Uncommon Worship

Liturgy has always been radical. In 1549, Thomas Cranmer rocked ye olde reformation England by publishing his famous book of church liturgy, The Book of Common Prayer, in vernacular English instead of Latin. And 461 years later, Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro have co-conspired to rock the church again with their new book: Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.

Like the books of liturgy used in many Christian traditions, Common Prayer is a cohesive body of prayers, songs, scripture readings, and spiritual writings arranged into a yearly cycle of morning and evening prayers.

Yet, while the 1549 Book of Common Prayer is praised for beautiful language that scholars accredit to Cranmer's "single powerful voice," the beauty of this new liturgy emerges from its patchwork sources and decidedly ecumenical flavor. Rooted in voices ranging from Frederick Buechner and Frederick Douglass to Dorothy Day and the Desert Fathers and Mothers, this liturgy has been harvested from both new and ancient branches of Christianity. "We want the fire of the Pentecostals, the imagination of the Mennonites, the Lutherans’ love of scripture," write the authors, "the Benedictines' discipline, the wonder of the Orthodox and Catholics.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2011
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