On the Prayer Book – I

File:Good Morning, Vietnam.jpg


As a very wise person or persons once said (or wrote):

The Book of Common Prayer is unique to Anglicanism.  It contains a collection of worship services that all worshipers in an Anglican church follow.  It also contains the Psalms, prayers and thanksgivings and an Outline of Faith. Essentially it is a guidebook for worship … [for] church on Sundays, as well as in daily relationship with God. It is called “common prayer” because it is used by all Anglicans around the world…   The first Book of Common Prayer was compiled in English by Thomas Cranmer in the 16th Century, and since then has undergone many revisions…  The present prayer book in the Episcopal Church was published in 1979.

So – just in case you missed the subtle clues in the About that “DOR Scribe” guy page – The Scribe is a “card-carrying” member of the Episcopal Church.  In that sense he is just like Robin Williams (seen above), but the star of Good Morning Vietnam is also famous for his list of “Top 10 Reasons for Being an Episcopalian:”

10.       No snake handling.

9.          You can believe in dinosaurs.

8.          Male and female, God created them; male and female we ordain them.

7.          You don’t have to check your brains at the door.

6.          Pew aerobics.

5.          Church year is color coded.

4.           Free wine on Sunday.

3.           All of the pageantry, none of the guilt.

2.           You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized.

And finally, the Number One reason to be an Episcopalian:    “No matter what you believe, there’s bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.”   (See for example Top Ten Episcopal T-Shirt, Red, XX-Large – Episcopal Bookstore.   Then there’s that old saw about whenever you find four Episcopalians, “you’re sure to find a fifth!” See for example whiskeypalian; where you find four Episcopalians, you’ll find …)

 *   *   *   *

But seriously, one of the best reasons to become an Episcopalian is the Prayer Book:

The Episcopal Church (TEC) is part of the very large Anglican Communion…  [It] describes itself as being “Protestant, yet Catholic…  [It] was organized after the American Revolution, when it separated from the Church of England whose clergy are required to swear allegiance to the British monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and became the first Anglican Province outside the British Isles…  The Episcopal Church separated itself from the Church of England in 1789, having been established in the United States in 1607. Its prayer book, published in 1790, had as its sources, the 1662 English book…

See Episcopal Church (United States) – Wikipedia, the free …, and also Book of Common Prayer – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

So the story of our American Book of Common Prayer started way back in Merry Olde England, and specifically at or shortly after the death of Henry VIII (he of the many wives).

Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger - Portrait of Henry VIII - Google Art Project.jpg     In turn the very first Book of Common Prayer was published in England in 1549, and is “one of the underpinnings of modern English:”

Together with the Authorized version [i.e., the King James Version of the Bible] and the works of Shakespeare, the Book of Common Prayer has been one of the three fundamental underpinnings of modern English…   [M]any phrases from its services have passed into the English language, either as deliberate quotations or as unconscious borrowings…   Some examples of well-known phrases from the Book of Common Prayer are[:]  “Speak now or forever hold your peace” from the marriage liturgy…  “Till death us do part”, from the marriage liturgy[, and] “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust” from the funeral service.

See the Wikipedia article noted above, which added that a Book of Common Prayer “with local variations is used in churches inside and outside the Anglican Communion in over 50 different countries and in over 150 different languages.”

One of those distant Anglican-Communion churches is on the Falkland Islands, near the very southern tip of South America, as shown below.  (The Diocese of the Falkland Islands is an “extra-provincial church in the Anglican Communion headed by the Bishop of the Falkland Islands.)

The point is that you can go pretty much anywhere in the world and find an Anglican church to worship, and wherever you go they’ll be using that same Prayer Book, subject of course to the local Prayer Book having been “altered, abridged, enlarged, amended, or otherwise disposed of … according to the various exigency of times and occasions.”


Location of the Falkland Islands


 Sources for images and/or text include Good Morning, Vietnam – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and Henry VIII of England – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

As to the quote “Book of Common Prayer is unique to Anglicanism,” see for example The Book of Common Prayer — Episcopal Church in MinnesotaBeliefs and Practices – All Saints – Episcopal Diocese of …, and/or St Andrew’s in the Pines (GA).

As to the “altered, abridged [or] enlarged” quote, see the Preface (under the link “Table of Contents”), at The Online Book of Common Prayer.

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