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What is the official Book of Common Prayer?

The Book of Common Prayer is a liturgical text used by Anglicans worldwide. It contains prayers and services for use during religious ceremonies and is considered one of the greatest examples of English prose. The Book of Common Prayer was first authorized for use in the Church of England in 1549 and has undergone several revisions since then.

History of the Book of Common Prayer

The first Book of Common Prayer was written by Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1549. It was compiled to replace the various books of prayer that had been used in the different parishes of England. Cranmer’s book was written in English rather than Latin, making it accessible to a wider audience. It included services for baptism, the Eucharist, marriage, and burial, as well as a new version of the Psalms in English verse.

In 1552, a revised version of the Book of Common Prayer was issued. This new edition was more Protestant in its theology and omitted several of the Catholic elements from the original edition. A further revision took place in 1559, which restored some of the Catholic elements to the Book of Common Prayer.

Another major revision occurred in 1662, during the reign of Charles II. This version is still in use in many Anglican churches today and is often referred to as the “1662 Book of Common Prayer.”

Structure of the Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer is divided into several sections. The first section contains the daily office, which includes Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline. The second section contains the Eucharist service, which includes the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Sacrament. The third section includes services for baptism, confirmation, marriage, and burial.

Each section of the Book of Common Prayer contains prayers and liturgies that can be used for different occasions. The Book of Common Prayer also includes a calendar of saints’ days and other religious holidays.

Importance of the Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer has played an important role in the history of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. It has been translated into many different languages and has influenced the liturgies of other denominations, such as the Episcopal Church in the United States.

The Book of Common Prayer is also significant for its use of language. The prayers and liturgies are written in elegant English prose that has had a lasting impact on the English language. The Book of Common Prayer has been particularly influential in the development of the English literary tradition, with many well-known writers, such as T.S. Eliot and C.S. Lewis, drawing inspiration from its language and imagery.


The Book of Common Prayer is a significant and influential text in the history of Christianity. Its prayers and liturgies have been used by Anglicans for centuries and have had a profound impact on the development of English literature. While the Book of Common Prayer has undergone several revisions over the years, its core texts remain a vital part of Anglican worship.


Why was the Book of Common Prayer so controversial?

The Book of Common Prayer was a liturgical text published in the 16th century in England during the reign of Edward VI. The creation of the Book of Common Prayer was part of a larger movement within the Church of England to promote uniformity and standardization in church services and religious practices. However, despite the good intentions behind its creation, the Book of Common Prayer ended up being one of the most controversial religious texts in English history.

One of the most controversial aspects of the Book of Common Prayer was its promotion of the belief that the success of Communion depended more upon the receptive heart of the Christian participant than the actual bread and wine used. This belief was in sharp contrast to the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, which held that the bread and wine literally became the body and blood of Christ during Communion.

Another controversial aspect of the Book of Common Prayer was its removal of certain ritualistic practices, such as the use of holy water, in the church service. This move was seen by some as an attack on traditional Catholic practices and further evidence of the Church of England’s break from Rome.

Furthermore, the new liturgical text was only written in English, which was a break from the tradition of Latin being used in religious services. This move was seen by some as a rejection of the Church’s long history and traditions, and a further indication of its break from the Catholic Church.

The publication of the Book of Common Prayer was also part of a broader political and religious conflict in England at the time, with tensions running high between Protestants and Catholics. Many Catholics saw the Book as an attack on their faith, while Protestants saw it as a necessary reform within the Church.

The Book of Common Prayer was extremely controversial because of its rejection of certain traditional Catholic practices, the promotion of new Protestant beliefs, and its use of the English language in religious services. Despite this controversy, the Book of Common Prayer remained in use in the Church of England for centuries and continues to be an important part of its liturgical tradition.