Monday, May 8, 2017

The Book of Common Worship (1906)

Our small church group has several worship leaders. I'm one of them. Each of us takes a turn leading worship a month at a time. Having that responsibility, over time I've accumulated a collection of hymnbooks and other sources of worship material. My most recent acquisition arrived today in the mail: The Book of Common Worship: For Voluntary Use in the Churches (1906). It's a facsimile reprint of the original edition from the Presbyterian Board of Publication. The same can be downloaded, free, in several electronic formats, from The Princeton Theological Library here.

Wikipedia describes the book's origin:
The book was the result of overtures from the Synod of New York and the Presbytery of Denver. Henry Van Dyke was the chairperson of the committee charged with the publication of the book.

The book relied heavily on the liturgical reforms of the Church of Scotland and incorporated much of the liturgical tradition from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. It included liturgies for morning and evening worship services as well as ancient forms of Eucharistic prayers based on Eastern Orthodox liturgies. Prayers and texts were written for festivals and seasons of the Liturgical Year, which at the time of publication was not universally accepted in the Presbytery. Various orders were written for Confirmation, Ordination, and other ordinances. For the first time, "A Treasury of Prayers," a collection of ancient and contemporary prayers, was included. The prayers were drawn not only from within the Reformed tradition but also from within the Church catholic. One such example was the use of the Prayer of St. John Chrysostom, a remarkable departure from the Reformed principles and an intense look into the pre-denominational past. Finally, the book included an extensive selection from Psalms and Canticles; the latter's titles were given in Latin (Magnificat; Nunc Dimittis, Te Deum laudamus etc.), a significant departure from the Reformed tradition. ....
The book was rather controversial among Presbyterians at the time.

The "Treasury of Prayers" is almost sixty pages long. One page: