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THE Devotions here published form the First Part of the Primer as revised and issued in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth. The Primer is the authorised Book of Family and Private Prayer, for the laity of the English Church. Earlier in the time of its first publication than the Book of Common Prayer, its subsequent editions and revisions run parallel with that Book. The Invocations of the Saints, the "Ave Maria," and other features of the Primer of Henry VIII., disappear from the revised editions of Edward VI. and of Elizabeth. In the reign of Edward a rival Primer of very inferior merit with fixed lessons for every day in the week and fixed Psalms in order, struggled into life, and after maintaining a brief and precarious existence alongside of the original Primer finally died out in Elizabeth's reign, leaving the ground unoccupied to the nobler Book which continued to throw out its editions till superseded by the altered (unhappily altered) versions of later and more private hands. Bishop Cosin's Hours of Prayer which are based upon the Primer are well known at the present day. Perhaps a
devotional Manual which claims to be not the work of a single divine, nor of a single year, nor of a single edition, but the carefully matured gift of the Fathers of the English Reformation, perfected by the best of all Revisionists-use, through many editions in an earnest and learned age, may be welcome to the Faithful of the English Communion. Its intrinsic value has been recognised by the editors of the Parker Society, who published the edition of 1559, together with other documents, with a view to making known the true principles of the English Reformation. Indeed no better commentary on the Book of Common Prayer itself can be found than its parallel Primer. In preparing the Primer the Revisers kept the same object in view as guided the Revision of the Public Offices :-sc. the retention of the old Offices so far as was compatible with simplicity sufficient to fit them for universal use. Hence what is lost in variety and in delicacy of chiselling (and the loss of course is infinite, as in the case also of the Common Prayer) is to some extent compensated by its fitness for general wear and tear. After all, it does but assume to be a manual of Family and Private Prayer. As the latter, it was used, among other better men, by Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, on the scaffold. Readers of Mr. Froude will recognise the prayer at p. 53 of this Primer. It is quoted at full length in his History as the last words of Cromwell before execution.
I have ventured, of course, upon no changes in the structure of the Primer. The old translations of the Latin Hymns in the original being too quaint for modern use, and modern versions not being in every instance procurable, I have been obliged to use some liberty in substituting and adapting the Hymns here and there:-never, however, when I could avoid doing so. For the modern versions of the Hymns in Prime, Third, Sixth, and Ninth Hours, and in Compline, I am indebted to the kindness of the editors of "Hymns Ancient and Modern," which I take this opportunity of acknowledging. To their permission I also owe the fine translation of S. Bonaventura's Hymn, In Passione Domini, given in the Sixth Hour. The translation of the Salvator Mundi is from Bishop Cosin's "Hours of Prayer."
The first part of the Primer as here produced contains all that is necessary for ordinary Family Prayer. As the chief requisite in a Book of Family Prayer is that there should be an edition of it within the reach of all, the first part has been published separately first. The full Primer contains in addition, the Matin Service with three Lessons, Benedictions, &c., the Dirige or Vigils of the Departed, with the Commendations; Proper Psalms; History of the Passion; Graces, Prayers, &c. These will be published soon, as a continuation of the present book, so as to bind up with it. The whole book is uniform with the Oxford Long
Primer 24mo. edition of the Common Prayer, and will bind up with it. To those unacquainted with the old services it may be necessary to explain that Antiphons are short scriptural passages so arranged as to serve as a keynote to the Psalms or Prayers to which they are attached. When used chorally they should be sung by one chanter or by a selection of the choir. When the service is simply read, they may be recited by all present, including the Reader.
LAUDS. This will be ordinary Morning Service for Family Prayer. The whole service may be said standing as far as the final collects, at which all kneel, and continue in that posture till the end.
Prime, Third, Sixth, and Ninth Hours, are rather framed for Private than for Family Devotion. They are short enough to be learnt by heart and said at intervals of business or of pleasure. Each takes as its aspiration some Christian virtue indicated by the Hours of the Passion. Thus, Prime takes as its aspiration Humility; because at the first Hour Jesus being led away to Pilate humbled himself and became obedient to death.
Third Hour takes as its aspiration Meekness; because at that Hour Jesus standing in the purple robe and crowned with thorns meekly opened not his mouth,
Sixth Hour takes as its aspiration Mercy;
because at that Hour Jesus being lifted up spread forth his arms towards the Mercy-seat of Heaven and made intercession for mankind.
Ninth Hour takes as its aspiration Peace; because at that Hour the Soul of Jesus, after he had won pardon for us through the mercy of God, rested in peace. EVENSONG. This will be the regular service for Evening Prayers, as Lauds is for Morning. To be said or sung in the same manner as Lauds. Prayers of the Passion may be added at will.
Compline (completorium, i.e. winding up of the day,) may either be added to Evensong and said immediately after it, or be reserved for private use in the bed-room. Prayers of the Passion may be added.
Directions for using the Hours.
Let the Reader recite the whole service except those portions which are printed in italics: the Psalms being said or sung as in the Book of Common Prayer.
The portions in italics should be recited in Response by the others who are present. Those portions of which the first few words only are in italics (sc. the Blessings before the Lessons at Matins, and the Antiphons) are to be said by all present, together with the Reader: when the Hours are sung, the Antiphons may be taken either by a single chanter or by a selection of the choir.
The Lessons at Matins are recited by the