The Book of Common Prayer
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    The Book of Common Prayer for Scotland (1637)



∂ A Proclamation for the
authorising of the book of Common
Prayer to be used throughout
the Realme of Scotland.

CHarles by the grace of God, king of great Britaine, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, To our Lovits              Messengers, our Sheriffs in that part conjunctly and severally specially constitute greeting. Forasmuch as We, ever since our entry to the imperial Crown of this our ancient Kingdome of Scotland, especially since our late being here in the same; have divers times recommended to the Archbishops and Bishops here the publishing of a publike forme of Service, in the worship of God, which we would have uniformly observed therein. And the same being now condescended upon, although We doubt not but all our Subjects, both Clergie and others, will receive the said publike forme of Service with such reverence as appertaineth : yet thinking it necessarie to make our pleasure known touching the authorising of the Book thereof,

OUR Will is, and We charge you straitly and command, that incontinent these our Letters seen, you passe, and in our name and authoritie command and charge all our Subjects, both ecclesiasticall and civill, by open Proclamation at the market Crosses of the head Burrows [boroughs] of this our Kingdom, and other places needfull, To conform themselves to the said publike forme of worship, which is the only forme, which We (having taken the Counsell of our Clergie) think fit to be used in Godís public worship in this our Kingdome : Commanding also all Archbishops and Bishops, and other Presbyters and Churchmen, to take a speciall care that the same be duely obeyed and observed, and the contraveeners condignely [=suitably] censured and punished, and to have speciall care that everie Parish betwixt    and Pasch [=Easter] next procure unto themselves two at least of the said Books of Common Prayer, for the use of the Parish. The which to do We commit to you conjunctly and severally our full power, By these our Letters, delivering the same by you duely execute and indorsed againe to the bearer.

Given under our signet at Edinburgh the twentieth day of December, and of our Reign the twelfth year, 1636.

Per actum secreti Consilii.




The Preface is in Roman type in the original.

THE Church of Christ hath in all ages had a prescript forme of Common prayer, or Divine service, as appeareth by the ancient Liturgies of the Greeke and Latine Churches. This was done, as for other great causes, so likewise for retaining an uniformitie in Godís worship : a thing most beseeming them that are of one and the same profession. For by the forme that is kept in the outward worship of God, men commonly judge of Religion. If in that there be a diversitie, straight they are apt to conceive the Religion to bee diverse. Wherefore it were to be wished, that the whole Church of Christ were one as well in forme of publike worship, as in doctrine : And that as it hath but one Lord and one Faith, so it had but one heart and one mouth. This would prevent many schisms and divisions, and serve much to the preserving of unitie. But since that cannot be hoped for in the whole Catholike Christian Church, yet at least in the Churches that are under the protection of one Soveraigne Prince the same ought to be endeavoured.
    It was not the least part of our late Soveraigne King JAMES of blessed memory his care, to work this uniformitie in all his Dominions : but while he was about to do it, it pleased God to translate him to a better kingdome. His MAJESTY that now raigneth (and long may He raigne over us in all happinesse) not suffering his Fathers good purpose to fall to thin ground, but treading the same path, with the like zeale and pious affection, gave order soon after his coming to the Crown, for the framing of a book of Common prayer, like unto that which is received in the Churches of England and Ireland, for the use of this Church. After many lets [=obstacles]
and hindrances, the same cometh now to be published, to the good, we trust, of all Godís people, and the increase of true pietie, and sincere devotion amongst them.
    But as there is nothing, how good and warrantable soever in it self, against which, some will not except: so it may be that exceptions will be taken against this good and most pious work, and perhaps none more pressed, than that we have followed the Service book of England. But we should desire them that shall take this exception, to consider, that being as we are by Gods mercie of one true profession, and otherwise united by many bonds, it had not been fitting to vary much from theirs, our especially coming forth after theirs, seeing the disturbers of the Church both here and there, should by our differences, if they had been great, taken occasion to worke more trouble. Therefore did wee think meet to adhere to their forme, even in the festivals, and some other rites, not as yet received, nor observed in our Church, rather then by omitting them, to give the Adversarie to think, that we disliked any part of their Service.
    Our first Reformers were of the same minde with us, as appeareth by the ordinance they made, that in all the Parishes of this Realme, the Common prayer should he read weekly on Sundaies, and other Festivall dayes, with the Lessons of the old and new Testament, conforme to the order of the book of Common prayer, (meaning that of England ; for it is known that divers years after we had no other order for common prayer.) This is recorded to have been the first head concluded in a frequent Councell of the Lords and Barons professing Christ Jesus. We keep the words of the history; Religion was not then placed in rites and gestures, nor men taken with the fancy of extemporary prayers. Sure, the publike worship of God in his Church, being the most solemne action of us his poor creatures here below, ought to be performed by a Liturgie advisedly set and framed, and not according to the sudden and various fancies of men. This shall suffice for the present to have said. The God of mercy confirm our hearts in his truth, and preserve us alike from profanenesss and superstition. Amen.

The history of the Church of Scotland, p. 218.



ALL Presbyters and Deacons shall be bound to say daily the Morning and Evening Prayer, either privately or openly, except they be let [prevented] by some urgent Cause. Of which Cause, if it be frequently pretended, they are to make the Bishop of the Diocese, or the Archbishop of the Province, the Judge and Allower.
    And the curate that ministereth in every Parish-Church, or Chappel, being at Home and not being otherwise reasonably letted [prevented], shall say the same in the Parish- Church or Chappel where he ministereth, and shall toll a Bell thereto, a convenient Time before he begin, that such as be disposed, may come to hear Godís Word and to pray with him.
The two pages containing this and the following two sections are missing from my copy of the original.


Of Ceremonies, why some be abolish'd and some retain'd.

OF such Ceremonies as be used in the Church, and have had their Beginning by the Institution of Man: Some at the first were of godly Intent and Purpose devised, and yet at length turned to Vanity and Superstition: Some entered into the Church by undiscreet Devotion, and such a Zeal as was without Knowledge; and for because they were winked at in the beginning, they grew daily to more and more Abuses, which not only for their Unprofitableness, but also because they have much blinded the People, and obscured the Glory of God, are worthy to be cut away and clean rejected: Other there be, which although they have been devised by Man, yet it is thought good to reserve them still, as well for a decent Order in the Church (for the which they were first devised) as because they pertain to Edification, whereunto all things done in the Church (as the Apostles teacheth) ought to be referred: And although the keeping or omitting of a Ceremony in itself considered, is but a small thing: yet the willful and contemptuous Transgression and breaking of a common Order and Discipline is no small Offense before God.
    Let all things be done among you (saith Saint Paul) in a seemly and due Order. The Appointment of the which Order, pertaineth not to private Men: Therefore no Man ought to take in hand, nor presume to appoint or alter any public or common Order in Christ’s Church, except he be lawfully called and authorized thereunto.
    And whereas in this our Time, the Minds of Men are so diverse that some think it a great Matter of Conscience, to depart from a piece of the least of their Ceremonies, they be so addicted to their old Customs; and again, on the other side, some be so new-fangled that they would innovate all Things, and so do despise the old, that nothing can like them but that is new; it was thought expedient, not so much to have respect how to please and satisfy either of these Parties, as how to please God and profit them both. And yet lest any Man should be offended, whom good reason might satisfy, here be certain Causes rendered why some of the accustomed Ceremonies be put away, and some retained and kept still.
    Some are put away, because the great Excess and Multitude of them hath so increased in these latter Days that the Burden of them was intolerable. Whereof St. Augustine in his Time complained, that they were grown to such a Number, that the Estate of Christian People was in worse Case concerning that Matter than were the Jews; and he counseled that such Yoke and burden should be taken away, as Time would serve quietly to do it.
    But what would St. Augustine have said, if he had seen the Ceremonies of late Days used among us, whereunto the Multitude used in his Time was not to be compared? This our excessive Multitude of Ceremonies was so great, and many of them so dark, that they did more confound and darken, than declare and set forth Christ’s Benefits unto us.
    And besides this, Christ’s Gospel is not a Ceremonial Law (as much of Moses Law was) but it is a Religion to serve God; not in Bondage of the Figure or Shadow, but in the Freedom of the Spirit, being content only with those Ceremonies which do serve to a decent Order and godly Discipline, and such as be apt to stir up the dull Mind of Man to the Remembrance of his Duty to God: by some notable and special Signification, whereby he might be edified.
    Furthermore, the most weighty Cause of the Abolishment of certain Ceremonies was, That they were so far abused, partly by the superstitious Blindness of the Rude and Unlearned and partly by the unsatiable Avarice of such as sought more their own Lucre than the Glory of God, that the Abuses could not well be taken away, the Thing remaining still. But now as concerning those Persons which peradventure will be offended, for that some of the old Ceremonies are retained still; If they consider, that without some Ceremonies it is not possible to keep any Order or quiet Discipline in the Church, they shall easily perceive just Cause to reform their Judgments. And if they think much that any of the old do remain, and would rather have all devised anew: Then, such Men granting some Ceremonies convenient to be had, surely where the old may be well used, there they cannot reasonably reprove the old only for their Age, without bewraying of their own Folly. For in such a Case they ought rather to have Reverence unto them for their Antiquity, if they will declare themselves to be more studious of Unity and Concord than of Innovations and New-fangleness, which (as much as may be, with the true setting forth of Christ’s Religion) is always to be eschewed. Furthermore, such shall have no just Cause with the Ceremonies reserved, to be offended. For as those be taken away which were most abused, and did burden Mens Consciences without any Cause; so the other that remain are retained for a Discipline and Order, which (upon just Causes) may be alter'd and chang'd, and therefore are not to be esteem'd equal with God’s Law. And moreover they be neither dark nor dumb Ceremonies, but are so set forth that every Man may understand what they do mean, and to what Use they do serve: So that it is not like, that they in time to come, should be abused as others have been. And in these our Doings, we condemn no other Nations, nor prescribe any thing, but to our own People only. For we think it convenient that every Country should use such Ceremonies as they shall think best to the setting forth of God’s Honor or Glory, and to the reducing of the People to a most perfect and godly Living, without Error or Superstition. And that they should put away other things, which from time to time they perceive to be most abused, as in Men's Ordinances it often chanceth diversly in divers Countries.


The Table and Kalendar Expressing the Order of Psalms to be said at Morning and Evening Prayer throughout the Year, except certain proper Feasts, as the Rules following more plainly declare.

THe Psalter shall be read through once every Month, save February, and in that Month so far as the Psalms are appointed for 28 or 29 days in the Leap-Year.
    And whereas many months have 31 Days a piece, it is ordered that the Psalms shall be read the last Day of the said Months which were read the Day before; so that the Psalter may begin again the first Day of the next Month ensuing.
    And where the Cxix Psalm is divided into 22 Portions, and is over-long to be read at one time; it is so ordered, that at one time shall not he read above Four or Five of the said Portions, as you shall perceive to be noted in this Table following.
    And here is also to be noted, that in this Table, and in all other parts of the Service where any Psalms are appointed, the Number is expressed after the great English Bible, which from the ix Psalm unto the Cxlviij Psalm (following the Division of the Hebrews) doth vary in Numbers from the common Latin Translation.



The order how the rest of holy
Scripture (beside the Psalter) is
appointed to be read

THE old Testament is appointed for the first Lessons through Morning and Evening prayer and shall be read every year once, except certain books and chapters which be least edifying and might best be spared, and therefore be left unread.
    The new Testament is appointed for the second Lessons at Morning and Evening prayer and shall be read over orderly every yeare thrice, beside the Epistles and Gospels, except the Apocalypse [=Revelation], out of the which there be only certaine Lessons appointed upon divers proper Feasts.
    And to know what Lessons shall bee read every day, finde the day of the Moneth in the Kalendar following, and there ye shall perceive the Books and Chapters that shall be read for the Lessons both at Morning and Evening Prayer.
    And here is to be noted that whensoever there be any proper Psalmes or Lessons appointed for the Sundayes, or for any feast, movable or unmovable : then the Psalmes and Lessons appointed in the Kalendar shall be omitted for that time.
    Ye must note also, that the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel appointed for the Sunday shall serve all the week after, except there fall some feast that hath his proper Collect, Epistle, and Gospel, as it is on Ashwednesday, and on every day in the holy week next before Pasch or Easter. But on all those daies the Psalmes and Lessons shall be the same which fall in course as they are in the Kalendar.
    When the years of our Lord may divided into foure even yeares, which is every fourth year : the the Sunday letter leapeth, and that year the Psalmes and Lessons which serve for the xxviij day of Februarie, shall be read again the day following, except it be Sunday, which hath proper Lessons of the old Testament appointed in the Table serving to that purpose.
    Also, wheresoever the beginning of any Lesson, Epistle, or Gospel is not expressed, there ye must begin at the beginning of the chapter.
    And wheresoever is not expressed how far shall be read, there shall you read to the end of the chapter.
    Item, so oft as the first chapter of Saint Matthew is read either for Lesson or Gospel, ye shall begin the same at (The birth of Jesus was on this wise, &c.) And the third chapter of Saint Lukes Gospel, shall be read unto, (So that he was supposed to be the Son of Joseph)

This section appears in Roman type in the original, except for those parts in bold, which appear in blackletter.

Return to the 1637 Scottish Book of Common Prayer

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