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    Everyman's History of the Prayer Book
by Percy Dearmer




THE Savoy Conference came to an end in July, 1661:
before the Christmas of that year Convocation had completed the Fifth Prayer Book, which is the book we use to-day; and the next year this was annexed to the Act of Uniformity. The preceding chapter has, we hope, shown the conditions under which the new Prayer Book was produced and the principles which actuated the revisers. These are stated with much clearness in the first of our present prefaces to the English Prayer Book, which was then added, and is called simply "The Preface."


"The Preface" was written by Sanderson, Bishop of Lincoln, and is divided into five paragraphs :— 1. A description of the previous revisions: in the often misquoted phrase, they had been meant "to keep the mean between the two extremes, of too much stiffness in refusing, and of too much easiness in admitting any variation." The loose way in which the word "Liturgy" (properly a term for the Holy Communion) is used of the service as a whole, is a sign that liturgical knowledge is not what it had been a century before. 2. A sketch of those preliminaries to the present revision (the deputation to the king, etc.) which were described in our last chapter. The harsh tone of a triumphant party will be noticed in the Bishop's phrases. 3. The standard by which proposed changes were accepted or rejected, with a proviso that the Book of 1604 contained nothing contrary to the Word of God. Here is another famous and important sentence: — "We have rejected all such as were either of dangerous consequence (as secretly striking at some established doctrine, or laudable practice of the Church of England, or indeed of the whole Catholick Church of Christ) or else of no consequence at all, but utterly frivolous and vain." 4. A description of the changes introduced, beginning with a statement that they were not made "to gratify this or that party in any their unreasonable demands." 5. An expression of the hope that these changes (though unwelcome to "men of factious, peevish, and perverse spirits") will be approved by "all sober, peaceable, and truly conscientious sons of the Church of England."


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The changes described in this Preface are — 1. (DIRECTIONS) for the better direction of the officiant, 2. (VERBAL) the alteration of obsolete phrases, 3. (SCRIPTURE) the use of the Authorized Version, especially for the Epistles and Gospels, 4. (ADDITIONS) some new prayers and thanksgivings, especially for use at Sea and an order for the Baptism of Adults.

These alterations are about 6oo in number. Let us endeavour to summarize the more important under the four heads just mentioned.

Mattins and Evensong. The Five Prayers (including the "state prayers") which had previously been appended to the Litany, were added to the Divine Service. They had been better left where they were. The rubric concerning them also mentions the Anthem, "in Quires and Places where they sing": the Anthem had not been mentioned in the earlier Prayer Books, but the Elizabethan Injunctions of 1559 had authorized "an hymn or such like song" at this place, which was then the end of the service.

Holy Communion. After the Creed the old rubric had merely ordered a Sermon or Homily, and then (after the Sermon) the curate was to give notice of Holy-days and Fasting-days, to exhort the people to remember the poor and to read one or more of the sentences. The rubrics which we now have were taken from the Scottish Liturgy of 1637, as was that after the sentences, ordering the priest to place the Bread and Wine on the Table.

The rubric before the Consecration ("When the Priest, standing before the Table, hath so ordered," etc.) was added, and also the direction for the Fraction and other Manual Acts, heretofore left to tradition. The very questionable rubric providing for a second consecration by the mere repetition of the Words of Institution was reinserted. The two rubrics were added ordering that what remains of the Sacrament after the Communion shall be covered with a linen veil, and afterwards reverently consumed.

Confirmation. The first part of the rubric "To the end that Confirmation," etc. was made into the Preface. The Catechism (with which the Order of Confirmation had begun) was now printed separately; and in its stead was inserted the Bishop's question — "Do ye here
renew the solemn promise," etc.

Marriage. A form was added for publishing Banns. The rubric after the Blessing "Then shall begin the Communion," was omitted, and the concluding direction that the new-married persons "must" receive the Communion was altered. Visitation of the Sick. The words "Here shall the sick person be moved to make a special Confession of his sins, if," etc., were substituted for "Here shall the sick person make a special confession, if," etc.; and the words "if he humbly and heartily desire it " were added. The rubrics also for the Communion were made clearer. Burial. The rubric about the excommunicate, etc., was added. Psalms 116 and 139 had been given in the First Book, but since the Second Book there had been none: now Psalms 39 and 90 were given — but the selection might have been better. The Lesson instead of being said at the
graveside was wisely ordered to be read in Church. The name of the departed person was omitted from the prayer, "Almighty God, with whom." Churching. Psalms 116 and 127 were substituted for Psalm 121. The Commination was ordered to be used on Ash Wednesday.


The more important were: In Divine Service and in the Liturgy, "priest" was substituted for "minister
at the Absolution. In the Litany the words "rebellion" and "schism" were significantly added in the Deprecations ; and in the Intercessions, "Bishops, pastors, and ministers" was altered to "Bishops, Priests, and Deacons." In several places the word "congregation" was changed to "church." "Forsake" was well changed to "renounce" in the Baptismal Vow. In the Ordinal, Cosin's translation of the Veni Creator, "Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire," was added to the other, which, if it was originally by Cranmer, proves the truth of his confession that "mine English verses want the grace and facility that I could wish they had."

The epistles and Gospels were taken from the Authorized Version of 1611 (the Gospels for the Sunday after Christmas, Palm Sunday, and Good Friday being shortened, the first by the omission of the Genealogy). The Easter Day Anthems were also enlarged, "Christ our Passover" and the Gloria being added. But the Psalter was left in the words of the Great Bible of 1540,
which were endeared to the people; the Decalogue also was left; and the Offertory Sentences and Comfortable Words, which are an independent version, were left unaltered.

The author of the Prayer for all Conditions of Men. He was afterwards Bishop of Ely, as in this portrait.

Excellent additions were made in the Prayers and Thanksgivings — the two Ember Prayers, the Prayer for Parliament, the Prayer for All Conditions, the General Thanksgiving, and the Thanksgiving for Public Peace. With the exception of the last, which was topical, these are among the best known and loved of all our prayers.
Three Collects were changed, and a Collect, Epistle, and Gospel added for Epiphany 6, giving us four of the very finest collects in the book — those, for Advent 3, St. Stephen, Epiphany 6, and Easter Even. The Epistle for the Purification was added, in the Communion Service, two additions were made to the Church Militant Prayer. To "accept our alms" was added "and oblations"; and the commemoration of the departed, "And we also bless thy holy Name," etc., was put in at the end. The Black Rubric (removed in 1559) was put back, but with the crucial alteration of "real and essential presence" to "corporal presence."

The service for the Baptism of Adults (a less successful effort) was added, as "The Preface" explains, owing to "the growth of Anabaptism," and also to the newly-felt. need of "the baptizing of natives in our plantations, and others converted to the faith." Here, then, we have the first sign of the revival of the missionary spirit — though mainly in the "plantations," that is the colonies — after a lapse of about six centuries, during which very little had been done. To all the Baptismal Services was added the Vow of Obedience, "Wilt thou then obediently keep," etc.; and thus they were brought into line with the Catechism.

To the Visitation of the Sick (which ought to have been more radically improved) the Commendation, "Unto God's gracious mercy," etc., was added; and also the four concluding Occasional Prayers; beautiful hut overweighted. The Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea were added : these too are overweighted, but are hardly beautiful.

The Ordinal. The reader will have noticed that few concessions were made to the Puritans, but that on the contrary many things distasteful to them were inserted. in the most significant place of all, the Ordinal, this is specially apparent. In the old form for the Consecration of a Bishop, "Take the Holy Ghost, and remember that thou stir up," etc., were inserted the words "for the Office and Work of a Bishop in the Church of God," so as to make it indisputably clear to the public that a Bishop's office is other than that of a Presbyter. Similarly in the Ordering of Priests, before the words "Whose sins," etc., was added "for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands." The old forms were perfectly good and had ancient precedent; but the additions were made in order to avoid misunderstanding.


It should be mentioned here that in 1662 two more State Services were drawn up by Convocation, those for King Charles the Martyr and for the Restoration, and were added to the Accession Service (Elizabeth's had been made in 1576, and Charles I's in 1626), and to that for Gunpowder Treason, which was altered. These State Services were then annexed to the Prayer Book by the sanction of the Crown and Convocation, and were subsequently enjoined by Royal Proclamation at the beginning of each reign. In 1859, on the petition of Convocation and Parliament, three were revoked, the Accession Service remaining. This last was revised in 1901 and again in 1910; and on June 23rd, 1910, the new form was ordered by Royal Proclamation to be annexed to the Book of Common Prayer and used yearly on the 6th of May. The fine Prayer for Unity was, till these last revisions, the latest composition within the covers of the Prayer Book, having been added at the accession of George I.

The State Services of 1662 are largely modelled
upon that for "Powder Treason," which in its turn reflects the verbose Elizabethan type of special service and they illustrate the bad side of the period. The prayers indeed have the magnificence of their age, and are full of fine, passages ; but they are not constructed on sound liturgical lines, and as a consequence will not bear comparison with the prayers of the Prayer Book itself for beauty, conciseness, or simplicity. They are also full of political opinion, their loyalty is expressed in extravagant terms, and they confide to Almighty God their denunciations of "violent and bloodthirsty men," bloody enemies," "sons of Belial, as on this day, to imbrue their hands in the blood of thine Anointed," "the unnatural Rebellion, Usurpation, and Tyranny of ungodly and cruel men" — using for preference four words where one would have been too much.

This is magnificent, but it is not peace. Now, when we remember that these State Services (with additions in subsequent reigns) were cheerfully used throughout the country for nearly two centuries, we can understand the accompanying decline in the English Church. The Church of a party could not be the Church of a people; nor could a Church, which did nothing to supply in her Services the growing needs of succeeding ages, fail as time went on to alienate large sections of religious men.

In the 17th century.
The altar has a frontal and dorsal with orphreys embroidered with fleurs-de-lys; on it are the Gospeller's and Epistoler's Books, and two candles.

Professor A. F. Pollard has recently written this verdict:— "While the State grew more comprehensive, the Church grew more exclusive. It was not that, after 1662, it seriously narrowed its formulas or doctrines; but it failed to enlarge them, and a larger proportion of Englishmen thus found themselves outside its pale." The Church could not indeed have reduced her Catholic heritage, for such negative action would have narrowed instead of enlarging her borders. But acts of comprehension would have been possible in many directions, had the authorities been alive to the need; and it is true that, beyond the alteration in 1865 of the form of clerical subscription to the Articles, almost nothing was done to meet the needs of the times during the two centuries and a half which have elapsed since the Restoration.

The reader may verify the truth of this statement by testing it according to his own predilections. The bareness of our churches has been the chief recruit Of
Romanism, our liturgical stiffness, of Dissent. He may be most impressed by one of these facts; or he may be among those who feel that many who love the Church most intelligently and sincerely have been alienated from her by the pressing of a Sixteenth Century standard of theology upon the Twentieth. Or again, he may be more impressed by the fact that the poverty of our Visitation of the Sick has driven many thousands into faith-healing sects, and the inadequacy of The Burial Service has caused others to seek comfort in Spiritism.

(From a copy, 1607, bound up with a James I Prayer Book.)

One thing has saved the Church from far worse desertions — has enabled her against heavy odds to emerge from the stagnation of the 1 8th century, and has made the Evangelical and Catholic Revivals possible
— the growth of Post-Reformation hymnody. This began with the Old Version of Metrical Psalms (Sternhold 1548, 1549 ; Sternhold and Hopkins, 1551, 1559, 1561; ; Day's Complete Psalter, 1562). After a long life, Sternhold and Hopkins gave place to the New Version Tate and Brady, ("allowed by the King in Council," 1696), with its Supplement (1698). The Supplement in its earliest known edition (1699) includes "While shepherds watched," in 1782 "Hark, the herald Angels," and in 1807 the Easter Hymn with a few others. Hymnody developed greatly in the 18th century through the prolific genius of Isaac Watts, and Charles Wesley, in especial; and, in the 19th gave us, with hundreds of other hymnals, Hymns Ancient and Modern, the Hymnal Companion, and Church Hymns, to be followed in the present century by new editions of the older books and by the English Hymnal. We have only to imagine our Sunday services, deprived of hymnody's profuse additions to realize how large an element it has become in public worship, and how much it has done to defend the Church from narrowness. By God's mercy the English Church, since the disappearance of Tate and Brady, has been saved from the frozen mediocrity of an authorized hymnal; and thus hymnody has grown in its charitable comprehensiveness, has steadily if slowly improved in words and music, and has won for itself a place deep in the heart of the people. Hymns have broken many fetters, and can keep a Church abreast of the age.

FRONTISPIECE OF CROUCH'S Divine Banquet, 1696.
(Showing priest, communicants, and altar of the period.)
The other happenings in England since 1662 have been of less importance. There was an attempt at revision in the reign of William III, happily abortive; and additional services, rare in the Georgian era, have been since increased, especially during recent years (see p. 50). In 1871, the Lectionary was revised, and a great opportunity was missed, so that a new revision of the Lectionary is to-day by far the most urgent liturgical need of our Church. Another great opportunity was lost at the same time, when in 1872 the Shortened Services Act was drawn up by men ignorant of liturgical principles, bringing in some confusion and effecting little except to reduce the obligation of saying "Dearly beloved brethren."
At the present day the Church is better equipped; and sooner or later there will be a revision. The whole future of the English Church depends upon whether that revision shall be not only skilful in its liturgical science and noble in its art, but shall be also Christian in its charitable inclusiveness, not fearing freedom because there is freedom in Dissent, nor beauty because there is beauty in the rest of Christendom; so that the Church, no longer encumbered by the armour of obsolete warfare, shall be simple in her teaching as the Gospels are simple, and pure in heart as they are pure.


1661. Dec. 20th. Convocation adopts the Fifth English Prayer Book.

1662. May 19th. Act of Uniformity. Issue of Fifth English Prayer Book.

1689. (William III.) Attempted Revision of the Prayer Book.

1694. Isaac Watts begins writing his hymns.

1696. The "New Version" of Metrical Psalms (Tate and Brady), published with authorization of the King in Council.

1698. First Edition of The Supplement to the New Version.

1722. The Liturgy of 1637 revived in Scotland.

1737. John Wesley publishes first hymn-book for use in the English Church, at Charlestown, Georgia.

1760. Madan's Hymnal, followed by a few others.

1764. Scottish Liturgy, the received text.

1786. Bishop Seabury's Communion Service for his diocese of Connecticut.

1789. The American Prayer Book (revised in subsequent years, and in 1892).

1801-20. Forty-two new hymnals published.

1833. Ten new hymnals published this year.

1852. J. M. Neale's Hymnal Noted.

1861. Hymns Ancient and Modern.

1870. Bishop Bickersteth's Hymnal Companion.

1871. Church Hymns.

1871. The New Lectionary.

1877. The Irish Prayer Book.

1879. Attempted Revision, "The Convocation Prayer Book."

1906. The English Hymnal.

1901, 1910. Revisions of Accession Service.

1912. Scottish Prayer Book. Including the Scottish Liturgy, slightly revised, and many additions to and deviations from the English Prayer Book.

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