Book review

The Protestant Reformation and The Book of Common Prayer: A Liturgical Study
David Fuller
Lulu Press (
Paperback, 65 pages, £7.50

It is particularly opportune that Dr David Fuller’s book is published now as the Protestant cathedrals of Northern Europe (including the UK) prepare to celebrate the perceived 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017. It is a happy coincidence that the Canon Chancellor of Blackburn Cathedral – long Dr Fuller’s spiritual home – is taking the UK lead role in this.

This is a book which takes us progressively and analytically through religious thinking and liturgical development from around 1500 to 1660 and beyond. Seeing attitudes to the Mass as key to the Reformation, Dr Fuller quickly disabuses us of the view that Henry VIII was instrumental in the English Reformation; Henry broke with Rome and ended monasticism but his catholicity did not wane. He ‘died still very much a Catholic, albeit a Catholic in his own style and understanding’. Nonetheless The Reformation in England had political, not religious, beginnings.’

So we are taken on, observing many inferences and seeing the resultant liturgical change through the 1549, 1552. 1559 and 1604 books, the 1645 directory of public worship and the Commonwealth, and the 1662 book we know today.

This is an eminently readable book of 60 pages of narrative suitable tor the interested enquirer. It is also invaluable to those making a more academic study by virtue of its copious footnotes – 98 of them – explaining points made and indicating sources, as well as having a comprehensive bibliography listing.

Members of the Prayer Book Society will want to buy (or borrow) this book. I learned afresh for example, that Cranmer’s first prayer book was almost completed by 1539. However, work on it stopped and it emerged in 1549 changed by the influences of the meantime. The basis of the book we know today might have been different. And those celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation will come to this book again and again.

Reviewer - Neil Inkley

(Published in The Prayer Book Today, Lent 2017, Page 21)

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