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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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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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VINE VOICEon 25 October 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine 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 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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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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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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on 16 November 2011
In contrast to the other review, I deliberately used this book for worship over a two week holiday. Easy use of bookmarks, 'go to' and searching enabled movement rather faster than (some) page turning, to move around in worship. Switching to a Kindle version of the King James Bible for the readings, using again bookmarks for both morning and evening prayer couldn't have been simpler.

The main drawback is getting to the textual notes from the services, easy enough in reverse, however.

This is an interesting and useful book.
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on 3 November 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine 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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on 23 February 2015
As a book book, I am sure that this is excellent, comprehensive and well worth the money. As a Kindle item with absolutely no means of proper navigation it is, in my opinion, a complete waste of time and a major source of frustration. How about a revision that can be used on Kindle?
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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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