Book of Common Prayer [King's Chapel]
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Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by other Christian churches historically related to Anglicanism.
Book
of
Common Prayer
ACCORDING TO THE USE
Of
KING’S CHAPEL
PREFACE
TO THE FIRST EDITION. MDCCLXXXV.

MANY truly great and learned men, of the Church of England, as well divines as laymen, have earnestly wished to see their Liturgy reformed; but hitherto all attempts to reform it have proved ineffectual. The late happy revolution here hath forever separated all the Episcopal Societies in the United States of America, from the Church of England, of which the King of that country is the supreme head, and to whom all Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons of that Church are obliged to take an oath of allegiance and supremacy, at the time of their consecration or ordination. Being torn from that King and Church, the Society for whose use this Liturgy is published, think themselves at liberty, and well justified even by the declarations of the Church of England, in making such alterations, as “the exigency of the times and occasions hath rendered expedient,” and in expunging every thing which gave, or might be suspected to give, offence to tender consciences; guiding themselves however by “the holy scriptures, which,” they heartily agree with the Church of England, “a contain all things necessary to salvation,” and that “whatsoever is not read therein, nor can be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.” In the thirty-fourth of the Articles of the Church of England, it is declared, That “it is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been diverse, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s word.” And by the twentieth of those Articles it is declared, That "the Church hath power to decree rites and ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith.” What is there meant by the word Church, will appear from the nineteenth of those Articles, which declares,“The visible Church of Christ is a Congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly ministered, according to Christ’s ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same. As the Church of Hierusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred, so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in living, and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.” At the Reformation, when the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England was compiled, the Committee appointed to execute that business were obliged to proceed very tenderly and with great delicacy, for fear of offending the whole body of the people, just torn from the idolatrous Church of Rome; and many things were then retained, which have, in later times, given great offence to many, truly pious, Christians.

The Liturgy, contained in this volume, is such, as no Christian, it is supposed, can take offence at, or find his conscience wounded in repeating. The Trinitarian, the Unitarian, the Calvinist, the Arminian will read nothing in it which can give him any reasonable umbrage. God is the sole object of worship in these prayers; and as no man can come to God, but by the one Mediator, Jesus Christ, every petition is here offered in his name, in obedience to his positive command. The Gloria Patri, made and introduced into the Liturgy of the Church of Rome by the decree of Pope Damasus, towards the latter part of the fourth century, and adopted into the Book of Common Prayer, is not in this Liturgy. Instead of that doxology, doxologies from the pure word of God are introduced. It is not our wish to make proselytes to any particular system or opinions of any particular sect of Christians. Our earnest desire is to live in brotherly love and peace with all men, and especially with those who call themselves the disciples of Jesus Christ.

In compiling this Liturgy great assistance hath been derived from the judicious corrections of the Reverend Mr. Lindsey, who hath reformed the Book of Common Prayer according to the Plan of the truly pious and justly celebrated Doctor Samuel Clarke. Several of Mr. Lindsey’s amendments are adopted entire. The alterations which are taken from him, and the others which are made, excepting the prayers for Congress and the General Court, are none of them novelties; for they have been proposed and justified by some of the first divines of the Church of England.

A few passages in the Psalter, which are liable to be misconstrued or misapplied, are printed in Italics, and are designed to be omitted in repeating the Psalms.


PREFACE
TO THE EDITION OF MDCCCL.

The change introduced in the edition of 1785, and described in the foregoing preface by Dr. Freeman, was of a kind which can never be looked back upon by those who use this Liturgy, otherwise than with feelings of grateful satisfaction. In the then existing state of the Theological world, it required, on the part of Dr. Freeman and his associates, a fidelity to their convictions, a sincere and simple reverence for what they believed to be the truth of God, a disregard for all secondary and personal considerations, which will cause their names to be held in honor, so long as the church shall stand. It was an auspicious revolution which emancipated the forms of worship from the unwarranted restrictions of creeds framed by men, and restored the worshipper to the freedom of the Gospel.The change introduced in the edition of 1785, and described in the foregoing preface by Dr. Freeman, was of a kind which can never be looked back upon by those who use this Liturgy, otherwise than with feelings of grateful satisfaction. In the then existing state of the Theological world, it required, on the part of Dr. Freeman and his associates, a fidelity to their convictions, a sincere and simple reverence for what they believed to be the truth of God, a disregard for all secondary and personal considerations, which will cause their names to be held in honor, so long as the church shall stand. It was an auspicious revolution which emancipated the forms of worship from the unwarranted restrictions of creeds framed by men, and restored the worshipper to the freedom of the Gospel.

In the successive editions published since 1785, the changes which appear, consist principally of additions. They were made for the most part under the direction of Dr. Greenwood, whose pure taste and fervent piety eminently qualified him for the task. Since the first edition the Psalter has been abridged; and, wherever the sense or the diction appeared to require it, instead of the old translation, the version of the common English Bible, or some other approved translation, has been adopted. Several occasional Services, a second Evening Service, Services for the annual Fast and Thanksgiving, Prayers for families, Services for Sunday Schools, and Collects for particular occasions, have been added. Except in these particulars, the book remains in every important respect as it was.

All change, not obviously necessary, has been avoided. Experience has abundantly shown that it is difficult to improve these simple and venerable forms of worship, through which originally the most profound sentiments of devotion found utterance, and which still, better than any other human compositions, give expression to the religious wants and aspirations of the human heart. The substance of the Morning and of the Evening Service is derived from those early formularies of the primitive Church, from which the Lutheran and the English, the Greek and the Roman Churches, drew their respective modes of worship. The words which guide our devotional meditations have, in large part, been used for centuries, and are still used for the same purpose, by the great body of believers throughout Christendom. Many of the sentences are found in the earliest records of Christian devotion. The very phrases of invitation and benediction which we repeat, were repeated in secret chambers and torch-lighted catacombs, by those who commemorated Christ by night, at the peril of martyrdom on the morrow. The same words of blessing, “Peace be with you,” “The Lord be with you,” reminded men then, as now, of their common dependence on God. While theological speculations tend to separate Christians, our devotional forms have an opposite tendency to counteract this influence, by putting each worshipper into conscious relations with the whole Christian Church. Besides this, the associations which gradually collect around a Book of Common Prayer not only add to its interest and value, but in time constitute an essential part of the work itself. The child reads the same page which his parents read, and his devotions are warmed and hallowed by his remembrance of the affection and the faith of those, who may have been called from the worship of an earthly temple to a holier worship in Heaven. For such reasons as these, while additions have been made as circumstances required, it has been thought important to abstain carefully from all needless alterations.