My name is John, and I’m a liturgoholic.
Well, they say the first step is admitting you have a problem. In particular, I appear to be addicted to daily office books, as evidenced by this photograph of my current collection (click image for full-size version). To qualify, the book needn’t be solely an office book (hence the inclusion of the main volume of Common Worship and the Lutheran Service Book, for example), but it must contain orders for at least morning and evening prayer, and I must have used those offices at some point.
From left to right, and in approximate order of when I first used them, the books shown are as follows:
- Book of Common Prayer (1662). Where it started; the offices that I grew up on, at least in the case of evensong, and one I’ve regularly gone back to since. The language is beautiful, not least the general confession at the start of each order (“…we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep…”) but the lack of variety gets a bit wearing.
- Book of Common Prayer, as before, only with Hymns Ancient & Modern Revised bound up in the same volume.
- Alternative Service Book 1980. One word: meh. Any Lutherans who dislike Lutheran Worship should try comparing it with the Church of England’s first attempt at a full, modern liturgy. The ASB’s Communion service is pretty good, and was carried over largely unaltered into Common Worship. But the ASB’s offices are awful, half-hearted revisions of the BCP.
- Celebrating Common Prayer, 1998 pocket edition. This was my real introduction to regular use of the daily office. Celebrating Common Prayer (CCP) was an attempt to create an improved daily office for the Church of England, and forms the basis of the daily offices in Common Worship. CCP is based on the office of the Society of Saint Francis, but apparently the idea was first suggested by two businessmen wanting an office book for their daily commute! The various pocket editions of CCP are ideal for this purpose.
- An English Prayer Book. Developed by the conservative evangelical Church Society as an attempt to persuade the Church of England to return to a 1662-style liturgy in modern language. If a 1662 liturgy in ASB language is what you like, then this is the book for you. Hello? Anyone?
- Celebrating Common Prayer. The original version of CCP. Excellent in many ways, but a bit of a flick-a-thon in use. Rarely have Cranmer’s words in his preface to the BCP seemed more appropriate: “many times there was more business to find out what should be read, than to read it when it was found out”…
- Common Worship. The main, Sunday volume of the Church of England’s new (2000) liturgy. The orders for morning, evening and night prayer are largely based on CCP, but using the Common Worship psalter (CCP uses the psalter from ECUSA’s 1979 so-called “Book of Common Prayer”).
- Lutheran Worship. Don’t knock it. Compared with most liturgies from the 1970s and 1980s, LW is a masterpiece. Seriously. Great to have a chanted office available as part of a church’s standard liturgy: the Lutheran liturgies here are the only ones to print chants in the congregational volumes.
- The Brotherhood Prayer Book. Produced by the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood as an experiment in creating a Lutheran breviary. Enormous. Interesting, but I’d prefer modern language to “mock-Tudor”, and I really can’t get to grips with Gregorian chant. Anglican chant is simply the best way of chanting in English, guys. Deal with it.
- Celebrating Common Prayer, 2002 pocket edition. A slightly enriched version of the 1998 edition, using Common Worship texts and with more responses and antiphons included for greater variety.
- Common Worship:Daily Prayer (CW:DP). A triumph. The best liturgical volume produced by the Church of England since 1662, or maybe even 1549. Based on CCP, but with improved texts. A feast for the eyes, with its luxurious cream paper and rich red rubrics. Gorgeous. A bit too big to carry on the train, though.
- Celebrating Daily Prayer (CDP). An update of the CCP pocket edition, but based more heavily on CW:DP. A very attractive volume, but just a little too big to fit in my Bible case, so I’ve not been using it recently.
- Morning & Evening Prayer. The book I currently use. Taken from the Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours (LOTH). Pros: a very rich and dynamic office, lots of material. The section of devotional poems (including Donne, Herbert, Hopkins, Eliot…) is an inspired touch. Cons: requires the occasional bit of “on the fly” editing for doctrinal reasons (replacing “by his intercession” with “inspired by his example” in saint’s day collects, for example). However, since the services are largely scriptural in content, there is very little that is doctrinally problematic in ordinary use (though I think I’ll be back on Celebrating Daily Prayer for Marian feasts). Language often very banal. Can be quite confusing to use – definitely not for liturgical “n00bs” – but conversely it is rewarding* once you get the hang of it. (*or perhaps I should say, “meritorious”…)
- Lutheran Service Book. The latest LCMS service book. The offices are basically the same as in Lutheran Worship, as far as I can tell.
I do feel I now have my problem under control, however (“He’s in denial! Intervention!”). I can’t see my delving into the more hardcore, monastic volumes, and there’s a limit to how many permutations on “Celebrating Common Prayer” one set of bookshelves can accommodate. I imagine I’ll continue to flit between CCP/CDP and the LOTH, depending on whether I want variety or halfway decent English at any time.