Recommended: URCNA Forms And Confessions

Along with the new Trinity Psalter-Hymnal (emphasis on the Psalter) produced in cooperation with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the United Reformed Churches in North America have also produced a book of liturgical forms, prayers, and confessions, namely the Three Forms of Unity: the Belgic Confession (1561), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), and the Canons of Dort. I have been using this volume with increasingly regularity lately. It is well done. It is hardbound, which sets it apart from many editions of the creeds and confessions. It has a ribbon marker, and it is only $4.00 (USA). The translations are faithful and, at times, exceptionally well done. Yesterday I was trying to reconcile the Latin text of the Canons of Dort with a couple of earlier English translations, including the version published in Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom. None of them seemed to follow the Latin text very closely so I checked the 2018 URCNA edition and it did an excellent job (in this case, on Canons of Dort 3.9). The translation of the Belgic and the Heidelberg have been helpful too. The committee took a fresh look at the texts and did a much better job of following the original texts than did the 1975/76 CRCNA edition that is so widely used. In addition, the prayers, which are designed for use in public worship, are edifying and good models for private prayer, and useful for family and personal devotions. They are a good witness to historic Reformed piety, which is valuable for all of us and especially those of us who come to the Reformed piety from other traditions and backgrounds.  There is a Reformed way to pray. It is connected to an earlier piety formed before the First and Second Great Awakenings and before the outbreak of Pentecostalism in the 19th and 20th centuries. If you are struggling to overcome verbal habits (e.g., “Lord I just want…”) spending some time with a collection of older prayers can be quite helpful. Using the some of the prayers from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, some of Luther’s prayers and Calvin’s prayers has helped me to speak more thoughtfully in prayer. This volume will help you too.

You can order it from GCP here.

Read more on translations of the Heidelberg Catechism» (NB: This essay was published in 2010, well before the publication of the URCNA edition).

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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7 comments

  1. I have a copy. It is a very nice book and is a great compliment to the new hymnal. I hope that all the churches in the URCNA will embrace this and use it in corporate worship.

  2. Are read prayers acceptable in the URCNA?
    Is this one of the major differences between the continental Reformed and Westminster forms of worship?

    • Hi Phil,

      Yes, the Reformed have long used written prayers. There has been some disagreement among the Reformed on this, of course. Where the BCP was imposed upon people, some of them rejected the use of written prayers as formalism. Calvin wrote and used them in Geneva. Others followed suit. There were prayers in the 1959 (CRCNA0 Psalter-Hymnal used by the URCNA since its founding in 1996 and there are written forms of prayer in the new Trinity Psalter-Hymnal as well as in the book of forms and prayers.

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