Joining the Angels’ Song
Worthwhile collection of material that celebrates the Lord's Supper weekly and follows the lectionary
Joining the Angels’ Song: Eucharistic Prayers for Sundays and Holy Prayers, Year A, B & C
By Samuel Wells and Abigail Kocher
Reviewer Andy Goodliff
As Baptists we don't tend to use Eucharistic prayers in the same way as Anglicans, and so perhaps at first glance a book like this would not see much use of a Baptist minister's shelf. And yet I have found this book helpful in several ways.
First, it offers a Eucharistic prayer for every Sunday across the three years of the common lectionary cycle, plus a few for special occasions. This is a wealth of material, which follows the seasons of the year – Advent, Christmas Epiphany, Lent and Ordinary Time. For each Sunday the prayer engages with the lectionary texts for that day, so that the Lord’s Supper is ‘more of a piece with the Ministry of the Word that precedes it’ (p.vii) – word and sacrament are linked.
Second, in this these prayers enable the gathering around the Word and gathering round the table to find places of connection and meaning. The Lord’s Supper doesn’t become a separate thought to the rest of the service. The skill of Wells and Kocher also mean that we see the breadth of the biblical story. For example, as they suggest in the introduction, ‘instead of simply referring to ‘the covenant’, a variety of prayers can explore the various covenants with Noah, with Abraham, with Moses and with David’ (p.xi).
Third, because of the reasons already mentioned, the Lord’s Supper has the potential to become a more meaningful part of Baptist worship than it often tends too. Frequently, the Lord’s Supper can feel bolted onto the rest of worship.
I have already used several of these prayers in celebrating Communion, although I have been selective and do not always include every part, in part, because often the story telling has already been done, for as Baptists we separate it from the Eucharistic prayer itself. Also, because sometimes the prayer can feel too long for Baptist worship, it tries to include too much.
This is a worthwhile book to have, and a church that celebrates the Lord’s Supper weekly and follows the lectionary would find it very helpful. Even where this is not the case, there is lots which can be used by a minister wanting to help a congregation connect with the place and importance of bread and wine.
Andy Goodliff is minister of Belle Vue Baptist Church, Southend-on-Sea
This review was originally published in Regent’s Reviews, based at Regent’s Park College, Oxford. Regent’s Reviews is published every April and October and can be read at: http://www.rpc.ox.ac.uk/regents-reviews/