The Book of Common Prayer
United States England Scotland Ireland Wales Canada World

    A New History of
The Book of Common Prayer




No sooner had the First Prayer Book appeared, backed by the first attempt to enforce Uniformity by Act of Parliament, than it became a bone of contention. The conservatives disliked it for its innovations and its abrogation of the old services, the reformers because it retained too much of the old and did not go far enough in innovation. For the moment, both parties were content to use it, but in doing so they put very different constructions on it. The Catholic-minded, with the Bishops of the Old Learning at their head and the precedent of the Order of Communion at their back, maintained with the new Rite as much as was compatible of the old doctrine and ceremonial.1 There was nothing to prevent their doing so,2 and in the absence of rubrics directing otherwise they were perfectly within their rights. The party of reform led by the reforming bishops, according to the shade; of the colour of ‘their opinions, either welcomed the simplicity of ceremonial, resigning with relief the old elaborateness, or else outran the new movement itself, by declaiming against such decency and order as was still prescribed, or even by refusing conformity to it.

Thus it is one of the grim sarcasms of history that the first Act of Uniformity should have divided the Church of England into the two parties, which have ever since contended within her on ceremonial and doctrinal matters. From the first, little is heard of the former body: the blind though dogged conservatives had little chance of making any pause in such a whirl of change, and the voices even of the central body of Catholic-minded bishops and clergy, who were willing enough for reform but did not want a revolution,3 were soon drowned in the clamour of extreme men goaded on by the extravagance of foreign divines and the shamelessness of rapacious politicians. Iconoclasm had only whetted its thirst by a breaking down of images, and proceeded to the destruction of the altars in defiance of the Prayer Book, but under the direction of such men as Ridley, the new Bishop of London who, by a miserable alienation of the Church’s property, had acquired the place of the deposed Bonner (April, 1550).4

Previous chapter



The failure of Uniformity.


Destruction of altars.



The extreme men attempted in every way to prevent the moderates from interpreting the doctrine and arranging the ceremonial of the Prayer Book in accordance with Catholic precedent, and even the ceremonies expressly retained were openly denounced both by English and foreign Reformers.5 Their attempt might have been tolerable from men who themselves were loyal to the existing order, even though they viewed it with a sour and narrow prejudice; but their further proceedings disqualified them from being in any sense fair exponents of the new order; and the whole course of events showed that they were embarked on a far more headlong career of innovation than at first was realized. The destruction of the altars was one clear indication that there was to be no finality in the position created by the Prayer Book. Ridley, who with Hooper6 was prime mover in the destruction of the altars of Baal,7 attempted to reconcile his action with the provisions of the Prayer Book, but in fact it was a high-handed and illegal proceeding, though accomplished under cover of an official Visitation of his Cathedral and Diocese, and backed by the civil power.8 Notwithstanding these efforts, many altars remained with their rich hangings and jewels, and gold and silver plate; and we can hardly think otherwise than that some courtiers desired their destruction because they hoped to enrich themselves by the plunder of such valuable furniture,9 which would not be wanted for ‘an honest table.’ Hence an order was issued (Nov. 4, 1550) for the entire removal of the altars, and arguments were prepared, and sent with the Council’s letter,10 to the bishops, to reconcile the parishioners’ to the loss of the ornaments of their churches,11 The change, however, involved rubrical difficulties: the people had been accustomed to kneel before the altar at the time of Communion; but what should be their posture before or around a table? The priest also had been directed to stand before the middle of the altar fixed at the east end of the choir; but where should he stand to minister at a movable table placed for the Communion in the middle or at the western entrance of the chancel, or even in the nave of the church? All this pointed to the need of further change.




Dissatisfaction of the Reform party.




Their lawless action.

With the same tendency, a great discussion was going on about ecclesiastical vestments, Everything which had been used under the old régime was unclean in the eyes of the more ardent reformers, who had foreign ideals before them and communicated with Switzerland rather than with Germany. Great attacks had been made upon the vestments, which had been retained, as well as upon the ceremonies. This matter was brought to a head by the appointment of Hooper, against his will, to the bishopric of Gloucester. He had for some time been conspicuous as a leader in the attack on the Prayer Book, but the Council reckoned on forcing their nominee to accept, not only the bishopric, but also the vestments and ceremonies which he scrupled. For nearly a whole year he remained obdurate; he carried his point about the oath12 but could gain no support from those in power in the other respects. After a long, hot, and fruitless debate with Ridley,13 Hooper was committed to the Fleet, by order of the Privy Council (January 27, 1551) . This curious mode of compelling a bishop-elect to be consecrated had the effect desired by those in authority. Hooper yielded so far as to submit to the reduced ceremonial of the Ordinal and be consecrated (March 8), and then to preach in rochet and chimere before the King,14 on the understanding that he would not be required to use the objectionable dress on all occasions in the retirement of his diocese.15

Disputes about vestments







Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester.

A further disturbing element in the situation was the formal criticism which some of the foreign divines had been requested to pass upon the Prayer Book at its first appearance. Peter Martyr (Vermigli), the Italian Austin Canon whom the Inquisition had driven out of Italy, had come by way of Zurich and Strasburg, to join the body of Lutheran and other refugees16 whom Cranmer collected round him as early as the beginning of the reign. At the end of May 1549, he was appointed. Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, where his lectures raised no small commotion.17

Influence of foreigners.

Peter Martyr.

Martin Bucer, who as Pastor at Strasburg had watched with interest the course of events in England, was also drawn across the Channel, when in consequence of the celebrated religious compromise devised by the Emperor and known as the Interim (July 1548) his position in Strasburg became a difficult one.18 He arrived in England. at Cranmer’s invitation in April 1549 and at the end of the year became a friendly rival of Martyr19 in the Divinity Chair at Cambridge.

The opinion of each of these doctors was sought upon the Prayer Book, apparently in view of the raising of the question of further revision in the coming Convocation of December 1550. Hitherto there had been no such invitation, and though Bucer’s influence might be traceable in the Ordinal the foreigners had had no direct part in the revision;20 but this was now entirely altered. Bucer had already written down his first impressions in a letter sent to the Ministers at Strasburg on the day after he reached Lambeth; in this he expressed general approval with regard ‘to the establishment of doctrines and the definition of rites,’ but criticised with characteristic moderation the concessions made in the retention of vestments, candles, chrism, and the commemoration of the dead.21 This was clearly a hasty review of the book, written as he made his first acquaintance with it through the medium of an interpreter.22 His mature judgment was elaborately given from an intimate acquaintance with the book in his Censura, a laborious criticism extending to 28 chapters,23 sometimes shrewd, sometimes merely perverse, always moderate and scholarly, and generally representing a middle position between the doctrine of the Church and the extravagances of extreme foreign Reformers.



Bucer’s first impressions.


His Censura.




While speaking with approval of the Daily Prayers and the Communion Service as entirely scriptural and primitive, and approving of the division of the sexes in church, he objects to the use of the choir for Divine Service, as being an antichristian separation of the clergy from the laity, and also inconvenient for hearing.
He speaks in terms of general approbation of the Communion Service,24 the order that intending communicants should signify their names to the Curate, and the new directions about the form and substance of the bread, but he would ‘like to add, that the usual leavened bread may be used as well as the wafer.’ He objects to the use of the first part of the service without proceeding to an actual communion as ‘half a Mass, yet with all the vesture of a whole Mass’;25 to the receiving of oblations from persons absent, to the practice of non-communicants remaining in church, and to certain gestures, such as kneeling, crossing, knocking upon the breast, which were practised, by many people, and allowed, though not directed, by a rubric. He objects to the use of peculiar vestments26 at this service, because they had been abused to superstition, and would lead to disputes; also to the delivery of the Sacrament into the mouth and not into the hand of the communicant, and to the direction to place upon the holy table only so much bread and wine as may be sufficient for the communicants, as implying a ‘superstitious’ notion of the effect of consecration:27 he allows however, that at a very early period care was taken to avoid profanation of the remains of the consecrated elements. He objects to prayer for the dead, and to the phrase, ‘sleep of peace,’ as implying a sleep of the soul; to the ceremonies of making the sign of the cross, and taking the elements into the hand in the action of consecration; to the prayer of invocation of the Holy Spirit, that the elements. ‘may be unto us the Body and Blood of Christ’; and to the mention of the ministry of the holy angels in carrying our prayers before God. He objects to the crossing at consecration and wishes to have the Manual Acts abolished, as well as the words ‘who in the same night, &c.’ and all that signified consecration. He approves of homilies, and proposes several additional subjects for new ones. He allows that a second Communion was anciently administered on high festivals, when the churches were too small to hold the congregation; but he dislikes the practice, implying, as it did, that there would be a larger number of communicants at Christmas and Easter than at other times, whereas all ought to communicate every Lord’s Day.
Communion Service.
He proposes that Baptism should be administered between the sermon and the communion, because more people were present then than at the morning or evening prayers;28 and that the office should be begun at the font, where the congregation can hear, instead of at the church door. He observes that every scenic practice ought to be removed from divine service, and that whatever ancient ceremonies are retained should be few in number, and should be carefully explained. to the people: such ceremonies in Baptism were, the putting on the white garment or chrysom, the anointing with chrism, and the signing with the cross: the exorcism also he considers to be objectionable, as implying that all unbaptized persons are demoniacs. The clause which asserts the sanctification of water to the mystical washing away of sin by the Baptism of Christ he wishes to be omitted, utterly disliking all benedictions, or consecrations of inanimate things. He wishes the phrase to be altered, that infants ‘come,’ whereas they are brought to Baptism; he dislikes the mode of addressing the infants, who cannot understand what is said, both at the time of signing with the cross, and in the examination which was addressed to the child, although the questions were answered by the sponsors. He approves of private Baptism in case of necessity.
Baptismal Office.
He insists upon frequent catechizing, and that all young persons, whether confirmed or not, should be present,and that none should be confirmed before they had by their manners approved their faith, and their determination of living unto God. He desires that marriages should be solemnized only in open day, and before the congregation; he desires that the bishops should make a law of prohibited degrees; he approves of the ceremonies of the ring and marriage-gifts, and the manner of first laying them upon the book, and then receiving them from the Minister to give to the Bride. In the office of the Visitation of the Sick he objects only to the anointing; in the Churching office to the chrysom and the offering; and, in the Burial Service, to the form of commending the soul to God, or in any terms praying for the dead. He wishes the Commination Service to be used more frequently than on the first day of Lent, three or four times in the year; the denunciations he thinks should be arranged in the order of the Decalogue. Bell-ringing he greatly dislikes, and would have it entirely forbidden, except only before service. If any Festivals were retained, besides those of our Lord, and a very few others,29 he thinks that they should be observed only in the afternoon. He speaks of many people walking about and talking in the churches, and therefore wishes them to be shut when no service was proceeding: As additions to the Prayer Book, he wishes a Confession of Faith to be composed, shortly and clearly declaring the points that were controverted in that age; and also a larger Catechism.30 The examination in the Ordination Service he wishes to be extended to disputed points of theology, and he desires that Ministers should be kept to their duty by annual inspections and Synods.31

Bucer delivered this well-meaning but unsatisfactory criticism on January 5, 1551, to the Bishop of Ely, for whom it was originally written, though subsequently the preface was addressed to the archbishop: before the end of the next month he was dead.






Visitation of the Sick.





In the case of Peter Martyr there is no extant document containing his criticisms of the Prayer Book, though he certainly drew up and submitted a censure of his own. We have only his own account of his criticism, in a letter to Bucer (January 10, 1551). It seems that he was not well acquainted with the contents of the Prayer Book, and that no complete Latin version was within his reach. A version, probably of the ordinary services, by Cheke, was put into his hands, and upon it he offered a set of annotations to the archbishop. Afterwards, on reading Bucer’s larger treatise, he was surprised to find what the book contained, and added his approval of his friend’s observations. He notices one point which he marvels that Bucer had overlooked, that if a sick person was to receive the Communion on the same day that it was publicly administered in the church, a portion of the Sacrament was to be reserved and carried to the sick person. To this Martyr objected, because he held falsely that ‘the words belong rather to men than either to bread or wine.’32
Martyr’s view.
At the same time as these censures were prepared, some conference was held of bishops and others to prepare for future changes. The views of Bucer and Martyr were in the hands of those concerned: the latter was being assured, by Cranmer that great changes were in prospect, was congratulating himself on having had such an excellent opportunity of admonishing the bishops,33 and was being insolently assured by Cheke that if the bishops were reluctant they would be coerced by the King. Both Cranmer and Ridley were anxious at this time for the abolition of the vestments, but unwilling to bring it about except ‘by the general consent of the whole kingdom.’34 All was being prepared in view of the future meeting of Convocation and Parliament: the bishops ‘agreed among themselves on many emendations and corrections in the published book,’ and ‘the alterations on which they decided were noted in their places,’ and shewn to Peter Martyr: but he from his ignorance of English gained nothing from this but the general impression that they had not gone far in reform, and that Cranmer was held back by his colleagues. Cheke again appears at this stage as the extreme man of the body of revisers:35 but no further light is thrown either on its procedure or on its composition until we reach a letter of Cranmer36 written after the passing of the second Act of Uniformity, which mentions by name Ridley and Martyr with ‘a great many bishops and others of the best learned within this realm appointed for that purpose.’

Preparations for a Revised Book.

The sweating sickness which prevailed in the autumn was probably the reason why Parliament, which should have met in November, was prorogued till the month of January; and with it the hopes of the reforming party were postponed.37 Meanwhile they had to content themselves with the hopes of the reform of Ecclesiastical Law — a project which was occupying the minds of a Commission throughout the autumn and during the opening months of 1552,38— and with some disputations on the subject of the Eucharist.39

On January 24th, two days after the execution of Somerset, Parliament met, and Convocation on the following day. Of the acts of the latter, Heylyn professed that he could find little record: but a document which he assigns to a Convocation in 1550 and 1551 probably belongs to this date.40

The opportunity, for which Cranmer and the reforming bishops had been waiting, was now come, for obtaining public authorisation for their further projects; the moderate party had been everywhere repressed, and their leaders among the bishops, who had submitted, however unwillingly, to the First Prayer Book, were in prison — Gardiner, who had been committed to the Tower on the morrow of his sermon on the Eucharist delivered June 29, 1548;41 Bonner, who had used the new book, and then had also fallen victim to the tyrannical expedient of being forced to preach a test sermon;42 Heath, who had lost his liberty over the Ordinal, Day over the destruction of altars, and Tonstal on an obscure charge of treason.43 From the scanty and dubious records of Convocation, it seems likely that the proceedings there were abortive. There seems to have been no discussion upon the new draft of the book as a whole, but only upon some ‘doubts’ concerning the feasts, retained or abrogated,44 and the formula and method of administering the Holy Sacrament.45 And this is only in the Upper House; while the Lower House debated, but came to no conclusion, and deferred the question.46

In Convocation.
Meanwhile, the time was coming for the whole book to be put forward in Parliament with the second Act of Uniformity. About a month was occupied in the passing of the measure (March 9- April 14). The two bishops, who remained of the former opponents of the First Prayer Book, again appeared to vote against the new Bill — viz., Aldrich, of Carlisle, and Thirlby, of Norwich.47 It was finally passed at the close of the Session on April 14, but its operation was not to begin till the All Saints’ Day (November 1) following.48
In Parliament.
When the proposals were scrutinised, it was clear that the opinions of Bucer and Martyr had not been without their effect: many of the suggestions of the former had been adopted, but his conservative views had clearly not found so much favour as his proposals for alteration, and, while some of his worst suggestions were set aside, in other respects the changes made were more radical. These seem to have been dictated by the desire to be rid of such passages in the First Prayer Book as the moderate party — and especially Gardiner49— had fastened upon for their comfort. At the same time, for the sake of appearances, and to bridge over the gulf between the old order and the new, the alterations, important as they are, were said to be adopted only for the sake of rendering the new book ‘fully perfect in all such places in which it was necessary to be made more earnest and fit for the stirring up of all Christian people to the true honouring of Almighty God,’ and with no intention of condemning the doctrines of the former book. And the second Act of Uniformity declared that the First Prayer Book was ‘a very godly order in the mother tongue, agreeable to the Word of God and the primitive Church’; and that such doubts as had been raised in the use and exercise thereof proceeded rather from ‘the curiosity of the minister and mistakers, than of any other worthy cause.’

The Second Prayer Book.

The nature of the changes.


No condemnation intended of the First Prayer Book.



The chief alterations now made were:—

In the Daily Prayer, the introductory Sentences, Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution, were placed at the beginning of the service.

In the Communion Office, the Decalogue was added, and the Kyries adapted to it; the Introit was omitted; and the mixture of water with the wine at the Offertory; the new Canon or long prayer of consecration, beginning with the Prayer for the Universal Church, and ending with the Lord’s Prayer, which had been composed as an amendment upon the ancient Canon in the Roman Liturgy, was divided into three parts, and became the Prayer for the Church Militant, the Prayer of Consecration, and the first alternative Prayer after Communion; at the same time the commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the thanksgiving for the Patriarchs and Prophets, the sign of the cross and the invocation of the Word and the Holy Ghost at the consecration were struck out from it. The order of parts was altered so that communion should immediately follow consecration. At the delivery of the Blessed Sacrament to the communicants, the second clause in each case of our present forms was substituted for the first clause, whereby direct mention was avoided of taking the Body and Blood of Christ.

In Baptism, the exorcism, the anointing, the putting on the chrysom, and the triple repetition of the immersion were omitted; the font was to be filled, and the water to be consecrated, whenever the service was used.

In the Visitation of the Sick the anointing was omitted: the curate was no longer directed to celebrate or to reserve but only vaguely to ‘minister’ the Communion; in the Burial Service, the prayers for the dead, and the special office for the Eucharist at funerals.

The rubric concerning Vestments ordered that neither alb, vestment, nor cope should be used; a bishop should wear a rochet, a priest or deacon only a surplice.

Changes made in 1552.
The chief doctrinal alteration was in reference to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In the book of 1549 the Communion Service had been so constructed as to be consistent with the Catholic belief in the real presence. But the alterations in 1552 were designed to facilitate and foster the view that the prayer of consecration had reference rather to the persons than to the elements, and that the presence of Christ was not in the Sacrament but only in the heart of the believer The pale of Church communion was thus enlarged for the more ultra reformers, and narrowed by the attempt to exclude those who were determined to retain the primitive doctrine apart from mediæval accretions.
Doctrinal change respecting Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.
The interval between the close of Parliament and the date fixed for the use of the new book (November 1) was by no means uneventful. While still in embryo the book was the subject of controversy, and just before it came to the birth, a storm burst which left an ill-starred mark upon it. The extreme party among the reformers had for some time been making a dead set at the practice of kneeling at communion. The crotchety Hooper had shown his non-conforming zeal in this as in other respects, and others had followed his example. The immediate cause of the storm seems to have been the profane recklessness of John Knox, who, though a licensed preacher, had openly set aside the Prayer Book, and, taking advantage of the absence of any direction on the subject, had substituted sitting for kneeling, and common bread for wafer bread in the Communion; he was now not content with infecting the north of England with his irreverence, but, when he came up to London as Royal Chaplain, he preached a violent sermon against the kneeling.50 The Council awoke to the fact that in the forthcoming Prayer Book this practice, which was calling forth so much opposition, was for the first time specifically ordered; and, thereupon beginning to repent, suspended the issue of the book.51 already in print (September 27, 1552), under the pretext that there were printer’s errors which needed alteration, and also wrote to Cranmer, ordering him to reconsider the question. The Archbishop had apparently at last reached the end of his tether. He had been pushed on and on by foreign influence, by Bucer first, and after Bucer’s death by more extreme men from abroad: but he would go no further: in reply, he made a spirited but despairing protest52 against altering what ‘Parliament had settled in deference to glorious and unquiet spirits, which can like nothing but that-is after their own fancy;’ and he showed up both the crudity of the Scriptural argument which was being alleged against the custom, and also the indecency of sitting to receive, but kneeling both immediately before and after reception.

Publication delayed.

While Cranmer was conferring, Knox had a new opportunity of prosecuting his victory. The draft of the Articles of Religion applauded the ceremonies of the new Book, and when the draft was (on October 21) referred to certain censors for their opinion, Knox renewed his attack. On the 27th following — whether in consequence of this or not is not clear — a letter went forth from the Council to the Lord Chancellor ‘to cause to be joined, unto the Book of Common Prayer lately set forth a certain declaration, signed by the King’s Majesty and sent unto his Lordship, touching the kneeling at the receiving of the Communion.’53

More recent scholarship assigns to Cranmer more the role of leader in the 1552 revision, rather than follower, as is implied here.



Thus the Council compromised the matter by the insertion, on the eve of publication54 of the celebrated ‘Black rubric,’ which declared, in explanation of the rubric requiring communicants to kneel at receiving the Holy Sacrament, ‘that it is not meant thereby that any adoration is done, or ought to be done, either unto the sacramental bread or wine there bodily received, or to any real and essential presence there being of Christ’s natural flesh and blood.’

The Black Rubric.

Thus against the Archbishop’s will and without the consent of the Church, English religion reached its low water mark and the ill-starred book of 1552 began its brief career. Ridley officiated at its first use in S. Paul’s on All Saints’ Day; the choir of S. Paul’s was finally devastated,55 the organ silenced, the bishop in bare rochet, and his clergy in bare surplices filled in the details of the picture; and thereafter all communion ceased except on Sundays.56

Fate of the Book.

1 In October, 1550, it was reported to the Council of the service in S. Paul’s, ‘that it was used as the very Mass.’ Council Book, Strype, Memorials, II. i. 237. Bucer made similar complaints; Gorham, Ref. Glean, p. 201. Strype, Mem. II. ii. NN.

2 Indeed, the book could not be used except by applying to it a knowledge of the method of performing the Latin Service. It was assumed that the Priest would know, for example, (i) the old rules for the endings of the Collects, (ii) the old preface for Trinity Sunday and its variations from other prefaces (see below, p. 490), (iii) the rules for the saying or not saying of Gloria in excelsis (see above, p. 65 n.).

3 The sense in which they were willing to accept the Prayer Book may be gathered from Gardiner’s allusions to it in his controversy with Cranmer. For example: It teaches ‘the most true and catholic doctrine of the substance of the Sacrament’ that ‘we receive in the Sacrament the Body of Christ with our mouth’ (Cranmer’s Works on the Lord’s Supper, I. 55). He willingly argues that ‘When the Church by the minister and with the minister prayeth that the creatures of bread and wine set on the altar (as the Book of Common Prayer in this realm hath ordered), may be unto us the body and blood of our Saviour Christ, we require then the, celebration of the same supper which Christ made to His Apostles for to be the continual memory of His death with all fruit and effect, Such as the same had in the first institution’ (Ibid. 83, cp, 79). He approves the book on the point ‘that it is very profitable at that time when the memory of Christ’s death is solemnized to remember with prayer all estates of the Church (Ibid. 84). In conclusion, he declares that ‘the effect of all celestial or worldly gifts to be obtained of God in the celebration of Christ’s Holy Supper when we call it the Communion, is now prayed for to be present, and with God’s favour shall be obtained if we devoutly, reverently, and charitably and quietly use and frequent the same without other innovations than the order of the book prescribeth’ (Ibid.), and that ‘the true faith of the holy mystery. . . in the Book of Common Prayer is well termed, not distant from the Catholic faith in my judgment’ (Ibid. 92).

Return to text

4 Dixon, III: 197.

5 See Hooper’s letter to Bullinger, Dec. 27, 1549, rejoicing over the destruction of the altars, but complaining that ‘the public celebration of the Lord’s Supper is very far from the Order and Institution of our Lord’: complaining also of the repeated celebrations, the vestments and candles, and that ‘the mass priests, although they are compelled to discontinue the use of the Latin language, yet most carefully observe the same tone and manner. of chanting to which they were heretofore accustomed in the papacy.’ Orig. Letters, p. 72.
    Three months later, Hooper spoke of the Prayer Book as ‘very defective and of doubtful construction, and, in some respects, indeed, manifestly impious.’ Ibid. p. 79.
    Calvin wrote a long letter to the Protector on October 22, 1549 (not 1548), urged a more drastic Reformation, and objected especially to the prayer for the dead in the Communion Service, the chrysom and the unction. Next he exhorted Bucer, who was now in England to urge the Protector also ‘that rites which savour at all of superstition be utterly abolished.’ Gorham, Ref. Glean. pp. 66, 115.
    Bucer, in his Censura (1551), complained, echoing the Injunctions (see them above, p. 59): ‘Sunt qui quibuscunque possunt signis nunquam satis execratam .missam suam reprresentare student; et vestibus, luminaribus et inclinationibus, crucibus, abluendo calicem, aliisque missalibus gestibus, halitu supra panem et calicem Eucharistiæ, transferendo librum in mensa de dextra ad sinistram mensæ partem, mensam in eadem ponendo loco quo stabat altare, ostendendo panem et calicem Eucharistiæ, adorantibus illa vetulis aliisque superstitiosis hominibus, qui sacramentis tamen non communicant.’ Scripta Anglicana (Basel, 1577) pp. 493, 494· Cp. pp. 465, 472.

6 See his Sermon IV upon Jonas. Early Writings, p. 488. .

7 Orig. Letters, p. 79.

8 King Edward’s Journal (in Burnet, Hist.). ‘June 23, Sir John Gates, Sheriff of Essex, went down with letters to see the Bishop of London’s injunctions performed, which touched plucking down of superaltaries, altars, and such like ceremonies and abuses.’ See Greyfriars Chron. p, 67-69, Wriothesley, Chronicle, ii. 47, for details of the changes at S. Paul’s in 1550 and 1551.

9 Instructions for the Survey of Church goods in Northamptonshire, 1552. ‘ . . . . in many places great quantity of the said plate, jewels, bells, and ornaments be embezzled by certain private men.’ Cardwell, Doc. Ann. XXVII.

10 Doc. Ann. XXIV. cp. Gorham, p. 213.

11 For the course of the Altar war, see Dixon, III. 199 and ff.

Return to text

12 See above p. 61.

13 Orig. Letters, p. 573 (October 20, 1550).

14 Orig. Letters, CXXIV. Foxe gives a quaint description of this scene. Acts and Mon. VI. 641.

15 See Dixon, III. 213-220, 254-256.

16 Two others who deserve special mention as compilers .of services at this date were John à Lasco, who became pastor of the foreign congregations in London, and Valerandus Pollanus• who fled to England from Strasburg with a number of his French and flemish followers, and was established at Glastonbury. These foreign congregations were allowed the exercise of their own forms of worship under Cranmer’s protection, in spite of the protest of Ridley and other bishops. See Orig. Letters CCLXIII. and Additional Note, p. 86.

17 Dixon, III. 66.

18 Dixon, II. 522.

19 Ibid. III. 119.

Return to text

20 Dixon, II. 281 n, and see above p.62.

21 ‘The cause of religion as far as appertains to the establishment of doctrines and the definition of rites, is pretty near what could be wished. Efforts must now be made to obtain suitable ministers . . . for . . . the pastors of the Churches have hitherto confined their duties chiefly to ceremonies, and have very rarely preached and never catechised. . . . As soon as the description of the ceremonies now in use shall have been translated into Latin we will send it to you. We hear that some concessions have been made, both to a respect for antiquity and to the infirmity of the present age: such for instance as the vestments commonly used in the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the use of candles: so also in regard to the commemoration of the dead and the use of chrism: for we know not to what extent or in what sort it prevails. They affirm that there is no superstition in these things, and that they are only to be retained for a time, lest the people, not having yet learned Christ, should be deterred by too extensive innovations from embracing His religion, but that rather they may be won over. This circumstance, however, greatly refreshed us, that all the Services are read and sung in the vernacular tongue, that the doctrine of justification is purely and soundly taught, and the Eucharist administered according to Christ’s ordinance, private masses having been abolished.’ Orig. Letters, CCXLVIII. p. 535. April 26, 1549.

22 ‘Equidem cum primum in hoc regnum venissem, quæ publice dogmata quique ritus in ecclesia essent recepti: videremque eo, num meum possem ministerium his solido consensu adjungere, librum istum sacrorum per interpretem, quantum potui, cognovi diligenter; quo facto egi gratias Deo, qui dedisset vos has ceremonias eo puritatis reformare; nee enim quicquam in illis deprehendi, quod non sit ex verba Dei desumptum, aut saltem ei non adversetur commode acceptum. Nam non desunt paucula quædam, quæ si quis non candide interpretetur, videri queant non satis cum verbo Dei congruere.’ Buceri Prologus in Censuram (Scripta Angl., p. 456.) .

23 ‘Censura Martini Buceri super libro Sacrorum, seu ordinationis ecclesiæ atque ministerii ecclesiastici in Regno Angliæ, ad petitionem R. Archiepiscopi Cantuariensis, Thomæ Cranmeri, conscripta.’ Inter Buceri Scripta Anglicana, fol. Basil. 1577.

24 ‘De hac quantas possum ago gratias Deo, qui dedit eam tam puram, tamque religiose ad verbum Dei exactam, maxime illo jam tempore quo hoc factum est, constitui. Perpaucis enim verbis et signis exceptis nihil omnino in ea conspicio, quod non ex divinis depromptum Scripturis sit; si modo omnia populis Christi digna religione exhiberentur atque explicarentur.’ Ibid. p. 465.

25 Dimidiatam missam dicere vestibus omnino missalibus.’ Ibid. p. 459·

26 ‘Non quod credam in ipsis quicquam esse impii per se, ut pii homines illis non possint pie uti.’ Ibid. p. 458.

Return to text

27 ‘Nonnulli eam sibi fingunt superstitionem, ut existiment nephas esse, si quid ex pane et vino communicationis ea peracta supersit, pati id in usum venire vulgarem; quasi pani huic et vino insit per se aliquid numinis aut sancti etiam extra communication is usum.’ Ibid. p. 464. This view was propounded only to be emphatically rejected.

28 ‘Cumque nec ad matutinas nee ad vespertinas preces solet ecclesia coire præstaret sane baptisma adrninistrare statim a sacra concione cum frequentissima adhuc est ecclesia, priusquam sacræ cœnæ administratio incipiatur.’ Ibid. p. 477. The substitution of Morning Prayer for the Lord’s Service had clearly not yet begun.

Return to text

29 ‘Item quibus visitatio Mariæ matris Domini, natalis Johannis, et divi Petri atque Pauli, Martyrum, Angelorumque peragitur memoria.’ Bucer, Censura, p. 494.

30 ‘In quo singulæ Catechismi partes, Symbolum quod vocant Apostolorum, decem præcepta, Oratio Dominica, institutio Baptismatis, Cœnæ, ministerii ecclesiastici, disciplinæ pœnitentialis, sic explicentur, ut populus in horum explanatione locos onnes re1igionis . . . . valeat perdiscere.’ Ibid. p. 501.

31 Cf. Dixon, II. 281-293. Collier, Eccl. Hist. V. pp. 387 sqq.

32 Strype, Cranmer, App. LXI. Verba cenæ magis ad homines quam aut ad panem aut ad vinum pertinere.’

33 ‘Conclusum jam est in hoc eorum colloquio, quemadmodum mihi retulit reverendissimus, ut multa immutentur. Sed quæenam illa sint, quæ consenserint emendanda, neque ipse mihi exposuit, neque ego de illo quærere ausus sum. Verum hoc non me parum recreat, quod mihi D. Checus indicavit: Si noluerint ipsi, ait, efficere ut quæ mutanda sint mutentur, rex per seipsum id faciet; et cum ad parliamentum ventum fuerit, ipse suæ majestatis authoritatem interponet.’ Peter Martyr, Letter to Bucer; Strype, Cranmer, App. LXI. (Jan. 10, 1551). Gorham, p. 227.

Return to text

34 Orig. Letters, 426, John ab Ulmis to Bullinger (Dec. 31, 1550).
    This illustrates their rigid attitude towards Hooper. See p. 70.

35 Martyr to Bucer (Feb. 1551). Gorham, p. 232.

36 See below, p. 84.

37 Orig. Letters, 500; Martyr to Bullinger (Oct. 26, 1551).

38 Several commissions were issued, and their meetings are alluded to in letters of the time in a misleading way as convocatio, See Orig. Letters, 444, and also 314, which must be of the same date, cp. 447, 503, 580, 889. See Dixon, III. 351, for the history of this project.

39 Nov. 25. Sir John Cheke, Home dean of Durham, Whitehead, and Grindal, with Feckenham and Young on the popish side, met at the house of Sir Wm. Cecyl, Secretary of State. Cheke propounded this question: ‘Quis esset verus et germanus sensus verborum cœnæ, Hoc est corpus meum? Num quem verba sensu grammatico accepta præ se ferebant, an aliud quiddam?’ A second disputation upon the same question was held on Dec. 3rd. Strype, Cranmer, II. 26.

40 See Gasquet and Bishop,. 286. Their view seems far more probable than Dixon’s (III. 249).

41 Dixon, II. 520; III. 163, 220.

42 Dixon, III. 132 and ff.

43 Dixon, III. 320.

Return to text

44 This was probably connected with the Act about fasts and Holy days passed by this parliament. Dixon, III. 436.

45 ‘The first debate among the prelates was of such doubts as had arisen about some things contained in the Book of Common Prayer, and more particularly touching such feasts as were retained and such as had been abrogated by the rules thereof: the form of words used at the giving of the bread, and the different manner of administering the Holy Sacrament; which being signified unto the Prolocutor and the rest of the clergy who had received somewhat in charge about it the day he fore, answer was made that they had not yet sufficiently considered of the points proposed; but that they would give their lordships some account thereof in the following Session.’ Heylyn, Hist., 5 Edw, § 15, but ascribed to 1550-1551. Cp. p. 79 for this Convocation.

46 In the Convocation of October, 1553, Weston, the Prolocutor, expressly congratulated the Convocation that the Prayer Book had not had its sanction. Dixon, IV. 73.

47 At its opening session, parliament was occupied with a Bill designed simply to enforce more rigidly the frequenting of the services of the first Prayer Book: this subsequently coalesced with the new Bill for the revised Prayer Book, and became the second Act of Uniformity. Dixon, III. 431 and ff.

48 The Act is in Gee and Hardy’s Documents, no. LXXI.

49 In his controversy with Cranmer. See above, p, 67, note.

Return to text

50 Orig. Letters, 591. Utenhovius to Bullinger, Oct. 12, 1552.

51 ‘A letter to Grafton the printer to stay in any wise from uttering any of the books of the new service. And if he have distributed any of them among his company (of stationers), that then to give strait commandment to every of them not to put any of them abroad until certain faults corrected.’ Council Book, Sept. 26. Dixon, III. 476.

Return to text

52 After promising to see to the correction of printer’s errors, he continued: ‘And Where I understand further by your Lordship’s letters that some be offended with kneeling at the time of the receiving of the Sacrament, and would that I (calling to me the Bishop of London and some other learned men, as Mr. Peter Martyr or such like) should with them expend and weigh the said prescription of kneeling, whether it be fit to remain as a commandment or to be left out of the book: I shall accomplish the King’s Majesty’s commandment herein, albeit I trust that we with just balance weighed this at the making of the book, and not only we, but a great many Bishops and others of the best learned within this realm appointed for that purpose. And now the book being read and approved by the whole State of the realm in the High Court of Parliament with the King’s Majesty his royal assent that this should now be altered again without parliament, of what importance this matter is I refer to your Lordship’s wisdom to consider.’
    The whole letter is in Blunt, Annotated B. C. P. (London, 1888), p. 21, and Tomlinson, p. 256.

53 Council Book, Oct. 27, in Dixon, III. 483.

54 From the fact that there was only three days’ interval, it is not surprising that in many copies the addition was only pasted in on a fly sheet, while in others it was never inserted at all. Parker, Introduction, xxxii-xxxvi. Some illustrations of this may be seen here at the bottom of the page.

55 This had already been almost completely done by anticipation a week previously, and the organ had been silenced a month since. Greyfriars Chronicle, 75.

56 Greyfriars Chronicle, 76. (Cp. Wriothesiey’s Chronicle, II. 78, 79.

Return to text



MENTION has been made of Calvin, and of Bucer and Martyr, the distinguished foreigners who, having taken refuge in England, had some influence on the course of events here. Two others deserve further notice.

The first of these is Valerand Pullain (Valerandus Pollanus) a Fleming by birth. He had succeeded Calvin in the pastorship of the Church of Strangers at Strasburg, but by reason of the publication of the Interim (1548), he was obliged to flee from that city with his congregation. These people were chiefly weavers of worsted; and on their arrival in England the Duke of Somerset gave them a home in the abbey buildings at Glastonbury, and provided them with the means of carrying on their manufacture.1 In February 1551, Pullain published their Order of Service in Latin,2 with a dedication to King Edward, to defend his people from those who slandered them for their change of religion and for licentiousness.3 This book has been supposed to have furnished hints to the revisers of the Book of Common Prayer in some additions which were made in 1552 to the ancient services. The introductory Sentences, with the Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution, which were then placed at the beginning of the Morning and Evening Prayer, and the Ten Commandments with the Responses, especially the last, subjoined to them, which were at the same time introduced at the beginning of the Communion Service, are supposed to be due in some degree to this publication of Pollanus. The following is the passage referred to, being the commencement of the Sunday Service :—




The Strasburg Liturgy

’Die dominico mane hora’ octava, cum jam adest populus Pastore accedente Choraules incipit dara voce, Leve le cueur, ac populus accinit cum modestia et gravitate summa, ut ne quid voluptati aurium, sed serviant omnia reverentiæ Dei, et ædificationi tam canentium, quam audientium, si qui fortasse adsint non canentes.
    Cum absolverint primam tabulam, tum pastor mensæ astans versus ad populum sic incipit: Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini, qui fecit cœlum et terram. Amen. Deinde dara et distincta voce populum admonet de confessione peccatorum, hisque verbis præit :
    Fratres, cogitet nunc vestrum unusquisque se coram Deo sisti, ut peccata et delicta sua omnia simplici animo confiteatur et agnoscat, atque apud vosmetipsos me præeuntem sequimini his verbis.


’Est decalogus rithmo redditus’

Domine Deus, Pater æterne et omnipotens, agnoscimus et fatemur ingenue apud sanctissimam Majestatem tuam, peccatores esse nos miseros, adeoque a prima origine, qua concepti et nati sumus, tam ad omne malum esse pronos, quam ab omni bono alienos; quo vitio tuas leges sanctissimas assidue transgredimur, eoque nobis exitium justissimo tuo judicio conquirimus. Attamen, Domine Deus, pœnitet sic offendisse bonitatem tuam, proindeque nos et facta nostra omnia nimium scelerata damnamus, orantes ut tu pro tua dementia huic nostræ calamitati succurras. Miserere igitur nostri omnium, O Deus et Pater clementissime ac misericors, per nomen filii tui Jesu Christi Domini nostri te obtestamur; ac deletis vitiis, ablutisque sordibus cunctis, largire atque adauge indies Spiritus tui sancti vim et dona in nobis, quo vere et serio nostram miseriam intelligentes, nostramque injustitiam agnoscentes, veram pœnitentiam agamus: qua mortui peccato deinceps abundemus fructibus justitiæ ac innocentiæ, quibus tibi placeamus per Jesum Christum filium tuum unicum redemptorem ac mediatorem nostrum. Amen.


’Confessio Peccatorum:’

repeated after the Minister.

Hic pastor ex scriptura sacra sententiam aliquam remissionis peccatorum populo recitat, in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Ac toto hoc tempore populus magna cum reverentia vel astat, vel procumbit in genua, utut animus cujusque tulerit.
    Demum pronuntiato Evangelio hoc remissionis peccatorum a pastore, rursum populus præeunte Choraule totum decalogum absolvit, tum pastor ad orandum hortatus Ecclesiam his verbis ipse præit.



    Dominus adsit nobis, ut Deum oremus unanimes :
    Domine Deus, Pater misericors, qui hoc de ea logo per servum tuum Mosen nos Legis tuæ justitiam docuisti; dignare cordibus nostris eam ita tuo spiritu inscribere, ut nequicquam deinceps in vita magis optemus, aut velimus, quam tibi obedientia consummatissima placere in omnibus, per Jesum Christum filium tuum. Amen.
    Hic Ecclesia eandem orationem verbis prope iisgem Choraule præeunte succinit.
    Interea pastor suggestum conscendir ad concionandum. . .’

There follow the reading of Scripture, exposition and an hour’s sermon, a collection, a long prayer for various needs and persons, and the service ends with creed, psalm, and blessing.

It will be seen from this extract that this service of Pollanus, which has a strong family likeness to others of the Genevan type,4 may have furnished the hint, that the decalogue should be repeated in the public service, and suggested some phrases in the English, additions of 1552.5 But in the English book the Commandments were to be plainly recited in the hearing of the people, instead of being sung by them in metre; and they were appointed to be said not in the Morning Prayer, but at the commencement of the Communion, or principal service. The words, ‘dignare cordibus nostris eam ita tuo spiritu inscribere’ contain the subject of the petition which was placed as the concluding response after the Commandments, ‘write all these thy laws in our hearts.’ Comparing this extract with the commencement of our Daily Prayer, we must observe that there is not one strictly parallel sentence, and Pollanus gives no form of Absolution at all. All that can be, alleged respecting the opening portion of our service is, that the hint may have been taken from two books of service used by congregations of refugees in England, which were published about this time: the one being the version of Calvin’s form, by Pollanus; and the other, that used by the Walloons under John Laski, or à Lasco.


The Prayer after the Commandments.

This truly influential person was a Polish ecclesiastic of noble birth, who left his country and his honours (1538) and became one of the extremest German reformers and Pastor at Emden in East Frisia. His first visit to England was in the autumn of 1548, when he resided six months with Cranmer. The introduction of the Interim into Friesland compelled him to seek a shelter in England in 1550.6 He was soon after appointed superintendent of the congregations of foreign Protestants, German and French, in London, who were incorporated by a royal charter7 and installed in the church of the Austin Friars,8 with permission to use their own ceremonies.9 He published in Latin the service used by his Church.10 His friendly intercourse with Cranmer would naturally lead to an inquiry as to the form of his worship; and that, not only with a reference to the English Service-book then under review, but that the English Government might know to what they were giving shelter and sanction. In this book there is a recitation of the commandments followed by a form of Confession and of Absolution, in which some phrases resemble the corresponding portions which were added to the second Book of Edward VI. The following are from the Confession :—

Superintendent of the foreign Protestant congregations in London.

His form of Service


contains a form of Confession and Absolution.


’. . . Neque amplius velis mortem peccatoris, sed potius ut convertatur et vivat ... opem tuam divinam per meritum Filii tui dilecti supplices imploramus ... nobisque dones Spiritum Sanctum tuum . . . ut lex tua sancta illi [cordi] insculpi ac per nos demum ... tota vita nostra exprimi ejus beneficio possit.’11

The Absolution follows thus :-

’Habemus certam et indubitatam promissionem . . . quod omnibus vere poenitentibus (qui videlicet agnitis peccatis suis cum sui accusatione gratiam ipsius per nomen Christi Domini implorant) omnia ipsorum peccata prorsus condonet at que aboleat . . . omnibus, inquam, vobis qui ita affecti estis denuncio, fiducia promissionum Christi, vestra peccata omnia in cœlo a Deo Patre nostro modis plane omnibus remissa esse.

Hooper mentions à-Lasco as alone standing on his side of all the foreigners who had any influence.12 He was named among the thirty-two commissioners to frame ecclesiastical laws.13 When the change came and England was no longer a congenial sphere, he returned to work on the Continent and left England, September 15, 1553.14


It has proved very easy to over-estimate influence of foreign reformed services upon the English Rites. Apart from the Consultation and the Lutheran Litany, where the indebtedness is evident, and in the former case traceable to a widely current English version of that document, the parallelisms are vague. The above extracts show this to be so even in the case of documents which must have been well-known in England. Jacobs15 from the Lutheran standpoint and Gasquet from the Roman Catholic standpoint have multiplied references to many of the countless host of German Kirchen-Ordnungen published between 1523 and 1552 : but most of the similarities are slight and such as naturally occur in documents as similar as these are in purpose and origin. The family likeness, such as it is, is collateral, not lineal.

Lutheran Kirchen-Ordnungen.

1 Strype, Cranmer, II. 23.

2 ‘Liturgia Sacra, seu Ritus Ministerii in ecclesia peregrinorum profugorum propter Evangelium Christi Argentinæ. Adjecta est ad finem brevis Apologia pro hac Liturgia, per Valerandum Pollanum Flandrum. Lond. 23 Februar. Ann. 1551.’

3 Strype, Eccles. Mem. II., ch, xxix. p. 242.

Return to text

4 Cp. The forme of Common Prayer used in the churches of Geneva . . . printed by Whitchurche, June 7, 1550.

5 The Edwardine Injunctions of 1547 had ordered that they should be taught to the people in English after the reading of the Gospel with the Lord’s Prayer and Creed. Doc. Ann. II. p. 7.

6 Orig. Letters, p. 560, Micronius to Bullinger (May 20, 1550), p. 483; Martyr to Bullinger (June 1, 1550). He was appointed superintendent by King Edward, on the 24th of July; ibid. note. Dixon, III. 231, 424.

7 Collier, Record, LXV. Burnet, V. 305 (Pt. II. i. 202). Orig. Letters, 567, Micronius to Bullinger (Aug. 28, 1550).

8 Now the Dutch church in Austin Friars, E. C.

9 This was for some time limited: or an account of the services see Orig. Letters, 575, Micronius to Bullinger, Aug. 14, 1551. cp. 568, 570; 577. The Italians were also under Laski as superintendent. Dixon, III. 425.

10 ‘Forma ac ratio tota ecclesiastici ministerii, in peregrinorum, potissimum vero Germanorum, ecclesia; instituta Londini in Anglia per Edvardum Sextum,’ Sine loco et anno, Other editions appeared in German, French, Dutch and Italian. Brit. Mus. Catalogue, II. 983.

11 Forma ac ratio, pp. 69-71. Cardwell, Two Prayer Books of Ed. VI. compared. Pref. p. xxxii, note.

12 Orig. Letters, p. 95. Hooper to Bullinger (Aug. 1, 1551).

13 Orig. Letters, p. 503, Martyr to Bullinger (March 8, 1552).

14 Ibid. p. 512. See further Hardwick, Reformation, (London, 1886) pp 70,82 and ff. Dict. Nat. Biog., an for his early life, Dalton, John a-Lasco.

15 The Lutheran Movement in England, pp. 218 & ff.

Return to text


Next Chapter
Return to the A New History of the Book of Common Prayer

Web author: Charles Wohlers U. S. EnglandScotlandIrelandWalesCanadaWorld