The Church on this day commemorates the state in which our Saviour was between his death and his resurrection; for, as the Church declares in her third Article, CHRIST, “after he died, was buried, and went down into hell.”
Though the Church recites in the Epistle for the day, the passage which is often applied (doubtless improperly) to prove CHRIST’S descent into the place of torment, to proclaim there the triumphs of his cross; yet from the rubric before the Apostles’ Creed, it appears that by CHRIST’S descent into hell, she means his descent into the place of departed spirits.
The Church on this day directs us to private acts of meditation and abstinence; and calls us, in her public service, to a consideration of the glorious consequences of our Saviour’s death, burial, and resurrection, which are set forth in the Lessons, Epistle, and Gospel for the day.
[Excerpt from John Henry Hobart, A Companion for the Book of Common Prayer, Containing an Explanation of the Service, 96-97. 1859.]