Liturgical Revision and Alternative Services

Throughout much of the twentieth century and into the early years of the twenty-first, there was a drawn-out process of liturgical revision in the Church of England. Much of the revision process is documented in little pamphlets and booklets, both authorized and unauthorized – many of which are now falling apart or already discarded. We hope to make as many of them as possible available to a wider readership.

Up to 1928

This page at the BCP resource providfes the text of the 1927 and 1928 proposed Prayer Books, together with several of the drafts and proposals that led to that book.

Between 1928 and 1965

1951: Infant Baptism approved by the Convocation of the province of York, September 1951.

Alternative Services First Series

The first texts authorized after Royal Assent was given to the Prayer Book (Alternative and Other Services) Measure in 1965 were adaptations from the abortive 1928 Prayer Book. Two of these services, Marriage and Burial, are still authorized, and can be found here:

Burial Services

Solemnization of Matrimony

Alternative Services Second Series

This ‘second series’ of alternative services began in 1966, and was the first attempt at a new direction in liturgical reform. This series began the process of restructuring and revising services, but retained the word ‘thou’ when addressing God, rather than the modern ‘you’. (Unlike the BCP, ‘you’ was used to addressed people, whether singular or plural.)

1966: AS 220 An Order for Holy Communion

1966/1967: Proposals for Baptism and Confirmation

1967: AS 230 Baptism and Confirmation

Alternative Services Series 3

Series 3 was the name given to the Church of England experimental liturgical material authorized at various times between 1973 and 1980. Its characteristic, revolutionary at the time, was the use of the word ‘you’ when addressing God, rather than the traditional ‘thou’.

The Series 3 booklets also had a distinct typographical style, designed by Keith Murgatroyd, then president of the Society of Typographers and Designers, which eschewed justified lines and serifed type for a ragged right layout of Univers (though serifed Times was used for congregational texts). This style was considerably revised for the very last booklet Initiation which trials the style used in the Alternative Service Book 1980

The first Series 3 service was for Holy Communion, which built on the radical changes to the structure of the rite that had been made in the Second Series of alternative services (or Series 2). Through the 1970s a range of services and supporting resources (collects and lectionaries) was authorized, culminating in a thorough revision of the Communion service, light revision of the other material – and the publication of all these texts in the Alternative Service Book 1980.

1971: Proposals for Holy Communion

1973: AS 320 An Order for Holy Communion

1975: GS 225 proposals for Series 3 Infant Baptism

1977: AS 350 The Marriage Service

1979: extracts from GS 343A proposals for Series 3 Initiation Services

1979: AS 330 Initiation Services

The Alternative Service Book 1980

The Alternative Service Book 1980 was authorized from November 1980 until 31 December 2000. Its continued use was permitted in a few parishes which had explicit permission from the diocesan bishop, but this has now ceased. The Ordinal in the ASB had its authorization further extended until the new Common Worship form was available. The ASB forms for Morning and Evening Prayer are still valid under the Common Worship Service of the Word provision. The Psalter is still authorized under the Versions of the Bible Measure.

commended services

Lent, Holy Week, Easter and The Promise of His Glory: services and prayers for the season from All Saints' Day to Candlemas were commended by the House of Bishops. Although much of the material can still be used it has largely been replaced by the Common Worship volumes Times and Seasons and Festivals.

Lent, Holy Week, Easter, commended for use in 1986.

The Promise of His Glory: services and prayers for the season from All Saints' Day to Candlemas, commended for use in 1991.

Towards Common Worship

From the mid-1990s the Church of England began to issue draft texts for a replacement to the Alternative Service Book. These culminated in the authorization and publication of the Common Worship series, beginning in 1997.

This site began as an unofficial archive of these draft forms, and for historical interest we retain them, particularly of the Eucharist. These forms show the development of Common Worship.

Texts copyright the Registrars of the Provinces of Canterbury and York; assigned from 1980 to the Central Board of Finance of the Church of England; from 2000 to the Archbishops’ Council.

My thanks to the Revd Phillip Tovey and Bishop Colin Buchanan who have provided copies of some of the texts.

oremus Anglican Liturgical Library