Book of Common Prayer

350th anniversary of the Revised Book of Common Prayer

The Authorised Version of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer have shaped the English language. Some examples of well-known phrases from the Book of Common Prayer are:"Speak now or forever hold your peace" and "Till death us do part", both from the marriage liturgy;"Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust" from the funeral service; and"Peace in our time" from Morning Prayer, Versicles.


The Prayer Book was originally compiled by Thomas Cranmer and was first published in 1549 during the reign of King Edward VI. On the death of Edward VI in 1553, his half-sister Mary I restored Roman Catholic worship to all English churches. On her death in 1558, Elizabeth became Queen and a compromise version was published in 1559. In 1604, under the reign of James I, there was a minor revision of the Prayer Book. In 1645 the Long Parliament decreed that anyone found using it was guilty of a criminal offence. After the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, the restrictions on the use of the Prayer Book were removed. Charles II initiated another major revision to the Prayer Book. The Revised Book of Common Prayer, the titel page of which is shown here, was introduced by the Act of Uniformity of 1662.

This copy was presented to the library in 1838 by Thomas Phillips. In the early 18th century ii had been in the  possession of one Rob Markland. Prayers for the royal family have been altered for the reign of William and Mary.