“AS A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION, IT IS FOR MOST ENGLISHMEN SECOND ONLY TO THE BIBLE”: 1820 OXFORD BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER IN STRAIGHT-GRAIN MOROCCO-GILT
BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER. The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments… Oxford: W. Baxter, 1820. Thick folio (10 by 13 inches), late 19th-century full straight-grain green morocco gilt, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $1750.
Distinguished, early 19th-century Oxford edition of the magisterial Book of Common Prayer, handsomely bound in full straight-grain 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).
Only occasional faint foxing, dampstaining. Spine toned to brown, binding lightly rubbed, all gilt bright. A near-fine copy, handsomely bound.