The Walter S. Underwood Prayer Book Collection

Named after the donor Mr. Walter S. Underwood, the Underwood Prayer Book Collection is the centerpiece of the Frances Donaldson Library's stock of rare books. Mr. Underwood was a prominent Chicago attorney and senior partner in one of the largest law firms in Chicago: McLease, Spray, Price & Underwood. A long-time parishioner of the Church of the Ascension, he served as Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. His gift arrived at Nashotah House in 1977 and has been used in support of the House’s courses ever since. In recent years, items from the Collection have also been exhibited in museums at Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since 1977, The Underwood Foundation has provided financial support for the library’s efforts to preserve and publicize the Collection.

 Among the highlights of the Underwood Collection are two magnificently illuminated, late medieval manuscripts. The first of these is a Sarum Use Book of Hours, circa 1400. The volume features many finely painted scenes, illuminated capitals, and extensive decoration. The second illuminated medieval manuscript in the Collection is known as the Boies Penrose II Manuscript. This volume contains many lovely illuminated capitals, with handsome decoration on most pages. In addition, the Underwood Collection includes first editions of the Books of Common Prayer of 1549 and 1552, as well as the Prymer of 1554, commonly called Queen Mary's Book. Most important subsequent editions of the Book of Common Prayer are also represented in the Collection, including two versions of the 1662 book, the so-called Provisional Prayer Book of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America of 1786, and the first authorized edition of the American Book of Common Prayer of 1790.

View the Underwood Collection Bibliography

Underwood Collection Digitization Projects

Through generous donations from the Underwood Foundation, two of the oldest books in the library's collection and several of the earliest Books of Common Prayer have been digitized.

Book of Hours Sarum Use Manuscript c. 1400

Watch a brief video showing highlights from the manuscript:

Read a sample online:

 

The Boies Penrose II Decorated Manuscript

Watch a brief video showing highlights from the manuscript:

Read a sample online:

 

 

The 1549 Book of Common Prayer

The booke of the common prayer and administracion of the sacramentes, and other rites and ceremonies of the Churche: after the vse of of the Churche of England. London: in officina Edouardi Whitchurche, 1549. Mense Junij. First edition, June emission.

Produced during the reign of Edward VI, this is the first edition of the first published version of the Book of Common Prayer.

The 1552 Book of Common Prayer

The boke of common prayer, and administracion of the sacramentes, : and other rites and ceremonies in the Churche of Englande.London: In officina Edvvardi Whytchurche, 1552.

First edition of the first revision of the prayer Book of Edward VI. Within six months of its introduction, Edward died, and Queen Mary, his successor, outlawed the Book of Common Prayer and reintroduced the Latin Rites of Rome.

The 1637 Scottish Book of Common Prayer

This is the (in)famous “Laud’s Prayer Book.” This book met with great resistance in Scotland when King Charles I and Abp. Laud tried to force its acceptance at a moment when the high church cause was cresting in England. Laud's efforts to force conformity on the Scots, who were by this time predominantly Presbyterian, was doomed from the start. The Scots wanted neither Bishops, nor Prayer Books.

The Booke of common prayer, and administration of the sacraments. And other parts of divine service for the use of the Church of Scotland. Edinburgh: Robert Young, printer to the Kings Most Excellent Majestie, 1637. First Edition, first issue. Title page partly in red.

Bound with The Psalter: Psalmes of David: according to the last translation in King James his time of blessed memory. As it shall be said or sung throughout all the churches of Scotland. Edinburgh: Robert Young, M.DC.XXXVI.

Also bound with The Psalmes of King David: translated by King James. London: Thomas Harper, 1636. This is a metrical version that is missing its last two leaves.

Bound in brown calf, gold lettering with a picture of Archbishop Laud pasted on the fly leaf, and John Howell's bookplate.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer was issued in the reign of King Charles II after the monarchy was restored. The languages of the 1662 BCP was little changed from that of Cranmer's BCP's. But the readings for the epistle and gospel came from the 1611 King James bible. The 1662 edition was the official BCP during the growth of the British Empire. As a result, it had a great influence on the prayer books of Anglican churches worldwide.

Copy 1: The book of common-prayer and administration of the sacraments : and other rites & ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Church of England : together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, pointed as they are to be sung or said in churches : and The form & manner of making, ordaining, & consecrating, of bishops, priests, and deacons.  London : Printed by His Majesties printers 1662.

Title within engraved architectural border, signed: D: Loggan sculp: [after the drawings of Jan Baptist Gaspers]; calendar printed in red and black; head-pieces; initials. "The Psalter or Psalms of David" has separate dated title page and the ordinal has a separate half-title; register is continuous. Notation on first leaf reads, "Tho: Gaunt his book 1662." Measures 7.5" x 12".

Copy 2: The book of common prayer and administration of the sacraments : and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Church of England : together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, pointed as they are to be sung or said in churches : the form and manner of making, ordaining, and consecrating of bishops, priests, and deacons. Cambridge: Printed by John Field, printer to the University of Cambridge, 1662.

1st Cambridge edition of the sealed book. Note on fly leaf declares: "This, the first edition of the 'Book of Common Prayer' now in use, is so extremely scarce that I never observed a copy of it in any sale catalogue either public or private." With portrait of Charles II and 52 plates, ruled in red throughout, in contemporary green morocco, gilt edge. Once belonged to William Bateman, Fellow of the Antiquarian Society, and has his signature and date 1824 on the verso of the title to the Psalter. Four pp. of notes in a scholarly hand in Latin and English at the end.

 

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