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    The Shorter Prayer Book (1946)


For many years, the Church of England had sought to update its liturgies in order to make them "more understanded of the people". However, due to the fact that the C of E is an Established Church, it needed approval from Parliament for any substantive changes in its Book of Common Prayer, last updated in 1662. It attempted a new Common Prayer Book in 1928, but this was rejected by Parliament. This book, the Shorter Prayer Book, was the next attempt at a modernization of the Book of Common Prayer. At this point the Church's freedom to issue modified liturgies was fairly limited. As a result, this Prayer Book is basically the 1928 Prayer Book containing the most commonly used services, often slightly abridged, with much simpler rubrics and with alternatives from the 1662 Book in a number of places. This book apparently proved to be quite popular.

Eventually Parliament gave the Church of England the ability to create its own "alternative" Prayer Books, which it did, starting in 1980 with the Alternative Service Book, and in 2000 with Common Worship.

Besides the HTML files listed below, we also have the book available as PDF graphics - see link at right. The PDF file has extractable text, but this text has not been checked and undoubtedly contains errors.

The Shorter Prayer Book is listed as 1946/1 in David Griffiths' Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer.




Title page, the Shorter Prayer Book

Read the entire book as PDF graphics (size = 20MB)



    The Christian Year
    Scripture Sentences
    Morning Prayer
    Evening Prayer
    The Litany
    The Holy Communion
    The Collects
(essentially identical to the 1928 Book, but with Scripture citations only)
    Prayers and Thanksgivings
    Publick Baptism of Infants (essentially identical to that in the 1928 Book,)
    The Catechism
(identical to that in the 1662 Book, but with no rubrics)
    The Marriage Service
    The Burial of the Dead
    The Burial of a Child
    The Psalms
(identical to that in the 1662 Book)




THIS book was prepared to meet a growing demand from the clergy and laity for a shortened and simplified version of the Book of Common Prayer, so arranged as to make it easy for people in church to find their places and take their part in the Services. It contains, therefore, only those parts of the Book of Common Prayer which are most often required. To these have been added some extracts from the Deposited Book of 1928 which are in frequent use. The only new material consists of an explanatory Preface on the Christian Year, the re-wording of some Rubrics and the giving of references and directions designed to make the Services easier to follow.

The book was prepared and edited by a group of Bishops with the encouragement of their fellow Bishops who were consulted from time to time about its contents and gave their general approval to its form and arrangement. It has no authority other than that which belongs to the sources from which it is derived. It seeks only to meet a pastoral need by making available in a simplified way those existing forms of public prayer which are most often required for congregational use.

We are grateful to the three Privileged Presses, to whom the copyright of extracts from the Book of Common Prayer belongs, for their co-operation and for making possible the production of the book.




Web author: Charles Wohlers U. S. EnglandScotlandIrelandWalesCanadaWorld