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The Oxford Guide to The Book of Common Prayer: A Worldwide Survey Hardcover – July 1, 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This new reference work, edited by Boston College professor Hefling and Church Publishing v-p Shattuck, traces the many revisions that the Anglican Book of Common Prayer has undergone and examines the sundry versions of the prayer book used in different countries. (After the American Revolution, for example, Episcopalians in the new United States omitted the prayers for the British king.) Varied liturgies for weddings, argues Gillian Varcoe, show how Anglicans in different times and places responded to culturally specific pressures and changing social understandings about marriage. Throughout, the contributors underscore that "Anglicans do their theology in the context of worship." Given the current energy swirling around the concept of a worldwide Anglican communion, and the West's increased attention to churches in the southern hemisphere, the essays on prayer books in Africa and Asia are especially welcome. Concluding pieces hazard some guesses—sometimes a tad whimsically—about the future of common prayer. What do technological changes mean for the prayer book? Word processors have allowed churches to produce Sunday bulletins, rendering actual books unnecessary. Maybe one day soon, Sunday worshippers will read the liturgy from Palm Pilots or BlackBerry devices. This rich volume is sure to become the definitive source for studies of the Book of Common Prayer. (June)
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Review


"It is well conceived physically, graced with both illustrations of historic prayer books and text boxes from the liturgies being discussed, which are a significant help to the reader. This authoritative guide to the Book of Common Prayer as it once was and has now become will well serve anyone interested in Anglicanism or the prayer book tradition." --Christian Century


"To understand the phenomenon of Anglicanism we need to understand the Prayer Book -- in its original setting and in its many transformations. I cannot think of a better and more comprehensive resource than this collection of expert discussions in helping us learn more of what Anglicanism has given to the literary heritage of Christianity and culture alike." --from the Foreword by the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury


"Monumental and magnificent! This Guide makes clear why the Book of Common Prayer is both a religious and a literary masterpiece. To say any less than that of this volume would be to misrepresent it; to say more would be to diminish its stature." --Phyllis Tickle


"Through the beauty of language, the Book of Common Prayer has nurtured a spirituality that has defined our very unity of faith and worship. The Oxford Guide is both timely and welcome. It takes us to the root of our common life and gives us a living word as we learn about liturgy, language, culture, tradition, and revision. I heartily commend it." --The Most Reverend Andrew S. Hutchinson, Archbishop and Primate, The Anglican Church of Canada


"While the essays vary in length, all are thorough. The general quality of the writing and editing has made every page worth reading. It is a book that both teaches well and reads well." --Richard J. Anderson in Historiographer


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (July 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195297563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195297560
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 2 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,424,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book combines an enjoyable read with heavyweight scholarship. About a third of it is historical, starting with Cranmer's first Book of Common Prayer and the background to it. But the focus is mainly on the Prayer Books now being used in the many Anglican churches all over the world. There's a section that has articles on each of these books, full of fascinating information about how Anglicanism developed in particular countries. There is also a section of articles that compare the contents of the same Prayer Books, service by service, showing how "inculturation" is happening and how different churches "do" each of the liturgies. The historical articles tell not only how the text of the Book of Common Prayer developed, but also how it was used in real life. Sprinkled through the volume are panels with excerpts from the versions being discussed, and there are illustrations, charts, and a very full glossary. The subtitle is "A Worldwide Survey," and the list of authors bears this out. They come from all over the world.
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Format: Hardcover
It's difficult to describe the contents of this book in few words, but here's my best shot.

The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer looks not only at the development of the BCP as a document, but common prayer as a concept and uniting characteristic of the Anglican Communion. It then looks at all the prayer books used across the communion and how they've taken the structure of common prayer and adapted it to incorporate culturally specific practices: the mourning rituals of Africa, the close intertwining of Burmese culture with Buddhism, the architecture of the Far East. The language used in the South African prayer book takes on much more poignance when read in the context of the struggle against Apartheid.

For anyone interested in how a worldwide church adapts to culture, the source of the BCP, or where common prayer might go in the future, this book will hold an endless fascination.

Plus, it has pictures!
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Format: Hardcover
"This a brilliant, accessible, and Virgilian guide to that most influential of texts: The Book of Common Prayer. Anyone who cares about language, about sacramental life, and about Anglicanism will find Hefling and Shattuck's volume indispensable, for it takes readers to the roots of the faith, shedding new light on old words, bringing our past into vivid focus, and reminding us that what unites us is far greater than what divides us."

---Jon Meacham, Managing Editor of Newsweek and author of "American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation"
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This hefty tome is a logical follow-up to the 120-page WELCOME TO THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER. Nobody will confuse it with a work of systematic theology, but it does what it does brilliantly: eludicate and critique (by this I mean explicate, not 'criticize') present-day versions of Cranmer's fifteenth-century original all over the world. Some surprises are in store: many Episcopalians in the USA casually call the BCP the "prayer book"; moreover, some English-language countries have named their version "Prayer Book" without any "common"ality of book title. Judge for yourself whether the Anglican BCP in general is getting more diverse within most of the many, many nations in which a nation-specific version serves; or whether it is globalizing. Perhaps there's a bit of truth in both.

THE OXFORD GUIDE TO THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER: A WORLD-WIDE SURVEY is an excellent source book to have as a desk or library reference, not only for clergy but for people who are just plain interested. Note that the hardcover version goes for only about ten dollars more than the paperback; I for one recommend the extra investment. If you're not yourself an Episcopalian (Anglican), but merely looking for a more entry-level (and much shorter!) book, try WELCOME TO THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER as mentoned above or WELCOME TO THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH, both widely available.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From one Book of Common Prayer to many over five centuries, this text provides an outstanding and excellent analysis of the historical and functional evolution of the current Books of Common Prayer currently in use. This Oxford Guide stands out as a primary reference for all.

Richard W. Wheeler
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Format: Hardcover
This is a must read for anyone who enjoys using the Book of Common Prayer for worship. I gained incredible insight into the history and use of the Book of Common Prayer. I love the way it is organized, nice short essays that are topically arranged. This book will stay with me for years and I am sure I will refer to it many times.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very ambitious project and you get a bargain for your buck. The print is small and there is a lot of information packed into these fine print pages, but I was disappointed by the lack of detail concerning the Prayer Books of 1549, 1552, 1559, 1604 and 1662. I would have preferred some indepth discussions of the significant theological developments in these versions before launching into the variations of the BCP in the worldwide Anglican communion.
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