The 1928 Book of Common Prayer

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer at BOTH SERVICES

The Third Sunday in Lent, March 19

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer served the Episcopal Church for fifty years, from 1928 until 1978. The 1928 revision was very extensive - perhaps the most radical U. S. prayer book revision until that of 1979. Some of the many changes from the previous 1892 book included dropping liturgies of rather outdated theology, such as the Visitation of Prisoners; the three baptism rites were combined into one; and several changes were made to the Communion service, including further de-emphasis of the Decalogue, and rearrangement of the Lord's Prayer and the Prayer of Humble Access back to the position they had in the Prayer Book of 1549. Other changes can be seen by comparison of this text with that of the 1892 Book. A fuller description of the changes made in this book is given in The New American Prayer Book, by E Clowes Chorley (1929), which was written to introduce people to this Prayer Book.

HISTORY of the 1928 Prayer Book

In 1928 Daniel Berkeley Updike and his Merrymount Press won a competition to produce the Standard Book of the 1928 U. S. Book of Common Prayer. The Standard Book was intended to be the one to which all other printings were to be compared for accuracy. Updike was an obvious choice for this task: he was a life-long Episcopalian (his ancestors in Rhode Island included Episcopal clergy) and so knew the church and its liturgy, he was a prominent printer of books and other items of the highest quality, and he had already, early in his career, printed the Standard Edition of the 1892 BCP. The book which resulted is regarded as one of the classics of American book design.

Joseph Blumenthal, in The Printed Book in America, has this to say about the book:

The high point of Updike’s career as a designer and printer was the completion in 1930 of The Book of Common Prayer. . . According to the Use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. His specimen pages were chosen, from among those invited from four printers, by the Church’s Commission on Revision. The whole undertaking was financed by J. Pierpont Morgan. “It was an enormous task,” wrote Updike, “and one which taxed our resources in many different directions, but in which what knowledge I had of the history of a Church to which my family have been for nearly three hundred years adherents, and of the liturgical requirements and practical use of the Prayer Book stood me in good stead. . . . The book was begun in 1928 and was finished in the autumn of 1930.” Without decoration, except a typographic leaf, initial letters, and rubrication, this is an austere and handsome quarto. Five copies were printed on vellum. The edition is a superb example of American craftsmanship and an abiding tribute to all concerned in its production.

Come, experience this Prayer Book, in the “new church” somewhere in the 1930’s, the new prayer book, the new church (the Nave and Sanctuary/Altar had been enlarged). BRING YOUR 1928 Prayer Book with you, if you still have it in your library. We will, once again, provide a PDF of the Holy Communion (for the 8:00 a.m. service) and a PDF of the Morning Prayer (for the 10:00 a.m. service) sections of the Prayer Book for our use on March 19. Women were to wear a covering on their head, so if you are so inclined, find that wonderful hat, that appropriate head covering. 

MusicPhil SmithComment