The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0096  Friday, 6 March 2009

From:       Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
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. 
Cuthbert" <http://www.cofe.anglican.org/about/history/>.

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 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, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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