Excerpts From
Cranmer's Godly Order
by Michael Davies

Liturgical Revolution

IT HAS already been demonstrated that the founders of the various Protestant heresies were revolutionaries rather than reformers. Their concern was not to reform the existing order but to introduce a new one. "The mania to ensure that all future history should date from their own reconstruction of primitive glory as they imagined this, characterized these revolutionaries as it has characterized all the rest, the social and political rebels as well as the religious . . . They were determined to destroy all that lay between themselves and the restoration of primitive Christianity as they conceived this to have been . . . " 1

"In every community there are always many ready and eager for change, and many circumstances combined to make this the case during the short years of Edward's reign. The motives of a few, although they would seem to have been but a very few, were at least respectable, sincere and honest. Their reforming tendencies had been kept down for some years by the strong hand of Henry; but now these men found freedom to speak and hoped for freedom to act. The bulk however of the innovators were but an unruly mob, for whom destruction and freedom from restraint has ever been an attraction, and whose instinct is always against authority and tradition." 2

"The most evident, not to say spectacular, changes were, of course, the alterations in the public services of religion. These were the changes which made the immediate-----and generally hostile
-----impression on contemporaries: and it is these which have chiefly occupied the controversialists of our own time. But even more important was the new basic theory of religion which these changes presupposed and from which they sprang." 3

It has been shown in previous chapters that "the new basic theory of religion", with the doctrine of Justification by Faith alone as its basic axiom, was radically incompatible with Catholic theology, particularly that of the Mass with its insistence on Transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of Christ's Body and Blood. "Accordingly, all the various schools of the Reformers drew up new Communion rites." 4 Dr. Brightman, the noted Anglican liturgical historian, explains that everything that signifies oblation is repudiated in the four types of ritual produced by the Continental Reformation from Wittenberg, Strassburg, and Geneva, Zurich, and Cologne. 5 It will be shown that this was also true of Cranmer's reforms which will be referred to briefly in this chapter and treated in detail in Chapters XI to XV.

A characteristic of the Protestant innovations is that in both doctrine and liturgy they were imposed from above by clerics backed by the support of those holding civil power. 6 There was little enthusiasm for the changes among the mass of the Faithful and sometimes fierce opposition! 7 Commenting on the introduction of Cranmer's first (1549) Prayer Book the Anglican Dean of Bristol, Douglas Harrison, admits: "It is not surprising that it met with a reception which was nowhere enthusiastic, and in the countryside there was violent opposition both in East Anglia and in Devon and Cornwall, where ten thousand 'stout and valiant personages' marched on Exeter demanding their old services in Latin." 8

In order not to over-alarm the Faithful, the first Protestant Communion Services tended to be interim measures, ambiguous rites which could pave the way for more radical revisions to be introduced at a more opportune moment. To assist in this purpose the basic structure and many of the prayers of the Roman Mass were retained where possible, sometimes even in Latin.

"To build up a new liturgy from the very foundation was far from Luther's thoughts.  . . . He preferred to make the best use of the Roman Mass, for one reason, as he so often insists, because of the weak, i.e. so as not to needlessly alienate the people from the new Church by the introduction of novelties. From the ancient rite he merely eliminated all that had reference to the sacrificial character of the Mass. The Canon for instance, and the preceding Offertory. He also thought it best to retain the word 'Mass'." 9 Mgr. Hughes has this to say concerning the transformation of religious life in Saxony: "That the Mass must go because the Mass was a blasphemy was one certain first principle. But since, as Melanchthon said, 'the world is so much attached to the Mass that it seems impossible to wrest people from it', Luther wished that the outward appearance of the service should be changed as little as possible. In this way the common people would never become aware there was any change, said Luther, and all would be accomplished 'without scandal'. 'There is no need to preach about this to the laity.' Even the communion was to be given under one species only to those who would otherwise cease to receive the Sacrament. Forms and appearances were comparatively unimportant, and in the later years Luther could say 'Thank God . . . our churches are so arranged that a layman, an Italian say, or a Spaniard, who cannot understand our preaching, seeing our Mass, choir, organs, bells etc. would surely say . . . there is no difference between it and his own.' " 10 Needless to say, although the other reformers began their revolutions with interim, ambiguous rites, the difference between their finalised services and the Mass would quickly have been apparent to any layman familiar with the former rite.

Like Luther, Cranmer included the word "Mass" in the description of his 1549 communion service: "The Supper of the Lorde and the Holy Communion, commonly called the Masse." 11

The Spaniard, Francis Dryander, writing to the Zurich Protestants from Cambridge concerning this service remarked: "I think, however, that, by a resolution not to be blamed, some puerilities have still been suffered to remain, lest the people should be offended by too great an innovation. These, trifling as they are, may shortly be amended." 12 On the same 'puerilities' Bucer explains that these things " . . . are to be retained only for a time, lest the people, not having learned Christ, should be deterred by too extensive innovation from embracing his religion." 13

Dr. Darwell Stone writes that "it is probable that the Prayer Book of 1549 represented rather what it was thought safe to put out at the time than what Archbishop Cranmer and those who were acting with him wished, and that at the time of the publication of the book they already had in view a revision which would approach much more nearly the position of the extreme Reformers." 14 Canon E. C. Ratcliff makes the same observation: "Its promoters regarded it as an interim measure preparing the way for a more accurate embodiment of their reforming opinions." 15 The general policy of Cranmer and his friends was "to introduce the Reformation by stages, gradually preparing men's minds for more radical courses to come. At times compulsion or intimidation was necessary in order to quell opposition, but their general policy was first to neutralise the conservative mass of the people, to deprive them of their Catholic-minded leaders, and then accustom them by slow degrees to the new religious system. Cranmer accordingly deplored the incautious zeal of men like Hooper, which would needlessly provoke the conservatives and stiffen the attitude of that large class of men who, rightly handled, could be brought to acquiesce in ambiguity and interim measures." 16 Thus in England, as in Germany, "in the first reformed liturgy, while there was a resolute expunging of references to the offering of Christ in the sacrament, much remained to the scandal of the more uncompromising of the Reformers." 17

Many of the clergy "endeavoured to make the best of an evil situation, and used the new communion service as though it were the same as the ancient Mass, which, of course, it was never intended to be." 18 This happened to such an extent that Bucer complained: "The Last Supper is in very many places celebrated as the Mass, so much indeed that the people do not know that it differs beyond that the vernacular tongue is used." 19

An accepted principle in regard to liturgical worship is that the doctrinal standpoint of a Christian body must necessarily be reflected in its worship. Liturgical rites should express what they contain. It is not necessary for the Catholic position to be expressly contradicted for a rite to become suspect; the suppression of prayers which had given liturgical expression to the doctrine behind the rite is more than sufficient to give cause for concern. This principle is embodied in the phrase legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi ("let the law of prayer fix the law of faith")-----in other words the liturgy of the Church is a sure guide to her teaching. This is usually presented in the abbreviated form of lex orandi, lex credendi, and can be translated freely as meaning that the manner in which the Church worships (lex orandi) must reflect what the Church believes (lex credendi). It would, of course, be a mistake to expect to be able to deduce a system of doctrine from the liturgical books of any Christian body and an attempt to do this would be a misuse of the principle under discussion here. A study of the liturgy is perhaps most useful as a background to doctrinal belief
-----but where changes, particularly omissions, are made, the doctrine behind the revised liturgy becomes very much clearer.

When this principle is applied to the Protestant services, it reveals how clearly they embody the true doctrinal position of the Reformers. "As in the new communion service, so in the new ordination rite, it was not what was expressed but what was suppressed that gave expression to the whole." 20 This factor was considered of key importance by Pope Leo XIII when he made the final decision on Anglican Orders-----his remarks concerning the Ordinal are equally applicable to the changes in the Mass. "They (the Anglican Reformers) knew only too well the intimate bond which unites faith and worship, lex credendi and lex supplicandi: and so, under the pretext of restoring the order of the liturgy to its primitive form, they corrupted it in many respects to bring it into accord with the errors of the Innovators. As a result, not only is there in the whole Ordinal no clear mention of sacrifice, of consecration, of priesthood, of the power to consecrate and offer sacrifice, but, as We have already indicated, every trace of these and similar things remaining in such prayers of the Catholic rite as were not completely rejected, was purposely removed and obliterated."

Where the 1549 Prayer Book was concerned, it is not the fact that conservative-minded clergy such as Gardiner could use it ''as though it were the same as the ancient Mass" which is important; it is the fact that it could be interpreted for what it was intended to be, for what the Continental Reformers intended their communion service to be, "nothing else than a communion or synaxis". 21 By a synaxis, they meant an assembly of the people gathered together under the presidency of the presiding minister to celebrate the memorial of the Lord in a commemorative supper where He would be present in the sense that He is always present where two or three are gathered together in His name. As Cranmer explained: "Christ is present whensoever the church prayeth unto Him, and is gathered together in His name. And the bread and wine be made unto us the body and blood of Christ (as it is in the book of common prayer), but not by changing the substance of the bread and wine into the natural substance of Christ's natural body and blood, but that in the godly using of them they be unto the receivers Christ's body and blood . . . " 22

It has already been shown in Chapter VI that the Protestant use of the term "memorial" in no way corresponds to its use in Catholic theology.

The suppressions and additions which made the new communion services an accurate expression of Protestant theology, in complete conformity with the law lex orandi, lex credendi, were justified by the Reformers as being in accordance with, or a return to, primitive practice, a point made clear at the beginning of this chapter. The preamble to the Act of Uniformity claims that the compilers had "as well an eye and respect to the most sincere and pure Christian religion taught by the Scripture, as to the usages; in the Primitive Church." 23 Fr. Messenger explains. "This of course merely means that, like all the Protestant Reformers, Cranmer aimed at a return to what he regarded as primitive purity and simplicity in contrast to the corruption and error of later Catholic times." 24 As for the mass of theological literature which had built up over the centuries and could not be reconciled with their new teachings-----this they simply ignored. 25 "It is evident," wrote Luther, "that it is quite impossible for the Eucharist or Mass to be applied and communicated to another. What do I care, that the custom of the whole world holds otherwise and presumes to act accordingly?" 26

A final principle of the Reformers was that there was no necessity for liturgical uniformity among the different churches. They maintained that a diversity of rite, traditions, ordinances and policies may exist among the churches. Such diversity "doth not dissolve and break the unity which is one God, one faith, one doctrine of Christ and His sacraments, preserved and kept in these several churches without any superiority or pre-eminence that one church by God's law may or ought to challenge over another." 27 As Cranmer made clear, once the Reformers were in a position to enforce their new services they were far more insistent upon the need for uniformity than the Catholic Church had ever been. Needless to say, the Catholic Church had never insisted on absolute liturgical uniformity-----far from it. The various authorised rites within the Church were allowed to keep their own customs, rituals and liturgical languages without interference from Rome. Even within the Latin rite itself there was a degree of pluriformity in that there were differing usages, or in other words, not independent rites but variants of the Roman rites. The Dominican or Sarum Missals provide examples. As will be shown in Chapter X, The Reform and the Missal of St. Pius V, these usages within the Latin rite did not differ from the Missal of St. Pius V on any important point. 28 What the Reformers were trying to justify in their demand for pluriformity was the right to take an unprecedented step in the history of Christendom, the right to concoct new services. This in itself would have been a complete break with tradition-----up to this point the liturgy had developed by a process of natural evolution. Some ceremonies and prayers were gradually discarded as the centuries passed, for example the Bidding Prayers or the practice of having two lessons before the Gospel. Others were added, such as the Last Gospel. Any attempt to bring about a clear break with any traditional usage should automatically arouse the suspicions of the orthodox, even if ostensibly plausible motives are adduced for doing so. This point will be developed in Chapter IX: The Principles of Liturgical Reform. In this case, the new services were a blatant attempt to express the beliefs of a new religion.

Reference has already been made to the Bull Apostolicae Curae in which Pope Leo XIII decided irrevocably that Anglican Orders are invalid. 29 In an attempt to refute the Bull, the Anglican Archbishops issued an official reply. This was answered by Cardinal Vaughan and his fellow Bishops of the Province of Westminster in a book entitled A Vindication of the Bull Apostolicae Curae. Like Pope Leo, the Catholic Bishops lay great stress on the Question of omissions. not simply as regards the Ordinal but also in the Communion service. "To put the matter briefly, if the First Prayer Book of Edward VI is compared with the Missal, sixteen omissions can be detected of which the evident purpose was to eliminate the idea of sacrifice. Moreover, whereas even after that drastic treatment there still remained a few phrases and rubrics on which Gardiner could fasten, endeavouring to understand them as still asserting the Real Objective Eucharistic Presence and the True Sacrifice, all these phrases and rubrics were altered in the revised Prayer Book of 1552." 30

The Anglican claims that their services aimed at simplicity and a return to primitive usage were dealt with in very vigorous language. The Catholic Bishops deny the right of national or local churches to devise their own rites. "They must not omit or reform anything in those forms which immemorial tradition has bequeathed to us. For such an immemorial usage, whether or not it has in the course of ages incorporated superfluous accretions, must, in the estimation of those who believe in a divinely guarded visible Church, at least have retained whatever is necessary; so that in adhering rigidly to the rite handed down to us we can always feel secure; whereas, if we omit or change anything, we may perhaps be abandoning just that element which is essential. And this sound method is that which the Catholic Church has always followed . . . That in earlier times local churches were permitted to add new prayers and ceremonies is acknowledged . . . But that they were permitted to subtract prayers and ceremonies in previous use, and even to remodel the existing rites in the most drastic manner, is a proposition for which we know of no historical foundation, and which appears to us absolutely incredible. Hence Cranmer, in taking this unprecedented course, acted, in our opinion, with the most inconceivable
rashness." 31

The detailed comparison between the Missal and the 1549 Prayer Book suggested by the Catholic Bishops will be undertaken in Chapter XII. It could be argued that since this Missal (that of St. Pius V) was not promulgated until 1570 it is hardly fair to compare it with a Communion service published in 1549. This point has already been dealt with in Note 28 to this chapter but will be studied in detail in Chapter X: The Reform and the Missal of St. Pius V. A study of this reform will also demonstrate the manner in which the principles governing liturgical development which have been quoted from the Catholic Bishops' Vindication were observed meticulously by this great Saint and totally violated by the Protestant Reformers. Before doing this, a more detailed examination of these principles will be made in the next chapter.

1. RIE, vol. II, p. 158.
2. EBCP, p. 67.
3. RIE, vol. II, p. 83.
4. RMP, vol. I, p. 203.
5. Ibid.
6. RIE, vol. II, p. 109.
7. Ibid., p. 83.
8. FSPB, p. xii.
9. H. Grisar, Luther (London, 1913-17), vol. V, p. 145.
10. PHR, p. 114.
11. FSPB, p. 212.
12. RIE, vol. II, p. 109.
13. Ibid.
14. History of the Doctrine of the Eucharist (London, 1909), vol. II, p. 139.
15. The Booke of Common Prayer in the Church of England; its making and revisions, 1549-1561 (London, 1949), p. 15.
16. ESR, p. 194.
17. Ibid., p. 184.
18. RMP, vol. I, p. 414.
19. Ibid., p. 415.
20. ESR, p. 192.
21. RMP, vol. I, p. 266.
22. CW, vol. I, p. 79.
23. RMP, vol. I, p. 380.
24. Ibid.
25. RIE, vol. II, p. 158.
26. ESR, p. 142.
27. RMP, vol. I, p. 293.
28. "The first impression upon a modern Catholic reader made by the reading of  these old English Uses will be, we think, one of surprise that he finds himself  so much at home in them. They are utterly unlike the 'Communion Service' of the church now established (i.e. Anglican), while we are convinced that if they were re-introduced among us tomorrow our people would scarcely feel any difference." Addis & Arnold's Catholic Dictionary (London, 1925), p. 534.
29. In a footnote to the C.T.S. revised 1968 edition Francis Clark comments: "Pope Leo XIII himself explained the nature and scope of the Bull in November 1896, in a letter to Cardinal Richard, Archbishop of Paris. Here he said: 'It was Our intention thereby to deliver a final judgement, and to settle absolutely that most grave question'. He added: 'All Catholics are bound to receive Our decision with the utmost respect, as for ever valid, firm, and irrevocable (perpetuo fir mam, ratam, irrevocabilem)'." Anglican Orders, Final Decision, C.T.S., p. 22.
30. VAC, p. 54.
31. VAC, p. 42.

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