Worship, particularly worship according to the Book of Common Prayer, is one of the most important defining characteristics of the various church bodies that make up the worldwide Anglican Communion. This worship, which is at once common to us all and unique to every particular locale, helps define the essence of a distinctively Anglican spirituality within the larger Christian tradition. Here are a collection of resources that you may find useful both for deepening your understanding of our distinctive tradition of worship and for day-to-day, week-to-week practice of worship in the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota.
Our Tradition of Worship
The Episcopal Church is the official representative body of the Anglican Communion in the United States and several other countries in North and South America. Here are links to several helpful Wikipedia articles that will help you find a starting place for learning more about the Anglican spiritual tradition, Anglican worship, and the Book of Common Prayer.
The Bible and the Book of Common Prayer
As Episcopalians, we believe that the Bible contains all things necessary for salvation, and as such is the central document for individual and corporate Christian worship. We are also a tradition that believes in the importance of both freedom and order in our worship and in remaining in spiritual solidarity across time and space with other Christians through our worship. Therefore, the Episcopal Church's worship is ordered by the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and it's congregations make use of some commonly held order of scripture readings (a lectionary) for Daily Prayer and Sunday worship. The Episcopal use of the Book of Common Prayer in particular is meant to help direct people's attention toward the centrality of Scripture in worship; it is not meant to act as a second or alternative focus for ordering worship.
The Revised Common Lectionary is the most frequently used cycle of readings from the Bible in use in the Episcopal Church. Readings from this Lectionary, as well as a number of other resources related to those readings, have been very helpfully put together by Vanderbilt University and can be found here.
This BCP is only one of many in use throughout history and across the Anglican Communion. The Society of Archbishop Justus has helpfully (and for free) made available in electronic form nearly all of the various versions of the BCP. These may be found here.
Music and Worship
We worship God not only through our words and intentions, but also through how we make them known. As such, music and song have always been an important part of the tradition of Anglican worship.
Hymnary.org is a tremendous resource for discovering a vast amount of information about the history and use of a multitude of hymns. They even provide hymns that are meant to accompany the readings from the Lectionary for any given week (NOTE: not all of these hymns are found in the authorized Episcopal hymnals).
The Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota and the Taizé Community in France have over the last several years built a strong mutual relationship. The particular style of meditative worship originating from the Taizé Community has proven to be an extremely important influence for a number of worshiping communities in the Diocese of South Dakota, including that distinctive worship practiced at Thunderhead Episcopal Center. Information – as well as resources – about Taizé worship and the history and mission of the community can be found here.