cover image The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer

The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer

, . . Oxford, $45 (640pp) ISBN 978-0-19-529756-0

This new reference work, edited by Boston College professor Hefling and Church Publishing v-p Shattuck, traces the many revisions that the Anglican Book of Common Prayer has undergone and examines the sundry versions of the prayer book used in different countries. (After the American Revolution, for example, Episcopalians in the new United States omitted the prayers for the British king.) Varied liturgies for weddings, argues Gillian Varcoe, show how Anglicans in different times and places responded to culturally specific pressures and changing social understandings about marriage. Throughout, the contributors underscore that "Anglicans do their theology in the context of worship." Given the current energy swirling around the concept of a worldwide Anglican communion, and the West's increased attention to churches in the southern hemisphere, the essays on prayer books in Africa and Asia are especially welcome. Concluding pieces hazard some guesses—sometimes a tad whimsically—about the future of common prayer. What do technological changes mean for the prayer book? Word processors have allowed churches to produce Sunday bulletins, rendering actual books unnecessary. Maybe one day soon, Sunday worshippers will read the liturgy from Palm Pilots or BlackBerry devices. This rich volume is sure to become the definitive source for studies of the Book of Common Prayer . (June)