Altar lights

ALTAR LIGHTS, CANDLES. On this subject, Proctor in his book on the Prayer Book says, "No direction was given upon the subject of the Ornaments of the Church in Edward VI.'s First Prayer Book, or in the Act of Uniformity which sanctioned it: but the publication of the Book was immediately followed by Injunctions (1549), condemning sundry popish ceremonies, and among them forbidding to set 'any lights upon the Lord's board at any time.'" This was especially mentioned because the Injunctions of 1547 had forbidden candles before pictures or images, but allowed "only two lights upon the high altar, before the Sacrament, for the signification that Christ is the very true light of the world." Although these Injunctions (1549) have not the authority of Parliament, yet they were undoubtedly issued with the intention of promoting that uniformity in all parts of Public Worship which had been enjoined by statute, and under the large notions of the royal supremacy which then prevailed. They may fairly be considered as affording evidence of the contemporary practice, and of the intention of the authors of the Prayer Book in matters of rites and ceremonies. Persons who yield the amount of authority to these Injunctions (which never became law) which is readily given to others (which were law), consider that candles upon the Communion Table are ornaments which were forbidden in the second year of Edward VI., and therefore are not authorized by our present Rubric. On the other hand, we may conclude from the terms of Elizabeth's Act of Uniformity, and from the Rubric of her Prayer Book, that it was her intention to distinguish between the customs of 1549, represented by Edward's Injunctions of that year, and those which, not being mentioned and forbidden in the statute, might be considered as authorized by the Parliament of 1549. And she certainly gave this practical interpretation to her own law, since in the royal chapel "the cross stood on the altar, and two candlesticks, and two tapers burning." Hook, in his Church Dictionary, says,—"From the time of Edward there never seems to have been a time when the lights were not retained in Cathedral churches, and wherever we might look for an authoritative interpretation of the Law. And to the present day the candles are to be seen on the Altars of almost all Cathedrals. In Collegiate churches, also, they are usually found; and so also in the Chapels Royal, and in the Chapels of several Colleges in Oxford and Cambridge."