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The Book of Common Prayer

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Book of Common Prayer, published after the Reformation in order to make church liturgy available in English.

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Book of Common Prayer. In 1549, at the height of the English Reformation, a new prayer book was published containing versions of the liturgy in English. Generally believed to have been supervised by Thomas Cranmer, the Book of Common Prayer was at the centre of the decade of religious turmoil that followed, and disputes over its use were one of the major causes of the English Civil War in the 1640s. The book was revised several times before the celebrated final version was published in 1662. It is still in use in many churches today, and remains not just a liturgical text of great importance but a literary work of profound beauty and influence.


Diarmaid MacCulloch
Professor of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford

Alexandra Walsham
Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge

Martin Palmer
Director of the International Consultancy on Religion, Education, and Culture

Producer: Thomas Morris.

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Thu 17 Oct 2013 21:30


Diarmaid MacCulloch at the University of Oxford


Alexandra Walsham at the University of Cambridge


Thomas Cranmer - Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


Book of Common Prayer - Wikipedia





Thomas Cranmer with D. MacCulloch (preface), The Book of Common Prayer (Everyman, 1999)


Brian Cummings (ed.), The Book of Common Prayer: The Texts of 1549, 1559 and 1662 (Oxford University Press, 2011)


D. N. Griffiths (ed.), The Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer, 1549–1999 (British Library, 2002)


C. Hefling and C. Shattuck (eds.), The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer (Oxford University Press, 2008)


C. Jones et al. (eds.), The Study of Liturgy (Oxford University Press, 1992)


D. Loades (ed.), Word and Worship: Essays Presented to Margot Johnson (The Davenant Press, 2005)


D. MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer: A Life (Yale University Press, 1996)


Judith Maltby, Prayer Book and People in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England (Cambridge University Press, 1998)


Natalie Mears and Alec Ryrie (eds.), Worship and the Parish Church in Early Modern Britain (Ashgate, 2013)


S. Platten and C. Woods (eds.), Comfortable Words: Polity and Piety and The Book Of Common Prayer (SCM Press, 2012)


Timothy Rosendale, Liturgy and Literature in the Making of Protestant England (Cambridge University Press, 2011)


Ramie Targoff, Common Prayer: The Language of Public Devotion in Early Modern England (University of Chicago Press, 2001)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Diarmaid MacCulloch
Interviewed Guest Alexandra Walsham
Interviewed Guest Martin Palmer
Producer Thomas Morris


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