The Book of Common Prayer
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    Soldiers’ Prayer Books from the Civil War

 

We present here two little books intended to be carried by Union soldiers in the Civil War. Both are small paperback volumes, about 4.5" tall.

The first, Selections from the Book of Common Prayer, consists of a shortened combined Morning and Evening Prayer service, the Litany, a few prayers, the Collects associated with Holy Communion, ante-Communion, Selections of Psalms from the BCP, some hymns, and the burial service. It has no official sanction but was published in 1863 by The Margaret Coffin Prayer Book Society in Boston, an agency long closely associated with the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

The second, the Soldier's Prayer Book, is much shorter (58 pages vs. about 100), and consists of an abbreviated form of Morning Prayer, several Collects and prayers (many of which do not appear in the BCP), Selections of Psalms different from that in the BCP, and a number of hymns. It was published in 1861 by the Protestant Episcopal Book Society in Philadelphia, and was authorized by the Bishop of Pennsylvania in much the same way as were BCP's of the day. It is stated in the web author's copy that it was carried by a Union soldier, one Wallace Gill of New York.

Neither of these volumes are listed in David Griffiths' Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer. There may have been other books similar to these published, but we are not aware of them.

The University of North Carolina has placed online two similar books used by Confederate soldiers: one printed in Atlanta, and one from the Diocese of Virginia.

 

Book Cover

title page

 

Soldier's Prayer Book

title page, Soldier's Prayer Book

Selections
from the Book of Common Prayer

Morning and Evening Prayer
The Litany
Prayers
Collects
    [as in the 1789 BCP, but only for the Sundays of the year; and only citations for the Bible readings are given.]
Holy Communion
Selections of Psalms [as in the 1789 BCP]
Hymns

Burial of the Dead

 
Soldier's Prayer Book

Public Service
Occasional Collects
Selections of Psalms
Hymns

Web author: Charles Wohlers U. S. EnglandScotlandIrelandWalesCanadaWorld