Orders of Service and how they are written
(for our main 10am Sunday Service)
It is attributed to Henry Ford that he said of his cars, “You can have any colour you like so long as it is black.” That was around 80 years ago, and is very different from the choice we have now. It’s the same with services in the Church of England. As recently as 1979 we could only use the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) as it contains the only approved services, and yet now we have Common Worship which contains, someone has identified, several thousand authorised services.
This sounds like a massive step forward, and it is, but it also creates a challenge – to write services that are meaningful for each congregation. It would be easy to resort to using the same order of service each week in a similar manner to the way that the BCP is constructed, but that would be turning our backs on the changes that have been made for Common Worship. In response to this, we have incorporated these changes and over the last decade we have become accustomed to a variety of services with weekly changes and very different services at some of the major feasts and festivals.
When writing orders of service, it helps that there is a wide variety of information available contained in five particular publications. So how do I decide what should be in and what should be out of the services? Well, some things are prescribed and some are not.
The prescribed options include the Bible readings from the Lectionary; the Collects from Common Worship and Additional Collects; and the Post Communion Sentence from Common Worship. These all change from service to service, but they are contained in the relevant books so it is a simple matter of finding and using them. There are other prescribed elements that are the same each week, like the Prayer of Preparation, the Gloria, and the Commandments. Then there is the rest, and that is where it gets more interesting!
There are eight Eucharistic Prayers, so I cycle through although some are more suitable than others for particular services. But – there are different prefaces available for some Sundays in the year, but they can only be used in some of the Eucharistic Prayers. So far as I can, I use as many of the available prefaces as possible to give as much variety as possible.
There are two particular books available that provide alternatives for the Invitation to Confession and the Confession, for the Authorised Creed or Affirmation of Faith, and for the Introduction to the Peace. So information is readily available but the challenge is to choose those alternatives that are suitable and applicable to the season of the year and to the appointed readings and Collect. I try to select those options that fit in to provide an Order of Service that flows and follows an overall theme leaving people rejuvenated, refreshed and encouraged to face the coming week.
When the writing is finished, I format it for printing and pass it on for putting into PowerPoint, but that’s a subject for another time.
Writing the orders of service is sometimes difficult, but it is always rewarding.
David Beecroft (Reader and writer of orders of service)