Philip Freeman.

The principles of divine service; an enquiry concerning the true manner of understanding and using the order for morning and evening prayer, and for the administration of the Holy Communion in the English Church (Volume 1) online

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fered in some not immaterial points from those of the
Western Cliurch generally, — no special commentary
or rationale seems to have existed.

Next, let it be remembered how long a time elapsed,
after the remodelling of these Services in the sixteenth
century — (a period long enough, indeed, as the event
proved, for the knowledge of them in their older form

'' See below, ch. i. s. 7, .'uid cli. iii. On the Aiificnt, Eiifrlish OflBccs.

H 2


to have passed, for tlic most part, from men's minds)
— ere there arose any professed commentator upon
their structure and contents, or before any endeavour
was made to fix the ideas, and unfold the mind belong-
ing to them. Some noble materials tovi^ards such an
undertaking were for the first- time thrown together
in an irregular way about fifty years after. Of this
kind was the vindication of our Services by Hooker"^
from the objections of Cartwright and others. Such
again were the few and fortuitously preserved notes of
Bishop Andrewes ^. The former of these great men,
especially, has searched deep into the principles upon
w'hich many of the great elements of Divine Service
and Worship, contained in our Offices, are based;
and thus vindicated their general character, as w^ell
as many details of arrangement and expression. And
these profound searchings and eloquent vindications
will never be equalled or superseded on their own
ground, and as far as they go. But the range of
Hooker's comments was greatly narrowed by his
controversial position. Where his opponents objected,
he defended ; but beyond this the nature of his work
did not call upon him to enter into the matter or
order of the Services. And again, the effectiveness of
his championship, even on such points as he has oc-
casion to treat of, is greatly impaired by one very
material defect in the appliances which he had at
command for dealing with the subject. With the older
Offices of the English Church there is little or no
appearance of his having been acquainted : whereas
these, as must be evident from what has been already



ngain, is tlieir connection with the Office for the Holy
Communion ; as is also that condensation into them
of whole tracts of Scripture, to which they perhaps
owe their name, and which invests them with such
singular interest and value, as the Eucharistic thoughts
— derived from Scripture and digested into prayer —
of holy men in days of unfathomed antiquity. It is
evident that until these, and such-like high claims on
om* veneration and devout use are adequately set forth
on behalf of our Offices, we have but a very partial
knowledge either of what they are, or of the value
that we should set upon them. So again, the min-
gling of Lessons with prayers might have been based
upon other grounds besides those of pleasing and
profitable variety. The peculiar character of the
Canticles, as responsive to the Lessons, and of the
Litany, viewed as anciently designed to precede the
Holy Communion ; — the different purpose to which
the Lord's Prayer is intended to be used in the
different positions in which it occurs; — these are
grounds of defence, and topics of just eulogy, which
an acquaintance with the older forms of the English
Church would naturally have suggested. Still, after
all. Hooker remains to this day our best, because
our profoundest commentator on the Services of
the Church. He it is who, beyond all others, has,
in various particular instances, based the Church's
practice on the unassailable foundations of sound
Christian psychology. The general "Principles of
Divine Service," in a word, have by none, either
before or after him, been so truly or so eloquently

Another wide and dreary interval of sixty years
separates Hooker from the next generation of Ri-


tualists, — the school of Sparrow ^ and L'Estrangc ;
who were thus removed by more than a century from
the period of the Eevision. These, with their suc-
cessors Comber, Nicholls, Wheatley, Bennct, Bisse,
and others, were professed expounders of the origin,
contents, and nature of our Ritual. Yet, strange as it
may seem, they are hardly less regardless than Hooker
himself of the one source from which, beyond all
others, the Services would be likely to receive pertinent
illustration. It is true, these learned writers were not
altogether unacquainted with the older Offices of the
AYcstern Church ; and they occasionally, though com-
paratively seldom, refer to them. But their line of
comment, as all who are acquainted with them are
aware, runs almost exclusively in the direction of the
writings of the Fathers, the Councils, and the Holy
Scriptures ; or again, in that of the successive alter-
ations of detail which have taken place in the Services
since the original Revision in 1549. Now illustration
of this kind, though doubtless valuable and indispen-
sable, fails to touch the question of the plan, scheme,
or theory upon which the Services are framed. It
misses altogether, unless by chance now and then,
of expounding their true, because historically ascer-
tainable, rationale. For this the commentators ought
obviously to have had recourse to the older forms ;
and, if necessary, to earlier forms still, in which they
in their turn had originated. Tliis, however, they
never dream of doing, but offer instead conjectures of
their own, or of their predecessors, as to the nature
of this or that element of service or order of parts ;

« Bp. Sparrow's "Rationale," ilic. first work of t lie kind, was pnh-
lishod in 1055. L'Estrangc's "Alliance of Divine OfllecH" in Kif/J
(Preface to 4tb Edit. 184(3).


or fetch remote illustrations from obscure corners of
antiquity. All this is really beside the mark, when
the true solution of such queries lies before us, — as
for the most part it does, — in the older Offices of the
English Church.

The truth is, that these writers entertained so strong
a distaste, and with it so entire a contempt, for what-
ever had been done or used in the middle ages of the
Church, that the last thing likely to enter their minds,
was to seek counsel or guidance of Services belonging
to that period, however much they might take warning
by them. They assumed, as a matter of course, and
without much inquiry, that the changes made in 1549
amounted to nothing less than the composition of an
entirely new set of Services out of the materials of the
old, selected and recombined at pleasure on altogether
a different plan and principle. The former structure
was deemed by them to have been absolutely pulled
down, before the new one was erected. Whereas no-
thing is more remarkable in the original Preface to
the revised Services, already referred to, than the utter
unconsciousness which it manifests on the part of the
Revisers, of having done anything more than revise.
Certain things taken away, — a certain fusing and con-
solidation of parts or elements heretofore disjointed
and broken up, — certain provisions for securing that
the Psalms and Lessons should be really and thoroughly
used, and not skipped for the most part, as in time
past, — and the turning of the whole into English ; —
this was their entire idea of what they had done.
They expected the people and Church of the day to
accept the Services as essentially, and for all practical
purposes, the same Services, revised ; and, what is
more, as such the Church and people manifestly did


accept them. So clear were the Revisers on this
point, that Cranmer, (as Jeremy Taylor has recorded,)
offered to prove that " the order of the Church of
England, set out by authority by Edward the Sixth,
was the same that had been used in the Church for
fifteen hundred years past ^.

And, on the closest scrutiny, it is found that this
estimate and representation of their work is thoroughly
borne out by facts. If by compiling or composing a
Service is meant making an ad libitum combination
of the ideas and elements previously contained in it,
or adding new ones, then it is strictly true that they
neither compiled or composed anything. Some ele-
ments or features, doubtless, they rejected ; others
they expanded. But the exact order of such elements
or parts of th'' old Services as they retained, they pjre-
served inviolate, both in the Daily Services and in the
Communion Service ; and that without a single excep-
tion. — For the proof of these assertions the reader is
referred to the following pages.

Our commentators of the 17th and 18th centuries,
however, persist, as has been said, in viewing the
men of the 16th as "composers" and "compilers" in
the largest sensed Thus Wheatlcy — (to name an

"■ Jcr. Tayloi-'s Works, vol. vii. p. 202.

' Even the Preface to the latest Revision in 1002, though put forth
by men who were not unaware either of the fact or of the importance
of our ritual connection with earlier ages, — such as Cosin, Sanderson,
Pearson, ThomdiKc, and others, — has not kept clear of these incautious
and incorrect expressions. It commences witii the words, " It hath
been the wisdom of the Churcii of England, ever since the first com-
pilinff," (meaning evidently the Revision in JS'IO,) "of her publiek
Liturgy, to keep the mean," &c. The enemies of the English Church
have not been slow to avail tlicmsclves of these obiter dicta ; which,
however devoid of weight against the facts of the case, have greatly
contributed to foster the prevailing opinions as to the lime from which
our Services date.

10 Tin: PRTNcirLES or divine service.

author whose work embodies all the preceding ones,
and exercises, in many respects not undeservedly, a very
wide influence on the prevailing conceptions of our
Offices) — was indeed professedly not unaAvare of the
real state of the case. Yet, after once admitting it,
he io^nores it throughout the rest of his book. Indeed
the account which he gives of the old Offices is so sin-
gular, as to lead to a suspicion that he had never even
looked into the Daily Services ; — with the Communion
Office he appears to have had a better acquaintance.
"Who could recognise, in the following description,
Offices of which at least three-fourths consisted not of
prayers at all, but of Psalms and Holy Scripture ?
" Before the Reformation the Liturgy w^as only in
Latin, being a collection of prayers made up partly of
some ancient forms used in the primitive Church, and
partly of some others of a later original; accommo-
dated to the superstitions which had by various means
crept by degrees into the Church of Rome, and from
thence derived to other Churches in communion with
it, like what we may see in the present Roman Bre-
viary and Missal." He proceeds, however, to charac-
terize the Revision itself as correctly as can be desired ;
as follows : "When the nation in King Henry VHIth's
time was disposed to a reformation, it was thought
necessary to correct and amend these Offices ; for it
was not the design of our Reformers, (nor indeed ought
it to have been,) to introduce a new form of worship
into the Church, but to correct and amend the old one^."
Yet after this he constantly speaks of " compiling" and
" composing" ; nor does he anywhere, that I am aware
of, refer to the old Offices of the English Church as
furnishing a clue to the structure of her present ones :

i- Wheatley, Introd., p. 22.


his sole standards of appeal are the 1st Book of Ed-
ward Vlth, the Apostolic Constitutions, and the an-
cient Liturgies of the Eastern Church. Such stray
allusions as he makes to the Western Offices at all
are in a condemnatory tone throughout.

Within the last few years, Ritualists of another
stamp, and possessed with a juster idea of the exigen-
cies of the case, have risen up to remedy, in a mea-
sure, the leading defect of all previous works bearing
upon the Services of the English Church. Attention
has at length been forcibly and not unsuccessfully
drawn towards the one quarter which had so long
and so unaccountably been left unexplored, and from
which alone a true idea of them can be obtained.
The publication of the " Origines Liturgicse^" of Mr.
Palmer is likely on this account to prove an epoch in
the ritual literature of the English Church, only second
in importance to that which was marked by the ap-
pearance of the Fifth Book of the Laws of Ecclesi-
astical Polity. Nor is it possible to speak of that
work without rendering a deserved testimony to the
perfect mastery which it exhibits over the vast range
of ritual learning embraced by it, and to the clear-
ness with which the results of the author's observa-
tion are set forth. There, as is well known, every
part of our present Offices for Public Worship is, in
common with the rest of the Book of Common Prayer,
referred to its proper place in the older Offices Other
writers have followed in the same track. Mr. Maskell
has published the old Communion Offices of the Eng-

' "Origines Liturgiccc, or Antiquities of tlic Eiiglisli Jiilual," hy llin
Rev. W. Palmer, M.A. For a compendium of Mr. Palmer's view of
the ancient Liturgies, see Tracts for the Times, No. 03.


lisli Church (according to the Uses of Salisbury, York,
&^c.) in the original Latin™, arranging them in parallel
cohimns, with a preface and notes ; besides that his
" Monuiuenta Ritualia"" contains a fund of interesting
matter, tending to illustrate our existing ritual from
that of the middle period of the Church in this
country. The old Daily Offices, according to the
Salisbury Use, have also been in part reprinted in the
original, with brief but elaborate notes". Some ac-
count of the existing Roman daily offices, with trans-
lated specimens, had some years since been given
to the world P, and may serve to give the English
reader an idea of the old arrangements. And now,
at length, has appeared a careful translation of the
"Sarum Psalter*^," (including a considerable part of
the Offices, but not the Lections or Lessons,) largely
illustrated from contemporary sources, and from the
Uses of the other Dioceses.

Thus have the proper materials for the elucidation
of our Offices of Public Worship been at length in a
great degree rendered accessible ; and also, to a cer-
tain extent, applied to purposes of illustration.

It might not unreasonably be supposed that these
works, Mr. Palmer's more especially, must have ex-
hausted the subject, and left little, if anything, to be
done by others. But though Mr. Palmer, while leaving
hardly any field of antiquarian investigation untrodden,

"■ " The Ancient Liturgy of the Chui-ch of England," &c., by Rev.
Wilham Maskell. 2nd Edition, enlarged.

" Monumenta Ritnalia Ecclesiaj Anglicanse, 3 vols.

° Portiforii Sarisburieusis Fascic. I. (Psalteriuin et Propr. Advent.)
Leslie, Lond. 1842-3. The work is out of jn'iut.

T> Tracts for the Times, No. 75.

1 " The Psalter, or Seven Ordinary Hours of Prayer, according to the
Use of Sarum," &c. Masters, 1852.


has also paid especial attention to tliis one in particu-
lar, it must be confessed that the principal thing that
needed to be done with reference to it is exactly that
which he has left untouched. He has, indeed, care-
fully specified throughout, as has been said, the place
which the successive features of our Services occupied
in the older forms ; and where any change or substi-
tution has been made, has justified the arrangement
— on the whole, felicitously — by precedents drawn
from the ritual of other Churches. The entire col-
lection, so to say, of ritual specimens embodied in our
Offices has thus been labelled and registered ; and the
plftce of each in our own or other ancient collections
can be ascertained. And this is a great gain ; and
one for which the student of our Services cannot be
too grateful.

Wherein then, it will be asked, is this work de-
ficient as an exposition of those Services ? I answer,
first, in that it nowhere sets forth as a whole, in a
lucid and connected view, in what degree, and with
what modifications or developments, the old order
and contents have been preserved in the remodelled
Offices. From its failing to exhibit such a general
conspectus as this, the work is not nearly so satis-
factory or convincing as it might have been made.
We do not rise from it with the impression that
the parentage of our present Services, taken as a
whole, can be successfully and legitimately traced to
those which preceded them. When some particular
feature or portion is noted as having been retained
from the old forms, the circumstance has rather the
air of a satisfactory incident, than of guaranteeing
any real identity between the old and the new. Th(^
impression which the fact makes upon us is furtlui


weakened by its generally coming hand in hand with
a variety of accidental correspondences, — for, such for
the most part, they necessarily are^ — fetched from
remote sources, such as the Apostolical Constitutions,
or the ancient Liturgies of Syria or of Armenia. Mr.
Palmer has not perhaps intended to attach the same
weight to these more remote coincidences, as to those
which lie nearer home : but the prominence given to
them has certainly had the effect of leading many to
the conclusion that our present Offices are a mere
mosaic or conglomerate ; consisting of excellent mate-
rials indeed, but those totally unconnected, and more
or less incongruous, — undiqiie coUatis membris. That
they can claim anything like so close and peculiar an
affinity with the early English Offices as in reality
they may, is what few perhaps gather from the mixed
company in which they are here exhibited.

Indeed, as regards our Communion Office, Mr.
Palmer has in one place distinctly pronounced that
"it resembles, in form and substance, rather the
ancient Gallican, Spanish, Egyptian, and Oriental
Liturgies," than the type which prevailed through-
out Western Christendom at the time of the Eevi-
sion : the exjiressions only of our Ritual being trace-
able in part to that type, in part to the Liturgies just
mentioned. This statement, I do not hesitate to say,
conveys an altogether erroneous impression. The

' It is probably a correct observation on the whole, that " there is no
reason to suppose" the Revisers of cm- OfSces " to have been intimately
acquainted with the formularies of the Eastern Church. (Neale, Gen.
Introd., p. 388). The Liturgy of St. Chrysostom had, however, been
akeady translated into Latin, by Ambrosius Pelargus, and afterwards by
Erasmus : hence, probably, the " Prayer of St. Chrysostom" (see below,
in loc.) found its way into our Services. Other Eastern Litm-gies were
printed in 15G0. Vide Renaudot, Lit. Or. Prsef., p. 4.


order, form, and substance of our Communion Office,
as at first revised, are those of the 'English variety of
the old Western Office, and of no other in the world ;
with only the omission of some features, and the
development of others. And though subsequent re-
visions produced some alterations of form and order,
these tended to assimilate the Office, not to those in-
dicated by Mr. Palmer, but to another and more
primitive type which can be shewn to have preceded
them ^

But this is not the only or the chief thing which
Mr. Palmer's work has left still to be done. It was
no part of his design to elicit the spirit and meaning
either of the old Offices or of the new. More espe-
cially he has made no attempt to penetrate and to
state the true nature and character of the old Offices,
but has contented himself with a very brief and
general account of their contents '. It does not seem
to have occurred to him that this, after all, was the
great thing to be done in the matter. It is satis-
factory, of course, to know that we use to a great
extent the same substance and order of services as
our fathers did ; but it would be a further and a
more important boon, if we could ascertain what ?/y/s
the mind of those services ; — what arc the conceptions
that pervade them, when rightly understood ; — whe-
ther their form and substance were dictated by any
profound and true ritual ideas, which we perchance
have at the present day lost sight of; — and how far
such conceptions and ideas may be deemed to have
passed on to us with the Services themselves. Such
a hfe-like catching of the iiuicr mind of oiu- elder

• See below, Part, II., chapter on tlic Priiiiitivc ronii of Litvirf,'y.
' Ori?. Lit., Part I. ch. i. Introd. ; and cli. iii. init.


Ritual were worth a thousand mere satisfactory cor-
respondences of detail.

This then it is, that is perhaps above all other
things needed in order to a full and correct appre-
hension of the present Services of the English Church,
— viz. a careful statement and exposition of the nature,
purpose, and spirit of her older Offices. Such a state-
ment will accordingly be attempted, as a substantive
and indispensable part of this Inquiry. And this,
again, will be applied as a key to unlock the general
nature and character of our Offices as at present

Though indeed, not the general spirit only, but
the details too of the old Services, have yet to be
thoroughly examined and estimated, as a means of
appreciating the corresponding features in our pre-
sent forms. Even in this department, Mr. Palmer
has done no more — it hardly fell within the scope
of his work to do more — than indicate the quarter
whence light may be obtained. Antiquity — English
antiquity more especially — has, hitherto, after all,
been rather appealed to in justification of details, than
resorted to for explanation of their meaning. Here,
too, the specimens have been labelled, but not ana-
lysed. We know whence our good things come ; but
we are not much better informed as to what they
are worth. What is the resultant, to the spiritual eye,
of such and such a history and antecedents proved
to belong to this or that part of our Offices; with
what character and meaning they come invested to
us in consequence ; and with what mind we are ac-
cordingly to use them ; — these are practical questions
which have yet to be asked and answered.

To make such assay then, — to investigate and ex-


press the value and significance of the several parts
of our Services, aided mainly, though not exclusively,
by the facts of their previous history, their old placing,

Online LibraryPhilip FreemanThe principles of divine service; an enquiry concerning the true manner of understanding and using the order for morning and evening prayer, and for the administration of the Holy Communion in the English Church (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 33)