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National Religion and the Prayer Book Controversy, 1927-1928

National Religion and the Prayer Book Controversy, 1927-1928

JOHN G. MAIDEN
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 226
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt9qdgzr
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  • Book Info
    National Religion and the Prayer Book Controversy, 1927-1928
    Book Description:

    This is the first full length examination of a defining moment in the history of the Church of England in the twentieth century: the Prayer Book controversy of 1927-28. It argues that conceptions of national religion were influential in the debates surrounding liturgical revision, showing in particular how ideas of Protestant national identity clashed with both liberal Anglican and moderate Anglo-Catholic conceptions of Church and nation. It shows how the Church of England retained a significant position in national life in the interwar period; however, it also argues that the resilience of the anti-Catholic mindset amongst many Anglicans and Free Churchmen meant that the exact nature of the relationship between religion and nation was hotly contested. This study sets the Prayer Book controversy in the context of early twentieth century British religious history, providing important insights into the history of Anglicanism, Nonconformity and ideas of English and British identity during the period. JOHN G. MAIDEN is a Research Assistant at the Department of Religious Studies, The Open University.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-748-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. INTRODUCTION: LITURGICAL REVISION AND NATIONAL RELIGION
    (pp. 1-26)

    In December 1927, the House of Commons met to debate and vote on a revised Prayer Book that had received the spiritual seal of approval of the voting bodies of the national Church. The reports of various newspaper commentators expressed the sense of excitement and intensity of interest surrounding the issues at stake. There was an unprecedented demand for tickets for the viewing galleries, while below, according to one newspaper, members had mustered ‘in such numbers as suggested full realisation of a crucial event’.¹ During the speeches, the House was reportedly more chaotic and boisterous than during a heated political...

  7. 1 DIVERSITY AND DISCIPLINE: THE CHURCH AND THE PRAYER BOOK
    (pp. 27-43)

    In order to assess the relationship between national identity and the controversy of 1927–28, it is necessary to understand the nature of the Church of England’s revision project. Such a comprehension is foundational – the content and implications of the final revision proposals placed before Church and nation require interpretation. The details of the proposals are made all the more significant because many members of English, and broader British, society, who took an interest in revision had, in a large measure, a good grasp of the doctrinal and liturgical issues associated with the bishops’ proposals. The standard of reporting in...

  8. 2 PEACE AND ORDER? ANGLICAN RESPONSES TO REVISION
    (pp. 44-74)

    Anglican establishment figures tended to recite a similar narrative regarding the story of the Prayer Book measure. An editorial in theChurch of England Newspaperin July 1927 argued that the book was supported by ‘the vast majority of Churchpeople’ and that the proposals, followed by reform of the Ecclesiastical Courts, would ‘strengthen the hands of the bishops in their efforts to restore order and discipline’.¹ The main opposition, it was asserted, came from a minority of zealous and fanatical Protestants and a few intransigent and Romeward-leaning Anglo-Catholics. In the opinion of Archbishop Davidson, the ‘majority of sane opinion’ was...

  9. 3 CHURCH AND NATION: ANGLICANISM, REVISION AND NATIONAL IDENTITY
    (pp. 75-105)

    In 1926, while the bishops were still absorbed in preparing the new liturgy at Lambeth Palace, the World Evangelical Alliance organised a rally at the Royal Albert Hall. The main speaker was E. A. Knox, the retired bishop of Manchester. His speech began with the patriotic and conservative assertion that England had survived ‘two great perils’ in recent times, the Great War and the General Strike, but then he predicted that these dangers from Berlin and Moscow would be followed by ‘a peril from the Vatican of Rome’.¹ The hyperbole continued as he declared

    if England were to gain the...

  10. 4 CITIZENS AND PROTESTANTS: THE DENOMINATIONS AND REVISION
    (pp. 106-132)

    In June 1928, as parliament prepared to debate the second revision measure, J. A. Sharp, the former President of the Wesleyan Methodist Conference, wrote toThe Times,

    We cherish no spirit of antagonism towards the Anglican Church … but so long as it remains the national Church its Protestant character must be maintained, and we look to the House of Commons, as representative of the people, to save the Mother Church of their land from taking a step which, rightly or wrongly, we believe will imperil the Reformation settlement.¹

    The previous year, theCambrian News, the Aberystwyth-based newspaper, described revision...

  11. 5 NATION AND RELIGION: REVISION AND PARLIAMENT
    (pp. 133-162)

    During the House of Lords debate on the Prayer Book, Randall Davidson gave a final plea to Britain’s political representatives to accept the revised liturgy that he had spent almost an entire career as Archbishop guiding through the Church’s representative assemblies:

    I am an old man. I have been a bishop for nearly 35 years and an Archbishop for nearly 25 years and my life has not been lived in private or silently or unrecorded. Standing here I assure your Lordships to-day that I am absolutely unconscious of any departure from the principles of the reformed Church of England to...

  12. 6 CHANGE AND CONTINUITY: RELIGION AND NATIONAL IDENTITY IN THE 1920S
    (pp. 163-186)

    This book has argued that ideas of national religion were at the core of the Prayer Book controversy. The underlying question that surfaced at frequent points during 1927–28 regarded the role of the Church of England in national life, and, more broadly, the relationship between religion and national identity. The discussions and disputes usually revolved around English identity; however, parliament’s involvement and the tendency of some Protestants, particularly Evangelicals, to point to the Protestant foundations of the British polity and the common religion of the home nations, meant that the broad identity of Britain was also widely debated. The...

  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 187-202)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 203-210)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 211-214)