Cranmer’s Flame Burns on

Part of the attraction of blogging is that it adds legitimacy and purpose to what I most like doing anyway – scouring the web for serendipitous bits of information and viewpoints. An historian crossed with a magpie, I look for facts, opinions which chime or conflict with mine, verification of half-forgotten quotations or just bright snippets which lighten up my day.

A side reference to Thomas Cranmer in a recent post about churches and vicars sent me off to find out more abut him than I knew. This amounted to a rough idea of his place in Henry’s Reformation, the physical marks of his trial and death a mile or so from where I live (the cut in a pillar in St Mary’s which supported the platform for his trial and the cross in Broad Street which marks his pyre) and, above all the language of the Book of Common Prayer and particularly the Collects.

This latter provided the context – a half-thought-through argument that both church and politics might attract more supporters if they abandoned modern ideas of “relevance”and reverted to older notions of leadership and consensus and quality material – in which Cranmer came to mind:

“Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name, Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

“Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep, we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, we have offended against they holy laws, we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.”

“Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee O Lord, and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night, for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ”.

You would die happy, or at least comforted, would you not, if those were the last words you heard even if, as for me, the chief benefit of religion is the comfort of loved and long-remembered phrases and tunes?

It follows almost inevitably from this that the deeper liturgical waters of both Cranmer’s time and our own are beyond me. If this sort of thing takes your fancy, move across to where the late prelate, back from burning and ready to blog, says:

Things got just a little bit too hot on 21st March 1556. Haven’t been around much since, but I am as keen as ever to investigate and expose religio-politics or politico-religiosity, whatever the cost

I refer you in particular to Cranmer’s post The Last Rites of the Church of England and the debate there as to whether Harry Potter or Wisden should be incorporated into an Anglican Apocrypha with the case for Wisden being made thus:

“Apart from including Laws that participants take seriously, and a meticulous account of recent transgressions, it is more thoroughly grounded in traditional English values than the dreaded ‘Anglican Communion’, and, like the Bible, is full of inspiring anecdotes with a vague bearing on the human condition”.

What you will find, in other words, is a light touch on weighty matters.



About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
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