Calls to prayer
in Prayer, providence and empire
Abstract only
Log-in for full text

This chapter examines how special worship was called and for what reasons. It also explains its longevity. Two broad developments are addressed, both of which bear on two of the key concerns of the book: community and church authority. First, after 1850 special worship in the empire became increasingly fragmented and regionalised. Colonial governments commonly appointed special acts of worship for causes that were specific to their particular colonies, such as droughts and frontier wars. Second, the responsibility for organising and ordering special worship gradually passed from civil to ecclesiastical and other non-state authorities. While the first development – the move towards regional occasions – points to the importance of regional and denominational attachments, the second – the growing visibility of church leaders – suggests the confidence of institutional religion. Though the preponderance of acts of worship called for regional causes indicates that identifications below the level of empires, nations and colonies exerted a powerful pull in the late nineteenth-century empire, developments in communication meant that thanksgivings for royal events, notably coronations and jubilees, were now possible, and could be coordinated at the imperial level by the authorities in church and state in metropolitan Britain. Special worship, then, orientated the inhabitants of empire in several directions, both towards an extended imperial nation, and towards more regional attachments.

Prayer, providence and empire

Special worship in the British world, 1783–1919