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Worship Resources

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Structure of Service of the Word

Page 165 of BCP 2004 states ...


* A liturgical Greeting 
 An invitation to worship
 A hymn may be sung.
 * Penitence may be at this part of  the service or in Response.
*An Acclamation and/or a Song of praise (Metrical forms of  canticles may be used, or a hymn may be sung).
* The Collect of the day

Ministry of  the Word

* Readings from the Bible
* A Psalm and/or a Scripture Song may precede or follow readings.
A Bible Responsory may follow a reading.
* The Sermon
A hymn may be sung.


* An Affirmation of Faith (The Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Affirmation of  Faith from the Renewal of  Baptismal Vows (page 400) or a scriptural affirmation of Faith.)
* The Prayers
Intercessions and Thanksgiving
Penitence (if  not used above)
A general collect
The whole section is concluded with The Lord's Prayer in one of its approved forms.
A hymn may be sung.


* A dismissal prayer
The Blessing
A salutation

Sections marked with * are mandatory in any service based on this structure.

Service of  the Word is for use on occasions when the prescribed services of Morning  and  Evening  Prayer  or  Holy  Communion  may  not  meet  the needs of a particular congregation.
A basic structure for all such services is provided.

Examples  of  working  out  that  structure  approved  by  the  House  of Bishops have been published. Resource material authorised by the House of Bishops such as Patterns for Worship (Church House Publishing 2002) or Common Worship: Times and Seasons (Church of England 2004) may be used
to work out other forms based on the Structure.



1 The Structure has four sections:
Preparation:  A  Greeting,  an  invitation  to  worship,  a  hymn  of  praise  to God, an act of  penitence (but this may on occasion be more appropriate in the section called the Response) and an Acclamation.

The Collect of  the day is the climax of  the Preparation and leads in to the Ministry of  the Word.

Ministry of  the Word: The Reading and exposition of  Holy Scripture is the central part of the service. The use of the Psalms whether sung in metrical versions, or chanted or recited from the Psalter in this book, enables the congregation to interact with the Readings. Periods of  silence also help this interaction. The use of  Scripture Songs ('canticles') is recommended.

Response: Normally an Affirmation of  Faith is followed by prayers for the Church and for the World.

Sometimes penitence is also appropriate if not used in the Preparation.

After a General Collect the climax of  this section
comes as the congregation says together the Lord's Prayer.

In this section the Offering may come before or after the Prayers.
The  service  ends  with  The  Dismissal. 

Either  a  Dismissal  Prayer  or  a Blessing may be followed by a final salutation.

2   The keynote of  Service of  the Word is simplicity. It should not have a complicated opening. The service begins with a Greeting and Invitation to
worship. This governs the choice of any hymn to be sung at this point.

 3 Penitence will normally be expressed in the Preparation.

4  The  Acclamation  is  a  proclamation  of  God's  majesty  and  love  that derives  from  the  Greeting  and  Invitation.  Traditional  elements  like  the Sursum Corda and Sanctus, as well as Canticles such as Gloria in Excelsis may have a place here.

5 The Collect of  the day is given a special position, similar to its use in the Communion Service: the climax of  the Preparation. It is the 'link' with all the other worship of  the Church on the day. It may be introduced with a 'one-line'  bidding,  deriving  from  the  central  thrust  of  the  prayer.  For example: the minister may say, 'As we prepare to use the Collect of  this Sunday, let us in silence pray for God's guidance.' (Or for spiritual strength or whatever is the central point of  the particular collect.) After twenty seconds or so of silent prayer the Collect is then recited.

6 Psalms and what are entitled Scripture Songs are vital components of  the Service.  Metrical  versions  of  some  Psalms  are  to  be  found  in  Church Hymnal. Other sources of psalmody and different ways of using it can be explored.

7  There  should  be  at  least  two  Readings  from  the  Bible.  Normally  the Sunday lectionary will determine the selection. On occasion readings may be presented in dramatised form.

8 The use of  the terminology, The Sermon, the legally recognized word in the Church of Ireland, does not rule out a variety of ways of proclaiming the  message  of  the  Gospel;  these  may  include  drama,  interviews  and other techniques.

9  When  appropriate  the  Sermon  may  be  followed  by  a  hymn.  An Affirmation of  Faith is regarded as essential. On some occasions it might be deemed suitable for an act of penitence to precede the Affirmation of  Faith
in the Response.

10  The  section  containing  the  Prayers  should  conclude  with  a  General Collect.  The  climax  of  the  Prayers,  indeed  of  the  whole  Response,  is  the Lord's Prayer, with an appropriate introduction.

11 The service ends with the Dismissal.  If  a concluding hymn is customary it is better for this to precede the Blessing and final salutation.

 12 Periods of silence are important. Some indications of where these are most suitable have been given. Care and instruction are needed so that worshippers can learn how to use silence in worship.

Construction is by one of two methods:
1 A verse of scripture is read by the minister.
This is repeated by the congregation.

The minister says some complementary words of scripture.
The congregation repeats the first verse again.
There is a trinitarian ascription
Finally the congregation repeats the scripture verse a third

2. A verse of scripture is read by the minister.
A different but complementary verse is spoken by the
Another verse is spoken by the minister.
The congregation repeats its response.
The Gloria is spoken by the minister.
The congregation again repeats its response.

Similar responsories will be found in the Canadian Book of  Alternative Services (1985), in the New Zealand Prayer Book (1988), in Promise of  his Glory (1990) and in Celebrating Common Prayer (1992).