« Prime, Samuel, Irenæus Primer Primicerius »


PRIMER: Ecclesiastically, an elementary book upon the cardinal points of Christian belief; liturgically, the name given to a series of works which have an important place in the history of the Anglican Prayer Book (see Common Prayer, Book of). The earliest example of the liturgical primer (with which this article is principally concerned) was compiled about 1390. The first of consequence was that by William Marshall, Prymer in Englysshe (London, 1535), which contained expositions of the Apostles' Creed, Decalogue, Lord's Prayer, and Ave Maria, also the various offices and hours, seven penitential Psalms, the Dirige, and the Roman Commendations. The next of importance was the "Bishops' Book," The Godly and Pious Institution of a Christian Man (1537), authorized by the king, the two archbishops, and a number of other ecclesiastical authorities, and marking a great step in advance from Romanism to Anglicanism. Bishop Hilsey's Manuall of Prayers, or the Prymer in Englyshe (1539) furnished a basis for the system of lessons and for that of the epistles and gospels. A step further was taken by The Prymer set forth by the King's Majesty (1545, reprinted 1547), which included the Litany. In 1553 appeared the Primer of Private Prayers, which was used in making Queen Elizabeth's First Primer (1560); her second (1566) incorporated many changes. The last known was issued in 1571. The employment of these belongs to the history of the Prayer Book (see Common Prayer, Book of, § 1).

Bibliography: Consult the literature under Common Prayer, Book of, especially F. Procter and W. H. Frere, A New History of the Book of Common Prayer, chaps. i.–ii., London, 1905. The three primers (Marshall's, Hilsey's, and King Henry's of 1545) were reprinted in E. Burton's Three Primers put forth in the Reign of Henry VIII., Oxford, 1834, 2d ed., 1848.

« Prime, Samuel, Irenæus Primer Primicerius »
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