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The Book of Common Prayer, 1559: The Elizabethan Prayer Book Hardcover – 30 Sep 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press (30 Sept. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813925177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813925172
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,647,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

John E. Booty is Professor Emeritus of Church History at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Judith Maltby is Chaplain and Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Customer Reviews

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The Book of Common Prayer is the core of the Anglican identity. Since 1662, the standard bearer has been the primary Book of Common Prayer used by the Church of England; however, there have been many variations and developments, both supplemental liturgies and entire, new 'Books of Common Prayer' among daughter churches throughout the world. However, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer was itself the product of over a hundred years of development in the theological and worship life of the Church of England. Never was that development as varied and controversial as during the period between Henry VIII's break from Rome, through his Protestant successor Edward (or rather, through Edward's officials), back to the Roman Catholic Mary, and then to the Elizabethan period, in which a via media was attempted of sorts.
The 1559 Prayer Book was not the first; there were two predecessors -- one in 1549, and another in 1552, both done during Edward VI's brief boyhood reign. At this time, the Protestants who had been held back by Henry gained ascendancy, only to lose it again in 1553 when the young king died unexpectedly, and the people rallied to the Roman Catholic Mary, who reinstituted the Latin Missal and Breviary, used until her death in 1558, when the Protestant Elizabeth ascended the throne. The 1559 Book of Common Prayer is a revision of the 1552, only slightly, but given that the unbroken continuity of the Book of Common Prayer's usage dates from this book, it makes sense to be a significant text for study.
Elizabeth was a Protestant-Humanist, very much a character of the age, and this sentiment is reflected in the text of the Book of Common Prayer.
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This is an essential work for anyone interested in the history of the Book of Common Prayer. The book is beautifully produced (acid-free paper, sewn binding, cloth-covered boards), but the UK RRP is excessive - buy from someone importing from America. Two points to bear in mind: (1) it is a modern-spelling edition (the new version by Brian Cummings The Book of Common Prayer: The Texts of 1549, 1559, and 1662 is an original-spelling one, but that is seriously incomplete) and (2) it lacks the 1561 Calendar and the Ordinal (the latter is almost identical to the Edwardian one, but the former is important because it was in use over most of the period the book was used) - for these the editor blithely directs us to a book published in 1847! Liturgical Services: Liturgies and Occasional Forms of Prayer Set Forth in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth

The aim of the exercise was to produce the prayerbook in use in Shakespeare's lifetime, so the changes in the 1604 book should also be included.

There is no Psalter, but that is no problem as this is a modern-spelling edition. Finding a Great Bible for the Matins and Evensong lessons may be more problematic, however...
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Very nicely produced edition, two-colour with rubrics actually in red. Modern spelling, punctuation influenced by sixteenth-century practice but it isn't clear how far the edition departs from it. There is unlikely to be a better ordinary reading edition. Not dear.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars 12 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an important text, nicely presented 18 July 2012
By John C. Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is a thoughtfully edited presentation of an important piece of English literature. Spelling and punctuation have been mildly updated and standardized. The rhythms and expressions of the BCP shaped the language and style of those who heard, performed, and experienced it weekly. Gaining some familiarity with the book opens new doors of understanding on Renaissance and early modern England. The essays and notes in the back provide much useful information and background.

I also own the Oxford "Book of Common Prayer: the Texts of 1549, 1559, and 1662", which is useful in its own right, but bought this volume because the Oxford presents only the 1662 in its entirety, with sections of the earlier books omitted when they largely conform to the later version. It is very nice to have 1559 complete and in one place.

The volume is well-bound and should prove durable for many years of study/prayer.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars William Shakespeare's Prayer Book 24 May 2012
By Leif E. Trondsen - Published on Amazon.com
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Of the many editions of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), the principal doctrinal and liturgical text of the Church of England, the 1559 Elizabethan Prayer Book has been the most influential. Along with the plays of William Shakespeare and the King James Bible, its stately and majestic prose has shaped the language and imagination of the English-speaking world. The much beloved Collect for Purity is but a sample of the incomparable liturgical prose of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the principal author of the original versions of the BCP (1549 and 1552):

Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known,
and from whom no secrets be hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee,
and worthily magnify thy holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fortunately, the University of Virginia Press has recently (2005) reissued the 1976 edition of the Elizabethan Prayer Book masterfully edited by John E. Booty, a noted church historian and Episcopal priest. This is a fully "working" edition of the 1559 BCP, complete with all liturgical services (Daily Office, Communion, etc.) and instructional rubrics appropriately in red print. (I use it daily for Morning and Evening Prayers.) It also contains an informative Preface written by Judith Maltby, a well-known Tudor scholar from Oxford University. Lastly, this edition concludes with an elucidative "History of the 1559 Book of Common Prayer" written by the editor, which highlights the sources, creation, intent, and influence of the Elizabethan Prayer Book. I highly recommend this version of the BCP to students of Tudor history as well as to all Anglicans/Episcopalians interested in the development of their Church's timeless liturgy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elizabethan Prayer Book of 1559 - still excellent! 17 Mar. 2012
By RevdRMBWest - Published on Amazon.com
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The 1559 (Elizabethan) Book of Common Prayer sits somewhere between the 1552 (Edwardian) Prayer Book and the 1662 (Carolingian) Prayer Book that we all know, use and love - if we are Anglicans of some description, whether in or out of the established Church of England.

This 1559 Prayer Book is well-bound and presented and is a privilege to use. It is the one that Shakespeare would have used and comes with red-lettering and quotes from that Bible that fore-dated the AV, the Bishop's Bible (which is most like the AV).

It is large but easy to hold, to read from during service; but lacks the Articles of Religion in the back which had, by 1559, not be finalised.

The spelling has been updated; and this is maybe one of the greatest attractions to having it. It also comes with an historical and very informative introduction. I would say that for both the antiquarian and the contemporary worshipper this is a must theologocially, spiritually and historically.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's fun to look back in time 16 Nov. 2008
By James D. Costich - Published on Amazon.com
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John Booty has done a good job of making 1559 Prayer Book accessible to us. Even if you're not an Anglican Christian (Episcopalian for those of us in the U.S.) it's very interesting to read the worship tradition of so long ago, including Psalms and Gospel readings in Elizabethan English. But there are other interesting traditions lost today like a rite of thanksgiving blessing given to women who had just survived childbirth. The chapter on the History of the book itself is well worth the price of the book. I remember seeing copies of the 1559 Prayerbook as a child and wanting to read them but was unable to read the old English script they were invariably published in. This is fun.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring 21 July 2012
By QueenofCoffee - Published on Amazon.com
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Although George Washington used the 1662 edition of the Common Book of Prayer, this 1559 edition is basically the same prayers/readings that George Washington used. The chapter entitled 'Commination' will get your heart/mind to thinking. I would recommend this to all interested in our Founding Father, George Washington, and his Christian walk.
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