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Title: The Westminster Directory : its origin and significance
Author: McNally, Frederick Walker
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1958
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The Directory for the Public Worship of God, composed in 1644-45 by the English Parliamentary commission known as the Westminster Assembly of Divines, to be the standard of liturgical uniformity for the national churches of England and Scotland, was the product of a complex of political factors, traditional worship usages, and a rigid theological system. It was the liturgical manifesto of the revolutionary party in the political-ecclesiastical erruption which took place in both kingdoms during the reign of Charles I. The worship principles evolved by the revolutionaries, while informed positively bjr Calvinistic practice and teaching, were negatively influenced by the "Catholic" principles represented by the autocratic forces against which they were in revolt. The Directory thus partook of the inevitable excesses of a revolutionary ideology. The influence had upon the Directory by the book's liturgical predecessors in the two nations and by the usages of the two churches are probably greater than was realised by its composers who presumed to be working from first principles with no regard for traditions. A careful textual study reveals that both the Genevan-Scottish Book of Common Order and the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, in differing ways, helped determine the structure and content of this service book, as did the unwritten traditions of English Puritanism and, more especially, of Scottish Presbyterianism. In the main, the influence of the GenevanScottish order can be seen in the general approach to the public worship taken in the Directory and in its theological.content. And the influence of the Prayer Book is discernible in certain structural details. But literal dependence on either book is very limited. A theological position which maintained the verbal infallibility and exclusive authority of the Bible and the total depravity of man and his tradition, was the third major contributing factor in the shaping of the Directory. This largely accounts for the Word-centred nature and penitential character of its services and for its express repudiation of the "traditions of men" The influence of the Directory upon subsequent worship usages is negligible; the book failed to gain acceptance in England, and while it had formal sanction in Scotland, was little used over the following two centuries in which directorial authority in worship was regarded with indifference or hostility. However, a movement emerged in the Scottish Church in the mid-nineteenth century which, in seeking recovery and enrichment of the Beformed liturgical tradition, looked to the Directory and the old Book of Common Order as the repositories of Reformed principles and usages of worship. Consequently, the influence of the Directory can be traced in the numerous official and semi-official service books which have been produced by the Scottish Presbyterian Churches over the past century. The Directory, while unsuitable for liturgical use in the modern Reformed Church, remains a valuable repository of the major historical principles of reformed worship.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available