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Special worship in the British world, 1783–1919

European settlers in Canada, Australia and South Africa said they were building ‘better Britains’ overseas. But devastating wars, rebellions, epidemics and natural disasters often threatened these new societies. It is striking that settlers in such environments turned to old traditions of collective prayer and worship to make sense of these calamities. At times of acute stress, colonial governments set aside whole days of fasting, humiliation and intercession so that entire populations could join together to implore God’s intervention, assistance or guidance. And at moments of relief and celebration, such as the coming of peace, or the birth of a royal, the whole empire might participate in synchronised acts of thanksgiving and praise to God. This book asks why acts of ‘special worship’ with origins in early modernity became numerous in the democratic, pluralistic and often secularised conditions found in the settler societies of the ‘British world’. Such intense and highly visible occasions had the potential to reach all members of a colonial society: community-wide occasions of prayer were hard to ignore, they required considerable organisation, and they stimulated debate and reflection on a range of political, social and religious issues. The book argues that religion, and more specifically traditional rituals and practices, had a vital role to play in the formation of regional identities and local particularisms in what remained, in many ways, a loosely networked and unconnected empire.

Joseph Hardwick

couple called a ‘day of prayer in all churches’. ‘Only God can send the rain’, they said, and only Curtin, Australia’s most senior politician, could ‘give the order for National Prayer’. Curtin replied sympathetically but said that he could not take the initiative as there was no precedent for doing so: since its formation in 1901, the Commonwealth Government had only summoned its population to pray for peace and for success in war. 1 Protracted periods of low rainfall had threatened white settlement since the

in Prayer, providence and empire
Joseph Hardwick

Special days of worship tightened the bonds of local community and put churchgoers in touch with communities that extended far beyond their immediate world. The circulation of Anglican forms of prayer, with their frequent use of the plural pronouns ‘we’, ‘our’ and ‘us’, broadened horizons too, as churchgoers recognised that they and countless other co-religionists in other parts of the empire offered the same prayers and form of words at roughly the same moment in time. 4 Other texts generated by these occasions

in Prayer, providence and empire
Rebecca Whiteley

knowledge and prayer, these prints were of particular value to women facing the life-cycle event of childbirth. Printed images in seventeenth-century Europe were widespread, mobile and powerful agents. They disseminated knowledge and ideas to all kinds of audiences, from fine art prints collected by elites to cheap woodcuts accessed in public spaces by illiterate audiences. When we study them, it is important to explore the circumstances of their production and to recognise them as the creations of artists

in Religion and life cycles in early modern England
Helen Hills

motion a groundswell of support and civic fervour in Naples, and prompted by ‘both the devotion of the Neapolitan people and the prayers of King Ferdinand I’, Oliviero Carafa, seizing the chance to tighten the Gennaro–Carafa alliance, sought to reunite San Gennaro’s body with the holy head and blood already in Naples Cathedral. 32 But the occupation of Rome and the invasion of Naples by King Charles VIII of France muddied matters between Carafa and Pope Alexander VI, and it was not until 1494, after the restoration of the throne of Naples to the House of Aragon, that

in The matter of miracles
A reassessment
Josephine A. Koster

Unfamiliar with the generic and linguistic conventions of medieval English prayer, modern readers frequently miss, or misidentify, components of Margery Kempe's so-called ‘mystical’ discourse, or ignore it as slavishly imitative of liturgical texts. A major challenge for the twenty-first-century study of Kempe's style and sources is tuning our ears to the language of Middle English liturgy – to hear the resonances Kempe and her intended audience would have heard and responded to, and to understand the implications of their deployment. A case

in Encountering The Book of Margery Kempe
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Catholic imagination, modern Irish writing and the case of John McGahern
Frank Shovlin

19 Secular prayers: Catholic imagination, modern Irish writing and the case of John McGahern Frank Shovlin even now I feel the desperate need of prayer John McGahern, The Leavetaking In 1929 Liam O’Flaherty, the once student-priest, but by then Ireland’s most openly anti-clerical writer, published a scathing attack on the Irish Catholic Church in a short, aggressive book titled A Tourist’s Guide to Ireland. ‘This may seem extraordinary’, he wrote, ‘but it is true that in remote parts of Ireland, usually the parts of interest to tourists, the parish priest has a

in Irish Catholic identities
Els Rose

7 Emendatio and effectus in Frankish prayer traditions Els Rose The effectiveness of worship and prayer was a principle concern of the Franks and took a central position in their interpretation and design of the Christian religion. The Carolingians in particular are known for the way they accentuated a correct practice of worship, including a linguistically correct expression of ritual texts, in order to further the effectiveness of the Eucharistic liturgy and of prayer. As Mayke de Jong phrases it so poignantly:  ‘Obviously, the Carolingian God liked to be

in Religious Franks
Abstract only
Joseph Hardwick

On a Wednesday in late March 1876 an ill-tempered debate took place in New South Wales’s legislative assembly. The disturbance began when the member for Nepean, a seed merchant named Patrick Shepherd, called on the Government to set apart a day for humiliation and prayer. For nine months much of western NSW had experienced severe drought. Tens of thousands of cattle had died. Even human beings, Shepherd said, ‘were destitute of water’. Yet not everyone was convinced that special prayer was required. One member

in Prayer, providence and empire
Joseph Hardwick

Acts of prayer for royal events had an appeal much greater than other kinds of special worship. Even the disengaged noticed when British monarchs called their people to prayer. A NSW wool farmer named Robert McGeoch noted that Sunday 6 January 1918 had been ‘set apart by the King for prayer for peace’, even though no other special day – not even those in times of drought – was mentioned in his diary. 1 Colonists displayed an enthusiasm for elaborate special acts of prayer at times of royal celebration, and

in Prayer, providence and empire