“A SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL INSPIRATION… SECOND ONLY TO THE BIBLE”: DISTINGUISHED 1758 CAMBRIDGE QUARTO BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER, FINELY BOUND
BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER. The Book of Common Prayer. Cambridge: Joseph Bentham, and Benj. Dod, 1758. Quarto, contemporary full green morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $2200.
Lovely 1758 Cambridge quarto edition of the magisterial Book of Common Prayer, handsomely bound in contemporary full morocco-gilt.
Born of Thomas Cranmer’s desire for liturgical texts upon which all of Europe’s Protestant, English-speaking churches could agree, and which all English-speaking believers could easily comprehend, the Book of Common Prayer, first issued in 1549, has become what Diarmaid MacCulloch calls “one of a handful of texts to have decided the future of a world language.” “Cranmer had been a Cambridge scholar (he had held a lectureship in Biblical studies) and a diplomat, before being plucked by Henry VIII to be archbishop, and he almost certainly did not imagine that he was writing one of the great, abiding works of English literature… But the acute poetry, balanced sonorities, heavy order, and direct intimacy of Cranmer’s prose have achieved permanence, and many of his phrases and sentences are as famous as lines from Shakespeare or the King James Bible” (The New Yorker). Beyond its vocabulary and phraseology, the prayer book is “for most Englishmen second only to the Bible” (PMM 75). Bound with a contemporary edition of Sternhold and Hopkins’ popular metrical psalter. Though the title page is dated 1758, this copy contains four cancel leaves (2C1-4) with prayers celebrating the accession of George III in 1760, instead of the prayers commemorating the accession of George II as called for in the Table of Contents (”A Form of Prayer for the 22d Day of June”). Also included (leaf 2C4r) is a proclamation by George III dated 7 October 1761. Griffiths 1758:6. Old owner inscriptions.
Occasional light foxing. Restoration to gutter of leaf [C5]. Spine toned to brown, one vertical crack; light abrasions to boards. A handsome volume in near-fine condition.