Directory for the Public Worship of God

Prepared by the Westminster Assembly* of Divines, this was adopted by the general assembly of the Church of Scotland and the English Parliament in 1645 as a replacement for the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer.* Its purpose, as its title indicates, was to provide direction, rather than to lay down a liturgy that was to be followed exactly. The preface points out that the obligatory use of the Anglican Prayer Book had proven to be a detriment rather than a help to true worship, as it had insisted upon read prayers, had curtailed preaching, and had generally made worship a mechanical act. Therefore the Directory had been prepared in order to guide ministers in the conduct of services of worship, but not to provide a set form, since different circumstances might call for different orders and different actions. The principal interest of the authors was the stimulation of the spontaneous worship of God and the edification of the people. This work has formed the basis of most English-language orders of Presbyterian service drawn up since its publication.