Title: HOOKER'S CRITERIA FOR LITURGY ,  By: Stevick, Daniel B., Anglican Theological Review, 00033286, Spring91, Vol. 73, Issue 2
Database: MasterFILE Premier

Richard Hooker, in Book V of his Eccleciastical Polity, prefaces his detailed defense of the worship system of the Church of England with some criteria for liturgy. These specific criteria grow from the general principles of church authority set forth in Books I-IV. The criteria are: (1) fitness, (2) historical continuity, (3) church authorization, and (4) practical necessity. These guidelines are troth conservative and open--useful for 20th century liturgical change.

It hardly needs to be said that the churches of the West, in the second half of the 20th century are in a period of liturgical challenge and change. Practices and words hallowed by long habit are being altered, and people ask "why?"

When liturgy is undergoing change or when it is in question, thinking about worship becomes highly conscious. At such times, churches cannot just do; they must reflect on what they do. Gifted persons must bring to awareness the principles by which worship is shaped and carried out. Communities seek to respossess what they have been given by history and, at the same time, to be open to what is new. At such times, liturgical communities must be discriminating and self-critical.

Change, when it comes, in a continuous tradition, puts the present in touch with the formative period of the tradition, or with previous occasions when the tradition has been challenged. Anglicans look freshly at Cranmer, his intentions and his achievement--as Presbyterians rediscover Calvin, Lutherans examine Luther, and Roman Catholics take a fresh look at the Council of Trent. All Christians, of course, look to the first few centuries, during which the major forms of Christian liturgy took their enduring shapes.

At a crucial moment in Anglican history, the Elizabethan era, Richard Hooker, under Puritan challenge, set forth some criteria for worship. He did so in the course of his profound exposition of the worship system of the Church of England in Book V (1597) of his of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. We shall direct attention to these criteria, suspecting that they may have some pertinence for today.


Hooker undertakes his exposition of the liturgy of the English Church in Book V of his Ecclesiastical Polity, after a lengthy investigation of logically prior material. He has known from the start that he must examine the controverted features of the English worship system. But for Hooker, the Puritan attack is so fundamental that before he can take up particular complaints, he must deal, in four closely-argued books, with issues of authority. Does the Puritan argument rest on questionable assumptions? What are the grounds and sources of true authority? only after these impressive "flanking movements," as C.S. Lewis calls them,[1] is Hooker ready to turn to particulars.

Hooker opens Book V by establishing some common ground with his opponents.[2] Both the Church of England and the Puritan party within it seek such laws and ordinances as "may rightly serve . . . to establish the service of God with all things "hereunto appertaining in some perfect form, (V.iv.3: 2.31, lines 5-7.).[3] All parties are engaged on a serious matter; both sides might use similar terms to describe the ends they seek.

Hooker at once introduces a distinction. There is "an inward reasonable" worship and "a solemn outward serviceable" worship, both of which are due to God. The former includes "all manner of virtuous duties that each man ill reason and conscience to Godward oweth." The latter. represents "whatsoever belongeth to the Church or public society of God by way of external adoration." Hooker's interest will be in the public system: "It is of the later of these two whereupon our present question groweth." Thus Hooker recognizes the validity of acts of inward, private worship. He will not quarrel with the Puritans concerning them. Such acts cannot be known and judged by anyone else, and they are not subject to church regulation. He will focus on the public, external rites of the church.


Neither in Book V nor anywhere else does Hooker give a definition of worship, !Dut he supplies fragments of basic description. Later in Book V he will speak of worship as "mutual conference and as it were commerce to !oe had between God and us," (V.xviii.1: 2.65, lines 7f). The words "conference" and "commerce" suggest meeting and exchange. They imply a listening and speaking, a receiving and giving, an investment of the life of God in the church and of the life of the church in God-all brought to public expression in liturgy.

This "mutual conference" is carried out by a complex system of words and actions. Hooker makes no apology for this complexity. In Book IV, where he had approached liturgical issues at a general level, he had accepted and used the scholastic terms "matter" and "form." He noted there that although the matter and form of the essential actions of worship might be carried out quite simply, minimum essentials are never enough

In every grand or main public duty, which God requireth at the hands of his Church, there is, besides that matter and form wherein the essence thereof eonsistetll, a certain outward fashion whereby the same is in decent sort administered. (IV.i.2: 1.273, lines 15-20)

He thus rules out a liturgical minimalism which would, in effect, ask, "How little can we do in worship and still do what we must?" The central actions are, for their own fulfillment, associated with further words, acts, and adornment: "But the due and decent form of administering those holy sacraments, cloth require a great deal more," (IV.1.2: 1.273, lines 28f).

This development beyond the minimum involves words and actiorls. Words coupled with actions, Hooker explains, are more forceful than words alone; and for several reasons:

--They can express the importance of the occasion. Public actions "which are of weight" require "some visible solemnity," (IV.i.3: 1.274, lines 16-18).

--They can impress those who watch and hear:

Not only speech but sundry sensible means besides have always been thought necessary, and especially those means which being object to the eye, the liveliest and most the apprehensive sense of all other, have . . . seemed the fittest to make a deep and a strong impression. (ib., lines 4-8)

--Relatedly, actions joined to words can seal an event in the doer's

Words troth because they are common, and do not so strongly move the fancy of man, are for the most part but slightly heard and therefore with singular wisdom it hath been provided, that the deeds of men which are made in the presence of witnesses, should pass not only with words, but also with certain sensible actions, the memory whereof is far more easy and durable than the memory of speech can be. (ib., lines 20-27)

Hooker is here supporting a measure of richness or "solemnity," which is appropriate, as he sees it, to civic as well as to church events. He lived in a ceremonial age, which accepted color, special garb, and pageantry. Such affirmation of ceremony tapped wide experience and a deep past:

No nation under heaven either cloth or ever did suffer public actions which are of weight whether they be civil and temporal or else spiritual and sacred, to pass without some visible solemnity; the very strangeness whereof and difference from that which is common, cloth cause popular eyes to observe and mark the same. (IV. i.3: 1. 274, lines 15-20)

We live in an un-ceremonial age--radically so in some communities. Modern bourgeois society is ill-at-ease with stylized ritual actions. It lacks a general sense that different styles may be appropriate to different functions. Important events are carried out in a rather everyday fashion. We are usually suspicious of display. A few years ago, Richard Sennett identified the problem in a book called The Fall of Public Man. [4] our skepticism is understandable. We have found staged spectacles, such as those mounted by Albert Speer for the Third Reich, to be manipulative. Grand gestures by individuals (unsupported by a communal tradition) seem extravagant and self-important. In the 16th century, the Puritans were moving towards modern drabness, and Hooker was urging the value of color and differentiation.

Note should be taken of Hooker's frequently used adjective "solemn"--or the noun "a solemnity." It did not refer to something sad or to an action be carried out in a heavy-hearted way. A solemnity might be quite festive. Hooker gives the sense of the term when he speaks of "strangeness" or the difference of a solemn event "from that which is common." The mark of solemnity was an appropriate specialness.[5]

The developed system of liturgical acts and words of the Church of England (spare and economical by many standards) gave the Puritans numerous occasions of offense. They mounted a simple, radical critique: Do only what Scripture authorizes. In the light of this principle, the Prayer Book system seemed filled with excesses--impious efforts to add to or improve on what God had given to the church:

For so it is judged, our prayers, our sacraments, our fasts, our times and places of public meeting together for the worship and service of God, our marriages, our burials, our functions, elections, and ordinations ecclesiastical, almost whatsoever we do in the exercise of our religion according to laws for that purpose established, all things are some way or other thought faulty, all things stained with superstition. (V.iv.1: 2. 30, lines 17-24)[6]


Hooker addresses the Puritan objections in a full and orderly way in Book V of the Polity--half again as long as Books I-IV and the Preface together. In turning his great argument to these particulars of worship, he remarks, in the "Epistle Dedicatory" to Book V, that the matters of which the Puritans complain "are in truth for the greatest part such silly things, that very easiness cloth make them hard to be disputed of in a serious manner.[7]

It is true that the Puritan complaints were, for the most part, petty. Moreover, most of them were negations. The Church of England had put forward a moderate system of rites, and the Puritans had found many features of it offensive. one thinks of Horton Davies' comment "While there was substantial agreement in the Puritan coalition on the delenda, there was substantial disagreement on the agenda."[8] The alternative usages that the Puritans proposed were, on the whole, prosy, static, and clerical.

Yet Hooker does dispute the Puritan objections "in a serious manner." He argues theologically and deeply. Through his work it becomes clear that the worship of the Church of England is not just a body of individual judgments, but it forms a system,' with internal coherence. Hooker goes to principles, often uncovering unexpectedly serious reasons for what is done. The Prayer Book had been in place continuously for a generation when Hooker wrote. Its words and directions had been put together without express criteria. The process may not have been altogether pragmatic, but if there were guiding principles, they were left implicit. But Hooker examined the English Book of Common Prayer and discovered a depth and consistency in it that had gone unexpressed before. His "criteria" may be after-the-fact, but one could argue that liturgical criteria are usually after-the-fact. He set out to defend a system which he found to be eminently defensible.

In tactics, Hooker represented the established church and its authorized customs--things that British Christians could, for the most part take for granted. No one who accepted the system had to think why things were done; they were done. The Puritans, for their part, mounted an articulate critique, saying what the Church of England should not do. They held the initiative, for they were on the attack. In this situation one could not respond by urging the continuance of unreflective custom or habit. Nor could the Church of England prevail (although after Hooker's time it tried) by securing compliance through enforcing laws and imposing penalties. Rather, it had to state a fresh, considered case for what it authorized. It had to provide reasons--reasons arising out of Christian truth. Determinations of practice had to be rooted in general principles, representing a coherent case. "We being defendants do answer that the ceremonies in question are godly, comely, decent, profitable for the Church," (IV.iv.2: 1.286, lines 15-17).

Portions of this argumentative ground had been covered, albeit at a quite general level, in the previous Book of the Polity. There Hooker had dealt with principle--the Puritan "general exceptions." The Puritans had urged five lines of opposition to the rites and customs of the establishment:

  1. The offensive ceremonies are lacking in apostolic simplicity; they are too stately or elaborate.
  2. They are too similar to the uses of the Romish church. (Hooker's reply to this point is the most developed.)
  3. The uses that are in common with Rome were derived from Judaism.
  4. They lead to idolatry and are therefore scandalous.
  5. They differ from the uses of the earlier Reformed churches.

Hooker can assume the argumentation of Book IV when in Book V he considers specific practices.


Hooker turns from answering general negations in Book IV to dealing with controverted particulars in Book V. But he approaches by way of establishing criteria for worship. He will be dealing with a large and miscellaneous agenda. He does not want a mere list of particular answers to particular complaints. If the Bible is not (as he had earlier argued it is not) a rule-book for public worship, so that the church is forever bound to apostolic practice (insofar as that might be determinable), what principles do guide? obviously all things must follow divine positive law and natural law.[9] But are there other axioms that are closer to the sort of determinations required by liturgy?

Here the ground had been at least partially occupied by some of the Puritans. They held that the practices of public worship should be guided by principles drawn from the New Testament itself, and they cited four such principles, taken from Paul's treatment of worship and conscience in 1 Corinthians:

  1. Nothing should be admitted which is scandolous or gives offense.
  2. Everything should be decent and
  3. should tend to edification.
  4. All should be to the glory of God.

Hooker does not really quarrel with these points.[10 But they are so general that they do not much advance the discussion. The Church of England would think of itself as fully in conformity with these apostolic guidelines. In effect, the argument could be paraphrased:

The Puritans contended:

--St. Paul says that everything should be edifying;

--we find versicles and responses unedifying;

--therefore St. Paul is against you.

The establishment would counter:

--St. Paul says that everything should be edifying;

--we find the use of versicles and responses suitable and edifying;

--therefore you misapply St. Paul.

In other words, the Puritan form of argument claimed, in a simplistic way, New Testament grounds for things that were in fact matters of judgment. Hooker's opponents sought to hold the Church of England to the stringent rule of authorizing only what is commanded in the Word of God--a rule which would allow no room for judgment. Then they introduced these general principles, assuming that their liturgical customs complied with them, while those authorized for the Church of England did not. It seems obvious to Hooker that the Puritans simply want to remove the particular order established in the English Church and replace it with their own.

Hooker proposes "Four General Propositions," which are closer to the real determination of liturgical practice. He wants to be able to discuss what is good (and by implication what is bad) liturgical practice and why. Yet he wants to be open and flexible. More than one practice might satisfy his criteria. Hooker knows that Christian liturgical life has been remarkably varied, and concrete situations may commend practices which should not be universalized. So he puts forward criteria which provide useful guidelines, but criteria within which some flexibility is possible.


1. Fitness: The first of Hooker's criteria by which authorized customs or rites should be judged as having or lacking the approval of conscience is, somewhat surprisingly, functional:

There must be in such rites or ceremonies reason--not to suppose them better than any that might be, but "to show their convenience and fitnes, in regard of the use for which they should serve," (V.vi.1: 2.33, lines 3f).

Having made this sensible and modern-sounding affirmation, Hooker asks that no slight view be taken of the end which the words and actions of liturgy are to serve. He says that no cultural material is fully adequate for this supreme use. He cites two things:

First, the uniqueness of the church and its purpose:

This present world affordeth not any thing comparable unto the public duties of religion. For if the best things have the perfectest and best operations, it will follow that seeing man is the worthiest creature upon earth, and every society of men more worthy than any man, and of societies that most excellent which we call the Church; there can be in this world no work performed equal to the exercise of true religion, the proper operation of the church of God. (V.vi.1: 2.33, lines 10-17)

Second, the infinite majesty of God:

For as much as religion worketh upon him who in majesty and power is infinite, as we ought we account not of it, unless we esteem it even according to that very height of excellency which our hearts conceive when divine sublimity itself is rightly considered. In the powers and faculties of our souls God requireth the uttermost which our unfeigned affection towards him is able to yield. So that if we affect him not far above and before all things, our religion hath not that inward perfection which it should have, neither do we indeed worship him as our God. (ib., lines 17-26)

In this remarkable passage, Hooker begins by sounding instrumental, perhaps almost manipulative. He counsels: Shape worship so that it suits its purpose. Then he asks that the shapers of worship stand in awe before that purpose. There is an interior pressure on the materials and forms of worship--pressure from the transcendent character of the divine object of worship. Along with a desire to have worship that is worthy of God, there must be a recognition that no worship we can fashion is or can be equal to such a standard.

In filling out this criterion of fitness, Hooker observes that fitness implies also some mode of correspondence or resemblance:

That which inwardly each man should be, the Church outwardly ought to testify. And therefore the duties of our religion which are seen must be such as that affection which is unseen ought to be. Signs must resemble the things they signify. . . . Duties of religion performed by whole societies of men, ought to have in them according to our power a sensible excellency, correspondent to the majesty of him whom we worship. Yea then are the public duties of religion best ordered, when the militant Church cloth resemble by sensible means . . . that hidden dignity and glory wherewith the Church triumphant in heaven is beautified. (V.vi.2 2.33, line 26--p.34, line 6)

In this passage, Hooker weaves together several themes: The visible forms of worship should correspond with the unseen affections of the worshippers. They should have a sensible excellency appropriate to God. And they should show in the church militant the hidden glory of the church triumphant.

If the perfect representation of the divine is impossible, as Hooker has argued it is, we may not for that reason do nothing at all. Rather, certain elements of our common world can suggest, by resemblance, the character and majesty of God--some can suggest it better than others. The church's task is to use its powers of discrimination to bring into use those visible things that most adequately represent the invisible God.

Hooker sums up his first criterion in terms that may be thought ringing or modest, depending on where a reader may choose to put the emphasis:

Let our first demand be therefore, that in the external form of religion such things as are apparently, or can be sufficiently proved, effectual and generally fit to set forward godliness, either as betokening the greatness of God, or as beseeming the dignity of religion, or as concurring with celestial impressions of the minds of men, may be reverently thought of; some few, rare, casual, and tolerable, or otherwise cureable, inconveniences notwithstanding. (V.vi.2: 2.34, lines 15-22)

Having proposed an exacting standard, Hooker might hope that his readers would recall his comment, made in an earlier place, that forms of worship must suggest; they cannot capture or define: "The sensible things which Religion hath hallowed, are resemblances framed according to things spiritually understood, whereunto they serve as a hand to lead, and a way to direct," (IV.1.3: 1.275, lines 22-24).

2. Tradition: The second criterion (developed in a fine extended passage in V.vii) is long continued use:

Neither may we . . . lightly esteem what hath been allowed as fit in the judgment of antiquity and by the long continued practice of the whole Church; from which unnecessarily to swerve experience hath never as yet found it safe. (sec.1: 2.34, lines 24-27)

Hooker argues that antiquity has judged certain practices fit. (He says nothing as to how such judgment was rendered.) This fitness has been confirmed by "the long continued practice of the whole Church"-- thus entering considerations of regional extent as well as length of time; creating something like a Vincentian canon for liturgy. The moderns are to the ancients as youths are to their elders. The aged are wise and experienced. Their counsel should be accepted by the young. "In whom therefore time hath not perfected knowledge, such must be contented to follow them in whom it hath," (sec.1: 2.35, lines 17f).[11]

Hooker would be surprised to hear "experience" opposed to "tradition." The principles of our elders, he says, derive from their experience; attention to their principles makes us beneficiaries of their prior experience.

That which showeth them to be wise, is the gathering of principles out of their own particular experiments. And the framing of our particular experiments according to the rule of their principles shall make us such as they are. (sec. 2: 2. 36, lines 7-11)

Hooker counsels caution about changing things long approved: "The love of things ancient cloth argue staidness, but levity and want of experience maketh apt unto innovations," (sec.3). old things have been tested--"there are few things known to be good, till such time as they grow to be ancient," (sec.3).

Readers of Book IV will be reminded of things said there:

In all right and equity, that which the Church hath received and held so long for good, that which public approbation hath ratified, must carry the benefit of presumption with it to be accounted meet and convenient. They which have stood up as yesterday to challenge it of defect, must prove their challenge. . . . The burden of proving cloth rest on them. (IV.iv.2: 1.286, lines 10-15, 21f)

In sum, where fitness is not itself sufficient to determine, "the judgment of antiquity concurring with that which is received may induce them to think it not unfit, who are not able to allege any known weighty inconvenience which it hath, or to take any strong exception against. (V.vii.4: 2.37, lines 22-25)

3. Authorization: The third of Hooker's criteria is the voice of the

Having spoken of the respect in which precedent or tradition should be held, Hooker continues by asserting the church's freedom in matters of discipline. The church of Christ has a right and a competence to do--even to do what has not been done before:

All things cannot be of ancient continuance which are expedient and needful for the ordering of spiritual affairs but the Church being a body which dieth not hath always power, as occasion requireth, no less to ordain that which never was, than to ratify what hath been before. V.viii. 1 2.38, lines 2-6)

Here again, the author echoes something he had said in Book IV: "We lawfully may observe the positive constitutions of our own Churches, although the same were but yesterday made by ourselves alone," (IV.v: 1.288, lines 24-26). This point seems to be Hooker's recognition of historical novelty. Conditions can arise for which historical precedent gives no real parallel; when that happens, Hooker understands that the church is not helpless.

In response to the varied circumstances of history, the church may rightly do in one time something different from that which it had rightly done at another: "The Church hath authority to establish that for an order at one time, which at another time it may abolish, and in both do well," (V.viii.2: 2.38, lines 17-19). Not many thinkers in the late 16th century were aware of historicism to this degree. Everything that is done is done with reference to a situation. In a changed situation, one may be most faithful to past intention by instituting a different practice. Although the point is common now, it was not common when Hooker wrote.

The church does not make its determinations arbitrarily. It draws on "wisdom ecclesiastical." This freedom of which Hooker speaks is a freedom of the church--not of the individual or a congregation. No one is competent to judge alone. one should not set oneself above the church. "The bare consent of the whole Church should itself in these things stop their mouths who living under it, dare presume to bark against it," (sec. 3: 2.39, lines 22-24).[12] When he speaks of"the whole church," Hooker is evidently here thinking of the Church of England as self-governing and able (as other churches are also able) to determine its own affairs. other social units have their means of establishing order and securing compliance. Should the church of God be unable to command consent? The Puritans have reacted from Rome's excessive claims for the church into too little recognition of the due rights of the church. Hooker maintains that both extremes are harmful.[13]

He questions the separation that the Puritans make between Scripture and church: "Suppose we that the sacred word of God can at their hands receive due honor, by whose incitement the holy ordinances of the Church endure every where open contempt?" (sec.4: 2.40, lines 14-17). Moreover, the obedience to such ordinances should be ungrudging: "Where our duty is submission, weak oppositions betoken pride," lb., lines 23f).

In sum, where divine law, invincible argument or serious inconvenience do not determine, the authority of the church should determine; and its determinations should be found binding by each individual:

The very authority of the Church itself, . . . may give so much credit to her own laws, as to make their sentence touching fitness and convenience weightier than any bare and naked conceit to the contrary; especially in them who can owe no less than childlike obedience, to her that hath more than motherly power. (sec.5: 2.4O, lines 3O-35)

4. Necessity: Hooker concludes his series of "general propositions" with some (again a little surprising) remarks in behalf of necessity:

What ought to be done in divine worship cannot be determined by general principles alone. There is great variety in the tradition, and circumstances may prevent carrying out the ideal. When that happens, to do the best one can in the situation is not to do second best. Hooker's criterion of necessity thus has real theoretical dignity. It is not a concession or something to be acted on with apology: "In evils that cannot be removed without the manifest danger of greater to succeed in their rooms, wisdom, of necessity, must give place to necessity," (V.ix.1: 2.41, lines 5-7).

And, in words that might well be hung in every vesting room, choir room, and sacristy: "When the best things are not possible, the best may be made of those that are," (ib.: lines 10f).

The church should not be "inhuman and stern" concerning spiritual ordinances. God, for cause, has even modified the orderly ways of nature; and artists may knowingly violate canons of their craft. Although there are principles in liturgy, they should not be inflexible. There are matters of conscience that are not against, but above the law--"things which law cannot reach unto," (sec.3: 2.44, line 29). The church should, in honor of due regulation, allow the relaxation of regulation and consider exceptions:

We . . . require that it may not seem hard, if in cases of necessity, or for common utility's sake, certain profitable ordinances sometime be released, rather then all men always strictly bound to the general rigor thereof. (v.ix.5 2.46, lines 1-4)

Quite remarkably, it is here, in his consideration of liturgical matters, that Hooker includes his most extended treatment of equity. Here, rather than in Book I, which contains the heart of his legal philosophy, Hooker speaks of moderating the letter of the law when a strict application would violate its spirit: "Many things by strictness of law may be done, which equity and honest meaning forbiddeth. Not that the law is unjust, lut unperfect; nor equity against, but above the law." (ib.: 2.44, lines 27f)

Did Hooker think that liturgical regulation especially should be flexible and sensitive to persons and situations? or was he saying that the Puritans did not realize that law, rightly understood, contains principles for its own accommodation to cases? The Puritans made law a more rigid thing than it needed to be. The necessary moderation of a law need not overthrow law, rather it expresses "the liberty that law with equity and reason granteth," (V.ix.4: 2.45, lines 34f).

The necessity of recognizing necessity is created by the fact that things go wrong! (How many of the theoreticians of liturgy in the 16th century had been parish clergy, as Richard Hooker had? Although he is not talking about individual judgment nor about the shaping of local customaries, nonetheless at times the parish priest's weekly wrestling with sheer liturgical obstinancy seems to show through.) He said: "In polity as well ecclesiastical as civil, there are and will be always evils which no art of man can cure, breaches and leaks more than man's wit hath hands to stop," (V.ix.2: 2.43, lines 3-5).

He proposes that the present controversy has been conducted too much at the level of conflicting dogmatic principles. The disputants have ignored "what restraints and limitations" all such principles have in practice. Experience of the variety of life is the source "from whence to draw the true bounds of all principles." Such discrimination, attentive to the realities of experience, is more difficult than is the simple pronouncement of generalities: It ". . . requireth more sharpness of wit, more intricate circuitions of discourse, more industry and depth of judgment, than common ability cloth yield." Popularly the generalizations are grasped, but the complexity of concrete experience is exacting and elusive.[14]

All satisfactory liturgical practice is with reference to a situation. It is risky to universalize. "We must not . . . imagine that all mens cases ought to have one measure," (V.ix.2: 2.44, line 13).


These four "general principles" are only a methodological introduction to the detailed discussions that occupy Hooker's great Fifth Book. But these principles deserve more than to be gone over quickly while a reader hurries on to see what Hooker will say about a particular controverted point. These liturgical "middle axioms" show Hooker's ability to mingle penetrating inquiry with openness to concrete complexity. He is poised between antiquity and modernity. It could well be argued that, as liturgical change continues in the Anglican tradition which Hooker did much to shape, and as such change makes criteria important, Hooker's respectful but critical appeal to fitness, historical continuity, church authorization, and practical necessity have not been altogether dated by the passage of three centuries.

Some remarks on festival days, which Hooker makes a little later in Book V, might, in the light of his principles, be thought applicable generally to forms of"external adoration:"

They are the splendor and outward dignity of our religion, forcible witnesses of ancient truth, provocations to the exercise of all piety, shadows of our endless felicity in heaven, on earth everlasting records and memorials, wherein they which cannot be drawn to hearken unto that we teach, may only by looking upon that we do, in a maimer read whatsoever we believe. (V.lxxi.ll: 2.383, lines 16-21)

[1] Lewis, C.S., English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, oxford, The Clarendon Press: 1954, p. 459. Lewis' dozen pages on Hooker (pp. 451-63) are as good a summary of Hooker's work and importance as can be found.

[2] Rather to one's surprise, Hooker does not begin at once to address the Puritan liturgical objections. Rather, he opens with a lengthy passage on the importance of religion and on the danger to the commonwealth from atheism on the one hand and superstition on the other. He looks at the issue from its extremes. He first examines insufficient religion as a civic threat (atheism, V. i-ii), and then he turns to excessive religion (superstition, V iii-iv). On]y after clearing this proposition that sound religion is a "stay of the state" is he ready to examine the specifically liturgical matters. By giving the liturgical issues this social context, he indicates how much he thinks is at stake in the present dispute.

[3] Hooker is quoted from the Folger Library Edition of The Works of Richard Hooker, W.Speed Hill, general editor, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1977 et. seq. I cannot be the only reader who, despite endless gratitude for a reliable text, finds this elegant edition less 'reader friendly" than the old Keble or EML editions. I therefore identify quotations by the familiar Book, chapter and section references, followed, after a colon, by the volume, page, and lines of the passage in the Folger Library edition. Spelling has been modernized.

[4] Richard sennett, The Fall of Public Man, New York, vintage Books: 1978. In this complex and informed work of social criticism, the writer argues that the loss, in the modern industrial west, of public culture, public roles, decorum, style and rhetoric has placed an extraordinary emphasis on private life, on one's own unassailable experience, and on individual charism, and has opened modern society to "the tyranny of intimacy."

[5] See C.S. Lewis, A Preface to Paradise Lost, London, oxford UP 1949, pp. 15f. Lewis concludes his remarks on the meaning of pomp and solemnity in the 16th and 17th century "The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility. rather it proves the offender's inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for every one else the proper pleasure of ritual," p. 16.

[6] Another list, by Hooker, of a Puritan bill of particulars, in III.v.: L214, lines 21-29, goes:

Having an eye to a number of rites and orders in the Church of England, as marrying with a ring, crossing in the one sacrament, kneeling at the other, observing of festival days more than only that which is called the Lord's day, enjoining abstinence at certain times from some kinds of meat, churching of women after child-birth, degrees taken by divines in universities, sundry Church-offices, dignities, and callings for which they found no commandment in the holy scripture, they thought by the one only stroke of that axion [Do only what scripture warrants.] to have cut them all off.

The longest list of Puritan complaints, again organized by Hooker, and important because it pertains particularly to the content of the Book of Common Prayer, is in V.xxvii. 1

[7] Folger Library Edition, 2.2, lines 20-22.

[8] Davies, Horton, From Andrewes to Baxter and For, 1603-169O, vol. 2 of Worship and Theology in England, Princeton, NJ, Princeton UP 1985, p. 410. This is not the only place in which Davies makes this memorable comment.

[9] In Francis Paget's old, but elegant An Introduction to the Fifth Book of [looker's Treatise "Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity," oxford, The Clarendon Press: 1899, p. 128, the author makes it clear that the previous four Books of the Polity must be assumed here. Hooker's criteria apply only within the area, already cleared by him, within which human laws are compenent. In V.viii.2: 2.39, lines 8-11, Hooker says: "What Scripture cloth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; and after those the voice of the Church succeedeth."

[10] These Puritan points and Hooker's discussion of them occupy the early part of Book 11.

[11] Francis Bacon (1561-1626), an approximate contemporary of Hooker, made a characteristic reversal of this admiration for antiquity. He said that rather than being elderly, wise and experienced, the ancients lived before the fund of experience had had much time to grow. They were the youth of the race. With respect to us, the age in which the ancients lived was the elder, but with respect to the world it was the younger. The moderns are beneficiaries of longer experience, live at a more advanced age of the world, and are the true elders. Nocum Organum, Book I, Aphorism 84.

[12] Hooker's point that judgment about necessity was, in his mind, to be the judgment of the church, not the judgment of an individual or a congregation, is made in the closely-written tenth chapter of Book v, coming at the conclusion of his lengthy development of his "Four General Propositions." Having put forward criteria for the public worship of the church, and having put them in such a way as to allow for judgment, he now explains that private judgment is not what he has in mind. He has been talking about criteria that might guide churches.

The prose rhythm of the opening portion of the chapter is established by four "If against . . ." clauses. The entire section consists of two of Hooke's wonderful, cantilevered sentences.

He seems to aim his remarks at persons who took themselves to be led by the Spirit, and whose individual following of the Spirit (as Hooker saw it) portended chaos for the church: When persons follow "those inventions whereby some one shall seem to have been more enlightened from above than many thousands, . . . what other effect could hereupon ensue, but the utter confusion of his Church under pretense of being taught, led, and guided by his spirit?" This individualism seems to Hooker simply arrogant: "Where such singularity is, they whose hearts it possesseth ought to suspect it." Editors in annotating this section give no references to passages or writings of Hooker's usual opponents. There are not many other places in which Hooker refers so directly to this "pentecostal" style of sectarian opposition. Who were these "spirituals?" When did they emerge onto the scene so that he had to take note of them? Does this tenth section of Book V follow from the foregoing "propositions" somewhat as though it had been added in response to an emergent issue?

[13] "Our dislike of them, by whom too much heretofore hath been attributed unto the Church, is grown to an error on the contrary hand, so that now from the Church of God too much is derogated. By which removal of one extremity with an other, the world seeking to procure a remedy, hath purchased a mere exchange of the evil which before was felt," (V.vii.4: 2.4O, lines 9-14). Hooker in section viii asserts the prerogatives of the church, but by the same stroke he casts the Puritan critics in the position of individual complainers.

[14] This is not the only place in which Hooker, himself a theoretician, expresses his conviction that abstract theorizing is easy, and likely to be misleading; whereas concrete experience is complex, difficult, and likely to contain surprise.



[*] Daniel B. Stevick, STD, is Emeritus Professor of Liturgics and Homiletics of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA. He is now living in Swarthmore, PA, where he is writing and doing adjunct teaching in the Philadelphia area. His most recent books are Baptismal Moments Baptismal Meanings and The Crafting of Liturgy.

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