The Book of Common Prayer

17 Oct, 2013 200 Religion

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Book of Common Prayer. In 1549, at the height of the English Reformation, a new prayer book was published containing versions of the liturgy in English. Generally believed to have been supervised by Thomas Cranmer, the Book of Common Prayer was at the centre of the decade of religious turmoil that followed, and disputes over its use were one of the major causes of the English Civil War in the 1640s. The book was revised several times before the celebrated final version was published in 1662. It is still in use in many churches today, and remains not just a liturgical text of great importance but a literary work of profound beauty and influence.

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  • Diarmaid MacCulloch 11 episodes
    Professor of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford
  • Alexandra Walsham No other episodes
    Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge
  • Martin Palmer 22 episodes
    Director of the International Consultancy on Religion, Education, and Culture

Reading list

  • The Book of Common Prayer
    Thomas Cranmer with D. MacCulloch (preface) (Everyman, 1999)
  • The Book of Common Prayer: The Texts of 1549, 1559 and 1662
    Brian Cummings (ed.) (Oxford University Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • The Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer, 1549-1999
    D. N. Griffiths (ed.) (British Library, 2002) Google Books →
  • The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer
    C. Hefling and C. Shattuck (eds.) (Oxford University Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • The Study of Liturgy
    C. Jones et al. (eds.) (Oxford University Press, 1992)
  • Word and Worship: Essays Presented to Margot Johnson
    D. Loades (ed.) (The Davenant Press, 2005) Google Books →
  • Thomas Cranmer: A Life
    D. MacCulloch (Yale University Press, 1996) Google Books →
  • Prayer Book and People in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England
    Judith Maltby (Cambridge University Press, 1998) Google Books →
  • Worship and the Parish Church in Early Modern Britain
    Natalie Mears and Alec Ryrie (eds.) (Ashgate, 2013) Google Books →
  • Comfortable Words: Polity and Piety and The Book Of Common Prayer
    S. Platten and C. Woods (eds.) (SCM Press, 2012) Google Books →
  • Liturgy and Literature in the Making of Protestant England
    Timothy Rosendale (Cambridge University Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • Common Prayer: The Language of Public Devotion in Early Modern England
    Ramie Targoff (University of Chicago Press, 2001) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Two years after the death of Henry VIII, a new prayer book was published which affected not only what people did in church, but the way they spoke and wrote.