 in Morning Prayer).
First, if you don’t already know what day/week of the liturgical year you’re in, I’d suggest going to The Lectionary Page to find out. (You can also consult the calendars on pages 687-715.)
Then, look up the appropriate Collect in the section of the 2019 BCP called “The Collects of the Christian Year” on pages 598-640.
Most of the time, unless it’s a Holy/feast Day on the particular day you’re praying, you’ll use the previous Sunday’s Collect throughout the following week.
As an example, today is Saturday, June 22, 2019. According to the Lectionary Page website, last Sunday was Trinity Sunday and tomorrow is The Second Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 7).
It would be perfectly understandable for you to assume that you should pray the Collect for Trinity Sunday (p. 615) as the Collect of the Day. However, on page 614, in the italicized instructions at the bottom it reads:
“The Collects, lessons, and prefaces for the Day of Pentecost and Trinity Sunday are not used on the following weekdays. In their place, the dated propers for the week are used.”
So, on June 22, 2019, you should pray the Collect for Proper 6, because the previous Sunday fell between June 12 and June 18 (see page 616).
Starting on the evening of June 22, you can start praying the Collect for Proper 7 (p. 617). You use the Proper 7 Collect every day for the following week.
Except that, on Monday, June 24, you pray the Collect for the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (p. 629). And, on Saturday, June 29, you pray the Collect for the feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul (p. 629). These Holy Days interrupt the normal weekly Collect.
Now, I know that sounds complicated! (It’s why I simplify things for you in our Daily Office Booklets!) However, the longer you do the Daily Office, the more familiar it will become to always know the Collect of the Day.
Use the Occasional Prayers and Thanksgivings as a resource.
It’s also worth knowing about the “Occasional Prayers” section (pp. 642-683).
You’ll find a helpful list of the 125 different prayers included on pages 642-645.
You can use these prayers and thanksgivings whenever you like, whether in a liturgical service or not!
The Holy Eucharist
I’ve already introduced you to the sections of the 2019 BCP that you’ll use most often on your own or with family/friends.
The next most important section is undoubtedly “The Holy Eucharist” (pp. 104-158), used for services of Holy Communion.
Note that there are 2 Communion liturgies included:
- the “Anglican Standard Text” (pp. 105-122) and
- the “Renewed Ancient Text” (pp. 123138).
The Anglican Standard Text:
The Anglican Standard Text “is essentially that of the Holy Communion service of the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 and successor books through 1928, 1929, and 1962” (p. 104).
Although the Standard text is presented in contemporary language and an ordering of elements/sections that matches other modern Prayer Books, the 2019 BCP allows for both traditional language and the 1662 ordering of elements/sections. It can also be abbreviated as needed. See the Additional Directions on pages 139-143 for more information.
The Renewed Ancient Text
The Renewed Ancient Text “is drawn from liturgies of the Early Church, reflects the influence of twentieth century ecumenical consensus, and includes elements of historic Anglican piety” (p. 104).
It is also shorter than the Standard text. Again, see the Additional Directions on pages 139-143 for more information on how to use both Communion liturgies.
There’s much more in the ACNA 2019 BCP!
- the introductory material,
- the Daily Office,
- the Daily Office Lectionary,
- the New Coverdale Psalter,
- the Collects of the Christian Year,
- Occasional Prayers, and
- the Holy Eucharist.
These are the sections of the ACNA 2019 BCP that you’ll end up using the most often. And I believe it’s sufficient for a Rookie Anglican Guide!
However, there are many more liturgies and resources in the ACNA Prayer Book! Consider the following:
- Baptism and Confirmation (pp. 160-196)
- Pastoral Rites (performed by a Priest/Pastor)
- Holy Matrimony (pp. 198-214)
- Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child (pp. 215-221)
- The Rites of Healing
- Reconciliation of Penitents (pp. 223-224)
- Ministry to the Sick (pp. 225-226)
- Communion of the Sick (pp. 227-231)
- Additional Prayers for the Sick (pp. 231-235)
- Ministry to the Dying (pp. 236-242)
- Prayers for a Vigil (pp. 243-245)
- Burial of the Dead (pp. 246-266)
- Episcopal Services (performed by a Bishop)
- The Ordinal (for ordaining Deacons and Priests, and ordaining and consecrating Bishops, pp. 470-512)
- Institution of a Rector (pp. 513-522)
- Consecration and Dedication of a Place of Worship (pp. 523-540)
- Special Liturgies of Lent and Holy Week
- Ash Wednesday (pp. 542-552)
- Palm Sunday (pp. 553-558)
- Maundy Thursday (pp. 559-563)
- Good Friday (pp. 564-577)
- Holy Saturday (pp. 578-580)
- Great Vigil of Easter (pp. 581-595)
- Calendars and Lectionaries
- Calendar of the Christian Year (excellent overview, pp. 687-690)
- Calendar of the Holy Days and Commemorations (pp. 691-712)
- Tables for Finding the Date of Easter (pp. 713-715)
- Sunday, Holy Day, and Commemoration Lectionary (used for the readings at Holy Communion, on a 3-year cycle, pp. 716-733)
- Documentary Foundations
- Fundamental Declarations of the Province (pp. 766-767)
- Concerning the Nicene Creed (p. 768)
- Athanasian Creed (pp. 769-771)
- Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (pp. 772-790)
- Jerusalem Declaration (pp. 791-793)
- Preface of the Book of Common Prayer 1549 (pp. 794-797)
- Preface of the Book of Common Prayer 1662 (pp. 798-802)
Want to learn more about the ACNA 2019 BCP?
Check out these other posts here at Anglican Pastor:
- The Book of Common Prayer in Worship
- Common Prayer: The Origin Story
- The Daily Office Lectionary: A Rookie Anglican Guide
- How to Lead a Daily Office Service for a Group
Watch these videos!
- The Basics
- Daily Office
- Great Litany & Decalogue
- Holy Eucharist
- Baptism & Confirmation
- Pastoral Rites
- The Psalter
- Episcopal Services
- Special Liturgies for Lent & Holy Week
- Collects & Occasional Prayer
- Calendar & Lectionary
- Documentary Foundations
I also highly recommend Alan Jacobs’ book, The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books).
However, there’s really no substitute for getting a copy of the BCP and using it! Dive in and join the rest of us in figuring things out as we go along! :)
I hope this guide has been helpful. If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments below!
As Managing Editor, Josh is in charge of the day-to-day operations at Anglican Pastor. He is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America, serving at Church of the Savior in Wheaton, IL (Diocese of C4SO). Josh is also a Ph.D. student in theology at Wheaton College. You can follow Josh on micro.blog, or learn more at joshuapsteele.com.