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The Parson’s Handbook

By the Rev. Percy Dearmer, M.A.

London: Grant Richards, 1899


The following very brief summary of the Archbishop of York’s Pastoral (Dec. 1898) may be of use. The pastoral was delivered after this handbook was in type.

The Bishop’s unanimity on these points is absolute. We have to obey the Prayer Book as it is. The daily services should be said. Provision should be made for the holy days and fasts which are in the Prayer Book, but other festivals are not to be observed. No ceremony to be introduced that is not ‘clearly authorised or sanctioned by the Prayer Book’; but hymns are an exception to this rule. The Ornaments Rubric not to be obeyed without the Bishop's sanction. ‘The ceremonial use of incense as in the censing of persons and things cannot be sanctioned’; but its still use might be tolerated. The sprinkling of water cannot be sanctioned. Pictures and images may be allowed, but not the placing of candles before them. Reservation must be wholly discontinued; though in special cases of emergency ‘permission might possibly be given to carry the Holy Communion directly’ from the service in church, without any reservation. There is no authority for the omission of the Commandments, or of Collect, Epistle, and Gospel. All additions to the service are equally inadmissible ; ‘for example the ringing of a bell at the moment of consecration, either within or outside of the church.’ To celebrate the Holy Communion ‘in a choral form with everything that can add to its dignity and solemnity’ is in every way allowable; but there must be persons present to partake of the Holy Sacrament, and there must be ‘an open and evident readiness’ to receive communicants. No additional service may be introduced without the Bishop’s sanction first obtained. Interpolations are inadmissible. Invocations cannot be allowed, ‘nor definite prayers for the dead.’ The Church of England does not allow confession to be made compulsory.

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