1946 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer

Revisions in 1928 BCP

While there were plans for another major revision of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) in the 1940s, the result, the 1946 Book of Common Prayer, was ultimately a refinement and clarification of the 1928 Prayer Book. It addressed some practical concerns about service length and accessibility, introduced minor language updates, and incorporated wartime prayers, but did not represent a major theological or liturgical shift. Here’s a breakdown of the key changes from the 1928 to the 1946 BCP:

  • Streamlining of services: Minor edits aimed to shorten and simplify certain prayers and responses, reflecting concerns about service length and attention spans.
  • Clarification of rubrics: The instructions for conducting services were further refined to address ambiguities and promote consistency in worship practices.
  • Standardization of musical settings: Authorized settings for certain chants and canticles were introduced, aiming for more uniformity in musical presentations across congregations.
  • Incorporation of inclusive language: While not as extensive as some desired, further efforts were made to use gender-neutral language and terminology that resonated with a broader audience.
  • Modernization of vocabulary: Archaic words and expressions were replaced with more contemporary equivalents, enhancing clarity and accessibility.
  • Retention of traditional elements: Despite the updates, the 1946 BCP maintained the basic structure and core prayers of the 1928 edition, preserving historical continuity and familiarity for many worshippers.
  • Minor adjustments: The core theological framework of the 1928 BCP remained largely unchanged, with few explicit doctrinal shifts in the 1946 revision.
  • Continued emphasis on Christology: The centrality of Jesus Christ in faith and practice stayed prominent within the prayers and affirmations.
  • Focus on Christian unity: Reflecting broader ecumenical movements, the 1946 BCP included prayers and readings promoting cooperation and understanding among different Christian denominations.
  • Expansion of Lectionary options: Additional scripture readings were provided for specific occasions and celebrations, offering greater variety and flexibility in worship planning.
  • Incorporation of wartime prayers: Special prayers and services were added to address the anxieties and needs arising from World War II.
  • Minor revisions to the Psalter: Some outdated translations and phrasing in the Psalter were refined to better align with contemporary language and understanding.

The 1946 BCP paved the way for the more substantial revisions that appeared in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.