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viii

CONCERNING THE SERVICE OF THE CHURCH,

called a Nocturn, now, of late time, a few of them have been daily said, and the rest utterly omitted. Moreover, the number and hardness of the rules called the Pie, and the manifold changings of the service, was the cause, that, to turn the book only, was so hard and intricate a matter, that many times there was more business to find out what should be read, than to read it when it was found out.

These inconveniences therefore considered, here is set forth such an order, whereby the same shall be redressed.

And for a readiness in this

matter, here is drawn out a Calendar for that purpose, which is plain and easy to be understood; wherein (so much as may be) the reading of holy Scripture is so set forth, that all things shall be done in order, without breaking one piece from another. For this cause be cut off anthems, responds, invitatories, and such like things as did break the continual course of the reading of the Scripture.

Yet, because there is no remedy, but that of necessity there must be some rules, therefore certain rules are here set forth; which, as they are few in number, so they are plain and easy to be understood. So that here you have an order for prayer, and for the reading of the holy Scripture, much agreeable to the mind and purpose of the old Fathers, and a great deal more profitable and commodious than that which of late was used. It is more profitable, because here are left out many things. whereof some are untrue, some uncertain, some vain and superstitious; and nothing is ordained to be read, but the very pure word of God, the holy Scriptures, or that which is agreeable to the same; and that in such a language and order as is most easy and plain for the understanding both of the readers and hearers. It is also more commodious, both for the shortness thereof, and for the plainness of the order, and for that the rules be few and easy.

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.

This explains the title of the book. It is the "Book of Common Prayer," or "Prayer Common to the whole Realm." Very different explanations are to be met with, but they are obviously mistaken.

And forasmuch as nothing can be so plainly set forth, but doubt may arise in the use and practice of the same; to appease all such diversity (if any arise) and for the resolution of all doubts, concerning the manner how to understand, do, and execute, the things contained in this Book, the parties that so doubt, or diversly take any thing, shall alway resort to the Bishop of the Diocese; who, by his discretion, shall take order for the quieting and appeasing of the same; so that the same order be not contrary to any thing contained in this Book. And if the Bishop of the Diocese be in doubt, then he may send for the resolution thereof to the Archbishop.

THOUGH it be appointed, that all things shall be read and sung in the Church in the English Tongue, to the end that the congregation may be thereby edified, yet it is not meant, but that when men say Morning and Evening Prayer privately, they may say the same in any language that they themselves do understand.

And all Priests and Deacons are to say daily the Morning and Evening Prayer either privately or openly, not being let by sickness, or some other urgent cause.

And the Curate that ministereth in every Parish-church or Chapel, being at home, and not being otherwise reasonably hindered, shall say the same in the Parish-church or Chapel where he ministereth, and shall cause a bell to be tolled thereunto a convenient time before he begin, that the people may come to hear God's word, and to pray with him.

of CEREMONIES, why some be abolished, and some retained.

Of such Ceremonies as be used in the Church, and have had their beginning by the institution of man, some, at the first, were of godly intent and purpose devised, and yet, at length, turned to vanity and superstition: some entered into the Church by undiscreet devotion, and such a zeal as was without knowledge; and for because they were winked at in the beginning, they grew daily to more and more abuses, which not

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only for their unprofitableness, but, also, because they have much blinded the people, and obscured the glory of God, are worthy to be cut away, and clean rejected: other there be, which, although they have been devised by man, yet it is thought good to reserve them still, as well for a decent order in the Church, (for the which they were first devised) as because they pertain to edification, whereunto all things done in the Church (as the Apostle teacheth) ought to be referred.

And although the keeping or omitting of a ceremony, in itself considered, is but a small thing, yet the wilful and contemptuous transgression and breaking of a common order and discipline, is no small offence before God. "Let all things be done among you," saith St. Paul, “in a seemly and due order :" the appointment of the which order pertaineth not to private men; therefore, no man ought to take in hand, nor presume to appoint or alter, any public or common order in Christ's Church, except he be lawfully called and authorized thereunto.

And whereas in this our time, the minds of men are so diverse, that some think it a great matter of conscience to depart from a piece of the least of their ceremonies, they be so addicted to their old customs; and again, on the other side, some be so new-fangled, that they would innovate all things, and so despise the old, that nothing can like them, but that is new; it was thought expedient, not so much to have respect how to please and satisfy either of these parties, as how to please God, and profit them both. And yet, lest any man should be offended whom good reason might satisfy, here be certain causes rendered, why some of the accustomed ceremonies be put away, and some retained and kept still.

Some are put away, because the great excess and multitude of them hath so increased in these latter days, that the burden of them was intolerable; whereof St. Augustine in his time complained, that they were grown to such a number, that the estate of Christian people was in worse case concerning that matter, than were the Jews. And he counselled that such yoke and burden should be taken away, as time would serve quietly to do it. But what would St. Augustine have said, if he had seen the ceremonies of late days used among us; whereunto the multitude used in his time was not to be compared? This our excessive multitude of ceremonies was so great, and many of them so dark, that they did more confound and darken, than declare and set forth, Christ's benefits unto us.

And besides this, Christ's Gospel is not a ceremonial law (as much of Moses' law was) but it is a religion to serve God, not in bondage of the figure or shadow, but in the freedom of the spirit; being content only with those ceremonies which do serve to a decent order and godly discipline, and such as be apt to stir up the dull mind of man to the remembrance of his duty to God, by some notable and special signification, whereby he might be edified. Furthermore, the most weighty cause of the abolishment of certain ceremonies was, that they were so far abused, partly by the superstitious blindness of the rude and unlearned, and partly by the unsatiable avarice of such as sought more their own lucre, than the glory of God, that the abuses could not well be taken away, the thing remaining still.

But now as concerning those persons, which, peradventure, will be offended, for that some of the old ceremonies are retained still, if they consider that without some ceremonies it is not possible to keep any order or quiet discipline in the Church, they shall easily perceive just cause to reform their judgments. And if they think much, that any of the old do remain, and would rather have all devised anew, then such men granting some ceremonies convenient to be had, surely where the old may be well used, there they cannot reasonably reprove the old only for their age, without bewraying of their own folly. For, in such a case, they ought rather to have reverence unto them for their antiquity, if they will declare themselves to be more studious of unity and concord, than of innovations and new-fangleness, which (as much as may be with true setting forth of Christ's religion) is always to be eschewed. Furthermore, such shall have no just cause, with the ceremonies reserved, to be offended. For, as those be taken away which were most abused, and did burden men's consciences without any cause; so the other that remain, are retained for a discipline and order, which (upon just causes) may be altered and changed, and, therefore, are not to be esteemed equal with God's law. And moreover, they be neither dark nor dumb ceremonies; but are so set forth, that every man may understand what they do mean, and to what use they do serve. So that it is not like that they, in time to come, should be abused as other have been. And in these our doings we condemn no other nations, nor prescribe any thing but to our own people only: for we think it convenient that every country should use such ceremonies as they shall think best to the setting forth of God's honour and glory, and to the reducing of the people to a most perfect

and godly living, without error or superstition; and that they should put away other things, which, from time to time, they perceive to be most abused, as in men's ordinances it often chanceth diversly in divers countries.*

The Order how the Psalter is appointed to be read.

THE Psalter shall be read through once every month, as it is there appointed, both for Morning and Evening Prayer. But in February it shall be read only to the twenty-eighth, or twenty-ninth day of the month.

And, whereas January, March, May, July, August, October, and December have one-and-thirty days apiece; It is ordered, that the same Psalms shall be read the last day of the said months, which were read the day before: so that the Psalter may begin again the first day of the next month ensuing.

And, whereas the 119th Psalm is divided into twenty-two portions, and is over-long to be read at one time; It is so ordered, that at one time shall not be read above four or five of the said portions.

And at the end of every Psalm, and of every such part of the 119th Psalm, shall be repeated this Hymn,

A perusal of the whole of the preceding pages at all times will repay the labour of such as are not yet acquainted with their contents, almost by heart. They afford so many desirable explanations, there is such a sweetness of temper, and even so much sweetness of style, in the matter and the manner of their composition; coming from the pen of authority, they yet breathe so great a moderation of sentiment; obliged to select and frame a single standard for the ordinances of public worship, they yet so freely abandon the defence of all unimportant particularities; they are so tender of the consciences of such as differ upon these particularities; there is such an absence of all stickling, all bigotry, all sectarian pertinacity and intolerance; that few productions of the kind could be more hopefully appealed to by churchmen, whether to retain within the fold the congregations of the Establishment, or to bring back to it the discontented with its Liturgy; that Liturgy to the general beauty and general merits, of the highest class, of which it is one of the strongest testimonials, That even those who reject its use, in the mode prescribed by law, and might seem to dispense with all employment of its formulas, are found constantly repeating from memory, and incorporating into their own forms of devotion, the more prominent parts of all its sentiment and language.

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