The 1662 Book of Common Prayer
IVP Readers' Choice Award
The Book of Common Prayer (1662) is one of the most beloved liturgical texts in the Christian church, and remains a definitive expression of Anglican identity today. It is still widely used around the world, in public worship and private devotion, and is revered for both its linguistic and theological virtues.
But the classic text of the 1662 prayer book presents several difficulties for contemporary users, especially those outside the Church of England. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer: International Edition gently updates the text for contemporary use. State prayers of England have been replaced with prayers that can be used regardless of nation or polity. Obscure words and phrases have been modestly revised—but always with a view towards preserving the prayer book's own cadence. Finally, a selection of treasured prayers from later Anglican tradition has been appended.
The 1662 prayer book remains a vital resource today, both in the Anglican Communion and for Christians everywhere. Here it is presented for continued use for today's Christians throughout the world.
"I think this is a beautiful project, and one that will be useful to churches and families that want to take advantage of the great beauty and theological power of the old prayer book, without being distracted by irrelevant or obscure language."
"This splendid new edition of the Book of Common Prayer, adapted for international contemporary use, opens up a unique liturgical treasure for the benefit of all Christians and all nations."
"The official prayer book of the Church of England remains the revised version of 1662. And beyond the United Kingdom, the 1662 edition continues to wield enormous influence in the Anglican Communion as well as in other churches around the world. Believers who still wish to pray from this time-tested prayer book now have a gorgeously produced, reader-friendly edition with which to do so. A greater gift for lovers of the Book of Common Prayer can hardly be imagined."
"Anglicans in North America today are not sufficiently familiar with the classic Book of Common Prayer (1662). Accordingly, I heartily endorse this accessible new edition of this essential Anglican formulary. It has long been needed and the editors are to be strongly commended for their care and restraint."
"In an age when each new wave of liturgical reform seems doomed to obsolescence almost before it is completed, Bray and Keane's call to 'Look to the rock from whence you were hewn' is a breath of fresh air. Amid the wreckage of discarded innovations that litter the liturgical landscape, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer still stands as the classic expression of Anglican spirituality, the finest edition of a prayer book that has nurtured the faith of countless millions. Bray and Keane are to be praised and saluted for retrieving this forgotten gem, polishing it up, and demonstrating its enduring value as a guide for public and private devotion. In the process, they have also proven the folly of overhasty modernizations of older devotional texts, showing that archaic language can be not merely beautiful but still thoroughly intelligible. Judiciously edited and beautifully presented, this edition is a great gift to the church today; I pray that it will be gratefully received and widely adopted."
"The Prayer Book—in the classic edition of 1662—has been attacked, denigrated, dismissed, damned with faint praise, patronized, patted on the head, and torn in shreds. It's too Protestant, it's too Catholic, it's a typical Anglican muddle, it does not express the new insight of the modern age, it's not open to the Spirit, it's not relevant. Yet all these cantankerous and often sophistical cavillations fall away when you pray according to the rule of prayer it sets forth with an open heart and an open mind. What then meets you in these pages is a pure scriptural teaching, deeply embedded in the catholic tradition, turned into the language of prayer, and in the corporate action of liturgy, with a craftmanship that is quietly breathtaking. Its prose is not Tudor but timeless, not purple but plain in its elegance (simplex munditiis); and in its clarity, dignity, and quiet beauty it carries the weight of conviction as almost nothing else does. That is why it survived the Marian reaction, the Puritan interregnum, and the diktats of modern liturgists; that's why it will encourage and embolden the faithful in the new dark ages of skepticism and hostility to religion. Though this prayer book came out of the Church of England, it belongs not to the English, nor even to Anglicans, much less to Anglophiles (fruity accents and whatnot)—as this edition makes clear, it is a prayer book for English-speaking Christians throughout the world."
"By sensitively updating the language and adapting the content for use by the worldwide Anglican Communion, this 1662 Book of Common Prayer, International Edition, makes a most welcome contribution toward making the classical liturgy of Anglicanism accessible to younger people and to a wider audience. Those who use it will rediscover a liturgical tradition that has shaped the spiritual life of generations of faithful Anglicans and be strengthened in their faith as they make their pilgrim way to the celestial city."
"The Book of Common Prayer is and has been the Anglican rule of life for centuries. While many Anglican provinces assert the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as one of their formularies, this assertion often remains an ideal rather than a practice. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, International Edition, makes the 1662 Prayer Book more accessible to Anglicans and others today. It will be, I pray, an integrating force among Anglican churches in a global Anglicanism that is all too rapidly disintegrating."
"The Book of Common Prayer—with its timeless liturgies, lectionary, psalms, and prayers—has long held worldwide Anglicanism together. This splendid new 1662 Book of Common Prayer, International Edition, preserves the beauty, power, and majesty of the original text while making modest linguistic updates throughout and offering judicious amendments to the prayers and psalter. The editors and publisher deserve high praise for presenting this authoritative, affordable, and accessible text for Christians worldwide to use in their private devotions and public worship."
"The editors of The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, International Edition, are to be congratulated on making every effort to preserve the substance and form of traditional common prayer in a manner accessible to the widest possible community of Anglican worshippers. The rhythm, meter, and musicality of the language, so critically important for liturgical expression, have been preserved intact. The editors' discerning decision 'to update the language of rubrics most; prayers less; and Psalms, canticles, and biblical texts least of all' is admirable indeed, and strikes just the right balance of minimal but acceptable modification. 'O worship the Lord in beauty of holiness. Let the whole earth stand in awe of Him.'"
"Leading prayers focused on God and his people with words that are not obscure, and clearly communicating the truth of the gospel and the heart of God to Anglicans in the worldwide Communion so rich with cultural diversity, present a considerable challenge. This 2021 revised 1662 text of the Book of Common Prayer has ventured into this territory in order to provide a contextualized and expanded tool to help the church offer the ministry of worship to God. Leaders of worship and prayers in the Communion will find in the pages of this Book of Common Prayer the riches that will enable them to lead, feed, and affirm their faith within their own contexts. This book is the pride of Anglican Christians and yet another welcome step forward for the churches in the Communion."
"This project is very worthwhile because it reminds us of the lasting significance of the Book of Common Prayer, which represents both continuity with what went before and what was new. Common prayer in the vernacular was certainly new! We have gotten used to it now so that even the most resistant ecclesial traditions have accepted it, but it was the Reformation which began it all. The different ways in which the Prayer Book was adopted and adapted for use in widely differing cultures and contexts alerts us to its openness to worship appropriate for particular peoples and cultures. Cranmer wanted his Prayer Book to be centered on Scripture and to engage every sense of the worshiper. Both the centrality of Scripture and the needs of the worshipers are taken into account. The significance of the Prayer Book, great as it is for Anglicans, is not limited to them. Its services have had a huge impact on many different church traditions and continue to do so. Long live the BCP!"
"Some eighty million Anglicans have reason to rejoice in the publication of The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, International Edition. It is masterfully edited by competent and judicious scholars. The 39 Articles, the Homily on Justification, a glossary, and abundant, well-chosen prayers are included. It is virtually an Anglican DNA from which we can weigh the subsequent Prayer Books developed over the years. It will be a treasure to own and a delight to use."
"Many love the Prayer Book for its linguistic beauty, but greater than that is its ability to communicate the gospel. This new edition of the Book of Common Prayer makes gospel proclamation, as Cranmer wanted it, front and center without sacrificing its aesthetic value. Updated to speak the gospel into the context of today, this edition will not only be a valuable resource for those interested in liturgy, but a devotional companion for those seeking to hear the message of our redemption in the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope it finds a welcome place in our studies, homes, and churches."
"The 1662 Book of Common Prayer is one of Anglicanism's core texts and key to understanding the formational events of the Reformation and Restoration in the shaping of the Anglican religious tradition. It owes much to its predecessors and has bequeathed much to its successors; it has been revised and adapted to circumstance, not only across the nations of the British Isles but around the globe. Bray and Keane's informed and sensitively updated edition re-presents the 1662 Prayer Book for a new readership as an important resource both for study and liturgical use."
"Aside from the Bible itself, I can't think of a book that has had more impact on the Christian world in the last five hundred years than the Book of Common Prayer. I'm delighted to see it published in this new format that, I pray, will allow a whole new generation of people to access the rich and faithful theology, liturgy, prayers, and resources that it offers."
"W. H. Auden was spot-on when he said the English Prayer Book had the singular good fortune of being 'composed and its Bible translated at exactly the right time: late enough for the language to be intelligible to any English-speaking person in this century (any child of six can be told what "the quick and the dead" means) and early enough, when people still had an instinctive feeling for the formal and the ceremonious, which is essential in liturgical language. This feeling has been, alas, as we all know, almost totally lost.' This labor of love brings forth something old in a way that will allow a whole new generation to meet the standard Prayer Book for the first time. The updating and adjustments are gentle, judicious, and reflect the proper reverence for a book that has nurtured the soul for countless Christians for centuries."
"The 1662 is the only official version of the Prayer Book for the Church of England. It is the standard on which all other versions since that time have been modeled. Both for that reason and because of its beauty, this publication is a boon for the worldwide Anglican Communion."
"These biblically infused prayers, full of the gospel of grace, are a wonderful resource for the global church."
"The 1662 Book of Common Prayer has long been considered the high-water mark of the Anglican liturgy. It's called 'common prayer' not because the vernacular attempted the lowest common denominator of the speech of the day. To the contrary, the language of the Prayer Book reaches a majestic level. It reflects with theological purpose the linguistic patterns and liturgical protocols of the biblical, heavenly court, since worship is entrance into the throne room of the King of kings. The use of 'common' to describe this book instead means in one common place, overcoming the problem of multiple service books of the Middle Ages prior to the English Reformation. In achieving this purpose, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer brought together in one book, via ancient and streamlined templates of worship, the theology of Holy Scripture and the ancient church fathers in the beauty of holiness. Yet it took a hundred years of reform after Cranmer to reach, with the edition of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the balanced objectives of the church. Since then it has survived the test of time, being to this day the most commonly used version of the Book of Common Prayer around the world. Bray and Keane are therefore to be commended for making this paragon of praise and thanksgiving available to the international community while maintaining its historic language, patterns, prayers, and most importantly, its theology."
"The Book of Common Prayer has kept its place at the center of Anglican identity in a remarkable way, considering the long and kaleidoscopic history of the churches that use it. This latest presentation of its riches is, like the original, marked by judicious common sense, but also by a sure instinct for how its many virtues can elegantly be augmented by the practice of later centuries. It is to be welcomed as a gift to Anglicans worldwide: not a trophy of antique display but a practical framework for everyday worship."
"The Book of Common Prayer, now nearly five hundred years old, is one of the historic witnesses of religious practice and feeling. This new International Edition, with additions and revisions to bring it up to date for a new global English-speaking audience, is the latest example of how it continues to be reimagined and reexperienced in every era."
"I often hear from harried Christians, anxious about what they can 'do' in this time of extraordinary turbulence and disorder. There must be something—besides prayer, of course—some action to take. So far I have explained that praying is actually the best thing to do, no matter what, but now I will also hand them this book. It is such a gift to have a fresh, updated version of a resource that has anchored generations of Christians to the deep hope of the gospel. The person who uses this book in a disciplined way to orient himself or herself in Scripture, prayer, and worship will find the way not just to action but to a life transformed from one of wind-tossed anxiety to the settled rest of a tree, planted by a stream of water."
"I am privileged to write and commend the use of The 1662 Book of Common Prayer: International Edition. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, together with the ordinal attached to the same, remains the standard for Anglican tradition and worship. I encourage the use of this international edition in both public and private devotions. In addition to the rich liturgy of the prayer book, I commend the use of the prayers that are found in the appendix, especially the prayers for the spread of the gospel and for those who are persecuted. My own life and ministry have been fashioned by the doctrine and order in the Book of Common Prayer 1662, which remains a treasure for Christians of every generation."
"This work is a great gift to our generation. The language and the teaching of the 1662 Prayer Book are essential not just to our heritage but to our understanding of the gospel in this day."
How the Psalms and Scriptures Are to Be Read
The Tables, Rules, and Calendar of Lessons
The Creed of St. Athanasius
Prayers and Thanksgivings
The Collects, Epistles, and Gospels
The Holy Communion
Baptism Both Public and Private
Baptism for Those of Riper Years
The Catechism, with Confirmation
The Solemnization of Matrimony
The Visitation and Communion of the Sick
The Burial of the Dead
The Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth
Forms of Prayer to Be Used at Sea
Articles of Religion
The Editors to the Reader
A Sermon on the Salvation of Mankind
Additional Prayers and Thanksgivings
An Alternative Table of Lessons