|The Book of Common Prayer|
The Elizabethan Prayer Book
This Book was a conservative revision of the 1552 edition, with the effect of making it somewhat less "Protestant". It put to a halt the movement in the previous two Prayer Books towards a more Protestant church. Some of the few changes made included:
A number of Saints' days and festivals were added to the Kalendar in 1561; these are also noted. Some minor changes were also made in 1604 on the accession of James I. The most important of these was to lengthen the Catechism by adding sections on the Sacraments.
These changes may be seen by comparing this text with that of the 1552 Book.
The translation used for the Biblical texts of this prayer book was that of the Great Bible of 1539; this was also the source for the Psalter for this and for all Prayer Books down through the US 1928 BCP.
The Coverdale translation of the Psalms, not strictly part of this BCP, but very important to it, is online, in PDF format.
The Communion Service is also available online in modern spelling.
Other versions of the 1559 BCP available online include:
All of these but the first are available as PDF graphics; the copy from the Univ. of Penn. is presented as a series of photographs. "Griffiths" indicates references appearing in David Griffiths' Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer.
on the text:
The HTML text of the reprint has been modernized as follows:
The fonts and general appearance of the text did not (as far as I can determine) change greatly over the different printings of this book. In later printings, however, spelling became more and more standardized and more like that used today. By 1600, for example, the vowel macron appears to have disappeared, while the the transposition of u's and v's lasted at least until the 1630's. Its appearance in 1634 can be seen in the PDF version, which does not use any of the modernizations mentioned above.
For the HTML text, we do have several images of pages of the 1559 original placed at appropriate places so you may see just what the original looked like. Typically, the text was in blackletter ("Old English") in the original, and the rubrics in italics or in Roman type. As blackletter is not a common font, nor is it particularly readable, the text here is in Roman and the rubrics in italic.
It is to be expected that this edition, which is more than 400 years old, uses some archaic English words. What might not be expected is that certain words used here have entirely different meanings nowadays than they did in the 1500's. Some of these, with their definitions with respect to this text, are:
About the PDF files
The PDF text is taken from an original edition published by Robert Barker in 1634; it is intended to appear as much like the original as possible.This particular edition is listed in David Griffith's Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer as 1634/1, and appears to be similar to editions published by Barker throughout the 1630's. The basic PDF text comes from the older HTML text already on the site, adjusted to agree with the 1634 copy in spelling, punctuation, etc.
The woodcuts and other decorations all come from this particular book, although they weren't necessarily used in the places you see them in the PDF text. This is because, due to the book's binding, it was not possible to scan in woodcuts and other decorations on the pages on the right-hand side.
The fonts used were JSL Blackletter and Founder's Caslon, from HW Caslon & Co. (now sold by ITC). These were chosen for their similarity to the original text, and the fact that they contained all the required ligatures and other special characters.
Please note: The PDF files, because they include as graphical elements the woodcuts used as initial capitals, are relatively large files, ranging from 1 to 3 megabytes each. All the files are also available as a single PDF file (size = 9.7MB)
The Contents of This Book.
1. An act for the
uniformity of Common Prayer: HTML
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