Common Worship Considered
a Liturgical Journey Examined


Peter Toon
Common Worship is the Church of England’s replacement for The Alternative Service Book 1980. It is a multi-volume, multi-media and open-ended series of publications and, being so vast and so fluid, is not easily considered as a whole. In this, the first book-length discussion of Common Worship, Dr Toon makes a notable effort to do so.
     Common Worship is considered steadily and thoroughly in chapters on the Preface, the understanding of the words "Common" and "Worship", the Eucharist, Daily Prayer, Baptism and Confirmation, Pastoral Services, Prayers and Collects, Doctrine and Style. A brief Epilogue draws conclusions, solidly based in the preceding argument, which may be surprising. The present liturgists of the Church of England are in intention far less revolutionary than their predecessors a quarter of a century ago. But the drastic redefinition of common made necessary by the Common Worship project—so that what is common to the Church of England is not the sharing of one printed liturgy but the use of common shapes, the following of guidelines or the use of one of an incalculable number of permutations—amounts to a more revolutionary change than any since the first Prayer Book of 1549. Dr Toon demonstrates that such a huge outpouring of optional material has, not surprisingly, led to rather low standards of composition and of theological accuracy. This moderate and well-argued book is written from the standpoint of an orthodox theologian and a faithful parish priest of the Church of England. Dr Toon's criteria are those that have always been accepted in the Church of England: the Bible, the three Creeds and the formularies printed within The Book of Common Prayer (1662). One upshot of the book is a further demonstration that The Book of Common Prayer is (in the title of another recent book of which Dr Toon is co-author) “neither archaic nor obsolete”.

The Rev. Dr Peter Toon is a clergyman of the Church of England. He has been a theological tutor in several English Colleges and also a professor of systematic theology in the U.S.A., as well as the priest of an English parish. For some years he has been a very active President of the Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A. Dr Toon is a graduate of London and Oxford Universities and has the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the latter. Amongst his 20+ published books are doctrinal studies, e.g., Our Triune God, 2002; historical studies, e.g., a biography of Dr John Owen, Vice Chancellor of Oxford university; and spirituality studies, e.g., on Christian meditation.

ISBN 978 0 907839 78 1, hardback, 160 pp., £16.80


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