The Book of Common Prayer
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    1789 U. S. Book of Common Prayer

 

 

    The Prayer Book of 1789 was the first for the U. S. Episcopal Church and served the Church for over 100 years, until the revision of 1892. This book owed much to its predecessor, the English 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and, at least for the major services, is very similar to it. We are presenting this electronic version of the U. S. 1789 Book of Common Prayer in hopes that it will prove useful and instructive to the Church. Parishes might find it useful in recreating historical services, for example, to celebrate the anniversary of the parish. Others might find it instructive to compare the changes, additions, and deletions, which have taken place in the various versions of the Book of Common Prayer.
    The 1789 Book of Common Prayer was in use in the United States from 1790 until 1892. During that time, unlike succeeding versions, it was subject to minor changes by each General Convention. These changes were then reflected in the next "Standard Edition" of the Book of Common Prayer. Such Standard Editions were produced in 1793, 1822, 1832, 1838, 1845, and 1871; changes which each introduced (more significant than corrections of typographical errors, etc.) are noted in the text. Eight original sources were used, bearing certification dates of 1876, 1873, 1854, 1849, 1841, 1821, 1818, and 1810 respectively. The texts, Prayer Book Parallels, by Paul V. Marshall, and Liturgiae Americanae (1907), by William McGarvey, were also consulted.
    The process leading up to the 1892 book occupied several General Conventions, from 1883 through 1892; Prayer Books published during this time therefore might (and sometimes do) include certain aspects of the 1892 book.
    Please note that, unlike later U. S. Prayer Books, there was no uniform appearance among the different printings of the 1789 edition from various publishers. Thus, different printings will differ in appearance through the use of different fonts, number of columns per page, pagination, etc. Rubrics were printed in smaller Roman type, rather than italics, from 1818-1845. In general, editions prior to the Civil War tended to use two columns per page; those after, one.
    All but one of the editions used here are also bound with the Psalms in Metre, and a words-only Hymnal. These were often certified by diocesan bishops, in much the same manner as the Prayer Book itself.
    The font used is Century Schoolbook, which is widely available and seems to be a fairly close match to the original. The HTML allows the similar fonts Century and Georgia as alternatives.
    The entire 1789 Book of Common Prayer is presented below in HTML and PDF formats. (HTML only for the Psalter, Selections of Psalms, and the 39 Articles of Religion). The PDF version is based on a fairly common 24mo edition published by the New York Bible & Common Prayer Book Society from 1857 through 1880; the specific printing used here appears in David Griffiths' Bibligraphy of the Book of Common Prayer as 1865/19.

Several printings are available online from Google Books as PDF graphics:
    Publ. by Alex. Ming, New York, 1806 (Griffiths 1806/12)
    WP Young, Charleston, SC, 1808 (Griffiths 1808/17) (also from the Internet Archive)
    T & J Swords, New York, 1810 (Griffiths 1810/18)
    C Williams, Boston, 1811 (Griffiths 1811/23)
    S Potter, Philadelphia, 1818 (Griffiths 1818/32)
    D & G Bruce, New York, 1818 (Griffiths 1818/25 - identical to 1818/32 above)
    HI Megarey, New York, 1819 (Griffiths 1819/15)
    EJ Coale, Baltimore, 1822 (Griffiths 1822/21)
    S Potter. Philadelphia, 1822 Standard Edition (Griffiths 1822/22)
    Peter Mesier, New York, 1825 (Griffiths 1806/11)
    White, Gallaher & White, New York, 1828 (Griffiths 1828/26)
    Collins & Hannay, New York, 1830 (Griffiths 1830/22) 
    Mass. Episcopal Missionary Soc., Boston, 1831 (Griffiths 1831/19) 
    Prot. Episcopal Press, New York, 1829 & 1831 (Griffiths 1829/22, 1831/22)
    NY Bible & Common Prayer Book Soc., 1835 (Griffiths 1835/20)
    Prot. Episcopal Press, New York, 1835 (Griffiths 1835/27)
    Hooker & Agnew, Philadelphia, 1836 (Griffiths 1836/36)

    H & S Raynor, New York, 1842 (Griffiths 1842/27) (also from the Internet Archive).
    D Appleton, New York, 1845 (Griffiths 1845/35) 
    JB Perry, Philadelphia, 1846 (Griffiths 1846/53) 
    Stanford & Sword's, New York, 1846; "The Family Prayer Book" with commentary by Bp. Brownell (Griffiths 1846/44); also 1855 printing (Griffiths 1855/36)
    Lipincott, Philadelphia, 1847 (Griffiths 1847/43)
    Stanford & Swords, New York, 1850 (Griffiths 1950/43)
    Lipincott, Philadelphia, 1853 (Griffiths 1853/40)
    D Appleton, New York, 1854 (Griffiths 1854/29), 1856 (Griffiths 1856/27); also 1856 & 1855 (both Griffiths 1855/32)
    Dana & Co., New York, 1856 (Griffiths 1856/29) 
    Prot. Episcopal Book Soc., Phildelphia, 1863 (Griffiths 1863/31).
    Lipincott, Philadelphia, 1865 (Griffiths 1864/21)
    Oxford U Press, 1868 (Griffiths 1868/22) 
    Oxford U Press, 1868 (Griffiths 1868/23) 
    New York Bible & Common Prayer Book Soc., 1871 "Standard Edition" (Griffiths 1871/17), 1873 "Standard Edition" (Griffiths 1873/12), 1875 (Griffiths 1875/1), 1876 (Griffiths 1876/11) and 1879 (Griffiths 1879/5)
    Bishop White PB Soc., Philadelphia, 1891 (Griffiths 1890/14; includes changes adopted in 1886 & 1889 as an appendix; also 1887 (Griffiths 1887/8) 
    Note that these may have lines cut off, pages out of order and possibly missing, etc.

The Internet Archive has:
Hall & Sellers, Philadelphia, 1790; "first edition"(Griffiths 1790/13)
Hugh Gaine, New York, 1793; first standard ed. (Griffiths 1793/10)
Hugh Gaine, New York, 1794 (Griffiths 1794/13)   New!
Hall & Sellers. Philadelphia, 1800 (Griffiths 1800/13)   New!
Wm. Durrell, New York, 1803 (Griffiths 1803/15)
PA Mesier, New York, 1805 (Griffiths 1805/9)
D Longworth, New York, 1808 (Griffiths 1808/18)
C. Williams, Boston, 1811 (Griffiths 1811/23)
M Thomas, Philadelphia, 1812 (Griffiths 1812/23)
Wm. E. Norman, Hudson NY, 1814 (Griffiths 1814/18)
S Potter, Philadelphia, 1821 (Griffiths 1821/20)   New!
S Potter, Philadelphia, 1822 (Griffiths 1822/22)
SF Bradford, Philadelphia, 1828 (Griffiths 1828/27)   New!
WB Gilley, NY, 1829 (Griffiths 1829/20)   New!
Prot. Episcopal Press, NY, 1831
(Griffiths 1831/21)
Prot. Episcopal Press, NY, 1836 (Griffiths 1836/28).
S Andrus, Hartford, 1844 (Griffiths 1844/38)   New!
S Andrus, Hartford, 1844 (Griffiths 1844/39)   New!
Harper, NY, 1845 (Griffiths 1844/39)   New!
HE Anners, Philadelphia, 1848 (Griffiths 1848/35)   New!
Bp. White PB Soc., Philadelphia, 1848 (Griffiths 1848/42)   New!
Eyre & Spottiswoode, New York, 1850   New!
D Appleton, New York, 1853 (Griffiths 1853/26)   New!
D Appleton, New York, 1854 (Griffiths 1854/28)
Burns & Sieg, Philadelphia, 1859 (Griffiths 1859/41)
NY Bible & Common PB Soc., 1865 (Griffiths 1865/19)   New!
T. Nelson, New York, 1868 (Griffiths 1867/34)   New!

We additionally have a PDF version of the 1871 Standard Book (the last "official" version of this 1789 Prayer Book), the previous 1845 Standard, a 1795 Altar Book (large folio size) and the 1790 "first edition" of the 1789 BCP.

For those interested in the history of this book, we also have online the historical portions of Liturgiae Americanae, which describe how this book came to be, and how it developed over the years. Further history and a description of early printings of this book may be found in Early Prayer Books in America, from Google Books.

We also have online the 1789 Book of Common Prayer in French (Livre des Prières Publiques).

Google Books also has online a compilation, Prayers adapted to Various Occasions of Social Worship, for which Provision is not made in the Book of Common Prayer, by Alexander Griswold (first bishop of Massachusetts), 1860.

 

Title page, 1789 BCP

 

Frontispiece from an 1843 BCP

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS.


1. THE Ratification of the Book of Common Prayer. HTML
2. The Preface. HTML
3. The Order how the Psalter is appointed to be read HTML
4. The Order how the rest of the Holy Scripture is appointed to be read. HTML
5. Table of Lessons of Holy Scripture to be read at Morning and Evening Prayer throughout the Year. HTML
6. The Calendar. HTML
7. Tables and Rules for the Moveable and Immoveable Feasts, together with the Days of Fasting and Abstinence throughout the Year. HTML
8. Tables for finding the Holydays. HTML
9. The Order for Daily Morning Prayer. HTML; PDF
10. The Order for Daily Evening Prayer. HTML; PDF
11. The Litany. HTML; PDF
12. Prayers and Thanksgivings upon several Occasions, to be used before the two final Prayers of Morning and Evening Service. 
HTML; PDF
13. The Collects Epistles, and Gospels, to be used throughout the Year. HTML;
    PDF:
First Sunday in Advent through Ascension Day; from Sunday after Ascension, including Saints' Days.
14. The Order for the Administration of the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion. HTML; PDF
15. The Ministration of Public Baptism of Infants, to be used in the Church. HTML; PDF
16. The Ministration of Private Baptism of Children, in Houses. HTML; PDF
17. The Ministration of Baptism to such as are of Riper Years, and able to answer for themselves. HTML; PDF
18. A Catechism; that is to say an Instruction to he learned by every Person before he be brought to be confirmed by the Bishop. HTML; PDF
19. The Order of Confirmation, or Laying on of Hands upon those that are baptized, and come to years of Discretion. HTML; PDF
20. The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony. HTML; PDF
21. The Order for the Visitation of the Sick. HTML; PDF
22. The Communion of the Sick. HTML; PDF
23. The Order for the Burial of the Dead. HTML; PDF
24. The Thanksgiving of Women after Child birth, commonly called, The Churching of Women.HTML ; PDF
25. Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea. HTML; PDF
26. A Form of Prayer for the Visitation of Prisoners. HTML; PDF
27. A Form of Prayer and Thanksgiving to Almighty God, for the Fruits of the earth, and all the other Blessings of his merciful Providence. HTML; PDF
28. Forms of Prayer to be used in Families. HTML; PDF
29: Selections of Psalms, to be used instead of the Psalms for the Day, at the discretion of the Minister. HTML
30. The Psalter, or Psalms of David. HTML
31. The Articles of Religion. HTML

 

The Ordinal

The Form and Manner of Making Deacons (includes Ordinal Preface) HTML; PDF
The Form and Manner of Ordering Priests HTML; PDF
The Form of Ordaining or Consecrating a Bishop HTML; PDF
Litany and Suffrages HTML; PDF
Holy Communion HTML; PDF
The Form of Consecration of a Church or Chapel HTML; PDF
The Office of Institution of Ministers into Parishes or Churches HTML; PDF

Note: It appears that the Ordinal and the Form of Consecration of a Church were generally omitted in Prayer Books printed before about 1810.

All the above files in WordPerfect 6.0 format, ZIP compressed (size=346K)

Collage of printers' colophons
A few of the many printings of the 1789 BCP
(all from the author's collection)

Web author: Charles Wohlers U. S. EnglandScotlandIrelandWalesCanadaWorld