This exquisite Deluxe Edition of the Anglican prayer book and literary masterpiece commemorates the 350th anniversary of the 1662 edition intimately familiar to our most enduring writers (Austen, Swift, the Brontës). It features a new introduction by The New Yorker’s book critic, James Wood, discussing how it has influenced the English language and literature.
As essential to the canon as the Bible and the plays of Shakespeare, The Book of Common Prayer has been in daily use for centuries. Originally produced for the Church of England in the sixteenth century by Thomas Cranmer, who was burned at the stake upon the accession to the throne of the ardently Catholic Queen Mary, it contains the entire liturgy as first presented in English—as well as some of the oldest phrases to be used by modern English speakers. Here are the daily prayers, scripture readings, psalm recitals, and the services marking such religious milestones as baptism, confirmation, and marriage (“to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, to till death do us part”), all from the 1662 edition, whose words live on to this day sin figures of speech, ceremonial vows and benedictions, and in the work of some of the greatest writers in English literature.
“One of the great, abiding works of English literature . . . The acute poetry, balanced sonorities, heavy order, and direct intimacy of its prose have achieved permanence, and many of its phrases and sentences are as famous as lines from Shakespeare or the King James Bible.” —James Wood, from the Introduction