Monday, July 03, 2006

CD-PDF Books from the Prayer Book Society

Irene C. Teas

A few years ago the Prayer Book Society began offering selected books on CDs that, having been scanned to PDF format, can be read on a computer screen and whose pages can be printed as desired. Why should you own and read these books? Because they provide education as to what comprises the Anglican Way, answer many “why” and “how to” questions, and give you material by which you can enrich your daily and Sunday worship services.

The first book that we did on CD was The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, by Richard Hooker (the Keble edition in 8 volumes). This is a bedrock work in defense of the organization and the Common Prayer worship of the Church of England, which is the heritage of all Anglicans.

Then we produced Anglicanism; the thought and practice of the Church of England, edited by P. E. More and F. L. Cross. This is an anthology of excerpts from prominent Anglicans of the 17th century. Particularly valuable are two essays at the beginning which clearly explain what the genuine Anglican Way is to this day.

It is only logical that the Prayer Book Society would bring forth books on its reason for existence, the Book of Common Prayer, so next came two CDs containing such books.

The first of these two was The Book of Common Prayer: Six Commentaries. Originally it had been Blunt’s Annotated Book of Common Prayer separately, and later Five Commentaries, but these were subsequently put together on a single CD of Six Commentaries as offered now.

Because the faithful editions of the Book of Common Prayer derive most of their content from the 1662 edition, the books on this CD are great references for later editions as well – and I can’t emphasize that point strongly enough! The four commentaries on the 1662 edition are Annotated Book of Common Prayer, by J. H. Blunt; The Prayer-Book, Its History, Language, and Contents, by E. Daniel (23rd ed.); The Teacher’s Prayer Book..., by A. Barry (16th ed.); and The Tutorial Prayer Book..., edited by C. Neil and J. M. Willoughby. On the Book of Common Prayer 1928 there are two commentaries: The American Prayer Book..., by E. L. Parsons and B. H. Jones (to me the Glossary at the back is the best part); and The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary, by M. H. Shepherd.

Our second CD on the Book of Common Prayer is The Book of Common Prayer – Its History, Use, and Terms. The history book is A New History of the Book of Common Prayer... by F. Procter, revised by W. H. Frere, formerly a required textbook for clergy. The “use” book is Liturgy and Worship, a Companion to the Prayer Books of the Anglican Communion, edited by W. K. Lowther Clarke. This is a collection of contributed essays under the headings of “Historical”, “The Prayer Book Services: Their Sources and Rationale”, and “Supplementary Essays”. Subjects run from synagogue worship to prayer book translations – with plenty of details. The “terms” book is The Prayer Book Dictionary, a large reference book edited by G. Harford and M. Stevenson.

Sometimes it has been complained that the Book of Common Prayer lacks prayers for special occasions or circumstances. The Prayer Book Society has therefore made a CD containing twelve collections of prayers under the simple title of Collects & Prayers. One or two of these collections have official approval for use in the Church of England. Others contain prayers that have been found useful by the clergymen who gathered them together. A few are compiled by laymen who maintained the classic style of the Book of Common Prayer.

What would the Anglican Way be without its Formularies, one of which is the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion? It seems to me that the decline of the church in recent decades coincided with the time that the Articles, our guidelines, were abandoned. While the above CDs were being produced, I was concurrently, over several years, scanning the dozen books on our CD The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. The titles are too long to itemize here, but perhaps you will recognize some of the authors: Bicknell, Boultbee, Browne, Burnet, Gibson, Green, Hardwick, Litton, Maclear and Williams, Rogers, Thomas, and Wilson and Templeton. Here you can compare and weigh various views on specific points in “the 39”, which is a good thing to do to round out your own thinking.

Our latest offering coming out this fall is A Special Anglican Trilogy. It contains (1) The Liturgy Compared with the Bible, by H. I. Bailey, which shows how phrases in the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal are connected to Scripture; (2) A Plain Commentary on the Four Holy Gospels..., by J. W. Burgon, 2d American edition, written as a devotional but useful as well as a sermon resource; and (3) An Exposition of the Creed, by J. Pearson, 6th edition, an in-depth classic on the Apostles’ Creed.

You will find these CDs listed on the order form in past issues of the Mandate magazine, and they are listed online at the Anglican Marketplace,

Happy reading and learning to all!

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