The Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer have always provided for the allowance of additional prayers at the end. The classic prayer books, in fact, provided a group of Additional Prayers immediately after (as well as within) the main text of the Daily Offices. Modern books, like the 1979 and the 2019, have a much larger corpus of additional prayers located near the back of the book like an appendix. This gives us the mixed blessing of having more quality prayers to draw from but the greater physical distance within the book such that they might more easily be ignored or forgotten.
To help remedy this, I’ve made available here in the past some orders for using the Occasional Prayers and Thanksgivings in the Daily Office. Now the Saint Aelfric Customary is putting forth a third (and I think, final) version.
NOTE: All you have to do is download this picture, print it out, and use it as a bookmark in your prayer book! If you want a document or spreadsheet with this information, please request one in the comments.
The previous versions were more jumpy, attempting to corral certain prayer topics to certain days. After a few months of use I decided they could be streamlined to be easier to follow. So here we are! Let’s walk through how this works.
Because there are 125 prayers and thanksgivings, they are split into a two-week rotation so that an average of five are appointed for each Office. You could combine them into a one-week cycle if you’ve got the attention span for it, I suppose. Two prayers are omitted: #84 because it’s for meal times, not an office, and #106 because it’s better for the service of Antecommunion.
Wednesday and Friday Mornings are omitted because that is when the Litany is traditionally appointed to be said. I assume that if you’re sufficiently “advanced” in your use of the Office to be making use of these prayers, you can (or should) be already praying the Litany. Sunday morning is also an appointed time for the Litany, but in the scheme of this Customary, the Litany will actually be treated separately, between Morning Prayer and Holy Communion, and thus there is room for these prayers in Morning Prayer.
The twenty prayers for the Church are spread through the Offices on this day.
The prayers for the nation and most of the prayers for society are covered on Tuesday. The morning in Week II has an inordinately large number of prayers appointed because there are included prayers specifically for Canada and for the USA, with the assumption that the individual will skip the national prayers that don’t apply. #21-26, for Creation, were skipped and saved for Saturday. #27 and #28 were separated into different groupings of prayer because they are very similar and would be a bit redundant prayed back to back.
The rest of the prayers for society are covered here, and the section of prayers for “those in need” is begun.
The rest of the prayers for those in need are finished on Thursday mornings. The evenings are for the thanksgivings, in keeping with the eucharistic theme accorded to Thursdays in some strands of liturgical tradition.
The evenings see the Family and Personal Life section begun.
Week I holds the prayers for Creation, as Saturday is often a day off from work, and thus a day on which many people are likely to enjoy the outdoors. More prayers for family and personal life are appointed here, as well as the beginning of the Personal Devotion section. Most of the prayers for “Death, the Departed, and the Communion of Saints” also land on Saturday evening, matching the Good Friday to Holy Saturday to Easter Sunday pattern of spirituality.
The last of the “Personal Devotion” section is covered on Sundays, as well as the last two “Death, the Departed, and the Communion Saints” section. Most prominently, though, Sunday is when the “At Times of Prayer and Worship” section is used, splitting the preparatory prayers into the morning and the “after hours” prayers into the evening.
As a result, if you hold public Morning or Evening Prayer on Sundays, the occasional prayers here appointed will be particularly apt for the congregation’s interaction with the liturgy.
If you hold a public Office on a weekday, however, a pattern like this may not be beneficial. The idea of this order is to provide the person(s) praying with the full scope of the Occasional Prayers’ contents, so if someone only experiences one weekday “slot”, then they’ll only experience one theme or category of occasional prayers. In such a situation, it would be prudent to select occasional prayers from various groupings as is appropriate for the occasion, or as befits the lessons of the day.