Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Book of Common Prayer of 1549, 1559 and 1662

Brian Cummings (ed.), The Book of Common Prayer: The Texts of 1549, 1559 and 1662, 2011 Oxford University Press

This book collects the texts of the Book of Common Prayer editions of 1549, 1559 and 1662. One might have expected it to include Cranmer's second text of 1552 instead of the Elizabethan 1559, but the editor justifies this choice by pointing out that the 1552 was only used briefly before Mary's Catholic restoration, unlike the 1559 edition which was in use for a much longer period of time.

This is an extremely valuable resource for those interested in Anglican liturgy. Not only do we get these fundamental liturgical texts, but we also get an introduction detailing the history of the BCP and extensive notes on the texts. Surprisingly, there is a page marker, make it easier to refer to the notes or to make textual comparisons.

The reader will find that the offices of morning and evening prayer change very little, having the basic substance of the monastic liturgy. However, the rite of communion undergoes considerable evolution from a very Catholic service in 1549 to a much more Protestant rite. The development of the Litany from its origins in medieval devotional processions to a public state prayer is also fascinating.

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