Pause to Remember

Today marks the 455th anniversary of the death of Thomas Cranmer, the 69th Archbishop of Canterbury and the author of The Book of Common Prayer. From Wikipedia:

Cranmer was tried for treason and heresy after Mary I, a member of the Catholic Church, came to the throne. Imprisoned for over two years and under pressure from the Church authorities, he made several recantations and apparently reconciled himself with the Roman Catholic faith. However, on the day of his execution, he dramatically withdrew his recantations, to die a heretic to Catholics and a martyr to Protestants. His legacy lives on within the Church of England through the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles, an Anglican statement of faith derived from his work.

Cranmer was burned at the stake, and history says that he shoved his right hand – the hand that had signed all those recantations – into the fire first as a penance for his sins.

Cranmer’s beautiful words made the Book of Common Prayer second only to the Authorized Bible as important works of the English language. Everyone is familiar with the words “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” and “What God hath joined here today let no man put asunder”. But Anglicans will hold this especially close to the heart:

“Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of thy tender mercy didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death, until his coming again: Hear us, O merciful Father, we most humbly beseech thee; and grant that we receiving these thy creatures of bread and wine, according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood …”

Thanks to The Ugley Vicar for the heads-up.

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