About Online Common Prayer
Beginning at the above link, all men and women and children are invited to use our online edition of the traditional Anglican weekday devotions. In their original form, the "daily offices" have always been intended for the common prayer of Christians in families and small groups, where two or more are gathered together as it were, with one accord to confess their sins to one another, to hear God's Word, to praise Him with one voice, and to make common supplications such that God will answer.
Reformed Anglicans have always viewed the "Daily Offices" of Morning and Evening Prayer as essential to Christian life; praying and singing to the sovereign and immutable God using the very words of Scripture in patterns known to Christians both in the early Church and in the churches of the Reformation.
Though some may try to use this online liturgy for purely personal devotion (which is fine), the Anglican tradition is one of community worship. To these ends, we pray you to gather your neighbors and loved ones about you when you use this liturgy. It is the power to change lives.
Not all editions can claim to be "The Book of Common Prayer." We do not approve of editions that add or delete or rearrange or change the major readings, prayers and rubrics of that version published in 1552, republished in 1559 and republished again in 1662. We disdain editions whose Holy Communion liturgy follows the pattern of Thomas Cranmer's rough draft published in 1549, and we especially condemn editions that follow the fashion of post-modernism, the prime example of which is America's so-called "1979 Book of Common Prayer."
This online edition is not meant to discourage anyone from using other authentic traditional versions. For your convenience, here is the online edition from the English 1662 BCP's Morning and Evening Prayer, and here is the online edition from the American 1928 BCP's Morning and Evening Prayer.
The core text of our edition of Morning/Evening Prayer comes from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer except as noted below. While Reformed Anglican parishes in America may properly use a variety of traditional editions, this one was designed (in 1552) especially for daily personal and family use by Reformed Anglicans.
Six unique features
Bible version for Psalms and Lessons
Traditionally, the Book of Common Prayer has used several translations of the Bible but eventually settled upon the "authorized" King James Bible. We are providing access to this version as one that traditional Anglicans will want to use.
However, we are also providing access to the Geneva Bible of 1599 which is the version that was popular among Anglicans before the King James Bible existed. The Geneva (GNV) is a translation not well known today for reasons explained below. Anglicans may at first find our inclusion of the Geneva Bible unusual, but we trust that they will come to see the reasoning. While the strong suit for the King James version is its literary style in liturgical service, the Geneva is a suitable alternative for its historical significance, its marginal notes, and its less formalized language for family prayer.
- The Geneva Bible, published some 50 year earlier than the King James Bible) was widely used by the original Anglicans from 1560 until it was taken away from them by force. The Geneva Bible was outlawed and ceased publication when the "authorized" KJV was first published in 1611.
- The Geneva Bible was the first mass-produced Bible made available directly to the general public .
- It came with a variety of scripture study guides and aids. Its many innovations included verse citations that allowed the reader to cross-reference verses. Introductions to each book of the Bible summarized the material what each book covers, and there were maps, tables, woodcut illustrations, indexes, and other features — which would eventually lead to the reputation of the Geneva Bible as history's first "study Bible."
- The writing of the Geneva Bible (in Geneva during the Marian exile - 1553 to 1558) was an ecumenical venture involving many members of the Church of England, including Coverdale, plus others associated with Reformed churches apart from England. This makes the Geneva Bible especially attractive to Anglicans who believe their church is one of the Reformed churches and believe that the Book of Common Prayer is adaptable beyond the 16th century and beyond the shores of England.
- The differences in translation between the Geneva Bible and the King James Bible are quite few because they both are derived from the Greek "Textus Receptus" (TR). The notable differences are that the earlier Geneva Bible focuses on colloquial usage whereas the King James Bible has a more cultured and literary style. It is not fair to say that one version is a better or more accurate translation than the other.
Because the software renders the Scripture texts using "Bible Gateway", anyone may see how it is alternately rendered in other translations such as the "English Standard" or any other version that is supported.
Contrary to the view of some, there is nothing in Anglican tradition that prevents one from reading Scripture in a pattern that differs from Cranmer's original construction. What matters is to honor the principle which he established, namely that the entire Bible is to be read through at least once per year with extra emphasis for both the New Testament and the Psalms. Our lectionary is somewhat unique in that:
- Like other Anglican lectionaries, it is designed for liturgical use and not just for personal Bible reading.
- It is mainly designed for use 6 days per week. This is because the targeted users are individuals and families who go to church on Sunday, where the psalms and lessons follow a different, perhaps the traditional 1662 lectionary. To accommodate those who might use it on Sundays (for a Sunday evensong for example), we provide access to the traditional lectionary readings.
- It does not skip ANY part of the Bible, and it is completed in one year, not two or three as with many other lectionaries. For the most part, the books are read in the order they appear in the canon, and read from beginning to end without skipping. The primary objective is to present the whole Word of God in pure form rather than to provide support for a liturgical calendar. To a degree, the readings are chosen to be consistent with the major liturgical seasons of Advent, Epiphany, Lent, and Trinity, but its main concession to the calendar is that it is for weekday use by people who appoint other Scripture readings for the Lord's Day.
- The Psalms are read through 4+ times per year, 2 times in the morning, another 2 times in the evening, and yet again once on Sunday over 3 years. Other Anglican lectionaries generally ask for the Psalms to be read through monthly, but that compressed schedule usually means that about half the Psalms are skipped. The lighter schedule actually helps the user to read the entire book of Psalms.
- Besides the Psalms, the Old Testament (1st Lesson) is read through entirely once per year. Generally, when a reading comes from the Law in Morning Prayer, a reading from the Prophets or the Poets is presented for the evening, and vice-versa.
- The New Testament (the 2nd Lesson) is read through entirely twice per year, once in the morning and once in the evening. When a reading from the Gospels is presented in Morning Prayer, a reading from the Epistles is generally presented in the evening, and vice-versa.
- It does not include any Apocryphal books. Thomas Cranmer said (Article VI), "And other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine..." In our day, we are blessed to have a great deal more printed Christian literature than was available at the end of the middle ages. Much of it is, like the Apocrypha, good "for example of life and instruction of manners", but we don't treat any of it with the same honor that we afford to Scripture. We therefore encourage Anglicans to read all the best books they can find, including those of the Apocrypha, but to treat the canonical texts, inspired of the Holy Spirit as deserving a special place when it comes to prayer and worship.
- The lectionary is in the public domain and meant to be shared.
Anglicans who have tried to adapt the Book of Common Prayer to their own countries have always faced difficulty when deciding what to do with prayers and rubrics which assume that the English monarch (and his/her royal family) presides over the Church. Whole sections of the Book of Common Prayer remain devoted to this purpose, disregarding the fact in other countries the State (government) is not a monarchy and does not have authority over the Church. Some prayerbook editions have tried to tone down erastian assumptions while still giving special honor to persons in elected or appointed offices of government. Following the attitudes of the Reformers, and responding to the needs of Americans specifically, this edition of the Daily Office retains traditional erastian prayers, but only for those who desire to use them, segregating them so that they can be skipped. Otherwise, prayers for secular government are retained as petitions to God for ordering us according to His perfect will.
Prayers of God's People
Although not a new section, this is a reformatted and expanded version of the 1662 prayers. It includes the "Prayer For All Conditions Of Men" and the "General Thanksgiving that are especially familiar to American, but it gives more allowance for orderly extemporaneous prayer. These changes are suited to personal and family devotions.
The traditional Daily Office says only the Apostles' Creed and on rare occasions the Athanasian Creed. The Nicene Creed is left for Holy Communion. By contrast, this version offers all three ecumenical creeds because it is suggested by Article 13. The user is commended to read all of them.
At the time Cranmer was writing the Book of Common Prayer, he was also writing what was to become "The Articles of Religion" (which we know today as The Thirty-Nine Articles). He invited Heinrich Bullinger, Martin Bucer and Peter Vermigli from Europe to England to assist in this project, the object of which was to produce an evangelical catholic creed for all of the Reformed churches. As it turned out, Cranmer was executed before his dream was realized. In honor of his vision and his martyrdom, this edition invites Anglicans to read and declare the 39 Articles as representative of their faith and doctrine, and also permits readings of Cranmer's "Homilies" and a variety of Reformed catechisms and confessions which either were or would have eventually been recognized in the "Reformed Church of England."
This edition of the Litany generally follows the American 1928 Book of Common Prayer (rather than the 1662) for reason of its intended use apart from England.