The Book of Common Prayer
A magnificent facsimile edition of a religious and literary classic. Next to the authorised version of the King James Bible and the plays of William Shakespeare, it is among the most widely read and influential of English literary works.
The Book of Common Prayer is part of the fabric of the English language. When Thomas Cranmer was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533, his chief responsibility was to secure for Henry VIII a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. But he was also determined to give substance to the newly established Church of England by changing its language of worship from Latin to the vernacular. The first authorised English version of the Bible appeared in 1539; 10 years later, under Edward VI, Cranmer compiled and published a complete Anglican liturgy, detailing prayers, scripture readings, psalms and the order of service for the ceremonies that marked the Christian year and the passage of human life. The Book of Common Prayer is a testament to Cranmer’s genius as a translator and writer of formal religious prose, and its phrasing and cadences have echoed around the churches of England and the Commonwealth for more than 450 years. The collection alone would be enough to secure its place among the great books of the world. Next to the Authorised Version of the King James Bible and the plays of William Shakespeare, it is among the most widely read and influential of English literary works.