I can think of no work that has been more influential in shaping Anglican worship, taking the High Church standards and making them the norm. In case you wondered what happened to all those Geneva gown wearing Episcopalians of yore.
I suppose I like him because he tried -- successfully in the main -- to reform the style of worship, albeit on imperfectly historical lines,Â to give worship and the appearance of the church and its ministers greater dignity. He was not, however, an aesthete or a spendthrift. On the contrary, Dearmer was a well-known Socialist and you can't read The Parson's Handbook without hearing his regard for what a poor church could do with its resources -- advise not lost today.
I think it is the character and wit in Dearmer's writing, the practical pastoral touch and compelling arguments (even those going down roads I have no interest in following) that makes The Parson's Handbook compelling over its many editions and a must-grab when found used. It simply wasn't available until digitized and only the smaller first edition (1899) was available until very recently.
Google Books has published a copy of the fourth edition -- 1902 -- and I will be reading it and live blogging the parts that I think my readership (Unitarian Universalist and independent Catholic) would best appreciate.
The Parson's Handbook (Google Books)