Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reforming the Diocese from within

An excellent article written by the Rev. John Richardson.  I hope all Episcopalians read this, especially those in more liberal dioceses and consider starting a Bible Fellowship.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The English High Church Tradition (Part I)

(This is a revision of the earlier series on this blog "The Curious Case of the Old High Churchmen" - I will likely be revising it further)

This reflection stems from a personal fascination with Anglican High Churchmanship, partially stemming from my own experience of the Anglican tradition in its High Church form.  My own experience of Anglicanism was heavily influenced by a combination of Anglo-Catholicism and three-streams convergence theology.  My own intellectual fascination with this topic began nearly a year ago when I read Peter Nockle’s, “The Oxford Movement in Context,” a truly fascinating read, obligatory for anyone who is interested in this subject.  In my mind, I began to question the “trinity” of Anglican churchmanship (high, broad, low) discovering older paradigms which challenged our contemporary summation of the complex phenomenon known as Anglican churchmanship.  Another influence on my thought and consequently the hypothesis presented in this work was the article, “High Church Varieties:  Continuity and Discontinuity in Anglican Catholic Thought,” by Mattijs Ploeger.  Ploeger’s work reinforced my previous suspicion of the homogeneity of the High Church tradition in Anglicanism.  Through a variety of primary and secondary sources, I have come to the conclusion that the Anglican High Church tradition is not homogeneous and therefore the particular strand known as “Anglo-Catholicism” should not be the sole proprietor of the label.  I propose that Anglo-Catholicism is only one facet of Anglican High Churchmanship which has come to dominate High Churchmanship but that does not encompass the whole of it.

The necessary question which arises in discussing churchmanship is a simple one, what is High Churchmanship?  The question might seem simple but the proposed answer is anything but simple.  Likewise, the modern association with ceremonial seems entirely inadequate and in disconnect with the original meaning of the terms.  As it has already been mentioned, Anglo-Catholicism is often equated with High Churchmanship; however, I have come to question this assertion.  I also propose a sharp historical contrast between pre-Tractarian High Churchmanship and post-Tractarian High Churchmanship, which primarily manifests itself with the appearance of Anglo-Catholicism and Ritualism.  As I mentioned above, I believe the High Church strand of thought in the Anglican tradition is anything but homogenous and I propose temporal, geographic, and theological substrata within this type of Anglican churchmanship, which I intend to explore in this work.

Historical Summary

The differences between “high” and “low” church were not necessarily evident in the time of the Reformation, but we can see a general trend of development beginning with the reforms under Henry VIII.
Most of us are familiar with Henry VIII and his dilemma with Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon, at least if you've seen the popular series, The Tudors.  Henry's role in the English Reformation is extremely complex and subject to historical interpretation beyond the scope of this work, however, it seems that he was generally in favor of modest reform while maintaining traditional ceremonial.  Many important things happened during his reign which set the stage for the further reforms under Edward VI and later monarchs.  First, Henry appointed Thomas Cranmer to the archbishopric of Canterbury on October 1, 1532, who was quickly recruited to help determine the best way forward in regards to the King’s “great matter”.  After just two years of legislation, the break with Rome was finalized in 1534 with the Act of Supremacy which declared Henry, "supreme head in earth of the Church of England."  This act did not start a theological reformation but it did provide the base from which that would come.  Later manifestations of early reform include the Dissolution of the Monasteries led by Cromwell.  Henry issued several doctrinal statements beginning with the Ten Articles of 1536 and later the Six Articles of 1539.  They were conservative documents but looked to German Lutherans for inspiration.  There wasn’t a concept of “churchmanship” as we know it during Henry’s reign but there were divides between the clergy’s reaction to the reforms.  Eamon Duffy mentions “traditionalists” and “reformists” in his book, The Stripping of the Altars:  Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580.  It is important to note that no modern church party has exclusive claim to the English Reformers, for example, it is erroneous to say that the Reformers were “Evangelicals” in the nineteenth century meaning of the term (they were “evangelical” in the sense that they loved the Gospel).  Henry's reign produced the English Litany (1544), English Bible (1537), standardization of the Salisbury or Sarum Use as the national use, and the introduction of many of the cast of characters for Edward's Reform.

Liturgical reform commenced almost immediately after Henry's death with the first Prayer Book in 1549 and revised in 1552.  Cranmer released his 42 Articles of Religion in 1553, only to be revoked by Queen Mary after ascending to the throne in the same year.  Elizabeth followed her as queen and reinstated Protestantism with the Act of Uniformity and the 1559 Prayer Book.  Cranmer's 42 Articles were revised to 38 in 1563 and then the current 39 Articles of Religion were agreed by Convocation in 1571.  This was the beginning of Anglicanism as we know it.  However, the Elizabethan church, at least in the beginning, can hardly be classified as “Anglican” especially before the finalization of the Articles of Religion in 1571.  Hylson-Smith adds his reflection on this period of the Church, “The 'complex of ideas described by the word "Anglican" did not exist in the Elizabethan church, any more than the word did'.  The early Elizabethan church was 'an enforced coalition of contrary religious traditions and tendencies, crudely distinguishable as very protestant, not-so-protestant and crypto-papist.” (Patrick Collinson, quoted in Hylson-Smith, 3).  Tensions were building up during Elizabeth's reign but because of her policy of toleration, there was no conflict.

During James' reign, churchmanship differences became more pronounced and eventually full-blown conflict became apparent at the end of Charles I’s reign.  Churchmanship at the time was beginning to develop, Davies offers a summary of the differences forming at the time, "On the right stood the recusants, those who still remained faithful to the Church of Rome. Next came ‘those who in a later age have been called high churchmen, but were then more generally known as Arminians’.  Next came the episcopalian Calvinists, those who were content with the episcopal nature of the Church of the Elizabethan settlement. Next came the Calvinists who still looked for their model of a reformed Church to the European models of presbyterian and congregational churches. Still further to the left came the sectaries, separatists or independents: ‘whereas the upper-middle-class man tended to adopt an Erastian form of presbyterianism, the lower-middle-class man often became a separatist’ (1937:193). Finally came ‘the lunatic fringe – the Fifth Monarchy men, the Seekers, the Levellers, and so forth’"

The presbyterians won for a time under the leadership of Cromwell and the Protectorate.  The prayer book was abolished and bishops replaced by presbyteries.  This came to an end in 1661, when Charles II ascended the throne and reinstated the Prayer Book in 1662 and bishops.  This narrowed the theological comprehensiveness of the Church to exclude presbyterians and congregationalists and those who were not in favor of the prescribed liturgy.  This led to the expulsion of over 2,000 ministers from the Church.  There was a debate at the time as to what to do with Puritans and Dissenting Christians.  This debate led to the first codification of churchmanship terms.  There was a group of churchmen who wanted to revise the prayer book to allow for more diversity of opinion and eventually graft these groups back into the national church.  They presented a revised prayer book in 1689, called the Liturgy of Comprehension.  Another group of churchmen were opposed to these efforts of comprehension and stated that the puritans and dissenting Christians must use the authorized liturgy of the Church (1662 BCP).  Those who favored comprehension were called latitudinarians or "low churchmen" because they had a "low" view of the Established Church which allowed them to vision compromises to include more in the Church.  Those who opposed were called "high churchmen" because they had a "high" view of the Established Church and would not tolerate deviations from the standard liturgy.  Kenneth Hylson-Smith introduces the concept of High Churchmanship around this point in the history of the Church of England,

"Certainly, prior to the Restoration, 'High Churchmanship' was largely a response to Puritanism on the one hand and Roman Catholicism on the other.  It was, to this extent, a defensive upholding of a via media, a sort of Church of England middle ground consensus, without having such a definite form and content as either Puritanism or Roman Catholicism.  Puritanism to a certain extent, but more especially Roman Catholicism, had very clear beliefs, codes of practice, and systems of authority, structures and organisation.  High Churchmanship lacked all of these marks of a fairly clearly defined tradition and school of thought, and was undoubtedly somewhat imprecise, unstructured and unselfconscious.  It has in fact been asserted that the term 'High Church Party' 'was not used in an ecclesiastical sense until the last years of the seventeenth century, and the party so described was not sufficiently distinguished from the rest of the Church of England to require a name until that time'... Throughout the latter part of the seventeenth century and into the eighteenth century High Churchmen were characerised by their opposition to Latitudinarianism and by their alliance with Toryism against Whig and nonconformist assertions..." (Hylson-Smith, introduction)

  The High Churchmen won and, weary from the Civil War and the Cromwellian period, there was no effort at comprehension.

The reigning monarch at that time was James II.  A Dutch Prince, named William, invaded England and James II fled to France.  (This is a very simplified explanation of the situation!).  He was held captive by William but later released and fled.  William convened a parliament and many Englishmen supported him as the new king because they believed that James had abdicated the throne by fleeing.  William was eventually proclaimed king, however, many High Churchmen could not, in conscience, swear loyalty to him because they did not believe that their oath to James had expired.  Thus a large number of high church bishops and priests seceded from the Church, they became known as the Non-Jurors.  The Non-Jurors went on to have a life of their own as a sect, apart from the national church.  While the national church fell into the power of the Latitudinarians, the High Church Non-Jurors were divided amongst themselves about the question of Prayer Book revision.  The pro-revision group or Usagers, wanted to revise the English liturgy along the lines of the 1549 rite and introduce four alleged apostolic usages to the liturgy.   The four usages included:  he mixed chalice, the prayers of epiklesis and invocation and prayers for the dead.  The opposing group, called the Non-usagers, wanted no change to the English liturgy.

Meanwhile, in the national church, the "long eighteenth century" began.  This is a term used by historians to refer to the period of time from Toleration Act of 1689 until the 1833, or the beginning of the Oxford Movement.  During this time the Church was battling Enlightenment issues of science and deism.  This age was generally characterized by "cautious and
Latitudinarian Anglicanism,” although this characterization has been questioned by many historians and, for all intents and purposes, it is probably a false description of this rich period of Anglican history.  It was in this climate that the clergyman, John Wesley, lived and preached.  Wesley was originally a high churchman, who started the society of Methodists who met for regular Bible study and encouraged fasting and regular Communion.  After a conversion experience, Wesley became one of the forerunners of the Evangelical Movement which stressed individual conversion in response to the Holy Spirit.  Wesley's Methodist Society was meant to be a renewal movement within the Church of England but after being denied a bishop for his American followers, Wesley provoked a schism by consecrating his own bishops.  Some Evangelicals left the national church for other dissenting bodies or the new Methodists.  It is important to remember that many of these evangelicals stayed within the Church of England because, "on the whole they rejected Wesley’s concept of a travelling ministry, regarding the parish as the place where the Lord’s work was primarily to be carried on."  Another feature characteristic was that, "Anglican Evangelicals were generally Calvinists, whereas Methodists were generally Arminians."
Besides Wesley’s movement, there was a strong High Church tradition in the Church of England in the “long eighteenth century,” which grew and flourished during this period.

Theological Portrait of the English Old High Churchmen

At this point, I want to provide a basic theological portrait of the English Old High Churchmen to provide some context in the historical section of this post.  I believe it is important at this point to clarify what the Old High Churchmen believed on certain points which will later diverge from Tractarian teaching on the same subjects.  I also have concluded that there was enough theological and ceremonial divergence from the Non-Jurors to separate them from the English High Churchmen.  I also find it important to note the theological harmony that existed between High Churchmen and Evangelicals before the turmoil of the Oxford Movement.  Later on, Anglo-Catholics would seek to accentuate the differences between the groups, however, at this point they were very much similar.  Nockes offers a concise summary of an Old High Churchman,

“A High Churchman in the Church of England tended to uphold in some form the doctrine of apostolical succession as a manifestation of his strong commitment to the Church’s catholicity and apostolicity as a branch of the universal church catholic, within which he did not include those reformed bodies which had abandoned episcopacy without any plea of necessity.  He believed in the supremacy of Holy Scripture and set varying degrees of value on the testimony of authorised standards such as the Creeds, the Prayer Book and the Catechism.  He valued t he writings of the early Fathers, but more especially as witnesses and expositors of scriptural truth when a “catholic consent” of them could be established.  He upheld in a qualified way the primacy of dogma a nd laid emphasis on the doctrine of sacramental grace, both in the eucharist and in baptism, while normally eschewing the Roman Catholic principle of ex opere operato.  He tended to cultivate a practical spirituality based on good works nourished by sacramental grace and exemplified in acts of self-denial and charity rather than on any subjective conversion experience or unruly pretended manifestations of the Holy Spirit.  He stressed the divine rather than popular basis of political allegiance and obligation.  His political principles might be classed as invariably Tory though by no means always in a narrowly political party sense, and were characterised by a high view of kingship and monarchical authority.  He upheld the importance of a religious establishment but insisted also on the duty of the state as a divinely-ordained rather than merely secular entity, to protect and promote the interests of the church” (Nockles, 25-26).


The Article on predestination is not very clear and early on there was debate over whether or not the article taught double predestination or just single predestination.  Generally speaking, Evangelicals tended to be Calvinists, meaning they espoused double predestination, and Old high Churchmen were Arminians.  The key here is that English Arminianism tended to diverge from Dutch Arminianism because it still held to a concept of single predestination.  Archbishop Robinson expands, “Theologians such as Lancelot Andrewes objected not to the idea of Predestination as such, but to the doctrine of double Predestination promoted by some Calvinists… they saw double predestination as inconsistent with a loving and merciful God. They also regarded Predestination as preached by some of the Puritans as being anti-sacramental, and the Caroline Divines seem to have held with the idea that Christians exist in a state where we are both saved and being saved. This notion also explains the strong sacramentalism of the Caroline High Churchmen, and of their modern successor of the Central stripe.”  For the Old High Churchmen, to be justified by faith alone through Christ implied a call to a holy life, they often emphasized this in their sermons and this emphasis was perceived as moralism by some outsiders.  The main problem with these terms is that are fluid and do not reflect the beliefs of English churchmen at the time.  Essentially, High Churchmen were often labeled “Arminians” to distinguish them from Calvinist clergy, while their theological system was very different from the continental system.  “English Arminianism” reflected a turn from individualistic piety and a turn to a sacramental and communal religious life.  Hylson-Smith supports this notion,

“The term Arminian has commonly been used to describe this body of anti-Calvinistic opinion, but it does not mean that the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius was normally the source of the ideas so labeled… In England, although the Arminians asserted the orthodoxy of free will and universal grace, they also stressed the hierarchical nature of both church and state against the incipient egalitarianism of Calvinism… ‘the English Arminian mode, as it emerged during the 1630’s, was that of communal and ritualized worship rather than an individual response to preaching or Bible reading’” (38).


High Churchmen had strong views of the relation between regeneration and baptism, this was one of the marked differences between Evangelical churchmen and High Churchmen.  Evangelicals had as many as four distinct views regarding baptism and regeneration, which are documented in this quote from Peter Toon’s book, Evangelical Theology, 1833-1856 : A Response to Tractarianism,

“"First of all there were those who, following the Augustinian footsteps of Archbishop Ussher, affirmed that all who are regenerated are regenerated in or at baptism.38 Baptism was thus seen as the ‘instrument’ of regeneration, as taught in Article XXVII (‘.... as by an instrument, they that receive baptism are grafted into the Church’)... Regeneration is here understood in terms of the implantation by the Holy Spirit of the principle of new life in the soul. This approach, a modification of that found in the Lutheran formularies, connects regeneration with both divine election and with baptism so that all who are elect according to the foreknowledge of God are regenerated in baptism, being born ‘of water and of the Spirit’

Secondly, there were those who, influenced by Henry Budd, and including Edward Bickersteth and Hugh McNeile, also closely connected baptism with both regeneration and eternal electíon.39 They claimed that on the analogy of the baptism of adult believers regeneration (again understood as the implantation of eternal life and incorporation into the mystical Body of Christ) occurred prior to baptism in response to the prayer of God’s people (the prayer beginning ‘Almighty, everliving God ... ) in order that baptism could be a full sign of an inward spiritual change and a seal of God’s gracious promises towards the child.

Thirdly, there were those who understood regeneration as being synonymous with conversion and as being impossible without being accompanied by repentance towards God, saving faith in Jesus Christ and the visible fruit of the Spirit in the life. Biddulph, Wilson and M’Ilvaine, with perhaps the majority of Evangelicals held one or other form of this approach.40 They could not allow that divine life implanted in infancy at baptism could take ten, fifteen or twenty years to manifest itself in a conversion experience. For them regeneration had to be a visible change of character and attitude. The baptism of infants was approached through a simple covenant theology; the promises of salvation were declared and a sign and seal of them given because of the belief in the faithfulness of God to honour his covenant-promise which is ‘to you and to your children’ (Acts 2.39). Thus baptism involved no immediate, inward change but the confirmation of God’s covenant promise that he would, when the child reached an age of discretion, work salvation in the life.

Fourthly, there were those who made a distinction between ecclesiastical (or sacramental) and spiritual regeneration. Henry Ryder, the first Evangelical bishop, felt obliged to do this and wrote of ecclesiastical regeneration:  ‘I would… wish to generally restrict the temr to the baptismal privileges and considering them as comprehending, not only external admission into the visible church – not only a covenanted title to the pardon and peace of the Gospel but even a degree of spiritual aid vouchsafed and ready to offer itself to our acceptance or rejection, at the dawn of reason.’"

High Churchmen would stand in agreement with the first position outlined above as espoused by Archbishop Ussher.  I have provided the full quote to emphasize that Evangelicals valued baptism as much as High Churchmen but in a different fashion.  Likewise, one would not find the concept of “believer’s baptism” in Evangelical literature then.  Likewise, Archbishop Robinson adds some clarity to misconceptions about the doctrine of baptismal regeneration,

“in the absence of any positive will to the contrary on the part of the minister or of the person being baptised, Baptism confers regeneration; the child or person receiving baptism is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, and is made a child of Christ. If they continue in the profession and practice of the Christian Faith they will be saved. It is the duty of parents and godparents (and by extension of the whole Church) to ensure that the child or person baptized is brought up in the Faith. The one thing we have to be quite clear about though, is that Baptismal Regeneration is not some “hocus-pocus” that works independently of the faith of the Church and the faith of the individual, but part of the economy of salvation left to us by Christ Himself.”

Many High Churchmen subscribed to Waterland’s thoughts on baptismal regeneration.  Waterland was a prominent theologian in the first half of the 18th century who wrote extensively on many topics including a well known defense of Trinitarianism against Arians and other heretical groups in the Church.  Waterland distinguishes between “regeneration” and “conversion” and defines baptismal regeneration as such,
“Regeneration on the part of the grantor, God Almighty, means admission or adoption into sonship, or spiritual citizenship: and on the part of the grantee, viz. man, it means his birth, or entrance into that state of sonship or citizenship. It is God that adopts or regenerates, like as it is God that justifies. Man does not adopt, regenerate, or justify himself, whatever hand he may otherwise have (but still under grace) in preparing or qualifying himself for it. God makes the grant, and it is entirely his act: man receives only, and is acted upon; though sometimes active in qualifying himself, as in the case of adults, and sometimes entirely passive, as in the case of infants. The thing granted and received is a change from the state natural into the state spiritual; a translation from the curse of Adam into the grace of Christ. This change, translation or adoption carries in it many Christian blessings and priviliges, but all reducible to two, viz. remission of sins, (absolute or conditional,) and a covenant-claim, for the time being, to eternal happiness. Those blessings may all be forfeited, or finally lost, if a person revolts from God...; and then such person is no longer in a regenerate state, or a state of sonship, with respect to any saving effects: but still God’s original grant of adoption or sonship in Baptism stands in full force, to take place as often as any such revolter shall return, and not otherwise: and if he desires to be as before, he will not want to be regenerated again, but renewed, or reformed. Regeneration complete stands in two things, which are, as it were, its two integral parts; the grant made over to the person, and the reception of that grant. The grant once made continues always the same; but the reception may vary, because it depends upon the condition of the recipient.”

Holy Communion

There were three generally recognized theories about the real presence:  receptionism, virtualism, and memorialism (or Zwinglianism).  The first was the theory of Calvin, Bullinger, and Bucer, it teaches that, although there is no change in the elements, when the faithful partake of the bread and the wine they receive Christ's body and blood by faith, this was held by a majority of Evangelicals and High Churchmen.  Virtualism was the belief of the Non-Jurors and it maintained that although the bread and the wine were not changed into the body and blood of Christ, they were changed to be the power or benefit of Christ is present, as if Christ were present.  This allowed for the Non-juror theories of eucharistic sacrifice in addition it, “protects the notion that Christ is really present, but avoids the murky waters of mediaeval philosophy and the concept that the Eucharistic bread and wine, undergoing some sort of change of substance” (Robinson).  The memorialist or Zwinglian view was also accepted by some Evangelicals and many Low Churchmen but not by High Churchmen.  Hylson-Smith offers his understanding of the two strands of thought regarding the presence of Christ in the Eucharist,

“Two principal schools of thought guided the understanding of the Eucharist for eighteenth century High Churchmen.  The first derived from Andrewes, Overall, Heylyn, Thorndike, and Mede… found expression in works such as The Unbloody Sacrifice (1714) by John Johnson of Cranbrook.  This tradition stressed the continuity of the Eucharist with the Old Testament sacrifices, and asserted that Christ was offered in every Eucharist, not hypostatically, as supposed by the Tridentine Church of Rome, but representatively and really, ‘in mystery and effect.’ … The second school of thought was derived from Cranmer, Laud, Taylor and Cudworth and was expounded in Waterland’s Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist (1737).” (85).

  High Churchmen rejected the idea of ex opera operato and the whole sacramental system of the Romans, maintaining that Christ established two sacraments only.  Likewise, they rejected the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  They held that the Eucharist was a commemoration of Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice, once made, as the only relation of sacrifice with the Eucharist.  Likewise, the Eucharist is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and an oblation of, “ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee” (BCP).  Waterland offers the classically Anglican understanding of the Eucharistic sacrifice, “The Eucharist was a commemorative and representative service, which possessed a sacrificial aspect from the remembrance of Christ’s death, and the sacramental Presence was to be understood as the virtue and grace of the Lord’s Body and Blood communicated to the worthy receiver” (quoted in Hylson-Smith, 85).  Hylson-Smith then offers his summary of Old High Church theories of the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist,
“Three Eucharistic theories… “The most extreme conceived of the Eucharist as a proper and propitiatory sacrifice, in which the bread and wine were themselves offered to God as symbols of Christ’s oblation, begun not on the cross but when the rite was instituted at the Last Supper… A broader band of High Church opinion affirmed that the Eucharist was a commemorative or memorial sacrifice: one by which, in the word of Prebendary George Berkeley, Christians do not ‘barely commemorate their Saviour’s death’, but also ‘powerfully plead in the court of heaven the merits of his vicarious sufferings’… Thirdly, there were many eighteenth century divines who were anxious to uphold the sacrificial character of the Lord’s Supper, but who took special pains to guard against any suggestion that the Holy Communion service possessed any virtue of its own distinct from the one, sufficient sacrifice once offered on Calvary.  They regarded the Eucharist as a feast upon that sacrifice: a banquet in which the faithful communicant made a covenant with his God by doing symbolically what Jewish and pagan sacrificers had effected literally, namely consuming a portion of the victim slain” (95, 96).

Apostolic Succession and Catholicity

There have been two approaches to the episcopacy in Anglican history; the first called the bene esse view has been the most held view by both High Churchmen and Evangelicals alike.  The other view is the esse view which was held by the Non-jurors and some High Churchmen.  The first view maintains with the Ordinal that, “it is evident unto all men diligently reading holy Scripture and ancient Authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church,” it holds that bishops are good, ancient, and desirable for the church but not essential for the existence of the Church.  Within the Church of England, ministers are required to be ordained by their diocesan bishop and bishops are to be consecrated by at least three other bishops, however, the bene esse view maintained that other reformed churches still held valid orders even though they had departed from the historic episcopacy; the fact that they held to the catholic faith was enough to make their church’s orders valid.  The other view, the esse, view affirms that bishops are necessary for the existence of the Church, obviously looking to St. Ignatius as a guide here, “See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God” (Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyraeans).  The esse view would look at reformed ministers with suspicion of their validity.  Another important element in High Church rhetoric about orders was the distinction between national reformed churches and dissenting bodies.  They were willing to grant validity to national reformed churches such as the Church in Geneva or Holland and the Lutheran churches but not to dissenting bodies in England such as English Presbyterians and Baptists.  The thought was that the foreign reformed churches had to depart from the episcopacy to maintain the catholic faith and thus had just cause.  The dissenting bodies had separated themselves from the reformed Church of England with no warrant.  Laud even held that the superintendent in the Lutheran church was the bishopric in substance but not in name.

Obviously the Tractarians adopted the latter position; however, they did so with a twist which separated them from the earlier High Churchmen.  First, they adopted essentially the Roman position which maintained that through the apostolic succession, priests who were ordained gained an ontological change within themselves to have the priestly power to consecrate the elements into the body and blood of Christ.  This departed from High Church teaching in a number of ways, first, High Churchmen rejected the Sacrifice of the Mass and the local presence of Christ in the elements.  They denied an ontological change of the priest at ordination but rather thought of apostolic succession as the link with the apostolic church.  Secondly, Newman began to equate the problem with foreign churches not as the lack of episcopacy but as being Protestant, which he believed was opposed to the Church of England and catholicity.  The High Churchmen rejected such claims and were very comfortable with being Protestant and accepted the general teachings of the Reformation.  In 1841, there was a controversial idea presented to Parliament, involving a shared bishopric in Jersualem.  This controversy was a manifestation of the theological issues involved between Old High Churchmen and the Tractarians.  The idea of the bishopric was that it was to be a shared see between the Church of England and the united Evangelical Church of Prussia which was Lutheran.  The candidate for the bishopric was to alternate between the respective churches.  In general, Old High Churchmen favored the scheme as an opportunity to provide the episcopate for the Lutheran churches.  Tractarians opposed it on two grounds.  First, it was an “unequal yoke” with Protestantism which Newman was denouncing as heretical now.  Secondly, the Tractarians viewed the bishopric as an insult to the Eastern Orthodox Christians there.

Anglican High Churchmen differed with the Roman Catholic Church over the understanding of what the catholic church really is.  The Roman Catholic Church necessitates a dogmatic center from which catholicity flows.  High Churchmen, following the Caroline Divines, did not view catholicity in this manner; rather, they viewed the catholic church as a federation of separate, national churches each upholding the fundamentals of catholic faith and apostolic order.  Therefore, the Anglican Church was not “The Catholic Church,” but rather a part of it.  The High Church concept of catholicity did not imply a necessary intercommunion in between the separate national churches.  Neither does one jurisdiction of the universal church have seniority over another.

Political Theory

Many times, Old High Churchmen are described as “Erastians” in their political outlook.  This is at best a gross oversimplification of their political views and at worst a blatant misrepresentation of their ideas of the relation between Church and State.  Erastianism is named after Thomas Erastus, a Swiss theologian, who believed that the State was superior to the Church.  While, it is true that the relation between the Church and the State in England could sometimes be characterized by Erastian principles.  I cannot effectively summarize Old High Church principles here in any sense adequate that is deserved.  I recommend heartily Peter Nockles’s book, “The Oxford Movement in Context,” which will give a rich and thorough study of the matter.  In short, though, this quote from, “The Last of the Prince-Bishops,” gives a good summary of High Church attitude towards the Settlement,

"He [Van Mildert] dreamed the Church of England as the soul of the State, as the servant of every citizen, the custodian of true learning and wisdom, as an act of loving homage offered to God in the consciousness of unworthiness but with a confidence founded on Divine Grace. Never blind to the disparities between the Church as he dreamed and as he knew her, he spent his time, energy and (when he had any) money trying to bring her into closer comformity with his vision of her true nature and mission; but he never lost the passionate love for the Church of England, her liturgy, her history, her faithful membership both lay and clerical, which first drew him into her ordained ministry."

The Church as the “soul of the State,” is something entirely different from simple Erastianism.  Likewise, High Churchmen viewed the monarchy as being a sacral, quasi-sacramental, office, provided by God to nurture the Church.

Ceremonial and Liturgy

Before the Cambridge Camden Society, most Church of England parishes looked alike and used the same ceremonial, that provided specifically by the Prayer Book.  The decorations and ritual were scant.  The minister stood at the north end of the Table in surplice and scarf and read the Communion service from there, using only the manual acts in the Prayer of Consecration.  Mattins and Evensong were read from the desk.  There was an attempt in the later 18th century and early 19th to revive some aspects of Laudian ceremonial which had fallen into disuse likewise there was a resurgence of “Prayer Book loyalty” meaning the strict following of the rubrics and holy days.  The Laudian idea of the “beauty of holiness” allowed some ceremonial which was not expressed in the Prayer Book.  Old High Churchmen were keen to follow the 1604 canon which required reverence at the name of Jesus:

“[In the] time of Divine Service the Lord Jesus shall be mentioned, due and lowly reverence shall be done by all persons present, as it hath been accustomed; testifying by these outward ceremonies and gestures, their inward humility, Christian resolution, and due acknowledgment that the Lord Jesus Christ, the true and eternal Son of God, is the only Saviour of the world, in whom alone all the mercies, graces, and promises of God to mankind, for this life, and the life to come, are fully and wholly comprised” (Canon 18, Canons of the Church of England, 1604).

A High Churchman, “bows at going into the Chapell, and at the name of Jesus” (Every, 1).  To an Old High Churchman a good church which represented the “beauty of holiness” contained, “a decent chancel, altar hangings, and communion rails,” (Nockles, 210).  There was some escalation of this as the 1800’s approached where in Bath, a cross was put over the altar and pulpit in Daubeney’s church (Nockles), likewise, Old High Churchmen complained about the Evangelical attitude towards images and crosses.  However, old High Churchmen did not support the aims of the Ritualists and viewed their suggestions as a breach of common prayer just as they had criticized Evangelicals earlier of departing common prayer.  The Old High Church attitude to the Book of Common Prayer was generally positive, although privately some High Churchmen did express an affinity for the 1549.  However, most High Churchmen viewed the 1662 as having sufficiently corrected abuses in the 1552 and a faithful witness to the catholic and apostolic faith of the Church of England.

It is also important to remember that the Tractarians were not concerned with ritual at first and generally did not follow the path of the Ritualists, at least first generation Tractarians.  Pusey is known to have rejected the Ritualist movement and continued to minister in surplice and scarf during his ministry.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Repost: The Practice of the Reformed Catholic Religion: Fasting

As Lent approaches tomorrow, I thought I would repost this article on fasting according to the Book of Common Prayer.  It is noteworthy that the Prayer Book calls us to stricter fasting than that of the Roman Catholic Church.  We are expected to fast on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Fridays of Lent, the Lenten Ember Days, and all the weekdays of Lent.  

I offer my own rule as an example of how to approach the Lenten fast.  I will strictly fast and abstain from meat products on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, the Ember Days, and the Fridays of Lent.  I define "fasting" as abstaining from meat, alcohol, and only partaking of one meal per day.  On the weekdays of Lent I will fast and abstain, meaning I will eat one full meal and two 


This is the second post in a series designed to introduce the reader to a Protestant High Church understanding of the religious life and godly piety. I want readers to know that the renewal of Protestant High Churchmanship is not simply an academic pursuit by the author out of an eclectic curiosity but, rather, a real opportunity to revive Anglicanism in North America.

Fasting is an essential part of Christian practice and especially within the context of Anglicanism. It is important to note the teaching of Jesus on the subject, "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:16-18). We note that Jesus says, "When you fast," not "if." Our Lord expects that we will fast within our life as a Christian, meaning it is not an option for Christians. The Prayer Book realizes this call from our Lord and gives us some suggestions as to when to fast. Notably, the Prayer Book does not define fasting for us. We can look to certain sources to define fasting. Within the Bible there are three types of fasting: partial fast, full fast, and the absolute fast. Three biblical figures used these types of fasts to grow closer to God. Daniel fasted partially from meats and wine, "In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks" (Daniel 10:2-3). Jesus is most known for the full fast during his time in the wilderness. Paul used the absolute fast in the Damascus Road experience. The last fast is something supernatural that God must specifically call one to and must be maintained by the Holy Spirit. The Western tradition distinguishes between fasting and abstinence. Abstinence is simply the practice of not eating meat. Fasting is the practice of eating only one full meal and two smaller meals. The Roman Catholic Church today requires fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstinence on all Fridays of Lent. (Thanks to this site for an explanation of biblical fasting). The Prayer Book does not define fasting so I think it is something that the individual can decide on their own. I tend to follow the Roman Catholic practice of fasting (a partial fast) but adding the following observances from the Prayer Book.

The 1662 BCP calls for fasting or abstinence on the following days:

1. The Forty Days of Lent
2. The Ember Days
  a. The Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the First Sunday in Lent
  b. The Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the Feast of Pentecost
  c. The Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after September 14 and December 13,   respectively
3. The Three Rogation Days being the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Holy Thursday or Ascension Day
4. All Fridays throughout the year, except Christmas Day

The 1662 BCP also calls for fasts on the vigils of certain feasts:

1. The Nativity of Our Lord
2. Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
3. The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
4. Easter Day
5. Ascension Day
6. Pentecost
7. St. Matthias
8. St. John the Baptist
9. St. Peter
10. St. James
11. St. Bartholomew
12. St. Matthew
13. Ss. Simon & Jude
14. St. Andrew
15. St. Thomas
16. All Saints

Obviously, this is a rigorous fasting program. I would not advise anyone to start this program "cold turkey." It is crucial when fasting to start slow and work your way up. If you have never fasted or not done so in a long time, start with something very small. Try giving up coffee on Friday mornings or cutting out snacks. After you've mastered that small discipline, try to make it more difficult. Try cutting out a meal or making your meals smaller. Remember to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow His lead.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Attempt at Translating the 1662 BCP into Modern English

The talk around the Anglican world seems to be pushing for "modern" editions of the 1662 BCP.  While I would rather use the original language and offer commentary on the service sheet, I think many modern "translations" are too literal.  In order for the BCP to be "translated" into modern English, we have to do more than change "thou" to "you" and remove the -eth and -est.  Many words have changed in meaning since the 16th century or shifted in degree.  These words must be changed to reflect current usage.  Likewise, a common complaint consists of the idea that modern people cannot understand 16th century idiom.  If this is the case, then we cannot use "Prayer Book language" and must look for alternatives to words that the "common person" will understand.

A note about the "gender neutrality" in some of  the language contain herein.  The modern English language does not use the masculine gender as an all-inclusive neutral gender as it did in the 16th century.  The modern equivalent of "him" in that sense is "they".  For this purpose, I have employed current usage to reflect the syntax of modern English.

Another note, the Lord's Prayer is not maintained in traditional language.  If one adopts the view that traditional language is not "understood by the people" then nothing in the Liturgy can remain as such.


The minister reads one or more of the following Scriptural sentences.

When a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. Ezekiel 18:27

I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.  Psalm 51:3

Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.  Psalm 51:9

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.  Psalm 51:17

Rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.  Joel 2:13

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.  We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.  Daniel 9:9-10

O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.  Psalm 6:1

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”  Matthew 3:2

I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you"  Luke 15:18-19

Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no one living is righteous.  Psalm 143:2

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:8-9

Then he says the following,

DEARLY beloved brothers and sisters, the Scripture moves us, in various places, to acknowledge and confess our sins and wickedness, so that we should not disguise or hide them before the face of Almighty God our heavenly Father; but confess them with an humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart; to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of them, by His infinite goodness and mercy. And although we should, at all times, humbly acknowledge our sins before God; yet we should especially do so, when we assemble and meet together to offer thanks for the many benefits that we have received at His hands, to set forth His most worthy praise, to hear His most holy Word, and to ask those things which are required and necessary, as well for the body as the soul. Therefore I pray and plead, as many as are here present, to accompany me with a pure heart, and a humble voice, unto the throne of the heavenly grace, saying—

The people say the following Confession, with the minister,

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from your ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the desires and plots [plottings] of our own hearts. We have offended against your holy laws. We have left undone those things which we should have done and we have done those things which we should not have done; there is no health in us. O Lord, have mercy upon us, hopeless [miserable] offenders. Spare those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore those who are penitent, according to your promises declared to us [, and all men,] in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; that we may continue to live a godly, righteous, and temperate life, to the glory of your holy Name. Amen.

If a priest is not present, a layperson or deacon may read the following, in place of the above Absolution,

GRANT to us, your faithful people, O merciful Lord, forgiveness and peace, that we, being cleansed from all our sins, may serve you with untroubled minds, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The priest and people then say,

Our Father in Heaven, may your name be held holy.  May your Kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven.  Give us the bread that we need today and forgive us our wrongdoing, as we forgive those who have wronged us.  Lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil.  For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours, both now and evermore.  Amen.

O Lord, open our lips,
And our mouths will proclaim your praise.
O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever, ever without end.  Amen.
Praise the Lord.
The Lord's Name be praised.

Then the following psalm shall be said or sung, except on Easter Day, when a proper anthem is appointed in its place.  And Note, that when the psalms is appointed in the Psalter, it should not be read twice.


O COME let us sing to the Lord:
let us rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving:
and be glad in him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God:
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are all the corners of the earth:
and the strength of the hills is his also.
The sea is his,for he made it:
and his hands prepared the dry land.
O come, let us worship and fall down:
and kneel before the Lord our maker.
For he is the Lord our God:
and we are the people of his pasture; the sheep of his hand.
Today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts:
as they were provoked in the day of temptation, in the wilderness;
when your fathers tempted me, proved me,  and saw my works.
For forty years I was grieved with this generation, and said:
They are a people which err in their hearts, for they have not known my ways.
Unto whom I swore in my wrath:
that they would not enter into my rest.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever, ever without end.  Amen.

The psalm(s) appointed for the day are said or sung.


WE praise you, O God : we acknowledge you to be the Lord.
    All the earth worships you : the Father everlasting.
    To you, all Angels cry aloud : the Heavens, in all its power.
    To you, Cherubin and Seraphin : continually cry,
    Holy, Holy, Holy : Lord God of Hosts;
    Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty : of your glory.
    The glorious company of the Apostles : praises you.
    The great fellowship of the Prophets : praises you.
    The noble army of Martyrs : praises you.
    The holy Church throughout all the world : acknowledges you;
    The Father : of an infinite Majesty;
    Your honourable, true : and only Son;
    Also the Holy Ghost : the Comforter.
    You are the King of Glory : O Christ.
    You are the everlasting Son : of the Father.
When you took on the deliverance of man: you did not abhor the Virgin's womb.
    When you overcame the sharpness of death : you opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
    You sit at the right hand of God : in the glory of the Father.
    We believe that you will come : to be our Judge.
    We, therefore, implore, help your servants : whom you have redeemed with your precious blood.
    Make them to be numbered with your Saints : in glory everlasting.
    O Lord, save your people : and bless your heritage.
    Govern them : and lift them up for ever.
    Day by day : we magnify you;
    And we worship your Name : ever without end.
    Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.
    O Lord, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
    O Lord, may your mercy lighten upon us : as our trust is in you.
    O Lord, in you, have I trusted : let me never be confounded.


BLESSED be the Lord God of Israel : for he has visited and redeemed his people;
    And has raised up a mighty salvation for us : in the house of his servant David;
    As he spoke by the mouth of his holy Prophets : which have been since the world began;
    That we should be saved from our enemies : and from the hand of all that hate us.
    To perform the mercy promised to our forefathers : and to remember his holy Covenant;
    To perform the oath which he swore to our forefather Abraham : that he would give us;
    That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies : might serve him without fear;
    In holiness and righteousness before him : all the days of our life.
    And you, Child, will be called the Prophet of the Highest : for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
    To give knowledge of salvation unto his people : for the forgiveness of their sins,
    Through the tender mercy of our God : through which the dawn from above has visited us;
    To give light to those who sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death : and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever, ever without end.  Amen.

I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth :
    And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary: Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, died, and was buried: He descended into hell; On the third day he rose again from the dead: He ascended into heaven, And sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: From there, he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
    I believe in the Holy Ghost: The holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints: The Forgiveness of sins: The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting. Amen.

The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.
Let us pray.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

Our Father, in Heaven, holy is your name.  May your Kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven.  Give us the bread that we need today and forgive us our wrongdoing, as we forgive those who have wronged us.  Lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil.  For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours, both now and evermore.  Amen.

    O Lord, show your mercy to us.
    Answer. And grant us your salvation.
    Priest. O Lord, save the State.
    Answer. And mercifully hear us when we call upon you.
    Priest. Gift your Ministers with righteousness.
    Answer. And make your chosen people joyful.
    Priest. O Lord, save your people.
    Answer. And bless your inheritance.
    Priest. Give peace in our time, O Lord.
    Answer. Because there is no other who fights for us, but only you, O God.
    Priest. O God, make our hearts clean within us.
    Answer. And do not take your Holy Spirit from us.



O GOD, the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom rests our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom; Defend us your humble servants in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defence, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


O LORD, our heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought us to the beginning of this day; Defend us in the same way, with your mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our deeds may be ordered by thy governance, to do always what is righteous in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Laudian Ceremonial (Part Two)

This is the second installment (and final) of the Laudian ceremonial series.  The themes are similar to the other ceremonial pieces I have written and I hope to have demonstrated that there was a limit to ceremonial that was acceptable under canon law in the English Church, as we see in these accounts.  All the page numbers in parentheses refer to the Hierurgia Anglicana which is an excellent book in researching ceremonial practices in the English Church after the Reformation.

I might have to edit the format a bit (as copy/pasting from Word always seems to be an issue).

Likewise, in this installment,  I have limited my own comments to the bare minimum so as to let the authors speak for themselves.

3. Specific Practices

3.1 Bowing at the Name of Jesus

One of the core goals of the Laudian movement was the enforcement of the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer and the canons of the Church of England.  One such canon which they felt was in desuetude was Canon 18, part of which dictates that:

“in time of Divine Service the Lord Jesus shall be mentioned, due and lowly reverence shall be done by all persons present, as it hath been accustomed; testifying by these outward ceremonies and gestures, their inward humility, Christian resolution, and due acknowledgment that the Lord Jesus Christ, the true and eternal Son of God, is the only Saviour of the world, in whom alone all the mercies, graces, and promises of God to mankind, for this life, and the life to come, are fully and wholly comprised.”

The dedication to this gesture characterized the Laudians, “When JESUS is named, then off goeth the cap, and down goeth the knees” (H.A., 109); “And; with their versicles, one to be said by the priest, the other by the parish clerk or people; with their times when to kneel, when to sit, when to stand, when to curtsey at the Name of JESUS, when to glory their LORD at the beginning of their Gospel, or at the end of their Psalms; with their collects and anthems..." (96).
 Coupled with this gesture towards the holy name of Jesus, the Laudians also seem to encourage bowing towards the altar, which, predictably, was not something the Puritans appreciated.  There is ample evidence of the Laudians bowing at the name of Jesus and towards the altar.  “At Winton… [Archbishop Laud] required them … to rail the Communion-tables, place it altarwise, to bow towards it…” (H.A., 159), likewise at Winchester there were, “adorations towards the Communion-table,” and at Hereford, the communicants were required to, “bow so often as the Name of JESUS was mentioned,” and, it was required that, “every one should bow toward the altar” (H.A., 160).  One man writes, “He does not say the mass indeed in Latin: but his hood, his cope, his surplice, his rochet, his altar railed in, his candles, and cushions and book therein, his bowing to it, his bowing, or rather nodding at the Name of JESUS, his organs, his violins, his singing-men, his singing-boys, with t heir alternate jabbering and mouthings (as unintelligible as Latin service), so very like popery” (H.A., 167).  This gesture (and others) were often compared to the practices of the Roman Church, “The great conformity and likeness, both continued and increased, in our Church to the Church of Rome… praying towards the east; the bowing at the name of JESUS; the bowing to the altar, towards the east” (H.A., 194).  The list of complaints continues, “Upon these and other reasons it was, that many ceremonies introduced into the mass-books and other popish breviaries, such as ducking and bowing to the East” (H.A., 328).  Likewise, an interesting work titled Points of Popery in the Elizabethan Church lists this practice at number forty-one, “Putting off the caps at the Name of JESUS.”  A comparison of difference of practice in the English Church lists the following differences among churchmen:

“Some bow at the name of JESUS, while others of the same Communion pay no more reverence to that than to the Name of CHRIST.
“Some bow to the east or altar (which you will), while others that would be thought as good churchmen condemn that practice as superstitious.”

As we can see the gesture of bowing at the name of Jesus was one which the Laudians emphasized but which the Puritans disagreed with seriously.  The Laudians really had not stepped beyond the limits of the Prayer Book and were, in fact, encouraging the practice of a gesture that was required by canon law.  Perhaps, it is better to note that the Puritans disagreed with the canon itself and not with the Laudians’ practice of it. 

3.2 Copes and Vestments

In matters of vesture, the Laudians were not innovative; they solely enforced the canonical requirements on their clergy.  The Canons of 1604 specify that,

“24. IN all Cathedral and Collegiate Churches, the holy Communion shall be administered
upon principal feast-days, sometimes by the Bishop, if he be present, and sometimes by the
Dean, and at sometimes by a Canon or Prebendary, the principal Minister using a decent
Cope, and being assisted with the Gospeller and Epistler agreeably, according to the
Advertisements published Anno 7 Eliz”

“25. IN the time of Divine Service and Prayers in all Cathedral and Collegiate Churches,
when there is no Communion, it shall be sufficient to wear Surplices; saving that all Deans,
Masters, and Heads of Collegiate Churches, Canons, and Prebendaries, being Graduates,
shall daily, at the times both of Prayer and Preaching, wear with their Surplices such Hoods
as are agreeable to their degrees”

These canons represent the official interpretation of the Ornaments Rubric by the Elizabethan, Jacobean, and consequently, the Caroline Church.  In summation, in divine service, where there was a Communion, the principal minister, as well as the gospeller and epistler, were to vest in cassock, surplice, hood, tippet, and cope.  In times of service when the Communion was not administered, the cope was not to be worn.  The Laudians did not deviate from this standard but it seems that the Puritans were not fans of the official policy.

3.3 Facing East

Another feature of the Laudian program was the orientation of the priest towards the east in the parts of the liturgy which were directed to God in prayer.  Sometimes this is simplified to mean that the Laudians encouraged facing east during the prayer of consecration but it is more accurate to say that they encouraged facing east for all prayer.  As one would expect, this was not popular with the Puritans who complained of, “their Epistles, their Gospels, the one to be read with the priest's face towards the west, the other with his face towards the east” (H.A., 96). 

“He hath caused a bell to be hung up in his chancel, called a sacring-bell, which the clerk always rings at the going up to the second service, which he performs with variety of postures, sometimes turning his face towards the south, sometimes towards the east, and sometimes towards the west.” 262, against Dr. Pocklington

“That he commanded the Deans of the said College to severely punish according to the expressed infliction, who would not likewise convert their faces towards the east at ‘Glory be to the FATHER,’ &c. and many times in the Divine Service, so that he did luxuriously introduce Popish innovations.”

One man complains of Dr. Cosin’s posture at Communion and at Morning Prayer, “They offended likewise in turning their faces to the east, and forcing the people so to do… In this Dr. Cosins offended, not only in turning the reader’s desk at morning prayer, and the Dean’s pue [sic], that they could not sit with their backs to the east; but also when he administered the Communion he stood on the west side of the Table with his face towards the east, and back towards the people; which is a ceremony the Pope’s priests are enjoined to use at Mass.”  The ad orientam position was closely identified with the Roman Church (as it was mandated then), “They constantly observe that unlawful ceremony of turning faces to the east, not allowed by the Church; and some, when they officiate at the Communion Table, look toward the east, turning their backs to the people, after the manner of Mass priests.”

3.4 Postures

Besides the specific Laudian postures and those contained in the 1604 canons, there was also considerable resistance to the enforcement of Prayer Book ceremonial postures, particularly of the standing at the Gospel.  It seems that the complaint was against an unequal reaction to Scripture, i.e. why not stand at all readings?  Here are some examples of this type of complaint,

“When the Old Testament is read, or the lessons, they make no reverence; but when the Gospel cometh, then they all stand up...... “ (109)

"The statutes of Hereford being imperfect, he caused to be cast in a new mould... In which it was required... Secondly, that they should officiate on Sundays and holydays in their copes.  Thirdly, that they should stand up at the Creeds and Gospel, and Doxologies.  Fifthly, that the prayer afore their sermons should be made according to the 55th canon..." (160)

“That the said Matthew Wren, being Bishop of Norwich the said year, 1636, in the Tower church in Ipswich, and other places, did in his own person use superstitious and idolatrous actions and gestures in the administration of the LORD’s Supper, consecrating the bread and wine, standing at the west side of the Table with his face to the east, and his back towards the people: elevating the bread and wine so high as to be seen over his shoulders, bowing low either to or before them when he, after the elevation and consecration, had set them down on the Table.”

3.5 Incense

There is considerable evidence that incense was used in churches during this period.  The difficulty is establishing how the incense was used.  There are two ways of using incense, first is in a purely perfumatory function, or to make the church smell better.  This is also used to symbolize the prayers of the saints in calling the passage from Revelation to mind.  The other use is to use incense to cense things or to bless them.  There is ample evidence for the former practice but for the latter it is more difficult to establish.  As we saw earlier, Bishop Andrewes’ chapel was equipped for the use of incense in public worship with, “"A triquertral censer, wherein the clerk putteth frankincense at the reading of the first lesson.  The naricula, like the keel of a boat, with a half cover and foot, out of which frankincense is poured." Bishop Andrewe's Chapel 181).  Likewise, and not surprisingly, Bishop Cosin also used incense, “"In Peter House there was on the altar a pot, which they usually called the incense pot... A little boat, out which the frankincense is poured, which Dr. Cosin had made use of in Peter House, here he burned incense" (182).  I add my own reflection here, it does not seem that incense was used as it is in the Roman Rite or in modern Anglican churches by the Laudians, except perhaps by Bishop Andrewes.  It seems to have been used in more of a perfumatory sense, or to fragrance the church in other words.  It appears that the use of incense in worship was a later development, at least according to some sources, I point to David Brattson’s “Incense in Ante-Nicene Christianity,” although its association with the Church Society does question its bias.

3.7 Altars, candles, and linens

As with the adornment of the priest, the adornment of the altar, as it was called, was met with much opposition from the part of the puritans.  Besides placing the altar against the east end of the church and railing it off, as it had been in times past, the Laudians also adorned the altar with linens, candlesticks, basins, corporals, and other cloths, and with the cross or crucifix.  The Puritans viewed this as a return to the Papacy or a desire so to do by the part of the Laudian bishops.  They also saw it as introducing an un-reformed theology of the Sacrament into the worship of the Church of England.  While the theology of the Caroline Divines was more open to moderate realism than some of the other theologies of the Eucharist at the time, it was well within Reformed orthodoxy.  It is also important to remember that the Prayer Book requires a “white linen cloth” to cover the altar and another to cover the elements after the Communion.  Likewise, the Prayer Book requires the paten and chalice for the distribution of the elements as well.  However, their fascination with the patristic altar was beyond the tolerance of the Puritans as we can see in the following examples.

In Bishop Cosin’s church, we see many adornments to the altar, which are recorded by people who went to these services and complained of the ceremonial complexity contained in them.  "First of all it is enjoined, that the table or altar should be spread over with a clean linen cloth, or other decent covering, upon which the Holy Bible, the Common Prayer-book, the paten and chalice are to be placed: two wax candles are to be set on" (Bishop Cosin, 188).  The “decent covering” was probably the “Laudian frontal” as we know them, although the text does not say this in itself.  An interesting curiosity that is explored elsewhere in further detail is that although there were often two candlesticks with candles in them on the altar, they remained unlit unless they were needed to provide light, in most places, such as we see in the Defence of Laud for his practices, he says, “there were candlesticks with tapers, but not burning” (162).  However, Bishop Cosin seems to have lit candles during the day, when they weren’t “necessary” in their natural purposes.  The following offers a similar observation of an English church with unlit candles on the altar, “that I profess, when I came from beyond sea, about the year 1660 to Paul's and Whitehall, I almost thougt at first blush that I was still in Spain or Portugal; only the candles on our altars, most nonsensically, stand unlighted, to signify, what?  The darkness of our noddles, or to tempt the chandlers to turn down-right papists, as the more suitable religion for their trade; for ours mocks them with hopes only.  He gapes, and stares to see the lucky minute when the candles should be lighted; but he is chated, for they do not burn out in an age."  167

The following offers another description,

"When the deacon hath lifted the text of the Gospel from the altar, he gives it to the sub-deacon to carry at his back; two wax candles are lifted from the altar by two acolytes, to be carried burning before him so long as the Gospel is in reading; the cross or crucifix is also on the festival days carried before the Gospel, and also a censer with fire and incense; the book is crossed and perfumed, and when the lesson is ended the book by the deacon is kissed... From none of these superstitions we can be long secured: our deacons are begun already to be consecrate; the chief part of their office is their service at the Sacrament and their reading of Scripture; the orders of sub-deacons and acolytes are proclaimed to be convenient, if the church had maintenance for them, by Andrewes: the wax candles are standing on the altar already; the silver crucifix is avowed by Pocklington to have a mete standing upon the same altar; the crossings, and perfumings, and lights are maintained by Andrewes, as Canterbury sets him forth; the kissing of the book is now daily practiced" 192,193

Likewise, with Bishop Wren, we see similar adornments in his church.  "Now what an Arminian and popish innovator this prelate [Wren] was in all particulars, the popish furniture of whose chapel, with basins, candlesticks, corporals, altar-cloth, a chalice with a cross upon it, and other popish trinkets" (189-191).  It is interesting to note the equation of an adorned table or altar with Popery by this man writing against the Bishop.  It also interesting to note that the chalice “with a cross upon it,” which perhaps could be the basis of his complaint against the chalice for not being “decent” to use the terminology.  For instance, in Durham Cathedral, there were complaints against the “indecent” cope of Bishop Cosin which had an image on it. 

In the Cathedral at Peterborough, there were many “additions” to the altar besides those required by the Prayer Book. 

"The Table itself was thrown down, the table-cloth taken away, with two fair books in velvet covers, the one a Bible, the other a Common Prayer-Book, with a silver basin gilt, and a pair of silver candlesticks.
"Now behind the Communion-table there stood a curious piece of stone-work, admired much by strangers and travellers; a stately screen it was, well wrought, painted and gilt, which rose up as high almost as the roof of the church in a row of three lofty spires, with other lesser spires growing out of each of them, as it is represented in the annexed draft.  This now had no imagery-work upon it, or anything else that might justly give offence; and yet, because it bore the name of the High Altar, was pulled all down with ropes, laid low and level with the ground" (194).

We see at Peterborough the adornment of the Prayer Book and Bible used in divine worship as well.  And a concern with the “silver” maybe a bit too much adorned for the Puritans. 

We come now to Archbishop Laud himself, who did not escape criticism for his practices either.  In addition to the usual complaints against candlesticks, etc. Laud seems to have had several adornments with images on them, as is seen below in the quote. 

“Upon this new altar he had much superstitious Romish furniture, never used in his predecessor’s days, as namely, two great silver candlesticks with tapers in them, besides basons and other silver vessels (with a costly Common Prayer-Book standing on the altar, which, as some say, had a crucifix on the bosses), with the picture of CHRIST receiving His last supper with His disciples in a piece of arras, hanging just behind the midst of the altar, and a crucifix in the window directly over it… This new altar furniture of his was proved and attested upon oath by Sir Nathaniel Brent, Dr. Featly, Dr. Haywood (his own popish chaplain), who justified his lord that he did it in imitation of the king’s chapel at Whitehall, where he had seen not only tapers and candlesticks standing, but likewise burning in the day-time, on the altar.” ( 338, 339).

Laud defends several of his practices, in this instance the setting up of a credence table,

"The third sort of innovations in my chapel charged against me, is the setting up of a Credentia, or side-table, my own and my chaplains' bowing towards the table or altar at our approaches to it, our going in and out from the chapel; my chaplains' with my own using of copes therein, at the celebration of the LORD'S Supper, and solemn consecration of Bishops... that the bread, when the Sacrament was administered, was first laid upon the Credentia, from whence he took it in his hand, and then carried it to, and kneeling down upon his kneel presented it, laid it on the LORD'S Table, on which there were candlesticks with tapers, but not burning, as he had seen them at Whitehall..." Archbishop's Laud Defense 162

Most of the examples given are of cathedral churches or episcopal chapels but parish churches also adopted the adornment of the altar such as the example given here of St. Mary’s, Bruton, “A correspondent has obligingly furnished us with the following examples of village churches, in which the rubrick that requires two lights to be placed upon the high altar, is at this day observed: S. Mary’s, Bruton, Somersetshire, where the candlesticks are silver, and bear the legend ‘The gift of Mr. John Gilbert to Bruton church, 1744’” (339).

4. Abnormalities

It appears that a few over-enthusiastic clergy attached themselves to the Laudian program and consequently “overdid” the ceremonial program as envisioned by Charles I and Archbishop Laud.  These clergy appear to have been either ignorant (meaning uneducated) or recusants, or both.  Among the practices we find them doing that are beyond the standard Laudian program include the elevation of the Host, the inclusion of Ps. 43 at the beginning of the service, prayers to the saints, a belief in purgatory, the belief that auricular confession is necessary for salvation, and a veneration to the Virgin Mary.  It is important to note that these practices do not represent the locus of the ceremonial program envisioned by Charles and Laud but were aberrations from it.  It is beyond the scope of this piece to determine whether or not these men knowingly strayed from the Laudian vision.    

We learn of these abnormalities from charges brought against certain vicars in the period.  I have found three examples in reading the material for this piece.  First, Nicholas Andrewes, Rector of Guilford was accused of, “delivering the bread in the Sacrament, he elevateth it, looks upon it, and bows low unto it, and useth other frequent bowing in administering the Sacrament,” his error was the elevation of the Sacrament.  Another rector, John Mountford was accused of adding to the service when, “in his going up to the Table to read the second service, usually caused that part of the 43rd Psalm to be sung, viz. ‘Then shall I to the altar go, of GOD, &c.’” (265), which was not part of the authorized liturgy, although certain divines, such as Lancelot Andrewes, would probably not have regarded this addition as an error.  Edward Marten was charged as praying, “for the saints and people departed this life, and that they may be eased and freed of their pains in purgatory’” (265).  James Buck, vicat of Stradbroke, Suffolk, was charged with stating that, “’auricular confession to the priest is absolutely necessary to salvation, once a year, or at least once in man’s life.’”  He also venerated the Virgin Mary in the same way that the name of Jesus was venerated, “He used to make as low obeisance at the mentioning of the Virgin Mary’s name as he doth at the name of JESUS,” and he also encouraged adoration to the altar in the same manner, “and doth not only bow thrice at his going [to] and thrice at his return from, the Communion-table set altarwise; but teacheth ‘that adoration is due to it, when the holy Mysteries are absent,’ &c. and hath denied the cup to divers to whom he gave the bread” (265, 266). 

5. General Complaints against Liturgical Worship

While the purpose of this article was to discuss the practice of the Laudians, I found several interesting accounts against liturgical worship in general which I thought would be good to put in an “appendix” of sorts to this post. 

The first comes from a work titled “A Short View of the Prelatical Church of England,” which voices a general complaint against the Church of England and more particularly of her “wearisome Liturgy”:

"The prelatical service is the cathedral service, consisting in these things.  (1.) In a long wearisome Liturgy, read after a singing manner, syllables and words drawn out into a tedious length; which Liturgy is framed out of three Romish books, the Breviary, Purtuis [sic], and the Mass Book, so as King James said of it, 'that it's an ill said mass from which it needeth purging, and from some vain repetitions, and from a corrupt translation of Holy Scriptures, and other abuses thereof.'  (2.) In an unedifying singing and piping on organs.  (3). In superstitious cringing to the Name of JESUS, towards the altar, towards the east.  (4). In a form observations of habits, surplices, hoods, copes, variety of gestures, and ceremonious devotions devised by men" (161). 

They disliked the whole of the catholic heritage of the Church of England, both in the authorized ceremonial and the amplification sponsored by the Laudians:

"It remains that we should parallel with our Book the accidental parts of the Mass, so to call them.  The most of these we have actually -- their vestments, hoods, surplices, rochets, mitres, copes of all colours filled with numbers of images, palls, corporals, chalices, patens, offertory basins, wax candles, veils, rails, stalls, lavatories, repositories, reclinatories (for confessions within the chancel), bowings, duckings, crosses, kissings, coursings, perfumings.  These we have already; and what of the ceremonies we want, it were easy to fetch testimonies from our party's writs for their lawfulness, or at least to shew the necessity of taking them, whenever they shall be imposed by our Bishops" 193

Puritans, who wished to further “reform” the Church of England thought that at its current state, the Church was not adequately reformed and was encouraging English peasants to superstition and Romanism,

"The great conformity and likeness, both continued and increased, in our Church to the Church of Rome, in vestures, postures, ceremonies, and administrations, namely, as the Bishops' rochets and in the lawn sleeves, the four-cornered cap, the cope and surplice, the tippet, the hood, and the canonical coat; the pulpits clothed, especially now of late, with the Jesuits' badge [IHS] upon them every way; the standing up at Gloria PATRI and at the reading of the Gospel; praying towards the east; the bowing at the name of JESUS; the bowing to the altar, towards the east; cross in baptism; the kneeling at the Communion; the turning of the Communion-tables altarwise; setting images, crucifixes, and conceits over them, and tapers and books upon them, and bowing and adoring to or before them; the reading of the second service at the altar, and forcing people to come up thither to receive, or else denying the Sacrament to them; terming the altar to be the Mercy-seat, or the place of GOD ALMIGHTY in the church, which is a plain device to usher in the Mass" 194

“They [the Caroline Divines] tell us… that the Church of England (they take that Church commonly, by a huge mistake, for their own prevalent faction therein) doth not only keep innumerable images of CHRIST and the Saints in the most eminent and conspicuous places of their Sanctuaries, but also daily erect a number of long and large ones, very curiously dressed; and that herein they have reason to rejoice and glory above all other reformed Churches.”

Perhaps this piece is the best demonstration of anti-liturgical spirit against the Church of England.  Ironic that it is a litany of sorts against liturgical worship.

“Do they kneel at confession and absolution?  So we.
“Do they repeat the Pater noster, kneeling, after the priest?  So we.
“Do they stand up and repeat the Apostle’s Creed?  So we.
“Do they, upon the reading or singing Quicunque vult, or Athansius’ Creed, stand?  So we.
“Do they, upon saying or singing litanies, make responses by the people?  So we.
“Do they, upon the rehearsal of the Ten Commandments, kneel asking mercy and grace after every command?  So we.
“Do the priest and people read the psalms alternately, verse by verse?  So we.
“Do they sit at reading the lessons?  So we.
“Do they uncover themselves in churches?  So we.
“Do they sing their anthems, and canticles, and psalms, and prayers with music, vocal and instrumental, as organs, flutes, viols, &c.?  So we in our cathedrals.
“Do they bow to the east, and Name of JESUS?  So we.
“Of all wwhich not one word in all the New Testament.
“Is there not a symbolizing with popery in the places of worship?
“The places of our worship are either such as were built and consecrated by papists, which we took from them, retaining the saints’ names they were dedicated to, as SS. Mary, Peter, Paul, All-Saints, or such places as we have built by their example, posited east and west: consecrated, and dedicated to some saint and angel, and which we take to be more holy than any other place, as they did, and give great reverence by uncovering the head, and bending the kneel and upon entrance into it, bowing to the east and altar placed therein: and keep the annual feast of dedication, wake or paganalia, as the papists, and the heathen before them, did.  Of all which, not one word in all the New Testament.
“Do we not also symbolize with them in the priesthood, who are principally to minister in those places of worship?
“Have they superior priests, viz. bishops and archbishops, in the room of the heathen flamens and archflamens, for sacerdotal service in provinces and dioceses?  So have we.
“Have they inferior priests, distinguished by dignities, names, and services, as deans, chapters, prebends, archdeacons, to minister in cathedrals; and parsons, vicars, and curates to officiate in parishes?  So we.
“Have they proper distinguishing habits for the clergy, and particular vestments for their holy ministrations, as albs, surplices, chasubles, amicts, gowns, copes, maniples, zones, &c.?  So we.
“Of all which not one word in all the New Testament.”

“Some bow at the name of JESUS, while others of the same Communion pay no more reverence to that than to the Name of CHRIST.
“Some bow to the east or altar (which you will), while others that would be thought as good churchmen condemn that practice as superstitious.
“Some use the LORD’s Prayer kneeling, others pay no more respect to that than to any other prayer.
“Some are very clamourous in their responses, others there are more modest, and a less noisy sort still, content themselves with an Amen only at the end.
“Some only say over their prayers, while a more merry sort sing them out; nay there are not wanting some jovial sparks that cant into their very Creed.
“Some preach in the surplice, while most pull it over their own ears before they go into the pulpit.
“Some make prayers in the pulpit after the Litany’s over; some are only pray wees that bid prayer.
“Some read the service in the desk, while others go with a part of it to the Communion Table.
“The Communion Table in some places is railed about; in many ‘tis e’en left as open as any other part of the church.
“In some topping churches you shall see huge unlighted candles (for what use nobody alive can tell); but the meaner churches are forced to shift without them.
“Some are for a consort of musick, others only for organs; some dislike both, and others can get neither.”


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.