What are we saying?

Scottish Prayer book_1912“Someone new has joined our congregation. She works shifts so can only come to our midweek mass so we’ve enjoyed getting to know her over coffee after the service. A few days ago she spoke to me about another church she’d visited nearby for their midweek service. She was checking out other churches in case she has to miss a Thursday. This other church was rejoicing that they’d had the covers of their Prayer Books re-bound. How can someone rejoice in using such an old service,” she asked. “The language was awful, the theology even worse. Do they not know what they’re saying, or do they not care? And how on earth is an ancient service going to attract new and younger members? There was so much of it that I just couldn’t say or believe. ”

And I had to agree with her. We do use the 1970 Liturgy (grey book) here on Sunday mornings at our 9am service. Usually it is one or two older members who attend, but we do have a family who often bring their young boys along before they go off to sport. And we do have some visitors who come on holiday and I often wonder what they make of it. Just a few weeks ago we had some Germans who were walking the John Muir Way who came in and I wondered how easily they could translate some of it. But any time I have suggested moving to the 1982 Liturgy there is a hue and cry.

And I can understand that too. My home church still uses the 1970 Liturgy and it was what I was first introduced to in the Scottish Episcopal Church. I do love some of the poetry of its words, I know it off by heart,  but must confess that the theology of some of it bothers me too. Yes, I know that some people do join the church to hear that kind of old-fashioned language. But whenever someone new comes to church, looking to join, at one of those services I do find myself saying, “This is very traditional language. You might find the later service more modern.” But usually we don’t see them again. 9am suited them. But the language (and perhaps the theology) put them off.

I’d be interested to hear what others have done in this situation. Carried on to please the oldies? Or forced a change upon them? Or alternated week by week?

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7 thoughts on “What are we saying?

  1. Interesting questions…here we use the 1982 so haven’t had the question arise- but some do use their own KJV for the readings and there have been requests for the Prayer of Humble Access to be introduced…and alongside enjoying having a few families there too- for whom the language used by the KJV and the Prayer of Humble Access are so out of reach for young people and people who have not grown up in the church.
    I haven’t offered an answer but would be interested to know what other’s think.

    • Yes Sarah, that’s kind of the same issue. I struggle reading from it when I’m asked. I often think it is a romantic notion people have that the KJV is the best and familiar to them until you actually read it every week with the lectionary and then all of a sudden it loses its appeal.

  2. We don’t use formal liturgy at all. Some people moaned at first, but got used to it. Sometimes we use NIV, sometimes The Message. Can’t imagine going back 400 years for Bible readings.

    1982 ain’t “modern”!

      • Happened to do the 1982 liturgy today. If you think it contains modern language I suggest you take a straw poll of people outside the church (or indeed inside) as to what “worthily magnify your holy name” means!

  3. On my way back home last week, I worshipped in a church which used the Prayer Book Eucharist, albeit with some omissions. Being used to the 1982, I realised I was really distracted by analysing why the 1982 seemed much more theologically sound, rather than focusing on worshipping. In my own church we had a long campaign to move to the 1982; the Prayer Book was used for 5th Sundays when they occurred and the 1970 once a month. It took the decision of the Bishop during an interregnum to move entirely to 1982.

  4. It is a difficult subject for those who have never really experienced the blue book, I think. We all like the familiar and perhaps stop thinking about the theology of it. Then when someone suggests change all hell breaks loose. I go between the two, not entirely comfortably, but acknowledging that it is easier that way. But when confronted with questions from someone new it made me think twice.

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