Isolated Worship

So now that most of the country is under heavy restrictions of social distancing to slow the spread of this latest disease, churches everywhere are having to reinvent their approach to public worship.

As Anglicans, I cannot repeat this enough – we have a built-in feature of our tradition that SHOULD make this incredibly easy: the Daily Office.  The Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer don’t require a priest to lead them, they don’t require a sermon, they can be observed alone or in a group.  If we had bothered teaching our congregation the Office beforehand, they would be in excellent shape to keep up those disciplines on their own right now at home.  All we’d have to do is send them sermons, homilies, and reflections to aid their reading of the Scriptures in the meantime, and make the occasional plan for distributing communion, house to house.

Many of us have not taught them to pray the Office, however, partly because too many of us clergymen don’t pray the Office ourselves.  But thankfully, in this internet age, there are excellent resources to help people.

The best is “Daily Office 2019” which beautifully and accurately puts together the Morning and Evening Offices for you.  It even has the little Family Prayer devotions on a separate page.

The second-best options are the livestreams that many churches are offering now.  This approach is a two-edged sword.  On one hand, people get to see their (or another) church location, hear familiar music, and their favorite preacher(s).  But the downside is that it makes worship even more of a spectator sport than usual.  Our culture already has a problem with treating worship as a commodity, rather than an activity or discipline or offering in which each one participates, and livestreaming the liturgy (in part or in whole) will very easily play into that misconception and problem.

So, please, for the love of your congregation, or fellow laity, depending upon who you are reading this, teach others to pray the Daily Office so they can learn how to feed themselves.  Worship via livestream can be a great-tasting experience, but it’s mere spoonfeeding compared to what people can receive in praying the Offices alone or in small groups!

An Evening Hymn for Healing

Before church worship service cancellations were confirmed, I had a hymn in mind to bring to my congregation to sing this weekend.  It’s #249 in The Book of Common Praise 2017.  Although it’s in the Evening section, I was going to appoint it for Sunday morning because of its excellent treatment of a subject often under-represented in classic hymnody: healing.  Let’s check it out.

At even, when the sun was set,
The sick, O Lord, around thee lay.
O in what diverse pains they met;
O with what joy they went away!

It begins, you can see, with an acknowledgement of the many biblical stories of miraculous healing performed by our Lord Jesus.  It isn’t spiritualized into the healing of the sin-sick soul, but actually about physical healings, which is (I think) a rarity.

Once more ’tis eventide, and we,
Oppressed with various ills, draw near.
What if thy form we cannot see?
We know and feel that thou art here.

O Savior Christ, our woes dispel,
For some are sick, and some are sad,
And some have never loved thee well,
And some have lost the love they had.

The fact that it is now evening is pretty irrelevant to the prayer of the song, really.  It’s just there to maintain a poetic continuity between the first two stanzas.  What we’re tackling here, primarily, is the acknowledgement and offering of our various forms of sickness (physical, emotional, spiritual) and the prayer for Christ to dispel such woes from us.  The statement that we “know and feel” God’s nearness perhaps betrays the 19th century romanticism (compared to the more-subdued-emotions lyrics of the previous two centuries), but it’s not over the top by any stretch.

The next verse narrows in on our spiritual condition as fallen human beings:

And none, O Lord, have perfect rest,
For none are wholly free from sin;
And they who fain would love thee best
Are conscious most of wrong within.

This is a difficult truth to admit – those who most truly and earnestly love God are the most aware of their sinfulness and unworthiness before him.  It is, therefore, revealing of an imperfect (or even false) love when someone is apparently on fire for Jesus but has little sense of the gravity of his or her own sin.

The final two verses turn the focus away from us and onto Christ our Lord.

O Savior Christ, thou too art man;
Thou hast been troubled, tempted, tried;
Thy kind but searching glance can scan
The very wounds that shame would hide.

Thy touch has still its healing pow’r;
No word from thee can fruitless fall;
Hear, in this solemn evening hour,
And in thy mercy heal us all.  Amen.

Never put Jesus’ humanity in the past tense; his incarnation is not one-and-done, but a union that lasts into eternity.  That’s how he is our Great High Priest, as the epistle to the Hebrews explains in detail.  And yet, as God, he sees and knows all our wounds and sins.  He can still heal; his word never returns to him empty (cf. Isaiah 55:11).

This is, for sure, a very good song to bring to our attention during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Turn Antecommunion into a generic “prayer service”

wrwMany Anglicans have a love of importing liturgical and extra-liturgical devotions from other traditions into our own.  Anglo-Catholics brought in the liturgy of the palms and the Easter Vigil and the imposition of ashes before any Prayer Book (re-)authorized them.  Evangelical Anglicans have framed special worship services entirely around preaching.  And Charismatic Anglicans have brought in “prayer services.”  Today we’re looking at how such a prayer service could be licitly formed, based upon the rubrics of our own 2019 Prayer Book.

First of all, you need a day that isn’t Sunday.  That way you have freedom to pick the readings and collect practically at will.  Next, you need to use the Holy Communion service but turn it into Antecommunion (that is, omit everything after the Offertory).  Let’s walk through how this could work.

#1 Start with a music set, of course.

Lots of music is essential to charismatic worship.  Sure, sometimes it’s random, but normally there is a progression to the songs that are chosen:

  1. Start with something chill and average-sounding while people are still getting settled,
  2. follow with something loud and upbeat to help people get excited,
  3. maybe next have a slightly slower song with meatier lyrics to dig into,
  4. then crank it up to the “biggest” song of the set, forming a sort of climax to this part of the worship experience.
  5. After that, choose a slow or quiet song, or simply ad-lib for a few minutes, so people can bask in the glory of the Lord and offer their own praises and prayers spontaneously over the keyboard vamp.

I’ve written before that I do not generally approve of this approach to worship music.  But Weird Rubric Wednesday is a mix of satire and education, so let’s roll with it.

#2 The “liturgical” stuff

Following the letter of the law in the 2019 BCP, some sort of Acclamation, or “seasonal greeting” must be said, followed by the Collect for Purity.  Then follows the Summary of the Law (the Decalogue would be too long and perceived as too “formal” for a prayer & praise service) and the Kyrie.

#3 Praise the Lord

The Gloria in excelsis may be substituted with “some other song of praise”.  This is probably not the time for a full worship set, though you could put Step 1 here instead if you prefer.

#4 The Collect & Lessons

Away from Sundays and the Holy Days mandated in the Prayer Book calendar, the celebrant is free to choose just about any set of Propers desired.  For a prayer & praise service you probably want to choose one of the Various Occasions from page 733, such as “Of the Reign of Christ” or “For the Unity of the Church” or “For the Mission of the Church”.

Of course, there’s musical opportunity along the way here, too.  A common pattern I’ve observed is to split a song before and after the Gospel lesson.

#5 Preach

The sermon follows.

#6 Pray

The Creed can be skipped, if it’s neither a Sunday nor a Holy Day, so you can go straight to the Prayers of People.  And as we’ve explored before, technically anything is possible here.  This can be pastor-led or congregation-led, spontaneous or planned, spoken or sung.

#7 Confession & Absolution

I have yet to find any rubric that allows this to be omitted in the 2019 liturgy, so confess you must.  In my experience, charismatic Anglicans prefer the words of the “Renewed Ancient Text”, on page 130.

Alternatively, since this is basically the end of the liturgy, you might want to take advantage of the permissions of the Additional Directions and move the confession & absolution near the beginning of the service as a “Penitential Order”, so you can keep all the “liturgical” stuff in one place, and enjoy the pentecostal freedom of prayer & praise thereafter.

#8 The Peace & Dismissal

Antecommunion ends at this point.  Might as well have a closing song or two, and a spoken dismissal from the minister.

– – What did Fr. Brench just do? – –

I think it’s no secret that I’m not super positive about charismaticism being imported into the Anglican tradition.  I’ve seen some liturgical abuses result, and some sketchy theology and historical teachings promulgated as a result, much like how the Anglo-Papists skew our history to further their own ends, and the Anglo-Puritans provide their own slant regarding the establishment of Anglicanism.  Every modern “stream” is guilty of this.

So I wrote this partly as satire, but partly in realistic acknowledgement of what can actually be done in accord with the Prayer Book.  Both the 1979 and the 2019 afford a number of freedoms and points of technicality that open wide the doors to many different possibilities.  On one hand this is a bad thing – it makes the concept of “common prayer” nearly impossible to achieve when so many different interpretations of the same liturgy are possible and licit.  On the other hand, the flexibility of this book is a blessing – it provides a common ground where widely diverging traditions can share a basic common touchstone.  The charismatics will want to strip it down and add more music and prayer, the evangelicals will want to keep it simple and spend more time preaching, the anglo-catholics will want to ornament and ritualize it further.  But the basic texts remain in common.

Thus I outline this prayer & praise service not just to satirize but also to instruct and encourage.  If you are of a mind to hold a charismatic prayer & praise service in an Anglican church, don’t just make it up yourself!  Use the prayer book’s liturgy as the starting point.  I, myself, may not like the final product, but at least you’re using the book we have in common, and submitting to the authority that resides over us both.

Learning the Daily Office – part 10 of 12

So you’ve heard about the Daily Office, specifically the Anglican tradition of daily prayer and scripture reading, and you want to enter into this beautiful and formative tradition?  Great, grab a prayer book and go!  Except, maybe someone already said that and you don’t know where to start… or worse, you did try it and it was just too much?  The length of the Office was overwhelming and the contents too complicated to navigate when you’ve got no experience with liturgy.  We understand, we’ve all been at that place before!  Some just don’t remember it as well as others.

Diving into the full Prayer Book life of worship doesn’t work for everyone; sometimes you have to work your way up toward that discipline, adding one piece at a time as you grow comfortable with each feature and learn how to “do” them all.  This post series is basically a twelve-step program to help you advance in the life of disciplined prayer from zero to super-Anglican.  The pace is up to you – the goal of this sort of spiritual discipline is consistency, not “how much” you do.

Step One: Pray a Psalm followed by the Lord’s Prayer.
Step Two: Add a Scripture Reading
Step Three: Add more Psalms and Lessons
Step Four: Add the Apostles’ Creed
Step Five: Add Canticles
Step Six: Add the Confession
Step Seven: Add some Prayers
Step Eight: Add the Invitatory
Step Nine: Add the Collect of the Day

Step Ten: Add the Closing Prayers

The last thing to add to the Daily Office are the closing prayers at the end of the service.  These are the same in both morning and evening: a General Thanksgiving, a Prayer of St. John Chrysostom, a quick dialogue, and a final “grace” or “blessing” (on pages 25-26 and 51-53).

Historically, most of these have been optional prayers to tack onto the end of the Daily Office, and most of them remain optional even in our new Prayer Book.  And indeed it may make more sense to omit the Prayer of St. John Chrysostom when you’re praying the Office alone, since it makes reference to the gathering of people in prayer.  Nevertheless, be sure to read it from time to time anyway, because even though you may be praying alone in the physical sense, you are indeed praying in spiritual unity with untold thousands of fellow Anglicans.

If you’re so inclined, the first of the three closing sentences (sometimes called “graces” or “blessings”) is an excellent opportunity to make the sign of the cross, at the three-fold name of God: Father (up), Son (down), and Holy Spirit (left, right).


You are now praying the entire Daily Office, by the book, without omission.  If you’re doing this comfortably, you can (and probably should!) invite others to join you.  Include your family, or invite some other church members to join in with you!  Maybe even talk to your priest about doing this in the church itself.  Historically, every parish church was supposed to provide the daily rounds of prayer in full, after all.  Wouldn’t that be amazing if God’s people once again could be so moved to daily corporate prayer?

A colorful week ahead

If you look at the Calendar of Commemorations in the 2019 Prayer Book, you’ll find a few Saints Days of particular note in rapid succession this week.

  • Tuesday the 17th commemorates Saint Patrick, bishop & apostle to the Irish.
  • Wednesday the 18th commemorates Saint Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem and teacher of the faith (or “Doctor of the Church” in Roman terminology).
  • Thursday the 19th is a red-letter day, the feast of Saint Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary and Guardian of our Lord Jesus.
  • Friday the 20th commemorates Saint Cuthbert, abbot and missionary bishop of Lindisfarne.
  • Saturday the 21st commemorates Thomas Cranmer, the first reformation Archbishop of Canterbury, author of the first Prayer Book, and martyr.

Of all these days, only St. Joseph’s Day is an official break from the Lenten fast; the rest are optional commemorations that you and your church may or may not choose to observe.  The Saint Aelfric Customary names all of these particular commemorations as “minor feasts”, the highest rank of such commemorations, and thus to be given pride of place in any midweek eucharistic celebration.

The way these observances are probably going to look in my household, for example, is that I’ll replace the purple candle on the family prayer table with a white one for Tuesday through Friday (each a saint’s day), and a red one for Saturday (a martyr’s day).  It’ll then go to a pink candle after that – for the 4th Sunday in Lent!  ‘Tis a colorful week indeed.

Prayers in Time of Infectious Disease

On Friday we shared a sort of mish-mash of prayer ideas here, but things have continued to escalate.  As of Sunday evening, the commonwealth of Massachusetts has “banned” gatherings of 25 or over, effectively shutting down all church worship services (on top of schools, extracurricular programs, dine-in restaurants, and so forth) until early April.  Other state governors are moving in this direction, too.  So a tangible need for prayer resources for homebound families and individuals is definitely growing.

To that end, I’ve sorted through the material previously presented, and arranged it into a coherent and usable Order of Prayer.

You can download a simple Word Document of it here: Prayers in time of infectious disease

Or you can download a pdf version, formatted such that if you print it double-sided it can fold into a nice little booklet, here: Prayers in time of infectious disease -two-sided version

At present, this is only available in the contemporary language idiom, in accord with the 2019 Prayer Book.  I will, however, use its new traditional language edition to make another version of it for those who prefer the beauty of the Old Way!

How does this Office work?

Let’s talk about this thing a little bit.

First of all, this is an extra-liturgical devotion.  That means it is not a replacement for Morning Prayer, Evening, Prayer, the Great Litany, or any other Prayer Book service or office.  It is its own thing.  It is modeled after the order of the basic offices, however.

Opening Verses – Two opening verses are provided, and they both point us to the provision and providence of God.  He is the source of mercy and forgiveness (Daniel 9:9) and salvation and deliverance from death (Psalm 68:20).

Psalm 146 – This is the Psalm that showed up in four different lists, or categories, of psalms that were mentioned by Archbishop Beach in his statement nearly a week ago.  Psalm 146 calls upon God’s people to place their trust in Him, and not “in prince, nor in any child of man.”  God’s loving care for various vulnerable echelons of society and humanity are rehearsed, and the psalm both begins and ends with the great laudate – praise the Lord!

Lessons – Like Midday Prayer or Compline, just a little snippet of Scripture is to be read.  This is primarily an office of prayer, after all.  But the Scriptures must nevertheless guide our prayers, and so we hear from Philippians 4 or Jeremiah 17 or James 5; the first two of which remind us not to be anxious, and the third reminds of the penitential reality of hard times: there is a very important link between sickness and confession of sin.

The Prayers – Again like Midday Prayer and Compline, we start off with some basics – here the Kyrie (Lord have mercy…) and the Lord’s Prayer.  These are followed by the prayer from the 1662 Prayer Book that I mentioned on Friday.

The Five Collects – This is the unique feature of this office of prayer.  Five groups of prayers (most of which are collects, but let’s not get hung up on nit-picks) are appointed:

  1. Preparatory Prayers = more generic prayers to set the tone and capture the spirit of the times
  2. For those who are vulnerable, at risk, or sick = specific petitions for various demographics and groups, ultimately praying for the suffering and the needy
  3. For those who are responsible for others = specific petitions for those who care for the sick, for the infrastructure and leadership, and even the media, all of whom play they parts for good or for ill during a crisis
  4. For peace of mind = these prayers are especially for the benefit of you, us, all who are praying, so that God’s people might be a people of peace, and not of fear
  5. Concluding prayer = prayers that turn it all back over to God, or even adopt a posture of thankfulness for his action already

The idea is that you pray one prayer from each of these five categories, thus customizing this office to the need or passion or concern of the moment, and preventing it from becoming overly long and burdensome.  If you have the stamina and attention span and time to pray more of these prayers, by all means do!  It is the progression of these five sorts of prayers that is important: Setting the Scene, Praying for those in need, Praying for those who act, Praying for ourselves, and Placing it all in God’s hands, is a logical and spiritually sound movement of prayer that I believe will be a refreshing and grounding for the panicked soul.

The Blessing – Despite the near-universality of 2 Corinthians 13:14 as a closing blessing, I opted instead for the beginning of Psalm 67, which calls upon God’s “saving health”.  This is, I think the perfect double-meaning for such an office of prayer, health referring both to bodily wholeness as well as spiritual wholeness – salvation.

It is my hope that mini-offices of prayer such as this one will help many find peace in these times of turmoil, and steer the storm-tossed soul on a steadier path of faithful prayer.

Prayer Resources in the face of infectious disease

Earlier this week, Archbishop Beach released an excellent statement regarding the Church’s response to the COVID-19 scare that is encircling the globe.  You can read that in full at this link, and I encourage you to do so if you haven’t already.  I’d like to highlight one thing in particular that he said about prayer:

The Book of Common Prayer offers on page 269 a list of suggested Psalms on many helpful themes, including God’s sovereignty, providence and mercy, trust in God, and living faithfully in times of trouble. If reading from the Psalms is not a part of your daily prayers, try turning to one of these psalms each day to keep your heart focused on the Lord and his presence and care.

This is in reference to the 2019 Prayer Book.  Page 269 is an index of Psalms pertinent to various topics.  The ones he mentioned are:

  • God’s Sovereignty: 24, 93, 46, 47, 72, 89, 96, 97, 98, 99, 112, 146, 145
  • God’s Providence: 23, 121, 33, 34, 124, 89, 139, 145, 146, 147
  • God’s Mercy: 23, 100, 32, 130, 57, 61, 62, 63, 73, 77, 85, 86, 103, 118. 145
  • Trust in God: 27, 31, 57, 146, 62, 63, 71, 73, 77, 91, 118, 121, 124, 125, 123, 143
  • In Time of Trouble: 3, 11, 12, 13, 18, 20, 46, 30, 146, 40, 49, 57, 85, 62, 63, 80, 86, 90, 107, 118, 144

You’ll notice that these lists don’t put the Psalms in numerical order, but jump around a bit.  And, by way of background, this “Selection of Psalms” resource is found, almost identical, in the 1928 Prayer Book (on page ix), so this indicates that the out-of-order listing is not a typo but a sign that they’re ordered by relevance rather than by number.

He also closed the statement with this prayer:

Almighty God, our strong tower of defense in time of trouble: We offer you praise and heartfelt thanks for our deliverance from the dangers which lately surrounded us and for your gracious gift of peace. We confess that your goodness alone has preserved us; and we ask you still to continue your mercies toward us, that we may always know and acknowledge you as our Savior and mighty Deliverer; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This prayer is #123 “For Deliverance from Peril” on page 683, and sets an example for us all: we ought to make use of the Occasional Prayers and Thanksgivings in this time of public anxiety and concern.  Whether you are particularly fearful or particularly complacent, this is an excellent and important time for the Church to “be” the Church at prayer, and call upon God to halt the advance of this virus strain.


A few Psalms stand out from the several topics listed by our Archbishop.

  • On four lists: 146
  • On three lists: 57, 62, 63, 118, 145
  • On two lists: 23, 46, 73, 77, 85, 86, 89, 121, 124

During private prayers, make particular note and use of these prayers.

If and when any of these Psalms show up in the liturgy (I know at least Psalms 118 and 23 will appear during Eastertide, and 121 and 124 are in Midday Prayer) make particular note of them, to yourself and to others.


Pray the Great Litany.  Traditionally it was expected after Morning Prayer every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Include the “Supplication” at its ending, especially during Lent.  Seriously, even the modern Prayer Book identifies it as particularly appropriate in “times of crisis”, and no serious praying Anglican should overlook this powerful resource.

Several Occasional Prayers and Thanksgivings, starting on page 646, are appropriate to times such as this.  If you don’t already make regular use of them, look particularly at:

  • #5 For the Spirit of Prayer
  • #26 In Times of Natural Disaster
  • #30 For Civil Authorities
  • #44 In Times of Social Conflict or Unrest
  • #45 For those who serve others
  • #50 For the Medical Professions
  • #51 For those who inform public opinion
  • #53 For those who travel
  • #56 For the elderly
  • #57 For those with chronic disease
  • #58 For a person in trouble or bereavement
  • #59 For the Discouraged and Downcast
  • #61 For the Recovery of a Sick Person
  • #76 & 77 For Guidance
  • #79 For Mercy
  • #80 For Trustfulness in Times of Worry and Anxiety
  • #81 For Help to Bear Bereavement
  • #82 For Quiet Confidence
  • #95 In Times of Suffering or Weakness
  • #98 & 99 For the Acceptance of Prayer
  • #100 For the Answering of Prayer
  • #106 For Spiritual Communion (if you’re staying home on a Sunday)
  • #123 For Deliverance from Peril
  • #124 For the Restoration of Health

Pray any number of these after the three Collects in Morning or Evening Prayer, or as the Additional Prayers at Midday or Compline.


I know I was partly goofing around a couple weeks ago when I wrote here about re-writing the Prayers of the People, but amidst the light-heartedness were some serious possibilities which we may want to take into account.  If you’re a worship planner in your congregation, take especial look at the Occasional Prayers and Thanksgivings listed above, and talk to your Rector or Vicar about using them in the Prayers on Sunday mornings.

The simplest way to implement them, and least disruptive to the liturgy of the 2019 Prayer Book, would be to have the person reading the prayers (or the celebrant) read two or three of the above prayers after the regular petitions of the Prayers of the People.  If you’re in a 1928 Prayer Book parish, there is a separate space in the liturgy, adjacent to the sermon, where the priest may bid special prayers, and thus offer these.  You could even include a Psalm to be prayed or read at this point, but that might be over-stretching the liturgical context.

Ultimately you need to gauge the situation and disposition of the congregation.  If they are fearful, emphasize prayers of trust and entreaty.  If they’re especially fearful, make the extra step of putting a prayer or two into the liturgy such that they read it aloud with you.  One of the beauties of the Prayer Book tradition is that we can literally put spiritual resources not only into the laps of the people, but into their very mouths!

BONUS ROUND: from the 1662 Prayer Book

The 1662 Prayer Book does not have nearly as many “Occasional Prayers and Thanksgivings” as modern books do, but among its number is this gem.  It may feel over-the-top to our post-modern sensibilities, but its rich biblical imagery is hard to beat.  And, when push comes to shove, we are all still pretty vulnerable to sudden death, despite the improvements of medicine and sanitation since the 17th century.

In the time of any common Plague or Sickness.

O Almighty God, who in thy wrath didst send a plague upon thine own people in the wilderness, for their obstinate rebellion against Moses and Aaron; and also, in the time of king David, didst slay with the plague of pestilence threescore and ten thousand, and yet remembering thy mercy didst save the rest: Have pity upon us miserable sinners, who now are visited with great sickness and mortality; that like as thou didst then accept of an atonement, and didst command the destroying Angel to cease from punishing, so it may now please thee to withdraw from us this plague and grievous sickness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Obviously, if you’re in a contemporary-language-liturgy congregation, you will probably need to modernize the idiom so that the people hearing this prayer will have a better opportunity to digest it.  But give it consideration, too.  After all, there has long been understood to be a link between sickness and sinfulness, even if the cause-and-effect relationship is not as straightforward as some would assume.  Perhaps this prayer will prompt you or others to turn to the Rites of Healing – of the anointing the sick and the reconciliation of a penitent, and give renewed consideration to one’s standing before God?  That’s why I included some penitential prayers in the earlier list (especially #79 For Mercy), after all.

Liturgical Resource Announcement

It feels a bit silly to me to write an announcement for something I neither did, made, nor contributed to, but it’s something that I feel should be made more publicly known.

A traditional-language edition of the 2019 Prayer Book has been approved!  And its text is available online now: You can find its link on the 2019 BCP Resources Page, you can just click here to go straight to the document itself.  I’ll put its self-introduction here:

This Traditional Language Edition of the Book of Common Prayer (2019) employs the personal idiom (thou, thee, thy, thine, etc.) of historic Prayer Books, and uses the verb forms of Elizabethan English, as permitted in the section Concerning the Divine Service of the Church.

This edition also substitutes the historic Coverdale Psalter of 1535, as revised in the 1928 American Prayer Book. All psalms appointed and psalm references in this Traditional Language Edition take this form.

All other quotations from Scripture are from the Authorized Version of the Holy Bible (kjv) of 1611, unless the Prayer Book tradition maintains a still earlier version of the verse or verses. The page numbers of this Traditional Language Edition mirror the page numbers of the Book of Common Prayer (2019), where possible.

Some of you, readers, may be very happy to hear this.  You love the traditional language liturgy, and the 2019 Prayer Book’s lack thereof was a real hindrance to your acceptance of it.

Others of you may be asking aloud “why is this necessary?  Why should I care?  What’s the big deal?”  That’s what I want to address next, with three reasons in no particular order…

#1: It increases the potential for common prayer.

Whether you, individually, find this valuable or not, someone else out there does.  The order of service is different in the 1928 Prayer Book, and the 1662, and the 1979 for that matter.  Those who want to continue using the traditional language liturgy, yet want to worship in the contemporary order of liturgy will now be able to do so.  This enables more people and congregations to have common prayer, common liturgy, and such unity is always a laudable goal.

#2: This is a correction on one of the shortcomings of 1979.

As most of you probably know, the 1979 Prayer Book famously had “Rite I” and “Rite II”.  Rite I was the traditional-language stuff, and Rite II was the contemporary.  The joke was “Rite I is the right one, but Rite II is right too.”  Language snobbery aside, that joke prodded at a more jarring reality: the content of Rites I and II were actually different, especially in the Communion service.  The two rites therefore were not mutually interchangeable, they were actually separate liturgies – or at least similar liturgies with a few different critical parts.

The Traditional Language Edition of the 2019 BCP, however, is a section-for-section clone of the regular 2019 BCP.  Even the pagination of the two are very closely aligned, so you can switch from one to the other as seamlessly as possible.  This allows you to explore every aspect of our liturgy in a traditional idiom.  And that’s something that the 1979 Prayer Book also didn’t accomplish: not every liturgy was provided with two rites, so different books had to be written to supply the remaining parts in traditional language, and when that finally did happen, it came along with a large number of Anglo-Catholic additions and features that rendered the supplemental book decidedly partisan in its usefulness.  The Book of Common Prayer 2019 TE, on the other hand, is for all.

#3: It gives us a better window into our tradition’s past.

I’ve noted a few examples in the past where the wording of some of the prayers in our liturgy has changed slightly from the classical phraseology and word choice.  Examples that I see talked about the most include the confession in the Communion, the Prayer of Humble Access, and the confession at the Daily Office (where we conspicuously add the phrase “apart from your grace” and lose the phrase “miserable offenders”).  By having a traditional-language version of our new Prayer Book, we get a line-by-line examination of our liturgy that restores not just the “old-fashioned words” but the full language and terminology of our forebears.  We got not just the updated stream-lined essence of historical liturgy, but the historical liturgy itself, albeit in the modern order or service.

Even if you have zero desire to use the traditional language liturgy in your parish or in private, this is a must-have for every minister who uses the 2019 Prayer Book.  It’s one thing to read a liturgy blog like this one (thank you, by the way!  Please don’t stop!) and it’s one thing to read commentaries on the Prayer Books, but nothing beats actually engaging with the historic texts themselves.  And the 2019 TL Edition will make that so much easier to do.

Okay, okay, when will this be available?

I’ve heard two answers to this question.  One person (who was part of the project) thought it’d be available for order after Easter.  Another person (who is connected with the publisher) thought it’d be available in the autumn.  Considering the hiccups that came with the rushed printings of the regular 2019 Prayer Book last year, I’d guess that everyone’s going to err on the side of caution and go for the later publication date.  But I’ll keep my ear to the ground, as it were, and share the news here when I hear it.

Midday Prayer could take all afternoon!


On page 39 of the BCP 2019 the following rubric is found:

Other suitable selections from the Psalter include Psalms 19, 67, one or more sections of Psalm 119, or a selection from Psalms 120 through 133.

This is to supplement what is said on page 33:

One or more of the following, or some other suitable Psalm, is sung or said.

So what if (and just go with me on this, okay?) we decide to put the emphasis on the “or more” part of these rubrics.  What if we opt for ALL OF THEM?  Psalms 19, 67, and 119 through 133.  That’s completely permissible, given the rubrics we’ve got.  How long would that take, maybe an hour?  I guess it depends how quickly you read, pray, or chant them.

Welcome to Weird Rubric Wednesday!  Not quite every Wednesday, but most Wednesdays for a while, we’re going to be looking at oddities, loopholes, or opportunities to do weird things to the liturgy without breaking the rules in the 2019 Prayer Book.  This is not meant to bash the Prayer Book (in any edition), but simply an opportunity for some more light-hearted learning.

As it happens, I do have a suggestion for how one might make use of all of those “suitable Psalms” in Midday Prayer over the course of time.  It can be approached in three ways.

Ordinary days of the year like during Epiphanytide and Trinitytide:
Favor the four Psalms provided in the primary text of the liturgy, and add three noteworthy Psalms mentioned in the Additional Directions (19, 67, and 130).

MONDAY: 119:105-112

Penitential seasons and occasions like during Lent and Advent:
Set up a two-week rotation (matching the liturgical calendar) that focuses primarily on going through Psalm 119, two sections at a time.  Sunday can use the more penitential of the two of the primary-provided Psalms, and the last slot can go to Psalm 19 which is similar to 119.

124, 126 : SUNDAY : 124, 126
19 : MONDAY : 119:81-96
119:1-16 : TUESDAY : 119:97-112
119:17-32 :WEDNESDAY: 119:113-128
119:33-48 : THURSDAY : 119:129-144
119:49-64 : FRIDAY : 119:145-160
119:65-80 :SATURDAY: 119:161-176

Festal seasons and occasions like during Christmas and Easter:
Walk through the Psalms of ascent listed in the Additional Directions, using the same sort of two-week rotation mentioned above.

120 : SUNDAY : 127
121 : MONDAY : 128
122 : TUESDAY : 129
123 :WEDNESDAY: 130
124 : THURSDAY : 131
125 : FRIDAY : 132
126 :SATURDAY: 133

Learning the Daily Office – part 9 of 12

So you’ve heard about the Daily Office, specifically the Anglican tradition of daily prayer and scripture reading, and you want to enter into this beautiful and formative tradition?  Great, grab a prayer book and go!  Except, maybe someone already said that and you don’t know where to start… or worse, you did try it and it was just too much?  The length of the Office was overwhelming and the contents too complicated to navigate when you’ve got no experience with liturgy.  We understand, we’ve all been at that place before!  Some just don’t remember it as well as others.

Diving into the full Prayer Book life of worship doesn’t work for everyone; sometimes you have to work your way up toward that discipline, adding one piece at a time as you grow comfortable with each feature and learn how to “do” them all.  This post series is basically a twelve-step program to help you advance in the life of disciplined prayer from zero to super-Anglican.  The pace is up to you – the goal of this sort of spiritual discipline is consistency, not “how much” you do.

Step One: Pray a Psalm followed by the Lord’s Prayer.
Step Two: Add a Scripture Reading
Step Three: Add more Psalms and Lessons
Step Four: Add the Apostles’ Creed
Step Five: Add Canticles
Step Six: Add the Confession
Step Seven: Add some Prayers
Step Eight: Add the Invitatory

Step Nine: Add the Collect of the Day

You’ll be aware that, in the Prayers, we’ve been skipping the Collect of the Day.  Now it’s time to add that in.  Under where it says “The Collect of the Day” it notes that you can find them in “The Collects of the Christian Year” section of the Prayer Book.  In the rubrics above (in italics) you’ll see it names pages 598-640 for that section.

Functionally, this is a very simple addition: look up the Collect of the Day that applies, and pray it at this point in the service.  Most of the time, the Collect of the Day is the same all week, based upon the most recent Sunday.  But there are also holy days that come with their own Collect of the Day.  The Prayer Book’s calendar also directs that the Collects for Sundays and Holy Days are normally to be used starting at Evening Prayer before the day in question begins.  The experiential challenge here is that you need to understand the basics of the Church Calendar in order to find the correct Collect of the Day.  Presumably, you’ve been going to an Anglican church for a while, if you’ve put this much effort into learning to pray the Anglican Daily Office, so that experience should be enough to give you a sense of where you are in the year.  You’ll hear the Collect of the Day for each Sunday at the communion service, right before the readings, so that’ll tell you if you grabbed the right one the evening before and earlier that morning, and it’ll set you straight for the rest of the week (again, except for other holy days that might come up).

It may be helpful to buy a special calendar, or use your prayer book to mark one up yourself ahead of time, so you can easily see what the Collect of the Day every day.  This can be a fun activity to do with kids, too, inviting them to color each day’s box the traditional liturgical color… my four-year-old loves it!

The main point of this piece of the Daily Office is to provide a tie-in to the liturgical rounds of prayer that are more fully emphasized in the Service of Holy Communion.  For the most part, the Daily Office is meant to be a stable liturgy, changing little from day to day and season to season, the Collect being one of its only links to the ebb and flow of our liturgical year.  And so, learning to identify the Collect of the Day is a milestone in your education of the liturgy, connecting your regular daily prayers to the life of the greater Church beyond your home.

That being said, don’t worry overmuch about this.  Most of the time, the Collect of the Day is just an extra bookmark in your Prayer Book where it simply moves from Sunday to Sunday.  If you miss a holy day or grab the wrong week from time to time, you’ll survive.  Liturgy is meant to be formative, not stressful.  Checking in at church each Sunday will usually provide you with everything you “need to know” about this piece of it.


Your Morning & Evening Offices are now looking like this:

  1. (Opening Sentence)
  2. The Confession of Sin
  3. The Invitatory
  4. Invitatory Psalm or Phos Hilaron
  5. The Psalm(s) Appointed
  6. Old Testament Lesson (occasionally the first lesson is from the NT instead)
  7. First Canticle
  8. New Testament Lesson
  9. Second Canticle
  10. The Apostles’ Creed (consider standing up for this!)
  11. The Prayers
    1. Lord have mercy…
    2. The Lord’s Prayer
    3. Suffrage
    4. The Collect of the Day
    5. A Collect for (the day of the week)
    6. A Prayer for Mission

This covers almost the entire Prayer Book liturgy for daily Morning and Evening Prayer.  Two more steps remain to complete it, and then two extra steps to expand it further if you are so inclined.