The Secker Society

 

THE ORIGIN AND STATUS OF THE ENGLISH RITE IN CONTEXT

By D. H. Graham

Introduction

The English Rite, that is the distinct liturgy of the English Church, and which at one time was in general use throughout the English-speaking world, is that which is found in The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church According to the Use of the Church of England, commonly called “The Book of Common Prayer”, or “The Sixteen Sixty-Two Prayer Book” after the date of its last major revision.1 The English Rite is one of the two major Western rites of Christian liturgy, the other being the Roman Rite, which share with one another certain features in common that set them apart from Eastern and Oriental rites. The English Rite stands together with the Roman Rite and the Byzantine Rite in representing the three largest Christian liturgical traditions in the world today. Whereas with reference to the Byzantine tradition, a close family of historically connected and simultaneously used liturgical practices with certain shared defining features is what is meant by the use of the common designation of “Byzantine Rite” or “Constantinopolitan Rite”, since the close of the sixteenth century “Roman Rite” has designated a single standardized liturgy—though revised significantly in 1969—commonly used in the majority of congregations within the Roman communion. In this paper, the “English Rite” is not principally used in reference to a family of related liturgical forms drawing upon a shared liturgical tradition formalized in sixteenth century England, but to the specific rite contained in The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, which was commonly used by the majority of congregations within the Anglican communion until the period of the 1960s-1970s.2 This distinction is important, because the present liturgical diversity to be found within the Anglican communion is relatively recent in appearance, and it is not the case that the wide variety of newly authored liturgical forms currently authorized for use by its various member churches share in common a set of definable features deriving from The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, but rather some of these draw relatively little on the English Rite, instead representing liturgies based largely upon earlier liturgical forms as informed by modern scholarship, ecumenical concerns, or perceived cultural needs.3 In the following pages a brief account of the history, development, and current status of the English Rite will be presented, though without a detailed account of its actual content and form.4

The Foundations of the English Rite

Prior to the Normanization of Great Britain and Ireland that occurred during the eleventh through thirteenth centuries there had been two largely distinct forms of the Catholic Church operating in the British Isles. That of the sort practiced among the indigenous British, professing a foundation in the Apostolic Age, which though possessing “bishops”, cannot be said to have been organizing or functioning after the pattern common to the Catholic Church elsewhere, and that associated with the episcopal “See of Canterbury”, established as a Roman mission in Britain in 597.5 During the Early Middle Ages these two circles of the Catholic Church operating in Great Britain and Ireland may be regarded as having been in communion with one another, with the organizational hierarchy centered at Canterbury pursuing an agenda of Romanization of the rest of the islands outside of an effort to subordinate them administratively to itself. The “See of Canterbury” was established as a mission to the peoples called in Latin during much of the Medieval period the “Anglorum”, that is the early Angles in the broadest sense of including a wide range of related tribes who were recent invaders from the European continent and unlike the indigenous British were a wholly pagan people. The present division of the Church of England into the provinces of Canterbury and York has its roots in the political divisions existing during this Early Medieval Period in what is now England, particularly as seen in the distinction between the Kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia, though the Medieval Archbishopric of York, established in Northumbria, is regarded to have belonged to the initial late sixth century-early seventh century Roman mission from Canterbury.6 The influence during this period of both British and Roman Christianity over the early Anglic tribes can be seen in the decisions of a number of important councils, particularly those of the Synod of Whitby in 664, and the Synod of Clovesho in 747, the latter of which formally established conformity to the Roman Rite as the ideal among the Angles. The period of Normanization effectively brought with it an end to the division, with the See of Canterbury aggressively claiming supremacy over the Catholic Church in Ireland, among the Welsh, and both York and Canterbury over that in the Kingdom of Scotland. The result by the end of the Norman period was a general normalization of a hierarchical episcopal structure in Ireland, Scotland, and what is now Wales, with the former two formalizing a less ambiguous role of direct oversight from Rome in the place of the potentially much more controlling Canterbury, and the Church in Wales coming, through Bishop Urban of Llandaff (1076–1134), under submission to the Archbishop of Canterbury, where it remained until 1920.7

In additional to structural reorganizations this period of Norman influence from the eleventh through thirteenth centuries was accompanied by a general standardization of liturgy, having its genesis with a set of liturgical manuals produced in the Diocese of Salisbury, the forms of which would grow in prevalence until they were used in not only most of England itself, but also in Scotland and much of Ireland as well, such that by the middle of the sixteenth century they represented a common liturgy for the better part of the British Isles.8 These Medieval liturgical forms, as well as various customs associated with them, are known by the appellation “Sarum”, a shortening of the Latin for Salisbury, Sarisburium, and serve as the foundation of the present English Rite. This Sarum liturgy belonged to the larger Roman family, as it existed exclusively in the Latin language after the universal custom of the Medieval Western Church; whereas in the East and Orient it has ever been the practice for local or indigenous languages to be used in the liturgy, in the West it was the general practice of the Roman communion from the period of the late fourth and early fifth centuries to exclude languages other than Latin from use in the public liturgy of its services, this until 1964.9 There is no justifiable reason to doubt the historic claim of the British Church that it is not of Roman origin, and therefore also that it was not originally possessing of a form of the Roman Rite, however, no examples of an historic liturgy in the indigenous British languages are now extant.10 The Sarum liturgy however, may be so designated because it is distinct from the Medieval rite of Rome itself, and its distinctives in part are to be found in its containing elements derived from older Anglic and indigenous British liturgical forms:11 it is in this sense, that in the lineage of the Sarum liturgy there exists within the English Rite an unbroken connection to the earliest, pre-Latin, period of the British Church, leaving this thread of the British tradition as the only non-Roman liturgical tradition in the West with a continual common use since ancient times.12

The Development and Spread of the English Rite

The present form of the English Rite is a product of the period of the English Reformation, in which relations between the Anglican and Roman communions were formally severed during the sixteenth century. The Sarum liturgy, which had amounted to a common liturgy for the British Isles by this time as already noted, was made—at least in a large measure—formally so within the Churches of England and Ireland in 1543,13 with the services of the church commonly still being in Latin at this date. The process from which it emerged was the effort to produce a uniform English-language liturgy, drawing from the existing traditions, and further involving an intention to simplify, as well as concerns for making specific modifications both in theology and practice—this process was largely the work of one man, then Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556). This result was The Book of Common Prayer, which although it has undergone numerous revisions, remains with us today. The core elements of the prayer book proper are the text and rites for public and private worship to be performed daily and on particular set dates, on an annual cycle, and the calendar to which such texts and rites are fixed. To these are to be added the lectionary, that is those portions of the Holy Bible to be read in a set connection with this annual cycle of liturgy, and then various liturgies authorized by the church for specific events, such as weddings and burials. Over time, the Ordinal, the book of the liturgy for the consecration of deacons, priests, and bishops14—and which is frequently counted as a separate work—as well as the book of the Articles of Religion, the formal statement of belief of the Church of England15—which itself cannot be counted as a part of the liturgy—came to be included in printings of The Book of Common Prayer.

The first formal publishing of The Book of Common Prayer was in 1549, at the beginning of the reign of Edward VI, though this had been preceded by various publications of authorized English liturgical forms for public worship during the reign of Henry VIII, as well as a what were known as “primers”, and related works, for private devotion in both Latin as well as English.16 The content of The Book of Common Prayer, and as such of the contemporary English Rite, was drawn principally from—and began initially as—English translations of the Sarum liturgy by Thomas Cranmer, eventually resulting in combination, simplification, and revision of the principal services of the Holy Communion (from the “Mass” of the Missal), and the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer (from the “Hours” of the Breviary). While the received Sarum liturgy served as the base, significant changes were made—revisions based upon contemporary interpretations of Holy Scriptures, in addition to elements from liturgies of the early church, and the Byzantine Rite,17 being introduced into the text—with the express purpose of bringing the English liturgical tradition in line with a broader testimony of the Christian faith than that manifested in the Roman communion. The calendar of the present rite, which has undergone some minor changes over time, was also drawn from the Sarum manuals,18 as well as were many elements of the liturgies for occasional events, including the Ordinal.19 While in some respects the lectionary is unique to the prayer book, the core of its selections, those in regards to the service of Holy Communion, were received directly from the Sarum manuals, and reflect a very early tradition.20 The Book of Common Prayer was revised in 1552, 1559, and again in 1604.21 The final major revision, that of 1662, continued, in its essence, the initial English-language reformation of the Sarum liturgy brought forth under the direction of Archbishop Cranmer in 1549, and has undergone very little alteration of significance since 1662.22

From the 1662 Act of Uniformity (14 Car 2 c 4), the revision of The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England of that year was to become the exclusive manual of liturgical forms within the Kingdom of England and its territories, however, in time this last version of the English Rite was also to be adopted by the Church in Scotland and Ireland, and to be spread across the globe through the ecclesiastical component of the British Empire. In the Kingdom of Scotland, the English Rite—this then being the final 1552 book revised under Thomas Cranmer—was the first liturgy to be adopted after the Reformation, and remained until 1564, when it was replaced by a liturgy published under the direction of North British Reformer, John Knox (1513–1572), initially on the Continent in 1556. 23 In 1637, under the authority of Charles I, a new prayer book was published for use in the Church of Scotland to replace the prayer book which had been used since 1564—though this book was modeled largely on the English Rite, which Knox himself exerted a significant reforming influence upon during the reign of Edward VI—it was violently rejected by the North British, and was never adopted for use in the Church of Scotland. At the Restoration, when episcopal government was restored throughout the Three Kingdoms from 1660–1661 under Charles II, it was neither the 1552 liturgy, the 1556 liturgy, nor the 1637 liturgy, but The Book of Common Prayer of the English Rite that would find formal use in the Church of Scotland until the disestablishment of the episcopate in North Britain in the year 1690.24 From 1690, formal liturgy fell out of use in the Church of Scotland, though the Church of Scotland continued to promote the use of The Book of Common Prayer in private worship up into the twentieth century by working with English ecclesial elements to promote use of indigenous British language translations of the book in the Highlands and Islands. From the Reformation, The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England was used in the Church of Ireland until the publication of The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church According to the Use of the Church of Ireland in 1666. This Irish prayer book, however, contained the English Rite without alteration, and was distinct from the English book only in that it contained supplemental liturgical material, as was similarly authorized at various times and localities in England, but not normally bound and published with the prayer book itself. In 1801, in conjunction with the formation of the United Kingdom, the kingdoms becoming one, the Church in England and in Ireland were united into the “United Church of England and Ireland”, and the supplemental Irish material was dropped for a single publication of the English Rite for use in both countries.25 It was not until after the disestablishment of the Irish Church in 1871, as part of the larger dismantling of the formally united Established Church throughout the Empire, that the Irish Church would lay aside the English Rite for a new liturgy of its own construction.26 It was thus the case that the English Rite was at one time the universal rite of the British Church, and was likewise the last rite in use at the end of episcopal establishment in Scotland and Ireland; it may thus be counted not only as a common historic liturgy to Anglicanism itself, but to Protestant Episcopalianism in the broadest sense. The English Rite was also universal to the Church of England as legally established throughout British colonies around the world until the latter half of the nineteenth century,27 and has therefore been translated into and published in over 200 different languages.28

The English Rite in the Present Age

The present Anglican communion has its immediate origins in the reign of Queen Victoria. The relationship between the Churches of England, Scotland, and Ireland to one another is in its essence a matter of the constitution of the United Kingdom, and the peculiar relationship of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and the Church of England is rooted in the complexities of the former’s founding. Royal Assent on 23 July 1840 to “An Act to make certain Provisions and Regulations in respect to the Exercise within England and Ireland, of their Office by the Bishops and Clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Scotland; and also to extend such Previsions and Regulations to the Bishops and Clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America” 29 laid the first foundations of a future “communion” of Protestant Episcopalians by 1867. In the proper sense, the formal “Anglican Communion”, which might be regarded as an extra-constitutional instrument, was formed in response to a number of controversies within the Church of England that resulted in the Privy Council judgement of Long v. Gray in 1863,30 which dismantled the intercontinental Church of England by removing the operation of royal supremacy throughout the colonies, thereby making the majority of dioceses outside of England fully independent, while at the same time creating a number of “Anglican Churches” that were no longer governed formally by the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The original Lambeth communion was formed, by conference in 1867 presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury under the immediate authority of Queen Victoria, to address the legal severance of Long v. Gray in order that what had been the Church of England throughout the British Empire might remain formally connected in some manner.31 The question of the positions of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Scotland32 and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and their potential admittance to what was otherwise a structure of “Anglican” churches was a critical issue. Ultimately, their admittance was premised upon reception of the standards of The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, and the book of the Articles of Religion it contained.33 In 1886 the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, held in Chicago, adopted a resolution intended to advance unity broadly among Christians of diverse backgrounds, and reflecting particularly American concerns, however, this was eventually adopted in substance by the third Lambeth Conference in 1888, and has come to be known as the “Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral”.34 Initially intended as a basis for defining the Anglican communion’s relationship with other communions, under increasing anti-English sentiments largely deriving from North American quarters, through the twentieth century it began to be proffered by some as the basis of communion within the Anglican communion itself—a document which “makes no mention of England, Anglicanism, the Reformation, the Thirty-Nine Articles, or the Book of Common Prayer” 35—which would effectively amount to the undoing of the Anglican communion’s direct tie to a grounding in the practice of the English Church, including the formal standard of the historic English Rite. In 1958 the Lambeth Conference set aside The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England as defining norms of liturgy and practice for the communion as a whole.36 The slow removal of a point of reference for the communion from within the Anglican tradition itself created a framework for significant drift.

Of Anglican communion member churches at the beginning of the twentieth century, only the Church of Ireland, the Protestant Episcopal Church in Scotland, and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America with its various provinces and missions, used a liturgy other than that of The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England for their public worship services; the membership of these three bodies together constituting less than ten percent of the total individual communicants within the world-wide Anglican communion.37 The majority of provinces of the Anglican communion which had at one time commonly used the English Rite did not adopt independent liturgical forms in its place until the second half of the twentieth century.38 The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church According to the Use of the Church of England remains the formal service book of the Church of England, though as of 1965-1966 it has been accompanied by a variety of other authorized liturgies within the English Church.39 A similar formal status for the English Rite and an accompanying situation of additional liturgical texts being used exists in the Anglican Church of Australia, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Church of the Province of Central Africa, the Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, and the Church of the Province of Uganda,40 with the precise current position of the English Rite in some jurisdictions of the Anglican communion being unclear.41 As of 2017, the English Rite is no longer the most commonly used liturgy in the Church of England itself. Additionally, The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England is also used by a very small number of congregations not in communion with the Church of England, most notably those using the name “The Church of England (Continuing)”.

Conclusion

The difficulty which a loss of commonality in outward practice as it manifests in liturgy has presented to the Anglican communion as it enters into the twenty-first century is easily perceivable. In the absence of a common rite, the increasing liturgical diversity among those who self-identify as “Anglican” reflects increasing differences in discipline and practice in general, as well as in belief itself. There is at present a general doubt that the Anglican communion will continue through this century, as it is evident that efforts to define the basis of that communion as consisting of little more than a formal relationship in conjunction with adherence to a minimalist standard of common faith and practice such as the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral—which was specifically intended as the basis not for the union among members of the Anglican communion, but as an articulation of what they shared in common with those outside of their own communion—are insufficient in providing the commonality for maintaining such a union. The trouble is simple, in the absence of adherence to a set of common elements to define an “Anglican tradition”, member churches of the Anglican communion are growing in directions leading them to places where they have little common ground with one another. Defining “Anglican” simply as the full range of present practices of member dioceses within the international Anglican communion without reference to any particular common tradition rooted in the Church of England particularly amounts to a de-Anglicanizing of the communion, and leaves no meaningful connection between the future of “Anglicanism” so defined and its historical past. Though, perhaps, through much of the twentieth century this reality was elusive, it is now generally conceded within the communion itself. Two recent responses to this reality, the Jerusalem Declaration, produced during the seven-day Global Anglican Futures Conference held during 22–29 June 2008, and the Anglican Covenant, proposed by the formal leaders of the Lambeth communion during 2007–2009, have both attempted to reassert the position of The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, including the Ordinal and Articles of Religion contained within it, as providing a basic common standard of unity within the Anglican communion. Such proposed solutions, however, would do little to aid the underlying loss of communality unless—the absence of which we might be suspicious is reflective of a more fundamental departure from the underlying principles within the standard itself—they are accompanied by a continued place for the English Rite they claim as a standard within the life of the church itself, as the average communicant of member churches of the Anglican communion will continue to be exposed to increasingly divergent uncommon liturgical practices, without any direct connection to a common liturgical experience; it is in fact the case today, that an internal commonality of liturgy is no longer to be found within many of the individual provinces themselves. All of this leaves us pause to ask, why, if the larger portion of the Western Church has retained an exclusive place for a tradition of “common prayer”, do we in the Anglican tradition, who once held it high as a benchmark, no longer afford it but a nominal place in our own lives? If the use of the English Rite does not continue until the end of the twenty-first century, neither will the Anglican tradition which it has served as the historical centre of. But there is, however, nothing preventing Anglicans from restoring the English Rite to a place of regular use at the communion-wide level today. The Prayer Book Society in the United Kingdom, along with affiliated organizations, function to play an essential role in promoting a continued use of the English Rite within the Anglican communion. This maintenance of that which once defined what was formally common to Anglicans as a whole—a shared liturgy—continues to provide the potential for a future renewal of Anglicanism on its historic foundation.


1 Church of England, The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church According to the Use of the Church of England, Together with the Psalter or Psalms of David Pointed as They are to Be Sung or Said in Churches, and the Form or Manner of Making, Ordaining and Consecrating Bishops, Priests and Deacons (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

2 This reality is, of course, within living memory for most at this time. For a statistical account, see Luis Lugo, Brian J. Grim, and Elizabeth Podrebara, “Global Anglicanism at a Crossroads”, Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 19 June 2008; found at http://www.pewforum.org/2008/06/19/global-anglicanism-at-a-crossroads/

3 Extracts of such liturgies with little connection to the English Rite may be found in Colin Buchanan, Anglican Eucharistic Liturgies 1985–2010: The Authorized Rites of the Anglican Communion (London: Canterbury Press, 2011), examples of which include “Our Modern Services” of the Anglican Church of Kenya, on pages 146–152, and “The Holy Eucharist” of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (The Anglican Communion in Japan) of 1990, on pages 255–259. 4 For a detailed entry into the precise content of the current English Rite and account of the history of that content, see Charles Neil and James Mason Willoughby, The Tutorial Prayer Book: For the Teacher, the Student, and the General Reader (London: Harrison Trust, 1913).

5 For a basic account of this early period, see Melville Watson Patterson, A History of the Church of England (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1912), 1–5.

6 For a detailed account of the state of the church in Great Britain during the period, including historic disputes over canonical authority relating to the See of Canterbury, see Rapin de Thoyras, The History of England, trans. N. Tindal (2nd. edn., 2 vols., London: Knapton, 1732), I, 212–221.

7 See Ebenezer Josiah Newell, A History of the Welsh Church to the Dissolution of the Monasteries (London: Elliot Stock, 1895), 179–185, for a more exact account of the circumstances of the relationship of the See of Llandaff to Canterbury.

8 For an account of this history and development, see the introduction to A. H. Pearson, ed., The Sarum Missal in English (London: The Church Press Co., 1868), ix–xxii.

9 See Johannes H. Emminghaus, The Eucharist: Essence, Form, Celebration (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1997), 52; the liturgical language at Rome prior to the end of the fourth century had been Greek.

10 See John Foxe, Actes and Monuments of Matters Most Speciall and Memorable, Happenying in the Church, with an Vniuersall History of the Same, wherein Is Set Forth at Large the Whole Race and Course of the Church, from the Primitiue Age to These Latter Tymes of Ours, with the Bloudy Times, Horrible Troubles, and Great Persecutions against the True Martyrs of Christ, Fought and Wrought as Well by Heathen Emperours, as Nowe Lately Practised by Romish Prelates, Especially in This Realme of England and Scotland (s.l., s.n., 1583), 106, and W. F. Skene, Celtic Scotland (3 vols., Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1876–1880), II, 349.

11 Charles Walker, The Liturgy of the Church of Sarum, Together with the Kalendar of the Same Church (London: J. T Hayes, 1866), 3–4. For specific examples of potential survivals of early British customs in later Sarum forms, see Frederick Edward Warren, The Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1881), 7, 101, 112, 125, 246.

12 With the exception of the formal, while rather nominal in fact, survivals of the Ambrosian Rite and the Mozarabic Rite, other such rites that had previously existed within the Roman communion ended with the immediate results of the Roman Council of Trent, 1545–1563, which in practice succeeded in universalizing a common use of the Roman Rite, through the 1570 Roman Missal, within that communion; the remainder of what might be regarded as the Protestant liturgical tradition proper with roots in this same period of the sixteenth century is built directly on top of the ordinary Roman Rite, and does not in any substantive way represent a survival of earlier pre-Roman liturgical forms—the apparent concern of German reformer Martin Luther (1483–1546) was not the production of a unique liturgy but a conservative reform of the common one; see R. C. D. Jasper and G. J. Cuming, Prayers of the Eucharist: Early and Reformed (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1990), 189–199.

13 This being through the act of the Convocation of Canterbury in 1543. Richard W. Pfaff, The Liturgy in Medieval England: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 8. This same year Henry VIII brought the printing of liturgical service books according to the Sarum liturgy under English control, assigning special patents for their exclusive printing to Richard Grafton and Edward Whitchurch of London (which earlier liturgy would later be superseded among them by the printing of The Book of Common Prayer itself); see Joseph Ames, William Herbert, and Thomas Frognall Dibdin, Typographical Antiquities: or, The History of Printing in England, Scotland and Ireland (4 vols., London: W. Miller, 1810–1819), III, 429–431.

14 The initial publication of The Book of Common Prayer did not include the Ordinal, which first appeared as a separate volume—The Forme and Maner of Makying and Consecratying of Archebishoppes, Bishoppes, Priestes and Deacons (London: Richard Grafton, 1549). By the revision of 1552, some printings of The Book of Common Prayer included the Ordinal, with its inclusion increasing through the nineteenth century—such, that like the Articles of Religion, it would eventually come to be included in the standard authorized printing.

15 These “Thirty-Nine Articles” were finalized in 1571 (13 Eliz c 12), as a test of subscription in the Church of England, and are themselves law; though examples are to be found prior to the Restoration, it is through the nineteenth century that the printing of the Articles of Religion within The Book of Common Prayer becomes, gradually, established.

16 It was accompanied by the Act of Uniformity of 1549 (2 & 3 Edw VI c 1) ordering that it was the only liturgical manual to be used in the churches.

17 “A Prayer of St. Chrysostom”, of the Byzantine Rite, being incorporated into the English Rite in a prominent place under the direction of Thomas Cranmer.

18 For an account of changes to the calendar since the first prayer book, see Neil and Willoughby, The Tutorial Prayer Book, 64–75, and for an analysis in exact detail of the provenance of the present calendar in terms of earlier Sarum forms, see Vernon Staley, Hierurgia Anglicana: Documents and Extracts Illustrative of the Ceremonial of the Angican Church after the Reformation (3 vols., London: De La More Press, 1902–1904), III, 250–256.

19 Coleman Ivens, The Book of Common Prayer: Its History and Contents (London and Glasgow: William Collins, Sons, & Co., 1877), 11.

20 See Prudence Dailey, ed., The Book of Common Prayer: Past, Present and Future: A 350th Anniversary Celebration (London: Continuum, 2011), 122–123.

21 After significant changes to the liturgy for the service of Holy Communion between 1549 and 1552, among others, as well as many alterations in instructional rubrics—notable changes between pre-1662 revisions included a small number of additions and removals of saint days on the calendar, including that for Mary Magdalene, and the appearance and disappearance of the “Black Rubric” as well as prayers referencing the Bishop of Rome.

22 Significant changes to The Book of Common Prayer since 1662 include the removal of the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Supremacy from the Ordinal in 1865, a significant revision of the lectionary in 1871, and the removal of three solemn day services in 1859—that for the Gunpowder Treason, Martyrdom of King Charles I, and Restoration—these three services, as well as a fourth for the Accession which has been retained, having undergone some changes in various reigns since their introductions. The English Rite itself has essentially remained without change since the last revision of 1662.

23 John Knox, The Forme of Prayers and Ministration of Sacraments, &c. Vsed in the Englishe Congregation of Geneua (Geneva: Jean Crespin, 1556).

24 For an express account of a formal use of The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England in the Church of Scotland by Archbishop James Sharp of St. Andrews (1613–1679), see Thomas Stephen, The Life and Times of Archbishop Sharp (London: Joseph Rickerby, 1839), 211–222; that the English Rite was in use in parishes of the Church of Scotland during the era, though not required by its bishops to be, see ibid., 240.

25 These books were printed under the title The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church According to the Use of the United Church of England and Ireland, Together with the Psalter or Psalms of David Pointed as They are to Be Sung or Said in Churches, and the Form or Manner of Making, Ordaining and Consecrating Bishops, Priests and Deacons.

26 The first of these being The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church According to the Use of the Church of Ireland, “Published by the Authority of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland”, by the Association for Promoting Christian Knowledge in Dublin in 1878.

27 It should be noted, that the only surviving British colony of non-English origin, that of Nova Scotia, eventually had the Church of England legally established within it, and it thus has enjoyed establishment of a kind throughout the entirety of the British Empire at one point or another, making its liturgy in matter of fact, in conjunction with its existing pre-Anglic roots, not only “the English Rite”, but also “the British Rite”. See “An Act for the Establishment of religious public Worship in this Provence, and for the Suppression of Popery” (32 Geo II c 5).

28 Or, so it is commonly phrased; for a more precise account see J. Robert Wright, “Early Translations”, in Charles Hefling and Cynthia Shattuck, eds., The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer: A Worldwide Survey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 56–60, and David N. Griffith, Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer 1549–1999 (London: British Library, 2002).

29 3 & 4 Vic c 33. During the majority of the eighteenth through nineteenth centuries the Church of Scotland, though without bishops, was largely treated as though in a formal partnership with the established churches in England and Ireland, reflecting its legal standing at the time as such.

30 See The Jurist 9 (1864), 805–811.

31 For serious objections to the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America participating in the Anglican communion, on account of it amounting to a restoration of royal supremacy, see T. Robert Ingram, Lambeth, Unity and Truth: Pastoral Letter Issued by the House of Bishops Meeting in General Convention, Miami Beach, Florida, October 1958 (Bellaire, Tex.: St. Thomas Press, 1959).

32 A body distinct from the Church of Scotland, which as previously noted has been without bishops since 1690. It is worth noting, that the publication of the booklets entitled “An Aifrionn” and “Litirdi Albannach 1982 ann an Gŕidhlig agus am Beurla”, forms of liturgy for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper in the Scottish Gaelic language authorized by the Scottish Episcoplians in 1970 and 1982, may by inference be taken to indicate the continued authorization of use of The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England among them, these superseding similar earlier forms of the same according to the use of their sometimes being printed at the back of the English The Book of Common Prayer in its Scottish Gaelic rendering; the Episcoplians in North Britain have never published a translation of the liturgical book they have produced themselves in the native language of that country—a supplemented English Rite (which relied on the collects, and more broadly other content, of The Book of Common Prayer in translation), and that of 1556, being the only published liturgical manuals in said language.

33 The reception of the initially proscribed Protestant Episcopal Church in Scotland into communion with the Church of England was a slow process; it began with The Scottish Episcopalians Act of 1711 (10 Ann c 10) by requiring the use of The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England among them, which they readopted after a period in which alternative liturgies had become common among them. This was followed by “An Act for granting Relief to Pastors, Ministers, and Lay Persons of the Episcopal Communion in Scotland” (32 Geo III c 63) requiring subscription to The Thirty-Nine Articles, something which they assented to in 1804, and this was followed subsequently by the previously mentioned act of 1840. The founding of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, through the ordinations to the episcopate of William White (1748–1836) and Samuel Provoost (1742–1815) by bishops of the Church of England in 1787, was predicated upon the acceptance among them of The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, as well as the Articles of Religion, as stated in the initial draft of their foundational principles, “as so far as shall be consistent with the American Revolution and the Constitutions of the respective States.” Francis L. Hawks and William Stevens Perry, eds., Journals of the General Conventions of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America from A. D. 1785 to A. D. 1853, Inclusive (Philadelphia: Joseph W. Raynor, 1860), 374. This principle, in so far as regarding fundamental adherence to the English Rite was concerned, was a foundation point of the Lambeth communion, as articulated at its first conference, that of 1867, in Resolution 8. Published formally in Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion, Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion, Holden at Lambeth Palace, September 24–27, 1867 (London: Rivingtons, 1867); found at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/media/127716/1867.pdf

34 See Resolution 11 of 1888. Published formally in Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion, Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion, Holden at Lambeth Palace, in July 1888 (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1888); found at: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/media/127722/1888.pdf

35 Mark Chapman, Anglicanism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 121.

36 See Resolutions 73–75 of 1958. Published in Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion, The Lambeth Conference, 1958 (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1958); found at: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/media/127740/1958.pdf

37 For a statistical account of the regional demographics of the Anglican communion, at the years 1900, 1970, and 2005, see Lugo, Grim, and Podrebara, “Global Anglicanism at a Crossroads”, citing the figures of the World Christian Database.

38 This is evident in an examination of the extensive international survey of liturgical developments to be found in Hefling and Shattuck, The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer.

39 This significant alteration of the 1662 Act of Uniformity occurred with the Royal Assent given to the Prayer Book (Alternative and Other Services) Measure 1965; see also current Canon B1 of the Church of England.

40 See Hefling and Shattuck, The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer. According to Esther Mombo, “Anglican Liturgies in Eastern Africa”, in Hefling and Shattuck, The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer, 277–286, at 282, the dominant liturgy in use among communicants of the Anglican communion in Eastern Africa at the beginning of the twenty-first century is still the English Rite.

41 As is also the case, as has already been noted, with the Protestant Episcopal Church in Scotland. The same could also be said of the position of the English Rite within the constitution and practice of the Church of Nigeria, which contains the second largest number of communicants of a province of the communion, after the Church of England itself. See Buchanan, Anglican Eucharistic Liturgies 1985-2010, 131.


Published in Anglican Tradition Vol. II, No. 3, 2017. © The Secker Society, 2017.

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