Bonfire Prayers

Remember, remember the Fifth of November The Gunpowder Treason

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Now is the time for marching Now let your hearts be gay Hark to

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Within three months of the Gunpowder Plot being discovered, an Act of Parliament was passed on January 21st 1606 (3 James I, cap 1), to appoint 5th November in each year as a day of thanksgiving for ‘the joyful day of deliverance’. This was by bell ringing, Church service, prayer, bonfires etc. The Act remained in force until 1859.

A new form of prayer was written especially for the 5th November (Prayer Book Collect) which is a form of prayer with special characteristics of its own.

Apart from the dates above, history books or documents do not tell us whether this bank holiday was observed every year between 1606 – 1859 or whether this new prayer collect was used, But according to facts found , the first recorded parade of Guy Fawkes, enemies etc was in November 1679.

Several references can be found in an old Lewes Churchwarden’s account book referring to payments made to bell ringers on the 5th November from at least 1661, A particular interesting entry dated 5th November 1723 states “Nov, ye 5th. Item: Pd. ye ringers being ye day of Deliverance from ye powder plot”

To the best of my knowledge the form of prayer below, with letter editing and dividing the prayers up into bite size paragraphs by me, the following was written, brought in and used by law in the CE Churches from 1606-1859.

A FORM of PRAYER with THANKSGIVING, Fifth Of November.

To be used yearly upon the Fifth Day of November; for the happy Deliverance of King JAMES I, and the Three Estates of ENGLAND , from the most traitorous and bloody-intended Massacre by Gunpowder: And also for the happy Arrival of His Majesty King WILLIAM on this Day, for the Deliverance of our Church and Nation.

* * The Minister of every Parish shall give warning to his Parishioners publicly in the Church at Morning Prayer, the Sunday before, for the due observation of the said Day. And after Morning Prayer, or preaching, upon the said Fifth Day of November, shall read publicly, distinctly and plainly, the Act of Parliament, made in the third Year of King James the First, for the observation of it.

* * The Service shall be the same with the usual Office for Holy Days in all things; except where it is hereafter otherwise appointed.

* * If this Day shall happen to be a Sunday, only the Collect proper for that Sunday shall be added  to this Office in its place.

* * Morning Prayer shall begin with these Sentences:

“He Lord is full of compassion and mercy: long-suffering, and of great goodness” Psal.103.8.

“He will not always be chiding: neither keepeth his anger for ever” Ver.9.

“He hath not dealt with us after our sins: nor rewarded us according to our wickedness” Ver.10.

* * Instead of Venite Exultemus, Shall this Hymn following be used; one verse by the Priest, and another by the Clerk and People, Give thanks unto the Lord for he is gracious: and his mercy endureth for ever. Psal. 107.1, Let them give thanks whom the Lord hath redeemed: and delivered from the hand of the enemy. Ver.2.


Many a time have they fought against me from my youth up: may Israel now say. Psal.139.1.

Yea, many a time have they vexed me from my youth up: but they have not prevailed against me. Ver.2.

They have privily laid their net to destroy me without a cause: yea, even without a cause, have they made a pit for my soul. Psal.35.7.

They have laid a net for my feet, and pressed down my soul: they have digged a pit before me and are fallen into the midst of it themselves. Psal.57.7.

Great is our Lord, and great is his power: Yea, and his wisdom is infinite. Psal.147.5.

The Lord setteth up the meek: and bringeth the ungodly down to the ground. ver.6.

Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand: and upon the son of man whom thou madest so strong for thine own self. Psal.80.17.

And so will not we go back from thee: O let us live, and we shall call upon thy Name. ver.18.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

* * Proper Psalms. 64, 124, 125.

* * Proper Lessons, The first, 2 Sam. 22. Te Deum, the second, Acts 23, Jubilate.

* * In the Suffrages after the Creed, these shall be inserted, and used for the King.

Priest : “O Lord, save the King”

People : “Who putteth his trust in thee”

Priest : “Send him help from thy holy place”

People : “And evermore mightily defend him”

Priest : “Let his enemies have no advantage against him”

People : “Let not the wicked approach to hurt him”

* * Instead of the first Collect for Morning Prayer, shall these two be used.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast in all ages showed thy power and mercy in the miraculous and gracious deliverance of thy Church, and in the protection of righteous and religious Kings and states, professing thy holy and eternal truth, from the wicked conspiracies, and malicious practices of all the enemies thereof.

We yield thee our unfeigned thanks and praise for the wonderful and mighty deliverance of our gracious Sovereign King James the First, the Queen, the Prince, and all the Royal Branches, with the Nobility, Clergy and Commons of England, then assembled in Parliament, by Popish treachery appointed as sheep to the slaughter, in a most barbarous and savage manner, beyond the examples of former ages.

From this unnatural Conspiracy, not our merit, but thy mercy; not our foresight, but thy providence delivered us: And therefore not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto they Name be ascribed all honour and glory, in all Churches of the Saints, from generation to generation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ACCEPT also, most gracious God, of our unfeigned thanks, for filling our hearts again with joy and gladness, after the time that thou hadst afflicted us, and putting a new song into our mouths, by bringing his Majesty King William upon this day, for the deliverance of our Church and Nation from Popish tyranny and arbitrary power. We adore the wisdom and justice of thy providence, which so timely interposed in our extreme danger, and disappointed all the designs of our enemies.

We beseech thee, give us such a lively and lasting sense of what thou didst then, and hast since that time done for us, that we may not grow secure and careless in our obedience, by presuming upon thy great and undeserved goodness; but that it may lead us to repentance, and move us to be the more diligent and zealous in all the duties of our Religion, which thou hast in a marvellous manner preserved to us.

Let truth and justice, brotherly kindness and charity, devotion and piety, concord and unity, with all other virtues, so flourish among us, that they may be the stability of our times, and make this Church a praise in the earth. All which we humbly beg for the sake of our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.

* * In the end of the Litany, (which shall always this Day be used) after the Collect [We humbly beseech thee, O Father] shall this be said which followeth.

ALMIGHTY God and heavenly Father, who of thy gracious providence, and tender mercy towards us, didst prevent the malice and imaginations of our enemies, by discovering and confounding their horrible and wicked enterprise, plotted and intended this day to have been executed against the King, and whole State of England, for the subversion of the Government and Religion established among us; and didst likwise upon this day wonderfully conduct thy servant King William, and bring him safely into England, to preserve us from the attempts of our enemies to bereave us of our Religion and Laws.

We most humbly praise and magnify thy most glorious Name for thy unspeakable goodness towards us, expressed in both these acts of thy mercy. We confess it has been of thy mercy alone that we are not consumed; for our sins have cried to heaven against us, and our iniquities justly called for vengeance upon us. But thou hast not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us after our iniquities; nor given us over, as we deserved, to be a prey to our enemies; but hast in mercy delivered us from their malice, and preserved us from death and destruction.

Let the consideration of this thy repeated goodness, O Lord, work in us true repentance, that iniquity may not be our ruin: And increase in us more and more a lively faith and love, fruitful in all holy obedience; that thou mayest still continue thy favour, with the light of thy Gospel, to us and our posterity for ever more; and that for thy dear Son’s sake Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

* * Instead of the Prayer (In time of War and Tumults) shall be used this Prayer following.

Lord, who didst this day discover the snares of death that were laid for us, and didst wonderfully deliver us from the same; Be thou still our mighty Protector, and scatter our enemies that delight in blood: infatuate and defeat their counsels, abate their pride, assuage their malice, and confound their devices.

Strengthen the hands of our gracious Sovereign King GEORGE, and all that are put in authority under him, with judgement and justice, to cut off all such workers of iniquity, as turn Religion into Rebellion, and Faith into Faction; that they may never prevail against us, or triumph in the ruin of thy church among us: but that our gracious Sovereign and his Realms, being preserved in thy true Religion, and by thy merciful goodness protected in the same, we may all duly serve thee, and give thee thanks in thy holy Congregation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

* * In the Communion Service, instead of the Collect for the Day shall this which followeth be used.

ETERNAL God, and our most mightly Protector, we thy unworthy servants do humbly present ourselves before thy Majesty, acknowledging thy power, wisdom and goodness, in preserving the King, and the Three Estates of the Realm of England assembled in Parliament, from the destruction this day intended against them.

Make us, we beseech thee, truly thankful for this, and for all other thy great mercies towards us; particularly for thy making this day against memorable, by a fresh instance of thy loving kindness towards us. We bless thee for giving his late Majesty King William a safe arrival here, and for making all opposition fall before him, till he became our King and Governor.

We beseech thee to protect and defend our Sovereign King GEORGE, and all the Royal Family, from all treasons and conspiracies; Preserve him in all thy faith, fear and love; Prosper his reign with long happiness here on earth; and crown him with everlasting glory hereafter, through Jesus Christ our only Saviour and Redeemer. Amen.

The Epistle. ROM.13.1.

LET every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be, are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?

Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Wherefore ye must need be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour.

The Gospel. S.LUKE.9.51.

AND it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jeruſalem, and sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of: For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

* * After the Creed, if there be no Sermon, shall be read one of the ſix homilies against Rebellion.

* * This Sentence is to be read at the Offertory. WHATSOEVER ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. St.Math.7.12.

* * After the Prayer for the Church militant this following Prayer is to be used.

God, whose Name is excellent in all the earth, and thy glory above the heavens; who, on this day, didst miraculously preserve our Church and State from the secret contrivance and hellish malice of Popish conspirators; and on this day also didst begin to give us a mightly deliverance from the open tyranny and oppression of the ſame cruel and blood-thirsty enemies.

We bless and adore thy glorious Majesty, as for the former, so for this thy late marvellous loving-kindness to our church and Nation, in the preservation of our religion and liberties.

And we humbly pray, that the devout sense of this thy repeated mercy may renew and increase in us a spirit of love and thankfulness to Thee its only Author; a spirit of peaceable submission and obedience to our gracious Sovereign Lord King GEORGE; and a spirit of fervent zeal for our holy religion, which thou hast so wonderfully rescued, and established a blessing to us and our posterity. And this we beg for Jesus Christ his sake.  AMEN.

Below is an image of A Prayer Collect, This one is from 1689.

Prayer Book Collect 5th November 1606

Oh God whose name is excellent in all the earth, and thy glory
above the heavens, who on this day didst miraculously preserve our church
and state from the secret contrivance and hellish malice
of Popish conspirators.

And on this day also didst begin to give us a mighty
deliverance from the open tyranny and oppression of the
same cruel and blood-thirsty enemies, we bless and adore thy
glorious majesty, as for the former.

So for this, thy late marvellous loving kindness to our
church and nation, in the preservation of our religion
and liberties.

And we humbly pray, that the devout sense of this thy repeated
mercy, may renew and increase in us a spirit of love and
thankfulness to thee its only author.

A spirit of peaceable submission and obedience to our
gracious sovereign, whom thou madest the blessed
instrument of it, and a spirit of servant zeal for our
holy religion, which now again thou hast so wonderfully
rescued and established a blessing to us and our

And this we beg for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen

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