One of the fun resources in the 2019 Prayer Book is the collection of Supplemental Canticles for the Daily Office. As we proceed through this season of Lent, there are two Canticles in particular that stand out as appropriate for regular use at this time.
First is the Benedictus es. This Canticle is taken from the Greek Old Testament version of Daniel 3, known separately in our Bibles as “The Song of the Three Young Men” – when Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael were in the fiery furnace alongside the fourth man, the pre-incarnate Christ. There are two hymns in that passage, and this Canticle is a summary of the first one. Liturgically, this Canticle is offered directly in the Morning Prayer text itself, presented as an option in place of the Te Deum during Lent. This Customary recommend using it on Ash Wednesday, the First Sunday of Lent, Palm Sunday, and on weekdays throughout the season. (For the 2nd through 5th Sundays, it may be prudent to bring back the Te Deum in recognition that though Lent continues, Sundays are not fast days; and though it is still a penitential season, we are still celebrating the victorious Christ.)
From the Supplemental Canticles, #3, the Kyrie Pantokrator, may be used in place of the Nunc dimittis (the second Canticle in Evening Prayer) on Ash Wednesday, the First Sunday of Lent, Palm Sunday, and every weekday throughout the season. This Canticle is also from the Greek Old Testament, entitled in English as the Prayer of Manasseh. It is a prayer of penitence attributed to the wicked King Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:10-20, especially verses 18 & 19). As with the Benedictus es above, this Canticle is shortened a bit from its original version; also some of its hyperbolic language is toned down so as not to confuse the average reader. This Canticle, in particular, is a marvelous offering of penitential worship. In this age where so many of us run fast and loose with sin, the strong language of condemnation and grace in the Kyrie Pantokrator could do us a world of spiritual good.
And it’s got an awesome name, to boot!