Prayer Book Studies: Digital Edition

One of the things I have hoped and intended to do for a long time is to make the Prayer Book Studies series more available throughout the church.

For those not familiar with it, “Prayer Book Studies” was a concept set into motion by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in 1949. This would be a study of liturgy, liturgical principles, and the rites of the church that would guide progress towards a new Book of Common Prayer. Prayer Book Studies I/II (containing the first two studies) appeared in 1950; Prayer Book Studies 29: Introducing the Proposed Book of Common Prayer was published in 1976.  Appearing (mostly) in floppy blue pamphlets of varying length, these booklets are invaluable looks into the thoughts, logic, knowledge, and assumptions of the men (mostly men…) who shaped our present American Book of Common Prayer (1979).

As we discuss liturgical revision at this time, and as we have memorialized the 1979 BCP—whatever that means—it is imperative that we as a church gain a clear sense of this book that we have and the principles and priorities that produced it.

And these topics are discussed and made explicit in the volumes of the Prayer Book Studies.

I have signed a contract with Church Publishing to produce a digital edition of the full series. Exactly how they will be gathered and distributed is a marketing decision, and not entirely in my hands. Nonetheless, the goal is to produce the complete text containing footnotes (and introducing editorial footnotes where I think something needs to be added or clarified) for the reflection and edification of the church.

Want to know why a text was chosen? Check here first.

Want to understand the reason for a rubric? Check here first.

Want to get a better sense of why we do what we do? Check here first…

We plan to move quickly on this. I’ve already begun the first series, and PBS 1-3 are in the hands of the good folks at CPG. I intend to finish the first series (Prayer Book Studies I-XVII) by the early summer; I don’t know what that means exactly for a release date, but I hope not too long after that. I plan to blog as I go, sharing some of the gems I discover, and whetting your appetites for the arrival of the full set.

(Work on the Psalms book still continues, albeit at a sluggish pace, and will be back on the front burner when this is done…)

So—check back frequently for more updates, ask me if you don’t see any, and keep me in your prayers as I work to make this great set of resources available for the church!

9 thoughts on “Prayer Book Studies: Digital Edition

  1. Ellen Brauza

    Thank you for this update, Derek. I’d wondered why the release date of “Psalming Christ” kept moving further into the future. (I have it pre-ordered from Amazon; thus, I hear about it.) I wish you well with all of it.

  2. Fr. Jay L. Tillitt

    Very encouraged by this endeavor! Lack of our Episcopal/Anglican Legacy is enormous!

  3. Derek A. Olsen Post author

    While I’m glad Richard has these up, the issue there is copyright… Most of the material on his site is in the public domain but these are not.

  4. Finn Froding

    Thank you for this endeavor. I was reading these even before the 1979 revision process, and found them most useful and thought-provoking. I still have a few of these volumes, but I’d love to be able to see them all.

  5. The Rev. Joseph Farnes

    Thank you so much for working on making these available! I hope that the next prayer book revision will produce some good reflections on liturgy in advance like this. Seeing the thinking behind the text would be helpful for getting into the whys and hows of what we do, and I hope it gets us back to the roots of things instead of the layers of interpretation that have been laid on top of our current liturgical framework. (How many times have we heard the “We don’t do confession at Eucharist during Easter” even though the penitential rite has opening sentences for Easter?)

  6. Barbara S.

    What a great idea! This will be so helpful to have as a resource. And I think you are the perfect person to do it. Blessings on your way….

  7. Richard Mammana

    Derek, I’m not the person who made the Prayer Book Studies available online, as I think you mentioned above. That’s Chad Wohlers.

  8. Derek A. Olsen Post author

    My apologies, Richard! I was going off the URL, and didn’t follow it back.

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