77. EDWARD VI: STATUTES

(A) First act of Uniformity (1549)

An act for the uniformity of service and administration of the sacraments throughout the realm. Where of long time there hath been had in this realm of England and Wales divers forms of common prayer ... , and besides the same now of late much more divers and sundry forms and fashions have been used in the cathedral and parish churches of England and Wales, as well concerning the matins or morning prayer and the evensong, as also concerning the holy communion commonly called the mass, with divers and sundry rites and ceremonies concerning the same, and in the administration of other sacraments of the Church; and as the doers and executors of the said rites and ceremonies in other form than of late years they have been used were pleased therewith, so other not using the same rites and ceremonies were thereby greatly offended; and albeit the king's majesty, with the advice of his most entirely beloved uncle, the lord protector and other of his highness's council, hath heretofore divers times essayed to stay innovations or new rites concerning the premises, yet the same hath not had such good success as his highness required in that behalf: whereupon his highness by the most prudent advice aforesaid, being pleased to bear with the frailty and weakness of his subjects in that behalf, of his great clemency hath not been only content to abstain from punishment of those that have offended in that behalf — for that his highness taketh that they did it of a good zeal — but also to the intent a uniform, quiet, and godly order should be had concerning the premises, hath appointed the archbishop of Canterbury and certain of the most learned and discreet bishops and other learned men of this realm to consider and ponder the premises, and thereupon, having as well eye and respect to the most sincere and pure Christian religion taught by the Scripture as to the usages in the primitive Church, should draw and make one convenient and meet order, rite, and fashion of common and open prayer and administration of the sacraments, to be had and used in his majesty's realm of England and in Wales. The which at this time, by the aid of the Holy Ghost, with one uniform agreement is of them concluded, set forth, and delivered to his highness, to his great comfort and quietness of mind, in a book entitled The Book of the Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church after the Use of the Church of England: wherefore the lords spiritual and temporal and the commons in this present parliament assembled ... do give to his highness most hearty and lowly thanks for the same, and humbly pray that it may be ordained and enacted by his majesty, with the assent of the lords and commons in this present parliament assembled and by the authority of the same ... , that all and singular ministers in any cathedral or parish church, or other place within this realm of England, Wales, Calais, and marches of the same, or other the king's dominions, shall from and after the feast of Pentecost next coming be bounden to say and use the matins, evensong, celebration of the Lord's Supper commonly called the mass, and administration of each of the sacraments, and all their common and open prayer, in such order and form as is mentioned in the said book and none other or otherwise.

And albeit that the same be so godly and good that they give occasion to every honest and conformable man most willingly to embrace them, yet lest any obstinate person who willingly would disturb so godly order and quiet in this realm should not go unpunished ... , [be it] ordained and enacted by the authority aforesaid that, if any manner of parson, vicar, or other whatsoever minister that ought or should sing or say common prayer mentioned in the said book or minister the sacraments, shall after the said feast of Pentecost next coming refuse to use the said common prayers or to minister the sacraments in such cathedral or parish church or other places as he should use or minister the same ... , [he] shall lose and forfeit to the king's highness, his heirs, and successors, for his first offence the profit of such one of his spiritual benefices or promotions as it shall please the king's highness to assign or appoint coming and arising in one whole year next after his conviction; and also that the same person so convicted shall for the same offence suffer imprisonment by the space of six months without bail or mainprise....

And it is ordained and enacted by the authority abovesaid that, if any person or persons whatsoever, after the said feast of Pentecost next coming, shall in any interludes, plays, songs, rhymes, or by other open words, declare or speak anything in the derogation, depraving, or despising of the same book or of anything therein contained or any part thereof ... , then every person being thereof lawfully convicted in form abovesaid shall forfeit to the king our sovereign lord, his heirs, and successors, for the first offence 10....

Provided always that it shall be lawful to any man that understandeth the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew tongue, or other strange tongue, to say and have the said prayers heretofore specified of matins and evensong in Latin or any such other tongue, saying the same privately as they do understand; and for the further encouraging of learning in the tongues in the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, to use and exercise in their common and open prayer in their chapels, being no parish churches or other places of prayer, the matins, evensong, litany, and all other prayers, the holy communion commonly called the mass excepted, prescribed in the said book ... in Greek, Latin, or Hebrew — anything in this present act to the contrary notwithstanding....

Statutes of the Realm, IV, 37 .: 2-3 Edward VI, c. I.

(B) Second act of Uniformity (1552)

An act for the uniformity of common prayer and administration of the sacraments.... Be it enacted ... 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[1] that they shall endeavour themselves to the uttermost of their knowledge 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 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 prayers 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 archbishops, bishops, priests, and deacons, to be of like force, authority, and value as the same like foresaid book entitled 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 and limited, expressed and appointed, for the uniformity of service and administration of the sacraments throughout the realm....

Ibid., IV. 130: 5-6 Edward VI, c. I.


[1] Persons possessing jurisdiction in their own right.


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