Book of Alternative Services

Book of Alternative Services

The "Book of Alternative Services" (BAS) is the contemporary-language liturgical book used alongside the "Book of Common Prayer" (1962) (BCP) in a number of parishes of the Anglican Church of Canada. Unlike the BCP, it uses the Revised Common Lectionary. When first, published the BAS included the Common Lectionary, but in printings since the publication of the RCL, the latter has superseded the original lectionary.

The BAS was published in 1985 based on a number of experimental liturgical texts that had been in use in the 1960s and 1970s. It sparked some opposition from traditionalists who continue to question the Book's theological and linguistic soundness. The mobilization against the BAS has been led by the Prayer Book Society of Canada. The controversy has been called the "trad-rad" debate (i.e. "traditional" vs. "radical").

The BAS contains two services of the Eucharist—one contemporary and one more in line with the language of the 1962 Prayer Book. The latter text, developed at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene (Toronto), is sometimes known as the "Toronto Rite" and is a bone of contention amongst Prayer Book Anglicans [ [ MACHRAY REVIEW #3: The Toronto Rite- Not a Substitute ] ] . There are also contemporary rite versions of Morning and Evening Prayer; these have not taken hold, in part because the service of Morning Prayer has in large part been supplanted by weekly Eucharist as the main Sunday service. Contemporary wedding, funeral and other pastoral rites, however, have been welcomed very widely.

Use of the BAS varies from parish to parish. In some congregations, the principal Sunday service is according to the BCP, while in others, the contemporary liturgy dominates. However, in most dioceses, the trend is increasingly toward the BAS.

Bishop Michael Ingham is the author of an important "apologia" for the BAS, called "Rites for a New Age".


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