September 18: Edward Bouverie Pusey; Priest, 1882

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About this commemoration

The revival of High Church teachings and practices in the Anglican Communion, known as the Oxford Movement, found its acknowledged leader in Edward Bouverie Pusey. Born near Oxford, August 22, 1800, Pusey spent all his scholarly life in that University as Regius Professor of Hebrew and as Canon of Christ Church. At the end of 1833 he joined Keble and Newman in producing the Tracts for the Times, which gave the Oxford Movement its popular name of Tractarianism.

His most influential activity, however, was his preaching—catholic in content, evangelical in his zeal for souls. But to many of his more influential contemporaries it seemed dangerously innovative. A sermon preached before the University in 1843 on “The Holy Eucharist, a Comfort to the Penitent” was condemned without his being given an opportunity to defend it, and he himself was suspended from preaching for two years—a judgment he bore most patiently. His principles were thus brought before the public, and attention was drawn to the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. From another University sermon, on “The Entire Absolution of the Penitent,” may be dated the revival of private confession in the Anglican Communion.

When Newman defected to the Church of Rome in 1845, Pusey’s adherence to the Church of England kept many from following, and he defended them in their teachings and practices.

After the death of his wife in 1839, Pusey devoted much of his family fortune to the establishment of churches for the poor, and much of his time and care to the establishment of sisterhoods. In 1845, he established the first Anglican sisterhood since the Reformation. It was at this community’s convent, Ascot Priory in Berkshire, that Pusey died on September 16, 1882. His body was brought back to Christ Church and buried in the cathedral nave. Pusey House, a house of studies founded after his death, perpetuates his name at Oxford. His own erudition and integrity gave stability to the Oxford Movement and won many to its principles.


Grant unto us, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know thy presence and obey thy will; that, following the example of thy servant Edward Bouverie Pusey, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what thou givest us to do, and endure what thou givest us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know your presence and obey your will; that, following the example of your servant Edward Bouverie Pusey, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what you give us to do, and endure what you give us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Ezekiel 36:24–28

1 Peter 2:19–23

Luke 3:10–14

Psalm 106:1–5

Preface of a Saint (2)

Text From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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6 thoughts on “September 18: Edward Bouverie Pusey; Priest, 1882

  1. New Hebrew reading: This is a strong reading. Its only other appearance (I think) is at the Great Vigil of Easter. It deserves to be heard more often. Thank you.

  2. September 18: Edward Bouverie Pusey; Priest, 1882
    “Defecting” to Rome is a common enough expression, but carries a contentious, polemic edge. Some other word choice might be preferred, given the otherwise ecumenically inclusive and accommodating orientation of many new additions to HWHM.
    The Collect is probably acceptable – maybe even sacrosanct – to most, but to my thinking it suggests a “puppeteer” image of God and a passive, fatalistic, picture of Christian responsibility: i.e., we are to “accomplish what you give us to do, and endure what you give us to bear.” That phrase is far less than a creative discernment of the Spirit who listeth where he will and much more like Garrison Keilor’s “bachelor farmer” doing “what needs to be done.”

  3. The subheading is inadequate: Pusey was not selected because he is a priest. Calling him a “Co-Founder” of the Oxford Movement might make it appear that there was an organized association so named. I suggest “Priest and Tractarian” as a straightforward alternative. “Priest and Leader of the Oxford Movement” would probably be even better.

    The negative overtone of “defected” (in the line 1 of the third paragraph) should be changed. I realize that this was how his “Crossing of the Tiber” was seen in the C of E, but I find it too judgmental for hagiography in HWHM. “Converted”? “went over to”? “transferred”?

    Yesterday’s ENS included this: Cardinal John Henry Newman, a 19th century Anglican priest who converted to Roman Catholicism…The proposed bio for Newman (Feb, 21) simply states that “he was received into the Roman Catholic Church”, and perhaps this would be the wisest choice of words here.

  4. If HWHM must persist in making its “saints” share dates, wouldn’t it make sense to put Keble, Pusey, and Newman together, as they were in fact collaborators on the Tracts through which they had the most lasting influence on the church? A much better joint feast than, say, Aidan and Cuthbert or Hugh and Grosseteste, “saints” united only by the sees they served.

  5. Editorial comment:
    If the HWHM calendar references persons who are on other dates, it would be beneficial for many readers to see those dates referenced in a footnote (in this case, John Henry Newman – February 21)

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