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The Liturgical Commemoration of the Reformation, 1534-1625

Ryrie, Alec (2020) 'The Liturgical Commemoration of the Reformation, 1534-1625.', in Memory and the English Reformation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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.

Item Type:Book chapter
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Publisher statement:This material has been published in Memory and the English Reformation edited by Alexandra Walsham, Bronwyn Wallace, Ceri Law and Brian Cummings. This version is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:27 October 2021
Date of first online publication:30 October 2020
Date first made open access:27 October 2021

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