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The Book of Common Prayer is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by the Continuing Anglican, "Anglican realignment" and other Anglican churches. The original book, published in 1549 (Church of England 1957), in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English Reformation following the break with Rome. Prayer books, unlike books of prayers, contain the words of structured (or liturgical) services of worship. The work of 1549 was the first prayer book to include the complete forms of service for daily and Sunday worship in English. It contained Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, the Litany, and Holy Communion and also the occasional services in full: the orders for Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, 'prayers to be said with the sick' and a Funeral service. It also set out in full the "propers" (that is the parts of the service which varied week by week or, at times, daily throughout the Church's Year): the collects and the epistle and gospel readings for the Sunday Communion Service. Old Testament and New Testament readings for daily prayer were specified in tabular format as were the Psalms; and canticles, mostly biblical, that were provided to be said or sung between the readings (Careless 2003, p. 26).
The 1549 book was soon succeeded by a more reformed revision in 1552 under the same editorial hand, that of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. It was used only for a few months, as after Edward VI's death in 1553, his half-sister Mary I restored Roman Catholic worship. She herself died in 1558, and in 1559 Elizabeth I reintroduced the 1552 book with a few modifications to make it acceptable to more traditionally minded worshippers, notably the inclusion of the words of administration from the 1549 Communion Service alongside those of 1552.
In 1604, James I ordered some further changes, the most significant of these being the addition to the Catechism of a section on the Sacraments. Following the tumultuous events leading to and including the English Civil War, another major revision was published in 1662 (Church of England 1662). That edition has remained the official prayer book of the Church of England, although in the 21st century, alternative provision under the title Common Worship has largely displaced the Book of Common Prayer at the main Sunday worship service of most English parish churches.
A Book of Common Prayer with local variations is used in churches inside and outside the Anglican Communion in over 50 different countries and in over 150 different languages (Careless 2003, p. 23). In many parts of the world, other books have replaced it in regular weekly worship.
Traditional English Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian prayer books have borrowed from the Book of Common Prayer and the marriage and burial rites have found their way into those of other denominations and into the English language. Like the Authorized King James Bible and the works of Shakespeare, many words and phrases from the Book of Common Prayer have entered common parlance.
- 1 Full name
- 2 History
- 3 In the Anglican Communion
- 3.1 Africa
- 3.2 Asia
- 3.3 Europe
- 3.4 Oceania
- 3.5 North and Central America
- 4 Roman Catholic adaptations
- 5 Religious influence
- 6 Literary influence
- 7 Copyright status
- 8 See also
- 9 Editions
- 10 Notes
- 11 Footnotes
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
The full name of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church according to the use of the Church of England together with the Psalter or Psalms of David pointed as they are to be sung or said in churches; and the form and manner of making, ordaining, and consecrating of bishops, priests, and deacons.
The forms of parish worship in the late medieval church in England, which followed the Latin Roman Rite, varied according to local practice. By far the most common form, or "use", found in Southern England was that of Sarum (Salisbury). There was no single book; the services that would be provided by the Book of Common Prayer were to be found in the Missal (the Eucharist), the Breviary (daily offices), Manual (the occasional services of Baptism, Marriage, Burial etc.), and Pontifical (services appropriate to a bishop—Confirmation, Ordination) (Harrison & Sansom 1982, p. 29). The chant (plainsong, plainchant) for worship was contained in the Roman Gradual for the Mass and in the Antiphoner for the offices. The Book of Common Prayer has never contained prescribed music or chant; however, John Merbecke produced his Booke of Common Praier noted in 1550 which set what would have been the proper of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, etc.) in the new BCP to simple plainchant inspired by Sarum Use. The work of producing a liturgy in the English language books was largely done by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, starting cautiously in the reign of Henry VIII, and then more radically under his son Edward VI. In his early days Cranmer was somewhat conservative: an admirer, if a critical one, of John Fisher. It may have been his visit to Germany in 1532 (where he secretly married) which began the change in his outlook. Then in 1538, as Henry began diplomatic negotiations with Lutheran princes, Cranmer came face to face with a Lutheran embassy (MacCulloch 1996, p. 215). The Exhortation and Litany, the earliest English-language service of the Church of England, was the first overt manifestation of his changing views. It was no mere translation from the Latin: its Protestant character is made clear by the drastic reduction of the place of saints, compressing what had been the major part into three petitions (Procter & Frere 1965, p. 31). Published in 1544, it borrowed greatly from Martin Luther's Litany and Myles Coverdale's New Testament and was the only service that might be considered to be "Protestant" to be finished within the lifetime of King Henry VIII.
Prayer Books of Edward VI
It was only on Henry's death in 1547 and the accession of Edward VI that revision could proceed faster. Cranmer finished his work on an English Communion rite in 1548, obeying an order of Convocation of the previous year that communion was to be given to the people as both bread and wine. The ordinary Roman Rite of the Mass had made no provision for any congregation present to receive communion in both species. So, Cranmer composed in English an additional rite of congregational preparation and communion (based on the form of the Sarum rite for Communion of the Sick), to be undertaken immediately following the communion, in both kinds, of the priest.
Further developed, and fully translated into English, this Communion service was included, one year later, in 1549, in a full prayer book, set out with daily offices, readings for Sundays and Holy Days, the Communion Service, Public Baptism, of Confirmation, of Matrimony, The Visitation of the Sick, At a Burial and the Ordinal (added in 1550) (Gibson 1910). The Preface to this edition, which contained Cranmer's explanation as to why a new prayer book was necessary, began: "There was never any thing by the wit of man so well devised, or so sure established, which in continuance of time hath not been corrupted." Although the work is commonly attributed to Cranmer, its detailed origins are obscure (Procter & Frere 1965, p. 45) (MacCulloch 1996, p. 414). A group of bishops and divines met first at Chertsey and then at Windsor in 1548, drawn from both conservatives and reformers, agreed only "the service of the church ought to be in the mother tongue" (Procter & Frere 1965, p. 47). Cranmer collected the material from many sources; even the opening of Preface (above) was borrowed (MacCulloch 1996, p. 225). He borrowed much from German sources, particularly from work commissioned by Hermann von Wied, Archbishop of Cologne; and also from Osiander (to whom he was related by marriage) (MacCulloch 1996, p. 414). The Church Order of Brandenberg and Nuremberg was partly the work of the latter. Many phrases are characteristic of the German reformer Martin Bucer, or of the Italian Peter Martyr, (who was staying with Cranmer at the time of the finalising of drafts), or of his chaplain, Thomas Becon. However, to Cranmer is "credited the overall job of editorship and the overarching structure of the book" including the systematic amendment of his materials to remove any idea that human merit contributed to their salvation (MacCulloch 1996, p. 417).
The Communion service of 1549 maintained the format of distinct rites of consecration and communion, that had been introduced the previous year; but with the Latin rite of the Mass (chiefly following the familiar structure in the Use of Sarum), translated into English. By outwardly maintaining familiar forms, Cranmer hoped to establish the practice of weekly congregational communion, and included exhortations to encourage this; and instructions that communion should never be received by the priest alone. This represented a radical change from late medieval practice—whereby the primary focus of congregational worship was taken to be attendance at the consecration, and adoration of the elevated consecrated host. In late medieval England, congregations regularly received communion only at Easter; and otherwise individual lay people might expect to receive communion only when gravely ill, or in the form of a Nuptial Mass on being married.
Cranmer's work of simplification and revision was also applied to the Daily Offices, which were to become Morning, and Evening Prayer; and which he hoped would also serve as a daily form of prayer to be used by the Laity, thus replacing both the late medieval lay observation of the Latin Hours of the Virgin, and its English equivalent, the Primer. This simplification was anticipated by the work of Cardinal Francis Quiñones, a Spanish Franciscan, in his abortive revision of the Roman Breviary published in 1537 (Procter & Frere 1965, p. 27). Cranmer took up Quiñones's principle that everything should be sacrificed to secure continuity in singing the Psalter and reading the Bible. His first draft, produced during Henry's reign, retained the traditional seven distinct Canonical hours of Office prayer; but in his second draft, while he retained the Latin, he consolidated these into two (Procter & Frere 1965, p. 34). The 1549 book then dispensed with the Latin, and with all non-biblical readings; and established a rigorously biblical cycle of readings for Morning and Evening Prayer (set according to the calendar year, rather than the ecclesiastical year) and a Psalter to be read consecutively throughout each month. He provided that the New Testament (other than the Book of Revelation) be read through three times in a year, while the Old Testament, including the Apocrypha would be read through once. Of the set canticles, only the Te Deum was retained of the non-biblical material.
Introduced on Whitsunday 1549, after considerable debate and revision in Parliament—but there is no evidence that it was ever submitted to either Convocation—it was said to have pleased neither reformers nor their opponents, indeed the Catholic Bishop Gardiner could say of it was that it "was patient of a catholic interpretation". It was clearly unpopular in the parishes of Devon and Cornwall where, along with severe social problems, its introduction was one of the causes of the "commotions", or rebellions in the summer of that year, partly because many Cornish people lacked sufficient English to understand it (Duffy (b) 2003, pp. 131ff),(Caraman 1994). [It appears that it was far less significant in the other "commotions" in the Home Counties and the "Eastern Rebellion".](MacCulloch 1996, pp. 431ff) Particularly unpopular was the banning of processions and the sending out of commissioners to enforce the new requirements. There was widespread opposition to the introduction of regular congregational Communion, partly because the extra costs of bread and wine that would fall on the parish; but mainly out of an intense resistance to undertaking in regular worship, a religious practice previously associated with marriage or illness.
The 1549 book was, from the outset, intended only as a temporary expedient, as Bucer was assured having met Cranmer for the first time in April 1549: 'concessions...made both as a respect for antiquity and to the infirmity of the present age' as he wrote (MacCulloch 1996, p. 411). Both Bucer and Peter Martyr wrote detailed proposals for modification; Bucer's Censura ran to 28 chapters which influenced Cranmer significantly though he did not follow them slavishly and the new book was duly produced in 1552, making "fully perfect" what was already implicit (Procter & Frere 1965, p. 71) (MacCulloch 1996, p. 505). The policy of incremental reform was now unveiled: more Roman Catholic practices were now excised, as doctrines had in 1549 been subtly changed. Thus, in the Eucharist, gone were the words Mass and altar; the 'Lord have mercy' was interleaved into a recitation of the Ten Commandments and the Gloria was removed to the end of the service. The Eucharistic prayer was split in two so that Eucharistic bread and wine were shared immediately after the words of institution (This is my Body..This is my blood...in remembrance of me.); while its final element, the Prayer of Oblation, (with its reference to an offering of a 'Sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving'), was transferred, much changed, to a position after the priest and congregation had received Communion, and was made optional with an alternative prayer of thanksgiving provided. The Elevation of the Host had been forbidden in 1549; all manual acts were now omitted. The words at the administration of Communion which, in the prayer book of 1549 described the Eucharistic species as 'The body of our Lorde Jesus Christe...', 'The blood of our Lorde Jesus Christe...' were replaced with the words 'Take, eat, in remembrance that Christ died for thee..' etc. The Peace, at which in the early Church the congregation had exchanged a greeting, was removed altogether. Vestments such as the stole, chasuble and cope were no longer to be worn, but only a surplice. It was the final stage of the reformers' work of removing all elements of sacrificial offering from the Latin Mass; so that it should cease to be seen as a ritual at which the priest, on behalf of the faithful offered Christ's body and blood to God; and might rather be seen as a ritual whereby Christ shared his body and blood, according to a different sacramental theology, with the faithful.
Cranmer recognized that the 1549 rite of Communion had been capable of conservative misinterpretation and misuse in that the consecration rite might still be undertaken even when no congregational Communion followed. Consequently, in 1552 he thoroughly integrated Consecration and Communion into a single rite, with congregational preparation preceding the words of institution—such that it would not be possible to mimic the Mass with the priest communicating alone. He appears nevertheless, to have been resigned to being unable for the present to establish in parishes the weekly practice of receiving Communion; so he restructured the service so as to allow ante-Communion as a distinct rite of worship—following the Communion rite through the readings and offertory, as far as the intercessory "Prayer for the Church Militant".
Diarmaid MacCulloch suggests that Cranmer's own Eucharistic theology in these years approximated most closely to that of Heinrich Bullinger; but that he intended the Prayer Book to be acceptable to the widest range of Reformed Eucharistic belief, including the high sacramental theology of Bucer and John Calvin (MacCulloch 1996, p. 615). At the same time, however, Cranmer intended that constituent parts of the rites gathered into the Prayer Book should still, so far as possible, be recognizably derived from traditional forms and elements.
In the baptism service, the signing with the cross was moved until after the baptism and the exorcism, the anointing, the putting on of the chrysom robe and the triple immersion were omitted. Most drastic of all was the removal of the Burial service from church: it was to take place at the graveside (Spinks 1999, p. 187). In 1549, there had been provision for a Requiem (not so called) and prayers of commendation and committal, the first addressed to the deceased. All that remained was a single reference to the deceased, giving thanks for their delivery from 'the myseryes of this sinneful world'. This new Order for the Burial of the Dead was a drastically stripped-down memorial service designed to undermine definitively the whole complex of traditional beliefs about Purgatory and intercessory prayer (Procter & Frere 1965, p. 81) (Duffy (a) 1992, pp. 472–5).
In other respects, however, both the Baptism and Burial services imply a theology of salvation that accords notably less with Reformed teachings than do the counterpart passages in the Articles of Religion. In the Burial service, the possibility that a deceased person who has died in the faith may nevertheless not be counted amongst God's elect, is not entertained. In the Baptism service the priest explicitly pronounces the baptised infant as being now regenerate. In both cases, conformity with strict Reformed Protestant principles would have resulted in a conditional formulation. The continued inconsistency between the Articles of Religion and the Prayer Book remained a point of contention for Puritans; and would in the 19th century come close to tearing the Church of England apart, through the course of the Gorham judgement.
The Orders of Morning and Evening Prayer were extended by the inclusion of a penitential section at the beginning including a corporate confession of sin and a general absolution, although the text was printed only in Morning Prayer with rubrical directions to use it in the evening as well. The general pattern of Bible reading in 1549 was retained (as it was in 1559) except that distinct Old and New Testament readings were now specified for Morning and Evening Prayer on certain feast days. Following the publication of the 1552 Prayer Book, a revised English Primer was published in 1553; adapting the Offices and Morning and Evening Prayer, and other prayers, for lay domestic piety (MacCulloch 1996, p. 510).
English Prayer Book during the reign of Mary I
The 1552 book, however, was used only for a short period, as Edward VI had died in the summer of 1553 and, as soon as she could do so, Mary I, restored union with Rome. The Latin Mass was re-established, altars, roods and statues were reinstated; an attempt was made to restore the English Church to its Roman affiliation. Cranmer was punished for his work in the English Reformation by being burned at the stake on 21 March 1556. Nevertheless, the 1552 book was to survive. After Mary's death in 1558, it became the primary source for the Elizabethan Book of Common Prayer, with subtle if significant changes only.
Hundreds of Protestants fled into exile—establishing an English church in Frankfurt am Main. A bitter and very public dispute ensued between those, such as Edmund Grindal and Richard Cox, who wished to preserve in exile the exact form of worship of the 1552 Prayer Book; and those, such as John Knox the minister of the congregation, who regarded that book as still partially tainted with compromise. Eventually, in 1555, the civil authorities expelled Knox and his supporters to Geneva, where they adopted a new prayer book, The Form of Prayers, which derived principally from Calvin's French La Forme des Prières (Maxwell 1965, p. 5). Consequently, when the accession of Elizabeth I re-asserted the dominance of the reformed Church of England, there remained a significant body of more Protestant believers who were nevertheless hostile to the Book of Common Prayer. John Knox took The Form of Prayers with him to Scotland, where it formed the basis of the Scottish Book of Common Order.
1559 Prayer Book
The alterations, though minor, were however to cast a long shadow in the development of the Church of England. One, the "Ornaments Rubric", related to what clergy were to wear while conducting services. Instead of the banning of all vestments except the rochet for bishops and the surplice for parish clergy, it permitted "such ornaments...as were in use...in the second year of K. Edward VI". This allowed substantial leeway for more traditionalist clergy to retain some of the vestments which they felt were appropriate to liturgical celebration (at least until the Queen gave further instructions under the Act of Uniformity of 1559). It was to be the basis of claims in the 19th century that vestments such as chasubles, albs and stoles were legal. At Holy Communion, the words from the 1549 book, "the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ" etc. were combined with the words of Edward's second book, "Take eat in remembrance" "suggesting on the one hand a real presence to those who wished to find it and on the other, the communion as memorial only",(MacCulloch 1990, p. 27) i.e. an objective presence and subjective reception. The instruction to the congregation to kneel when receiving communion was retained; but the accompanying Black Rubric which denied any "real and essential presence" of Christ's flesh and blood, was removed to "conciliate traditionalists" and aligned with Queen's sensibilities, (MacCulloch & 1996 p.528). The removal of the Black Rubric complements the dual words of administration of communion and permits an action, kneeling to receive, which people were used to doing. "It was a masterpiece of theological engineering," that would set the tone for Anglicanism later.(MacCulloch 1990, p. 27) The conservative nature of these changes underlines the fact that reformed principles were by no means universally popular – a fact that the Queen herself recognised: her revived Act of Supremacy, giving her the ambiguous title of Supreme Governor, passed without difficulty but the Act of Uniformity 1559, giving statutory force to the Prayer Book, passed through the House of Lords by only three votes.(Starkey 2001, p. 284f) It made constitutional history in being imposed by the laity alone, as all the bishops, except those imprisoned by the Queen and unable to attend, voted against it (Guy 1988, p. 262). Convocation had made its position clear by affirming the traditional doctrine of the Eucharist, the authority of the Pope, and the reservation by divine law to clergy "of handling and defining concerning the things belonging to faith, sacraments, and discipline ecclesiastical" (Clarke 1954, p. 182).
After the several innovations and reversals, the new forms of worship took time to settle in. Among Cranmer's innovations, retained in the new book was the requirement of weekly Holy Communion services. In practice, as before the English Reformation, many received communion rarely, as little as once a year in some cases; George Herbert estimated it as no more than six times. (Marsh 1998, p. 50). Practice, however, varied from place to place: very high attendance at festivals was the order of the day in many parishes and in some regular communion was very popular, in other places families stayed away or sent "a servant to be the liturgical representative of their household." (Maltby 1998, p. 123) (Furlong 2000, p. 43). Few parish clergy were initially licensed to preach by the bishops; in the absence of a licensed preacher, Sunday services were required to be accompanied by reading one of the homilies written by Cranmer (Chapman 2006, p. 29). George Herbert was, however, not alone in his enthusiasm for preaching, which he regarded as one of the prime functions of a parish priest (Maltby 1998, p. 67). Music was much simplified and a radical distinction developed between, on the one hand, parish worship where only the metrical psalms of Sternhold and Hopkins might be sung and, on the other hand, worship in churches with organs and surviving choral foundations, where the music of John Marbeck and others was developed into a rich choral tradition (Procter & Frere 1965, p. 125) (Marsh 1998, p. 31). The whole act of parish worship might take well over two hours; and accordingly, churches were equipped with pews in which households could sit together (whereas in the medieval church, men and women had worshipped separately). Diarmaid MacCulloch describes the new act of worship as, "a morning marathon of prayer, scripture reading, and praise, consisting of mattins, litany, and ante-communion, preferably as the matrix for a sermon to proclaim the message of scripture anew week by week." (Furlong 2000, p. 43).
Many ordinary churchgoers—that is those who could afford a copy as it was expensive—would own a copy of the prayer book. Judith Maltby cites a story of parishioners at Flixton in Suffolk who brought their own prayer books to church in order to shame their vicar into conforming with it: they eventually ousted him (Maltby 1998, p. 44). Between 1549 and 1642, roughly 290 editions of the prayer book were produced (Maltby 1998, p. 24). Before the end of the English Civil War (1642-1651) and the introduction of the 1662 prayer book, something like a half a million prayer books are estimated to have been in circulation (Maltby 1998, p. 24).
A (re)translation into Latin of the 1559 Book of Common Prayer was made in the form of Walter Haddon's Liber Precum Publicarum of 1560. Its use was destined for the universities.
Changes in 1604
On Elizabeth's death in 1603, the 1559 book, substantially that of 1552 which had been regarded as offensive by some, such as Bishop Stephen Gardiner, as being a break with the tradition of the Western Church, had come to be regarded in some quarters as unduly Catholic. On his accession and following the so-called "Millenary Petition", James I called the Hampton Court Conference in 1604—the same meeting of bishops and Puritan divines that initiated the Authorized version of the Bible. This was in effect a series of two conferences: (i) between James and the bishops; (ii) between James and the Puritans on the following day. The Puritans raised four areas of concern: purity of doctrine; the means of maintaining it; church government; and the Book of Common Prayer. Here Confirmation, the cross in baptism, private baptism, the use of the surplice, kneeling for communion, reading the Apocrypha; and subscription to the BCP and Articles were all touched on. On the third day, after James had received a report back from the bishops and made final modifications, he announced his decisions to the Puritans and bishops.(Procter & Frere 1965, pp. 138–140)
The business of making the changes was then entrusted to a small committee of bishops and the Privy Council and, apart from tidying up details, this committee introduced into Morning and Evening Prayer a prayer for the Royal Family; added several thanksgivings to the Occasional Prayers at the end of the Litany; altered the rubrics of Private Baptism limiting it to the minister of the parish, or some other lawful minister, but still allowing it in private houses (the Puritans had wanted it only in the church); and added to the Catechism the section on the sacraments. The changes were put into effect by means of an explanation issued by James in the exercise of his prerogative under the terms of the 1559 Act of Uniformity and Act of Supremacy. (Procter & Frere 1965, pp. 140–143)
The accession of Charles I (1625–1649) brought about a complete change in the religious scene in that the new king used his supremacy over the established church "to promote his own idiosyncratic style of sacramental Kingship" which was "a very weird aberration from the first hundred years of the early reformed Church of England". He questioned "the populist and parliamentary basis of the Reformation Church" and unsettled to a great extent "the consensual accommodation of Anglicanism"(Davies 1992, p. 2,3) and this led to the Civil War and republican Commonwealth.
With the defeat of Charles I (1625–1649) in the Civil War, the Puritan pressure, exercised through a much-changed Parliament, had increased. Puritan-inspired petitions for the removal of the prayer book and episcopacy "root and branch" resulted in local disquiet in many places and, eventually, the production of locally organized counter petitions. The parliamentary government had its way but it became clear that the division was not between Catholics and Protestants, but between Puritans and those who valued the Elizabethan settlement. (Maltby 1998, p. 24). The 1604 book was finally outlawed by Parliament in 1645 to be replaced by the Directory of Public Worship, which was more a set of instructions than a prayer book. How widely the Directory was used is not certain; there is some evidence of its having been purchased, in churchwardens' accounts, but not widely. The Prayer Book certainly was used clandestinely in some places, not least because the Directory made no provision at all for burial services. Following the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the establishment of the Commonwealth under Lord Protector Cromwell, it would not be reinstated until shortly after the restoration of the monarchy to England.
- Christmas Day 1657. I went to London with my wife to celebrate Christmas Day... Sermon ended, as [the minister] was giving us the holy sacrament, the chapel was surrounded with soldiers, and all the communicants and assembly surprised and kept prisoners by them, some in the house, others carried away... These wretched miscreants held their muskets against us as we came up to receive the sacred elements, as if they would have shot us at the altar.
Changes made in Scotland
In 1557, the Scots Protestant lords had adopted the English Prayer Book of 1552, for reformed worship in Scotland. However, when John Knox returned to Scotland in 1559, he continued to use the Form of Prayer he had created for the English exiles in Geneva and, in 1564, this supplanted the Book of Common Prayer under the title of the Book of Common Order.
Following the accession of King James VI of Scotland to the throne of England his son, King Charles I, with the assistance of Archbishop Laud, sought to impose the prayer book on Scotland (Perry 1922). The book concerned was not, however, the 1559 book but very much that of 1549, the first book of Edward VI. First used in 1637, it was never accepted, having been violently rejected by the Scots. Following the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (including the English Civil War), the Church of Scotland was re-established on a presbyterian basis but by the Act of Comprehension 1690, the rump of Episcopalians were allowed to hold onto their benefices. For liturgy they looked to Laud's book and in 1724 the first of the "wee bookies" was published, containing, for the sake of economy, the central part of the Communion liturgy beginning with the offertory (Perry 1922, Chapter 4).
Between then and 1764, when a more formal revised version was published, a number of things happened which were to separate the Scottish Episcopal liturgy more firmly from either the English books of 1549 or 1559. First, informal changes were made to the order of the various parts of the service and inserting words indicating a sacrificial intent to the Eucharist; secondly, as a result of Bishop Rattray's researches into the liturgies of St James and St Clement, published in 1744, the form of the invocation was changed. These changes were incorporated into the 1764 book which was to be the liturgy of the Scottish Episcopal Church (until 1911 when it was revised) but it was to influence the liturgy of the Episcopal Church in the United States. A completely new revision was finished in 1929 and several alternative orders of the Communion service and other services have been prepared since then.
The 1662 Prayer Book was printed only two years after the restoration of the monarchy, following the Savoy Conference between representative Presbyterians and twelve bishops which was convened by Royal Warrant to "advise upon and review the Book of Common Prayer" (Procter & Frere 1965, p. 169,170). Attempts by the Presbyterians, led by Richard Baxter, to gain approval for an alternative service book failed. Their major objections (exceptions) were: firstly, that it was improper for lay people to take any vocal part in prayer (as in the Litany or Lord's Prayer), other than to say "amen"; secondly, that no set prayer should exclude the option of an extempore alternative from the minister; thirdly, that the minister should have the option to omit part of the set liturgy at his discretion; fourthly, that short collects should be replaced by longer prayers and exhortations; and fifthly, that all surviving "Catholic" ceremonial should be removed.(Harrison & Sansom 1982, p. 53)
The Savoy Conference ended in disagreement late in July 1661, but the initiative in prayer book revision had already passed to the Convocations and from there to Parliament.(Procter & Frere 1965, p. 192f) The Convocations made some 600 changes, mostly of details, which were "far from partisan or extreme".(Spurr 1991, p. 40) However, Edwards states that more of the changes suggested by high Anglicans were implemented (though by no means all (Edwards 1983, p. 312)) and Spurr comments that (except in the case of the Ordinal) the suggestions of the "Laudians" (Cosin and Matthew Wren) were not taken up possibly due to the influence of moderates such as Sanderson and Reynolds. For example, the inclusion in the intercessions of the Communion rite of prayer for the dead was proposed and rejected. The introduction of "Let us pray for the whole state of Christ's Church militant here in earth" remained unaltered and only a thanksgiving for those "departed this life in thy faith and fear" was inserted to introduce the petition that the congregation might be "given grace so to follow their good examples that with them we may be partakers of thy heavenly kingdom". Griffith Thomas commented that the retention of the words "militant here in earth" defines the scope of this petition: we pray for ourselves, we thank God for them, and adduces collateral evidence to this end.(Griffith Thomas 1963, pp. 508–521) Secondly, an attempt was made to restore the Offertory. This was achieved by the insertion of the words "and oblations" into the prayer for the Church and the revision of the rubric so as to require the monetary offerings to be brought to the table (instead of being put in the poor box) and the bread and wine placed upon the table. Previously it had not been clear when and how bread and wine got onto the altar. The so-called "manual acts", whereby the priest took the bread and the cup during the prayer of consecration, which had been deleted in 1552, were restored; and an "amen" was inserted after the words of institution and before communion, hence separating the connections between of consecration and communion which Cranmer had tried to make. After communion, the unused but consecrated bread and wine were to be reverently consumed in church rather than being taken away for the priest's own use. By such subtle means were Cranmer's purposes further confused, leaving it for generations to argue over the precise theology of the rite. One change made that constituted a concession to the Presbyterian Exceptions, was the updating and re-insertion of the so-called "Black Rubric", which had been removed in 1559. This now declared that kneeling in order to receive communion did not imply adoration of the species of the Eucharist nor "to any Corporal Presence of Christ's natural Flesh and Blood"—which, according to the rubric, were in heaven, not here.
Unable to accept the new book, 936 ministers were deprived. (Spurr 1991, p. 43: see[n 1] ) In effect, the 1662 Prayer Book marked the end of a period of just over 100 years, when a common form of liturgy served for almost all reformed public worship in England and the start of the continuing division between Anglicans and Nonconformists.(Edwards 1983, p. 313) The actual language of the 1662 revision was little changed from that of Cranmer. With two exceptions, some words and phrases which had become archaic were modernised; secondly, the readings for the epistle and gospel at Holy Communion, which had been set out in full since 1549, were now set to the text of the 1611 Authorized Version of the Bible. The Psalter, which had not been printed in the 1549, 1552 or 1559 books—was in 1662 provided in Miles Coverdale's translation from the Great Bible of 1538.
It was this edition which was to be the official Book of Common Prayer during the growth of the British Empire and, as a result, has been a great influence on the prayer books of Anglican churches worldwide, liturgies of other denominations in English, and of the English people and language as a whole.
Further attempts at revision
Between 1662 and the 19th century, further attempts to revise the Book in England stalled . On the death of Charles II, his brother James, a Roman Catholic, became James II. James wished to achieve toleration for those of his own Roman Catholic faith, whose practices were still banned. This, however, drew the Presbyterians closer to the Church of England in their common desire to resist 'popery'; talk of reconciliation and liturgical compromise was thus in the air. But with the flight of James in 1688 and the arrival of the Calvinist William of Orange the position of the parties changed. The Presbyterians could achieve toleration of their practices without such a right being given to Roman Catholics and without, therefore, their having to submit to the Church of England, even with a liturgy more acceptable to them. They were now in a much stronger position to demand changes that were ever more radical. John Tillotson, Dean of Canterbury pressed the king to set up a commission to produce such a revision (Fawcett 1973, p. 26). The so-called Liturgy of Comprehension of 1689, which was the result, conceded two thirds of the Presbyterian demands of 1661; but, when it came to convocation the members, now more fearful of William's perceived agenda, did not even discuss it and its contents were, for a long time, not even accessible (Fawcett 1973, p. 45). This work, however, did go on to influence the prayer books of many British colonies.
By the 19th century, pressures to revise the 1662 book were increasing. Adherents of the Oxford Movement, begun in 1833, raised questions about the relationship of the Church of England to the apostolic church and thus about its forms of worship. Known as Tractarians after their production of Tracts for the Times on theological issues, they advanced the case for the Church of England being essentially a part of the "Western Church", of which the Roman Catholic Church was the chief representative. The illegal use of elements of the Roman rite, the use of candles, vestments and incense – practices collectively known as Ritualism – had become widespread and led to the establishment of a new system of discipline, intending to bring the "Romanisers" into conformity, through the Public Worship Regulation Act 1874 (Carpenter 1933, p. 234). The Act had no effect on illegal practices: five clergy were imprisoned for contempt of court and after the trial of the much loved Bishop Edward King of Lincoln, it became clear that some revision of the liturgy had to be embarked upon (Carpenter 1933, p. 246).
One branch of the Ritualism movement argued that both "Romanisers" and their Evangelical opponents, by imitating, respectively, the Church of Rome and Reformed churches, transgressed the Ornaments Rubric of 1559 ("...that such Ornaments of the Church, and of the Ministers thereof, at all Times of their Ministration, shall be retained, and be in use, as were in this Church of England, by the Authority of Parliament, in the Second Year of the Reign of King Edward the Sixth"). These adherents of ritualism, among whom were Percy Dearmer and others, claimed that the Ornaments Rubric prescribed the ritual usages of the Sarum Rite with the exception of a few minor things already abolished by the early reformation.
Following a Royal Commission report in 1906, work began on a new prayer book. It took twenty years to complete, prolonged partly due to the demands of the First World War and partly in the light of the 1920 constitution of the Church Assembly, which "perhaps not unnaturally wished to do the work all over again for itself" (Neill 1960, p. 395).
In 1927, the work on a new version of the prayer book reached its final form. In order to reduce conflict with traditionalists, it was decided that the form of service to be used would be determined by each congregation. With these open guidelines, the book was granted approval by the Church of England Convocations and Church Assembly in July 1927. Since the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919 required measures affecting the Book of Common Prayer to be approved by Parliament before receiving royal assent, the measure authorising its use, together with an annexed copy (a "Deposited Book"), was submitted to Parliament. The House of Lords approved the Book by a large majority, but the corresponding resolution in the House of Commons was defeated by thirty-three votes on 15 December 1927 when the MPs William Joynson-Hicks and Rosslyn Mitchell "reached and inflamed all the latent Protestant prejudices in the House" and argued strongly against it on the grounds that the proposed book was "papistical", restored the Roman Mass and implied the doctrine of transubstantiation.
Early in 1928, a second measure, the Prayer Book Measure 1928, was introduced in the Church Assembly proposing to authorise the use of the "Deposited Book" with certain amendments which were set out in a schedule to the Measure. This Measure again was approved by large majorities in both the Convocations and the Church Assembly; but again failed to pass the House of Commons, being defeated by forty-six votes on 14 June 1928. Writing in 1947, Cyril Garbett comments:
"The House of Commons was within its constitutional rights in rejecting in a few hours the work of many anxious years. Nonconformist members and members from constituencies which would not have been affected by the Revised Book were only exercising their full legal rights in throwing out a Measure which was approved by the majority of English Members of Parliament. But whatever were the reasons behind the votes of the majority, the rejection of the Measures made it plain that the Church does not possess full spiritual freedom to determine its worship ..."(Garbett 1947, p. 194)
Stephen Neill points out that the Roman Catholic members of parliament abstained from voting.(Neill 1960, p. 397note)
In response to this rejection, the bishops issued a unanimous statement, asserting the Church of England's right to order its forms of worship and, in 1929, the Upper House of the Convocation of Canterbury resolved that bishops might approve the use of the 1928 book, notwithstanding the lack of parliamentary authority. It became common for prayer books to be printed with the 1662 and 1928 forms of service in parallel columns, although the legal basis of the revision remained unclear. The 1928 revised forms of Matrimony and Baptism were quite widely adopted, but those of other rites tended not to be; the consequence, in practice, being very wide variation in liturgical practice from parish to parish, with very few clergy adhering consistently to the strict observation of either the 1662 or the 1928 forms of worship.
The effect of the failure of the 1928 book was salutary: no further attempts were made to revise the Book of Common Prayer. Instead a different process, that of producing an alternative book, led to the publication of Series 1, 2 and 3 in the 1960s, the 1980 Alternative Service Book and subsequently to the 2000 Common Worship series of books. Both differ substantially from the Book of Common Prayer, though the latter includes in the Order Two form of the Holy Communion a very slight revision of the prayer book service, largely along the lines proposed for the 1928 Prayer Book. Order One follows the pattern of modern liturgical scholarship.
In the Anglican Communion
With British colonial expansion from the 17th century onwards, Anglicanism spread across the globe. The new Anglican churches used and revised the use of the Book of Common Prayer, until they, like the English church, produced prayer books which took into account the developments in liturgical study and practice in the 19th and 20th centuries which come under the general heading of the Liturgical Movement.
The Book of Common Prayer in Africa is the same as elsewhere. Each province or national church has its own signature which is put on the cover pages of the book as there are some words that differ from one province to another. In Yoruba, the Book is known as Iwe Adura ti gbogbo Ijo Anglikan.
In South Africa a Book of Common Prayer was "Set Forth by Authority for Use in the Church of the Province of South Africa" in 1954. This prayerbook is still in use in some churches Southern Africa, however it has been largely replaced by An Anglican Prayerbook -1989 and its translations to the other languages in use in Southern Africa.
China and Hong Kong
The Book of Common Prayer is called 公禱書 in Chinese (pinyin:Gong Dao Shu, Jyutping: Gung Tou Sy). The former dioceses in the now defunct Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui had their own Book of Common Prayer. The General Synod and the College of Bishops of Chung Hwa Sheng Kung Hui planned to publish a unified version for the use of all Anglican churches in China in 1949, which was the 400th anniversary of the first publishing of the Book of Common Prayer. After the communists took over mainland China, the Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao became independent of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui, and continued to use the edition issued in Shanghai in 1938 with a revision in 1959. This edition, also called the "Black-Cover Book of Common Prayer" 黑皮公禱書 because of its black cover, still remains in use after the establishment of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (Anglican province in Hong Kong). The language style of "Black-Cover Book of Common Prayer" is closer to Classical Chinese than contemporary Chinese.
In 1965, the Anglican Church of Korea produced a translation of the BCP into Korean and called it gong-do-gi-do-mun meaning "common prayers". In 1994, the prayers announced "allowed" by the 1982 Bishops Council of the Anglican Church of Korea was published in a second version of the Book of Common Prayers In 2004, the National Anglican Council published the third and the current Book of Common Prayers known as "seoung-gong-hwe gi-do-seo" or the "Anglican Prayers", including the Daily Masses, Special Masses, Baptism, Confirmation, Funeral Mass, Wedding Mass, Rite of Ordination Mass, and all of the other events the Anglican Church of Korea celebrates. The Diction of the books have changed from the 1965 version to the 2004 version. For example, the word "God" which used to be "Cheon-joo" was altered to "ha-nu-nim" according to the Public Christian translation. The Bible that the Anglican Church of Korea uses is the 1994 edition called the "gong-dong beon-yuk-seong-seo" or the Common Translation Bible.
The Church of South India was the first modern Episcopal uniting church, consisting as it did, from its foundation in 1947, at the time of Indian independence, of Anglicans, Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Reformed Christians. Its liturgy, from the first, combined the free use of Cranmer's language with an adherence to the principles of congregational participation and the centrality of the Eucharist, much in line with the Liturgical Movement. Because it was a minority church of widely differing traditions in a non-Christian culture (except in Kerala, where Christianity has a long history), practice varied wildly.
As the Philippines is connected to the worldwide Anglican Communion through the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, the main edition of the Book of Common Prayer in use throughout the islands is the same as that of the United States.
Aside from the American version and the newly published Philippine Book of Common Prayer, Filipino-Chinese congregants of Saint Stephen's Pro-Cathedral in the Diocese of the Central Philippines uses the English-Chinese Diglot Book of Common Prayer, published by the Episcopal Church of Southeast Asia.
The ECP has since published its own Book of Common Prayer upon gaining full autonomy on 1 May 1990. This version is notable for the inclusion of the Misa de Gallo, a popular Christmastide devotion amongst Filipinos that is a mostly Catholic custom.
William Bedell had undertaken an Irish translation of the Book of Common Prayer in 1606. An Irish translation of the revised prayer book of 1662 was effected by John Richardson (1664–1747) and published in 1712. It has been revised several times, and the present edition has been used since 2004.
An Act of Parliament passed in the year 1563, entitled “An Act for the Translating of the Bible and the Divine Service into the Welsh Tongue,” ordered that the Old and New Testament, together with the Book of Common Prayer, were to be translated into Welsh. A translation by Richard Davies, bishop of St David's and the scholar William Salesbury was published in 1567 by Humphrey Toy as Y Llyfr Gweddi Gyffredin. A new revision — based on the 1662 English revision and probably by George Griffith, Bishop of St Asaph - was published in 1664.
Until 1966, trials of new services began, the 1662 book and its Welsh equivalent continued to be used, even after the Church in Wales was disestablished in 1920. The present version was published in 1984 and is currently under revision.
Isle of Man
The first Manx translation of the Book of Common Prayer was made by Bishop John Phillips of Sodor and Man in 1610. A more successful "New Version" by Bishop Mark Hildesley (1698–1772) was in use until 1824 when English liturgy became universal on the island.
Aotearoa, New Zealand, Polynesia
The Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia authorised by General Synod in 1988 A New Zealand Prayer Book, He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa intended to serve the needs of New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and the Cook Island Anglicans. It includes passages in the Maori, Fijian, Tongan and English languages.
The Anglican Church of Australia, known officially, until 1981, as the Church of England in Australia and Tasmania, became self-governing in 1961. Its General Synod agreed that the Book of Common Prayer was to "be regarded as the authorised standard of worship and doctrine in this Church". In 1978, An Australian Prayer Book was produced, seeking to adhere to this principle, such that where the Liturgical Committee could not agree on a formulation, the words or expressions of the Book of Common Prayer were to be used (The Church of England in Australia Trust Corporation 1978). The result was conservative revision.
A Prayer Book for Australia, produced in 1995, departed from both the structure and wording of the Book of Common Prayer, prompting conservative reaction. Numerous objections were made and the notably conservative evangelical Diocese of Sydney drew attention to the loss of BCP wording and of an explicit "biblical doctrine of substitutionary atonement". The Diocese of Sydney has developed its own small prayer book, called Sunday Services, to supplement the existing prayer book and preserve the original theology which the Sydney diocese asserts has been changed.
North and Central America
The Anglican Church of Canada, which until 1955 was known as the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada or simply the Church of England in Canada, developed its first Book of Common Prayer separately from the English version in 1918, which received final authorization from General Synod on April 16, 1922. The revision of 1959 was much more substantial, bearing a family relationship to that of the abortive 1928 book in England. The language was conservatively modernized, and additional seasonal material was added. As in England, while many prayers were retained though the structure of the Communion service was altered: a Prayer of Oblation was added to the Eucharistic prayer after the 'words of institution', thus reflecting the rejection of Cranmer's theology in liturgical developments across the Anglican Communion. More controversially, the Psalter included in the book omitted certain sections, including the entirety of Psalm 58.[n 2] General Synod gave final authorization to the revision in 1962, to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. A French translation, Le Recueil des Prières de la Communauté Chrétienne, was published in 1967.
After a period of experimentation with the publication of various supplements, the Book of Alternative Services was published in 1985. This book (which owes much to Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and other sources) has widely supplanted the 1959 book, though the latter remains authorized. As in other places, there has been a reaction and the Canadian version of the Book of Common Prayer has found supporters.
The Book of Common Prayer has also been translated into these North American indigenous languages: Cowitchan, Cree, Haida, Ntlakyapamuk, Slavey, Eskimo-Aleut, Dakota, Delaware, Mohawk, Ojibwe.
Joseph Gilfillan was the chief editor of the 1911 Ojibwa edition of the Book of Common Prayer entitled Iu Wejibuewisi Mamawi Anamiawini Mazinaigun (Iw Wejibwewizi Maamawi-anami'aawini Mazina'igan) (Wohlers 2007, Chapter 68).
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The Episcopal Church separated itself from the Church of England in 1789, the first church in the USA having been founded in 1607.(Cross & Livingstone 1975) Its prayer book, published in 1790, had as its sources the 1662 English book and the 1764 Scottish Liturgy (see above) which Bishop Seabury of Connecticut had brought over following his consecration in Aberdeen in 1784, containing elements of each (Perry 1922). The preface to the 1789 Book of Common Prayer says, "this Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship...further than local circumstances require." There were some notable differences. For example, in the Communion service the prayer of consecration follows mainly the Scottish orders derived from 1549 (Shepherd 1965, 82) but the compilers also used materials derived from ancient liturgies especially Eastern Orthodox ones.(Shepherd 1965, 82) An epiclesis was included, as in the Scottish book, though modified to meet reformist objections. Overall, the book was modelled on the English Prayer Book, the Convention having resisted attempts at deletion and revision.(McGarvey & Gibson 1907) The Prayer of Consecration makes explicit sacrificial language, "with these thy holy gifts which we now offer unto Thee," which undoes Cranmer's rejection of the eucharist as a material sacrifice offered by the Church to God.
Further revisions occurred in 1892 and 1928, in which minor changes were made, removing, for instance, some of Cranmer's Exhortations and introducing such innovations as prayers for the dead.
In 1979, a more substantial revision was made. There were now two rites for the most common services, the first that kept most of the language of 1928, and the second using only contemporary language (some of it newly composed, and some adapted from the older language). Many changes were made in the rubrics and the shapes of the services, which were generally made for both the traditional and contemporary language versions. However, there was arguably a greater degree of continuity than was the case in England, which may account for the fact that all the books of the series, from 1790 to 1979 retain the same title. The 1979 book owes a good deal to the Liturgical Movement and to the 19th-century Catholic revival. Many traditionalists, both Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals, felt alienated by the theological changes made in the 1979 BCP, and in 1991 The Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, PA published a book entitled, the Anglican Service Book which is "a traditional language adaptation of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer together with the Psalter or Psalms of David and Additional Devotions." Books like this are allowed in the Episcopal Church because of a rubric in the 1979 Prayer Book which allows for the translation of the contemporary language into the traditional language of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.
Even so, the revision caused some controversy and in 2000, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church issued an apology to those "offended or alienated during the time of liturgical transition to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer." Use of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer is currently discouraged. Article X of the Canons of the Episcopal Church provides that "[t]he Book of Common Prayer, as now established or hereafter amended by the authority of this Church, shall be in use in all the Dioceses of this Church," which, of course, is a reference to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, but some parishes still use the 1928 book either regularly or occasionally, for pastoral sensitivity, for doctrinal reasons and for the beauty of its language.
The controversies surrounding the Book of Common Prayer contrasts with the Episcopal Church’s description of it as “the primary symbol of our unity.” Diverse members “come together” through “our common prayer.”
The Prayer Book Cross was erected in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park in 1894 as a gift from the Church of England. Created by Ernest Coxhead, it stands on one of the higher points in Golden Gate Park. It is located between John F. Kennedy Drive and Park Presidio Drive, near Cross Over Drive. This 57 ft (17 m) sandstone cross commemorates the first use of the Book of Common Prayer in California by Sir Francis Drake's chaplain on June 24, 1579.
Roman Catholic adaptations
In 2003, a Roman Catholic liturgical book, the Book of Divine Worship, was published in the United States. The book's development began in the early 1980s for former Anglicans within the Anglican Use parishes. It was published in a single volume, primarily for their own use, in 2003. The book is composed of material drawn from the proposed 1928 BCP, the 1979 Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America and the Roman Missal. Since 2011, the Book of Divine Worship has undergone additional revision to bring it more coherently in line with the language of the BCP, while also incorporating elements of the English Missal and the Anglican Missal. The updated edition was mandated for use in all personal ordinariates for former Anglicans from Advent 2013, although further revision is expected to incorporate most of the BCP propers as well.
The Book of Common Prayer has had a great influence on a number of other denominations. While theologically different, the language and flow of the service of many other churches owe a great debt to the prayer book. In particular, many Christian prayer books have drawn on the Collects for the Sundays of the Church Year—mostly freely translated or even "rethought" (Neill 1960, p. 69) by Cranmer from a wide range of Christian traditions, but including a number of original compositions—which are widely recognized as masterpieces of compressed liturgical construction.
John Wesley, an Anglican priest whose revivalist preaching led to the creation of Methodism wrote, "I believe there is no Liturgy in the world, either in ancient or modern language, which breathes more of a solid, scriptural, rational piety than the Common Prayer of the Church of England." Many Methodist churches in England and the United States continued to use a slightly revised version of the book for communion services well into the 20th century. In the United Methodist Church, the liturgy for Eucharistic celebrations is almost identical to what is found in the Book of Common Prayer, as are some of the other liturgies and services.
A unique variant was developed in 1785 in Boston, Massachusetts when the historic King's Chapel (founded 1686) left the Episcopal Church and became an independent Unitarian church. To this day, King's Chapel uniquely uses The Book of Common Prayer According to the Use in King's Chapel in its worship.
Together with the King James Authorized version of the Bible and the works of Shakespeare, the Book of Common Prayer has been one of the three fundamental underpinnings of modern English. As it has been in regular use for centuries, many phrases from its services have passed into the English, either as deliberate quotations or as unconscious borrowings. They are used in non-liturgical ways. For example, many authors have used quotes from the prayer book as titles for their books.
Some examples of well-known phrases from the Book of Common Prayer are:
- "Speak now or forever hold your peace" from the marriage liturgy.
- "Till death us do part", from the marriage liturgy.
- "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust" from the funeral service.
- "From all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil" from the litany.
- "Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" from the collect for the second Sunday of Advent.
- "Evil liver" from the rubrics for Holy Communion.
- "All sorts and conditions of men" from the Order for Morning Prayer.
- "Peace in our time" from Morning Prayer, Versicles.
The phrase "till death us do part" ("till death us depart" before 1662) has been changed to "till death do us part" in some more recent prayer books, such as the 1962 Canadian Book of Common Prayer.
References and allusions to Prayer Book services in the works of Shakespeare were tracked down and identified by Richmond Noble (Noble 1935, p. 82). Derision of the Prayer Book or its contents "in any interludes, plays, songs, rhymes, or by other open words" was a criminal offence under the 1559 Act of Uniformity, and consequently Shakespeare avoids too direct reference; but Noble particularly identifies the reading of the Psalter according to the Great Bible version specified in the Prayer Book, as the biblical book generating the largest number of Biblical references in Shakespeare's plays. Noble found a total of 157 allusions to the Psalms in the plays of the First Folio, relating to 62 separate Psalms—all, save one, of which he linked to the version in the Psalter, rather than those in the Geneva Bible or Bishops' Bible. In addition, there are a small number of direct allusions to liturgical texts in the Prayer Book; e.g. Henry VIII 3:2 where Wolsey states "Vain Pomp and Glory of this World, I hate ye!", a clear reference to the rite of Public Baptism; where the Godparents are asked "Doest thou forsake the vaine pompe and glory of the worlde..?"
P.D. James wrote "We can recognize the Prayer Book’s cadences in the works of Isaac Walton and John Bunyan, in the majestic phrases of John Milton, Sir Thomas Browne and Edward Gibbon. We can see its echo in the works of such very different writers as Daniel Defoe, Thackeray, the Brontës, Coleridge, T. S. Eliot and even Dorothy L. Sayers." James herself used phrases from the Book of Common Prayer and made them into bestselling titles—Devices and Desires and The Children of Men, while Alfonso Cuarón's 2006 film Children of Men placed the phrase onto cinema marquees worldwide.
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As the Book of Common Prayer is long out of copyright, it can be freely reproduced in most of the world. However, in the United Kingdom, the Crown holds the rights as part of the royal prerogative and as such, they are perpetual. Publishers are licensed to reproduce the Book of Common Prayer under letters patent which prohibit anyone other than the holders (and those authorized by them) from printing, publishing or importing the Book of Common Prayer into the United Kingdom.
Letters patent for England, Wales and Northern Ireland are held by the Queen's Printer, and for Scotland by the Scottish Bible Board. The office of Queen's Printer has been associated with the right to reproduce the Bible for many years, with the earliest known reference coming in 1577. Other letters patent of similar antiquity grant Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press the right to produce the Book of Common Prayer independently of the Queen's Printer. The Queen's Printer is currently the Cambridge University Press as from their takover of Eyre & Spottiswoode (which had been Queen's Printer since 1901) in the late 20th century. The protection that the Book of Common Prayer and the Authorized Version enjoy is the last remnant of the time when the Crown held a monopoly over all printing and publishing in the United Kingdom. This prerogative should not be confused with Crown copyright, or copyright in works of the United Kingdom's government.
The prayer book of the Episcopal Church in the United States is always released into the public domain. Trial use and supplemental liturgies are, however, copyrighted by Church Publishing, the official publishing arm of the church.
- Anglican devotions
- Book of Common Order
- Prayer Book Rebellion
- Prayer Book Society of Canada
- The Homilies
- Thirty-Nine Articles
- Anglican Church of Canada (1962), The Book Of Common Prayer, Toronto: Anglican Book Centre Publishing, p. 736, ISBN 0-921846-71-1
- Anglican Church of Canada (1964). The Canadian Book of Occasional Offices: Services for Certain Occasions not Provided in the Book of Common Prayer, compiled by the Most Rev. Harold E. Sexton, Abp. of British Columbia, published at the request of the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada. Toronto: Anglican Church of Canada, Dept. of Religious Education. x, 162 p.
- Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (198-?). When Ye Pray: Praying with the Church, [by] Roland F. Palmer [an editor of the 1959/1962 Canadian B.C.P.]. Ottawa: Anglican Catholic Convent Society. N.B.: "This book is a companion to the Prayer Book to help ... to use the Prayer Book better."—Pg. 1. Without ISBN
- Reformed Episcopal Church in Canada and Newfoundland (1892). The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, According to the Use of the Reformed Episcopal Church in the Dominion of Canada, Otherwise Known as the Protestant Church of England.... Toronto, Ont.: Printed ... by the Ryerson Press ... for the Synod of Canada, 1951, t.p. verso 1892. N.B.: This is the liturgy as it had been authorized in 1891.
- Church of England (1977) [1549 & 1552], The First and Second Prayer Books of King Edward VI, London: Everyman's Library, ISBN 0-460-00448-4
- Church of England (1999) , The Book of Common Prayer, London: Everyman's Library, ISBN 1-85715-241-7
- Church in Wales (1984). The Book of Common Prayer, for the Use in the Church in Wales. Penarth, Wales: Church in Wales Publications. 2 vol. N.B.: Title also in Welsh on vol. 2: Y Llfr Gweddi Giffredin i'w arfer yn Yr Eglwys yng Nghymru; vol. 1 is entirely in English; vol. 2 is in Welsh and English on facing pages. Without ISBN
- The Episcopal Church (1979), Book of Common Prayer (1979), Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-528713-4
- The Episcopal Church (2003). The Book of Common Prayer: Selected Liturgies ... According to the Use of the Episcopal Church = Le Livre de la prière commune: Liturgies sélectionnées ... selon l'usage de l'Eglise Épiscopale. Paris: Convocation of American Churches in Europe. 373,  p. N.B.: Texts in English and as translated into French, from the 1979 B.C.P. of the Episcopal Church (U.S.A.), on facing pages. ISBN 0-89869-448-5
- Reformed Episcopal Church (U.S.A.)(1932). The Book of Common Prayer, According to the Use of the Reformed Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Rev. fifth ed. Philadelphia, Penn.: Reformed Episcopal Publication Society, 1963, t.p. 1932. xxx, 578 p. N.B.: On p. iii: "[T]he revisions made ... in the Fifth Edition [of 1932] are those authorized by the [Reformed Episcopal] General Councils from 1943 through 1963."
- The Church of England in Australia Trust Corporation (1978), An Australian Prayer Book, St.Andrew's House, Sydney Square, Sydney: Anglican Information Office Press, pp. 636 p, ISBN 0-909827-79-6
- Widely varying figures are quoted. Procter and Frere (1902) gave 2000; Neill (1960, p. 165),1760. Spurr gives the following breakdown for the period 1660–63: Total ministers forced out of English parishes about 1760. This includes 695 parish ministers ejected under the 1660 act for settling clergy; 936 more forced out under the 1662 Act of Uniformity. In addition 200 non-parochial ministers from lectureships, universities and schools, and 120 in Wales were excluded. He adds that 171 of the 1760 are "known to have conformed later". In a footnote he cites Pruett (1978, p. 17,18,23).
- According to the Tables of Proper Psalms, "The following passages in the Psalter as hitherto used are omitted: Psalm 14. 5-7; 55. 16; 58 (all); 68. 21-23; 69. 23-29; 104. 35 (in part); 109. 5-19; 136. 27; 137. 7-9; 140. 9-10; 141. 7-8. The verses are renumbered." See also the Psalter from 1962 Canadian Book of Common Prayer.
- CPSA 1954.
- Armitage, W.J. (1922). The story of the Canadian revision of the Prayer book. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.
- Wohlers, Charles (2008-09-23). "The Book of Common Prayer in other Languages". The Book of Common Prayer. Retrieved 2008-10-15.
- “The Book of Common Prayer” at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/book-common-prayer.
- Prayer Book Cross
- John Wesley's Preface to The Sunday Service of the Methodists in North America (1784), cited in Tucker, Karen B. Westerﬁeld (2006). "John Wesley and the Methodists". In Hefling, Charles; Shattuck, Cynthia. The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer: A Worldwide Survey. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 210. ISBN 0199723893.
- James E. Clapp, "till death us do part," The Mavens' Word of the Day (October 13, 2000).
- Act of Uniformity, 1559
- James, P.D. (2011). "Through all the Changing Scenes of Life: Living with the Prayer Book". In Dailey, Prudence. The Book of Common Prayer: Past, Present and Future. London; New York: Continuum International. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-4411-4279-5.
- Canon II.3.6(b)(2)
- Caraman, Philip (1994), The Western Rising 1549: the Prayer Book Rebellion, Tiverton: Westcountry Books, ISBN 1-898386-03-X
- Careless, Sue (2003), Discovering the Book of Common Prayer: A hands-on approach (Volume 1: Daily Prayer), Toronto: Anglican Book Centre Publishing, ISBN 1-55126-398-X
- Carpenter, Spencer Cecil (1933), Church and people, 1789-1889; a history of the Church of England from William Wilberforce to "Lux mundi", London: SPCK
- Chapman, Mark (2006), Anglicanism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280693-9
- Church of England (1662), The Book of Common Prayer, London: Everyman's Library (published 1999), ISBN 1-85715-241-7
- Church of England (1957), The First and Second Prayer Books of King Edward VI, London: Everyman's Library, ISBN 0-460-00448-4
- The Church of England in Australia Trust Corporation (1978), An Australian Prayer Book, St.Andrew's House, Sydney Square, Sydney: Anglican Information Office Press, ISBN 0-909827-79-6
- Clarke, William Kemp Lowther (1954), Liturgy and worship: a companion to the prayer book of the Anglican communion, London: SPCK
- Cross, F.L.; Livingstone, E.A. (1975), "Protestant Episcopal Church", The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
- Davies, Julian (1992), The Caroline Captivity of the Church, Oxford: OUP
- Duffy (a), Eamon (1992), The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580, Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-10828-1
- Duffy (b), Eamon (2003), The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village, Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-09825-1
- Edwards, David (1983), Christian England: From the Reformation to the 18th Century, Collins, ISBN 0-00-215145-6
- Fawcett, Timothy J. (1973), The liturgy of comprehension 1689: An abortive attempt to revise the Book of common prayer, Mayhew McCrimmon, ISBN 0-85597-031-6
- Furlong, Monica (2000), C of E: The State It's In, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 0-340-69399-1
- Garbett, Cyril (Archbishop of York) (1947). The Claims of the Church of England. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
- Gibson, E.C.S (1910), The First and Second Prayer Books of Edward VI, Everyman's Library
- Griffith Thomas, W.H. (1930), The Principles of Theology, London: Church Book Room Press
- Guy, John (1988), Tudor England, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-285213-2
- Harrison, D.E.W.; Sansom, Michael C (1982), Worship in the Church of England, London: SPCK, ISBN 0-281-03843-0
- Kings Chapel (2007), History, retrieved 2007-10-10
- Lewis, C.S. (196-). "Miserable Offenders": an Interpretation of [sinfulness and] Prayer Book Language [about it], in series, The Advent Papers. Cincinnati, Ohio: Forward Movement Publications.
- Maltby, Judith (1998), Prayer Book and People in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-45313-5
- Marsh, Christopher (1998), Popular Religion in Sixteenth-Century England: Holding their Peace, Macmillan, ISBN 0-312-21094-9
- Maxwell, William (1965), The Liturgical Portions of the Genevan Service Book, The Faith Press
- MacCulloch, Diarmaid (1990), The Later Reformation in England, 1547-1603, Palgrave MacMillan Press, ISBN 0-333-92139-9
- MacCulloch, Diarmaid (1996), Thomas Cranmer, Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-06688-0
- MacCulloch, Diarmaid (1999), "Introduction", in Church of England, The Book of Common Prayer, London: Everyman's Library, ISBN 1-85715-241-7
- MacCulloch, Diarmaid (2001), The Boy King: Edward VI and the Protestant Reformation, New York: Palgrave, ISBN 0-312-23830-4
- McGarvey, William; Gibson, Frederick (1907), Liturgiæ Americanæ or the Book of Common Prayer as used in the United States of America compared with the proposed book of 1786 and with the Prayer Book of the Church of England and an historical account and documents, Philadelphia Church Publishing Company
- Neill, Stephen (1960), Anglicanism, London: Pelican/Penguin
- Noble, Richmond (1935), Shakespeare's Biblical Knowledge and Use of the Book of Common Prayer, SPCK
- Perry, W. (1922), Scottish Prayer Book, Its Value & History, Mowbrays
- Procter, F; Frere, W H (1965), A New History of the Book of Common Prayer, St. Martin's Press
- Pruett, J.H. (1978), The Parish Clergy under the Later Stuarts, Urbana, Illinois
- Spinks, Bryan D. (1999). "Cranmer's Methods of Liturgical Compilation". In Ayris, Paul; Selwyn, David. Thomas Cranmer:Churchman and Scholar. Woodbridge(UK): The Beydell Press.
- Shepherd, Massey J. jr. (1965), El Culto de la Iglesia, CPC, San José, Costa Rica — Original in English is The Worship of the Church Seabury Press (1952)
- Spurr, John (1991), The Restoration Church of England, Yale
- Starkey, David (2001), Elizabeth, Vintage Books
- Wohlers, Charles (2007), "Chapter 68 - The Algonquian", The Book of Common Prayer among the Nations of the World, Family, retrieved 2007-09-10
- A Book of Common Prayer ... Set Forth by Authority for Use in the Church of the Province of South Africa. Church of the Province of South Africa. 1954.
Chronological order of publication (oldest first):
- Harrison, D.E.W (1969), Common Prayer in the Church of England, London: SPCK
- Forbes, Dennis (1992). Did the Almighty intend His book to be copyrighted?, European Christian Bookstore Journal, April 1992
- Hatchett, M.J. (1995), Commentary on the American Prayer Book, Harper Collins
- Hefling, C.; C. Shattuck (2006), The Oxford Guide to The Book of Common Prayer: A Worldwide Survey, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-529756-3 Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Dailey, Prudence, ed. (2011). The Book of Common Prayer: Past, Present and Future. London; New York: Continuum International. ISBN 978-1-4411-4279-5.
- Jacobs, Alan (2013). The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691154817.
- Quotations related to Book of Common Prayer at Wikiquote
- Works related to Book of Common Prayer at Wikisource
- The full text of The Book of Common Prayer according to the use of The Episcopal Church, 1979 edition, is online at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/sites/default/files/downloads/book_of_common_prayer.pdf
- Books of Common Prayer, from various Provinces of the Anglican Communion, curated by Charles Wohlers at Society of Archbishop Justus.
- The Prayer Book Society (UK)