It has been a common assumption that men produced the first editions of the Book of Common Prayer. However, as with many modern discoveries regarding ancient events, a Canadian scholar, doing research in one area of history, has stumbled upon the unexpected. Micheline White, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of English of the College of the Humanities at Carleton University in Ottawa Ontario Canada. While researching one of Catherine Parr’s ladies-in-waiting, Dr White came across a book of prayers published by Catherine Parr. In the back of the book she found a prayer for the king which is obviously the original for the Prayer for the Monarch of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Catherine Parr was Henry VIII’s last wife.
O Lord Jesu Christ, most high, most mighty, king of kinds, lord or lords, the only ruler of princes, the very son of God, on whose right hand sitting, dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth: with most lowly hearts we beseech thee, vouchsafe with favourable regard to behold our most gracious sovereign lord, King Henry the eight, and so replenish him with the grace of thy holy spirit, that he always incline to thy will and walk in thy way. Keep him far off from ignorance, but through thy gift, let prudence and knowledge always abound in his royal heart. So instuct him (O LORD JESU) reigning upon us in earth, that his human majesty always obey thy divine majesty in fear and dread. Indue him plentifully with heavenly gifts. Grant him in health and wealth long to live. Heap glory and honour upon him. Glad him with the joy of thy countenance. So strengthen him, that he may vanquish and overcome all his and our foes, and be dread and feared of all the enemies of his realm. Amen.
Katharine Parr (1512-1548)
The prayer books of a number of nations which hold the monarch of England to be their head of state retain a version of this prayer.
O Lord, our heavenly Father, high and mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only Ruler of princes, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth: Most heartily we beseech thee with thy favour to behold our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen ELIZABETH; and so replenish her with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that she may alway incline to thy will, and walk in thy way. Endue her plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant her in health and wealth long to live; strengthen her that she may vanquish and overcome all her enemies; and finally after this life she may attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Prayer for the Queen’s Majesty, the Book of Common Prayer
Main image and story from Anglican Communion News Service.