C.R.D.A. Cant Z.1018

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As with the attacks on saints, relics, images, miracles and the mass, traditional performances of mourning are here rejected for their superstitious histrionics. Protestant restraint and emotional control in mourning, by contrast, are declared to show full trust in God and so confirm true Christian faith by accepting His superior wisdom. 2 The strong determination to propagate the new faith as the purged and proper version of the old, while denouncing papistry as corruption, leads to precarious alliances.

Because good things haue chaunced vnto me? Because I haue passed ouer the daungerous sea, and am come vnto the hauen of quietnesse? Or because I am deliuered from all euil, and set in a blessed and ioyful state? I thinke that at the burials of the faithful there should rather be ioy and gladnesse, then mourning and sadnesse, rather pleasant songes of thankesgiuing, then lamentable and dolefull Diriges. Let the infidels mourne for their dead: the Christians ought to reioyce when any of the faithfull bee called from this vale of miserie vnto the glorious kingdom of God.

The intended narrative was meant to include the beholders and to conclude only with their own reformation. Among the addressees of this imperative, Aston considers Queen Elizabeth a likely choice because her notoriously compromising attitude in matters of religion was so often criticized. But for my argument, the addressee is less important than the combination of commemorative and imperative gestures which are performed here. All the historical figures represented in the painting – Henry VIII and Edward VI, Protector Somerset and, seated among the councillors, Bishop Cranmer – were long dead when it was first seen.

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