The Presidential Address begins with a useful resume of the history of service books in the Scottish Church. It traces provision from the Book of Common Prayer, through Knox, the Westminster Directory, to Eugologion, noting en route the work of the UF Church, to the 1940 Common Order. Baird was clear that the Church was at no time laying down what must be said in worship but was rather showing what sort of services the Church approves. He refers to the breadth of its acceptance across the English speaking world, but is not uncritical of some of its content. Inevitably, one feels, some of his reservations are personal though he does plead that prayer language should be accessible to the worshipper. Nevertheless, he finds, as many of us do, that it is generally easier to criticise wording in liturgy than it is to find suitable alternatives. He addresses lectionaries and their use, and with particular reference to the one here compiled.
The number and the form of services for Holy Communion are considered with some pertinent insights.
He concludes by expressing relative satisfaction with the volume in spite of the shortcomings to which he alludes.Perhaps his most telling comment comes in the last paragraph in which he reminds his hearers/readers that in the early Church it appears that everyone in the congregation ‘assisted’ in the services. Our real aim, he says, and that of the Society, should be not to make the services more aesthetically pleasing, but rather to make them services which will hold the imagination of all who take part.