by Rev T.W. Gilbert
From the above outline it will be seen that a Prayer Book in our modern sense did not exist, and that such service books as were in existence were rather for the priest than for the people.
There were certain forces, however, which were working towards the demand for a Prayer Book for the English people. First of all was the growing sense of nationality which began to be very marked at the beginning of the 16th century. Closely allied with this was a certain feeling of nationality or insularism in religious matters which was characteristic of England in Anglo-Saxon days, and increasingly so after the Norman Conquest. Above all, there was the impetus given by the Reformation movement, which with its doctrine of the Priesthood of all believers inevitably led to the demand for prayers in the language of the people.
The Reformation movement was growing in strength during the reign of Henry VIII, and we can understand, therefore, the significance of the issue of the Great Bible in English in 1536, the order for a chapter of the Bible to be read in English in the daily services in 1543, and the order for the Epistle and Gospel to be read in English in the Mass in 1547. It was in keeping with this movement that an English Litany was issued in 1544, and also “The Order of the Communion” in 1548, which restored the cup to the laity. All this, however, was merely preparatory to the bold act which gave us the first English Book of Common Prayer in the year 1549.
>> 3. First Prayer Book - 1549