Where did the contemporary Lord’s Prayer come from that now is a part of the Book of Common Prayer?
In 1969 an independent ecumenical organization established the International Consultation on English Texts (ICET) to promote common liturgical texts for ecumenical use. The ICET published “Prayers We Have in Common” in 1970. It promoted two tracts. The first section addressed the Lord’s Prayer, Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, Gloria and Sanctus. The second section contained the Preface Dialog, Agnus Dei and Te Deum. The first section had been discussed for a considerable amount of time and therefore were agreed upon by the ICET and presented to the churches for adoption. Eventually all of these were included in the next publication in 1971. Further revisions were made in the ICET’s final publication in 1975. Most of the major churches accepted these revisions except for the Lord’s Prayer. The ICET disbanded in 1975.
Ten years later, the English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC) was formed. This was a group of national associations of ecumenical liturgists from the English-speaking world. Their purpose is to promote common liturgical and Biblical texts for use by all English language churches.
The ELLC published “Praying Together” in 1988. Contents include: Lord’s Prayer, Kyrie Eleison, Gloria in Excelsis, Nicene Creed, Apostles’ Creed, Sursum Corda, Sanctus and Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Gloria Patri, Te Deum Laudamus, Benedictus, Magnificat, and Nunc Dimittis. These English translations were accepted by the Presbyterian Church (USA), Methodist Church of Great Britain, Anglican Church of Ireland. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s “Evangelical Lutheran Worship Book” © 2006 uses the ELLC texts. The 1979 edition of the ECUSA’s “Book of Common Prayer” contains both the traditional and contemporary Lord’s Prayer (ELLC).
The ELLC along with the North American Consultation on Common Texts developed the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible which was released in 1994. The NRSV is used by both the ECUSA and ELCA.
This is how the contemporary form of the Lord’s Prayer has come to be. It really isn’t all that new since it was first introduced nearly 53 years ago. Just as we sometimes complain about not knowing a new hymn. Remember old favorites were new at one time. They didn’t always become “instant hits” but would become part of our “repertoire” over time with practice and repetition. So too, with words that may seem unfamiliar at first, become part of tradition over time.
No matter how one says the Lord’s Prayer. Hear the words with your heart and mind. Treasure them – for it is a complete prayer, given in a variety of translations but first provided to us by Jesus who taught his disciples to pray:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.