Saturday, 15 December 2018

Still spilling ink over the Ornaments Rubric: the true history of its origin and interpretation.

Few paragraphs have elicited as much controversy and spilled ink as those of the "ornaments rubric."  They have even caused legal action and court cases up to the highest courts of the land.  People were jailed over their interpretation.   Even today the ornaments rubric is used to argue that it is proper and Anglican to wear sacerdotal vestments, namely the alb, stole, and chasuble.

With so much written on the matter trying to sum up the history and various facets of the matter is near impossible—especially for a person as verbose as I usually am!  That is, however, what I want to try and do here.


               It begins in the second year of King Edward and the first Prayer Book of 1549.  This book addresses what ministers should wear in a few places.  It addresses it in detail at the end of the book under a section called "certain notes for the more plain explication and decent ministration of things contained in this book" as well as in the fourth rubric at the start of the Communion service and the first rubric at the end of it.  The dress of the minister according to these rubrics was to be, for priests, a surplice and hood except for during Holy Communion when an alb and either cope or chasuble.  Bishops were to always wear alb or surplice and chasuble or cope for all their services.  Tunicles are also mentioned.   In these rubrics the chasuble is called "vestment" which is why traditionally there has been a differentiation, particularly in England, between "vestments" which are sacerdotal and "robes" which are not and are essentially choir dress and the preaching gown.

               In 1552 this all  changed and the minister was to wear surplice, scarf, and hood at every service whilst the bishop was to wear rochet and chimere. The use of albs and chasubles, as well as copes, was explicitly outlawed by the rubric at the start of Morning Prayer.


               When Elizabeth came to the throne the question of what was to be done was raised once more.  Was it to be the 1549 Prayer Book or the 1552?  The answer was simple. Elizabeth brought back the 1552  with the Act of Uniformity.  Strictly speaking there was no "Elizabethan Prayer Book" only the 1552 book with three additional provisions: namely the addition of two sentences during the administration of Communion, the addition of certain readings, and changes to the Litany. 

               It is important to bear in mind that the Act of Uniformity was actually part of the Prayer Book, it came before it but they were one document.  In the second chapter of the Act of Uniformity it is decreed that the "order and form as is mentioned in the said Book, so Authorised by Parliament in the said fifth and sixth years of the Reign of King Edward the Sixth" was to be used in every ministration. At this point it seems simple that the 1552 rubric outlawing albs and chasubles is the end of the matter.

               Things are rarely so simple.  The Act of Uniformity also had two sections which bear on this matter.

"25.  Provided always, and be it enacted, that such Ornaments of the Church and of the Ministers thereof, 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 Edward the Sixth, until other Order shall be therein taken by the Authority of the Queens' majesty, with the Advice of her Commissioners appointed and authorised under the great seal of England for causes ecclesiastical, or of the Metropolitan of this Realm.
26. And also that if there shall happen any contempt or irreverence to be used in the ceremonies of rites of the church, by the misusing of the orders appointed in this book, the Queen's majesty may, by the like advice of the said commissioners or Metropolitan, ordain and publish such further ceremonies or rites as may be most for the advancement of God's glory, the edifying of his church, and the due reverence of Christ's holy Mysteries and Sacraments."

What are we to make of this seeming contradiction?  Are the alb and chasuble to be "retained, and be in use" or does the ornaments rubric of 1552 and the second chapter of the Act of Uniformity which outlaws  these actually stand as authoritative?

The obvious question when trying to understand this is simply to ask "what did the writer of the Act say it meant."  Archbishop Sandys made clear that in fact the words "retained, and be in use" do not mean what they seem to us today to mean. Rather they mean simply that the albs and chasubles of the churches are not to be destroyed until further command and direction was forth coming. 

"Our gloss upon this text is  that we shall not be forced to use them, but that others in the meantime shall not convey them away; but that they may remain for the Queen"  Archbishop Sandys to Parker (remain for the Queen being a reference to their future confiscation and sale to help support the much indebted crown -- much as Henry and Edward had done with church finery before her!)

This is in keeping with the iconoclasm of the Anglican Reformers which likewise forbade private individuals from destroying idols in their churches and instead demanded that they wait for the magistrate to carry this out.  Things being done in an orderly way was important to the Anglican Reformers.

In addition, both sections make clear that further instruction is going to be given, at the least on what to do with vestments.  When this instruction came it would overrule and fulfil the provisions of the Act of Uniformity and be binding.  In due course such "other order" did indeed come forth.

But hold on! Things get even more complicated! 

The Act of Uniformity restored the 1552 Prayer Book with only three changes (the additional sentences on reception and addition of certain readings as well as changes to the Litany).  The 1559 Book of Common Prayer with the attached Act of Uniformity was a legal and unchangeable document. It was an Act of Parliament. And yet, illegally, it was changed at the printers! 

In the printed book of 1559, not the official and authoritative book, the 1552 Ornaments rubric outlawing the alb and stole and cope was changed to read:

"And here is to be noted, that the Minister at the time of Communion, and at all other times in his ministration, shall use such ornaments in the Church, as were in use by authority of parliament, in the second year of the reign of King Edward the Sixth according to the Act of Parliament set in the beginning of this book."

This rubric had absolutely no authority in law and was omitted in the Latin Prayer Book of 1560.  It was simply a quick pointer the Act of Uniformity which was at the start of the book— and yet one which is in error as the Act of Uniformity does not actually say "shall use such ornaments" but "shall retain, and be in use", nor does it say "as were in use" but "as was in this church", and it omits the promise of additional instruction.

Was this sneaky rubric an indication of how people understood the Act? Did people actually think that the 1549 vesture was to be used not the 1552? 

Most certainly not.  

In the same year as this illegal printed rubric is found the Injunctions of Queen Elizabeth were published and commissioners sent all over the nation to enforce obedience to them and compel subscription.  Items 30 and 47 of these injunctions demanded respectively that:

"30.... [all ministers] both in the church and without.... shall use and wear such seemly habits, garments, and such square caps as were most commonly and orderly received in the latter year of the reign of King Edward the Sixth..."
"47.  That he churchwardens of every parish shall deliver unto our visitors and inventories of vestments, copes, and other ornaments, plate, books, and specially of grayles, vouchers, legends, processionals, hymnals, manuals, poruasses, and such like appertaining to the church"

The injunctions clearly enforced the clerical wear of the 1552 and by law required all parishes to hand over for destruction or sale their vestments and other Roman ornamentation. 


The unwillingness of the Puritans renewal movement to wear the surplice enjoined by the Injunctions and Act of Uniformity led to additional measures being taken in 1566.  To resolve this the 1566 Advertisements were introduced.  These are the official "other order" promised in the Act of Uniformity.  These Advertisements demanded the surplice be worn at every service by the minister except at Cathedrals and Collegiate Churches during Holy Communion where the cope was to be worn by not only the celebrant but also the gospeller and epistoller.

From this point onwards the regular Visitations of the bishops in their diocese referred back to the Injunctions to ensure vestments were destroyed and to the Advertisements that a surplice and it alone (except the cope at Cathedrals etc. though this part never seems to have been enforced) be worn for every service. 


Finally, in 1604 the Church of England got new Canon Law.  The Canons reinforced the required dress of the Advertisements with some minor changes—the cope was now only for principal feast days not every sabbath, non-graduates could wear a tippet/preaching scarf.

Even under Laud this status quo is clearly seen in his Visitation Articles of 1628:

"Whether doth your minster wear the surplice while he is saying your public prayers, and administering the Sacrament, and a hood according to his degree of the University: Whether there be in your parish, who are known or suspected, to conceal or keep hid in their homes any Mass books, Breviaries, or other books of Popery or superstition, or any chalice, copes, vestments, alb, or other ornaments of superstition, uncancelled, or undefaced, which is to be conjectured they keep for a day as they call it."


               In 1662 the illegal rubric of 1559 was modified to read :

"And here is to be noted that such ornaments of the Church, and of the Ministers thereof, at all times of their Ministration, shall be retained, and be in use, as were in this Church of England by the authority of Parliament, in the second year of the reign of King Edward the Sixth."

This change is important. Rather than a poor paraphrase of the Act of Uniformity this rubric is an exact quotation from the Act except the updated grammar of "were" for "was".  The 1662 Prayer Book continued to have the Act of Uniformity as the first item in the list of contents—in other words the Act was still part of the Prayer Book and thus it was seen as obvious that this short quotation was intended to simply point back to and mean exactly the same as the Act at the start of the book.  That Act, if you recall, did not enjoin the use of the 1549 vestments but merely that they be retained till the commissioners came along to dispose of them under the Injunctions and that the "other order" was given in the Advertisements which demanded a surplice only.  The plain reason for not including the words "until other order is taken" in the short rubric is that such order had already been taken and was already enshrined in not only statute law but canon law and was being enforced by every bishop of the land.

The visitations of every single bishop in 1662 except Sterne of Carlisle, Roberts of Bangor, Fearne of Chester, and Warner of Rochester (as well as the See of Sodor and Man which was vacant from early 1662 till 1665) explicitly demand the wearing of the surplice at all times of ministry.  The only reason we don't have information on them is  that there are no remaining copies of their articles of visitation but it would be absurd to suppose they differed from all the other bishops and were openly defying canon and state law, indeed we do have such clear instruction from the bishops who followed them. The canons of 1604 were likewise reprinted in 1660 and again in 1662 with bishops such as Cosin, Henchmen, and Ironside requiring a copy to be in every parish.  Quotations and excerpts from all of these can be found in J.T. Tomlinson's "Collected Tracts of Ritual" in the Tract "Additional Evidence respecting the Ornaments Rubrics of 1662."

19th Century

It was not till the 1900's that anyone even thought to try and bring back the obsolete vestments on the basis of the rubric.  In doing so they immediately found themselves in court and the truth of the rubric subject to scrutiny.

The most significant court ruling, and the definitive one, was that of the Folkestone Ritual Case 1878. This court case ruled that:
-        The rubric is subordinate to the full Act of Uniformity from which it is a quotation. The 1559 Act of Uniformity, as part of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, was still law.
-        What matters is whether "other order" was taken as promised in the Act of Uniformity.
-        "Other order" was taken in 1566 with the Advertisements.
-        "The authority of Parliament in the second year of King Edward the Sixth" excludes anything prior to 1549 and anything not explicitly prescribed in 1549 (which is besides the point given the above but interesting nonetheless and clearly rules out vast swathes of Roman ritualistic dress, utensils, and ornamentation which are commonly seen in Anglo-Catholic Churches today.)

Where does this fascinating history leave us? 

-        The 1559 Prayer Book was simply the restoration of the 1552 and the ornaments rubric in it was illegal. The Act of Uniformity, to which the rubric was a poor paraphrase, said that such vestments were not to be destroyed and "other order" would be shortly given.

-        The 1559 Injunctions demanded the defacing and destruction of all vestments (or their confiscation to sell and help alleviate public debt)  so clearly they were not intended to be used (see also Sandys gloss) and official further instruction was given in 1566 which enforced the use of the surplice at all services.

-        The official 1662 Prayer Book has the Act of Uniformity as the first item on the list of contents. The illegal rubric was replaced by an exact quotation from the act but did not include the note of "other order" because it was already taken and enforced by state law and the restored 1604 canons.  Given this context the ornaments rubric of 1662 does not allow the vestments and ornaments of 1549.

-        All persons involved in the 1662 revision and every bishop we know at the time demanded surplice only and recognised not only canon law and the 1566 Advertisements (the "other order promised) but also the injunctions and of Elizabeth.

-        At no point from 1552 onwards was it ever seriously considered or even imagined that the 1549 Vestments were to be used or even that their use was legal and possible.  That is until the 1800's at which point the courts ruled that such vestments were not legal and had never been since at least 1566 - but were clearly not used or countenanced from 1559 onwards given the Injunctions.

-    The dress of the Anglican minister from 1552 onwards was distinctive and Reformed. It taught that the minister was to be learned and his primary role was to proclaim the gospel, teach the Scriptures, and rebuke error. To this end the tippet and hood alongside academic square cap were required of ministers at all times of their ministry whilst the surplice, a non-sacerdotal and not even uniquely clerical garment, was worn to distinguish the minister at times of service. During sermons the academic gown was to be worn instead of the surplice though to emphasise the nature of teaching. For more on the distinctive dress of Anglican ministers and its importance see:

A little faithfulness: Anglican robes and heritage

A Plea for Anglican Distinctives

Thursday, 13 December 2018

(SERMON) 1 Thessalonians 5.1-11 Jesus is Coming - put on the armour and be busy!

No one knows when Jesus is going to return to rule and reign but unlike the world we Christians know that He is. This means we can prepare for His coming by putting on Faith in God, Love towards one another, and a hope in salvation which should change every single aspect of our lives -- a hope built on the fact Jesus died for His people to save them from wrath and rose again that we might have life overflowing with Him for eternity.

Monday, 10 December 2018

(SERMON) 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18 The Resurrection and hope after death

Whilst the world around us has no true hope of life after death, or resurrection and freedom from sickness and death we, as saints of God, do.  Not only should we never grieve like those without hope but we should never live our lives like those without hope either.

Monday, 3 December 2018

(SERMON) Romans 13.8-14 Stop hitting the spiritual snooze - Christ is coming

God used Romans 13 to awaken the sinful and sceptic Augustine and through giving him a new heart and a new mind gave him the desire to be alert, awake, ever wearing the armour of Light and the righteousness of Christ.  Augustine became ready for the coming of Christ and God used him to become arguably the single most important thinker in Western Civilisation.

How do we stop hitting the spiritual snooze button in our lives and be always ready, alert, and ready for the return of King Jesus?  We do this by daily acknowledging the truth that, through faith alone, we have been made saints in Christ Jesus.  This truth equips us to face the darkness all around us, it is our armour of light against the dark.

Monday, 5 November 2018

A modernised form of prayer with thanksgiving to be used on November the 5th

A Form of Prayer with Thanksgiving;
to be used annually on the fifth of November for the happy deliverance of King James the First, and the Three Estates of England, from the most traitorous and bloody-intended massacre by gunpowder.
Thanksgiving is also given today for the happy arrival of His majesty King William on this day, and for the deliverance of our church and nation.

    The minister of every parish shall give warning to his Parishioners publicly in the church at Morning Prayer, the Sunday before, for the due observation of this day. After Morning Prayer, or preaching, upon fifth day of November, the minister shall read publicly, distinctly, and plainly, the Act of Parliament, made in the third Year of King James the First, for the Observation of it.

    The Service shall be the same with the usual Office for Holy Days in all things; except where it is hereafter otherwise appointed.

    If this Day shall happen to be a Sunday, only the Collect proper for that Sunday shall be added to this Office in its place.

Morning Prayer shall begin with these Sentences from Psalm 103.8-10

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.
He will not always accuse us
or be angry forever.
 He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve
or repaid us according to our iniquites

Instead of Venite, exultemus, this Hymn shall be used:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his faithful love endures forever.
 Let the redeemed of the Lord proclaim
that he has redeemed them from the power of the foe

Since my youth they have often attacked me—
let Israel say—
Since my youth they have often attacked me,
but they have not prevailed against me.

They hid their net for me without cause;
they dug a pit for me without cause.
My heart is confident, God, my heart is confident. 
I will sing; I will sing praises.
Our Lord is great, vast in power;
his understanding is infinite.

The Lord helps the oppressed
but brings the wicked to the ground.

Let your hand be with the man at your right hand,
with the son of man you have made strong for yourself.

Then we will not turn away from you;
revive us, and we will call on your name.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, world without end.  Amen.

Proper Psalms.
44, 124, 123.

Proper Lessons.
The First Lesson
 2 Samuel 22.

The Second Lesson
Acts 23.

In the Suffrages after the Creed, these shall be inserted, and used for the Queen.

      Priest. O Lord, save the Queen
People. Who puts her trust in you
Priest. Send her help from your holy place
People. And evermore mightily defend her
Priest. Let her enemies have no advantage against her
People. Let not the wicked approach to hurt her

Instead of the First Collect for Morning Prayer, these two shall be used:

ALMIGHTY God, who has in all ages showed your power and mercy in the miraculous and gracious deliverance of your Church, and in the protection of righteous and religious monarchs and nations—professing your holy and eternal truth—from the wicked conspiracies and malicious practices of all their enemies; We give to you our sincere thanks and praise for the wonderful and mighty deliverance of our gracious Sovereign King James the First, the Queen, the Prince, and all the Royal family, along with the Nobility, Clergy and Commons of England, who were in 1605 assembled in Parliament.  You delivered them from Popish treachery which appointed them as sheep to the slaughter, in a most barbarous and savage manner, beyond the examples of former ages. From this unnatural conspiracy, not by our merit, but  by  your mercy; not by our foresight, but by your providence, you delivered us.  Therefore not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto your Name we give all honour and all glory, in all churches of the saints, from generation to generation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ACCEPT also, most gracious God, of our sincere thanks, for filling our hearts again with joy and gladness—after the time in which you had afflicted us—and putting a new song into our mouths, by bringing his Majesty King William to us upon this day, for the deliverance of our church and nation from Popish yyranny and arbitrary Power. We adore the wisdom and justice of your providence, which so timely intervened in our extreme danger, and disappointed all the designs of our enemies. We beseech you, give us such a living and lasting sense of what you did back then, and have since that time done for us, that we may not grow secure and careless in our obedience—by presuming upon your great and undeserved goodness—but instead be led to repentance.  Move us to be  more diligent and zealous in all the duties of our religion, which you have in a marvellous manner preserved for us. Let truth and justice, brotherly kindness and charity, devotion and piety, concord and unity, along with all other virtues, so flourish among us, that they may be the stability of our times, and make this church a praise in all the earth. All of this we humbly beg for the sake of our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.

At the end of the Litany, this shall be said:
ALMIGHTY God and heavenly Father, who of your gracious providence, and tender mercy towards us, prevented the malice and imaginations of our enemies, by discovering and confounding their horrible and wicked enterprise, which they plotted and intended this day in 1605 to execute against the King—and the whole nation of England—for the subversion of the government and religion established among us. Likewise, upon this day, you wonderfully conducted your servant King William and brought him safely into England, to preserve us from the attempts of our enemies to bereave us of our religion and laws.  We most humbly praise and magnify your most glorious name for your unspeakable goodness towards us, expressed in both these acts of your mercy. We confess it has been of your mercy alone that we are not consumed; for our sins have cried to heaven against us, and our iniquities justly called for vengeance upon us. But you have not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities; nor given us over, as we deserved, to be a prey to our enemies; but instead you have in your mercy delivered us from their malice, and preserved us from death and destruction. Let the consideration of this—your repeated goodness—O Lord, work in us true repentance, that iniquity may not be our ruin: And increase in us more and more a lively faith and love, fruitful in all holy obedience, that you may still continue your favour towards us and our children, with the light of your Gospel, for ever more.  We ask all this for your dear Son's sake, Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen

Instead of the Prayer [In time of War and Tumults] shall be used this Prayer:

O LORD, who this day discovered the snares of death that were laid for us, and wonderfully delivered us from the same; Be still our mighty Protector, and scatter our enemies that delight in blood.  Frustrate and defeat their counsels, abate their pride, assuage their malice, and confound their devices. Strengthen the hands of our gracious Sovereign Queen Elizabeth, and all that are put in authority under her, with judgment and justice, to cut off all such workers of iniquity which would turn religion into rebellion, and faith into faction.  Ensure that they may never prevail against us, or triumph in the ruin of your church among us: but that our gracious Sovereign and her Realms, being preserved in your true Religion, and by your merciful goodness protected in the same, we may all duly serve you, and give you thanks in your holy congregation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In the Communion Service, instead of the Collect for the Day this prayer shall be used:

ETERNAL God, our most mighty Protector, we your unworthy servants humbly present ourselves before your Majesty, acknowledging your power, wisdom and goodness, in preserving the King, and of the Three Estates of the Realm of England assembled in Parliament, from the destruction this day in 1605 intended against them. Make us, we beseech you, truly thankful for this, and for all your other great mercies towards us; particularly for your making this day even more memorable, by a fresh instance of your loving-kindness towards us: for we bless you for giving his late Majesty King William a safe arrival here, and for making all opposition fall before him, till he became our King and Governor. We beseech you to protect and defend our Sovereign Queen Elizabeth, and all the Royal Family, from all treasons and conspiracies: Preserve her in all your faith, fear and love; prosper her reign with long happiness here on earth; and crown her with everlasting glory in the life to come, through Jesus Christ our only Saviour and Redeemer. Amen.

The Epistle.
Romans 13 

The Gospel.
St Luke 9: 51-62  

After the Creed, if there is no Sermon, shall be read one of the six homilies against rebellion

This Sentence is to be read at the Offertory.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.  Matthew 7.12

After the Prayer for the Church militant this following Prayer is to be used.

O GOD, whose Name is excellent in all the earth, and your glory above the heavens; who, on this day, miraculously preserved our Church and State from the secret contrivance and hellish malice of Popish conspirators; and on this day also did began to give us a mighty deliverance from the open tyranny and oppression of the same cruel and blood-thirsty enemies.  We bless and adore your glorious majesty, not just for the former, but also for this later marvellous loving-kindness to our church and Nation, namely the preservation of our religion and liberties. And we humbly pray that the devout sense of this, your repeated mercy, may renew and increase in us a spirit of love and thankfulness to you its only author; a spirit of peaceable submission and obedience to our gracious Sovereign Queen Elizabeth; and a spirit of fervent zeal for our holy religion, which you hast so wonderfully rescued, and established as a blessing to us and our children. All this we beg for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

(SERMON) Exodus 40.17-38 - divine worship and divine presence

In Exodus 40 we find the start of the new journey of the people of God with the presence of Him among them.  We see that we are only to worship God in the ways He has commanded, that we must not forget His holiness, and that we today have something greater than the tabernacle.  Jesus Christ is the true and greater tabernacle, God dwelling among us, and today by the Holy Spirit we are all called to be tabernacles of God in our lives and communities as we journey to the Promised Land.

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