The Golden Jubilee of the BCP: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the 1962 Edition of the Canadian Book of Common Prayer

By Maitland, Gordon R. | Anglican Journal, March 2012 | Go to article overview

The Golden Jubilee of the BCP: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the 1962 Edition of the Canadian Book of Common Prayer


Maitland, Gordon R., Anglican Journal


THE YEAR 2012 is full of anniversary celebrations. It is the Bicentennial of the War of 1832 1 and the Diamond Jubilee of the accession of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It is also the Golden Jubilee of the 1962 Canadian Book of Common Prayer. In response to the request by General Synod 2010 that the Anglican Church of Canada observe this anniversary, the Prayer Book Society of Canada (PBSC) is working with the Faith, Worship and Ministry department of the national office to make this observance a memorable one.

As part of this jubilee celebration, the Prayer Book Society is suggesting four dates be observed. Each of these dates has a historical significance in the history of the BCP. The first date is Wednesday, March 21. This is the date of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's martyrdom. Archbishop Cranmer was the architect and compiler of the original Book of Common Prayer in 1549 and this day is Cranmer's feast day in both the BCP and BAS liturgical calendars. Although the prayer book has undergone many changes since then, the wording of many of the prayers and exhortations has stood the test of time for more than 450 years.

The second date is Wednesday, May 2. This is the day of the nation-wide celebration of the 1662 English edition of the Book of Common Prayer in the United Kingdom. This celebration will take the form of an evensong at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer was the edition used by We United Empire Loyalists and first Anglican settlers in what is now Canada. Since the 1662 BCP was the one in use when the Anglican Church of Canada obtained its autonomy from the Church of England in 1893, it is the edition of the BCP referred to in the Solemn Declaration.

It is interesting to note that when the Anglican church in Canada obtained its autonomy from the mother church in England, its first liturgical business was not a revision of the BCP but the production of a new hymn book! The first Book of Common Praise appeared in 1908. The revision of the prayer book was delayed by the First World War, but the first Canadian edition of the prayer book came into use in 1922.

After the Second World War, the need for revision was felt again and a new revision was published in 1959. This brings us to the third significant date for the Golden Jubilee year, which is Monday, September 3. It was on this date in 1959 that the 1962 Canadian BCP was first authorized (on an experimental basis) for use in the Canadian church. Why is it called the 1962 BCP when it was first published in 1959? In our Canadian church, any legislation that comes before General Synod and has the potential for changes in doctrine must be passed by two consecutive General Synods to come into effect. …

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