In Just Three Years: Pentecost 1549 to All Saints' 1552 - A Tale of Two Prayer Books

In Just Three Years: Pentecost 1549 to All Saints' 1552 - A Tale of Two Prayer Books

by Canon David Jennings


View All Available Formats & Editions
Eligible for FREE SHIPPING
  • Get it by Wednesday, January 31 ,  Order by 12:00 PM Eastern and choose Expedited Delivery during checkout.


In Just Three Years: Pentecost 1549 to All Saints' 1552 - A Tale of Two Prayer Books by Canon David Jennings

Henry VIII's Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, is credited with a pivotal role in the English Reformation. As well as playing a leading part, together with Henry's Chancellor, Thomas Cromwell, in securing the separation of the Church in England from the authority of the Roman Church and the Pope enabling Henry both to marry his mistress, Anne Boleyn, and to become Supreme Head of the Church of England, he also began, prior to Henry's death in 1547, to introduce liturgical reforms into the Church. In the reign of Henry's son, Edward VI, Cranmer was considered the prime creator of the 1549 Prayer Book, the first all-English service book with reformed tendencies. Within three years, a more radical and reformed book was produced and authorised at the end of 1552. the question and issue is whether Cranmer was directly responsible for this second book which took the Church of England in a more overtly protestant direction. Many argue that he was. This book suggests that he was not.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781785354304
Publisher: Chronos Books
Publication date: 07/29/2016
Pages: 96
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Canon David Jennings is a parish priest and also Canon Theolgian at Leicester Cathedral. He lives in Market Bosworth, UK.

Read an Excerpt

In Just Three Years

Pentecost 1549 to All Saints' 1552 â" A Tale of Two Prayers Books

By Canon David Jennings

John Hunt Publishing Ltd.

Copyright © 2015 Canon David Jennings
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-78535-431-1


Before 1549

There was a period of two years after the death of Henry VIII in 1547 and the introduction of the 1549 Prayer Book. It was, however, a period of incremental liturgical reform, albeit within the context of the familiar Latin Mass, which Henry had no wish to displace. The most notable feature of the period was the increasing use of English in respect of insertions in the Mass. Three events were particularly important during this period:

i) The 22nd of Edward VI's Injunctions (1547) required that the epistle and gospel be read at High Mass in English;

ii) In the same year the Act against Revilers and for Receiving in Both Kinds restored the receiving of the cup to the laity;

iii) In March 1548 there was published on royal authority The Order of the Communion.

It should also be noted that the 28th Injunction of Edward VI set forth what was to become one of the central and visible planks of the royal visitation of 1547. In the injunction, clergy and people were to 'take away, utterly extinct and destroy all shrines, covering of shrines, all tables, candlesticks, trindles or rolls of wax, pictures, paintings and all other monuments of feigned miracles, pilgrimages, idolatry, and superstition; so that there remained no memory of the same'. The impact of this upon the ordinary worshipper would have been significant, and possibly disturbing. It was a sign of things to come.

The use of English within the Mass was not as contentious as other incremental reforms. Henry, during the previous reign, had no particular scruples about the use of the vernacular in portions of the liturgy and elsewhere. Apart from certain parts of the country where English was not the first spoken language, the only other concern was whether the increasing use of English presaged more fundamental and protestant reforms and developments. Such, as history proved, was not without foundation. However, in 1546 Henry advanced two steps towards reform: the abolition of certain liturgical ceremonies such as ringing bells all night on All Hallows' evening, kneeling to the rood on Palm Sunday, and the veneration of the cross on Good Friday. The second was 'to change the Mass into a Communion'. Neither reform could be described as drastic, although somewhat significant, but occurring a year before the King's death provided a bench mark and template for subsequent and more radical changes during the reign of the next king. Geoffrey Cuming writes:

'Although Henry's policy of enforcing strict Catholic doctrine and practice made official progress towards liturgical reform necessarily slow, unofficial pressure continued to build up, and Cranmer felt that some degree of uniformity should be pursued which would at any rate quieten the advocates of reform for a time'

('A History of Anglican Liturgy')

Did Cranmer's concern for uniformity and the desire to quieten reform reflect his true thinking and position in respect of theological and liturgical change, or was his position purely and solely pragmatic? The potential for upheaval and unrest was always a paramount concern for Tudor England, and Cranmer may merely have been reflecting the concern for order and stability.

The distribution of communion in the two kinds of bread and wine was clearly an innovation, but perhaps not too momentous in that the laity rarely received communion. The priest would receive in both kinds but the laity would content themselves with observing the celebration with personal devotions such as saying the rosary, and would often only receive communion, in one kind, once a year at Easter. The reformers, both in England and on the continent, wished for more regular reception of communion and in both kinds, but such was difficult to enforce given the long tradition of annual communication following confession and absolution. Two kinds were a novelty, but not so much of a novelty on a once a year basis. A major problem, however, and one with a cost element, was the necessity of purchasing larger chalices.

The 1548 Order of the Communion was far more significant in that it introduced into the Mass a new order that was clearly and observably of a more protestant and reformed nature. It is possible, given that the outward signs and ceremonies were retained, that many may not have appreciated or understood the theological tradjection that the order represented. Lest, however, that anyone should be in doubt, the order was prefaced by a royal proclamation which promises 'the reformation and setting forth of such godly orders as may be most to God's glory'. The Act of Parliament of December 1547 which enjoined communion in both kinds and the Order which was printed in March 1548, stressed the worthy receiving of communion by the laity and encouraged due preparation, not least given that private confession was no longer compulsory. The general confession in the order addressed this particular issue.

The Order begins with an exhortation to be read the previous Sunday. The remainder occurs after the priest's communion, and consisted of the following:

Another exhortation

A warning against impenitent reception

An invitation to confession

A general confession

An absolution

Four sentences of scripture

A prayer for worthy reception

The words of administration

The final blessing

It has been suggested that there are Lutheran influences in the Order and its position in the Mass. However, Cuming argues:

'The Order remains firmly within the framework of the Mass, and impenitently sacerdotal in outlook: the confession and the prayer for worthy reception are both to be said by the priest, "or else by one of the ministers, in the name of all them that shall receive the Communion"; the congregation is allowed only to say "Amen" to the blessing.'

('A History of Anglican Liturgy')

Much of this Order was to appear and remain in subsequent Prayer Books, albeit in a different place and within a liturgy that eventually bore little resemblance to the Mass.

For the ordinary parishioner, including lay officials such as churchwardens, of greater notice was the disposal of church furnishings and ornaments. These affected an observable difference in the conduct and experience of public worship, more perhaps than the use of English in the Mass, and the insertion of additional forms such as The Order of the Communion. Some of the removals took the form of destruction, and others by way of sale. Eamon Duffy draws attention to this reality:

'The removal of images and in due course altars was required by authority, and, where necessary, enforced. But the apparently voluntary sale of religious objects was almost as striking a feature of the parish records of Edwardine England as was iconoclasm.'

('The Stripping of the Altars')

Duffy continues to indicate that many of the sold objects were connected with the cult of saints, many associated with the Blessed Sacrament, and much else that reflected a cult of the dead. All focused on a more overtly protestant form of outward observance which was increasingly evidenced in the manner of liturgical celebration and teaching. The years between the death of the 'catholic' King Henry in 1547 and the provision of a 'reformed' prayer book in 1549 witnessed considerable changes, but still within a recognisable form of words and within an understood and familiar Mass.

It was clear that the first two years of Edward's reign were a time of both consolidation, in terms of what had already been achieved in liturgical reform, and a preparation for more significant reforms. There were now significant players on the political stage to press for a form of Protestantism as perceived and experienced in continental Europe. The king himself, although sympathetic, lacked both age and strength to effect the direction of travel. As well as Archbishop Cranmer, now given more reign and scope for long desired changes, a major player on the political scene was Somerset, the Lord Protector of the realm. He was a convinced Protestant with significant power and influence, and uncle to the king. The reforms of the period 1547 to 1549 were promoted by the Archbishop and Protector with keen eyes for further and subsequent liturgical developments, and as represented by the 1549 Prayer Book.

Into this liturgical and ecclesiological mix was the accretion of wealth and power that was consequent upon what came to be seen as the overthrow of Catholicism. David L. Edwards writes of the period:

'It has been estimated that in the course of the reign of Edward V1 Crown lands with a capital value (twenty years' rent) exceeding £400,000 were granted away, mostly to members of his council or senior government officials and lands which were to yield much more than the £320,000 paid for them were sold off by the Crown.'

('Christian England Volume 2: From the Reformation to the 18th Century')

This perhaps questions the integrity and theological commitment of those engaged and involved with the reformation agenda. Edwards continues to suggest that whilst the Catholicism of the Princess Mary was tolerated, the liberating of protestant ideas and propaganda assisted Somerset and his associates in their determination to transform the appearance and activities of the churches; they clearly were determined to destroy the public position of the medieval Church. He asserts:

'Otherwise they could not be sure of retaining the pleasant houses which they were making for themselves out of the Church's ruins.'

('Christian England Volume 2: From the Reformation to the 18th Century')

It is unlikely, however, that Archbishop Cranmer was caught up in this seizure of wealth and power, although the process would not be antithetical to his purposes and desire for reform. However, the question remains concerning the direct influence of the Archbishop on the reforms of the period and his own complicity in driving the reforms. At a number of places within his archiepiscopate, Cranmer has either changed his position or been compliant with others with greater reforming zeal than he might have possessed within his own thinking and volition. Given the variety of influences upon the liturgical and reforming mind of the Archbishop, it is difficult to determine with any certainty where his own mind and inclination lay. Experimentation is a relatively easy endeavour, especially when plagiarising sources currently being explored in Lutheran Germany, or later in Calvinist Geneva. However, a clear direction and outcome for an English reformation is at best imprecise, or at worst confused. Horton Davies suggests that:

'In his study and in his mind, however, Archbishop Cranmer was conducting other liturgical experiments.'

('Worship and Theology in England; From Cranmer to Hooker 1534-1603')

Davies states that the experiments were entirely concerned with the simplification of the Daily Office, and following Frere, believes that Cranmer's thinking in this matter could be traced to a period before the accession of Edward VI, and perhaps very shortly afterwards. Again, there is ambiguity concerning Cranmer's thinking and implementation of liturgical change in this period prior to 1549, and subsequent to the production and enforcement of the First Prayer Book in that year. It is my contention that the Archbishop was absorbing and perhaps confused by many influences which continued to create liturgical changes with little consistency of thought and purpose. Such produced the liturgical confusion that bedevilled the English Church throughout the second half of the sixteenth century and through to the middle of the seventeenth with the publication and authority of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

Before considering the 1549 book, it might be useful to identify the influences that pressed upon Cranmer. The Lutheran dimension was that provided by the Church Order of Cologne (Pia Deliberatio), which was prepared for Herman von Wied, the Prince-Archbishop, by Martin Bucer. The latter was to continue to exercise influence upon Cranmer beyond the 1549 reforms. This Order had clear impact upon the 1548 Order of the Communion. However, the Order itself was based upon the work of Andreas Osiander's Brandenburg-Nuremberg Church Order. Osiander was the uncle of Cranmer's wife, Margaret, which perhaps indicates another level of influence. Furthermore, many important continental divines sought refuge in England from persecution under the Emperor Charles V. Among them were Peter Martyr (December, 1547), Francis Dryander (January, 1548), John a Lasco and Valerand Poullain (September, 1548), and Martin Bucer (April, 1549). Exiles from England also returned, including Miles Coverdale and John Hooper. These were all to impute influence on the English reformation and consequential liturgical reforms, often reflecting the part of Europe from whence they came and the theological emphases thereby reflected and practised. In encouraging this influx, Cranmer in his Original Letters indicated his wish 'to have the assistance of learned men who, having compared their opinions together with us, may do away with all doctrinal controversies, and build up an entire system of true doctrine'. What influences were really at play from such a body of influential reformers upon the mind and practice of Archbishop Cranmer, recognising the political confusions and vagaries of the English Reformation? In respect of Cranmer's stated hope, Cuming suggests:

'Even if this hope was not to be realized, both groups, though too late to have much influence on the impending production of an English Prayer Book, were to make their contribution when the book came to be revised'

('A History of Anglican Liturgy')

We shall see.


1549 and all that

For many in 1549, it was sincerely held, from the protestant position, that the Prayer Book was but a temporary and interim rite, pending further revision. The reformer, Martin Bucer, who met Cranmer for the first time in April, 1549, firmly believed such to be the case and wrote to his colleagues in Strasburg:

'I gather that some concessions have been made both to a respect for antiquity, and to the infirmity of the present age; such as, for instance, the vestments commonly used in the sacrament of the Eucharist, and the use of candles; so also in regard to the commemoration of the dead, and the use of chrism ... They affirm that there is no superstition in these things, and that they are only to be retained for a time, lest the people, not yet thoroughly instructed in Christ, should be too extensive innovations be frightened away from Christ's religion, and that rather they may be won over.'

('Original Letters' in 'Epistolae Tigurinae', 1848)

It is this position that turns upon the question as to how far Cranmer, and those who supported him and his liturgical reforms, were committed to the form and theology of the 1549 book. If there was little commitment, the accusation of deceit and duplicity could be legitimately levelled against the archbishop. Given the efforts and drive behind the direction of reform in the first two years of Edward's reign, and the clear political support as represented by Protector Somerset, it is unlikely that the work and input that lay behind the drafting, publication and authorisation of the 1549 book was not considered to be of worth and value. Davies suggests that:

'The publication of the First English Book of Common Prayer generated three responses, varying from acceptance through temporary acquiescence to dissatisfaction'

('Worship and Theology in England: From Cranmer to Hooker 1534-1603')

However, it ought to be noted that the book had the force of law via an Act of Uniformity with heavy fines for noncompliance. Such would encourage, willingly or reluctantly, acceptance. The Spanish protestant scholar, Dryander evidenced a positive estimation of the book when he wrote to Bullinger in Strasburg on 5th June, 1549:

'A book has now been published a month or two back, which the English churches received with great satisfaction.'

('Original Letters Relative to the English Reformation')

For other mainly continental reformers, the book was anything but satisfactory. For example, John Butler wrote to Thomas Blaurer on 16th February, 1550:

'The affairs of religion are now, through the mercy of God, in a more favourable, considering the state of infancy and rudeness of our nation. Baptism, for instance, and the Lord's Supper, are celebrated with sufficient propriety, only that some blemishes in respect to certain ceremonies, such for instance as the splendour of vestments, have not yet been done away with.'

('Original Letters Relative to the English Reformation')

What was Cranmer's position in respect of acceptance of the 1549 book, whether wholehearted or begrudging? Davies suggests, quoting Richard Hilles' letter to Bullinger on 4th June, 1549, that:

'.... Cranmer is more anxious to please the German than the Swiss divines, and that Bucer, who had recently come to Cambridge, might keep him conservative.'

('Worship and Theology in England: From Cranmer to Hooker 1534-1603')

There can be little doubt that the 1549 book was a conservative revision of the Mass along predominantly Lutheran lines. The later 1552 book clearly reflected the Swiss reformation of possibly John Calvin in Geneva, but more likely that of Ulrich Zwingli in Zurich.

What, therefore, was the structure and form of this conservative revision which was accepted or welcomed with the imprint of previous changes and developments by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer? The title for the Eucharist gives an immediate indication of the direction of travel: 'The Supper of the Lord and the Holy Communion, commonly called the Mass'. 'The Supper of the Lord' is the name for the service given by Herman von Wied, the Prince-Archbishop of Cologne; 'the Mass' is both the medieval and the Lutheran name; 'the Holy Communion' is a vernacular name used now for the first time as applicable to the whole service. How far did the book represent Cranmer's desire to appease conflicting viewpoints and positions within the English Church concerning a reformed Church that could both reflect a protestant position, whilst at the same time enable a catholic interpretation, if not continued practice with a familiar Mass? Cuming suggests:


Excerpted from In Just Three Years by Canon David Jennings. Copyright © 2015 Canon David Jennings. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments x

Foreword xi

Preface xii

Introduction l

Chapter 1 Before 1549 5

Chapter 2 1549 and all that 13

Chapter 3 1552 revolution 21

Chapter 4 Was it Cranmer? 27

Chapter 5 Who dunnit? 31

Chapter 6 Mary, Mary quite contrary 41

Chapter 7 Off to 1559, 1604 and 1662 51

Chapter 8 20th and 21st century legacies of just 3 years 63

Conclusion 71

About the Author 74

Bibliography 76

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews