Today (21 April) in the life of church we remember Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, reformer, and one of the authors of the Book of Common Prayer. A Cambridge scholar, Cranmer became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533. He had protestant sympathies, a knowledge of the theological issues of the day, and a desire to reform the liturgy of the church. His chance to do so came as a result of the break with the Church of Rome set in motion by Henry VIII, and he played a large role in the drafting of the Book of Common Prayer which was authorized in 1549.

Cranmer was removed from office following the ascension to the throne of Queen Mary, a Roman Catholic. He was imprisoned and endured a long trial for heresy, during which he recanted his protestant beliefs in the hopes of obtaining mercy. Queen Mary refused to hear his pleas, and he was burned at the stake on this day in 1556. As the flames licked around him, he thrust out his right hand, the hand which had signed the recantation of his beliefs, so that it might be the first part of him to be burned, and he was last seen in that posture as the flames engulfed his body.

Collect (From For All The Saints): O God, you endued your servant Thomas Cranmer with zeal for the purity of your Church and gave him a singular ability in reforming the common prayer of your people. Grant us such courage in our witness to your grace that in our families, communities, and nation we may become the leaven of your justice and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.