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Prayers And Prayer-books Of Queen Elizabeth

( Originally Published Late 1800's )

The Prayer by Queen Elizabeth, communicated by Clionas, and printed in p. 389, is one of the three contained in a little volume entitled 1` Supplications of Saints a Book of Prayers and Praises, in Four Parts. Wherein are three most excellent Prayers made by the late famous Queen Elizabeth. By Tho. Sorocold."* This volume, we are told by Wood ("Athenae," by Bliss, vol. ii., col. 636), in the latter end of Queen Elizabeth, and beginning of King James, took with the vulgar sort, and was as much admired as "The Practice of Piety " was afterwards. Hearne relates that in his time he re-membered a very pious lady who used to give away great numbers to the poor. It is also said in the same place that the thirty-sixth edition was published in 1640, the thirty-seventh in 1642, the thirty-eighth in 1693: It is, however, now rare ; there is no copy in the British Museum or Bodleian Libraries but one, called in the title-page the fourth edition, though evidently printed in the reign of Charles II., as appears by King Charles, Queen Catherine, and James Duke of York, being mentioned therein, I have inspected at Sion College. It is a small duodecimo of 284 pages, with a very terrific woodcut portrait of " Elizabetha Regina" as a frontispiece.

Her Prayers have the following titles :

1. " A Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Overthrow of the Spanish Navy, sent to invade England, anno Domini 1588." This is that printed in the second volume of Nichols's " Progresses " as an accompaniment to Stow's account of the Queen's solemn Procession to St. Paul's. A manuscript copy of it is to be found in the Hari. MSS. No. 2044, where it is distinctly called "The Coppie of a Praer which her Majestie made her selfe, and sayd it when she was at the Sermon at St. Paules Crosse, the 24 of November, 1588."

2. " Queen Elizabeth's Prayer for the Success of her Navy, anno Dom. 1596." The occasion of this was the well-known expedition to Cadiz ; and it is particularly mentioned by Stow, as follows : "And in this meane time of all this businesse at Plimmouth [where the troops were mustered and embarked] the Queenes Majestie, well considering that the Lord of Hoastes blesseth the hoastes and forces of godly Princes, and giveth victorie to the faithfull armies, made a very devout Prayer to Almighty God for the good successe of the Fleet, and sent it by Captaine Edward Conway to the Generals, commanding that it should be dayly sayd throughout all the Fleete." Of this also I have seen a manuscript copy, in the handwriting of the time, in the Cotton MSS., Otho, E. ix., where it is called " Her Maties pryvat Meditation upon ye present Expedition, sent from Sir Robt. Cecyll to ye Gen'ralls of her Highnes' Army at Plymowth, inclosed in this 1're underwritten." As I believe this prayer to be unknown to modern readers, the subjoined transcript of it may interest Clionas and others, who will find it composed in a style very similar to that in page 389, which was written in the following year.

I have followed the manuscript copy, because, as Sorocold's is some-what modernized, the more antient version must most assimilate to that first traced by the Queen's own pen.

"Most omnipotent Maker & Guider of all our worlde's masse, that onely searchest & fadomest ye bottom of all herts' conceyts, & in them seest ye true originall of all accions intended : thou that by thy fore-sight dost truely discerne how no malice of revenge, nor quittance of injurie, nor desyre of bloodshedde, nor greedeness of luker, hath bred the resolution of our now sette out army; but a heedeful care & wary watche, yat no neglect of foes, nor over-suerty of harme, might hreede either danger to us or glory to them. These being the grounds, thou yat diddest inspyre ye mynd, we humblye beseech with bended knees, prosper ye worke, & with ye best forewindes guyde the journey, speede the victorye, & make ye returne the adauncement of thy glorye, the tryumphe of thy fame, and suerty to ye Realm, with ye least losse of English bloode. To these devout petitions, Lord, give thy blessed graunt. Amen."

3. The third in Sorocold's volume is " Queen Elizabeth's Prayer for her Navy : A.D. 1597." This is that printed in p. 389, a little modernized. Besides the manuscript copies in the Harleian MSS. as mentioned by Clionas, a third (written temp. Eliz.) is in the Cotton MSS. Galba, D. xii., entitled, "A Prayer mayd by the Queene for the prosperos successe of the journey begun." It may be observed that the word voyage was not at that time adopted into the English language ; in the preceding prayer the Queen uses journey where we should now say voyage, and here again " the journey begun" was the sailing of the fleet.

Bishop Tanner (" Bibliotheca," p. 260) mentions a book of prayers in the Norwich Library, believed to have formerly been Queen Elizabeth's, which has in the beginning "A Prayer to be said in time of extream sicknes," written by the Queen's own hand.

In the Duchess of Portland's Museum was "Queen Elizabeth's Prayer-book, which contains six Prayers, comj5osed by her Majesty, and written by her own hand (in the true spirit of devotion) in the neatest and most beautiful manner upon vellum. Two of the prayers are in the English language, one in Latin, one in Greek, one in Italian, and one in French. On the inside of the covers are the pictures of the Duke D'Alançon, Elizabeth's suitor, and the Queen, by Hilliard; the binding shagreen, with enamelled clasps, and in the centre of each a ruby" (Malcolm's "Letters of Granger," vol. ii., p. 49). Can any of your correspondents inform me where this precious volume is at present preserved ?

From the preceding collectanea Clionas will perceive that the religious compositions of Queen Elizabeth cannot be called few.

A particular and very accurate description by Mr. Herbert (the editor of Ames) of a Manual of Prayers, which, superbly bound in solid gold, usually hung by a gold chain at the side of the maiden Queen, may be found in your vol. lxi., p. 28; and its enchased covers, representing the Judgment of Solomon, and the Elevation of the Brazen Serpent, are engraved at p. 321 of -the same volume. This Manual is also noticed, and the engraving copied, in Mr. Dibdin's " Bibliomania," pp. 158, 330, where we are told that the person who then owned it asked for it £150. Other devotional volumes used by her Majesty, and particularly that which goes by the name of -Queen -Elizabeth's Prayer-book, are likewise there described.

"A Prayer for all Kings and Princes, and especially for Queen Elizabeth, used in her Majestie's Chappell," London, 4to., black letter, is in the British Museum.

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