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Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is the official prayer book of the Church of England and the churches in the Anglican Communion (the world-wide affiliation of Anglican Churches) It was first published in 1549 after the break with the Roman Catholic Church in England. Its purpose was to provide a common prayer book for all churches to use in place of the Latin (Roman Catholic) service rites. The first Prayer Book was compiled by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. He simplified the complex liturgical patterns of the medieval church, translated ancient prayer texts into English, and composed new material incorporating theological currents of the Reformation. Each church in the Anglican Communion has its own version of the BCP. The BCP has gone through several versions in England and in the other churches in the Anglican Communion. For a brief history of the Book of Common Prayer click here

In the current version of the Episcopal BCP one will find prayer services for a variety of occasions, including the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, weddings, burials, and ordinations of clergy. It also includes a schedule of daily bible readings for individuals to use in private prayer; morning, noon, and evening prayer services for use by small groups; the Outline of Faith of the church, and the historical documents of the Episcopal church.

There have been four editions of the Episcopal BCP - the first one was published in 1789 after the American Revolution and the break with the Church of England. The second BCP was issued in 1892, the third in 1928, and the last one in 1979. The revisions of 1892 and 1928 were minor. However, the 1979 edition contained a number of changes to the form and content of the Book of Common Prayer and this caused a great deal of controversy when it was released. A parish in the Episcopal church may use either the 1928 or the 1979 prayer book. At the Cathedral we use the 1979 prayer book.

The Cathedral Bookstore carries a wide selection of BCP's, including both the the 1928 and 1979 BCP as well as BCPs from other countries. The BCP is also available in electronic form:




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