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A space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith
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Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today

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The Book of Common Prayer

How did the Book of Common Prayer come about?

From the 7th-16th century, the only accepted church in England was the Roman Catholic church.

In the 1520s, King Henry VIII was very worried because he had no son. He needed to have a son to become king after he died.

He thought it might be because he had married a woman who had previously been married to his brother before she became a widow. He wanted to divorce his wife, to marry Anne Boleyn, who he hoped would give him a son.

He asked the Pope for a divorce so he could marry Anne, but the Pope refused. So Henry decided to create a new church in England, making himself the head. That way he only had to ask himself for permission for a divorce, which of course he would say yes to!



This is how the Church of England was formed, separating from the Catholic church. The Archbishop of Canterbury at this time was Thomas Cranmer. He had heard about the new ideas of the Reformation on the continent and he used the opportunity of Henry's divorce to change the church in England into a protestant church.

Unfortunately, Anne didn't give Henry VIII his longed-for son. He had to wait to get married a third time before welcoming a son into the world.



When Henry's son, Edward VI, became king after his father, Cranmer brought out a new prayer book in English. Called The Book of Common Prayer, it has been used in the Church of England from that time on.

Indeed, The Book of Common Prayer is still used today in many churches, and, whilst it has been altered a bit, almost all the prayers in it today come from Cranmer's prayer book.

Find out how the Book of Common Prayer is used today by clicking here.

Find out more... You can read more about the Reformation here.