The Authority of the Services for the Fifth of November, the Thirtieth of January, the Twenty-ninth of May, for the Accession of the Sovereign, Considered (1843)

The Authority of the Services for the Fifth of November, the Thirtieth of January, the Twenty-ninth of May, for the Accession of the Sovereign, Considered.
By Thomas Lathbury.
London: William Edward Painter, 1843.

THE following remarks were published last year in the Church of England Quarterly Review: and as the Fifth of November falls this year upon a Sunday—a circumstance which has necessarily directed attention to the authority of the service for the day—it has been thought advisable to reprint the article in a separate form. A few alterations have been made.

            The reader will perceive that I am an advocate for the use of the Four Services in their present shape. The various opinions which are entertained on the subject are noticed; and my reasons for thinking that the Clergy are under an obligation to use the present Services are given at some length. I am anxious for the Synodical sanction of the Four Special Forms; but I cannot feel with those who object to them solely on the ground of the want of Parliamentary authority. But in the absence of due Synodical authority, I am of opinion, that that of the Crown is, in such cases, not only sufficient to justify a Clergyman in using the Services in question; but that it is actually binding. At all events, the Bishops, ever since the Revolution, have sanctioned the use of the Services, and as the Crown, with the advice of the Privy Council (in which are the Archbishops), has actually enjoined them, I cannot think that any Clergyman is at liberty to depart from the ordinary practice. If a Clergyman is in doubt, his proper course is to consult his Diocesan. In all doubtful matters, the Bishop is to the Clergyman as a Rubric. In these days of excitement and irregularity, the only safe course is to consult the Diocesan in all doubtful cases. With respect to the Special Services, there is, in my opinion, no room for doubt, since the practice of the Church, coupled with the authority of the Crown for one hundred and fifty years, is sufficient to warrant their use; but assuredly, if doubts do arise, the only course which a Clergyman can pursue is that which I have pointed out, namely, to consult his Diocesan, and abide by his decision.

October 19, 1843. T.L.

THE term “State Services” is usually applied to certain occasional forms, which are appended to the Book of Common Prayer, though the designation is calculated to convey a somewhat erroneous impression of their true character. Though, therefore, we may adopt the designation, yet to proceed, we shall point out their character, by distinguishing between the portions, which have received an ecclesiastical sanction, and those, which have only been approved by the authority of the Crown. In consequence of the anniversary of the Martyrdom of King Charles I. falling on a Sunday in the year 1842, much was written, and in some cases with no small degree of ignorance of the subject, in the public newspapers, not always the best vehicles for the discussion of such matters. Several writers expressed their opinion, that a clergyman could not be censured for the omission of a special service; and the reason assigned for such a conclusion was this, that the service was not sanctioned by Act of Parliament. Others questioned, whether an action would lie against a clergyman for the omission, on grounds totally different, namely—that in their present form the services in question have not been sanctioned by Convocation. The advocates of this latter view argued, that the Ecclesiastical Courts would not censure a clergyman for the omission of a service, which had no other authority than that of the Crown.

            Now we have no sympathy with those who require the sanction of an Act of Parliament for any service. We cannot understand the feelings of the men, who wish to see the Church so kept in bondage by the State, that she can only move, even in inflicting censures on her own ministers, as the State may prescribe. Though we are advocates for the connexion of Church and State, feeling that the latter is more benefitted by the connexion than the former, yet we cannot desire to see all Ecclesiastical proceedings regulated by the State. The Church may surely prescribe laws and rules for herself, and the State is bound so far to sanction them as to make them obligatory; but the notion, that nothing can be transacted in our Ecclesiastical Courts, without the express authority of an Act of Parliament, is one, which must be repudiated by all true Churchmen. We cannot bring ourselves to believe, that the judges of those courts would feel themselves bound to abstain from all interference in cases, which are not expressly decided by Parliamentary authority. In our opinion, the Church should be so supported by the State, that after making laws for the government of her own members, and especially of her own ministers, the sanction of the civil legislature should be added, to enable her to act with authority and energy in administering censure or rebuke, in the case of any of her children who may require correction. We look upon the feeling in favour of Acts of Parliament in matters ecclesiastical as unchurchlike; and we trust that such a doctrine will find no favour among Churchmen. Let the Convocation meet, and frame laws according to the circumstances of the Church; and let the sanction of the State be granted, but by no means let us be subjected in spiritual matters to a body constituted as the House of Commons. Some persons speak with feelings of triumph of the Parliamentary sanction of the Prayer Book. But is our Liturgy the more valuable on that account? Or ought it to be more binding on the conscience, after a solemn declaration of conformity, because an act of the legislature has confirmed it? Having been sanctioned by the Church, ought not clergymen to be satisfied? Surely the sanction of Parliament is a matter of comparatively trivial consequence. We hold it to be the interest, as well as the duty of the State, to afford that sanction; but we at the same time contend, that it is not necessary, in order to endear the Prayer Book to Church men, or to render the obligations to conformity, on the part of the clergy, stronger. We do, then, sincerely grieve, when we find clergymen building so much on Acts of Parliament, as if our Liturgy stood in need of any such aid, or as if its character depended on any such sanction. We know well that the civil legislature can interpose its authority, and even sever the connexion between the Church and State; but we hold, at the same time, that no Parliamentary authority can impose a liturgy or a form of government on Christ’s Holy Catholic Church. Its sanction may be granted, for which we are thankful; but it can neither make nor unmake a Church, though it may frame a religious system, under the name of a Church, and call it the Established Church of the country. Woe, however, be to the State of England, if ever it interferes with the Church of Christ, so as to sever the connexion, and to establish an Erastian system in its room. But we have no such apprehension, and we have only noticed the subject for the purpose of showing the absurdity of, and delivering our protest against, the Erastian theory, that Acts of Parliament are necessary to make the laws, canons, ordinances, and even ritual of the Church, binding on Churchmen.

            With respect to the other class of objectors to the use of the State Services, as they are termed, namely, those who question whether an action could be sustained in the Ecclesiastical Courts for the omission of any one of the services in question, we can only say that our opinion is totally different. These objectors proceed on grounds widely different from those of the former class. They, like ourselves, think that the sanction of the Church is sufficient to render the use of a service obligatory on the clergy; but they are also of opinion, that, in the absence of such sanction, by which they mean an Act of Convocation, no action could be sustained against a clergyman, who should omit the special service, and merely read the daily prayers. We can fully enter into their feelings; but we think, that they are mistaken, both in the view itself, and also in their opinion respecting the proceedings of an ecclesiastical court, in the event of any such case being brought under its cognizance. Our reasons for such a conclusion may be briefly stated.

            The Church of England recognizes the supremacy of the Crown in matters ecclesiastical as well as civil; and though she has not decided how much power is attached to that supremacy, yet, on that ground alone, even were there no others in the particular case of the special services, we contend, that our Ecclesiastical Courts would decide against any clergyman, who should refuse to read the services in question, and who, in consequence, had been proceeded against by his diocesan. In such a case the question could not be raised except by the bishop; but, should he commence proceedings against a clergyman for the omission, and should the case be removed into the Court of Arches, the court would, we feel convinced, support the diocesan in his views, and proceed to pass sentence upon the individual. The censure, of course, would not be severe; but that suspension for a limited period would be imposed, we feel assured. The question, we admit, has never been decided; still we ourselves have no doubt respecting the decision of the court. On one occasion only, as far as we are aware, was the matter in a fair way for being brought before a judicial tribunal, and that was in the case of Johnson, of Cranbrook, in the last century. This gentleman omitted to read the service for the sovereign’s accession. In consequence of that omission, he was cited to appear before the ordinary. The case was somewhat singular. Mr. Johnson pleaded that he was bound to read the service according to the Book of Common Prayer, and no other—that the king was supreme only in his courts, and that he knew of no other supremacy except that which was thus exercised. He also argued that a royal proclamation, or order in council, had not the force of law. On this occasion the question appeared to be in a fair way for adjudication, as far, at least, as it could be settled by the decision of an ecclesiastical court; but, before any judgment was pronounced, the reverend gentleman submitted to his diocesan, confessing his sorrow for the step which he had been induced to take. Thus the matter remains still undecided, or, at all events, no authoritative decision has been pronounced.

            These services undoubtedly possess different degrees of authority. Still, we are of opinion, that the authority which they possess is sufficient to render their use obligatory on the clergy. We now proceed to give a brief history of the four services, with the various changes which they have undergone. We take them in the order in which they are appended to the Book of Common Prayer, of which, however, they do not constitute a part.

I. THE SERVICE FOR THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER.

            The origin of this service is known to our readers, and need not be enlarged upon. It was first published in the year 1606, the year after the discovery of the Gunpowder Treason, and was intended to commemorate the merciful interposition of Divine Providence, in favour of our Church and nation, at that period. Like other special services, it was set forth by royal authority; nor did it possess any other in that and the succeeding reign. During the time of James I., and also in the reign of Charles I., until the clergy were almost all ejected from their livings, this service was duly read in our churches. When the Book of Common Prayer was proscribed, this service experienced the same treatment; for during the Commonwealth and the Protectorate, no form of prayer was allowed, the ministers being left to their own discretion in the management of public worship. At the Restoration, the Book of Common Prayer was necessarily rescued from the oblivion, in which it had been placed by the Presbyterian and Independent factions; and with the Common Prayer the service for the fifth of November was restored to use. In the year 1661 the service was revised by the Convocation: consequently, in the state in which it was published in 1662, it had the sanction of the Church—the highest sanction which can be pleaded; though, of course, we know that Acts of Parliament may interpose and overrule the decisions of the Church. Still, where no Act of Parliament interferes, the authority of the Church, duly expressed by Convocation, must be viewed as paramount by consistent Churchmen.

            The service, therefore, was settled by Convocation; and the observance of the day was enjoined by Act of Parliament. Thus the civil authority commanded all persons to observe the day as a day of thanksgiving; and the Church, or the ecclesiastical authority, prepared and enjoined a special service to be used on the occasion. Still the service was not sanctioned by Parliament; for when the Act of Uniformity was passed, the special services were not annexed to the Book of Common Prayer. This and the next two were ordered to be appended by royal authority.

            Matters continued in this state until the reign of King William. Shortly after his accession to the throne the special services were revised; and that for the fifth of November was materially altered. It happened that William landed on the fifth of November; and as the Church and the nation were delivered, by the Prince’s arrival, from the danger which then threatened them, it was deemed desirable to commemorate both events—namely, the discovery of the Gunpowder Treason and the coming of the Prince—in the same service; and certain changes were accordingly made, so as to render the form suitable to both occasions. These alterations were made by the bishops, and sanctioned by the Crown. They were not submitted to Con vocation; nor is it probable that they would at that time have been sanctioned by that assembly. All the portions of the service, therefore, which refer to King William are new. So that, as a whole, the present form has only the authority of the Crown, though the original parts have that of Convocation. Such is a brief sketch of the history of this service. The changes, which were introduced subsequent to the Revolution, may be seen, by comparing the present formwith the service in any of the Books of Common Prayer previous to that event.

II. THE SERVICE FOR THE THIRTIETH OF JANUARY.

            Some doubts were expressed by various clergymen, whether, as the 30th of January, in the year 1842, fell upon a Sunday, the form was to be used instead of the regular service. Their doubts arose from the punctuation in some of our Prayer Books, from which it was inferred, that the service was to be read on the Sunday, and the fast kept on the Monday. It seems strange that any clergyman should have fallen into such an error; for in that case we should have had a fast enjoined without a service. Had the parties who doubted referred to the service in its original state, they would have seen what was the intention of its framers; and it cannot be imagined, that those, by whom it was altered, intended to make any change in this respect. The original direction was clear enough, being couched in the following words: “If this day shall happen to be Sunday, this form of service shall be used the next day following.” Or had the parties referred to the Act of Parliament, they would have seen their error; for it is there expressed—“unless it falls out to be upon the Lord’s-day, and then the next day following shall be for ever hereafter set apart to be kept in all the churches and chapels of these your Majesty’s kingdoms.” The reason, too, for appointing the service for the following day, whenever it fell upon a Sunday, is obvious enough, namely, that it would be very unseemly to keep a fast on the Lord’s-day.

            As in the preceding service, we need not enter into its origin, since all the particulars are so well known to our readers. It was prepared and duly authorized by Convocation, in 1661, under the following title:—“A Form of Prayer, to be used yearly upon the Thirtieth day of January, being the day of the Martyrdom of King Charles I.” In this form it was appended to the Book of Common Prayer by the authority of the Crown. The observance of the day, as in the preceding case, is enjoined by Act of Parliament, and the ecclesiastical legislature provided the special service for the occasion. It continued in its original state until the accession of James II., when it was subjected to revision and alteration. The alterations, too, were important. It is remarked by Burn, that in the original service there was no “reflection on the first authors of the opposition:” but in the revision, even in the title, a great change was made, in this addition—“to implore the mercy of God, that neither the guilt of that sacred and innocent blood, nor those other sins, by which God was provoked to deliver up both us and our king into the hands of cruel and unreasonable men, may at any time hereafter be visited upon us or our posterity.” Several sentences were added to the introduction, and certain additions were made to the collects, corresponding in their character with the addition to the title. When King William came to the crown, no change was made in this service, so that we now have it in the form in which it was left by King James. Probably William was fearful of making the attempt to restore it to its original state. At all events, no alteration was attempted. As in the service for the Fifth of November, therefore, this form, in its present state, rests only on the authority of the Crown. The original portions, indeed, have the sanction of Convocation. A comparison of the present form, with the service, as it stands in the Prayer Book prior to the accession of James II., will show what changes were effected in 1685.

III.—THE SERVICE FOR THE TWENTY-NINTH OF MAY.

This was also prepared in Convocation in 1661, like the preceding, and was duly authorized by that assembly. It was intended to commemorate two events—the king’s birth and the Restoration. The twenty-ninth of May was the birth-day of the king, and on that day he made his public entry into the kingdom. Both these events were noticed in the original service, which was published under the following title:—“A Form of Prayer, with Thanksgiving, to be used yearly upon the Twenty-ninth day of May, being the day of his Majesty’s birth, and happy return to his kingdom.” The day was also appointed by Act of Parliament, to be observed for ever, though no notice was taken of the special service, which was prepared by Convocation, and sanctioned by the Crown, with the two preceding forms. On the accession of James II, this service was very materially altered. Changes were indeed necessary, for portions of the service referred to the birth of King Charles; and to have used it in its original form, after the death of the king, would have been singular. All those passages which referred to the birth of King Charles were accordingly struck out, both from the title and from the body of the service, and it was made to refer to the restoration of the royal family as well as of the king. In the service as altered in 1685 was the following rubric or notice:—“The office used hitherto upon this day, ever since it was by Act of Parliament established, relating, in several passages, to the birth and person of King Charles the Second, it is thought fit, now upon the occasion of his death, to alter it as followeth.” A royal order was also issued, authorizing the use of the service in its altered state. The order was as follows:–“The Form of Prayer, with Thanksgiving, heretofore appointed for the 29th of May, relating, in several passages of it, to the birth and person of our most dearly beloved brother, King Charles II., and so upon occasion of his death being necessarily to be altered, and it being now, by our special command to the bishops, so altered and settled to our satisfaction, as a perpetual office of thanksgiving for the standing mercies of that day, our express will and pleasure is, that it be henceforth printed and published as here it followeth, to be used henceforth upon every 29th day of May, in all churches and chapels within our kingdom and dominion of Wales, in such manner as is therein directed.” This order bears date April 29, 1685. The changes were necessarily somewhat numerous. At the Revolution the service was retained in the same form in which it still continues.

            Such is a sketch of the history of three of the special services; for the fourth, which we shall notice presently, is somewhat different in its character from the preceding. These three forms, in their original state, were appended to the Book of Common Prayer by a royal order, dated the second day of May, in the fourteenth year of the reign of Charles II. The same order was issued by James II., in 1685, respecting the altered services, and that for the fifth of November, which was not altered. After the Revolution, when the service for the fifth of November was revised, it was set forth by a separate order, dated October the 19th, 1690, and signed by King William. For several years some confusion appears to have existed on this point; for, in certain editions of the Book of Common Prayer, the service for November the fifth is accompanied by the separate order, and then, at the close of the third service, there is the order for the three together, according to the practice of the two preceding reigns. So, again, in some of the books of this period, the separate order for the Restoration Service is retained in the form in which it was issued by King James. However, the one order, in the usual form, was subsequently adopted, and continued in the succeeding reigns.

            Our readers are now in possession of all the particulars respecting these three services; but there is a fourth to which we may now direct attention, namely, the Accession Service. Its history is equally interesting with that of the preceding. Even in the time of Elizabeth, the day of her accession was observed as a holy day, a special service being appointed for the occasion. The seventeenth day of November, the day of her accession, was also observed, even after her Majesty’s death, as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God for the gracious deliverance wrought out for the Church by her instrumentality. A service was prepared and published, in the usual way, by royal authority, for this occasion, bearing the following title. “A Fourme of Prayer, with Thanksgiving, to be used of all the Queenes Majesties loving Subjects every year, the seventeenth day of November, being the day of her Highness entrie to her kingdom. Set forth by authority. Imprinted at London by Chris. Barker, Printer to the Queene’s Majestie, 1578.” The following direction occurs in the service —“You shall understand that everything in this book is placed in order, as it shall be used, without turning to ‘‘ fro, saving the 111 lessons taken out of the Olde Testament, of which you may chuse any one as you thinke best for the first lesson at this Morning Prayer. And in cathedral churches the minister may use eyther of the other 11 for the first lesson at Evening Prayer.” Another rubrical direction also occurs: “It is ordered that the Letanie shall not be omitted the seventeenth day of November, though it fall upon Monday, Thursday, or Saturday.” The following prayer, from the service, will be read with interest:—

            “O God, most mercifull Father, who as upon this day, placing thy servant our Sovereigne and gracious Queene Elizabeth in the kingdom, didest deliver thy people of England from danger of warre and oppression, both of bodie by tyrannie, and of conscience by superstition, restoring peace and true religion, with libertie both of bodies and mindes, and hast continued the same thy blessings, without all deserte one our part, nowe by the space of these twentie years:[1] we who are in memorie of these thy great benefits assembled here together most humbly beseeche thy fatherly goodnesse to graunt us grace, that we may, in worde, deede, and heart, shewe ourselves thankful and obedient unto thee for the same: and that our Queene, through thy grace, may, in all honour, goodness and godliness, long and many years reigne over us, and we obey and enjoy her with the continuance of thy great blessings, which thou hast, by her thy minister, poured upon us: This we beseech thee to grant unto us for thy deare sonne Jesus Christe’s sake, our Lord and Saviour, Amen.”

            Appended to the service are seventeen stanzas in rhyme, which may be seen also in Strype.

            This form was undoubtedly used during the reign of Elizabeth. In the reign of Charles I. a service was prepared for his accession and published in the year 1626. In 1640 it was also sanctioned by Convocation, so that the original service had the highest ecclesiastical authority. The canons of 1640 were, however, set aside by Act of Parliament subsequent to the Restoration; but notwithstanding this interposition on the part of the civil legislature, we may regard the old service as having received the sanction of the Church. At the Restoration, certain portions of it were adopted in the service for the twenty-ninth of May; but on the accession of James II., his Majesty ordered some of the bishops to prepare a form for the occasion. It was singular that James, who had long before avowed himself a member of the Church of Rome, should have taken so much interest in the matter as to desire a special service for any occasion. He may, however, have imagined that such a course would propitiate some of the members of the Anglican Church, which he intended to supplant as soon as circumstances permitted. The old service was, therefore, submitted to a revision, and, after many alterations, was set forth by royal authority in 1685. It was used during the short reign of King James: but, on William’s accession, it was laid aside. The reason may have been, that so much of the altered service for the fifth of November related to William’s arrival. We have already noticed the alterations in that service. Thus the three services only were retained during this reign; but when Anne ascended the throne, the Accession Service was again revived. The usual process was adopted: King James’s service was revised, and then set forth by the Queen’s authority. To the three preceding forms, the old order, as it stood in the time of Charles II., James II., and King William, was appended; and the Accession Service was accompanied by a distinct order in the following terms:—

                        “Anne R.

            “Our will and pleasure is, that this form of prayer, with thanksgiving, for the first day of August, be forthwith printed and published, and be used yearly, on the said day, in all cathedral and collegiate churches and chapels, in all chapels of colleges and halls within both our universities, and of our colleges of Eton and Winchester, and in all parish churches and chapels within our kingdom of England, dominion of Wales, and town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

            “Given at our Court at St. James’s, the seventh day of February, 1704, in the second year of our reign.

            “By her Majesty’s command,

            “NOTTINGHAM.”

            It has been the custom, on the accession of the sovereign, to issue the order for the use of these special services; for, unless such were the case, they would not possess any authority—at least, in their present form. The order continues in force only during the life of the sovereign, so that, at the accession of a king or queen, it must necessarily be renewed. On the accession of George I. and George II, the separate orders were issued, namely, one for the three services for the fifth of Novemberthe thirtieth of January, and the twenty-ninth of May, and another for the Day of the Accession; but, on the accession of George III., one order only was used for the four services, and this practice has since be continued.

            We believe that the preceding narrative embraces all the particulars connected with the history of the four services; and our readers will be able to trace the various changes to which they have been subjected since their original introduction.

One question now only remains—namely, their authority. We have already alluded to this point; but in the present day, when so many and such opposite opinions are entertained on the subject, we may enter upon it more fully. We are among those, who wish to see the Convocation of the Anglican Church revived. And were the Church permitted to speak through this authorized channel, we are quite sure, that she would confirm the use of the present services. It will be seen from the preceding narrative, that the Church has sanctioned the observance of the four days, and that she set forth certain forms suitable to the occasions. For instance, the old service for the Accession was sanctioned by Convocation in 1640, and the other three in 1661; and the main portions of all these forms are still retained in our present services. Still it is a fact, that the forms, in their present state, have not received the sanction of the Church through her Convocation; and every Churchman must admit, that it would be desirable to supply this deficiency, which can only be done by permitting the synod of the Anglican Church to assemble and transact business. We have already stated, that we cannot coincide with those who object to these forms, on the ground that they have not received a Parliamentary sanction; for, though we must submit to Acts of Parliament when they are enacted, yet we are by no means anxious to see the civil authority interfering in matters ecclesiastical: and, in our opinion, an Act of Convocation is, or ought to be, equally binding on Churchmen, and especially on the clergy. In considering this subject, therefore, we leave the Parliamentary authority quite out of the question; in other words, we should not consider that a Parliamentary sanction of the present services would render them a whit more obligatory on the clergy than they are at present. The legislature might indeed compel the clergy to use them, but we conceive that they are still under the obligation to do so; for, in the absence of Convocational sanction, we consider that they possess sufficient authority to render their use obligatory. We have confessed that we are advocates for the revival of Convocation, and that we are anxious for a full ecclesiastical sanction; yet, in the absence of that authority, we are satisfied, that the authority, which they actually possess, is sufficient to confirm their use.

            But it appears to us, that three of the services have virtually that very authority, for which these objectors plead. We do not value the Parliamentary sanction; but still we are of opinion, that the Acts of Parliament virtually recognise forms in addition to the usual services. Thus the Act for the observance of the Fifth of November enjoins all persons “to say morning prayer and give unto Almighty God thanks for this happy deliverance.” It is also enjoined, that all persons should resort to Church “where the said Morning Prayer, preaching, or other service of God shall be used.” But how could the people have given special thanks unless special forms had been appointed? The expressions seem to imply, that special forms were to be appointed. Were not the subsequent services, therefore, sanctioned by implication?

            The Thirtieth of January also is appointed to be observed “as an anniversary day of fasting, &c., to implore the mercy of God, that neither the guilt of that sacred and innocent blood, nor those other sins by which God was provoked to deliver up both us and our king into the hands of cruel and unreasonable men, may at any time be visited upon us or our posterity.” It is clear, therefore, that the Parliament concluded, that certain prayers were to be added to the daily service, since the end contemplated by the Act could not otherwise have been attained.

            So the Act for the Twenty-ninth of May enjoins that the people should observe the day “by rendering their hearty public praises and thanksgivings to Almighty God for all the aforementioned extraordinary mercies, blessings, and deliverances.” All persons are further enjoined to remain in the Church “during the said public thanksgiving, prayers, preaching, singing of psalms, and other service of God, there to be used and ministered.” This Act, therefore, cannot be complied with by the mere use of the daily service. To observe the Act, forms, specifying the particular mercies, must be introduced; and this is done in the present service.

            In our opinion, therefore, the advocates for Parliamentary authority have virtually what they want, at least with respect to three of the services. At all events, they must admit, that the Acts cannot be complied with by the mere use of the daily service. To us this is a question of very little moment. We introduce it, however, in order to show that the parties, who object to our present forms, because they are not sanctioned by Parliament, do not escape from the difficulty by adhering to the daily service, since by such a course they violate the injunctions of the Acts. It is evident that additional services are recognized, either as in existence, or to be framed; and assuredly this fact may be regarded as an implied sanction of the forms which were framed for the days in question. With such objectors, however, we have no sympathy, not being anxious for Parliamentary interference in the appointment of forms of prayer. We are satisfied, as we have stated, that there is sufficient authority for the use of the present forms.

            The sovereign is supreme as well in ecclesiastical as in civil matters; and the question is, does the supremacy involve the power of appointing special services for particular occasions? If it does not, then, we ask, on what authority do the forms of prayer, which are occasionally issued by the Privy Council, rest? During the present reign even, we have had several. What was their authority? They were prepared by the arch bishop; but they were set forth by command of the Crown. Could their use be enforced on the clergy? And on what grounds? We apprehend that a clergyman, if cited to appear in the ecclesiastical courts, would be subject to punishment for not using them. If this opinion be correct, then it will follow, that the use of the four special services is obligatory on the same ground, for they possess precisely the same authority. The Church has herself sanctioned the special observance of the days; and in appointing the original forms she has also given her sanction to a departure, on some particular occasions, from the usual service. We think, too, that the Crown, with the advice of the archbishops and bishops, and by virtue of the ecclesiastical supremacy, may appoint days of fasting and thanksgiving, prescribing, on such occasions, additional prayers. Particular days having been set apart both by the Church and the State, we conceive that the Crown may, from time to time, settle the details of the observance, by ordering the archbishops and bishops to draw up certain prayers, to be interwoven with the usual service. This is precisely the case with the services in question. On the ground of the supremacy, therefore, we are of opinion that the Crown has the power to appoint services for special occasions. It is sometimes said, that, in the case of the prayers, which are still occasionally put forth, they are merely additions to the daily service; whereas, the special forms for the four days actually take the place of a certain portion of the daily prayers. Our opinion is, however, that the ecclesiastical courts, on the ground of the royal supremacy, would decide that the services must be used, to the exclusion of those portions of the daily prayers, which are ordered to be omitted.

            Then the following rubric appears to be of great importance in the consideration of this question. It is the rubric after the Nicene Creed:—“And nothing shall be proclaimed or published in the church, during the time of divine service, but by the minister; nor by him anything but what is prescribed in the rules of this book, or enjoined by the Queen, or by the ordinary of the place.” It would seem that this rubric recognizes certain powers in the Crown to command the reading and publication of something in the Church. What ever the power may be, it must be by virtue of the supremacy. The Queen is supreme ordinary; and if in some cases the ordinary has power to resolve doubts and to settle points of dispute, surely the Crown possesses the same, if not greater authority.

            To us then it appears certain, that the use of the four special services is obligatory on the clergy. We take the ground of the supremacy, and that of the rubric after the Nicene Creed; and we might add the practice from the period of the Reformation to the present moment; and we are convinced, that on these grounds the ecclesiastical courts would enforce the use of the services in question. Were a clergyman to refuse to use either of the services, the ordinary might proceed against him. The case would be removed into the Court of Arches, and the ordinary would, in our opinion, be supported, and the clergy man censured. To omit the special services altogether for three of the days would be a breach of the laws of the Church, and also of the Acts of Parliament, since by both has the observance been enjoined: and it cannot even be pretended, that the intention of either would be complied with by merely using the ordinary service. To refuse to use the services, moreover, is a rejection of the authority of the Crown, and a condemnation of all the bishops of the Church of England, from the period of the Revolution, since all have sanctioned these special forms.

            It strikes us as very singular, that some persons, who question the right of the Crown to appoint special services, should use as an argument, the fact, that the daily service is enjoined by Act of Parliament, and that consequently the royal authority cannot enjoin another service to be used in its stead. We say that such an argument from certain persons is singular, since these very individuals denounce the interference of Parliament in other cases.

            But the Act of Parliament made in the twenty-fourth year of George II. enjoined the use of an altered calendar; and in this calendar three of the days are alluded to as “certain days for which particular services are appointed.” It has been argued by some persons, that the services alluded to in the Act were those of 1662, and not the present forms. We cannot concur in this opinion; for though the question is not fully cleared up by the terms of the Act, yet we cannot imagine, that the legislature, in the time of George II., could possibly have intended the services in their original form. Nor do we apprehend, that an ecclesiastical court would consider, that the present services were not intended. It is clear, therefore, that those persons who are so anxious for a Parliamentary sanction, have what they wish in the Act of George II., which certainly approves indirectly of three of the services which were then in use.

            Mr. Perceval, in the preface to his valuable little work, seems to imagine, that one of the services ought not to be appended to the Book of Common Prayer, and that the royal and university printers might be called to account for their conduct. He says, “A further question may be raised, namely, whether the printers to the Crown and the Universities are not liable to be called to account for appending the four services last mentioned to the Common Prayer, instead of the three more duly authorized ones.”[2] By whom, however, could the printers be called to account In the civil courts they would be justified; and in the ecclesiastical courts the power of the Crown would be undoubtedly maintained.

            In the time of Charles II., a special service was appointed to be used on the second of September, the anniversary of the day, on which the great fire of London commenced in 1666. It may have continued in use in the succeeding reign, though whether such were the case we cannot determine. However, at the end of some of the Prayer Books of the time of Charles II. a special service for the occasion may still be found under the following title:—“Forms of Prayer to be used yearly on the Second of September, for the dreadful fire of London.” Its observance was also enjoined by Act of Parliament as a day of fasting and humiliation for ever, to deprecate the wrath of God from the nation, and from the city of London in particular. The service in question was, we believe, authorized in the usual way, but we are unable to ascertain when its use was discontinued. Probably it was laid aside on the accession of James II., to whom any memorial of the fire must have been unacceptable, inasmuch as it was commonly attributed to the machinations of some members of the Church of Rome, though no such allusion is to be found in the service. At all events, we have not seen the form in any English Prayer Book later than the reign of Charles II., but it is to be found in several copies, of various dates, of the Prayer Book in French. This circumstance may, however, be accounted for. The first French edition was printed from a copy containing this particular form, and this first book served as a copy for the subsequent editions.

            These notices of our special services may prove acceptable to many of our readers. Churchmen in general, and even vast numbers of the clergy, as various letters in the public papers have testified, are profoundly ignorant of the subject. Some argue against their use altogether, while others view them as part of the Book of Common Prayer, simply because they are bound up in the same volume. Our aim has been to place the whole question in a clear light, and we trust that we have been successful in our object.[3]


[1] “Increase this number according to the yeares of her Majesties reign.”

[2] “The Original Services for the State Holidays, with Documents Relating to the same.” Collected and arranged by the Hon. and Rev. A. Perceval, B. C. L. London.

[3] Much information respecting these services may be obtained from the author’s “History of the Convocation of the Church of England.”

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