Controversy continues between the supporters of the Book of the Common Prayer and its rival, the Alternative Service Book. People have been known to drive miles to find a service that still uses the former.
In this book, Norman Taylor has produced an anthology of passages from English literature that include a reference to the Book of Common Prayer. The Prayer Book has always had an enduring significance for authors from all over the English-speaking world, as much for the beauty of its language, as for its importance to their spiritual life.
Combining humour and a passion for his subject, Norman Taylor has selected passages from the novels, autobiographies, poems and letters of authors as diverse as James Boswell, G.K. Chesterton, Margaret Mitchell, Alan Paton, Thomas Hardy and Stevie Smith. Lovers of anthologies will find much material for further reading and will also have their appetites whetted by extracts from lesser known authors such as Charles Williams and Priscilla Napier.
Arranged in chapters according to the order of services, the author takes us through the Prayer Book from Matins to Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea. The whole is punctuated by three essay interludes discussing the history of the Prayer Book itself, the place of music in Anglican worship and the shape of Morning and Evening Prayer. The epilogue concludes with a discussion of the challenges by the increasing preferences of many clergymen for the Alternative Service Book.
List of Illustrations
1. Morning Prayer
2. Evening Prayer
3. Interlude: Parallel Patterns
4. The Creed of St Athanasius – Quicunque Vult
5. The Litany
6. Prayers and Thanksgiving
7. The Collects, Epistles and Gospels
8. Holy Communion
9. Interlude: 1662 and all that
10. The Ministration of Public Baptism to Infants
11. A Catechism
12. The Order of Confirmation
13. Interlude: Found in Possession
14. The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony
15. The Order for Visitation of the Sick
16. The Order for the Burial of the Dead
17. Thanksgiving of Women after Child Birth
18. A Commination
19. The Psalter – The Psalms of David
20. Interlude: ‘Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs’
21. Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea
22. Finale: Excellent References
Index of Authors
Endorsements and Reviews
All good anthologies – and this is a very good one – stimulate the reader … wide reading in the obscure and at first sight ephemeral … yields some … most memorable passages … The author has made excellent use of fiction as well as memoirs to record the impact of the Prayer Book and the reactions of the congregation …
Richard Olland, in The Tablet
The appeal of this imaginative book … will be by no means exclusively to Anglicans: it is not ‘churchy’, but wide in its trawl, literateurs vastly outnumbering divines. Lovers of English and all who try to worship in whatever tradition will appreciate the humour and humanity of the well chosen extracts … delightful and timely … beautifully produced.
The Expository Times
A supreme masterpiece of English prose.
This delightful book has only one demerit, that of being too short.
P.D. James, in The Daily Telegraph
Here is evidence of how those beautiful cadences seduced whole generations into belief.
An eloquent champion for the Book of Common Prayer.