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Book of Common Prayer: Introduction

What is a Prayer Book?

A collection of prayers and services to be used by God’s people throughout the year and throughout one’s life. A Prayer Book may include a simple collection of prayers (Valley of Vision, etc) or it may contain all approved worship services, prayers, and other ministries for a particular Christian Tradition.

Examples of ancient Prayer Books:

  • Psalms (Songs of Ascent – Psalms 115-136)
  • Church Manuals (Didache, Hippolytus, etc)

Common Prayer?

Before the BCP, the wealthy and literate might be able to afford personal Prayer Books (mostly in Latin) that included daily readings and prayers.

The BCP, first created in 1549, was intended to be a Common Prayer Book for English-speaking Christians.

What does Common mean in this context?

  • Common as in “available to everyday folk”
  • Common as in “universal”
  • Common as in vernacular (Originally: English. Today: over 200 languages)

The Book of Common Prayer

The official Prayer Book for the Anglican Communion, locally adapted in each Province.

Latest American version: 1979 (1549 oldest, 1662 seen as most “authoritative.”)

Gems from the BCP

  • Daily Office (Morning | Noon | Evening | Compline), p.37-147 (Click here to download a Guide to Morning Prayer)
  • Lectionary (Reading Plan), p.936
  • Prayers for Various Occasions, p.814
  • Collects (prayers for specific days/seasons of the year), p.158
  • Catechism (an outline of the faith), p.845
  • Historical Documents of the Church, p.864
  • Services
    • Thanksgiving for the Adoption or Birth of a Child, p.439
    • Confession (Reconciliation of a Penitent), p.447
    •  Ministration for the Sick, p.453
    • Ministration at the Time of Death, p.462

Tips & Tricks

  • Rite I refers to Traditional language (thee, thou)
  • Rite II refers to Contemporary language (you, your)
  • Bookmarks, bookmarks, bookmarks
  • Online (searchable) version: