5 September 2008

An Anglo-Papalist Liturgist in the time of King James II

As I wrote the penultimate post, revealing that I titivate Dr Cranmer's Consecration Prayer, my mind went back to the figure of the Revd Edward Stephens, who died in 1706; who believed that 'the dignity of the Church of Rome, and the authority of the Bishop of Rome, as the chief patriarch in the Kingdom of Christ, I do heartily embrace, and am resolved, by the grace of God, to assert against all schismatical acts whatsoever' (although he was a less extreme papalist than the Master of Sidney Sussex College Cambridge, the probable author of A Proposal for Catholic Reunion in 1704). Stephens also was a titivator, and a great believer in Daily Mass, and the writer of a pamphlet called The Cranmerian Liturgy, Or, The subtilty of the Serpent in corrupting the True English Liturgy, by Cranmer and a Faction of Calvinists. He rather neatly wrote of the Prayer Book as 'hug'd [by the Cof E] like a Bastard Child by a silly abused husband'. What a superb blogger he would have made.

As well as a liturgy to be used privately (rather Eastern in style), he produced one for public use which owed a lot to the book of 1549. In this he sharpened up Cranmer's English by writing 'who made there by his own oblation ...' (a modification made easier by the fact that the English word 'one' had not yet universally acquired the pronunciation wun). He justified his divergences from the Book which he had, by his oath of canonical obedience, promised to use, with the words 'we must obey God rather than Man, and prefer the Authority of the Catholick Church before that of any particular Church whatever'; a very typical and topical Catholic Anglican observation.


The admirable game of making Cranmer's texts less heterodox continued in the Scotch Liturgy of 1764. As well as incorporating Stephens's emendation 'own', 1764 omitted the word 'there', so that the Sacrifice of Christ was not limited to his Crucifixion. We papalists have been around, with our correcting pencils, for quite a time.

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