Church of Engl;and - Canon Law

David Cawley dcawley at w...
Sat Aug 14 12:20:46 BST 2004

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In reply to David Beacham's question only, the following may be helpful.

There are four places where bells are mentioned in the Canons of the Church=
of England (Canons Ecclesiastical promulgated by the Convocations of Cante=
rbury and York in 1964 and 1969 and by the General Synod of the Church of E=
ngland from 1970). There is also one place where bells of any sort are ment=
ioned in the annexe to the Preface of the 1662 book, "Concerning the Servic=
e of the Church", which was itself the Preface to the 1549 book, and which =
has the force of Law by virtue of Acts of Uniformity 1 Eliz. I and 14 & 15 =
Charles II. There is nothing in the 39 Articles (which deal more with matte=
rs of Faith than with Liturgical Practice).

A. There are no prescriptions nor prohibitions regarding the use of the San=
ctus, Sacring or Angelus bells in any of the current Canon, nor in the Anne=
xe to the Preface of The Book of Common Prayer.

B. Canon B. 11. 2. [Of Morning and Evening Prayer in Parish Churches] Publi=
c notice shall be given in the parish, by tolling the bell or other appropr=
iate means, of the time and place where the prayers are to be said or sung.

C. Canon C. 11. 3. [Of Induction] After [Induction] the priest who has been=
inducted shall toll the bell to make his induction public and known to the=


1. In every church and chapel there shall be provided at least one bell=
to ring the people to divine service.

2. No bell in any church or chapel shall be rung contrary to the direct=
ion of the minister.

E. Canon F. 15. 5 (Of Churches not to be Profaned): The churchwardens and t=
heir assistants shall not suffer.....the bells to be rung at any time contr=
ary to the direction of the minister.

F. "Concerning the Service of the Church" annexed to the Preface of the Boo=
k of Common Prayer, 1662:
And the Curate that ministereth in every Parish Church or Chapel.....shall =
cause a Bell to be tolled thereunto at a convenient Time before he begin, =
that the People may come to hear God's Word, and to pray with him.

Perhaps Martin Fellows may be able further to assist if there is a legal qu=
estion to examine or a case to answer.


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