The Book of Common Prayer
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    1786 Proposed U. S. Book of Common Prayer



B  O  O  K





And other


As revised and proposed to the Use


The Protestant Episcopal CHURCH,

At a Convention of the said CHURCH in the States of



Held in Philadelphia, from September 27th to October 7th, 1785.


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: 

And sold for the Benefit of sundry Corporations and Societies, instituted for the Support of the Widows and Children of deceased Clergymen. MDCCLXXXVI.




Extract from the Minutes of the Convention.

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. 

    Agreeably to the above Resolve, the Book of Common Prayer, as proposed by the Convention, is now published by their Committee. 

I, JONATHAN BAYARD SMITH, Prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas of the County of Philadelphia, do certify that Messieurs Hall and Sellers, printers and assignees, have entered, according to an act of Assembly, a book, entitled "The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies, as revised and proposed for the Use of the Protestant Episcopal Church; at a Convention of the said Church in New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and South-Carolina, held in Philadelphia, from September 27th to October 7th, 1785." 

J. B. S M I T H

April 1, 1786. 




CONTENTS of this B O O K.

1 THE Preface.
2 Tables of the Moveable and Immoveable Feasts, and of the Days of Fasting and Abstinence through the whole Year.
3 Tables of Lessons of Holy Scripture, to be read at Morning and Evening Prayer, throughout the Year.
4 Tables for finding the Holy-Days.
5 The Order for Daily Morning Prayer.
6 The Order for Daily Evening Prayer.
7 Prayers and Thanksgivings upon several Occasions, to be used before the two final Prayers of Morning and Evening Service.
8 Collects that may be said after the Collects of Morning or Evening Prayer, or Communion, at the Discretion of the Minister.
9 The Order for the Administration of the Lord's Supper, or Holy Communion.
10 The Collects, Epistles, and Gospels to be used throughout the Year .
11 The Ministration of Public Baptism of Infants, to be used in the Church.
12 The Ministration of Private Baptism of Children in Houses.
13 The Ministration of Baptism to such as are of riper Years, and able to answer for themselves.
14 A Catechism; that is to say, an Instruction to be learned by every Person before he be brought to be confirmed by the Bishop.
15 The Order of Confirmation, or laying on of Hands upon those who are baptised, and come to Years of Discretion.
16 The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony.
17 The Order for the Visitation of the Sick.
18 The Communion of the Sick.
19 A Form of Prayer for the Visitation of Prisoners.
20 The Order for the Burial of the Dead.
21 Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea.
22 A form of Prayer and Thanksgiving to Almighty God, for the inestimable Blessings of Religious and Civil Liberty; to be used yearly on the Fourth Day of July, unless it happen to be on Sunday, and then on the Day following.
23 A Form of Prayer and Thanksgiving to Almighty God, for the Fruits of the Earth and all the other Blessings of his merciful Providence; to be used yearly on the first Thursday in November.
24 Articles of Religion.
25 The Psalter: selected from the Psalms of David.
26 Psalms fitted to the Tunes used in Churches, selected from the Psalms of David; Portions of which are to be sung at suitable Times in Divine Service, according to the Discretion of the Minister.
27 Hymns suited to the Feasts and Fasts of the Church, and other Occasions of Public Worship; to be used at the Discretion of the Minister.




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 occasions."
    The CHURCH of ENGLAND, to which the Protestant Episcopal Church in these States is indebted, under GOD, for her first foundation and a long continuance of nursing care and protection, hath in the prefaces of her book of common prayer laid it down as a rule that - "The particular forms of divine worship, and the rites and ceremonies appointed to be used therein, being things in their own nature indifferent and alterable, and so acknowledged, it is but reasonable that, upon weighty and important considerations, according to the various exigencies of times and occasions, such changes and alterations should be made therein, as to those who are in place of authority should, from time to time, seem either necessary or expedient."
    This is not only the doctrine of the Church of England, and other Protestant Churches but likewise of the Church of Rome; which hath declared, by the * Council of Trent - "That the church always had a power of making such constitutions and alterations in the dispensation of the Sacraments, provided their substance be preserved entire, as, with regard to the variety of circumstances and places, she should judge to be most expedient for the salvation of the receivers or the veneration of the sacraments themselves. 


* 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. Nichols.
    "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.

    It seems 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 seasons.
    And whereas it hath been the practice of the church of England to set apart certain days of thanksgiving to Almighty God for signal mercies vouchsafed to that church and nation, it hath here also been considered as conducive to godliness, that there should be two annual solemn days of prayer and thanksgiving to Almighty God set apart; viz. the fourth DAY OF JULY, commemorative of the blessings of civil and religious liberty in the land, wherein we live; and the first Thursday of November for the fruits of the earth in order that we may be thereby stirred up to a more particular of the signal mercies of God towards us; the neglect of which might otherwise be the occasion of licentiousness, civil miseries and punishments.
    The case of such unhappy persons who may be imprisoned for debt or crimes claimed the attention of this church; which hath accordingly adopted into her liturgy the form for the visitation of prison in use in the church of Ireland.
    In the creed commonly called the Apostles creed, one clause* is omitted; as being of uncertain meaning and the articles of religion have been reduced in number; yet it is humbly conceived that the doctrines of the church of England are preserved entire, as being judged perfectly agreeable to the gospel.
    It is far from the intention of this Church to depart from the Church of England, any further than local circumstances require, or to deviate in anything essential to the true meaning of the thirty-nine articles; although a number of them be abridged by some variations in the mode of expression and the omission of such articles as were more evidently adapted to the times when they were first framed, and to the political constitution of England.
    And now, this important work being brought to a conclusion, it is hoped the whole will be received and examined by every true member of our church, and every sincere christian with a meek, candid and charitable frame of mind; without prejudice or pre- possessions; seriously considering what christianity is, and what the truths of the gospel are; and earnestly beseeching Almighty God to accompany with his blessing every endeavor for promulgating them to mankind in the clearest, plainest, most affecting and majestic manner, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour.

* 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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