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THE SUCCESSIVE REVISIONS
The Book of Common Prayer:
RUBRICKS IN THE SEVERAL EDITIONS.
Oxford and London :
JAMES PARKER AND CO.
which our Book of Common Prayer has undergone, from the first issue in 1549 to the last revision in 1662 ; in other words, to shew the growth of our present authorized PrayerBook.
Although the series of Books of Common Prayer printed by the late Mr. Pickering contain in substance the greater part of the material here presented, still, from each book being printed entire, it is only with a considerable amount of care that the alteration which any one paragraph has undergone can be detected. Valuable too, as far as they go, are the accurate reprints of the First and Second Books of Edward VI. and that of Elizabeth, issued under the auspices of the Parker Society; and equally valuable the very accurate reprint of the “Chancery” Sealed Book of 1662, with a collation of the others, issued by the Ecclesiastical Society; but in none of these is there any attempt at exhibiting the variations between successive editions.
There are, however, other works which more nearly approach the character of the present compilation. The earliest is " The Alliance of the Divine Offices," by Haman L'Estrange, the first edition of which was published in 1659, previous to the last revision of the Prayer-Book. A second edition was published in 1690, and a third in 1699. In this only the more important variations are noted, and in the printing there are frequent inaccuracies; moreover, the last revision of 1662, to us the most important, is not included.
Dr. Cardwell, in 1838, edited for the Oxford University Press "The Two Liturgies of Edward VI. Compared." Each book is printed for the greater part entire, and in parallel columns, so that although the variations can be found by reading, they are not apparent at a glance, and the work includes only two books.
In the year 1841 Mr. W. Keatinge Clay edited
“The Book of Common Prayer Illustrated, so as to shew the various modifications, the date of its several parts, and the authority on which they rest.”
The plan of the book was to print the last revision entire, and by side figures, and a free use of asterisks and references, to shew, as the title implies, the date of the several parts. The chief various readings are given partly in brackets and partly in notes, and it is a work of some difficulty to discover the text as it appeared in any one of the years at which the alterations were made, and several of the minor variations are also omitted. I This book was followed the next year by Mr. William Keeling's Liturgia Britannica. This, again, takes the edition of 1662 as the text, and by a column for the combined texts of 1637 and 1604, and by reference to notes wherever these two editions differ, a comparison is afforded. On the opposite page, the edition of 1559 is taken as the chief text, combined with that of 1552, (variations between these two being shewn in the notes,) and a final column for the 1549 collation. this system, however, the variations between the group of 1662 to 1604, and those of 1559 to 1549, are not readily seen ; and by so large a portion being reprinted where the texts are identical, the parts where they differ are not so readily discovered.
The plan adopted in the present work is different. Instead of the edition of 1662 being taken as the text, and the variations shewn as it were backwards in point of time, the 1549 book is followed as the text, and this is printed entire at the head of the page, and the subsequent corrections shewn in their right order in double columns beneath.
The variations are shewn as fully and as clearly as ordinary typography will permit. Although it has been attended with much trouble, the aim has been to shew on each page-opening, beneath a given part of the 1549 edition, the corresponding parts of all the five subsequent editions. Where in any one an addition of a paragraph has been made, its place is clearly marked by printing again the line or so before it; where a few words only have been added, the same principle has been followed by printing the few preceding words. In order, however, not to overburden the page, or still further to extend the book, it has been thought sufficient to give a large number of the less important variations, and where they consist but of an altered word or so, by means of notes. The opportunity has been taken, in the same notes, to add a few of the various readings which are sometimes found in different editions of the Prayer-Books of the same year.
It should be added, that although the 1549 edition has been taken as the basis, it was decided, since the “Order of Holy Communion” issued in 1548 corresponds so closely to that book, to give at the foot of the page this preliminary revision, as well as the later revisions.
It has been thought unnecessary to adopt the old spelling. To have been consistent, one would have had to give the variations of spelling throughout, and these would have so far outnumbered the variations of the words, that the object of the book would have been defeated a. As a rule all the spelling has been modernized, the few exceptions being some proper names and titles.
For the same reason, it has been found needless to follow the use of capital letters b or stops of any one edition. There is no consistency whatever in this respect found in the old books.
One feature has been adopted in this work, which requires a word of explanation. The rubricks have been numbered
. It is not perhaps generally known how little consistency there is in the spelling, in books of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For instance, if we open Whitchurch's Prayer-Book of 1549, we find at the top of the first page of Morning Prayer the head-line spelt MATTINS ; at the top of the next page it is spelt MATINS, and on the top of the third, MATTYNS; and this is no exceptional case. Indeed if a word is spelt one way in one line, it is rather a reason than otherwise for spelling it differently in the next.
b For instance, if we turn to the “Benedicite” we find in Speake good of the Lord the word “Lord" in the first six verses is with a capital L, but in the next two with a small l; and so later, in two or three verses the small 1 is used.
The words “ Father, Sonne, and Holy Ghost, are seldom with capital letters at all, and the word “God" has often a small "
c In the present book an exception was made in printing the Introits. The printers have followed the stops and capitals of Whitchurch's edition.