Wednesday 30 June 2021

Alternative Service Book Amnesty

The periods of semi-lockdown are tricky, aren't they? You can do all sorts of things, but only a bit. With the result, during the periods of semi-lockdown, a lot of church wardens in the Church of England have been doing a lot of clearing out of old cupboards and bookshelves.

And what they've been finding, under piles of copies of Hymns for Today's Church, Hymns for Tomorrow's Church, Hymns for Yesterday's Church, congregation members who were forgotten after the service before the first lockdown and what have you, are a number of copies of the Alternative Service Book that is best described as approaching "lots".

Angel made out of Prayer Book
And it's a funny thing, the ASB. At the time hailed as the most exciting thing since vanilla blancmange, it is now a criminal offence to conduct an ASB-based service, punishable with either 10 years in prison or a transfer to a 15-parish benefice in Worcestershire.

It's a real problem, isn't it? I mean, the temptation to get back to Eucharistic Prayer 4 is going to be high. And it's so Alternative and not common. But it's illegal. And if you just leave them gathering any more dust, there is a real danger that your church will attract the ASB Dust Weevil. And you can say goodbye to your marble memorials if that happens.

But you can't dump them in landfill. Then, given ASBs contain a lot of words of the actual Bible, you might really not want to burn them. And you can't give them to your local Oxfam shop, no matter how much you try to bribe them. They learned their lesson after the Woking store exploded from the sheer pressure of ASBs they'd accepted and couldn't sell on. And they will never be of historical interest. 

But the solution is at hand. The Beaker Folk ASB Amnesty. Stick your ASBs in a cardboard box. Print off the courier label (only £5.99 for delivery) from the Beakernet. Give them to Pavel, the Hermes delivery driver who seems to cover the whole of England.

Give us a few months and the Little Pebbles will have turned them into a host of angels like this. The good news, at least it will give them something to do. Half of them are constantly isolating because Covid anyway, and we have a theory that all the dust off all those old ASBs will boost their immune systems.

It's gonna be a great display come Christmas!

(Prayer book angel courtesy of @thesparklyrev)


  1. we carried ob using the ASB for years after it expired, because we didn't think it would be fair on our blind Lay Reader to expect him to learn a new version of Morning Prayer

  2. For someone like me who has a few copies of the BCP with another one in the post. It seems a shame that I don't possess a copy of the ASB. I recall visiting a church a year or so ago, where the only service book on display was the ASB, no BCP or Common Worship in sight. I wondered how the criminalisation has passed them by?

    Some parishes proudly proclaim that they are "Prayer Book" and that is perfectly legal as in Some places the "Sarum Missal" (particularly in Salisbury Cathedral, but this interim version between BCP and CW is not permitted for use. Is the CofE determined to pollute the Environment with them, while killing more trees by printing thousand of BCP and CW annually? I might also mention the wholesale printing of service sheets for every single service in the current pandemic. What I would like to see is every church goer having access to an electronic device on entry to a church which contains every single authorised or heritage Prayers books, bible versions and service sheets for all services, including the occasional offices and all available Hymn Books. This would allow everyone to use whichever is preferred in a particular church of any tradition to stop killing trees. It could even include the Roman Missal (in various translations) for the more daring fraternity of the CofE who use it. The American BCP could be used on 4th July so that prayers for the President of the USA could be used in services. Just think how many trees would be saved and it could possibly stop climate change in its tracks.


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