Monday, January 9, 2012

Laudian Ceremonial (Part One)

1. Introduction to Laudianism

Before we dive into the ceremonial practice of the Laudians, it is important to discuss briefly what Laudianism was.  There is no one answer as to what Laudianism was, though, for it is a far more historically complex movement than it is sometimes portrayed.  Modern historical scholarship dedicated to the study of this part of history tries to analyze the goals of the movement, its motivation for such goals, who was the primary architect of the movement, and how the various players interacted with each other.

John M. Adrian characterizes Laudianism as a push for uniformity in the Church of England from Charles and Laud, as opposed to the laxity practiced by Elizabeth and James, which ultimately “disturbed the peace” and eventually led to the Civil War.  Adrian speaks of the increasing diversity of the Jacobean church, encouraged by the laxity of the reigning monarch and preceding one.  James’ concern was with driving out radical Puritanism and recusants, beyond an acknowledgment of the Prayer Book, he did little to enforce doctrinal or ceremonial uniformity.  The laxity in discipline was encouraged by the style of bishops appointed during Elizabeth’s reign who preferred a style of episcopacy “which overlooked divisive issues of nonconformity in favour of the common endeavour of bishop and puritan to spread the gospel and resist Roman Catholicism” (Adrian, 28).  The bishops wished to pursue a general Protestant unity with an evangelical concern to spread the Gospel.  They were not concerned with strictly enforcing the use of the Prayer Book, etc. on the ministers of the Church of England.  In fact, Adrian claims that the only thing which held the Jacobean church together and, in fact, its “genius” was this laxity in uniformity.  The real enemy of James’ church was the radical Puritan and the recusant, moderate Puritanism flourished during his reign because the necessity of wearing a surplice or using the ritual of the Prayer Book was not forced on the church.  Adrian quotes Peter White who believes that, “the Jacobean church… was more of a broad spectrum of beliefs [rather] than a pair of polarized camps” (30).  This would all change with the ascendancy of Charles I to the throne of England.

When Charles assumed the throne, it appears that he did not adopt the religious policy of previous English monarchs.  He shared a vision with a host of divines named collectively “the Caroline Divines” who held to a system of thought known as “Laudianism” which Peter Lake defines as “a coherent, distinctive and polemically aggressive vision of the Church, the divine presence in the world and the appropriate ritual response to that presence” (30).  As mentioned earlier, there is much debate in scholarly circles over whether this system should be called “Laudianism” and whether or not Charles was a more active participant in the program.  It seems that the Laudians began to view the Jacobean church and its tolerance as a bad thing and turned to the official canons and Prayer Book of the Church for guidance.  They began to require strict conformity to these rules and regulations.

The top-level clergy of Charles I all viewed the laxity of the Jacobean church with some suspicion and “tended to view Jacobean ‘unity’ as illusory… for them, flexibility and accommodation really only masked disorder and division; this they sought to rectify with a programme of order, obedience, and uniformity” (30).  Adrian suggests that this push towards uniformity actually stemmed from a desire for greater inclusivity in the English Church on the part of the Laudians and their ‘Arminian’ convictions, a term used for the system of thought opposed to the individualism of English Calvinism.  In their attempt to construct a more communal and objective salvation, the Laudians emphasized the worship of the Church and the divinely-instituted sacraments as the means of grace.  This emphasis on the ritual of the Church necessitated a greater enforcement of the standards of the Church.  I would also contrast the style of episcopacy that Laud and other supporters envisioned.  Instead of being “gospel partners” with nonconformists, Laudian bishops thought of themselves as apostolic pastors, an image which would dominate later High Church theology, especially in America.

The Laudians sought to implement their program through the cathedrals.  The Laudian program was fully implemented in cathedrals and the cathedrals, in turn, were to be exemplars for the rest of the parishes in the Church of England.  It is important to realize that the Laudians desired for their program to be implemented by the local parishes.  In addition to the cathedrals, the King’s chapel was viewed as the best example of what an English parish should look like, “The king’s chapel… or the king’s practice in his chapel… is the best interpreter [of the] rubrics, laws and canons of the Church” (Peter Heylyn quoted in Adrian, 32).

In addition to their ceremonial concerns, the Laudians also sought to enforce official church doctrine.  In the Royal Instructions of 1629, Charles sought to restrict “lectures, tightening ordination procedures, and increasing the presence of the liturgy – particularly the practice of catechizing” (33).  In essence, Charles was attempting to control the Puritans at the pulpit and emphasize the standard liturgy over the subjective pulpit.

And finally, to introduce briefly some of the objectives of the Laudian program, which all were intended to bring more continuity between the English Church and the early Church.  They were all external, and usually ceremonially, concerns, largely stemming from the disregard for the canons of 1604.  Things such as the wearing of authorized vestments (surplice, tippet, and cope) for divine service, the kneeling to receive Communion, the sign of the Cross at baptism, the wedding ring, the placing of the Table at the east end of the chancel with rails about it, bowing at the name of Jesus, and facing the east for prayers, were all visible manifestations of the Laudian concern for a more objective spirituality, rooted in the liturgy of the Church and the sacraments as divinely-constituted means of grace.

2. Specific Persons and Places

2.1 Bishop Andrewes and His Chapel

Lancelot Andrewes is known as somewhat of a “traditionalist” among the Caroline Divines both in theology and liturgy.  Kenneth Stevenson reflects on a particular Easter service in 1617, describing the choral tradition in place at Durham and the vesture of the choristers and clergymen in cope and surplice.  Stevenson suggests that, perhaps, the ceremonial complexity which Andrewes encouraged at his chapel stemmed from his differing Eucharistic theology from the Calvinistic consensus in the Church of England at that time.  Stevenson quotes Brian Gerrish and his terminology of Reformation Eucharistic theology.  Gerrish coins the term “symbolic instrumentalism” for Calvin’s thought, which he then contrasts with the “symbolic memorialism” of Zwingli and the “symbolic parallelism” of Bullinger, all of which are different from Lancelot Andrewe’s theology.  Stevenson then quotes Jeffrey Steel who describes Andrewe’s theology as “effectual instrumentalism” (229).  “When he [Andrewes] speaks of signs that ‘show and work both’, and, furthermore, are ‘a seal or pledge, to us, of our own, that what we see in him this day shall be accomplished in our own selves at his good time’ we have evidence of a sacramental theology that is keenly aware of the pitfalls of all that the Reformation found unacceptable in late mediaeval theology and piety; that looks to sacraments in what they do in the faithful believer, as well as what they are in themselves; but still holds on to an understanding that is strong without being impersonal, and humanward without becoming entirely subjective” (229).  It seems likely that Andrewe’s theology of the Lord’s Supper would lead to a “higher” ceremonial in the time of Divine Service.

The furnishings of Andrewe’s private chapel are somewhat famous in Anglican history as being a bit more “high” than most of the other Church of England parishes at the time.  It is notable that Andrewe’s private chapel was the place with these ceremonial accretions and not a parish church.  However, the interior of Andrewe’s chapel must have been a site to see.  “The focal point was the altar, raised on a foot-board and adorned with its lavish frontal against the eastern wall where it had been in the ancient and medieval churches.  It was railed off from the rest of the chancel to denote it was sanctum Sanctorum” (Dorman, 1999: 2).  Obviously, the placement of the table or altar against the east end of the chancel was in accordance with Elizabethan and later standards for the Church of England.  However, Andrewes had taken it a step further by elevating the altar above the nave by a platform to emphasize the holiness and presence of God at that place.  The altar itself was also adorned with “two candlesticks with tapers, basin for the oblation, and a cushion of violet and crimson, damask which matched the altar frontal, for the service book,” in addition, “when the Eucharist was celebrated a chalice, paten, and tricanale for mixing the wine with the water were also placed upon it, whilst on the credence table were the ‘silver and gilt canister for the wafers like a wicker-basket and lined with cambric laced,’ a small barrel for the communion wine, ‘a basin and ewer’ and towel for the ablutions” (2).  This description shows several things about Andrewe’s ceremonial.  First, he continued in the tradition of having candlesticks upon the altar with tapers, which had been abandoned by much of the Church at that time.  Andrewes was intent on using wafers and mixing water with the wine in the Eucharist, in continuation with the pre-Reformation traditions.  More notable was that Andrewes kept another small table where was placed, “a ‘navicula’ (i.e. boat shaped vessel) from ‘which frankincense is poured’ into a ‘triquestral censer’ for censing at the appropriate places in the Liturgy.”  The use of incense by the Caroline Divines and other pre-Tractarian High Churchmen has been of some particular interest to me, although, I cannot find any description as to how it was used, but it is evident that it was used.  The evidence seems to indicate that incense was used as a fragrance more than in the action of censing things in the Liturgy but perhaps Andrewes is an exception to that general rule.  “The censer hung in the chancel behind the lectern during the services to symbolize the offering of worship to God,” probably reminiscing the imagery in Revelation, “And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand” (8:4).  In addition, there was, “a hanging depicting the story of Abraham and Melchizedek,” emphasizing Andrewes’ belief in the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist.

Not only was the altar itself adorned but also the ornaments on it were adorned beyond the standards of the time.  The paten and chalice, which departed from the Reformation use of a communion cup, had engraved images on them.  They had an image of the Good shepherd on the chalice and the star of Bethlehem on the paten.  These images were apparently very popular in the early Church according to Andrewes, “In the old Ritual of the Church, the wise man’s star was engraved on the cover of the canister, wherein was the Sacrament of his body to show that now the star leads us thither, to his body there” (3).

Beyond the adornment of the ornaments of the church and the vessels for the Lord’s Supper, Andrewes also adorned the Liturgy by “amplifying” it and making it conform more with the Liturgy of the 1549 Prayer Book and the medieval ritual.  Andrewes used the lack of rubrics in the 1559 Prayer Book to elaborate the ceremonial to reflect a pre-Reformation celebration of the Liturgy.  Dorman offers several examples where Andrewes differed from the standard Liturgy, notably in the offertory.  “The bishop or celebrant ascended the altar steps with treble adoration and knelt at the altar.  Meanwhile the priest took the basin from the back of the altar and placed it at the front,” it is important to note that the treble adoration was employed by the Caroline Divines in the Liturgy, which is an example of a civil custom being used in a religious sense, for the treble adoration was used towards the monarch.  “Next he brought the canister and wine-barrel to the bishop who offered them on behalf of the congregation and placed them on the altar.  The bishop then put his own alms in the basin, after which he went to the entrance to the chancel to read the offertory sentences, which were of Andrewes’ devising” (3).  Andrewes separated the preparation of the elements from the reception of the peoples’ gifts.  The elements were prepared immediately before the consecration, an intentional departure from the standard Liturgy.  Andrewes used wafers and wine mixed with water, as per ancient custom.  Andrewes incorporated the lavabo in his celebration of the Liturgy, which was not included in the Prayer Book.  “‘The priest after adoration pours water upon the napkin and cleanses his hands’, saying as he does the traditional words from psalm twenty-six, verse six, ‘Lavabo in innocentia manus, meas, et sic introibo ad altare Dei, ut annunciem vocem.’” (4).   It is unclear whether Andrewes recited the portion of Ps 46 in Latin or English.

During the prayer of consecration, Andrewes restored the manual acts as they had been in 1549 (recalling that the 1552-1604 Prayer Books did not have the manual acts but they were restored in 1662), but he did not elevate the elements at the Canon.  He also preferred the order of 1549 editing the ritual of the Prayer Book by inserting the prayer of oblation in the prayer of consecration (Dorman, 8).

2.1.2 Andrewes’ Customary

Dorman gives an excellent summary of how the liturgy was celebrated in Andrewes’ chapel, giving a step by step description of the actions of the ministers at the Liturgy.  I will give a summary here.

The Liturgy begins with an introit (presumably the provisions of the 1549 Book but this is not specifically stated); the ministers enter and make a treble adoration towards the altar.  The celebrant, epistler, and gospeller, assumed their position at the altar, and if there were only two ministers officiating, they were to stand at the north and south ends of the altar, “as it were ‘the two Cherubims at the mercy-seat’” (4-5).  The celebrant sings the collect at his place at the altar and then “descends to the door of the septum” (5), presumably the rood screen.  He bows towards the altar and leads the Decalogue.  He then returns to the altar and “kneels to say ‘the collect of the day.’  The epistler and gospeller bow to the altar respectively before reading their part of the service.  The Creed and Sermon followed as they were prescribed in the Prayer Book, although Andrewes included a Gradual in his service.

After the offertory, the prayer for the Church followed, which was led by the deacon, according to ancient customs.  Andrewes preferred the second Exhortation since it encouraged private confessions of sins.  When the general confession was to be said, the deacon or a priest would “descend to the door, and kneeling, said the confession, the people repeating after him” (6).

The Sursum corda was sung, as were all other parts of the service which traditionally were sung.  As I mentioned earlier, Andrewes differed from the standard Liturgy significantly in this part of the service.  In addition to altering the order of the prayer of oblation, Andrewes rearranged the entire prayer of consecration as follows: the Sanctus, the prayer of consecration, the prayer of oblation, the Lord’s Prayer, the Prayer of Humble Access, and finally, the Agnus Dei.

The rest of the service followed the standard Liturgy with the Thanksgiving prayer, Gloria, and Blessing in their usual places.  It is interesting that Andrewes preferred and defended the post-communion position of the Gloria instead of its ancient place at the beginning of the liturgy.  The only other instance in which Andrewes preferred the Reformation standards was in the preference of the cope over the chasuble.  

2.2 John Cosin and Cathedral at Durham

Looking at individual persons during the period, we can get a clear picture of the ceremonial practices associated with the Laudian program.  Dr. Cosin stands as one of the key players in the Laudian reforms, due to his personal connection with Laud and support of the program by implementing the ceremonial associated with it at Durham Cathedral.  As in other articles in this series, we can gather a lot of information about what was going on based on Puritan accounts of things they found troubling in the Laudian church.  Perhaps a bit of caution should be exercised when trusting the Puritans’ accounts, especially in regards to their accuracy.  One, the Puritans were not acquainted with the ritual actions promoted by the Laudians and could have misinterpreted them.  Likewise, they are completely biased and could have used their accounts to exaggerate the actual practices of the Laudians.

The ritual at Durham Cathedral is probably one of the best representations of the full Laudian ceremonial program in force that we have recorded.  Consequently, the features typically associated with Laudianism are clearly visible in the ceremonial at Durham Cathedral, especially under Dr. Cosin (practices which survived until the end of the 18th century – See “Eighteenth Century Ceremonial”).  As in other treatments of ceremonial so far, we can see that objections to ceremonial stem from several origin points: the ornaments of the church; the ornaments of the minister; and the actions of the minister.  The Puritans disliked the Established Church’s position on ornaments in general, being opposed to the retention of chancels, naves, rood screens, etc. in addition to surplices and copes.  In particular, they disliked the ceremonial being promoted by Laud which was not obligatory on English clergy by canon law.

Regarding the ornaments of the church, Cosin seems to have followed the canons of 1604 in keeping the parish church as it had been, to an extent.  As the Puritans disliked the official standards, they obviously disliked the Laudians’ encouragement and endorsement of those standards.  The complaints against Dr. Cosin by Peter Smart are one of the sources that reveal the type of ornaments that Cosin was employing in Durham Cathedral, for example, Smart writes, “That the said Dean and Prebendaries set up and renewed many gorgeous images and pictures, three whereof were statues of stone; one of which standing in the midst represented the picture of CHRIST, with a gold beard, a blue cap, and sun-rays upon his head” (Hierurgia Anglicana, 36).  Obviously the image of Christ was related to idolatry in the mind of the Puritans.  Likewise, they were not pleased with the use of candles in Durham Cathedral, both upon the altar and elsewhere in the church (the use of candles on the altar was technically illegal except to provide light), Mr. Smart’s complaint continues, “That the said Dean and Prebendaries did use an excessive number of candles, more upon a Saint's Day than upon the Lord's day; and caused the same candles to be lighted in the said church in a new, strange, and superstitious manner, burning two hundred wax candles in one Candlemas night... The manner of lighting the candles was this: they caused two choristers in their surplices to come from the west end of the quire, with lighted torches in their hands, who, after sundry bowings by the way to and at the altar, did light the candles upon the same with their torches;” (H.A., 37).  Although the illegality of Cosin’s actions is questionable since the 1604 canons and the Ornaments Rubric require the church to be kept as it had been “in times past,” a plea to peace and civility from Elizabeth I.  Mr. Smart includes one more complaint against the ornaments of Durham Cathedral; this last one is a case special to the cathedral.  It seems in many places that wafer bread was preferred to common bread but at Durham Cathedral, common bread was used.  However, Mr. Smart seems to scruple with the fact that, “a knife to be kept in the vestry for cutting of the sacramental bread, being appropriated only for that use” (H.A., 37), which probably “cancelled out” the commonness of the bread by providing a sacred knife for its cutting in the Liturgy.  These cases were special in their application to Durham Cathedral, however, the Laudians all encouraged the placing of the holy table at the east end of the chancel, closing it with communion rails, and facing towards it during the prayer of consecration, which all infuriated the Puritans but because these were not unique to Durham, I have left out Mr. Smart’s comments on that matter.  Dr. Cosin responds to the needs for the chancel to be kept as it was in times past, “And the chancels shall remain as they have done in times past.  That is, distinguished from the body of the church by a frame of open work [rood-screen], and furnished with a row of chairs or stools [stalls] on either side: and if there were formerly any steps up to the place where the altar or Table stood, that they should be suffered to continue so still, and not to be taken down and laid level with the lower ground, as lately they have been by violence and disorder, contrary to law and custom” (H.A., 67).

The Puritans offer a description of the actions of the liturgy as they occurred in Durham Cathedral.  “And for the order of the Communion, when they come first to the Communion-table, at the entering of the door every one doth make a low congie to the altar, and so takes their place... And then the priest goeth up to the Table, and there he makes a low congie...Taketh up the basin, and maketh a low congie.  He goeth to all the communicants, the quire excepted, and taketh the offerings in that bason; he goeth up to the table, maketh a congie, and setteth down the bason.  Then he goeth to the end of the Table, and beginneth the exhortation, and goeth on until he cometh at Lift up your hearts, that he singeth, and the quire answereth, singing in strange tunes, so far as priest and answer goeth: then for the rest, one of the priests reads some part of it at the end of the Table.  And another sitting on his knees at the middle of the table, and after the prefaces, the priest begins Therefore with angels and archangels, until he come to the three Holies, and then the quire singeth until the end of that: so in order he doth administer the Communion” (H.A., 38).  The description of the Communion Service at Durham obviously reveals the extent of the Laudian scheme as a ceremonially more complex affair than the majority of English parishes at the time.  “Congie” in this context means a bow.  Therefore, we can determine the times when the bow was used during the service at Durham.  According to this account, a bow was made towards the altar at the entrance of the minister to the chancel, as the priest approaches the Table, at the Offertory both before the collection is taken and at the presentation of the basin.  From the context, it looks like one priest would stand at the north end and another kneeling in the midst of the altar, or at the west end, but the account is vague in this regard.  The account seems to indicate that the service was chanted and also sung by the choir.

One curiosity which seems to be limited to John Cosin was his blessing of objects associated with the administration of Communion.  He seems to have blessed the cushions at the communion rails before divine service.  “Dr. Cosin did consecrate the cushions and forms by crossing them, before the people came to the Communion” (H.A., 37).  The 1552 Liturgy had not allowed for the consecration of material objects as it removed the consecration prayer for the baptismal water.  The 1662 BCP restored this prayer, perhaps at the influence of Cosin.


Adrian, James M.  ‘George Herbert, parish ‘dexterity’, and the local modifications of Laudiansm.’

Dorman, Mariane.  1999.  “Andrewes and English Catholics’ Response to Cranmer’s Prayer Books of 1549 and 1552”.  Reformation Studies Conference, 1999.  Westminster College, Cambridge.

Stevenson, Kenneth.  2006.  “Worship and Theology: Lancelot Andrewes in Durham, Easter 1617”.  International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church.  6. 223-234.


Robin G. Jordan said...


I disagree with the classification of
"Laudianism" as a movement. Archbishop Laud implemented what he called "Thorough," a campaign of "reforms" intended to reshape the Church of England in accordance with his own ideas. While his "reforms" enjoyed support of a number of individuals highly placed in the English church and state, "Laudianism," which may be a misnomer, never became a popular movement, as was the case with Puritanism. Latter historians particularly Anglo-Catholic ones may characterize "Laudianism" as movement because to do so fits with their own agenda, which is to represent "Laudianism" as the predecessor of the nineteenth century Anglo-Catholic movement. Both nineteenth century and more recent scholars have debunked that notion.

The Hackney Hub said...


I based my research off of the contemporary research I could find in JSTOR and EBSCO. The articles refer to Laudianism as a movement, although modern scholarship doubts the role of Laud as the origin of the reforms. While Laudianism wasn't a "popular" movement, it was very influential and did not just affect the King's chapel but nearly all cathedrals and many parish churches. It was not a precursor to Anglo-Catholicism and I'm pretty sure that I made that clear...

aaytch said...

Laudian Treachery, part 1:

Anonymous said...

Laudianism should first be defined as the boring of tongues and cutting off of ears for those of a different religious conscience. And these punishments were for the lucky dissenters--burning alive for the less fortunate.

Laudianism..what rubbish.

Peter Yancey said...

Spurgeon isn't even an Anglican, so why cite him?

No one was burned under Laud (the last burning for heresy happened under James I), and while the penalties inflicted under Charles I for libel were harsh, it was the Puritans who cut off both Charles' and Archbishop Laud's heads.

Hudson Barton said...

If you read again, you will see the article is from Augustus Toplady, who most certainly is Anglican. More importantly, the article demonstrates that Laud was cooperating with the Jesuits to inject the English Church with the "sovereign drug of Arminianism." Ironically, that makes Laud a traitor.... or no Anglican himself.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Laud was my most potent reason for discounting Anglicanism in my days as a Baptist. After reading a (nonconformist, admittedly) synopsis of Laud's actions of cutting out tongues and cutting off ears of non-conformists, I was most certainly repelled by Anglicanism. Give me Bunyan, or the Presbyterians, but certainly not the church of Laud.

Now that I am an Anglican, I happily agree with aaytch that Laud was a traitor ... or no Anglican!