Bibliographers have been notoriously 'hesitant to deal with liturgies', and this volume bridges an important gap with its authoritative examination of how the Book of Common Prayer came into being. The first edition of 1549, the first Grafton edition of 1552 and the first quarto edition of 1559 are now correctly identified, while Peter W. M. Blayney shows that the first two editions of 1559 were probably finished on the same day. Through relentless scrutiny of the evidence, he reveals that the contents of the 1549 version continued to evolve both during and after the printing of the first edition, and that changes were still being made to the Elizabethan revision weeks after the Act of Uniformity was passed. His bold reconstruction is transformative for the early Anglican liturgy, and thus for the wider history of the Church of England. This major, revisionist work is a remarkable book about a remarkable book.
Peter W. M. Blayney. Hardback, 290 pages. Cambridge University Press, 2022.