Church of Sweden

​New proposal for the Book of Worship to be circulated for comment in spring 2016

Press Release   •   Dec 16, 2015 13:00 GMT

The Book of Worship is a book that includes the orders of service used in the Church of Sweden. The new revised proposal has a special focus on children and young people. Photo: Magnus Aronson/IKON

The Central Board of the Church of Sweden today decided to circulate the revised proposal for the new Book of Worship from 1 January to 15 May. This means that the Church’s parishes can start using the 2016 proposal for the new book as of January. All of the Church of Sweden’s Parochial Church Councils, Diocesan Boards and Chapters are among those who will receive the new proposal to comment on.

The Book of Worship for the Church of Sweden contains the orders of service for various kinds of services and includes prayers and other texts as well as music.

“Celebrating services of worship forms a central part of Church and parish life. That’s why it is a major event when we amend the Book of Worship – it doesn’t happen particularly frequently. The fact that the Central Board is now distributing the revised proposal for comment is a key milestone in this work,” says Bishop Per Eckerdal, vice chair of the steering group for the work on the Book of Worship.

“The proposal now ready for circulation has been thoroughly revised. I am especially pleased that it will be distributed so widely. It is important that the Book of Worship is developed with a high degree of involvement from the parishes in the Church of Sweden,” says Bishop Per Eckerdal.

Perspective of children and young people
The revised proposal is a reworking of the 2012 proposal, which was tested in parishes over the course of one church year (from the first Sunday in Advent in 2012 to the Sunday before Advent in 2013). The proposal was comprehensively reworked in terms of theology, wording and music on the basis of the 636 comments received as feedback in February 2014.

“The details include how the Trinity of God is expressed, or texts about Jesus Christ. The wording of all the texts has been reviewed and changes were made to details such as the prayer of confession asking for forgiveness, prayers of intercession, Eucharistic prayers and prayers in the Baptism service,” says priest and researcher Boel Hössjer Sundman, who is on the project management team.

The revision work has focused in particular on the usability of the proposed Book of Worship from the perspective of children and young people.

“This includes greater flexibility in celebrating services of worship, not least with young children,” says priest Ingegerd Sjölin, theological secretary on the project management team. The Baptism service has been revised, and the opportunity for confirmation candidates to take part in the confirmation service has been strengthened. The music has also been revised to strengthen congregations’ singing with children, for example through alternate (antiphonal) singing and “imitation”, known as responsorial singing.

Music in the Book of Worship
The musical revision has created greater scope for the traditions and situations of the parishes. For example, this means greater flexibility in the choice of hymns for funeral services and Baptism services.

One new feature is the possibility of using music not included in the Book of Worship; this was requested in several comments to the earlier proposal.

“This enables more variation and the use of additional musical genres. By other music we do not just mean relatively new liturgical music, it can also consist of Gregorian chants or other early music,” says Henrik Tobin, music expert on the project management team.

Those who will receive the new proposal for comment will also have Gudstjänstmusik A till E (music for services of worship A to E) as audio files to help them. The files will be published on the Book of Worship website kyrkohandbokswebben (in Swedish), which also includes the proposed Book of Worship in full.

“As regards the well-known liturgical music, we have aimed to not jeopardise forms and expressions that currently work well in the Church of Sweden’s parishes. This is why no sweeping changes have been made in this respect; instead the focus has been on measures that facilitate the practical usability of the material,” says Henrik Tobin.

Read more (in Swedish) about the work on the new Book of Worship here


Period for circulation and comments: 1 January to 15 May 2016. The revised proposal is being sent out to all those invited to comment: all Parochial Church Councils, Chapters and Diocesan Boards as well as more than 40 other groups, and the proposal will also be published in full on the Book of Worship website kyrkohandbokswebben (in Swedish).

It will also be possible to listen to recorded parts of Gudstjänstmusik A till E (music for services of worship A to E) on the website.

Following the comments period, an analysis of the comments submitted will take place and the proposal will be revised accordingly during the autumn of 2016 and spring of 2017. A written communication proposing that a new Book of Worship be approved will then be issued by the Central Board of the Church of Sweden in June 2017; this will be addressed by the General Synod that same autumn.

If the General Synod approves the new Book of Worship, it can be brought into use in 2018, possibly at Easter.