Primary worship texts online: Canada

The Anglican Church of Canada has placed its primary worship texts on line for free downloading to assist those planning liturgies and to encourage more web based work on liturgies.

Every week many worship planners spend hours on their computers, researching and formatting liturgical texts for bulletins and screens. To support and facilitate this work, the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod is now releasing its primary worship texts for free download.

The following texts can now be downloaded as PDFs:

The Book of Alternative Services (BAS) despite its name “alternative,” has become the primary worship text for Sunday services and other major liturgical celebrations of the Anglican Church of Canada. 2010 marks the 25th anniversary of its publication.

For All the Saints is a resource to accompany the Calendar of Holy Persons in the BAS. It includes propers for memorials, commemorations, and saints’ days, along with biographical information and primary source readings.

Occasional Celebrations is a collection of resources for certain pastoral and seasonal occasional services, including additional funeral rites, celebrations of new ministries, and home blessing rites.

Supplementary Eucharistic Prayers, Services of the Word, and Night Prayer is the most substantial addition to the BAS. Authorized by General Synod in 2001, it contains additional rites for Sunday services.

Selected liturgies are also available in French.

More below on the hopes for an interactive liturgical process.

The Copyright and Use webpage explains that “texts may be used free of charge by all dioceses, parishes, religious orders, theological colleges, and other entities within the Anglican Church of Canada.” The sources of texts must be acknowledged, and commercial use is forbidden. Before using the material, individuals must read the full license agreement.

“People are working from computers all the time now, liturgical planning included,” said the Rev. Dr. Eileen Scully, interim director of Faith, Worship, and Ministry, the department that guides liturgical development. She expects these downloads will be useful for creating parish bulletins, PowerPoint presentations, and even personal devotional booklets.

The conversation about digitizing liturgical texts started in the 1990s but it was only in 2003 that the texts were collected for the Anglican Liturgy Library (originally Anglican Liturgy Licensing), a CD-ROM resource. This paved the way for online distribution.

“We’re thrilled it’s finally gotten to this point,” said Dr. Scully. “It’s exactly at the point where we’re asking the question, ‘where are we going in the future of liturgical texts?'”

2010 marks the 25th anniversary of the Book of Alternatives Services (BAS), originally published as an alternative to the Book of Common Prayer. It has since become the primary worship text in most parishes.

Now General Synod is embarking on another period of liturgical revision. At the national meeting of General Synod this June, members will consider new principles for liturgical revision. They will also consider a motion asking the Faith, Worship, and Ministry (FWM) Committee to start work on the next generation of liturgical texts.

Dr. Scully notes that if General Synod gives the go-ahead, this next stage of liturgical revision will likely involve online conversation. The last FWM committee wanted to ensure that the web could be used to engage people from across the country in a participatory process. “Trial use and evaluation for new liturgies could be very lively and web-based,” said Dr. Scully.

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