Huelskamp, Benjamin Z.
The University of the South Sewanee, TN, USA


What follows in these pages is a detailed analysis of changes made to the Book of Common Prayer starting with its first publication in 1549 and carrying through to 1552 and 1559. In researching and writing on this topic, I am indebted to the Society of Archbishop Justus of the Anglican Communion whose website contains transcriptions of every Book of Common Prayer ever produced. In my quotes of the three books, I resolved to increase the reading ease of the original language and spelling and have hence updated it to contemporary English. Yet the ideas and opinions of the texts remain unchanged. Additionally it should be noted that the source used did not include page numbers and hence I have to the best of my ability, through foot notes and in text citations, given the reader a map as to where in the three BCPs to find the text that I am quoting.


Edward's Prayers, Elizabeth's Settlement: The 1549, 1552, and 1559 Books of Common Prayer. Huelskamp, Benjamin Z. . Lethbridge Undergraduate Research Journal. Volume 4 Number 1. 2009.

The year was 1549; the boy-king Edward VI was on the throne. The civil world was governed by the Duke of Somerset as Lord Protector and Regent and the religious realm governed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. England was divided: Catholics and Protestants. In this environment the First Book of Common Prayer 1 was issued. The BCP was meant to be the first truly Protestant liturgical text issued in England after the break with Rome. Under Henry VIII the traditional Latin liturgies had continued primarily in accordance with the 1526 Liturgy of Salisbury (commonly called the Sarum Liturgy). One of the first and indeed most obvious changes found in the BCP 1549 is a note in the appendix that reads, “As touching kneeling, crossing, 2 holding up of hands, knocking upon the breast, and other gestures, they may be used or left as every man's devotion serveth without blame.” In the same appendix there is a lengthy section on the ceremonies that should be kept and those to be discarded. “Some are put away, because the great excess and multitude of them hath so increased in these latter days, that the burden of them was intolerable…” 3 What English Protestantism became under Edward VI and later under Elizabeth was just that, a reaction and response to what the English reformers considered intolerable restrictions on man's devotion of God. In the following pages, this paper will show the progression of changes made to the Book of Common Prayer in its first three editions (1549, 1552, and 1559). Further the paper will attempt to prove that the 1559 printing is in fact a compromise of the 1549 and 1552 printings in that it reintroduces parts of earlier Catholic liturgies while maintaining solid Protestant doctrine.

What would come to be known as the Reformation commenced in continental Europe in 1517 when the German theologian Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral. In the coming years England emerged as one of the prominent Catholic governments and indeed one of the few to actually still trust the papacy. Yet as soon as Henry broke with Rome, the religious dam broke and Protestantism surged into English life. By the time of Edward VI, England was ready to become a truly Protestant nation and the BCP 1549 was a logical first step towards full English Protestantism. Many people on Edward's Privy Council and others in the church wanted still to make the services more Protestant. Cranmer had removed many of the ceremonies he and his compatriots disliked in 1549, but the reformers still wanted to do away with the overly elaborate vestments that priests then wore in favor of the simple cassock and surplice. To this end they issued the BCP 1552. While this book accomplished its mission on paper it is essential to point out that one can only view it as representative of English Protestant development as within six months of its issue Edward VI died and the Catholic Mary Tudor ascended to the throne. Mary was quick to outlaw the still largely unpublished and indeed uncirculated book.

On July 19, 1553, Roman Catholicism returned to England and with its return came the end of the BCP as a liturgical text with the passage of the Statue of Repeal Act. However, Mary's reign lasted little over five years and in 1558 Elizabeth ascended to the throne. English Protestantism was restored. Possibly the greatest early triumph of Elizabeth's reign was the institution of what has come to be called the Elizabethan Settlement which created the “middle way” between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. In order to return to the reforms of Edward VI and Thomas Cranmer, the BCP 1559 was issued. This BCP was a continuation of the BCP 1552 which had never fully been propagated or enforced. It is the BCP 1559 that the compromise between Catholic past and Protestant future can best be seen, as the 1559 is a product of Elizabeth's “middle way.”

I. Order and Language

Throughout the BCPs 1549, 1552, and 1559, language and the order of the services are essential to understanding the changes and shifts made to the texts in the context of the overall English Protestant Reformation. If one was to look only at the BCP 1549, then the most notable change in language would be the language itself. The Catholic liturgies, including the 1526 Sarum, had been written in Latin. However, the Order for Communion 1548 had been the first printing of the communion in English and hence this distinction does not go to the BCP 1549. First among the changes made to language in the BCPs comes in the morning service or Matins. The Morning Prayer service begins in the 1549 with the Lord's Prayer pronounced by the priest in the choir. The 1552 and 1559 begin with sentences read by the priest on sin and repentance followed by an invitation to join in the confession. This period of Protestization in the English Church followed a budding theology of the depravity of the body and the great need for forgiveness of sins, hence the reformers inserted penitential rites both here and in the liturgy for the Holy Eucharist. The next obvious change in language comes in the litany. The BCPs 1549 and 1552 contain the following prayer: “From all sedition and private conspiracy, from the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities, from all false doctrine and heresy, from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word and commandment.” 4 This passage is most likely the most clearly Protestant, but under the Elizabethan settlement and the movement to make the prayer book less Protestant the entire section on the pope was removed in the BCP 1559. This passage's removal also bears witness to the change in policy from Edward to Elizabeth in that Elizabeth was far more tolerant of Catholicism and ready to turn a blind eye, more so than Mary had done with Protestants. Many historians have noted that Elizabeth was herself relatively “high church,” but never forced this inclination on the entire English Church. Hence at many times iconoclasm ran concurrently with strict high church observance.

The opening collect of the Eucharist is not in fact interesting for any changes, as there were indeed none, but rather for the retention of the exact same language in all three BCPs, the 1526 Sarum, and even down to the Episcopal Church's BCP 1979: “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, and all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts, by the inspiration of thy holy spirit; that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name: through Christ our Lord. Amen.” 5 Like during Matins, the BCPs 1552 and 1559 add a penitential rite to the Eucharist this time utilizing the Ten Commandments with the congregation responding: “Lord have mercy upon us and incline our hearts to keep this law.” 6 This is the first time that the BCP 1549 breaks from the 1526 Sarum which has a penitential rite. Also this is the only time that something that was removed in the 1549 is then added back in the 1552 and 1559. The creed is changed in two ways: first, in the 1552 and the 1559 the phrase “whose kingdom shall have no end” is inserted at the end of the traditional, “…and he shall come again with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead.” The second change is more subtle and involves making the “c” in Catholic lowercase in the BCP 1559. This is significant because it signals the final, albeit ceremonial, break with Rome. No longer will the word “catholic” refer directly to the Roman church, but will now revert to its Greek meaning of “universal.” Also all three BCPs remove the mark of “holy” from the listing of the marks of the church instead using “one, catholic, and apostolic.” This mark is found in the 1526 Sarum as well as other Roman Catholic liturgies.

During the offertory each BCP calls for the priest or curate to read several exhortations to the congregation. One of them is particularly intriguing: “For then we be guilty of the body and blood of Christ our savior. We eat and drink our own damnation, not considering the lord's body.” 7 This statement gives an incredible amount of agency to the individual who can in fact damn himself by unworthily drinking the blood of Christ or eating his flesh. The BCPs 1552 and 1559 also contain a general confession of sins which states: “Almighty God, father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, Judge of all men, we knowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by thought, word and deed, against thy divine Majesty: provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us: we do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings: the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable: have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful father, for thy son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake: forgive us all that is past, and grant that we may ever here after serve and please thee, in newness of life, to the honor and glory of thy name: through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 8 This passage exhibits a shift from the same type of confession found in the Sarum in which the intercession of Mary is invoked, while here the prayer is directed to God the Father and Christ without an intermediary. This was a central teaching of the Protestant reformers who rejected the idea of reaching God through something or someone else.

At the beginning of the consecration the Sanctus is pronounced then sung in all three BCPs, but the line “Hosanna, in the highest. Blessed is he that commeth in the name of the Lord…” is omitted in the BCPs 1552 and 1559. When the gifts have been prayed over, the priest uses the following words during the distribution for the bread: “The body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life,” and for the blood: “The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.” 9 The BCP 1552 uses the following language for the body: “Take and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving,” and for the blood: “Drink this in remembrance that Christ's blood was shed for thee, and be thankful.” The language in the 1552 inserts “remembrance” to show the difference between communion as sacrifice and communion as symbol. The fact that the language is combined in the BCP 1559 is perhaps the best evidence for a compromise between the BCPs 1549 and 1552. The two types of phrases are combined in the BCP 1559 almost exactly as they are written in 1549 and 1552.

The first prayer of the baptismal services in all the BCPs is the same, but in the 1549 a change occurs in the very next prayer. “Almighty and everlasting God, which of thy justice didst destroy by floods of water the whole world for sin, except viii [eight] persons, whom of thy mercy (the same time) thou didst save in the Ark.” In the 1552 and 1559 the line “which of thy justice didst destroy by floods of water the whole world for sin, except viii [eight] persons,” is replaced with “didst save Noah and his family in the Ark from perishing by water…” 10 There seems to be an attempt to make the history of salvation present without referring to the sin involved first. Also in the 1549 the prayer ends: “And finally attain to everlasting life, with all thy holy and chosen people. This grant us we beseech thee, for Jesus Christ's sake our Lord. Amen.” In the 1552 and the 1559 the phrase “with all thy holy and chosen people” is omitted suggesting a more exclusive view of salvation. Also in the BCPs 1552 and 1559 there is a statement made of agency of the church in welcoming the child: “We receive this child into the congregation of Christ's flock, and do sign him with the sign of the cross, in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner against sin, the world, and the devil, and to continue Christ's faithful soldier and servant unto his life's end. Amen.” This is most likely not in the BCP 1549 because it suggests that the priest and congregation can bring one into the Church rather than the Church 11 itself through God.

During the burial services there are a number of interesting linguistically changes. When they arrive at the grave the priest says a prayer which is the same in all three BCPs. All three also state that the priest should throw dirt upon the body, but the prayer stated is different in the 1549 compared to the 1552 and 1559. The 1549 prayer reads: “I commend thy soul to God the father almighty, and thy body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be like to his glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.” This passage gives the agency to the priest while the BCPs 1552 and 1559 state the prayer as: “For as much as it hath pleased almighty God of his great mercy to take unto himself the Soul of our dear brother, here departed, we therefore commit his body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes, to ashes, dust, to dust, in sure, and certain hope of resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body that it may be like to his glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue al things to himself.” 12 This passage gives the agency of sending the deceased to God, to God alone, and the congregation has only the power to commit the body to the ground; nothing more. This is a break with how Catholicism viewed its power to commend people and things onto God in its role as pontifical or “bridge building” between God and man. The next prayer offered in the BCP 1549 also carries this same theme: “We commend into thy hands of mercy (most merciful father) the soul of this our brother departed, N. And his body we commit to the earth, beseeching thine infinite goodness, to give us grace to live in thy fear and love and to die in thy favor…” Again here the priest with the church commends someone's soul onto God. This prayer is omitted in the BCPs 1552 and 1559 which go directly to an epistle and the “Lord, have mercy.”

The next prayer in the BCP 1549 reads: “Almighty God, we give thee hearty thanks for this thy servant, whom thou hast delivered from the miseries of this wretched world, from the body of death and all temptation. And, as we trust, hast brought his soul which he committed into thy holy hands, into sure consolation and rest: Grant, we beseech thee, that at the day of judgment his soul and all the souls of thy elect, departed out of this life, may with us and we with them, fully receive thy promises, and be made perfect altogether though the glorious resurrection of thy son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” The prayer undergoes several changes between 1549 and 1552 including the insertion at the beginning of: “Almighty God, with who do love the spirits of them that depart hence in the Lord, and in whom the souls of them that be elected, after they be delivered from the burden of the flesh, be in joy and felicity…” 13 This new section contains both the theological idea of the depravity of the human body and the world as evil and also makes a second reference 14 to the idea of election and predestination that Calvin espoused. The end of the original prayer is also changed to include: “…and all other departed in the true faith of thy holy name, may have our perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul, in thy eternal and everlasting glory. Amen.” 15 This is a shift in that there is a note of the “true faith” that is not contained in the 1549 which just reads “departed this life.” The last and indeed most important difference is that in the BCPs 1552 and 1559 there is one more collect and then the service is over while the 1549 moves on to the epistle, “Lord have mercy,” and finally to a full celebration of the Eucharist.

II. Vestments, Adornments, and Religious Paraphernalia

One of the hallmarks of the theology of both Luther and Calvin was the removal of the omnipresent pomp and circumstance in Catholic liturgy. However, like Luther, who would later add ceremony back into the liturgy of his church, the BCP 1559 would add back some of the items removed in the 1552. The BCP 1549 addresses the issue of vestments in the introductory instructions to communion stating, “the priest that shall execute the holy ministry, shall put upon him the vesture appointed for that ministry, that is to say a white alb plain, with a vestment or Cope. And where there are many priests, or deacons, there so many shall be ready to help the priest, in the ministry, as shall be requisite: And shall have upon them likewise the vestures appointed for their ministry, that is to say, albs with tunacles 16 .” This passage still requires vesture much like that required of priests under the older Catholic liturgy which the Protestant reformers under Edward went to great lengths to remove. The BCPs 1552 and 1559 place these instructions at the beginning of Matins, with the 1552 saying, “here is to be noted, that the minister at the time of the Communion and all other times in his ministration, shall use neither alb, vestment, nor cope: but being archbishop or bishop, he shall have and wear a rochet; and being a priest or deacon, he shall have and wear a surplice only.” This passage seeks to do away with the elaborate vestments of the church's Roman Catholic liturgical roots. The BCP 1559 states that “here is to be noted, that the Minister at the time of the communion, and at all other times in his ministration, shall use such ornaments in the church, as were in use by authority of parliament in the second year of the reign of King Edward the VI.” At first glance this would seem to indicate a reaffirmation of the 1552 as much of the 1559 does, but the key phrase is “in the second year of the reign of King Edward the VI.” Edward reigned from 1547 to 1553 and therefore the second year was 1549, a time when the Church of England was publishing and beginning to operate under the BCP 1549, which allowed for the use of traditional vestments. Hence the BCP 1559 also allows for the use of such vestments. The only other reference to religious vesture comes during the baptismal rites in the BCP 1549 when the priest clothes the infant in a white garment. This step is omitted in the BCPs 1552 and 1559.

The structure and position of the altar is not addressed in the 1549, but it is in the 1552 and 1559. “The table, having at the Communion time a fair white linen cloth upon it, shall stand in the body of the church or in the chancel where morning prayer and evening prayer be appointed to be said.” 17 Both the altar's placement and covering suggest a much more reserved nature in comparison to the still elaborate altar envisioned by earlier Roman Catholic texts, the Sarum particularly, and most likely the BCP 1549 as well. The next thing that should be addressed is the bread used at communion. The instructions at the end of the Holy Eucharist sections of the BCPs 1552 and 1559 deal with this question, stating that the bread used should be typical supper bread of the purest quality which the curate is to provide at the expense of the parish. Even though these later BCPs would not hold that transubstantiation occurs, they still allowed for an unblemished offering mirroring the Biblical sacrifice at Passover. This is an interesting development in the English Reformation because it harkens back to events in the Old Testament. For Luther, the Old Testament was nothing more than a legal code that proved that human actions were never enough to merit salvation and therefore he placed much more emphasis on the New Testament. The English, however, by requiring bread of the purest quality make reference to the sacrificial lamb in the book of Exodus. “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats.” 18 This passage then mirrors a quote from the New Testament: “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 19 Taken together these passages show that the “purest bread” required by the BCPs 1552 and 1559, is in fact a direct link to the Lamb of God: Christ. While no change may occur, Christ is still there found.

III. Movement

In conjunction with the removal of vestments and other items associated with Catholic pomp and ceremony, the movements of both priest and people were greatly simplified. Perhaps the first and best example of a change in the movement of the priest, curate, and chancel party is the introit. In the BCP 1549 the priests and other ministers sing a psalm as an introit and process to the altar. The BCPs 1552 and 1559 require the priest and ministers to begin already at the altar with the Lord's Prayer; the reformers having removed the introit altogether. This removal also removes the procession hence simplifying this part of the liturgy. The simplification of the liturgy was a common theme of most, if not all, Protestant reformers who sought to focus the energy of the service on God rather than external actions. The next note on movement comes at the very end of the distribution of communion. To the 1552 is added the Black Rubric 20 that makes clear that any kneeling done in the Eucharist does not signify that the bread and wine are being adored, but this rubric is removed in the BCP 1559. The fact that this clarification is removed in the 1559 is essential to the claim that the 1559 is in fact a compromise. While English theologians have still held that the transubstantiation did not occur and that therefore the bread and wine were nothing more than bread and wine, the BCP no longer makes clear this point. Further justification for this idea comes at the very end of the Holy Eucharist. The BCP 1552 alone contains a final statement that the bread and wine do not change substance and therefore cannot and should not be adored, which again is removed in the BCP 1559. This final point is essential to understanding the nature of the BCP 1559 in that after the wholly Protestant revisions of 1552, it indeed becomes more “Catholic” again while still maintaining a decidedly Protestant flavor.

The other major change in movement comes at two parts of the baptismal service. First, the BCP 1549 contains an exorcism over the child which is omitted in the 1552 and 1559 which go directly to the gospel. While the reformers indeed did trust in the devil being able to tempt people to commit certain acts, they tended to reject the notion of demonic possession and hence removed the exorcism from the baptismal rites. It should be noted however that the BCPs 1552 and 1559 include prayers that the child and all people may defend themselves from the devil and from worldly corruption. This in fact mirrors the exorcism found in the 1549 in light of the Protestant reforms. The second change comes in how the child is actually baptized. In the 1549 the priest dips the child in the font three times: “First dipping the right side: Second the left side: The third time dipping the face towards the font.” 21 In BCPs 1552 and 1559 the child is only dipped once. The next part has already been mentioned in reference to religious vesture, but it is also pertinent here. In the 1549 the priest then clothes the child in a white garment and anoints the child with chrism. These steps are greatly simplified in the 1552 and 1559 which call for the priest only to make a simple cross on the child's forehead.

IV. Lay Participation

One of the important and widely held Protestant views was the concept of the priesthood of all believers. Ideas like this and variants of it caused reformers to include more lay participation in their services. Throughout the BCPs 1552 and 1559, the laity is asked to join in the different penitential rites especially during Matins and Holy Eucharist. In this same vein are also those times when a prayer is prayed or a song is sung. All three BCPs call for use of the English language in almost all of the services. Several of the most sweeping changes came within the context of communion. Under the 1526 Sarum Liturgy only the priest received communion under either species, but the BCPs open communion to all. The first reference to this comes in the introductory instruction in all three that state that each person or household should state no later than immediately after Matins their desire to take communion. The next use of lay participation, albeit partial, comes with the sermon. Often “sermon” and “lay participation” do not usually go in the same sentence, but the BCPs 1552 and 1559 both allow homilies directed for use by “communal authority.” This authority is one of the first signs of quasi-independent churches acting at least in some things without the direct guidance and orders of a powerful central church. To be communal the authority would have to include the laity, therefore the lay people have a say over what is preached to them.

During the offertory the 1549 requires each man and woman places a set offering, determined by the curate, into the poor man's box. In the BCPs 1552 and 1559 this offering is collected by the church wardens and also placed in the box. That is to say that there is no longer a set donation or tithe required of the congregation. At the beginning of the prayers for communion the BCP 1549 calls for all those who will not receive communion to leave the choir and for those who will receive to arrange themselves with women on one side and men on the other. One can infer two things from the instruction from the 1549. First, again, that the people, or at least some of them, will receive communion and second, that a greater importance has been given to participation in communion as those not receiving communion are asked to leave the area and men and women to divide on either side of the choir. Just before the actual distribution of communion the priest offers the peace which the laity exchanges. While taken as a whole, this level of participation may seem to the modern reader to be little more than a courtesy extended to “keep people happy,” prior liturgies including the 1526 Sarum instructed that only the clerks and deacons were to respond to the priest. Even more poignant though was the requirement that the priest and only the priest was to receive communion under either species. Therefore the level of participation introduced by the successive BCPs was very generous.

V. Conclusion

When the Book of Common Prayer was first issued in 1549, it was an attempt at easing the English people into the new wave of Protestantism that people like Edward VI, the Duke of Somerset, and Thomas Cranmer advocated. It was largely still a Roman Catholic liturgical document with a prominent English flavor. By 1552, Edward and his councilors were ready to go forward with a new prayer book that would be much more Protestant and that same year they issued the BCP 1552. They introduced a large number of changes including:

  • Dropping elaborate Roman vestments in favor of only the rochet (bishops) or surplice (priests)
  • The addition of a penitential rite at the beginning of morning prayer and during Holy Eucharist
  • The removal of the altar from the chancel into the nave and its decoration as only plain white linen
  • Removal of the introit
  • No original sermon, but one dictated by communal authority
  • Removal of a set offering (tithe)
  • Change in the words used during the distribution of communion
  • Insertion of the “Black Rubric” at the end of communion stating that kneeling during communion is merely a movement and should not be interpreted as a form of adoration and the insertion of a remark that the bread and wine do not change substance
  • Insertion of an instruction that the bread used in communion should be normal white bread of the purest quality
  • Removal of the exorcism over the child before baptism
  • Changes the actual baptism to include only one “dipping” of the child into the font
  • Less agency given to the priest in commending the dead in burial to heaven and then unto God
  • Removal of communion during the burial rites

Many of these changes dealt primarily with the want and need to move further away from Rome and closer to Protestantism. The major changes came in the removal of vestments and the understanding that the Eucharist did not change substance and therefore should not be adored by any part of the congregation. It would be quite easy here to view these as mere changes in a text and forget their significance. One could logically do so given that the BCP 1552 was only in use for six months. However, these revisions, deletions, and insertions changed and influenced the very way that people expressed their faith. Some of these people had lived long enough to be Catholic under Henry VIII; quasi-Catholic in the later part of Henry's reign; quasi-Protestant under Edward VI; briefly Protestant under Edward; Catholic under Mary Tudor; and finally Anglican under Elizabeth. Each time the liturgy changed the lives of the people changed; what they saw changed; how they spoke to God changed.

The changes made to the BCP 1552 were then redone by Elizabeth in 1559. While most of that year's BCP mirrored the BCP 1552 almost verbatim, there is a strong sense of more traditional English worship and practice. Among the changes made were:

  • Reintroduction of liturgical vestments by allowing for all that was required in the second year of Edward VI's reign (1549)
  • Removal of the capital “C” and insertion of a lowercase “c” for the word “Catholic” in the creed

The words used for the distribution of communion in the BCPs 1549 and 1552 are combined for one long sentence

  • Removal of the Black Rubric
  • Removal of the statement that the bread and wine do not change substance
  • Removal of the prayers against the pope in the litany

The changes heralded the new direction Elizabeth and her advisors hoped to move; their view was to be Protestant while holding on to the traditional trappings of what became conservative Anglicanism. The approach was novel for a time in which people went to such great lengths to rid their churches of Catholicism, but Elizabeth's liturgical conservatism was made possible in large part to Edward VI's and Cranmer's retention of much of the art and adornments of English church buildings in a move greatly dissimilar from their continental counterparts who engaged in widespread iconoclasm. Because of these changes the BCP 1559 became in large part and mix and compromise of the BCPs 1549 and 1552 that would result in a church that Protestants could learn to love and Catholics might be able to support. With the coming of a more stable religious environment, whose instability had also spelled political instability, came a far more stable political scene that set the stage for the triumph of the Elizabethan Golden Age.

About the Author

I am a 21 year old junior (third year) from The University of the South reading for a BA in Philosophy with minors in History and Political Science. My major commitments lie in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion while also being quite involved in the Guild of Humanists (an academic group I co-founded) and a member of varsity athletics.


This paper could not have been possible without the kind help and attention to detail of Professor Elizabeth McCahill (Assistant Professor of History at The University of the South).


1. Henceforth the convention "BCP" shall be used with the proper publication date

2. Making the sign of the cross

3. Book of Common Prayer (1549)

4. Book of Common Prayer (1552)

5. Book of Common Prayer (1549)

6. Book of Common Prayer (1559)

7. Book of Common Prayer (1559)

8. Book of Common Prayer (1552)

9. Book of Common Prayer (1549)

10. Book of Common Prayer (1552)

11. "Church" in this sense refers to the Roman Catholic Church

12. Book of Common Prayer (1559)

13. Book of Common Prayer (1552)

14. The first reference is in the original version of the prayer from 1549

15. Book of Common Prayer (1552)

16. Tunacles were apparently a version of the tunic appointed for use by subdeacons

17. Book of Common Prayer (1552)

18. Exodus 12:5 (King James Version)

19. 1 Peter 1:29 (King James Version)

20. So called because in later reprintings of the BCP 1552 the rubric was printed in black

21. Book of Common Prayer (1549)


1. Staley, Vernon. (editor) The Sarum Missal in English: Parts One and Two. 1911. The De La More Press. London

2. The Society of Archbishop Justus. The Book of Common Prayer." The Book of Common Prayer (1549)

The Book of Common Prayer (1552)
The Book of Common Prayer (1559)