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Feast of Edward Bouverie Pusey (September 18)   Leave a comment

Above:  Edward Bouverie Pusey

Image in the Public Domain



Anglican Priest

Feast day in The Church of England = September 16

Feast day in The Episcopal Church = September 18

Edward Bouverie Pusey, born into a wealthy family, spent most of his adult life at Oxford University.  He, from 1841 the leader of the Oxford Movement, was a priest more influential in the Anglican Communion than most bishops were.

Pusey, born near Oxford on August 22, 1800, took naturally to university life.  He, educated at Eton then Christ Church, Oxford University, became a Fellow of Oriel College in 1824.  He spent 1825-1827, studying in Berlin and Göttingen, where he met leading German Biblical scholars and critics, as well as studying Semitic languages in Germany and at Oxford.  In 1828 and 1830 Pusey published An Historical Enquiry into the Probable Causes of the Rationalist Character Lately Predominant in the Theology of Germany (two parts), a work critical (in the academic sense of that word) of German Rationalistic theology.  He linked it to spiritually dead Protestant orthodoxy.  When certain people mistook the work for a defense of German Rationalistic theology, he withdrew the Historical Enquiry.  Also in 1828, Pusey married Maria Catherine Barker (1801-1839).  The couple had four children.  Our saint, ordained to the diaconate then to the priesthood of The Church of England, accepted appointment as the Regius Professor of Hebrew and Canon, a position he held for the rest of his life.

At Oxford Pusey met John Keble (1792-1866) and John Henry Newman (1801-1890), leader of the Oxford Movement, also known as Tractarianism and Anglo-Catholicism.  The Roman Catholic revival within Anglicanism was controversial.  Some opponents, who thought that Holy Mother Church was the Whore of Babylon and the Pope was the Antichrist, went to the logical and predictable extreme of labeling the Oxford Movement nothing short of Satanic.  For decades priests bowing to altars, candles being present on the altar, and other practices were controversial.

The Tractarians, whom Pusey joined in 1833, took their name from the Tracts of the Times series.  Our saint wrote some of the Tracts, notably #18 on fasting on its spiritual benefits) in 1834 and #67 and #69 (on baptism) in 1836.  The Tractarians, consistent with their priority on classicism, published the Library of the Fathers series.  Pusey translated the first volume, the Confessions of St. Augustine of Hippo, in 1838.

Pusey became the leader of the Oxford Movement in 1841, as Newman moved toward his conversion to Roman Catholicism, in 1845.  Our saint became so identified with the Tractarian Movement that “Puseyite” became a synonym for Tractarian.  He remained within The Church of England, so many who would otherwise have followed Newman into the Roman Catholic Church chose not to cross the Tiber River.

Pusey donated generously to churches for the poor and founded a religious community to minister to impoverished people.  The Sisterhood of the Holy Cross, also known as the Park Village Community, founded in 1845, was the first Anglican religious community founded since the English Reformation.  In 1856 the Sisterhood of the Holy Cross merged into the Society of the Most High Trinity, founded by Priscilla Lydia Sellon (1821-1876) in 1849.

Pusey frequently found himself engaged in controversies.

  1. In 1843 his sermon before Oxford University entitled “The Holy Eucharist, a Comfort to the Penitent,” in which he favored Transubstantiation, led to his suspension from the Oxford pulpit for two years.
  2. Another sermon, “The Entire Absolution of the Penitent” (1846), was a defense of the proposition that The Church of England had the priestly power to absolve sins.  This was the beginning of private confession in Anglicanism, a practice still too Catholic for many Anglicans.
  3. In 1862 Pusey accused Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893), the Regius Professor of Greek of heresy.  Jowett, a Hegelian, had written “On the Interpretation of Scripture” for Essays and Reviews in 1860.  Pusey found Jowett’s conclusions theologically erroneous.  The Chancellor’s Court acquitted Jowett, who remained at Oxford and received promotions.
  4. In 1865 Pusey wrote that barriers to Anglican reunion with the Roman Catholic Church included purgatory, indulgences, and Marian devotion.  During the next few years Newman and Pusey engaged in a long-form, written debate, topics of which also included Papal Infallibility and the Immaculate Conception.
  5. One of the controversies in The Church of England in the late 1800s was whether to remove the Athanasian Creed from Morning Prayer.  Pusey argued for retaining it.  Although that creed remained in the form for Morning Prayer in The Book of Common Prayer (1662), the practice of congregational recitation of that creed declined within Anglicanism.

Pusey, aged 82 years, died at Ascot Priory, Berkshire, of the Society of the Most Holy Trinity, on September 16, 1882.  He was a transformational figure and a positive influence within Anglicanism.

Pusey House, a religious institution at St. Giles, Oxford, constitutes a tangible part of our saint’s legacy.





Grant, O God, that in all time of testing we may know your presence and obey your will;

that, following the example of your servant Edward Bouverie Pusey,

we may with integrity and courage accomplish what you give us to bear;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 36:24-28

Psalm 106:1-5

1 Peter 2:19-23

Luke 3:10-14

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 591


Feast of Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (July 18)   Leave a comment


Above:  Westminster Abbey, 1913

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number =  LC-USZ62-107039



Anglican Dean of Westminster and Hymn Writer

A singularly gentle, attractive, and fascinating personality, he was universally beloved, and by his character won the homage of sceptic and believer alike, and of those who, theologically, were most implacably opposed to him.

–James Moffatt, Handbook to the Church Hymnary (London, UK:  Oxford University Press, 1927, pp. 507-508)

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley‘s family informed his adult life in profound ways.  His father was Edward Stanley (1779-1849), who became the Bishop of Norwich, serving from 1837 to 1849.  Our saint’s brother, Owen Stanley (1811-1850), joined the Royal Navy and explored the South Pacific Ocean.  The saint donated the baptismal font of ChristChurch Cathedral, ChristChurch, New Zealand (, in his memory.  Our saint’s sister, Mary Stanley (1813-1879), was a Tractarian who converted to Roman Catholicism and became a nurse who worked with Florence Nightingale, encouraged an active role for religion in nursing, and devoted herself to a variety of philanthropic causes.

Arthur, educated at Rugby School under Dr. Thomas Arnold (1795-1842), and at Balliol College, Oxford, published his biography of the old school master in 1844 and became the basis of a character in the Thomas Hughes novel, Tom Brown’s School Days (1857).  Our saint took Holy Orders in 1839.  He spent much of his career at Oxford, first as a tutor.  He was  Broad Churchman–a radical moderate–at a polarized tine.  Although he was neither an Evangelical (a Low Churchman) nor a Tractarian/Anglo-Catholic (a High Churchman), he favored toleration for adherents of both pieties.  Since High Church tendencies were especially odious to many, advocating for toleration of them proved quite controversial.  But Arthur did have a Roman Catholic (formerly Anglo-Catholic) sister, so he did know someone whose piety he defended yet did not share.

Arthur, like his father, was a liberal by the standards of the day.  He supported the continued establishment of The Church of England while advocating the end of the requirement that students at Oxford affirm the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.  He favored The Book of Common Prayer (1662) yet thought that reciting the Athanasian Creed in public should be optional.  He focused on what united Christians instead of what divided them.  Thus he was a natural ecumenist who favored Presbyterians preaching from Anglican pulpits.   He also gave some Unitarian  scholars communion once, prompting strong criticism.  Our saint, the leading liberal Christian theologian in Great Britain at the time, earned widespread respect and much opposition from his right and his left simultaneously.  But his generosity of spirit was never in question.

Our saint wrote about twelve hymns, including the following one, which features a Transfiguration theme:

O Master, it is good to be

High on the mountain here with Thee,

Where stand revealed to mortal gaze

The great old saints of other days,

Who once received, on Horeb’s height,

The eternal laws of truth and right,

Or caught the still small whisper, higher

Than storm, than earthquake, or than fire.


O Master, it is good t be

With Thee and with Thy faithful three:

Here, where the apostle’s heart of rock

Is nerved against temptation’s shock;

Here, where the Son of Thunder learns

The thought that breathes, the word that burns;

Here, where on eagle’s wings we move

With him whose last, best creed is love.


O Master, it is good to be

Entranced, enwrapt, alone with Thee;

Watching the glistening raiment glow,

Whiter than Hermon’s whitest snow,

The human lineaments that shine

Irradiant with a light divine:

Till we too change from grace to grace,

Gazing on that transfigured face.


O Master, it is good to be

Here on the mount with Thee;

When darkling in the depths of night,

When dazzling with excess of light,

We bow before the heavenly voice

That bids bewildered souls rejoice,

Though love wax cold and faith be dim,

“This is My Son!  O hear ye Him!”

Our saint published his Memoir (1851) of his father and the Commentary on the Epistles to the Corinthians (1855) after becoming the Canon of Canterbury Cathedral in 1851.  As Canon he toured Egypt and the Holy Land in 1852-1853.  Then he wrote a book based on his journey.

Arthur returned to Oxford as the Chair of Ecclesiastical History and the Canon of Christ Church Cathedral in 1856.  During that tenure he toured Russia in 1857.  Then he based a book on that task.

In 1863 our saint, passed over for an opportunity to become the Archbishop of Dublin, became the Dean of Westminster instead.  That year he married Lady Augusgta Bruce (died 1876), who was close to the royal family.

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley was correct:  It is better to focus on what unites us as Christians than on what separates us.  I distrust doctrinal purity tests, which seem designed chiefly to affirm the orthodoxy of those who design and/or apply them.  Besides, I fail such tests consistently.  So did Jesus, so our saint and I have much better company in our relative heterodoxy and generosity of spirit.









Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Arthur Penrhyn Stanley,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60