The Pre-Reformation Service-book.
The chief Service-books in use in the English Church at the time of the Reformation were these: The Breviary, containing a series of daily services for the Canonical Hours, which were eight in number.
The Missal, or Order of Celebration of the Holy Communion.
The Manual, for the Baptismal and other occasional offices, which might be performed by a priest.
The Pontifical, for such as the Bishop alone administered.
In all of these severally, while the outline and structure were the same, there was considerable variety in detail, and different editions, if we may so speak of them, had become generally accepted in different localities. The different |Uses.| York, for example, Lincoln, Hereford, and Bangor, had each its own |Use,| marked off by some peculiarity, while the remaining Dioceses united in the adoption of that entitled |the Sarum,| which the Bishop of Salisbury had compiled with so much care in the eleventh century.
Three things in particular contributed to call for a revision of these Service-books about the middle of the sixteenth century.
The Dissolution of the Monasteries made a complete reconstruction of the Breviary an imperative necessity. Frequent worship an essential feature of the Monasitc life. In Religious Houses, where it was of the very essence of their constitution that the worship of GOD should enter largely into the routine of daily life, it was an easy matter to subordinate all other occupations to that which was held to be of primary importance, and seven times during the twenty-four hours the Bell of the Monastery summoned its inmates to assemble in the Chapel for Divine Service.
When Henry VIII realised that the Monastic Orders remained unshaken in their loyalty to the Papacy, and that the title of |Supreme Head of the Church,| which he had assumed, could be little more than nominal, if such formidable opponents were left to foster seditious counsels, nothing remained for him but to dissolve their constitutions and appropriate their revenues to other purposes.
With this abolition of the Religious Orders, the offering of frequent worship became wholly impracticable. It disappeared at their dissolution Up to the time of the Dissolution, the daily service had not attracted the bulk of the People. A certain number, no doubt, wherever there was a Monastery in the neighbourhood, would be drawn to some extent into a participation of its worship, but generally the people must have felt themselves precluded by their occupations from taking any part therein. Now, however, that the Monasteries had been swept away, men realised that if the daily homage of the crearture was to continue to be paid, such changes were, called for as should make the payment compatible with their secular duties.
How this was effected we shall see presently.
A second demand for revision arose out of the revival of learning.
The New Learning the Universities.
The close of the fifteenth century witnessed the beginning of what was designated |the New Learning.| The Universities claimed the honour of its birthplace. Erasmus, of whom it has been said that he was the first |man of letters| who had appeared in Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire, worked a complete revolution in the education of the country. The Greek language, long known but most imperfectly, and studied only in the books of authors wholly unworthy to represent its genius and its true value, seemed suddenly endowed with new attractions, and under the ægis of Erasmus regained its place in the two great seats of learning and education. He determined to break down the ignorant hostility to classical literature which reigned in the colleges and monasteries; but how difficult a task it was, and how long it took for scholars to shake off the fetters of a barbarous age, a study of Erasmus himself will abundantly testify. With all his appreciation of the beauties of Cicero, notwithstanding the spontaneity and naturalness of his Latin, which give it all the charms of a living and spoken tongue, he is still far removed from the purity and grace of the classical models.
The importance of the study of Scripture recongnised
But that for which we are most deeply indebted to him is the impulse which he gave to the study of the New Testament in the original language. The |ever memorable| Dean Colet, foremost among his friends, substituted lectures on Scripture at Oxford for the customary disquisition, on Scotus and Aquinas; while at the sister university George Stafford discarded the glosses of the Schoolmen altogether, and taught his classes to study the text; and not a few of the Reformers sat at his feet.
One of the most immediate results of this reaction, which rapidly affected the community at large, was to make them dissatisfied with the part they had hitherto been contented to take in public worship. Longings for a more rational kind of worship. Men awoke to the realisation of the privileges which attached to |the priesthood of the laity,| and they determined to claim a portion in that intelligent aud rational service, which the Clerics had monopolised all too long.
The first step towards the attainment of this was the introduction of the vernacular in place of a dead unspoken tongue in the Public Forms -- the supersession of Latin by the language of the country.
The third, and by many considered to be the chief call for revision, came from the pressing necessity for purifying the Service-books from error, and clearing away the accretions of superstitious usage which had accumulated upon them in mediæval times.
Such then being the chief causes which contributed to make a revision necessary, it remains for us to examine the authority by which it was undertaken and carried out, with a view to estimating how far the work is entitled to the confidence of the Church.
The authority upon which revison was undertaken
There are few greater mistakes than to accept as correct the loose statement so frequently made, that the Committee of Revision were appointed by the Crown. Long before it ever entered into tho head of Henry VIII. to touch our services, a reformed edition of the Sarum Breviary had been issued: and it is worth while observing that it followed the very lines which the Commissioners laid down for themselves in Edward VI.'s reign. This again was succeeded a few years later by a somewhat similar revision of the Sarum Missal. Now both of these were undertaken before the King had assumed the title of |Supreme Head of the Church,| and when as yet he took no such interest in ecclesiastical matters as to justify us in believing that the work was in any way dictated by his advice or direction. The King's reluctance to move Indeed we find him at this time most unwilling to meddle with Church Reform of any kind: as unwilling as Convocation was the reverse. He rejected a petition presented to him by the Convocation of Canterbury for an authorised version of the Bible in English for general circulation.
It is true that a few years later he was induced to reconsider his decision, but we point to his hesitation in the matter as an indication of his indifference to reform, and as affording a strong presumption that whatever was done was sanctioned by Convocation, the idea of independent action being quite untenable.
But when at length the King was persuaded to interest himself in Liturgical improvement, his first step was to commission the Archbishop to acquaint the Houses of Convocation that it was his pleasure that the Service-books should be revised: |that all mass-books, antiphoners, portuisses, in the Church of England should be newly examined, corrected, and reformed;| and Convocation ordered that the The first Committee of revison appointed.work be intrusted to the Bishops of Sarum and Ely, with three assessors each from the Lower House. Matters had been made somewhat easier by an enactment of the previous year that one uniform service should be adopted throughout the Province of Canterbury. But there was one fatal obstacle to any real reform. Impediments to all real reform. So long as the Statute-book imposed death by burning as the penalty for denying the doctrine of Transubstantiation, and hanging as a common felon for disapproval of Communion in one kind, or of the perpetual obligation of vows of chastity, or of the necessity of auricular confession, we can easily understand that the Revisionists felt themselves clogged and hampered at every step. The memory of the terrible scenes enacted in the torture-room where Ann Askew so heroically endured the rack, or of the fires of Smithfield, in which, in company with others, she suffered martyrdom for her belief, must have hung like a sword of Damocles over their Council Chamber. Indeed, Capon's predecessor in the See of Sarum, Nicholas Shaxton, had been condemned to the stake on the self-same charge, but had purchased his life by recantation; and the recollection of this must have haunted him like a spectre till the Statute was repealed. The first object aimed at was the acceptance of the principle that it was lawful for the laity to communicate in both kinds. Convocation accepted this principle on the 30th of November 1547, during the progress of a bill to authorise it through the House of Lords, and before it was introduced into the Commons. The Act ordained simply that the primitive custom of administering in both kinds should be observed, but no set form of words was prescribed. Parliament was prorogued on December 24th, and did not reassemble till the close of the next year. Convocation was also prorogued; but in the spring |The Order of Communion| was drawn up, and issued by the King, for administering in both kinds, and it was wholly in English. The Proclamation speaks of the advice received from the Protector, and other of the Privy Council, and orilered that the Blessed Sacrament should be ministered unto our people only after such form and manner.
After this the Committee was enlarged and proceeded with the revision of the Prayer-book.
Conventional pictures of this assembly of divines, which most probably held some of its sessions in the Council-room at Windsor, have placed Archbishop Cranmer in the chair. He is supported on either side by three bishops: while the six members chosen from the Lower House of Convocation occupy a cross-bench facing the Primate.
The Members fo the Committee of revision who assembled at Windsor Castle.
The Bishops were Goodrich of Ely, Holbeach of Lincoln, Skip of Hereford, Day of Chichester, Thirlby of Westminster, Ridley of Rochester. The remaining six members were : Cox, May, Taylor, Haines, Robertson, and Redmayn: the same no doubt who had sat as assessors to Capon and Goodrich in the Committee of 1542 A.D. Which of the bishops was placed on the right, which on the left of the Primate's chair; which again of these places was the post of special honour, we need not stay to dispute, as Rome has so vehemently disputed in reference to another and still more momentous assembly in her eagerness to claim the foremost place for her representative. In all probability Goodrich, as the most eminent Bishop of the old Committee, and the senior Bishop, occupied the two highest seats, while Ridley as junior, and Thirlby as Bishop of the latest constituted see, that of Westminster, occupied the two lowest.
Now let me call your attention to the great care which appears to have been taken to make it a truly representative Committee. We shall see how successfully the selection was made, for no interest with any claim to have a voice in the revision was neglected.
The representative character fo the Committee.
Convocation claimed the whole number as members of one or other of its two Houses.
The Crown had its advocate in Cranmer, than whom none could be more attached to the king personally or more tenacious of his rights and prerogative.
The Universities appeared in the Heads of their chief Colleges, Cox being Dean of Christ Church, and Redmayn, Master of Trinity.
Two of the different |Uses| were represented directly: Lincoln by Holbeach and Taylor; Hereford by Skip: two, York and Bangor, indirectly, as we shall see, while the Archbishop and the other Bishops watched the interests of the Sarum |Use| which was adopted in all their dioceses.
It is proposed now to draw the portraits of the chief of these Commissioners in as few lines as is practicable, but in such a manner that the reader may be able to conjecture their part in the work, possibly also to imagine on which side their votes would be given on the debated questions, which they were called upon to decide.
The Primate's character and opinions.
Of Cranmer many pictures have been given to the world, but probably in the case of no other person have the representations varied so materially from each other. This variation is due not so much to the bias of the painter, as to the fact that his character did change in many of its features at different periods of his history.
As he is seen seated in the chair at Windsor, he bears distinctly many of the qualifications which fit him pre-eminently for the post. He had in a marked degree the first requisite for an efficient chairman, viz., a perfect control over his temper. He was by no means a man of great genius, or an original thinker, likely to strike out something fresh, but he possessed a good judgment, which would enable him to discriminate between what was new and what was old; what was purely Roman, and what was Catholic. He had a profound reverence for the Holy Scriptures upon which he based his doctrinal views, not however according to his private judgment, but as the great Fathers of the Catholic Church had interpreted them in primitive times. Again and again, his loyalty to Catholic antiquity manifested itself.
His views on the Holy Eucharist were already, it is true, declining from the Catholic standard, but still very different from those which he maintained eventually. He was orthodox in holding the commemorative rather than the propitiatory sacrifice: the representation or pleading of that which was once offered upon the Cross, rather than the repetition of it, which some few so persistently maintained.
This was an important point which Cranmer was determined not to yield, and it was probably this determination which induced him to decline the offer of Calvin, who was opposed to any sacrificial view of the Holy Eucharist, to aid in the revision. Unless moreover he had felt very strong in his position he would hardly have acted as he did, for Calvin was at this time in the very zenith of his reputation, and many would have welcomed his assistance as the best guarantee for real reform.
Next in point of interest to the Primate is unquestionably Goodrich, Bishop of Ely.
Now there are many circumstances in Goodrich's life which we are concerned in hearing of. When a Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, he like his more famous companion on the same Foundation rose into Royal favour by his judgment on the crucial question of the Divorce of Queen Catherine. He had. been selected by the University from his legal knowledge to be on the Committee for drawing up an answer to the King's application respecting the legality of the separation. There is no difficulty in discovering which view he took, for he was made a royal chaplain shortly after, and within a few years nominated to one of the most enviable posts, the then-wealthy and dignified Bishopric of Ely.
The Author of the first part of the Catechism
It is more than probable that the part Church Catechism was his composition, and when in the year 1552 A.D. he built the Long Gallery attached to the Palace, side by side with the armorial bearings of the See and his own initials, he engraved on two tablets that which he desired to be associated with his name before anything else, |our Duty to GOD,| and |our Duty to our neighbour.|
His eagerness for reform led him to inaugurate his episcopate by a series of Injunctions, having for their object the overthrow of Papal influence, and the erasure from the Service-books of the name of the Pope, and the demolition of shrines which were frequented by idolatrous worshippers. But that he was in no sense a fanatic or disposed to condemn any usage or thing simply because it had been abused, his monument in Ely Cathedral, upon which he is represented with the full pontifical habit, bears evidence. He is further said to have endeared himself to the King by his singular wisdom, and to have won the affections of the people by his integrity and moderation.
Bishop Thirlby: his Roman tendencies.
Next after Goodrich comes Thirlby, whose appointment on the Commission is the best proof of the impartiality with which the selection was made. Although admitted to the privy councils of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. he never sympathised with their in their desire to shake off their allegiance to the Papal See, but continued throughout a staunch Roman; and at Queen Mary's accession he was singled out as the fittest ambassador she could send to tender to time Pope her assurances of loyal obedience. He was chosen too in the same reign, for a task from which, under other circumstances, he would have shrunk back, the degradation of Cranmer before he was sent to the stake. And if further and yet more decisive proof of his opinions is needed, it may be found in his refusal to accept the reforms of Queen Elizabeth and his consequent consignment to prison in the Tower.
One honour he enjoyed which has been shared by no one else. He was the first and last Bishop of Westminster, having exercised the episcopate therein from the creation of the See till its dissolution.
As Bishop of Ely, he was a great benefactor, especially to the Foundation of Jesus College, Cambridge, which owes to him much of its ecclesiastical patronage, and also to his cathedral, which received from him the endowment of its eight prebendal stalls.
Bishop Day of Chichester, a firm and resolute adherent of mediæval use.
Of Day less is known, but enough to make it certain that his hand would be held up and his voice raised against all changes involving any real departure from mediæval usage. He was more courageous in holding his opinions than his brother of Westminster, as we shall see when we come to the close of the sittings. When the King issued letters for the conversion of altars into tables, he refused to enforce the order in his diocese, and when threatened with deprivation, he pleaded vigorously for the rights of conscience; but finding his efforts to be unsuccessful, he expressed his final decision in terms which command our respect: |he accounted it a less evil to suffer the body to perish than to destroy the soul,| and |he would rather lose all that he ever had in the world than condemn his conscience.| He was committed to the Fleet Prison, and his bishopric sequestrated.
Bishops Ridley of London, and Holbeach of Lincoln.
The character of Ridley is too well known to need description, while of Holbeach, who assumed that name on becoming a monk of Croyland in place of his patronymic Rands, so little is left on record that it would be difficult to form an accurate estimate of the influence which he exercised upon the proceedings of the Commission.
Of the members of the Lower House, the most distinguished on the whole was Cox. He stands out in many ways as the very counterpart of Thirlby, and no one who reads their history can fail to be struck with the fairness of a Commission which admitted men of such opposing views.
Cox : his shameless rapacity.
When a Fellow at Oxford, Cox becmne enamoured of Lutheran Theology, and amid all die, changes of those ever-varying times, he remained a consistent Protestant to the end.
After he came into the notice of Edward VI., honours were thickly heaped upon him, and it fills one with wonder at the small sense of responsibility which such a man must have had, to bear of his being simultaneously Rector of Harrow, Archdeason of Ely, Canon of Ely, Canon of Windsor, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and Dean of Westminster, and Bishop nominate of Southwell ; not to mention the offices of Tutor and Almoner to the king, and the Chancellorship of his University.
His biographer writes quite incidentally, that it has been thought by some that |he had more rebard to his private advantage than to the true interests of the Church,| and without any notice of these frightful pluralities, proceeds to vindicate him from the imputation touching the alienation of the episcopal estates. History has certainly recorded one instance of his determination to maintain the property of the See of Ely, though unsuccessfully.His resistance to the Queen's unreasonable demands. Sir Christopher Hatton, one of the Queen's favourites, cast an envious eye upon the beautiful Palace and garden in Holborn ; and to gratify his desire she commanded the Bishop to transfer a portion of it to him without delay. Whatever his feelings may have been on other occasions, he had strength enough to resist this iniquitous claim, but only to call forth the ever memorable rejoinder from the imperious Queen, |Proud Prelate, you know well what you were afore I made you what you are. If you do not immediately comply with my request I will unfrock you, by GOD.| And the property was alienated, as the name |Hatton Garden| still indicates.
Considering their value, we can hardly be surprised that his benefices were speedily seized and that he himself was lodged in the Tower when the Protestant King was no longer able to befriend him.
Proofs of his Protestant opinions.
Two circumstances may be here mentioned as testifying to his doctrinal opinions. At Oxford he issued a Commission for the discovery of books which encouraged Papal pretensions or Roman doctrine, and in the spirit of a true iconoclast ordered whole Libraries to be destroyed, without any respect to their historical value or antiquarian interest.
Again, when his brother Revisionist, Day of Chichester, had stirred up the people of Sussex to resist the removal of their altars, he was selected by the King's Council as the fittest person they could find, counteract his influence by a preaching campaign in support of the Protestant Faith.
Dean May: his eagerness for reform.
In May, the Dean of St. Paul's, Cox found an entirely kindred spirit, as the following episode in his life will sufficiently indicate. On the publication of an edict by the Privy Council for the destruction of all images in churches, the work of demolition was not only sanctioned, but even encouraged by the appointed guardian of that Cathedral. The Rood, and the attendant figures of St. Mary and St. John, were roughly thrown down, and the wealth of sacred treasure in plate and jewels and vestments which had accumulated out of the offerings of the faithful to an almost incalculable extent was despoiled without even a show of resistance on the part of the Dean ; and there is good reason to believe that it was done, at his own instigation.
If this be true we cannot but admire him for his consistency, for much that lie encouraged entailed grievous loss upon, if it did not actually impoverish, both himself and the Chapter which he represented.
He was what we may call an advanced Reformer, and a strong, advocate of Liturgical revision.
Of Taylor's views we are not altogether ignorant; on one important question, which all the Revisionists were called upon to answer in writing, viz., |what is the oblation and sacrifice of Christ in the mass?| it is recorded that he, in company with Cox, took the lowest ground, asserting it to |mean nothing more than prayer, thanksgiving , and the remembrance of our Saviour's Passion.|
This was a strange reaction from the opinions which he had put forward in the previous reign, when he preached a sermon upon Transubstantiation, which led to the martyrdom of Barnes.
It is worthy of notice also that he was selected for promotion by King Edward VI. just at the time when his Majesty was most especially under ultra-Protestant influence.
Of Haynes there is little to be said, save that like Haynesthe members of the Lower House already described he had a strong leaning towards radical change.
The two that remain were men of a very different type. Both Robertson and Redmayn were more Catholic-minded.
Robertson and Redmayn.
Both too were widely renowned for their great learning, the former having earned a reputation as a grammarian unsurpassed in his generation, and the latter holding one of the highest positions in the University of Cambridge.
The fact that Robertson obtained preferment from Queen Mary, and that Redmayn tried to draw back from the sanction, which he had reluctantly given by his signature to the Reformed Service-book, are adequate proof of the line which they must have taken in the deliberations at Windsor.
Such, briefly drawn, are some of the characteristic features of the individual members of that famous Committee to whom the Catholic Church of England owes so much.
But we must not fail to mention that even these men, so learned, so well qualified in many ways, and so thoroughly impartial as a body, were not held to be competent by their own unaided counsels to accomplish the work of Revision.
The enlargement of the Committee to increase the public confidence.
It was considered desirable to enlarge the Committee, so as to make it if possible still more representative, and to give all parts of the country and every one who had any interest at stake a voice in the proceedings. A large body of assessors were added. They were not admitted to the Council Chamber, as their numbers would have made them unwieldy as a working Committee, but a series of questions bearing upon the most crucial matters under dispute were submitted to them, and their replies were duly weighed, and doubtless had no little influence upon the deliberations. Among these, whose opinions were thus invited, were the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Sarum, representing directly the |Uses| of their Sees, while the Bishop of St. Asaph was appointed for the guardianship of the Bangor worship.
The first and most important change was in the language.
In the Preface to the First Prayer-book we read, The changes introduced Adoption of the English language. |The service in the Church of England (these many years) hath been read in Latin to the people, which they understood not; so that they have heard with their ears only: and their hearts, spirit, and mind have not been edified thereby.|
So long as Rome was the centre of European society, and Latin was generally spoken, there was no inconsistency in maintaining it as the vehicle of Western worship, but long after Rome had lost this pre-eminence, and her language had ceased to be intelligible to the common mind, |the once living outpourings of devotion| were suffered to continue only |fossilised into cold and lifeless forms.|
The arguments in defence of the continuance Roman arguments for a dead language. which the mediæval Church set up were very plausible. It was urged that |the majesty of religion would suffer and grow cheap if the most solemn and mysterious parts of the service should be understood by the audience;| or that there were obvious advantages for the protection of the Faith in embalming her Forms in a language which is beyond the reach of change; or once more, that it served as an abiding witness to the unity of the Church throughout Catholic Christendom, that every branch of it should offer up their prayers and praises in one and the same tongue.
These reasons were plausible enough, but the majority of the Revisionists saw that there were reasons for change which far outweighed them. The edification of the worshipper ought always to be amatter of primary importance. Not scriptural nor primitive.St. Paul had clearly so regarded it, when he declared that he would |rather speak five words in the Church| in such a manner as to teach others, |than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.| And the principle was upheld by the Primitive Church, which clothed its Liturgies in Greek, or Latin, or Syriac, or Coptic, according to the language of the people who used them. It wasenforced, moreover, by the sayings of the Fathers; and the Law, both civil and canonical, contained the plainest injunctions for its maintenance. The Code of Justinian provided |that all priests should celebrate the sacred oblation| in such a manner that |thereby the minds of the hearers might be raised up with greater devotion to set forth the praises of GOD, according to the Apostle's teaching; | and that this was interpreted as enjoining a language |understanded of the people| is shown by the attempts of those who violated the practice to erase the enactment from the Statute-book.
Again the Canon Law by the authority of Pope Innocent and the Lateran Council, 1215 A.D., enforced |the celebration of Divine Service according to the diversity of ceremonies and languages.|
When then the Windsor Assembly were called upon to deal with this question, they knew that they should be fully supported if they abandoned the Latin tongue.
What strengthened the public yearning for the vernacular in worship.
We stated before some of the causes which created a yearning on the part of the people for a more intelligent worship; and it was quite obvious that the use of the English Litany, put forth a row years before, and the reading of portions of the Communion office in their own language, had greatly intensified their desire, and the Revisionists felt that they could best satisfy the wants of the nation by giving then a complete English Prayer-book.
And while commending them for giving us a Service-book in our own language, we are constrained to go further, and express an additional obligation to them for having clothed it in English, the beauty of which has rarely been equalled, and never surpassed, even in the best age of literary excellence. To whatever part of it we turn, whether hymns, or prayers, or exhortations, the style is such that it cannot be improved. |The essential qualities of devotion and eloquence,| as Macaulay says, |conciseness, majestic simplicity, pathetic earnestness of supplication, sobered by a profound reverence, are common between the translations and the originals. But in the subordinate graces of diction the originals must be allowed to be far inferior to the translations. . . . The diction of our Book of Common Prayer has directly or indirectly contributed to form the diction of almost every great English writer, and has extorted the admiration of the most accomplished infidels, and of the most accomplished Nonconformists, of such men as David Hume and Robert Hall.|
As an illustration of this high praise, we have only to mention the very noblest of our Liturgical hymns, the Te Deum. In point of accuracy and exactness of rendering there is in parts no doubt something to be desired, but in rhythm, in vigour of arrangement, and in its solemn grandeur, it is incomparably superior to the original Latin.
From the Collects.
And if we turn to the Collects, the same expression of unfeigned praise is equally due. Take one or two specimens -- first, of a simple translation; and that we may not appear to be making a careful selection to support our opinion, we will quote the most familiar perhaps of all.
|Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings with Thy most gracious favour, and further us with Thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in Thee, we may glorify Thy holy Name: and finally, by Thy mercy obtain everlasting life,| etc.
Now this, as it happens, is one of the most beautiful of the ancient Latin, Collects: -- Actiones nostras, quæsumus, Domine, et aspirando praeveni et adjuvando prosequere; ut cuncta nostra operatio et a te incipiat et per te coepta finiatur, per Jesum, etc.
But beautiful as it is, we are sure that no competent critic would venture to say that it has lost one particle of its peculiar grace by being clothed in an English dress.
Then take a sample of the original compositions. These were chiefly introduced to supersede the corrupt forms in use for the Festivals of Saints and Martyrs. Again, avoiding selection, let us quote the Collect for All Saints' Day, which is oftenest on our lips.
|O Almighty GOD, who hast knit together Thine elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of Thy Son Christ our LORD: grant us grace so to follow Thy blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that we may come to those unspeakable joys, which Thou hast prepared for them that unfeignedly love Thee, through,| etc.
But it is invidious to single out any special portion for commendation; |the whole book,| it has been well said, |is a very casket of treasures.|
A larger us of Scripture in public worship.
The second alteration in order of utility was the increased value set upon the public reading of Holy Scripture. During mediæval times the consecutive reading of this had been greatly interrupted by |the planting in uncertain stories and legends with a multitude of Responds.| Those last came to be regarded of such consequence that they were made long and elaborate, while the passages from Scripture were proportionably curtailed: in short, the Lessons and the Responds exchanged places.
The result of this was that the primary conception of the latter, which was to be simply illustrative, was entirely obscured, and the Respond became an independent anthem, confusing instead of unfolding the meaning of what was read.
Furthermore, the Legendary stories and acts of the Saints, especially at their commemorations, which were exceedingly numerous, wore generally chosen as the Lessons for the day in preference to the Life of our LORD, and the sayings of His immediate followers.
The merit of initiating a reform in this is claimed by a Cardinal of the Roman Church, who reinstated the Word of GOD in its rightful place, and showed how much store he set by the change, by inscribing on the title of his Revised Breviary the motto, |Search the Scriptures.|
This Breviary was put into, the hands of the Revisionists as likely to prove a valuable aid in their work, and there is every reason to believe that not only in this but upon other important points it carried considerable weight.
In largely expanding the passages of Scripture, and in drawing both from the Old and New Testaments, the Revisionists illustrated their determination to recover primitive usage wherever it seemed expedient. In the description of the early services found in the Apostolical Constitutions it would seem that as many as four Lessons of considerable length were read, two from either Testament; and in the middle of the second century Justin Martyr says, |that the memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the Prophets are read as long as time permits.| This latter, however, is only noted of Sunday. To adapt the principle to the week-days was a most judicious step, and finds ample justification in its propriety.
The Calendar and its perplexities.
The third change was in the Calendar or Pie. The directions for the variable parts of the services in the old uses were complicated in the extreme. Perhaps the best idea of the minuteness of detail may be gathered from the fact that there is extant in the library of York Minster a volume, the entire contents of which are regulations of the Pie!
Indeed so involved were the rules to be observed that the title by which the body of directions was designated has become a very symbol of perplexity and confusion. Nothing could have been happier
than the language in which Cranmer expressed the feelings of the Revisionists on the subject. |The number,| he says, |and hardness of the rules called the Pie, and the manifold changings of the service, was the cause, that to turn the book only was so hard and intricate a matter that many times there was more business to find out what should be read than to read it when it was found out.|
All these difficulties were cleared away and a simp1e Calendar was substituted containing the order of Lessons, and preceded by a Table of Psalms, arranged for Matins and Evensong for a month.
The consolidation of services.
A fourth change rendered necessary by the abolition of the Religious Houses was the union of the three Service-books, Breviary, Manual, and Missal, in one volume, and the curtailment of the number of separate services.
The claims of the people to the privilege of worship recognised.
The Revisionists determined to recover, for the mass of the people, a participation in public worship, which they had well-nigh lost through the establishment of the Monastic or Canonical |Hours.| The multiplication of services had led them to regard worship as an impossibility for men engaged in the ordinary occupations of secular life; and instead of selecting opportunities from the greater number, they came to look upon it as a luxury for the occupants of Religious houses, and left it almost entirely to them. Recognising the fact that these were properly the exceptions only, and that what might have been appropriate enough for the few was ill-adapted to the majority, the Committee resolved at once upon a reduction of the services. They went back to the early ages for guidance as to their number, but they must have been perplexed by the evidence. Some writers spoke of three, others of two only. The Revisionists very wisely decided to adopt the latter, and thus restore the principle which had existed all through the history of the elder dispensation, and offer the voice of praise and thanksgiving like the Incense of the Altar and the daily Sacrifice in the morning and at even.
The Seven |Hours,| for all of which there were special offices in the Breviary, were condensed into Matins and Evensong -- the ancient Nocturns, Lauds and Prime becoming amalgamated in the former, Vespers and Compline in the latter. The remaining three, Tierce, Sext, and None, or the Lesser Hours, were set aside altogether, because they had long fallen into disuse except in the monasteries; and as these were now dissolved, it would have served no purpose to have retained what specially belonged to them. To suit the fresh adaptation, the Psalms, which had hitherto been divided into seven portions for a weekly course, were so arranged as to be read through once in a month.
The ancient lines followed in the changed services.
Now it is worth while observing how, in carrying out this consolidation of services, they carefully adhered to the ancient lines, and preserved in all their integrity the distinctive features of public worship.
The ideal Form of service has three component parts, though by no means in equal proportions. These are praise, instruction, and prayer. The primary conception gave by far the highest place to the first of these; indeed the other two are entirely subordinate.
There is a beautiful legend told of St. Theresa which illustrates this view in a very striking manner. As she lay asleep, the vision of a strange and awful woman passed before her.The primary object of worship. In one hand she carried a pitcher of water, in the other a pan of flaming fire. And when the Saint asked in fear and trembling whither she was going with her mysterious burden, she replied, |I go to burn up heaven and to quench hell, that henceforth men may learn to worship GOD, not for any hope of future reward in the one, nor for fear of threatened torment in the other, but for what He is -- for Himself alone.|
Praise, then, the ascription of honour to GOD, simply and solely because it is due unto His Name, is the dominant element of public worship, and that which blends our offering with the songs of angelic hosts.
But subordinate to this there have always been other considerations present to the mind of the worshipper, and in a confessedly imperfect state it could hardly have been otherwise. Meditation upon GOD'S Word, and the record of His works in Creation and Providence, exalts our conception of His greatness, and creates a desire to know more of His Will; and thus the consciousness of our own weakness is borne in upon us, and we pray to the Author of all power and might to help our infirmities and supply our needs.
Thus it is that psalms or hymns, lections, prayers or intercessions, have been linked together by a threefold cord in common worship.
From a comparison of the following Tables it will be seen at a glance that the first Revised Service-book preserved the characteristic features of the ancient offices, and while the sequence of each part was generally retained, due prominence, as of old, was given to the element of praise. The Revisionists seem to have had the triple division in their mind when they placed in the forefront of their service the LORD'S Prayer and the |Venite.| Both alike strike the key-note of all that is to follow. The first three clauses of the Paternoster correspond to the Psalms and Songs of praise; the petition |Give us this day our daily bread| has a special application to the reception of knowledge through the reading of Scripture; and the rest represent all prayer and intercession. So with the |Venite.| No fitter prelude to worship could be found, since it embraced a triple call, in verses 1-5, to sing GOD'S praises; in 6 and 7, to fall down before Him in adoration and prayer; in 8-11, to hear His Word.
CAPTION: TABLE OF SERVCIES.
CANONICAL HOURS IN THE SARUM BREVIARY. FIRST PRAYER-BOOK OF EDWARD VI.
MATINS. LAUDS. PRIME. MATINS.
In the Name . . . In the Name . . .
Our Father . . . Our Father . . . Our Father . . . Ave Maria . . .
O LORD, open . . . O LORD, open . . .
O GOD, make speed . . . O GOD, make . . . O GOD, make . . . O GOD, make . . .
Glory be the the Father . . . Glory be, etc. . . . Glory be, etc. . . . Glory be, etc. . . .
Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia Praise ye the LORD.
Invita tory. Hymn. Alleluia (from Easter to Trinity). Venite.
12 Psalms and Antiphons.5 Psalms and Antiphons.3 Psalms and Antiphons. Venite.
18 Psalms (Sundays). 9 Psalms (Sundays). Psalms in order, with Doxology.
Benedictions. Jubilate (Sundays). Athanasian Creed.1st Lesson, O. T. Lections with Responds. Canticle form the O.T. Te Deum or (in Lent ) Benedicite.
Te Deum (Sundays). Benedicite (Sund.). 2d Lesson, N. T. Capitulum. Capitulum. Beneictus.
Hymn. Lesser Litany. Lesser Litany.
Benedictus. Our Father . . . Our Father.
Suffrages. Suffrages. Suffrages.
Collect for the Day. Confession. Collect for the Day. Absolution. | for Peace.
| for Peace. Collect for Grace. | for Grace. Intercessions.
CAPTION: TABLE OF SERVCIES.
CANONICAL HOURS IN THE SARUM BREVIARY. FIRST PRAYER-BOOK OF EDWARD VI.
VESPERS. COMPLINE. EVENSONG. In the Name . . . In the Name . . .
Our Father . . . Our Father . . . Our Father . . . Ave Maria Ave Maria
O GOD, make . . . O GOD, make . . . O GOD, make . . . Glory be . . . Glory be . . . Glory be . . . Alluelia. Alluelia. Praise ye the Lord.5 Psalms Capitulum. 4 Psalms. Alleluia. Hymn. Hymn. 1st Lesson, O. T. Magnificat. Nunc Dimittis. Magnificat. Collect for the Day. Our Father . . . Nunc Dimittis. Memoria of the B. V. Creed. Collect for the Day Confession. | for Peace.
Absolution. | for Aid.
Collect for Peace.
The absence of Confession and Absolution
One element alone of importance is wanting in the Revised Order, viz., Confession and Absolution. It is probable that they were omitted as being of late introduction into public services. There is doubt some testimony to the former in St. Basil, who narrates how the congregation immediately on entering the house of prayer |confess to GOD,| but the Council of Laodicea points to this confession as being made in silence. And in the Western Church there is an entire absence of allusion to the custom for many centuries. It finds no place in the |Benedictine Rule.| And what applies to Confession is of course equally applicable to Absolution. They stand or fall together. We shall see hereafter under what circumstances the judgment of Cranmer's Committee was revised.
These were the changes upon which the Revisionists laid most stress, as we may gather from the Preface with which they introduced their reformed Service-book. In our present Prayer-book it is placed second, following that which was prefixed at the final revision.
Many observances and ceremonies which they retained, wisely or unwisely, will be brought under our notice in future lectures.The general principles which guided the Revisionists.It may, however, be well at this stage to state their own account of the principle which guided them in their decisions: such ceremonies as were visibly superstitious and tended to darken the Gospel and prove cumbersome to religion they rejected, while those were retained which guarded the worship of God from nakedness and contempt. But while we pass these by we feel that no review of a Prayer-book could be regarded as satisfactory, which failed to notice the relationship which it bore to the much disputed doctrines of the sacrificial aspect of, and the nature of the Presence of Christ in, the Holy Eucharist.
Now it is quite obvious that the Revisionists provided more largely for the actual participation of the laity, and gave fuller recognition to the Communion aspect of the celebration, which had been obscured in mediæva1 times especially by the frequency of solitary masses in which the priest alone communicated. Their jealour preservation of ancient features. But while doing this they were extremely careful to avoid bringing the sacrificial view into discredit: in proof of which I would appeal to the general adoption of the term |altar,| and to the great prominence assigned to the Prayer of Oblation, in which it was said that |we do celebrate and make before Thy Divine Majesty, with these Thy holy gifts, the memorial which Thy Son hath willed us to make.| But they were determined at the same time to re-establish completely the principle of general communion, by the long obscuration of which the ordinance had been deprived of so much of its power and efficacy.
Then, touching the doctrine of the Real Presence, there can be no doubt that the Revisionists retained |the ancient belief from which no Apostolic branch of the Church had ever swerved,| viz., that the conscerated elements were in some way the Body and Blood of Christ.
The words of administration used by them in either kind were the first part only of the formulas now in use, |The Body of our LORD, Jesus Christ. which was given for thee,| -- and the |Blood of our LORD Jesus Christ which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life,| and they necessitate this view. It is strengthened moreover by the manifested anxiety of the ultra-Protestant divines to get rid of them, which clearly indicates how they were interpreted.
Their wisdom in avoiding definitions of doubtful matters.
But while they |affirmed in unequivocal language, and as the basis of all Eucharistic truth, what the consecrated elements were,| with a wisdom which cannot be over-estimated, they made no show even of explaining the manner of Christ's Presence, but left it, as it ever should be left, a mystery impenetrable to finite intelligence.
Prevalent errors concerning the character of the Revision
The character of the work effected by the first revision of the Old Service-books has not unfrequently been misrepresented. There is an idea too widely prevalent, that a complete revolution in Church-worship was carried out at this time, whereas nothing could have been further from the thoughts and intentions of those who undertook the revision, as any one may see who will investigate the principles by which, as we have desired to show, they were really actuated. Their aim was restoration, and in the process of attaining to it, they exercised the most careful discrimination between the old and the new, and, while cutting away without hesitation the later overgrowths, preserved with scrupulous care the ancient landmarks. And the impartial critic will not hesitate to acknowledge that the conservative and reverent spirit which animated them is abundantly evidenced in the result of their efforts.
The completion of their work.
But we pass on to the close. The arduous labours of the Committee came to an end, and the report of their deliberations was drawn up and laid upon the table to be attested by the sign-manual of the individual members: and it is not a little remarkable that notwithstanding their diversity of opinions, and the warm discussions which many of the questions had provoked, the result which they had attained was held to be so satisfactory, that there was but one dissentient: Day of Chichester alone protesting that his conscience compelled him to withhold his assent to the document.
The next stop, of course, was to give it legal force.
Convocation met in November, but though we have no records of what actually took place, we have the authority of the King for stating that it was agreed to by |the whole clergy . . . of this our realm in their synods and provincial convocations.| Then after being presented to the Crown if was laid before the nobility and commons assembled in parliament, and on January 15, 1549 A.D., an Act of Uniformity was passed enjoining the use of the Revised Prayer-book after Whitsuntide, in every parish of the King's dominions |throughout England, Wales, Calais, and the marches of the same.| The postponement of the operation of the Act appears to have heen unnecessarily long, but this particular time was selected by the Revisers for the purpose of specially dedicating their work to GOD on the Feast of the Holy Ghost, by Whose controlling influence they believed their counsels to have been guided throughout, and brought to a successful issue at last.
And now that all the legal formalities had been gone through, let us see how the Book was received.
Some of the London Churches set the example of compliance with the law, and superseded the old. Service-books even before the term of respite had expired.
Throughout the country, not a few of the clergy, who were averse to any alteration, accepted it because the changes were less violent than they had been led to anticipate; many of the laity also welcomed it gladly, not so much for any modification in doctrine, as from the fact that being written in English, it made their worship more interesting, and converted what in too many cases had been merely a dumb show into a living intelligent transaction. But there were many exceptions. Some of the priests expressed an obstinate determination to resist the operation of the Act, and were contented to suffer for conscience sake. Others openly conformed to the obligation, but secretly continued to celebrate as of old, and, as this created considerable trouble and confusion, the Lords of the Council took violent measures to remedy the evil. This, however, was trifling, compared to other difficulties which arose among the laity, and plunged certain disaffected parts of the country into the miseries of civil war.
Outbreaks of fanatical opposition.
In these counties the proclamation of the Act was followed by insurrection. The first outbreak was in Devonshire and Cornwall. In the latter of these, one thing, which had especially recommended the Revised Book elsewhere, had little if any force at all. The change from Latin to English was no gain to the Cornishmen, to whom one was as unintelligible as the other.
The primary cause of the rebellion is to be found not in any spontaneous outburst of religious feeling, or general aversion to the Reformed service on the part of the people themselves, but to the fanaticism of a few individuals who urged them on.
Body, one of the Royal Commissioners appointed to destroy idolatrous shrines, was stabbed to the heart by a misguided priest, who, to justify murder, called upon the people to imitate his zeal, and save their Churches from desecration. Other priests went about the country preaching what the Mahometans call |a Jehad,| and invested the movement with all the character of a religious war; and when open hostilities broke out, they carried the Host on to the field of battle.
Misguided views of the insurgents.
A secondary cause was an infatuated conviction that in some way the Revisionists were associated with the abolition of the Common Lands. Many of the nobility to whom Abbey estates had been granted attempted to turn them to the best account, and made no scruple of enclosing commons, without any respect to the rights of the poor to pasturage.
At Sampford Courtenay in Devonshire, the priest incharge professed his intention of acceding to the change of Liturgy on the appointed day, but had secretly instigated the people to stop him by force, and claim the Latin Mass. From this village the flames of discontent spread rapidly, and within a few weeks no less than ten thousand men, mostly mechanics and deluded peasants, took the field in defence of the old Forms. They marched to Exeter, and from the outskirts of the city sent their demands into the King's camp, couched in insolent language, insisting on the restitution of their Service-books, a recognition of Transubstantiation, and, strangely enough, the re-enactment of the Bloody Statute of the Six Articles. The Exonians determined on resistance, and the straits to which they were subjected, through a prolonged siege, have rarely been equalled in the annals of history. We may form some conception of the miseries they endured, when we read that one of the citizens proclaimed in the market-place, that sooner than surrender he would fight with one arm and feed upon the other! At last, when the Royal troops were sufficiently strong to advance against the rebels (and it was not till three merchant princes had come forward to reinforce the leader with large supplies of money, and a regiment of Italian archers had been enlisted in the service), their fate was sealed. They suffered three successive defeats, and the rebellion was crushed.
The revenge was severe. Arundel, Winslade, Berry, and Coffin, the ringleaders, were publicly executed at Tyburn: a multitude of others were unceremoniously hanged, among them the Mayor of Bodmin, and a number of priests; and in Exeter, Welsh, the Vicar of St. Thomas', was suspended from his own Church tower, where he hung in chains till |his Popish apparel| rotted away, and the carrion crows picked his bones.
That was the most serious of the Rebellions.
The rising in the Eastern Counties.
We notice more briefly the rising in Norfolk, June 20, at Attleborough, for this, at least at the outset, was less than the other a protest against the Prayer-book. At first the enclosure of the commons was their cry of complaint, but as their numbers swelled new grievances were sought for, and we hear them expressing themselves in such terms as these: |The miseries of this world might be borne; but when the loss of our souls is the question, the ruin from that quarter must be prevented at the utmost hazard . . . the holy ceremonies of antiquity are abolished, and a new face and form of religion forced upon us.|
Again the Royal troops were unequal to the task of restoring order. Kett, the rebel chief, established a mock court under the |Oak of Reformation,| and spread terror through the surrounding country. And here occurred an incident which nearly cost the great Reformer of Queen Elizabeth's reign his life. Parker, in despair at the failure of the sword, resolved to try the effect of peaceable measures. He made his way into the rebel camp, and, from a branch of the famous oak, endeavoured to recall the people to counsels of moderation. But they were in no mood to listen, and were about to tear him to pieces for his advice, when the Chaplain of the Rebel Forces, realising the imminence of the peril, called upon the people suddenly to sing the |Te Deum,| and in the excitement and enthusiasm which it kindled the future Primate made good his escape.
At length, vigorous measures were taken by the government, and the mutiny was quelled. Kett, on Norwich Castle,his brother on the steeple of Wymondham Church, and nine other rebels on as many branches of the |consecrated Oak,| paid the penalty of their crime.
The unimpeded spread of the Revised Worship.
And with their deaths resistance to the Reformed Liturgy ceased; and it was introduced throughout the length and breadth of the land to the increased edification of the people and the greater glory of Almighty GOD.