The Least-read book of the Bible?

Article VI famously lists the biblical canon for the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the “Other books” commonly called Apocrypha (for which I’ve taken preference to the particularly Anglican term Ecclesiastical Books).  Not every book listed in that third category has shown up in Anglican lectionaries.

  • Tobit, Judith, Wisdom (of Solomon), and Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) were read in full in the original Daily Office lectionary.  Our 2019 lectionary highlights the majority of those books, yet curiously and sadly omits Tobit entirely.
  • 1 & 2 Maccabees were not touched by the original Daily lectionary, but are very briefly sampled in the 2019 lectionary.
  • The additions to Esther and to Daniel were not originally included, but the former at least were always easy to add in as lengthened readings.  The 2019 lectionary includes one of the additions to Daniel (Susanna), and the Prayer Book tradition has always included another addition to Daniel (the Song of the Three Young Men) among its Morning Prayer canticles.
  • The Prayer of Manasseh, too, has in recent times been distilled into a canticle.
  • A few snippets of 2 Esdras (or 4 Ezra) have appeared in some 20th century Daily lectionaries, including the first draft (but not final copy) of the 2019’s.

That leaves 1 Esdras (or 2 or 3 Ezra) as the only one that isn’t used at all in Anglican liturgy, despite being listed as a canonical book in Article VI useful for reading and instruction.  The reason for this is the same as the reason why 1 & 2 Chronicles were omitted from the original Daily Office lectionary (and are still only sampled in the 2019) – because the vast majority of the book is redundant.  For the most part, 1 Esdras repeats the end of 2 Chronicles and the majority of the book of Ezra.

If you want to know more about this under-noticed book, watch on!

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.

Let’s pray Morning Prayer together right now!

Okay, we’ve got a daily hymnody plan available, an order for using the Occasional Prayers, and some advice on the use of Canticles so far.  Let’s put it all together and see what Morning Prayer can be like. Listen and pray along!

Order of service (so you can get your books ready)…

  1. Opening Sentence (BCP 11)
  2. Morning Hymn (#229) *
  3. Invitatory with the Venite (BCP 13-14)
  4. Psalms 79, 80, 81 (BCP 373-377)
  5. 1 Samuel 7
  6. Canticle 8 Ecce Deus (BCP 85-86)
  7. 1 Corinthians 15:1-34
  8. The Benedictus (BCP 18-19)
  9. The Apostles’ Creed (BCP 20)
  10. The Prayers (BCP 21-24)
  11. The Anthem (Hymn #439)
  12. Occasional Prayers #25, 35-37
  13. The General Thanksgiving (BCP 25) **
  14. Closing Sentences (BCP 26)

* The first rubric on page 31 allows for the Confession and the Creed to to be omitted in one Office provided it is said in the other that day.  On my own I tend to say the Creed in the morning and the Confession in the evening.

** I tend not to pray the Prayer of St. John Chrysostom when alone, as the rubric on page 25 indicates it’s optional, and because its language of being gathered for corporate prayer is not exactly fulfilled in private.

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!

A Canticle for Eastertide

We’ve already looked at the Pascha Nostrum, but there are other ways to distinguish the Easter season in the Daily Office!  Among our Supplemental Canticles provided at the end of the Daily Office section of the Prayer Book are four that are labeled as appropriate for the Easter season.

#1 Magna et mirabilia (Song of the Redeemed, Rev. 15)

The rubrics indicate this canticle is appropriate both for Advent and for Easter.  Since Advent has fewer options, this Customary recommends this canticle serve as the first canticle during Advent, rather than Easter.

#5 Cantemus Domino (Song of Moses, Ex. 15)

This canticle is a prime choice for the Easter Vigil as a response to the reading of the crossing of the Red Sea.  And it’s also great for the Daily Office – consider making use of it as an alternative to the Te Deum on weekdays throughout the season!

#6 Dignus es (Song to the Lamb, Rev. 4 & 5)

This canticle is indicated as being appropriate both for Eastertide and Ascensiontide.  This customary appoints Canticle 6 in place of the Te Deum in Morning Prayer for the weekdays starting on Ascension Day through Pentecost Week.

#7 Cantate domino (Sing unto the Lord, Ps. 98)

Historically, this canticle was appointed as the alternative for the Magnificat, presumably for the days on which that text, the Song of Mary, was appointed to be read in the New Testament lesson.  That is how this Customary recommends Canticle 7 continue to be used, and thus not have a particularly Easter-related role.

Nunc Dimittis doing double duty

Most liturgical ingredients in the Prayer Book tradition are set into one particular function with little or no variance.  The Daily Office has its own opening and closing sentences, the Communion liturgy has its own acclamations and dismissals, each major liturgy has its own prayer of confession (though the rubrics now allow cross-pollination  to some extent), and every canticle has its particular home.

But the Nunc dimittis has two appointments in the Prayer Book, such that it’s even printed in the book twice.  It is the second canticle of Evening Prayer, and it is the anthem/canticle in Compline (the night office).  This is a particularly odd repetition, since Evening and Compline are both pretty similar in function and usually near one another in time (evening, bedtime).

The reason for this is that in the English Reformation when Archbishop Thomas Cranmer assembled the first Common Prayer Book he reduced the monastic offices from seven in the day and one at night down to two: Morning (Matins) and Evening (Vespers).  There are elements of three monastic morning offices wrapped up in Anglican Morning Prayer, and elements of Vespers & Compline wrapped up in Anglican Evening Prayer.

So what happens when you try to bring back in one of those “extra” monastic offices?  You get little hints of repetition with the Anglican Daily Office.  In the case of the Nunc dimittis its original home was the night office, Compline, which the Prayer Book tradition rolled into Evening Prayer.  Thus in modern books that bring Compline back to Anglican liturgy, we’ve got a situation where the Nunc dimittis has two homes.

If this doesn’t bother you, well and good.  But if you are someone who regularly prays both Evening Prayer and Compline, and desires to highlight separate identities for both offices, then there is something you can do about that: the 2019 Prayer Book has an appendix to the Daily Office section labeled Supplemental Canticles for Worship.  This is an expansion of what earlier Prayer Books (before 1979) did: offering usually two options of a Canticle for each slot (that is, position of response after each reading in the Morning & Evening offices).  Now, instead of 8 or 9 total Canticles with specific directions on which ones to use where, we have 15 Canticles, 10 of which provide minimal guidance as to their expected use.  If you want to make use of these and reduce the repetition of the Nunc dimittis between Evening Prayer and Compline, consider the following pattern of alternatives:

The Second Canticle, the Nunc dimittis, is to be recited on Saturdays and Sundays, and on other days throughout the year not superseded by the following.

Canticle 4, the Quaerite Dominum, is to be used in its place on the First Sunday of Advent and on weekdays throughout the season.

Canticle 3, the Kyrie Pantokrator, is to be used in its place on Ash Wednesday, the First Sunday of Lent, Palm Sunday, and every weekday throughout the season.

Canticle 9, the Deus misereatur, is to be used in its place on Monday through Friday during Epiphanytide and Trinitytide, and on the occasion that the text of the Nunc dimittis is part of the New Testament Lesson.

The Easter Anthems – Pascha Nostrum

The Pascha Nostrum is a beautiful set of anthems that Anglican tradition uses at Easter.  It is built upon three scriptural references: 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, Romans 6:9-11, and 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, each bookended with an Alleluia for good measure.

It has always been in Anglican Prayer Books, but its location has changed in modern practice.  Traditionally, it was placed among the Propers (the Collects and Lessons), for Easter Day; in modern books it is placed in the Morning Prayer liturgy.  It’s interesting to note how the rubrics for this canticle have changed over the years.

1662 BCP:

At Morning Prayer, instead of the Psalm: O Come, let us, &c. these Anthems shall be sung or said.

1928 BCP:

At Morning Prayer, instead of the Venite, the following shall be said, and may be said throughout the Octave.

2019 BCP:

During the first week of Easter, the Pascha Nostrum, without antiphons, is used in place of the Invitatory Psalm, and it may be used throughout Eastertide.

What stays the same? its function.  This Canticle is always used in place of the Venite in Morning Prayer.  What has changed? its duration of use.  The implication back in 1662 is that this canticle (or set of anthems) only gets used on Easter Day.  By 1928 in the US, it was authorized throughout the octave – that is, the first eight days of Eastertide.  Now, it is appointed (not merely authorized) throughout Easter Week and authorized for the rest of Eastertide.  With this increased anticipated use, it’s no wonder that modern prayer books have opted for printing this canticle directly in the Morning Prayer liturgy, so it’s more accessible!

There is also a custom in some places of using the Pascha Nostrum in place of the Gloria in excelsis Deo near the beginning of the Communion service, under the modern rubrics that allow other hymns of praise to take its place.  Especially in church cultures where nobody is really praying the Daily Office, this can be a great way of introducing elements of the Office liturgies to the congregation.  Such points of contact and familiarity will prove helpful when trying to make that move toward teaching people to pray the Office.

Canticles for Lent

One of the fun resources in the 2019 Prayer Book is the collection of Supplemental Canticles for the Daily Office.  As we proceed through this season of Lent, there are two Canticles in particular that stand out as appropriate for regular use at this time.

First is the Benedictus es.  This Canticle is taken from the Greek Old Testament version of Daniel 3, known separately in our Bibles as “The Song of the Three Young Men” – when Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael were in the fiery furnace alongside the fourth man, the pre-incarnate Christ.  There are two hymns in that passage, and this Canticle is a summary of the first one.  Liturgically, this Canticle is offered directly in the Morning Prayer text itself, presented as an option in place of the Te Deum during Lent.  This Customary recommend using it on Ash Wednesday, the First Sunday of Lent, Palm Sunday, and on weekdays throughout the season.  (For the 2nd through 5th Sundays, it may be prudent to bring back the Te Deum in recognition that though Lent continues, Sundays are not fast days; and though it is still a penitential season, we are still celebrating the victorious Christ.)

From the Supplemental Canticles,  #3, the Kyrie Pantokrator, may be used in place of the Nunc dimittis (the second Canticle in Evening Prayer) on Ash Wednesday, the First Sunday of Lent, Palm Sunday, and every weekday throughout the season.  This Canticle is also from the Greek Old Testament, entitled in English as the Prayer of Manasseh.  It is a prayer of penitence attributed to the wicked King Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:10-20, especially verses 18 & 19).  As with the Benedictus es above, this Canticle is shortened a bit from its original version; also some of its hyperbolic language is toned down so as not to confuse the average reader.  This Canticle, in particular, is a marvelous offering of penitential worship.  In this age where so many of us run fast and loose with sin, the strong language of condemnation and grace in the Kyrie Pantokrator could do us a world of spiritual good.

And it’s got an awesome name, to boot!

The Presentation / Purification / Candlemas

February 2nd is the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, also known as The Purification of Mary, or Candlemas for short.  I thought I’d take up some of the liturgical tid-bits that characterize the celebration of that day, and point out something of how they inform us of the Christian Faith, and biblical interpretation.

There are three primary worship services in Western liturgical tradition: Morning Prayer (or Mattins), the Mass (or Communion or Eucharist), and Evening Prayer (or Vespers).  Although they are normally held throughout the day in that order, the Communion service is the “principle” celebration of the day; that means that the scripture readings in that service are usually the most significant ones for the given holiday, and the readings in the Office are supplementary.  Also, what exactly the readings are, and how many of them exist, will vary between different specific traditions.  Older Anglican Prayer Books differ slightly from newer ones, and Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox liturgies also have slightly different choices in many cases, but over all the similarities tend to outweigh the differences.  With that in mind, let’s dive in!

The Collect

The “Collect of the Day” is a prayer that is meant to collect together the theme(s) of the day from the Scripture readings.  Looking at how this is done in a given Collect can reveal the theological, devotional, or practical emphases that the tradition is putting forth.  Here is one Collect for the feast of the Presentation:

Almighty and everlasting God, we humbly pray that, as your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, so we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

This focuses on the historical event (Jesus’ presentation in the Temple) and draws a spiritual analogy to the end product of our salvation: the Day we are all made completely holy in Christ such that he may present us to the Father as adopted members of the household of God.  It also points out that Jesus was in “our flesh,” providing an emphasis on the incarnation and the exchange that takes place: God entered into our humanity so that we can enter into His divinity.

Morning Prayer readings

One Old Testament reading that some of the classic Prayer Books set forth for the Office of Morning Prayer is Exodus 13:1-16.  This makes for a great first reading on this holiday because it gives the Old Testament Law of Moses background for what’s going on with Jesus and his family.  In the wake of the Passover (Exodus 12), God instructs Moses that by destroying all the firstborn males in Egypt except for those households protected by the blood of the Passover Lamb, all firstborn males in Israel now belong to Him.  Therefore they must be redeemed (or bought back) after they are born.  It’s like a first-fruit offering, except because children are not to be sacrificed, they are to be paid for instead.  (Interestingly, it’s the same concept as an indulgence – a debt is owed, but another form of payment is accepted.)

This is what Mary and Joseph were doing in the Temple with 40-day-year-old Jesus; they were obeying this law going back to the time of the Exodus.

Holy Communion readings

Across the board, the Gospel reading for this holiday is Luke 2:22-40, as that is the account of the event on which this holiday is based.  There we find the story of Jesus’ family in the Temple, Simeon recognizing Jesus and singing his prophetic song (or Canticle), and Anna the prophetess recognizing Jesus and sharing the good news of His arrival as well.

The Old Testament reading often included here (including our 2019 Prayer Book) is Malachi 3:1-5.  Much of that passage provides material for the preaching of St. John the Baptist, which inevitably draws the participant in the liturgy back to the season of Advent.  For there we heard for one or two Sundays about John and his preaching, and the accompanying Advent theme of the future return of Christ for the final judgement echoes in this reading too.  But most importantly, the very first verse here says “suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple.”  Obviously this has multiple fulfillments, as Jesus visits the Temple many times in his life and significant things take place at several of those visits.  But this is his first arrival in the Temple, and there are two people there (Simeon and Anna) who had been seeking him there.

Other readings

An Epistle reading found in some Daily Office lectionaries is Galatians 4:1-7.  There we find a theme mentioned briefly in the Collect – our own becoming sons of God.  It also mentions the dynamic of moving from being bound to the Law to being adopted as sons.  Jesus himself, it says, was “born of a woman, born under law,” which this holiday describes.  So the sharing of Christ in our humanity leads to our sharing in his divinity, because “since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”

One reading often used at the end of the day is Haggai 2:1-9.  This prophetic writing speaks of the newly-build second temple and its inferiority to the original built under King Solomon.  And yet, God promises that it will be greater in glory, for “in this place I will grant peace.”  This promise is empty and void throughout Old Testament history; it is not until Jesus arrives there that God’s presence actually ever even enters the Temple again!  As the Christian goes through Evening Prayer and sees this promise of peace at the end of the Old Testament lesson, he or she will be drawn back in memory to the Gospel reading earlier, specifically the words of Simeon: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.”  Haggai’s words are directly answered by Simeon in Luke’s Gospel book!

The Canticle of Simeon

Let’s stick with Simeon’s song for a moment here.  It’s Luke 2:29-32, specifically, and is actually used throughout the entire year as a canticle (prayer-song) in the Daily Office.  Traditionally it’s a canticle appointed for Compline, the bedtime office of prayer.  In that context, it is read by Christians sort of in union with Simeon with our approaching bedtime as a picture of our eventual death (as Simeon had been promised that would not die until he’d seen the Savior).  In Anglican practice, the Canticle of Simeon is also used in Evening Prayer, but the end-of-day/end-of-life context and effect is the same.  My point is that a regular participant in the liturgy will be intimately familiar with the Canticle of Simeon.  As a result, hearing it in the liturgy for this particular holiday will have an interesting effect.

Two major promises stand out in the Canticle of Simeon: Christ will be a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and will be a light to be the glory of Israel.  The theme of light coming into the world is echoed throughout the seasons of Advent (Romans 13:12’s armor of light), Christmas (John 1:9’s light coming into the world), and Epiphany (Isaiah 60’s light shining upon the nations).  So as this holiday wraps up the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany cycle, the theme of light is brought to the foreground and celebrated quite visually.

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The Blessing of Candles

This holiday’s nickname is Candlemas, because of the tradition of blessing candles on this day.  All the candles to be used in the Church for the coming year are gathered up to be blessed for their sacred purpose.  Additionally, other candles are blessed and distributed to the people to carry in procession and to take home.  This is a physical enactment of what we learn from Simeon – Christ is the light of the world for all nations, including ourselves!  One can also find in the Gospel books the words of Christ, “you are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14 and following).

Light does many things.  It drives out darkness and exposes what’s hidden.  Thus, the blessings spoken over the candles include both penitential aspects as God’s people repent of their sins, and apotropaic aspects as demonic spirits are to flee from the light of Christ.  The Scriptures do attest, after all, that the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).  So, by receiving candles and lighting them, we participants in the liturgy are given physical reinforcement to the words and teachings of Scripture that we are God’s adopted children, receiving Christ the light of the world promised in ages past by the Prophets.  And we receive this not just as some abstract teaching, but as historically linked to real events that actually happened.  Christ the Light of the World is not just a spiritual reality that occurs in our hearts, but is grounded in the real arrival of the real Christ child in the real (though now long-gone) Temple.  And with all that in place we are pointed to look ahead to the Day we each are presented in the heavenly temple to our heavenly Father by our adoptive brother, Christ Himself.

This post, apart some new edits, was originally published on my blog Leorningcnihtes boc, on 3 February 2016.

Canticle of the Martyred

For perhaps the first century of the life of the 1662 Prayer Book, January 30th was a national holiday (literally, holy day) with its own special liturgical observances.  Morning Prayer, the Communion, and Evening Prayer each had their own unique edits for this day.  The commemoration appointed was for the Martyrdom of King Charles I at the hands of the Puritan Parliament that went on to outlaw the Prayer Book and suppress the office of bishops, in addition to temporarily ending the monarchy in England.  This holy day, with its special liturgies, was eventually removed from the Prayer Book, I suppose it was a bit too nationalistic.

Check it out for yourself, if you have the time; it’s very interesting!  But let’s just glean a couple things from this defunct holy day to see what we can learn about the potential in Anglican liturgy for special occasions.

Observation #1 – the Anglican Church called for prayer and fasting

Stereotypically we think of appointed fast days as a Roman Catholic or East Orthodox practice.  Yet the Church of England does have a tradition of such days also.  Most Fridays, technically, were intended as such.  And January 30th was, for a time, an additional day of fasting.  Here is the introductory text in the 1662 Prayer Book for this day:

A FORM of PRAYER with FASTING, to be used yearly upon the Thirtieth Day of January, being the Day of the Martyrdom of the Blessed King CHARLES the First; to implore the Mercy of God, that neither the Guilt of that sacred and innocent Blood, nor those other sins, by which God was provoked to deliver up both us and our King into the hands of cruel and unreasonable men, may at any time hereafter be visited upon us, or our posterity.

¶ If this Day shall happen to be a Sunday, this Form of Prayer shall be used, and the Fast kept, the next Day following. And upon the Lord’s Day next before the Day to be kept, at Morning Prayer, immediately after the Nicene Creed, Notice shall be given for the due observation of the said Day.

While the intersection of State and Church might be a bit too much for our palate today, the idea that the Church can call for a day of fasting and prayer is clear.  There are occasions in the life of a country or region when special prayer and fasting can (and should) be called for.  However one feels about the appropriateness or execution of this particular example, it nonetheless stands as an example of how we might go about such an occasion.  It substitutes a number of prayers, lessons, and canticles for the usual ones appointed, giving the liturgy of the day a different flavor and emphasis without breaking from the ordinary flow of worship.

Let’s zoom in on just one of those liturgical changes from the old January 30th material.

Observation #2 – the Invitatory Canticle

“¶ Instead of Venite Exultemus, the Hymn following shall be said or sung; one Verse by the Priest, another by the Clerk and people.”  To translate it from the 17th century language to that of the ESV Bible…

Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules.
You have been righteous in all that has come upon us,
for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed.
They conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant.
For I hear the whispering of many, terror on every side,
as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.
Speaking against me with lying tongues,
they encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause.
Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread,
has lifted his heel against me.
They repay me evil for good; my soul is bereft.
Those who watch for my life consult together and say, “God has
forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is none to deliver him.”
The breath of our nostrils, the LORD’s anointed,
was captured in their pits, of whom we said,
“Under his shadow we shall live among the nations.”
Foe and enemy enter the gates of Jerusalem, saying,
“When will he die, and his name perish?”
“A deadly thing is poured out on him;
he will not rise again from where he lies.”
Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me of things that I do not know.
This was for the sins of her prophets
and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed in the midst of her the blood of the righteous.
Let my soul come not into their council;
O my glory, be not joined to their company.
For in their anger they killed men.
The man of your right hand,
the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be an affliction.
We fools! We thought that his life was madness
and that his end was without honor; but he is at peace.
For though in the sight of men he was punished,
his hope is full of immortality.
Has he not been numbered among the sons of God,
and his lot among the saints?
O LORD, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance:
do good to Zion in your good pleasure.
Accept atonement, O LORD, for your people Israel,
whom you have redeemed,
and do not set the guilt of innocent blood in the midst
of your people Israel, so that their blood guilt be atoned for.
Do not sweep my soul away with sinners,
nor my life with bloodthirsty men.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!
Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself,
you despise them as phantoms.
Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without end. Amen.

This is a fantastic Canticle, working together a wide range of verses from throughout the Bible.  The old Prayer Book even had the courtesy of giving us all the references:

Ps. 119:137, Neh. 9:33, Ps. 73:2-3, 2:2, 83:5, 31:13, 109:2b-3, 41:9, 35:12, 71:10b-11,
Lam. 4:20, 4:12, Ps. 41:5b, 41:8, 35:11, Lam. 4:13, Gen. 49:6, 80:17, Wis. 3:2, 5:4b, 3:3b, 3:4, 5:5, Ps. 94:1, 51:18a, Deut. 21:8, Ps. 26:9, 51:14, 5:4, 5:6, 73:19, 73:20, Rev. 15:3b,
and Ps. 119:137.

Although this Canticle is officially defunct, the style of its arrangement has been copied in later developments, perhaps most notably for Remembrance Day in the Church of England, which has its own special liturgies with unique Canticles and so forth.

I heartily recommend reviving this Canticle for appropriate occasions.  If you’re not as big a fan of observing the martyrdom of Charles I, then perhaps you can use it for the commemoration of a different martyr.  We have no shortage of martyrs in our calendar of commemorations, after all!