The Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer

Unique to the Anglican Church, the Book of Common Prayer is the collection of worship services that all worshipers in an Anglican church follow. It is called “common prayer” because we all pray it together, around the world.

Our present prayer book in the Episcopal Church was published in 1979. While other worship resources and prayers exist to enrich our worship, the Book of Common Prayer is the authority that shapes our worship.

"The Book of common prayer has seeped into the collective consciousness more profoundly than that of any other book written in English - even the bible"

Brian Cummings - Oxford press

For 500 years this book has marked the hours (Morning & Evening Prayer),  the days (Feasts and Festivals), the most profound sorrows (At the Burial of a Child), sufferings (Visitation of the Sick), happiness (The Order of Baptism), crisis, and triumph (Prayers and Thanksgivings Upon Special Occasions).

It has shaped the inner life and branded the tongue of the English-speaking peoples.  It's phrases and rhythms did not merely enter our language, they largely defined it.

Although he was a ferocious athiest, George Orwell, probably the 20th century's most astute critic of English, frequently quoted the BCP from memory, and insisted on being married...

"Dearly beloved ..."

"to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow."

"those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder."

and buried...

"deliver your servant from all evil and set him free ..."

"may angels surround her and saints welcome her in peace..."

"in the midst of life we are in death."

...to the timeless words of the Book of Common Prayer.

On page 845 you will find the basics of our faith clearly and succintly spelled out for all to see and understand. It is our Catechism; our FAQ.

If you ever need to pray, and don't know what to say, look in the Book of Common Prayer. If you can't express your highest thoughts in words, have a look. A monumentally significant work.

“We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.”

”My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”
— Albert Einstein