Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why the Book of Common Prayer Is So Important to Christendom

Whatever the faults of the Book of Common Prayer (and it has significant faults), it did something that no other liturgical book did, and thereby made a unique contribution to Christianity:

The decade which gave birth to the first English Prayer Book was that which also gave birth to the Spanish Inquisition. While we were concerned with vernacular liturgy, a simplified Kalendar, and above all, with a two-fold instead of seven-fold office, Luis of Granada was being censured for his little book for secular devotion, and the Scriptures in the Castilian dialect was on the Index of prohibited books.... If an English Bible for lay devotion was heresy to Spain, the idea of an Office to be shared between priest and laity would have been incomprehensible to the seminary of St. Sulpice. Even the Salesian school, even the Italian humanists, were hopelessly outdistanced by us in the pastoral ideal of one militant Church.... Neither Missal nor Mass-book, Breviary nor Primer, it is gloriously ironical that the Book of Common Prayer, born four centuries back, is still the most comprehensive ascetical expression of the one integrated Church in the whole of Christendom."
— Martin Thornton, Feed My Lambs, pp. 53-54

H/t The Rev'd Matthew Dallman

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