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REV. JOHN HENRY BLUNT, M.A., F.S.A.
AUTHOR OF "THE HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION," "DIRECTORIUM PASTORALE,"
"Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye. find rest for your souls."-JEREMIAH vi. 16.
London, Oxford, and Cambridge
THIS work is an attempt to gather into one concise view all the most important information that is extant respecting the devotional system of the Church of England as founded on the Book of Common Prayer.
Much research and study have been expended upon this subject during the last quarter of a century; and the Prayer Book has been largely illustrated by the works of Sir William Palmer, Mr. Maskell, and Archdeacon Freeman. Many smaller books than these have also been published with the object of bringing into a compact form the results of wide and learned investigations: the most trustworthy and complete of all such books being Mr. Procter's excellent "History of the Book of Common Prayer, with a Rationale of its Offices." But it has long seemed to the Editor of the present volume that a work of another kind was wanted, which (without superseding any previous one of established merit) should exhibit more concisely and perspicuously the connexion between the ancient and the modern devotional system of the Church of England by placing the two side by side, as far as the former is represented in the latter: and which should also give a general condensed illustration of our present Prayer Book from all those several points of view from which it must be regarded if it is to be properly understood and appreciated.
Perhaps there is no one book, except the Holy Bible, which has been so much written about as the Prayer Book since the Reformation, and perhaps so much was never written about any one book which left so much still unsaid. The earliest class of commentators is represented by John Boys, who died Dean of Canterbury in 1619, and who had in earlier life published a Volume of Postils which were preceded by a diffuse comment on the principal parts of the Prayer Book. In these there is much ponderous learning, but a total absence of any liturgical knowledge. Bishop Andrewes and Archbishop Laud began to open out the real meaning and the true bearing of our Offices, being well acquainted with the Greek Liturgies, and having some knowledge, at least, of the Breviaries and the Missals of the Church of England. L'Estrange, Sparrow, Cosin,
and Elborow represent a still further advance towards a true comprehension of the Prayer Book; Bishop Cosin especially being thoroughly familiar with the Sarum Missal, and perhaps with the Breviary and other Office-books of the old Church of England. In the latter part of the sixteenth century, Liturgical studies seem, indeed, to have been taken up by many of the Clergy, especially by the Nonjurors, and interleaved Prayer Books are preserved in the Bodleian and other libraries which testify to the industry that was shown in illustrating its text, especially from the Greek Liturgies. None seem so thoroughly to have qualified themselves for the task of illustrating and interpreting the Book of Common Prayer as Fothergill, a nonjuror, whose interleaved Prayer Book in eleven large volumes, together with his unmatched collection of old English Servicebooks, is now in the Chapter Library at York'. But his notes and quotations were not digested into order: and although a work founded upon them would have been invaluable in days when there was no better authority than the superficial Wheatley, they have since been superseded by the publications of Palmer and Maskell.
The works of Comber, Wheatley, and Shepherd, were doubtless of great value in their way; but it is melancholy to observe that they tended in reality to alienate the minds of their readers from all thought of Unity and Fellowship with the Church of our Fathers, and set up two idols of the imagination, a Church originated in the sixteenth century, and a Liturgy "compiled," and in the main invented, by the Reformers. There is not a single published work on the Prayer Book previous to the publication of Palmer's Origines Liturgica in 1832, which makes the least attempt to give a truthful view of it, so thoroughly was this shallow conceit of a newly-invented Liturgy ingrained in the minds of even our best writers.
Notwithstanding, therefore, the great abundance of works on the Book of Common Prayer, there seems to be still ample room for one like the present, in which the spirit of our Offices is illustrated from their origin and history as well as from their existing form; and in which a large body of material is placed before the reader by means whereof
may himself trace out that history, and interpret that spirit.
The object of the present work may be stated, then, to be that of illustrating and
'Marmaduke Fothergill was born at York in 1652, took his degree at Magdalene College, Cambridge, and became Rector of Skipwith. In 1688 he was offered the Rectory of Lancaster, but not being able to take the oaths to William and Mary, he could neither accept preferment, nor receive the degree of D.D., for which he had qualified. He lived at Pontefract, till driven thence by a whig J. P., but died in Westminster, on Sept. 7, 1731. Mr. Fothergill made a
| noble collection of ancient Service-books, which, with the rest of his Library, he left to Skipwith parish, on condition of a room being built to receive them. This not being done, the widow applied to Chancery, and by a decree of that court the books were all handed over to York Minster. Mr. Fothergill also left an endowment of £50 a year for a catechist at Pontefract. His volumes show that he was a most industrious reader.
explaining the Devotional system of the Church of England by (1) a careful comparison of the Prayer Book with the original sources from which it is derived, (2) a critical examination of all the details of its history, and (3) a full consideration of the aspect in which it appears when viewed by the light of those Scriptural and primitive principles on which the Theology of the Church of England is founded.
For the plan of the work, the general substance of it, and for all those portions the authorship of which is not otherwise indicated, the Editor must be held responsible. For the details of the text and notes in those parts which have been contributed by others (excepting the Marginal References), the authors must, of course, be considered individually responsible. Circumstances have arisen which threw into the Editor's hands a larger proportion of the work than he originally intended to undertake, especially in connexion with the Communion and the Occasional Offices; but he does not wish to claim any indulgence on this account, being fully assured that a commentary of the kind here offered ought to be judged solely by its merits as an authentic interpreter and guide. The Introduction to the Communion Service, and the earlier portion of the Notes upon it are by the Editor.
In the Offices for the Visitation and Communion of the Sick, the Editor has to acknowledge valuable assistance from a friend who does not permit his name to be used. Those Offices have been treated in a rather more homiletic method than most of the others, in the hope that the Notes may assist in persuading both Lay and Clerical readers to desire a more pointed and systematic application of the Church's gifts in time of Sickness than that which is offered by the prayers ordinarily used.
The text is, of course, that of the Sealed Books; but some liberty has occasionally been taken with the punctuation, which, whether in the Sealed Books, or in the copies sent out by the Universities and the Queen's Printers, is in a most unsatisfactory condition. In the Psalms and Canticles, a diamond-shaped "point" has been used for the purpose of more plainly marking the musical division of verses, as distinguished from the grammatical punctuation. The spelling is also modernized throughout.
In conclusion, the Editor begs to tender his grateful thanks to many friends who have assisted him with their suggestions and advice. Those thanks are also especially due to the Rev. T. W. Perry, of Brighton, and the Rev. W. D. Macray, of the Bodleian Library, who have gone through all the proof-sheets, and have been largely instrumental in securing to the reader accuracy in respect to historical statements.
The Editor is indebted to the REV. JOHN BACCHUS DYKES, M.A., and Doctor of Music, Vicar of St. Oswald's, Durham, for the Second Section of the Ritual Introduction, on THE MANNER OF PERFORMING DIVINE SERVICE.
The Third Section of the Ritual Introduction, on THE ACCESSORIES OF DIVINE