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The Book of Common Prayer: The Texts of 1549, 1559, and 1662 Hardcover – Aug 18 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (Aug. 18 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199207178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199207176
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 2 x 15 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 798 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #222,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Cummings' annotations are superb and very much worth reading in full. He desribes with patience and scholarly tact the many subtleties of variation among these editions and the reasons for them. His achievement is all the more impressive because these subtleties often seem boundless...Cummings's authoritative edition helps readers understand how a politically fraught, theologically disputatious era managed to produce such a masterpiece--insofar as such a miracle can be understood at all."--Books and Culture

"Cummings, whose previous book was the brilliant and groundbreaking Literary Culture of the Reformation, is a scholar exquisitely sensitive to the intricacies of grammar and linguistics. Here--in his lapidary introduction, comprehensive glossary, rich explanatory notes, and meticulous, plainly written annotations--he elucidates the doctrinal, social, political, historical, and literary reverbations of a monumentally significant work."--The Atlantic

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

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

"[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).

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent compilation, although it is important to keep in mind that it is by no means exhaustive. There are significant omissions, for example, the proper psalms that were appointed to be sung at the beginning of the 1549 Eucharist, replaced in later editions by the Decalogue. As the Introduction states, this compilation is but a series of snapshots of three major stages in the evolution of the BCP (1549, 1552 and 1559). The rest is history. The Introduction is especially helpful.
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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) HASH(0xa01fc258) out of 5 stars 33 reviews
101 of 107 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0202f0c) 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.)
43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0205174) 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.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0205138) 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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa020542c) out of 5 stars Great for study, and the notes alone make it worth it. Feb. 12 2014
By D. Tollefsen - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm amazed at the amount of information that is provided in this book. The introduction had a great analysis on the English Reformation and really gave a sense for the scandal of what is a widely beloved prayer book. The notes also, are wonderful as they get into the nuances of words and phrases, why some things were changed to be less (or more) catholic and how sometimes they avoid saying too much with a lot of words. Overall, I'm very impressed. The author as well seems to know these books inside and out and has developed a fondness for them which comes across through the notes and introductions. It really adds to the experience, like a good teacher showing the beauty of the subject he loves.

My only critique is that of following the notes. I always have two fingers stuck between pages to flip back and forth and haven't found a way to alternate between them. I don't know how else he could have done it without interrupted the flow of the prayer book itself (which maintains it's originality.) But oh well, I don't fault it at all, it's just something I noticed.
72 of 103 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0205924) out of 5 stars Beautifully presented texts marred by the commentary Oct. 22 2011
By Michael Hoffman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In terms of the presentation of these venerable editions of the texts of the Prayer Book, this volume is a resounding success.

The commentary however, often reflects an unseemly modern anti-Christian bias. The notes on the order of matrimony for example, present the interesting lacuna that the radical Puritans did not object to the traditional prohibition of the marriage rite during fast and holy days. But it also jeers that prohibition by stating that people "being mammals" can mate the whole year long; insinuating that the postponement of the marriage rite and its limitation to certain times of the year is an absurd contradiction of our "animal" nature.

Memo to Prof. Brian Cummings: Christianity is a supernatural religion founded on elevating spirituality above carnality, man above the level of mammalian beast. To contrast animal nature with the demands of the Church is to completely misunderstand the Christian at his most fundamental level of vision and commitment. Cummings could not resist the compulsion to sneer at Christianity with his attempts at wisecracks sprinkled throughout the book. The editors at Oxford University Press either didn't care, or they encourage this sort of thing.