Prayer Book, The


Prayer Book, The
   The title of our manual of devotions is "The Book of Common Prayer." It is called Common Prayer, because it is to be used by the Congregation in Public Worship, and is thus distinguished from prayer in private. As such it comprehends the needs, feelings and devotions common to all. The efficacy of Common Prayer consists in its being a united service and to this end arises the necessity of a prescribed form. Such prescribed form had its origin in the Christian Church from the very earliest ages, and so early were Liturgies introduced that four of them are mentioned under the names of St. Peter, St. Mark, St. James and St. John. (See LITURGIES.) Liturgies thus became an inherent feature of the Christian Church, and wherever it was planted its worship was according to such prescribed form. Thus when Christianity was introduced into Britain we find a Liturgy in use there from the beginning. This Liturgy continued in use, although varying in many details in different dioceses, until it was superseded by the Book of Offices set forth by Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury, in A.D. 1078, known as the Sarum Use. This was adopted with little variation by most of the Churches of the Kingdom. But gradually the Public Offices became defaced by the innovations and corruptions of Rome; these, however, were expunged at the time of the Reformation and the Book of Common Prayer was set forth. The Prayer-book as we now have it is the result of a long period of study and legislation. It is to be noticed that it was not the object of the English Reformers to create something new, to introduce innovations, but simply to exclude errors and corruptions. To this end, they retained those portions of the ancient Formularies which were sanctioned by the Holy Scriptures and by primitive usage. The first practical result of this movement is seen in the First Prayer-book of Edward VI set forth in English, and which was publicly used on Whitsun Day, June 9th, 1549. Afterwards many other revisions took place, until the English Prayer-book, as it practically is now, was set forth in 1662; since which time only a few and unimportant changes have been made. The American Prayer-book, adapted from the English Book was set forth and ratified October 16th, 1789, and afterwards revised in 1883-1892, as it now stands.
   See Responsive Service, Forms, also Scriptures in Prayer Book.

American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. — New York, Thomas Whittaker. . 1901.

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