« AnteriorContinuar »
TAE English Prayer Book embodies, in tangible form, the chief principles of the English Reformation. It was no new book, drawn up by the religious leaders of the 16th century, but was mainly a reformed republication of those old Services, which had grown up through nearly a thousand years of English Christianity, being themselves developments of the Liturgies of an even remoter antiquity. So far it exemplified the famous Declaration in the Act against suing for Dispensations at Rome, A.D. 1533), that the English Church and nation in the Reformation "intended not to decline or vary from the Congregation of Christ's Church, in things concerning the Catholic faith of Christendom, or declared by Holy Scripture and the Word of God necessary to salvation.” But, at the same time, it was the assertion of a right to remodel and reform, to add to and to take from, those old Services, so as to adapt them to the needs of the people and of the age; and in this řespect it implied the claim of national religious independence, under the supreme authority of God's Word, and appeal to a General Council of the Church freely chosen, which was a distinct defiance of the Papal authority, and thus a resolute, though independent, adhesion to the Reformation movement.
I. MATERIALS AND HISTORY.-The materials from which it was compiled were large and various. There were, first, the Latin Service-Books; which may be, generally speaking, reduced to three, (a) the BREVIARY, containing, besides the Calendar and Rubrical directions, the Psalms, Hymns, Antiphons, Collects, Lections, &c., to be said at the several hours of prayer, whether on ordinary days or days of special observance. (6) The MISSAL, containing its own Calendar, Rubrics, and elaborate ritual directions, the invariable part of the Order of the Communion Service or “Mass," with the variable Introits, Collects, Epistles, Gospels, &c., for various seasons of the Ecclesiastical year. (c) The MANUAL, containing the Baptismal Service, and the “Occasional Services.” To these may be added the PONTIFICAL, containing the Ordination Service, and other Services, which could only be performed by a Bishop. These Service Books were voluminous and intricate, each (except the Manual) longer than our whole Prayer Book.
Of these various Latin Service Books there were extant several forms or Uses. St. Augustine, on his mission to England, found various Services already existing in the ancient British Church, not improbably framed on the Gallican model, which has strong affinities with the Eastern Liturgies, and differing considerably from the authorized Roman form of his time. By the wise coun. sel of his superior, Gregory the Great, he refrained from rigidly enforcing ritual uniformity within the sphere of his own influence ; and the variety of Service, thus caused, was still further increased by the fact, that Christianity was largely diffused in the north and centre of England by independent Celtic missionaries from Scotland. To these causes is probably to be traced the co-existence
INTRODUCTION. of various “Uses," when England became wholly Christianized. The chief of these was the “Use of Sarum," or Salisbury, drawn up by Osmond, Bishop of Salisbury, in 1085, and prevailing over the greater part of the Southern Province. There was also the
York Use," marking the independence of the old Northumbrian Christianity, the “Uses of Bangor and Hereford,” probably indicating the influence of the old British Church of Wales, and others less known. With substantial identity, these Uses presented, nevertheless, some not inconsiderable variations, and did not follow strictly the Roman Use.
Besides these Latin Service Books, there were issued from time to time what were called PRIMERS, vernacular Prayer Books for the people, containing nothing of the Service of the Missal or Manual; but Services for the Hours, taken from the Breviary, Selections of Psalms and Prayers, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and Ten Commandments, the Ave Maria, a Litany, &c. Of these Primers there are various editions extant, from A.D. 1400 to King Henry's Primer of 1545, gradually increasing in fulness. They served as simple manuals of Prayer and instruction for the people, existing side by side with the Latin Offices, which were to the people as sealed books; and they were probably used largely during Service-time in the Churches, and also in private devotion at home.
Now the Reformation in England, so far as it was a purely religious movement, had two great objects in view the publication of an English Bible and of an English Service-book. The former was secured in the reign of Henry vill., when, after the issue of Tyndale's Bible (1525), Coverdale's Bible (1535), and Matthew's Bible (1537), the “Great Bible” was published by authority in 1539, set up for reading in Churches in 1541, and the Epistles and Gospels read from it in 1542. Towards the second, some steps were taken under much difficulty in the same reign. In 1540 a Psalter in Latin and English was published ; in 1544 the English Litany was published; in 1547 a Communion Service, supplementary to the Mass, was prepared, but not put forth till early in 1548, after the accession of Edward vi.
Meanwhile some steps were taken, both in England and elsewhere, towards reformation of the Latin Service Books. In 1516, 1531, and 1541, reformed and simplified editions of the Sarum Breviary were issued; in 1533 appeared a reformed Sarum Missal; and a reformed Breviary was published on the Continent by Cardinal Quignonez, under Papal authority, which was evidently of great use to the compilers of our Prayer Book.
II. PRAYER BOOK OF 1549.-These steps were but tentative and preparatory. When the accession of Edward vi. gave a new impulse to the Reformation, it was resolved to supersede both Latin Service Books and Primers by an English Prayer Book, which should be the Prayer Book of both priests and people. This new Service Book was, speaking generally, a reformed Sarum Use, including Breviary, Missal, Manual, and Pontifical in one. But the compilers had before them the Consultatio of Archbishop Hermann, of Cologne, containing a vernacular Service, drawn up under Lutheran auspices, and accordingly in a Conservative spirit; and from this they borrowed in some degree. Nor did they shrink from original composition where necessary, especially of Collects, and of the hortatory elements of Service. The result was the Prayer Book of 1549.
The main principles which guided the compilers were obviously these three (see the original Preface “Concerning the Service of the Church");
(a) SIMPLIFICATION. The old Service Books had gradually become so long, so intricate, so full of special variations, so elaborate in ritual directions, that even to the clerics and the highly educated they were difficult, and to the people at large, even if written in English, they would have been useless. It was resolved to cut down this luxuriance, to introduce more regularity, even at the sacrifice of appropriateness and beauty, to abolish all variety of
Uses," and so to bring the new Service Book within the reach of the mass of the people, as a common standard of faith, and a common manual of devotion.
() PURIFICATION, by returning as far as possible to primitive purity of doctrine, ritual, and devotion, removing the accretions of error or superstition which had grown over the old Services in mediæval times, and bringing the whole resolutely to the test of accordance with Holy Scripture. In some cases this process was carried so far as to remove some things, which were in themselves sound and Catholic, but which had become so inextricably interwoven with falsehood and corruption, that it appeared hopeless to dissociate them from these in the minds of the people.
(c) PUBLICATION, by translating them from Latin into English, so that the people should not only "assist ” at the Service, but claim it as their own; and by casting them into such a form-sober in tone, uncontroversial in thought (although clear and definite in doctrine), free and simple in language-as might be sincerely and heartily adopted by all baptized members of Christ.
The responsive character of the Services was made effective; the provision for systematic reading of Holy Scripture was singularly complete; the element of exhortation and teaching was considerably strengthened ; and the laity were thus plainly recognised as full members of the Church, having, under due spiritual conditions, a full indefeasible right to its Services and Sacraments.
The first Prayer Book of Edward vi., compiled under these guiding principles, was ordered by the first Act of Uniformity to be used on Whitsunday (June 9th), 1549. It was substantially our present book; but (putting aside mere details) it had the following differences :
(i) In Morning and Evening Prayer the Introduction, Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution were not found ; shewing that, as yet, the use of Public Confession and Absolution, as a rule, had not yet superseded the habitual use of Auricular Confession and special Absolution.
(ii) In the Communion Service (“commonly called the Mass”) there was considerable difference both in order and substance-the book of 1549 keeping, in both, to closer accordance with the ancient liturgical forms. This difference is especially notable in the Prayer for the whole estate of Christ's Church, the Consecration Prayer,
INTRODUCTION. and the Words of Administration (see Notes on the Communion Service).
(iii) In the Occasional Services, the Book of 1549 retained in the Baptismal Service the use of the Exorcism, the Chrism and the Chrisome (or white garment); in the Visitation of the Sick Extreme Unction was allowed, if desired, but in terms not implying in it any sacramental character; the Funeral Service contained prayers for the soul departed, and provided specially for the celebration of the Holy Communion.
The Ordinal did not exist in the first book, but was added in 1552.
III: REVISIONS.--The changes which have brought the Prayer Book to its present form are the result of four revisions, in 1552 and 1559, in 1604 and 1662; these revisions themselves being, in some degree, reactive one against another. The character and result of each revision may here be briefly indicated, and will be noticed more in detail in notes on the several parts affected.
(A) In 1552, when the Prayer Book of 1549 had hardly yet had a full trial, a revision was pressed on by the Crown, influenced by some foreign reformers of the growing Calvinistic school, against the advice of Cranmer and his chief colleagues in the Episcopate. The objects of this revision were (1) FURTHER SIMPLIFICATION OF CEREMONY, for which object the old Vestments were superseded by the use of the surplice alone: the additional ceremonies in Baptism were disused; the Introits, the Agnus Dei in the Com. munion Service, and the Post-Communion sentences struck out. (2) FURTHER PRECAUTIONS AGAINST SUPERSTITIONS, especially the doctrine of Transubstantiation and its consequences. This led to a reconstruction of the Communion Service, changing the order materially; omitting the Invocation of the Holy Spirit on the Elements and the Oblation; altering the words of Administration; appending the “Declaration on Kneeling”in such terms as to deny any "real and essential Presence" of Christ in the Sacrament; and disusing the word “Altar." It also led to the entire disuse of the ceremony of Extreme Unction, and to the prefixing of the Confes. sion and Absolution to the Morning Service, probably indicating a disuse of private Confession, unless in exceptional cases. (3) FURTHER DEPARTURE FROM OLD FORMS, which had been abused. This induced the disuse in the Communion Service and Burial Service of Commemoration of and Prayer for the Departed, and possibly combined with the first desire to suggest the disuse of ancient Ceremonies. This revised form could hardly have come into use, for in 1553 the reaction under Queen Mary abolished it altogether : but it materially affected all subsequent forms, and, in its chief points, the revision of 1552 has not been reversed.
(B) The next revision, however, was partly a reaction against it. Elizabeth, on her accession in 1558, desired to rally round the Reformation the mass of the people, even of those who desired to return to the position of the reign of Henry vil. With this view the Prayer Book was revised in 1559 ; on the basis, however, not of that of 1549 (which it is said that she herself desired), but of that of 1552. The chief alterations were as follows:-(1) The royal title of “Head of the Church" was exchanged for that of "Supreme