Common as in communal, not ordinary or humdrum or boring. Prayers of the community. Prayers of “the great cloud of witnesses” who have gone before us and, by God’s grace, who will come after us. Borrowed words from Scripture and from Saints long gone spoken in moments when our own words fail us.
Tonight was one of many chaplain shifts that relied heavily on these rites. The Holy Spirit works instantaneously in a thousand different ways. But the Holy Spirit also works slowly and steadily over the course of many centuries to give the church gifts like these prayers.
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)
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- Historical Documents of the Church, p.864
- 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: bcponline.org