St. Paul’s Cathedral in London recently celebrated the 350th anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer. Initially I thought that date was a mistake, since Thomas Cranmer wrote it (or compiled, if you prefer) in the 16th, not the 17th century.
But 1662 was pivotal. The Prayer Book as revised that year remains the “doctrinal standard” of the Church of England, though other churches in the Anglican Communion, like the Episcopal Church in the U.S., have issued their own versions.
Cranmer’s language has influenced and enriched English almost as much as Shakespeare and the King James Bible:
- “till death us do part”
- “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust”
- “speak now, or forever hold your peace”
- “the devices and desires of our own hearts”
From the 1979 Episcopal Prayer Book, here’s a prayer I especially like, given my profession (“For those who Influence Public Opinion”):
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.