In 1549, under the reign of Edward VI, successor to Henry VIII, the primary language of public worship in England and other areas ruled by Edward was changed from Latin to English, and the first Book of Common Prayer came into use. It was first used on Pentecost Sunday, 9 June 1549, and the occasion is now commemorated "on the first convenient day following Pentecost." The Book was the work of a commission of scholars, but primarily of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. It was based primarily upon the Latin worship tradition of the Use of Sarum (similar to, but not identical with, the Roman rite used by most Roman Catholic between 1600 and 1950), with some elements taken from the Greek liturgies of the Eastern Church, from ancient Gallican (French) rites, from the new Lutheran order of service, and from the Latin rite of Cologne.
The older usage had grown haphazardly through the centuries, and had added so many complications that it was difficult to follow (the priest often needed to juggle up to a dozen books to get through a single service). The new order pruned and simplified so that only one book other than the Bible was necessary, and so that even the laity could follow the service and participate without difficulty. Moreover, the quality of the English was outstanding. All Christians who worship in English, from Roman Catholics to Southern Baptists and beyond, are in some measure influenced by it, and all to whom it is important that the people of God understand the worship of the Church and take an active part therein have cause to be grateful for the Book of Common Prayer.
Propers for The First Book of Common Prayer
ALMIGHTY God, who didst guide thy servant Thomas Cranmer, with others, to render the worship of thy Church in a language understanded of the people: Make us ever thankful for this our heritage, and help us so to pray in the Spirit and with the understanding also, that we may worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
The Epistle - Acts 2:38-42.
THEN Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about thee thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
The Gospel - St. Matthew 6:5-15.
WHEN thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask them. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debt, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
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