Here, for the first time, is a comprehensive survey of the history of the original Book of Common Prayer and all of its descendants throughout the world.
The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer shows how a classic text for worship and devotion has become the progenitor of an entire family of religious resources that have had an influence far beyond their use in Anglican churches. The tale begins with the creation of the first Prayer Book in 1549.
The Guide surveys how the Prayer Book developed and took root in English culture.
The story then describes how Anglican missionaries and others brought the Prayer Book to far corners of the British Empire.
In the twentieth century, Anglican churches throughout the world began to develop their own, unique versions of the Prayer Book to serve the needs of their local communities.
The Guide describes thedevelopment of indigenous Prayer Books in Africa, the nations of the Pacific, Asia, North and South America, and Europe.
It explains how, in the dozens of Prayer Books in current use, the same basic texts - Daily Prayers, the Eucharist, Marriage and Funerals, and many others - resemble each other, and differ from each other. Finally, a brief look at the future of "electronic Prayer Books" offers a glimpse at how this story of development and adaptation may continue. John Donne, Samuel Johnson, Jane Austen, T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, C. S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, and P. D. James, among many others, worshiped from the Prayer Book, giving it immense literary influence.
The Prayer Book family has created worship language that remains within Anglican tradition, while adapting to very different cultural contexts.
Prayer Books in New Zealand, for example, incorporate Maori elements, and ones in Myanmar use Buddhist prayer forms - just a few of the fascinatingfacts in this rich and varied history.
In this Guide any reader, Anglican or not, can learn why The Book of Common Prayer is a classic of liturgy and literature.