Ordinal is the name of the book which contains the forms observed in the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church for the ordination and consecration of bishops, priests, and deacons. It was prepared by a commission appointed in the third year of Edward VI (1550), and was added to the Book of Common Prayer, after approval by Parliament. It was slightly modified in the reign of Elizabeth, and was again revised by the Convention of 1661.
The English ordinal, in its general structure, resembles the ancient services used for a like purpose, but possesses much greater simplicity, and has some features — e.g. the numerous questions addressed to the candidates — peculiar to itself. There are separate services for the "making of deacons" and the "ordering of priests," but these are practically joined in one, and used on the same day. The service for the consecration of bishops is altogether distinct. The ordination takes place at one of the Ember seasons, and during the public service, after morning prayer and a sermon on the subject, and begins with the presentation of the candidates by the archdeacon. The bishop inquires as to their fitness, and commends them to the prayers of the congregation. — The litany is then said, with special petitions for the candidates for each order, and the communion service commences with a special collect, epistle, and gospel. Between the epistle and gospel the oath of supremacy is administered, and the candidates for deacons' orders are questioned by the bishop and ordained. The gospel is read by one of the newly ordained deacons. The candidates for priests' orders are then solemnly exhorted and interrogated, and the prayers of all present are asked for the divine blessing upon them. For this purpose a pause is made in the service for private prayer. After this: the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus. (Gome; Holy Ghost, our Souls inspire) — a composition of great antiquity, supposed to be as old as the 4th century is sung, and, the candidates kneeling before the bishop, he and the assistant presbyters lay their hands upon the head of each, with the words, "Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a priest in the Church of God," etc. — The only other ceremony is the presentation of each candidate with the Bible in token of authority to preach; as the deacons had been before presented with the New Testament in token of authority to read the Gospel. The service concludes with the administration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. In the office for the ordering of deacons the bishop lays on his hands, but does not use the words, "Receive the Holy Ghost," etc., or grant authority to forgive or retain sins. The consecration of bishops is performed by an archbishop, or some bishop appointed in his place, and two or more of his suffragans, and may take place on any Sunday or holy day. In the service for the consecration of bishops the form is this:
"Then the archbishop and bishop present shall lay their hands upon the head of the elected bishop, kneeling before them upon his knees, the archbishop saying, 'Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a bishop in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the lying on of our hands, in the huine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. And member that thou stir up the grace of God which is given the by the imposition of our hands, for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and love and soberness." See Procter, Commentary on the Book of Common Prayer; M'Elhinney, Doct. of the Church, p. 164, 167, 305; Hook, Eccles. Dict. s.v.; Chambers, Cyclop. s.v.; Churton, Defence of the English Ordinal (Lond. 1873, 8vo).