The Minster Church of St Michael















Prayer Book Society

Follow this link to visit the Prayer Book Society's Official site

( you may read a precis of the most recent items from the society's news page at the bottom of this page  )

This is in not an official page, written by that organisation,  merely my introduction to this society of which I have fairly recently become a member -- and I do not know what has taken me so long !!  So far, I have been able only to attend three of the services recommended by my local branch - always because other duties and responsibilities (Church based or other official positions) have prevented me doing so.

  I will not fill this page, generally, with my own opinions, but will leave it as one on which I will display excerpts from the literature of the society itself. To date, I have received many issues of the regular magazines and I can strongly commend them to anyone who loves the Prayer Book and wishes to know more about its authors and supporters.

   Happily, the Minster church despite its change of role in this area still allows some (albeit peripheral) time to hold Prayer Book Services. The 8am Sunday service has been, for some years now, taken from the Book of Common Prayer and the choir is still able to sing Choral evensong (with full settings of the Canticles, and an anthem - as well, of course, as the evening's psalm)  on a fairly regular basis- sometimes even twice monthly. Unfortunately, when seemingly more attractive/popular services are contemplated, it is the Evensong service which is shelved -a great pity - and there is little attempt made to encourage the congregation to make Evensong a regular part of their worship and service to the Lord.

Recently, my wife and I had the privilege of attending the finals of the 2013Cranmer Awards, where young people deliver , from memory, extracts from the Psalms (King James version, of course) and the Book of Common Prayer. What a wonderful experience , enhanced by the presence of HIS GRACE THE ARCHBISHOP OF YORK, who left us in no doubt about his wholehearted support for the regular use of The Book of Common Prayer in our main services. ,

See the bottom of this page for forthcoming BCP services, both at the Minster and beyond. I will try, on this page, to also include any other such services of which I hear, as an additional service to BCP followers.


Editorial - EASTER 2009

 The approval by the Vatican of a new English translation of the Order of Mass, announced last July, caused quite a stir-not least because the new translation departs markedly from what in some cases were ecumenically­agreed texts.

The changes issue from an `Instruction', Liturgiam Authenticam, published in 2001 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. This document set forth `the principles of translation to be followed in future translations-whether they be entirely new undertakings or emendations of texts already in use', having in view in the latter case `omissions or errors which affect certain existing vernacular translations'.'

Liturgiam Authenticam is well worth reading for its treatment of questions which have been discussed at various times in Faith and Worship over the years. Liturgy, the Instruction states, is `not intended primarily as a sort of mirror of the interior dispositions of the faithful ... rather, [its words] express truths that transcend the limits of time and space." Liturgical language therefore should be free of an overly servile adherence to prevailing modes of expression.... Indeed, it will be seen that the observance of the principles set forth in this Instruction will contribute to the gradual development, in each vernacular, of a sacred style that will come to be recognised as proper to liturgical language.Thus it may happen that a certain manner of speech which has come to be considered somewhat obsolete in daily usage may continue to be maintained in the liturgical context.'

On `inclusive language' the Instruction is firm:

In many languages there exist nouns and pronouns denoting both genders, masculine and feminine, together in a single term. The insist­ence that such a usage should be changed is not necessarily to be regarded as the effect or the manifestation of an authentic development of the language as such. Even if it may be necessary by means of catechesis to ensure that such words continue to be understood in the `inclusive' sense just described, it may not be possible to employ different words in the translations themselves without detriment to the precise intended meaning of the text ... in particular to be avoided is the systematic resort to imprudent solutions such as a mechanical substitution of words, the transition from the singular to the plural, the splitting of a unitary collective term into masculine and feminine parts ....4  Liturgiam Authenticam, 7 & 6.

The text may be found at: curia/congregations/ccds/documents/ rc con ceds doc-20010507liturgiam-authenticayen.html. Citation  is          by         paragraph          number.            2 Ibid. 19           3 Ibid.      27         4 Ibid.30-1

The Instruction does not confine itself to generalities. Specific guidance is given regarding: the preservation in translation of `subordinate and relative clauses';' the full use of `the varying forms of addressing God, such as Domine, Deus, Omnipotens aeterne Deus, Pater, and so forth';' the showing of respect for `expressions that belong to the heritage of the whole or a great part of the ancient Church ... by a translation that is as literal as possible, as for example the words of the people's response Et cum spiritu tuo';3 and the translation of the Creed `according to the precise wording that the tradition of the Latin Church has bestowed upon it, including the use of the first person singular'.4There is also a most interesting passage prescribing that translations of `very important texts such as the Psalms and the readings used for the principal celebrations of the liturgical year ... [should] express the traditional Christological, typological and spiritual sense, and manifest the unity and the inter-relatedness of the t<voTestaments.' S

What then are the texts like which have resulted from these and other notes of guidance? Some examples follow from the great common texts, the currently used version being on the left and the new version on the right, to enable the two to be compared.'

COMPARE:-    From the current scripture - 'So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -- Isaiah 41:10'

                         From he 'King James'  bible -   '.be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.'



These large-scale departures from the agreed ICEL/ICET texts were denounced roundly by Bishop Colin Buchanan, writing in Praxis:

'The texts turn Rome's back on not only all ecumenical agreement, but also on the last forty years of Rome's own progress in vernacular liturgy ... the ecumenical texts have been the Church of England's starting point in liturgical revision.... The Roman practice has been the reverse: to start by denouncing the ecumenical texts in principle (even if they originated forty years ago in ICEL!), to declare them off­limits to their translators, and to require the translators in the various language groups (not only in English) to keep their noses close to the Latin originals almost on a word-for-word basis ... the dutiful latter­day ICEL, instructed by the Pope to go `latinate', is not only not ecumenical in its instincts, but distances Roman Catholic texts from all other English-language usage.'

Bishop Buchanan's disappointment is understandable--he has long laboured in these liturgical vineyards himself. (As he rightly says, `My own advocacy of these texts over the last thirty-eight years certainly gives me freedom to comment in my own capacity.') But I am puzzled by his claim that these new translations `distance ... Roman Catholic texts from all other English language usage' (my italics), for if the reader has got this far he will have noticed in the examples given that where the new versions depart widely from the existing ones they often come closer to those of the Book of Common Prayer­'And with your spirit', `I believe in one God','all things visible and invisible',he descended into hell', `Lord God of Hosts' etc. Surely these resemblances did not escape Bishop Buchanan? Or is it that he no longer regards the Prayer Book as having any place in English liturgical `usage' ? The latter would be consistent with his own efforts to bury it over the last `thirty-eight years'.

FootnoteI Praxis News of Worship, Issue 19 Autumn 2008, pp 1 & 3. Praxis is sponsored by the Church of England's Liturgical Commission among others, but the sponsors `do not fund Praxis financially.' Its presiding genius seems to be Bishop Buchanan himself, whose regular column is winsomely entitled 'Colin's Column: Not the first word but the last'.

'Non-Romans might be wise not to forget what Rome was saying but a few years ago,' Bishop Buchanan rather lamely concludes. Perhaps Rome has changed its mind. Whether its revised texts will serve to create a new `sacred style' may be doubtful. The irony is that the translators charged with translating the Mass into English in the nineteen-sixties had already to hand a `sacred style ... which had come to be recognised as proper to liturgical language'-the `style' of the Book of Common Prayer. How sad, in retrospect, that Rome's movements towards the use of the vernacular in liturgy coincided with what Colin Buchanan calls `the struggle as to whether God should be addressed as "Thou" or as "You"'. There were those who looked for something nobler in an English Mass.There is a poignant episode in the biography of Ronald jasper, describing the first visit of Anglican observers to the Roman Consilium on the Liturgy in 1966:

'I well remember [one of the party recalled] the first such journey in 19 66. We had as a companion on the plane a veteran Roman Catholic liturgiologist, Canon R. Pilkington, who was a peritus at the Consilium. As the plane approached Rome he was plainly excited, partly at the sight of the city and partly at the prospect of the reform of the liturgy, which he said would soon be so changed as to be almost entirely acceptable to us all. I think he was envisaging a vernacular version in the style of Cranmer. Ronald [Jasper] was not to betray much emotion, but I think we all had a sense of making history'

The `history' that was subsequently made-not least by Ronald Jasper­in the ecumenical ICET texts must have been as disappointing to Canon Pilkington as the new texts are to Bishop Buchanan. When we consider the great affection Pope Paul VI had for the Prayer Book' * it still seems surprising that the history was not otherwise. I wonder what Pope Benedict thinks?

John Scrivener


1 Donald Gray, Ronald Jasper: His Life, His Work and the ASB (1997), p.83 (italics mine)

2 *`I have a great affection for your Book of Common Prayer", he said to a visiting layman, Sir Gilbert Inglefield, who told him about the Series 2 experimental liturgy in England, "you must not abandon it. It is very beautiful poetry."'-see Owen Chadwick, Michael Ramsey: A Life (1990), p.317.





Are you interested? Would you like to read more?   Visit the Prayer Book Society's own site by clicking HERE

 Book of Common Prayer Services at Sunderland Minster and by the Minster choir at other churches.  

Every Sunday                         8am   HOLY COMMUNION

Sundays, 1st & 3rd in each month (usually)  6pm  CHORAL EVENSONG  - but often replaced with another service! 


(Almost all Choral Evensong services sung by the Minster choir, an Anthem is sung, as are and the Canticles - AT present chanted but, hopefully, in the near future once again to full settings by composers such as Moeran, Stainer, Stanford, Sumpsion and Walmisley). The Preces & Responses with the Lords Prayer and Collects are also fully chanted. 


Other Prayer Book Society services in the Durham Diocese & area

Sunday 23rd September    6:30pm CHORAL EVENSONG at St Helen, KELLOE.

   I am very happy to say that I was able to attend this wonderful service, which seemed to be a celebration of all that is good about Anglican traditions and forms of service. The fact that the Sedgefield Deanery had again managed to pull together a choir from small parishes in the area, accompanied by an extremely talented organist,  and in the space of two rehearsals managed to accomplish a well-sung service was particularly commendable and cause, in itself, for those who attended to realise that Prayer Book traditions are a long way from being dead.

  It was, if anything, there to provide an impetus to those of us who feel strongly about our preferences to stand up and be counted and to ensure that the tradition continues - alongside, of course, the modern services which others may well prefer. Having said this, it must surely be recognised that there is a new generation of Anglicans who do not know  about the joyful depths of the Old liturgies and surely it behoves all churches, (and this means their clergy), to provide and urge their congregations to attend such Prayer Book Services.

  There must have been something like a hundred folk present taking full advantage of the opportunity to absorb the serene gravitas of this happy service. My personal thanks to all involved, and also for introducing me to this wonderful old church, to which I must make a return visit.


Sunday, November 25th   at 6.30pm  Choral Evensong at St. Aidan’s, Chilton, took place as scheduled and was another extremely uplifting service, attended by upwards of 75 folk, We have, again, to thank Mr Gray for his great work in arranging these services. The combined choir did excellent work, once again, with only two practices and I very much look forward to the next such event


Sunday, March 9th  at 6.30pm   St. Edmund’s, Sedgefield.Another excellent attendance - in the region of 100 folk -  rewarded the organisers, and there was again an excellent Choir turn-out. For a 'scratch' choir, they do very well and my performer instinct made me wish to be of their number. Once again, this was a full choral service, enhanced by congregation participation in five -or was it six? - hymns. --- and certainly, the good Lord was present !

Once again, thanks to all who provided this opportunity.



Excerpt from the Prayer Book Society's magazine:-


Here is a selection of the latest news releases from the Prayer Book Society:-


High praise for Cheshire church

A CHESHIRE church, near Macclesfield, has been praised by a national organisation for sticking to its traditional roots.

StJames the Great, in Gawsworth, was built over five hundred years ago. Today it maintains its tradition by holding services from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

It’s a move which has been recognised by the national Prayer Book Society which has members across the country in each of the Church of England’s dioceses.

“While many of the country’s churches have forsaken tradition happily this is not the case at St James the Great in Gawsworth”, according to the Prayer Book Society chairman, Prudence Dailey. “The beautiful Cheshire church sticks to the Book of Common Prayer which goes down very well with the congregation.”

Gawsworth St James is blessed to have excellent support, particularly as the church is one of the few in the area to offer the 1662 services.

“Many of our congregations travel a distance to attend these services,” according to Barry Rose the PCC/Church Secretary. “The observance of the Prayer Book tradition has existed here for centuries, and it is the love of the 1662 book, and the support of successive rectors, that has maintained the tradition.”

The congregation is rightly proud of its tradition. “Many of our members feel there is a loss of reverence in modern services, whereas the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is firmly rooted in the Bible and is irreplaceable as the guarantee of orthodoxy, dignity and beauty in the Church’s worship,” adds Miss Dailey.

Members of the local Thomas Cranmer Choir support the services – Archbishop Cranmer being responsible for the compilation of the Prayer Book after the Reformation.

The Rector, Bishop William A Pwaisiho OBE, is also Honorary Assistant Bishop of Chester. He was formerly the Second Bishop of Malaita in the Solomon Islands.

The church is open during the day and visitors are most welcome.--end--


THE DETAILS of a theological conference have been unveiled by a religious charity.

The Prayer Book Society campaigns for the continued use of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and stages an annual conference, principally for its membership. This year’s event will be held at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester between Friday 18th and Sunday 20th September.

“The Conference is deliberately different this year”, explains PBS Chairman Prudence Dailey. “We have decided it is high time to have some serious discussion of Prayer Book theology, following requests from several of our members.”

The Society hopes this will encourage more clergy to attend the weekend event, as well as attracting those who want to engage with theological issues.

The full Conference papers will be published shortly and will be accessible on the Society’s website at

Speakers include the internationally known theologian and author, the Rev’d Dr Roger Bechwith; and the Rev’d Canon Dr Robin Ward who is Principal of St Stephen’s House theological college in Oxford. He was formerly Canon Theologian of the Diocese of Rochester.

Also on the billing is the author, politician and environmentalist Stanley Johnson, father of the charismatic London Mayor, as an after-dinner speaker. “He obviously has a quite a high profile at the moment”, adds Prudence. “And we are expecting that he will be a draw.”

The Conference will also include a wide range of Prayer Book services in the College’s wonderful chapel, including Mattins, Holy Communion and Evensong. Full details of the conference, and booking details, from the Prayer Book Society on 01189 842 582 or email -end—



A SCHEME has been launched to match the most appropriate clergy with parishes upholding traditional forms of worship and ministry.

The move, by the Prayer Book Society, follows the Church of England Liturgical Commission’s 2007 report, “Transforming Worship”, which backed the idea of developing “centres of excellence” for the Book of Common Prayer.

"From time to time the Prayer Book Society is asked if it knows of a member of the clergy who might be interested in this or that parish vacancy; until now, it hasn't had a systematic way of helping them", explains PBS Chairman Prudence Dailey. "And then the Society also comes across Prayer Book-minded clergy who might really appreciate the opportunity to exercise their ministry in a parish where the BCP was the predominant form of service used. Now there is an answer."

The Prayer Book Society, which works to promote the continued use of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, now thinks that one of the best ways of promoting this is to help parishes and clergy sympathetic to the BCP to find one another when a vacancy arises.

The Society promises to keep confidential the names of clergy who respond to the scheme. When the Society hears of a Prayer Book parish looking for a sympathetic new incumbent it will contact the clergy on its list with the appropriate details.

The PBS has started to run adverts in the church press to promote the scheme which is being co-ordinated by PBS Trustee the Canon Eric Woods, email:, who would be pleased to hear from parishes and patrons about current or future vacancies.


Message in vision

A RELIGIOUS pressure group has produced a range of colourful new posters intended to promote its message and increase membership.

The Prayer Book Society campaigns to promote the continued use of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer in our churches. It has members across the country who work within branches based in each Church of England diocese.

The new posters were created its graphic designer who has incorporated stunning visual images with key campaign messages.

“We are delighted with the new posters”, says Prayer Book Society chairman Prudence Dailey. “They will be distributed to our members for use in churches up and down the country as a reminder that the Prayer Book remains at the heart of the Anglican church.”

One poster features the Archbishop of Canterbury conducting a confirmation service according to the 1662 rite. The message includes the words from the service ‘defend, O Lord, this thy child with thy heavenly grace'.

Another of the posters features the message ‘New growth … deep roots’ around the image of a tree in full blossom; while Cranmer’s deep reliance on the Authorised Version of the Bible (KJV) when compiling the Book of Common Prayer is encapsulated under the headline ‘based on the bestseller’.

The posters, which are being sent to Prayer Book Society members, are also available from society’s office and downloadable from the website at

Prayer Books to Africa

HUNDREDS of copies of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer have been shipped across the globe to meet a growing demand for traditional church services in Africa.

The Prayer Book Society, which campaigns for the continued use of Cranmer’s liturgy, stepped in to help when a cathedral in Uganda made an appeal for help. The majority of Anglican services in Uganda are from the traditional book, and the Church is growing so rapidly that it cannot easily keep up with the demand for Prayer Books.

The shipment of 700 copies of the BCP is now in use at St John’s in Fort Portal after something of a tortuous journey. “They have been en route for several months”, explains Peter Bolton from the Prayer Book Society. “In fact, so long was the journey that Bishop Patrick Kyaligonza, who collected them from the docks, was merely the dean when the books left England.”

Surviving unscheduled trans-shipment, getting past the pirates, suffering a long delay in the port at Mombasa, the container of prayer books was monitored by Pat Morris who is in charge of the Friends of Teso which organised the shipment. Once they had landed safely in Soroti, the books were quickly retrieved by The Rev'd Boniface Esomu for the last leg of their journey.

The prayer books have been most warmly welcomed. “We are so appreciative of this gift and are looking forward to using the prayer books to enhance the ability of the congregation to participate actively in worship”, says Rt. Rev. Patrick Kyaligonza the Bishop of Ruwenzori. “Thank you so much for this contribution to our times of worship in the English services in our diocese.”

Generous members of the Prayer Book Society donated thousands of pounds to enable the books to be bought and sent to Uganda. “And it is refreshing to know that there are far more copies of the Book of Common Prayer in daily and weekly use now than there were in the first hundred years of the book’s life”, says Prayer Book Society Chairman Prudence Dailey.

The Society is aware of a big demand for prayer books from Anglicans around the world who cannot so easily afford to buy copies. It has therefore established a special fund to meet future requests.

Traditional funerals are allowed

SUGGESTION that traditional funerals have been outlawed by more modern replacements is quashed in new advice from a leading religious charity.

The Prayer Book Society works to promote the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. In a new leaflet published on its website ( it explains how both the 1662 and later 1928 Prayer Book funeral services are still legal. In fact, there are useful hints on how to adapt the services to make them suitable for use in crematoria and when hymns and other readings are required.

The booklet has been produced by the Revd Neil Patterson, the young vicar of a benefice in the Hereford Diocese and member of the board of Trustees of the Prayer Book Society.

He gives reassurance to those who wish to have a traditional funeral, with its famous phrases but are worried that the Prayer Book will fail to be used despite affection for it. He gives this advice, “tell your family your wishes, especially if you fear they may not appreciate or understand them, and give them a copy of the new leaflet.”

There are also hints on what bereaved relatives can do to ensure their loved ones receive the funeral they wanted by mentioning it to the undertaken at the earliest opportunity so that the priest may be readily informed.

“When asking for a traditional funeral, don’t be fobbed off with ‘it’s not allowed any more’, or ‘that’s been replaced”, says Neil. “This simply is not true.”

Not only is the 1662 service, like the entire Prayer Book, permanently legalised by Act of Parliament, the 1928 additions and variations (which are helpful for modern circumstances, include provision for children, and are in sympathetic language) remain authorised as well.

The new leaflet aims to cover every eventuality and has sections for the clergy, funeral directors, relatives and those planning their own funerals.


Call for traditional worship

EVERY Church of England parish should offer some form of traditional worship according to a veteran politician.

The former Foreign Secretary, Lord Hurd of Westwell, is a Lay Patron of the Prayer Book Society – the charity which promotes the continued use of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

“Every parish, or group of parishes, should give people a choice which includes the Book of Common Prayer – not just for those of us who were brought up with it and for whom it is beautiful and precious, but for a more long-lasting reason”, says the veteran politician who spent over a decade in government.

Lord Hurd continues, “The words of Cranmer come from a time in the English language which was particularly beautiful and well organised. They are very clear to understand. They don’t need explanation. There is no mystery there and they make an impact precisely because they are not the language of the pub, or the language of everyday speak.”

Speaking in a pod-cast, just published on the Society’s website at, Lord Hurd recalls his first use of Cranmer’s prayer book in the school chapel at Eton. “Using it day after, day”, he says, “one got the words by heart.” He says the language used in 1662 book is “beautiful, precious and so meaningful.”

A special place, says Lord Hurd, deserves a special language. “You go to church and it’s a special building – and it’s perfectly reasonable to have a special language, distinguished by being beautiful, holy.”

He likens the 1960s’ liturgical reformers to a ‘big elephant’ who wanted to squash the established Prayer Book and its supporters. “But we have got past that stage now”, he maintains.

Lord Hurd, who still lives in Oxfordshire and enjoys Cranmer’s great office service of Mattins, says it is very important for young priests coming into Ministry to be familiar with the Prayer Book. “It should be used in theological colleges so they are not embarrassed or upset when people want it in a church they are working in,” he says. “The Book of Common Prayer must keep a permanent place in our worship.”


MP supports prayer tradition

A POLITICIAN has spoken out in support of church tradition and the key role Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer has in our society, to this day.

“The Prayer Book is a vital part of the DNA of the English language and to lose it would be to lose a whole tranche of Englishness”, according to the veteran Labour MP, Frank Field.

He is a Vice-President of the Prayer Book Society which campaigns for the continued use of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the standard of worship and doctrine in the Church of England.

“This great book was produced at the time of the King James Bible and when Shakespeare was writing”, says Frank Field. “Together these three went out and captured the world. English is one of the premier languages today because of these great texts were taken by people from this country as they travelled the Empire.”

Frank Field feels that to lose this would be to begin to cut the roots of what it means to be English in this country, as well as what English is elsewhere.

The MP admits that times are pretty hard for the Prayer Book to survive because of waves of “reforms and reformers”. “Today’s wider culture is of emphasising noise and action which leaves no room for quietness, reflection and contemplation”, he says. “Who knows when the Prayer Book will be back into fashion again, when people want to go to church to be quiet, rather than go to church to clap and dance around.”

“It’s the rhythm of the language which is so appealing”, he says in an online pod-cast to the Prayer Book Society’s website

“It’s the sentiments and the images which that language gives, it’s the extraordinary way that Cranmer had of translating from the Latin and crafting it to what he thought the Elizabethans should have.”


Getting modern to promote tradition

A CHARITY has turned to the latest technology in its quest to support ancient tradition.

The Prayer Book Society, which campaigns for the continued use of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, has added an exciting range of podcasts to its website.

“Just because we support and promote centuries’ old tradition doesn’t mean we’re out of touch with the modern world”, says the Prayer Book Society Chairman, Prudence Dailey. “We hope these new podcasts will be enjoyed by a wide audience.”

Downloadable from, the audio includes interviews with two politicians from different ends of the spectrum.

Labour’s Frank Field reads his favourite passage from the Prayer Book and explains how important Cranmer’s great work is to him in his daily life in politics and social reform. He says that if the prayer book tradition was ever allowed to die out we would lose a great tranche of Englishness.

Frank Field says, “it is the rhythm of Cranmer’s language which is appealing, the sentiments and the images which that language gives”.

The former Foreign Secretary, Lord Hurd of Westwell has been a long-time supporter of the Book of Common Prayer and is now a Lay Patron of the Prayer Book Society. In the new podcast he reads his favourite part of Cranmer’s Morning Prayer and explains how the 1662 book has been with him throughout his tumultuous political life.

Lord Hurd says of the Prayer Book, “how beautiful, how prescious and how meaningful its words are’. This becomes particularly apparent,” he adds, “when it is threatened and one is exposed to other versions of worship”.

“More podcasts will be added to the site as we have other well-known people in mind to talk about how the Prayer Book is important to them in their lives”, adds Prudence Dailey.

It's hoped that people will also find the podcasts a useful way to listen to events they are not able to attend. For example, two extracts are available to download and listen to from the most recent members’ conference.

The Bishop of Rochester’s enlightening address to last autumn’s Annual Conference was widely reported at the time. It is now available as a download along with part of the speech from the Rev’d Andrew Hawes, the Warden of Edenham Retreat House who also addressed the conference audience.


Far be it from me to promote a cult of quaintness, but the power of the Prayer Book to connect with many of those who find the ordinary diet of the church banal, should not be ignored. There is now a younger generation who are realising afresh the importance of complementing the argot of Twitter and SMS with the majesty of Cranmer. (The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London


"Bound Together by the Book of Common Prayer

             The Prayer Book is a treasury of words and phrases that are still for countless English-speaking people the nearest you can come to an adequate language for the mysteries of faith. It gives words which say where and who we are before God: ‘we have erred and strayed from our ways like lost sheep,’ ‘we are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table’, but also ‘we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of the Son, which is the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs through hope of thy everlasting kingdom.’ It gives us words for God that hold on to the paradoxes that we can’t avoid: ‘God ….who art always ready to hear than we are to pray,’ ‘ who declarest  thy almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity,’

       A treasury of words for God – but also a source of vision for an entire society: ‘Give us grace seriously to lay heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions,’ ‘If ye shall perceive your offences to be suchas are not only against God  but also against your neighbours; then ye shall reconcile yourselves unto them; being ready to make restitution.

      The world has changed, the very rhythms of our speech have changed, our society is irreversibly more plural, and we have – with varying degrees of reluctance – found other and usually less resonant ways of talking to God and identifying who we are in his presence. If we used only the Prayer Book these days we’d risk confusing the strangeness of the mysteries of faith with the strangeness of antique and lovely language. But we’re much the poorer for forgetting it and pushing it to the margins as much as we often do in the Church. And it is crucial to remember the point about the Prayer Book as something for a whole society, binding together our obligations to God and to one another, in a dense interweaving of love and duty joyfully performed.

    The Prayer Book was once the way our society found words to respond to the Word, to say who and where they were in answer to God’s question. Those who prayed the Prayer Book,  remember, included those who abolished the Slave Trade, put an end to child labour, because of what they learned in this book and in their Bibles about the honour of God and of God’s children ……….

    ………….That’s why is year’s celebration is not about a museum piece."

 Archbishop Williams of Canterbury  (2011)



       'The King James Bible is a Magna Carta for the poor and oppressed: the most democratic book in the world. '    ( Theodore Roosevelt, speaking in 1912 )

'There is no doubt in my mind that the King James Bible, not Shakespeare, set this language on its path to become a universal language on a scale unprecedented before or since.'   (Melvyn Bragg)





Follow this link to visit the Prayer Book Society's Official site


Page updated by David Herring 13/02/2015