Book Review: Celebrating the Eucharist

Welcome to Saturday Book Review time!  On most of the Saturdays this year we’re looking at a liturgy-related book noting (as applicable) its accessibility, devotional usefulness, and reference value.  Or, how easy it is to read, the prayer life it engenders, and how much it can teach you.

Alongside Ceremonies of the Eucharist which we looked at last week, my seminary class on Anglican liturgy was also given a newer “practical ceremonial guide” entitled Celebrating the Eucharist, by Patrick Malloy.  The idea was that, together, they’d give us two slightly different approaches to the liturgy.  In retrospect, they aren’t all that different from one another.  Galley’s book was billed as the more specific and prescriptive (perhaps old-fashioned) writer in mindset, where this one by Malloy is more broad and theological, less interested in telling us how to do the liturgy, in favor of telling us how to think about the liturgy so we can make good decisions.

In our day of wide variation in local custom and architecture and circumstance, it would seem that Malloy’s approach here in Celebrating the Eucharist is the best way to go.  Unfortunately, the success of the endeavor is entirely reliant upon the principles of the writer, and Patrick Malloy is a 21st-century Episcopalian… this book was written in 2007.  So, apart from the problem shared with Ceremonies of the Eucharist and Elements of Offering (that these are all written for the 1979 Prayer Book with almost zero regard to prior tradition), Celebrating the Eucharist has the added problem that it literally comes from the very setting that we Anglicans are explicitly not a part of.  Many of you left TEC; I never joined them in the first place, so I don’t carry that experiential baggage myself, but on principle I know that there is little point on looking to their resources from recent times for good advice and perspective.

One example of what makes this book very much suspect is the author’s deconstruction approach to the liturgy.  Rather than dealing with the Eucharistic service as a cohesive whole, he looks at it from a utilitarian or practical perspective: “what are the most important parts?”  This American reductionism may be good for business and industry (though even that’s debatable) but it is terrible for liturgy.  A liturgical service is not a string of interchangeable ingredients like beads on a necklace, but more like a living body: yes bodies can look different from one another, but there’s a reason that every part is where it is.  To some extent Malloy knows this, and some of his liturgical principles spelled out in chapter 3 are spot on.  But in chapter 9 “The Greater and the Lesser” he succumbs to the temptation to deconstructing the liturgy into a set of “core essentials”, which don’t even line up with pre-1979 Prayer Book liturgies, giving away the game that he’s not espousing Anglican liturgical theology, but Modernist Episcopalian liturgical theology.

One brief example of this can be found on pages 163-164, where he talks about the Confession of Sin in the Eucharistic liturgy.  Oddly enough he sees this as one of the expendable parts of the service:

The Confession may be omitted “on occasion” (BCP 359).  The Council of Nicea (325) forbade kneeling during the entire Fifty Days of Easter, and so the Easter season could well be considered an appropriate time for omitting the Confession.  Other great feasts are similarly appropriate.

Such advice flies in the face of every Anglican Prayer Book before the 1979 book, and (I would argue) defies the spirit of the rubric in the 1979 book.  Every Sunday from Easter Day through Pentecost is not an “occasion.”

At risk of making you think that this book is total trash, I will point out that some of his advice is still useful.  After all, the external form of the 2019 Prayer Book liturgy is very similar to that of the 1979, so some of his more practical lines of advice remain applicable to our context.  Things like ordering a procession, the communion vessels on the Credence Table, the artistry (as opposed to “bill-board” effect or costume mentality) of vestments, advice against a “sequence hymn” intruding between the Gospel and the Sermon, and insight regarding the different styles of thuribles, are all worthy reminders for us.

The ratings in short:

Accessibility: 4/5
The book is well organized, and is written in a clear style.  Much of its contents are in essay, or prose, rather than step-by-step walk-throughs of the liturgy, so it takes a lot more reading than other customary or ceremonial books to find all the advice and direction you might be looking for.

Devotional Usefulness: N/A
The insights of this book are almost exclusively for the Communion service; the Daily Office is not in the purview of this book.

Reference Value: 2/5
As mentioned above, this was written specifically to explicate the 1979 Prayer Book.  Much of its procedure will translate well to the 2019 Prayer Book, but you have to be attentive to his principles at each step of the way, as both his liturgical and his theological perspective is suspect according to traditional Anglican standards.

Overall, it’s neat book to have, and to compare with other Episcopalian commentaries on liturgy, but it’s not one I’d recommend you go out and buy.

How to celebrate St. Mary today

Today is the feast of St. Mary the Virgin, Mother of our Lord, or in the language of the ecumenical councils, the Theotokos (God-bearer).  Sticking with the liturgy that we have, and not violating any rubrics, let’s look at some ways we can mark this holy day in the course of our formal worship today.

Morning Prayer

For the Opening Sentence, consider Habakkuk 2:20, from among the extended provision on page 28.  It’s from a lesson that tends to show up around Christmastime, albeit not in the spartan daily lectionary of our new prayer book.  Let all mortal flesh keep silence, an awesome hymn from an Eastern eucharistic liturgy, is also drawn from this verse, and in many protestant hymnals is considered a Christmas hymn.  Granted, the biblical appearances of Blessed Virgin Mary are not limited to the Christmas story, but it is her most prominent placement.

For the Venite (the invitatory psalm) use a seasonal antiphon.  There are two that work well for this holy day: the one on page 29 for the Presentation & Annunciation (which are both Marian feasts to some extent) and the one on page 30 for All Saints’ & Other Major Saints’ Days.  As the rubric on page 14, above the Venite, explains, an antiphon is used both before and after the psalm or canticle in question.  Time and time again I’ve seen people misuse antiphons… think of them as book-ends to start and finish the song.  Or if etymology is your thing, look at the word itself: anti-phon… opposing sound: use the antiphon on opposing sides of the psalm.

The Canticles should be the traditional two: the Te Deum and the Benedictus.  This makes the holy day feel the same as a Sunday, and has the added bonus that the Te Deum actually does mention Mary briefly (Christ “humbly chose the Virgin’s womb”).

The second lesson for Morning Prayer in the Daily Lectionary is Luke 1:26-38, which is the story of the Annunciation.  ‘Nuff said there, I think!

The Collect of the Day, starting at Evening Prayer last night, is on page 631.  As discussed previously it may be read in light of the traditional (but not official) doctrine of the Assumption if one is so inclined.

Evening Prayer

The Opening Sentence could be drawn from the extra one suggested for Christmas (on page 54) or perhaps one of the standard options – Psalm 26:8 – noting that St. Mary herself was a notable place where God’s “honor dwells”.

The Canticles should be the traditional two: the Magnificat and the Nunc dimittis.  This makes the holy day feel the same as a Sunday, and has the obvious bonus that the Magnificat is itself the Song of Mary.

The second lesson for Evening Prayer in the Daily Lectionary is John 14:1-14, which although simply part of the lectio continuo (continuous reading) of Scripture from day to day, proves fitting closure to this holy day in Jesus’ proclamation that he is the Way and the Truth and the Life.  The Blessed Virgin Mary, as do all saints of the Church, ultimately points us to Christ.

Holy Communion

Chances are that most of us don’t have the opportunity to host or attend a celebration of Holy Communion today, but you can always resort to Antecommunion.

The Opening Acclamation should be the last seasonal one on page 146 from the song of the saints in heaven (Revelation 4:11).

As this is a festal occasion, not penitential, the Summary of the Law with the Kyrie is a more appropriate choice than the full Decalogue.  The Gloria in excelsis should follow, as this is a major holy day.

The Collect of the Day has already been commented upon.  The Propers from Scripture are:

  • Isaiah 61:10-11 (typologically, Mary is the garden from which Christ springs)
  • Psalm 34 (“let us magnify the Lord” akin to Mary’s Song)
  • Galatians 4:4-7 (Christ’s birth points to our own adoption in Christ)
  • Luke 1:46-55 (the Magnificat itself)

The Creed should be said, as per the rubric on the bottom of page 108/126.

The Blessed Virgin Mary should be mentioned in the last “N.” in the last petition of the Prayers of the People on page 111.

If there’s an Offertory, consider Galatians 6:10 for the Offertory Sentence (on page 149), since a Saints’ Day (especially Mary!) is an excellent opportunity to reference “the household of faith“.

For the Proper Preface, I’ve seen some lovely Mary-specific ones out there, but since we’re trying to get used to our new prayer book let’s not introduce anything new yet.  The official Preface appointed for this day on page 631 is the one for Christmas (on page 152).

Other Resources & Opportunities

The fourth collect in Midday Prayer (on page 38) references Mary.

Occasional Prayer #125 on page 683, the Thanksgiving for the Saints and Faithful Departed, also lists Mary among its several commemorated holy ones.

This Customary’s Order for Daily Hymnody appoints hymn #178 God himself is with us for today (check the index to find its number if you don’t have this hymnal).  Surely there are other hymns for Christmas or the Annunciation (and so forth) that will also be appropriate to adorn this feast day.

Antecommunion: What, Why, and How?

Something we’ve touched upon here before is the subject of the service of Antecommunion. I figured it’s about time we revisit that idea with a more direct address of its identity, purpose, and execution.

What is ‘Antecommunion’?

The prefix ante- means ‘before’, so the service of Antecommunion is the Service of Holy Communion before, or leading up to and excluding, the actual celebration of Communion.  Basically from the Introit to the Offertory, this is the non-sacramental part of the Communion liturgy.  The only difference is that this is done on purpose, and ends with a few different prayers, making this specifically the Service of Antecommunion rather than the Service of Holy Communion Except We Stopped Short Just Before The Important Bit.

Why would anyone do this?

Antecommunion is a uniquely Anglican practice; I’m not sure if any other tradition has ever had a liturgy on the books like this.  In the Prayer Book tradition, provision was made for the celebration of Holy Communion every Sunday and major Holy Day of the year, but, people were not used to such frequent reception of Communion, and despite the Reformers’ best efforts, the average English believer still only came to the Holy Table once a month at best.  The priests, however, were still expected to fulfill the liturgical demands of the Prayer Book, and so provision had to be made for situations in which there was a Service of Holy Communion offered but no communicants prepared to receive Holy Communion.

The 1662 Prayer Book has, at the end of the Communion liturgy, a handful of collects, and a rubric or two, for that very situation.  I’m not aware what, if any, subsequent Prayer Books contained similar instructions for that situation.

Now that Anglicans almost the world over are accustomed to weekly Communion, this “need” for Antecommunion is no longer common.  If your parish priest is unexpectedly sick on a Sunday morning, then a Deacon or Lay Minister could lead an Antecommunion service instead, since it’s almost identical to the regular Communion service.  This leads us to two possible scenarios in which the Antecommunion service may still be relevant for our needs and interests:

  1. A group of people, lacking a priest, want to participate in the eucharistic liturgy as much as they’re able.
  2. A priest, lacking a congregation, wants to participate in the eucharistic liturgy as much as he’s able.

The former situation is rare – normally when people want to worship together they should be saying the Daily Office.  Antecommunion should always and only be an addition to the Office, not a substitute.

The latter situation is perhaps more common, especially among those clergymen with high church sensibilities.  Roman priests, for example, were (if not still are) bound to celebrate Mass daily, much like how Anglican priests were (if not still are) bound to say the Office daily.  If you’re a priest and you feel like you “ought to be” celebrating Holy Communion daily, or at least ought to be celebrating it more frequently than just Sunday mornings, then Antecommunion is the compromise.  It is extremely rare to find, among Anglicans, anyone who approves of a priest saying Mass entirely alone – Prayer Book tradition requires at least two other people gathered with the celebrant, so only the most Romanized clergymen would ever opt for a ‘private’ mass.  So if you are alone, Antecommunion is the closest you can get to the devotion of the so-called private mass.

How does the service of Antecommunion work?

The whole point of this liturgy is that it’s a stand-in for the full Communion service, so it’s essentially identical from the start until the Confession.  After that, you say the Lord’s Prayer, and a few additional prayers, and then you’re done.  For a bookmark-style guide using the 2019 Prayer Book, download this Antecommunion leaflet.  Plus, if you want, you can check out this walk-through video.

As a bonus, I even provided a quick summary of how to do this with the 1928 Prayer Book, since I know some of you are users of that book, rather than the 2019.

Singing of Saint Anne

Here’s another holy day that we noted ahead of time: “The Parents of Saint Mary.”  Tradition remembers them by the names of Joachim and Anne, and Anne in particular has been the recipient of some devotion in certain parts of Europe – to this day it’s not unusual to find a Catholic church named St. Anne’s.

Because the couple celebrated on this day are closely related to Jesus (in this case literally his grandparents) this is one of the few “black-letter days” appointed in the 2019 Prayer Book’s calendar that this Customary acknowledges with a hymn appointed for the day.  In this case it’s #188 (in the 2017 hymnal), “Faith of our fathers“, a well-known classic.  As the title itself suggests, it is a celebration of the continuity of faith from the past through the present into the future.  It is in the All Saints section of this hymnal, though in other sections in previous hymnals, if I recall.

If you’re curious, even skeptical, why this commemoration should be so elevated when the people commemorated are barely (or not at all) known in Scripture, consider the implications of their identity.  As I wrote for my 4-year-old today:

Jesus had a grandma
they say her name was Anne.
So although Christ is God,
he’s also fully man!

I also took the opportunity to include this commemoration in a sermon a few years ago, which you’re welcome to check out.  In that sermon I mentioned a hymn that we’d sung.  It was a traditional hymn that someone translated from Latin, and I re-tuned to the melody of a contemporary praise song: “Lamb of God” by Twila Paris.

Nocti succedit Lucifer, trans. c. 2009 Kathleen Pluth.

Verse
The morning star is on the rise
And soon the dawn will fill the skies,
Foretelling of the coming Sun
Whose light will shine on everyone.

Verse
The Sun of justice, Christ, true Light,
And Mary, grace’s dawning bright,
And Anna, reddening the sky,
Have caused the night of Law to fly.

Refrain
O mother Anna, fruitful root,
From you came your salvation’s shoot,
For you brought forth the flow’ring rod
That bore for us the Christ of God.

Verse
Christ’s mother’s mother, by the grace
Your daughter’s birth brought to our race,
And by her merits and her prayer
May we her favors come to share.

Refrain
O Jesus, Virgin-born, to You
All glory is forever due.
To Father and the Spirit, praise
Be sung through everlasting days.

Note in verse 3 (the first refrain the way this is arranged) how Anne (Anna) is addressed: “faithful root, flowering rod” – these are some biblical images in the Old Testament used to point to the Messiah.  The family tree leading to Jesus is often described in root-tree-branch-flower imagery, and is especially appropriate for St. Anne and the Virgin Mary.

However you choose to spruce up your worship of God today, may it be a blessed time!

Singing Simplified Anglican Chant

Ideally, both according to Prayer Book tradition as well as the general history Christian worship, the Psalms are most appropriate sung, not simply read aloud.  And when people talk about singing, that universally means chanting (until, say, the 14th century when modern European music began to emerge out of the Greco-Roman chant tradition).  Among the early Anglican Reformers, chant did get a new lease on life in the English language thanks to composers like John Merbecke, but for the most part among Anglicans the chant tradition went into hibernation in the 17th and 18th centuries, finally to re-emerge in 19th century as “Anglican Chant.”

Anglican Chant is distinct from plainchant or Gregorian chant in that it has contemporary harmonizations – a choir or congregation can chant together in four-part harmony.  Thus it utilizes the melodic simplicity of plainchant and the harmonic beauty of English hymnody.  Anglican Chant also stands distinct from ancient plainchant in that it has very little over-arching regulation on matching tunes to texts.  So there is much more room for freedom of expression, new chant tunes and combinations, and even in pointing the text (meaning, lining up the text with the notes).

Why Anglican Chant?  The singing of “metric psalms” enjoyed pride of place for those couple centuries when chant was in remission.  Metric psalms are perhaps easier for us to sing because they use familiar tunes and styles.  The downside of metric psalms, however, is that the Psalms are not written in English poetic rhythms or rhyme schemes, necessitating an entirely new translation.  This means neglect of the beautiful Psalter in our Prayer Books, less standardization of the actual translation (so the formation value is less prominent), and a much looser translation overall in order to force thousands-of-years-old poems into modern poetic styles.  If you use plainchant, or Anglican chant, you don’t have to re-translate the Psalms, but sing the text as it stands.  And to those of us who care deeply about the Word of God, that should be a very important consideration indeed!

There are videos on YouTube such as this one which can help you learn Anglican Chant.  There are also books and hymnals that have detailed written explanations.  But what I’d like to introduce you to here is Simplified Anglican Chant.  As the name suggests, this is a simpler version of the Anglican Chant you’ll hear and see in the videos and books above.

Simplified Anglican Chant is notated as four measures of music with two sets of notes each.  Each measure equals one half-verse of Psalm text.  Thus one full line of Simplified Anglican Chant equals two verses in the text of the Psalm.*  The majority of the half-verse is sung on the first note; the last ‘strong’ syllable is where you switch to the second note.

If you have the Book of Common Praise 2017, you’ll find an excellent explanation of this, complete with pictures, at “hymn” #738a.  Hymns #739-750 are twelve different Simplified Anglican Chant tunes.

Whether you have that book or not, however, you can take a look at this video I put together a little while ago.  In it, I go over some of the basics described above, and then demonstrate a few verses of Psalm 96 (which is among this morning’s appointed psalms, by the way).

The sample tune I used is not one of the twelve in the hymnal; it’s just one I vaguely remembered from when I was in a church choir nearly nine years ago.

simplified anglican chant

* From the 2017 hymnal: “But what if a psalm contains an odd number of verses rather than an even number?  Rather than finish the chant formula halfway through, which would be musically unfulfilling, the congregation can repeat the second half of the chant formula (measures 3 and 4) for the last verse of the psalm.

When to sing the “Gloria in excelsis”

After the penitential rite at the beginning of the Communion service follows this rubric:

The Gloria or some other song of praise may be sung or said, all standing.  It is appropriate to omit the song of praise during penitential seasons and days appointed for fasting.

Placement of the Gloria…

For those who grew up accustomed to the Roman Rite or the 1979 Prayer Book, this is expected – the Gloria is the standard historic hymn of praise following the Kyrie, signalling the movement from penitence to absolution, from abjection to joy, from unworthiness in God’s sight to worthiness, from fear to perfect love.  What many don’t realize is the peculiar tradition of the classical Anglican Prayer Books in placing the Gloria after the Communion and Post-Communion Prayer!

Thus, when we read in the rubric on page 107 & 125 that the Gloria “may be sung or said”, what we ought to see here is the permission to save it for its traditional placement near the end of the liturgy.  The reason for saving the Gloria for that point in the liturgy is that there it functions as an expression of unadulterated praise to God in light of his saving work on the Cross that we have just memorialized in prayer and received in the Sacrament.  So the flow of penitence-to-praise at the beginning of the service doesn’t really apply, but the celebration post-communion is certainly much grander.  It’s also interesting to note that in Lutheran tradition they tend to keep the Gloria in its traditional (Roman) position near the beginning after the Kyrie but also have a special post-communion canticle like the Prayer Book tradition, though in their case the Nunc dimittis.  Now that’s a much more sober (or sobering) way to reflect upon the reception of the consecrated elements!

Instead of the Gloria…

I know lots of congregations that have a contemporary “praise and worship set” in place of the Gloria.  Although this provokes the ire of hymns-only traditionalists, this can rightly capture the spirit of the modern prayer book (and traditional Roman) rite, as the Gloria is a song of pure praise.  Indeed, in my own church, we long had a hymn or contemporary song of praise in addition to the Gloria.  As long as you find lyrics that are very God-centered, they’ll fulfill the same function as the Gloria.  But keep in mind, how many times does the Gloria mention “us” or “me”?  If you’re appointing songs in its place, try to make sure that they live up to that standard of pure and undistracted adoration.

During Advent and Lent, though, it is customary to omit the Gloria, whether you’ve got it near the beginning or the end of the liturgy.  The 1940 hymnal even has, in its liturgical index, suggestions for which hymns could replace the Gloria during those seasons.  This is an excellent place to use a season-specific hymn, as they typically capture the tone and mood of the season in a very appropriate manner, and thus support the shift of emphasis that the liturgical calendar is meant to convey to us.

Singing the Gloria…

Last of all, it’s worth noting that the rubric states “sung or said“, as if to imply that it’s more appropriate to sing the Gloria than to read it.  This is where the otherwise-bloated 1982 hymnal can be a valuable resource, as it provides a number of musical settings for the contemporary translation of the Gloria that our new Prayer Book continues to use.  The Book of Common Praise 2017 has only one setting in the contemporary language, which is original to that edition, I believe, and has worked pretty well with my own congregation.  But sometimes it’s nice to have options.

You could even take a page out of medieval tradition and change the musical setting of the Gloria for different times of year or occasions!  For example, my congregation sings it on major feasts and high Sundays, but just says it on ‘normal’ Sundays.

Don’t neglect the Litany

The Great Litany was the first liturgy put out by the Church of England, before the Prayer Book as a whole was compiled.  It has undergone little edits since then in just about every edition of the prayer book, yet is arguably the least-changed piece of the prayer book to this day.  I suspect this is due, in part, to the fact that it has been slowly declining in prominence.  The fewer people pray it, the fewer changes people bother to make to it.

You can even trace this decline in prominence from book to book.  In 1662 the Litany was appointed to be read after the three collects in Morning Prayer every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday.  By the American prayer book of 1928, it was broadened to be after the three collects in either Morning or Evening Prayer, with no directions of how often it was to be used.  The 1979 prayer book broadened the options further by allowing it to be used immediately before the Eucharist (which is probably how it’s best-known in American parishes right now – as a solemn procession maybe once a year if at all).  But in that book, it’s physically located in a very cluttered part of the volume between the Daily Office and the Communion services, physically isolating it, sending the tacit message that it’s just window-dressing and there for the sake of tradition.  They didn’t even bother updating its language to match “Rite II.”

The 2019 Prayer Book, now, keeps the broad options open but provides a little more direction and accessibility.  The Litany begins on page 91, between the Office and Communion liturgies which is not quite so cluttered compared to the 1979 book.  There is also this suggestion on page 99:

It is particularly appropriate to use the Great Litany on the First Sunday of Advent and the First Sunday in Lent.  It is also appropriate for Rogation days, other days of fasting or thanksgiving, and occasions of solemn and comprehensive entreaty.

In one sense this is a “toothless” rubric.  It’s not rule, not even an authorization, but merely a suggestion.  The phrase “it is appropriate” appears in a few such rubrics, and is so gentle that it almost doesn’t count as a real rubric (or rule).  But as a suggestion, it does help point us in the direction of how we might implement the Litany in parish life in accord with some semblance of tradition.  Originally the Litany was supposed to be a thrice-weekly affair at the end of Morning Prayer, so having two Sundays and a short list of other occasions when the Litany is “appropriate” is extremely gentle indeed.  But, as things stand in the American church, once a year is about as often as the Litany is used, if at all, so by making these suggestions explicit in the book, and by making the Litany a bit easier to find (and connect to the primary liturgies) there is a definite intention here to restore this excellent service of prayer.

In your own devotions, I heartily encourage you to pray this Litany often.  Every Sunday, between Morning Prayer and Holy Communion, is a good place to start; or perhaps every Friday as a sort-of-penitential discipline.  It is longer than modern worshipers tend to be used to, so it can be an overwhelming experience for some.

But if you can bring it into your church, definitely start with the rubric’s suggestion: the beginning of Lent and Advent.  From there you can also add it to Epiphany II (when the festive part of the Christimas-Epiphany cycle has ended), Lent V (Passion Sunday, signalling the approach of Holy Week), the Sunday after the Ascension (following the apostolic spirit of prayer between the Ascension and Pentecost), and periodic Sundays after Trinity such as Propers 10 and 20 (even spaced out between Ascension and Advent).  The more, the better, in my opinion, but it’s usually easier to introduce new & different things to people when there’s an easy liturgical explanation.

Anyway, today’s a Wednesday, so how about you give it a go in your own prayers after Morning Prayer?

Sing the Hymnal in a Year!

When it comes to liturgy, I’m a completionist, meaning I want to make use of all the legitimate options afforded in the Prayer Book in their proper times.  That means I want to say the Daily Offices and minor offices every day (not that my success rate is so high yet), and use each choice of prayer and canticle at appropriate opportunities.

I’m also a completionist when it comes to Bible-reading, and that includes the Ecclesiastical Books.  That’s why I made a supplementary lectionary (best used in Midday Prayer) to cover the various corners of the Bible that the Daily Office Lectionary had to leave out.  (I recently discovered that I’d neglected to fill in the missing chapters of Ezekiel, so I updated the file!)

And so, in this mindset I set out, a couple years ago, to figure out how I could accomplish a similar mission: sing all the hymns in the hymnal!  I made a rough year-long plan using the 1940 hymnal, which I can share if you really want it, though it is definitely quirky and personalized.  And when my congregation and I got our hands on the 2017 hymnal I began the slow process of starting all over again, aiming to make a cleaner, simpler, more logical plan for Daily Hymnody that could be used by anybody.  It took quite some time to “get it right” but now I’m happy to release:

DAILY HYMNODY
for the Book of Common Praise (2017) and the Book of Common Prayer (2019)
(formatted to be printed in “booklet” format if you’ve got a fancy printer)
(formatted to be printed as double-sided landscape that you can fold into a booklet)

Here are some explanatory notes of how this works.

Morning & Evening Hymns

The collection of Morning Hymns and Evening Hymns are treated separately.  They are placed on their own rotations (two-week and one-month, respectively), and thus will be sung several times in a given year.  Especially memorable or historical hymns are repeated more often in these cycles, to avoid awkward 17-day cycles or something silly like that.  Their frequent repetition also allows them to be replaced if there happens to be a large number of Daily Hymns in a given day.

How the Daily Hymns Work

The liturgical calendar has both fixed-date feasts (like Christmas) and moveable feasts (like Easter), which necessitates a daily hymnody plan that operates on both calendar styles in tandem.  This is managed by presenting hymns for fixed dates in either a parallel column or at the bottom of the page near the moveable-date hymns they’ll typically line up with.

As I mentioned in my review of the 2019 hymnal, there are more hymns in here that fit Advent and Lent compared to other books, making this project a lot easier than its 1940 hymnal version.  And, I think, more satisfying to use.  Here’s a quick commentary on how this order for Daily Hymnody uses the 2019 hymnal.

The Advent Hymns (#1-26) are spread throughout the Advent season, generally matched to the theme of the Collect each week.

The Christmas Hymns (#27-82) are sung through most of the 40 days from Christmas Eve until February 2nd (the feast of The Presentation).  Hymns that reference “today” or “this happy morn!” are placed earlier, in the actual twelve days of Christmas.  Hymns that pay particular attention to Mary are placed later, as a topical lead-up to the Presentation.

The Epiphany Hymns (#83-94) are sung January 6th through 11th.

The Lent Hymns (#95-104) are sung in the first week and a half of the season.  The Passiontide Hymns (#105-122) cover Holy Week, and also most of weeks 4 & 5.

The Easter Hymns (#123-146) are sung through Easter Week and the beginning of each subsequent week in Eastertide.  The Rogation Day Hymns (#147-8) are on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Ascension.

The Ascension Hymns (#149-161) cover the ten day of that period, and the Pentecost Hymns (#162-166) cover most of Pentecost Week.  The Trinity Sunday hymn is appointed on its Eve.

The various Saints Days hymns (#168-198) are appointed on their proper (or similar) days.  This includes a couple extra saints days and an All Saints’ Week November 1st-7th, using the Burial Hymns (#318-320) to add an “All Souls” flavor along the way.

The Thanksgiving Hymns (#199-209) are sung on November 21st-29th, ensuring that Thanksgiving Day will be enveloped in that spread of time.

The National Hymns (#210-218) are appointed for Memorial Day, July 1st-4th (covering both Canada Day and Independence Day), and November 8th-11th (giving a lead-up to Veteran’s/Remembrance Day).

The Baptism Hymns (#252-262) adorn the Sundays “Proper 8” through Proper 18 (basically all summer).  The Confirmation Hymns (#300-305) cover Propers 19-23 (and December 5th, because that’s my confirmation anniversary), and the Church Dedication Hymns (#313-317) finish the line on Proper Sundays 24-28.  The Sundays through this time of year also have General Hymn appointed, specially chosen to match its Collect of the Day.

The Communion Hymns (#263-299) are sung on nearly every Thursday from Maundy Thursday through Advent.

The Matrimony Hymns (#306-308) are appointed for the 5th of June and August, highlighting the popular “wedding season” in our culture today.  The Ordination Hymns (#309-312) are sung on the Wednesday of each set of Ember Days throughout the year.

The General Hymns, then, fill out the remaining gaps in the church year.

  • The Trinity section is mostly devoted to Trinity Sunday and the weekdays following.
  • Most of the “Praise to God” and “… God’s Works” section occupies Fridays & Saturdays from Proper 7-17.
  • Most of the “Jesus: Advent” section is sung in the days leading up to the First Sunday in Advent.
  • Most of the “Name…” and “Life & Ministry of Jesus” sections are sung in Epiphany 4-8 (Proper 3-7), with a few entries dotting the final days before Lent, a day in Eastertide, and a few in the week of Proper 8.
  • The “Mission” hymns cover Thursdays in Epiphany 4-7 or Proper 3-6.
  • The “Praise of Jesus” section mostly fills out Eastertide.
  • Most of the “Penitence” section is sung through the middle of Lent.
  • The “Jesus: Helper” section covers Mondays through Wednesdays in the weeks of Propers 9-13.  This is continued with the Holy Spirit, Holy Scripture, and Church sections, taking you to Proper 18.
  • Starting with the week of Proper 18, the split between MTW and FS ends.  The “Christian Vocation” section covers most of 18, “Christian Walk” is sung through Proper 22, continued by “Christian Warfare” and “Christian Duty” through Proper 25.
  • Propers 26-29 end the church year with the “Kingdom of God” and “Church Triumphant” sections.

Anyway, the two links above will get you booklets that give you these orderings in a neat and readable fashion.  I just offer this explanation as background for the curious.  Go, sing, worship, enjoy!

Book Review: Liturgical Theology

Welcome to Saturday Book Review time!  On most of the Saturdays this year we’re looking at a liturgy-related book noting (as applicable) its accessibility, devotional usefulness, and reference value.  Or, how easy it is to read, the prayer life it engenders, and how much it can teach you.

Let’s start with a confession: I didn’t read all of the books in seminary that I was supposed to read.  But I did start catching up immediately after I graduated.  One of those books was Liturgical Theology by Simon Chan.  I was already a confirmed Anglican and in the discernment process for Holy Orders, and it was only then, in reading this book, that I began my deep love for the liturgy which has continued with me to this day.  I was so impressed by this book (and still in a note-taking mode like a seminary student) that I actually made outline notes of each chapter of the book.  So if you want to go into greater depth you can look at those notes here:

As you can see there, the first four chapters lay the foundation for a liturgical theology, and the last three set out concrete practices by which that liturgical theology can be expressed.  This is very helpful for those who are not familiar with liturgical worship, and need to see “why liturgy matters” before they can be bothered to learn about liturgy itself.  And even if you are familiar with liturgical worship, sometimes it’s helpful to go back to examine the foundational purposes for this way of life we share.

It should be noted, too, that Simon Chan is not an Anglican.  He’s not even from a liturgical tradition himself; he’s an Assemblies of God Pastor.  This has the disadvantage that this book doesn’t really deal with particularly Anglican liturgical practices, but it does have the advantage of a common-ground approach to liturgical worship that highlights the similarities across several particular traditions.  When he does give a walk-through of the Communion service, it is largely identical to the shape of the 1979 Prayer Book and the modern Roman Mass, not the Tridentine Mass or the classical prayer book tradition.  This may be a let-down for the traditionalist reader, but more relatable to the modern-liturgy fan.

I’ve noticed that the website for an ACNA diocese actually has a review of this book, which you may find useful for reflection on the nature of the Church.  There’s also a review of this book on the well-known The Gospel Coalition blog which makes a number of unfounded criticisms (such as that Simon Chan does away with sola scriptura and promulgates the doctrine of transubstantiation!) which I can only tell you to disregard.  I think that reviewer either had a chip on his shoulder against the liturgical tradition, or didn’t read the book very carefully.

On the whole, I would still recommend this book quite happily.  It won’t give you an Anglican education, but its principles are sound and its commentary is insightful.  In fact, the fact that this is a pentecostal author arguing for historic liturgy makes his exhortation all the more earnest and significant.  This is no patronizing Anglo-Catholic telling the evangelical world how to fix their problems, as we often imagine liturgical theologians to be!

The ratings in short:

Accessibility: 4/5
Although this book was an assigned text for one of my seminary courses, it is not a dense scholarly read.  It is intended, I think, for pastors, worship leaders, and interested laymen who do not necessarily have any higher education.  It’s clearly organized, logically written, and peppered with citations for further reference.  (Except they’re endnotes, yuck!)

Devotional Usefulness: N/A
This is a book to read, not pray.

Reference Value: 3/5
If you’ve never read a book about liturgy and liturgical worship before, this is probably the best place to start.  It’s informative, covers a lot of ground, and gets you connected with plenty of biblical and Early Church quotations.  It won’t really improve your knowledge and understanding of the Prayer Book tradition, or English spirituality, but you can save that for another book.  From analyzing the Creed to outlining the three-year catechumenate, this is a great place to begin your foray into liturgical studies.

Psalm 67 in Evening Prayer

Since at least the 1662 Prayer Book, Psalm 67 has been an alternative option to the Nunc dimittis – the second canticle in Evening Prayer.  When Thomas Cranmer first compiled the Prayer Book, he telescoped the 7-fold daily monastic office into two: Morning and Evening, so that anyone could pray them.  The service of Evening Prayer thus ended up with the traditional Vespers (evening) canticle: the Magnificat, and the traditional Compline (night) canticle: the Nunc Dimittis.  He then appointed a psalm as an alternative to each canticle, usually with the express purpose of standing in for the canticle when the text of the canticle is found in one the day’s lessons.

Modern Prayer Books, however, following popular Anglican devotion since the beginning, bring Compline back as a minor office, and the Nunc dimittis is therefore a dual resident: it lives both in Evening Prayer and in Compline.  If you regularly pray both Evening Prayer and Compline most days, then it may be a good idea to substitute the Nunc for a different canticle, as I’ve suggested before here.

However, today may not be the day to do that.  Psalm 67 is the typical replacement for the Nunc through the majority of the year, but tonight Psalm 67 is one of the regular psalms at Evening Prayer.  So unless you want to say Psalm 67 twice in the same office tonight, perhaps it’s best you don’t use it as a canticle today!