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prayer; morning, noon, and evening prayer services for use by small groups; the Outline of Faith of the church, and the historical documents of the Episcopal church.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.
A wide selection of BCP's, including both the the 1928 and 1979 BCP as well as BCPs from other countries are available from major book sellers. The BCP is also available in electronic form:
- pdf file - the file includes bookmarks which act as a clickable table of contents to allow you to quickly move around the file
- Latin version
- older versions of the prayer book
- versions of the BCP used in other countries
- e-reader versions are also available for e-readers:
Holy Women, Holy Men
Fully revised and expanded, this new work is the first major revision of the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church in more than 40 years! It is the official revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts and authorized by the 2009 General Convention. All commemorations in Lesser Feasts and Fasts have been retained, and many new ones added. Three scripture readings (instead of current two) are provided for all minor holy days. Additional new material includes a votive mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, many more ecumenical commemorations, plus a proper for space exploration.
A PDF of the 700+ page book can be downloaded free of charge from HERE.
Daily Office Readings
- Scripture readings for Morning and Evening Prayer www.satucket.com/lectionary
- Full text for the Daily Office for morning and evening - through Mission St. Clare: www.missionstclare.com/english/
- Audio version - from The Episcopal Church in Garrett County, Maryland. www.missionstclare.com/english/spoken/spoken.html
- Noonday Prayer - www.missionstclare.com/noon/noonlist.html
- Compline -www.missionstclare.com/compline/comlist.html
- Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families -www.missionstclare.com/english/daily/dailydevotions.html
The Holy Bible
The Episcopal Church uses several Bible translations in its worship - the Canons of the Episcopal Church state:
The Lessons prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer shall be read from the translation of the Holy Scriptures commonly known as the King James or Authorized Version (which is the historic Bible of this Church) together with the Marginal Readings authorized for use by the General Convention of 1901; or from one of the three translations known as Revised Versions, including the English Revision of 1881, the American Revision of 1901, and the Revised Standard Version of 1952; from the Jerusalem Bible of 1966; from the New English Bible with the Apocrypha of 1970; or from The 1976 Good News Bible (Today's English Version); or from The New American Bible (1970); or from The Revised Standard Version, an Ecumenical Edition, commonly known as the "R.S.V. Common Bible" (1973); or from The New International Version (1978); or from The New Jerusalem Bible (1987); or from the Revised English Bible (1989); or from the New Revised Standard Version (1990); or from translations, authorized by the diocesan bishop, of those approved versions published in any other language; or from other versions of the Bible, including those in languages other than English, which shall be authorized by diocesan bishops for specific use in congregations or ministries within their dioceses.
The Cathedral uses the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) - an online version is available at http://bible.oremus.org/