Percy Dearmer

Published April 1, 2001

IF PEOPLE remember the name of Percy Dearmer at all today, it is mostly for his famous manual The Parson’s Handbook. Published originally in 1899, this influential book provided a guide to the simple and gracious celebration of the Book of Common Prayer rites in accordance with the rubrics and canons that govern its use.

Percy Dearmer was, however, much more than a practical liturgist. The son of an artist, he was convinced that beauty is an attribute of God and that worship is not merely a receptacle for the arts but is itself an art. A socialist in the tradition of F.D. Maurice, he belonged to the left wing of English high-churchmanship.

After nearly 16 years in the wilderness, serving the church in honorary positions only and without ecclesiastical appointment, he was made a canon of Westminster Abbey – from which position he once ran a canteen for the unemployed.

Donald Gray has captured the many facets of this remarkable man who represented in an exemplary way a major strand of Anglican worship and witness, and who anticipated some of the most important landmarks of our own time.

Paul Gibson, retired liturgical officer for General Synod, also served the Anglican Communion.


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