The Book of Common Prayer
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    The Proposed Book of Common Prayer (1928)
of the Church of England

 

THE PREFACE

1928

THE wisdom of our fathers under the good hand of God gave to the Church of England the Book of Common Prayer in English speech. It is, and we believe that it will always be, one of the great books of the world. Nothing save the English version of the Holy Scriptures is enwoven so closely in the language and the deepest thoughts of our people at home and beyond the seas. Yet it was shaped but slowly and with many changes, for no age may hope to forecast the needs or to order the thoughts and words of those that follow. There will, indeed, always be some to whom change in that which has been hallowed by long use seems grievous and fraught with danger. They would stand upon the old paths and follow in their worship of God the pattern which their fathers set. In truth, however, they cannot quite so worship, because they cannot any more than those around them be blind to what has been happening during two hundred and fifty years. Since 1662 there has been change almost beyond belief in the facts and modes of English life. Far and wide the country has yielded place to the town, and the growth of knowledge has given to millions instead of thousands new means of earning their daily bread. Old barriers are broken down as by sea and land and air men are brought ever closer together. The England of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries has become the mother of a great commonwealth of peoples still linked together in a common loyalty. With the rise of numbers has come also a shifting of power from the few to the many. Not less strange to the men of the age of Elizabeth or of Charles II would have seemed a model of government in Church and State which guards instead of mistrusting liberty of thought and speech, and would set no narrower bounds to freedom than those which belong to brotherhood and fellowship. In religion as in all else truth is not prized less highly because it is no longer fenced on any side.

We are living in a new world: it is ours, if we are true to the faith that is in us, to seek to make it a better world. It is by prayer and service that we may hope to do it. But we dare not think that a Book of Common Prayer fitted for the seventeenth century can supply every want of the twentieth: the marvel is that it calls for so little change. New knowledge and new ways of life bring with them new customs and forms of speech unknown before. As men think upon God's wonderful works unveiled before them and are quickened afresh by the power of his Spirit, their hearts and minds frame for themselves new prayers and thanksgivings and seek new occasions of worship. It is -the duty no less than the right of those who bear the burden of a great trust to see that plain needs are plainly met, and that the book is still in our day, as of old, understanded of the people. The task is no light one, nor has it been lightly undertaken. We know that to some we shall seem to have changed too much, to others to have allowed too little freedom. It was not otherwise in earlier times. At least we have made no change for the sake of change, and' denied, as we believe, no freedom which may be rightly claimed. If the minds of any be troubled because we have allowed another Order of Holy Communion as well as the old, and have made further provision for the communion of the sick, let them not think that we mean thereby any change of doctrine or intend that the Sacrament be used otherwise than as our Lord himself appointed. In all things we have set before our eyes the duty of faithfulness to the teaching of Scripture and the godly and decent order of the ancient Fathers, and we pray that by God's blessing upon our work those who use this book may be enabled to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


This Preface (and the introduction below) appear only in the 1928 Book
IN July 1927 a Measure was passed in the Church Assembly for the purpose of authorizing the use of a Prayer Book which had I been deposited with the Clerk of the Parliaments, and was referred to in the Measure as "The Deposited Book." The Measure and the Book had been previously approved by large majorities in the Convocations of Canterbury and York. A Resolution under the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act, 1919, directing that the Measure should be presented to His Majesty, was afterwards passed in the House of Lords by a large majority. But a similar Resolution in the House of Commons was defeated on 15th December, 1927, and the Prayer Book Measree of 1927, therefore, could not be presented for the Royal Assent.

Early in the year 1928 a second Measure (known as the Prayer Book Measure, 1928) was introduced in the Church Assembly, proposing to authorize the use of the Deposited Book with certain amendments thereto which were set out in a Schedule to the Measure. This Measure again was approved by large majorities both in the Convocations and the Church Assembly; but a Resoluution directing that it should be presented to His Majesty was defeated in the House of Commons on 14th June, 1928.

This Book is a copy of the Deposited Book referred to in the Prayer Book Measure of 1927, as amended in accordance with the provisions of the Prayer Book Measure, 1928.

The publication of this Book does not directly or indirectly imply that it can be regarded as authorized for use in churches.

 

 

    NOTE.—If the Prayer Book Measure, 1928, had received the Royal Assent, the following would have been printed as the title of this Book:

THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS AND OTHER RITES AND CEREMONIES OF THE CHURCH ACCORDING TO THE USE OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND TOGETHER WITH THE FORM AND MANNER OF MAKING, ORDAINING, AND CONSECRATING OF BISHOPS, PRIESTS, AND DEACONS.    THE BOOK OF 1662 WITH ADDITIONS AND DEVIATIONS APPROVED IN 1928

This introduction appears in the 1928 Book immediately before the Table of Contents.
   
   
   
 

Return to the 1928 Proposed Book of Common Prayer

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