Chalice Worship (1997)   7 comments

Above:  Logo of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Chalice Worship is one of my favorite volumes, one which functions for me as one of a set of prayer books.  It takes its place along side The Book of Common Prayer (1979), A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), and a volume of novenas.  I, with my Episcopal Church-honed liturgical tastes, enjoy the fresh, reverent, and poetic language of Chalice Worship.  The resources in this book differ from those I have found elsewhere, so the volume is unique, adding welcome spice to a variety of well-written liturgical life.

Chalice Worship, a resource of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is a companion to Chalice Hymnal, the denomination’s 1995 successor to Hymnbook for Christian Worship (1970), a joint project with the American Baptist Churches U.S.A., then called the American Baptist Convention.  CW (1997) is, in a way, a successor to that book, which contains worship resources (although mainly in older-style English) in the back.  CW (1997) is primarily the successor to Christian Worship:  A Service Book (1953),

The first and last complete book of worship resources…..It set a benchmark for any would come after him [editor G. Edwin Osborn] in similar labors.

Chalice Worship, page xii

CW (1997) complements Thankful Praise (1987), edited by Keith Watkins, and Chalice Hymnal (1995), not replicating material from them.

The scope of Chalice Worship is comprehensive.  There are the usual services, such as Holy Communion, baptism, confirmation, marriage, healing, and funerals, for example.  But one can also find a service to celebrate a wedding anniversary and another to bless a friendship.  And the funeral service comes with options for various occasions, such as a suicide, a sudden tragedy, and a stillbirth.  There are also daily morning and evening prayer services, which are beautiful.

There is also a section of three ecumenical services:  the Lord’s Supper, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, and Thanksgiving.  These appeal to me because of my bad experiences with community worship services; they tend to be flavorless bastard stepchildren of liturgy, appealing to few or none while attempting to encompass all or as many as possible.  But these ecumenical rites have two parents who are glad to claim them as their own.

These parents are Colbert “Bert” S. Cartwright (http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/feast-of-colbert-s-cartwright-august-5/) and O. I. Cricket Harrison.  They served on the committee which produced Chalice Hymnal (1995).  Cartwright, who died in 1996, was a Disciples of Christ minister and a witness for civil rights in the U.S. South when that was unpopular with many other white people.  Harrison composed hymn tunes and descants, translated a hymn from Spanish, and wrote a hymn one can find in that hymnal.  And she, with the help of Ann Cartwright, Colbert’s widow, and David P. Polk, editor of Chalice Press (as she wrote,

the unnamed third editor of this work

Chalice Worship, page xiii)

brought the volume to completion.  I thank God for all that they did toward that goal.

Back to my summary….

Chalice Worship also  provides services for the Christian Year and special Sundays.  So, for example, Advent, Christmas, Lenten, Holy Week, Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday resources are present.  The Feast of Christ the King (as I know and celebrate it each year) has become “The Festival of Christ the Cosmic Ruler.”  That is fine, for “king” is just a metaphor; I will not become upset about it.  And one can find rites for special Sundays ranging from Father’s Day to Mother’s Day to All Saints’ Day to Labor Day to AIDS Sunday.  There are also resources for the Week of Compassion (the third to fourth Sundays in February), when the Disciples of Christ collect funds to alleviate global suffering.  Compassion is a good thing.

One can also find resources for occasional events, such as installing church offices, honoring graduates, saying farewell to a retiring minister, opening a meeting or conference, blessing a home, or blessing a mother and a child after a difficult birth.  If a congregation has divided, it might avail itself of a prayer for that occasion.  Given recent headlines in ecclesiastical and collegiate settings, the Prayer for One Who Has Been Molested seems timely.

My favorite part of the book however, is its comprehensive selection of short prayers and litanies for various occasions.  I have found them quite helpful.  Once, a few years ago, when I needed the prayer “For the Brokenhearted” (page 364), I posted it online, giving credit to the source, of course.  Shortly later I received a comment from a complete stranger.  That person wrote,

Thank you.

My advice, O reader of this post, is to use this book at least for individual prayer, and corporate worship if possible.  Share it with others.  Such a wonderful resource, Colbert S. Cartwright’s final work, deserves no less.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 29, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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