A Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step by Bruce Jenneker

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

This trustworthy wisdom from the ancient Chinese philosopher and poet, Lao Tzu [6th century BCE] is very good counsel as we proceed with the enormous, exciting and essential task of revising An Anglican Prayer Book 1989.

It has always been an axiom of Anglican liturgical theology that we have one Prayer Book, and one Prayer Book only. The very first Prayer Book [Book of Common Prayer 1549, revised 1552] lives on in each revision, serving to unite the Anglican Church in one single act of worship in every time and every place. While it was Henry VIIIs tyrannical intention to impose an unswerving uniformity upon his Church that gave birth to this commitment, it was the irenic wisdom of Elizabeth I and her advisors to move gently with the enforcement of uniformity [Book of Common Prayer 1559] which gave rise during the Carolingian period – the reigns of Charles I [1625-1649] and Charles II [1660-1685] – to The Book of Common Prayer 1662. That Prayer Book has remained a primary source – along with those of 1549 and 1552 – for Anglican liturgical practice as it has been revised and renewed down the centuries. In this way the tradition of Anglican liturgical prayer has remained shaped and informed by our early origins, and this remain so today still.

The Preface to The Book of Common Prayer 1662 begins with an explicit statement of the process of liturgical revision and reformation, that with regard to the particular Forms of Divine Worship, and the Rites and Ceremonies appointed to be used therein, being things in their own nature indifferent, and alterable, and so acknowledged; it is but reasonable, that upon weighty and important considerations, according to the various exigency of times and occasions, such Changes and Alterations should be made therein, as to those that are in place of Authority should from time to time seem either necessary or expedient.

In this venerable tradition that is simultaneously conservative and innovative, the development of the Prayer Book continues as we in ACSA share in the work of discovering together what it could mean for us to worship in ways that are faithful to our Anglican heritage and yet are authentic expressions of our experience Under Southern Skies articulated in An African Voice.

This is the first of a series of Updates on the Revision Process that will appear on this website on the first of every month. Expect the next one on November 15, 2015