July 2015 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Book of Common Prayer Exhibit Opens

Common Prayer poster final copy.jpgComfortable Words: American Piety and the Book of Common Prayer, an exhibit featuring more than 25 editions and revisions of the 466-year-old prayer book, including the first edition of 1549, opens today at the United Methodist Archives & History Center at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. The exhibit aims to showcase not only the book's liturgical utility, but its place in the evolution of English prose--"a generation before Shakespeare and Milton and the King James Bible"--and its transformation by generations of printers, publishers, and binders.

According to curator Kenneth E. Rowe, "The prayer book has also been the crowning masterpiece of the world's greatest typographers and printers, from Whitchurch in the 1540s to Daye in the 1570s, from Baskett and Baskerville in the mid-1700s to Pickering in the 1840s and DeVinne in the 1890s on down to Updike in the 1930s. Fine binders like Mearne in the 1660s along with Riviere and Zaehnsdorf in the 1880s among others lavished their art on the prayer book, customizing them with magnificent decoration evident in the fine printings and bindings you will see displayed."

The exhibit will remain on view through October 23.