Rev. Baring-Gould was born in 1834 and entered Cambridge University in 1852, earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees there. As a curate, he met the love of his life, Grace Taylor, with whom he had fifteen children all of whom lived to adulthood! To add to his unconventionality, even for those days, she was quite a bit younger than he and low-born, while he was of the country gentry. He became a Rector of a parish in Essex and then when his father passed away, he inherited the family estate and then, being the local squire, he was able to appoint himself to the parish connected with the estate when it became vacant.
His works were varied and, some would say, eccentric. He, surprisingly, wrote the most widely read (to this day!) source on Lycanthropy, yes, on werewolves! His works often deal in the realm of folklore.
His devotional book, The Golden Gate, has excellent catechetical material and is not unlike The Practice of Religion and The St. Augustine’s Prayer Book – although it is distinctly more Anglo-Catholic and less Anglo-Papalist. For example, his treatment of the Angelic Salutation clearly prefers the Medieval form that lacks “Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” Rightly so, he states that this was not added until the Fifteenth Century. Indeed, Savanarola was the first to put that phrase and request for intercession into a devotional work. (The original form, as it was used in Medieval England, is totally scriptural and cannot be debated by any Anglican as to its legitimate use.)
He is a bit hard on Roman Catholics in England as well as Dissenters from the Church of England and even Lutherans. Yet there is a charity pervasive in most of the work. He includes the Liturgy of the Hours, Family Prayers, and personal sets of Morning and Evening Prayer, in some respects similar to Lancelot Andrewes Preces Privatae – although distinctly more accessible. There are Litanies abounding and Collects galore and it is well worth a purchase.
The book is available for purchase here.