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The Anglican Rosary 

     In some form, the rosary also been part of the tradition of Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic, and Orthodox faithful for centuries. Jesus himself incorporated prayer as an essential and cultural expression of knowing and communicating with God. He and Paul, as Jews, would have been familiar with the Jewish prayer tradition of counting prayers. Jesus made it very personal in the sense that he called God "Abba," which translates as "Father." From its Jewish roots, the early Christian Church understood prayer as a connection of earth and heaven: it was the authoritative way of building a personal relationship with God. Believing that the repetition of prayers is a natural tendency for religious practitioners, religious individuals have used strung beads, knotted rope, and bags of pebbles to count their prayers. In today’s time of intellectual inquiry and rational thinking, prayer is often difficult to grasp and express. However, many spiritual and religious leaders believe that inherent in human beings are a hunger for the sacred and a need for that which is spiritual and eternal. While the focus of prayer is spiritual and sometimes mental, as humans we find that something tangible helps.

     Lately, Anglicans and other Protestants have begun to use prayer beads to assist their meditations on and with God. The Anglican rosary, also known as Anglican/Episcopalian prayer beads, has elements of the Orthodox and Catholic traditions. It has thirty-three beads, which represent Jesus’ thirty-three years on Earth. There are four sets of seven "weeks," recalling the Jewish and Christian belief in the perfection of the number seven; there are also the seven days of Creation, the seven days of the week, the seven seasons of the church year, and the seven sacraments of the church. Four slightly larger or different colored beads called "cruciforms" separate these four weeks; equally spaced in the circle of the rosary, they form a cross and remind us of four seasons and four directions of the compass. Attached to the last cruciform is an "invitatory," from which hangs a cross. As prayer starts at the cross, the invitatory "invites" us to pray along the remaining 32 beads. Moving to the right, three times round the rosary brings us to ninety-nine, the complete number of the Divine Names in Middle Eastern traditions; adding the cross at the beginning or end brings us to one hundred, which is the total of the Orthodox rosary, in addition to representing the fullness of creation. 

     There is no set prayer for the Anglican rosary; there are several traditional and contemporary prayers available, or you can assemble a set of prayers on your own. For example, try finding a Bible verse, psalm, or prayer that you like. Likewise, you can purchase a set of beads or create your own, following the layout of beads described above. There are several Internet sites where you can find more information on purchasing rosaries or creating prayers:

Suggested Prayers: Several well-known prayers, from which you can choose.

Book of Common Prayer: The entire Book of Common Prayer online, complete with a table of contents.

Full Circle Beads: Has several prayers, as well as a place to order beads.

King of Peace: Pretty comprehensive, with history and several prayers. Also has an online rosary.

Sacred Mysteries: Christopher Howe’s article in the Telegraph (a UK periodical) offers a little more in-depth history of prayer beads.

St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church: Some history and a few prayers to get you started.

Trinity Episcopal Church: Has a visual of the rosary and prayers for those in specific circumstances (times of war, caretakers of the sick, etc).

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