*Excerpts*, VOLUME 5

Book of Common Prayer – 350th Anniversary

[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0143106562″ locale=”us” height=”333″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31qyoa0ZwgL.jpg” width=”220″ alt=”Book of Common Prayer” ] 2012 marks the 350th Anniversary of The Book of Common Prayer.


Penguin has released a new edition of this classic prayer book that features a new introduction by James Woods.


The Book of Common Prayer

350th Anniversary Edition.

Paperback: Penguin, 2012.
Buy now: 
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Woods published an alternate draft of the introduction in The New Yorker this fall:


Suppose you find yourself, in the late afternoon, in one of the English cathedral towns—Durham, say, or York, or Salisbury, or Wells, or Norwich—or in one of the great university cities, like Oxford or Cambridge. The shadows are thickening, and you are mysteriously drawn to the enormous, ancient stone structure at the center of the city. You walk inside, and find that a service is just beginning. Through the stained glass, the violet light outside is turning to black. Inside, candles are lit; the flickering flames dance and rest, dance and rest. A precentor chants, “O Lord, open thou our lips.” A choir breaks into song: “And our mouth shall shew forth thy praise.” The precentor continues, “O God, make speed to save us.” And the choir replies, musically, “O Lord, make haste to help us.”


The visitor has stumbled upon a service, Evensong, whose roots stretch back at least to the tenth century, and whose liturgy has been in almost continuous use since 1549, the date of the first Book of Common Prayer, which was revised in 1552, and lightly amended in 1662, three hundred and fifty years ago. The Book of Common Prayer was the first compendium of worship in English. The words—many of them, at least—were written by Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury between 1533 and 1556.

[ Read  the full essay on The New Yorker website ]

Another book commemorating this anniversary:
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”1441128182″ locale=”us” height=”333″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51chZ4J6qXL.jpg” width=”216″]


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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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