Presbyterians And Prayer Book Spirituality: From What Book Do We Pray?

As long ago as the dark ages of 2012, elders and laymen have been noticing that traditionally Anglican elements of worship are increasingly appearing in Presbyterian churches, in numerous PCA church plants and in the CREC. Jonathan W. Williams, a layman in the CREC, has voiced his support for these elements of Anglican tradition as bringing unification to worship, and being in keeping with the ancient church. He writes:

In contrast to the more entertainment oriented church plants a decade or two ago, it is encouraging to see the discernible Anglican influence on many recent church plants. By “Anglican Tradition” I have in mind a number of elements that include but are not limited to the following: use of language from The Book of Common Prayer in the worship liturgy; corporate confessions of sin/declarations of pardon/absolution; weekly Communion; kneeling for corporate prayer; beautifully adorned sanctuaries (even if some spaces out of necessity used for worship were not intended for this purpose); marking time with the ecclesiastical calendar.1

However historical these things may be, the conscious adoption of Anglican practices in NAPARC churches may signal a different spirituality than the kind we actually find in our Reformed heritage. Such a change to our spirituality may impact Christians in our personal and private worship as well as in the public worship of the church.

Old Puritan Board discussions reveal that Reformed folks have been questioning the effects of prayer books and liturgies in our churches for quite some time, wondering if “too much liturgy leads to Anglicanism or Rome.”2 David J. Miller, in his essay “My Story: From Reformed Worship to Anglicanism and Back Again,” tells his own story as a Presbyterian minister who is attracted to the beauty and order of the Anglican tradition. He notes that his seminary education, while robust in theology and biblical counseling, lacked a deep exploration of the Reformed ecclesiology of worship, and that as a pastor, he felt underprepared to lead his own congregation in a confessional worship service.3 Evidently, it is not uncommon for Reformed ministers and congregants to view the liturgy in NAPARC churches as unsubstantial and to seek something more traditional. I would dispute, however, the view that the Reformed tradition does not have enough substance when it comes to the content of the liturgy—a better look is needed at what our confessions actually say about worship and piety.

Many new to the Reformed faith coming from very broad and low church traditions may be attracted to the order and depth of an Anglican or even a Catholic type and style of worship service, but there is a subtle yet very important difference between the piety of a high liturgy and the piety of a simple one. Indeed, I wonder if the reason former evangelicals often adopt an extremely high liturgical position when they come to Calvinistic convictions is in direct opposition to the loose environment they have come out of. Ironically, there is a common problem shared by extremely loose, low church worship and extremely strict, high church worship: both types carry a kind of visual, outward appeal, and in some cases encourage Christians to view the service elements themselves as expressions of worship, sidelining the posture of the heart in worship.

Books like Every Moment Holy and Be Thou My Vision which contain beautiful written prayers and spiritual directives for the Christian life have been a popular resource for many Christians who appreciate the perspective of saints long ago.4 While I love reading the work of our forefathers in the faith and find it edifying, I think there is a temptation for us to use written prayers and directives in a way that seeks spiritual enhancement from their repetition, in personal prayer and corporate worship.

With this in mind, what does our heritage have to say about worship, prayer books, and acceptable forms of liturgy? The definitive authority on biblical worship in any given Reformed and Presbyterian denomination is in its confession, and in virtually every confession of every Reformed denomination there exists an expression of the Regulative Principle of Worship. Unlike the normative principle of worship, which states that any kind of worship is acceptable so long as it is not explicitly forbidden in Scripture, the regulative principle seeks to worship only in ways that are explicitly supported by Scripture (or ways which are derived thereof from good and necessary consequence; WSC 1.6). Consequently, most Reformed denominations also have some kind of directive for what constitutes proper worship written into their church laws. The Westminster Directory for Public Worship, one such resource, was written when the Scottish and English Parliaments convened an assembly of churchmen to produce an alternative resource to the Book of Common Prayer, which at the time was the source of no small amount of controversy.

In this Directory, as well as in the supplementary Directory for Family Worship, we find a much better understanding of Reformed piety expressed in worship. These provide reasoning behind why a general principle for worship is better than a set of written prayers. While prayer books are not a forbidden instrument in the Christian prayer life, the directories explain that only those who are “weaker” in their faith should use them before they grow in their ability to pray independently.5 Prayer is a talent that God gives to all his children in some amount, which they should seek to grow in.6

Despite the fact that Reformed theologians have held many different opinions on the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), the preface to the Directory makes it clear that the writers did not advise the use of the BCP’s long form responsive elements in public or private prayer:

The Liturgy hath been a great means . . . to make and increase an idle and unedifying ministry, which contented itself with set forms made to their hands by others, without putting forth themselves to exercise the gift of prayer, with which our Lord Jesus Christ pleaseth to furnish all his servants whom he calls to that office.7

Not only are read prayers found to affect one’s ministry, but it is ill-advised for the reason that it is not spiritually beneficial to the congregation. The Directory warns that the BCP had been “made no better than an idol by many ignorant and superstitious people, who, pleasing themselves in their presence at that service, and their lip-labor in bearing a part in it, have thereby hardened themselves in their ignorance and carelessness of saving knowledge and true piety.”8

It appears that the main difference between prayer-book spirituality and the spirituality of Reformed worship is this: Prayer-book spirituality sees the transforming spiritual power as present in the liturgy itself—the specific form of liturgy, the words that are repeated, and the prayers that are read. These will convey to the reader/hearer a kind of spiritual enhancement. Alternatively, in the Reformed view of piety in worship, the form is necessary and important, but the key to spiritual transformation comes exclusively from the Holy Spirit and cannot be imparted by merely repeating a certain set of prayers. This is why many Presbyterians appreciate prayer books—they often contain edifying content. But one cannot expect spiritual transformation to come from repetition. There is an important place for our form of liturgy, but the liturgy itself should not be considered an ordinary means of grace. That title, as the reader will likely already know, is reserved for the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments. It must be stressed that a confessional view of piety necessitates that a worship service is primarily centered around the ordinary means of grace—they are the means appointed by which God is spiritually present in worship.

The rubber of Reformed spirituality and piety met the road most recently in an October overture written to the PCA General Assembly asking the PCA to constitutionalize the preaching chapter of its Directory of Public Worship (nearly identical to the original Westminster Directory).9 The argument has been made that the only reason why the entire Directory of Public Worship (DPW) is not constitutional already is because it needed some revision in the early years of the denomination before having the authority of church law as the rest of the BCO does, and these revisions were never completed.10 Despite this fact, those who do not wish the DPW to be constitutionalized consider the overture as an attack on the characteristic flexibility the PCA affords, and seemingly view the constitutionalization of any part of the Directory as unnecessarily restrictive.

In the arguments between those committed to a more Presbyterian style of liturgy and those who prefer more flexibility, the point usually stressed is this: if you are a Reformed or Presbyterian minister or church, your worship should appear Reformed and Presbyterian. I agree, especially when it comes down to a church being faithful to its denominational standards. But I think it is fair to say that having an appearance to your liturgy that fits your confession is only one part of the essence of true Reformed worship, the other part being a confessional view of piety and spiritual growth.

The desire behind constitutionalizing the DPW is not a matter of enforcing rote uniformity—after all it is a directory, not a prayer book. I was actually quite surprised the first time I read the DPW—it does not provide exhaustive instructions for every detail of the service as I would have expected. BCO chapter 53, on the preaching of the Word, is a single page long. We Reformed folks are famous for prioritizing decency and good order, but the kind of order and unity that the DPW prescribes is that of principles and elements, not in precise detail like the Book of Common Prayer.11 The concern is not purely with the form and visual details of a church’s worship service—while no doubt constitutionalizing the DPW would necessitate a few changes, the point is that the PCA as a denomination should with greater fervor and capability give its worshipers the tools to be a Presbyterian denomination, including an emphasis on Reformed piety. Our system of liturgy is not an adherence to a visual aesthetic; behind it lies a very robust and often neglected theology of worship.

Williams, from his essay earlier mentioned, appreciates the Anglican influence on Reformed churches. “The influence of the Anglican Tradition on these new church plants is very apparent. It is a trend that I greet with great enthusiasm and would like to encourage. The world is desperate for something solid and firm, something that has lasted for centuries, and will last for many more.”12 I completely agree that Presbyterian and Reformed churches do desperately need a liturgy that is solid and firm and has lasted for centuries; but I think our traditional Reformed view of piety and simple liturgy answer this need in a way far beyond what any prayer book could do.

The point of these reflections is not to say that every Presbyterian should avoid any inkling of behavior that might look “Anglican,” or even to forbid the use of any read prayers at all. The point is that Reformed elders and churches need to ensure that the type of liturgical style we have is in keeping with our confessional heritage. God is a God of order, and he does desire a particular type of worship. I believe that the kind of worship prescribed by the Reformed confessions—and the DPW—is the right kind of ordered, reverent, and unified worship we should return to.

Paul makes many exhortations in his letters to early Christians: Do not become distracted from the simplicity of Christ and the saving message of the Gospel. 2 Corinthians 11:2–3 says, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” I caution the reader to consider what is happening when the atmosphere of a worship service, or even the routine of a read prayer, is of extremely high importance in the service. There is a beautiful simplicity in the public proclamation of the gospel and in the believer’s personal devotion to Christ—and in these the Lord will be faithful to his people, visiting them with grace and mercy according to his perfect power.

What I want us to be notable for in Reformed and Presbyterian congregations is joyful reverence, good order, and a deep desire to please the Lord with our worship, both inwardly and outwardly. The devil is seeking to destroy the church, not only in the outward opposition we find in secular culture or in the internal wars we wage against theological error and sin in our midst, but also by encouraging us to become distracted from the person and work of Jesus Christ.


  1. Jonathan W. Williams, “Thoughts Concerning the Influence of the Anglican Tradition on Contemporary Reformed Liturgical Practice,Aquila Report, September 21, 2012.
  2. Does Too Much Liturgy Lead To Anglicanism or Rome?,” Puritan Board, July 7, 2013, .
  3. David J. Miller, “My Story: From Reformed Worship To Anglicanism and Back Again,” Aquila Report, August 4, 2013.
  4. I am referring to, respectively, Douglas McKelvey, Every Moment Holy, 3 vols. (Nashville: Rabbit Room Press, 2017–2023); Jonathan Gibson, ed., Be Thou My Vision: A Liturgy for Daily Worship (Wheaton: Crossway, 2021).
  5. Directory for Family Worship, Assembly at Edinburgh, Sess. 10, August 24, 1647.
  6. Directory for Family Worship, Assembly at Edinburgh, Sess. 10, August 24, 1647.
  7. Directory for the Publick Worship of God, Assembly at Edinburgh, Sess. 10, February 3, 1645.
  8. Directory for the Publick Worship of God, Assembly at Edinburgh, Sess. 10, February 3, 1645.
  9. Overture 3, Pee Dee Presbytery,” Pee Dee Presbytery, Stated Meeting, October 26, 2023. .
  10. Jared Nelson, “The Unfinished Business of the PCA Founding: The Directory for Public Worship,” Presbyterian Polity, January 10, 2024.
  11. Jared Nelson, “The Unfinished Business of the PCA Founding: The Directory for Public Worship,” Presbyterian Polity, January 10, 2024.
  12. Jonathan W. Williams, “Thoughts Concerning the Influence of the Anglican Tradition on Contemporary Reformed Liturgical Practice,” Aquila Report, September 21, 2012.

©Zoe Miller. All Rights Reserved.


Heidelberg Reformation Association
1637 E. Valley Parkway #391
Escondido CA 92027
The HRA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!

Posted by Zoe Miller | Tuesday, February 13, 2024 | Categorized in Means of Grace, Piety, Piety and Practice, Prayer. Zoe Miller. Bookmark the permalink.

About Zoe Miller

Zoe is a missionary kid, pastor's wife, and enthusiastically Presbyterian lady. Zoe and her husband Seth live in Couer d'Alene, ID, where he is the planting pastor at Immanuel Presbyterian Church (PCA). A freelance journalist and writer, Zoe occasionally appears in World Magazine, Presbyterian Polity, and other publications. In her spare time, she enjoys cohosting the Presbygirls podcast with her friend Sarah Morris, enjoying beautiful Northern Idaho outdoors, and haranguing her friends on the website formerly known as Twitter.


  1. In my opinion, Presbyterians looking to Anglican forms need to read/listen to J.C. Ryle’s fierce criticisms of formalism and ritualism in the 19th Century Anglican church.

    It’s notable what elements get taken and what elements do NOT get taken from the Prayer Book by those tacking on liturgy. Typically, Presbyterians are pulling from collects, the Communion liturgy, Calendar elements and the like, maybe the general confession, not the real meat and potatoes of Morning and Evening Prayer that are very strong/admirable, such as reading an average of 5 Psalms a day and 4 chapters of the Old and New Testaments, in addition to memorizing the Songs of Mary, Zachariah (by the way, all year and not just around Christmas, which is also ironic), and Psalms 67 & 100. I don’t know of any PCA church that’s lining up to hold an ashless Commination service on Ash Wednesday as another example. Nor are you seeing a dedication necessarily to reading the 10 commandments or the sharp almost catechetical aspects of the Law being recited in the litany.

    Leaving aside the issue of the Apocryphal readings in the lectionary, the popular M’Cheyne reading plan reads LESS Scripture daily than Morning and Evening Prayer. Frankly, when I’ve looked at the Morning and Evening Prayer services, they, with normative principles of worship, functionally are to closer to sound RPW Reformed worship than many PCA contexts that have adopted what Andy Webb calls Episcoterian elements, especially around holidays or in the “seasons”. That’s a serious, serious problem.

      • Our Anglican congregation uses the 1928 edition, which includes the Apocrypha in the reading schedule (shown in italics to differentiate them from Canon), and I think a reading from the Apocrypha shows up on one Sunday. Our minister always uses a different reading instead.

        I guess I am not too bothered by it given that Article 6 gives guidance: “And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following…,” and then lists the books of the Apocrypha.

  2. It doesn’t let me reply directly, Dr. Clark.

    Yes, it does. Though ACNA’s 2019 lectionary is one of the few to include alternate readings (i.e. the rest of Scripture) so one does not have to. My point was simply that most of what I see Presbycans/Episcoterians borrowing in liturgy is the smells and bells or the nicely written prayers, without the absolutely huge doses of public Scripture reading and memorization via reading/singing/chanting along with a truly massive dose of the Psalter specifically. That’s not saying I’m a fan of a lectionary (I’m not). It’s saying that not only is the borrowing misguided, they’re not even borrowing the best and most compatible features.

    The thing about Ryle (listening to his book Light from Old Times on the English Reformers and Puritans) is that while he himself was conforming, he was sharply against the Act of Uniformity and greatly in sympathy with the ejected. And he was fiercely against ritualism, including thinking that the Prayer Book was very sound and good but not the end all be all. At least that’s my impression from reading and listening to a couple of his works.

    I’ve told a friend that in my opinion a lot of PCA worship, but fortunately not all of them, is really low church Anglican more than it is Presbyterian. Mrs. Miller’s old church in McKinney is a very good example of real Reformed worship in my opinion and it’s splendid.

    • Scott,

      I’ve changed the settings to make it easier to reply.

      You’re not suggesting that written prayers is ritualism are you? After all Calvin published prayers and used them and encouraged others to use them.

      I take your point re eclecticism and borrowing the wrong parts of the BCP.

      I addressed some of these issues 12 years ago: The Growing Influence of the Anglican Tradition in Reformed Worship. We should be careful what we call “Anglican,” e.g., corporate confession of sin and the declaration of pardon/absolution. That’s not distinctively Anglican.

      If you read the HB or if you’ve read Recovering the Reformed Confession, you know that I’m a strong advocate for the rule of worship (Calvin; the RPW). Should someone try to impose the BCP, I would throw a chair. If you follow the HB you’ve seen me complain about the P&R turn to the pre-Reformation church calendar.

      Still, I appreciate aspects of the BCP. The prayer for illumination in the 2nd Sunday in Advent is a brilliant piece of liturgical writing. The confession of sin in Morning Prayer is equally brilliant.

      I’m looking at my copy of the 1662 BCP and I see no lectionary and thus, I infer, no quotation of the Apocrypha. I have the 1928 but haven’t used it and am not very familiar with it. I suppose there is Anglo-Catholic influence. When I was in the UK, in Oxford, I never found a 1662 service and St Ebbes used liturgies from the Alternative Service Book (I think).

      Collections such as found in the BCP, Calvin’s prayers and Luther’s Prayers etc helped me move beyond my evangelical introduction to Christian piety (“O Lord I just want”). They taught me the vocabulary of the church.

      • If you’re not finding the lectionary in the 1662, I’m not sure what edition you have. In my copy (the standard edition from Cambridge Uni Press) there are two lectionaries printed at the front of the volume. One is ostensibly the original 1662, which follows the calendar year, and the other is from the 20th century and follows the liturgical year. Both contain readings from the apocrypha from what I recall (I don’t have it in front of me just now).

        • Jay,

          My edition was published by OUP. Leave it Cambridge to muck up the BCP. LOL! It was revised as of 1969. There are lots of tables but no lectionary.

          In the table of lessons, however, I see Wisd. 4.7 is listed.

          It’s worth noting that the Geneva Bible contained the Apocrypha. Protestant Bibles contained it for some time. I don’t know when it was removed but the experience of the 16th and 17th century Reformed was different from ours. The Old Reformed approach was to read the Apocrypha for information and edification. I do see it cited/quoted in old orthodox Reformed texts. They weren’t phobic about it. I don’t know that they read in public worship (I wouldn’t) but they definitely read it.

          I don’t have my copy of the 2nd Edwardian PB to hand but I don’t think it had/listed the Apocrypha for reading but I could be mistaken.

  3. Tell it to Calvin, Luther and Cranmer who didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water but rather to bring the gospel into liturgical worship.
    Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Church believe they’re the only true representative of the true Church one must be in for all things pertaining to salvation and true worship.
    I can only hope that the Presbyterian Church doesn’t think the same thing.
    Prayer books are a help to the weak in faith. It’s assist them. And the prayer book or liturgy removes the dominance of men who many look to as the guy. Not to mention it’s allows for participation, not just observation of what’s been planned by Church leaders which are always subject to their agendas. The prayer book, not the men conducts the service, those who lad and those who participate and it’s gospel truth, not of Rome.
    Besides true reformed churches are to be following a calendar for preaching themselves. Many reformed churches have departed from the confessions as their standard. So what’s the beef.
    I do t get it. Must we continue to divide over these things,?

    • I agree, and have been in a low church Anglican congregation for a couple years now. Some of the criticisms of Anglican liturgy I hear smack of the “narcissism of small differences”. And when deciding whether to strip something from the service, I think Chesterton’s Fence applies. In other words, when in doubt, it stays. Perhaps Cranmer was right when he observed that Knox’s reasoning (re: kneeling at Communion) was the same as the Anabaptist’s reasoning and ends at all sorts of biblicist novelty. Cranmer described these types as “unquiet spirits which can like nothing but that [which] is after their own fancy and cease not to make trouble and disquietness.”

      I am not sure some of the assertions in this article withstand scrutiny: “…read prayers…are not spiritually beneficial to the congregation.” That is stunning. Is that really the Reformed position?

      Or this: “Prayer-book spirituality sees the transforming spiritual power as present in the liturgy itself…” This statement is either patently false or tautological/circular to the point of uselessness. What faithful Anglican do you think believes this? From the 39 Articles, Anglicans have a Reformed view of the two sacraments–why would you think they then adopt a Romish ex opere operato view of the liturgy or order of service?

      • Thanks for your comments. The same criticisms arose in my mind as I read, particularly the two sentences you quote. I grew up in the Christian Reformed Church. I’m now a member of a United Reformed congregation (which, ahead of time, I never thought would happen. But that’s another story!). But I’m an organist/choir director, so I worked for…, well, decades in non-Calvinist churches, including Anglican (in Canada), Episcopal and Lutheran. I suppose my tastes in music as a classical musicians also make me gravitate to, and appreciate, the Anglican and Lutheran liturgies (though I certainly do appreciate the Genevan Psalms). Frankly, I miss the BCP and most of the elements of the Lutheran liturgy; and the wonderful body of German Lutheran chorales (a small handful of which are included in the URC/OPC Trinity Psalter Hymnal). Not to mention the actual buildings of worship with their color and beauty which help elicit awe of the God we worship, and a quietness of spirit. I fail to see why so many Reformed churches are literally colorless. To me that’s the visual equivalent of a bare-bones liturgy that does NOT inspire awe.

        • Good morning, Marian Van Til! Am I correct that you’re the former Calvinist Contact/Christian Courier staff member? If so, we occasionally interacted when I was with Christian Renewal. Interesting to find you here on the Heidelblog.

          FYI, I attend a former URC church in the Missouri Ozarks that is now in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church with a local pastor whose family has been in this region since before the Civil War. Long story that’s not worth discussing here apart from saying that back during our URC days, I was close to the only person in the church who understood the Dutch Reformed and we badly needed to be in a denomination that was not part of Dutch culture and understood rural Southern culture, specifically the Ozarks. Think of the “Winters Bone” movie and the Netflix “Ozark” show and you’ll get a good idea of the underbelly and the bad side of the Ozarks, though there are plenty of good things about living in the Bible Belt. Ironically, we now have far more Dutch people (mostly from a NRC and HRC background) than we ever had when we were in the URC.

  4. P.S, I was in a PCA that read very little scriptures, had weak prayers, never read the Decalogue on Sunday’s. If they had the BCP they’d have three readings from the scriptures as well as the Decalogue and heartfelt humble gratitude for the receiving of word and sacrament.
    Honestly it didn’t seem like much more than a Baptist Church with nominal liturgy.
    They need the BCP.

    • Pretty much this. I actually really like the 1662 BCP and don’t mind written prayers.

      But a Presbyterian liturgy should not be less Reformed, within an RPW context, than the 1662, formally confessed principles aside. Yet many of them are, in the ways Victor outlined.

      The Anglican stuff that’s borrowed is the wrong stuff. You want to borrow 2+ extra readings of Scripture, 2-3 extra full-length psalms, and the Decalogue, as part of the liturgy, come on down. Yet that’s not what is getting borrowed.

  5. Dr. Clark,

    Your comment won’t let me reply properly for some reason.

    Perhaps that’s where the confusion lies. I assumed lectionary = table of lessons. Is that not the case?

    In any event, it would be swell if more Protestants were familiar with the Apocrypha. I myself have yet to read most of it. But reading it in public worship seems like a no-no.

    Thanks for posting this article. Really good stuff.

    • Jay,

      Not sure what’s happening with the replies but I can see them. They show up in my inbox. A lectionary is typically a selection of readings from Scripture. Of course, just as I write that, the Oxford American Dictionary says “a list or portions…” but I think of portions of Scripture.

  6. Sorry I keep commenting but for sure this is it.
    I’ve been in reformed churches and am now in an Anglican congregation which I love.
    But it seems to me that if the reformed took something from the Anglicans like a richer liturgy.
    And I would be good if the Anglicans would learn proper exegetical and hermeneutical skills from the Reformed. They’re a bit weak in that area for sure. So we ought to help one another to further the gospel in the world. The leadership of any denomination ought not make distinctions between true worship with prejudice towards our own traditions, our personal ecclesiology as the right one.

  7. There’s a PCA church whose 23-page worship bulletin contains the following instructions:

    “Please turn and face the Bible as it is processed into the aisle.
    Instrumental refrain is played as the bible is returned to the altar table.”

    • Is this done before one of the Scripture lessons is read? Or at the beginning of worship is a Bible (usually large, aka “pulpit Bible” in Reformed parlance) carried down the aisle in a/the procession that begins worship? I don’t see anything horrible about acknowledging and indicating the value of the book itself in which God’s written Word exists. But I’m sure that action can be misinterpreted (it’s NOT “idolatry”!); perhaps, even, that particular church is misinterpreting the practice. A common practice in Lutheran and Anglican churches (and some Roman) is the priest moving the Bible from the altar to within the congregation, which stands as he’s ready to read the Gospel (i.e., reading from Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) and stands during that reading. And the pastor/priest is always the one who reads the Gospel, while other may be done by parishioners. There’s a sung/chanted response before and after the Gospel reading: “Glory [be] to you, O Christ.”/”Praise to you, O Christ.”) What I’ve always wondered about is the singling out of the Gospel readings [i.e., the 4 Gospels] from the other Scripture readings, i.e., the Old Testament lesson ad Epistle. Why is that done? I don’t know the theological thought or historical tradition that made that come about. (The Psalm is a separate case, and depending on how “high church” the parish is, it’s sung or chanted, or recited in some manner.)

  8. Here’s a way I might put it. I think there’s a lot of interest in liturgical innovation/ritualism that’s either foreign to both Classical Anglicanism (courtesy of Mr. Newman) and Presbyterianism or just foreign to Presbyterianism (in terms of the RPW, especially a stricter take).

    I think there’s a certain playing with new toys aspect to some of the liturgical borrowings that’s quite absent from classical Anglican circles or their parallels in Lutheran circles. The difference is that Anglicans have a Prayer Book that does rein them in formally and should in practice (Chestertonian Fences). In the PCA’s situation (and to an even greater degree eclectic evangelicals) have no such boundary markers, so it’s probably actually an insult to call it Anglican so much as it is naive Cafeteria Liturgicalism.

    For example, whenever a new book of the Bible is introduced at my church, instead of the standard order of worship, there’s this blended mess of readings (responsive and solo), solos, and hymns called a Litany of [whatever] that combines profession of faith, confession of sin, absolution, prayers, themes of the book, scripture reading and so on for almost 30 minutes of the service. It’s beautiful in a way but it’s a royal mess in the pew. It’s a bit like a shrimp, cantaloupe, celery, and chocolate shake.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments are welcome but must observe the moral law. Comments that are profane, deny the gospel, advance positions contrary to the Reformed confession, or irritate the management are subject to deletion. Anonymous comments, posted without permission, are forbidden.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.