12 November 2007

Our Anglican Heritage: (6) The Second Prayer Book (1552)

It may have been that Cranmer already had a second book in mind. In any case, a second Prayer Book did appear in 1552, incorporating a multitude of major revisions. The two daily services (now called simply “Morning Prayer” and “Evening Prayer”) were transformed into clearly congregational acts of worship (rather than private devotional offices) by the addition of an Exhortation, General Confession and Absolution at the beginning.

The changes to the Holy Communion service were considerably more extensive. Stone altars were to be removed from the “east” end of churches, to be replaced by a simple wooden table in the front of the Nave, around which the congregation could gather at communion time and with the celebrant in clear sight of the people and dressed in the simplest of robes.

The nine-fold “Kyrie” was replaced by the Ten Commandments, unquestionably influenced by the Continental Reformation. The Intercession or Prayer for the Church was now a Prayer for the Church Militant here in earth, with any prayer for the dead clearly expunged. It was removed from the Great Thanksgiving and placed in its now familiar position following the Offertory, which was no longer an offering of the elements of bread and wine, but an opportunity for members of the congregation to share their goods with the poor of the parish.

The Invitation, Confession, Absolution and Comfortable Words were shifted from their place immediately before the administration of communion to an earlier point in the service, immediately before the “Sursum Corda”. Interestingly, the Prayer of Humble Access now followed the Sanctus. This detached the reference to Christ’s body and blood from immediate reference to the bread and wine of Holy Communion, a reference which Cranmer had never intended in the first place.

Most significantly, Cranmer made the reception of the bread and wine by the people the climax of the service. He achieved this by abruptly chopping the Eucharistic Prayer in two, so that immediately following our Lord’s words of institution and without even so much as an “Amen” the people receive the bread and wine. Then they say the Lord’s Prayer together and the Eucharistic Prayer concludes with a prayer either of oblation (self-offering) or of thanksgiving.

Nobody knows precisely why Cranmer followed this with the “Gloria in Excelsis”, transferred from its traditional place at the outset of the service. However, many presume that it was because, just before they went out from the last supper, our Lord and his disciples “sang a hymn”. Whatever the motive, the Gloria helps to conclude the service on a note of praise, echoing as it does both the hymn of the angels at Jesus’ birth and John the Baptist’s proclamation of him as the incomparable Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. After this act of praise, the congregation departs with a blessing.

A graphic illustration of the difference between the Prayer Books of 1549 and 1552 can be observed in the words of administration at Holy Communion. In 1549 these had been, “The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.” In 1552 they became, “Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith with thanksgiving.” The worshipper had moved from being a passive recipient of the sacrament to an active participant, required to take the bread into his or her hands and, more significantly, to receive it with a heart of grateful faith in the Lord who gave up his life for him on the cross.


Anonymous said...

pjfqjjThe offertory had already been abolished in the 1549 Book. The first part which had been during the Gradual in the Sarum Rite was abolished by the word "immediately" in the 1549 rubric after the Epistle. The verses which had accompanied the traditional Offertory were abolished in 1549 and replaced by ones about giving money. The men and women separately processed from the nave to the chancel to receive communion, like a Christmas game said the Cornish rebels (thinking of Sir Roger), on their way passing the poor box. Only then without ceremony was the bread and wine put on the table. All this is in the rubrics of the 1549 book. The 1552 book merely made clear, as the Act enforcing it said ,what was already in the 1549 one.

notworthyofthename said...

Thanks! I am grateful for the clarification.