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Jenny Geddes and Laud’s Service Book
Aberdeen Journal

January 24, 1913.
Jenny Geddes and Laud’s Service Book.

Every one knows the story of the bold and, timely outburst, in speech and action, of Jenny Geddes in the Great Kirk of Edinburgh, on 23rd July, 1637. Her memory is perpetuated in the works of Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Carlyle, and others; also by a memorial Tablet in St Giles Cathedral, with a Latin inscription by the Lord Justice General.

The Service Book, the use of which aroused the wrath of Jenny and the congregation is, however, not so well known. It was devised by the Bishops in Scotland, and prepared by Archbishop Laud, Primate of England, and its use was enjoined upon all the Ministers and Readers in the Church of Scotland by Charles I. by virtue of his prerogative royal.

The following notes as to this Book are taken from a contemporary writer—This Popish-English-Scottish-Mass-Service Book is to be rejected by tho Kirk of Scotland (1) as it is much more popish than the English Book of Common prayer, as it omits words opposing the doctrine of real presence, and contains several most popish expressions; (2) it would cause a great change in sundry articles of doctrine and discipline of this kirk; (3) "In the pretended Communion, it hath all the substance and essential parts of the masse, and he brings in the most abominable idolatrie that ever was in tho world, in worshipping of and devouring a broaden God. . . Somethings that were put out of the Service Book of England, for smelling so stronglie of the Masse, are here restored, yet all is laboured to be covered and couched,” etc.; (4) “It hath no small number of Popish, superstitious, idolatrous ceremonies, as 29 holie days equalised in holiness to the 52 Sabbaths. It hath 14 fasting days, and some wholl weeks; it hath the idolatrous ceremonies of crosse in baptism, bishopping, or the poppish sacrament of Confirmation, by the laying on of the Bishops holie hands upon little children of 7 or 8 years old; a ring for an outward seal! in marriage, seeing everie Sacrament must have an outward signe; a sanctified font, holy water, holiness of churches, and chatnewdlee, private baptism, private Communion. ceremonies for burial of the dead, and purification of women, the Priest sometymes standing, sometymes kneeling, sometymes turning to the people, and consequently sometymes from them; sometymes speaking with a loud voyce, and consequently sometymes with a low voyce or mumbling: the people must stand up at gospels, Gloria Patri, and at Creeds; their answering to the Minister with Responsoria and Anti-pheria: and many many such like above 50 in number.” And besides any religious ornament that the King shall prescribe, and ceremonies that the Bishops shall determine, or that shall be found in the Book of Homilies; "which, when it shall be, you shall have so perfite a Church, that any Boy of Eight years of age, who is taught to read English, may be a kirkman good enough, for he can read a prayer, a Chapter, the Service Booke, a printed Homilie or Sermon: (5) Omitting about 120 Chapters of God’s Word; And to make up the Bishop's new Bible they read sundry chapters out of Apocrypha. . . . The Service Book hath a Latanic more like unto conjuring nor prayers. (6) It is not lawful to introduce a reading ministrie, and to stint men to such a Liturgie as is to be made the only form of God’s public worship ”

The outory and opposition started spread so quickly and so far that on 20th Sept., 1637, the Lords of Council modified the Order for the use of the Book, and ingenuously explained that it extended only to the buying, not reading, of it.

The Glasgow Assembly of 1638 condemned the Prayer Book, the Book of Canons, the Book of Consecration, condemned the Court of High Commission, and deposed all the Bishops, and their proceedings were subsequently approved of by an Act of Parliament, which was, however, rescinded by Charles II. on his restoration.

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