The Book of Common Prayer
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    A New History of
The Book of Common Prayer





Previous chapter

SINCE the year 1662, the Book of Common Prayer has remained in the state to which it was then brought; attempts have been. made to introduce changes in its language, and certain liberties have, been allowed, and minor subsidiary points altered, but otherwise it remains still the same as it was then. Some however of the unsuccessful attempts at change deserve notice.

Attempted Revision in the Reign of Willam III.
In 1668, Tillotson and Stillingfleet united with Bates, Manton, and, Baxter, in preparing the terms in which a Bill for the Comprehension of Dissenters might be proposed to Parliament, upon the model of the King’s Declaration from Breda. But although recommended in the speech from the throne, the Commons utterly refused the project.1 In 1673, and again in 1675, motions were made for the relief of Dissenters; and then Tillotson declined to make further efforts, which would be a prejudice to himself, and could not effect the object desired.2 These efforts were, however, continued by Stillingfleet, afterwards Bishop of Worcester, who, in 1681, proposed to allow an alteration, or freedom of choice in such particulars as the surplice, the sign of the cross and sponsors in Baptism, kneeling at Communion, Apocryphal lessons, and to sanction subscription to thirty-six only of the Articles. But the temper of the times would not allow the Dissenters to accept these condescensions:3 in the latter years of Charles II. and throughout the short reign of James II. even toleration was suspected, not indeed without reason, of bringing with it an equal toleration of popery.
Proposals of Bishop Stillingfleet.
The declaration issued by William, Prince of Orange, promised ‘to endeavour a good agreement between the Church of England and Protestant Dissenters’;4 a proposal, however, for the comprehension of Dissenters was rejected, although toleration was allowed; and finding that ecclesiastical questions were under discussion, while the King had not yet summoned the Convocation, both Houses of Parliament concurred in an address (April 16), praying that, ‘according to ancient practice and usage of the kingdom, his Majesty would be graciously pleased to issue forth his writs, as soon as conveniently might be, for calling a Convocation of the Clergy to be advised with in ecclesiastical matters.’5

The Declaration of William III. favourable to the Presbyterians.

Parliament desire the summoning of Convocation.

Arrangements were made for the meeting of Convocation by a commission issued (September 17, 1689) to ten bishops and twenty divines,6 to ‘prepare such alterations of the Liturgy and Canons and such proposals for the reformation of ecclesiastical courts, and to consider of such other matters as in your judgment may most conduce to’ ‘the good order, and edification, and unity of the Church of England,’ and to ‘the reconciling as much as is possible of all differences.’ On the same day, Tillotson drew up a paper of ‘Concessions which would probably be made by the Church of England for the union of Protestants.’7 The Commissioners began their labours on the 3rd of October,8 having before them all the objections and demands which had at various times been offered by opponents of the Prayer Book;9 and they prepared an elaborate series of alterations, foredoomed to failure, of which the following is a summary.10

Alterations Proposed in 1689.

Commission to revise the Prayer Book.

The direction to say the Daily Prayer is thus altered11:— ‘And all priests and deacons that have cure of souls shall exhort the people of their congregations to come frequently to prayers on week-days, especially in the great towns, and more particularly on Wednesdays and Fridays, at least for the reading of the Litany: and where a congregation can be brought together, the ministers shall give their attendance for saying of Morning and Evening Prayer.’

The word Priest is altered to ‘Minister,’ and Sunday to ‘Lord’s-day.’

Alterations proposed by the Commissioners.
The Apocryphal Lessons in the Kalendar of Saints’ days are altered to chapters chiefly from Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. The names of Saints, which have not a proper service, and the Table of Vigils, &c., are struck out.
The Kalendar.
‘Whereas the surplice is appointed to be used by all ministers in performing Divine offices, it is hereby declared, that it is continued only as being an ancient and decent habit. But yet if any minister ‘shall come and declare to his bishop that he cannot satisfy his conscience in the use of the surplice in Divine Service, in that case the bishop shall dispense with his not using it, and if he shall see cause for it, he shall appoint a curate to officiate in a surplice.’
Ornaments of the Church and of the Ministers.
An additional versicle and response is inserted:— ‘Enlighten our minds, O Lord: that we may understand the great things of thy law.’

The 148th Psalm is substituted for Benedicite. The 100th Psalm is placed before Benedictus.

In the versicles after the Creed, the response, Because there is none other that fighteth for us, &c., is altered:— ‘That we may serve thee without fear all the days of our lives.’

In the Prayer for the Queen, the words most gracious are omitted; and after heavenly gifts is added,— ‘ direct all their counsels to thy honour and glory: Bless all their righteous undertakings.’

The Canticles.
It appears to be intended to substitute ‘Ps. 8’ for Magnificat, and ‘Ps. 134’ for Nunc dimittis. The Doxology is also added to the Lord’s Prayer throughout the book.
A note is added to the rubric before the Athanasian Creed:— ‘The articles of which ought to be received and believed, as being agreeable to the Holy Scriptures. And the condemning clauses are to be understood as relating only to those who obstinately deny the substance of the Christian faith.’
The Athanasian Creed.
Additional suffrages inserted in the Litany:— ‘From all infidelity and error, from all impiety and profaneness, from all superstition; and idolatry.’ ‘From drunkenness and gluttony, from sloth and misspending of our time, from fornication, adultery, and all uncleanness.’ ‘From lying and slandering, from vain swearing, cursing, and perjury, from’ covetousness, oppression, and all injustice.’12 Sudden death is altered — ‘dying suddenly and unprepared;’ The coming of the Holy Ghost is altered:— ‘By thy sending of the Holy Ghost, and by thy continual intercession a the right hand of God.’ ‘That it may please Thee to take their Majesties’ forces by sea and land into thy most gracious protection; and to make them victorious over all our enemies.’ ‘That it may please Thee to incline and enable us to pray alway with fervent affection, in everything to give thanks, to depend upon Thee, and trust-in Thee, to delight ourselves in Thee, and cheerfully to resign ourselves to thy holy will and pleasure.’ ‘That it may please Thee to endue us with the graces of humility and meekness, of contentedness and patience, of true justice, of temperance and purity of peaceableness and charity.’ ‘That it may please thee to show thy pity upon all prisoners and captives, upon all that are persecuted for truth and righteousness’ sake, upon all that are in affliction.’
The Litany.

It is proposed to omit the Lord’s Prayer, when there is a Communion. The Gioria Patri is struck out.

After the Prayer, ‘We humbly beseech Thee, &c.,’ the following addition is made: ‘Then the Minister continuing in his place shall use the Collect, Almighty God, to whom all hearts, &c. Then shall the Minister rehearse distinctly the Ten Commandments . . . or sometimes the eight Beatitudes, especially on Communion days. See the Communion Service. Then shall follow the Collect for the day. Then the Epistle and Gospel. Then (if there be no Communion) the Nicene Creed. Then the General Thanksgiving, &c. The Prayer commonly called S. Chrysostom’s. 2 Cor. xiii. 14. The grace, &c. Then the Minister shall declare unto the people what Holydays or Fasting Days . . . (Rubr, after Nicene Creed) . . . enjoined by the King, or by the ordinary of the place, not being contrary to the laws of this Realm.13 The Singing Psalm, Query of what translation? Q. Q. Whether the Minister may not here be directed to use in the pulpit before Sermon the Prayer for the whole state of Christ’s Church, &c., accommodated to the purpose; or some such other prayer? Note, that when there is no Communion at all, this shall be read in the same place with the rest of the service.’

The Conclusion of the Litany.
Additional Prayers:— ‘A Preparatory Prayer for the receiving of the Communion, to be read on the Lord’s-day, or some week-day or days before.’ ‘A Prayer to be said in any time of calamity. Q. Of Prayers for the Army and Navy.? Rubr. Whereas the Apostles did use prayer and fasting before they ordained, and it has been the practice of the Church to enjoin fasts in the four weeks of the year commonly called Ember-weeks before the Lord’s-days appointed for Ordination, to implore the blessings of God upon them that are to ordain, and upon those that are to be ordained: it is, therefore, earnestly recommended to all persons to spend some part of those days in prayer to God for his blessing on the Church, and on all that are to be sent out to officiate in it. And it is most solemnly charged on all that are concerned in Ordinations, chiefly on the persons that are to be ordained, to spend those days in fervent prayer, and fasting, for the due preparing of themselves to be initiated into Holy Orders. This rubric to be read immediately after the Apostles’ Creed, on the Lord’s-day next before any of the Ember-weeks.’

Occasional Prayers.

Rubric before the Prayer in the Ember-weeks.

The revision of the Collects is most extensive,14 scarcely one remaining without some change, and an entirely new Collect being proposed in by far the greater number of cases. The general feature in these alterations is the lengthening of the Collect by the introduction of phrases from the Epistle and Gospel, such as abound in the devotional writings of the Nonconformists: e.g. the following is the first Collect for Good Friday:— ‘Almighty God, the Father of mercies, we beseech thee graciously to hear the prayers of thy Church, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was content to be betrayed and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross: and according to that new covenant which he sealed there with his precious blood, put thy laws into all our hearts, and write them in our minds; and then remember our sins and iniquities no more; for the sake of him who, when he had offered one sacrifice for sin, for ever sat down on thy right hand, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.’ The following addition is made to the Collect for the second Sunday after Trinity:- ‘and give us grace to fear and love thee above all things; and to have bowels of compassion towards all our brethren, that so we may have confidence towards thee, and whatsoever we ask we may receive of thee, through Jesus our Lord.’ And the following is substituted for the ancient Collect for the Sunday next before Advent:— ‘O eternal God, who art faithful and true, and according to thy gracious promises hast raised up a glorious deliverer to us, who is the Lord our Righteousness; we beseech thee to stir up the wills of thy faithful people, that bringing forth plenteously the fruit of good works, they may be a people prepared for the Lord; and we pray thee, hasten his kingdom when he shall reign and prosper, find execute judgment and justice in all the earth. Grant this for thy infinite mercies’ sake in Jesus Christ, to whom with thee, O Father, and the Holy Ghost, be eternal praise.’
The Collects

Rubr. ‘See the Commination. A Sermon or Homily then to be used. Whereas the observation of the fast of Lent is an ancient and useful custom, designed for the bringing. of all Christians to serious examination of their lives past: to repent of their sins, and to fit themselves for the worthy receiving of the Communion at Easter: It is most earnestly recommended to all persons, but more particularly to all Churchmen, to observe that time religiously, not placing fasting or devotion in any distinction of meats, but spending larger portions of their time in prayer, meditation, and true abstinence, and in works of charity, forbearing feasting an entertainments.’

This is to be read the Lord’s-day before Ash- Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday.
The proper Anthems for Easier-day are arranged as Versices and Responses:— ‘Minister. Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore, &c. People. Not with the old leaven, &c. Minister. Christ being raised from the dead, &c. People. For in that died, &c. Minister. Likewise reckon ye also, &c. People. But alive unto God, &c. Minister. Christ is risen from the dead, &c. People. For since by man came death, &c. Minister. For as in Adam all die, &c. People. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died. Minster. Yea, rather that is risen again. People. Who is even at the right hand of God; who also maketh intercession for us.’
Easter Anthems.
The fifth Sunday after Easter is called Rogation Sunday, and has a new Collect:— ‘Almighty God, who has blessed the earth that it should be fruitful and bring forth everything that is necessary for the life of man, and hast commanded us to work with quietness and eat our own bread; bless us in all our labours, and grant us such seasonable weather that we may gather in the fruits of the earth, and ever rejoice in thy goodness, to the praise of thy holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ ‘Deut. xxviii. 1-9’ is appointed ‘For the Epistle,’ and ‘S. Matt. vi. 25 to the end’ is ‘The Gospel.’
Rogation Sunday.
Rubr. ‘When there is no Communion, there is not to be any Communion-service. The Minister that consecrates ought always to be an Archbishop, Bishop, or Presbyter.’
The eight Beatitudes may be read after or instead of the Ten Commandments, upon the great Festivals, the people kneeling, and responding after each,15 ‘Lord, have mercy upon us, and make us partakers of this blessing’; and after the last, ‘Lord have mercy upon us, and endue us with all these graces, and make us partakers of the blessedness promised to them, we humbly beseech thee.’
The Beatitudes
Note to the clause in the Nicene Creed,— ‘Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son’; ‘It is humbly submitted to the Convocation whether a note ought not here to be added with relation to the Greek Church, in order to our maintaining Catholic communion.’
The Creed.

The sentences from the Apocrypha are omitted; and a rubric prefixed to four sentences.16 directing them ‘to be read only in those churches where the custom is that the minister has any share of the offerings.’

It is proposed to make a shorter form of warning, ‘seeing in many parishes the returns of monthly communions are commonly known.’

The Sentences.
Instead of the reference to Judas,— ‘lest by profaning that holy Sacrament you draw down the heavy displeasure of God upon you’; and instead of the mention of private absolution,— ‘let him come to me, or to some other minister of God’s word, and open his grief, that he may receive such spiritual advice and comfort as may tend to the quieting of his conscience, and his better preparation for the holy Communion.’
First Exhortation.
A new Preface is added for Good Friday:— ‘Who hast not spared, thine own Son, but delivered him up for us all, that by making himself a sacrifice for our sins he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people zealous of good works. Therefore with angels, &c.’
Proper Preface.
In the Prayer in the name of the Communicants:— ‘that our souls and bodies may be washed and cleansed by the sacrifice of his most precious Body and Blood . . . .’
Prayer of Humble Access.
Form for a second consecration:— ‘O merciful Father, hear the prayers of thy Church, that have now been made unto thee in the name of thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who, the same night that he was betrayed, took bread, — or the cup, &c.’
Second Consecration.

The clause,— ‘For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord,’ — is altered:— ‘For thou only art the holy One of God; thou only art the eternal Son of God.’

Additional Collects to be said ‘when there is no Communion’:— our present Collects for the 5th, 12th, 16th, 17th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd Sundays after Trinity.

Gloria in excelsis.

Rubric at the end of the Office:— ‘And in every great town or parish there shall be a Communion once a month; and in every parish at least four times in the year, that is, on Christmas-day, Easter-day, Whitsun-day, and some Lord’s-day soon after harvest, at the ministers discretion. And all ministers shall exhort their people to communicate frequently.

Addition to the declaration about kneeling:— ‘But to take away all pretence of scruple, if any, not being satisfied herewith, shall, some day in the week before they intend to receive the holy Communion, come to the minister of their parish, and declare that they are verily persuaded in conscience that they cannot receive it kneeling without sin; then+the minister shall endeavour to give them satisfaction in this matter; after which, if they still press it, then the minister shall give them the sacramental bread and wine in some convenient place or pew without obliging them to kneel.’


‘None are to be sureties but such as either have received the Communion, or are ready to do it.
‘Whereas it is appointed by this Office that all children shall be presented by Godfathers and Godmothers to be baptized; which is still continued according to the ancient custom of the Church, that so, besides the obligation that lies on the parents to breed up them children in the Christian religion, there may be likewise other sureties to see that the parents do their duty, and to look to the Christian education Of the persons baptized, in case of the default or death of the parents: yet there being some. difficulties in observing this good and useful constitution, it is hereby provided, that if any person comes to the minister and tells him he cannot conveniently procure Godfathers and Godmothers for his child, and that he desires his child may be baptized upon the engagement of the parent or parents only; in that case, the minister, after discourse with him, if he persists, shall be obliged to baptize such child or children, upon the suretiship of the parent or parents, or some other near relation or friends.’


Parents may be Sponsors

‘Almighty and . . . and after the baptism of thy well-beloved Son Jesus Christ, in the river Jordan, didst appoint water to be used in this Sacrament for the mystical washing . . . ark of Christ’s Church; and persevering in faith, hope, and charity, may so pass through this present evil world, that finally he may come to everlasting life, through . . . .’
First Prayer.
‘ . . . . may be regenerated, and receive remission of sin, . . .’ Inserted before the address to the sponsors:— ‘Then shall the Minister, speaking to the congregation, ask,’ ‘Who are the sureties for this child? Then may the parent or parents present their sureties, if there be any other besides themselves.’

Second Prayer.

The Sureties.

‘He shall pour or sprinkle water upon it; or (if they shall certify him that the child may well endure it) he shall dip it in the water discreetly and warily, saying, &c.
Manner of Baptizing.

‘Whereas the sign of the cross is by this Office appointed to be used in Baptism according to the ancient and laudable custom of the Church, it is not thereby intended to add any new rite to the Sacrament as a part of it, or as necessary to it; or that the using that sign is of any virtue or efficacy of itself; but only to remember all Christians of the death and cross of Christ, which is their hope and glory; and to put them in mind of their obligation to bear the cross in such manner as God shall think fit to lay it upon them, and to become conformable to Christ in his sufferings.

‘If any minister at his institution shall declare to his bishop, that he cannot satisfy his conscience in baptizing any with the sign of the cross; then the bishop shall dispense with him in that particular, and shall name a curate who shall baptize the children of those in that parish who desire it may be done with the sign of the cross according to this Office.’

Sign of the Cross.
‘The minister shall ask the parents, or parent, or the person that presents the child: Dost thou, &c, (as in Public Baptism) if the exigence will suffer it. And the sign if the cross to be used where the parents, or those that present the child, are satisfied. Otherwise he shall proceed thus: Dost thou, in the name of this child, believe the articles of the Christian faith? Ans. All these I steadfastly believe. Min. Dost thou renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil? Ans. I renounce them all. Min. Wilt thou keep the commandments of Christ, and persevere in them? Ans. I will, God being my helper.’

Note: ‘This to be retained, and also a larger one to be considered of, and that made by Dr. Williams to be proposed in Convocation, in order to a review and acceptance of it.
   ‘Q. What do you learn further in this Creed?
   ‘A. I learn that Christ hath had, still hath, and ever will have, a Church somewhere on earth.


   ‘Q. What are you there taught concerning this Church?
   ‘A. I am taught that it is catholic and universal, as it receives into it all nations upon the profession of the Christian faith in baptism.
   ‘Q. What privileges belong to Christians by their being received into this Catholic Church?
   ‘A. First, the communion of saints, or fellowship of all true Christians in faith, hope, and charity. Secondly, the forgiveness of sins obtained by the sacrifice of Christ’s death, and given to us, upon faith in him, and repentance from dead works. Thirdly, the rising again of our bodies at the last day to a state of glory. Fourthly, everlasting life with our Saviour in the kingdom of heaven.’

At the end of the Answer, ‘My duty towards God, &c., the words are added,— ‘especially on Lord’s-days’17; and then follows a division of the Answer into four heads, in the form of a broken Catechism upon the first four Commandments; the last being, — ‘Q. What learn you by the fourth Commandment? A. To serve him truly all the days of my life, especially on Lord’s-days.’ A similar broken Catechism is inserted after the Answer, ‘My duty towards my neighbour, &c.’ and also after the explication of the Lord’s Prayer. In the latter part upon the Sacraments there are many verbal alterations with a view to greater plainness.

Further Explication of the Creed.
A long exhortation is introduced ‘to be read the Lord’s-day before a Confirmation’;. and the Preface to the Office is turned

into an address at the time of Confirmation :-’You have been lately informed for what end you ought to come hither. And I hope you come prepared according to the exhortation then made to you; that is, with a serious desire and resolution openly to ratify and confirm before the Church, with your own mouth and consent, what your sureties promised in your names when you were baptized; and also to promise that, by the grace of God, you will evermore endeavour yourselves faithfully to observe such things as you by your own confession have assented unto.’

The prayer for the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit is altered:ù Renew and strengthen them, we beseech thee, O Lord, more and more, by the Holy Ghost the Comforter, and daily increase thy’ graces in them. Fill them with the knowledge of thy will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; and enable them to walk worthy of their holy calling with all lowliness and meekness; that they may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, shining as lights in the world, to the praise and glory of thy Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ A third prayer in the same strain is added before the blessing; and also an ‘Exhortation to the confirmed, who are to be required to stay and hear it.’ The concluding rubric directs that ‘none shall be admitted to Confirmation, but such as shall be judged fit to receive the Communion upon the next occasion.’

In the Form of Solemnization of Matrimony, the direction to publish the banns immediately before the Sentences for the Offertory is struck out. The ring is said to be ‘used only as a civil ceremony and pledge,’ and is delivered with these words:— ‘With this ring I thee wed, with my worldly goods I thee endow: and by this our marriage we become one according to God’s holy institution. And this I declare in the presence of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.’ The service following the marriage ceremony is directed to be said ‘either in the body of the Church, or at the Communion-table.’ After the declaration of the duties of husbands and wives, the Collect, ‘O Almighty Lord and everlasting God &c.,’18 is added, with the blessing ‘The peace of God, &c.’ The concluding rubric directs,— ‘If the new married persons signify beforehand to the Minister that they desire the holy Sacrament, there shall be a Communion. If they do not, they shall be exhorted to receive it as soon as they have an opportunity.’


The Ring.




In the Order for the Visitation of the Sick, a direct form of interrogation is provided, concerning the sick person’s repentance:— ‘Do you truly and sincerely repent of all your sins, and beg of God forgiveness of them through Jesus Christ? Do you, in this your sickness, submit yourself to the holy will of God, to be disposed for life or death, as to him shall seem good? Do you solemnly promise and vow, that if it shall please God to raise you up again, you will spend the rest of your life in his fear, and live according to your holy profession? Do you forgive all the world, even your greatest enemies . . . ? Are you truly sorry for all the wrongs you may have done . . . ? Are you willing to make reparation . . . ? Have you made your will . . . ? Is your conscience troubled with any weighty matter, in which you desire my advice and assistance?’ After this follows the prayer, ‘O most merciful God, &c.’; and then the Absolution, which is retained with the addition of certain words:— ‘. . . and upon thy true faith and repentance, by his authority committed unto me, I pronounce thee absolved19 from . . .’ ‘Q. about a rubric or canon for the absolution of the excommunicate in extremis.’ The Psalm is changed for a Hymn, composed of verses from the Psalms. At the end of the Office it was intended to add other occasional prayers, and among them one ‘to be said with the family if the Minister be present when the person is departed, or be desired to come soon after,’ — but this form was not composed.

Note :— ‘The whole Office for the Sick may be used if the persons concerned can bear it; otherwise the Minister is to proceed as is here appointed’: and to the rubric directing the order of administration, last of all the sick person, the words are added, ‘unless the Minister perceive him ready to expire.’


Communion of the Sick.
The rubric directs that the Office is not to be used for the unbaptized, or excommunicate, or any that ‘have been found to lay violent hands upon themselves unless such of them as were capable had received absolution according to the former Office in the Visitation of the Sick.’ ‘1 Thess. iv. 13 to the end’ is appointed to be read as a shorter lesson in colder or later seasons. In the anthems at the grave, the words ‘through any temptations’ are substituted for, — ‘for any pains of death’: and in the form of committing the body to the ground the words are, — ‘ . . . it hath pleased Almighty God to take out of this world the soul of our brother (or sister) here departed’ . . . dust to dust; in a firm belief of the resurrection of the dead at the last day, in which they who die in the Lord shall rise again to eternal life through . . . ‘ The prayer, ‘Almighty God, with whom do live, &c.,’ is entirely altered:— ‘ . . . that it hath pleased thee to instruct us in this heavenly knowledge, beseeching thee so to affect our hearts therewith, that seeing we believe such a happy estate hereafter, we may live here in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God; that being then found of thee in peace, without spot and blameless, we may have our perfect consummation, &c.’ The words in the Collect, ‘as our hope is this our brother doth,’ are omitted.

A ‘Psalm or Hymn,’ composed of verses from the Psalms, is substituted for Ps. cxvi.; and a rubric at the end of the office directs ‘the Blessing to be used, if this office be used before or after service.’



’The proper Office for Ash- Wednesday.’

A new preface is proposed upon the subject of fasting, and the superstitious application of it to distinction of meats instead of humiliation before God; and then, instead of the curses from Deut. xviii., the Beatitudes are read, as in the Communion Office, with the response after each, ‘Lord, have mercy, &c.’; and are followed by ‘the judgment of God denounced against sinners,’ viz. 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10; Gal. v. 19-21; and Ephes. v. 5, 6; with a response, ‘O Lord, preserve us from these sins, and from thy wrath which they justly deserve.’ The address and the remainder of the service are retained with only a few verbal alterations.



Additional rubrics:— ‘The persons who desire to be ordained shall send their Testimonials to the Bishop from the place of their present residence at least a month before; and come themselves to be examined at least a week before. After the receipt of the Testimonials, the Bishop shall give order that public notice be given of their desiring Holy Orders, in the Church, Chapel, or College where they reside, the Lord’s-day before the Ordination.’

Note:— ‘Whereas we have often been imposed upon by men pretending to Orders in the Church of Rome, it is therefore humbly proposed, whether, since we can have no certainty concerning the instruments of Orders which they show, they may be admitted to serve as Deacons or Presbyters of this Church without being ordained according to the following Offices.’

Roman Orders.
Notes inserted in the Ordination of Priests,’ i.e, Presbyters’:— ‘Seeing the Reformed Churches abroad are in that imperfect state that they cannot receive Ordination from Bishops; it is humbly proposed, whether they may not be received by an Imposition of Hands in these or such like words; Take thou authority to preach the Word of God, and to minister the holy Sacraments in this Church, as thou shalt be lawfully appointed thereunto.
Orders of Reformed Churches.
‘Whereas it has been the constant practice of the ancient Church to allow no Ordination of Priests, i.e. Presbyters, or Deacons, without a Bishop, and that it has been likewise the constant practice of this Church, ever since the Reformation, to allow none that were not ordained by Bishops where they could be had; yet in regard that several in this kingdom have of late years been ordained only by Presbyters, the Church being desirous to do all that can be done for peace, and in order to the healing of our dissensions, has thought fit to receive such as have been ordained by Presbyters only, to be ordained according to this Office with the addition of these words,— "If they shall not have been already ordained . . . ." By which as she retains her opinion and practice, which make a Bishop necessary to the giving of Orders when he can be had; so she does likewise leave all such persons as have been ordained by Presbyters only the freedom of their own thoughts concerning their former Ordinations. It being withal expressly provided that this shall never be a precedent for the time to come, and that it shall only be granted to such as have been ordained before the — day of —.’
Presbyterian Orders.

The letters of Orders are to be given them in the form used by Archbishop Bramhall:20 — ‘Non annihilantes priores ordines (si quos habuit), nec validitatem nec invaliditatem eorundem determinantes, multo minus omnes ordines sacros Ecclesiarum Forinsecarum condemnantes, quos proprio judici relinquimus; sed solummodo supplentes, quicquid prius defuit per canones Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ requisitum, et providentes paci Ecclesiæ ut schismatis tollatur occasio, et conscientiis fidelium satisfiat, nee ullo modo dubitent de ejus ordinatione, aut actus suos presbyteriales tanquam invalidos aversentur . . . .’

New hymns were to be composed in place of Veni Creator.

Archbishop Bramhall’s Form of Letters of Orders.

It was proposed, by way of return to primitive custom, to turn the imperative formula used in ordination into a prayer, thus:—

‘Pour down, O Father of Lights, the Holy Ghost on this thy servant, for the office and work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto him by the imposition of our hands, that whose sins he does forgive, they may be forgiven, and whose sins he doth retain, they may be retained, and that he may be a faithful dispenser of God’s holy word and sacraments, to the edification of his Church, and the glory of his holy name, through Jesus Christ, &c. The invocation of the Trinity thus displaced was to be prefixed to the form of words used at the delivery of the Bible:— ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Take thou authority, &c.’

Form of Ordination.

These numerous and important alterations were not offered to Convocation; it was quite certain that they would be rejected by the Lower House, who, in the appointment of their prolocutor, and in the debate on the address,21 evinced that they were opposed to the attempts now made by the Court and Bishops for the comprehension of Dissenters, as brethren in the Protestant religion. The House of Bishops, also, lacking nine of its ablest members, was powerless to control the clergy, who were disposed to sympathise with Sancroft and his nonjuring brethren.22 Hence, although Convocation was authorized to proceed to the business of considering alterations in the Prayer Book and the Canons, and a scheme had been prepared for the purpose, no actual step was taken; and disputes between the two Houses were prevented by successive prorogations from December 13 until the close of the session.23

The whole attempt in favour of comprehension was thus defeated, but the question of further liturgical reform remained; besides the liturgical controversies of the Nonjurors,24 there was going on all through the eighteenth century a series of agitations in favour of a fresh revision, carried on mainly in the interest of those who sympathized with anti-Trinitarian views.25 These came nearer to recognition in America26 than in England. Here, so long as Convocation remained suppressed, such proceedings were inoperative, but after the revival of Convocation in 1852 the question again came to the front and in a more practical form.

Attempted Revision.

Report of Commissioners not published.

After numerous private attempts and proposals had been made,27 Commissioners were appointed to inquire into the Rubrics, Orders, and Directions for regulating the Course and Conduct of Public Worship,&c. But they could not agree upon any settlement of disputed points of Ritual. Their Third Report, however, produced (1871) a revised Lectionary, which has been generally accepted as a great improvement. The course of First Lessons from the Old Testament is enlarged by providing for an Afternoon and also for an Evening Service.28 The Second Lesson for such third service may be any chapter from the Gospels, except on four Sundays, for which Second Lessons are appointed. In the old order of Second Lessons, the New Testament was read through (except the Revelation) three times in a year; but the Gospels and Acts were only read in the morning, and the Epistles only in the afternoon. By the New Lectionary, all the books of the New Testament (except the Revelation) are read through once in the morning, and once in the afternoon; the Revelation is read at both services in the latter part of December. The general course of this system has been followed by other churches in their revisions.29 The Table of Lessons Proper for Holy Days has also had a careful revision; and Canonical Scripture is appointed for the Saints’ days in place of the Apocrypha, from which four lessons only are taken. Also special lessons are appointed for Ash-Wednesday, and for each day in the week before Easter.

Minor Alterations.

Late Attempts at Revision.

The Lectionary.

Another result of the same Commission was the Act of 1872, authorizing shortened services, and giving greater freedom in the use of the materials contained in the Prayer Book. Strictly speaking its provisions were unnecessary, for they fell well within the margin of liberty to deal with the services, which has always been allowed to episcopal authority under the Acts of Uniformity.30 Some were also unskilful and unwise, or even disastrous, e.g. those that destroy that continuous daily reading of psalms and scripture, which it was the main object of the Prayer Book to recover and secure.
The Act of Uniformity Amendment Act.
In the case of the New Lectionary the Act of Parliament was consequent upon a petition from each of the Convocations. In the case of the Act of 1872 the proceedings were more regular, as both Convocations passed decrees in proper canonical fashion, which were subsequently embodied in the Act of Parliament and recited in its preamble.31
The Method of these Changes.

Arising out of the same Commission and in response to letters of business from the Crown a Report was drawn up and adopted (July 4, 1879) by the Convocation of Canterbury in view of amending the rubrics, so as to make them an exact guide to everything which the Priest is to do. The Report was formally presented to the Queen with a draft Bill which it was intended should first become law; its object was to facilitate the amendment of services by allowing Convocation to prepare schemes which, after being laid before Parliament, should, if unopposed, become law by an Order in Council. But no further action has since been taken with regard either to the Bill to amend procedure or to the alterations proposed in the Report. Some of these proposals give a formal sanction to usages which are already customs in one or another church.32 Some have found a place in other revisions. The following are among the most noteable changes proposed:

The Ornaments Rubric is explained away in a non-natural sense, so as to justify the disuse of the vestments which has prevailed I widely since Elizabethan days.

Proper Psalms are selected for ten additional Holy Days: the Sanctus, concluding the Preface in the Communion Office, should be printed as a separate paragraph: for Baptism of Infants, if three Sponsors cannot be found, two may suffice, and the parents may be Sponsors. For Burial, at the request, or with the consent of the friends, a shortened service may be used at the grave, or no service; or in cases for which the office may not be used, prayers taken from the Book of Common Prayer (only not from the Order of Burial, or of the Holy Communion), and portions of Scripture approved by the Ordinary may be read: or, if occasion require, the service at the grave after the Burial may be said in the church after the Lesson.33

The observance of certain Octaves is proposed. The Easter Anthems are to be said on the seven following days. The Collect for S. Michael’s Day and for All Saints’ Day is to be repeated on the seven days following, after the Collect for the Day.

An explanation is offered for the removal of doubts, and to prevent disquietude, in the use of expressions in the Quicunque vult:— ‘(1) That the Confession of our Christian faith, commonly called the Creed of S. Athanasius, doth not make any addition to the faith as contained in Holy Scripture, but warneth against errors which from time to time have arisen in the Church of Christ. (2) That as Holy Scripture in divers places doth promise life to them that believe, and declare the condemnation of them that believe not, so doth the Church in this Confession declare the necessity for all who would be in a state of salvation of holding fast the Catholic Faith, and the great peril of rejecting the same. Wherefore the warnings in this Confession of Faith are to be understood no otherwise than the like warnings of Holy Scripture.34

Since 1879 the position has greatly changed. The liturgical expansion which has been such a marked feature of the Catholic revival has gone on apace: old puritan glosses have been discarded; truer and less narrow interpretations have been given to the old provisions; but as yet no revision has been made.

Attempted Revision in 1879.

Amendment of Rubrics

proposed, with a draft Bill to facilitate Ecclesiastical Legislation;

but no result.

1 Cardwell, Conferences, p. 394.

2 Tillotson, Letter to Baxter (April) 11, 1675); Cardwell, p. 396.

3 Long’s Vox Cleri, p. 3: Cardwell, p. 396, note.

4 Cardwell, Conferences, p. 405.

5 Ibid. p. 410. With the Convention Parliament, by whom William and Mary were seated on the throne, the Convocation did not assemble. It was the second Parliament, in the first year of the new reign, which petitioned the throne to summon the Convocation. Lathbury, Hist. of Convoc. p. 320 .

6 The commission included some well-known names: Stillingfleet, Patrick, Tillotson, Sharp, Hall, Beveridge, Tenison, Fowler, Grove, and Williams were subsequently raised to the episcopal bench. Blue Book of June 2, 1854 (see below), p. 92; Lathbury, u. s. p. 321, note; Cardwell, 412, 427 and ff.

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7 Ibid. P: 413. The following are the heads of this, paper: (1) Ceremonies to be left indifferent. (2) To review the Liturgy, and remove all ground of exception; to leave out Apocryphal lessons, and correct the translation of the Psalms. (3) Ministers only to subscribe one general declaration of submission to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Church of England, and promise to teach and practise accordingly. (4) To make a new body of canons. (5) To regulate the ecclesiastical courts. (6) That those who have been ordained in any of the foreign Reformed churches be not required to be re-ordained here, to render them capable of preferment in this church; (7)but none to be capable of ecclesiastical preferment that shall be ordained in England otherwise than by bishops.

8 An account of the proceedings is given by Bp. Patrick in the Narrative of his Own Life, p. 149. ed. Oxf. 1839; Cardwell, Conferences, pp. 416 and ff.

9 Burnet, Hist. of Own Time, II. 31.

10 The alterations, amounting to 598 articles, were prepared in an interleaved copy of a black-letter edition of the Book of Common Prayer (1683-86). This document was not made public, and, indeed, was for many years supposed to have been lost. A copy was communicated to Calamy, who thought that the scheme would have brought in two-thirds of the Dissenters; but his copy was lost by lending (Lathbury, Convoc. p. 325, note): an abstract was published in his Life of Baxter, p. 452 (Cardwell, Conferences. p. 429). The Book, however, was left with Tenison, afterwards Archbishop, and passed with his papers into the hands of Dr. E. Gibson, bishop of London, by whom it was placed in the Lambeth Library. The document is now accessible in the form of a Blue Book: (pp. 110), being a ‘Return to an Address of the House of Commons, March 14. 1854, and ordered by the House to be printed, June 2, 1854.’ A Diary of the proceedings of the Commissioners, from October 3 to November 18, was written by Dr. John Williams, which is also printed in the Parliamentary Return in an Appendix of Illustrative Documents, pp. 94 and ff.

11 Cp. throughout the objections raised in 1640. p. 153, and in 1661, pp. 172 and ff.

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12 For this use of particular, instead of general expressions, cp. above, p. 175·

13 Note:— ‘This rubric was occasioned by King James’s enjoining his Declaration (which was against law to be read in churches.’

14 This was done by Bishop Patrick and revised by Burnet, Stillingfleet and Tillotson, Nichols, Defence (ed. 1715), p. 118.

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15 The Beatitudes are also given on another paper inserted in the Book, with a distinct response or prayer after each; e. g. ‘Our Lord Christ spake these words and said, Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Lord, have mercy upon us, and endue us with an humble and contented spirit, &c.’

16 1 Cor. ix, 7, 11, 13, 14; Gal. vi. 6, 7.

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17 Proposed at the Savoy Conference; see above, p. 182.

18 The second Collect at the end of the Communion Office.

19 Cp. the objections (1661), above, p. 186.

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20 See Bramhall, Works, I. p. xxxvii. (ed. 1842).

21 They refused to describe the English Church under the general head of ‘Protestant Religion.’ See Lathbury, p. 325; Cardwell, p. 424.

22 Lathbury, p. 332.

23 Ibid. Several other measures were in contemplation by various members, and among others a book of family prayers, probably compiled by Tenison. Life of Prideaux, p. 61; Cardwell, p. 425, note.

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24 See for the Nonjurors Add. Note 1, p. 226.

25 See Abbey, English Church and its Bishops, i. 225 ; Cardwell, p. 459, and the pamphlet literature. See Brit. Mus. Catalogue of Liturgies (1899), pp. 504 and ff., for a list, by no means exhaustive, of the pamphlets.
    At the back of a great part of the movement lay the proposals of Dr. Clarke as to revision of the Prayer Book, in the third part of his Scripture-Doctrine of the Trinity, condemned by Convocation in 1714 (Synodalia, ii. 785). The usual Puritan objections were also again dished up.

26 See below, pp. 238 and ff.

27 See Brit. Mus. Cat., u. s., pp. 510-515.

28 Use may be made of this enlarged selection where there is only one Afternoon Service, by reading each set of Lessons in alternate years.

29 In some new Lectionaries a further improvement has been introduced, so that more chapters of the Old Testament may be read in the Sunday Services, by the method of a two-years’ course of First Lessons.

30 ‘Short morning prayers’ were commonly said daily at an early hour in the XVIIth century.’ (Lathhury, Hist. P. B. 163.) Special services have been put out again and again by simple Episcopal authority both before and since the XVIth century. There was thus ample precedent to justify the bishops in sanctioning all that was wanted without parliamentary intervention.

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31 Joyce, Acts of the Church, 290-298. The Act is printed in The Prayer Book interleaved with notes of other Statutes which repeal or affect clauses of the Act of Uniformity, p. xix-xxviii. (7th edition). See also Blunt, Annotated, B. C. P., 93-95.

32 E.g., an anthem or hymn may be sung after the Third collect, and a sermon may be preached; or this may come after the Morning or Evening Prayer. A sermon may be preached as a separate service, preceded by a collect with or without the Lord’s Prayer, or by the Bidding Prayer, or by any duly authorized special service. After a sermon the service may be concluded with a Blessing, or a hymn may be sung, and a collect said before the Blessing. A person desiring the prayers of the congregation may be mentioned in the usual way in the Litany. The shortened Form of Service, as now often used, is sanctioned. The Litany may be omitted on Christmas Day, Easter Day, and Whitsunday.

33 cp. the Puritan Exceptions at the Savoy Conference, above, p. 186.

34 The Convocation Prayer Book, being the Book of Common Prayer with altered rubrics, was printed by way of experiment in 1880.

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