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This article is taken from PN Review 13, Volume 6 Number 5, May - June 1980.

Dame Helen Gardner
The Church of England is still by law the established Church of the country and there seems at present no desire to alter its status. It is, therefore, unique among the churches of the country in its responsibility for the nation's historic religious inheritance. It possesses as a treasure for the whole nation its wonderful parish churches which have, in addition to their architectural and historical interest, a deep religious significance in their witness to the faith and piety of generations, reminding those who worship in them of the union of the dead and the living in Christ. The Book of Common Prayer and the Authorised Version of the Bible are equally treasures of the English people. For four hundred years their language has been a part of common speech, as well as an inspiration to poets and writers, often used by many who are unaware that it is to the Bible and Prayer Book that they owe familiar and pungent sayings. Their use in worship, like the use of music, makes of public worship, as distinct from private prayer, an offering of beauty to the Creator of all beauty. While welcoming the provision of alternative services, and recognising that in some places (e.g. the Pauline epistles) the Authorised Version is obscure, I regard with dismay the tendency to abandon the Prayer Book and the Authorised Version and to make the new services the only available services and the New English Bible the only version of the Bible that congregations will ...


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