Excerpts From
Cranmer's Godly Order
by Michael Davies

"Believe as Your Forefathers"
and The Old Latin Mass
Still Celebrated Secretly

"Through the perverse obstinacy and dissembling forwardness of many of the inferior priests and ministers of the Cathedrals and other churches of this realm, there did arise a marvellous schism and variety of fashions in celebrating the common service and administration of the sacraments and other rites and ceremonies of the Church. For some, zealously allowing the king's proceedings did gladly follow the order thereof: and others, though not so willingly admitting them yet dissembling and patchingly use some part of them; but many carelessly contemning all, would still exercise their old
wonted popery."-----Foxe: Acts and Monuments, V. 720.

THE WESTERN rebellion represented the most dramatic and heroic reaction of the ordinary faithful to the new prayer book. Those who fought and died for the old Mass did so, as Professor Hoskins explains, "for tens of thousands, no doubt, who disliked and detested the changes". Another Protestant historian, Professor Owen Chadwick, concedes that even at the end of Edward's brief reign: "The Reformation in England had captured the genuine allegiance only of a few instructed theologians and some educated merchants and other members of the middle class, particularly in London, and was supported for less unmixed motives by noble potentates." l Bucer complained of those whose support for the reforms was nothing but "the greed of men to seize the wealth of the Church". 2 There was a good deal of money to be made out of the Reformation for those with the inclination and initiative to do so!

Dr. John Ponet attacked opponents of the reform in a sermon preached before the King and court in March, 1550. He complained of those who trod the most holy word of God under their feet. " 'Believe' say they 'as your forefathers have done before you' and in this mind they counsel all men to stand and remain still stiffly without searching any further." This, he complains, would involve acceptance "of the popish mass and all such trumpery." Dr. Ponet claims that these talks have been sown abroad and bruited among the people by "the judges in their circuits and the justices of peace that be popishly affected, by bishops and their officers in their synods and other meetings of ecclesiastical persons, by schoolmasters in their grammar schools, by stewards when they keep their courts, by priests when they sit and hear auricular confession, and such like as mind nothing else but the plain subversion of the kingdom of Christ and all christian doctrine, and setting up again the doctrine and kingdom of the Romish antichrist to God's great dishonour . . . The bishop and his officers persuade the priests of the county that they shall also follow ancient customs and usages in the church, and believe and do as the church believeth and hath taught them, meaning by the church the church of Rome, though they say not so expressly." Dr. Ponet is particularly severe on schoolmasters who "will pour this talk into the ears of his scholars. Oh! what hurt these popish schoolmasters do. They mar all, most noble prince, poisoning the children's ears with popery in their youth." He adds that the zeal of these popish schoolmasters is such that whenever they discover that the father of one of their pupils is a supporter of the reforms the poor boy gets birched "thrice against his fellows once." 3 An example, perhaps, of the biblical adage regarding the sins of the fathers being visited upon their children.

Another Protestant testimony to the lack of support for the reforms comes from Bucer. It is interesting to note his sound grasp of what would now be termed the principles of religious sociology when he explains the folly of imposing radical changes upon people who do not understand them and have not been prepared for them. In a letter to the King in 1551 he writes: "Your Sacred Majesty has already found by experience how grave are the evils which ensued on taking away by force false worship from your people without sufficient preliminary instruction. The instruments of impiety have been snatched from them by proclamations and the observance of true religion has been imposed by royal command. Some have on this account made horrible sedition, others have raised perilous dissensions in the state, and to this very day wherever they can they either cause new trouble or increase what has already been excited. Some turn the prescribed form of service into a mere papistical abuse. Although it is now in the vulgar tongue, the' sacrificers' recite it of set purpose so indistinctly that it cannot be understood, whilst the people altogether refuse to understand or to listen. Not a few of the priests show forth the sacred communion of Christ as the papistical mass and the people are present with no other intention than to assist at the mass itself. Hardly anyone takes the Sacrament from the table of the Lord except the priest or the sexton, and even he does so unwillingly." 4

The fact that the Reformers expected to encounter strong opposition is indicated by provisions in the Act of Uniformity prohibiting, any interludes, plays, songs, rhymes or any other open words in derogation, depraving or displaying of the same book (of Common Prayer); or of anything contained therein." 5

Another testimony to the extent of conservative resistance comes from Peter Martyr. "Many things remain to be done which we have in expectation rather than reality. The perseverance of the bishops is incredible. They oppose us with all their might; yet some of that order, although very few, are favourable to the undertaking.

"The labour of the most reverend the archbishop of Canterbury (Cranmer) is not to be expressed, for whatever has hitherto been wrested from them, we have acquired solely by the industry and activity and importunity of the prelate; and this circumstance gives us encouragement, that some addition is always being made to what we have already obtained." 6

The champions of the old Faith were well aware of the equivocal character of the new prayer book and were quick to point out its significant omissions, particularly" the omission of all sacrificial language." 7 The King's Council took immediate notice of this opposition and in doing so provided testimony of some of the forms it was taking. Bonner, the very conservative Bishop of London, was a great thorn in the side of the Reformers. He is often criticised for his implacability in the persecution of Protestants under Mary, but the humiliations and persecutions he endured during the reign of Edward VI should be taken into consideration. In a letter to Bonner dated 25th July, 1549, the King and Council complain that the new book "remaineth in many places of our realm either not known at all or not used," or that it is used "so that the people have not that spiritual delectation in the same that to good Christians appertaineth." 8

On 10th August, 1549, Bonner was summoned before the Lords of the Council and handed certain injunctions for his future guidance. Complaint is made " that divers of our city of London and other places within your diocese assemble themselves very seldom and fewer times than they were heretofore accustomed unto Common Prayer and to Holy Communion." Further "that divers as well in London as in other parts of your diocese do frequent and haunt foreign rites and masses and contemn and forbear to praise God and pray for his majesty after such rites and ceremonies as in this realm are approved and set out by authority." 9

Bonner took no heed of these warnings and on 13th September he was duly articled before the Ecclesiastical Commissioners on the information of Latimer and Hooper for "nonconformity". 10 One of the articles read as follows:

"Item, that ye know, or have heard say, that certain persons within your diocese, sith the time that the said Injunctions were given unto you, have heard, been at, or celebrate mass, or evensong in the Latin tongue, and after the old rite and manner, other than according to the King's majesty's book." 11

Eventually, on 15th September, 1549, Bishop Bonner felt that his failure to make an explicit public protest against the reforms "might unto some be an allowance of heretical doctrines." He had been forced to allow a Protestant to preach in his own Cathedral of St. Paul and when, in his sermon, the preacher declaimed "against the Holy Sacrament, denying the verity and presence of Christ's true body and blood to be there" the bishop rose from his place and left the church.

Four days later he explained to Cranmer "three things I have, to wit, a small portion of goods, a poor carcass and mine soul: the first two ye may take (though unjustly) to you; but as for rny soul, ye get it not quia anima in manibus meis semper." 12 That same night he was conveyed to the Marshalsea prison. 13

"After the imposition of the 'new uniform order' of worship in the summer of 1549, and the suppression of the popular risings, the pace of the Protestant movement quickened. An Act of Parliament, reinforced by a royal proclamation, ordered the calling in and destruction of all the old Mass books, which the recalcitrants continued to use; the reforming bishops diligently searched out survivals of 'popish superstition' in the liturgy; churches were denuded of their vestments, and texts aimed against the Real Presence and the Mass were painted on the walls." 14 This phase of the Edwardian Reformation is described as "purely destructive" by the Protestant historian, Professor S. T. Bindoff: "It ordered the suppression of all service books other than the Prayer Book and Henry VIII's Primer, and the destruction of all remaining religious statues and paintings. 'All books called antiphoners, missals, scrayles, processionals, manuals, legends, pyes, portuyses, primers in Latin or English, cowchers, journals' so ran the catalogue of these fine flowers of medieval Faith and medieval art which were to be 'abolished, extinguished and forbidden for ever' in favour of the austerity of the printed Book of Common Prayer. And in the frenzy of destruction which followed there perished much more than was warranted even by this comprehensive schedule. At Oxford the Vice-Chancellor, Richard Cox, earned the sobriquet of the 'Cancellor' for his zeal in prescribing, with the condemned liturgies, priceless books and manuscripts whose only taint of  'superstition' was their red lettered or geometrical embellishments." 15

Bucer has already been cited in this chapter as complaining of the manner in which the conservative clergy celebrated the new Communion service as if it had been a Mass. The most Protestant of the Edwardine bishops, Hooper, expressed his indignation at this practice in a letter to his friend Bullinger. He complained that although "the altars are here in many churches changed into, tables the public celebration of the Lord's Supper is very far from the order and institution of Our Lord. Although it is administered in both kinds, yet in some places the Supper is celebrated three times a day. Where they used heretofore to celebrate in the morning the mass of the apostles, they now have the communion of the apostles . . . where they had the principal or high mass they now have, as they call it, the high communion. They still retain their vestments and the candles before the altars; in the churches they always chant the hours and other hymns relating to the Lord's Supper, but in our own language. And that popery may not be lost, the mass-priests, although they are compelled to discontinue the use of the Latin tongue, yet most carefully observe the same tone and manner of chanting to which they were heretofore accustomed in the papacy." 16

"Not merely was the communion celebration like the Mass in outward appearance, but the ancient Mass itself continued to be said by priests in secret. Bernard Gilpin, a grandnephew of Bishop Tunstall, even at the close of Edward's reign, and whilst holding the king's licence as a general preacher of the reformed doctrine, still 'at some times read mass; but seldom and privately.' If this was the practice of one who was attached to the party of the innovators, the same must certainly have been the case with many who were zealous for the old doctrines." 17 Professor Bindoff notes that soon after Mary's accession to the throne "the Mass was being celebrated in London churches 'not by commandment but of the people's devotion', and news was coming in of its unopposed revival throughout the country." 18

The true feelings of the ordinary clergy, as opposed to the manner in which for a mixture of motives they decided to act, are well expressed in the history of one of their number given by Professor W. G. Hoskins. He shows how the religious changes are reflected in the parish accounts of Morebath, Devon, where Christopher Trychay was vicar from 1520-1573. "We see how the Reformation affected this parish uncomplicated by any change of parson, of new men coming in with new ideas. We find him buying a new suit of black (requiem) vestments at Exeter, where they were blessed, some time in 1547, bought partly from the small gifts of his parishioners, and giving thanks to them and to God: no inkling of the changes about to break over them. The high cross was gilded at the same time and the . . . images cleaned. Then, at the end of the 1547 account-----we read of three men and 'the high Wardens' riding to Tiverton to meet the king's commissioners, 'to make an answer for chantry ground.' In 1548 the vestments are put away, not sold or destroyed, but distributed among the principal farmers of the parish for safe keeping. The' boke or erassamus' is bought, and the 'furst communion boke' in 1549. There is a good deal of riding to Tiverton and to Exeter 'to answer for maters concernyng ye kyng '.

"In 1551 John Lowsmpre is paid three shillings for taking away the side altars and rood loft, the gold in the church images is sold to a brazier of Exeter. Then comes the blessed relief of Mary's reign: the vestments are returned from the farmhouse to the church, the images are brought out from their hiding places, and the vicar-----who had allowed no word of regret to creep into his accounts as he detailed the stripping of his church year after year
-----now speaks from his heart at the restoration of the Catholic Faith: 'Item of John Williams of Bery we received again an image of Mary and the king and queen concerning St. George. And of William Morsse at Lauton was received an image of John. And of the widow Jurdyn trails and knots. And of divers other persons here was rescued pageants and books and divers other things concerning our rood loft. Like true and faithful Christian people this was restored to this church, by which doings it showeth they did like good Catholic men.'

"This was in 1555. In the following year the side altar dedicated to St. Sidwell was replaced, and the rood loft put up again. Then, in 1562 it all goes again, and throughout the rest of the 1560's and 1570's we see the small changes taking place that were to produce the Church of England: the commandments put up on either side of the altar in 1568, the reference to the communion table in 1570
-----no longer the high altar with its gilded cross and the pyx hanging over it-----the buying of Dr. Jewel's book, the English translation of his Apologia pro Ecclesia Anglicana, at Exeter, and of a chain for it. The old vicar still dozed in the vicarage, and pottered along to the church to perform his duties, but he was the only thing that had not changed during the half century. It is idle to speculate on what he thought in his old age." 19

"Clergy who refused to use the book of 1549, criticised it, or used any other (even in private chapels), were to lose a year's income and be imprisoned for six months; on a second conviction to lose their benefices and to go prison for a year; on a third, to be imprisoned for life. For laymen who criticised, or caused other rites to be celebrated or hindered the new, there were also fines and imprisonment: £10 or three months on a first conviction; £20 or six months on a second; loss of all goods and life imprisonment on a third. The new Act of 1552 began by lamenting that, notwithstanding 'the very godly order set forth by the authority of Parliament for common prayer in the mother tongue,' something' very comfortable to all good people' desiring to live a Christian life, .a great number of people in divers parts of this realm . . . refuse to come to their parish churches and other places where common prayer .  . . is used'. So failure to attend the services on Sundays and holy days, 'there to abide orderly and soberly during the time of the common prayer' was now made an offence, which the bishops were authorised to punish with such censures as excommunication, according to .the king's ecclesiastical laws'; while the penalties of 1549 apply now to the book of 1552, described as the older book 'explained and made fully perfect'. Moreover, a new offence is created: anyone who is present at services of prayer, administration of sacraments, making of ministers in the churches' or any rite at all otherwise done than is set forth in the Prayer Book, shall upon conviction go to prison for six months on the first offence, for a year on the second, and for life on the third.

"Such are the first penalties to be enacted in England for the new crime of hearing Mass, or of receiving the sacraments as they had been received ever since St. Augustine came to convert the English, nearly a thousand years before."  20

Mgr. Hughes' assessment of the religious state of England at the beginning of the reign of Edward VI was cited at the beginning of Chapter XI. The significance of the religious changes of his reign is explained by Professor Chadwick: "Under the Duke of Northumberland as Protector, the English reforming party succeeded between 1550 and 1553 in doing all that a German or Swiss city had done. They produced a new and simplified liturgy in the vernacular, with a Swiss doctrine of the eucharist, published a new statement of doctrine conforming at least in outline to the pattern of Swiss theology (The Forty-Two Articles of 1553), stripped the churches of images and side altars, replaced the high altar with a holy table, forbade the use of ceremonies other than those expressly provided in r the Prayer Book; and appropriated to secular use a proportion of church property. They weakened the authority of the bishops, by extending the policy of Henry VIII to replace it by a direct exercise of the royal supremacy. Where the bishops refused to accompany the reform, they were removed from their sees-----Bonner of London, Gardiner of Winchester, Tunstall of Durham, Day of Chichester, Heath of Worcester
-----and replaced." 21

The general effect of the religious upheaval upon the life of the nation was a deplorable decline in the nation's manners and morals. Some Protestants would prefer to consider this as a legacy from the past but, as an outstanding historian of Tudor England, Professor S. T. Bindoff, explains " . . . the facts themselves are indisputable. Wherever we look, from the Royal Court and the circles of government down to the villages and parish, and whatever type of evidence we choose, from Latimer's sweeping denunciations to the detailed facts and figures yielded by the records of royal and diocesan visitations, we are confronted by the same black picture of irreligion, irreverence and immorality on a terrifying scale." 22

1. TR, p. 122.
2. EBCP, p. 300.
3. Ibid., pp. 257/8.
4. Ibid., p. 300.
5. Ibid., p. 236.
6. Ibid., p. 256.
7. ESR, p. 182.
8. Foxe: Acts and Monuments, 8 vols., edit. by J. Pratt (London, 1877), vol. V, p. 527.
9. Ibid., p. 779.
10. J. T. Tomlinson, The Prayer Book, Articles, and Homilies (London, 1897), p.23.
11. Op. cit., Note 8, p. 763.
12. Ibid., p. 784.
13. EBCP, p. 245.
14. ESR, p. 187.
15. TE, p. 161.
16. Original Letters, p. 72.
17. EBCP, p. 271.
18. TE, p. 168.
19. DEV, pp. 235-6.
20. RIE, vol. II, p. 126.
21. TR, p. 120.

22. TE, p. 164.

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