By the sixteenth century there was a feeling throughout Europe that liturgical change was necessary but the reformers lacked the resources which have since become available. The process in England began by the reading of one chapter of the Bible in English every Sunday at matins and evensong. The English litany was issued in 1544. The English Communion order in followed in 1547 and provided for the inclusion in the Latin mass of the General Confession, Absolution, Comfortable Words and the Prayer of Humble Access in English. In 1548 the cup was restored to the laity. The musical setting was composed by John Merbecke in 1547.
The first complete Book of Common Prayer in English appeared in 1549. Like all such revisions, it had a mixed reception. Some people complained that "it was too much like a Christmas game." The second book in 1552 issued under Puritan influences went even further. Its object was to make the service as unlike the medieval mass as possible by getting rid of ceremonial, the eucharist vestments and replacing the stone altar by a wooden table which at Communion time was to be placed lengthwise in the nave. The long consecration prayer found in some of the earlier services was, in the 1552 book, divided into (a) the prayer for the Church Militant, (b) the consecration prayer, and (c) the post-communion prayers. As a result the consecration prayer ended very abruptly. Note that it is still a service performed essentially by the minister on behalf of the people.
The vestments were replaced by the academic gown and hood. Originally, the vestments had been the ordinary outdoor dress of the time. As fashions changed they were retained in church and gave to the celebrant a certain distinctness and anonymity. Only later were theological meanings attributed to them which made them objectionable in the eyes of the Puritans. Academic robes were at first adopted as a convenient substitute for vestments. This was suggested, in part, from the preaching of outdoor sermons for which the preacher wore an ecclesiastical or academic gown, and led to the custom, still extant in some places the 1920s for the preacher to wear a gown for the sermon. Only later did they come to be seen to be a mark of the priest's authority to teach.
The Black Rubric, inserted as an afterthought, was intended to discourage any thought of a localized presence in the elements. It was omitted in all subsequent editions.
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, and all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts, by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit: that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name: through Christ our Lord. Amen.
* Then shall the Priest rehearse distinctly all the Ten Commandments: and the people kneeling, shall after every Commandment ask God's mercy for their transgression of the same, after this sort.
Minister. God spake these words, and said: I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have none other Gods but me.
Minister. Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the early beneath, nor in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and visit the sins of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and show mercy unto thousands in them that love me and keep my commandments.
Minister. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Minister. Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day. Six days shalt thou labour and do all that thou hast to do, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the lord thy god. In it thou shalt do no manner of work, thou and thy son and thy daughter, thy manservant, thy maidservant, thy cattle, and the stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the lord made heaven and earth, the Sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day. Wherefore the Lord blessed the seventh day and hallowed it.
Minister. Honour thy father and mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the lord thy god giveth thee.
Minister. Thou shalt do no murder.
Minister. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Minister. Thou shalt not steal.
Minister. Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbour.
Minister. Thou shalt not covet they neighbour's house. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his servant, nor his maid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is his.
R. Lord, have mercy upon us, and write all these thy laws in our hearts we beseech thee.
* Immediately after the Collects the Priest shall read the Epistle beginning thus: The Epistle is written in the .... chapter of the Epistle of ....:
* And the Epistle ended, he shall say the Gospel, beginning thus: The Gospel is written in the ... chapter of the Gospel of ...:
And the Epistle and Gospel being ended, shall be said the Creed.
I Believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible, And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God. Begotten of the Father before all worlds. God of God. Light of Light. Very God of Very God. Begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made. Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven. And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary: And was made man. And was crucified also for us: under Pontius Pilate, he suffered and was buried. And the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven: and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again in glory to judge both the quick and the dead: whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life: who proceedeth from the Father and the Son. Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified: who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one holy catholick and apostolick Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead. And the life of the world to come. Amen.
* After the Creed, if there be no sermon, shall follow one of the homilies already set forth, or hereafter to be set forth by common authority.
[Where the celebrant was a university graduate he would be licensed to preach. Otherwise, he would be required to read a homily.]
* After such sermon, homily or exhortation, the Curate shall declare unto the people whether there are any holy days or fasting days the week following: and earnestly exhort them to remember the poor, saying one or more of these Sentences following, as he thinketh most convenient by his discretion.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where the rust and moth doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither rust nor moth doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
Blessed be the man that provideth for the sick and needy, the Lord shall deliver him in the time of trouble.
* Then shall the Churchwardens, or some other by them appointed, gather the devotions of the people, and put them in the poormen's box, after which the priest shall say:
Almighty and everliving God, which by thy holy Apostle hast taught us to make prayers and supplications, and to give thanks for all men. We humble beseech thee most mercifully to accept our alms(1) and to receive these our prayers, which we offer unto thy divine Majesty, beseeching thee to inspire continually the universal church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord: And grant that all that do confess thy holy name, may agree in the truth of thy holy word, and live in unity and godly love.
We beseech thee also to save and defend all Christian Kings, Princes, and Governors, and specially thy servant, Elizabeth our Queen, that under her we may be godly and quietly governed: and grant unto her whole council, and to all that be put in authority under her, that they may truly and indifferently minister justice, to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of God's true religion and virtue.
Give grace (O heavenly father) to all Bishops, Pastors, and Curates, that they may both by their life and doctrine set forth thy holy word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments: and to all thy people give thy heavenly grace, and especially to this congregation here present, that with meek heart and due reverence they may hear and receive thy holy word, truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life. And we most humbly beseech thee of thy goodness (O Lord) to comfort and succour all them, which in this transitory life be in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity: Grant this, O father, for Jesus Christs sake, our only mediator and advocate. Amen.
Dearly beloved in the Lord: ye that mind to come to the holy Communion of the body and blood of our saviour Christ, must consider what St. Paul writeth to the Corinthians, how he exhorteth all persons diligently to try and examine themselves, before they presume to eat of that bread,and drink of that cup: for as the benefit is great, if with a truly penitent heart and lively faith, we receive that holy Sacrament (for then we spiritually eat the flesh of Christ, and drink his blood, then we dwell in Christ and Christ in us, we be one with Christ and Christ with us;) so is the danger great if we receive the same unworthily. For then we be guilty of the body and blood of Christ our saviour. We eat and drink our own damnation, not considering the Lord's body. We kindle God's wrath against us, we provoke him to plague us with divers diseases, and sundry kinds of death.
Therefore, if any of you be a blasphemer of God, an hinderer or slanderer of his word, an adulterer, or be in malice or envy, or in any other form of grievous crime, bewail your sins, and come not to that holy Table: lest after the taking of that holy Sacrament, the Devil enter into you, as he entered into Judas, and fill you full of all iniquities, and bring you to destruction, both of body and soul. Judge therefore yourselves (brethren) that ye be not judged of the Lord. Repent you truly for your past sins [and] have a lively and steadfast faith in Christ our saviour. Amen your lives, and be in perfect charity with all men, so that ye be meet partakers of these holy mysteries. And above all things, ye must give most humble and hearty thanks to God the father, the son, and the holy ghost, for the redemption of the world by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ, both God and man, who did humble himself, even to the death upon the Cross for us miserable sinners, which lay in darkness and shadow of death, that he might make us the children of God, and exalt us to everlasting life.
And to that end we should always remember the exceeding great love of our Master, and only Saviour Jesus Christ, thus dying for us, and the innumerable benefits, (which by his precious blood-shedding) he hath obtained for us, he hath instituted and ordained holy mysteries, as pledges of his love,and continual remembrance of his death, to our great and endless comfort.
To him therefore, with the father and the holy ghost, let us give (as we are most bounden) continual thanks: submitting ourselves wholly to his holy will and pleasure, and studying to serve him in true holiness and righteousness, all the days of our life. Amen.
Then shall the Priest say to them that come to receive the holy Communion.
You that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and be in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways: draw near and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort, make your humble confession to almighty God, before this congregation here gathered together in his name, meekly kneeling upon your knees.
* Then shall this general confession be said, in the name of all those that are minded to receive the Holy Communion, either by one of them, or by one of the ministers, or by the Priest himself, all kneeling humbly upon their knees.
Almighty God, father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all men, we acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time, most grievously have committed by thought, word, and deed, against thy divine majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us, we do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings, the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable: have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful father, for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake, forgive us all that is past, and grant that we may ever hereafter, serve and please thee in newness of life, to the honour and glory of thy name: through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Almighty God, our heavenly father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all them, which with hearty repentance and true faith, turn unto him: have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and bring you to everlasting life: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Come unto me all that travail and be heavy laden, and I shall refresh you. So God loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, to the end that all that believe in him, should not perish, but have life everlasting.
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners.
If any man sin, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins.
Priest. It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times and in all places gives thanks unto thee: O Lord holy Father almighty, everlasting God:
Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the holy company of heaven we laud and magnify thy glorious name, evermore praising thee, and saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts. Heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to thee, O Lord, most high.
We do not presume to come to this thy table (O merciful Lord) trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies: we be not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table: but thou art the same lord whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore (gracious lord) so to eat the flesh of thy dear son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood. Amen.
Almighty God our heavenly father, which of thy tender mercy didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption, who made there (by his one oblation once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to, celebrate a perpetual memory of that his precious death, until his coming again. Hear us O merciful father we beseech thee; and grant that we receiving thy creatures of bread and wine, according to thy son our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed body and blood: who in the same night that he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples saying: Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of me. Likewise after supper he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying: drink ye all of this, for this is my blood of the new Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for remission of sins: do this as oft as you shall drink it, in remembrance of me.
* Then shall the minister receive the Communion in both kinds himself, and next deliver it to other ministers, if any be there present (that they may help the chief minister,) and after to the people in their hands kneeling.
Take and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving.
Drink this in remembrance that Christ's blood was shed for thee, and be thankful.
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.
O Lord and heavenly father, we thy humble servants entirely desire thy fatherly goodness, mercifully to accept this our Sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving: most humbly beseeching thee to grant, that by the merits and death of thy son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we and all thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his Passion. And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls, and bodies, to be a reasonably, holy and lively Sacrifice unto thee, humbly beseeching thee, that all we which be partakers of this holy Communion, may be fulfilled with thy grace and heavenly benediction. And although we be unworthy through our manifold sins to offer unto thee any sacrifice: yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord; by whom and with whom, in the unity of the holy ghost, all honour and glory be unto thee, O father almighty, world without end. Amen.
Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee, for that thou hast vouchsafed to feed us, which have duly received these holy Mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious body and blood of thy son, our saviour Jesus Christ, and dost assure of thy favour and goodness toward us, and that we be very members incorporate in thy Mystical body, which is the blessed company of all faithful people, and heirs, through hope, of thy everlasting kingdom, by the merits of the most precious death and passion of thy dear son. We now most humbly beseech thee, O heavenly father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works, as thou has prepared for us to walk in: through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the holy ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
Glory be to God on high, and in earth peace, goodwill toward men. We praise thee, We bless thee. We worship thee. We glorify thee. We give thanks to thee for thy great glory. O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty. O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ: O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us: Thou that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us: Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us: For thou only art holy. Thou only art the Lord. Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
The peace of GOD which passeth all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of GOD, and of his son Jesus Christ our Lord: and the blessing of God Almighty, the father, the son, and the holy Ghost, be amongst you and remain with you always. Amen.
* Upon the holy days, if there be no Communion, shall be said all that is appointed at the Communion, until the end of the Homily, concluding with the general prayer, 'For the whole state of Christ's church militant here in earth:' and one or more of these Collects ... as occasion shall serve.
* And there shall be no celebration of the lord's Supper, except there be a good number to communicate with the Priest, according to his discretion.
* And if there be not above twenty persons in the Parish of discretion to receive the Communion; yet there shall be no Communion, except four or three at the last, communicate with the Priest. And in Cathedral and Collegiate churches, where there be many Priests and Deacons, they shall all receive the Communion with the minister every Sunday at the least except they have a reasonable cause to the contrary.
* And to take away the superstition, which any person hath, or might have in the bread and wine, it shall suffice that the bread be such, as is usual to be eaten at the Table with other meals, but the best and purest wheat bread, that conveniently may be gotten. And if any of the bread remain, the Curate shall have it to his own use.
* The bread and wine shall be provided by the Curate, and the churchwardens, at the charges of the parish, and the Parish shall be discharged of such sums of money, or other duties which hitherto they have paid for the same, by order of their houses every Sunday.
* And note, that every Parishioner shall ciommunicate, at least three times in the year; of which, Easter to be one; and shall also receive the Sacraments and other rites, according to the order in this Book appointed. And yearly at Easter, every Parishioner shall reckon with his Parson, Vicar or Curate, or his, or their deputy or deputies, and pay to them or him all Ecclesiastical duties, accustomably due, then and at that time to be paid.
Although no order can be so perfectly devised, but it may of some, either for their ignorance and infirmity, or else of malice and obstinacy, misconstrued, depraved, and interpreted in a wrong part: And yet because brotherly charity willeth, that so much as conveniently may be, offences should be taken away: therefore we are willing to do the same.
Whereas it is ordained in the book of common prayer, in the administration of the Lord's Supper, that the Communicants kneeling should receive the holy Communion: which things be well meant, for a signification of the benefits of Christ, given unto the worthy receiver, and to avoid the profanation and disorder, which about the holy Communion might else ensue: Lest yet the same kneeling might be thought or taken otherwise, we do declare that it is not meant thereby, that any adoration is done, or ought to be done either unto the Sacramental bread or wine there bodily received, or until any real and essential presence there being of Christ's natural flesh and blood.
For as concerning the Sacramental bread and wine, they remain still in their vary natural substances, and therefore may not be adored, for that were Idolatry to be abhorred of all faithful Christians. And as concerning the natural body and blood of our Saviour Christ, they are in heaven and not here. For it is against the truth of Christ's true natural body, to be in more places than one, at one time.
1. Note that there is no reference to oblations.