Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Calling All Prayer Book fans

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer

In my days as a liturgy (theology of worship) lecturer, one of the modules I taught every year was the module on the liturgies of the Reformation. Each Lent term we re-enacted the Sarum Rite in Latin, contrasted it with Calvin's Lord's Supper and then ploughed our way through Cranmer's 1549, 1552 and 1559 versions of Holy Communion. As a result I came to rediscover and utterly to love the Prayer Book service of Holy Communion which lingered in my earliest childhood memories. The Church in Wales (we lived in South Wales) first revised its Prayer Book in 1968, long before the Church of England, and so the last time I remembered using Cranmer's service regularly was when I was 9. The cadences of the language had stayed with me, but the discovery of the theology of the Prayer Book and the journey which led to it was something that really captured my imagination and it was always a joy to explore it with the students. (I hope some of them felt the same way!)  We Anglicans always say that the basis of our theology is worked out in our liturgy and certainly, it is to the Prayer Book I would turn if someone asked me to explain why I am an Anglican.

2012 is, of course, the 350th Anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer. The British Academy is hosting a major event to celebrate, with a series of reflections that will bring together leading scholars from theological, liturgical and eccleioslogical disciplines. Supported by the Prayer Book Society and Hymns Ancient and Modern, the symposium will take place on 28th march 2012, 10.45am - 5.15pm at the British Academy, London SW1Y 5AH, and is followed by a drinks reception. If you would like to go, you can book on


I very much hope it will lead to a publication so if you can't get there, watch out for subsequent news on their site. 

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