An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Prayer Book Commentary

A comprehensive study of the liturgical and theological background of a Prayer Book. During the Puritan Commonwealth in England, when the BCP was outlawed, two systematic commentaries were published: Anthony Sparrow's A Rationale or Practical Exposition upon the Book of Common Prayer (1655) and Hamon L'Estrange's The Alliance of Divine Offices (1659). Thomas Comber published seven volumes entitled A Companion to the Temple and Closet (1672-76) in an attempt to reconcile dissenters. Two commentaries were published in 1710: William Nicholls's A Comment on the Book of Common Prayer and Charles Wheatly's A Rational Illustration of the Book of Common Prayer. Wheatly's book was reprinted as late as 1890. It was listed in the “Course of Ecclesiastical Studies, Established by the House of Bishops” in 1804 and reprinted in journals of General Convention through 1889. Also listed was John Reeves's Book of Common Prayer with Introduction and Commentary (1801). With the list was the Bishop of Lincoln's “Library of a Parish Ministry” which contained Wheatly's book and A Critical and Practical Elucidation of the Book of Common Prayer (1797) by Nicholls and John Shepherd. Commentaries on the 1789 American Prayer Book include Andrew Fowler's An Exposition of the Book of Common Prayer (1805) and T. C. Brownell's Family Prayer Book (1823). Substantial, often reprinted commentaries on the 1662 English Prayer Book include Francis Procter's A History of the Book of Common Prayer, with a Rationale of Its Offices (1855) (revised by W. H. Frere [1900]), John Henry Blunt's The Annotated Book of Common Prayer (1866), Evan Daniel's The Prayer-Book: Its History, Language, and Contents (1877), Alfred Barry's The Teacher's Prayer Book (1882) (an American edition based on the 1892 revision was published in 1898), Prayer-Book Commentary for Teachers and Students (1883), and Charles Neil and J.M. Willoughby's The Tutorial Prayer Book (1912). Massey H. Shepherd, Jr., produced The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary (1950) as a companion to the 1928 revision. Marion Hatchett produced Commentary on the American Prayer Book (1980) for the 1979 revision.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.