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The 1928 Book of Common Prayer
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For many Episcopalians (the American version of official Anglicans), the 1928 version of the Book of Common Prayer is still the most prized worship and liturgical form around. When the 'new' Book of Common Prayer was adopted in 1979 (merely the latest in a lengthening line of Prayer Book revision done by the church in America in the past three hundred years), whole parishes balked (and walked) because of the changes; faithful within the church looked for various means of preserving their beloved version of the BCP - my own church had a '1928 Service' every Wednesday afternoon.
The book is not arranged in as user-friendly a manner as the more recent revision (which itself leaves something to be desired in various ways), but it isn't the ordering that causes such devotion to this text. Despite the fact that much of the 'Shakespearean' language of this liturgy is retained in the Rite I form in the newer BCP, there are key differences that make this book the standard bearer to many conservative and traditional Episcopalians.
Like any BCP version, it has the principle services of the church - Communion, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Marriage rite, Funeral rite, the Psalter, the Calendar. It also has rites not included in updates - the churching of women, for example; neither will one find inclusive language in the orders of ordination here, for women were not admitted to the three-fold ordained ranks of bishop, priest and deacon while this book was primary. It also contains the collects, epistles and gospel readings for Sundays and major feast days, omitted as well from the later BCP.
The catechism is vastly changed from this to the 1979 revision - it is worth comparing the two to see how changes have taken place. Similarly, the Articles of Religion which conclude the 1928 BCP are placed under the ambiguous heading of 'Historical Documents' in the later BCP.
Not having been raised on either the 1928 or 1979 Book of Common Prayer, I feel somewhat objective about seeing the merits and shortcomings of each version; however, some who see value or shortcomings in either one are reflecting a more general feeling about the church in general - rare is the person who opposes women's ordination who supports the 1979 BCP over the 1928. I have both, side by side on my shelf, together with the Australian Prayer Book, the New Zealand Prayer book, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the 1559 Book of Common Prayer, which shows a grand tradition of diversity and continuity in the Anglican liturgy. The 1928 Book of Common Prayer has a significant place as a strong link between past and present, and is a must-have for students of, and those who generally love, the liturgy.
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on 17 July 2009
This is a lovely edition, but it may be useful to know before you buy that it is according to the use of the American Episcopal Church, and is not the Church of England's 1928 BCP.
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on 3 March 2013
This was bought as a confirmation gift and was perfect. The person I gave it to was absolutely delighted and thrilled.
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