jQuery Slider

You are here

LONDON: The Book of Common Prayer gets glossary for new millennia

LONDON: The Book of Common Prayer gets glossary for new millennia

By Catherine Pepinster
Religion News Service
http://www.theoaklandpress.com/
10/17/17

The book gave us such phrases as "till death do us part" and "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." But nearly 500 years after Archbishop Thomas Cranmer created the Book of Common Prayer, many people, even priests, find its prose not so much quotable as mystifying.

Now the Church of England's trainee clergy are helping explain Cranmer's more obscure prose by publishing a glossary. All first-year ordinands -- trainee priests studying at theological colleges -- are to be given a copy of the guide together with a free copy of the Book of Common Prayer, an English-language product of the 16th-century break between England and the Roman Catholic Church, where Latin ruled.

The glossary will help students and others come to grips with phrasing such as "the quick and the dead," which means the living and the dead and has nothing to do with being fast, and explains that "miserable," for Cranmer, meant "pitiable" rather than feeling depressed.

The guide was written by Fergus Butler-Gallie, a 25-year-old first-year ordinand at Westcott House theological college in Cambridge, and commissioned by the Prayer Book Society, which promotes the Book of Common Prayer.

Cranmer wrote the book when he was Archbishop of Canterbury. It was first published in 1549 in the reign of Edward VI, after his father, Henry VIII, broke with Rome.

Though the Anglican Communion has since adopted prayer books in modern language, the BCP inspires strong feelings among its 80 million-plus adherents, with Prayer Book Society members passionately advocating what they consider the beauty of Cranmer's prose.

According to the recently retired bishop of London, the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres, the Book of Common Prayer offers timeless qualities that can make it attractive to the younger generation.

"Far be it from me to promote a cult of quaintness, but the power of the Prayer Book to connect with many of those who find the ordinary diet of the church banal should not be ignored. There is now a younger generation who are realizing afresh the importance of complementing the argot of Twitter and (texting) with the majesty of Cranmer."

The Book of Common Prayer contains morning prayer, evening prayer, the Holy Communion service and a litany, as well as services for baptism, marriage and funerals, and epistle and Gospel readings for each Sunday in the liturgical year. Cranmer revised it in 1552, but there was a brief break in its use during the reign of Queen Mary I, who restored Roman Catholicism in England and had Cranmer executed.

Mary's successor, Queen Elizabeth I, revived it. A later edition became the standard prayer book for the Church of England until the 21st century, when Common Worship became the prayer book used in most Anglican Communion churches.

"In this sense it's the perfect 'millennial' liturgy in that it provides not only the roots but also the breathing space so craved by an unsure generation," Butler-Gallie said of the Book of Common Prayer. "Part of the purpose of the glossary was to encourage people to think through some of the theology behind that beautiful language."

The glossary includes:

• Ghost; Ghostly: from Old English gāst (German, Geist) Spirit; spiritual. e.g. " ... together with ghostly counsel and advice."

• Militant: the Church on Earth, those still "fighting the good fight of faith" (from the Latin militans) as opposed to the Church Triumphant in Heaven. e.g. "Let us pray for the whole state of Christ's Church militant here in earth."

• Quick, quicken: living; to make alive, e.g. "the quick and the dead."

• Suffer: to endure, tolerate or allow, as in "Suffer the little children to come unto me."

Subscribe
Get the latest news and perspectives in the Anglican world.
comments powered by Disqus
Barnabas Fund

Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee

Drink Coffee

Do Good

Sustainable Ministry

Coffee, Community, Social Justice

DrinkCoffeeDoGood.com

Trinity School for Ministry
Go To Top