Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cranmer, 1549 Book of Common Prayer, & Some Context

Mr. Jacobs’ take on the context of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer.

Jacobs, Alan (2013-09-30). The "Book of Common Prayer": A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books) (p. 50). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

“Meanwhile, many of the more rigorous evangelicals—including some very close to the throne— found themselves dismayed by the remnants of traditional worship (what they called `papistry’) in the prayer book. Cranmer may have retained the Litany he wrote for Henry in 1544, with its prayer for deliverance `from the tyranny of the bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities,’ but in their view it would do no good to banish the pope only to repeat his worst crimes and errors. They saw that the priest, though he began Matins by speaking English `in a loud voice,’ did so from the choir of the church, while the people by implication sacrificed anew in each Mass. If there is no sacrifice, then what need for a priest ? For the same reason the place on which the bread and wine were placed during the service should simply be called a `table ,’ but the prayer book called it an `altar.’ Worst of all was Cranmer’s name— or rather names: he seems here to have been trying to give something to everyone— for the central rite: `The Supper of the Lord and the Holy Communion, Commonly Called the Mass.’ Yes, replied the evangelicals, it is indeed `commonly called the Mass,’ but that is just what must be eliminated, lest people believe that this new rite is merely the familiar superstitious nonsense clothed in English rather than Latin. Especially for those evangelicals who knew the radical dismantling of old forms of worship carried out by reformers on the Continent, Cranmer’s prayer book was maddeningly traditionalist, nearly papistical. (And those hardline evangelicals who disdained set prayers altogether —we shall hear more from them later— said it simply was papistical, and hence devilish.) In one sense Cranmer and the government did not back down: the new book was not withdrawn, the Act of Uniformity was not repealed, and offenders against `godly order and quiet in this realm’ were punished. Much of Cranmer’s time in the second half of 1549 was devoted to supervising investigations of heresy, among the radical evangelicals and traditionalists alike. But revisions of the prayer book began almost immediately, and they all followed the direction the evangelical party preferred. Cranmer may not have been wholly dismayed by this turn of events . As noted earlier, his first experiments with English liturgies in the 1530s were far more radical than the 1549 book, and perhaps he only pushed that book as far as he thought he could go in the evangelical direction. This was certainly what he or some close allies told the Continental reformer Martin Bucer when he visited London that April. Bucer wrote to friends back home that the traditionalist elements in the prayer book `are only to be retained for a time, lest the people, not yet thoroughly instructed in Christ, should by too extensive innovations be frightened away from Christ’s religion.’ Bucer clearly believed a simplified, pared-down order of worship to be the only appropriate kind—` Christ’s religion’— and equally clearly he believed that Cranmer shared his views. Diarmaid MacCulloch, Cranmer’s authoritative biographer, agrees with Bucer.4”

Jacobs, Alan (2013-09-30). The "Book of Common Prayer": A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books) (p. 50). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

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