Saturday, May 5, 2007

Ox-goring and the necessity of extempore prayer

In 1641, several Church of England bishops were arrested and put on trial by the puritan Long Parliament.

On July 20th, Sir Thomas Widdrington presented the case against Bishop Wren, relating how he placed the Communion Table altar-wise, read from the Book of Sports, and hated extempore prayer. Widdrington then went on to say of Wren:
"Without doubt he would never have been so strait-laced and severe in this particular (i.e. his hatred of expempore prayer) if he had but dreamed of that strait which a minister, a friend of his, was put into by this means. The story is short. A butcher was gored in the belly by an ox; the wound was cured; the party desired public thanksgiving in the congregation; the minister, finding no form for that purpose, read the collect for the churching of women ."

This strange anecdote is quoted in the nineteenth century by William Cobbett in his Parliamentary History of England (vol 2, 888) and John Stoughton in Religion in England (vol 1, 160). As to how it relates to us in the twenty-first century, well, make of it what you will.

2 comments:

Donald said...

I like it

Bridges said...

Susan,

Thanks for the colorful anecdote! I'll have to remember that one.

Tim

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