One of the taglines people like to use today, when describing the Prayer Book, is “The Bible arranged for worship.”  This is, indeed, a fair assessment of the Prayer Book tradition and the specific contents.  And this is accomplished in many ways: praying psalms and canticles, reading scripture lessons, quoting specific verses a particular times throughout the liturgy, as well as a great many references that are not highlighted or specifically cited along the way.

One example of this is in the Great Litany.  If you take a look at the Supplication toward the end of it, you’ll find the dialogue:

O Lord, arise and help us;
And deliver us for your Name’s sake.

O God, we have heard with our ears, and our forebears have declared to us, the noble works that you did in their days, and in the time before them.

O Lord, arise and help us;
and deliver us for your Name’s sake.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O Lord, arise and help us;
and deliver us for your Name’s sake.

The first, third, and fifth pair of prayers & responses (“O Lord, arise…”) are an antiphon – a repeated verse that provides structure and theme to the contents it surrounds.  The second prayer & response (“O God, we have heard…”) is Psalm 44:1.  The fourth pair is the Gloria Patri.  For the most part this is a very traditional devotional layout: antiphon, psalm, gloria patri, antiphon.  It’s a bit unusual to repeat the antiphon between the psalm and the gloria patri, and I don’t believe the classical Prayer Books did that.  Whateverso, the operating Scriptural text in this section is Psalm 44:1, remembering the great works of God in the past.  This forms the basis of our plea, “help us; and deliver us”.

If you don’t pray the Supplication very often (or the Great Litany at all, for that matter), perhaps the upcoming season of Advent is a good time to start using it regularly for a while.  The classical prayer books ordered for it to be prayed every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, so feel free to dive in!

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