Charles Philip Price, an Episcopal priest who taught at Virginia Theological Seminary and Harvard University and contributed to a landmark revision of the Book of Common Prayer, died of cancer Oct. 13 at Inova Alexandria Hospital. He was 79 and lived in Alexandria.
In 1979, as a member of the Standing Liturgical Commission of the Episcopal Church, Dr. Price helped reshape the Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican Church's primary worship guide. The commission made the first changes since 1928, updating language from the Elizabethan era, adding a variety of prayers for major rites and accentuating the role of the lay churchgoer in ceremonies.
"Charlie wanted it to be as inspirational and relevant as it possibly could be to people of this day," said Bishop Philip A. Smith, a former bishop of New Hampshire who knew Dr. Price for 53 years.
A piano student in his youth, Dr. Price also served on the Episcopal Church's committee on texts, which edited and added hymn texts -- including his own -- to "Hymnal 1982." In 1997, Dr. Price also contributed to a supplemental collection of hymns, which included his piece "God, beyond all human praises."
Dr. Price wrote, co-wrote and edited books on theology, including "Introducing the Proposed Book of Common Prayer" (1976), "Principles of Christian Faith and Practice" (1977), "Liturgy for Living" (1979) and "The Gifts of God" (1984). The books were written for a general church readership.
"Charlie is a lifelong Episcopalian, but he had sort of a scientific mind," said the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Dr. Price's successor in 1972 as minister of Memorial Church at Harvard. "He was trained as a mathematician. So there was this piety on one hand and his awareness of the language and the mood of 20th-century technology. That moved him to try to make sure the language of his own church spoke as clearly and articulately in 20th-century lingo as possible."
A Pittsburgh native, Dr. Price was a rector of St. Michael's of the Valley in Ligonier, Pa., before joining the faculty at Virginia Theological Seminary from 1956 to 1963. He returned in 1972 as a theology and liturgics instructor until his retirement in 1989.
He then became a professor emeritus of systematic theology at the seminary, where he taught and preached occasionally.
From 1962 to 1972, Dr. Price was the principal preacher at Harvard University's chapel and chairman of the school's board of preachers. He also taught Christian morals.
Dr. Price was a Harvard graduate and received a bachelor's of divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1949. He received a doctor of theology degree from Union Theological Seminary in 1962 and was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity from the University of the South's theology school in 1991.
Among the positions he held in the Episcopal Church was membership on the Board for Theological Education from 1968 to 1976 and the General Board of Examining Chaplains from 1985 until his death.
During World War II, Dr. Price was an engineer in the Navy and served on two destroyers in the Pacific. He also taught marine engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy from 1942 to 1943.
Among his hobbies was sailing.
Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Betty Farley Price, of Alexandria; a daughter, Edith Majors of Richmond; and a grandson.