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Liturgy Resources - National

Anglican Common Prayer chooses its words carefully.

From this and associated pages, you can view and download some of the words for Common Prayer that have been carefully chosen by the Liturgy Commission of the Anglican Church of Australia or by LitMus (Archbishop’s Liturgy and Music Committee) of the Diocese of Perth.  

The language of liturgy must be true, expressing the faith of the Church clearly.  “As we pray, so we believe” has been true of Anglicans since the Reformation.  The words of worship, heard, spoken and sung, become, along with the Bible, a touchstone of people’s faith.

The language of liturgy must be beautiful, with words and phrases that can bear being repeated many times.  The words,rhythms and sound patterns of liturgical texts help the prayer to flow, to be memorable, and to be meaningful.

The language of liturgy must also be economical.  In our private devotions, believers can pray at great length and in any style we like, but when we gather for common prayer, Anglicans prefer a few well-chosen words in a structure that can easily be grasped by the congregation.  

Modern Anglican liturgy in Australia, and in the Diocese of Perth, rejoices in the truth, beauty and economy of the liturgical texts in A Prayer Book for Australia.  APBA is authorised at the highest possible level, by General Synod.  While some liturgical forms are theologically complex and often controverted and are not intended to be adapted at the local level, other forms in the Prayer Book can be used as models for creating new words to express a community’s prayer.  So another important feature of APBA is its “permissive rubrics.” These allow and encourage local creativity based on authorised texts.  Phrases like “in these or other suitable words” are found in almost every service in APBA.

The Liturgy Commission of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia has a role in supplementing the resources APBA provides.  Some of these resources can be used and adapted locally with great freedom. Others require a parish to obtain the approval of the Diocesan Bishop for local use of the texts under Section 4 of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia, which allows for “trial use” of liturgical material.

Some very important liturgies are not available in APBA, and the orders of service for great days like Ash Wednesday, Passion or Palm Sunday, and the Great Three Days (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil) are among the Commission’s additional resources.  The Commission has also made adaptations of some APBA services, including simplified orders for Holy Baptism.

Some emerging areas of need for prayer are not well provided-for in APBA.  The fifth Mark of Mission of the Anglican Communion is “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth” is one such area, and in response to a request from General Synod the Commission has produced liturgical texts on many environmental issues. 

Just as the prayers and services in APBA often inspire local liturgical creativity, appropriately accountable to the diocesan Bishop, so the Commission hopes its supplementary resources and its “trial use” texts may inspire others to fill gaps and find new ways of expressing common prayer. 

A national Commission cannot and should not do all the work of providing true, beautiful and economical prayer texts for the multitude of different Anglican contexts of mission and ministry across Australia.  The needs of evangelism and of “Fresh Expressions” of church require local creativity and diocesan authorisation rather than national expertise and Commission authorisation. 

In 2013, the members of the Commission are

The Rt Revd Godfrey Fryar (chair), Bishop of Rockhampton
The Revd Dr Elizabeth Smith (executive secretary), Diocese of Perth
The Revd Dr Rhys Bezzant, Diocese of Melbourne
The Ven Chris Chataway, Diocese of Adelaide
The Revd Dane Courtney, Diocese of Sydney
The Revd Dr Ron Dowling Diocese of Melbourne
The Revd Dr Colleen O’Reilly, Diocese of Melbourne
The Revd Dr Richard Treloar, Diocese of Melbourne

The Commission seeks and welcomes feedback on all its texts, especially those offered for “trial use.”  Please send your comments, critique and questions to the Executive Secretary at esmith@perth.anglican.org.

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