When it comes to buying books, as my other half would affirm, I am a one-woman ‘keep independent bookshops open’ dynamo. As most of what I want is secondhand, and as an affectionado of the usual internet sources (I use Amazon only when I have no alternative), I can usually keep within budget, but birthdays and Christmas are easy for family and friends – a booklist is provided. So when I say I am not in favour of more books, it is clear I must be referring to something other than my habit.
When I first went to church as a girl, the Rector was a firm “Book of Common Prayer” man. It came as something of a shock when I first encountered the mysteries of the Alternative Service Book. I liked Rite B, mainly because of the resonances with the BCP, but really couldn’y quite greet it with enthusiasm. But it was what was on offer, and being a good girl, I got on with it. Language mattered, but if this was the language my church wanted to use, best get on with it. What mattered more was who I encountered in the Eucharist.
I found the advent of Common Worship a change for the better, but still preferred to go to eight o’clock services where BCP was in use. I got used to Common Worship, and use it in my personal devotions, but there is a good deal of leeway given as to how one conststructs Communon Services, which I know some priests find a creative opportunity and others a “challenge’, but not ina good way. At last count, examining the Rector’s shelves, there were eight different books. At what point is enough, enough? For me, as for others, it’s time for well, frankly, a Book of Common Prayer.
There’s no reason why a revised single volume could not have modern and traditional language versions as the 2000 Common Worship has. I think the American Episcopal Church has a single volume, and maybe Audre could enlighten me?
This isn’t a call for some sort of liturgical reform, this is hardly the most important issue at the moment, but I think Cranmer got it right – a single Book of Common Prayer which we can carry with us and whose language infuses our own was a good idea in his day – it remains one. There are, I have discovered, situations in which you can have too many books.