Book of Common Prayer

Editions of the Prayer Book Text

Historical Studies of the Prayer Book

General Histories

The Prayer Book in the Church of England

Cranmer’s Liturgical Work
The Tudor Prayer Books, 1549–1559
The Grand Debate: Conformity, Puritanism, “Laudianism,” 1559–1661
The 1662 Prayer Book
Non-Jurors and Non-Conformists
The Long Eighteenth Century
The Nineteenth-Century
Twentieth-Century Revision

The Prayer Book in North America

Studies of Liturgical Rites

General Studies
Calendar and Liturgical Year
Table of Lessons
Morning and Evening Prayer
Collects
Epistles and Gospels
Holy Communion
Baptism
Confirmation
Solemnization of Matrimony
Visitation of the Sick
Burial of the Dead
Churching of Women
Ordination of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons
State Services

Editions of the Prayer Book Text

In addition to the following scholarly printed texts, Charles Wohlers’s outstanding website The Book of Common Prayer has excellent digital texts and links to online editions of prayer books of many dates from around the Anglican Communion.

The Book of Common Prayer: The Texts of 1549, 1559, and 1662. Edited by Brian Cummings. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

  • A very fine complete edition, following original spelling, of an early printing of the 1662 BCP, together with the most important sections of 1549 and 1559, as well as selected later texts. Helpful introduction, bibliography, and annotations.

The First and Second Prayer-Books of King Edward the Sixth. Introduction by by E. C. S. G[ibson]. Everyman’s Library 448. London: Dent, 1910. 

  • A handy edition, with original spellings, of the 1549 and 1552 BCPs. The Introits, Collects, Epistles, and Gospels of 1549 are given in full. Those of 1552 (which omits Introits altogether) are given only when different from 1549.

The Book of Common Prayer, 1559: The Elizabethan Prayer Book. Edited by John E. Booty. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia for the Folger Shakespeare Library, 1976.

  • Frequently referred to in the scholarly literature, and essential for its annotations.

Donaldson, Gordon. The Making of the Scottish Prayer Book of 1637. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1954. 

  • Includes the standard scholarly edition of the ill-fated 1637 Scottish BCP.

The English Rite. Edited by F. E. Brightman. 2nd ed. rev. 2 vols. London: Rivingtons, 1921.

  • A mighty work, still not superseded:  verbatim texts of 1549, 1552, and 1662 in parallel columns, with changes indicated by different typefaces. All serious researchers must take account of its historical introduction, though in its details it needs correction in the light of more recent literature.

The Liturgy of Comprehension, 1689: An Abortive Attempt to Revise the Book of Common Prayer. Edited by Timothy J. Fawcett. Alcuin Club Collections 54. Southend-on-Sea: Mayhew-McCrimmon, 1973. 

  • Excellent edition and study of the failed revision proposed after the Glorious Revolution, which was intended to win moderate Presbyterians back to conformity.

Grisbrooke, W. Jardine. Anglican Liturgies of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Alcuin Club Collections 40. London: SPCK, 1958. 

  • Eucharistic texts produced by Non-Jurors and and Scottish Episcopalians. Includes a full text of the 1764 Scottish Communion Service. Excellent historical discussion and commentary.

The Liturgy in English. Edited by Bernard Wigan. London: Oxford University Press, 1962. 

  • Texts of all Anglican Eucharists, plus the influential Church of South India liturgy, down to the Canadian revision of 1959.

Prayer Book Parallels: The Public Services of the Church Arranged for Comparative Study. Edited by Paul V. Marshall. New York: Church Hymnal Corporation, 1989. 

  • American BCP revisions in parallel columns, designed for use alongside Brightman.

Historical Studies of the Prayer Book

General Histories

Avis, Paul. “Prayer Book Use and Conformity.” In The Oxford Handbook of Anglican Studies, edited by Mark Chapman, Sathianathan Clarke, and Martyn Percy, 125–38. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Cuming, Geoffrey J. A History of Anglican Liturgy. 2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1982.

  • The indispensable standard history. Not infallible.

———. The Godly Order: Texts and Studies Relating to the Book of Common Prayer. Alcuin Club Collections 65. London: SPCK, 1983. 

  • Excellent collection of articles supplementary to the same author’s A History of Anglican Liturgy.

Griffiths, David N. The Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer, 1549–1999. London: The British Library, 2002.

Hefling, Charles, and Cynthia Shattuck, eds. The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer: A Worldwide Survey. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 

  • Wide-ranging collection of essays, many by eminent BCP scholars, covering the whole history and contemporary reality of Anglican worship. Uneven in quality, especially in bibliographical information; many essays ignore the traditional BCP and concentrate on recent liturgical revisions.

Jacobs, Alan. The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013.

  • A short, lively history of the BCP; something even for experts to learn here — even if other parts of the book may irritate them. The author has a website to supplement the text: http://bookofcommonprayer.tumblr.com/

Jasper, R. C. D. The Development of Anglican Liturgy, 1662–1980. London: SPCK, 1989.

Platten, Stephen, and Christopher Woods, eds. Comfortable Words: Polity and Piety and the Book of Common Prayer. SCM Studies in Liturgy and Worship. London: SCM Press, 2012. 

  • Papers given at a conference marking the 350th anniversary of the 1662 BCP, covering the whole historical range. Brief, incisive, and helpful for recent bibliography.

The Prayer Book in the Church of England

Cranmer’s Liturgical Work

Duffy, Eamon. “Cranmer and Popular Religion.” In Thomas Cranmer: Churchman and Scholar, edited by Paul Ayris and David Selwyn, 199–215. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1993.

Jeanes, Gordon. Signs of God’s Promise: Thomas Cranmer’s Sacramental Theology and the Book of Common Prayer. London: T. and T. Clark, 2008.

MacCulloch, Diarmaid. Thomas Cranmer: A Life. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996.

Null, Ashley. Thomas Cranmer’s Doctrine of Repentance: Renewing the Power to Love. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

  • Essential in its totality. But for the BCP see especially the section “Repentance in the Liturgy,” 236–45.

Ratcliff, E. C. “The Liturgical Work of Archbishop Cranmer.” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 7 (1956): 189–203.

The Tudor Prayer Books

Booty, John E. “Communion and Commonweal: The Book of Common Prayer.” In The Godly Kingdom of Tudor England: Great Books of the English Reformation, edited by John E. Booty, 139–216. Wilton, CT: Morehouse-Barlow, 1981.

Bowers, Roger. “The Chapel Royal, the First Edwardian Prayer Book, and Elizabeth’s Settlement of Religion, 1559.” The Historical Journal 43, no. 2 (June 2000): 317–44.

  • Uses musical evidence to show that at Elizabeth I’s accession the royal court assumed that the BCP of 1549, not 1552, would be restored.

The Grand Debate: Conformity, Puritanism, “Laudianism,” 1559–1645

Durston, Christopher. “By the Book or With the Spirit: The Debate Over Liturgical Prayer During the English Revolution.” Historical Research 79, no. 203 (February 2006): 50–73.

The Hampton Court Conference and the 1604 Book of Common Prayer. Edited by Colin Buchanan. Joint Liturgical Studies 68. London: Alcuin Club and the Group for Renewal of Worship, 2009.

Kim, Joong-Lak. “The Scottish-English-Romish Book: The Character of the Scottish Prayer Book of 1637.” In The Experience of Revolution in Stuart Britain and Ireland: Essays for John Morrill, edited by Michael J. Braddick and David L. Smith, 14–32. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Lake, Peter. “The Laudian Style: Order, Uniformity, and the Pursuit of the Beauty of Holiness in the 1630s.” In The Early Stuart Church, 1603-1642, edited by Kenneth Fincham, 161–85. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993.

Lane, Calvin. “The Evolution of Early Stuart Conformist Thought: The Liturgical Theology of John Donne.” Reformation and Renaissance Review 7 (2005: 223–48.

Maltby, Judith. “‘By this book’: Parishioners, the Prayer Book and the Established Church.” In The Early Stuart Church, 1603–1642, edited by Kenneth Fincham, 115–37. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993.

———. Prayer Book and People in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

  • A brilliant performance, identifying a non-Puritan, non-Laudian core of the Church of England under Elizabeth and James I that was loyal to a mainstream tradition of BCP worship.

———. “‘The Good Old Way’: Prayer Book Protestantism in the 1640s and 1650s.” In The Church and the Book, edited by R. N. Swanson, 233–58. Studies in Church History 38. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer for the Ecclesiastical History Society, 2004.

———. “Suffering and Surviving: The Civil Wars, the Commonwealth and the Formation of ‘Anglicanism,’ 1642–1660.” In Anglicanism and the Western Christian Tradition: Continuity, Change and the Search for Communion, edited by Stephen Platten, 122–43. Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2003.

McCullough, Peter. “Absent Presence: Lancelot Andrewes and 1662.” In Comfortable Words: Polity, Piety, and the Book of Common Prayer, edited by Stephen Platten and Christopher Woods, 49–68. London: SCM Press, 2012.

Spinks, Bryan. “Durham House and the Chapels Royal: Their Liturgical Impact on the Church of Scotland.” Scottish Journal of Theology 67 (2014): 379–99.

Stephens, Isaac. “Confessional Identity in Early Stuart England: The Prayer Book Puritanism of Elizabeth Isham.” Journal of British Studies 50 (2011): 24–47.

  • A subtle corrective to Maltby’s thesis about Prayer Book conformity, identifying a “moderate Puritan” position that conformed to the BCP without endorsing it.

Turrell, James F. “Uniformity and Common Prayer.” In A Companion to Richard Hooker, edited by Torrance Kirby, 337–66. Leiden: Brill, 2008.

The 1662 Prayer Book

Cummings, Brian. “The 1662 Prayer Book.” In Comfortable Words: Polity and Piety and the Book of Common Prayer, edited by Stephen Platten and Christopher Woods, 98–120. London: SCM Press, 2012.

Ratcliff, E. C. “The Savoy Conference and the Revision of the Book of Common Prayer.” In From Uniformity to Unity: 1662–1962, edited by Geoffrey F. Nuttall and Owen Chadwick, 89–148. London: SPCK, 1962.

Non-Jurors and Non-Conformists

Cuming, G. J. “Branching Off the Via Media.” In A History of Anglican Liturgy, 128–46. 2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1982.

Grisbrooke, W. Jardine. Anglican Liturgies of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Alcuin Club Collections 40. London: SPCK, 1958.

The Liturgy of Comprehension, 1689: An Abortive Attempt to Revise the Book of Common Prayer. Edited by Timothy J. Fawcett. Alcuin Club Collections 54. Southend-on-Sea: Mayhew-McCrimmon, 1973.

The Long Eighteenth Century

Gregory, Jeremy. “‘For All Sorts and Conditions of Men’: The Social Life of the Book of Common Prayer during the Long Eighteenth Century: or, Bringing the History of Religion and Social History Together.” Social History 34 (2009): 29–54.

Jacob, William. “Common Prayer in the Eighteenth Century.” In Comfortable Words: Polity and Piety and the Book of Common Prayer, edited by Stephen Platten and Christopher Woods, 83–97. London: SCM Press, 2012.

———. “Conducting Worship.” In The Clerical Profession in the Long Eighteenth Century, 1680–1840, 173–202. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

White, Laura Mooneyham. Jane Austen’s Anglicanism. Farnham: Ashgate, 2011.

Nineteenth-Century England

Hammond, Peter C. “The Church.” In The Parson and the Victorian Parish, 72–107. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1977.

Jasper, R. C. D. Prayer Book Revision in England, 1800–1900. London: SPCK, 1954.

Spinks, Bryan D. “The Transition from ‘Excellent Liturgy’ to Being ‘Too Narrow for the Religious Life of the Present Generation’: The Book of Common Prayer in the Nineteenth Century.” In Comfortable Words: Polity and Piety and the Book of Common Prayer, edited by Stephen Platten and Christopher Woods, 98–120. London: SCM Press, 2012.

Revision in the Twentieth-Century Church of England

Maiden, John G. “Discipline and Comprehensiveness: The Church of England and Prayer Book Revision in the 1920s.” In Discipline and Diversity, edited by Kate Cooper and Jeremy Gregory, 377–87. Studies in Church History 43. Woodbridge: Boydell Press for the Ecclesiastical History Society, 2007.

The Prayer Book in North America

Armitage, W. J. The Story of the Canadian Revision of the Prayer Book. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1922.

  • Exhaustive account of the 1918/1922 Canadian revision.

Blott, William R. Blessing and Glory and Thanksgiving: The Growth of a Canadian Liturgy. Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1998.

  • A short account of the 1959/1962 revision of the Holy Communion. Unfortunately the only substantial published account of any aspect of this book.

Hebb, Ross N. “Seabury and Inglis and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.” In Samuel Seabury and Charles Inglis: Two Bishops, Two Churches, 61–82. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2010.

Buchanan, Colin. “The Winds of Change.” In The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer: A Worldwide Survey, edited by Charles Hefling and Cynthia Shattuck, 229–38. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Northup, Lesley Armstrong. The 1892 Book of Common Prayer. Lewiston: Mellen, 1993. 

  • Important study of the American 1892 revision.

Studies of Liturgical Rites

General BCP Studies and Commentaries

Blunt, John Henry, ed. The Annotated Book of Common Prayer. New impression, 1899, re-issue with additions and corrections. London: Longmans, Green, 1903.

  • Anglo-Catholic slant; some pre-critical liturgical scholarship; but often extremely helpful.

Brook, Stella. The Language of the Book of Common Prayer. London: Deutsch, 1965.

Clarke, W. K. Lowther, ed. Liturgy and Worship: A Companion to the Prayer Books of the Anglican Communion. With the assistance of Charles Harris. Corr. repr. London: SPCK, 1933.

  • Essays by various authors on the history of the BCP and on individual rites.

Daniel, Evan. The Prayer-Book: Its History, Language, and Contents. 20th ed. rev. and enlarged. London: Wells, Gardner, Darton, 1901. 

  • Excellent and thorough in analyses of rites. Now dated in its historical sections.

Dowden, John. The Workmanship of the Prayer Book in its Literary and Liturgical Aspects. 2nd ed. (London: Methuen, 1902)

———. Further Studies in the Prayer Book. London: Methuen, 1908.

  • Two very influential collections of essays on particular aspects of the Prayer Book’s rites. Still very rewarding to consult.

Procter, Francis. A New History of the Book of Common Prayer with a Rationale of its Offices. Rev. and rewritten by W. H. Frere. London: Macmillan, 1905.

  • Still extremely useful, though superseded in details.

Shepherd, Massey Hamilton, Jr. The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary. New York: Oxford University Press, 1950.

  • Reproduction of the 1928 American BCP with learned commentary on facing pages; useful for the whole BCP tradition.

Stevenson, Kenneth, and Bryan Spinks, eds. The Identity of Anglican Worship. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1991.

Wright, J. Robert. Prayer Book Spirituality. New York: Church Hymnal Corporation, 1989.

  • Extremely useful anthology of excerpts from “classical” Anglican writers relevant to individual rites in the BCP.

Calendar and Liturgical Year

Cressy, David. “God’s Time, Rome’s Time, and the Calendar of the English Protestant Regime.” Viator 34 (2003): 392–406.

Table of Lessons

[Keble, John]. Sunday Lessons: The Principles of Selection. Tracts for the Times 13. London: Rivingtons, 1833.

Willis, Geoffrey G. “The Historical Background of the English Lectionary of 1955.” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 9 (1958): 73–86.

Morning and Evening Prayer

Bradshaw, Paul F. “The Daily Offices in the Prayer Book Tradition.” Anglican Theological Review 95 (2013): 447–60.

Guiver, George. “After the Great Upheaval.” In Company of Voices: Daily Prayer and the People of God, 115–25. Rev. ed. Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2001.

Middleton, Arthur. “The Daily Office.” In Towards a Renewed Priesthood, 49–64. Leominster: Gracewing, 1995.

Pauley, John-Bede. “The Monastic Quality of Anglicanism: Implications for Understanding the Anglican Patrimony.” In Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church: Reflections on Recent Developments, edited by Stephen E. Cavanaugh, 161–83. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011.

Collects

The Collect in Anglican Liturgy: Texts and Sources, 1549–1980. Edited by Martin R. Dudley. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1994.

Gray, Donald. “The Anglican Collect.” In The Collect in the Churches of the Reformation, edited by Bridget Nichols, 50–66. London: SCM Press, 2010.

———. “Cranmer and the Collects.” In The Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Theology, edited by in Andrew Hass, David Jasper, and Elisabeth Jay, 563–74. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Epistles and Gospels

Curry, David P. “Doctrinal Instrument of Salvation: The Use of Scripture in the Prayer Book Lectionary.” In The Prayer Book: A Theological Conference Held at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Charlottetown, P.E.I., June 25th–28th, 1985, 29–70. Charlottetown, PE: St. Peter’s Publications, [1985].

Holy Communion

Buchanan, Colin. “What Did Cranmer Think He Was Doing?” In An Evangelical Among the Anglican Liturgists, 71–113. Alcuin Club Collections 84. London: SPCK, 2009.

Dunbar, Gavin. “Like Eagles in This Life: A Theological Reflection on ‘The Order for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion’ in the Prayer Books of 1559 and 1662.” In The Book of Common Prayer: Past, Present and Future; A 350th Anniversary Celebration, edited by Prudence Dailey, 85–105. London: Continuum, 2011.

Jeanes, Gordon. Signs of God’s Promise: Thomas Cranmer’s Sacramental Theology and the Book of Common Prayer. London: T. and T. Clark, 2008.

Sykes, Stephen. “Cranmer on the open heart.” In This Sacred History, edited by D. S. Armentrout, 1–18. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1990.

Sykes, Stephen. “Love Bade Me Welcome.” In Unashamed Anglicanism, 49–63. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995.

Useful Ecumenical Studies

Gese, Hartmut. “The Origin of the Lord’s Supper.” In Essays on Biblical Theology, 117–40. Translated by Keith Crim. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1981.

Baptism

Cressy, David. “Baptism as Sacrament and Drama.” In Birth, Marriage, and Death: Ritual, Religion, and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England, 97–123. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Jeanes, Gordon. Signs of God’s Promise: Thomas Cranmer’s Sacramental Theology and the Book of Common Prayer. London: T. and T. Clark, 2008.

Sykes, Stephen. “Baptism Doth Represente Unto Us Oure Profession.” In Cranmer: A Living Influence for 500 Years, edited by Margot Johnson, 122–43. Durham: Turnstone Ventures, 1990.

Confirmation

Buchanan, Colin. “Confirmation.” In Growing in Newness of Life: Christian Initiation in Anglicanism Today, edited by David R. Holeton, 104–26. Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1993.

Turrell, James F. “‘Until Such Time As He Be Confirmed’: The Laudians and Confirmation in the Seventeenth-Century Church of England.” The Seventeenth Century 20 (2005): 204–22.

Wright, Susan J. “Confirmation, Catechism, and Communion: The Role of the Young in the Post-Reformation Church.” In Parish, Church, and People: Local Studies in Lay Religion, 1350–1750, edited by S. J. Wright, 203–27. Londone: Hutchinson, 1988.

Matrimony

Cressy, David. “Nuptial Vows.” In Birth, Marriage, and Death: Ritual, Religion, and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England, 336–49. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Stevenson, Kenneth. “The Anglican Prayer Book Traditions, 1549–1929.” In Nuptial Blessing: A Study of Christian Marriage Rites, 134–52. Alcuin Club Collections 64. London: SPCK, 1982.

Visitation of the Sick

Gusmer, Charles W. “The Prayer Book and Healing.” In The Ministry of Healing in the Church of England: An Ecumenical-Liturgical Study, 60–90. Alcuin Club Collections 56. Great Wakering: Mayhew-McCrimmon, 1974.

Burial

Cressy, David. “Ritual and Reformation.” In Birth,  Marriage, and Death: Ritual, Religion, and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England, 396–429. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Keble, John. “On the Burial Office.” In Letters of Spiritual Counsel and Guidance, 223–32. Edited by R. F. Wilson. 2nd ed. Oxford: Parker, 1870.

Rowell, Geoffrey. “Reformation and Post-Reformation Rites.” In The Liturgy of Christian Burial: An Introductory Survey of the Historical Development of Christian Burial Rites, 74–98. Alcuin Club Collections 59.  London: SPCK, 1977.

Churching of Women

Cressy, David. “Purification, Thanksgiving and the Churching of Women in Post-Reformation England.” Past and Present 141 (1993): 106–46.

Ray, Donna F. “A View from the Childwife’s Pew: The Development of Rites around Childbirth in the Anglican Communion.” Anglican and Episcopal History 69 (2009): 443–73.

Ordinal

Bradshaw, Paul F. The Anglican Ordinal: Its History and Development from the Reformation to the Present Day. Alcuin Club Collections 53. London: SPCK, 1971.

Bradshaw, Paul F.  “Ordinals.” In The Study of Anglicanism, edited by Stephen Sykes, John Booty, and Jonathan Knight, 155–65. Rev. ed. London: SPCK, 1998.

State Services

Lacey, Andrew. “The Office for King Charles the Martyr in the Book of Common Prayer, 1662–1685.” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 53 (2002): 510–26.