Introducing "Common Worship"

with acknowledgements to Praxis

The Church of England is revising its modern language services. Common Worship is the name being given to all of the new services which are replacing those in the Alternative Service Book 1980 (ASB). This will happen in January 2001.

Back in 1980 when the ASB was published, no one really knew which (if any) of the new services would stand the test of time, and so at first they were only authorised for ten years. Decisions like this, about which services are authorised in the Church of England, are made by the Church of England’s General Synod which includes both lay and ordained representatives of the church.

It soon became obvious that ten years was only enough for the church to begin to settle in to using the new services, and so the ASB was authorised for another ten years. It is recognised by General Synod that there are now some specific reasons to change:

  • There has been some fresh thinking, especially about the Christian year, about the use of the Bible in worship and about baptism and Christian beginnings.
  • A lot of extra material has been produced since the ASB (such as Holy Week and Easter services and material for All Age services). It is time to consolidate all of that experience.
  • Some parts of the ASB have worn a bit thin, or proved to be rather weak (such as the Funeral Service, which is rarely used as it is printed).

Some of the new services contain radical new material, others (such as Holy Communion) are gentle revisions of the ASB. All are designed to make Church of England worship flexible enough to fit the local situation, but stable enough to retain a sense of ‘family likeness’ within the Church of England (and with other Christians too).

From 1 January 2001 the Church of England will have two sources for its worship: the Book of Common Prayer (which is untouched by the revision) and the new services, known collectively as “Common Worship”.

All the main services are going through the final stages of revision and authorisation at the moment. They should be in a final form by early 2000 and will be published towards the end of 2000. They will be available in many forms: books, booklets, service cards, computer software and on the Internet.

At their meeting on 21st March the PCC will devote the whole evening to considering this very important prospective change. Revd. Gilly Myers of the Diocesan Liturgical Committee will guide us through the facts and their implications. Be assured that the clergy and PCC will keep the congregation informed of progress as time goes on.
© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 1st March 2000