A collaborative work of art in action: the 1979 American Book of Common Prayer, Rite II.
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Nobles, Heidi Gabrielle.
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In his book, Art in Action, Nicholas Wolterstorff argues that a work of art can only truly be understood within the context of its action. This paper presents the Eucharistic Rite II of the 1979 American Book of Common Prayer as a work of complex and aesthetically engaging literary art. Yet while Rite II offers plenty of aesthetic appeal, the text's greater significance comes from its liturgical identity as fundamentally active: Rite II refuses to stand solely as an object of aesthetic contemplation; rather, it demands that its readers respond to it in action, and it participates in its work alongside its readers. The key to Rite II's action lies in the collaboration between the text and its readers, for the two parties come together to perform work beyond themselves: they join in prayer to bring themselves and the world into communion with God through adoration, intercession and personal transformation.