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    The Book of Common Prayer - 1552


The Boke of

common prayer, and ad-

ministracion of the


and other


and Ceremonies in

the Churche of




Londini, in Officina Ed-
vvardi Whytchurche.

Cum privilegio ad imPri-
mendum solum.

Anno 1552.




ii. Of ceremonies, why some be abolished and some retayned.
iii. The ordre howe the Psalter is appointed to be read.
iv. The Table for the order of the Psalmes to be sayd at Mornyng and Evening prayer.
v. The order how the rest of holy Scripture is appointed to be read.
vi. Propre Psalmes and Lessons at Morning and Evening Praier, for certayne feastes and dayes.
vii. An Almanack.
viii. The Table and Kalendar for Psalmes and Lessons, with necessarie Rules apperteynyng to the same.
ix. The order for Mornyng Prayer and Eveninge Praier throughout the yere.
x. The Letanie.
xi. The Collectes, Epistles, and Gospels, to be used at the ministracion of the holy Communion, throughout the yere
xii. The order of the ministracion of the holy Communion.
xiii. Baptisme both publique and private.
xiv. Confirmacion, where also is a Catechisme for children.
xv. Matrimonie.
xvi. Visitacion of the sicke.
xvii. The Communion of the sicke.
xviii. Burial.
xix. The thanksgiving of women after childe-birth.
xx. A Comminacion against sinners, with certain praiers to be used divers tymes in the yere.
xxi. The fourme and maner of makyng and consecrating of Bischoppes, Priestes, and Deacons.



THERE was never anye thynge by the wytte of man so wel devised, or so sure established, whiche (in continuance of tyme) hath not been corrupted: as (emong other thynges) it may playnlye appeare by the common prayers in the Churche commonlye called divine servyce: the firste originall and grounde whereof yf a manne woulde searche out by auncient fathers, he shall fynde that the same was not ordayned but of a good purpose, and for a great advancemente of godlynesse. For they so ordered the matter, that all the whole Bible (or the greatest part thereof) shoulde be readde over once in the yeare entendynge thereby, that the clergie and speciallye suche as were ministers of the congregacion, should (by often readynge and meditacion of Godde's woorde) be stirred up to godlynesse themselves, and be more able also to exhorte other by whole some doctrine, and to confute them that were adversaries to the trueth. And further, that the people (by dayly hearynge of holye scripture read in the Churche) should continuallye profyte more and more in the knowledge of God, and be the more in flamed with the love of hys true religion. But these manye yeres passed, this godly and decent order of the auncient fathers hath been so altered, broken, and neglected, by plantinge in uncertayn Stories, Legendes, Respondes, Verses, vayne repeticions, Commemoracions, and Sinodalles, that commonlye when anye boke of the Bible was begonne, before three or foure Chapters were read out, al the rest were unread. And in thys sorte the boke of Esay [Isaiah] was begonne in Advent, and the boke of Genesis in Septuagesima: but they were onely begonne, and never read through. After a lyke sorte were other bokes of holy scripture used. And moreover, where as Sainct Paule woulde have such language spoken to the people in the Churche, as thei might understande, and have profite by hearing the same; the service in this Churche of Englande (these manye yeres) hath been read in Latyn to the people, whiche they understode not: so that they have heard with their eares onely; and their heartes, spirite, and mynde, have not been edified thereby. And furthermore, notwithstandynge that the auncient fathers have divided the Psalmes into seven porcions, whereof everye one was called a Nocturne; nowe of late tyme, a fewe of them have been dayly sayd (and ofte repeated) and the rest utterlye omitted. Moreover, the numbre and hardnesse of the rules, called the Pie, and the manyfolde chaungynges of the servyce, was the cause, that to tourne the boke onely was so harde and intricate a matter, that manye tymes there was more busynesse to fynde out what shoulde be read, then to reade it when it was founde out.
    These inconveniences therefore consydered, here is set furthe suche an order, whereby the same shalbe redressed. And for a redynesse in thys matter, here is drawen out a kalendar for that purpose, whiche is playne and easye to be understanden: wherin (so muche as may be) the readynge of holye scriptures is so set furthe, that all thynges shalbe doen in order, without breakynge one pyece thereof from another. For thys cause be cut of Anthemes, Respondes, Invitatories, and suche lyke thynges, as dyd breake the continuall course of the readynge of the scripture. Yet because there is no remedye, but that of necessitie there must be some rules, therefore certayn rules are here sette furth, whiche as they be fewe in numbre, so they be playn and easie to be understanden. So that here you have an order for prayer (as touchynge the readynge of holye scripture) muche agreable to the mynde and purpose of thold fathers, and a great deale more profitable and commodious, then that which of late was used. It is more profitable, because here are lefte out manye thynges, where of some be untrue, some uncertayn, some vayne and supersticious, and is ordeined nothynge to be read, but the very pure worde of God, the holye scriptures, or that which is evidentlye grounded upon the same, and that in such a language and order, as is most easy and playne for the understandynge bothe of the readers and hearers. It is also more commodious, bothe for the shortness thereof, and for the playnnesse of the order, and for that the rules be fewe and easye. Furthermore, by thys order, the curates shall nede none other bokes for their publyke service, but thys boke, and the Bible: By the meanse whereof, the people shall not be at so greate charge for bokes, as in tyme paste they have been.
    And where heretofore there hath been greate diversitie in sayeng and syngyng in Churches within this realme, some folowynge Salisbury use, some of Herford use, some the use of Bangor, some of Yorke, and some of Lincolne. Nowe from hence furthe, all the whole realme shall have but one use. And yf any woulde judge thys way more painfull, because that all thynges muste be read upon the booke where as before by the reason of so often repeticion, they could saye many thynges by heart; yf those men wyl weygh their laboure, with the profyte and knowledge, which dayly they shal obtayne by readyng upon the boke, they wyl not refuse the payne, in consideracion of the great profite that shal ensue therof.
    And for asmuche as nothynge can almoste be so playnly set furthe, but doubtes may ryse in the use and practisynge of the same: To appease all suche diversitie (yf any aryse), and for the resolucion of all doubtes concemynge the maner howe to understande doe and execute the thynges conteyned in this boke: the partes that so doubt, or diversly take any thyng, shall alway resorte to the Byshoppe of the Diocesse, who by hys discrecion shall take order for the quietynge and appeasyng of the same: so that the same order be not contrarye to anye thynge conteyned in thys boke. And yf the Byshoppe of the Diocesse be in anye doubte, then maye he sende for the resolution thereof unto the Archebyshoppe.
    Though it be appoynted in the afore wrytten Preface, that all thynges shalbe read and songe in the Churche in the Englyshe tongue, to the ende that the congregacion maye be thereby edified: yet it is not ment, but when menne say Mornyng and Evenynge prayer privatly, they may saie the same in anye language that they themselves do understande.
    And all Priestes and Deacons shalbe bounde to say dayly the Mornynge and Evenyng prayer, either privatly or openly, excepte they be letted by preaching, studeing of divinityie, or by some other urgent cause.
    And the Curate that ministreth in every Parish Churche or Chapell, beyng at home, and not beyng otherwise reasonably letted [prevented], shall say the same in the Parishe Churche or Chapell where he ministreth, and shall tolle a belle thereto, a convenient tyme before he begyn, that suche as be disposed maye come to heare Goddes worde, and to praie with hym.


[In several copies the Act of Uniformity is printed before this Preface]





OF suche ceremonies as be used in the church, and have had their beginning by ye institution of man: some at the first were of Godly entent and purpose devised, and yet at length turned to vanitie and superstition: some entred into the church by undiscrete devotion, and such a zeale as was without knowledge: and for because thei were winked at in the beginning, thei grewe daily to more and more abuses: whiche not onely for their unprofit ablenesse, but also because thei have much blinded the people, and obscured the glory of God, are worthy to be cut awaie, and clene rejected. Other there be, which although thei have been devised by man, yet it is thought good to reserve them still, aswel for a decent order in the churche (for the whiche thei were first devised) as because thei pertein to edification: whereunto all thynges doen in the churche (as the Apostle teacheth) ought to be referred. And although the kepyng or omittyng of a ceremonie (in it self considered) is but a small thynge: yet the wilful and contempteous transgression, and breakynge of a common order and discipline, is no small offence before God.
    Let al thynges be doen emonge you (saith S. Paule) in a semely and due order. The appointment of the which order, perteineth not to private men: therefore no man ought to take in hand, nor presume to appoynt or alter any publique or common order in Christes church, except he be lawfully called and authorized thereunto.
    And whereas as in this our tyme, the mindes of menne are so diverse, that some thynke it a greate matter of conscience to departe from a pece of the least of their Ceremonies (thei be so addicted to their old customs:) and again on the other side, some be so new fangled, that thei would innovate all thyng, and so do despise the old, that nothyng can like them, but that is new: it was thought expedient, not so much to have respect how to please and satisfie either of these parties, as how to please God, and profyte them both. And yet lest any man should be offended (whom good reasone might satisfie) here be certain causes rendred why some of the accustomed Ceremonies be put away, and some retayned and kept styll.
    Some are put away, because the great excess and multitude of them hath so encreased in these latter daies, that the burthen of them was intolerable: whereof S. Augustine in his tyme complayned, that they were growen to such a numbre, that the state of Christian people was in worse case (concernyng that matter) then were the Jewes. And he counsayled yt such yoke and burthen should be taken away, as tyme woulde serve quietly to doe it.
    But what would S. Augustine have sayed, if he had seen the ceremonies of late daies used among us? whereunto the multitude used in his time was not to be compared. This oure excessive multitude of Ceremonies was so great, and many of them so darke: that they did more confounde and darken, then declare and set furth Christes benefites unto us.
    And besides thys, Christes Gospell is not a Ceremonial lawe (as much of Moses lawe was) but it is a religion to serve God, not in bondage of the figure or shadowe but in the fredome of spirite beynge content only with those Ceremonies, which do serve to a decent ordre and godly discipline, and such as be apte to stirre up the dull mynde of man, to the remembraunce of his duety to God, by some not able and speciall significacion, whereby he myght be edified.
    Furthermore, the most weightie cause of thabolishement of certayn Ceremonies was, that thei were so farre abused, partly by the supersticious blyndnes of the rude and unlearned, and partly by the unsaciable avarice of suche as sought more their owne lucre, then the glory of God; that the abuses could not well be taken away, the thing remayning stil. But now as concerning those persones, which peradventure wylbe offended, for that some of thold ceremonies are reteyned styl: if they consider, that without some Ceremonies it is not possible to kepe any ordre or quiete discipline in the churche, they shal easely perceyve just cause to reforme their judgementes. And yf thei thinke much that any of thold do remain, and would rather have all devised anewe. Then suche men graunting some ceremonies convenient to be had, surely where the old may be well used, there thei cannot reasonably reprove the old only for their age without bewraying of their owne foly. For in suche a case, they ought rather to have reverence unto them for their antiquitie, if they wyl declare themselves to be more studious of unitie and concord, then of innovacions and newe fanglenes, which (asmuche as may be with the true setting furth of Christes Religion) is alwayes to be eschewed. Furthermore, such shall have no just cause with the ceremonies reserved to be offended: For as those be taken away, which were moste abused, and dyd burthen men's consciences without any cause: so the other that remain are retayned for a Discipline and order, whiche (upon just causes) may be altered and chaunged, and therefore are not to be estemed equal with god's law. And moreover they be neither darke nor dombe ceremonies: but are so sette forth, that every man may understand what they doe mean, and to what use thei do serve. So that it is not like that thei in time to come, should be abused as the other have been. And in these our doinges, we condemne no other nacions, nor prescribe any thing, but to our owne people only. For we think it convenient that every country should use such ceremonies, as they shal think best to the settyng furth of Goddes honour or glory, and to the reducyng of the people to a most perfecte and godly lyvyng, without errour or Supersticion. And that they shoulde put awaye other thynges, whiche from tyme to tyme they perceyve to be moste abused, as in mennes ordinances it often chaunceth diversely in diverse countreyes.



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