Guest / Limited Access /
The Book of Common Prayer Is Still a Big Deal
jordanchez / iStock

The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) has had an illustrious and checkered career since Archbishop Thomas Cranmer first introduced it to the Church of England back in 1549, almost five hundred years ago. If you've ever pledged to be faithful to someone "till death do us part," mourned to the words "earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust," or hoped for "peace in our time," you've been shaped by Cranmer's cadences, perhaps without knowing it. Alan Jacobs, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Baylor University and former professor of English at Wheaton College, has given us a lively recounting of the old Anglican prayer book's history in this new "biography," part of Princeton University Press's Lives of Great Religious Books series. Jordan Hylden, a doctoral candidate in theology and ethics at Duke University Divinity School, corresponded with Jacobs about the BCP's global reach and its mixed reception by evangelicals.

The Book of Common Prayer is nearly 500 years old. Does it still make a difference for how we worship today?

I suppose that would depend on who you mean by "we"—there are millions of Christians worshipping in ways unaffected by the BCP, except insofar as they share common roots in Jewish and early Christian worship. But the reach of the BCP is more extensive than one might think. It has relatively direct connections to Methodist and Lutheran worship. And the liturgical scholarship that, in the early 20th century, went into possible revisions of the Church of England's 1662 book eventually made its way not only into modern Anglican prayer books but even had an influence on liturgical developments in the Roman Catholic Church, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueGive Us This Day Our Daily Chores
Subscriber Access Only
Give Us This Day Our Daily Chores
Why even our smallest routines are the stuff of worship.
RecommendedThe Secret Religion of the Slaves
Subscriber Access Only The Secret Religion of the Slaves
They often risked floggings to worship God.
TrendingWhy Do We Have Christmas Trees?
Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?
The history behind evergreens, ornaments, and holiday gift giving.
Editor's PickWhen Christmas Meets the ‘Umbrage Industry’
When Christmas Meets the ‘Umbrage Industry’
If history is any guide, there’s no escaping the hostilities that erupt every December.
%%var.bookTitle%%
The "Book of Common Prayer": A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books)
Princeton University Press
2013-09-29
256 pp., $19.29
Buy %%var.bookTitle%% from Amazon
Christianity Today
The Book of Common Prayer Is Still a Big Deal
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

March 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.