14th June 1928. Prayer Book Controversy.

Today in 1928 the Revised and 2nd Book of Common Prayer (BCP) was defeated by the House of Commons after being passed by the Church [of England] Assembly.


The result was that the 1662 and 1928 (BCP) were printed in parallel script with the revised matrimony and baptism services included.(1)

The 1928 BCP included the 16thc Coverdale version of the Psalms as given in the Great Bible and prescribed annual Bible readings to cover the whole of Scripture.

The new BCP was an attempt to settle the 19thc conflicts between Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics, who wanted more liturgical freedom than allowed in the 1662 Book.

Archbishop Davidson who had taken office in 1903 and concerned about the rise of secularism, was presented with a demand that he protect the 1662 Book, by stamping out ritualism (in 1899 the Archbishops had pronounced against incense and processional lights).

By the 1920.s reform was an issue and a Draft Issue by the Church National Assembly in 1923 and The Green Book of 1927 and later Final Draft, provided for the Reserved Sacrament for the first time, this despite Article XXVIII which said the ‘Sacrament by Christ’s Ordinance is not to be Reserved’.(2)

The modest reforms proposed sex equality in the wedding service. However Davidson was criticised as being ‘Popish’ in his proposals and a hundred MP.s were demanding prosecution of clergy using Incense or ‘Reserving the Sacrament’.

The problem for the Church of England is that it is by Law Established, state controlled and any amendments required have to be approved by Parliament.

However despite being approved by both the CofE Conventions and Church Assembly it was voted down by Parliament in December 1927. Stalemate!

When Archbishop Cosmo Lang succeeded Davidson at Canterbury in 1929, the Upper House of the Convocation of Canterbury, in frustration, resolved that bishops make up their own minds as to what they adopted.

In 1966 most of the 1928 services were legalised as the 1st Series of the Alternative Service Book.

One doesn’t have to be a believer, to think in the modern age, what was right for the 16thc might be anachronistic. Also one wonders what the fount of Christianity would do with all the ‘nit-picking’ which passes for religious belief.

(1) After 1662 there had been a number of attempts to revise the Prayer Book, the first in 1689.

In 1862 Dean Liddell the father of Alice the model for Alice in Wonderland, presided over the last regular service in Oxford Cathedral (also the chapel of Christ Church) to be held in Latin.

An amendment in 1907 to the 1662 BCP was to the Kindred and Affinity Table which saw the Deceased Wife’s Sister Marriage Act, making it possible for these relations to marry.

In 1936 Prayer Books had to be reprinted after the abdication of Edward VIII and dedications replaced.

(2) 7.2.1927 (Green Book) and Final Draft 29.3.1927. Reserve Sacraments have previously been consecrated by the Minister.

Ref: justus.anglican.org/resources/Pic.

Ref: wikipedia.org/book_of_common-prayer.




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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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