« PoprzedniaDalej »
N the Admonition entitled “ Concerning the
Service of the Church,” which succeeds, if indeed it does not rather form a part of, the
Preface to our present Book of Common Prayer, we find the following:
“And whereas heretofore there hath been great diversity in saying and singing in Churches within this Realm; some following Salisbury Use, some Hereford Use, and some the Use of Bangor, some of York, some of Lincoln ; now from henceforth all the whole realm shall have but one Use."
In this passage the word heretofore does not relate to the time immediately preceding the last review of the Common Prayer in 1662, for during more than 100 years, (with the exception of the period of the rebellion, and heretical ascendancy) there had been only one Use of saying and singing in Churches. We must go back to the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and beyond that again to the year 1549, when the First Book of King Edward the Sixth having been approved by Convocation, was put forth and enjoined by the authority of the Parliament and the Crown. In the Preface to that Book, there is almost word for word the same injunction.
So, the “ Act for the Uniformity of publick Prayers, and administering the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies, &c. in the Church of England,” (xiv. Car. II.) begins : “Whereas in the first year of the late
Queen Elizabeth, there was one uniform Order of Common Service and Prayer, and of the administration of the Sacraments, Rites, and Ceremonies of the Church of England.” And the Act alluded to, the first of Elizabeth, refers in like manner to the last year of Edward the Sixth, declaring that then also there was “one uniform Order.” These Acts, we may therefore say, recognize the previous existence of various allowed Forms or Uses.
There are certainly some who very imperfectly understand what is meant by these old Uses of the Church of England; they have often remarked the passage which I have quoted from the Preface to the Prayer Book, and would be glad to learn something about it. Wheatley and Shepherd, authors generally appealed to, pass over without remark “ the Preface:" the latter however in his Introduction does say, that “it is deserving of notice, that hitherto there had not been in England any one service established by public authority for the general use of the Church. In the southern parts of the island, the Offices according to the Use of Sarum, and in the northern, those of York, were generally followed. In South Wales the Offices of Hereford were adopted, and in North Wales, those of Bangor, &c. :” and so he passes
Nor does Dr. Nicholls in his Commentary make any remark upon the passage. Bishop Mant in his selection of Notes upon the Common Prayer, has referred to Sparrow and Dr. Burn, who give no further information upon the subject, except indeed that Osmund, the Bishop of Salisbury, about the year 1070, was the compiler of the Use of Sarum.
There are many again, who are better informed, but yet have never had an opportunity of examining any copies of the old service books which still exist, whether from living at a distance from public libraries, or from
1 Introduction, p. xxxvii.
some other cause. Scarcely two years ago, in the pre
' face to the first edition of this volume, I said my hope was, upon a consideration of the circumstances which I haye briefly spoken of above, that an attempt to render accessible these books or portions of them, would not be unacceptable. I may now add, I trust without presumption, that my expectations have been amply realized.
I have alluded to the difficulty of obtaining access to these old books : for so rare are they, that except in the libraries of the Bodleian, the University of Cambridge, and the British Museum, it is almost hopeless to expect to find them : occasionally, in a few instances, we may meet with a single volume, a Horæ, or a Manual, or it may be even a Missal : but one book only will do but little for the student ; if he wishes to understand the subject, and to obtain more than a mere smattering of knowledge about it, it can be only after a careful examination and comparison of the many volumes, among which anciently the Offices of the Church of England were distributed.
And there are better reasons even than the fact of rarity, for making an effort to republish, in some form or other, either all or parts of the old books: of late years, the demand for them has increased tenfold, and their price, always great, has naturally increased with the demand : so as to put them, when they do occur, beyond the reach of men who are nevertheless the most anxious to obtain them. This has been one result of a return to a more sound theological study than had characterized the clergy of an age, which has been emphatically styled by the Right Reverend Prelate of this Diocese, in a visitation charge, “an unlearned age.” And it could not but be so : for a chief object of enquiry certainly would be into the faith and practice, into the observances and the worship of their own particular Church, before as well as since the sixteenth century: and in the pursuit of this, they would be no longer content to
rely upon garbled extracts, or the unfounded representations of ignorant and prejudiced, or slanderous historians.
Before the Reformation the public Offices of the Church of England were not contained, as they now are, in one volume, but in many: they were perfectly distinct from each other, and intended for different purposes. I do not intend in this place to enter into a description of these numerous books, as I have examined at considerable length the whole subject in a Dissertation prefixed to another work, the Monumenta Ritualia. It must therefore be sufficient for me to refer the reader there, and extract one passage only from an edition of a Portiforium secundum usum Sarum, published by Grafton and Whitchurch in 1544. This has at the beginning, a privilege and license of the King under his great seal to those printers, that they alone should print certain “ bookes of devyne servyce, and praier bookes, that is to say, the Masse booke, y Graile, the Hympnal, the Antiphoner, the Processyonale, the Manuel, the Porteaus, and the Prymer.” Of these books the “Masse booke” or “the Missal,” contained the rites and ceremonies and prayers to be used in the celebration of the Holy Communion. The “Graile” or “ Gradual” contained, often with the notation also, the various Introits, Offertories, Communions, Graduals, Tracts, Sequences and other parts of the Service. This volume was of course necessary for the more solemn performance of the liturgy in choir, and with the full attendance of the officiating priest, and his subordinate ministers.
2 Attached to this passage in then expressed, though I do not the first edition, was a note, speci- think it necessary to repeat it. The fying as an example, a writer of the place referred to, is the second present day, Mr. Hallam; and I Chapter of his Constitutional Hisallude to it, because I see no reason tory of England. for altering the opinion which I