Despite the ongoing Covid restrictions preventing Oxford’s annual ceremony commemorating the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer—the compiler of the Book of Common Prayer who, was burnt at the stake in 1556 in what is now Broad Street—the Prayer Book Society (PBS) will still mark the occasion but without the usual procession through the city.

The society will commemorate Cranmer with an online lecture as well as a service at the church of St Mary the Virgin in the High Street.

“This will be the first time we have commemorated the event online. As this year’s commemoration date is a Sunday, we have decided to hold the online Zoom event the previous day, Saturday, March 20 at 2.30 pm.”

Bradley Smith, Chairman, Prayer Book Society.

The afternoon will include a lectured entitled “Hearing the Word: The Bible, the Prayer Book and Public Worship from Cranmer to 1660” by the Rev Canon Dr Judith Maltby, chaplain and Fellow of Corpus Christi College.

The lecture will be followed by Evensong including an Act of Commemoration led by members of the Oxford branch of the PBS. During Evensong, the Rev. Fergus Butler-Gallie will preach a sermon inspired by the text

“strive not about words to profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.”

2 Timothy 2:14

Explaining how Thomas Cranmer’s life and example must serve as an example and rallying call for the Church of England today, he will say how, in a post-secular context, the church must again seek to draw lessons from Cranmer’s life and work and an unapologetic approach to faith in public in the twenty-first century.

To register in advance for the attendance at the free online event visit the home page of the PBS website or use this link. Registered participants will receive an automated email containing the Zoom link and, in advance of the event, a full timetable of events.

The Prayer Book Society encourages rediscovery and use of the majesty and spiritual depth of the Prayer Book at the heart of the Church of England’s worship.

Pictured is Archbishop Thomas Cranmer who was burnt at the stake, in 1556, in what is now Oxford’s Broad Street, credited to Lambeth Palace.