BCP 350 Supporters

2012 saw the 350th anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer.

This is an archive of those that gave their support in the 350th year celebrations.


The vivid and memorable language of the Prayer Book has become part of our Nation’s heritage and is, I believe, still vital and necessary to to-day’s life. Yet, over recent years, we have witnessed a concerted effort to devalue the currency of these resonant words. It is hard to escape the suspicion that so many changes have been made to the cadence of the language used just to lower the tone, in the mistaken belief that the rest of us wouldn’t get the point if the word of God was a bit over our heads. But the word of God is supposed to be a bit over our heads.

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams Former Archbishop of Canterbury

The words of the Book of Common Prayer have a rare capacity not only to sink into the memory through their rhythms but to calm the very pace of our thoughts. They are words that help us to be open and still, to recognise with sober humility the greatness of what confronts us in the mysteries of our redemption.

The Prayer Book is a profoundly valuable inheritance which we neglect at our peril, and I am grateful that the Society continues its work of cherishing and promoting this legacy.

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu Archbishop of York

New life and energy came into the life of the Church in England, as the Book of Common Prayer articulated the praises of God for the first time in 'a tongue understanded of the people. (Article 24 in the Articles of Religion) Since then it has helped to define English language and culture, as well as helping to shape the faith and culture of Anglicans throughout the world.

The Prayer Book places the Bible at the heart of the Church's worship and on the lips of the people. It teaches the grace and mercy of God, and it preaches Jesus as a living Saviour, not a dead master of a bygone age. The presence and power of the Holy Spirit is constantly acknowledged.

During the 350th anniversary celebrations of the 1662 Prayer Book, I pray that it will challenge us afresh to express the love and grace of God, his glory and holiness, in words and in forms which are worthy of the Gospel. So I hope that this year many will rediscover the treasures of the Book of Common Prayer.

Joanna Lumley Actress and campaigner

I am pleased to add my name to the list of supporters for the 350th anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer. I love the original words, which I was taught as a child: religion is, by its nature, mysterious; and the strange beauty of the old language seems to me to sit more comfortably with the inexplicable splendours and hopes that we address in church services. With my warmest good wishes for 2012.

Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP MP for Beaconsfield/Attorney General

The 350 anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer is both a religious and literary landmark. The simple cadences of the language resonate for all of us who experienced it during our education and it continues to be, for me, a text whose spiritual dimension always brings comfort when I hear it. The Book of Common Prayer is also an integral part of our history. Much of the text goes back to the 16th century and to the imprint which Thomas Cranmer gave to the first English prayer book after the Reformation. The language reflects a very Anglican search for truth and the characteristic diffidence of Anglicanism that truth can readily be found by humans with all their frailties. But it is also equally suffused with words that makes the practice of Anglicanism a quiet reassurance in a difficult world.

I very much hope that in its 350th anniversary year, that there will be opportunities to promote it to a wider audience many of whom, unfortunately, may be largely ignorant of it. An understanding and appreciation of it is not exclusive of more modern texts which have their uses. A recognition of the unique heritage it offers us and of the way its words are so often embedded in our vocabulary is important. It is a precious legacy of our forebears in faith.

The Revd Richard Coles Radio presenter and parish priest

The Book of Common Prayer is every Anglican's birthright: Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder.

Peter Hitchens Author and columnist

The Book of Common Prayer has endured, still endures and will endure in the minds of men because it is full of truth, and perhaps above all because of its honesty about man's weakness and inability to stand upright without the aid of divine grace.


Very Revd John Hall Dean of Westminster

The Book of Common Prayer, with the King James Bible, has for centuries shaped the daily prayers and the belief of the Church of England. It has also burrowed into the minds and memories of countless people in these islands and throughout the world, so that its words and cadences have shaped our thinking and understanding and drawn us into unity. The Prayer Book has also been a vital source of comfort and encouragement for individuals in time of need as its phrases have come unbidden to the forefront of our minds. There is much to celebrate.

Professor Alexander McCall Smith Author

The Book of Common Prayer is one of the great treasuries of the English language. The cadences and poetry of its language were a profound influence on me and on the way in which I write. I owe that marvellous book so much.

Mark Pritchard MP for The Wrekin

The Book of Common Prayer is a deep liturgical well from which generations have drawn life-giving and sustaining spiritual sustenance. It richly meets the needs of those who thirst for more than the earthly, visible, and tangible. The BCP helpfully illuminates the Scriptures and paves the way for personal reflection, repentance, and restoration. It quenches the thirst of the seeker, the follower, the faint hearted, and brings rest to those who seek peace through reading, contemplation and prayer. Its holy streams calm the troubled breast. It challenges, encourages, directs, and inspires. It is a book for all ages and a book for all seasons. The BCP remains in date, in fashion to men’s souls, and timeless to God’s revelation. It is as much a book for today as it was for the seventeenth century.

Baroness P D James Author and peer

For 350 years the Book of Common Prayer has had a profound influence on the history, worship and literature of the English-speaking world, providing solace, inspiration and hope for every part of our earthly journey in phrases of incomparable beauty and grace. We who now celebrate this anniversary, and remember with gratitude Thomas Cranmer whose work it chiefly was, must resolve that the 1662 Prayer Book shall be used with love and devotion by our own generation and preserved for generations to come.
Roger Gale Mp for Thanet north

Far too many things in life are transient . A few are constant. The Book of Common Prayer has been a cornerstone in the fabric of church and faith over sufficient centuries to be regarded as constant and in an ever-changing world those sheet-anchors are a source of comfort and security. We have a duty to hand them on, unblemished and intact, to future generations.

Harry Phibbs Journalist and blogger

There is a greater likelihood of hearing the words of the Prayer Book by going to see the latest Hollywood blockbuster than by going to Church. So much for the claim that the Prayer language is "inaccessible."

No wonder. Imagine you're a film director (of whatever religious belief) and you're including a wedding scene. Or a funeral. Which version would you prefer to have the service begin with? Just compare the power of the language from the BCP against, say, Common Worship. It is not even close.

Thomas Cranmer turns out to have become one of the greatest screen writers in the business. How perverse that the Church has largely ditched this extraordinary asset - in the name of wanting to be "in touch." 

Rory Sutherland Spectator columnist

Rory Sutherland was born in Usk, Monmouthshire in 1965 and educated at the local Haberdashers’ school and at Christ’s College, Cambridge. Today he is vice-Chairman of Oglivy UK and a columist with Spectator magazine. An advocate of the Book of Common Prayer, he is a member of the Prayer Book Society where he sits on the Marketing and Communications Committee. "No-one suggests that the the words to Handel's Messiah must be reworked to make them more accessible, nor does anyone suggest that its music "lacks contemporary relevance". It is a strange world in which we eagerly preserve great music, art or architecture while ignoring great writing."
Frank Field MP Vice President, Prayer Book Society

While the King James Bible plays such a part in forming the DNA of the English Bible, the Prayer Book is not far behind. Both of them have taken from this country as English men and women have settled around the globe and over centuries the majestic words of Cranmer's Prayer Book have been treasured.

The Prayer Book is rightly celebrating the Book's 350 anniversary and I hope this will be a year's celebration widely supported throughout the English-speaking world.

The Revd John Masding English Clergy Association

The Book of Common Prayer in its present form is 350 years old in 2012 - although its roots go back beyond Shakespeare, Marlowe and Donne, say, to Cranmer's liturgical revisions of 1549 and 1552, and its glorious Psalter even further, to Coverdale. (No one seriously suggests a modern version of a Shakespeare play, or a Donne sonnet.) The language is part of the message. And the message is well-served by the language. The English Clergy Association values and affirms the continuity of the Church of England, and the real worth of its medieval inheritance of freedom defined by law - the right to use the Book of Common Prayer is protected by Parliamentary legislation, and long may that liberty remain.

The Rt Revd Donald Allister Bishop of Peterborough

In the early 1960s I was a choirboy. Singing for two services every Sunday was enjoyable, but more than that. The words of the services were important. As I entered my teens the certainty of Christ’s resurrection and the awareness of God’s forgiving love became real to me. The Book of Common Prayer awakened and nurtured my faith; its language was no hindrance. Later as I studied the Bible, the church fathers, and the sixteenth century reformers I came to see the Prayer Book as a theological and liturgical masterpiece as well as a linguistic one. I hope it will long remain our standard for theology and liturgy.

The Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster Bishop of Chester

I associate the BCP with beauty, unity, devotion, and orthodox belief. It is part of the identity of Anglicanism that we express our self-understanding through our worship, as much as through a formal confessional statement of belief. Modern liturgies, for all their positive aspects, are too human-centred, too much intended to convey information or knowledge about God, and too little shaped to point worshipers to the mystery of God. The genius of the BCP is that it combines clarity and elegance of language, with a sacramental quality, which points to the One who is beyond human words and this-worldly concept. Will any other Anglican service book endure in use for anything approaching 350 years?

Quentin Letts Daily Mail

You hear the old prayers first as a babe, though you do not know it. You slowly ingest them as a child, while fidgeting on your hassock at matins. In early adulthood they are the prelude to a good feed at Sunday lunch. And in later years they guide us to something secure and comforting: the knowledge that in our puzzled progress through life we are but the latest to tread this way, stepping a worn path which has been picked out for us by our ancestors. I can pick up my late grandmother's prayer book, handle those onion-leaf pages, see the creases on the spine, and draw strength from the knowledge that she spoke these same prayers and now rests in God's mercy. Happy Birthday BCP.

The Rt Revd John Saxbee Former Bishop of Lincoln

The Book of Common Prayer has been a constant companion throughout my journey of discipleship and ministry. It informed my earliest acquaintances with prayer and worship, and I found in Cranmer’s Eucharistic theology so much that has informed my understanding of the Sacraments ever since. Of course, the beautiful language and perfect shaping of prayers and rubrics remain a lasting joy, but perhaps of most importance is the fact that the BCP Offices and orders of service remain the only ones I can recite by heart. As and when my sight fails and my mind wanders, these words will still be on my lips and in my heart, and for that I remain ever thankful.

The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell Bishop of Chelmsford

The Church of England has always believed that we learn and express our doctrine through our worship. The Book of Common Prayer, therefore, does not just contain beautiful liturgy, it is the finest expression of what we believe. Through its language our faith is shaped. Without it our faith is diminished.

Because of it I know that I can come to the Lord "not trusting in my own righteousness, but in God's manifold goodness". As we pray it the words become our own and faith is grown within us.

Lord [David] Waddington QC Politician

I love the Prayer Book.The very beauty of its language with prayers expressing our thoughts in words so sublime we could never find them for ourselves make it a treasure house which we have no right to allow to be endangered by indifference and neglect. There can be no better way of marking the 350th anniversary of this wonderful part of our heritage than by striving to see that in our own parishes young people are not fobbed off with the trite and the banal but have the privilege of worshipping God in the words of wonder and dignity found within the Book of Common Prayer.

Lord [Patrick] Cormack Prayer Book Society President

Our Prayer Book is one of our greatest national treasures, as well as being the defining document of the Church of England. Its language is truly memorable and I hope that, as we celebrate the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Prayer Book (in 2012), many more people will become familiar with it and learn to treasure it. The last forty years have been years of some liturgical confusion within the Church of England. The quest for modernity has left congregations not quite knowing where they are and, although many traditionalists have been alienated, the young have not been attracted in great numbers. The Book of Common Prayer is as relevant today as it was in 1662, as when I was a chorister and schoolboy. To suggest that young people cannot be moved by noble and stirring words is an insult to their intelligence.

Prudence Dailey Chairman, Prayer Book Society

I was first drawn to the Book of Common Prayer because of the beauty and dignity of its language, but as I delved deeper I realised there was much more to it than that. The Book of Common Prayer has its own distinctive spirituality, very much God-centred rather than man-centred, and represents the most authentic expression of the Christian faith as embodied in the Anglican tradition. The Prayer Book was, perhaps, to some extent taken for granted by previous generations; but we can no longer do so today. Only a work of remarkable genius could survive so many centuries of continuous use, and still speak to us as powerfully and as relevantly today as when it was first compiled.