Dear __________,

Thank you very much for sending me a copy of the prayer book by Drs. Bray and Keane and published by the InterVarsity Press.  It is certainly a beautiful and well-made book.  Your cover letter includes a request that I give approval to you to make this book the principal text for worship in your parish.

Individual clergy, including even the Acting Primate, do not have the authority to set aside authorized liturgical texts in favor of other texts, and particularly not on a systematic, on-going basis.  This fact should be a great comfort to you, as it is to me:  individual authorization of liturgical change is an invitation to chaos.  The liturgical settlement of our Church is well-known, long established, adequately flexible, and not easily altered.   We have added historical Prayer Books when we have begun work in new countries, and we have authorized liturgical rites not provided for in our authorized Prayer Books to supply needed rites and ceremonies.  Otherwise, we have changed nothing significant since 1977.

While I do not have the authority to authorize what you seek in regard to systematic parochial use, I also do not think it is necessary or desirable.

You compare the IVP book to the 1928 American Book of Common Prayer.  This is an instance of the frequent mistake of assuming that the Anglican Catholic Church is an American Church.  It is not.  The ACC has four authorized Prayer Books in addition to the 1928 American book:  the 1549 English, 1954 South African, and the Canadian and Indian books from 1960-3.  You provide a schedule of comparisons between the IVP book and the 1928 BCP.  But in most cases the texts you (and often I) prefer are already authorized in two, three, or four of our authorized books. 

For example, all the ACC’s authorized prayer books save the 1928 provide for the use of Psalm 95 in Morning Prayer, the Te Deum in its 1549 version, the English form of the opening versicles, and the Athanasian Creed.  The versicles in the offices in the IVP book may be unpacifistic and in that respect follow 1662, but the American form of the fifth pair of suffrages (also followed by the South Africans and Canadians) is biblical and perfectly orthodox.  In any case, many of the other forms we prefer are already available in currently authorized BCPs. 

If, for example, you wanted to say Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer using something much closer to the 1662 form than the 1928 form, you could easily do so using a booklet with every word and prayer taken from an authorized ACC prayer book.  Switching to 1662 instead, however, would produce significant losses.  Every BCP since 1662, for instance, has added at least one optional canticle to the two in 1662 (the Te Deum and the Omnia opera).  Most of us think that falling back to only those two options would be a loss.  So too in the Offices in many other ways the IVP book drops desirable options, such as:  permission to omit the confession; briefer alternatives for bidding to confession and for absolution; optional invitatories for the Venite; and optional omission of the prayers after the two fixed collects.  1662 imposes excessive uniformity and a tendency to multiply the length and number of prayers and exhortations.  Later books show a more sensible flexibility.  Nonetheless, if the priest or parish prefers longer versions, mostly they are already available to you in 1928 or in the other prayer books authorized in our Church.  I would say personally that I think the clergy should say or hear Morning Prayer, Mass, and Evening Prayer daily.  I would find three long confessions daily burdensome and the repetition of the prayers after the three collects excessive.    

Of the 12 specific superiorities you note in favor of the IVP book, none is in the Eucharistic rite, which is the most important rite in our Church.  I think this fact is telling.  While I do not doubt that the 1662 rite provides for a valid sacrament, it is, I believe, inferior to the Eucharistic rites in all our other authorized books.  Among the inferiorities I would name is especially the truncated prayer of consecration, which is unlike that in other ancient and catholic uses and which has recommended itself to no subsequent revision.  I also note the omission of ancient prayers and elements such as the Agnus Dei and the Benedictus qui venit; the long and mandatory exhortations; the mandatory use of the Decalogue (without abbreviation); a mandatory initial State prayer (in addition to the prayer for civil authorities in the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church); and the omission of prayer for the faithful departed.  As someone who celebrates or attends a Eucharistic celebration almost daily, I have to say the idea of those exhortations daily is very distasteful, though they are fine three times a year.  Likewise the Decalogue monthly or occasionally is fine, but daily it would be burdensome.  While the existing formularies in our Church suffice to cover much of the contents of the 1662 book, I do not believe they would authorize the 1662 Eucharistic rite.  And I am glad for that fact.

I also note that the 1662 book omits the biblical and ancient use of the holy oils, which are restored in all our authorized books, and in many other instances does not contain useful things provided for in our authorized books. 

I take seriously your comments about the deficiencies of the 1928 and 1943 lectionaries.  The simplest way to rectify the problems in those lectionaries is by expanding lessons to cover ‘snipped’ passages.  Alternatively, although you lose something by not reading more or less the same lessons as your fellow priests, you might look into the use of the already authorized lectionaries from the South African, Canadian, or Indian books.  If even that does not produce a satisfactory lectionary, then we might consider authorizing another lectionary.  The lectionary can be amended without altering the basic book:  it is, like the Articles or the Psalter, another ‘book’ (in the Tudor sense of the word), though one usually printed with the BCP.

I recognize some superiority in 1662 in the baptismal and marriage rites, in the catechism, and elsewhere.  Again, some of what you would like to see can be found in our other authorized prayer books.  There is no need to authorize another book, which contains some notable deficiencies, in order to gain its advantages. 

In my experience people who say that they want 1662 in England almost always do not really want 1662.  They want the Coverdale Psalter and Cranmer’s prose.  Particularly in the case of the Eucharist, even people who think they grew up with 1662 in fact grew up with something closer to 1928 than to a rubrically correct 1662 service. 

You say that use of the 1928 BCP suggests a connection with the apostate Episcopal Church.  But if we adopt 1662, or something mostly based on 1662, then we have only abandoned the former official prayer book of the Episcopal Church for the current, legal prayer book of the equally apostate Church of England:  for 1662 remains the CofE’s official book. 

I would recommend that you consider use of the South African BCP.  It contains much of what you like about 1662, makes most of the improvements that have been normal in prayer book revisions since 1662, and is free of the deficiencies of 1662.  The Prayer Book Society once funded a reprint of the 1954 South African book.  I would have, if consulted, recommended an expansion of that program rather than a private revision of 1662. 

8 thoughts on “Problems with 1662

  1. Your Grace,
    What are your thoughts on omitting the latter portion of the Benedictus at Morning Prayer?
    Thank you.


    1. I don’t think it’s a good idea. In general options that haven’t attracted any subsequent imitators are probably not ones to maintain or follow. I think the gospel canticles (Benedictus Dominus Deus; Magnificat; Nunc Dimittis) should always be used.


      1. Thank you.
        I’m hopeful that someday soon you will publish a commentary on the BCP. (In your spare time!) 😉


  2. Your Grace,

    Thank you for another informative and interesting essay.

    Although not a member of the ACC, ( the nearest congregation is over a 100 minute drive away), I have great sympathy for it’s ministry and mission and am very heartened by the growing together of the members of the G-4 Communion ( now G-3 …thanks be to God). Likewise, I subscribe to The Trinitarian and give, ( not as regularly as I would like ), to the St Paul Mission Society. I provide this information by way of establishing that, although due to circumstances I am an “outsider” to the ACC, I am a very sympathetic outsider. So what follows is friendly “criticism” and a genuine seeking of clarification.

    Your Grace points out that the ACC authorizes the following editions of the BCP: the 1928 American book, the 1549 English, 1954 South African, and the Canadian and Indian books from 1960-3. Therefore, would it not be permissible to use the Eucharistic liturgy of the 1662 English BCP in any ACC congregation that desired it on the grounds that the Eucharistic liturgy of the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon 1963 BCP is permitted by ACC canons? According to “The Eucharist : An Anglican Altar Book” website, which can be found at, “The full 1662 BCP communion liturgy is in the 1963 Indian Book of Common Prayer, an Anglican Catholic Church (Original Province) authorized Prayer Book.”

    I don’t access to the CIPBC 1963 BCP and therefore can’t check that statement, but I assume it to be true considering it is on a website that is trying to promote an altar book for those who use the 1662 English BCP, 1928 American BCP or traditional language edition of the 2019 Prayer Book of the Anglican Church in North America when celebrating Mass. I am hoping that Your Grace may enlighten me please? Thanks in advance and congrats too on the ACC’s establishment of a third province! Viva la ACC!


    1. The problem with the 1662 Eucharistic rite is that it is markedly inferior to all of the other BCPs authorized by the ACC and is rather radically different from almost all historic Eucharistic rites of all Western Churches. The reduction of the ‘canon’ to a brief introduction and the Words of Institution, followed by communion, is a kind of medievalism in which the essentials of the consecration are reduced to the Words of Institution: hocus-pocus-ism, if you will. While I do not doubt that 1662 is sufficient for a valid consecration, why would one want to use it? I can imagine permitting it to be used for an historic occasion: it or 1559 was used for a Jamestown anniversary by Bishop Rutherfoord years ago, for example. But I would not give permission for its regular, parochial use in my diocese. Anyone used to 1928 would just find it puzzling, if not disturbingly truncated and even irreverent.


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