The Parson's Handbook


The Parson's Handbook

"The Parson's Handbook" is a book by Percy Dearmer, first published in 1899, that was fundamental to the development of liturgy in the Church of England and throughout the Anglican Communion.

The 19th century Oxford Movement brought the High Church within the Church of England into a place of confident leadership of the mainstream of the church. By the end of that century, many were struggling to find suitable forms of worship that were at once obedient to the letter of the Book of Common Prayer (if not its intention) and reflected the desire to a return to more Catholic forms of ritual and ceremonial. Some in the church took on board much of the ritual of the Tridentine Mass. Dearmer and other members of the Alcuin Club decried this wholesale adaptation of Italianate forms, and they campaigned for a revived English Catholicism that was rooted in pre-Reformation ritual, especially in the Sarum Use — something they termed the "Anglican Use" or "English Use". "The Parson's Handbook" is Dearmer's brotherly advice to fellow churchmen about the correct way to conduct proper and fitting English worship. Dearmer's writing style is strong: he disparages customs he finds quaint or misguided, and makes good use of his subtle wit. Although Deamer's directions would have originally been considered High Church, the popularity of the "Handbook" has made them normative. This norm has been influential throughout those portions of the Anglican Communion that have been open to the development of a more Catholic ritual. Although the "Handbook" now appears somewhat dated, and many Anglican provinces have adopted more modern liturgies than the single BCP of Dearmer's age, his work remains surprisingly useful in the modern context.

The "Handbook" was first published by Grant Richards in 1899. Oxford University Press published their first edition in 1907. The twelfth edition was published in 1932, four years before Dearmer's death. The final, 13th edition was extensively revised and rewritten by Cyril Pocknee, a former pupil of Dearmer's.

Chapter headings

The chapter headings according to the 13th revised edition are:

# Some Liturgical Principles
# The Christian Altar and its Furnishings
# The Chancel and Nave and their Furniture
# Vestments and Vesture, including Episcopal Insignia and Liturgical Colours
# The Ornaments of the Church
# Vestries
# Matins and Evensong
# Processions, including the use of the Litany
# The Holy Communion: (1) Introduction
# The Holy Communion: (2) Solemn Eucharist or High Mass
# The Holy Communion: (3) Priest and Clerk; a plain Celebration
# The Rites of Christian Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion
# The Solemnization of Holy Matrimony and the Churching of Women
# The Visitation, Anointing, and Communion of the Sick
# The Burial of the Dead, including Memorials to the Departed
# Notes on the Seasons
# The Parish Meating and the Parish Breakfast
* Appendix I: Collects for Use in Processions and on other Occasions
* Appendix II: New and Revised Canons (1964): Section G, Things Appertaning to Churches

External links

* [http://anglicanhistory.org/dearmer/handbook/1899/index1899.html Online text of the first edition] 1899


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