Friday, July 13, 2012

The Friar Tuck Learns Worship: The Roundabout Road of Liturgical Resource Development Part 2: The Denominational Worship Books


As most of you know, I do not come from a liturgical tradition. When I became American Baptist, I joined a church that was "semi-liturgical", meaning the tradition of the ABC often includes a responsive call to worship, and if it is more formal perhaps a unison prayer as well.

In coming to United Churches, I have encountered a church that is probably less-liturgical than many Presbyterian churches, perhaps similar to many Methodist churches, and on the more formal end of Baptist churches.

One of the first line of resources for liturgy that I discovered were the "official resources". By this I mean the books of worship endorsed by several different denominations, including the three that United Churches is affiliated with.

Each of them have their strengths, and I use each of them for different purposes. The United Methodist Book of Worship is very good about having "short services" for special occasions. I have been guided by the UMC Worship Book for services such as Short-Term Missionary Commissioning, Brief Baptismal Liturgies, and a Maundy Thursday service that included footwashing.

The Presbyterian Book of Common Worship often seems to have good resources, but tends to be a little lengthy and wordy in its presentation. The PCUSA book, though, has better resources for week to week use. It has intelligently written, and often just sternly enough written prayers for my taste. When putting together a special service in the liturgical year, I will often use the UMC book as my outline and guide, but borrow liberally from the prayers and resources in the Book of Common Worship.

The Manual of Worship from the American Baptists I tend to use as a guide for weddings and funerals. I find that the more liturgical traditions can tend to make these services more lengthy than I or my parishoners prefer, but the Judson Press manual for worship gives a nice, structured, somewhat liturgical, yet simple approach to special services such as this.

I was recommended Gathering for Worship by a friend from seminary. So far, I find this book only marginally useful in my context. Though, I also find the prayers probably the best written. I use it occasionally. Its resources just don't always seem to fit our needs. But I am just learning.....

By far the most difficult prayer book for me to use for worship or personal devotion is the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. I just find it poorly organized, and difficult to hop around in. Then again, I am not familiar with the Anglican/Episcopal tradition, and it appeals to me the least.

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