The Book of Common Prayer
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    A Form of Consecrating Churches, Chapels and Churchyards


A FORM OF CONSECRATING CHURCHES, CHAPELS, AND CHURCHYARDS, passed in the Lower House of Convocation, 1712, with a design to have it established among the Offices of the Liturgy, and compiled chiefly for the Consecration of the (50) new Churches; copied from the Journal of the House, and never before made public.

When the Bishop and the Clergy, (of which there shall be two at least,) have entered the Church or Chapel in their several habits, let them, as they walk up from the west to the east end, repeat alternately the 24th Psalm, the Bishop beginning, "The earth is the Lord's," with "Gloria Patri."

When they are come to the Lord's Table, the Bishop, sitting in his chair, shall have the instrument of Dedication, Donation, and Endowment of the Church or Chapel, Churchyard or Burial-place, presented to him by the Founder or some proper substitute, which shall cause to be read by his Register, or other officer deputed for that purpose; and, after that, the Bishop shall lay such instrument or instruments upon the Table, and, standing at the north side, shall turn to the Congregation, and say,
DEARLY beloved in the Lord, forasmuch as in all ages of the world, devout and holy men, moved either by the secret inspiration of the Holy Spirit, or by express command of God, or by their own reason and sense of the natural decency of things, have erected Houses, Tabernacles, Temples, Synagogues, and Churches for the worship of God, and separated them from all profane and common uses, in order to fill men's minds with greater reverence for his glorious majesty, and affect their hearts with more devotion and humility when they approach His sacred presence; all which pious designs have been approved, and graciously accepted by our Heavenly Father; let us not doubt but He will also favourably approve this our godly purpose of sanctifying this place, and setting it apart in solemn manner to the performance of the several offices of our religious worship; and let us faithfully and devoutly beg His blessing on this our undertaking, and say,

There has never been a Service for the Consecration of a Church in the English Prayer Book, so each Diocesan Bishop is free to create his own when the need arises.

This Form, based on one by by Lancelot Andrewes, was approved by Convocation in 1712, but never received the Royal Assent, and so never became an official service of the Church of England. Nevertheless, it, or forms based on it, were commonly used in the Church in succeeding years. The Episcopal Church in its early years, unlike the Church of England, was in an area which was expanding both geographically and numerically, and so had great need for a service for the Consecration of Churches. As this one was well-known to American clergy, it served as the basis for that adopted for the American Prayer Book in 1799.

The text comes from a reprint: The Object, Importance, and Antiquity of the Rite of Consecration of Churches (1844) by EC Harington.

[Here let the Bishop kneel on the north side of the Table.]

O Eternal God, mighty in power, of majesty incomprehensible, Whom even the Heaven of heavens cannot contain, much less the walls of Temples made with hands, and Who yet hast graciously been pleased to promise Thy especial presence in whatever place even two or three of Thy faithful servants shall assemble in Thy Name, to offer up their supplications and their praises to Thee; vouchsafe, O Lord, to be now present with us, who are gathered here together to consecrate this place, (with all humility and readiness of heart,) for ever, to the honour of Thy great Name, separating it from henceforth from all unhallowed, ordinary, and common uses, and dedicating it entirely to Thy service, for reading Thy most holy Word, for celebrating Thy blessed Sacraments, for offering to Thy glorious Majesty the sacrifices of prayer and thanksgiving, for blessing Thy people in Thy Name, and for performance of all other holy ordinances. Accept, O Lord, this service at our hands; and bless it in such manner, and with such success, as may tend most to Thy Glory, and the furtherance of our happiness, through Jesus Christ our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.
    We know, O Lord, we are not worthy to appoint unto Thee any place, or offer to Thee anything belonging to us; yet we beseech Thee, out of Thine infinite goodness, to be present now among us in this religious action, and graciously to accept and prosper this our undertaking. Receive the prayers and intercessions of us and all other Thy servants, who, either now or hereafter entering into this Thy House, shall call upon Thee; and give both them and us grace, (whenever we draw near to Thy courts,) to prepare our hearts with reverence and godly fear; affect us with an awful apprehension of Thy Heavenly Majesty, and with a deep sense of our own unworthiness to appear before Thee, that, so approaching Thy Sanctuary with lowliness and devotion, we may be careful to bring with us clean thoughts, pure and humble hearts, bodies undefiled, and minds sanctified, and, washing our hands in innocency, may come to Thine Altar an acceptable people, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

After this, let the Bishop, continuing where he is, say the following prayers, standing up, and with his face to the Congregation.

Regard, O Lord, the supplications of Thy servants, and grant that whosoever shall be dedicated to Thee in Thy house by baptism may be sanctified with the Holy Ghost, delivered from Thy wrath, received into the Ark of Christ's Church, and ever remain in the number of Thy faithful and elect children. Amen.
    Grant, O Lord, that they who in this place shall, in their own persons, undertake to renew the promises and vows made by their sureties for them at their baptism, and thereupon shall be confirmed by the Bishop, may receive such a measure of Thy Holy Spirit, that they may be enabled faithfully to fulfill the same, and grow in grace to their lives' end. Amen.
    Grant, O Lord, that whosoever shall, in this place, receive the blessed Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ Thy Son, may come with faith, charity, and true repentance, and, being fulfilled with Thy grace and heavenly benediction, may, to their great and endless comfort, obtain remission of their sins, and all other benefits of his passion. Amen.
    Grant, O Lord, that by Thy holy Word, which shall be read and preached within this place, the hearers may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and may have grace and power to fulfil the same. Amen.
    Grant. O Lord, that whosoever shall be joined together, in this place, in the holy estate of matrimony, may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, and may remain in perfect love and peace together unto their lives' end. Amen.
    Grant, we beseech Thee, blessed Lord, that whosoever shall draw near unto Thee, in this house, to give Thee thanks for the great benefits they have received at Thy hands, to set forth Thy most worthy praise, to hear Thy most Holy word, or to ask such things as are requisite and necessary as well for the body as the soul, may do it with with stedfastness of faith, that seriousness, attention, and devout affection, that Thou mayest accept their bounden duty and service, giving them grace to be doers of Thy word, and not hearers only, and vouchsafing to them whatever else in Thy infinite wisdom and goodness Thou shalt see to be most expedient for them; and this we beg for Jesus Christ His sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.

After this, let one of the Priests, (the appointed Curate of the place, if he be present,) begin the service for the day, except where it is otherwise ordered.

Proper Psalms, 84, 122, 132.
First Lesson, 1 Kings, c. viii. from v. 22 to v. 62.
Second Lesson, St. John, c. ii. from v. 13 to the end.

In the Second Service, after the Commandments, and one of the Collects for the Queen, instead of the Collect for the day, shall be used these following:

O Lord Almighty, King of heaven and earth, Who, in the day-time by a cloud, and in the night by fire, didst declare Thy presence by Thy moving tabernacle in the wilderness, and, by like sensible and glorious manifestations of Thyself, didst consecrate the Temple of Jerusalem for the place of Thy settled abode among Thy chosen people, vouchsafe, we beseech Thee, to encompass this Thy house, and all that are in it, with Thy gracious favour; inflame our hearts with that holy fire from heaven that may consume in us whatsoever is vile and earthy, and kindle in our souls a fervent and constant love of Thee; make us truly sensible how great an honour it is to be admitted into Thy Sanctuary, to present ourselves and our supplications before the throne of Thy grace, that so we may never presume to approach Thy house with hypocritical and cold devotions, drawing near unto Thee with our lips while our hearts are far from Thee. Let us always approach Thy holy courts with reverence and godly fear; let us behave ourselves in Thy sanctuary as mindful of Thine especial presence, so that we may depart thence endued with greater measures of Thy grace, and fulfilled with Thy heavenly benedictions; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with Thee, O Father, and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed, as is most due, all glory, might, and majesty, both now and evermore. Amen.

O most blessed Saviour, Who, by Thy gracious presence at the feast of Dedication, didst approve and honour such religious services as this which we are now performing unto Thee, be present at this time with us also by Thy Holy Spirit: and, because holiness becometh Thine house for ever, sanctify us, we pray Thee, that we may be living temples, holy and acceptable unto Thee; and so dwell in our hearts by faith, and possess our souls by Thy grace, that nothing which defileth may enter into us, but that, being cleansed from all carnal and corrupt affections, we may ever be devoutly given to serve Thee in all good works, Who art our Saviour, Lord, mid God, blessed for evermore. Amen.

The Epistle, 1 Cor. c. iii. from v. 16 to the end.
The Gospel, St. John, c. x. from v. 22 to v. 30.


After the communion, before the final blessing, let the Bishop say,

Blessed he Thy Name, O Lord God, for that it pleaseth Thee to have Thy habitation among the sons of men, and to dwell in the midst of the assembly of the saints upon earth. Bless, we beseech Thee, the religious performance of this day; and grant that in this place, now set apart to Thy service, Thy holy Name may be worshipped in truth and purity to all generations, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

If the Church to be consecrated be one of those which are ordered to be built by the late Act of Parliament, let the Bishop also say,

Blessed be Thy Name, O Lord God, that it bath pleased Thee by Thy good Spirit to dispose our Sovereign Lady, and the Estates of this realm, to supply the spiritual wants of Thy people, by appointing this and many other Churches to be erected and dedicated to Thy worship and service: multiply Thy blessings upon them for their pious regard to Thy honour and to the good of souls; remember them concerning this, and wipe not out the kindness they have shewn to Thy Church, and to the offices thereof; and grant that our gracious Queen may see and long enjoy the fruits of her godly zeal, in the edification of the members of our Church, and in the reduction of those that have strayed from it, that we may all live together in the unity of the Spirit, and in the bond of peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

If the Church or Chapel was built and endowed by any private person or persons then alive, let the Bishop say the following prayer:

Blessed be Thy Name, O Lord, that it hath pleased Thee to put it into the heart of Thy servant, (or servants,) N——— to erect this house to Thy honour and worship. Bless, O Lord, him, (her, or them,) his, (her, or their) family and substance, and accept the work of his, (her, or their) hands; remember him, (her, or them) concerning this; wipe not. out this kindness that he, (she, or they) hath (or have) shewed for the house of his, (her, or their) God and the offices thereof; and grant that all they, who shall enjoy the benefit of this pious work, may shew forth their thankfulness by making a right use of it, to the glory of Thy blessed Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The peace of God —


When the service in the Church is finished, let the Bishop and Clergy, with the people, go into the Churchyard, and, standing in some convenient place, let the Bishop say the following prayer.

O God, Who hast taught us in Thy holy ward that there is a difference between the spirit of a beast that goeth downwards to the earth, and the spirit of a man which ascendeth up to God who gave it; and likewise by the example of Thy holy servants, in all ages, hast taught us to assign peculiar places where the bodies of Thy saints may rest in peace, and be preserved from all indignities, whilst their souls arc safely kept in the hands of their faithful Redeemer: accept, we beseech Thee, this charitable work of ours in separating this portion of ground to that good purpose, and give us grace, that, by the frequent instances of mortality we behold, we may learn and seriously consider how frail and uncertain our condition here on earth is, and so number our days as to apply our hearts unto wisdom; that in the midst of life thinking upon death, and daily preparing ourselves for the judgment that is to follow, we may have our part in the resurrection to life with Him, who died for our sins, and rose again for our justification, and now liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you all evermore. Amen.

If there be only a Churchyard to be consecrated, adjoining to any Church or Chapel, let the common service of the day be read in the Church or Chapel, and at the end thereof let the instrument oh Donation be read before the Bishop in the Churchyard; and then let the Bishop use the foregoing prayer.

But if the Churchyard or Burial-place be remote from the Church or Chapel, it shall suffice to use only the prayer appointed for that purpose, the instrument of Donation being first read.



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