*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Angela Tilby: Prayer Book gives me all I need

24 March 2023

Prayer Book Society

HAVING celebrated Thomas Cranmer this week, I have been thinking about the Prayer Book Society (PBS), which I joined in 2020, after I had been invited to give one of four talks on Zoom on the Advent collects. I was astonished at the numbers participating, some from the United States and other parts of the Anglican world. The afternoon was an experience of the kind of focused, orthodox, theologically informed conversation that I crave, and rarely find.

Few would have guessed what the PBS has become since it started in 1972 as a protest group against attempts to ban the Prayer Book in favour of contemporary liturgies. (The Church of England was, at the time, ploughing its way through Series 1, 2, and 3, and then the ASB, before the arrival of Common Worship in 2000.) At that point, many thought of the society as no more than a bolthole for an eccentric group of traditionalists. But those traditionalists turned out to surprisingly militant in their affection for what many had come to regard as a long-outdated set of rites.

To its credit, society members, after fighting hard to ensure that the Prayer Book would continue to be legal, sensibly transformed themselves into an organisation devoted to the study and celebration of the Prayer Book as the key historical element in the liturgical and cultural traditions of the Church of England. There is now a long-term vision to ensure that the Prayer Book and what it stands for remain available for generations to come.

And that is, in essence, the principle of the Anglican via media: the liturgy offering common ground that could never have been achieved by statements of doctrine, or even by canon law. Within the covers of the Prayer Book are spiritual resources not only for communal worship, but for the whole of life, and for everyone in the English Church, lay or ordained. As I look at the nine Common Worship books on my own shelves, I am grateful to the society for keeping this ideal alive.

Today, there is a reassuring professionalism about the society’s profile and its publications. It was quick to recognise the opportunities of the digital age, offering online tutorials as well as study and conversation, founding diocesan groups, and supporting the next generation in offering awards for public reading and study. Gifts, books, booklets, Christmas cards, website are all beautifully produced without a hint of Comic Sans.

And there’s a bonus. I would have no problem choosing my third book after the Bible and Shakespeare on Desert Island Discs. With the Prayer Book, I would have all I need to say the divine Office, celebrate holy communion, marry, baptise, and bury anyone on that remote shore who might require me to do so. Thank you, Prayer Book Society.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

 

Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available

 

Intercultural Church for a Multicultural World

28 May 2024

A Church Times/Church House Publishing webinar

Tickets are FREE

 

Church Times/Modern Church:

A Political Faith?

Monday 3 June 2024

This panel will explore where Christians have come to in terms of political power and ask, where should we go next?

Online tickets available

 

Church Times/Modern Church:

Participating in Democracy

Monday 10 June 2024

This panel will explore the power of voting, and power beyond voting.

Online tickets available

 

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

 

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)