Thomas Cranmer



Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) was one of the leaders of the English Reformation and the first Archbishop of Canterbury under the newly established English (Anglican) Church. His best work is by far the Book of Common Prayer, the Book of Homilies and the drafting of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. In my opinion, he is one of the most important Protestant Reformers after Martin Luther.


“That as all men of themselves be sinners, and through sin be in God’s wrath, banished far away from him, condemned to hell and everlasting damnation, and none is clearly innocent but Christ alone: so every soul inspired by God is desirous to be delivered from sin and hell, and to obtain at God’s hands mercy, favor, righteousness and everlasting salvation. And this earnest and great desire is called in Scripture – the hunger and third of the soul…and this hunger the silly, poor, sinful soul is driven unto by means of the law, which showeth unto her the horribleness of sin, the terror of God’s indignation, and the hooror of death and everlasting damnation. And when she seeth nothing but damnation for her offences by justice and accusation of the law, and this damnation is ever before her eyes; then in this great distress, the soul being pressed with heaviness and sorrow seeketh for some comfort, and desireth some remedy for her miserable and sorrowful estate. And this feeling of her damnable condition, and greedy desire of refreshing, is the spiritual hunger of the soul. And whosoever hath this godly hunger is blessed of God.” – Thomas Cranmer (A Defence of the True and Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Our Savior Christ)

“There is no kind of meat that is comfortable to the soul, but only the death of Christ’s blessed body; nor no kind of drink that can quench her thirst, but only the blood-shedding of our Saviour Christ, which was shed for her offences.” – Thomas Cranmer (A Defence of the True and Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Our Savior Christ)

“The beginning of our life we have of our fathers and mothers; and the meat, after we be begotten, doth feed and nourish us, and so preserveth us for a time. But our Saviour Christ is both the first beginner of our spiritual life (who first begetteth us unto God his Father,) and also afterward he is our lively food and nourishment. Moreover, meat and drink doth feed and nourish only our bodies; but Christ is the true and perfect nourishment both of body and soul.” – Thomas Cranmer (A Defence of the True and Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Our Savior Christ)

“Our Saviour Christ hath not only set forth these things most plainly in his holy word, that we may hear them with our ears; but he hath also ordained one visible sacrament of spiritual regeneration in water, and another visible sacrament of spiritual nourishment in bread and wine, to the intent that, as much as is possible for man, we may see Christ with our eyes, smell him at our nose, taste him with our mouths, grab him with our hands, and perceive him with all our senses. For as the word of God preached putteth Christ into our ears; so likewise these elements of water, bread, and wine, joined to God’s word, do after a sacramental manner put Christ into our eyes, mouths, hands, and all our senses.” – Thomas Cranmer (A Defence of the True and Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Our Savior Christ)

“For as the good fruit is not the cause that the tree is good, but the tree must first be good before it can bring fourth good fruit: so the good deeds of man are not the cause that makes men good, but he is first made good, by the spirit and grace of GOD that effectually works in him, and afterward he brings fourth good fruits.” – Thomas Cranmer

“We do not presume to come to this thy table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy…” – Book of Common Prayer (Prayer before Communion)

“Faith . . . doth not exclude the justice of our good works, necessarily to be done afterward of duty towards God, (for we are most bounden to serve God in doing good deeds, commanded by him in his holy scripture, all the days of our life;) but it excluded them, so that we may not do them to this intent, to be made good by doing them.” – Thomas Cranmer

“Oh God, merciful father, that despises not the sighting of a contrite heart, or the desire of such as be sorrowful, mercifully assist our prayers, that we make before thee in all our troubles and adversities, when so ever they oppress us. And gracious hear us, that those evils, which the craft and subtlety of the devil or man worketh against us, be brought to naught, and by the providence of thy goodness they may be dispersed; that we, thy servants, being hurt by no persecution, may evermore give thanks unto thee in thy holy church, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.” – Thomas Cranmer

“To heaven I may be ashamed to lift up mine eyes, and in earth I find no refuge or support. What shall I then do? Shall I despair? God forbid. Oh good God, thou art merciful and refuseth none that cometh unto thee for support. To thee therefore do I run. To Thee do I humble myself; saying O Lord God, my sins be great yet have mercy upon me for thy great mercy.” – Thomas Cranmer (His last prayer before his martyrdom)

“God never shines forth more brightly, and pours out the beams of his mercy and consolation, or of strength and firmness of spirit, more clearly or impressively upon the minds of his people, than when they are under the most extreme pain and distress, both of mind and body, that he may then more especially show himself to be the God of his people, when he seems to have altogether forsaken them; then raising them up when they think he is bringing them down, and laying them low; then glorifying them, when he is thought to be confounding them; then quickening them, when he is thought to be destroying them…I pray God to grant that I may endure to the end.” – Thomas Cranmer (Letter to Peter Martyr)

“…by our lively faith in him, our sins are forgiven us…For then God no more imputes unto us our former sins; but he imputes and gives unto us the justice and righteousness of his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered for us.” – Thomas Cranmer (Second Sermon on the Creed)

“God, which makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of thy only son Jesus Christ; grant that as we joyfully receive him for our redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold him, when he shall come to be our judge, who liveth and reigneth, Amen!” – Thomas Cranmer (Advent Prayer)


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