|The Book of Common Prayer|
The First Book of Common Prayer
Although a formal break with the Papacy came about during the time of Henry VIII, the Church of England continued to use liturgies in Latin throughout his reign, just as it always had. However, once Henry died and the young Edward VI attained the throne in 1547, the stage was set for some very significant changes in the religious life of the country. And so a consultation of bishops met and produced the first Book of Common Prayer. It is generally assumed that this book is largely the work of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (pictured below), but, as no records of the development of the prayer book exist, this cannot be definitively determined.
This prayer book was in use only for three years, until the extensive revision of 1552. However, much of its tradition and language remains in the prayer books of today, as may be seen by even a cursory examination of the text.
The text used here is from a reprint, The First and Second Prayer-Books of Edward VI, published in 1910 as part of Everyman's Library. This book appears in David Griffiths' Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer as 1910/10, and appears to take as its text an edition published in 1549 (probably Griffiths 1549/1) by Edward Whitchurche (or Whytchurche) of London, or from a 19th century reprint thereof. The title page of the original edition is pictured at right. The reprint uses completely the original language and spelling, which are largely retained here.
The only modernizations in the text presented here are as follows:
In any older book printed several times, as this one was, there will inevitably be a number of textual variations. We have indicated many of these, as collected in The Two Liturgies ... Set forth in the Reign of King Edward VI (Parker Soc., 1844, Griffiths 1844/9). This book collated six of the twelve printings of the 1549 BCP: Whitchurch, May 1549 (Griffiths 1549/7 or 8); Whitchurch, June 1549 (Griffiths 1549/10 or 11); 3 printings of Grafton, March 1549 (Griffiths 1549/2, 3, & 4); and Oswen in Worcester, July, 1549 (Griffiths 1549/14). By far the most variance is found in the Grafton printings. Variants found in more than one printing, other than obvious differences in spelling, typos, etc., are indicated in the text.
We also have parts of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format which reproduces, as much as possible, the look of the original. The source text for these PDF files was a true facsimile (probably the only one ever made) of the 1549 BCP privately printed in 1896. This book appears in David Griffiths' Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer as 1896/5, and is a facsimile of the very first printing of the Book of Common Prayer, Griffiths 1549/1. The links on the image of the Table of Contents below lead to these PDF files. We have a page of technical notes for these PDF files, if you are interested. Note that these files are fairly large - up to a megabyte - and so may take a while to download. You can also get all of them as a single file (size = 3MB)
For more information about this Prayer Book, we have reproduced the Introduction which appeared in The First and Second Prayer-Books of Edward VI, written by Edward C. S. Gibson, Bishop of Gloucester.
In addition to the
texts on this site, Holy Communion from the 1549 Book of Common Prayer
is available from Linda Howell's 1662
BCP site. The Communion Service, slightly abbreviated,
is also available in WordPerfect and MSWord formats from the Diocese
of Montreal. The Communion Service is also available online in
Two original texts and a number of reprints are available online, from either the Internet Archive or Google Books, typically as PDF graphics:
The 1549 Act of Uniformity, which was the measure in Parliament specifying that this book, and this book alone, was to be used for all church services, is now online.
Links on this image lead to PDF (Adobe Acrobat) files.
THE CONTENTES OF THIS BOOKE.
iv. The Introites, Collectes, Epistles and Gospelles, to be used at the celebracion of the lordes Supper and holy Communion through the yere, with proper Psalmes and Lessons, for diverse feastes and dayes.
vi. Of Baptisme, bothe publique and private.
vii. Of Confirmacion, where also is a Catechisme for children.
viii. Of Matrimony.
x. Of Buriall.
xi. The purificacion of women. [Called "The Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth" in subsequent editions]
xii. A declaracion of scripture, with certein prayers to bee use the firste daye of Lent, commonlye called Ashwednesdaie. [Called "A Commination against Sinners" in subsequent editions]
xiii. Of Ceremonies omitted or reteyned.
xiiii. Certein notes for the more plain explicacion, and decent ministracion of thinges conteined in this boke.
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