English Prayer Book History
Church began as a movement of small groups, met in homes, simple worship shaped by the domestic setting, church had the sense of being another society (How could the church function as another society today in the United States?)
Beginning in 313, Christianity became the state religion under Constantine, huge numbers of new converts, church architecture took shape of the Roman basilica, worship became more ceremonial, with overtones of the imperial culture. More bishops, priests and deacons became necessary. Bishops were appointed for political as well as religious reasons. Church moved toward fixed texts for prayer and worship.
4th and 5th centuries—the popes sponsored the writing of prayers and liturgical directions—One of the greatest of these was Pope Gregory the Great, who sent Augustine of Canterbury to England and the Roman liturgy became well established, along with Roman governance—overwhelming the Celtic spirituality in Britain
During this time, there was no uniformity in the rites.
5th to the 15th century—The Middle Ages
Baptism no longer marked as a rite of passage into a distinct society. People were baptized as infants, and baptism was seen as a cleansing from original sin.
"The ordinary Christian began to resemble a consumer of services provided by a professional religious class, while the liturgy fell entirely into the hands of those trained specifically to do it. The sacraments became the 'possession' of the clergy, just as the daily prayer of the church became the elaborated office of the monastic community." (How do our practices today differ from this idea of Christian as a consumer of religious services?)
11th century—we see a shift in the Eucharist to a more literal understanding of transformation of elements into body and blood of Christ, and the focus became offering a sacrifice for sins, both for those alive and for those who had died. This was a shift away from the earlier focus on the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus and the communal nature of the meal. Everything became distant—clergy whispered liturgy in archaic Latin, no common cup for laity, communions were infrequent, altars moved to the rear wall of churches. Priest had back to the people, daily masses were often done by priest alone.
Reformation—the reformers were troubled by the alienation of the laity from the worship of the church.
Martin Luther—the liturgy should be conducted in the language of the people. And for Luther, as long as an element of worship was not incompatible with scripture, it could be kept.
John Calvin felt that if a tradition was not specifically commanded by scripture, it was a human invention, but he had to accept that many things had to be added on since scripture does not address directions for every conceivable element of worship. Preaching was very important in Calvin's church.
English reformation was more political than theological, but Henry VIII allowed only cautious changes in liturgy. Liturgy was read in English, but for the most part the medieval liturgy remained untouched.
Under Edward VI, a group of men was appointed to produce a 'godly order of worship' and in 1549 Parliament passed the Act of Uniformity which made the first prayer book the official order of worship.
The radically new idea—these rites were now considered to be common prayer-
And THE WORSHIP OF THE CHURCH IS THE PUBLIC BUSINESS OF THE WHOLE CHURCH—BEARING WITNESS TO JESUS
1552—second prayer book, which leaned more toward Calvinist practice, and many of the ceremonies in the 1549 book were abolished. Instead of presence of Jesus Christ in bread and wine, Jesus is present in the heart of the believer. This book was only used for eight months, because Edward VI died and Mary Tudor, who was Roman Catholic, became queen, so everyone had to go back to being Catholic.
Three years, and then Elizabeth I came to the throne and the prayer book came back. 1559 prayer book was an attempt to make and keep peace—"a carefully considered road between extremes"
Elizabethwanted the church to be a sign and agent of unity in England, rather than a cause for sedition and bloodshed. Instead of worrying about the privately held theological convictions of the people, she insisted on only one thing—the public practice of worship according to the Book of Common Prayer, which had its liturgical roots in the pre-Reformation church, but which was responsive to new political realities.
1604—another revision under James I
1662—under Charles II, and this is still the authorized prayer book of the Church of England.
Sixteenth century Anglicanism was a version of the ancient pattern of Christian worship, which was characterized by simplicity and the ideal of common prayer, a rhythm of daily praying with psalms and scripture, and Eucharistic worship on the Lord's Day.
What do you think about these statements?
'To be Anglican is to be shaped by a tradition of worship, one that takes seriously not only gifts from the past, but the experience of contemporary people and the challenges they face."
"The church is in some sense the ongoing self-expression of the body of Christ."
Our worship is sacramental, affirms that God has entered history and continues to act within human lives. Incarnation of Christ is an ongoing reality -Christians participate in it through the sacramental life of the church.