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Book of Common Prayer (1892)

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For other versions of this work, see Book of Common Prayer.
Book of Common Prayer  (1892) 
by the Church of England

from The Original Manuscript attached to the Act of Uniformity of 1662, and now preserved in the House of Lords.


Book of Common Prayer


The Original Manuscript



And now preserved in the House of Lords.


Printers to the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty.


Edinburgh, Glasgow, Melbourne, Sydney, and New York.



In the following pages the Book of Common Prayer which was annexed in manuscript, as the authoritative record, to the Act of Uniformity of 1662, is exactly reproduced in type—it is believed for the first time.

By this it is to be understood that the text is here printed verbatim et literatim, without any attempt to modernize the spelling, or to harmonize it in the very numerous instances in which it is at variance with itself, and that the punctuation of the original MS. (often extremely faulty and defective if judged by a present-day standard) has been most rigidly adhered to, even in cases where it is, to modern readers, obviously erroneous. Wherever an erasure or correction occurs in the MS., the passage is printed as it was left after the making of such erasure or correction.

The MS. copy now reproduced was adopted by the clergy of both Houses of Convocation and of both Provinces, Dec. 20, 1661, and is authenticated by their signatures appended. Nevertheless, the earliest printed copies of the Book of Common Prayer of 1662, namely, those known as the Sealed Books, because they were declared under the Great Seal of England to be true copies of the MS., are found to differ considerably from that original standard in various details of orthography and punctuation. The causes of this discrepancy cannot be discussed here. A brief statement, however, seems to be required, to explain the character of the so-called Annexed Book, and the method of its present reproduction in type, more particularly in the interest of readers who have not access to the facsimile made in 1891 by special permission of the House of Lords, now the custodians of the MS.

The MS. is written in two styles of handwriting (but not all by the same scribe), the text of the work being in the set hand of the period, and that, as a rule, beautifully clear; whilst the rubrics and other matter are in a more cursive hand, the styles being used interchangeably, as occasion arose, to distinguish certain words or phrases.

To represent the original handwriting, therefore, two kinds of type sufficed, the Roman being adopted for the set or engrossing hand of the text, and the Italic for the cursive of the rubrics; whilst the titles, headlines, sundry words and phrases written large in the text, and the marginal notes—which are not in the set hand nor in the cursive of the rubrics—are reproduced in the Roman or in the Italic according to typographical practice. Such sizes of each type have been selected as would fairly and sufficiently represent the variations of size deliberately introduced into the original MS. by the writer or writers. Refinements of mere penmanship have been disregarded, but whatever could be considered an integral part of the Annexed Book has been exhibited in type.

During the execution of the work, every precaution that experience could suggest was taken to ensure perfect accuracy, and the completed work was then minutely compared, word by word, stop by stop, with the photographs of the Annexed Book from which the copy in facsimile was made in 1891, every case of ambiguity being determined by reference to the original in the House of Lords. Throughout this final examination the Queen's Printers have had the assistance of Mr. Reginald S. Faber, by whose special knowledge and experience of such manuscript work they have been guided in every detail. They may instance in particular the use of the capitals I, J, and S, which appear to have been adopted by the writers of the MS. in the most uncertain and varying manner, the S being almost always of such indefinite size that its reproduction in type could only be satisfactorily effected by a careful comparison of its numerous varieties.

In addition to the lines which enclose each page or form the skeleton of certain Tables and a few cross-lines within the pages, parts of the Kalendar, viz. the numerals in the first column of each month, the words Kalend, Nonœ, Idus together with the name of the month in the line following, also Morning and Evening in headings, and I Lesson in both Services, are, in the original, executed in red ink. But inasmuch as this treatment was found to involve no principle, being rather a matter of penmanship or ornament, it seemed preferable to avoid it as being exceptional and possibly misleading in the printed volume. The titles of twenty-four of the Feast Days and of the three State Services which are, in the Kalendar, also written with red ink, have been set in a distinctive type.

The reader will notice many curious points throughout the work; but, however strange some of them may appear, he may rely on their being in every case a truthful reproduction of the MS. In some instances, matters of doctrine or ritual may seem to be affected, but on such questions it is, fortunately, not within the province of printer or press-corrector to express any opinion. But they venture to state, as the result of their labours, their belief that the Annexed Book was intended to be a record of the language only of the Book of Common Prayer (and not to be a standard of orthography—which the manuscript of the chief reviser, the learned Bishop Cosin, and of his secretary Sancroft shows to have been still in an unsettled condition—nor of punctuation, nor of typographical detail), and that the MS. was used in this limited sense by the authorised examiners of the Sealed Books.

Her Majesty's Printing Office,
September 1892.


The Booke of
Common Prayer
Administration of the
And other Rites and
of the Church
According to the Vse of
the Church of England
Together with
The Psalter or Psalmes of
Pointed as they are to be
sung or said in Churches
The Forme or Manner of
Making, ordeining, & consecrating
Bishops, Priests, & Deacons.


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