THREE versions of the Lord's Prayer are likely to be included in a new edition of the Church of England's modern prayer book.
The General Synod, meeting in York next weekend, will try to agree on a solution to the long war between liturgical traditionalists and modernisers: a new prayer book combining language both from the 16th and 20th centuries.
The battle between the supporters of prayers ancient and modern became known to a wider public five years ago when the Prince of Wales lambasted the language of the Church's modern prayer book, the Alternative Service Book, as 'crass, banal, patronising, mean and trite'.
The General Synod will debate a recommendation from its Liturgical Commission that the next edition of the Alternative Service Book, due out in 2000, should, unlike previous versions, include sizeable excerpts from Thomas Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer. Priests will be encouraged to use whichever prayers suit their congregations.
The General Synod first decided at its York sessions in 1989 that editions of the Alternative Service Book printed in the future should have both the modern and the almost traditional versions of the Lord's Prayer printed side by side. Now Cranmer will be added.
The ASB has been used for the past 20 years in Anglican churches but its licence, which makes it legal to use the book in churches, must be renewed by 2000. The Liturgical Commission plans to change the present 1,500-page book by splitting it in two, keeping one half for the core services, and the other for special occasions, such as baptisms, funerals and weddings.
At present there are at least five English versions of the Lord's Prayer in use in the UK. Anglicans account for three of these; a Roman Catholic international committee produced another, and a fifth is traditional in Scotland. English Roman Catholics have used one of the Anglican versions since they abandoned the Latin Mass.
'Our Father' is the lead-in that everyone agrees on. The arguments start with the third word. Should it be 'which', 'who' or 'in'?
However, all this may be overtaken by the march of technology. The Liturgical Commission expects that it will have to license liturgical software as well as books by 2000, so that parishes can print out special service sheets every Sunday, complete with readings, psalms and prayers from any source that takes the preacher's fancy.
The three versions of the Lord's Prayer presently used in C of E churches are:
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the Power and the Glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
2. Modernised 1662
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
3. ASB, 1980
Our father in heaven
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours
now and forever. Amen.
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