Liturgy

LITURGY. From a Greek word, meaning a public act or duty; it is now popularly used of the entire Book of Common Prayer, although formerly it was applied only to the Service for administering the Holy Eucharist.

As each different part of the Prayer Book is discussed under its own heading, this article will be confined to (a ) why a formulary is used; (b ) the history of our own.

(a ) Forms of Prayer were used in the Jewish Church. Moses and Miriam used a prescribed form as a thanksgiving for the crossing of the Red Sea, Exodus xv God appointed a form of prayer, Deut. xxi. 7, 8; also a benediction, Num. vi. 22, 26. Moses used a form of prayer, Num. x. 35, 36. Josephus and Philo tell us that the worship both in the Temple and in the Synagogues consisted of a settled form of prayer; this our Lord sanctioned by His frequent presence. He Himself gave us a form of prayer—the Lord's Prayer. He promises a special blessing on congregational worship. Matt, xviii. 19; the "agreement" must pre-suppose a settled form. Traces of forms of prayer some think are found in the New Testament.

The voice of history is unanimous on this point, nearly all the
Fathers testifying to the use of formularies.

Common sense reasons are plentiful, as, for instance, that in Eccles. v. 2. A formulary makes the congregation independent of the minister's mood, or ability, or piety, or orthodoxy.

(b ) History. Before the time of Augustine (597) the English Church had its own National Use, largely derived from the East, through the Galilean Church. It is certain that the entire Roman Ritual was never used, although attempts were made to force it upon the Anglo-Saxon Church. There was a considerable variety in the manner of performing Divine Service in the different Dioceses, each having its own particular "Use." (See Sarum, Use of.)

The earliest Liturgy in general use in England was the book of Offices, "secundum usum Sarum," hence called the "Sarum Use," compiled by Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury, in 1078. This book contained much that had been in use from very early times. At the Reformation it became necessary to remove the Roman corruptions which had accumulated in the various Office books, the "Breviaries," the "Missals," the "Manuals," &c. One objection common to them all was that they were in Latin.

The object of the Reformers was to retain as much of the old as was free from error. The first English Prayer Book was the King's Primer, published 1545; and a Communion Service was put forth in 1548. The First Prayer Book of Edward VI., 1549, was drawn up by a Commission of Bishops and Divines under Cranmer and Ridley; an Ordinal  was added in 1550.

The Second Prayer Book of Edward VI., 1552, was a revised form of the older book. Cranmer, Peter Martyr, and Bucer assisted in the revision, and much was added from Hermann's Consultation (which see). This Prayer Book was almost identical with the one in use now. Abolished during the reign of Mary, it was restored by Queen Elizabeth, 1559, with a few alterations. In 1604 a Conference was held at Hampton Court under James I., between Church and Puritan Divines, when some further alterations were made in deference to Puritan objections. The last revision was made in 1661, at the Savoy Conference, under Charles II., between Bishops and Presbyterian Divines. The Prayer Book then took the form which we have now, save that in 1859 the services for use on Nov. 5th, May 29th, and Jan. 30th (Charles the Martyr) were removed. In 1873 a revised Table of Lessons was put forth. In 1872 permission was given to use the Shortened Service, to separate the services, and to use hymns.

For further particulars the reader is referred to the articles on the various different services of the Church.