The Ornament’s Rubric refers to worship per the second year of Edward VI. Yet the 1549 Prayer Book only specifies particular vestments at the Lord’s Supper and Holy Communion. How then do we know Edwardian ceremonial decking? Article XXXIV tells us that the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, are determined by common order. Nicholas Ridley called those rites governed by canon ‘vera-adiaphora‘. Therefore, the canon belonging to the late Henrician and early Edwardian periods define ornaments and much lawful ceremony. This canon includes the injunctions and visitations of 1536, 1538, 1547, and 1548.
Sorting through these is not an easy task. The Ten Articles issued in 1536 inaugurates a kind of theological framework for further ceremonial reform. It properly divides religion between articles of faith vs. ceremony. The ninth article of which then lists rites extant in the late Henrician church, recognizing what is useful:
“[of them]… and all other like laudable customs, rites, and ceremonies, be not to be condemned and cast away, but to be used and continued, as things good and laudable, to put us in remembrance of those spiritual things that they do signify, no suffering them to be forgotten, or to be put in oblivion, but renewing them in our memories from time to time”
But not all those rites which Henry lists in the Ten Articles would be tolerated. By 1547 the injunctions of Edward hinted the temporary future of these rites, saying,
“Also, That they shall instruct and teach in their cures, that no man ought obstinately and maliciously to break and violate the laudable ceremonies of the church, by the King commanded to be observed, and as yet not abrogated.” C.27
What ceremonies would be abrogated by Edward’s second year? Ritual certainly was limited or reformed between 1547-1549, and this is where my previous post on the Ornament Rubric painfully fell short. As mentioned earlier, collating their number isn’t easy, but recently I ran across a wonderful footnote written by Walter H. Frere, Bishop of Truro (1923–1935), regarding lawful ceremony up to Edward’s second year. I hope this wonderful, yet lengthy, quote better reconstructs the kind of ceremony might have tolerated before the second prayer book:
“The history of these and kindred ceremonies during the Reformation has been postponed till now so as to give in one place a succinct account of them all. Holy water, holy bread, the use of vestments, Candlemas candles, ashes, palms, creeping to the Cross, sepulchres, hallowing of the font, and “all other like laudable customs, rites, and ceremonies” were allowed by the Ten Articles of 1536 “as good and laudable things to put us in memory of what they signify.” On February 26, 1539 (Wilkins, III, 842), Henry issued a proclamation in which holy water, holy bread, kneeling and creeping to the Cross on Good Friday, setting up lights before the Corpus Christi on Easter Day, bearing candles at the Purification were allowed since “as yet” they had not being abolished. But they were to be used without superstition. “Let the minister on each day instruct the people on the right and godly use of every ceremony. On every Sunday let him declare that holy water is sprinkled in remembrance of our baptism and of the sprinkling of the blood of Christ. On every Sunday let holy bread be given, to remind men of the housel, or Eucharist, which in the beginning of the Christian Church was received more often than now, and in sign of unity, for as the bread is made of many grains so are all Christian men one mystical body of Christ. Let candles be borne at Candlemas, but in memory of Christ, the spiritual light. On Ash Wednesday let ashes be given to every Christian man to remind him that he is dust and ashes. On Palm Sunday let palms be borne, but let it be declared that it is in memory of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. Let it be declared on Good Friday, that creeping to the Cross and kissing the Cross signify humility and the memory of our redemption. They are signs and tokens, not the workers nor the works, of our salvation”. This explanation is almost identical to No. IX of the Ten Articles (1536). The same ordinances concerning ceremonies were embodied in some royal directions which appeared on Nov. 10, 1539. In January, 1545-46, Cranmer prepared letters for the King, which however never received Henry’s signature, abrogating creeping and kneeling to the Cross (Cranmer, Remains. p. 415). The Royal Injunctions of 1547 (No. 27) tolerated holy water, holy-bread and palms, did not condemn ashes, Candlemas candles, creeping to the Cross, Easter sepulchres, hallowing of the font, and allowed two lights; although the Homily of Good Works published before them and ordered by them to be read, condemned fire, bread, water, palms and candles. On January 18, 1548, a Order of Council abolished ashes, palms, and Candlemas candles. In February, 1548, a royal proclamation confirmed the order of the previous January, and in addition abrogated creeping to the Cross on Good Friday, holy-bread and holy water (Wilkins, IV, 23 and 21). There now only seemed to be left sepulchres, two lights and hallowing of the font. In May, 1548, Gardiner was reprimanded by the Council for having an Easter sepulchre at Winchester Cathedral in Holy Week, though there is no evidence that it had been condemned.” (p. 183-185, Visitation Articles and Injunctions, V. II)
Frere then describes the elements of various rites, i.e. the ashes, holy-breads, beads, sacring bells, holy candles, holy water, and creeping, etc.. Amongst these, only three ceremonials appear to continue into Edward’s second year. Not only is the ornament of interest but its “use” since the 1559 Act includes both, “that such ornaments of the Church and of the ministers therefore shall be retained and be in use as was in this Church of England by authority of Parliament in the second year of the reign of King Edward the Sixth”. Frere writes about each:
(1) Hallowing of the Font. The font was solemnly blessed on Easter Eve and Whitsun Eve (Procter and Frere, op. cit., 565). A new form was provided in the first prayer book.
(2)Paschal Candle. Fire was condemned by the Homily on Good Works. No reference is forthcomign to the condemnation of the Paschal candle. It was in use at Worcester in Easter 148.
(3) Easter or Paschal Sepulchre. On Maundy Thursday two special hosts were consecrated and reserved. One was consumed by the priest in the Mass of the Pre-sanctified on Good Friday, the other was placed in a pyx and deposited along with the Cross in the Easter Sepulchre. This was sometimes a temporary structure, for in many extant churchwardens’ accounts there is a record of money paid for erecting and taking it down. Here the Blessed Sacrament remained until the dawn of Easter Day, when it was removed to the hanging pyx over the altar. There are many instances of permanent “sepulchres” being built in England for the Easter Sepulchre. Sometimes people left money for such to be permanently erected over their own burial places. (pp. 186-187) [note: Dearmer does not talk about sepulchres, and my guess is although the practice survived into 1548 it did not last through the rest of the 16th century, becoming a dead letter.]
What might be noted is the basic continuity and constant reiteration of injunctions from 1536 to 1548. The Ten Articles– upon which new learning gained its foothold– laid critical precepts that broadened and deepened as they were applied. Yet the late Henrician and early Edwardian are nearly interchangeable periods, utilizing the same ‘Ten Articles’ logic. This is why it’s so problematic to make a dividing line anywhere between 1536 to 1549. For example, in both periods beads, decking of images, extreme postrations, shrines, and relics were suppressed. This followed holy communion and choir bibles in the vernacular. And, when Elizabeth ascended to the throne, connnecting to late-Henrician and early-Edwardian ritualism not only made political sense but marked the inherent conservativism of England’s Reformation.
A number of implications of late Henrician worship might be drawn, most pertaining to modern Anglican circumstance. Nonetheless, the Ornament Rubric tells Anglicans what is distinctive about their worship. This requires not only an inquiry into early reformation canon but also the pastoral nature which canons purpose. And though the the Rubric has been somewhat historically regulated (sic., 1566 Advertisements vs. 1604 canons, cathedral and collegiate use, etc..), Elizabeth’s Rubric provides a specific liturgical identity apart from Rome, the East, and Geneva. Additionally, liturgy and ritual is packed with theological meaning. This latter fact is too often overlooked. At a time when Anglicanism is on the brink of fragmentation and scattering, the style as well as unique content of Anglicanism should be clung to. Meanwhile, Presbyterians on the left and Eastern Orthodoxy (or Rome) on the right are likely most to profit from any continued apathy.
The next couple articles will explore certain common reverences in worship and their connection to a distinct English iconodulism. Meanwhile, I hope to touch upon questions that gradually tie all prior essays together– namely, the working of justification in worship. This is implicit from the Henrician, etc..