Historically, the Litany was appointed after the three collects in Morning Prayer every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. This should remain the goal for all ministers, if only in their private recitation of the Daily Office.
The Supplication was not originally detachable from Litany, and thus should be used regularly. A reasonable pattern for private prayers is thus:
- Wednesdays: the Litany without the Supplication
- Fridays: the Litany with the Supplication
- Sundays: the Litany, with the Supplication during Advent, Lent, Ember Days, Rogationtide, and on similar days of penitence or entreaty
In the Sunday liturgy in the churches, the Litany is expected to be used between Morning Prayer and the Holy Communion, either as a conclusion to the Office or as a preface to the Communion service; rubrics are provided in the Prayer Book for both instances. A third option is available: to use the Great Litany as its own worship service apart from the Office and the Communion. This is worth considering especially where contemporary worship and music is preferred. Consider this three-fold movement for Sunday mornings:
- Morning Prayer, focusing on the reading of the Word and the instruction of the people
- The Litany followed by open prayer, focusing on the petitions of the people
- Holy Communion, focusing on the sacramental work of God upon the people
There is an opportunity in this three-part program to draw from the strengths of different approaches to worship: edification and instruction, prayer and praise, and sacramental participation. Many churches cram these elements together in various ways; using the Prayer Book’s three-part liturgy for Sunday morning can allow a congregation to focus on each of these elements singularly with less confusion.
It is therefore recommended that the Great Litany (with the Supplication at the above-noted times) is used weekly. A lay minister can lead the prayers, they can lead to open extemporaneous prayer from the congregation; non-liturgical prayer and praise music also can find a place in this context, and the clergy can be available during this time for private ministries of prayer, anointing, and confession.
Although it is common in some churches that special prayer ministry is offered during the administration of Communion, the placement of such intercession and ministry between the Office and the Communion is far more appropriate. These are best offered in response to the Word of God (exemplified in the Daily Office) and as preparation for the reception of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. There is no rubric permitting or endorsing the ministries of private prayer and healing during the administration of Communion; indeed the biblical and liturgical injunction to “Judge yourself lest you be judged by the Lord” indicates that we ought to seek our particular prayer ministries before coming to Holy Communion. And the extension of the Great Litany to make room for such occasions is a golden opportunity for old tradition to embrace and re-root modern practice.
If full implementation cannot be attained, periodic use of the Litany as a preface to the Communion service is the next most effective way of bringing this liturgy to the congregation. Sundays particularly apt to use the Litany in this way include: Advent 1, Advent 4, Septuagesima (where observed), Lent 1, Lent 5, and the Sunday after the Ascension. It would also be prudent to appoint on Sunday in Epiphanytide and three to six times throughout Trinitytide, such as on the 3rd, 10th, and 17th Sundays after Trinity, or on Propers 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25.