Episco-Fact #115
November 15, 2018

I heard a rumor that the General Convention held in Austin, TX this past summer was going to approve Prayer Book Revision. What happened with that?

There was no agreement this past summer to do Prayer Book revision. In fact, during the General Convention a resolution was passed to set the Book of Common Prayer 1979 as the standard for the foreseeable future. What was passed was an encouragement for the Bishops to be more favorably inclined toward approving the liturgies in Enriching Our Worship for wider use and experimentation, and the General Convention approved The Holy Eucharist: Rite Two (Expansive Language) texts for Prayers A, B, and D.

Eucharistic Prayer C, the prayer we used in July and August the past two summers, and affectionately known as the Star Trek/Wars Prayer (due to the line: "At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses. . .). But, it is the only Eucharistic Prayer that has a decidedly creational focus. It is also the Eucharistic Prayer that requires the voice of the People the most. Thinking it needed more than a tweak, the convention let it alone.

So, as of the first Sunday of Liturgical Year C (Advent 1), which occurs on December 2, 2018, churches may use revised texts for the Eucharistic Prayers in Expansive Language form. We at St. Francis are going to be using the expansive language text for Prayer B. We will do this for the season of Advent, alone. Christmas, both the day and the season, will be done in Prayer B, Rite Two, BCP 1979. This short seasonal experiment should give us some time to reflect on and evaluate the changes, while knowing we will return to familiar language, soon.

Episco-fact wishes to point out some things about this new language that you will probably notice without me, but for which a heads up might be helpful.

Here are some those observations. The number of uses for Lord has been reduced. The word is replaced often by God, with some other words as well. I assume that the editors were trying to reduce what are considered as too many references to a clearly masculine noun and to decrease the number of uses of a word signifying a Sovereign/Subject or Master/Slave relationship. There are a number of references to the Triune God as both Unity and Trinity, without reference to the Father/Son/Holy Spirit relational language. The Nicene Creed stays in (there was some discussion about reducing the frequency of its required use), with a couple of changes: 1) "and became truly human" instead of "was made man," 2) "was incarnate of Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary" replaces "by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary," and the language of the Council of Nicaea replaces the language of the Creed since about the 800's CE, which means the Holy Spirit is now acknowledged to proceed only from the Father, rather than the Father and the Son.

Change is hard, and some of the language may not roll off the tongue at first, or, maybe ever. But after this trial, we will see if this is something for our St. Francis use, or not.