Brian Cummings volume is a unique edition of the Book of Common Prayer that brings together the texts of three different versions—1549, 1559, and 1662—to provide a panorama of the history of ritual in England from the Reformation to the twentieth century. This is the first edition for the common reader, regardless of religious background, providing full notes and a comprehensive glossary of vocabulary and technical terms. Cummings’ introduction explains the historical significance of the book and the controversial process by which it was put together and revised, the changes to the test from the Reformation to the Restoration of the monarchy and the 1662 version, and the significance of the book for everyday life and the history of the English language and its literature. He also includes full explanatory notes include historical discussion of the origins of baptism, communion, the controversial meaning of gestures, words, and the doctrinal and political arguments which have accompanied the different versions.
Brian Cummings is professor of English in the Centre for Literature and Philosophy at the University of Sussex.