On the Retention of the word Obey in the Marriage Service of the Book of Common Prayer:
A Liturgical Consultation, addressed to the bishop of Oxford, and written before the first of August, 1914,
By J. Wickham Legg,
Hon. Doctor of Letters in the University of Oxford.
Civil liberty, the liberty of a community, is a severe and a restrained thing; implies in the notion of it, authority, settled subordinations, subjection, and obedience; and is altogether as much hurt by too little of this kind, as by too much of it.
Bishop Butler, January 30

It is an impudent claim on the part of the present age to have finer ideas on the subject of marriage than all the preceding Christian centuries. One has always thought that the future historian would look upon the nineteenth century as the worst of the Christian centuries. But as the years pass into this present century it is becoming more and more doubtful if the twentieth will not excel it in every kind of wickedness.

It seems to me that no effort can be held too great in the attempt to try to save something from the wreck for those that come after us, something of the old morals and the old manners of which large portions have been already destroyed by those who we once thought would be the first to maintain them. It will be an infinite credit to us in the coming generations if we stand firm to-day, and do not surrender weakly to an ill-informed and unnatural agitation.

The equality of the sexes is no Christian doctrine.

Epitome of Contents
.—Appeal to immutable Christian Morals
.—The Teaching of Holy Scripture, the Fathers, and the Church at large.
.—The Forms used in contracting Marriage before the twelfth century
.—The Forms used in England before the Reformation
.—The Forms used in the Anglican Communion since the Reformation ;  or in England
.—The Forms used by the Evangelical Lutherans; and the Calvinists in France and Scotland
.—The Forms used by the dioceses in communion with Rome east of the Rhine; and others
.—Obedience enforced, if not in forms of contract, in some part of the service
.—Forms implying obedience to the law of God, of the Church, or to the teaching of the Apostles
.—Customs implying obedience and submission
.—Ring in Matrimony, earnest of purchase money
.—The verse, “Those whom God hath joined,” etc. of recent introduction
.—Allusions to Sarah, Rebecca, etc., universal in Christian rites
.—Results of foregoing investigation

Note.  When words are immediately followed by an obelus, it is intended thereby to point out that they are printed as in the manuscript or other book then being quoted.

My Lord,


On the second of March 1914, we were informed by the Daily Mail that

The researches initiated by the Bishop of Oxford into the word  “ obey ”  in the marriage service are now nearly complete.

The paragraph in which this announcement is made has for one headline :  How  “ obey ”  crept in. More noteworthy still is another headline :   “ 500 years old word in the marriage service. ”  It is to be hoped that we have words not only 500 years old in the Prayer Book, but 1500 years old, and older ;  words directed to be used by the Divine Founder of the Christian Religion, in the prayer of his own commandment, and in the administration of the initial Sacrament of the Christian Society, the Sacrament of Baptism :  there are other formulae as well, which we know go back to the earliest years of the Christian Society.  The headline quoted above shows the temper of the persons who are stirring up this agitation.

The next day, March 3, the Times published a letter from your Lordship drawing attention to, and, I think I may say approving of, an article in the Contemporary Review for November 1913.  To many of us, this was the first notice of the existence of the article. But earlier than this had appeared an introductory note to a book which was issued with your Lordship’s sanction, A Prayer Book Revised, published by Messrs.  Mowbrays, in which a number of changes are recommended, and among them  “ the restoration in the Marriage Service of equal vows for man and woman. ”  At the end of the Preface, which is contributed by your Lordship, we read :

I desire fuller evidence as to the liturgical authority for  “ the restoration in the Marriage Service of equal vows for man and woman. ” 

It is thus fitting that a Liturgical Consultation on the Retention of the word  “ Obey ”  should be addressed to your Lordship, inasmuch as you have desired information on the subject and also in a measure have countenanced some of the statements that have been made ;  at least I have seen no disapproval of the statements published by the Daily Mail.  And further you have recommended the article in the Contemporary Review in a most public manner.  So that it may not be unreasonable on my part, if I venture to ask you to consider the results of such studies as I have made in this matter, results which differ a good deal from those that have just been named.  The Marriage rite is not to me altogether unfamiliar ground, and the curious may see some attempts that have already been published, in a volume of Ecclesiological Essays brought out by the De La More Press in 1905.

Further, I am greatly encouraged to pursue what I have in hand, because you have yourself called us to return to principles ;  and in addressing you I presume that the principles to which you recall us would be Christian.  They will not be the principles of Mr. John Stuart Mill, who may be thought to be the founder in England of this school of femininism.  Your principles will be those of Holy Scripture, the Catholic Fathers, and the continuous teaching of Christendom.  You would assent to the proposition that morals are immutable and part of the Divine Revelation, an opinion affirmed by Christian philosophers and divines so far apart from one another as Cudworth 1 and William George Ward. 2  Morals, a Christian must own, are stationary, and not progressive ;  and by this test he judges of conduct, whether it be right or wrong.  However widespread in this age, however popular, certain modern opinions in morals may be, yet the Christian will judge of them by the consent, or non-acceptance, that they have found in Christian Antiquity.  It matters nothing how prevalent, dominant, or fashionable an opinion may be, or fortified by Acts of Parliament, or by decrees of the civil magistrate, yet it is not to be received as binding on the conscience, as part of Christian morals, unless it have been accepted from the beginning by the Christian Society.  And it is this proposition, as a principle, that I trust your Lordship will endorse.

1 Ralph Cudworth, A treatise concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality, London, Knapton, 1731. 2 W. G. Ward, Essays on the Philosophy of Theism, London, Kegan Paul, 1884, vol. i. p. 112.


To begin then with the teaching of Holy Scripture on the relation of husband to wife.  One of the consequences of the Fall is to woman that

thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 3

I know I shall be told I am an obscurantist for quoting anything out of the Old Testament touching marriage, but I have little doubt that if we wait a few years the opinion of the critics will be found to have varied.  It is not undesirable to bear in mind that the criticism of to-day is not of necessity the criticism of to-morrow.  Critics are not always infallible.  In the eighteenth century Dr. Johnson saw this quite clearly, when he was amused at a writer because he  “ seems not to suspect a critic of fallibility. ”   Something of the desire to be constantly in the vanguard of opinion, always to be up to date, and to profess the last novel theory, may have contributed to the highly receptive guilelessness of the present day.  What is needed now, it may seem to many, is scepticism, the scepticism of Pascal and Montaigne, that may free us from the strange disposition to credulity in the last thing out that now oppresses our studies.  Hearing, too, is refused by the dominant school to any criticism not in the groove of modern ideas.  How have the results of the criticism of the New Testament by the Corpus Professor of Latin been received  ?  I know that palaeographers in Paris have received it with something like enthusiasm ;  but those here who are blind adherents of the school of Westcott and Hort have refused even to consider it.  They will not take the book into their hands.  There are persons to-day to whom the exhortation which Cromwell addressed to the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland would well apply :

I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken. 4

It needs a certain amount of courage now-a-days to appeal to the teaching of the New Testament.  We shall no doubt be told that it is local in colour, and not  “ suitable ”  to the present day.  But remembering the circumstances under which these words are written, in an address to a Christian bishop, a summoning into court of the two greatest of the Apostolic College may possibly be allowed by some of the more old fashioned.  St. Peter twice bids the wives thus :

Be in subjection to your own husbands . . . the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves being in subjection unto their own husbands :  even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. 5

St. Peter was not a celibate and had practical experiences of marriage.  St. Paul tells the wives much the same as St. Peter.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 6

And again :

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. 7

The young wives are to be

Keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands. 8

3 Genesis iii. 16. 4 Oliver Cromwell’s Letters and speeches, ed. by Thomas Carlyle, Chapman and Hall, 1845, vol. ii. p. 20.  ( Aug. 3. 1650. ) 5 1. Peter iii. i. 5. 6. 6 Ephesians v. 22. 7 Colossians iii. 18. 8 Titus ii. 5.

There is a further rule for all women :

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 9

Here we have the teaching of the two great Apostles, SS. Peter and Paul, and yet to such a pass have we come in this age that there are persons still calling themselves Christians who refuse to accept the apostolic teaching on this point, because they tell us civilisation has outgrown it.  We shall soon be taught that civilisation has outgrown the Ten Commandments.  There are certainly some femininists, of whom mention could be made, who hold the seventh commandment of no account.

In a happier era than the twentieth century nothing more would have been needed in way of proof than the teaching of the New Testament.  Those who reject this are not likely to be influenced by the teaching of the Fathers.  St. Augustine insists upon the wife being the handmaid of the husband, and asserts that she rejoices in the name, because she has been bought by him at so great a price :  she calls her husband lord, and not only calls him lord, but knows it, proclaims it aloud, as well as bears it in her heart.

Agnoscat, inquam, se ancillam, nec timeat conditionem.  Nec enim dedignatur ille coniugem facere, quam tanti emit.  Et unaquaeque coniux bona maritum suum dominum vocat.  Prorsus non solum vocat, sed hoc sapit, hoc sonat, hoc gestat corde, hoc profitetur ore, tabulas matrimoniales instrumenta emptionis suae deputat.  Est ergo ancilla, dans opera ancillis. 10

This is the language of the good wife.  On the other hand St. Ambrose gives us the thoughts of the good husband.

Mulier viro deferat, non serviat :  regendam se praebeat, non coercendam.  Indigna est coniugio, quae digna est iurgio.  Vir quoque uxorem tamquam gubernator dirigat, tamquam consortem vitae honoret, participet ut cohaeredem gratiae. 11

But the teaching of St. Ambrose is not enough for modern women.  She must be the equal of the husband.  Still, the same Father declares that women have no right in the choice of a husband ;  this is done by parents.

Consulitur puella non de sponsalibus, nam ilia ludicium exspectat parentum, non est enim virgmalis pudoris eligere maritum :  sed iam desponsata viro de profectionis consulitur die. 12

So St. John Chrysostom, commenting upon the text that the head of the woman is the man  ( I. Corinth, xi. 2. )  remarks that the woman is as far distant from the man as man is from God the Word ; 13 and a little further on says that the woman is subject to the man, for equality of honour breeds strife.  The whole chapter is a defence of this position, but it is too long for quotation.

9 1. Timothy ii. 11. 12. 10 St. Augustine, Sermo xxxvii. Cap. vi.  ( Migne P.L. xxxviii. 225. ) 11 St. Ambrose, Epistolarum, class. I. 63. § 107  ( Migne, P.L. xvi. 1218. ) 12 Idem, De Abraham, I. ix. 91.  ( Migne, P.L. xiv. 453. ) 13 St. John Chrysostom, In Ep. I. ad. Cor. cap. xi. verse 2.  Hom. xxvi. §. 2.  ( Migne, P.G. lxi. 214. )  See also in Ep. ad Ephes. cap., vi.  Hom. xxii. §2.  ( Migne, P.G. lxii. 157. )

St. Isidore of Sevile dwells upon the necessity of obeying God’s commands, and that the wife must serve her husband with service, yet free indeed and full of love.  Any attempt made by the woman to domineer over the man is a most unnatural thing, and the home will become unhappy and even wicked.

Obediendum est itaque sanctae scripturae praeceptis, et seruiendum viro quadam seruitute, libera et dilectione plena.  Etenim non est creatus vir propter mulierem, sed mulier propter virum :  et cum caput mulieris vir sit, caput autem viri Christus, quaecunque vxor non subicitur viro, hoc est, capiti suo, eiusdem criminis rea est, cuius et vir, si non subiciatur Christo capiti suo.  Verbum autem Domini blasphematur, vel dum contemnitur prima Dei sententia, et pro nihilo ducitur :  vel Christi infamatur Euangelium, dum contra legem fidemque naturae, ea quae Christiana est, et ex Dei lege subiecta, praeesse desideret :  cum etiam gentiles feminae seruiant viris suis communi lege naturae.  Seruatur ergo lex naturae et Dei, si mulier marito subiecta est.  At contra, si illa imperare viro desiderat, et ordo naturae corrumpitur, et domus illa misera et peruersa vocabitur. 14

Leaving the Fathers, let us consider the pronouncements later in time of the different communities of Christians.  First, there is the largest body of all, the Roman Catholic Church, which claims a following of near three hundred millions of people.  There is no doubt what its official teaching is in dealing with the relation of husbands to wives.  We find that the Catechism of the Council of Trent points out that wives are to be obedient and subject to their husbands.  Quoting St. Ambrose it says :

quo etiam declarari videbatur, viris obedientes subiectasque esse oportere. 15

In the Roman Catholic community there is no higher authority for popular instruction than this Tridentine Catechism.  Let us turn to the teaching of the Holy Orthodox Church of the East.  Russia alone gives a hundred millions, or thereabouts, to this body of Christians.  In this great community there is also no doubt what the official teaching is.  The Treatise on the Duty of Parish Priests was written by George Konissky, who died Archbishop of Mogileff and White Russia, and a member of the Russian Synod.  He was born in 1717, and died in 1795.  Amongst other duties, he says that the wife is to be subject to the husband.

[The Priest] should teach that the wife must be subject unto her husband, as to the head, and give him reverence and worship ;  while the husband must love the wife, even as his own body ;  even as himself ;  not treating her as a slave, but living with her according to knowledge, giving her honour, as to the weaker vessel. i. Pet. iii. 7. 16

This Duty of Parish Priests is adopted by the whole Russian Church.  All candidates for holy orders are required to have read it, and to show their acquaintance with it before they can be ordained.

14 Isidore, de Ecclesiasticis officiis, lib. ii. cap. 19.  ( Melchior Hittorp, de divinis catholicae ecclesiae officiis, Parisiis, 1610, col. 220. ) 15 Catechismus ex decreto Concilii Tridentini, Tornaci Nerviorum, Soc. S. Joannis Evang. 1890.  De matrimonii Sacramento, § 2. p. 268. 16 R. W. Blackmore, The Doctrine of the Russian Church, Aberdeen, Brown, 1845. p. 235, of the duty of Parish Priests.

The Handbook of Macarius, a book which has great authority in Russia, teaches much the same.  Treating of marriage, and dealing with the passages in the Epistle to the Ephesians, the writer declares :

Enfin notre conclusion sera la même si nous considerons les devoirs que l’Apôtre recommande aux époux chrétiens dans le texte que nous éxaminons.  Que la femme obéisse à son mari au même degré que l’Église obeit à Jésus-Christ, et que le mari aime sa femme autant que Jésus-Christ aime son Eglise. 17

In fact both the Latins and the Greeks do little more than repeat the teaching of SS. Peter and Paul.

So did the early Protestants.  The Shorter Catechism of Martin Luther, published in 1529, still possesses a great authority, if anything possess authority with the modern Lutheran, and it is counted amongst what are called their Symbolic books, books of importance little inferior to the creeds. 18   Luther is teaching their duties to the different classes.  To the married women he says as follows :

Den Ehefrawen

Die weiber seien vnterthan jren Mennern, also dem Herrn, wie Sara Abraham gehorsam war vnd hies jn Herr, Welcher tochter jr worden seid, so jr wol thut vnd nicht so furchtet fur einigem schewsal, Inn der Ersten Epistel Petri am dritten Capitel. 19

And when we come to more modern times, after the Reformation in the sixteenth century, it will be seen by the forms which will be given later on that the doctrine of the submission of the wife to the husband is taught not only by the Evangelical Protestants, but by the Calvinists, Scotch Presbyterians, and many other bodies of Christians. 20

It is a commonplace of the theologians following St. Paul, to compare the union of the Christian man and woman to the union of Christ with his Church ;  and to declare that as the Church is subject to Christ, so the woman is subject to the man.  If this be so, and it is the universal Christian teaching, there can be no doubt of the difference between man and wife.  She is inferior to him ;   “ the weaker vessel ”  of St. Peter, as the sincerely good wife is the first to acknowledge.  The equality of the sexes is no Christian doctrine.

17 Macaire, [Makary in catalogue of the British Museum.] Theologie dogmatique orthodoxe, Paris, Cherbuliez, 1860, t. ii. p. 571. 18 For example, it is given at length in the collection of documents of high authority edited by F. Francke, Libri Symbolici Ecclesiae Lutheranae, Lipsiae, Tauchnitz, 1847. Pars ii. p. 88 contains the clause Uxoribus. 19 Martin Luther, Enchiridion Der kleine Catechismus, Wittemberg, Nickel Schirlentz, 1531.  Sheet i. ij.  See B. J. Kidd, Documents illustrative of the Continental Reformation, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1911, p. 221.  Even at the present day, when opinions in the Lutheran community are in a state of flux, there seems to exist some remains of the doctrine that the wife is to be subject to her husband according to the teaching of St. Paul.  Dr. G. Rietschel expresses himself thus :  Das  “ Untertansein in dem Herrn ”  ist die Pflicht des Weibes nach ihrer Stellung, die sie in der Ehe zu ihrem Manne einnimmt.   ( G. Rietschel, Lehrbuch der Liturgik, Berlin, Reuther und Reichard, 1909. Bd. ii. p. 293. ) 20 See below.


There seems to be an agreement among liturgical scholars that the first description we have of a Christian marriage is contained in the Answer to the Bulgarians of Nicolas I. Roman Pontiff from A.D. 858 to 867.  The pope maintains with the rest of Christian authorities that the consent of the two parties is necessary, and is of the essence of marriage. 21  This consent has to be given.  Consensus facit nuptias.  All, indeed, are agreed that the simplest form of consent is sufficient for a valid marriage.  The consent must, however, be expressed before witnesses, and after the Council of Trent, the Roman Communion has required that one of these witnesses shall be the parish priest. 22  But in the earliest Western rites, there is no form recorded by which this consent is expressed.  There is none in the Leonine, Gelasian, or Gregorian Sacramentaries.  Nor in the book edited by Menard, nor in the Pontifical of Egbert, nor the Leofric Missal of the eleventh century, nor the Vetus Missale Hibernicum, nor in the Soissons Rituale of the twelfth or thirteenth century.  In the collection of Martene 23 they are first met with in Ordo VII. said to be 400 years old when Martene wrote, which would bring the date of Ordo VII. somewhat near the year 1300.  In the Ritual of Henry Bishop of Breslau from 1302 to 1319 there is no formula given for expressing consent. 24

Indeed there are marriage services in existence printed as late as the Council of Trent in which the words of consent are not set down :  such are the service books at Milan in 1560, Lyons in 1548, Basle 1520, and many others. 25  It seems possible that the consent was given in the house of the father of the bride, or at the church door, so that the pair were married before they entered the church for the nuptial mass, which was the nuptial blessing.

Continental writers think that the first form of consent as yet known may be found in the record of a council celebrated by a bishop of Salisbury in the year 1217.  Thus when vows with the word ‘obey’ in them appear in the fourteenth century it is not quite fair to speak of such vows as if they were a sudden innovation, and their language contrary to all that had been used before, since the foundation of the Church.  For all that we know, ‘obey’ may have been in the vows before the twelfth century, and remembering the teaching of the New Testament such an appearance does not seem unlikely.  Of these vows of the year 1217, both Wilkins and Gerbert give the same words.  Gerbert allows that they are the earliest form that he has met with. 26

21 Responsa Nicolai ad consulta Bulgarorum, § iii.  ( Migne, P. L. cxix. 980. ) 22 Naturally, it is not necessary to consider here more recent legislation. 23 Edmund Martene, de Antiquis Ecclesiae Ritibus, Lib. i. cap. ix. art. v. Antverpiae, J. B. de la Bry, 1736, t. ii. col. 367. 24 Das Rituale des Bischofs Heinrich I. van Breslau, ed. Adolph Franz, Freiburg i. B. Herder, 1912, p. 21. 25 Sacramentarium iuxta morem Mediolanensis Ecclesiae, 1560, fo. xii. b. Liber de Sacramentis secundum usum Lugdunensem, Lugduni, 1548 (?) sheet H. ii. Agenda siue Benedictionale commune agendorum :  cuilibet pastori ecclesie necessarium. Basilae, Wolff, 1520. fo. lxviii. 26 Martin Gerbert, Vetus Liturgia Alemannica, San Blasii, 1776, p. ii. p. 513.  Cardinal John Perrone also quotes them.   ( De matrimonio Christiano, Romae, 1858. t. i. p. 118. )

The quotation below is from Wilkins :

De forma matrimonii contrahendi. Item praecipimus, quod sacerdotes praecipiant et doceant personas contrahentes hanc formam verborum in Gallico vel Anglico :   “ Ego accipio te N. in meam. ”  Similiter et mulier dicat,  “ Ego accipio te in meum. ”  In his enim verbis consistit vis magna, et matrimo nium contrahitur. 27

It seems possible in this declaration to recognise an earlier form of consent, that given in the ancient law of Rome which has been preserved for us by Boethius in his account of Coemptio.

Doubtless it existed centuries before Boethius, but he happens to be the first writer who has preserved the form.  It is as follows :

Coemptio vero certis solemnitatibus peragebatur, et sese in coemendo invicem interrogabant, vir ita, an mulier sibi materfamilias esse vellet.  Illa respondebat velle.  Item mulier interrogabat an vir sibi paterfamilias esse vellet, ille respondebat velle.  Itaque mulier, viri conveniebat in manum, et vocabantur hae nuptiae per coemptionem, et erat mulier materfamilias viro loco filiæ. 28

It will be seen at once that the mutual vows are-exceedingly like those taken today.  They are an example of  “ equal ”  vows ;  but at the same time it must not be inferred that there is any idea of equality between the husband and wife :  for she only passes from the manus of the father into the manus of the husband.  Thus  “ equal ”  vows gave no advantage to the wife over the husband.  She is not thereby entitled to rule because the vows are the same.

When in England it was determined by Parliament not to recognise any longer the necessity of Christian Marriage, the legislators betook themselves to forms closely allied to those that Boethius records ;  as follows :

I call upon these Persons here present to witness that I A. B. do take thee C. D. to be my lawful  “ wedded Wife [or Husband] ”  29

The simplest form of  “ equal ”  vows is therefore Pagan in origin, and these simple forms are, it would seem, oftenest met with in the countries of the Romance languages, such as Italy, France, and Spain.  In England, and other Teutonic countries, the vows began to develop in a Christian direction, and they set forth more at length the respective duties of husband and wife, not a feature to be considered a disadvantage in a Christian rite.  There is evidence that in England the two forms existed side by side for a time.  The Pagan form we have seen in existence in 1217 or 1220 ;  another form with a recognition of Christian duties we find a little earlier in a manuscript written in the latter half of the twelfth century.  It is a service book, the Magdalen Pontifical, edited in 1910 by the Rev. Henry Austin Wilson.  The forms do not appear in the body of the marriage service, but in a preliminary rubric. 30  The consent is given at the door of the church, before the bride and bridegroom enter the building.

27 D. Wilkins, Concilia, London, 1737, vol. i. p. 582. 28 Boethius, In topica Ciceronis commentar. Lib. ii.  ( Migne, P. L. lxiv 1071. ) 29 6° and 7° Gulielmi IV. C. 85. § xx. in Statutes of the United Kingdom, vol. xiv. 30 The Pontifical of Magdalen College with an appendix of extracts from other English MSS. of the twelfth century, edited by H. A. Wilson, Henry Bradshaw Society, 1910, p. 202.  See xii. of the Preface for opinion as to date.

The priest first asks the man if he will have this woman ;  and receiving an affirmative answer, he proceeds to enlarge the vow in a Christian manner.  The text is as follows :

interroget sacerdos sponsum per proprium nomen ;  ita. N. Vis hanc feminam ?  Si respondent uolo :  dicat ei sacerdos.  Vis eam seruare in deifide et in tua et in sanitate et in infirmitate.  sicut christianus homo debetsuam sponsam seruare ?  Similiter interroget sponsam.  si respondent uolo :  sacerdos et patronus sponse dent ipsam sponso per dexteram.

The first question to the man corresponds to the question asked in Boethius ;  but the second question goes much farther, and is of very great importance.  It is Christian marriage that is entered upon, and all that that involves.  Thus, be it noted, that in the first records in Christian times that we have of forms for giving consent, Christian duty is appealed to as determining the nature of the promise.  We are thus sent back to the early Christian writings, Holy Scripture, and the Fathers, to learn the Christian tradition.  We have already seen what these teach.

There are the two monastic, houses of Westminster and Evesham which have in their service books forms for the blessing of marriage, both written about 1300.  That of Westminster has no mutual vows but only a direction to the husband :

Vxorem quam uir recipiat in dei fidem seniandam sanam et infirmam.  et teneat eam per dexteram manum 31 etc.

At Evesham the priest first asked if they were contracted in any way beforehand and on receiving a negative answer :

tunc dicat uiro accipiesne istam in uxorem in dei fide custodiendam tarn in languore quam in uigore. si dicat. accipio. tune idem dicat mulieri. si responderit accipio. tunc queratur dos mulieris 32 etc.

A little lower down there is a marginal note in a later hand, perhaps about A.D. 1400, to this effect :

Quam vir accipiens :  teneat earn per manum dexteram in sua manu dextera.  Sacerdote in lingua materna eos sic docente.  Ego N. accipio te N. in meam sponsam ab hac hora in antea dummodo uterque nostrum viuit. et ad hoc fidem meam presto.  Deinde ad uirum dicat mulier.  Ego N. accipio te N. in meum sponsum ab hac hora in antea. dummodo uterque nostrum uiuit. et ad hoc fidem meam presto.

31 Bodleian, MS. Rawlinson C. 425., fo. 143.b. ed. Henry Bradshaw Society in Missale Westmonast. 1896, fasc. iii. col. 1234. 32 Bodleian, MS. Barlow 7. p. 64. Officium Ecclesiasticum . . . Evesham. ed. Henry Austin Wilson, Henry Bradshaw Society, 1893, col. 36.


Thus we arrive in the twelfth or thirteenth century before we find forms for any vows at all.  In the Crawford Sarum Missal written in the latter half of the thirteenth century there are no vows as yet, 33  nor in the Arsenal Sarum Missal written a few years after the Crawford, towards the end of the same century. 34  But in a Sarum Missal, written early in the fourteenth century, now in the University Library at Bologna, the priest asks if the man receive the woman as his lawful wife, as a Christian should,  “ in the faith of God, ”  and to keep her in sickness and health.  Here we have again the same appeal to Christian practice that we had in the Magdalen Pontifical.  The woman’s vow is not the same ;  she promises to take him for her lawful husband and to keep faith with him in all things.

Interroget sacerdos homines ex nomine ita.  sic habeas mulierem in legittimam uxorem accipere ita ut eam sicut chnstianus debet sponsam suam in dei fide et tuam tam [in] infirmitate quam in sanitate uelis custodire.  quo respondente uolo. inquirat a muliere utrum uelit hominem illum pro legittimo sponso habere eique per omnia fidem seruare.  qua respondente uolo. 35

This is an instance of the vows not being  “ equal. ”  The man’s promise is different from that of the woman.

Thus in the early appearances of Christian vows they are not always  “ equal. ”  And almost in the same century appear the expressions that are so offensive, obedire et servire, or bonair and buxom.  It does not seem to be of very great importance remember whether  “ to obey ”  or  “ to be buxom ”  occur in the question put to the bride to which she assents, or in the vow which she utters, repeating it after the priest.  Such a discrimination may seem to savour of finesse.  It is important to recognise that in the fourteenth century words equivalent to  “ obedient ”  or  “ buxom ”  appear in the service books of Sarum, York, Hereford and other dioceses, either in the question answered, or vow made by the bride.

 “ To be buxom ”  has the same significance as  “ to obey. ”  In the fourteenth century to the end of the sixteenth we learn from the New Oxford Dictionary that  “ buxom ”  meant obedient, pliant, submissive, humble and meek, and that only at the end of the sixteenth century did it begin to change into other meanings which have ended now in plump and comely, comfortable-looking and jolly.  The idea of obedience and submission on the bride’s part was in full possession in the fourteenth century throughout England.  How long before the fourteenth century it may have been in existence we do not know.  There is no evidence to show that this Christian idea was not there, and that the expression of a promise to obey or to be buxom was an innovation.

33 Manchester, John Rylands Library, Crawford Missal, fo. 219.v. 34 Paris, Arsenal, MS. No. 135., fo. 223. v. 35 Bologna, University, MS. No. 2565. p. 565.

In considering the history of these developed vows, we may begin with the use of the metropolitical church of York.  In a manual written in the fourteenth century we find the words obedire et servire in the Latin form, and to be buxom to him, love him, obey him and worship him, serve him and keep him, in the English.

f. 23a.] Interim [sic] sacerdos dicat ad mulierem sub hac forma.  N. Uis habere hunc virum in sponsum et illi obedire et servire. et eum diligere et honorare ac custodire sanum et infirmum sicut sponsa debet sponsum et omnes alios propter ipsum dimittere et illi soli adherere quam diu vita vtriusque vestrum durauerit.  Respondeat mulier.  Uolo.

Item in lingua materna ad mulierem hoc modo.  N. wyll yow have this man to thi husband and to be bwxum to hym, luf hym, obeye to hym, and wirschipe hym, serue him and kepe hym in hele and in seknes and in all other degrese, be to hym als a wyff suld be to hir husband and all othere to forsake for hym, and hald the onely to hym tyll thi lyues ende.  Respondeat mulier hoc modo.  I will. 36

The same words, obedire et servire with buxom, may be found in another manuscript of York use, written in the middle of the fifteenth century, or in the latter part of it.  The vow in English appears upon an inserted leaf, 37 which may have been written soon after 1500.

Like words are to be found in the printed York Manual of 1509.  The bride is asked in Latin :

N. Vis habere hunc virum in sponsum et illi obedire :  et servire eum diligere et honorare ac custodire sanum et infirmum, etc.

And in English she is asked :

N. wylt thou have this man to thy husbande, and to be buxum to hym, serve hym, and kepe hym, in sykenes, and in helthe, etc. 38

Then to turn to the use of Salisbury, so widely spread over England before the Reformation.

One of the earliest Sarum manuals in the Bodleian Library, written in the fourteenth century, has the vow of the wife in Latin, thus :

N. Vis habere hunc uirum in sponsum et illi obedire et servire et eum diligere et honorare ac custodire sanum et infirmum sicut sponsa debet sponsum, etc.

And in English the bride says :

Ich .N. take the .N. to my weddyd housbonde to hau and to holden fro this day forward, for bettere, for wers, for richere for porere, in seknesse and in helthe to be boneyre and buxsum in bedde and at borde, tyl deth us departe, zif holi cherche hit wyle ordeyne and there to y plight the my treuthe ; 39

36 Cambridge University Library, MS. Ee. 4. 19.  Handwriting of the fourteenth century, in Mr. Alfred Rogers’ opinion, who has been kind enough to make the above transcript for me. 37 Bodleian Library, MS. Gough Liturg. 5, fo. 10. 38 Bodleian Library, Manuale secundum usum matris ecclesie Eboracensis, Winkyn de Worde, 1509.  Signature c. v. 39 Bodleian Library, MS. Rawlinson, Liturg. d. 5. fo. 14.  In bed and at board is the mensa et thoro of the Ecclesiastical courts.

As this is the first time we meet with the old English word bonair it may be well to say that according to the New English Dictionary it means  “ well-bred, gentle, kind, complaisant, ”  no low standard of manners to be put before a woman.  As in the seventeenth century buxom and bonair began to lose their meaning or go out of use, the Douay editions of the Sarum Manual place in the margin against these words their more modern equivalent :  Meeke Obedient. 40  So also in the marriage service contained in the two editions of Missale Parvum of 1623 and 1626. 41  But buxom and bonair do not appear at all in the service book printed at Paris in 1636. 42  It seems reasonable to suppose that they were left out because they had changed their meaning, not because the Church of Rome had weakened in its teaching.  How could it ?  The Catechism of the Council of Trent was still pronouncing that wives

viris obedientes subiectasque esse oportere. 43

I have examined the remainder of the Sarum manuscript manuals in the Bodleian library with some care, and though there are variations in the wording, yet they all retain the important words obedire et seruire in the Latin, or buxom in the English.  In Mr. F. H. Dickinson’s edition of the Sarum Missal, for which he collated all the printed editions that were known to him, he found no edition in which these words of submission were omitted. 44

In Hereford use the same word buxom, implying submission and obedience, is present.  To cite the manuscript Missal of the fifteenth century :

Ordo ad sponsalia facienda . . . Hits itaque factis ;  proferatur secundum consuetudinem prouincie, pecunia et anulus aureus siue argenteus et detur a uiro dos mulieris.  Tune interroget sacerdos.  Homo uis habete hanc feminam tibi coniunctam Respondeat Uolo et iterum sacerdos Mulier uis habere hunc uirum tibi copulatum.  Respondeat Uolo.  Deinde detur mulier a patre uel ab amicis. et tradatur in dexteram manum uiri per suam dexteram apertam si uirgo est. st uidua est coopertam. et dicat hec uerba.  Ego accipio te in meam sponsam. et ilia respondeat.  Accipio te in meum sponsum.  Hec uerba manifeste dicantur in materna lingua, ut sequitur.

I N. take the N. to my wedded wyfe, for betir for worse, for richer for porer, in sekenes and in hele till deth us departe as holy churche hathe ordeyned and ther to I plyzth the my trowthe.

Et iterum accipiat eum mulier per manum dexteram in manu sua dextera et dicat saceedote docente.

I N. take the N. to my wedded hosbonde, for betir for worse, for richer for porer, in sekenes and in hele, to be buxum to the til deth us departe as holy churche hathe ordneyned and ther to I plyzth the my trowthe.

Verba sacramentalia sunt ista. 45

40 Sacra Institutio Baptizandi :  Matrimonium Celebrandi &c.  Duaci, L. Kellam, 1604, p. 39. Manuale Sacerdotum, Duaci, L. Kellam, 1610, p. 61. 41 Missale Parvum pro Sacerdotibus in Anglia [in Anglia, Scotia, et Ibernia :  1626] itinerantibus, ordo etiam Baptizandi, aliaque Sacramenta ministrandi . . . . ex Pontificali, et Rituali Romano, iussu Pauli PP. Quinti editis, no place or printer. 42 Ordo Baptizandi aliaque Sacramenta administrandi . . . . pro Anglia Hibernia, et Scotia, Parisiis 1636, p. 89. 43 See above. 44 Missale ad usum insignis et praeclarae Ecclesiae Sarum, labore ac studio Francisci Henrici Dickinson, Burntisland, 1861—1883, col. 831.* 45 MS. University College, Oxford, D. 78. A.  Hereford Missal, written in the first half of the fifteenth century.

In the printed Hereford Missal there are the same words in English, to be buxom to thee, but in Latin it is asked whether the bride is prepared to act :  sicut mulier Christiana debet sponsum suum in dei fide et tua tam in infirmitate quam in sanitate custodire. 46

Thus again the morals of a Christian woman appear in the vow.

The Exeter Manual, now in the Public Library at Coutances, has this vow of the bride :

Ich .N. take the N. to my wedded housebonde to haue and to holde fro this day forward, for bete for wors, for richer for pouerer, in sykenesse and in hele, to be obedient and buxum in bedde and at borde til deth vs departe yf holy cherche hit wol ordeyne and ther to y plight the my trouthe. 47

In the form given in the Exeter Pontifical all these words are the same except that  “ boneyre ”  appears in the place of  “ obedient. ”  48

A manual of Welsh origin is preserved in the library of the Dean and Chapter of Hereford.  The manuscript is attributed to the fifteenth century.  The woman is asked in Latin :

Vis habere hunc virum in tuum sponsum et ei obedire et eum diligere et servire, sicut sponsus debet sponsam ?

The woman promises as follows in English :

to be boner and buxsum in bedde and at borde. 49

There is also the Rathen Manual used in Scotland.  The woman’s vow in English is :

N. wilt thou have this man for thy spouse, and obey, serve, love, honour and guard him as it becomes a wife, 50 &c.

A learned friend, the Rev. H. A. Wilson, of Magdalen, points out to me that in view of the Hereford rubric just quoted it is probable that at the time of the Salisbury Council in 1217 there were in use vernacular forms of contract, varying in their terms in different districts, but much fuller than  “ I take thee to my wife ”  and  “ I take thee to my husband, ”  and that the later vernacular forms of Sarum, York, Hereford, &c., are only varieties which had probably been in use for centuries before they are found in missals or other service books.  The purpose of the Salisbury Council was not to provide a uniform formula, but to insist that all forms to be valid must contain definite words of contract de praesenti.

46 Missale ad usum famose ac percelebris ecclesie Helfordensis, Rothomagi, John Richard, 1502, Signature, Gothic N. i.  Cf. the vows in the Bologna Sarum MS. Missal on p. 25 above.  Thomas Hearne  ( The History and Antiquities of Glastonbury, Oxford, 1722, p. 309. )  appears to have taken his extract from the Hereford books out of the copy in the Bodleian  ( Arch Bodl. D. 74. subtus. ) 47 Coûtances Public Library, MS. 2. fo. 28.  Transcript has been kindly made for me by the Rev. J. N. Dalton, F.S.A. Canon of Windsor. 48 Liber Pontificalis of Edmund Lacy, Bishop of Exeter, a manuscript of the fourteenth century, ed. by Ralph Barnes, Exeter, W. Roberts, 1847, p. 258. 49 Cited in Manuale et Processionale ad usum insignis Ecclesiae Eboracensis, Surtees Society, 1875, ed. by W. G. Henderson, p. 167. 50 The Rathen Manual, edited by the Rev. Duncan Macgregor, Aberdeen, Ecclesiological Society, 1905, p. 34*.


Thus up to the time of the Reformation the English Uses have words of submission on the part of the bride existing almost from the time that the forms of consent began to appear in the service.  They are found also throughout Great Britain, including Wales and Scotland.  I feel quite unable to explain how it can be said that the Sarum book was  “ the only one which contained the principle of unequal vows, ”  as the Daily Mail has informed us, and still less that the word  “ obey ”  dates only from the change of rite in 1549.

With the change of rite in England, the word  “ obey ”  continued to appear in the marriage vows.  In the first book of Edward VI. the priest asks the bride :

Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honour, and keep him, in sickness and in health?

And the bride with her own mouth promises

to love, cherish, and to obey.

These words continue in the second book of King Edward.  They remain unaltered in the revision of 1662, and ever since.

A distinguished Lutheran ritualist praises the simple dignity of the vows in the marriage service of the Church of England.

Porro quis est qui non admiratus sit liturgiam Anglicanam, abhinc octo annis Victoriam Reginam atque illustrem maritum eadem formula interrogantem atque homines infimae plebis :

Albert, wilt thou have this Woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony ?  Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour and † keep her in sickness and in health ;  and, forsaking all other keep thee only unto him † so long as ye both shall live ?

Victoria, wilt thou have this Man to thy wedded husband, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony ?  Wilt thou obey him and serve him, love, honour, and keep him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long, as ye both shall live ?

Quos adulationum maeandros, quae blanditiarum diverticula flexionesque quaesiissent aulici nostri. 51

Queen Victoria was a sovereign princess and as such it might have been expected that she would have taken the vows before her future husband whose rank was much below that of a crowned head.  Yet the Church of England did not allow this ;  and farther, the Queen promised to  “ obey and serve ”  one whose only title to superiority was that of husband.

The Scottish Episcopal Church has recently gone over its offices ;  but it has not changed  “ obey ”  or  “ serve ”  in either question or vow ;  or the prayer  “ that the woman may be loving and amiable, faithful and obedient. ” 

51 H. A. Daniel, Codex Liturgicus Ecclesiae Lutheranae, Lipsiae, Weigel, 1848, p. 319 note.

The Protestant Episcopal Church of America ever since it had a Prayer Book of its own has retained the word  “ obey ”  in its office of marriage.  Thus in the question to the bride she is asked :

Wilt thou obey him and serve him, love, honour, and keep him, etc.

And in the vow there is a promise

to love, cherish, and to obey. 52

This is according to the Revised Book of Common Prayer published in 1892 ;  and the same words appear in editions from 1786 to 1892. 53

In the Church of Ireland, both before 1800, and after the disastrous legislation of 1869, the word  “ obey ”  is retained. The question put to the bride contains the words :

Wilt thou obey him, serve him, love, honour and keep him.

And the vow of the bride has

to love, cherish and to obey. 54

The same words are in the edition published by the authority of the general synod of the Church of Ireland in 1894.

The Protestant Prayer Book, a mutilated edition of the Book of Common Prayer, has in both the question and the vow the word to obey.  In the question it runs :

Wilt thou obey him and serve him, etc.

And in the vow there is :

to love, cherish, and to obey. 55

The Wesleyans in England as late as 1848 used practically the same form as that in the Book of Common Prayer.  The wife’s vow contained the words :

to love, cherish, and to obey. 56

The word  “ obey ”  is left out by the Methodist Episcopal Church in America. 57

52 The Book of Common Prayer . . . according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, New York, 1892, p. 278. 53 William McGarvey, Liturgiae Americanae, Philadelphia, 1895, p. 316. 54 The Book of Common Prayer . . . according to the use of the Church of Ireland, Dublin, Boulter Grierson, 1765. 55 The Protestant Prayer Book . . . for the use of the Protestant Church of England, London, Thynne, 1894? p. 502. 56 Order of Administration of the Lord’s Supper . . . the forms of Solemnization of Matrimony, etc.  London, Mason, 1848, p. 62. 57 Ritual of the Methodist Episcopal Church, New York, Carlton and Porter, 1864, p. 58.


Let us next go further in our investigations, and pass over to those Christian communities on the Continent that have fixed forms for celebrating marriage.  To take first the Lutherans and then the Calvinists, with the latter of whom we may consider the forms of the Scotch Presbyterians.

Martin Luther’s Marriage Service is to be noted for its great brevity.  There are simple vows of mere consent, the giving of rings, the pronouncement  “ Those whom God hath joined, ”  etc., the reading of certain passages out of the Old and New Testaments, a short collect and blessing, and the function is over.  But it has been seen above in the Shorter Catechism that the wife is told that her duty to her husband is to be obedient to him as Sarah was to Abraham,58 though in the service there is no prayer that the new married people may be blessed as Abraham and Sarah were.

Fur der kirchen Trawen, mit solchen voorten.

Hans wiltu Greten zum Ehlichen gemahel haben ?  Dicat, Ja.

Greta wiltu Hansen zum Ehelichen gemahel haben ?  Dicat, Ja.

Hie las sie die Trawringe einander geben, Vnd fuge jre beide rechte hand zusamen, vnd spreche.

Was Gott zusamen fuget, sol kein mensch scheiden. 59

When Luther’s form was expanded, as sometimes may be seen, the priest was to insert notions in accordance with the Shorter Catechism.

Herwiderumb befehle ich euch N. an gottes statt . . . das ir denselben als von gott selbst gegebenen und zugeordneten herrn und heubt annemen, erkennen, und halten wollet, im unterthenig und gehorsam sein in alien gbttlichen billichen und christlichen dingen . . . 60

In Henneberg, the Agenda published in 1582 direct the priest to say to the bride :

Die weiber seien unterthan ihren mennern, als dem herrn, denn der man ist des weibes heupt, gleich wie auch Christus das heupt ist der gemeine, etc. 61

A little further on he says to the bride :

N. ich frage dich gleichfalls, ob du hier zu gegen N. wollest zum ehelichen manne haben, ihn lieben, ehren und gehorsam sein, und dich von ihm in keiner widerwertigkeit scheiden, wie gottes ordnung und befehl ist, so sprich ja. 62

58 See above. 59 Martin Luther, Ein Trawbuechlin fuer die einfeltigen Pfarhern :  in Enchiridionn Der kleine Catechismus, sheet K, 1531, Wittemberg, Nickel Schirleutz. 60 Emil Sehling, Die evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des XVI. Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, Reisland, 1904, I. ii. p. 225, Traubuechlein at Mansfield, 1580. 61 Emil Sehling, Die evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des XVI. Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, Reisland, 1904, Abth. I. Haelfte ii. S. 315. 62 ibid. S. 316.

In like manner in a project for a formula at Anhalt in 1599 the minister asks the bride if she will

ihm [her husband] in alien billigen sachen ehr und gehorsam an gottes stad erzeigen. 63

At Berlin, in 1561 the bride is asked if she will

in allen göttlichen dingen gehorsam sein. 64

In the Magdeburg Agenda of 1740, the bride is asked by the minister

Wollt ihr gegenwärtigen N.N. zum ehelichen Gemahl haben, ihn lieben, ehren, ihm folgen und gehorsam sein etc.

The bride answers :  Ja. 65

The same promise  “ ihm folgen und gehorsam seyn ”  is exacted from the woman in the Lutheran Russian Agenda of 1766 in Benedictio nuptiarum si concubitus anticipatus sit. 66

In the Prussian Agenda of 1829 we find

Nun wendet sich der Geistliche an den Brautigam.

Vor Gott dem Allwissenden und in Gegenwart dieser Zeugen frage ich dich N.N., ob du diese N.N., zu deiner Gattin haben und sie lieben willst in Leid und Freude bis dass der Tod euch scheidet?

Eben so fragt er die Braut. 67

But here a note bids us remember :

Diese Fragen konnen auch so gefasst werden, wie dieses S. 45 angegeben ist.

So on p. 45 we find two different addresses to the bride and bridegroom.  To the bride the minister says :

Desgleichen frage ich Euch N.N., ob Ihr Euern gegenwartigen Brautigam N.N., als Euern Ehegatten und Herrn annehmen, mit unverbruchlicher Treue lieben, ehren und ihm gehorsam seyn, etc.

In Waldeck Pyrmont, the Pfarherr says to the bride :

Herwiederumb befehle ich euch N. an Gottes stat diesen N. auch zu einem Christlichen lieben Ehegemahl, dass jhr denselbigen alss von Gott selbst gegebenen vnd zugeordneten Herrn vnd Haupt annehmen, erkennen vnd halten wollet, jhm vnterthanig vnd gehorsam seyn, in alien Gottlichen billigem vnd Christlichen dingen, jhn von Hertzen lieben, mit allen trewen meinen, pflegen vnd warten, in keinem Creutz, Kranckheit vnd Wiederwertigkeit etc. 68

63 ibid. S. 581. 64 ibid. 1909. Bd. iii. S. 173. 65 H. A. Daniel, Codex liturgicus Ecclesiae Lutheranae, Lipsiae, Weigel, 1848.  p. 330. 66 ibid. p. 343. 67 Agende fuer die evangelische Kirche in dem Koeniglich Preussen Landen, Berlin, 1829, Dieterici, Theil ii. p. 12.  With the exception of the last six words this is the vow of the Agenda Borussica of 1822.  ( See Daniel, op. cit. p. 338 ) 68 Kirchen Ordnung . . . in der Graffschafft Waldeck, 1556, sign. O i.b.

In Sulzfeld and Klein Bardorf the bride is asked :

Darnach sum weibsbild spricht er :  Ich frag dich gleichfals ob du wollest N. zu einem ehelichen gemale haben, ihn lieben und gehorsam sein, in keinen noth etc. 69

Kliefoth notes the extreme conciseness of the vows in Martin Luther’s Traubüchlein, but maintains as he is entitled to do their perfect sufficiency, and remarks that in many Kirchenordnungen these same vows persist and are enough ;  but he then gives in full the vows of some nine Kirchenordnungen where the promises are expanded.  Apparently Kliefoth had no foresight ;  for he only gives the vow of the bride in one case, contenting himself with that of the bridegroom in the others.  And the same omission may be noticed in Rietschel’s more recent book. 70

In the Agenda of Gotha in 1645 the vow of the bridegroom is as follows :

“ N. wollet ihr gegenwartige N. zum ehelichen Gemahl haben, sie lieben, ehren, nahren und ihr vorstehen, auch sie nicht verlassen euer Leben lang. ”  Bei der Braut heisst es dann statt nahren und ihr vorstehen,  “ natuerlich ”  ihm folgen und gehorsam sein. ” 71

Natuerlich speaks volumes for the changes which have come over principles since Kliefoth wrote in 1854.

We may now turn to the rites used by the Calvinists. 72  At Geneva, in 1712, in a liturgy edited by the pastors and professors of the Church of Geneva the bride is asked :

Vous N. vous confesses ici devant Dieu et devant sa sainte assemble, que vous avez pris, et que vous prenez, N. ici present, pour votre mari legitime.  Vous promettez de lui obéir, de le servir, de lui être sournise, de vivre saintement, et de lui garder la foi en toutes choses, comme une Epouse fidèle et loiale est obligée a son mari selon la parole de Dieu, et son saint Evangile.

R. Ouï. 73

In the liturgy of the same community issued a few years later, there is a slight change in the words, but not very great :

Vous promettez de l’aimer, de lui obéir, de lui être soumise, de vivre saintement avec lui, etc. 74

Daniel quotes much the same words as part of the vow of the French order of 1668.

mari auquel vous promettez obéir, lui servant et estant sujette. 75

In the Pays de Vaud they had a very similar form to that just quoted :

Vous promettes de l’aimer, de lui obéir, de le servir, de lui être soûmise, de vivre saintement avec lui, etc. 76

69 Emil Sehling, Die evangelischen Kirchenordnungen, Leipzig, Reisland, 1904.  Abth. I. Haelfte ii. p. 353.  Sulzfeld und Klein Bardorf, 1566. 70 G. Rietschel, Lehrbuch der Liturgie, Berlin, Reuther und Reichard, 1909.  Bd. ii. S. 254. 71 Theodor Kliefoth, Liturgische Abhandlungen, Schwerin, Stiller, 1854.  Bd. i. p. 105.  Die Einsegnung der Ehe. 72 Owing to the disturbed state of Europe at the time of printing this consultation, it has not been possible to read the proofs with many of the originals in foreign libraries. 73 La Forme des Prieres ecclesiastiques, added to an edition of the Bible, La Sainte Bible, . . . par les Pasteurs et les Professeurs de l’Eglise de Geneve, Geneve, Fabri et Barrillot, 1712, de la liturgie du mariage, p. 67.  [B. M. 343. a. 2.] 74 La Liturgie ou la maniere de celebrer le service divin dans l’eglise de Geneve, Revue par la Compagnie des Pasteurs et Professeurs, Geneve, Gosse, 1743, p. 86. 75 H.A. Daniel, Codex Liturgicus Ecclesiae Reformatae atque Anglicanae, Lipsiae, Weigel, 1851, p. 207. 76 Les prieres Ecclesiastiques . . . pour l’usage des eglises du Pais de Vaud, Berne, 1725, p. 72.

At Neufchatel in 1737 the minister put this question to the bride :

Vous N. vous reconnoissez aussi devant Dieu et devant son Eglise, que vous avez pris et que vous prenez N. ici present pour votre Mari.  Vous promettez de lui obeir, et de lui etre soumise, de vivre saintement avec lui etc. 77

In the Liturgy of the French Reformed Churches of 1876, the minister says to the bride :

Et vous . . . promettez de l’aimer, de lui etre soumise selon le Seigneur, de vivre saintement avec lui, etc. 78

It will be noticed that though the word obéir does not appear, yet the bride still promises to be subject to her husband.

In the Palatine rite of 1567, the minister says to the bride :

Ir N. . . . nemet N. zu ewerm ehelichen Mann, welchem jhr verheisset gehorsam zu sein, vnd jhn zu dienen vnd zu helffen. 79

In a book which sets forth the Worship and Discipline of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the vows are alike, except that the word obedient appears in the woman’s vow :

Then the Woman shall take the Man by the Right Hand, and say these words.  I, N. do take thee N. to be my Married Husband, and I do in the Presence of God, and before these Witnesses, Promise and Covenant, to be a Loving, Faithful and Obedient Wife unto thee, until God shall separate us by Death. 80

These words are found in the Directory issued by the Lords and Commons in 1644 :

I, N. doe take thee N. to be my married husband, and I doe, in the presence of God, and before this Congregation, promise and covenant to be a loving, faithfull, and obedient wife unto thee, untill God shall separate us by Death. 81

In Scotland, we find also the following as a form of the vow taken by the bride.

The Minister to the spouse saith.

You, N. shall protest here before the face of God, in the presence of this his holy Congregation, that yee have taken, and are now contented to have N. heere present for your lawfull Husband, promising to him subjection and obedience, forsaking all other during his life :  And finally to live in all holy conversation with him, keeping faith and truth in all points, as Gods word doth prescribe.

The answere.

Even so I take him before God, and in the presence of this his Congregation. 82

This is the same as in the Book of Common Order, named after John Knox. 83

77 La Liturgie ou la maniere de celebrer le service divin qui est etablie dans les Eglises de la Principauté de Neufchatel et Vallangin.  Seconde edition, Neufchatel, Galandre, 1737, p. 121. 78 Liturgie a l’usage des Eglises Réformées, publiée par Eug. Bersier, Paris, Sandoz et Fischbacher, 1876, p. 308. 79 Daniel op. cit. p. 213. 80 [Walter Stewart of Pardovan] Collections and Observations. . . . Government of the Church of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1709, p. 152. 81 A Directory for the Publique Worship of God, throughout the Three Kingdoms, London, Tyler & Co. 1644. p. 63 82 The CL. Psalmes of David in Prose and Meeter, Edinburgh, heirs of Andrew Hart, 1634 ;  to which are prefixed forms of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Marriage etc. 83 The Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland, ed. by G. W. Sprott, Edinburgh, Blackwoods, 1901, p. 131

In the Euchologion offered as material for forming offices by the Scottish Church Service Society, the vow of the bride follows the above very closely thus :

I, C., do take thee, A., to be my wedded husband ;  and do, in the presence of God, and before this congregation promise and covenant to be a loving, faithful, and obedient wife unto thee, until it please God that death do part us. 84

The  “ Catholic Apostolic Church, ”  took its origin from the Presbyterian Mr. Irving, and the vow taken by the woman in this community is as follows :

in sickness and in health, to love cherish and obey. 85

and the priest prays afterwards :

that this woman may be loving and amiable, faithful and obedient to her husband. 86

In a Form of Marriage in use at Zurich in 1529, a source which suggests the influence of Zwingli, the minister tells the bride : Du wib aber solt dinen mann, din houpt vnnd meyster lieben, jm gehorsam sin, vnd jnn als din schuetzer vnd schirmer erkennen. 87

84 Euchologion a Book of Common Order ;  ed. by George W. Sprott, Blackwoods, 1905, p. 331. 85 The Liturgy and other divine offices of the Church, Whittingham, Chiswick, no date, Part ii. sign. b. ii. 86 ibid. b. iv. 87 Ordnung der Christenlichenn Kilchenn zu Zuerich :  in Ae. L. Richter, Die evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des sechszehnten Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, Günther, 1871.  Bd. i. S. 135.


To speak next of the old dioceses on the Continent in communion with the Roman see.  Each diocese may have a form of its own, for the Council of Trent  “ vehementer optat, ”  that if any province have any laudable customs in marriage they should be kept. 88   The Rituale of Paul V. quotes this decree of the Council in the rubric that is last but one at the end of the marriage service.  Thus, many dioceses in communion with Rome have varying rites and ceremonies in their marriage services ;  though it must be acknowledged that the Rituale of Paul V. has had great influence upon the local uses, as indeed was only to be looked for.

It will become evident that in the Teutonic and Slavonic dioceses of central Europe the word  “ obey, ”  or its equivalent is often found.  It is not a case of the word appearing in  “ some few German rites. ”  For example, every diocese in the Kingdom of Poland uses this word.  In many dioceses of North and South Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary, the bride promises to be obedient or submissive to her husband.

To begin with a diocese in the French Netherlands.

At Cambray the vow by the bride in 1562 is not wanting in ample submission.

Similiter faciat Sacerdos mulierem dicere :

Joachim, ou N. ie vous prens à Mary et spoux vous faisant maistre, seigneur, et commandeur de mon corps et de mes biens que i’ay, i’auray, au † acquerir pourray. Et vous promez et iure par la foy de mon coeur, par le sainct Baptesme que iay receu, par ma part de paradis que ie vous porterai foy, loyauté, honneur, et reuerence. Et ne vous changeray ou abandonneraye pour chose qui soit, Mais vous garderay, 89 etc.

continuing as in the husband’s vows.

But at Cambray, in response to the French domination, it had become in Fénelon’s edition of the Ritual more simple.

N. Je N. vous prends pour mon mari et époux, et je vous promets que je vous serai fidelle épouse, et que je vous garderai fidélité, tant qu’il plaira a Dieu nous laisser ensemble. 90

The form of consent is sufficient, but hardly more than one to which a pagan might conform.  This is due to French influence.  We shall see again below that when a Teutonic diocese passes under the French king the vows take on a merely legal character.

At Mentz, the primatial see of Germany, as soon as the consent had been given, the priest exhorts the bride and bridegroom again with words of command :

Hinc Sponsum amplius exhortetur in hanc sententiam.

Joachim, Ich beuehle dir auss dem wort vnnd beuelch Gottes….

*     *     *     *     *     *

Deinde Sponsam appellet, dicem.

Dessgleichen Anna soltu dich auch zu diesem Joachim, deinem Ehelichen Mann stet vnd getreulich halten, ine lieben, vnnd ime vnderthenig sein, gleich wie die Kirch Christo vnderthenig ist, Auch dich gegen ime allezeit freundlich, gehorsam vnd ehrerbietig erweisen, gleich wie Sara vnd andere heilige Weiber iren Maennern lieb ehr vnnd gehorsam geleist haben. 91

88 Canones et Decreta Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Tridentini, Sess. xxiv. Decretum de Reformatione Matrimonii, Cap. i. Ratisbonae, Manz 1874, p. 139. 89 Manuale, sive Officiarium Curatorum Insignis Ecclesiae Cameracensis, Cameraci, F. Brassart, 1562, fo. 56.  ( Max a Bergis, epo. ) 90 Rituale ad usum dioecesis Cameracensis, Cameraci, Berthoud, 1779, p.130. 91 Agenda Ecclesiae Moguntinensis, Moguntiae, Behem, 1551, fo. LXXVI.

The same words are found again in the next century at Mentz, 92 in a ritual common to that church and those of Wuerzburg and Worms.

At Freising in 1673 there is :

Deinde conversus eodem modo ad sponsam, interrogat illam de consensu per verba de praesenti :  hoc modo  ( praemittatur titulus conveniens. )

etc. Hochzeiterin, etc. . . .

Woelt ihr demselben in alien billichem sachen gehorsamb seyn, wie Eva vnser erste Mutter dem Adam, vnd ihn ehren, wie Sara den Abraham ?  so sprecht :  Ja. 93

This continues in 1840 94 and 1851. 95

At Regensburg the demand is very much the same, the promise of obedience being

ihme gehorsamb zu seyn. 96

The same words are to be found in the promise at Salzburg :

ihm gehorsam seyn 97

An earlier manual for the use of the whole province of Salzburg contains the Latin form of the vow which runs thus :

Visne hunc presentem N. in legitimum maritum tuum habere, ei fideliter cohabitare, ac obedire, vt Eua Adae etc. 98

And a still earlier has the same in German :

beyzuewonen, vnd ime vnderthenig zu sein, wie Eua dem Adam etc. 99

At Augsburg there are many forms differing from one another :  in 1499 the vows of consent administered by the priest were the same for man and wife, and the later vows were also the same mutatis mutandis ;  but they are so unusual that it is worth while to print that for the bride :

Deinde ad sponsam dicat.  N. ich befilch dir .N. deynen elichen gemahel :  in solcher trevv vnd verainigung :  als christus vnser herr am hayligen creutz befolhen hat seinen lieben iunger sant iohannsen :  seiner aller liebsten muter marie. 100

The last sentence seems well open to criticism.  There was no question of any sort of marriage between Our Lady and St. John.

Then in 1580 the priest, after the ring has been given to the bride, addresses both bridegroom and bride ;  the bride in these words :

N. ich befilhe dir aus dem befelch Gottes, dass du disem N. deinem Man, mit ehelicher trew, glauben unn Hebe vnderthenig seyest, im gehorsam, ehr unn hilff erzaigest, gleich wie die Kirch 101 etc.

The priest then confirms the marriage.

92 Rituale sive Agenda ad usum Ecclesiarum metropitanae Moguntinae, et cathedraliune Herbipolensis et Wormatensis, Herbipoli, Zinck, 1671. p. 220. 93 Rituale Frisingense, Monachii, Jaecklin, 1673, p. 384. 94 Rituale Monaco-Frisingense juxta normum et ritum Ecclesiae Romanae, Monachii, 1840, p. 282. 95 Manuale Administrantium Sacramenta . . . in Archidioecesi Monaco-Frisingensi, Monachii, 1851. p. 132. 96 Rituale Ratisbonense, Salisburgi, J. B. Mayr, 1673, p. 288. 97 Rituale Romano-Salisburgense, Graecii, Kienreich, 1853, p. 245. 98 Manuale Parochorum . . . pro prouincia Salisburgensi, Ingolstadii, Sartorius, 1582, p. 408. 99 Libellus Agendarum circa sacramenta . . . secundum antiquum vsum Metropolitanae Ecclesiae Salisburgensis, Salisburgi, Ioan Bauman, 1557, fo. 58. 100 Obsequiale siue benedictionale secundum ecclesiam Augustensem, Erhard Katdolt, 1499, fo. L.  See the Obsequiale of 1487, quoted in F. N. Hoeynck, Geschichte der kirchlichen Liturgie des Bisthums Augsburg, Augsburg, 1889, p. 423. 100 Ritus Ecclesiastici Augustensis Episcopatus, Dilingae, Jo. Mayer, 1580, p. 362.

In 1857, the command of the priest has been somewhat altered, but to all practical purposes it is the same.

Postea ad Sponsam

N !  Ich befehle Euch im Namen Gottes, dass Ihr diesem N., Euerm Manne, eheliche Treue und Liebe ervveiset, ihm Gehorsam, Ehre und Hilfe erzeiget, wie die Kirche Christo ihrem Haupt unterthaenig ist, so dass Euch Beide nur der Tod scheide. 102

We are informed that in the edition of 1870, the word Gehorsam has been left out.  There remains in its place, however,

ihm in allen billigen Dingen Folge zu geben.

Now  “ Folge zu geben ”  means much the same as  “ to be obedient. ” 

At Wuerzburg, before the marriage is pronounced to be binding, the priest questions the bride as follows :

solt ir euch auch . . . inen lieben, und ime vnderthenig seyn, gleich wie die Kirch Christo vnderthenig ist.

Auch euch gegen ime allezeyt freundlich, gehorsam, vnd ehrenbietig erweysen, gleich wie Sara vnd andere heilige Weyber iren Maennern, lieb, ehe, vnd gehorsam gelaystet haben.  Solt ime in der Hausshaltung ein getrewer gehuelff seyn 103 etc.

At Bamberg there is much the same :

Postea conversus ad sponsam sic illi sponsum commendet :

Dessgleichen N. solt du  ( oder ihr )  dich  ( oder euch )  auch zu disem N. deinem  ( oder eiverm ) Ehelichen Mann staet vnd getrewlich halten, ihn lieben, vnd ime vnderthaenig seyn, gleich wie die Kirch Christo vnderthaenig ist.

Auch dich  ( oder euch )  gegen ihme allzeit freundlich, gehorsam, vnnd ehrenbietig erweisen, gleich wie Sara vnd andere heylige Weiber ihren Maennern, Lieb, Ehr, vnd Gehorsam gelaist haben.  Sollest  ( oder solt )  ihme inn der Haushaltung ein getrewer Gehuelff seyn, vnnd Fleiss anwenden, dich  ( oder euch )  mit vnnd bey ihme. ehrlich vnd freundlich zuernehren, vnd ihn vmb kein Noth oder Vnfall discs muehseligen Lebens verlassen, biss euch beyder der Tod scheidet. 104

At Eichstadt in 1619 the words are :

ihme trewlichen beyzuwohnen, vnd vnderthenig zu seyn, wie Eva dem Adam. 105

The same words are in the Edition of 1798. 106

102 Rituale Augustanum Minus, Augustae Vindelicorum, typis Kreraerianis, 1857, p. 206. 103 Agenda Ecclesiastica, secundum usum Ecclesiae Wyrzeburgensis, Rotenburgi, Baumann, 1564, fo. L. 104 Agenda Bambergen.  Ingolstadii D, Sartorius, 1587, p. 309. 105 Liber Rituum ecclesiasticorum episcopatus Eystettensis, ad normam Ritualis Romani accomodatus, Ingolstadii, Haenlin, 1619, p. 287. 106 Rituale Romano-Eichstettense, Eichstadii, Schmid, 1798, p. 275.

At Linz, in Austria, the vow tendered by the priest is turned into a prayer, and is so good and beautiful that it deserves to be transcribed in full :

Ad Sponsam conversus :

Sprechet nun auch ihr, christliche Braut !  zur Besieglung eures nun einzugehenden ehelichen Bundes in eurem Herzen :

Mein Gott !  ich nehme aus Deiner Vaterhand den gegenwaertigen N.N. zu meinem rechtmaessigen und getreuen Ehemann, und verspreche ihra eheliche Liebe, Treue und Unterthaenigkeit zu bewahren, ihn in Kreuz und Widerwaertigkeit nicht zu verlassen, sondern mit ihm Freuden und Leiden gewissenhaft und redlich zu theilen und zu ertragen, bis dass uns der Tod scheidet.  Schenke mir, o Gott !  dazu Gnade und Huelfe durch Jesum Christum unseren Herrn.

Ist dieses eure wahre und aufrichtige Gesinning, so sprechet :  Ja. 107

In the diocese of Seckau the priest put certain questions to the bride, amongst them this one :

Gedenken sie auch in alien billigen Sachen und frommen Werken ihm gehorsam zu seyn, wie Eva unsere erste Mutter dem Adam, und ihn zu ehren, wie Sara den Abraham, so sprechen sie :  Ja. 108

At Brixen the bride is asked :

Gedenket  ( gedenken )  Ihr  ( Sie )  auch, ihm getreu beizuwohnen und unterthaenig zu sein, ihn zu ehren und zu lieben, freundlich und standhaft bei ihm zu verharren, bis Euch  ( Sie )  der Tod scheidet?

Et iterum respondent :  Ja. 109

At Olmutz, the priest, having ascertained that the bride and bridegroom are free agents and acting under no compulsion, addresses them on their duties ;  having spoken to the bridegroom, he thus questions the bride :

Hingegen auch das Weib auf Erden keinen lieberen wisse, als ihren Ehelichen Mann, deme sie also unterthaenig seyn soil, dass sie ihme in aller Ehrerbietigkeit vorgehe, und als ihrem Haupt gehorche :  auch sammentlich Boeses und Gutes eintraechtig leydet, und einander zu keiner Zeit nicht verlasset, bis zum Ende euers Lebens :  Verheisset ihr das zu thun ?  R. Ja. 110

The bride and bridegroom immediately take the vows which are the same for each.

At Passau, in the exhortation after the vows had been expressed and the Matrimony confirmed, the priest says to the bride :

Sollest du dich auch . . . ihme vndcrthaenig sein, wie die Kirch Christo vnderthenig ist. 111

A few years later the question appears in a firmer and more pronounced manner :

in ehrlichen vnd billichen sachen vnterthenig vnd gehorsamb zu sein. 112

At Constanz in Switzerland the priest,

Postea conversus ad sponsam, sic illi sponsum commendet.

N. Ich befilch euch auss dem befelch Gottes, dass ihr disem N. ewerem ehelichen Mann, mit ehelicher Trew, Glauben, vnd Lieb, vnderthenig sein, ihme Gehorsam, Ehr, vnd Hilff erzeigen woellend, gleich wie die Kirch Christo ihrem Haupt vnderthenig ist, Also dass euch beyde nichts anders scheide, dann allein der Todt. 113

There are the same words in the form of the nineteenth century :

unterthanig sein, ihm Gehorsam. 114

107 Manuale Ritualis Romani ad usum Parochorum eorumque cooperedorum dioeceseos Lincenis, Lincii, Huemer, 1838, p. 115.  Revised and approved by the Holy See. 108 Rituale Seccoviense, Graecii, F. Ferstl, 1789, p. 194. 109 Manuale Sacrum ad usum Sacerdotum Dioecesis Brixinensis, Brixinae, Weger, 1886, p. 271. 110 Agenda seu Rituale Olomucense, Reginae-Hradecii, Tibelli, 1714, p. 236. 111 Actus Sacerdotalis . . . ad Ecclesias Patauiensis accommodata, Pataviae, Nenninger, 1587, fo. 116. 112 Pastorale ad usum Romanum accommodatum . . . aliaque Pastoralia Officia in Diocesi Passaviensi, Monachii, Henrici, 1608. 113 Obsequiale sive Sacerdotale Ecclesiae, et dioecesis Constantiensis, Constantiae, Nic. Kalt, 1597, p. 284. 114 Rituale Constantiense, Rottenburg, G. Schmid, 1863, p 226.

To consider next the forms of Slavonic lands.

At Prague in 1848 the vow of the bride is as follows :

Ich N.N. nehme euch N.N. zu meinem wahren, getreuen Eh’gemal, verspreche Euch eheliche Treue, Liebe und auch Gehorsam zu leisten, Euch auf keine Weise zu verlassen, sondern mit Euch Alles, es sei gut oder bose und widerwartig, bis zu meinem Tode zu tragen und zu dulden.  Dazu helfe mir Gott der Vater, der Sohn, und der heilige Geist.  Amen.

An alternative is given after this form, in which the vow of the bride is the same as the vow of the bridegroom. 115

At Breslau in Silesia which is a province of Bohemia though now under Prussia.

Similiter iubeat dicere sponsam,

Sprich auch du mir nach :

Ich N. nehme dich N. mir zum ehelichen Manne, und gelobe dir Liebe, Treue und Ehre, und gebuhrenden Gehorsam, dich auch nicht zu verlassen, bis der Tod uns scheidet, so wahr mir Gott helfe und sein heiliges evangelium. 116

The same words are used in 1910. 117

At the synod of Petricovia one uniform ritual for the Kingdom of Poland was agreed upon, of which the Bishop of Wladislav and Pomerania issued an abridgement for the use of his diocese.  The vow of the bride is as follows :

Deinde Sponsae dicat.

Ich N. nehme dich N. mir zum Ehelichen Manne, vnd gelobe dir, Liebe, Trew, Ehre, vnd gebuehrlichen Gehorsamb, dich auch nicht zu verlassen, biss das vns der Todt scheidet, so war als mir Gott helffe, vnd alle seine liebe Heiligen. 118

I have quoted the German rather than the Polish, which is also given.  In the modern Ritual for the Kingdom of Poland, the sacramental words are given in many languages amongst which is a form in English :

Ad Sponsam.

I take thee for my lawful husband and I woe [? vow] thee my love, my truth, honesty and matrimonial obedience, and that I shall thee not forsake, till death do us part. 119

The Latin form here also given has for  “ matrimonial obedience, ”   “ obedientiam conjugalem, ”  the German  “ geburlichen Gehorsam, ”  and the French  “ l’obéissance du devoir conjugal. ” 

115 Manuale Ritualis Pragensis, Pragae, 1848, apud filios Theophili Haase, p. 55. 116 Manuale Ritualis Vratislaviensis, edidit Josephus Lipf . . . cum approbatione celsissimi D. Princ. Episcop. Vratislav. 1847, p. 85. 117 Rituale Parvum Wratislaviense, Wratislaviae, 1910, p. 258. 118 Rituale Sacramentorum . . . ex decreto Synodi provinci :  Petrocovien ad vniformem Ecclesiarum Regni Polon :  usum editum . . . Pro Dioecesi Pomeraniae in breve opusculum redactum. 1639, p. 34. 119 Rituale Sacramentorum . . . ad uniformem Ecclesiarum Poloniae usum, Cracoviae, 1892, p. 305.

The following account of the Armenian Rite is transcribed from a volume in the Vatican containing a number of documents which deal with the relations of the Armenians to the holy see.  They are of different sizes of paper, mostly written in Italian hands of the first half of the nineteenth century.  The Latin version of the Armenian Rituale consists of only nineteen leaves, and has been placed by the binder near the middle of the volume.  The rubrics are in red ink.

It will be noticed that the vows of both bride and bridegroom are made at one time, not separately as in the West ;  the form is the same for both ;  but when the promise has been given by both, then a separate and different acknowledgement is asked from both.

Post hoc in ecclesiam progrediuntur sponsus atque sponsa, peccata sua confessi, diciturque psalmus 121.

Deinde sericum filum triplicem torquent Cum pro sponso torquetur, dicunt psalmum 20.  Cum autem pro sponsa torquetur dicunt psalmum 24.

Post hoc crucem accipiens sacerdosprope sponsam ac sponsum accedit siansque nupturos caute docet antea, rursumque nuptiarum in hora deque dimna lege eos admonet, deinde sese obligandi promissum ab eis postulat dicens.

Promittisne coram Deo, timore Dei, amorem a Deo institutum firmiter ad invicem servare, eodemque amore propter Dei metum alterutrius onus libenter ferre, presertim corporalia detrimenta, claudicationem, cecitatem, longam insanabilemque infirmitatem, atque alia detrimenta, quantum divina lex precipit ?  Promittisne, subjicitisne vosmetipsos, his que dicta sunt, complendis estisne solliciti ?

Ac illi respondent, Utique.

Deinde Sacerdos sponse, dexteram tnanum sponsi dextere tradat, ei dicens.

Juxta divinum mandatum a Deo majoribus datum, ego N. Sacerdos hanc sponsam tibi do nunc in submissionem :  esne ejus dominus?

Sponsus autem respondet  Sum dominus voluntate Dei.

Sponse vero dicit Sacerdos  Submittisne te?

Atque sponsa respondet  Submitto me, juxta Dei preceptum.

Et hoc ter interrogat Sacerdos, terque illi respondent. 120

Here the assertion is very clear that the husband is the master of the wife and that she submits herself to him as part of the marriage vow.

And yet the Daily Mail tells us that the Church of England is the only historic Church which has  “ unequal vows ”  in its marriage service.

To consider the service books of communities formed more recently.

When the Old Catholics broke off from the main body of those in communion with the Roman Church, a new liturgy was composed for their use, and one of the Old Catholic forms for marriage is as follows :

Ebenso der Braut den Braeutigam :

Als Diener der christkatholischen Kirche ermahne ich auch euch  ( Sie )  in namen des Allerhoechsten, das ihr  ( Sie )  diesem euerm  ( Ihrem )  Ehemanne mit ehelicher Treue, Glauben und Liebe zugethan seid, und ihm Gehorsam, Ehre, und Hilfe erzeiget, wie die Kirche Christo, ihrem Haupt, sie erweiset ;  so dass nichts Anderes euch beide scheide, als der Tod. 121

The form for marriage is said in the prefatory note to be taken from the Wessemberg Rituale with some few changes.  The whole book was accepted by the synod on May 23, 1877. 122

In a small Protestant Spanish sect, calling itself the Church of Spain, the word  “ obedient ”  is yet retained, for the bride’s vows :

y prometo ser para ti una esposa am ante, obediente y fiel, hasta que Dios se sirva separarnos por la muerte. 123

120 Vatican Library, MS. Vatican 9542, from Cardinal Mai’s collection.  The leaves are not numbered.  It has already been said that the above may be found in a Latin translation in this collection of the Armenian services corresponding to those in a Rituale. 121 Christ Katholisches Rituale Vorlage fuer die Synode vom 23. Mai 1877. p. 56. 122 Proces verbal de la IIIe Session du Synode National de l’eglise Catholique Chretienne de la Suisse, Geneve, Schira Blanchard, 1877 p. 36. 123 Oficios Divines y administracion de los Sacramentos y otras ordenanzas en la Iglesia Espanola, Madrid, Cruzado, 1881, p. 205.


Leaving the rites where the bride is asked for, or herself pronounces, a promise to obey, or some equivalent expression, it may be well to examine those in which the bride does not with her own mouth indeed take a vow of obedience, but the priest is instructed to set before her, amongst other duties, that of submission and obedience to her husband, and in most of these cases the command is enforced by an allusion to the mystical union between Christ and his spouse, the Church.  The obedience of the wife, she is told, is to be of the same nature as the obedience of the Church to Our Lord.  And the bride is almost everywhere told to be as Eve, Sarah, and Rebecca in her relation to her husband.

At Paris in 1786 the vows are the same ;  but the address is decided enough as to the relations of husband and wife.

Epoux, aimez votre Epouse comme Jesus-Christ a aimé son Eglise.  Cherissez-la comme une portion de vous-même :  le Ciel vous a donné l’empire sur elle ;  mais qu’une tendre amitié dirige toujours l’usage de votre puissance :   “ ce n’est pas une esclave, c’est une épouse que vous avez acquise. ”  124  Que vos soins, vos attentions, vos égards lui fassent oublier ou plutôt aimer sa dépendance.  Et vous, Epouse, soyez soumise a votre Epoux comme l’Eglise est soumise a Jesus Christ. 125

In an earlier part of this Pastorale where the nature of the Sacraments is set forth for the instruction of the parish priest, the last of the Three Ends of Marriage 126  is thus dealt with :

Postremo ex eo fine coniugii, qui est mutuae charitatis et curae subsidium, eruuntur coniugum in se invicem officia.  Vir caput est mulieris  ( b )  :  unde mulieres viris suis subieciae sint in omnibus  ( c ) , nec rationi, nec Legi repugnantibus.  Quae potestatis et subiectionis virum inter et uxorem divinitus ordinata dispositio sic temperetur, ut nulla sit neque ex parte viri dominatio, neque ex parte uxoris servitus ;  alioqui, nulla in Matrimonio esset aequalitas, nulla fiducia, nulla societas . . . . Itaque uxor, non, ut ancilla, imperiose ;  sed ut socia  ( d ) , honorifice tractanda est.  Mulier quidem, si primatum habeat, contraria est viro suo  ( e )  :  idedque huic diligentissime retinenda est Capitis auctoritas, sic tamen ut illaesa maneat prudens fiducia, iustaque observantia. 127

 ( b )  Eph. 5. 23   ( c )  Ibid. v. 24

 ( d ) Gen. 3. 12.   ( e ) Eccli. 25. 30.

124 S. Ambr. Exameron. 1. 4. c. 15. [in m.] 125 Pastorale Parisiense, Parisiis, Cl. Simon, 1786, t. iii. 278. 126 The Three Ends of Marriage are well set out in the first address at the beginning of the Marriage Service of the Book of Common Prayer.  The chiefest is the begetting of children ;  and unhappily, since the time of Mr. Mill, many attempts have been made to forget this.  And yet Mr. Mill’s teaching is now admitted, merely on patriotic grounds, to be wholly wrong.  But doubtless Dr. G. Rietschel declares the usual teaching of Lutheran Germany when he says at the beginning of his section on Matrimony :  Die Erzeugung von Kindern ist nicht der Zweck der Ehe.  ( Lehr­buch der Liturgik, Berlin, Reuther, 1909.  Bd. ii. p. 208. )  It maybe a good thing that the advanced femininists do not bear children.  Tennyson warns us : The children born of thee are sword and fire, Red ruin, and the breaking up of laws.It is an impudent claim on the part of the present age to have finer ideas on the subject of marriage than all the preceding Christian centuries.  One has always thought that the future historian would look upon the nineteenth century as the worst of the Christian centuries.  But as the years pass into this present century it is becoming more and more doubtful if the twentieth will not excel it in every kind of wickedness. 127 Ibid. t. ii. p. 554.

I have given the teaching of this Pastorale at length because we have been told that it is of great authority.

It may be noted that the Vulgate gives socia as the rendering of the verse in Genesis which the Authorised and Revised Versions translate,  “ the woman whom thou gavest to be with me, ”  and the Hebraists tell me that this latter is the better version :  we can base no teaching upon a mistaken rendering by St. Jerome.

At Paris, in 1654, the vows are the same, but before the vows are taken the priest warns the bride and bridegroom that their life is to be

conforme à la vie d’vn bon Chrestien :  le mary aimant sa femme comme sa compagne, et la femme obeissant selon Dieu à son mary, comme à son chef. 128

At Bourdeaux the priest is bidden to say :

Et Vous  ( s’ adressant a l’Epouse, )  ayez pour vôtre Mari l’amitié, la complaisance, le respect, et la soumission que l’Eglise a toûjours euë pour Jesus-Christ son Epoux. 129

Can we imagine any submission more complete than the submission and obedience which the Church pays to Our Lord ?  To continue.  In like manner at Arras in 1757 the priest says to the bride :

Et vous, ma chere Soeur, soyez soumise à votre Epoux, comme l’Eglise est elle-meme soumise à Jesus-Christ. 130

At Verdun, in 1691, the vows are alike ;  but immediately after the consent is given the priest in his exhortation says :

Mari, ecoutes done le Saint Esprit, qui vous dit que vous aimies vôtre femme, du même amour dont Jesus-Christ aime l’Eglise.  Et vous Epouse, prenes la même Eglise pour vôtre modele, et aies pour vôtre Epoux, la tendresse, la complaisance, et la soumission qu’elle a toujours cue pour Jesus-Christ. 131

At Amiens, before the words of consent are pronounced, the priest bids remember que la femme ait pour son mari la meme tendresse, et la meme soumission que l’Eglise a pour Jesus-Christ qu’ elle honore comme son chef. 132

The same words appear at the same moment at Perigueux. 133

At Blois, in 1730, the priest uses much the same words, directly addressed to the bride.

et vous femme, aiez pour votre epoux la tendresse, la complaisance et la soumission que l’Eglise a pour J. C. 134

128 Rituale Parisiense ad Romani formam expressum, Parisiis, Cramoisy and Clopejav, 1654, p. 325. 129 Rituel Romain . . . pour l’usage du diocese de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, De la Court, 1728. p. 228. 130 Rituale ad usum dioecesis Atrabatensis, Atrebati, Nicolas, 1757, p. 222. 131 Rituel de Verdun, Verdun, Fanart, 1691, p. 232. 132 Rituel du diocese d’Amiens, Amiens, Hubault, 1687, p. 231. 133 Rituel du diocese de Perigueux, Paris, Guerin and Delatour, 1763, p. 183. 134 Rituel du diocese de Blois, Blois, Masson, 1730, p. 390.

At Strassburg in 1590, before the blessing of the arrhae, an address is given on the Three Ends of Marriage, and the bride is warned thus :

Vnd ein Christlich Eheweib, soil mit lust vnd von hertzen iren Ehemann lieben, ehren, vnd im gehorsam sein, damit sie der Kirchen gleich sey, die auch Christum iren Breutigam liebet vnd ehret, vnd im vnderthenig ist. 135

But at Strassburg when it has become French, the exhortation has been changed into the ordinary French address, and the vows are the merely legal formulae of consent.

N.N. Je vous prends presentement pour mon mari et legitime epoux. 136

So also at Colone, one of the three great Archbishoprics of the Rhine, the vows are the same for man and woman ;  but the priest after the marriage service is over tells the husband his duties and the woman hers :

Dem Weib hingegen, ihrem Mann nicht allein unterthanig zu seyn, sondern auch in alle Wege nach Vermogen beyzustehen, dass sie also gesambt und einmutig in wahrem Vertrawen, Lieb und Leyd miteinander tragen &c. 137

At the Primatial Church of Gran in Hungary, the vows are alike ;  but after the marriage has been blessed the priest says to the bride :

Und Du Gattin !  sei Deinera Manne unterthan, gleich wie die Kirche Jesu Christo unterthan is. 138

At Basle the priest says to the new married at the end of the service :

La Femme doit respecter dans son Mari la Personne de Notre Seigneur Jesus-Christ, qu’il represente. 139

At Coutances in 1682 the vows are indeed merely of consent, and alike, but there is the address before the consent is given in which the priest warns the bride as follows :

Et vous Epouse vous estes obligée, selon le precepte de l’Apostre, de respecter vostre mary comme vostre chef, vostre conseil, vostre conduite, et de luy obeir comme l’Eglise obéit à JesusChrist. 140

135 Agenda Ecclesiae Argentinensis, Coloniae, 1590, p. 162. 136 Rituale Argentinense, Argentinae, Le Roux, 1742, p. 264. 137 Agenda S. Coloniensis Ecclesiae, Coloniae Agrippinae, Noethen, 1720. ad usum Archi-Dioecesis Coloniensis, p. 254. 138 Rituale Strigoniense, Budae, typ. Universitatis Pestiensis, 1858, p. 233. 139 Rituale Basiliense, Bruntruti, Cuchot, 1739, p. 141. 140 Rituale Constantiense, ad Romani formam expressum, Parisiis, apud Emmanuelem et Jacobum Langlirs, 1682. partie ii. p. 26.

At Tournay after the marriage the priest speaks first to the husband, and then to the wife :

Accoutumez-la à l’application, au travail domestique, au detail du menage, arm qu’elle soit en état d’élever des enfans avec autorité et prudence dans la crainte de Dieu.  Et vous, epouse, aimez et honorez votre epoux comme l’Eglise aime et honore J. C. son époux.  Regardez J. C. meme en lui.  Obeissez-lui selon Dieu comme à votre chef, comme à celui, qui vous represente Dieu sur la terre. 141

We can imagine the contempt with which this advice given to the husband would be received by the modern woman.

At Colocz, a diocese in Hungary, an address is given after the marriage, in which the husband is told of his duties, and the wife of hers, and the following sentence appears :

wofür des Weibes gegenseitige Pflicht ist in alien billigen Sachen ihrem Manne gehorsam zu seyn. 142

At Limoges the vows are the same for man and wife ;  being merely an expression of consent.  When the service is over, the priest tells the new wedded pair that the married state involves reciprocal duties such as these :

Le mary doit aimer sa femme, comme Jesus-Christ a aimé son Eglise, et la traitter comme sa chere compagne :  Mais la femme doit l’amour, le respect, et l’obeissance à son mary, et luy complaire en tout ce qui n’est pas contraire a ce qu’elle doit a Dieu son Créateur. 143

At Auch, in a Ritual intended for the use of the whole Province, the vows of the bride and bridegroom are the same.  Each consent ends with the words :

en la forme que nôtre mere la sainte Eglise le pratique?

But at the mass there is an exhortation by the priest ;  first to the man, then to the woman.  The woman he addresses as follows :

Vous  ( en s’addressant à la femme )  en aimant et respectant vôtre mary, et en luy obeissant, comme l’Eglise aime Jesus son époux, et comme elle luy obeit. 144

It has been noticed above that in the Ambrosian Rite there were no forms for vows in the Sacramentarium of 1560.  Such however appear after the Council of Trent in the Sacramentale prepared by St. Charles Borromeo, but only issued by his successor.  They are the same for both, but end with the important words :

sicut praecipit sancta mater ecclesia.

141 Rituale ad usum dioecesis Tornacensis, Insulis et Tornaci, Danel and Varle, 1784, p. 266. 142 Rituale Romano-Colocense, Budae, typis Universitatis Pestiensis, 1838, p. 198. 143 Rituale seu Manuale Lemovicense, Lemovicis, Barbou, 1678. p. 327. 144 Rituel Romain a l’usage de la Province Ecclesiastique d’Auch, Paris, Ant. Dezallier, 1701. pp. 348 and 353.

And in the long Rubricae seu Instructiones quae Parochus doceat we find that he is to teach his people concerning matrimony the doctrine of the Catechism of the Council of Trent, which we know commands wives to be in subjection to their husbands, and later on in the Instruction the priest is told to warn the bride thus :

Velatam sponsam deduci monebit, cum ob decentiam, Apostolique praeceptum ;  turn ob significationem subiectionis erga virum :  Rebeccae etiam exemplo, quae vt sponsum conspexit, pallio caput velauit. 145

She is not to be bold and barefaced, but modestly veiled.  The same directions as to the teaching of the people are contained in the Ambrosian Rituale of 1885.

Thus also in an Armenian Rituale ;  though there is no vow to be found in the Rite, nor indeed any enquiry whether the persons are free to marry, yet at the time of the taking off of the crowns the priest prays as follows :

But it is the duty of men to love their wives as their own bodies ;  so also shall women be obedient to their husbands as unto the Lord, whom also the holy apostle invokes in the midst of the church, saying :  As the Church is obedient unto Christ, so also shall women be to their husbands. 146

It has been said above that the words bonair and buxom continued in the books used by the Roman Catholics in England even so late as 1626 ;  and, that to explain their meaning, meeke and obedient were printed in the margin. They are not in the little books printed at Paris in 1636 147   or in 1657, 148   nor in that of Hills for King James II. in 1686, where the questions are in the form ordered by the Roman Ritual of Paul V.  It is the same in an Ordo authorised by the Vicars Apostolic in 1759, where there is no bonair and buxom in the vows.  But there is an Appendix to the Ritual of the same date, containing Instructions and Exhortations.  Chapter the third contains that on Matrimony, and after setting forth the Three Ends of Marriage the priest is to say :

As to your mutual obligations, and duties to one another, in the married state ;  you are to learn them from the word of God. Give ear therefore to S. Paul. 149

And the rest of the address is filled with long quotations from St. Paul and St. Peter.  Bonair and buxom were therefore not removed by the English Roman Catholics from their service book because they had any dislike to forcing a promise from the bride to be meek and obedient ;  but because one word had  “ become obsolete, and the other had acquired a meaning quite different from that which it had when first introduced into the service book.

145 Sacramentale Ambrosianum, Mediolani, Pacificus Pontius, 1589, p. 255. 146 One MS. adds :  in all things.  ( F. C. Conybeare and A. J. Maclean, Rituale Armenorum, Oxford, 1905, p. 113. ) 147 Ordo baptizandi aliaque Sacramenta administrandi . . . pro Anglia, Hibernia, et Scotia, 1636, p. 39. 148 ibid, Paris, de la Fosse, 1657, p. 38. 149 An Appendix, to the Ritual, containing Instructions and Exhortations proper to be made by Priests in the Administration of the Sacraments, 1759, no printer, p. 21.  This appears with some verbal alterations also in the similar appendix published in 1812, p. 212, and in the edition published by Burns and Oates about 1891. p. 258.

At Brandenburg, among the Lutherans, in 1561 the priest or pastor is to say :

Wetter spreche er zur braut

Liebe tochter, dieser sol hinfurt dein ehemann sein, und solt im unterthan und gehorsam sein, wie die christliche kirche Jesu Christo, irem herrn, unterthenig und gehorsam ist. 150

In the Palatinate in 1609 the woman is addressed very firmly in what appears to be a service book of the Heidelberg Calvinists :

E contra tu mulier et ipsa noueris qualem te, secundum verbum Dei marito tuo praebere debeas.  Maritum, cui nupsisti, diliges, honorabis, timebis :  et in omnibus aequitati consentaneis ei, vt Domino tuo morem geres :  vt corpus capiti et Ecclesia Christo subiecta est, non dominaberis viro tuo, sed quieta eris :  Adam enim prior conditus est, post Eua Adamo adiutrix est creata.  Et post lapsum Deus Euae, ac sub Euae persona toti muliebri sexui iniunxit, Sub potestate viri eris et ipse tui dominabitur.*  Huic ergo constitutioni divinae non obniteris, sed potius mandate Dei obedies, sanctasque matronas imitaberis ;  que, spe sua in Deo collocata, maritis se suis submittebant, et Sara obediuit Abrahamo, Dominum eum vocans.  Praeterea in omnibus honestis et vtilibus marito adiutricem te praebebis :  liberorum et rei familiaris diligentem curam ages ;  in omni modestia et honestate, absque pompa mundana, ambulabis, vt aliis laudabile modestiae exemplum praebeas. 151

* Gen. 3. [in m.]

At Biel in 1752 the following warning is contained in the marriage service :

Die Ehefrau hingegen soll sich stets erinnern, dass sie von Gott dem Ehemann zugeordnet und gegeben seye, zu seiner Gehilffin, so wol in geistlichen als leiblichen &c. 152

John a Lasco was a Polish bishop who in the evil days of Edward VI. took charge of a foreign congregation in London and published a sort of Form for his ministrations.  The minister addresses the bride in this manner as to her duty to her husband :

Admonitio peculiaris ad, sponsam. ut maritum tuum ex toto corde tuo secundum Deum diligas atque ames, venereris ilium ac reverearis, sisque illi subiecta, ut domino tuo, quemadmodum corpus totum capiti suo subiectum esse videmus.

And there is more of the same kind, later on :

tu magis te vicissim demittere apud ipsum, in omni subiectione atque obedientia debebis … ad quem modum Saram Abrahae suo subiectam fuisse legimus. 153

150 Emil Sehling, Die evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des des xvi. Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, Reisland, Bd. III. p. 175.  Mark Brandenburg, 1561. 151 Catechesis Religionis Christianas, Quae in Ecclesiis et scholis Electoralis Palatinatus traditur, Genevae, Berjon, 1609. p. 209. amongst the prayers for the Lord’s Supper &c. 152 Gebette und Handlungen bey dem offentlichen Gottesdienste der Kirche zu Biel, Biel, J. C. Heilmann, 1752, p. 128. 153 Ioannis a Lasco, Opera, ed. A. Kuyper, Amstelod. et Hagae Comitum, Muller & Nijhoff, 1866. t. ii. p. 264.


There are instances of the vows being precisely alike, but containing clauses which stamp a character upon the consent by their appeal to the laws of God and the Church.  The laws of God are to be found in the Old and New Testament, the Word of God.  In some cases a direct reference is made to the teaching of St. Peter and of St. Paul ;  or an allusion is made to the Apostolic rules which, it has been seen above, are explicit enough in their teaching that the wife is to be submissive to her husband.

At Paris in 1777 and 1786 the vows are the same :  but there is also the clause in both :

Selon le commandement de Dieu. 154

At Coutances the vows are indeed the same for each, but both are qualified by the same words :155 and there are many others such as at Meaux,156   Lisieux,157   Chalons sur Marne,158   etc.

In the diocese of Rhemes, in 1821, before the vows be taken, the priest warns the bride and bridegroom of their duties to each other :  to the bride he says :

Et vous, Ma Chere Soeur, soyez soumise à votre Epoux, comme l’Eglise est soumise à JesusChrist ;  puisque, selon l’expression de l’Ecriture, il est votre Chef comme Jesus-Christ est le Chef de son Eglise. 159

At the vows the priest says to the bride :

Vous promettez et jurez de lui garder fidélité en toutes choses, comme une fidelle Epouse le doit a son Epoux, selon le commandement de Dieu?

In a Manual issued for the three dioceses of Poitiers, Luçon, and Maillezais in 1587, the priest begins his exhortation by pointing out that woman was taken out of man, Eve from the side of Adam, and thence he proceeds :

Desquelz propos nous pouuons entendre, premierement que l’homme doibt bien aymer sa femme, et la traicter honesteinent san[s] aucune rigueur ne m’espris, † attendu qu’elle n’est pas tyrée de ses piedz ou de ses talone, ains du plus pres de son coeur.

Secondement la grand[e] affection et obeissance que la femme doilt porter a son mari, attendu qu’elle n’est pas tyrée de son chef, ou de son cerueau pour luy commander, ou s’esgaler a luy. 160

154 Rituale Parisiense, Parisiis, Cl. Simon, 1777, p 188.  Pastorale Parisiense, Paris, Cl. Simon, 1786. t. iii. 280. 155 Rituale Constantiense, Constantiis, Joubert, 1777, p. 276. 156 Rituel de Diocese de Meaux, Meaux, Grand Seminaire, 1836, p. 160. 157 Rituale Lexoviense, Parisiis, J. B. Coignard, 1744, p. 276. 158 Rituale seu Manuale Ecclesiae Cathalaunensis, Parisiis, Vitré, 1649. pars i. p. 257. 159 Manuel pour administration des Sacremens, imprimé par ordre de . . . Archêveque Duc de Reims, Charleville and Reims, 1821. p. 147. 160 Manuale ecclesiasticum in gratiam Picta[viensis].  Lucionen[sis]. et Maleacen[sis]. Dioceseon, Poictiers, Jean Main, 1587.  sign. D. iii.

The bride is not to make herself equal to the husband.  The vows are put to each alike and are the same, ending with

ainsi comme Dieu la estably, l’escripture le tesmoigne, et saincte Eglise le garde.  Respons. Ouy.

At Chartres in 1604 the vows are the same but they end in each case with the words :

Si comme Dieu l’a etably, l’Escripture le tesmoigne, et sainte Eglise le garde.  Resp. Ouy sire. 161

The same expressions are to be found in a manuscript manual from the parish of St. Andrew in Paris : 162   and also in a manuscript Paris mass-book used by a Cardinal de Bourbon. 163

In the Ritual for the province of Rhemes published by Charles Maurice Le Tellier, the Archbishop, there is this passage in the exhortation before the vows are taken.

et de même  ( en parlant à l’épouse )  il faut que vous-vous proposiez l’exemple de l’Eglise, et que vous ayez pour votre mary la même tendresse, et la meme soumission que l’Eglise a pour Jesus Christ qu’elle honore comme son chef.

The vows end with these words :

tant qu’il plaira a Dieu nous laisser ensemble ;  ainsi que luy-meme le commande, et que notre mere sainte Eglise l’ordonne. 164

At Toulouse in 1533 the bride’s vow was

Ego N. do corpus meum in veram et legitimam uxorem tibi N.  ( nomen viri nominando )  ut deus ordinavit :  et sancta mater ecclesia obtinet et observat. 165

At Metz the vows are alike but they both end with these words :

tant qu’il plaira a Dieu de nous laisser ensemble ;  ainsi que lui-même le commande et que nôtre Mere la sainte Eglise l’ordonne. 166

The same words are to be found at Toul in 1700. 167

161 Manuale Sacerdotum secundum usum Diocesis Carnotensis, Parisiis, Cl. de la Tour, 1604, fo. 28. 162 Bib. nat. MS. Latin 1212, fo. 14.  See also MS. Latin 1211. 163 Edmund Martene, De antiquis ecclesiae ritibus. lib. i. cap. ix. Art. v. Ordo x. Antverpiae, J. B. de la Bry, 1736, t. ii. col. 375. 164 Rituel de la Province de Reims, Paris, F. Leonard, 1677. p. 221. 165 Oeconomia domus domini, seu liber de Sacramentorum administratione ad consuetudinem Metropolitane ecclesie, in urbe Tholosa, Parisiis, Gul. Merlin, 1553, fo. xxii. b. 166 Rituale Metense, Metis, Antoine, 1713, Pars ii. p. 114. 167 Rituel de Toul, Laurent, 1700, p. 374.

At Verona, where words of consent merely are prescribed, the parish priest is yet told to warn the bride and bridegroom of their due relation :

Parochus . . . cohortabitur, et sponsos, vt sancte et pie idipsum Matrimonii Sacramentum suscipiant, et in eo mutuam fidem, ac dilectionem colant, sanctam societatem ex Apostolicis legibus conseruent ;  vt tandem vir vxorem diligat, vxor autem timeat virum suum, prudenti, graui, et breui oratione admonebit. 168

The word timeat as addressed to the bride should be noticed :  and in the vows themselves the promise is given :

Sicut praecipit sancta Romana Catholica, et Apostolica Ecclesia.

The teaching of St. Peter and St. Paul is invoked at Lerida in Spain.

Aspergantur anuli aqua benedtcta.  Postea sacerdos accipiat vnum anulum, et ponat in manu dextera puelle, et accipiat quartum digitum sinistre manus viri, et dicat puella.

Jo na .N. spos a vos en .N. ab aquest anell per paraules de present, y reb a vos en leal marit.  Eliure a mi mateixa a vos en leal muller, aixi com nostre senor deu ha ordenat, e los benauenturats apostols Sanct Pere et sant Pauo affirmen y loque deu ajuste hon no pot ni deu separar.  In nomine, patris, et filii, et spiritus sancti.  Amen.   ( Yo .N. esposo a vos .N. con este anillo por palabras de presente :  y recibo a vos en leal marido :  y doy a my mesma a vos por leal muger, assi como nuestro senor dios lo ha ordenado y los bienauenturados Apostoles San Pedro y san Pablo lo affirman ;  y loque dios ayunta, hombre non puede ni deue apartar.  In nomine patris. &c. )

Et ponat anulum in dicto quarto digito viri. 169

At Salamanca also when the bridegroom puts the ring and other arrhae into the hands of the bride, he says :

Esposa contigo me desposo y estas arras te dono y con mi cuerpo te honoro assi como lo manda la sancta madre yglesia y sant Pedro y sant Pablo y los doctores de la yglesia lo constituyeron y est establecieron. 170

168 Rituale Ecclesiae Veronensis, Veronae, Merli à Donnis, 1609. p. 163.  See also a later edition of 1756, p. III. 169 Sacerdotale volumen, quod Ordinarium Ilerdense dicitur, Petrus Roburius Ilerde, mense Mais, anno Salutis M.D.L.xvii. fo. civ. 170 Manuale secundum consuetudinem alme Ecclesie Salmanticensis, Salmantie, John Iunta, 1532, fo. xix. b.

At Pampeluna the vows are the same :

Yo .N. a vos N. os recibo por mi esposa y por mi muger, se gun y como la ley de Dios lo manda, y la sancta madre yglesia lo mantiene.  In nomine patris, et filii, et spiritus sancti.  Amen.

Otro tanto dira ella.

And the priest, after the delivery of the ring, says :

Yo de parte de Dios todo poderoso y de la sancta madre Iglesia vos desposo, y este sacramento entre vosotros confirmo.  In nomine patris, et filii, et spiritus sancti.  Amen.  Quod Deus coniunxit, homo non separet.  Trado tibi eam vxorem, non ancillam :  tu autem diliges earn, sicut Christus dilexit sponsam suam ecclesiam. 171

The Toledo Manual deserves particular notice, not only because it appears to have much in common with other Spanish rites, but because it has influenced the marriage customs wherever we find the Spaniards have penetrated.

The first thing that may be noticed is that the bride is asked for her consent before the bridegroom.  The words are the same in both cases, and are the mere bare forms of legal consent.  But they are preceded by an admonition said to be drawn from the Roman Catechism ;  that is, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, though I have not succeeded in finding it there.  The priest warns them both, on the authority of the Apostle that they henceforth have no power over their bodies, and that they must love each other as Christ loves the Church.  Then he addresses the bridegroom bidding him treat the wife as soda, a name founded on a mistranslation of the Vulgate, Genesis iii. 12, Mulier quam dedisti mihi sociam, which is more properly translated, as in the Authorised Version, the woman whom thou gavest to be with me.  It is quite right that the wife should be socia, but the reason for it has not the authority of Genesis ;  and the frequent use of the word, as if it had received some divine authority, is to be deprecated.

Vxori, tu sponse, compatiare, tamquam infirmiori vasculo ;  sociam dabimus, non famulam.  Sic enim Adamus Euam de ipsius latere, huius rei argumento formatam, sociam vocauit.  Familiae sustentandae causa, aliqua re honesta occupare, rei familiaris conseruandae studio, simul et otij vitandi, vnde omnia mala fluxerunt.

Then immediately turning to the bride he says :

Marito, tu sponsa, subiecta eris in omnibus :  ornatum corporis nimium contemnes prae virtutum pulchritudine :  rem domesticam diligenter conseruabis :  domi te continebis, nisi necessitas cogat exire, idque viri permissu. 172

And there follows more excellent advice still.

It is repeated in the Mechlin Pastorale of 1607,173   and again in the Japanese Ritual of 1605,174   doubtless introduced by Spanish influence in both cases.

And when the nuptial mass is over the priest again says :

Sociam trado tibi, non ancillam, dilige illam, sicut Christus diligit Ecclesiam.

This last admonition appears at Toledo certainly in 1554. 175   It is to be found before, at Sevile, as early as 1494. 176 Also at Lerida in 1567. 177

171 Manuale Pampilonense, Stellae, apud Adrianum de Anuers.  Anno Domini, 1561. fo. xo. 172 Rituale Seu Manvale Romanum . . . cum cantu Toletano, et appendice et Manuali toletano, Antverpiae, Plantin, 1673. p. 453. Idem, 1760, p. 454. 173 Pastorale ad vsum Romanum accommodatum, Antverpiae, Plantin, 1607, p. 134. 174 Manuale ad Sacramenta ecclesiae ministranda D. Ludouici Cerqueira Japonensis Episcopi opera ad usum sui cleri ordinatum, Nangasaquij, 1605 p. 159. 175 Manuale Sacramentorum secundum vsum alme ecclesie Toletane, Granata, 1554. fo. lvi. and again in Rituale seu Manuale Romanum . . . cum appendice, ex Manuali Toletano, Antverp.  Plantin, 1760, p. 364, thus, for 464. 176 Manuale Hispalense, Hispali, 1494, signature d. vi. 177 Sacerdotale volumen, quod Ordinarium Ilerdense dicitur, Ilerdae, Petrus Roburius, 1567. fo. clviii.

And again, much later, in the Peruvian Manuale published in 1607.178   Also at another church in the Peninsula, the metropolitical see of Braga, where, as late as 1558, they had no expressed forms of consent ;  at the end of the mass the priest is directed thus :

Deinde accipiat sponsam per manum dexteram et tradat eam sponso ita dicendo.

Frater accipe coniugem tuam ;  et dilige earn, vt carnem tuam.  Et trado tibi vxorem et non ancillam :  tu autem custodi et dilige eam sicut Christus ecclesiam :  et ambulate in pace.  In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti.  Amen. 179

The books from the Peninsula seem to be only pointing out the reasonable and usual relation that husband and wife should have to one another.  If Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and John Stuart Mill had never taught, no one would have dreamt of any other relation in marriage.  It remains to be seen whether, by trying to grasp all, women will not have lost all.

In the book of projects for a reform of the Liturgy put out by the celebrated but unfortunate Herman von Wied, Archbishop of Colone, there is in the vows both of husband and wife a promise to be made that both one and the other will live according to the Word of God and as a Christian man and wife should.

Vbi uero Ecclesia in silentio precem suam finierit, Minister iubeat sponsum et sponsam propius accedere, et roget prime sponsum his uerbis.

Ioannes .N. constituisti igitur coram Domino Annam .N. complecti et habere in Domino Coniugem tuam, et cum ea per omne aeuum tuum ita uiuere, ut modo ex uerbo Dei audiuisti requiri a marito Christiano?

Respon.  Ita constitui fretus auxilio Domini.

Constituisti et tu Anna .N. coram Domino loannem .N. complecti et habere in Domino maritum tuum et cum eo ita uitam omnem degere, ut docta modo et admonita es ex Verbo Domini, requiri ab uxore Christiana ?

Respon.  Constitui freta auxilio Domini. 180

Then at Lyons where the vows are the purely legal expression of consent yet the priest tells the bride of the Apostolic injunctions, thus :

Il faut aussi, dit l’Apotre, que l’Epouse soit soumise a son Epoux, qu’elle révère son autorité, qu’elle lui conserve une fidélité inviolable, une obéissance pleine de respect et d’amour.

This exhortation having been read, the priest proceeds to demand the vows of the bride and bridegroom.  They are merely the due expression of consent :  thus the bride is asked :

D. Et vous, N. voulez-vous prendre N. ici présent pour votre mari et légitime epoux ?

R. L’Epouse repondra :  Oui, Monsieur. 181

178 Rituale, seu Manuale Pervanum, et Forma brevis administrandi apud Indos sacrosancta &c. Neapoli, 1607. p. 222. 179 Missale iuxta vsum et ordinem Almae Bracarensis Ecclesie Hispaniarum Primatis, Lugduni, Io. a Burgundia, 1558. fo. ccxxxix. b. 180 Nostra Hermanni ex Gratia Dei Archiepiscopi Coloniensis . . . simplex ac pia Deliberatio, Bonnae, L. Mylius, 1545, fo. cvi. b. 181 Rituel du diocèse de Lyon, Lyon, Aimé de la Roche, 1787, partie II. p. 180.

In the diocese of Quebec, the priest in his exhortation before the vows are made warns the bride and bridegroom of the apostolic injunction in which

il recommande aux maris d’aimer leurs femmes comme Jesus-Christ a aime son eglise, et quand il exhorte les femmes a temoigner a leurs maris la meme soumission et la meme tendresse que Peglise a cues pour Jesus-Christ. 182

At Triers in 1574 the vows were very nearly the same for each, only the man was asked particularly if he entered matrimony of his own free will, and the woman if she had a serious mind to marry in Christo.  But the man was asked further after the assent of the bride had been given :

N. gedenckestu auch ihr hie gegenwertig trewlich fuerzustehen, als Adam seines Eua, vnnd sie zu lieben als dein eigen fleisch, nach dess Apostels wort, vnnd ihr zu verschonen, als einem schwachen zeug, wie S. Petrus schreibt?

Dicat Ja. 183

This last remark to the husband is as little tolerable as enforcing a promise to obey.

There is a small manuscript in the British Museum, of only 44 leaves, written about 1400, containing masses for Trinity, Christmas, Epiphany, Invention and Exaltation of Holy Cross, &c., with rites for Baptism and Marriage.  It seems likely, but not certain, that it was written in England.  The vows at marriage are :

Sacerdos utriusque manu dextra apprehensa iungat eos similiter sicut faciunt qui fide se obligant.  Postea dicat sacerdos.

Frater .N. Vis habere istam mulierem .N. in uxorem?

Respondeat etiam.

et ego do tibi eam ut custodias earn sanam el egram ut legitimam uxorem. et ut facias ei fidelem sodetatem sicut dominus noster iubet. et sanctus paulus testatur. et sancta ecclesia tenet.  Concedis ita.

Respondeat etiam.

Similiter dicat sacerdos mulieri utrum ipsa uelit uirum. 184

At Bologna in 1593 an immense amount of good advice is given to the bride.  She is to wear no gay clothes on Fridays or other fasting days, and the Sunday is to be spent in seclusion, in devotion, and good works, or with those that practice the same.  The husband is told that he is responsible for all that is done in the house, and for all that his wife does :

sposi, che essendo capi delle spose, debbano per officio loro contenerle sotto la regola de costumi Christiani. 185

182 Extrait du Rituel de Quebec, Quebec, Gary, 1836, p. 226. 183 Libri Officialis sive Agendae S. Ecclesiae Treverenis, Aug. Treverorum, Rot, 1574, p. cxc. 184 British Museum, Harl. M.S. 2860, fo. 30. b. 185 Rituale Sacramentorum ad Institutum Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae . . . in usum Ecclesiae Bononiensis, Bononiae, Victor Benatuis, 1593, p. 100.

It will be seen from the foregoing service books if we pass beyond the mere examination of the marriage vows, how little encouragement is given by them to the modern idea that the wife is equal to the man.  But there is a certain number in which no advice or suggestion is made to bride or bridegroom that any duties are due from one to the other, and yet a prayer is said or some expression occurs which is an indication, if it be looked for, of the teaching of the Church.  As an example of this class, there is a Ritual of great importance because of its authority in the Roman Communion, that issued by Paul V. in the year 1614 which appears, to contain as short a form of vows as it is possible to have without losing validity.  Strange to say there is no address prescribed explaining the nature of matrimony, though the Council of Trent directs 186   that there should be, before the administration of the sacraments, an address explaining the sacrament to those that receive it :  nor is such an address even given in outline.  The vows are indeed the same for bride and bridegroom, but reduced almost to a Pagan or Parliamentary shortness, excepting that five words at the end, iuxta ritum sanctae Matris Ecclesiae, save it from being undenominational.  But there is since the reform of Pius V. somewhat in the nuptial mass that may show the mind of the Church and suggest to the bride her duties.  It occurs in the epistle, which begins with the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians, Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  It may be noticed that the Roman Missal now penetrates into all but a few dioceses.  Even in those that have retained their own marriage rites, mass according to the Roman Missal must be commonly said when the marriage is followed by the celebration of mass.

Some notice may be also taken of the long prayer which is said at the end of the spousal mass before Communion, Deus qui potestate, which is wholly a prayer for the bride, except a line or two at the end, where the prayer passes into the plural, asking that the new married couple may see their descendants to the third and fourth generation.

It is not for me to determine whether this be one of the privileges of the bride or one of those  “ Moral Indignities to Women, ”  of which the Spiritual Militancy League conjures up fifteen in the Marriage Service of the English Prayer Book. 187

The prayer, Deus qui potestate, contains a clause which may be noticed :  Sit in ea iugum dilectionis et pacis.  Some may translate iugum by a word meaning bond or union ;  but it is quite possible also that it means the yoke of love and peace, and such appears to be the traditional French translation :  le doux joug de l’amour et de la paix conjugale. 188

The prayer itself goes back to the Gregorian Sacramentary.  There also it is offered for the bride only, in the feminine singular number throughout ;  and in the clause Hanc igitur oblationem of the canon, the prayer is pro famula tua illa. 189  In the Gelasian Sacramentary the prayers are also mainly in the feminine singular, 190  and the same in the Leonine. 191

186 Sessio XXIV.  Decret. de Reformatione, Cap. vii. 187 See Standard, April 7. 1913, p. II.  The grammarians ought also to be spoken to.  Do they not place the masculine gender before the feminine ?  Should they not be equal? 188 L. T. P. [Nicolas Le Tourneux] Instructions chrétiennes sur les sacremens, 3e ed. Lyon, Baritel, 1698, p. 314. 189 See p. 121 of the new edition of the Gregorian Sacramentary, to be issued by the Henry Bradshaw Society and edited by Mr. Henry Austin Wilson, who has kindly allowed me a sight of the proofs. 190 The Gelasian Sacramentary, edited by H. A. Wilson, Oxford, 1894, p. 265. 191 Sacramentarium Leonianum, ed. by C. L. Feltoe, Cambridge, 1896, p. 140.

Leaving the chief Western Rite, and the hints given in it as to the duties of the bride, we may pass to the East, and note the advice which is there given to the bride and bridegroom.  In a Chaldean book, a translation of which is to be found in the Vatican Library, there is :

Ordo Desponsationis [p. 361].

*     *     *     *     *     *

Venisti, Frater noster, voluntate bona, et corde sincere ad desponsandam mulierem secundum legem Christianam, et Canonem Evangelicum, atque man-datum Apostolicum, cum scias, quod in conjugio, et communicatione Christianorum verorum, †  qui confitentur Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum, non est separatio usque ad mortem, uti precepit apostolus beatus Paulus, et dixit :  Mulier alligata est viro, sicut Spiritus Corpori, et sicut caro ossibus, et scriptum est in V. et N.  ( lege )  relinquet vir patrem suum et matrem suam, et adherebit uxori sue :  et erunt ambo una caro :  Ita est conjugium Christianorum verorum.

Et respondet Pater Sponsi = Ita est Domine mi.

The same question is then asked of the father of the bride.  Later the bride is told to be obedient to the husband :

Admonitio in solutione Corone.

*     *     *     *     *     *

Et tu, o Soror benedicta felix, Dominus noster benedicat tibi :  Jam audivisti id, quod dixi Conjugi tuo, et precepi ei de te :  Dominus noster benedicat tibi ilium, quern dedit tibi, et fecit vos Corpus unum, ut audias hoc preceptum, ut debes, et superaddes ei, ac subdita sis Conjugi tuo, et letifices cor ejus :  et custodi spiritum tuum ab omni macula, et malo, ac peccato, quemadmodum dixit Dominus in evangelic suo sancto, quod relinquet homo Patrem suum, et Matrem suam, et sequatur Mulierem suam :  et ita tu sis obediens ei instar Mulierum purarum, que ornant animas suas castitate, uti constitutum est eis :  et quod Vir est Caput Mulieris, sicuti Christus est Caput Ecclesie :  et sis instar Sare, que, erat obediens Patri nostro Abrahe, et eum Dominum suum vocabat. 192

In Coptic service the priest addresses the bride as follows, in Arabic :

And thus O sister the blessed, the bride, the happy one thou hast heard what was commanded to thy husband.  Therefore it is necessary for thee to honour him, and to fear him, and not to transgress his command nor his opinion, but to increase in obedience to him according to what was commanded to him in double sort.  And thou indeed to-day art made one with him and he is master over thee more than thy parents.  So it is necessary for thee that thou consent to him entirely and cheerfully, not disregarding any of his claims upon thee, and be pious toward God in all thy affairs. 193

192 Libri Rituales Ecclesiae Antiochenae Syrorum iubente losepho Maria Castelli, S.R.E. Cardinali . . . interprete Iosepho Aloysio Assemani . . . Anno 1773.  Lib. iii. p. 134.  ( Vatican Library, MS. Vatic. Latin. 9543. )  On the first leaf is written :  Copia fatta a mie spese Sc. 10. an. 1838, A. C. M[ai].  At the end of Liber III. is written :  Explicit ope Dei Anno 1695. 27 Martii. 193 Translation given to me by the Rev. George Horner.

The Aethiopic ritual, recently edited by Monsieur M. Chaine, has evidently a common ancestor with the Coptic.  The Latin version of the address is as follows :

Legit sacerdos haec praecepta super sponsam dicens :

Tu, soror mea, benedicta et honorata, ecce iam audivisti mandata quae marito tuo praecipiuntur.  Oportet autem te dupliciter praecellere in raandatis erga eum.  Tu hodie coniuncta es cum illo et in potestatem suam te rediget.  Oportet te honorare et timere eum ;  ne mandata et consilia eius transgrediaris, obtempera eis cum facie laeta et cum gaudio.  Noli murmurare coram eo ;  ne deterreas quod illius est et tune sequeris Dominum in omnibus rebus.  Dominus enim altissimus eum superiorem tibi fecit et tibi iussit ut post genitores tuos, marito tuo obedias et cum illo maneas sicut mansit Sarra, patri nostro Abraham obediens et obtemperans sic dicens :   “ Domine mi. ”  194

Supposing that the word  “ obey ”  were removed from the vows taken by the bride in the marriage service in the book of Common Prayer, there would yet remain a prayer that the wife may be obedient to the husband.  There is such in that which begins O God who by thy mighty power has made all things, and thereby a testimony would remain to the teaching of the Church of England.  So there is in the rite of the Holy Orthodox Church of the East :  the questions there asked by the priest deal mainly with impediments to the present marriage, such as whether there exist a previous engagement, whether there be complete freedom from constraint and thus ability to contract marriage, rather than an asking for any promise to perform well hereafter the duties of the married state.  But in the second prayer in the office of crowning, as it is called, there is a highly significant petition to Our Lord to send his grace upon the bride that she may be obedient to her husband in all things, and that he, the husband, may be her head :

Αυτος και νυν, δεσποτα κυριε ο θεος ημων, καταπεμφον την χαριν σου την επουρανιον επι τοις δουλοις σου τουτοις, του δεινα και την δεινα, και δ ος τη παιδισκη ταυτη εν πασιν υποταγηυαι τω ανδρι, και τον δουλον σου τουτον ειναι εις κεφαλην της γυναικος. 195

The same prayer is to be found in the Euchologion of the Russian Church in the second prayer at the Crowning of the bride and bridegroom. 196   It may be remembered what a great community of Christians the Orthodox Church forms, something like a hundred and twenty millions of souls, and what a factor it makes in determining the teaching of the Christian community.

Those who have looked over the foregoing extracts from Christian books must have remarked the predominant number in which the subjection of the woman to the man is spoken of as the Christian doctrine.  In the large Roman Communion, besides the effect produced by the first words of the epistle of the nuptial mass, the duty of submission is also taught by the parish priest as part of the Catechism of the Council of Trent.  In the Holy Orthodox Church of the East, the same is taught as part of the official doctrine, and we have just seen that it is contained in the authorised rite.  Throughout the whole Anglican Communion the same is proclaimed by the rite when it uses the word  “ obey ”  in the bride’s vow, and prays afterwards that she may be  “ obedient ”  to her husband.  We know Lex orandi lex credendi :  and the rite proclaims the same in the smaller separated but ancient bodies of the East, the Armenians, the Copts, &c.  The Protestants on the Continent teach it in their services.  In fact, whenever those who profess and call themselves Christians have spoken on this matter they have spoken the language of the New Testament, and the wife has been proclaimed the weaker vessel to whom honour should be given.  But the duty of submission of the wife to the man was not often called in question by any Christians or Pagans, until the nineteenth century, and thus expressions of opinion before that age are not so abundant as they would be on a disputed point.

194 Le Rituel Ethiopien, ed. M. Chaine, Bessarione, Aprile-Settembre, 1913, Anno XVII. Rome, p. 279. 195 Jacobus Goar, Euchologion sive Rituale Graecorum, Lut. Par. Simeon Pigete 1647, p. 389.  I am indebted to the Rev. Dr. Kidd for the transcription of this passage, the contractions in which defied me. 196 Michael Rajewsky, Euchologion der Orthodox-Katholischen Kirche, Wien, 1861. Theill. S. 119.


Sometimes customs teach the duty of submission quite as strongly as words.  There was in England a custom to which it may be Shakespeare alludes in the Taming of the Shrew, when the reformed shrew reminds the disobedient brides of their duty.  It is thus :

Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot,

And place your hands below your husband’s foot. 197

In some parts of England it was part of the marriage service for the wife to fall before her husband and kiss his foot.  In a manuscript commonly accounted a Sarum Manual, No. 47 in the Library of St. John’s College, Oxford, there is after the giving of the ring, this rubric :

Tunc procidat sponsa ante pedes eius et deosculetur pedem eius dextrum. tunc erigat eam sponsus, Et inclinatis capitibus dicat sacerdos benediccionem super eos.

Benedicti sitis a domino .&c. 198

In the Chapter Library at Canterbury there are fragments of an English Manual of the fourteenth century, which show a rubric almost word for word the same with that above.  For a transcription of this place in the Canterbury MS. I am indebted to the Rev. H. M. Bannister.

In the York printed manual quoted above there is also a like ceremony enjoined after the giving of the ring :

Sacerdos interroget dotem mulieris tune si terra in dotem ei detur procidat ilia ad pedes viri et dicat sacerdos hos versus.  Manda &c. 199

I have a suspicion that a ceremony very like that practised in England was common in France.  Martene has printed from a Victorine manuscript an order of marriage which bids the bride as soon as the ring is put on her finger to fall at the feet of her husband.

Et dicat sponsus :  de isto anulo te sponso, et de isto auro te honoro, et de ista dote te doto.  Tunc procidat ad pedes eius mulier, et dicat sacerdos hunc psalmum.  Manda &c. 200

197 Taming of the Shrew, V. ii. 176.  Fifty years ago the lines beginning at,  “ Fie, fie !  unknit that threatening, unkind brow, ”  were learnt by heart in girls’ schools.  Now, doubtless, the whole play is  “ taboo. ”  But it would be a more wholesome study than Shelley’s Cenci, which I am told is put by the authorities of these new women’s hostels into the hands of girls of seventeen. 198 Mr. H. O. Coze  ( Catalogus Codicum MSS. qui in Collegiis Aulisque Oxoniensibus hodie asservantur, Oxon. 1852. pars ii. )  attributes the MS. to Sarum and the writing he assigns to the beginning of the fifteenth century. 199 Manuale secundum usum matris ecclesie Eboracensis. Wynkyn de Worde, 1509. 200 Edmund Martene, De Antiquis Ecclesiae Ritibus, Lib. I. Cap. ix. Art. v. Ordo iv.  Antverpiae, J. B. de la Bry, 1736. t. ii. col. 360.

Probably a survival of this practice is to be found in a widespread custom which J. B. Thiers condemns as superstitious, but which seems better explained by allying it to the act of obeisance just described.  The bride, as soon as the ring was put on her finger, let the ring fall :  naturally she would stoop to pick it up, and so a reason would be given for kneeling at her husband’s feet, or courtesying to him, a practice which feminine pride might reject.  Thiers quotes several rituals which forbid in the strongest manner this letting fall of the ring, which is absurdly supposed to ward off from the pair the influence of witchcraft or the like unlawful practices. 201

A very similar ceremony is described by an Englishman visiting Russia in the days of Queen Elizabeth.

When the time is come to have the marriage solemnized . . . The wordes of contract, and other ceremonies in solemnizing the marriage, are much after the order, and with the same wordes that are used with us :  with a ring also given to the Bride.  Which beeing put on, and the wordes of contract pronounced :  the Brides hand is delivered into the hand of the Bridegroome, which standeth al this while on the one side of the altar or table, and the Bride on the other.  So the marriage knot beeing knitte by the Priest, the Bride commeth to the Bridegroome  ( standing at the end of the altar .or table )  and falleth downe at his feete, knocking her head upon his shooe, in token of her subjection and obedience.  And the Bridegroome again casteth the lappe of his gowne, or upper garment, over the Bride, in token of his duetie to protect, and cherish her. 202

Another Russian ceremony which sets forth the subjection of the woman first to her father and then to her husband is to be found in a work describing Russian Church life at the end of the eighteenth century.  The father exercises his paternal rights over his daughter for the last time and then delivers her over in this fashion to the authority of his son-in-law.  The father asks the daughter if she is ready to go and live with her husband.  If she answer :  Yes, the father has a small whip at hand with which he gives her a few strokes, and then says :  This is the last stroke, my dear daughter, that I shall give you.  Up to this time you were under my discipline, but now you pass under the review of this man.  He will now take my place in matters of discipline and will treat you as you deserve.  Thereupon the father gives the whip to the son-in-law with an admonition to use it hereafter. 203

As the old Roman would have said, the wife passes out of the manus of the father into the manus of the husband.

Bodenstedt reports a ceremony in Armenia the opposite of that seen in Russia.  When the bridegroom meets the bride on the day of the marriage, the bridegroom and all with him bow low before her. 204  There is here an oriental equivalent of the phrase  “ with my body I thee worship, ”  in the Book of Common Prayer, the expression of grave respect while still retaining authority over his wife.

201 J. B. Thiers, Traite des Superstitions qui regardent les Sacrements, livre x. Ch. iv. § xi. 46. ed. Avignon, Louis Chambeau, 1777, t. iv. p. 457. 202 G. Fletcher, Of the Russe Common Wealth, London, Charde, 1591, Ch. 24, fo. 101. 203 Kurzer Abriss der Russischen Kircke, published at Erfurt in 1788, by G. A. Keyser, p. 170.  Anonymous letters from St. Petersburg. 204 Friedrich Bodenstedt, Ein tausend und ein Tag, in Orient, Berlin, Decker, 1850. 20. Capital, p. 284. quoted most inaccurately by Henry Denzinger, Ritus Orientalium, Wirceburgi, 1864, t. ii. p. 471.



It has been stated, but hardly proved on sufficient evidence, that the word  “ obey, ”  or its equivalent, is of late introduction into the marriage service, and that on that account the word is to be removed from the rite.  By parity of reasoning we must lose the emphatic words :  Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder.  It is true that these words are from the Gospel, but all the teachings of the Gospel are not nowadays found  “ suitable ”  for modern wants, any more than the words of St. Peter and St. Paul are.  Yet it is to be hoped that all Christians have not yet adopted these opinions :  thus the words may yet remain in the Marriage service in spite of the fact that they only appeared in England in 1549.  At the present moment I think it may be said that they are but rarely to be found in Ritualia. 205

Indeed it may be insinuated that the use of the words lies under some disapproval from the Holy See, for though they were in the Rituale which Julius Antonius Sanctorius, often called the Cardinal of St. Severin, prepared for Gregory XIII. yet Paul V. did not adopt them in his Rituale of 1614, now the authorised Rituale of the Roman Church, though he tells us in the Bull Apostolicae Sedi that he had especially in mind the Cardinal’s work in drawing up the present Rituale.  It is true that they are found at the end of the Gospel said at the nuptial mass in the reformed Missal of Pius V. and for some years before that reform :  but this is not so emphatic an utterance as if they held a place by themselves immediately after the marriage vows have been taken.  They are very frequently found in this place in the Lutheran Agenda as they appear in the Marriage service of Martin Luther, which has so much influenced German rites.  They are also found in Spanish books as well as the Polish Rituale.

So if we are to follow reasons given by the advocates of the disuse of the word  “ obey ”  in the marriage service, these most important words  “ Those whom God hath joined, ”  &c., proclaiming the indissolubility of Christian marriage, should also be ejected from the marriage service, for they came into the rite years after the appearance of the word  “ obey, ”  and thus have but little authority from antiquity.  If antiquity be appealed to for one thing, an appeal must be allowed for another.

205 For notes on this point see my Ecclesiological Essays, De la More Press, 1905, p. 215.


It has been said in the newspapers and elsewhere that a proposal to remove all allusions to Sarah and Rebecca in the marriage service will shortly be laid before Convocation ;  and that there is every chance of the excision being adopted by them.  It is not  “ suitable, ”  so it is said, that the examples of the polygamous patriarchs should be put before monogamous Christians.  This suggestion is probably due to the fact that the duties of submission and obedience are too often associated with the allusion to be palatable to the femininist.  It matters nothing if the allusions to the Patriarchs be associated with the blessings which, if we accept the Old Testament, Almighty God was pleased to bestow upon them.  Their existence must not even be recognised.  In the opinion of these would-be revisers the Patriarchs whom we have been accustomed to honour, and whom the Church in its Martyrologies has placed among the acknowledged Saints of the Christian Religion are to be looked upon as no better than Mahomet, Brigham Young, or the Founder of the Agapemone.  In the earliest Martyrologies, such as those of Usuard and Ado, Abraham the Patriarch is commemorated on October 9, before St. Denys ;  in the later books he is indeed set after St. Denys, with this sentence :  Eodem die memoria sancti Abrahae Patriarchae, et omnium credentium patris. 206   By the Greeks, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are commemorated on the Dominica Sanctorum Patrum, 207   which falls after December 16th.  In the Sarum Martyrology Adam and Eve, with Abel and Seth, are remembered on the 23rd of January. 208

We have become so fastidious that we are unable to speak of those whom our Lord honours when he says :   “ Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, ”  and again that  “ ye shall see Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the Kingdom of God. ”  It may be questioned whether persons with scruples of this nature can hope to remain long within the Christian fold, if they be unable to take into their mouths the names of the Old Testament Saints whom the Founder of Christianity himself holds up to our admiration.  But with some the wild fancies of the modern Hebraist or German are of more authority than the teachings of the Gospel.

The advisers of this removal of the Patriarchs’ names should certainly be asked what precedent they have for such a wholesale correction.  For we know that in liturgical matters everything depends upon precedent and antiquity.  How many examples in the ancient liturgies can they produce with no mention of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel ?  There is an enormous preponderance of those that do.  Many speak of Adam and Eve, and even of Tobias and Sara as well as of the forenamed Patriarchs.  Let us just examine the rites that have come down to us, and we shall see how unanimous they are in speaking of the marriages of the Old Testament worthies, not as unholy things, but with respect.

206 See the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum, Octob. iv. p. 691. § xxix. where may be found a complete office and mass in honour of the Patriarch. 207 See Hippolite Delehaye, Propylaeum ad Acta Sanctorum Novembris, Bruxellis, apud Socios Bollandianos, 1902. col. 315. 208 The Martiloge in Englysshe after the use of the chirche of Salisbury and as it is redde in Syon with addicyons, Henry Bradshaw Society, 1893, ed. Proctor and Dewick, p. 15.

To take the three ancient Sacramentaries of the Western Church, the Leonine, the Gelasian and the Gregorian.  All three contain allusions to the Old Testament Saints in their blessing of the marriage.

There is first the Leonine Sacramentary.  The blessing of the bride begins with the statement that the Creator had given a companion to Adam formed out of his bone, and the priest then prays that she may be loving as Rachel, wise as Rebecca, and faithful as Sarah :

Sit amabilis ut Rachel viro, sapiens ut Rebecca, longaeva et fidelis ut Sarra. 209

In the Gelasian Sacramentary there is a like prayer. 210  In the Gregorian Sacramentary there is no allusion to Adam in the beginning of the Benediction of the bride, but precisely the same words are used as to Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel. 211   From the Gregorian Sacramentary these words have passed into a countless number of rites :  into all the mediaeval English rites, such as Sarum, York, Hereford, and indeed into all the world in communion with the Roman Chair.  Monseigneur Duchesne calls the formula in which these words are contained the principal religious rite of marriage. 212   When it is said that these words are found in the Nuptial Mass of the Roman Missal, it will be understood how widespread is the allusion to Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel in the Christian world.

And in the local Ritualia allusion to the blessings given to Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, will be frequently found in the subordinate parts of the service.  Several of the quotations from the local Ritualia given above will afford instances of this.  It appears twice in the blessing of the arrhae in the Rituale prepared for Gregory XIII.  And this is no unusual place for the mention of the patriarchs.  In a fifteenth century manuscript in the Vatican at the blessing of the arrhae we read :

Benedic domine has arras quas hodie tradet famulus tuus N. in manum ancille tue .N. quemadmodum benedixisti abraam cum sarra.  Ysaac cum rebecca. iacob cum rachel et lya. 213

Much the same expression is used in a fourteenth century manuscript in the same library. 214

Nor is the rite of the Holy Eastern Church less pronounced, for in its Euchologion the marriages of the Patriarchs are spoken of from the time of Adam and Eve to that of Zacharias and Elisabeth, and the prayer is made that the bride and bridegroom then present may be blessed by God as these worthies were blessed by him. 215

A prayer much in the same manner is to be found in use amongst the Copts. 216

209 Sacramentarium Leonianum, Cambridge, University Press, 1896. ed. C. L. Feltoe, p. 141. 210 The Gelasian Sacramentary, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1894. ed. Henry Austin Wilson, p. 266. 211 The Gregorian Sacramentary, H.B.S. ed. by H. A. Wilson, p. 122.  Mr. Wilson has allowed me a sight of his proofs. 212 L. Duchesne, Origines du Culte chretien, Paris, Fontemoing, 2e ed. 1898, p. 416. 213 Vatican Library, MS. Vatican. 9296. fo. 15. b. 214 Borghes. MS. 334. fo. 97. b. 215 Euchologion sive Rituale Graecorum, Lut. Paris. Piget, 1648. ed. J. Goar, p. 388.  The same prayer but translated from the Greek is used throughout the Russian dominions by the Orthodox.  ( Euchologion der Orthodox-Katholischen Kirche, Wien, 1861. II. Th. p. 118. ed. Michael Rajewsky. ) 216 H. Denzinger, Ritus Orientalium, Wirceburgi, Stahel, 1864. t. ii. p. 366.

Also in the Aethiopian Rite, where the Patriarchs are mentioned more than once. 217

In the Syriac blessing of the rings there is mention of the ring given by Abraham to Sarah, by Isaac to Rebecca ;  and later on in the prayer over the bridegroom.  The blessing of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is called to mind in many places throughout the rite. 218   There are the same repeated invocations in the second Ordo quoted by this editor.

So in the Nestorian blessing of the ring, Sarah and Rebecca, with Zacharias and Elisabeth are to be examples to the bride ;  and these worthies appear in numerous other places, such as the blessing of the nuptial vestments, at the crowning of the pair, and the blessing attributed to St. Ephraem. 219

The Armenians pray as follows :

Bless, O Lord, the wedlock of these persons through thy mercy, as thou blessedst the wedlock of Abraham and Sarah, of Isaac and Rebekah, of Jacob and Rachel. 220

To pass from the ancient to the modern and less authoritative rites.  In Luther’s Trau-Ordnung, the like blessing with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is not invoked :  the service is very short ;  only the legal vows of consent, Was gott zusammen füget &c., declaration of marriage, and then readings from Scripture of the creation of woman, the curse upon both man and woman and the command to be fruitful and multiply, followed by a prayer of a few lines, and the service is over. 221   This is matrimony reduced to its simplest expression :  but it has had great influence upon the rest of the Lutheran Ordnungen.  Still, on the other hand, it should be noted that in the Luther’s Shorter Catechism the example of the obedience of Sarah to Abraham is insisted upon 222   so that Luther would not have his people scorn the patriarchs.

Here and there are exceptions.  At Brandenburg in 1540 they have almost all of Luther’s Trau-Ordnung, but they have also added to it a translation of the Blessing of the Bride from the Gregorian Sacramentary, Deus qui potestate and there is therefore the prayer that she may be as Sarah, Rachel, and Rebecca.  And in the Trau-büchlein of the same Mark of 1561. Adam and Eve are spoken of as well as Abraham. 223

For the purpose in hand it is a misfortune that the Agenda quoted by Sehling so rarely give the whole service for marriage.  Certain directions may appear ;  but not the entire service, so that one cannot be sure what is or is not contained in it.

217 Le Rituel Ethiopien, ed. M. Chaine, Bessarione, Aprile-Settembre, 1913. Anno XVII. Rome, pp. 263, 267, 275, 281. 218 Denzinger, op. cit. t. ii. pp. 388, 389, 392, 393, 394, 397, 398, 400. 219 Denzinger, op. cit. t. ii. pp. 426, 431, 435, 444. 220 A. J. Maclean and F. C. Conybeare, Rituale Armenorum, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1905. p. 110. 221 Emil Sehling, Die evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des XVI. Jahr-hunderts, Leipzig, O. R. Reisland, 1902.  Bd. i. S. 24. 222 It is given in F. Francke, Libri Symbolici Ecclesiae Lutheranae, Lipsiae, Tauchnitz, 1847. Pars II. p. 88.  Uxoribus. 223 Sehling, op. cit. iii. 84. 174.  H. A. Daniel,  ( Codex Liturgicus Ecclesiae Lutheranae, Lipsiae, Weigel, 1848. p. 320. note. )  seems to think that this Agenda has influenced many others.

In the Simplex et Pia Deliberatio of Herman von Wied the only allusion to the Old Testament appears to be the state of our forefathers in Paradise. 224   In the order of another reforming bishop, an austere Calvinist, John a Lasco, the prayer is made that the bride may be obedient as Sarah, and that the pair may receive the blessings which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob received. 225

Though the Lutherans so rarely have retained allusions to the blessing by Almighty God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel, yet it is to be found amongst their great antagonists, the Calvinists.  In the Liturgy of the Pais du Vaud the minister prays God thus after the vows have been taken :

Donne leur ta benediction comme à tes fidèles Serviteurs, Abraham, Isaac, et Jacob. 226

In an order for marriage dated 1529, and having its source in Zurich, written possibly therefore under the influence of Zwingli, there are two prayers that the blessing of the new married may be as the blessing of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 227   There are the same notions in the book of Leo Judas, the French Rite of 1668, the Palatine of 1567, and of Thomas Hugues, quoted by Daniel. 228   Hugues was a writer of the nineteenth century who published at Celle in 1846 a project for a Kirchen Ordnung to be used both by Reformed and Evangelical. 229

From the foregoing examination it will, I think, be plain that the marriage rites of Christendom, which contain no allusion to our First Parents, Adam and Eve, or to the Patriarchs and the blessing bestowed upon them by God, are in a minority, and that almost all Christendom, worthy of the name, willingly joins in prayers which contain allusions to these worthies.  But most femininists detest whatever is old and universal ;  to them, as we have seen, an expression five hundred years old calls aloud for immediate removal.  But there is one section 230   that makes an appeal to what they say is ancient and universal in the matter of the vows ;  the other exclaims against the retention of that which comes down from antiquity. 231   For sober-minded people this is a gain.  Divide et impera.  And so there is good hope of our retaining for a time yet to come the usage of our forefathers of which Chaucer speaks :

Forth comes the priest with stole about his neck,

And bids her be like Sarah and Rebeck. 232

224 Hermanni, Archiepiscopi Colon.  Simplex et Pia Deliberatio, Bonnae, 1545. fo. ciiii. 225 Ioannis a Lasco, Opera, ed. A. Kuyper, Amstelodami et Hagae-Comitum, 1866, t. ii. pp. 264, 266. 226 Les prières ecclesiastiques . . . . avec les liturgies . . . . pour l’usage des eglises du Pais de Vaud, Berne, 1725. p. 74. 227 Ordnung der Christenlichenn Kilchenn zu Zurich :  in Ae. L. Richter, Die evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des sechszehnten Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, Gunther, 1871.  Bd. i. S. 135. 228 H. A. Daniel, Codex liturgicus Ecclesiae Reformatae atque Anglicanae, Lipsiae, Weigel, 1851. pp. 202, 208, 212, 217. 229 Daniel, op. cit. p. x. 230 See Contemporary Review, November, 1913. 231 Daily Mail, March 2, 1914. 232 Chaucer, Marchaundes Tale, 460.


It may be well now to state shortly the results of the investigation that has been made.  The first record of the marriage vow according to the old Roman and Pagan custom may be in Boethius.  The vows are the same for bride and bridegroom, and they are exceedingly simple ;  but although the vows are alike, yet the bride passes into the power  ( manus )  of the husband, as she was before in the power of the father :  so the equality of the vows represents no gain for the woman.

The earliest examples of Christian vows appear in England in the twelfth century.  In the thirteenth century there is record in England of vows of the simplest nature, like those in Boethius ;  but in the next century all over Great Britain the vows begin to develop, sometimes retaining the earlier promise of treating the bride as a Christian should.  Once is found a mutual promise to behave as Our Lord and St. Paul command, but in the majority the words obedire and servire, with buxom, appear in the bride’s promise until the change of rite in 1549.  In the changed rite, the word obey appears instead of buxom in the vernacular, and so continues.

Crossing into the Continent we find abundance of rituals in which the wife promises to be obedient and submissive ;  they appear not only in Germany as some have asserted, but in Flanders, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, and in every diocese of the Kingdom of Poland.  Like promises are found among the Evangelical Lutherans, and the Calvinists of French Switzerland and France.  But among the Catholics of Italy, France, and Spain, such promises by the bride are rare, though in a very large number the service contains a phrase that neutralises all the benefits supposed to arise from  “ equal ”  vows, the bride being warned of the duty of obedience and submission to her husband.  This is in accordance with the teachings of the Catechism of the Council of Trent and of the authorised treatises of the Holy Eastern Church, the Lutherans, and other Christian bodies.  Thus it may be declared that where authority in Christendom has spoken, it has pronounced that the woman is to be subject to the man.

We of the Church of England may therefore infer the importance of retaining the word  “ obey ”  in the vow of the bride, if we are to remain in harmony with the teaching of the rest of Christendom.  For we have no authoritative documents passing over the whole field of divinity, such as there are amongst Roman Catholics and the Orthodox :  we can only appeal to lex orandi lex credendi, and we may do this successfully while we have  “ obey ”  in the bride’s vow, and the word  “ obedient ”  in the prayer for her at the end of the service.  But if these disappear there is nothing apparent at the present moment that can protect us against the unhappy dogmas of Mr. John Stuart Mill, which so many of the sex to their great hurt have followed.  Before his time we may remember the magnificent position which the sex held, and yet have now thrown away.  Bishop Butler has told us that he can explain many of the phaenomena of history only on the hypothesis that whole communities and public bodies may be seized with fits of insanity.  Can it be that at this moment a whole sex has gone mad?

My Lord, I know well how the results of this investigation will be received.  We shall be told at once :  So much the worse for Christianity.  We have only to read the speeches made by the new women and the letters which they write to the newspapers to be aware that anything which interferes with the assumptions of the femininist will be flouted with the utmost scorn.  The Ten Commandments are treated with contempt.  We are not far off from the open suggestion that an injustice has been done by Almighty God in the creation of two sexes, a distinction which appears in both the animal and vegetable kingdoms, down to the lowest forms of life.  Thus it is the tone of Shelley that is adopted, not that of Wordsworth.  But is it not the duty of those ministers of religion, of those at least who still retain a sense of Christianity as an historical and immutable religion, not to encourage these attacks upon the Christian position, not to promote the destruction of morals which once lost cannot in our age be recovered ?  Anyone who does not wilfully blind himself must see the dangers that at this moment surround society and civilisation.  All legislation now moves in an anti-Christian direction ;  Government is rapidly passing into the hands of atheists, as it has done in France ;  and the destruction of civilisation and morality will be the more complete because there will be no Christianity to tame the barbarians as at the fall of the Roman Empire.

I make this protest because I yield to no one in my admiration of the sex ;  I owe to it all the little good that is in me ;  taught me before Josephine Butler began her nauseous mission, and before the rise of the smoking, swearing, drinking woman of to-day.  I view with horror and dismay the attempts made by the worst enemies of the sex to rob it of all that makes its character so beautiful.  They openly teach it things that no modest woman ought ever to have heard of.  I feel no shame in confessing that these attempts  “ stir in ”  me  “ the fiercest disgust and indignation, ”  as Liberal attempts did in Hurrell Froude eighty years ago. 233

But whether the people of to-day will receive it or not, I have done my best to put before you the facts that I have collected in this inquiry without concealing any thing that appeared to be of importance, telling one way or the other.  I fear greatly that they will have but little weight with the men and women of our time.  Demonstration is thrown away upon the century in which we live.   “ Reasoning ”  says Swift  “ will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired :  ”  nor will a mind enmeshed in the prejudices of Liberalism easily escape from its dogmas.  There is only too great likelihood that on the present occasion this forecast will again prove almost universally true.

J. Wickham Legg.


July 1, 1914.

233 Quoted by R. W. Church, Oxford Movement, Macmillan, 1891. p. 43. Ch. iii