The Book of Common Prayer is the comprehensive service book for Anglican churches. It shapes both how Anglicans worship and what Anglicans believe. The Prayer Book has also shaped Christian worship in the English language for almost 500 years. Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556) was the primary person responsible for the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549 and its revision in 1552. However, since these first Books of Common Prayer, subsequent Prayer Books have been produced and revised by the leadership of Anglican churches worldwide. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer has served as the model for subsequent BCP revisions. Here in the Anglican Province of America, we use the 1928 edition.
Thomas Cranmer’s revision of the Daily Office for the first English Prayer Book (1549) reduced the number of services to two: one in the morning (Matins) and one in the evening (Evensong or vespers). In the Second English Prayer Book (1552), the morning service was given its present name, Morning Prayer. Numerous elements of Morning Prayer come from the monastic hours of matins (e.g., Venite and Te Deum), lauds (e.g., Benedicte, Omnia opera Domini, a “chapter” of scripture, Benedictus Dominus Deus, collect of the day), and Prime (e.g., a second “chapter” of scripture and the Apostles’ Creed).
Evening Prayer may begin with an opening sentence of scripture and the confession of sin. The office continues with a selection from the Psalter, readings from scripture followed by canticles (typically the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis), the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, a set of suffrages, one or more collects, and the dismissal. Morning and Evening Prayer, known together as the Daily Office, is the most fundamental building block of Anglican life. Morning and Evening Prayer walks you through confessing sin worshipping God, reading scripture, and praying for yourself and others.