[The PRIMER was one of the great Books of the English Reformation along with the English Bible, The Paraphrases of Erasmus, the Book of Common Prayer and the Homilies. The prayers below reflect the same doctrine as the BCP. Homilies and Catechism in BCP and they show just how far, not only in social order but also in morals the modern Church has moved away from its Reformed Catholic roots.]
For Fathers and Mothers.
THE fruit of the womb and the multitude of children is thy gift and blessing, Lord God, given to this end, that they may live to thy glory, and the commodity of their neighbour. Forasmuch, therefore, as thou of thy goodness hast given me children, I beseech thee give me also grace to train them up even from their cradles in thy nurture and doctrine, in thy holy laws and blessed ordinances, that from their very young age they may know thee, believe in thee, fear, love, and obey thee, and diligently walk in thy commandments all the days of their life, unto the praise of thy glorious name: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THOU hast given a commandment in thy law, heavenly Father, that children should honour their fathers and mothers. I most humbly beseech thee therefore to breathe thy holy Spirit into my breast, that I may reverence and honour my father and mother not only with outward gestures of my body, but also with the unfeigned affection of my heart, love them, obey them, pray for them, help them, and do for them, both in word and deed, whatsoever lieth in my power, that thou seeing my unfeigned hearty good-will toward my parents, mayest become my loving heavenly Father, and number me among those thy children, whom from everlasting thou hast appointed to be heirs of thy glorious kingdom: through thy well beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THY commandment is by thine holy apostle, most merciful Lord Christ, that masters should entreat their servants gently, putting away threatenings, and doing that unto them which is just and equal, forasmuch as we also have a master in heaven, with whom there is no respect of persons: Grant, I most heartily pray thee, that I may so order my servants, that I attempt no unrighteousness against them; but that I may so use my rule and authority over them, that I may alway remember that thou art the common Lord of all, and we all thy servants; again, that I may not forget, that we be all brethren, having one Father, which is in heaven, and look for one glorious kingdom, where thou, with the Father and Holy Ghost, livest and reignest true
and everlasting God for ever. Amen.
LORD Jesu Christ, we are commanded by thy blessed apostles, that we should honour and obey our bodily masters in fear and trembling, not only if they be good and courteous, but also though they be froward, and serve them, not unto the eye as men-pleasers, but with singleness of heart, not churlishly answering them again, nor picking, stealing, or conveying away any part of their goods, unjustly, but shewing all good faithfulness unto our masters, as though we served God and not me: Grant me grace, I most humbly beseech thee, so to serve my master and my superiors, that there may be found no fault in me, but that I, behaving myself uprightly, justly, faithfully, and truly in my vocation, may do worship to the doctrine of thee my God and Saviour in all things. Amen.
THERE is nothing that becometh a maid better than silence, shamefacedness, and chastity of both body and mind. For these things being once lost, she is no more a maid, but a strumpet in the sight of God, howsoever she disguiseth herself and dissembleth with the world: I therefore most humbly beseech thee, merciful Father, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift, and without whom we are able to do nothing, that thou wilt so order my tongue and dispose my talk, that I speak nothing but that become my state, age, and person, neither that I delight to hear any talk that might in any point move me to lewdness, seeing that evil words corrupt good manners. Give me also such shamefacedness as may pluck me away from the delectation either of thinking, speaking, hearing, seeing, or doing evil, that my whole de light may be in virtue, in godliness, in eschewing idleness, in giving myself continually to some godly exercise, but above all things in thinking and speaking of thee, in reading thy blessed word and heavenly law, which is a lantern to my feet, and a light to my paths. Moreover suffer neither my mind to be denied with evil thoughts, nor my body to be corrupted with any kind of uncleanness; but give me grace so to order myself in eschewing idleness and wanton wicked company, that my mind being free from evil affects, and my body clear from all uncleanness, I may be found a meet temple for the Holy Ghost to inhabit, and if it be thy good plea sure hereafter to call me unto the honourable state of matrimony, that I may bring also unto my husband a pure and undefiled body, and so live with him in thy fear, unto the
praise and glory of thy blessed name. Amen.
Of Single Men.
LORD, thou hast commanded by thy holy apostle, that we should abstain from fornication, and that every one of us should know how to keep his vessel, that is to say, his body, in holiness and honour, and not in the lust of concupiscence, as do the heathen, which know not God. I beseech thee, give me grace to behave myself according to this thy holy commandment: that in this time of my single life, I defile not my body with whoredom or any other uncleanness; but so order my self with all honesty and pureness of life, that I may glorify thee, my Lord God, both in body and spirit. Amen.
FORASMUCH, heavenly Father, as thou hast called me from the single life unto the holy state of honourable wedlock, which is thy good and blessed ordinance for all them to live in, that have not the gift of continence, and hast given me a woman to wife, that I living with her in thy fear may avoid all uncleanness: I most heartily pray thee, give me grace to live with her according to thy godly pleasure. Kill in me all filthy and fleshly lusts. Suffer me not to delight in any strange flesh, but to content myself only with her love, to love her as Christ loved the congregation, to cherish her as I would cherish mine own body, to provide for her according to my ability, to instruct her with the knowledge of thy blessed word, quietly and peaceably to live with her, and to agree together in such perfect concord and unity, as is found among many members in one body, seeing now that we also are no more two, but one flesh; that other, seeing our godly and quiet conversation, may hereby be provoked to forsake their filthy living, and to embrace the holy state of honourable wedlock, unto the glory and praise of thy holy name. Amen.
O LORD, forasmuch as thou of thy fatherly goodness hast vouchedsafed to keep me from my tender age unto this present, and hast now called me from my single life unto the holy state of honourable wedlock, that I living therein might, according to thine ordinance, bring forth children unto thy glory: Give me grace, I most entirely beseech thee, to walk worthy of my vocation, to knowledge my husband to be my head, to be subject unto him, to learn thy blessed word of him, to reverence him, to obey him, to please him, to be ruled by him, peaceably and quietly to live with him, to wear such apparel as is meet for my degree, and by no means to delight in costly jewels and proud gallant vestures, but alway to use such clothing as become a sober Christian woman, circumspectly and warily to look unto my household, that nothing perish through my negligence, and always have a diligent eye that no dishonesty, no wickedness, no ungodliness be committed in my house, but in it all things be ordered according to thy holy will, which art worthy all honour, glory, and praise, for ever and ever. Amen.
To have children and servants is thy blessing, Lord, but not to order them according to thy word deserveth thy dreadful curse: Grant therefore, that as thou hast blessed me with an household, so I may diligently watch, that nothing be committed of the same that might offend thy fatherly goodness, and be an occasion of turning thy blessing into cursing; but that so many as thou hast committed to my charge, may eschew all vice, embrace all virtue, live in thy fear, call upon thy holy name, learn thy blessed commandments, hear thy holy word, and avoiding idleness, diligently exercise themselves every one in his office, according to their vocation and calling, unto the glory of thy most honourable name. Amen.
Of all Christians.
ALBEIT, heavenly Father, all we that unfeignedly profess thy holy religion, and faithfully call on thy blessed name, are thy sons and heirs of everlasting glory: yet as all the members of a body have not one office, so likewise we being many, and making one body (whereof thy dearly beloved Son is the head), have not all one gift, neither are we all called to one office, but as it hath pleased thee to distribute, so receive we: We therefore most humbly pray thee to send the spirit of love with concord among us, that without any disorder or debate every one of us may be content with our calling, quietly live in the same, study to do good unto all men by the true and diligent exercise thereof, without too much seeking of our own private gain, and so order our life in all points according to thy godly will, that by well doing we may stop the mouths of such foolish and ignorant people as report us to be evil doers, and cause them through our good works to glorify thee our Lord God in the day of visitation. Amen.
A prayer meet for all men, and to be said at all times.
MOST merciful Father, grant me to covet with an ardent mind those things which may please thee, to search them wisely, to know them truly, and to fulfil them perfectly, to the laud and glory of thy name. Order my living so that I may do that which thou requirest of me, and give me grace that I may know it, and have will and power to do it, and that I may obtain those things which be most convenient for my soul. Gracious Lord, make my way sure and straight to thee, so that I fall not between prosperity and adversity ; but that in prosperous things I may give thee thanks, and in adversity be patient, so that I be not lift up with the one, nor oppressed with the other : and that I may rejoice in nothing but that which moveth me to thee, nor to be sorry for nothing, but for those things which draw me from thee, desiring to please nobody, nor fearing to [dis-]please any besides thee. Most loving Father, let all worldly things be vile unto me for thee, and be thou my most special comfort above all. Let me not be merry with the joy that is without thee. And let me desire nothing besides thee. Let all labour delight me which is for thee, and let all the rest weary me which is not in thee. Make to lift up my heart oftentimes to thee ; and when I fall, make me to think on thee, and be sorry with a steadfast purpose of amendment. Loving Lord, make me humble without feigning : merry without lightness : sad without mistrust : sober without dulness : true without doubleness: fearing thee, without desperation: trusting in thee, without presumption: telling my neighbours their faults meekly, without dissimulation: teaching them with words and examples, without any mockings : obedient without arguing : patient, without grudging : and pure without corruption. Give me also, I beseech thee, a waking spirit, that no curious thought with draw me from thee. Let it be so strong, that no filthy affection draw me backward : so stable, that no tribulation break it. Grant me also to know thee: diligent to seek a godly conversation to please thee, and finally, hope to embrace thee, for the precious blood sake of that immaculate lamb, our only Saviour Jesu Christ : To whom with thee, Father, and the Holy Ghost, three Persons and one God, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
-- The Revd Dr Peter Toon