The Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer, 1928 is used for the designation of Liturgical Sundays and Holy Days in this Calendar. The Bible Reading Plan (Lectionary) is taken from the same book.
What is The Book of Common Prayer?
Until the early 1500’s church services were conducted by priests using an awkward collection of large and unwieldy handwritten manuscripts. Each of these service books (written in Latin) contained different
elements of the worship service: the Epistles in one book called the Epistolarium; the Gospels in another called the Evangelistarium; the Liturgy and Prayers formed a third volume called the Liber Sacramemtorum and in time a fourth volume was added containing the Introits, Graduals and Antiphons called the Antiphonarium.
During the Reformation, the Church in England worked hard to keep the best of the old ways and incorporate the best of the new “reforms”. Thomas Cranmer and other early church “reformers”
sought to write the worship (liturgy) in the language of the people and involve them more in the worship thus creating a service of “common prayer”.
One of the ways in which this was accomplished was to combine elements from all the worship books currently in use and to keep only that which was clearly Biblical. In 1548 King Edward VI appointed a committee to
“make one convenient and meet Order, having as well eye and respect to the most sincere and pure Christian religion taught by the Scriptures as to the usages in the primitive Church.”
(At the same time, great improvements in the art of printing occurred, making is possible to print large number of books at a price affordable to a larger number of people.)
The Prayer Book went through several revisions until Charles II authorized the 1662 Prayer Book. Up until 1776 the American colonies used the 1662 Prayer Book. After American Independence the 1789 Prayer Book was
issued and continued in use, with only minor changes, until the revision of 1892. This in turn was followed by another revision in 1928.
For over 450 the Book of Common Prayer (and its revisions up to 1928, and in Canada 1962) has shaped worship for the Church of England (Anglican Church), the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of
America,(now called the Episcopal Church in America), Anglican branches throughout the world, the Methodist and Lutheran churches, and many other denominations.
The reason why this book endures, and is of such importance still to millions, is that the Bible and the Prayer Book are substantially the same book. The Prayer Book is the Bible in devotional form. More than two
thirds of the Prayer Book is Scripture quoted word for word and the remaining one third is the Scripture paraphrased and put in devotional form.
(Sources: “Bicentennial-The American Book of Common Prayer” published in 1984 by the Dekoven Foundation of Ohio, Inc.; “The Heart of the
by Rev. William E. Cox, D.D. 1944.)