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23 - The Liturgical Commemoration of the English Reformation, 1534–1625

from Part IV - Rituals and Bodies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 October 2020

Alexandra Walsham
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
Ceri Law
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
Brian Cummings
Affiliation:
University of York
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Summary

This chapter considers how the English Reformation was, or, mostly, was not recalled in official liturgical documents. The first section surveys the evolution of calendars of saints from the 1530s to the version that became fixed in the Book of Common Prayer from 1562 onwards, which included a great many ancient and medieval commemorations but none from later than the thirteenth century, and cites alternative commemorative models which Tudor regimes could have embraced but chose not to. It then discusses why the Book of Common Prayer so pointedly ignored the upheavals of the Reformation, unlike the Scottish Book of Common Order, arguing that this reflects the need to unite a bitterly divided nation through ‘common prayer’ which was also an act of oblivion. The final section traces how a new myth of the English Reformation was created by occasional services of national prayer during Elizabeth I’s reign, a myth in which the Reformation’s central event was Elizabeth’s own accession, providentially delivering her people from Mary Tudor’s tyranny. This myth faded from the liturgy with the queen’s death, to be replaced by a new liturgical emphasis on popish cruelty based around a new commemoration.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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