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Anglican worship, however, is as diverse as Anglican theology. A contemporary " low-church " service may differ little from the worship of many mainstream non-Anglican Protestant churches. The service is constructed around a sermon focused on Biblical exposition and opened with one or more Bible readings and closed by a series of prayers both set and extemporised and hymns or songs. A " high-church " or Anglo-Catholic service, by contrast, is usually a more formal liturgy celebrated by clergy in distinctive vestments and may be almost indistinguishable from a Roman Catholic service, often resembling the "pre—Vatican II" Tridentine rite.

Between these extremes are a variety of styles of worship, often involving a robed choir and the use of the organ to accompany the singing and to provide music before and after the service. Anglican churches tend to have pews or chairs, and it is usual for the congregation to kneel for some prayers but to stand for hymns and other parts of the service such as the Gloria, Collect, Gospel reading, Creed and either the Preface or all of the Eucharistic Prayer.

Anglicans may genuflect or cross themselves in the same way as Roman Catholics. These services reflect older Anglican liturgies and differ from the Traditional Anglican Communion in that they are in favour of women priests and the ability of clergy to marry. These Anglican church services include classical music instead of songs, hymns from the New English Hymnal usually excluding modern hymns such as "Lord of the Dance" , and are generally non-evangelical and formal in practice. Until the midth century the main Sunday service was typically morning prayer , but the Eucharist has once again become the standard form of Sunday worship in many Anglican churches; this again is similar to Roman Catholic practice.

Other common Sunday services include an early morning Eucharist without music, an abbreviated Eucharist following a service of morning prayer, and a service of evening prayer , sometimes in the form of sung Evensong , usually celebrated between 3 and 6 pm.

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The late-evening service of Compline was revived in parish use in the early 20th century. Many Anglican churches will also have daily morning and evening prayer, and some have midweek or even daily celebration of the Eucharist. An Anglican service whether or not a Eucharist will include readings from the Bible that are generally taken from a standardised lectionary , which provides for much of the Bible and some passages from the Apocrypha to be read out loud in the church over a cycle of one, two, or three years depending on which eucharistic and office lectionaries are used, respectively.

The sermon or homily is typically about ten to twenty minutes in length, often comparably short to sermons in evangelical churches. Even in the most informal Anglican services, it is common for set prayers such as the weekly Collect to be read. There are also set forms for intercessory prayer , though this is now more often extemporaneous. In high and Anglo-Catholic churches there are generally prayers for the dead. Although Anglican public worship is usually ordered according to the canonically approved services, in practice many Anglican churches use forms of service outside these norms.

Anglo-Catholic parishes might use the modern Roman Catholic liturgy of the Mass or more traditional forms, such as the Tridentine Mass which is translated into English in the English Missal , the Anglican Missal , or, less commonly, the Sarum Rite. Only baptised persons are eligible to receive communion, [79] although in many churches communion is restricted to those who have not only been baptised but also confirmed. In many Anglican provinces, however, all baptised Christians are now often invited to receive communion and some dioceses have regularised a system for admitting baptised young people to communion before they are confirmed.

The discipline of fasting before communion is practised by some Anglicans. Most Anglican priests require the presence of at least one other person for the celebration of the Eucharist referring back to Christ's statement in Matthew , "When two or more are gathered in my name, I will be in the midst of them.

As in the Roman Catholic Church, it is a canonical requirement to use fermented wine for communion. Unlike in Roman Catholicism, the consecrated bread and wine are always offered to the congregation at a eucharistic service "communion in both kinds".

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This practice is becoming more frequent in the Roman Catholic Church as well, especially through the Neocatechumenal Way. In some churches, the sacrament is reserved in a tabernacle or aumbry with a lighted candle or lamp nearby. In Anglican churches, only a priest or a bishop may be the celebrant at the Eucharist. In the original Book of Common Prayer , these were derived from combinations of the ancient monastic offices of Matins and Lauds ; and Vespers and Compline , respectively. The prayer offices have an important place in Anglican history.

Prior to the Catholic revival of the 19th century, which eventually restored the Holy Eucharist as the principal Sunday liturgy, and especially during the 18th century, a morning service combining Matins, the Litany , and ante-Communion comprised the usual expression of common worship, while Matins and Evensong were sung daily in cathedrals and some collegiate chapels.

This nurtured a tradition of distinctive Anglican chant applied to the canticles and psalms used at the offices although plainsong is often used as well.

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In some official and many unofficial Anglican service books, these offices are supplemented by other offices such as the Little Hours of Prime and prayer during the day such as Terce , Sext , None , and Compline. Some Anglican monastic communities have a Daily Office based on that of the Book of Common Prayer but with additional antiphons and canticles, etc. The Society of St. Francis publishes Celebrating Common Prayer , which has become especially popular for use among Anglicans. In addition, most prayer books include a section of prayers and devotions for family use.

In the U. It retains the services for Morning and Evening Prayer and Compline and includes a section entitled "Prayer during the Day". Some Anglicans who pray the office on daily basis use the present Divine Office of the Catholic Church.

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In many cities, especially in England, Anglican and Catholic priests and lay people often meet several times a week to pray the office in common. A small but enthusiastic minority use the Anglican Breviary , or other translations and adaptations of the pre—Vatican II Roman Rite and Sarum Rite , along with supplemental material from cognate western sources, to provide such things as a common of Octaves, a common of Holy Women, and other additional material.

Others may privately use idiosyncratic forms borrowed from a wide range of Christian traditions. In the late medieval period, many English cathedrals and monasteries had established small choirs of trained lay clerks and boy choristers to perform polyphonic settings of the Mass in their Lady chapels.

Although these "Lady Masses" were discontinued at the Reformation, the associated musical tradition was maintained in the Elizabethan Settlement through the establishment of choral foundations for daily singing of the Divine Office by expanded choirs of men and boys. This resulted from an explicit addition by Elizabeth herself to the injunctions accompanying the Book of Common Prayer that had itself made no mention of choral worship by which existing choral foundations and choir schools were instructed to be continued, and their endowments secured.

Consequently, some thirty-four cathedrals, collegiate churches, and royal chapels maintained paid establishments of lay singing men and choristers in the late 16th century. All save four of these have — with an interruption during the Commonwealth — continued daily choral prayer and praise to this day.

Bibliography - Oxford Handbooks

In the Offices of Matins and Evensong in the Book of Common Prayer , these choral establishments are specified as "Quires and Places where they sing". For nearly three centuries, this round of daily professional choral worship represented a tradition entirely distinct from that embodied in the intoning of Parish Clerks , and the singing of " west gallery choirs " which commonly accompanied weekly worship in English parish churches.

In , the rebuilt Leeds Parish Church established a surpliced choir to accompany parish services, drawing explicitly on the musical traditions of the ancient choral foundations. Over the next century, the Leeds example proved immensely popular and influential for choirs in cathedrals, parish churches, and schools throughout the Anglican communion.

In , the cathedral choirs of Gloucester , Hereford , and Worcester combined to establish the annual Three Choirs Festival , the precursor for the multitude of summer music festivals since. By the 20th century, the choral tradition had become for many the most accessible face of worldwide Anglicanism — especially as promoted through the regular broadcasting of choral evensong by the BBC ; and also in the annual televising of the festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge.

Bibliography - Oxford Handbooks

Contrary to popular misconception, the British monarch is not the constitutional "head" but in law the " Supreme Governor " of the Church of England, nor does he or she have any role in provinces outside England. The role of the crown in the Church of England is practically limited to the appointment of bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, and even this role is limited, as the Church presents the government with a short list of candidates from which to choose. This process is accomplished through collaboration with and consent of ecclesial representatives see Ecclesiastical Commissioners.


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The monarch has no constitutional role in Anglican churches in other parts of the world, although the prayer books of several countries where she is head of state maintain prayers for her as sovereign. A characteristic of Anglicanism is that it has no international juridical authority.

All thirty-nine provinces of the Anglican Communion are autonomous, each with their own primate and governing structure. These provinces may take the form of national churches such as in Canada, Uganda, or Japan or a collection of nations such as the West Indies, Central Africa, or South Asia , or geographical regions such as Vanuatu and Solomon Islands , etc. Within these Communion provinces may exist subdivisions, called ecclesiastical provinces , under the jurisdiction of a metropolitan archbishop.

All provinces of the Anglican Communion consist of dioceses , each under the jurisdiction of a bishop. In the Anglican tradition, bishops must be consecrated according to the strictures of apostolic succession , which Anglicans consider one of the marks of Catholicity. Apart from bishops, there are two other orders of ordained ministry: deacon and priest. No requirement is made for clerical celibacy , though many Anglo-Catholic priests have traditionally been bachelors. Because of innovations that occurred at various points after the latter half of the 20th century, women may be ordained as deacons in almost all provinces, as priests in some, and as bishops in a few provinces.

Anglican religious orders and communities, suppressed in England during the Reformation, have re-emerged, especially since the midth century, and now have an international presence and influence. Government in the Anglican Communion is synodical , consisting of three houses of laity usually elected parish representatives , clergy, and bishops. National, provincial, and diocesan synods maintain different scopes of authority, depending on their canons and constitutions. Anglicanism is not congregational in its polity: it is the diocese, not the parish church, which is the smallest unit of authority in the church.

See Episcopal polity. The Archbishop of Canterbury has a precedence of honour over the other primates of the Anglican Communion, and for a province to be considered a part of the communion means specifically to be in full communion with the see of Canterbury — though this principle is currently subject to considerable debate, especially among those in the so-called Global South, including American Anglicans. Rowan Williams , the Archbishop of Canterbury from to , was the first archbishop appointed from outside the Church of England since the Reformation: he was formerly the Archbishop of Wales.

As "spiritual head" of the Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury maintains a certain moral authority , and has the right to determine which churches will be in communion with his see. He hosts and chairs the Lambeth Conferences of Anglican Communion bishops, and decides who will be invited to them. He also hosts and chairs the Anglican Communion Primates' Meeting and is responsible for the invitations to it. He acts as president of the secretariat of the Anglican Communion Office and its deliberative body, the Anglican Consultative Council.

The Anglican Communion has no international juridical organisation. All international bodies are consultative and collaborative, and their resolutions are not legally binding on the autonomous provinces of the Communion. There are three international bodies of note. Like the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches, the Anglican Communion maintains the threefold ministry of deacons , presbyters usually called " priests " , and bishops.

Bishops, who possess the fullness of Christian priesthood, are the successors of the Apostles. Primates , archbishops, and metropolitans are all bishops and members of the historical episcopate who derive their authority through apostolic succession — an unbroken line of bishops that can be traced back to the 12 apostles of Jesus. Bishops are assisted by priests and deacons. Most ordained ministers in the Anglican Communion are priests, who usually work in parishes within a diocese.


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Priests are in charge of the spiritual life of parishes and are usually called the rector or vicar.