A Companion to the Book of Common Prayer

By Gerald Bray

A comprehensive analysis of the Book of Common Prayer’s historical development, theological background and continued liturgical significance.



The Book of Common Prayer stands as one of the greatest achievements of the English Reformation. Although increasingly replaced by more modern forms, it remains the foundation of Anglican worship and a succinct expression of Anglican doctrine as received by its sixteenth and seventeenth-century authors. It is therefore a text to be treasured and used, both for its historical insight into the Church of England’s theological origins, and for its continued value as an enriching liturgical resource.

In this Companion, Gerald Bray provides a practical guide to the 1662 text and its underlying doctrinal basis. Outlining its development from the first version of the prayer book in 1549, through the Elizabethan settlement and the upheaval of the civil war and protectorate, he shows that many of the liturgical controversies and debates we see today are nothing new. With the inclusion of a summary of the history of the text, and an extensive bibliography for further reading, A Companion to the Book of Common Prayer will unlock this seminal text for a fresh generation of worshippers.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 522

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About the Author

Reverend Dr Gerald Bray gained his doctorate from Paris-Sorbonne. He worked as Anglican Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School, and is now a Research Professor at the same institution. He is also Director of Research at the Latimer Trust. His previous publications with James Clarke & Co. include The Books of Homilies: A Critical Edition (2016), The Institution of a Christian Man (2018), and Documents of the English Reformation (third edition 2020).


Preface and Acknowledgements

1. History of the Book of Common Prayer
2. Introductory Material
3. Th e Daily Offices
4. Collects, Epistles and Gospels
5. Th e Lord’s Supper
6. Christian Initiation
7. Matrimony
8. Other Services and Rites
9.Th e Ordinal
10. Th e Articles of Religion

Holy Scripture and Early Christian Writings
Names and Places
Liturgies and Rites
Church Councils
Parliamentary Statutes and Measures


Endorsements and Reviews

For some of us this has meant rediscovering the beauty of its language and expression. Dr Bray has done us an invaluable service helping us to appreciate the sources of many of the prayers which are now incorporated into liturgy in the Catholic Church. The Right Revd Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer has had a massive influence on corporate worship inside and outside the Anglican world ever since it was published. The principles which guided the production of this book take us beyond our contemporary superficial approaches to what we do when we gather as the church of God, allowing the great truths of the gospel to shape our response to that gospel as God’s redeemed people. Gerald Bray is uniquely placed to reacquaint us with those principles. His encyclopaedic knowledge of Anglican history and theology enables us to understand why the various services of the book have the shape they do and so enable us to make better use of them. This is a richly edifying companion to the Book of Common Prayer which I highly recommend. Dr Mark D Thompson, Principal, Moore Theological College

Learned, pastoral, and unafraid to show his theological cards, Gerald Bray has breathed new life into a genre that has nurtured the devotion of millions of Anglicans through the centuries: the prayer book commentary. This Companion emphasises the theological themes of the Book of Common Prayer, treating it not as a historical artifact, nor as a monument of great literature, but as a liturgical embodiment of the good news of Jesus Christ. Samuel L. Bray, John N. Matthews Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame and coeditor of The 1662 Book of Common Prayer: International Edition

Gerald Bray has studied, written on, and taught the Anglican formularies for decades. Amidst rising interest in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (including the recent International Edition), this timely Companion comes as an eminently readable and informative guide, and will be profitable to prayer-book newcomers and veterans alike. Jake Griesel, Lecturer in Church History and Anglican Studies, George Whitefield College, Cape Town

One of the major drivers for the theological renewal of global Anglicanism in the twenty-first century is a rediscovery of the Book of Common Prayer by a new generation. Gerald Bray’s overview, building on the classic Tutorial Prayer Book, is a valuable guide for Anglicans worldwide who want to embrace their rich heritage. Andrew Atherstone, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford

This Companion is a substantial book, written by an acknowledged scholar of primary Anglican sources, and it will be especially welcomed by those who want to discover more about the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and its antecedents. The material is arranged in ten chapters, and each chapter heading gives a clear steer to the reader of the focus of its attention. The Revd Christopher Irvine In Church Times, Professor at St Augustine’s College of Theology and the Liturgical Institute, Mirfield