A Service of the Word is the result of careful thinking
about a new approach to Sunday worship.

Sunday is the weekly festival of the Resurrection of Christ.
It is the day when the people of God meet to celebrate the
presence of the Risen Jesus who promised to be "where two or
three are gathered together" in his Name.

It has become widely recognized that there are occasions
when the prescribed services of Morning and Evening Prayer
or Holy Communion may not meet the needs of a particular
congregation. There have been experiments with less formal
orders of service variously called "family" or "all-age"
services and in some places "evangelistic" services to which
members of congregations invite friends who may have little
Christian commitment.

This booklet contains:
        a.      A basic structure for all such services.
        b.      Four examples of working out that structure which may be
used on their own, entitled Forms A, B, C and D. These may be reproduced 
for congregational use as they stand by photocopying or other methods. 
        c.      A selection of Resource material which may be used to 
work out other forms based on the Structure.

THE STRUCTURE has four sections:
        1 THE 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.

        2 THE 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 in "prayer book" versions,
enables the congregation to interact with the Readings.
Periods of silence also help this interaction. The use of
Scripture Songs ("canticles") is recommended.

        3 THE 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.

        4 The service ends with THE DISMISSAL. Either a
Dismissal Prayer or a Blessing can be followed by a final

It will be seen that A Service of the Word represents a
different approach to Sunday worship from Morning or Evening
Prayer. There are similarities to those services in that the
Reading of Scripture and its exposition are central.  A
Service of the Word is designed for worship when a wide
spectrum of ages is expected to be represented in the
congregation.  However, it is not a "children's" service.
Even the simplest working of the structure must allow and
encourage adults to worship. The pattern of Form C is
perhaps the most "child-friendly" while the pattern of Form
B can easily be led by a Reader or by a Deacon. Form D is a
further alternative for evening worship on a Sunday or at a

With the permission of the Ordinary the Preparation and the
Ministry of the Word (provided a Gospel Reading is included)
with suitable intercessions might also be used to take the
place of all that precedes the Peace in the Alternative
Prayer Book Order for Holy Communion.


1 It is important to have a firm beginning to the service.
It is not recommended that a service based on this Structure
begin with a processional hymn but rather that the
congregation, ministers and the choir should come to their
places and then the service begin with a GREETING /
INTRODUCTION. There may be occasions when a hymn may be a
suitable Introduction. It cannot be emphasised too strongly
that the choice of hymns in this section is critical.

2 PENITENCE will normally be expressed in the Preparation.
Several approaches to penitence are included. Among these
are the Morning Prayer confession from Alternative Prayer
Book, an American responsive confession, and a
newly-composed prayer, which is believed to be realistically

3 The ACCLAMATION is more significant than the "O Lord, open
our lips...." of Morning and Evening Prayer. In Form A it is
a development of the notes of God's majesty and love that
derives from the GREETING and INTRODUCTION. In Form B it is
a way of receiving the assurance of forgiveness.  It is a
section where traditional elements like the Sursum Corda and
Sanctus, as well as Canticles such as Gloria in Excelsis
might be included.

4 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 should be introduced with a
"one-line" bidding, deriving from the central thrust of the
prayer. For example: the Minister says, "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.
The full ending ( see Resources) may be added.  Additional
dignity may be given to the Collect if it is sung or

5 PSALMS and what are entitled SCRIPTURE SONGS are vital
components of the Service.  Metrical versions of some Psalms
are to be found in Irish Church Praise and in Church Hymnal.
Other sources of psalmody and different ways of using it can
be explored. A version of Psalm 98 (Cantate Domino) has been
included in Form D.

6 In most workings out of the Structure there should be at
least two READINGS from the Bible. Normally the Sunday
lectionary will determine the selection. On occasion it is
recognized that there may be only one READING and that it
might be presented in dramatised form. The book "A
Dramatised Bible", published by the Bible Society, suggests
possible ways in which this may be done.  A variety of ways
of ending readings and suggestions of what should
immediately follow are given in the four Forms and in the
Resources.  These include the use of silence, singing or a
BIBLICAL RESPONSORY.  There is a note below about the way in
which Biblical Responsories can be constructed, as well as
an indication of where examples can be found.

7 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.
Apart from the legal consideration it was not considered
that to describe this section as "an address" or "a talk"
was more satisfactory.

8 When appropriate the SERMON may be followed by a hymn. An
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH is regarded as essential. As well as
the recognized creeds several other Affirmations of Faith
have been provided, including two examples of the use of
scriptural "credal" passages.  On some occasions it might be
deemed suitable for an act of penitence to precede the

9 Some alternative approaches to our giving of money are
suggested in the OFFERING section of the Response.
Collections are almost always taken up. Dialogues for use
before the collection begins and several prayers for use at
the dedication of the gifts are provided.  It is recommended
that the prayer, "Lord, yours is the greatness ..." should
be restricted to use at the Eucharist.

10 A number of approaches to the PRAYERS of intercession and
thanksgiving is possible. The note, J.2, in "Resources"
highlights this.  Often it may be appropriate for the
congregation to stand for the Intercessions and

11 The section containing the PRAYERS should conclude with a
GENERAL COLLECT. It is hoped that these prayers may become
familiar and form part of people's personal praying.

12 The climax of the PRAYERS, indeed of the whole Response,
is the LORD'S PRAYER, with an appropriate introduction. The
congregation should be encouraged to stand for this. It
should not be followed by the Grace.

13 Just as it was necessary to have a firm beginning to the
service there has to be a clear ending or Dismissal. In the
Forms different ways of achieving this are suggested. In
Form A there is a congregational "leave taking" prayer and
the Blessing (note the response to each petition of the
Blessing). In Form B there is an ascription, followed by a
commendation and a final salutation. There is also a Celtic
dismissal based on St. Patrick's Breastplate in Form C.  The
service should end with the Dismissal.  If a Recessional
Hymn is customary it is better for this to precede the
Blessing and final salutation.

14 In working out other forms of A Service of the Word in
addition to those provided here care should be taken to see
that a responsive confession and a litany of intercession/
thanksgiving are not used in the same Form.

16 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 time.

2       A verse of scripture is read by the Minister.
                A different but complementary verse is
spoken by the Congregation.  Another verse is spoken by the
                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).