Classic resource gets new life
Forward Movement offers new revision to Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book
A new offering by Forward Movement, the newly revised Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book, is a book of prayer and practice – with disciplines, habits, and patterns for building a Christian spiritual life. Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book features “Holy Habits of Prayer,” devotions to accompany Holy Eucharist, Stations of the Cross, and Stations of the Resurrection, and a wide range of litanies, collects, and prayers for all occasions.
Scholar Derek Olsen shares his thoughts about the newly revised Saint Augustine Prayer Book , which he edited with Episcopal priest David Cobb. He compares this new edition with its predecessor, and details the methods used to bring this classic prayer book new life. Read the entire post at http://haligweorc.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/therevised-saint-augustines-prayer-book/
By Derek Olsen
The Revised Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book has finally arrived. After several years of planning and working, I can at last hold it in my hands!
The former revision was conducted as the Episcopal Church was in the midst of formulating its next prayer book. As a result, it remained a solid catholic supplement to the 1928 prayer book and is in dialogue with the Roman Catholic piety of its day in the very midst of the tumult of Vatican II. By contrast, this new revision was designed from the ground up as a solid catholic supplement to our current prayer book, reflecting the ecumenical and cultural situation of our day. Just to be clear, though, old stuff isn’t in here because it’s old; it’s because in working and praying with these well worn prayers, David and I were convinced that they had an important word to speak to the church of our present day.
There are prayers here in contemporary (Rite II) language; there are prayers here in traditional (Rite I) language. We have also incorporated some material – I’m thinking of Office canticles in particular – in direct address that provide gender-neutral praises to God. Above all, our goal was to use the whole register of liturgical language with the intention of not making language an issue. There was no quota of Rite I to Rite II to gender-neutral material. Instead, we went with what prayed well!
There’s also a good amount of explanatory material here. The previous edition had this too, but much of it has been updated. As David explains in his Foreword, he – like many clergy – discovered the Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book in seminary. That is, his first encounter with it and its spirituality was not necessarily in the context of a living church community. I know that my first encounter with it occurred that way – it was a text that I discovered apart from a living tradition. As a result, the explanations are offered as a way of introducing people to a fuller and deeper expression of the Anglican tradition that is completely consonant with prayer book spirituality whether they’re in a congregation familiar with such traditions or not.
It was a real honor to have the opportunity to work on this book. Both of us entered into it with a certain trepidation because of how deeply loved it is. None of our changes were made lightly; in each case we wanted to make sure that the material was consonant with our prayer book, with our Anglican tradition, and spoke Gospel words of life to modern Episcopalians.
As I have said tongue-in-cheek, my chief role was to gild David’s lily: the lion’s share of the work was his. However, I had read through portions of it at David’s request and commented on them before I was officially invited onto the project by Scott Gunn and the good folks at Forward Movement. I see my true role in this work as representing the voice of the laity. It’s easy for devotional works of this sort to reflect what clergy want lay people to think, and do, and pray. I believe that’s a trap that we consciously avoided here. This work, flowing from the monastic wellspring of the Order of the Holy Cross, bolstering the work of the clergy, finds its true home in the hearts, minds, and actions of the whole church – not just the ordained portions. These are prayers that I use with my children, that I turn to between meetings, conference calls and shuttling the girls to ballet lessons. They are made for our world, the sections both within and outside the church’s walls. This is a spirituality for the whole church.
May it be received as it is offered: a treasury of Gospel nourishment for the road. Not a last word or a perfect work, but godly conversation as we push along the way!
Derek Olsen is a layman within the Episcopal Church with a Ph.D. in New Testament and an interest in most things medieval, monastic, and liturgical. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the St. Augustine’s Prayer Book?
Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book is an Anglo-Catholic devotional book first published in 1947 for members of the Episcopal Church by the Order of the Holy Cross, an Anglican monastic community.
It remains popular book among High Church members of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. It is used as a companion to the Book of Common Prayer (American editions of 1928 and 1979). In addition to various prayers and devotions, it includes the order of Mass according to the American Missal, with the Prayer Book Canon of the Mass.