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The Book of Common Prayer: The Texts of 1549, 1559, and 1662 [Hardcover]

Brian Cummings
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Aug. 18 2011 0199207178 978-0199207176
"In the midst of life we are in death" The words of the Book of Common Prayer have permeated deep into the English language all over the world. For nearly 500 years, and for countless people, it has provided a background fanfare for a marriage or a funeral march at a burial. Yet this familiarity also hides a violent and controversial history. When it was first produced the Book of Common Prayer provoked riots and rebellion, and it was banned before being translated into a host of global languages and adopted as the basis for worship in the USA and elsewhere to the present day. This edition presents the work in three different states: the first edition of 1549, which brought the Reformation into people's homes; the Elizabethan prayer book of 1559, familiar to Shakespeare and Milton; and the edition of 1662, which embodies the religious temper of the nation down to modern times. Far from being a book for the religious only, the Book of Common Prayer is one of the seminal texts of human experience and a manual of everyday ritual: a book to live, love, and die to.

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"[I]f this edition makes the prayer book texts available to--and appreciated by--more general readers, it will have served its admirable purpose." -- Catholic Historical Review

"Magnificent edition" --Diarmaid MacCulloch, London Review of Books

"Superb edition...excellent notes and introduction" --Rowan Williams, Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Brian Cummings received his BA at Cambridge University, where he also took his PhD under the supervision of the poet Geoffrey Hill and the church historian Eamon Duffy. He was previously a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge before moving to Sussex. He was a British Academy Exchange Fellow at the Huntington Library, California, in 2007 and is currently a research professor holding a three-year Major Research Fellowship with the Leverhulme Trust (2009-12).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A majestic work - not to be missed March 14 2014
By Elgin
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For sentimental, literary or devotional purposes this is a landmark work. The exalted prose embraces the mind and the heart. Would there were such writers today.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
80 of 86 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars review of Kindle edition ONLY Dec 8 2011
By Alan Jacobs - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a superb work of scholarship which I can't commend too highly, but the Kindle edition contains hundreds -- and I do mean 'hundreds' -- of textual errors, apparently introduced by scanning and not caught in editing. There are letters replaced by numbers and numbers by letters, a frequent failure to recognize capitals, and general mis-recognition of letters and whole words. I've never yet bought an e-book that didn't have at least a few such errors, but this is the worst one I've ever seen. The hardcover edition, by contrast, is exceptionally well done, and I recommend it without reservation.

(I hate this system which makes my criticism of this particular version look like a criticism of the book itself, but Amazon doesn't allow us to make subtle distinctions in these reviews. I felt I had to put the one-star warning lest someone buy the Kindle version and not see the problems until after the 7-day return deadline.)
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof June 19 2012
By Nimrod Nimrodel - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Before I get into the literary content, I must mention that the physical book is very well designed and attractively bound, with a handy ribbon.

So now, the Book of Common Prayer is of course a marvelous work in all its classical editions, but I was most mystified by some of the choices made here by editor Brian Cummings. The introductory matter states "An ideal edition of the Book of Common Prayer would include all this [1662] material in its varieties, and also those of 1552, 1604, and 1928. This edition is not that ideal." So at least it's honest, admitting it's not ideal. And I can understand why it's not practical to put in every possible text. But some omitted sections make it severely lacking as a tool for comparative liturgy.

The 1549 BCP is missing the Introits, Collects, Epistles, and Gospels, under the excuse that this section is substantially identical to that in the 1662 text. But this is very regrettable, because the 1549 book used (along with those of 1552 and 1559) an entirely different and older scriptural translation from the Authorized Version used in 1662. It would be very instructive to compare these, but this volume does not afford us that opportunity. Additionally, since the BCPs after 1549 did not include Introits at all, I don't understand why Cummings couldn't have at least included a little table telling us which psalm went with which day in the 1549 lectionary, even if he was unwilling to print them all out.

Neither of the two Edwardine Ordinals is included, which is a real shame since they changed a lot compared to the one in 1662.

The 1552 BCP is entirely absent, but I don't mind this omission too much, since no one ever really used that book for long.

With 1662 we have an edition with pretty much all of its materiel. Including, I must add, the "State Services" for the Gunpowder Treason, the Martyrdom of King Charles I, the Restoration of King Charles II, which were sadly removed from the BCP by the Victorians. Besides these it also includes even more obscure services like a lament over the Great Fire of London and a form for the "King's Healing". I was extremely pleased to see all these.

Finally, the book is marred by a typo - or at least a very odd inconsistency - in the 1662 Offices. The Suffrages after the Creed in Morning Prayer read "O Lord, save the Queen", but the corresponding Suffrage in Evening Prayer has "O Lord, save the King". I assume the latter is the correct one, since it's meant to replicate the text as it existed in 1662, when Charles II was reigning.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SOUND AND GRACEFUL WORK Sept. 6 2012
By James A. Steed - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Brian Cummings has produced an excellent edition of the Prayer Book texts of 1549, 1559, and 1662. It is not a facsimile edition, but the texts are reproduced in a clear and readable format. Many an author has lost his way in the thicket of scholarship surrounding the Tudor and Caroline church. Cummings has provided an introduction which navigates this hugely complex topic in a way that is both helpful and succinct. The author offers notes and commentary on the contents of the three prayer books that is insightful. A select bibliography is provided for those who wish to explore specific issues more fully. This book will be of use to the merely curious and to the serious student.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Use with Shakespeare's Common Prayers. Jan. 3 2013
By mjveck - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Use with Shakespeare's Common Prayers. Together they inform both the texts of the plays, the culture of the period and the unusual influence of the church on British society of the period.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value. Jan. 10 2013
By sparks - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Read the review in some well-known publication, thought it was time to have a copy, especially for the famous language, not especially for religious reasons.
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