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Uniformity, Acts of

Uniformity, Acts of, 1549, 1552, 1559, 1662. By enforcing the use of successive Prayer Books, the Acts provided liturgical conformity in Books of Common Prayer instead of the diverse uses of Sarum, York, Bangor, and Lincoln. Constitutionally and ecclesiastically, though not liturgically, the 1549 Act was ‘a momentous moment’, because Parliament set a precedent by itself authorizing doctrine and liturgy, a royal preserve since 1534. Liturgically the 1549 book, broadly an abridged Sarum rite in English, catholic in tone, made little change. The 1552 book marked a Zwinglian shift; the mass became the communion, tables replaced altars, the surplice replaced eucharistic vestments. Despite recent debate as to Elizabeth's intention, the 1559 book was decidedly comprehensive. Catholic elements were added to the 1552 book and vestments were to be as in 1548. The 1661 Prayer Book (authorized 1662) roughly followed 1559, and was uniformly used until the 20th cent., though Anglo-catholic ritualists often illegally used Tridentine rites in English.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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Uniformity, Acts of

Uniformity, Acts of. Four acts of Parliament (1549, 1552, 1559, 1662) which regulated the worship of the Church of England and the use of the Book of Common Prayer. The 1662 Act, part of the Restoration settlement, contained as an annex the BCP still in use, and required all ministers to assent to it. This Act remains on the statute-book, but has been radically amended by 1974 legislation allowing alternative services.

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