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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2011
After some hesitation, I have given this five stars (i.e. I have reviewed it for what it is, rather than what it should have been.) It is an essential work for anyone interested in the history of the Book of Common Prayer (especially at Amazon's 2011 price!) Its Unique Selling Point is that it prints the original 1662 text of the Book of Common Prayer (not easily obtainable, as I explain below) - just in time to coincide with its 350th anniversary. Brian Cummings's introduction is very good, but perhaps much too abbreviated, leading to some imprecision. The notes are excellent, but difficult to follow because they are cumulative - you need to check that a point hasn't already been made against an earlier text. Again, fuller notes could always have been made (e.g. the doxology to the Lord's Prayer is never properly explained.)

The title is misleading because only shortened versions of the 1549 and 1559 editions are included, and the full texts are not easily reconstructable from the information given - they are, however (if regrettably) probably the most readily obtainable versions of those editions. (The 1552 edition - a key work - is not included, and neither are the 1550 and 1552 ordinals - the latter is a serious omission, as it is almost identical to the Elizabethan one, and would thus have supplemented the 1559 text.) The texts given are lightly modernised (e.g. for i/j and u/v) - this is perfectly satisfactory for the 1662 text, but less so for the 1549 and 1559 texts, especially as contractions and elisions are also silently expanded.

Serious students really need to supplement this book with E.C.S. Gibson's 1910/1948 Everyman "The First and Second Prayer Books of Edward VI", last re-issued by the Prayer Book Society in 1999, which gives the full text of the 1549 edition and a shortened version of that of 1552 (but which can be completed using the 1549 text), as well as full texts of the 1550 and 1552 Ordinals (the Psalter is not, however, included.) Unfortunately, that book is out of print, and only available in dubious Print-On-Demand reprints.

Those interested in the 1559 Prayer Book really need to get J. Booty's edition: The Book of Common Prayer, 1559: The Elizabethan Prayer Book - which is cheaper from US Amazon!

The reason the work under review is the only one to have the original 1662 text is simple: the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is still the official liturgy of the Church of England and is restricted to the official publishers: the Queen's Printer, Oxford University Press, and Cambridge University Press. Most editions claiming to be "1662" are actually the latest text - and that includes Diarmaid MacCulloch's otherwise excellent Everyman edition of 1999: The Book Of Common Prayer: 1662 Version: 1662 Version (Includes Appendices from the 1549 Version and Other Commemorations) (Everyman's Library classics) - Everyman were only able to get permission to print the 1958 edition with later amendments! For the present book, Oxford University Press were able to give themselves permission...
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2012
Bought as a present for someone far more religious than I am, I almost kept it back to read in detail for myself! The language of the Book of Common Prayer, like that of the King James Bible, is beautiful and easy to understand once you really listen to it or get to know it, unlike that of 'modern' and 'popular' versions which are largely banal and transient! The three versions included here clearly show how the prayer book was were refined modified and 'fine tuned', it's rather like comparing 'the director's cut' versions of films on DVD with the versions shown at the cinema when you first saw them! I still wish that they hadn't dropped the 'carnal desires of the brute beasts that have no understanding' from the wedding service though. After all, I know a lot of folk like that !
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2012
In the 350th anniversary year of the 1662 Prayer Book, Brian Cummings could not have given us a more important reminder of the importance of the Book of Common Prayer in our history. It's a beautifully presented publication, and priced very modestly. I wouldn't wish to be without this profound piece of work on my bookshelf.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2012
Cummings has done an extraordinary job. His prefatory material to the evolutionary development of these texts serves to illumine the most familiar works of the English canon. Even if we include the King James Version, there are few words that have a place in our heritage that don't stem from "The Book of Common Prayer." Most of the texts in this volume should be familiar. Their development from inception to Restoration is not.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2012
This book is a useful resource for anyone who is interested in the development of the Church of England's prayer books and liturgy. It provides a comparison between Cranmer's original 1549 prayer book, the Elizabethan revision of 1559 and the 1662 book that we are all familiar with. It is a pity that it does not also include the 1552 revision as well, since that would show the more protestant influence that came in in the later years of the reign of Edward VI. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 November 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a nicely produced book featuring three key version of the Book of Common Prayer. These are not fully complete, but for the interested reader rather than scholar there is more than enough here. In the lengthy notes which preceed the original texts it is made clear which parts are included and those that are not. Taken as a whole, everything one might ever want is here.

This book excels in the highly readable introduction from Brian Cummings. A fascinating history of the prayer book and England's wider religious journey, it is enjoyable for those with little knowledge and for those who would like to learn more. It makes clear the crucial role the Book had in the reformation. From day one Catholics and those of more traditional tastes were dismayed, as were Puritans who thought it was far too close to the Church of Rome. These were never truly settled, and as Cummings pointed out, this matter of religious division led to civil war. Charting the history of the Book from its predecessor in Luther's "Deutsche Mass" to the twentieth century history of rewrites and amendments, the story is a long one and as Cummings makes the analogue, it is like a character in a novel in the way it itself changes and also alters history.

This most satisfying edition is wonderful as a reference book to turn to time and again, and an enlightening introduction to the subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 25 October 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
One doesn't have to be Christian or even particularly religious to be moved by the numinous power of the words of the Book of Common Prayer - but this is without doubt one of the most powerful religious texts ever written in the English language.

Oxford are to be congratulated on publishing this edition, which allows is to compare the complez stresses and religious changes which influenced the three texts contained herein - 1549, 1559 and 1662. We can follow the journey from its origins in Edward VIs reign to its final version under the restored Charles II in 1662.

What clearly emerges is the compromises between reformers and traditionalists at all stages of the complex sequence of events that we label as the Reformation - as if this were a single event - whereas even allowing for Mary's attempt to roll back the Protestent tide and restore a Catholic England - we can seen that Protestantism as such, was often a house divided against itself.

An excellent edition.
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on 24 May 2015
This book is a fantastic resource for historians working on anything involving the revisions of the Prayer Book. A neat, comprehensive and comparative study like this has been long overdue. One is presented with the very first version of the Book of Common Prayer, the first Edwardine version of 1549, then with the Elizabethan Prayer Book of 1559, and finally with the 1662 version which is still the authorative one to the present day. The editions of the text seem excellent and trustworthy. So far this is all very useful.....

BUT why on earth is the 1552 second Edwardine Prayer Book version not included????? This version was far more important than the 1559 version: 1552 introduced huge changes to the 1549 next, reflecting a far more radical and 'reformed' approach and theological understanding. Admittedly, the 1559 version is quite similar to the 1552 one - but then, it would be more helpful for the context of such a study to have the earlier version (i.e. 1552). As it is, if one wants to know whether a change found in the 1559 version was introduced as early as 1552, one has to go and find that version: and that can be quite an enterprise - as there is no recent good, scholarly edition of the 1552 text.

Btw, yes, there was also a 1560 Latin version (for use at the universities) which is not included here. No problem with that, as it was never really of any major importance. But 1552 is a big elephant in the room to miss.

Anyhow, for what it is, the book is very well prepared and helpful, with informative explanatory notes. It's a shame it turns out to be slightly useless - or not sufficient, to say the least - if one wants to trace the development of a certain text through the different versions of the Prayer Book. What a shame... This could have been a marvellous resource - the definitive study on the Prayer Book. As it is, however, it's a big missed opportunity...
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VINE VOICEon 24 September 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Useful to show development of ideas - how so much of the Prayer book is bound up with the history of the 16th and 17th centuries and the strongly held views about reformation versus Catholicism. This helps explain why the Prayer Book is as it is and has much to teach us as there are now many voices in the liturgical field. Many Anglican churches now use Common Worship the majority of the time with various local changes that reflect their churchmanship, but the Prayer Book is still authorized for use and enjoyed by many.

This volume had not only the Prayer books of 1549, 1559 and 1662 but notes on the texts, over a hundred pages of explanatory notes and a glossary. The notes are especially useful and explain some of the changes and the thinking behind them. You see things changed in 1559 and then altered back in 1662.

It is not a Prayer Book to be used as such, but a suitable help for those interested in the subject. If you are studying a liturgy module in a Ministry course then this might be useful. If you are interested in the history and background to a book that has never been out of print (1662 version), then this will be of interest.

The one drawback with this volume is it is a substantial paperback, over an inch and half thick. (40 mm) and this means that when open the pages have a tendency to close unless the spine is forced; but this can damage this sort of binding. If you wanted to make constant reference to this then a hard back version might be preferable but is nearly double the price. I use bull dog clips to hold the pages open but I think this still puts pressure on the spine. For this reason I have only given four stars but still recommend it for study.
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VINE VOICEon 13 October 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a really thick book, 820 pages and contains the texts of three of the Books of Common Prayer written in 1549, 1559 and 1662. The texts written in 1549 and 1559 are very similar, containing chapters relating to Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Communion, Litany, Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony, Visitation of the Sick, Burial of the Dead and Commination. The text written in 1662 contains much more instruction, with lessons to be read, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Litany, Prayers and Thanksgivings, Collects, Epistles and Gospels, Communion, Baptism, Private Baptism, Baptism of Riper years, Catechism, Confirmation, Matrimony, Visitation of the Sick, Communion of the Sick, Burial of the Dead, Commination, The Psalms of David, Prayer to be used at Sea, Ordinal, State Services, Appendix and a large notes section. It is a very comprehensive book and brilliant to use for reference. Perhaps the only negative thing I can say about it, is that it is paperback and might soon become tatty if used regularly. Would much rather have had a hardback or leather bound version.
Excellent reference book for your bookcase though. Would recommend.
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