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The Book of Common Prayer


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Table of Contents

Chronology ix List of Figures xi A Note on Texts xiii Introduction The Archbishop in His Library 1 Chapter 1 One Book for One Country 7 Chapter 2 Revision, Banishment, Restoration 45 Chapter 3 Becoming Venerable 61 Chapter 4 The Book in the Social World 91 Chapter 5 Objects, Bodies, and Controversies 113 Chapter 6 The Pressures of the Modern 149 Chapter 7 Many Books for Many Countries 181 Appendix The Prayer Book and Its Printers 195 Acknowledgments 201 Notes 203 Index 231

About the Author

Alan Jacobs is Distinguished Professor of the Humanities in the Honors Program at Baylor University. He is the author of several books, including "The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction" (Oxford) and "Original Sin: A Cultural History" (HarperOne), and he has edited W. H. Auden's long poems "For the Time Being" and "The Age of Anxiety" (both Princeton).


"Mr. Jacobs has an obvious affinity for the prayer book, and doesn't seem to care much for recent attempts to 'modernize' worship. But his account is bereft of sentimental regret, and he is aware of the difficulties intrinsic to restricting religious expression to a set of prescribed texts. If only every archbishop had been so wise."--Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal "[Readers] watch as the majesty of Cranmer's prose wins over generations of worshippers, spiritually nourished by its regal cadences and fiercely resistant to those who would revise it. Indeed, the repeated attempts to revise the Book--some successful--occasion tense drama, succinctly recounted here. Likewise chronicled are the international conflicts occasioned as the Book metamorphoses as the global empire Britain builds--then shrinks. This fascinating history, a strong entry in the Lives of Great Religious Books series, exposes the surprisingly taut life of a church-pew volume."--Bryce Christensen, Booklist "Alan Jacobs offers a handy introduction to the cultural and social effects that the presence and promotion of this book provided for centuries of English-speaking worshipers."--John L. Murphy, New York Journal of Books "[A] gem. With his usual elegance and wit, Jacobs describes Cranmer's political and religious aims, follows debates over the BCP between traditionalists who thought it too Protestant and Puritans who thought it too Catholic, and along the way explains the literary and liturgical qualities of the prayer book."--Peter J. Leithart, First Things

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