Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | January 16, 2011

The 1928 Prayer Book

Site visitor Kelso posted the following in response to another post:

“I’ll tell you what’s abusive: Forbidding usage of the 1928 BCP in once-thriving parishes that have been declining for over 30 years now. Once the proudest denomination in America – now the last refuge of the 1960s draft dodgers and hippies. Ruining what was the Church of Beauty is abusive!”

I’m not a traditionalist myself, but this is a sentiment that is felt by many. Even though I favor the current 1979 book, I think some type of provision should be available for parishes that prefer the 1928 book.

That being said, is requiring use of the 1979 book and disallowing the 1928 abusive in and of itself? My answer would be no, unless the “powers that be” are being needlessly heavy-handed about it. I’m hesitant to use “abusive” in reference to a church too lightly, since people in many groups are subjected to weekly and even daily psychological abuse. Seeing a loved one completely turn from God due to the influence of family members still in such a group is very distressing and part of that influences how I define abuse.

Further discussion on this is welcome, I just ask everyone to read the posting guidelines on the Comments Policy page first.


  1. Since sales of the BCP ’79 go to the clergy pension fund, one might be suspicious that a little heavy handedness might be involved.

  2. When 1979 came into use, I never saw a parish where 1928 was allowed. Those who would have been happy with Rite I were denied the opportunity to use it…Rite II was mandated in every place of my acquaintance. And, subsequently, I saw ECUSA morph into TEC…and the decline continues. Don’t know whether it’s abuse or not, but it sure hasn’t been smart.

    • Hi JC,
      I’ve encountered both rites in 2/3 parishes I’ve been a member of. The first one (DioMass) still has both a Rite I and Rite II on Sunday. This was a parish with many “cradle” Episcopalians whose families had been members for generations. The second was strictly Rite II (the parish had a few members who were from other, non-liturgical denoms). My current parish (many longtime Episcopalians) does use Rite I on occasion. The last two parishes are in TX. I could be mistaken, but I wonder if the number of “cradle Episcopalians” in a parish has anything to do with it.

      • I mentioned the Rite I/Rite II business because all of the dioceses I was associated with in those years (one in the North, one in the South, one in the Midwest) had bishops who seemingly forbade the use of Rite I…and the local clergy went along with it. I’m not sure how official the decision was, but the result was as if it had been official. In the situations I was familiar with most parishioners were “cradle” Episcopalians. It didn’t matter. They were denied the choice between Rite I and Rite II. Many of them left, and have not returned. Obviously your experience has been different.

  3. I caused this posting (blush) but now that it’s finally got some responses I’ll just remark: We re-wrote our prayer book to be “less-challenging” for the unchurched; we edited our hymnal so it would be “contemporary”; we watered down our beliefs so we would be “welcoming”; we changed the rules of catholicism to ordain women priests so we’d be “equal-righty”: Now I ask you – why aren’t people just flocking to our parishes? We went from being the most admired denomination in America to a laughing stock in one generation. I haven’t invited anyone to church in over 30 years – I’m too embarrassed by what it has become.

    • Hi Kelso,
      I wasn’t trying to make you feel singled out and my apologies if I did. I just didn’t want to have the discussion veering too far off course, since I’ve found that discussions that do tend to get WAAYY out of hand. (I could write a book based on my experiences an AOL board host )

      It’s often argued by those who advocate all-contemporary services (I’m thinking of mega-church services with an emphasis on entertainment) that traditional liturgies actually put off would-be churchgoers. What would you say in response to this claim?

      • Hope you’ll forgive my jumping in here, but I have a thought on the all-contemporary service style. You’re correct in thinking the emphasis is on entertainment, or, rather, that the emphasis is on “feeling” good. I think that winds up with the service being about the worshipers rather than about God. I know plenty of people who are put off by that. Mega-church members are not put off, and most just show up because they like feeling good.

        No doubt some are seekers, but the congregations of that type that I’ve seen fall into the category of “crunchy bobo”…bourgeois bohemians who want church to be what they want it to be. I think that’s a recipe for making the church conform to secular society, and I don’t think I’m alone in that opinion. My two cents.

  4. Hi JC,

    No, you’re not butting in 🙂 This is something that’s bothered me for a long time, since a lot of members of churches with that type of worship style seem to have a superiority complex about it. It’s not enough that they’ve found their “niche” spiritually, but some seem to feel like they have to put down the liturgical churches at any opportunity they get.

    One megachurch in my area was recently featured in the paper due to new members’ classes they were having. A major point was made about how they were a church “without” traditions. Maybe it’s just me, but I would think that a church that’s forgotten where we (Christians in general) come from is one that wouldn’t have a clear idea of where they’re going. Just my 2 cents’ worth 🙂

    • Well, about the niche: the way many contemporary churchgoers define it, theirs is the only way to go…usually they’re “born-again”, and they view any other approach as insufficient at best. And as is the case with some folks and politics, they’re not interested in “dialogue”, only in telling everyone else that they have the “truth”. If you don’t agree with them, the only thing to do is to avoid them. Any willingness to talk is interpreted as an invitation for them to “witness”…very much like Jehovah’s Witness magazine sellers, or those earnest Mormon young people who knock on your door. And as for the “without” tradition thing: they’re generally proud of it. They regard tradition as a problem to be overcome. Sorry to be so cynical, but I’ve had more than one encounter with this sort of person, and I can’t remember a single incident that I would call positive.

      • I hear you there, I’ve had to deal with that several times, especially where I’m in an area that’s almost entirely Baptist or Pentecostal (or so it seems). I’ve found that people from such backgrounds who are open to liturgy are few and far in between.

  5. Let me wade in again….some of the discussion involves Rite I. Rite I is not acceptable. We traditional Episcopalians have no use for “passing the peace” which interrupts our meditations in the middle of a holy service to glad-hand like a Rotary meeting; we have a parish house for shaking hands and hugging and surely we can wait until then.

    Secondly, Rite I removes many fine phrases from the liturgy (which I will forbear listing). But I’m not fossilized in stone – I agree the 1928 BCP should move the Gloria from it’s position at the end of the service to it’s proper place – ala Rite I; and I agree with adding the “Blessed is he who cometh…” phrase.

    I do notice that Rite I folks for the most part are confined to the ghetto of the 8.00 service with no music….not because they like getting up early and don’t like music – but because most parishes save the “show” for the happy-clappy nonsense that prevails at 11.00’s Rite II.

    The disappearance of Morning Prayer is also a great loss of Anglican heritage. My parish had two Eucharists every Sunday and one Morning Prayer (8.00; 9.30; 11.00 – with MP flipping between 9.30 & 11.00). MP is one of the great glories of the church – the Te Deum has been sung since 300 AD – but no longer in our parishes! We’re rearing another generation of Anglicans who are ignorant of the glory of our heritage.

    There used to be a church for rational people who controlled their emotions in public and loved beauty, grace, dignity, and good order. It was the Episcopal Church – the church of choice for generations of military officers (no longer true – now the Presbyterian) and the church of choice for people who loved beauty. All gone, wiped away in one generation. I haven’t invited anyone to church in over 30 years – nor have I gone very much – yet I miss my church every single day.

    • Just a note: when I mentioned that some people would have been happy with Rite I I was not commenting on what it contained; I only meant to imply that there were people who could have lived with Rite I. I personally thought restoring the Gloria to its original place was a good move, and that adding “passing the peace” was intrusive. It’s probably a good thing that so many were denied the opportunity to use Rite I…they had to make up their minds about staying sooner rather than later.

  6. This morning I realized I should send you a link to the website I listen to every day for Morning and Evening Prayer in the Anglican tradition.

    It is spoken by a strong-voiced priest and the congregational responses are sung by an excellent soprano. The tunes used for the responses change most days – some are great – some not so great – but it’s a wonderful and glorious way to worship:

    • I’ll have to check that out, and probably add it to my list of Daily Office-related sites on my liturgy blog. Thanks!

  7. Call me stupid but I forgot to mention that on the Cradle of Prayer website, that on Fridays Morning Prayer also contains The Litany. Many current Episcopalians have never attended The Litany in which the litany desk is set level with the first row of pews and the priest kneels there whilst reading The Litany. It also is a good service – containing the memorable phrase: “And finally to beat down Satan under our feet”.

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