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The Book of Common Prayer: A Guide


Charles Hefling

12 January 2021

ISBN: 9780190689698

328 pages

In Stock

Price: £18.99


The Book of Common Prayer is a sacred text in more than one sense. This brief, accessible survey examines the contents of the Prayer Book, as it is called, especially its principal services, as well as its origins, its revisions, and its sometimes controversial reception as a cultural icon and a focus of identity for Anglican Christianity.

  • Introduces readers to a sacred text that is also a literary landmark and a focus of religious identity for Anglicans worldwide
  • Features tables, excerpts, and illustrations, as well as special chapters on the Book as printed and sung
  • Can be studied together with the text of the Book of Common Prayer, or stands on its own

About the Author(s)

Charles Hefling, Former Professor of Systematic Theology, Boston College

Charles Hefling was a professor of systematic theology at Boston College for thirty years and served as editor-in-chief of The Anglican Theological Review. He has also taught at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, and in the Diaconal Formation Program of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. He holds three degrees from Harvard University and was ordained to the ministry of The Episcopal Church in 1974.

Table of Contents

    1: Divine Service
    2: Preambles: Time and the Prayer Book
    3: Occasional Services
    4: Preambles: "But One Use"
    5: Beginnings
    6: Settling In
    7: Disruption
    8: Establishment
    9: The Golden Age
    10: Recessional
    11: The Prayer Book Printed
    12: The Prayer Sung
    Appendix 1: Vesture
    Appendix 2: The Anglican Communion


"What must be wholeheartedly affirmed is that this book is a tour de force. For anyone who has either a connection with the BCP, or an interest in understanding more of the immense significance of this most sacred text, Hefling's work is a 'must read'." - Maurice Elliott, Anaphora

"Charles Hefling's The Book of Common Prayer combines his characteristically meticulous scholarship with a profound analytic clarity and a deep personal understanding of the rhythms and spiritual impact of this unique Anglican liturgical classic. But it is also written with an eye to those who may, in this generation, be coming new to the BCP and its extraordinary history. This book is not just a sure historical guide, but a fresh invitation to a landscape of liturgical transcendence." - Sarah Coakley, FBA, Norris-Hulse Professor Emerita, University of Cambridge