Book of Common Prayer


The first English Book of Common Prayer, published in 1549.

Who wrote it?

In September 1548 a committee under the presidency of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, met to draft what was to become the first English Book of Common Prayer. It was authorised by the first Act of Uniformity passed on 15 January 1549 and published later that year.

Why was it written?

Following the Reformation and the translation of the Bible into vernacular languages, the plan was to make prayers available in the vernacular as well and to provide one book for all the services of the church and all occasions of life. Thus it was written in English rather than the usual Latin and was supposed to be as useful to the laity as to bishops and other clergy. The Book of Common Prayer was also intended to provide people with one kind of liturgy rather than countless ones which followed local customs. It was the first prayer book to include the complete forms of service for daily and Sunday worship in English, such as Morning and Evening Prayer, the Litany, the Holy Communion, as well as orders for Baptisms, Marriages and Funerals.

Full title:
The booke of the common prayer and administracion of the sacramentes, and other rites and ceremonies of the Churche: after the vse of the Churche of England.
1549, London
Printed book
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

Full catalogue details

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