by William Palmer of Worcester College Oxford, 3rd Edition 1839.
Transcribed by John D Lewis
Perth, Western Australia.
TO THE FIRST EDITION.
THE Ritual Formularies of the English Church have been illustrated by so many learned Divines, that the reader may justly claim some explanation of the necessity and the nature of the present work.
The valuable writings of LESTRANGE, NICHOLLS, WHEATLY, SHEPHERD, and Bishop MANT, contain excellent commentaries both practical and doctrinal, on the rubrics and prayers of our Ritual; and perhaps scarcely any thing can be added to the information which they have conveyed on these points. But the field of historical and antiquarian discussion is more open. In itself more extensive, it has perhaps been less explored; and its fertility is so great, that had it been consistent with my plan, there would have been no difficulty in very considerably extending these volumes.
Such topics are in fact connected with much that is important; for he who is acquainted with the principles and practice of early times, will best comprehend the purport of our rites. The English Prayer Book was not composed in a few years, nor by a few men: it has descended [iv] to us with the improvements and the approbation of many centuries: and they who truly feel the calm and sublime elevation of our hymns and prayers, participate in the spirit of primitive devotion. The great majority of our formularies are actually translated from Latin and Greek rituals, which have been used for at least fourteen or fifteen hundred years in the Christian church: and there is scarcely a portion of our Prayer Book which cannot in some way be traced to ancient offices.
Most of our ritualists have noticed these circumstances; but with the exception of NICHOLLS, who printed the originals of many of our collects from the Sacramentary of Gregory, no one, I believe, has yet published any part of the English Offices in their Original languages.
My own attention was called to this fact, when, in the course of preparation for holy orders, it became my duty to study our Ritual: and while I was endeavouring to ascertain the precise meaning of some expressions, I experienced such difficulties in referring to the originals, as induced me to seek some commentary resembling that which the reader has now before him, and subsequently to resolve, as far as was in my power, to supply the deficiency.
The propriety of such an undertaking does not, I am happy to say, rest on my opinion alone. The late Bishop of Oxford, (DR. LLOYD,) whose authority should have weight on such a subject, was so convinced of its expediency, that he was [v] himself collecting materials for the purpose, which he intended to publish so soon as his avocations should permit1. His Lordships collections were entered on the margin of a folio Prayer Book, in the library given by Dr. Allestree for the use of the Regius Professor of Divinity in this University; and having been kindly permitted to compare them with the results of my own investigations, I have derived from them several valuable observations, which are acknowledged in their proper places.
There is another and still larger body of collections entered on the margin of a Prayer Book iii the Bodleian Library, and apparently designed for the same purpose, by Doctor EDWARD BERNARD, Savilian Professor of Astronomy in this University, in the reign of king Charles the Second. I have also very frequently consulted a manuscript Sacramentary of the Anglo-Saxon Church, written about the ninth or tenth century, and given by Leofric bishop of Exeter to his cathedral church before the Norman Conquest. This interesting volume is likewise in the Bodleian Library.
It has been my object, in the following work, to trace the origin and antiquity of our Services, especially of those which have been insufficiently noticed by others; to explain ancient rites and ancient terms; to record the originals of our [vi] prayers; and to point out the best sources of information on ritual subjects. When I have been unable to ascertain their originals, I have occasionally compared our formularies with those which have been used on similar occasions in other churches. Some of our Offices have been so fully explained and commented on by preceding ritualists, that little ground has been left unoccupied; and this must in some degree account for the brevity of my remarks on these, compared with what I have said of other Services. The holy Communion has particularly engaged my attention, because it is here that we are to look more especially for analogy with the ancient liturgies.
In the course of these remarks it has been necessary to refer so very frequently to the primitive liturgies, which bear the names of MARK, JAMES, BASIL, CHRYSOSTOM, and other Fathers, that I have been induced to place a Dissertation on Primitive Liturgies at the beginning of the present volume, which may be useful in explaining the authority of documents subsequently referred to, and may contribute to turn the attention of others to these most important and venerable remains.
In conclusion, it becomes my duty gratefully to acknowledge the liberality with which the Delegates of the Oxford University Press have undertaken to publish this work.