|Evolution of the English Prayer Book|
Although the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is now supplemented by numerous revised forms throughout the Anglican communion, it establishes for Anglicans their standard of worship. Yet this is not the beginning of the English worship tradition. For that we must trace the development of Christian worship from the New Testament church itself.
Development of Christian worship
i] Luke tells us that the early believers met in their homes to "break bread" (most likely the communion service) and attended services at the Temple, Acts 2:46. Here then is the origin or our two main services, the Lord's Supper and Morning and Evening prayer.
ii] The early church. The Didache, 2nd century, teaches that the Lord's Prayer is to be said three times a day (Jewish hours of prayer). In the middle of the 2nd century Justin Martyr describes a Communion service similar to the Prayer Book - Bible readings, sermon, prayers, sharing the bread and wine. Cyprian, 250AD, writes of the key phrases in the service, "Lift up your hearts", "We lift them to the Lord", and the Sanctus "Holy, holy, holy....."
iii] Early English worship. England was evangelized from Gaul which followed Eastern (later Orthodox), rather than Western, worship traditions. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Christian church in England was confined to Wales, and later Ireland. The arrival of Augustine in 597AD introduced the Western, or Latin worship forms. This form was set in 1085 with the "Sarum Use", drawn up by Osmund Bishop of Salisbury.
1. The Medieval Latin Sarum Use.
These medieval services were detailed in some 5 service books. They were the main services in use at the time of the reformation in England, and so were Archbishop Cranmer's main source for composing the Prayer Book. Cranmer simplified them into one book and so moved worship from the priest to the people. Sadly the trend in Prayer Book revision is toward a resource book for priests, and so moves away from the people. The medieval service books were as follows:
Breviary: Morning and Evening Prayer, Litany and Psalter.
Missal: Holy Communion, Collects, Epistles and Gospels.
Manual: Occasional services, eg. Baptism.
Pontifical: Confirmation and Ordinal.
Pie: Calendar and Tables, directions to Priest.
i] Breviary. This retained the traditional Jewish hours of prayer - seven times a day. Mattins and Lauds before sunrise. Prime dawn. Tierce 9am, Sext Noon, Nones at 3pm. Vespers and Compline in the evening. Early Christian writers mention these prayer times. The services focused on the Psalter, scripture reading and prayers. Cranmer simplified them into two services, Mattins and Evensong, later called Morning and Evening Prayer. He removed anything he believed was contrary to scripture, eg. prayers to the saints.
ii] Missal. The Mass book focused on the prayer of consecration known as the Canon. Cranmer used elements of the service in Holy Communion, removing all references to offering the consecrated elements of bread and wine as a sacrifice, "oblation". The reformers rejected the notion of "real presence", ie. that the consecrated bread and wine is changed into the actual body and blood of Christ during the prayer of consecration (transubstantiation).
iii] Manual. The occasional services in the Sarum Use formed the basis of the Prayer Book services of Baptism, Matrimony, Visitation of the Sick, Burial, and Churching of Women. The Burial was changed the most, removing all ideas of Purgatory. The ancient form was followed: Psalm, Litany, Lord's Prayer, Versicles (short petitions) and Collects.
iv] Pontifical. Formed the basis of Ordination and Confirmation.
2. Eastern Gallic sources
The Gloria in Excelsis is a Greek hymn of the 4th century. Sursum Corda ("Lift up your hearts........") and the Tersanctus ("Let us give thanks to the Lord.......") are of Greek origin. These come to us through the Western rite and so were part of the Sarum Use.
From the ancient Spanish Prayer Book which used Gallic and therefore the Eastern rite, Cranmer took the Prayer of St.Chrysostom and the doxology of the Lord's Prayer ("For the kingdom, the power.............")
3. Reformation Sources
i] Foreign reformers.
a) Cardinal Quignon. In 1535 he produced a revised Breviary in Spain with the Pope's blessing. Cranmer adopted his new placement of the Confession and Absolution at the beginning of the service, and his emphases on the reading of scripture. Cranmer's original preface "Concerning the Service of the Church" reflects Quignon's preface.
b) Archbishop Hermann. In 1547 his original Lutheran liturgy, edited by Bucer and Melanchthon, was published and used by Cranmer for his Prayer Books. The "Comfortable Words" in the Communion service came from Hermann's liturgy.
c) Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr. Both these Lutherans fled to England and were able to influence Cranmer's work.
d) Valerandus Pollanus and John A'Lasko. These Calvinist ministers fled persecution, and in England were able to share their worship traditions with Cranmer. Pollanus was responsible for the placement of the Ten Commandments at the beginning of the Communion service and the addition of the phrase "write your law in our hearts........" to the Kyrie ("Lord, have mercy on us").
ii] English Reformers
Much of our Prayer Book was composed by English Churchman. Cranmer composed the exhortations and some of the Collects, eg Advent 1 & 2. Most of the Collects came from the Latin Missal and some from the service books of Pope Gelasius (490AD) and Pope Gregory I (590AD). The "Prayer for Parliament" was composed by Archbishop Laud, "All Sorts and Conditions of men" by Bishop Gunning, "General Thanksgiving" Bishop Reynolds, a Puritan.
The move toward an English Prayer Book
As the reformation swept through England, changes were made to the Latin worship. Wycliff was the first to produce an English Bible. His work was followed by Tindale and Coverdale. From 1529 various versions of the Bible were produced in English. In 1536 the first Bible in English was placed in a church. They were so precious they were actually chained to the lectern. In 1543 permission was given for a chapter to be read at Morning and Evening Prayer, then in 1547 the Epistle and Gospel were read in English.
Processions with chanted prayers (Litanies) were commonly used for the invocation of Saints, adoration of relics, and pilgrimages. Cranmer worked on the old Latin service book called the Processional, and produced his first Litany in 1544. Liturgical processions were forbidden in 1547, and then Cranmer produced a revised Litany in 1549.
In 1548 Cranmer produced his "Order of the Communion". It was a small pamphlet authorising the laity to take both the bread and the wine at communion, and providing a little service of preparation in English to be said in relation to the Latin prayer of consecration - the Canon. This little service was included in his first Prayer Book - Invitation ("You that do truly...."), Confession, Absolution, Comfortable Words and Prayer of Humble Access ("We do not presume.....").
The first Prayer Book of Edward VI, 1549
In the preface to this book (found in the 1662 book under the heads "Concerning the Service of the Church" and "Of Ceremonies") Cranmer laid down five principles of reform.
i] Preservation. He sought to maintain the worship traditions of the English church, rather than design a new form of worship that reflected the era of the new learning.
ii] Simplicity. The services were simplified to allow the stress to fall on the "often reading and meditation in God's Word."
iii] Purity. The removal of anything that was contrary to scripture.
iv] Common tongue. Worship should be in the language of the people. Latin was seen as a spiritual language. It is common for religions to emphasize mystery through a special religious language.
v] Uniformity. In the past many dioceses had their own "Use". "Now from henceforth all the whole realm shall have but one Use."
2. The services
The services in this book, although shortened and simplified, reflected the Latin Sarum Use:
i] Daily Services of Mattins and Evensong.
The Lord's Prayer. Said by the minister alone.
Versicles (short petitions). "Open our lips........"
Canticles, Psalm, lessons
Kyrie. "Lord have mercy......."
The Apostle's Creed. Said kneeling as a confession.
The Lord's Prayer
The Lesser Litany. "Lord show us your mercy.........."
Collects of the Day, Peace and Grace (third Collect)
ii] Litany for Wednesdays and Fridays.
iii] Holy Communion, Sunday following Morning Prayer. Most of the elements of this service were taken up in later Prayer Books, although there were changes in position and the removal of Biblically unsound material.
The Lord's Prayer. Said by the minister alone
Prayer of Preparation. "Almighty God to whom all hearts....."
Kyrie. "Lord have mercy......"
Gloria in Excelsis. "Glory to God in the highest......." Greeting. "Lord be with you....."
Royal prayer. "Almighty God, whose kingdom is everlasting....."
Collect, Epistle and Gospel
The two exhortations
The Canon - prayer of consecration from the Latin Mass, consisting of the following elements:
Invitation. "Lift up your hearts......"
Preface. "Therefore with angels......."
Sanctus. "Holy, holy.........."
Benedictus. "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest." Dropped in 1552.
Prayer of the Church ("the whole state of Christ's Church [militant here in earth]")
Prayer of Consecration. "Almighty God......."
Prayer of Oblation. "Lord and heavenly Father, we your servants entirely desire your fatherly goodness......."
The Lord's Prayer.
The Pax. Greeting of peace. "The peace of the Lord......
Agnus Dei. "Jesus, Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, etc." Dropped in 1552.
Cranmer's Order of Communion
Invitation ("You that do truly....")
Comfortable Words. Scripture sentences. "Hear the words...."
Prayer of Humble Access ("We do not presume.....").
The Communion in both kinds. ie. bread and wine.
Sentences. Scripture verses encouraging Godly living. Later dropped
Prayer of Thanksgiving. "Almighty and everliving God, we heartily thank you that you graciously feed us........"
A list of 8 collects is provided for special prayer to be said after the Offertory, eg. for rain.
Crucial changes were made to the Cannon in later Prayer Books
a) Prayers for Mary and the Saints were deleted.
b) The prayer for the Holy Spirit to sanctify the elements was altered in 1552. "With thy Holy Spirit and word, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify these thy gifts, of creatures of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the body and blood of they most dearly beloved son Jesus Christ." Although not implying a doctrine of the real or objective presence of Christ in the elements, the idea that the Holy Spirit changes the elements, even "unto us" or "to us", was rejected by the reformers.
c) Reference to, we "make a ..... memorial" of Jesus' sacrifice in the communion, was dropped in 1552. Cranmer feared that the words would be misinterpreted.
On the first Sunday the Godparents were to bring the child to the front door of the church. With the minister present, the child was named and given the sign of the cross to exorcise unclean spirits. The Gospel was then read, Lord's Prayer said, and Creed recited. The child was then taken to the font, baptized, dressed in a "white vesture", and then anointed with oil as a sign of the "unction of the Holy Spirit." Much of this ritual was dropped in the 1552 book.
This service began with the Catechism. It could be used by the Bishop to test the candidates. It is very similar to the 1662 version, without the questions on the sacraments. The service was very simple and retained the sign of the cross, dropped in 1552. Cranmer added the laying on of hands, a primitive sign of prayer, "after the example of the Holy Apostles."
The Second Prayer Book of Edward VI, 1552
This book virtually sets the standard for all the English Prayer Books that follow. The 1662 book follows it closely. Many of the changes from the 1549 book were of a practical nature, but some changes were driven by two opposite influences.
a) The "Interim" (1548), an imperial edict against reform issued by the Holy Roman Emperor, drove both Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr across the channel to England. These men were to greatly influence Cranmer. Bucer wrote against the 1549 book, objecting to non-communicating attendance, bell-ringing during the service, prayers for the dead, and useless ceremonies. These criticisms were taken into account for the 1552 book.
b) Bishop Gardiner, the champion of the old learning (he championed the Mass), said he was well able to retain the doctrine of the Mass in the 1549 book. In fact, he argued that the book was at odds with Cranmer's paper on the Lord's Supper, published in 1549. This drove Cranmer to remove any words liable to be misinterpreted.
i] Morning and Evening Prayer
The Sentences, Exhortation, Confession and Absolution were added to the service. Reformation theology now shaped this service into a liturgy that proclaimed justification by grace through faith.
A selection of prayers were added to the service which were separated in 1662 into the two sections called "Prayers" and "Thanksgivings". The Litany was now also to be said on Sundays.
iii] The Communion
Although ancient form was retained, the service was radically redrafted to remove any idea of the Roman Mass, and in so doing establish a new liturgical form which was neither Western or Eastern, but rather English.
The Ten Commandments for self examination and personal confession to God.
Totally new words of administration, "Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your heart by faith, with thanksgiving."
"Militant here in earth" was added to the title of the "Prayer for the whole state of Christ's church". The extended title rules out prayers for the dead.
"The Black Rubric". This note explains why Anglicans kneel to receive the bread and wine. It is not to worship any real presence.
b) Omissions (most already noted):
Mention of the faithful departed
Invocation of the Holy Spirit
The idea of performing a "Memorial".
c) Structural changes
Gloria in Excelsis is moved to the end of the service.
The Canon was broken up and rearranged with Cranmer's "Order of Communion" (1548). The new order was followed virtually unchanged in later Prayer Books, and in modern 1st Order services. This pattern is unique to the English liturgy.
Service at the front door of the church was abolished and now took place at the font.
Exorcising evil spirits
Chrisom. The white robe
Sign of the cross was omitted. Confirming prayer was simplified.
vi] Visitation of the Sick
Extreme Unction was dropped and reservation of the elements for private communion was no longer sanctioned.
The Prayer Book of Elizabeth I, 1559
After the death of Queen Mary both Protestant and Romanist extremists pushed for the adoption of their form of church poliety. Elizabeth steered a course of comprehension between hard-line Calvinist Protestants and sacramental Romanists who sought to gain the crown for Mary Queen of Scots (supported by France and Spain). Extremists on both sides secretly split from the Church of England. Elizabeth took the middle path and reinstituted the 1552 book with some changes.
i] Ornaments Rubric. Allowed a return to 1549 vestments, either Chasuble (a sacrificial garment favoured by Romanists) or Cope (a teaching gown favoured by the Protestants). The "Advertisements" of 1566 later ordered surplice with hood or tippet, and the cope on certain occasions. Although this was meant to restrain Roman practice, the Puritans were greatly offended and tended to defy this attempt to retain uniformity of dress.
ii] "Black Rubric" omitted.
iii] The words of Administration from the Prayer Books of 1549 and 1552 were combined.
iv] Prayer against the Pope was omitted.
v] A prayer for the Queen/King added to Morning and Evening Prayer.
vi] "Grace" added to Morning and Evening Prayer.
vii] The Oath of the King's "Supremacy" was changed to "Sovereignty". Now "Governor" of the church, not "Supreme Head".
viii] Articles of religion amended. In Edward's reign there were 42, in 1562, 38, and in 1571, 39.
The Prayer Book of James I, 1604
James I, the Son of Mary Queen of Scots, did not much like the English Protestants for the way they imprisoned his mother and later executed her. None-the-less the Puritans were now very strong and so petitioned the King (Millenary Petition) to further reform the church. They sought the removal of the following:
Sign of the cross at Baptism
Bowing at the name of Jesus
The ring in marriage
Readings from the Apocrypha
Baptism by laymen.
In 1604 the King called the Hampton Court Conference of Bishops and leading Puritans to discuss the issues. Other than authorising the publication of a new Bible in 1611, little was resolved. A new Prayer Book, with few changes, was authorised. It stayed in use until suppressed by the Puritan-led Long Parliament of 1645
Changes in the Prayer Book of 1604
i] The addition of the words "or remission of sins" to the Absolution in Morning and Evening Prayer. The Puritans wanted it noted that the church does not absolve, but rather only declares God's absolution (forgiveness) of the repentant sinner.
ii] Prayer for the Royal Family added to Morning and Evening Prayer, and Thanksgivings added to the Litany.
iii] Baptism by lay people now irregular. The Puritans didn't like the idea that Baptism was "necessary" (it must be done even by a lay person). Nor did they like the idea of women performing the service. Although "irregular", it was not forbidden, just not sanctioned.
iv] The questions on the Sacraments added to the Catechism, composed by Bishop Overal. The Puritans felt that Confirmees were not properly instructed, although they were less than happy with the additions.
The Prayer Book of Charles II, 1662
1. The suppression of the Book of Common Prayer, 1645
James I was succeeded by Charles I in 1625. Both he and Archbishop Laud tended toward an intolerant Roman position which finally led to revolt, the "Long Parliament", suppression of the Prayer Book, and the death of the king and Laud. Under the parliamentary period and Cromwell, it was an offence to even say a Prayer Book service in private. "The Directory", issued by the Westminster Assembly" replace the Prayer Book. It was not a service book, but rather a manual of directions. It did though contain "Prayers for those at Sea" given that sailors probably needed a little more help than just a set of directions. This prayer section influenced a similar inclusion in the 1662 book.
2. The Scotch Prayer-Book, 1637
John Knox had suppressed the use of the Book of Common Prayer in Scotland and it was not till 1616 that the General Assembly authorised the preparation of a Scottish Liturgy. Charles I wanted the Book of Common Prayer accepted, but he also didn't want to inflame the Scottish people. A Prayer Book for the Scots was produced in 1637 and was immediately rejected by the people, firing rebellion. Although it replaced Priest with Presbyter it returned to the Cannon of 1549, restoring the "Invocation" and "Memorial", prayers for the faithful departed, and Manual Acts over the consecrated elements. All had been removed in 1552. The Romanist tendencies of Laud, the Archbishop of England, are clearly evident. This book was to influence the 1662 book, although the revisers maintained the Elizabethan principle of upholding the standards of 1552.
3. The restoration of the Prayer Book
In 1660 Charles II was crowned the new king in a climate of good-will and tolerance. "No man shall be disquieted or called in question for differences of opinion in matters of religion", said Charles.
In 1661 he called the Savoy Conference between the two major factions, the Presbyterians (Puritans) and Episcopalians (Romanists). The conference was deadlocked. The Presbyterians didn't want the restoration of the Prayer Book, and if restored they wanted the right of an alternate Use. They were asked to define what they regarded as actually "sinful" in the book. They identified eight sins, eg. kneeling to receive communion, sign of the cross at Baptism, wearing of the surplice, pronouncing a baptized infant regenerate..... They opposed responsive saying of Psalms, responses to the ten commandments, bowing at the name of Christ in the creed, responsive prayers...... Richard Baxter even produced an alternate liturgy to either replace the Prayer Book or for use alongside it.
The conference failed due mainly to the intransigence of the puritans. Yet their inflexible position was equalled by the Episcopal Bishops who demanded that ministers appointed during the Commonwealth period must receive Episcopal ordination. Many refused and were ejected from their Parishes. The King now appointed a committee of Bishops to revise the Prayer Book. It received Royal assent in May 19, 1662.
4. Changes in the 1662 Prayer Book
i] The Preface. A new Preface was written by Bishop Sanderson. It spoke of the struggle of the times, of the need to "keep the mean", "moderation". Three aims are stated. To preserve peace and unity in the church. To promote piety and devotion. To restrict the quarrelsome, those who would promote their own form. ii] A new calendar and rubrics
iii] The 1611 version of the Bible is used.
iv] Lengthened Morning and Evening Prayer. Prayers for the King, Royal Family, Clergy, St.Chrysostom's prayer and The Grace, are removed from the Litany and added to Morning and Evening Prayer.
v] Shortened Litany. Sentence on "rebellion" and "schism" added. "Minister" replaces "Deacon" (to placate Puritans). Prayers and Thanksgivings removed.
vi] Special Prayers and Thanksgiving sections added. Added to the Litany selection were prayers for Parliament, "All sorts and conditions of men", the General Thanksgiving and Ember Collects.
vii] Changes to the Lord's Supper:
a) Commemoration of the faithful departed in the form of a thanksgiving is returned to the prayer for the Church ("militant here in earth"). A Romanist inclusion.
b) The "Black Rubric" explaining the reason for kneeling at Communion was restored. It is not for the adoration of the elements of bread and wine as if they represented the "corporal" (originally "real and essential presence") of Christ. The changed wording does encourage a "receptionist" view. Although the elements are not the actual "corporal" body of Christ, they are to those who receive them in faith, Christ's spiritual body. A questionable view.
c) In the prayer for the Church, "oblations" is added to "alms". This refers to the other gifts of the people, but with the rubric ordering the bread and wine to be placed on the table, there is the implication that this is done for sacramental purposes. An unacceptable view.
d) The manual acts in the prayer of Consecration are restored. Cranmer removed these in 1552.
e) Extra rubrics (rules). Additional bread and wine, if required, are to be consecrated. Remaining elements to be covered by a white linen cloth. All remaining elements to be consumed in the church following the service. This was most likely added to prevent irreverent treatment of the elements, but not to restrict "Communion by extension" (elements taken to the sick") or "Reservation". None-the-less, such practice was dispensed with in the 1552 book.
viii] Service of Baptism for Adults added. This aided mission work in the Colonies. The service is theologically flawed.
ix] Confirmation service. Catechism separated from the service of Confirmation and replaced with a simple question and answer section.
x] Communion no longer compulsory in the Marriage service.
xi] Burial service rearranged. Our "hope" is shifted to the resurrection itself, rather than a "hope" that our dead brother will rise.
xii] Prayers for those at Sea added. A puritan initiative.
xiii] St.Matthew's conclusion to the Lord's Prayer is added where there is a note of praise and thanksgiving in the service.
Key Prayer Book dates
1543. A chapter of the Bible is allowed to be read in church.
1544. Litany in English
1547. Epistle and Gospel read in English at the Mass
1548. The laity allowed to take the cup at Mass
1549. First Prayer Book of Edward VI
1550. Ordinal in English
1552. Second Prayer Book of Edward VI
1559. Prayer Book of Elizabeth I
1604. Prayer Book of James I, and Hampton Court Conference.
1637. The Scottish Prayer Book
1661. Savoy Conference.
1662. Prayer Book of Charles II
1764. Scottish Prayer Book (Communion - emphasising the invocation of the Holy Spirit.
1789. First American Prayer Book (follows Scottish tradition).
1877. The Irish Prayer Book
1928. An Alternative order of Communion
1978. First Australian Prayer Book. AAPB
1995. Second Australian Prayer Book. APBA
"How we got our Prayer Book", Drury.
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