Smart’s Articles

The Rev’d Peter Smart

In the mid-1560’s, episcopal visitations tried to slow iconoclasm in the churches. The 1566 Advertisements give example, inquiring into the placement of communion tables, forbidding baptismal fonts relocation from  ‘ancient usual places’, mandating kneeling at communion, and minimally wearing a surplice rather than academic gown. By King James’ reign these injunctions tightened, and a campaign to ‘dignify’ externals in worship was launched by Bishops Bancroft, Andrewes, Neile, Laud, Montagu, and Cosin. Beautification might include carpeting chancels, installing organs, purchasing table frontals,  or embroidering priestly vestments. It also included bodily reverences during the liturgy, such as bowing upon the Name or toward the Altar. Therefore, an iconodulism antithetical to puritan sensibilities was present within these reforms.

Sumptuous Copes:
In 1628 the puritan prebendary, Peter Smart, preached and then sued DD. John Cosin for allegedly transgressing ecclesiastical canons during public worship at Durham Cathedral. These consisted of several indictments (based on Smart’s sermon Vanities) —  singing the Creed, the communion-table placed altar-wise, erecting a fixed table in the chancel, eastward celebration, illicit vestments,  and using two altar candles (pp. xxvi, 159, CC’s John Cosin). It turned out Cosin either was conforming to 1604 canons or possessed licence from the Diocesan Bishop (Niele) for their interpretation. In some cases Smart quoted less relevant ordinances, sic., the 1566 Visitation Articles rather than the 1604 laws.  Less frequently, Cosin was indeed breaching church rules. However, most indictments were exaggerated, and given Laud and Neile were largely interpreting the canons of 1604, Smart was fighting a loosing battle. Cosin’s defense, like Smart’s accusations, mainly appealed to common order, episcopal sanction, and cathedral precedent. Some of the arguments sound much like 19th century debates over the Ornament Rubric (justifying certain 1549 instruments). Anyhow, Cosin gave these reasons in 1640 against Smart’s charges before the Commons (the Lords dismissed the case):

  1. That the Communion-table or altar referred to had been put up in the cathedral many years before he was predendary
  2. that the copes belongig to the chapter were purchased before he was prebendary, but while his acuser, Mr. Smart, was prebendary, and that  noen of them had the figure of the Trinity of of God the Father upon them, his own cope being white satin
  3. that the ‘image of Christ with a red beard and blue cap’ was a portraiture about ten inches long, thirty feet from the ground, on the top of Bishop Hatfield’s tomb, which had been erected 200 years before Cosin was born;
  4. that there were no more candles used on Candlemas Day than on any other day in winter, and that these were distributed throughout the whole church, only ‘two fair candles, with a few small sizes near them’, being lit on the communion-table by the vergers to give light;
  5. that he did not forbid the Psalms to be sung;
  6. that he had not had an anthem of the kings of Cologne sung, but, on the contrary, had cut one out of the choristers’ hymn books, and destroyed it as soon as he was made prebendary;
  7. that there was a knife in the vestry used for many things, and among others for cutting the bread, but that it was not consecrated or called consecrated by any except Mr. Smart.  (p. 11-12, Religion, Rites, and Ceremony of the Church of England)

For the most part, these were purely canonical debates, as adiaphora should be. Despite sympathy against creeping catholicism in the cathedrals, even the puritan judge, Sir Yelvertone, believed Smart was generally “foul-mouthed and violent”. While Smart won the indictment in with Yelvertone, who warned Cosin he should not to ‘diminish nor add’ (#14, 1604 Canons), this was not good enough to leave alone. Smart protested the mild penalty, and his contumacy landed him in jail after refusing to pay hefty fine. In 1640 the Long Parliament sprung him free whereupon Smart (self-professed ”defender of English canons’) swore obedience to the Scottish covenant (Solemn League), proceeding to testify against his former spiritual father, Archbishop Laud.

One of Smart’s more interesting disagreements was against Cosin’s “abominable cope”. While the 1549 Prayer Book treated the cope as ‘interchangeable’ with chasuble, prior to the Reformation the cope never had sacerdotal associations. It’s origins, like the chasuble, owe to the Roman stately office, indicating rank and order in liturgical celebration. Medieval-use later identified the cope with outdoor processions while the chasuble was connected specifically to the Mass. The 1906 Ornament Rubric Report summed it well,

“It is clear that the use of a special dress for the celebration of Holy Communion does not necessarily involve the acceptance of the Roman doctrine as to the nature of the service. There is no doubt that the Eucharistic vestments were originally the dress of ordinary civil life, and that for four or five centuries the civil and ministerial dress of the clergy was identical, save that at the time of their ministrations, they would have put on a dress that was clean and white. Not till the seventh century have we any certain indications that the chasuble was regarded as a distinctly liturgical garment. From this date onwards, however, a mystical meaning seem to have been attached to it and to other articles of ministerial attire, and the use of colored vestments may be traced. Thus, the eucharistic vestments were adopted some centuries before AD 1215, when the doctrine of transubstantiation was defined. Both before and after the definition of that doctrine the chasuble was associated with the conception of an Eucharistic sacrifice. It is not open to question that the Eucharistic vestments were retained by the Church of England after the repudiation of the Roman doctrine and the substitution of the Prayer Book for the Roman service.” (Chapter IV, Report)

Compared to the second, the third prayer book (1559) assumed a conservative line w/ vestments. Yet the injunctions passed in the same year explicate only non-sacrificial garments, i.e.,  surplice, hood, and cope for eucharist celebration. Cosin generally continued Elizabeth’s ordinance of surplice and cope but allegedly provoked Puritans by embroidering images  and colors to copes.  However, this was not unprecedented since Elizabeth and James both gave bishops  similar embellished vestments as gifts. Furthermore, Canon 58 (1604) says, “And if any question arise touching the matter, decency, or comeliness thereof, the same shall be decided by the discretion of the Ordinary”. Smart describes Cosin’s use of the cope,

“which copes you use every Sunday and Holy day to say prayers in them at the communion-table, contrary to the express words of the canons…which command only surplices, and not copes, to be used, save only at the administration of Holy Communion…making easily seduced girls believe, that the service, and prayers said at the altar in the east, and in copes, are more holy and effectual then those that are said at the communion-table, or desk in the body of the church” (178, 183, Religion, Rites, and Ceremony of the Church of England)

What’s interesting about Smart’s remarks is that the cope isn’t necessarily the problem but its misuse. In Smart’s eyes, an apparel with otherwise no sacerdotal significance suddenly becomes a “chasuble”, caused by its relation to other ornaments in used in the liturgy. We might wonder if all  bibles be removed if it is illicitly incensed? Or, if a chalice is baptized, should the ancient font then be demolished? Even surplices suffered similar scruples by Puritans.   England had a range of opinion on the extent images ought to be suppressed. Thus, it was perceived context, not the utensil or image itself that created illegality.

Often quoted by the iconoclasts was Jewel’s Homily on the Peril of Idolatry. While not a RPW treatise (though, some take it as such), the homily warns images in churches are likely dangerous, but Jewel never goes to far to make them necessarily so.  As Canon 30 says, “The abuse of a thing does not take away its lawful use”. More optimistic Anglicans believed an idolatrous practice might return to ‘right use’. This was John Overall’s 1605 argument against Anthony Wotton’s non-conformity. What was at stake in most cases was not a biblical warrant so much as pastoral wisdom, ‘sufficient cautions’, and the need to teach against the peril of abuse.

Anglican Iconography:
Like the East, Anglicans canonically regulate reverences given to images. In Anglicanism most images are treated naturally, but those canonically organized are few in number. Classical Anglicans did not do as the East or Rome. We do not give candles nor incense to icons of saints. Nor do we bow or cense relics. But for those evangelical images, perhaps Tables or Crosses, we give some reverence. We might consider the Carolines as restoring a peculiar array of iconography based on the distinct history and experience in the national Church. There were more practical purposes. Sacrilizing the altar, crosses, chancel, and vestments were ways Carolinians inhibited powerful tides of iconoclasm. Services for churchyards and buildings had a similar intents, clearing property of private gardens, livestock, and common sports. John Cosin said regarding the Holy Cross,

“Was not the death of the Cross a blessed death to us, whiles it was a cursed and most cruel deat in itself? The words are, ‘christ’s cross and passion’, joined together, as in the Litany; and I hope, what ever becomes of the Cross, the Passion may be called Blessed, for we say no less of the martyrs then their blessed death, or their most happy and blessed martyrdom; not that it was so in itself, but that happiness and blessedness wsa the fruit and effect of it. But for the Cross. In our Calendar it is called the Holy Cross, which in ordinary understanding is asmuch there as Blessed Cdross is here. We say holy ground, and holy Table, and holy Font, and holy Temple and hallowed or blessed the Church-yard, why not blessed Cross as well?” (136)

Smart mocks this sacrilizing of insensible objects, saying if we give honor to one, then we must give the same to all. However, what Smart misses is the canonical organization of these reverences. Perhaps, an unintended consequence of beautification campaigns was a limited iconography based on contested ornaments and architecture, restoring to some degree Gardiner’s  Rationale of ceremony. We can review the more explicit side of this iconography starting with the 1604 canons, and I hope to discuss it as I explore appointed reverences in the Church of England. This may likewise help understand our own discriminations and particular differences with the seventh ecumenical council?

Comfortable Words has done a knock-out study on Anglican Vestments . Thanks Nicholas!

14 responses to “Smart’s Articles

  1. According to Smart, another of Cosin’s sins was the use of musical instruments in time of service, and chanting portions of the liturgy:

    “He enjoins all the people to stand up at the Nicene Creed (a ceremony which your Church enjoins not), which he commands to be sung with organs, sackbuts and cornets and all other instruments of music, which were used at the Consecration of Nabuchadonozer’s golden image (unfit instruments for Christian Churches, where men come for to pray and not for to chant or hear a sound or consort of they know not what).”

    Cosin’s liturgical flourishes were especially dangerous for Smart, since their use rapidly spread to the parish churches of the Diocese:

    “One, Mr. Francis Burgonie, Parson of Wearmouth, following Mr. Cosens his practices, hath taken away the Communion table out of his Parish Church, and instead thereof hath erected an altar made of a gravestone. This stone he hath laid upon a wall, not a frame. He hath adorned it with gilded hangings round about it, contrary to the Communion Book. This Altar he worshippeth with the bowing of his knees unto it; and there both he and his curate read part of the service, so that most of the people on both sides can neither hear nor see them. This example of Mr. Burgonie, many parish Churches else are reported to follow, to the great offence of religious people, the great advancement of Popery and superstition, which are like to overthrow the whole Bishopric of Durham if they are not in time suppressed.”

    One can only admire Smart’s zeal in these matters, however ill-informed, but what fascinates me is how, in proscribing the use of chants and instrumental music, his iconoclasm actually touches on music. What a contrast to Lutheran Germany, where at approximately the time when Smart was railing against Bp. Cosin, Michael Praetorius wrote his monumental Lutheran Mass for Christmas morning; a musical wonder that for splendor and complexity, rivals the works of Gabrielli and Frescobaldi.

    Music isn’t something one thinks of in connection with iconodulism. But it makes sense to lump music together with altars, pulpits, tapers, incense and other church paraphenalia, since their use impresses the awe-ful realities of eucharisitic worship upon the mind of the worshipper.


    • Hi Mark,

      The indictment for singing the Nicene Creed was actually the most serious of the charges. Sternhold and Hopkin’s Psalter (early 17th century versions) was the most common song book, and it only had the Apostle’s creed set to music. I believe Smart felt unless it was in the S&H, it should not be sung. However, the Crown had already authorized noted BCP’s (going back to Merbecke’s 1550) so Cosin worked with precedent. The heart of the accusation, however, was that the Creed was not ‘understoood’, it being drowned out with organs and choir. The prevailing idea behind church music in the 16th century, if not later times, was that it be ‘audible’ for the sake of edification. Another charge against Cosin was using anthems instead of entire psalms. This was rather frivolous, and Cosin’s reply was anthems were shorter, giving room for a longer sermon.

      I was surprised the wiki had as much info on psalter books as they did. I didn’t know about Crowley’s version.


  2. Benton H Marder

    I recall reading some of this materiel many years ago. The thesis is somewhat borne out, after a long discussion, by the Homily Against Peril of that the conclusion was that having images in church was unwise.
    The Carolines and the others drew upon the understanding of the Carolingian Council of Frankfurt in that images were permissable, provided that honours were not directed to them.
    In this issue, we see a difference between the Lutherans and Calvinists. I might add that similar controversy came about over the use of music in church.
    Smart, in his invective against ceremonies was quite restrained compared to Thomas Becon’s ‘Displaying of the Popish Mass’ a quite scurrilous piece.
    There is one usage of the Carolines that evokes a smile. When the Tables of the Decalogue, the Belief, the Pater were used as a reredos, they were often flanked by figures (painted or carved) of Moses and Aaron, symbolising the Word and Sacraments. I believe this arrangement is still present at St Magnus Martyr in London, that wondrous confection of Travers Baroque
    We’re fortunate in that most of these old controversies are in the past, although we do have own own ceremonial quarrels over Sarum vs Roman or a mish-mash of the priest’s own choosing, not to mention other old ones like the Elevation of the Cash, etc.



    • Yeah, the Carolines adopted the Carolingian appraoch to images in the Church. For all of Smart’s indignance at Cosin’s practice of making “low legs” to the altar, there is no mention of doing obesiance to images
      (unless setting lights before them be obsiance).

      Cosin, incidentally, drew up a list of agreements and disagreements between the CoE and Rome. He criticizes the Roman belief which held that images of Christ and the Blessed Virgin “be honored and worshipped…and that this is to be believed as of necessity to salvation. But then he endorses “the historical and moderate use of painted and true stories, either for memory or ornament, where there is no danger to have them abused or worshipped.”

      So, he seems to give qualified assent to the Homily on the Peril of Idolatry. Images are allowed, unless they lead to abuse and idolatry.

      His “Our Agreements” is rather misleading. It is really an ultimatum to the Roman Church to brings its practice into line with Anglican standards:

      “If the Roman Catholics would make the essence of their Church (as we do ours) to consist in these following points, we are at accord with them in the reception and believing of…”

      And then he lists 14 stipulations including:

      1) Scripture “as the only rule and perfect rule of our faith.”

      2) The Apostle’s, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, “which are all clearly deduced out of the Scriptures.”

      3) “The first four General Councils, as in all other Councils, which those first four approved and confirmed, and in the fifth and sixth General Councils besides (than which we find no more to be General).”

      4)The “unanimous and general consent of the ancient Catholic Fathers, and universal Church of Christ in the interpretation of Scripture…during the first six hundred years.”

      It is interesting how he accords a role for the Pope as “Patriarch of the West” providing that he “rule and be ruled by the ancient canons of the Church.”

      All in all, a very Anglican manifesto; and one which could be profitably used today.


      • This is fantastic, Mark! It deserves its own post. Sometimes the biggest obstacle I have is getting my paws on the right primary sources. I had to scrummage up what I could from Cosin’s letters, running into Smart’s indictments. I really wanted Cosin’s apology at Westminster where he answered Smart’s accusations a fourth time.

        At Westminster Cosin gives a more theological rather than canonical reply. This 15-year disagreement between Smart and Cosin really is special because it lives on, reflecting differences between Reformed and Catholic parties today. Smart reminds me of certain persons who’ve posted here before, and his position on images, when you unpeel the canonical rationalizations, verges upon RPW. What worries me is where these churchmen end up going when the center collapses. It seems like history repeats itself, and many jump ship for the Scottish covenant. Today confessional Presbyterianism is robust and growing.

        At the heart of the matter is the purpose which canons serve. Canon is not an end-in-itself but have a pastoral end or purpose in mind. The consensus after the Great War, 1641-1660, was church order would be maintained by railed in altar/tables fixed behind the chancel, 1559 BCP and 1604 canons largely continued. Meanwhile, the Peril of Idolatry ought to be taken to heart, yet read together with the first and third homilies of Elizabeth’s booki, namely “Of the right use of the Church” (1) and “For repairing and keeping clean the Church” (3).

        Laudian reforms based themselves upon these latter two homilies with the ornament rubric reserving greater ceremony, capping such with 1547/38 late-Henrician restrictions. Cosin, Neile, and Laud seem fairly consistent here, and it seems reasonable, if Elizabeth was to mark a continuity with her father’s reign, what area to do it better than in ‘adiaphora’?


  3. Hi, Charles

    Here’s the complete list of Cosin’s “Agreements.”

    If the Roman Catholics would make the essence of their Church (as we do ours) to consist in the following points, we are at accord with them in the reception and believing of:

    1. All the two and twenty canonical books of the Old Testament, and the twenty-seven of the New, as the only foundation and perfect rule of our faith.

    2. All the apostolical and ancient creeds, especially those which are commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Creed of Athanasius; all which are clearly deduced out of the Scriptures.

    3. All the decrees of faith and doctrine set forth, as well in the first four General Councils, as in all other Councils, which those first four approved and confirmed, and in the fifth and sixth General Councils besides (than which we find no more to be General), and in all the following councils that be thereunto agreeable, and in all the anathemas and condemnations given out by those Councils against heretics, for the defence of the Catholic Faith.

    4. The unanimous and general consent of the ancient Catholic Fathers and universal Church of Christ in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, and the collection of all necessary matters of faith from them during the first six hundred years, and downwards to our own days.

    5. In acknowledgement of the Bishop of Rome, if he would rule and be ruled by the ancient canons of the Church, to be Patriarch of the West, by right of ecclesiatical and imperial constitution, in such places where the kings and governors of those places had received him, and found it behooveful for them to make use of his jurisdiction, without any necessary dependance upon him by Divine right.

    6. In the reception and use of the two blessed Sacraments of our Saviour; in the Confirmation of those persons that are to be strengthened in their Christian faith, by prayer and imposition of hands, according to the examples of the holy Apostles and ancient Bishops of the Catholic Church; in the public and solemn benediction of persons that are to be joined together in Holy Matrimony; in public or private absolution of penitent sinners; in consecrating of Bishops, and the ordaining of Priests and Deacons, for the service of God in His Church, by a lawful succesion; and in visiting the sick, by praying for them, and administering the Blessed Sacrament to them, together with a final absolution of them from their repented sins.

    7. In commemorating at the Eucharist the Sacrifice of Christ’s Body and Blood once truly offered for us.

    8. In acknowledging His sacramental, spiritual, true, and real presence there to the souls of all them that come faithfully and devoutly to receive Him according to His own institution and in that Holy sacrament.

    9. In giving thanks to God for them that are departed out of this life in the true Faith of Christ’s Catholic Church; and in praying to God, that they may have a joyful resurrection, and a perfect consummation of bliss, both in their bodies and souls, in His eternal kingdom of glory.

    10. In the historical and moderate use of painted and true stories, either for memory or adornment, where there is no danger to have them abused or worshipped with religious honor.

    11. In the use of indulgences, or abating the rigour of the canons imposed upon offenders, according to their repentance, and their want of ability to undergo them.

    12. In the administration of the two Sacraments, and other rites of the Church, with ceremonies of decency and order, according to the precept of the Apostle, and the free practice of the ancient Christians.

    13. In observing such Holy days and times of fasting as were in use in the first ages of the Church, or afterwards received upon just grounds, by public or lawful authority.

    14. Finally, in the reception of all ecclesiastical constitutions and canons for the ordering of our Church; or others which are not repugnant to the Word of God, or the power of kings, or the laws established by right authority in any nation.


  4. Benton H Marder

    A few points to help understand positions and language.
    Cosin’s enumeration of the OT books is due to listing certain books under one title: Kings, Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, Pentateuch, etc. His 22 actually is our 39.
    Music. Zwingli, though an accomplished musician, did not approve of music in church. I have never really understood his reasing. Luther, a most accomplished musician, wrote plenty of music for the Church and encouraged its use throughout the service. Calvin, also a musician of some ability, thought that the only music used in church should be the Psalter. He did make attempts at metrifying the Psalms and worked out some music. He and Beza worked at this.
    For us, Sternhold & Hopkins worked up a full metrical Psalter, done from the Hebrew, which came into common use in the CofE, and continued in some places right up until the hymnals came in. We don’t realise that they also ‘metrified’ some of the service music: canticles, Decalogue, Belief, Pater, Veni Creator, etc. This other materiel was used until Laud put a stop to it. I never understood why this was done.
    Tate & Brady came in during the very late 17th c and mostly displaced Sternhold & Hopkins, but not completely, None of the S&H materiel got into the hymnals, but some of T&B materiel did.

    Cosin, during the Commonwealth, lived in France. When asked by CofE people, he advised them to worship with the Huguenots rather than with the RCs. Smart and his fellows never really understood that men like Cosin and Laud were quite hostile to Romanism Alas for this dynasty, the Merry Monarch was not so guided, nor was his successor—hence Billy come over to save the Church and Nation.
    Perhaps some of us should be more mindful of our brethren in the ACC? While they may seem somewhat Romanising, they have no intention of becoming RC. They do know what is what in this. We don’t need to fall into the same error as did Smart and his fellows.

    In +,


  5. Hi Mark and Benton,

    I have a copy of Tate & Brady’s metric psalms. But do you know of any copies T&B noted? These were also popular in America until the Victorian period.

    BTW. Benton, I think we are no where near Smart’s insane criticisms. But I do think we should remain optimistic. Especially of late, we see new outlines of reform within ACC and REC. My hope is at some point these bodies find common ground by voluntary efforts, like those suggested by Fr. Hollister. These might include greater cooperation at the local level (in non-eucharistic activities)– e.g., evening prayer, public charity, or theology forums– if not more formal structures such as FACA. What separating and non-separating Anglicans (PCK, ACNA, REC, and ACC) are doing in Orange, CA is a model for all to follow. Perhaps we’ll see more unity in the diaconate before episcopacy? This is one reason why I believe activism directed toward strong diaconates is so essential. Nonetheless, hopeful patterns are there, perhaps this new generation of clergy like AB Haverland, AB Provence, Bp. Robinson, and Fr. Hart.


  6. Smart was your usual aggressive puritan whose view of what should be done in Church was largely influenced by Islam rather than the centuries of orthodox Christian usage, either Eastern or Western. When you read the rubrics of 1559 and 1604 aright, everything he railed against was ordered. The chancels which included the altar was to be left as it had been under Mary and the Sarum missal and use; the ornaments of the Church and of the ministers thereof at all times of their ministration were to be retained and to be used. That meant everything which was used in the Sarum rite in 1548, the second year of Edward VI was legal and was to be used with the Book of Common Prayer as it had been with the Sarum missal, diurnal and manual and Sarum was a fairly elaborate use. In fact copes would have been used with the eucharist as they would have been worn in the processional and exchanged for the chasuble at the altar, the rulers of the choir would have worn copes as well as the head boys in the treble section of the choir, and when the bishop celebrated, his assistants would have worn copes rather dalmatics in the Roman rite.

    More to follow.


    • Hello Bp. Lee,

      I agree. The late Henrician ceremonial was ordered by the Ornament’s Rubric. But, as we know, Elizabeth was unable to implement the 1549 canons in their full-force due to ascending puritan iconoclasm. The fullness of the rubrick remained under royal prerogative. Meanwhile, Elizabeth reasserted common order with the 1559 Canons. When this stalled, the visitation articles of 1566 were cobbled together, not commanding cope except in cathedral. But these were of less authority due to their provisional nature. In fact, the 1566 Advertisements were interpretations of the 1559 canons by the bishops. Interpretations can cut both ways.

      I think Cosin’s defense lies more in Ordinary’s interpretation of 1604 canons. With the case of the altar, Smart was quoting the 1566/59 advertisements which he believed ordered the tables be moved for communion, otherwise remaining in the chancel where the altar stood. According to Smart, Cosin’s altar was fixed and not capable of moving. The 1604 canons treat the location of tables at communion in an “either/or” fashion. Otherwise it continues the 1559, leaving the Ordinary to clear up ambiguities. Canon 82 reads,

      “…convenient and decent Tables are provided and placed for the celebration of the holy Communion, we appoint, that the same Tables shall from time to time be kept and repaired in sufficient and seemly manner, and covered, in time of Divine Service, with a carpet of silk or other decent stuff, thought meet by the Ordinary of the place, if my question be made of it, and with a fair linen cloth at the time of the Ministration, as becometh that Table, and so stand, saving when the said holy Communion is to be administered: at which time the same shall be placed in so good sort within the Church or Chancel, as thereby the Minister may be more conveniently heard of the Communicants in his Prayer and Ministration” (1604 Canons)

      The 1559 reads similarly:

      “…in some other places the altars be not yet removed, upon opinion conceived of some other order therein to be taken by her majesty’s visitors; in the other whereof, saving for a uniformity, there seemeth no matter of great moment, so that the sacrament be duly and reverently ministered; yet for observation of one uniformity through the whole realm, and for the better imitation of the law in that behalf, it is ordered that no altar be taken down, but by oversight of the curate of the chruch, and the churchwardens, or one of them at least, wherein no riotous or disordered manner to be used. And that the holy table in every church be decently made, and set in the place, where the altar stood, and there commonly covered, as thereto belongeth, and as shall be appointed by the visitors, and so to stand, saving when communion of the sacrament is to be distributed; at which time, the same shall be so placed in good sort within the chancel, as whereby the minister may be more conveniently heard..And after the communion done, from time to time the same holy stable to be placed where it stood before” (p. 234, CofE Documentary Annals)

      One reason the canons changed was the 1559/66 proved to be unenforceable. When archdeacons visited a parish the rector could say communion was recently had, explaining why the table was found in the nave. Nonetheless, the 1604 canons distance their relation to the Homily against Idolatry, relying more upon the first and second homilies provided under Elizabeth, i.e, proper upkeep and use of churches. Though the 1559/66 statutes try to halt the profane use of churchgrounds and interiors by irreverent laity, the 1604 expands this charge into a general mandate for beautification, evident especially C.82-85. Sadly, Elizabeth had nothing in her canons for stopping altar stripping. At best, retaining old altars was a local option. Almost universally stone altars were replaced by tables. More catholic parishes preserved the idea of altars by intentionally blurring the difference, not only in language, interchanging ‘altar’ and ‘table’, but in table construction, building often large, heavy wooden boards with powerful, thick, decorated legs. I think Dearmer is right to say the reforms of the Laud weren’t politically feasible during Elizabeth. Yet Laud managed to broadcast the royal chapel, and therefore the intent of the Ornament Rubric as well, to the rest of English society. The result was railed altars inside the chancel becoming the uncontested norm in the restoration.

      The chapels royal, some university, and (increasingly) the cathedrals were reservoirs of later restoration. The bishops’ interpretations of the 1604 canons were important. Cosin walked a tight rope in some respects, but with the backing of Neile and Laud the fuller sense of the Rubric prevailed. When compared to 19th century ritualism, I believe the Caroline ornament was far more modest. While I believe the chasuble was permissible, I don’t believe Cosin used it in a public way. The record of his letters as well as his own visitation articles as archdeacon, at least, indicate embroidered copes as the ‘high end’. My guess, and I might be wrong, is the chasuble would make its comeback later. It took some time, but Nicholas points out the Crown’s privy council judged it permissible in 1857.

      But this is really a moot point with respect to the Puritans. Their aim was not canonical obedience but removing all images and decor from worship. They might use canon when advantageous to their cause, but they were really hoping to tear down the generous boundaries set by Elizabeth. Any ‘original protestant‘ who has experience with ‘regulativism’ knows placation is impossible, and the ‘purification’ of worship is not complete until in an open-air coventicle. If it wasn’t the chasuble, it would be the cope; given time even the surplice. What makes a vestment ‘sacerdotal’ is context, not the utensil itself. Smart seems to miss the forest for the tree, and I find this both ironic and disturbing.

      What’s so funny is Puritans label Cosin a Romanizer despite his leading role as architect of the 1662 bcp. The 1662 has since become an evangelical badge while 1549 is treated, more often, crypto-roman. This reminds me of irony between the KJV vs. Geneva bibles. Today, fundamentalists will claim KJV was plenary inspired, but in Bancroft’s day it was rather disliked by the puritan party.

      Hope all is well, and, as always, I look forward to your comments.


  7. It is my own opinion that Smart and his ilk never accepted that the English ordinal meant what it said in terms of the offices of deacon and priest. He and those like him always tried to find some other word to use other than that specifically used by the ordinal, i.e., priest. Now the pontificals used in England before the Reformation and during the reign of Mary used the Latin equivalent of presbyter, but Cranmer and the English Church specifically chose to translate that word as priest and not as ‘elder.’

    Next, how was incense used in the Sarum rite. First it was carried in front of the ministers in procession. Secondly, the altar was censed during the canticles of Benedictus es, and Magnificat during the offices as were choir and people. The altar was also censed at the beginning of the eucharist, the gospel book on the altar before the singing of same, and the oblations, ministers and people at the offretory. There were no censings during the canon of the eucharist.


    • Hello Bp. Lee,

      I didn’t mean to get hung-up on canon. As I read, I had to go back and correct the earlier comment. However, I think it more enlightening to consider the purpose of canon, and why in some cases the discretion of the Ordinary is allowed. Nonetheless, I hate to be too partisan with Cosin. I am not sure how Bp. Neile’s judgments conformed to either 1604 or 1566 statutes. In this respect, Cosin’s eastward position along with a decorative tapestry for the reredros are tough ones. Though Elizabeth did not seal them, the advertisements as annexed to the canons were later sanctioned by Crown in 1603. Cardell says,

      “It is worthy of remark also, that they are quoted as authoritative in the canons of 1571, but that those canons never received the confirmation of the crown; and that a similar reference was made to them in the canons of 1575 by the convocation of that period, but was expunged by th quiee before she ordered the canons to be published. In practice, however, they were uniformly treated as having authority; and being quoted as such in the canons of 1603, which were confirmed by King james (c. 12)” (p. 323, CofE Documentary Annals).

      It would be interesting to virtually ‘reconstruct’ Caroline worship, say, at the Durham Cathedral. The turning point for ceremonialism was the ascension of Charles I. James I was also supportive due to Spanish policy. Benton told me incense was not swung by a chain but burnt standing. I had to look up a standing thurible (scroll down)? I think after some quotes from the Peril on Idolatry, I’ll comb ‘the proper decking, maintenance, and use of the Church’ homilies?


      • Hi, Charles

        Vernon Staley maintained that the liturgical use of incense was not truly Catholic, since “it was not in use from the first”. He quotes Duchesne that up to the 9th-century, “there was no censing of the altar, of the Church, of the clergy or congregation,” and that the thurible was used “only in processions” and at “singing of the gospel.”

        A censer is included in a liturgy by Andrewes for the blessing of the communion plate at Worcester cathedral, but whether it had a liturgical or fumigatory use is not specified. I imagine it was a stationary censer, but it doesn’t say.

        We have been using incense at St. Luke’s for the last 14 or so years. Early on, the censing of the altar and people was part of our ceremonial; but some of our parishioners found this disturbing. So our practice has been to break out the thurible on holy days and saints days, and to use it in the introit, gospel procession and recession. The rest of the time, it is left in the chancel, suspended on its stand, and gently smoldering.

        It actually works quite well. While Iv’e no theological axe to grind with an elaborate ceremonial featuring double and triple censings of altar, oblations, clergy, people, etc., there is something very edifying about a simpler, more minimalist usage, likes ours. It has the advantage of avoiding that effeminate fussiness you often see in the overly-elaborate ceremonial of some Anglo-Catholic churches.


  8. Hi Mark,

    Here is a great response by Bp. Lee at Prayer Book Anglican regarding incense. Food for thought.


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