The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965)   8 comments

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Above:  Lawrence Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Denver, Colorado, Between 1868 and 1882

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-117988

Trinity United Methodist Church, Denver, Colorado, is the spiritual heir of this congregation.

Thanks to Cyclopedia of Methodism (1882) for giving me the church name (Lawrence Street) and an engraving to match the photograph from the Library of Congress!

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The 1956 General Conference of The Methodist Church (1939-1968) approved a revision of the 1945 Book of Worship for Church and Home.  The ultimate result was the 1965 Book of Worship for Church and Home (BOW), this time without the redundant title page disclaimer:

FOR VOLUNTARY AND OPTIONAL USE.

Yet church politics of formal liturgy were not entirely amicable.  Hence the last paragraph of the Preface reads:

The Book of Worship is designed  to provide significant structure for the worship of the Church.  It is not intended in any way to fetter the spontaneity or reject the reliance upon the Holy Spirit which have characterized Methodist worship throughout its history.  Rather The Book of Worship seeks to claim for the Church and its people the total Methodist heritage in worship.  John Wesley himself, by his devotion to the Book of Common Prayer and his ordering of the “Sunday Service of the Methodists in America,” has made us heirs of the deeply meaningful historic forms of devotion of the universal Church.  As we make these our own we shall find that the Holy Spirit will move among us with mighty power.

The 1965 BOW mostly expands upon the foundation laid by its 1945 predecessor.

  • The Order of Worship provides for reading more Scripture than before.
  • The volume includes a new (in 1965) lectionary, one which is outmoded in 2013.  Pentecost Season runs through late August then Kingdomtime follows, ending on the eve of Advent.  In contrast, The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992), this volume’s successor, follows the modern custom of one’s enormous Season after Pentecost, ranging from May or June to late November or early December.
  • There are more prayers (and sometimes different ones on the same topics) than in the 1945 BOW.
  • The section of daily readings for a month is absent.
  • The Psalter is now present.
  • There are more occasional services.
  • There is a greater wealth of seasonal prayers than in either the 1945 BOW or the 1992 United Methodist Book of Worship.

I have two copies of the 1965 BOW–one from before the 1968 merger of The Methodist Church (1939-1968) and the Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968) which forged The United Methodist Church and the other from after that occasion.  So the covers are slightly different, for one has the cross-and-M logo of the former Methodist Church and the other bears the cross-and-flame logo of The United Methodist Church.  And the post-1968 copy inserts the word “United” in front of “Methodist” inside.

I grew up in United Methodist parsonages in the South Georgia Conference in the 1980s.  There was not a copy of the 1965 BOW at home or in the church office.  In fact, I first saw a copy at a family friend’s home.  What use is a good book of worship if people do not use it or know that it exists?

As with the 1945 BOW, I find the widespread use of archaic language annoying.  Is calling God “you” instead of “thee” really so bad?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 30, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA, HISTORIAN AND ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF APOLO KIVEBULAYA, ANGLICAN EVANGELIST

THE FEAST OF JOACHIM NEANDER, GERMAN REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPHINE BUTLER, WORKER AMONG WOMEN

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