Liber Precum Publicarum  

Posted by Joe Rawls in

Vernacular liturgy was one of the cornerstones of the Reformation almost from its very beginning. When the Church of England exchanged papal rule for royal control, its contribution to worship in the language of the people came in the form of the Book of Common Prayer, the first edition of which came out in 1549. It was largely the work of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, who was a master stylist of early modern English.

The ascent of Elizabeth I to the throne saw a revised version of the BCP in 1559. The next year witnessed the publication of a Latin version of the same text. The rationale for this seeming liturgical regression was to provide a suitable text for public worship in collegiate chapels. In 16th-century England, as well as most of the rest of Europe, secondary and higher education consisted largely of the study of the Greek and Latin classics. A familiarity with at least Latin was one of the marks of proper English gentlemen, even gentlemen who spent their Oxbridge years engaged in riotous living instead of taking degrees. So a Latin liturgy would be quite understandable in an academic setting.

The Latin version was also authorized for use in Ireland, of all places. Apparently there were some Irish Anglican congregations of ex-Roman Catholics who did not understand English but would be receptive to something resembling the old Latin Mass.

The Latin BCP does not seem to have been widely used but was an interesting, if quirky, episode in Anglican liturgical history. An online version can be found here. Below is a brief excerpt. A free cigar to the first one who identifies it.


Omnipotens Deus, cui omne cor patet et cui omnes affectus animorum cogniti sunt, et quem nihil latet, purifica cogitationes cordium nostrorum, ut per inspirationem Sancti Spiritus te ex animo amenus, et debita veneratione celebramus Nomen tuum sanctum, Per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum.

This entry was posted on Saturday, November 6, 2010 at Saturday, November 06, 2010 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .



Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires are known, and from whom no secrets are hid ...

A collect from the Gregorian Missal, bizarrely enough retranslated into Latin.

December 8, 2010 at 9:18 PM

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