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Ploughboy Notes

Common Worship: Daily Prayer

David Ireson, Group Convener

It has taken the Church of England a long time to publish a “definitive” daily prayer book, but it is available at last! Having used it for the few weeks since it was published my first impression is entirely positive. It fulfils its purpose in helping to make the daily office far more rewarding and enjoyable.

Settling down before a cross and perhaps a candle, simply taking up this magnificent book becomes a part of your twice daily ritual. The text is beautifully printed on ivory paper with clear “Gill Sans” typeset and rubrics. There is a hardback or leather bound version; both look likely to last.

Unlike the much used Franciscan “Celebrating Common Prayer” learning how to navigate this prayer book can be mastered in minutes and used immediately. After a couple of weeks of using the basic format of Morning and Evening Prayer, one can start to use the rest of the six marker ribbons! Those who want to use the book just once each day can use the “Prayer during the Day” section which has short readings included. One could also then use the “Order for Night Prayer” (Compline). To follow the full office you need a current lectionary.

There are many pages of forms of intercession and then prayers from many traditions and even other faiths. Over time there is much to discover and value in this section. There are an extraordinary 87 canticles to be used for every time and season. The psalms are, of course, superbly and clearly set out for group worship. After each Old Testament psalm there is a thoughtful prayer with a New Testament dimension.

Church House describe this prayer book as ‘the eagerly awaited definitive edition’ and I agree. I am sure that many fellow clergy and many who have no formal commitment to the daily office will have the lives of prayer greatly enhanced by it.

There are critics of the Church of England’s new “Common Worship”. I have strong reservations about the language of some of it; the Baptism service is simply incomprehensible to those who have no lifelong experience of Anglican liturgy. Jean Mayland (who used to be on the Liturgical Commission) says to the church she loves:

“for God’s sake grow out of Common Worship as soon as you can. Find new, inclusive, poetic language and symbolism from our own age to describe and worship God and meet the needs of the millions of this nation”.

I think the new Daily Prayer provides a firm foundation from which personal prayer can flow. I think it is suitable for our present generation who need to root their faith in the ancient tradition of the psalms and their understanding of God in the accounts of events of salvation history. The Book of Common Prayer, the 1662, is a product of its time. From 2005 I will be happy to set my prayer within the framework of this “definitive” and enriching prayer book.

Review: Old Bibles on CD

Ever fancied owning a 1537 Matthew Bible? Or a 1549 Great Bible (complete with Cranmer’s Prologue)? Of course you have. The astronomical prices that are asked for such books these days, however, guarantee that most of us will be left to look wistfully on whilst such treasures disappear into the few national and private libraries that can afford them — when they come on to the market at all, that is. But now, for the princely sum of just $19.99 (or about £12 or so) you can own a Matthew, or a Coverdale — or, for just half that sum, the 1549 Book of Common Prayer. And much more besides can be had. Erasmus’s 1522 Greek and Latin New Testament, for example. How so?

It’s easy. Just go to and there you can see an ever-growing list of such treasures that have been scanned on to CD and can thus be loaded on to your computer. So far, there are over one hundred titles to be had, rare and scholarly works about the English Bible as well as many early printed versions of the English Bible itself — including a 1536 Tyndale New Testament. The Greek NT, the Hebrew OT (Bomberg’s 1524-5 edition — the one that Tyndale famously pleaded to have with him in his prison cell) and various editions of the Geneva Bible are also there. So whether you just love to browse amongst old Bibles, or whether you are a serious student of the subject, Sola Scriptura Publishing is a great source of research material.

The CDs come in a surprisingly robust jewel case, and even contain the Adobe Reader software that makes them useable on a PC. Not all the works are scans of the original Bibles, so you need to read the list carefully to make sure that it is not a later (usually Victorian) reprint — if a facsimile is required. But even the Victorian reprints are jolly rare these days, and just to have them on your PC means that you can study them at leisure, without having to undertake a long and tiresome journey to a library which happens to keep them.

The original Bibles that are used for these scans have sometimes deteriorated in some way, and the scan naturally reproduces the faults as well as the excellences. So please don’t expect a facsimile of a mint original to appear on your screen. But they are otherwise splendid reproductions, and make a truly invaluable addition to any library. (Yes, you can even print off those pages that you need to keep with your written work).

If you are not on-line (as it were), then the postal address of Sola Scriptura Publishing is:

     Mark Langley
     Sola Scriptura Publishing,
     1118 SW Orleans St.
     Topeka, KS 66604, USA.
Or you can e-mail Mark on:

Bill Cooper, January 2005.