Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The Role of the Book of Common Prayer in the Formation of Modern Anglican Identity: A Study of English Parochial Worship

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The Role of the Book of Common Prayer in the Formation of Modern Anglican Identity: A Study of English Parochial Worship

Article excerpt

The Role of the Book of Common Prayer in the Formation of Modern Anglican Identity: A Study of English Parochial Worship. By Andrew Braddock. (Lewiston, Maine: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2010, Pp. iv, 327. $119.95 [£74.95], cloth.)

Recalling Prosper of Aquitaine 's dictum that lex orandi, lex credendi (the law of prayer is the law of belief), Braddock sets out to determine how the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) formed modern Anglican identity between 1750 and 1850 in his aptly named The Role of the Book of Common Prayer in the Formation of Modern Anglican Church Identity. In order to determine the ways Britons interacted with the BCP and its effect on Anglicanism, Braddock examines church life at the parish level. His source material includes "books, tracts and sermons; visitation returns made by church wardens; charges delivered by bishops and archdeacons, guides to the Prayer Book and its history; personal notes, diaries and recollections, journals and newspapers and collection of parochial music" (3).

In the process of detailing the role of the BCP among Anglicans, Braddock throws doubt on the assumption of later nineteenth-century evangelicals and tractarians (and many modern scholars) that the eighteenth-century Church of England was a stagnant body trapped in the equivalent of a spiritual coma. While the revisionist view represented by scholars like J. C. D. Clark, Arthur Burns, Nigel Yates, and Peter Nockles has become increasingly prevalent, there are still numerous voices calling attention to the supposed spiritual torpor of the Georgian church. Dominic Erdozain's recent The Problem of Pleasure (2010) provides one example.

After examining data relative to the provision of Sunday services, church attendance, the celebration of Holy Communion, and adherence to the liturgical calendar, Braddock concludes that worship practices varied "according to local needs, customs and circumstances" (41 ). Parish churches altered their services throughout the eighteenth century to best accommodate local needs and desires. Although the general trend throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was toward more frequent services and eucharistie celebrations, the church willingly adapted itself to local conditions. …

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