The Christian Feminist Podcast #150: The Book of Common Prayer

Christian Feminist Podcast – Ep. 150

Hello and welcome to the Christian Feminist Podcast.  I am Sara Klooster.  Today we are talking about one of the pillars of modern Christianity, The Book of Common Prayer.  It is the formative document for Anglican devotion and worship.   The Anglican Communion originates from the Church of England and the prayer book is rooted in the Reformation and splits the difference in the traditions of Western Christianity.  Anglicans differ in their practices than other denominations.  Anglicans anchor themselves in worship and by worship they mean The Book of Common Prayer.  It has always been serious business to alter the BCP, but no matter how valuable, it can never attain canonical status reserved for the Bible itself.  We want to talk about how and if 3 non-Anglicans can benefit from these prayers and daily offices.

Before we get too lost in details, let’s introduce our panel today.  Tell us your name and what if any experience or knowledge you had of the BCP before this episode.

Reading:

Brief History – Sara K.

BCP owes its character to one man in particular, Thomas Cranmer who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1533-1556. Cranmer begins work on the BCP so he can unify the new Anglican liturgy and he tries to balance tradition with the need for reforms. However, Cranmer doesn’t invent the idea of a prayer book.  There were several prayer books in England before the Reformation and they tended to reflect the worship and prayers of their geographical area.  Some of these ceremonies, such as the marriage ceremony, were copied almost whole cloth from these pre-Reformation works.  There were prayer books in 1549 and 1552, but when we think of the version most known and influential, that is the 1662 version that was virtually unchanged until the1928, and it was the 1662 version that sailed around the world with the British Empire.

Structure (how the book is laid out) – BCP approaches faith in the natural orderliness of a day and a life.  For instance, baptism at the beginning and burial at the end.  This orderliness is the theme of the BCP because everyone is doing the same prayers and reading the same scriptures together no matter how far apart they are.

Generally also contains the Psalter, lectionary, and lectionary for the daily office.

There are 4 prayers in the day, but the two primary are Morning and Evening prayers which are the backbone of daily prayer in the Anglican tradition and were created from the previous offices which could be up to eight in day.  

The lectionary for the daily office provides readings from the Psalms, Old Testament, New Testament, and Gospel every single day.  Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer (or Evensong if you are feeling particularly poetic)

Knowing:

What part of the BCP do you find the most useful? 

(example my grandfather being sick)

What about the book surprised you?

What Prayers and Thanksgivings would you recommend? 

Ex: For Families, For the Aged, In Times of Conflict

  • Occasional Prayer #2: For the Universal Church
  • Occasional Prayer #10, 11, 12: Selecting pastor, local church
  • Occasional Prayer #30, 41: Civil Authorities, town/city
  • Thanksgiving #117: General Thanksgiving
  • Occasional Prayer #87: Participation in the Peace of God (attributed to St. Francis)
  • Occasional Prayer #51: Those Who Inform Public Opinion

How does the daily office differ from traditional evangelical “quiet time”?

Since I can’t speak to the comparison to evangelical forms of prayer, I’d like to talk a little bit about prayers like the daily/divine office as one form of prayer among many within the Roman Catholic tradition–formal, extemporaneous, meditative/contemplative (Sarah MC/T)

There is one prayer that specifically assumes a female gender “praise for safe delivery” what do we make of that?  

Originally called “The Order of the Purification of Women”  later referred to as the “Churching of Women” 

If the BCP is laid out in certain way to inform and shape our prayer life and private devotions, what shape is it trying to give?  What is it trying to teach us? 

  • Order of Service
    • Corporate, unified, connected v. isolated & independent
    • Prepared & planned v. extemporaneous
    • Ordered v. spontaneous
    • Participation v. consumption
    • For believers v. for unbelievers

Passing on:

Sarah T. – Divine Office App (for those interested in the Catholic Divine Office/exploring similarities to BCP)

Alexis

Sara K. 

Anglican Church in North America – Daily Office App

Thank you for listening to The Christian Feminist Podcast. We’d love to hear from you. If you have topic or reading recommendations for future shows, or if you just want to drop us a line, you can do so at christianfeministpodcast@gmail.com. You can also find us on our facebook page or at the network’s twitter handle, @CHRadioNetwork, and check out the show notes from this and our other episodes at The Christian Humanist Blog at christianhumanist.org. The Christian Feminist Podcast is a member of the Christian Humanist Radio Network. Kristen Filipic (Fuh-LIP-ic) is our Press Liaison. For Sarah Thomas and Alexis Neal, I’m Sara Klooster. Tune in in two weeks when we’ll discuss The Public Universal Friend. Until then, in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things love.

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