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Book of Common Prayer

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The title of the official service book of the Church of England. One of the most important steps taken at the Reformation was the compilation and provision of a comprehensive service book for general and compulsory use in public worship in all cathedral and parish churches throughout the Church of England.

Apart from alterations in detail, both as to doctrine and ritual, which will be referred to later, the following main advantages were achieved from the very first and apply to all editions of the Prayer Book equally.

1 The substitution of the English language

2 Unification and simplification.

3 The Mozarabic Missal.

4 Eastern Liturgies.

5 Lutheran and other continental Protestant service books.

6 Original compositions of the compilers of the Prayer Book, not traceable to ancient or 16th-century originals.

7 Stages of the Book of Common Prayer

8 The Act of Uniformity

9 Total Suppression

The substitution of the English language

The substitution of the English language for the Latin language, which had hitherto been in universal and almost complete use, and in which all the old service books were written.

Unification and simplification.

The number of books required for the performance of divine service in pre-Reformation days was very large; the most important being the Missal for the service of Holy Communion or the Mass; the Breviary for the daily service or performance of the divine office; the Manual for the minor sacramental offices usually performed by the parish priest; and the Pontifical, containing such services as were exclusively reserved for performance by the bishop. Many of the contents of these larger volumes were published in separate volumes known by a great variety - over one hundred - different names. The Prayer Book represents in a much condensed and abbreviated form the four chief ancient service books, viz.: the Missal, Breviary, Manual and Pontifical.

In addition to a multiplicity of books there was much variety of use. Although the Sarum Use prevailed far the most widely, yet there were separate Uses of York and Hereford, and also to a less degree of Lincoln, Bangor, Exeter, Wells, St Paul's, and probably of other dioceses and cathedral churches as well. Cranmer's preface " Concerning the Service of the Church " expressly mentions the abolition of this variety as one of the things to be achieved by a Book of Common Prayer. It says: " And whereas heretofore there hath been great diversity in saying and singing in Churches within this Realm; some following Salisbury Use, some Hereford Use, and some the Use of Bangor, some of York, some of Lincoln; now from henceforth all the whole Realm shall have but one Use." We will next enumerate the sources from which the Prayer Book was compiled.

  • 1. It has been already indicated that the older pre-Reformation service books formed the main quarry, especially those according to the Use of Sarum. Morning and Evening Prayer, including the psalter and the lessons, were taken from the Breviary,' Matins being compiled out of Nocturns (or Matins), Lauds and Prime; and Evensong out of Vespers and Compline. The Order of Holy Communion, including the collects, epistles and gospels, was taken from the Missal. The sacramental and other offices which occupy a position in the Prayer Book between the Order of Holy Communion and the Psalms were taken from the Manual; and the services for consecration or ordering of bishops, priests and deacons were taken from the Pontifical; but in all cases not only with a change of Latin into English, but with numerous alterations, omissions and additions.

  • 2. The reformed Latin Breviary of Cardinal Quignon, Francis de Quinones, a Spaniard, a Franciscan and cardinal of the Holy Cross, brought out a reformed Latin breviary with papal sanction in 1535. A second and revised edition appeared in 1537. It met with considerable favour, and was adopted into use in many places, without, however, winning universal acceptance, and in 1558 papal sanction was withdrawn and it ceased to be printed. From this reformed breviary the compilers of the Prayer Book borrowed the following.

    • (a ) Many passages - almost verbatim - in the preface " Concerning the Service of the Church." It would occupy too much space to print them in parallel columns here.

    • (b ) Making the Sunday and Holy-day services identical in structure with the week-day services.

    • (c ) The removal of all antiphons and responds. This refers to Quignon's first edition only.

    • (d ) The increased amount of Holy Scripture read. Quignon provided a first lesson from the Old Testament; a second lesson from the New Testament; and on Saints' Days a third lesson from the Lives of the Saints, though this lesson was also occasionally taken from Holy Scripture.

    • (e ) The prefixing to every service a form of confession and absolution. The idea, not the actual language, is borrowed by the Prayer Book.

    • (f ) The substitution of the Athanasian Creed for the Apostles' Creed on certain days instead of the former being an addition to the latter. So in the Prayer Book, when used, the Athanasian Creed is substituted for, not added to, the shorter creed.

    • (g) The uniform assignment of three Psalms to each hour suggests the average number and arrangement of the Psalms in the Prayer Book at Matins and Evensong.

The Mozarabic Missal.

  • (a) The four short prayers preceding the prayer for the consecration of the water in the office for the public baptism of infants are adapted from the benediction of the font in the Mozarabic Liturgy (Migne, Pat. Lat. tom. lxxxv. col. 465). The evidence for this borrowing is still plainer in the larger form of prayer for this purpose provided in the first book of Edward VI. The Mozarabic Liturgy was printed and published under Cardinal Ximenes in 1500, and may well have been in Cranmer's hands; whereas the Missale gallicanum, a Gallican Sacramentary, containing the same prayers with slight variations, was first published by Cardinal Thomesius in 1680 and must have been unknown to Cranmer.

  • (b) According to F. Procter and W. H. Frere (A New History of the Book of Common Prayer, p. 375: London, 1902), the use of the plural number instead of the singular in the form of the opening versicles of Morning and Evening prayer is a following of Mozarabic usage. But we have been unable to verify this statement.

  • (c)Many of the new collects introduced into the Prayer Book, though not transferred bodily from any Mozarabic service book, are modelled upon a Mozarabic pattern, and preserve some Mozarabic ideas and phrases, e.g. the references to the Second Advent in the collects for the first and third Sundays in Advent take their tone from the Mozarabic Advent services. The collect for Christmas Day is based on a collect for Christmas Day Lauds in the Mozarabic Breviary (Migne, Pat. Lat. tom. lxxxvi., col. 122). The collect for the first Sunday in Lent is based on a preface (Inlatio) in the Mass for the Wednesday after the fifth Sunday in Lent (ibid., tom. lxxxv., col. 382). The collect for the first Sunday after Easter is based upon an " Alia Oratio " (ibid., col. 517), and an " Oratio ad pacem " (col. 518) for the Saturday in Easter week. The collect for St Andrew's Day is based on a Missa in the Mozarabic Mass for the same festival (ibid., col. 159). Other examples might be given, but this is hardly the place for complete details.

  • (d) The many addresses, beginning with " Dearly beloved brethren " (" the Scripture moveth us," &c.), introduced into most of the services in the Prayer Book, correspond to the addresses which, under the title of " Missa," and generally addressed to " fratres dilectissimi " or " carissimi," form part of every Mozarabic Mass.

  • (e) The prayer of consecration in the Order of Holy Communion, especially as regards the recital of the words of institution commencing "Who in the same night," &c., follows a Mozarabic rather than the Sarum or Roman model in several respects, but the same features are found in the consecration prayer in the Brandenburg-Nurnberg agenda of 1533, and it is doubtful whether the Anglican borrowing is from a Mozarabic or a Lutheran source. Possibly both the Anglican and Lutheran formulae are derived independently from the Mozarabic; because, as we have seen, a Mozarabic missal was certainly in Cranmer's hands and studied by him.

Eastern Liturgies.

These were certainly known to Cranmer, but it is remarkable how little he borrowed from them.

  • (a) The prayer which was placed at the end of the Litany in 1549, and now stands as the last prayer but one at the end of Matins and Evensong, as well as of the Litany, was undoubtedly borrowed from the Liturgy of St Chrysostom, where, as likewise in the Liturgy of St Basil, it forms the prayer of the third antiphon after the Deacon's Litany in the Mass of the Catechumens.

  • (b ) The concluding prayer of Matins and Evensong, " The Grace of our Lord," &c., which was added in 1662, may have been taken from Greek liturgies. It is the opening salutation in the Mass of the Catechumens in the Clementine Liturgy, where it occurs again, as it does in the Greek Liturgies before the " Sursum corda "; though there is no evidence to prove that it was not taken directly from Holy Scripture (2 Cor. xiii. 14).

  • (c) The Epiklesis or invocation of the Holy Spirit upon the elements, must have been copied from an Eastern Liturgy. It occurs in the 1549 Prayer Book, but has been omitted in all subsequent editions. It runs thus: " Hear us, 0 merciful Father, we beseech Thee, and with Thy holy Spirit and word vouchsafe to bltess and sancttify these Thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the body and blood of Thy most dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ." This is not an exact translation of any known epiklesis, and Cranmer altered its position from after to immediately before the words of institution.

  • (d ) Four petitions in the Litany. " That it may please Thee to illuminate all Bishops, Priests and Deacons," &c. (altered in 1661 from all Bishops, pastors and ministers) and " That it may please Thee to give to all nations unity, peace and concord," and " That it may please Thee to succour, help and comfort all that are in danger, necessity and tribulation," and " That it may please Thee to preserve all that travel by land or by water, all women labouring of child, all sick persons, and young children, and to show Thy pity upon all prisoners and captives ! " are almost certainly modelled on corresponding petitions in the Deacon's Litany in the Liturgy of St Chrysostom (ed. F. E. Brightman, p. 362, i. 35, and p. 363, lines 4, 17, 15). At least, they resemble far more closely the Greek petitions than they do any corresponding Latin petitions in the Old Sarum Litany.

Lutheran and other continental Protestant service books.

The most considerable quantity of the new material which was imported into the Prayer Book was drawn from Lutheran and Genevan service books. The Litany, for example, in the Prayer Book is based upon the medieval Latin Litany, but great variation both in substance and language and by way of addition and omission, are made in it. These variations are largely borrowed from and closely follow the language of various Lutheran litanies, especially that given in the consultation of Archbishop Hermann of Cologne issued in 1543. Lutheran influence can likewise be traced in way of variation introduced into the baptismal and other sacramental or occasional offices. So in the Communion service the most striking departures from ancient precedent have a Protestant origin. The introduction of the Ten Commandments in 1553 seems to be derived from the order of service published by Valerandus Pollanus (Pullain) in 1551; and that of the Comfortable Words in 1 549 is borrowed, though all the texts chosen are not identical, from the Consultation of Hermann. It is impossible to pursue this subject here further in detail.

Original compositions of the compilers of the Prayer Book, not traceable to ancient or 16th-century originals.

These are not numerous. They include most of the collects on Saints' Days, for which, though no direct evidence of authorship is as yet forthcoming, Cranmer is probably responsible, and certain other collects, such as that for the Royal Family (Archbishop Whitgift); that for the high court of parliament (Archbishop Laud); that for all conditions of men (Bishop Gunning), &c.

Stages of the Book of Common Prayer

We proceed to describe next the various stages through which the Book of Common Prayer has passed and the leading features of each revision. Of changes preceding the first Prayer Book it will only be necessary to mention here: *(a) The compiling and publishing of the Litany in English by Cranmer in 1544.

  • (b) Royal injunctions in August 1547 ordering the Epistle and Gospel to be read in English at High Mass.

  • (c) A royal proclamation, dated the 8th of March 1848, imposing for use at the coming Easter The Order of the Communion. This was an order or form of service in English for the communion of the people in both kinds. It was to be inserted into the service after the communion of the priest, without making any other alteration in the Latin Mass. It comprised the long exhortation or notice to be given on Sunday, or on some other day, previous to the Communion, the longer exhortation, and the shorter invitation, the confession, absolution, comfortable words, prayer of humble access, formulae of administration and the concluding peace, all as they exist at present, though with variations of some importance.

The first complete vernacular Book of Common Prayer was issued in 1549. It was carried through both houses of parliament by the 21st of January 1549, by an Act of Uniformity which made its use compulsory on and after the following Whit-Sunday. The exact date of the giving of the royal assent, and the question whether this Book received the assent of Convocation, are historical points of difficulty and uncertainty which cannot be treated at length here.

Some of the chief points of difference between this and subsequent Prayer Books were the following: Matins and Evensong began with the Lord's Prayer, and ended with the third collect; there were no alternative Psalm-canticles for Benedictus, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis; the Athanasian Creed was introduced after the Benedictus on six festivals only, and in addition to the Apostles' Creed; the Litany was placed after the Communion service, for which an alternative title was given, viz.: " commonly called the Mass." Introits were provided for use on every Sunday and Holy-Day; after the offertory intending communicants were directed to " tarry still in the quire or in some convenient place nigh the quire "; in the prayer " for the whole state of Christ's church," the blessed Virgin Mary was commemorated by name among departed saints; prayer for the departed was explicitly retained; also an invocation of the Holy Spirit before the words of institution, the prayer of oblation immediately following them. The mixed chalice was ordered to be used, and the Agnus Dei to be sung during the Communion of the people. A large selection of short scriptural post-Communions was provided. Unleavened bread was to be used and placed not in the hand but in the mouth of the communicant. The sign of the cross was to be made not only in the eucharistic consecration prayer, but also in Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Matrimony and the Visitation of the Sick. Reservation for the sick and unction of the sick were retained; and exorcism, unction, trine immersion and the chrisom were included in the baptismal service. The prayer in the burial service, as in the Communion service, contained distinct intercessions for the departed; and a form of Holy Communion was provided for use at funerals with proper introit, collect, epistle and gospel.

As to vestments, in the choir offices, the surplice only was to be used; the hood being added in cathedrals and colleges; and by all graduates when preaching, everywhere.

At Holy Communion the officiating priest was to wear "a white Albe plain with a vestment or Cope," and the assistant clergy were to wear "Albes with tunicles." Whenever a bishop was celebrant he was to wear, "beside his rochette, a surplice or albe, and a cope or vestment," and also to carry " his pastoral staff in his hand, or else borne or holden by his chaplain." The mitre was not mentioned.

The ordinal was not attached to this Prayer Book at its first appearance, but it was added under another act of parliament in the following year, 1550. It was very similar to the present ordinal except that the words " for the office and work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands " were wanting, and the chalice or cup with the bread were delivered, as well as a Bible, to each newly-ordained priest.

We pass on to 1552 when a new and revised edition of the Prayer Book was introduced by an act of parliament which ordered that it should come into use on All Saints' Day (Nov. 1). The alterations made in it were many and important, and as they represent the furthest point ever reached by the Prayer Book in a Protestant direction, they deserve special mention and attention.

  • 1. The introductory sentences, exhortation, confession and absolution were prefixed to the Order for Morning Prayer daily throughout the year and ordered to be read before Evening Prayer as well. Alternative Psalms were provided for Benedictus, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis.

  • 2. Numerous and most important alterations were made in the Order for Holy Communion, in the title of which the words " commonly called the Mass were left out.

    • (a) The Introits were omitted.

    • (b ) Gloria in excelsis was transferred from near the beginning to near the end of the service.

    • (c ) The ten commandments with an expanded tenfold Kyrie eleison were introduced.

    • (d ) The long new English canon of 1549 was split up into three parts: the first part becoming the prayer for the church militant; the second part becoming the prayer of consecration, the third part, or prayer of oblation, becoming the first postCommunion collect; the epiklesis or invocation of the Holy Ghost upon the elements was entirely omitted.

    • (e ) The mixed chalice, the use of the sign of the cross in the consecration prayer; the commemoration of the blessed Virgin Mary and of various classes of saints were omitted.

    • (f ) The Agnus Dei and the postCommunion anthems were omitted.

    • (g ) The words of administration in the 1549 book were abolished, viz.: " The body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life," and " The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for thee preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life," and the following words were substituted: " Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving," and " Drink this in remembrance that Christ's blood was shed for thee, and be thankful."

    • (h ) A long rubric was added at the end of the service explanatory of the attitude of kneeling at the reception of Holy Communion, in which it was stated that " it is not meant hereby that any adoration is done, or ought to be done, either unto the sacramental bread and wine there bodily received, or to any real and essential presence there being of Christ's natural flesh and blood," &c.

    • (i ) Exorcism, unction, trine immersion and the chrisom were omitted from the baptismal service.

  • (k ) Unction and communion with the reserved sacrament were removed from the services for the visitation and the communion of the sick.

    • (1 ) Prayers for the dead and provision for a celebration of Holy Communion at a funeral were removed from the burial service.

    • (m ) The vestments retained and ordered under the Prayer Book of 1 549 were abolished by a new rubric which directed that both at the time of Communion and at all other times of ministration a bishop should wear a rochet and that a priest or deacon should have and wear a surplice only;

    • (n ) on the other hand, the directions as to daily service were extended to all clergy and made much stricter,

    • (o ) and the number of days on which the Athanasian Creed was to be used was raised from six to thirteen.

The main objects of these drastic alterations have been thought to have been two-fold.

  • 1. To abolish all ritual for which there was not scriptural warrant. If this was their object it was not consistently or completely carried out. No scriptural warrant can be found for the use of the surplice, or for the use of the sign of the cross in baptism, both of which were retained.

  • 2. To make the services as unlike the pre-Reformation services as possible. This object too was not fully attained; no liturgical precedent can be found for the violent dislocation of certain parts of the Order for Holy Communion, especially in the case of the prayer of oblation and of the Gloria in Excelsis; but the orders for Morning and Evening Prayer and the Holy Communion retained features of the Breviary and Missal services, the bulk of their component material being still drawn from them. While the alterations, therefore, were violent enough to alarm and offend the Catholic party, they were not violent enough to satisfy the extreme Puritan party, who would no doubt have agitated for and would probably have obtained still further reformation and revision. But this Prayer Book only lived for eight months. It came into use on All Saints'tay (Nov. i) 1552, and on the 6th of July 1553 Edward VI. died and was succeeded by his sister Mary, under whom the Prayer Book was abolished and the old Latin services and service books resumed their place.

On the death of Queen Mary and the accession of her sister Elizabeth (Nov. 17, 1558) all was reversed, and the Book of Common Prayer was restored into use again.

The Act of Uniformity

The Act of Univormity, which obtained final parliamentary authority on the 28th of April 1559, ordered that the Prayer Book should come again into use on St John the Baptist's Day (June 2 4, 1559). This was the second Prayer Book of King Edward VI., with the following few but important alterations, which, like all the alterations introduced at subsequent dates into the Prayer Book, were in a Catholic rather than in a Protestant direction.

  • 1. Morning and Evening Prayer were directed to be " used in the accustomed place of the church, chapel or chancel, instead of " in such place as the people may best hear." 2. The rubric ordering the use of the rochet only by the bishop and of surplice only by a priest or deacon was abolished. The eucharistic vestments ordered in the first Prayer Book of Edward VI. were brought back by a new rubric which directed that " the minister at the time of the communion and at all other times in his ministration, shall use such vestments in the church as were in use by authority of parliament in the second year of the reign of King Edward the VI. according to the act of parliament set in the beginning of this book.

  • 3. In the Litany the following petition found in both the Edwardian Prayer Books was omitted " from the tyranny of the bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities, good Lord deliver us."

  • 4. In the Communion service the two clauses of administration found in the first and second Prayer Books of King Edward's reign were combined.

  • 5. The rubric explanatory of "kneeling for reception,"commonly known as "the Black Rubric" was omitted.

  • 6. In the Ordinal in the rubric before the oath of the queen's sovereignty the words "against the power and authority of all foreign potentates" were substituted for "against the usurped power and authority of the Bishop of Rome," and in the oath itself four references to the bishop of Rome, by name, were omitted.

There were a few more minor alterations, without doctrinal or political significance which need not be described in detail here.

The only further addition or alteration made in Queen Elizabeth's reign was in 1561, when all the present black letter Holy Days were added to the Kalendar except St George (April 23) Lammas (Aug. 1), St Laurence (Aug. 10) and St Clement (Nov. 22), which already existed, and except St Enurchus (Sept. 7), added in 1604, and the Venerable Bede (May 27) and St Alban (June 17) added in 1662.

A smouldering and growing Puritan discontent with the Prayer Book, suppressed with a firm hand under Queen Elizabeth, burst out into a flame on the accession of King James I. in 1603. A petition called the millenary petition, because signed by no less than one thousand ministers, was soon presented to him, asking, among other things, for various alterations in the Prayer Book and specifying the alterations desired. As a result the king summoned a conference of leading Puritan divines, and of bishops and other leading Anglican divines, which met under his presidency at Hampton Court in January 1604. After both sides had been heard, certain alterations were determined upon and were ordered by royal authority, with the general assent of Convocation. These alterations were not very numerous nor of great importance, but such as they were they all went in the direction of catholicizing rather than of puritanizing the Prayer Book; the. one exception being the substitution of some chapters of the canonical scriptures for some chapters of the Apocrypha, especially of the book of Tobit. Other changes were:

  • 1. The addition of one more black letter Saint's Day, viz.: Enurchus (by error for Evurtius) on the 7th of September. This was a small but a very extraordinary and an inexplicable change to make. The only explanation offered, which is a pure guess and seems barely possible, is that it was desired to place some mark of dignity upon a day which during the late reign had been kept with great festivity as the birthday of Queen Elizabeth.

  • 2. The words, " The absolution to be pronounced by the minister alone " at Morning and Evening Prayer, were altered to " The Absolution, or Remission of Sins, to be pronounced by the priest alone, standing; the people still kneeling."

  • 3. A prayer for the royal family was added after the prayer for the king, and a petition was added in the Litany to the same effect, both exhibiting slight verbal differences from the prayer and petition as used to-day.

  • 4. Thanksgiving prayers were added for rain, for fair weather, for plenty, for peace and victory.

  • 5. Important alterations were introduced into the service for the private baptism of children in houses, with the object of doing away with lay baptism and securing the administration by the minister of the parish, or some other lawful minister.

  • 6. The confirmation service was entitled and explained thus: " The Order of Confirmation, or Laying on of Hands upon Children Baptized, and able to render an account of their faith according to the Catechism following." *7. The concluding portion of the Catechism, consisting of eleven questions on the sacraments, was now added.

There were other slight changes of a verbal kind, involving no doctrinal or political significance and which therefore need not be described here.

Total Suppression

The next important stage in the history of the Prayer Book was its total suppression in 1645 for a period of fifteen years. " the Directory for the Public Worship of God in the Three Kingdoms " being established in its place. The restoration of King Charles II. in 1660 brought with it toleration at once, and soon afterwards complete restoration of the Prayer Book, but not exactly in the same form which it had before. Nonconformists pressed upon the king, either that the Prayer Book should not be re-introduced, or that if it were re-introduced, features which they objected to might be removed. The result was that a conference was held in 1661, known from its place of meeting as the Savoy Conference, the church being represented by twelve bishops and the Nonconformists by twelve eminent Presbyterian divines, each side accompanied by nine coadjutors. The objections raised from the Nonconformist point of view were numerous and varied, but they were thoroughly discussed between the first meeting on the 15th of April and the last on the 24th of July 1661; the bishops agreeing to meet the Puritan wishes on a few minor points but on none of fundamental importance. Later in the year, between the 10th of November and the 10th of December, Convocation assembled and undertook the revision of the Prayer Book. In the earlier part of the following year the book so revised came before parliament. No amendment was made in it in either house and it finally received the royal assent on the 19th of May 1662, being annexed to an Act of Uniformity which provided for its coming into general and compulsory use on St Bartholomew's Day (Aug. 24).

The alterations thus introduced were very numerous, amounting to many hundreds, and many of them were more important than any which had been introduced into the Prayer Book since 1552. Their general tendency was distinctly in a Catholic as opposed to a Puritan direction, and the two thousand Puritan incumbents who vacated their benefices on St Bartholomew's Day rather than accept the altered Prayer Book bear eloquent testimony to that fact.

It is impossible to give here an exhaustive list of the alterations: but the following were some of the principal changes made in 1662.

  • (a) The preface " It hath been the wisdom of the Church of England," &c., composed by Sanderson, bishop of Lincoln, was prefixed to the Prayer Book.

  • (b ) The authorized version of the Bible of 1611 was taken into use, except in the case of the Psalms, where the great Bible of 1539-1540 was retained as much smoother for singing, and in parts of the Communion service. *(c ) The rubric preceding the absolution in Morning and Evening Prayer, viz.: " The absolution to be pronounced by the minister alone," was altered into " The Absolution, or Remission of Sins, to be pronounced by the priest alone, standing; the people still kneeling."

  • (d ) In the Litany the phrase " Bishops, Pastors and Ministers of the Church," was altered into " Bishops, Priests and Deacons," and in the clause commencing From all sedition and privy conspiracy," &c., the words " rebellion and " schism " were added.

  • (e ) Among the " Prayers and Thanksgivings upon several occasions, " were added the two Ember week prayers, the prayer for the high court of parliament, the collect or prayer for all conditions of men, the general thanksgiving, and that " For restoring Public Peace at Home."

  • (f) In the Communion service two rubrics were prefixed to the prayer " for the whole state of Christ's Church militant here in earth " ordering the humble presentation and placing of the alms upon the Holy Table, and the placing thereon then of so much Bread and Wine as the priest shall think sufficient; and

  • (g) the commemoration of the departed was added to the prayer itself.

  • (h ) The rubric explanatory of the posture of kneeling for reception, known as the Black Rubric, which had been added in 1562, but omitted in 1559 and 1604, was re-introduced; but the words "to any real and essential presence there being of Christ's natural flesh and blood" were altered to "unto any Corporal Presence of Christ's natural Flesh and Blood" - a very important and significant alteration which affected the meaning of the whole rubric.

  • (i ) Rubrics were also added ordering the manual acts by the priest in the prayer of consecration, and the covering of the remainder of the consecrated'; elements after Communion with a fair linen cloth.

  • (k ) A new office was added for the Ministration of Baptism to such as are of riper years.

  • (1 ) A rubric was prefixed to the Order for the Burial of the Dead, forbidding that order to be used " for any that die unbaptized, or excommunicate, or have laid violent hands upon themselves."

  • (m ) In the " Ordering of Priests," and "the Consecration of Bishops," in the formula for ordination, after the words, "Receive the Holy Ghost," these words were added " for the Office and Work of a Priest (or Bishop) in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands."

  • (n ) The ornaments rubric, regulating the vesture of the clergy was thrown into its present shape, referring back not to 1604 or 1559 or 1552, but to the first Prayer Book of Edward VI. in 1549 for the rule to be followed.

The above are the important alterations, among numerous others of minor significance, introduced into the Prayer Book in 1662. Their general trend is obvious. It is not in the Puritan direction, but intended to emphasize and to make more clear church doctrine and discipline, which in recent years had become obscured or decayed. No substantial alteration has been made in the Prayer Book since 1662, but two alterations must be chronicled as having obtained the sanction of the Convocations of Canterbury and York, and also legal force by act of parliament. In 1871 a new Lectionary was substituted for the previously existing one, into the merits and demerits of which it is not possible to enter here; and in 1872, by the Act of Uniformity Amendment Act, a shortened form of service was provided instead of the present form of Morning and Evening Prayer for optional use in other than cathedral churches on all days exeept Sunday, Christmas Day, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and Ascension Day; provision was also statutably made for the separation of services, and for additional services, to be taken, however, except so far as anthems and hymns are concerned, entirely out of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.

In the year 1907 letters of business were issued by the Crown to the Convocations inviting and enabling them to make alterations in the Prayer Book (afterwards to be embodied in an act of parliament). These letters were issued in compliance with the second recommendation (1906) of the Royal Commission on Ecclesiastical Discipline, viz.: that " Letters of business should be issued to the Convocations with instructions: (a) to consider the preparation of a new rubric regulating the ornaments (that is to say, the vesture) of the ministers of the church, at the times of their ministrations, with a view to its enactment by parliament; and (b ) to frame, with a view to their enactment of parliament, such modifications in the existing law relating to the conduct of Divine Service, and to the ornaments and fittings of churches as may tend to secure the greater elasticity which a reasonable recognition of the comprehensiveness of the Church of England and of its present needs seems to demand." A few words are added in conclusion about the state services. Until the year 1859 they were four in number.

  • 1. A Form of Prayer with Thanksgiving to be used yearly upon the Fifth Day of November, to commemorate the happy deliverance of King James I. and the Three Estates of England from the Gunpowder Plot in 1604.

  • 2. A Form of Prayer with Fasting to be used yearly on the Thirtieth Day of January, to commemorate the Martyrdom of the Blessed King Charles the First in 1649.

  • 3. A Form of Prayer with Thanksgiving to be used yearly on the Twenty-ninth Day of May, to commemorate the Restoration to the throne of King Charles the Second in 1660.

  • 4. A Form of Prayer with Thanksgiving to be used yearly on the Day of the Accession of the reigning Monarch.

The first three of these services were abolished in 1859 by royal warrant - that is to say by the exercise of the same authority which had instituted them. The fourth form of service was retained in its old shape till 1901, when a new form, or rather new forms of service, having been prepared by Convocation, were authorized by royal warrant on the 9th of November. (F. E. W.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Book of Common Prayer'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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