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An Act for the Uniformity of Common Prayer, and Service in the Church, and Administration of the Sacraments.


Primo Elizabetha.

HERE at the death of our late Sovereign Lord King Edward the Sixth, there remained one uniform order, &c.


HERE at the death of our late
Sovereign Lord King Edward

the Sixth, there remained one uniforin
order, &c. [1604]

1 Instead of this Act, the Scotch Liturgy, 1637, has the following Proclamation. ¶ A Proclamation for the authorising of the book of Common Prayer to be used throughout the Realm of Scotland.

CHARLES by the grace of God, king of great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, To our Lovits * **** Messengers, our Sheriffs in that part conjunctly and severally specially constitute greeting. Forasmuch as We, ever since our entry to the imperial Crown of this our ancient kingdom of Scotland, especially since our late being here in the same, have divers times recommended to the Archbishops and Bishops here the publishing of a public form of Service, in the worship of God, which we would have uniformly observed therein. And the same being now condescended upon, although We doubt not but all our Subjects, both Clergy and others, will receive the said public form of Service with such reverence as appertaineth: yet thinking it necessary to make our pleasure known touching the authorising of the Book thereof, OUR Will is, and We charge you straitly and command, that incontinent these our Letters seen, you pass, and in our name and authority command and charge all our Subjects, both ecclesiastical and civil, by open Proclamation at the market Crosses of the head Boroughs of this our Kingdom, and other places needful, To conform themselves to the said public form of worship, which is the only form, which We (having taken the counsel of our Clergy) think fit to be used in God's public worship in this our Kingdom: Commanding also all Archbishops and Bishops, and other Presbyters and Churchmen, to take a special care that the same be duly obeyed and observed, and the contraveners condignly censured and punished, and to have special care that every Parish betwixt* and Pasch next procure unto themselves two at least of the said Books of Common Prayer, for the use of the Parish. The which to do We commit to you conjunctly and severally our full power, By these our Letters, delivering the same by you duly execute and indorsed again to the bearer.

Given under our signet at Edinburgh the twentieth day of December, and of our reign the twelfth year, 1636.

Per actum secreti Consilii.

2 The Act of Uniformity in King Edward VI. second Book, [1552,] is as follows; An Act for the Uniformity of Common Prayer, and administration

of the Sacraments.

WHERE there hath been a very godly order set forth by authority of Parliament, for common prayer and administration of the Sacraments, to be used in the mother tongue within this Church of England, agreeable to the word of God and the primitive Church, very comfortable to all good people, desiring to live in Christian conversation, and most profitable to the state of this Realm; upon the which, the mercy, favor, and blessing of Almighty God is in no wise so readily and plenteously poured as by common prayers, due using of the Sacraments, and often preaching of the Gospel, with the devotion of the hearers: And yet this notwithstanding, a great number of people, in divers parts of this Realm, following their own sensuality, and living either without knowledge or due fear of God, do wilfully, and damnably before Almighty God, abstain and refuse to come to their Parish Churches and other places, where common prayer, administration of the Sacraments, and preaching of the word of God is used,





An Act for the Uniformity of Common Prayer, and Service in the Church, and the Administration of the Sacraments. [1559]

HERE at the death of our late

W Sovereign Lord King Edward

the Sixth, there remained one uniform order, &c.


upon the Sundays and other days, ordained to be holy days. For reformation hereof, be it enacted by the King our sovereign Lord, with the assent of the Lords and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that from, and after the Feast of All Saints next coming, all and every person, and persons, inhabiting within this Realm, or any other the King's Majesty's dominions, shall diligently and faithfully, (having no lawful or reasonable excuse to be absent) endeavour themselves to resort to their Parish Church, or Chapel accustomed, or upon reasonable let thereof, to some usual place, where common prayer, and such service of God shall be used in such time of let, upon every Sunday, and other days, ordained, and used to be kept as holy days, and then, and there to abide, orderly, and soberly, during the time of the common prayer, preachings, or other service of God, there to be used and ministered, upon pain of punishment by the Censures of the Church.

And for the due execution hereof, the King's most excellent majesty, the Lords Temporal, and all the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, doth in God's name, earnestly require and charge all the Archbishops, Bishops, and other Ordinaries, that they shall endeavour themselves to the uttermost of their knowledges, that the due and true execution hereof may be had throughout their Dioceses and charges, as they will answer before God, for such evils and plagues, wherewith Almighty God may justly punish his people, for neglecting this good and wholesome law.

And for their authority in this behalf, be it further likewise enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all and singular the same Archbishops, Bishops, and all other their officers, exercising Ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as well in place exempt, as not exempt, within their Dioceses, shall have full power and authority by this Act, to reform, correct, and punish, by censures of the Church, all and singular persons which shall offend within any their jurisdictions or Dioceses; after the said feast of All Saints next coming, against this Act and Statute, any other law, statute, privilege, liberty, or provision heretofore made, had, or suffered, to the contrary notwithstanding. And because there hath arisen in the use and exercise of the foresaid common service in the Church heretofore set forth, divers doubts for the fashion and manner of the ministration of the same, rather by the curiosity of the minister and mistakers, than of any other worthy cause; therefore as well for the more plain and manifest explanation hereof, as for the more perfection of the said order of common service, in some places where it is necessary to make the same prayer and fashion of service more earnest and fit, to stir Christian people to the true honouring of Almighty God; The King's most excellent Majesty, with the assent of the Lords and Commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, hath caused the foresaid order of common service, entitled The Book of Common Prayer to be faithfully and godly perused, explained, and made fully perfect; and by the foresaid authority hath annexed and joined it, so explained and perfected, to this present Statute, adding also a form and manner of making and consecrating of Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, to be of like force, authority and value, as the same like foresaid Book entituled The Book of Common Prayer, was before: and to be accepted, received, used and esteemed in like sort and manner, and with the same clauses of provisions and exceptions, to all intents, constructions, and purposes, as by the Act of Parliament made in the second year of the King's Majesty's Reign, was ordained, limited, expressed, and appointed for the uniformity of service, and administration of the Sacraments throughout the Realm, upon such several pains, as in the said Act of Parliament is expressed. And the said former Act to stand in full force and strength, to all intents and constructions, and to be applied, practised, and put in use, to, and for the establishing of the book of common Prayer, now explained, and hereunto annexed: and also the said form of making of Archbishops, Bishops, Priests and Deacons, here

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unto annexed, as it was for the former book. And by the authority aforesaid it is now further enacted, that if any manner of person, or persons, inhabiting, and being within this Realm, or any other the King's Majesty's dominions, shall after the said feast of All Saints, willingly, and wittingly, hear, and be present at any other manner, or form of common prayer, of administration of the Sacraments, of making of ministers in the Churches, or of any other rites contained in the book annexed to this Act, than is mentioned and set forth in the said book, or that is contrary to the form of sundry provisions and exceptions, contained in the foresaid former statute, and shall be thereof convicted, according to the laws of this Realm, before the Justices of Assize, Justices of Oyer, and Determiner, Justices of peace in their Sessions, or any of them, by the verdict of xij men, or by his, or their own confession, or otherwise, shall for the first offence suffer imprisonment for six months, without bail, or mainprise; and for the second offence, being likewise convicted, (as is abovesaid) imprisonment for one whole year; and for the third offence, in like manner, imprisonment during his, or their lives. And for the more knowledge to be given hereof, and better observation of this law; Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all and singular Curates shall upon one Sunday every quarter of the Year, during one whole year, next following the foresaid feast of All Saints, next coming, read this present Act in the Church, at the time of the most assembly and likewise once in every year following, at the same time, declaring unto the people by the authority of the Scripture, how the mercy and goodness of God hath in all ages been shewed to his people, in their necessities and extremities, by means of hearty and faithful prayers made to Almighty God, specially where people be gathered together with one faith and mind, to offer up their hearts by prayer, as the best sacrifices that Christian men can yield.


1 ALTHOUGH it cannot be unknown to our Subjects by the former Declarations we have published, what our purposes and proceedings have been in matters of Religion since our coming to this Crown: Yet the same being now by Us reduced to a settled Form, we have occasion to repeat somewhat of that which hath passed; And how at our very first entry into the Realm being entertained and importuned with Informations of sundry Ministers, complaining of the errors and imperfections of the Church here, as well in matter of Doctrine, as of Discipline; Although we had no reason to presume that things were so far amiss, as was pretended, because we had seen the Kingdom under that form of Religion which by Law was established in the days of the late Queen of famous memory, blessed with a peace and prosperity, both extraordinary and of many years continuance (a strong evidence that God was therewith well pleased,) Yet because the importunity of the Complainers was great, their affirmations vehement, and the zeal wherewith the same did seem to be accompanied, very specious; We were moved thereby to make it our occasion to discharge that duty which is the chiefest of all Kingly duties, That is, to settle the affairs of Religion, and the Service of God before their own. Which while we were in hand to do, as the Contagion of the sickness reigning in our City of London and other places would permit an assembly of persons meet for that purpose; Some of those who misliked the state of Religion here established, presuming more of our intents than ever we gave them cause to do, and transported with Humor, began such proceedings as did rather raise a scandal in the Church, than take offence away. For both they used Forms of public serving of God not here allowed, held assemblies without Authority, and did other things carrying a very apparent shew of Sedition, more than of Zeal; whom we restrained by a former Proclamation in the month of October last, and gave intimation of the Conference we intended to be had with as much speed as conveniently could

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be, for the ordering of those things of the Church, which accordingly followed in the Month of January last at our Honour of Hampton Court, where before our Self, and our Privy Council were assembled many of the gravest Bishops and Prelates of the Realm, and many other learned men, as well of those that are conformable to the State of the Church established, as of those that dissented: Among whom what our pains were, what our patience in hearing and replying, and what the indifferency and uprightness of our Judgment in determining, We leave to the report of those who heard the same, contenting Ourself with the sincerity of our own heart therein. But we cannot conceal, that the success of that Conference was such as happeneth to many other things, which moving great expectation before they be entered into, in their issue produce small effects. For we found mighty and vehement Informations supported with so weak and slender proofs, as it appeareth unto us and our Council, that there was no cause why any Change should have been at all in that which was most impugned, the Book of Common Prayer, containing the form of the public Service of God here established, neither in the doctrine which appeared to be sincere, nor in the Forms and Rites which were justified out of the practice of the Primitive Church. Notwithstanding we thought meet, with consent of the Bishops and other learned men there present, That some small things might rather be explained than changed; not that the same might not very well have been borne with by men who would have made a reasonable construction of them; but for that in a matter concerning the service of God, we were nice, or rather jealous, that the public form thereof should be free not only from blame, but from suspicion, so as neither the common Adversary should have advantage to wrest ought therein contained, to other sense than the Church of England intendeth, nor any troublesome or ignorant person of this Church be able to take the least occasion of cavil against it: And for that purpose gave forth our Commission under our great Seal of England to the Archbishop of Canterbury and others, according to the form which the Laws of this Realm in like case prescribe to be used, to make the said Explanation, and to cause the whole Book of Common Prayer, with the same Explanations, to be newly printed. Which being now done, and established anew after so serious a deliberation, Although we doubt not, but all our Subjects both Ministers and others, will receive the same with such reverence as appertaineth, and conform themselves thereunto every man in that which him concerneth; Yet have we thought it necessary, to make known by Proclamation our authorising of the same, And to require and enjoin all men, as well Ecclesiastical as Temporal, to conform themselves unto it, and to the practice thereof, as the only public form of serving of God, established and allowed to be in this Realm. And the rather, for that all the learned men, who were there present, as well of the Bishops as others, promised their conformity in the practice of it, only making suit to Us, that some few might be borne with for a time.

Wherefore we require all Archbishops, Bishops, and all other public Ministers as well Ecclesiastical as Civil, to do their duties in causing the same to be obeyed, and in punishing the offenders according to the Laws of the Realm heretofore established, for the Authorising of the said Book of Common Prayer.

And we think it also necessary that the said Archbishops, and Bishops, do each of them in his Province and Diocese take order, That every Parish do procure to themselves within such time as they shall think good to limit, one of the said Books so explained. And last of all we do admonish all men, that hereafter they shall not expect nor attempt any further alteration in the Common and Public form of God's




IT hath been the wisdom of the Church of England, ever since the first compiling of her Public Liturgy, to keep the Mean between the two Extremes, of too much Stiffness in refusing, and of too much Easiness in admitting any variation from it. For, as on the one side common Experience sheweth, that where a change hath been made of things advisedly established, (no evident necessity so requiring) sundry inconveniences have thereupon ensued; and those many times more, and greater than the evils, that were intended to be remedied by such change: So on the other side, the particular Forms of Divine Worship, and the Rites, and Ceremonies appointed to be used therein, being things in their own nature Indifferent, and alterable, and so acknowledged; it is but reasonable, that upon weighty and important considerations, according to the various exigency of times and occasions, such changes and alterations should be made therein, as to those that are in place of Authority should from time to time seem either necessary or expedient. Accordingly we find, that in the reign of several Princes of blessed memory since the Reformation, the Church upon just and weighty considerations her thereunto moving, hath yielded to make such alterations in some particulars, as in their respective times were thought convenient: Yet so, as that the main Body, and Essentials of it (as well in the chiefest materials, as in the frame and order thereof) have still continued the same unto this day, and do yet stand firm and unshaken, notwithstanding all the vain attempts and impetuous assaults made against it by such men as are given to change, and have always discovered a greater regard to their own private fancies, and interests, than to that duty they owe to the public.

By what undue means, and for what mischievous purposes the use of the Liturgy (though enjoined by the Laws of the Lund, and those Laws never yet repealed) came, during the late unhappy confusions, to be discontinued, is too well known to the World, and we are not willing here to remember. But when, upon his Majesty's happy Restoration it seemed probable, that, amongst other things, the use of the Liturgy also would return of course (the same having never been legally abolished) unless some timely means were used to prevent it; those men who under the late usurped powers had made it a great part of their business to render the people disaffected thereunto, saw themselves in point of reputation and interest concerned (unless they would freely acknowledge themselves to have erred, which such men are very hardly brought to do) with their utmost endeavours to hinder the restitution thereof. In order whereunto divers Pamphlets were published

Service, from this which is now established, for that neither will we give way to any to presume that our own Judgment having determined in a matter of this weight, shall be swayed to Alteration by the frivolous suggestions of any light spirit: neither are we ignorant of the inconveniences that do arise in Government, by admitting innovation in things once settled by mature deliberation: And how necessary it is to use constancy in the upholding of the public determinations of States, for that such is the unquietness and unsteadfastness of some dispositions, affecting every year new forms of things, as, if they should be followed in their inconstancy, would make all actions of States ridiculous and contemptible: Whereas the steadfast maintaining of things by good advice established, is the weal of all Common-wealths.

Given at our Palace of Westminster, the 5. day of March, in the first year of our Reign of England, France and Ireland, and of Scotland the seven and thirtieth.


1 This" Preface," although extending across the entire page, is to be considered as belonging exclusively to the Liturgy of 1662, i. e. to the present Book of Common Prayer. The deviation in this, and some subsequent cases, from the general plan, is adopted in order to prevent so much blank space, and will not, it is hoped, produce confusion, if the dates at the top of the page or column be attended to.

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