“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
“All the deceits of the world, the flesh and the devil.”
“Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.”
Shakespeare? The King James Bible? Close — the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, the liturgical and literary masterpiece that along with the playwright and the landmark Bible helped shape the English language, [marked its 350th anniversary in 2012].
—Anglicans Celebrate Book of Common Prayer’s 350th Anniversary by Trevor Grundy for Ecumenical News International and posted by Sojourners on May 2, 2012
The anniversary actually refers to the revised edition that still stands as the official doctrinal standard of the Church of England and most other churches in the worldwide Anglican Communion. After Henry VIII’s break with the Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer set out to replace the Latin missal with a book of liturgical services and prayers in English that would also incorporate theological changes, such as less prominence for saints.
The Prayer Book now appears in many variants in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion and has influenced the liturgical texts of other denominations.
The book’s language — another phrase is “till death us do part” from the marriage service — resonates even today, said Bishop Stephen Platten, chair of the Church of England’s Liturgical Commission. “Even in an apparently secular world, large numbers come to have their children christened or baptized. The cadences of the Prayer Book have become part of a treasury of prayers and reflections that have helped to fashion people’s lives,”
Do you have some favorites from the Book of Common Prayer? Share them in the Comments section here. Keep the conversation going …
Photo from the article by Trevor Grundy via Shutterstock