|The Book of Common Prayer|
T H E
B O O K
And ADMINISTRATION of the
RITES and CEREMONIES,
As revised and proposed to the Use
The Protestant Episcopal CHURCH,
At a Convention of the said CHURCH in the States of
P H I L A D E L P H I A,
Printed by H A L L and S E L L E R S:
R E S O L V E D, That a
Committee be appointed to publish the Book of Common Prayer with the alterations,
as well those now ratified in order to render the Liturgy consistent with
the American revolution and the constitutions of the respective states,
as the alterations and new offices recommended to this Church; and that
the Book be accompanied with a proper Preface or Address setting forth
the reason and expediency of the alterations; and that the committee have
the liberty to make verbal and grammatical corrections; but in such manner,
as that nothing in form or substance be altered.
J. B. S M I T H
April 1, 1786.
T H E
CONTENTS of this B O O K.
1 THE Preface.
The P R E F A C E.
IT is a most invaluable
part of that blessed "liberty wherewith CHRIST
hath made us free" - that, in his worship, different forms
and usages may without offence be allowed, provided that the substance
of the faith be kept entire ; and that, in every church, what cannot be
clearly determined to belong to doctrine be referred to discipline;
and therefore, by common consent and authority may be altered, abridged,
enlarged, amended, or otherwise disposed of, as may seem most convenient
for the people," according to the various exigencies of times and
* Declarat (sancta synodus) hanc potestatem perpetuo in ecclesia fuisse; ut in sacramentorum dispensatione, salva illorum substantia, ea statueret vel mutaret que suscipientium saluti, seu ipsorum sacramentorum venerationi pro rerum, temporum et locorum varietate, magis, expedire judicaverit. Sess. 21 cap. 2. Concil. Trident. And agreeably to this, their Breviary and Missal have been frequently revised, the Breviary heretofore three times in the short space of sixteen years only.
The Church of England has not only in her preface, but likewise in her articles* and homilies#, declared the necessity and expediency of occasional alterations and amendments in her forms of public worship; and we find accordingly, that seeking to "keep the happy mean between too much stiffness in refusing and too much easiness in admitting variations in things once advisedly established, she hath, in the reign of several§ princes, since the first compiling of her liturgy in the time of Edward the Sixth, upon just and weighty, considerations her thereunto moving, yielded, to make such alterations in some particulars, as in their respective times were thought convenient: Yet so as the main body and essential parts of the same (as well in the chiefest materials, as in the frame an order thereof) have still been continued firm and unshaken".
"Her general aim in these different reviews and alterations hath been (as the further declares in her said preface) to do that which according to her best understanding, might most tend to the preservation of peace and unity in the church; the procuring of reverence and the exciting of piety and devotion in the worship of God; and (finally) the cutting off occasion, from them that seek occasion, of cavil or quarrel against her liturgy." And the necessity and expediency of the several variations made from time to time (whether by alteration, addition, or otherwise) she states chiefly under the following heads: viz.
1st. For the better direction of them that are to officiate in any part of divine service; which is chiefly done in the CALENDARS and RUBRICKS.
2d. For the more proper expressing of some words or phrases of ancient usage in terms more suitable to the language of the present times; and to clearer explanation of some other words and phrases that were of a doubtful signification, or otherwise liable to misconstruction; or
3d. For a more perfect RENDERING (or translation) of such portions of holy scripture as are inserted into the liturgy (and made a part of the daily service;) with the addition of some OFFICES, PRAYERS AND THANKSGIVINGS, fitted to special occasions.
|* It is not necessary that traditions
an ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly alike, for at all times they
have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries,
times and manners; so that nothing be ordained against God's word; [And
therefore] every particular or national church hath authority to ordain,
change and abolish ceremonies or rites of the church, ordained only by man's
authority, so that all things be done to edifying." Art. 34.
# God's church ought not, neither can it be tied to any orders now made, or hereafter to be made and devised, by the authority of man; but that it may, for just causes, alter, change or mitigate - yea recede wholly from, and also break them" - &c. And again - "The church is not bound to observe any order, law or decree made by man to prescribe a form of RELIGION; but hath full power and authority from God, to change and alter, the same, when need shall require. Homily on Fasting, Part 1.
§ The Liturgy, in sundry particulars, hath been reviewed - altered and amended about eight different times, from its first publication, according to an act of parliament in 1594 and its last review was in 1661, as it now stands, according to the Act of Uniformity.
If, therefore, from the reasons above, set forth (namely the change of times and circumstances, and the fluctuation of our lang-uage itself) so many different reviews, alterations and amendments were found necessary in the first hundred and twelve years after the reformation; it could not be expected, but (the same causes and reasons still operating) some subsequent reviews, alteration and amendments would not only be found necessary, but be earnestly desired by many true members of the church, in the course of at least one hundred and twenty years more. And we accordingly find that in less than thirty years after the last, review in 1661, (viz; on the 13th of September 1689) a commission for a further review of the liturgy and canons, &c. was issued out to a number of bishops and other divines; than whom (it hath been truly acknowleged) the Church of England was never, at any one time, blessed with either wiser or better since it was a church."
The chief matters proposed for a review at this time, and which have been since repeatedly, proposed and stated, under the decent and modest form of queries, are included under the following heads.
1st. Whether the public service on Sunday mornings be not of too great length, and tends rather to diminish than encrease devotion or especially among the lukewarm and negligent?
2d. Whether it might not be conveniently contracted, by omitting all unnecessary repetitions of the same prayers or subject matter and whether a better adjustment of the necessary parts of the three different services, usually read every Sunday morning in the church, would not render the whole frame of the service more uniform, animated and compleat?
3d. Whether the old and new translations of the psalms, ought not to be compared; in order to render both more agreeable to each other and to their divine original; so as to have but one translation, and that as complete as possible?
4th. Whether all the PSALMS of DAVID, are applicable to the state and condition of christian societies, and ought to be read promiscuously, as they now are; and whether some other method, of reading them might not be appointed; including, a choice of psalms as well for ordinary use, as for the festivals and fasts, and other special occasions, of public worship?
5th. Whether the subject matter of our psalmody or singing psalms should not be extended beyond those of David, which include but a few beads of christian worship, and whether much excellent matter might not be taken from the New Testament, as well as parts of the Old Testament, especially the prophets; so as to introduce a greater variety of anthems and hymns, suited to the different festivals and other occasions of daily worship, private as well as public?
6th. Whether, in particular; a psalm or anthem should not be adapted to and sung at the celebration of the Eucharist, as was the primitive practice, and that recommended in our first liturgy?
7th. Whether all the lessons which are appointed to be read in the ordinary course are well chosen; and whether many of them may not be subject to one or more of the following objections, viz. - 1. Either inexpedient to be read in mixt assemblies; or 2. Containing genealogies and passages either obscure, or of little benefit to be read in our congregations; or 3. Improperly divided; sometimes abrupt and unconnected in their beginning, as having respect to something that hath gone before; and sometimes either too short or too long, and apocryphal lessons included among the number?
8th. Whether our epistles and gospels are all of them well selected; and whether after so many other portions of scripture they are necessary, especially unless the first design of inserting them, viz. as introductory to the communion, should be more regarded, and the communion be again made a daily part of the service of the church?
9th. Whether our collects, which in the main are excellent, are always suited to the epistles and gospels; and whether too many of them are not of one sort, consisting of the same kind of substance? and whether there is any occasion of using the collect for the day twice in the same service?
10th. Wether the Athanasian creed may not, consistently with piety, faith and charity, be either wholly omitted, or left indifferent in itself?
11th. Whether our catechism may not require illustration in some points and enlargement in others; so that it may not only be rendered fit for children, but a help to those who become candidates for confirmation? And whether all the other offices, viz. the litany, the communion office, the office of confirmation, matrimony, visitation of the sick, churching of women and more especially, those of baptism, burial and communion, do not call for a review and amendment in sundry particulars?
12th. Whether the calendars and rubricks do not demand a review and better adjustment; and whether any words or phrases in our common prayer, which are now less intelligible or common, or any way changed in their present acceptation from their original sense, should be retained? And whether others should not be substituted which are more modern, intelligible, and less liable to any misap-prehension or construction?
13th. Whether the articles of religion may not deserve a review; and the subscription to them and the common prayer be contrived after some other manner, less exceptionable than at present?
These are the principal matters which have long been held up for public consideration, as still requiring a review in the book of common prayer, and altho' in the judgement of the church there be nothing in it "contrary to the word of God, or to sound doctrine, or which a godly man may not submit unto, or which is not fairly defensible, if allowed such just and favourable construction as in common equity ought to be allowed to all human compositions; yet, upon the principles already laid down, (namely, "the promoting of peace and unity in the church; the exciting of piety and devotion, and the removing, as far as possible, of all occasion of cavil or quarrel against the liturgy,") the pious and excellent divines who were commissioned in 1689, proceeded to the execution of the great work assigned them. They had before them all the exceptions which had, since the act of uniformity been at any time made against parts of the church service, which are chiefly set forth in the foregoing queries. They had likewise many propositions and advices, which had been offered at several times by some of the most eminent Bishops and Divines upon the different heads in question. Matters were well considered, freely and calmly debated; and all was digested into one entire* correction of every thing that seemed liable to any just objection. But this great and good work miscarried at that time, and the civil authority in Great Britain hath not since thought it proper to revive it by any new commission.
But when, in the course of divine providence these American States became independent with respect to civil government their ecclesiastical independence was necessarily included; and the different religious denominations of christians in these states were left at full and equal liberty to model and organize their respective churches and forms of worship and discipline, in such manner as they might judge most convenient for their future prosperity, consistently with the constitution and laws of their country.
The attention of this church was, in the first place, drawn to those alterations in the liturgy which became necessary in the prayers for our civil rulers, in consequence of the revolution; and the principal care herein was to make them conformable to what ought be the proper end of all such prayers, namely, that "rulers may have grace, wisdom and understanding to execute justice and to maintain truth; and that the people may lead quiet and peaceable lives, in all godliness and honesty."
But while these alterations were in review before the late CONVENTION, they could not but, with gratitude to God, embrace the happy occasion which was offered to them (uninfluenced and unrestrained by any worldly authority whatsoever) to take a further review of the public service, and to propose to the church at large such other alterations and amendments therein as might be deemed expedient; whether consisting of those which have been heretofore so long desired by many, or those which the late change of our circumstances might require, in our religious as well as civil capacity.
By comparing the following book, as now offered to the Church, with this preface and the notes annexed; it will appear that most of the amendments or alterations which had the sanction of the great Divines of 1689, have been adopted, with such others as are thought reasonable and expedient.
The service is arranged so as to stand as nearly as possible in the order in which it is to be read. A selection is made both of the reading and singing psalms, commonly so called. Wherever the Bible-translation of the former appeared preferable to the old translation, it hath been adopted; and in consequence of the new selection, a new division and considerable abridgement of the daily portions to be read became necessary; and as the "Glory be to the Father," &c. is once said or sung before the reading of the psalms in Morning and Evening prayer, it was conceived that, in order to avoid repetition, the solemnity would be encreased by allowing the Minister to conclude the portion of the psalms which is at any time read, with that excellent doxology somewhat shortened, "Glory to God on high," &c. especially when it can be properly sung. With respect to the psalmody or singing psalms, for the greater ease of chusing such as are suited to particular subjects and occasions, they are disposed under the several metres and the few general heads to which they can be referred; and a collection of hymns are added, upon those evangelical subjects and other heads of christian worship, to which the psalms of David are less adapted, or do not generally extend.
|* It will, without doubt, be agreeable
to the members of our church, and those who esteem our liturgy and public
service, to have at least a general account of the alterations and amendments
which were desired and designed by such great and good men as Archbishop
Tillotson and others, whose names are in the following account taken
from Bishop Barnet, who was also in the commission, and from Dr.
"They began with reviewing the liturgy; and first they examined the calendar; in which, in the room of the apocryphal lessons they ordered certain chapters of canonical scripture to be read, that were more for the peoples' edification. The Athanasian creed, being disliked by many persons on account of the damnatory clause, it was left at the, minister's choice to use or change it for the Apostles creed. New collects were drawn up more agreeable to the epistles and gospels, for the whole course of the year, and with a force, and beauty of expression capable of affecting and raising the mind in the strongest manner. The first draught was by Dr. PATRICK, who was esteemed to have a peculiar talent for composing prayers. Dr. BURNET added to them yet further force and spirit. Dr. STILLINGFLEET then examined every word in them with the exactest judgement. Dr. TILLOTSON gave them the last hand, by the free and and masterly touches of his flowing eloquence. Dr. KIDDER, who was well versed in the oriental languages, made a new translation of the psalms, more conformable to the original. Dr. TENNISON having collected the words and expressions throughout the liturgy, which had been excepted against, proposed others in their room, which were more clear and plain. Other things were likewise proposed, as that the cross in baptism might be either used or omitted at the choice of the parents, and, it is further added from other certain accounts, "that if any refused or scrupled to receive the Lord's Supper kneeling it may be administered to them in their pews; that a rubric be made, declaring the intention of the Lent fasts to consist only in extraordinary acts of devotion; not in distinction of meats; that the absolution may be read by a deacon; the word priest to be changed into minister; the Gloria Patri not to be repeated at the end of every psalm, but of all appointed or morning and evening - that the words in the Te Deum, Thine honourable, true and only Son, be changed into thine only begotten Son, that the Benedicite be changed into the 128th psalm, and other psalms appointed for the Benedictus and Nunc Dimittis; that if any desire to have godfathers and godmothers omitted, their children may be presented in their own names," &c.
unnecessary to enumerate particularly all the different alterations and
amendments which are proposed. They will readily appear, and it is hoped
the reason of them also, upon a comparison of this with the former book.
The Ca1ender and Rubricks have been altered where it appeared
necessary, and the same reasons which occasioned a table of first lessons
for Sundays and other Holy-days, seemed to require the making of a
table of second lessons also, which is accordingly done. Those
for the morning are intended to suit the several seasons, without any
material repetition of the epistles and gospels for the same seasons;
and those for the evening are selected in the order of the sacred books.
Besides this, the table of first lessons has been reviewed; and some new
chapters are introduced on the supposition of their being more edifying;
and some transpositions of lessons have been made, the better to suit
|* The clause meant is: "Christ's descent into hell," which, as Bishop Burnet, Bishop Pearson, and other writers inform us, is found in no creed, nor mentioned by any writer, until about the beginning of the 5th century; and in the first creeds that have this clause or article, that of Christ's burial not being mentioned in them, it follows that they understood the descent into hell only of his burial or descent into the grave, as the word is otherwise translated in the Bible. The Nicene creed hath only the burial, and the Athanasian only the descent into hell.|
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