The words of the Book of Common Prayer have permeated deep into the life and literature of the English-speaking world. For nearly five hundred years, and for countless people, it has provided a background fanfare for a marriage or a funeral march at a burial. Yet this familiarity hides a violent and controversial history. When it was first produced, the Book of Common Prayer provoked riots among Catholics, and 4,000 died in a rebellion in Devon and Cornwall to oppose it. In the civil wars of the seventeenth century, it was banned by radical puritans, who believed it encouraged superstition and idolatry, and it caused riots all over Scotland. Conversely, with the spread of the British Empire, it was translated into a host of global languages and adopted as the basis for forms of worship in the United States and elsewhere. This edition presents the work in three different states: the first edition of 1549, which brought the Reformation into people's homes; the Elizabethan prayer book of 1559, familiar to Shakespeare and Milton; and the edition of 1662, which embodies the religious temper of the nation down to modern times. All texts are freshly edited from original copies, preserving much of their original appearance, orthography, and punctuation. The Introduction explains the historical significance of the book and the controversial process by which it was put together and revised, the changes to the text from the Reformation to the Restoration of Charles II and the 1662 version, and the significance of the book for everyday life and for the history of the English language and its literature. The book includes a glossary, extensive notes, and two appendices.