BCP title page

How to use the 1662 Book of Common Prayer in the United States

Daniel J. Sparks and Aaron Long

Why would we be interested in conforming our worship to a book that is over 300 years old? That is the question I [Aaron] heard when I first began using the 1662 Book of Common Prayer in my congregation. We live in a fast-paced, quickly developing, technology-driven society in modern America that focuses on the latest, the newest, and the most attention grabbing. Some of our churches desire to look like the society around them in the vain hope that they will attract worldly people into their pews and fellowship.

Why would we want to use this old book? Firstly, it is in continuity with the ancient church. The rhythm of Morning and Evening prayer and the litany, properly-administered Holy Communion and Baptism, the true words of the wedding service, and the comforting words of the office of the burial of the dead link us to a tradition greater than we are, bigger than the group of people gathered within our four walls, and ties us to the historical church universal.

Secondly, it is a reformed piety, solidly tied to our confession of faith in the 39 Articles and the Books of Homilies. Cranmer carefully took the documents of ancient Christian worship and reformed them into a book of worship that was even comfortable for Calvin and Bullinger. Through the rhythm of worship and the reformed piety that underlies it, the people were taught the Reformed faith.

Why not use one of the American books, then, in America? From the beginning, the American prayer books were influenced by liberalism, which sought to erode not only the reformed piety but also the Christian faith itself, as evidenced by the exclusion of the Athanasian Creed. We also see a corrupting influence on the Protestant and Reformed nature of our worship by use of the unreformed Scottish canon in Communion, rather than the reformed English canon. Anglo-Catholicism has continued a steady barrage against the historic Protestant and Reformed identity of our worship.

The 1662 prayer book provides a deep pool of Christian worship for those who confess the biblical and historic doctrines of Anglicanism. Americans who wish to worship in the tradition of the English Reformation will find the historic prayer book an excellent tool.


The following notes provide small adjustments to the text of the 1662 prayer book for use in the United States. In most cases, we have substituted the earliest and simplest language of American adaptations in place of the English peculiarities.

In Morning Prayer (p. 13) and Evening Prayer (p. 23), in the priest’s versicle, substitute “State” for “Queen”:

Priest.   O Lord, save the State.

OR [1785 US BCP]

Priest.  O Lord: bless and preserve these United States.

In the place of “A Prayer for the Queen’s Majesty” in Morning Prayer (p. 14) and Evening Prayer (p. 25), substitute “A Collect or Prayer for all Conditions of men” (p. 42); in the place of “A Prayer for the Royal Family”, substitute “A General Thanksgiving” (p. 43).

OR, for both collects, substitute [1785 US BCP]

¶ A Prayer for the PRESIDENT of the United States, and all in civil Authority.

O Lord, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; Most heartily we beseech thee, with thy favour, to behold and bless thy servant, The PRESIDENT of the United States, and all others in authority; and so replenish them with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that they may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way: Endue them plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant them in health and prosperity long to live; and finally, after this life, to attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In Holy Communion, on page 239-240, omit the “Collects for the Queen” [1785 US BCP].

In the prayer “for the whole state of Christ’s Church militant here in earth” (p. 244-245), omit

“and specially thy servant ELIZABETH our Queen; that under her we may be godly and quietly governed: And grant unto her whole Council, and to all that are put in authority under her,”

OR, in place of

“We beseech these also to save and defend all Christian Kings, Princes, and Governors; and specially thy servant ELIZABETH our Queen; that under her we may be godly and quietly governed: And grant unto her whole Council, and to all that are put in authority under her,”

substitute [1789 US BCP]

“We beseech these also to save and defend all Christian Rulers,”

In the “Forms of Prayer to be Used at Sea” (p. 538), for

“our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen ELIZABETH, and her Dominions”,

substitute [1785 US BCP]

“the United States of America”

At the ordination service (p. 558), omit the four petitions for the queen and royal family and the petition for the Council and Nobility (p. 559). [The 1789 US BCP revises and relocates certain phrases, but omission of these petitions provides a simpler alteration.]

Omit the forms for the anniversary of the queen’s accession (p. 596). Employment of similar forms for marking Independence Day requires greater alteration than can conveniently be addressed here.

Daniel J. Sparks is a minister in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

Aaron Long is a pastor in the United Episcopal Church of North America.

On the resurgence of confessional Anglicanism

There is a resurgence of confessional Anglicanism in the United States.

What do I mean by “confessional” Anglicanism? I mean an Anglican identity based on the Reformation principles outlined in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion of 1571 and put into practice through the liturgy of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Confessional Anglicans are Protestant, Reformed, evangelical–descriptors that would be redundant in an earlier age. Confessional Anglicans truly believe in the doctrines of the Reformation and want the worship of the church to be shaped by these biblical principles.

Confessional Anglicans do not view the Articles as a solely historical document locked in a particular era of time that only provides an antiquated snapshot of a quaint “golden age” of the English church. No, these are Anglicans of substance. These are folks who see the Articles as a confession of Reformed Protestant belief and practice that is binding today. These are Anglicans committed to the Bible, the creeds, and the doctrines of grace.

They are not interested in a monarchical episcopate, medieval views of the sacraments, milquetoast preaching, and ritualism. Instead of imitating the entrenched errors of Rome and Constantinople, they want a Christ-centered worship, filled with biblical preaching, right use of the sacraments, and godly discipline. They want to hear the Word of God read with authority, preached with authority, believed with authority. They want a liturgy that serves as a bellows to fan gospel flames.

This sort of Anglican has been around for a long time. However, in the United States, the slant of Romish ritualism has almost strangled the confessional witness of Anglicanism. Today, through casual connections and informal discussions, confessionalism is gaining steam. This means there are Anglicans who relish being called Protestants and Calvinists. They take joy in expository preaching and speaking on critical issues with clarity–instead of the “Anglican doublespeak” of many church leaders, both liberal and conservative.

Confessionalism is not monolithic, either among Anglicans or other Reformed churches. How this growing grassroots movement of churchmen will solidify remains to be seen. For the present, these reformational Anglicans are developing relationships with like-minded believers, both within and without their own denominations. Some of them may be found in surprising places. In any case, the church needs their witness, their call to return to the Scriptures, to a confessing faith.

On the responsibility of parents for their children before God

Reflections on Ephesians 6:1-9.

Some of the memories I have of childhood are from the primary Sunday school class. My mother was the teacher for most of what I can remember, though there were some other teachers in later years. I obviously benefited from what I was taught in those early classes, and I still draw on the knowledge that was imparted to me there.

One of the unique things about my childhood Sunday school class, perhaps not so unique when compared with many other classes of the time, was the flannel board. Do you remember the flannel board? I’m not sure if they are still in use these days in our high tech world when we seem to prefer moving pictures over anything else, but the flannel board seemed high tech in the 70’s and 80’s, at least to a small child.

It seemed a bit like magic how Moses and the entire Hebrew people could walk across the wilderness right in front of the class, passing through water without getting wet. Flannel board Jesus turned those water into wine before our eyes, and it was almost as miraculous as when the real Jesus did it. And, of course, in my little country Pentecostal church, we were pretty sure we could feel the heat from the paper tongues of fire that appeared on the disciples’ heads as they tarried in the upper room.

Flannel boards and the like have their usefulness as tools for instruction. Yet, they can’t convey the fullness of the faith. Two-dimensional Jesus can’t really turn water into wine. Even though the fall of flannel board Eutychus from a third story window might help press home the image of how dangerous it is to sleep during the sermon, what I really learned wasn’t bound in the paper images of Bible characters. Instead, my learning was necessarily bound with my mother’s heart. My learning was tied with how my mother treated the Scriptures. She believed in them. She knew they were alive. These stories she told me weren’t from the Brothers Grimm collection. They were history; they were moral instruction; but they were also real–they are also real.

Parents are entrusted by the Lord with a special responsibility for their children. The Lord gives parents children as a blessing, a blessing of great joy. In so giving, he requires the parents to care for their children, and not only physically and emotionally, but also spiritually. Parents bear responsibility for their children before God.

Parents bear responsibility to teach children how not to be conformed to the world. We do this with structure and discipline. We do it with mercy and compassion. We do it with a firm but gentle hand. In teaching them, with both words and deeds, our goal is to help them have renewed minds, not minds that are shaped by the world, the flesh, and the devil. A parent’s example of life is his foremost tool in so shaping his children in the image of Christ.

Does your example convey how sincerely you hold the faith? Doubtless it does, whether you intend it so or not. The Proverbs exhort us to disregard the fool because imitating him leads to folly. The Proverbs also exhort us to pay close attention to the fool so we will know what behavior not to imitate. All of us, living in the fallen world and tainted by sin, will continue to make mistakes, sometimes big mistakes. Yet, through confession and God’s forgiveness, we can still provide a worthwhile example to our children. When they see that we acknowledge our sins and are sincere in our repentance, they’ll understand all the more how we are sincere in our devotion. We can show them that it is only the fool who, having stumbled, goes on his way without dealing with the stumblingblock.

What is our goal? Toward what end are we nurturing and teaching children? It is, of course, to teach them what is their “reasonable service”. We are to show them how to be living sacrifices: to be holy and acceptable to God. We teach them how to emulate Christ so that the Father in heaven might receive honor. We instruct them in righteousness, teaching them that we are not our own, but we belong to God; that we do not live and die to ourselves, but that we live and move and breathe because God himself wills it; that all we say and do in life is either honoring or dishonoring his holy name.

We teach them that man does not come to God on his own terms. While the tenets of postmodernism suggests that man can create his own world, do his own thing, please himself, the worldview of the Christian mandates that we bring pleasure to the Lord. We are to teach them, to show them, to lead them, and to equip them so that, in the end, when they think and do for themselves, they may “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”.

As the Lord does with his children, we are to gather these chicks under our wings, saying, “Come, ye children, and hearken unto me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Psalm 34:11).

Gathered around the kitchen table with her six children, my mother read to us the words of Scripture before sending us off to school each morning. I’ll probably forget many things about my early years, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget hearing the Psalms and the Proverbs and other passages of the Bible being read at that table. Sometimes, my mother read; at other times, she’d have us read. Sometimes, my mother would pray, and at other times, she’d have each of us offer a petition.

Teaching children to read and meditate on the Scriptures and teaching them how to pray: these are duties of parents. In some moments, children are intrigued and inspired by what they hear; at other times, they may find it more difficult to concentrate and understand. At all times, they are observing us, learning from us. They will know if we believe, and because we believe, they may understand that what we teach is real and begin to take it for their own.

May we teach and exhort our children, as St. Paul did with Timothy (2 Timothy 3:14-17),

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.