The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0096 Friday, 6 March 2009
From: Hardy M. Cook <
Date: Friday, 6 March 2009
Subject: Cook's Tour of Internet Resources for Students and Scholars
of the Early Modern Period: The Book of Common Prayer (1459, 1552, 1559)
Cook's_Tour_2: The Book of Common Prayer
Today, I am going to introduce what is to my knowledge the best site on
the Internet for locating resources associated with the three editions
of the Book of Common Prayer of interest to students and scholars of the
Early Modern Period: 1549, 1553, and 1559 as well as the pre-Reformation
Sarum Missal. I begin by attempting to put the origins of the Book of
Common Prayer into historical context. I acknowledge from the onset that
what follows is heavily influenced by traditional Anglican
historiography. No matter how careful an author tries to be, there is
always a danger when discussing anything related to politics or religion
of stirring up deeply held passions. I assure my readers that I am
striving here above all else to disseminate information.
The Anglican Church considers itself to be both catholic (that is,
orthodox) and reformed. This particular identify was established during
the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and is retained to this day. "It resulted
in a Church that consciously retained a large amount of continuity with
the Church of the Patristic and Medieval periods in terms of its use of
the catholic creeds, its pattern of ministry, its buildings and aspects
of its liturgy, but which also embodied Protestant insights in its
theology and in the overall shape of its liturgical practice"
<http://www.cofe.anglican.org/about/history/>. Richard Hooker's
monumental work of Anglican theology, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall
Politie, defends the Church of England from attacks from both Roman
Catholicism and Puritanism and affirms the Anglican tradition as a
"threefold cord not quickly broken" -- Bible, church, and reason.
Since the introduction of that faith to the Roman province of Britain at
the time of the Roman Empire, the Church of England (_Ecclesia
Anglicana_ ), as defined by local synods such as the Synod of Whitby in
664, claims a distinct identity of its own separate from the other
orthodox branches of Christianity. "The History of the Church of
England" article at the official Church of England website maintains
that "What eventually became known as the Church of England was the
result of a combination of three streams of Christianity, the Roman
tradition of St. Augustine [of Canterbury who landed in Kent to begin
the work of converting the 'pagan' Angles, Saxons, and Jutes] and his
successors, the remnants of the old Romano-British church [with St.
Alban's being the first member known by name] and the Celtic tradition
[associated with the evangelizing figures of St. Illtud in Wales, St.
Ninian in Scotland, and St. Patrick in Ireland] coming down from
Scotland and [further] associated with people like St. Aidan and St.
During the reign of Henry VIII, with the Act of Supremacy of 1534, the
Church of England (_Anglicana Ecclesia_) formerly separated from the
Roman Catholic Church, a separation that was re-affirmed during the
reign of Elizabeth I by the Second Act of Supremacy of 1559.
Previously, Henry VII (Henry Tudor) established the Tudor dynasty by
overthrowing Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, ending the
long dynastic struggle, The War of the Roses. To secure further his hold
on the throne, Henry VII, last of the Lancastrians, married Elizabeth of
York, last of the Yorkists. For obvious geo-political reasons, Henry VII
married his heir, Prince Arthur, to Catherine of Aragon (the youngest
surviving child of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain), first by proxy and
then in person in November 1501; however, in April 1502 Arthur died.
Henry VII, in part, fearing the loss of Catherine's substantial dowry,
quickly arranged a marriage of Catherine to his son Henry, who was then
twelve. However, because of Biblical prohibitions (Leviticus 20:21),
canon law required that a dispensation from the Pope be obtained. In
1503, the papal dispensation was granted. In April 1509, Henry VIII
succeeded to the throne and married Catherine in June. Catherine gave
birth to six children between 1510 and 1518; all but Mary, however, were
either stillborn or died in infancy.
At this point, the narrative is less clear. In 1521, Henry worked on a
refutation of Martin Luther's De captivitate Babylonica published as
Assertio septem sacramentorum, which identified him as its sole author.
In return, the Pope awarded Henry VIII the title "Defender of the
Faith." In 1527, Henry VIII requested an annulment of his marriage to
Catherine for what, from his point of view, was a fruitless marriage
resulting from his having married his brother's widow, the reason for
which his father initially sought and was granted a papal dispensation.
Catherine, in return, appealed to Pope Clement, contending her marriage
to Arthur was never consummated and thus invalid. Working against Henry
VIII's being granted this request was the annulment he had already
received and the Pope's fear of Catherine's nephew, Charles V, King of
Spain and Holy Roman Emperor.
The extreme Anglican position maintains that "the annulment of the
marriage of King Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon" was "merely the
occasion, but not the cause, of [the] break with Rome," a break, from
this point of view, that recovered the autonomy the Church of England
had enjoyed prior to the Norman Conquest.
During Henry VIII's reign, the English Church was not radically altered.
Although Henry supported Thomas Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury's
ordering the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed,
and the Bible readings be in English, the Mass continued to be said in
Latin. Durin g Henry VIII's lifetime what was practiced was Catholicism
without the pope.
Elements of Protestant Reformation took stronger hold upon the doctrines
and practices of the Church of England during the brief reign of Henry
VIII's son Edward VI. "In the reign of Henry's son Edward VI the Church
of England underwent further reformation, driven by the conviction that
the theology being developed by the theologians of the Protestant
Reformation was more faithful to the teaching of the Bible and the Early
Church than the teaching of those who continued to support the Pope." In
1549, Thomas Cranmer and Nicholas Ridley produced the First Prayer Book
(Book of Common Prayer), a simplified version of the Roman Catholic
liturgical books in the vernacular. To the extreme Reformers, the First
Prayer Book did not go far enough to transform the rites of the English
Church, so in 1552 Cranmer produced the Second Prayer Book of Edward VI,
which was radically different from its predecessor. "The structure of
the Holy Communion service was changed, many ceremonies were eliminated,
and the vestments worn by the clergy were simplified." However, eight
months later Edward died, and his Roman Catholic half sister Mary I
rolled back the changes made during his and their father's reigns,
restoring the Old Faith and with it the Latin liturgical books. Mary
died in 1558. Under her half sister Elizabeth I, the 1552 prayer book
was restored in 1559 with a few significant changes: it allowed for
belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and removed from
the litany an offensive prayer against the Pope.
THE SOCIETY of ARCHBISHOP JUSTUS
The most comprehensive site on the Internet that I have found with
information on the 1549, 1552, and 1559 Books of Common Prayer is the
work of Charles Wohlers at a site sponsored by The Society of Archbishop
The Society of Archbishop Justus was formed in 1996 and incorporated in
1997 as a nonprofit corporation in the State of New York for the purpose
of using the Internet to foster and further unity among Christians,
especially Anglicans. <http://justus.anglican.org/soaj.html>
If you as I are not familiar with Archbishop Justus, you can find a
biography of him here <http://justus.anglican.org/justus-bio.html>.
Briefly, Justus was the fourth Archbishop of Canterbury, who was sent by
Pope Gregory from Rome to Kent in 601. He assisted Augustine and in 624
succeeded to the See of Canterbury when, although probably spurious Pope
Boniface gave the primacy of the whole English church to Canterbury. He
died in 627 and was buried in St. Peter's porch at St. Augustine's,
Among the Computer Services Offered by the Society of Archbishop Justus
<http://justus.anglican.org/> one can find a section of "Anglican
Communion primary source materials or reference documents," a collection
of primary source materials <http://justus.anglican.org/resources/> and
among this collection one finds The Book of Common Prayer collection
The Book of Common Prayer
The resources of most interest to those involved in the study of the
Early Modern Period that can be found among these pages are organized
under the following rubrics:
The Sarum Missal: The Communion service commonly used in the English
Church before the Book of Common Prayer; in Latin and English.
Exhortation & Litany (1544)
The first liturgy in English
The Order for the Communion 1548
The first communion service in English.
1549 Book of Common Prayer
The first Book of Common Prayer
1552 Book of Common Prayer
The second Prayer Book of Edward VI
1559 Book of Common Prayer
The Elizabethan Book
In my next edition or possibly next few editions in this occasional
series, I shall be exploring in detail some of the resources of interest
found at the above pages.
Hardy M. Cook
Editor of SHAKSPER
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook,
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>
DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.