Friday 17 March 2006

Latin Curiosity

The Journal of the Prayer Book Society has just arrived through my letter box. They are a group devoted to the use of the traditional Book of Common Prayer in Anglican Church services, so there is an ad for my Oxford Cranmer concert in this edition of the journal. Also in the journal is an article about the use of the Book of Common Prayer in Oxford and Cambridge colleges, which includes a fascinating piece of trivia.

The founders of the Church of England were insistent that services be conducted in English so that the congregation could fully comprehend what was going on. But it was assumed that congregations in the centres of learning, Cambridge, Oxford, Eton and Winchester, would all know enough Latin to follow a church service in that language. So during the reign of Elizabeth 1st, services in Latin were allowed in these places. A Latin version of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer was produced in 1670 and it is still allowed to be used in Cambridge, Oxford, Eton and Winchester. At the University Church, Oxford on the Thursday before the start of term, there is always a service using the Latin Book of Common Prayer from 1670. It sounds fascinating.

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