Although the full text hasn’t been finalized yet, I do have plans for how the Saint Aelfric Customary will recommend the implementation of most of the features in the 2019 Prayer Book.  In short, I can’t tell you why these suggestions are here yet, but if you want to order your prayers accordingly, here is the weekly guide!

Planning Prayers

Sunday 12/22

  • Morning Prayer Canticles: Te Deum laudamus and Benedictus
  • Holy Communion: Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year A)
  • Evening Prayer Canticles: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis

Monday 12/23

  • Morning Prayer Canticles: #1 Magna et mirabilia and Benedictus
  • Holy Communion: Fourth Sunday of Advent (with the traditional readings)
  • Evening Prayer Canticles: Magnificat and #4 Quaerite Dominum

Tuesday 12/24

  • Morning Prayer Canticles: #1 Magna et mirabilia and Benedictus
  • Morning Holy Communion: Votive: of the Blessed Virgin Mary (St. Mary’s Day)
  • Evening Prayer Canticles: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, Collect for Christmas Eve
  • Evening Holy Communion: Christmas Eve (lessons Christmas I)

Wednesday 12/25

  • Sunrise Holy Communion: Christmas Day (lessons Christmas II)
  • Morning Prayer Canticles: Te Deum and Benedictus
  • Holy Communion: Christmas Day (lessons Christmas III)
  • Evening Prayer Canticles: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis

Thursday 12/26

  • Morning Prayer Canticles: Te Deum and Benedictus
  • Holy Communion: St. Stephen’s Day
  • Evening Prayer Canticles: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis

Friday 12/27

  • Morning Prayer Canticles: Te Deum and Benedictus
  • Holy Communion: St. John’s Day
  • Evening Prayer Canticles: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis

Saturday 12/28

  • Morning Prayer Canticles: Te Deum and Benedictus
  • Holy Communion: The Holy Innocents
  • Evening Prayer: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis

Sunday 12/29

  • Morning Prayer Canticles: Te Deum laudamus and Benedictus
  • Holy Communion: First Sunday in Christmas
  • Evening Prayer Canticles: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis

* A Votive is a “Various Occasion” (page 733 in the BCP 2019).  The traditional appointments are Holy Trinity on Sunday, Holy Spirit on Monday, Holy Angels on Tuesday, of the Incarnation on Wednesdays, of the Holy Eucharist on Thursdays, the Holy Cross on Fridays, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturdays.

Readings Review

This week: Wisdom 1-5, Revelation 7-13, Isaiah 58-64, Luke 17-20:26
Next week: Wisdom 6-9, Revelation 14-21:14, Isaiah 65-66, Song of Songs 1-6, Luke 20:27-23:49

Special reading for Christmas Day on Wednesday morning: Isaiah 9:1-7
Special reading for Christmas Day on Wednesday evening: Luke 2:1-14
Special reading for St. Stephen’s Day on Thursday morning: Acts 6:8-7:6, 17-41, 44-60
Special reading for St. John’s Day on Friday morning: John 21:9-25
Special reading for Holy Innocents’ Day on Saturday morning: Jeremiah 31:1-17

If reading the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) at the end of this month seems like a random idea, remember that its marital love poetry is gateway to fathoming the love of God, demonstrated in his giving of himself in the person of Jesus Christ.  Even at the ontological level – looking at the very being of life – the incarnation of our Lord is a sort of marriage: between divinity and humanity united, in one flesh, one person.

The holidays come thick and fast this week: the Nativity of our Lord one day, St. Stephen the first martyr, St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, and the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem.  Each of these days interrupt the daily lectionary with a special reading (two in the case of Christmas Day) that give us special insight into their celebrations.  These special readings are also found in the Communion service(s) for their respective days, so if you neither attend a weekday communion service, nor hold antecommunion yourself, you’ll at least have one of the Eucharistic lessons in Morning Prayer.

Because of all these holidays, the regular progress through the book of Wisdom (introduced last week) is greatly slowed.

In Evening Prayer, apart from Christmas Day’s flashback to the birth of Christ, we are progressing into the passion of our Lord, and will reach his death on the Cross at the end of the week.  On one hand this is the simple result of reading through the gospels and finishing Luke at the end of the month/year.  But this also gives us the useful coincidence of hearing of the end of Jesus’ earthly life just as we’re celebrating its beginning.  This is not unlike the proximity of the Annunciation with Good Friday, where the opposite ends of our Lord’s life, again, are brought into beautiful juxtaposition.  Personally, I always encourage preachers to preach the incarnation at Christmas, and not forcibly drag everyone from the manger to the cross, but it is nice to have a daily office lectionary quietly giving us that whole-story background along the way.

(The original prayer book lectionary, in use in 1611 and 1662, as it happens, does not have this same feature.  Its NT lessons in Morning Prayer are through the gospels and Acts, so it’s finishing the book of Acts through this time; and its NT lessons in the evening are from the epistles, so 1 John through Jude are featured at this time.)

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