Book Review: The Lutheran Service Book

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.

It’s been a couple weeks but we left off with a couple non-Anglican liturgical books, and today we’re picking that trend back up again with The Lutheran Service Book (2006), which is basically the official liturgical text for the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS).

This book is basically a Prayer Book and Hymnal in one, which is super handy.  What’s strange about it, from an Anglican perspective, is the ordering of its contents.

Introductory Contents:
Church Year, Sunday & Holy Day lectionaries, Dates of Easter, Glossary, instructions for chanting psalms

Most of this makes sense to us, the only oddity is that the Sunday / Holy Day lectionaries are placed up front with the calendar – historically that’s where we would have the Daily Office Lectionary, though the 2019 BCP has all its lectionaries toward the back instead.

Interestingly, this book includes two choices for the Calendar and Sunday lectionary: one is their version of the 3-year Revised Common Lectionary (essentially the same as ours, only minor differences), and the other is the traditional one-year calendar and lectionary (essentially the same as in the classical Prayer Books).  Although I’m not surprised the 2019 Prayer Book didn’t provide both calendar & lectionary options, I kind of wish it had.

The chanting instructions make sense here because the first primary section of this book is:

The Psalms

Yes, all 150 are here, and they’re even pointed for chant!  For example, from Psalm 15:

O Lord, who shall sojourn | in your tent? *
Who shall dwell on your | holy hill?

He who walks blamelessly and does | what is right *
and speaks truth | in his heart.

So that’s pretty useful.  The chant style is very similar to Simplified Anglican Chant, which is great.  Functionally it’s strange that the psalter should be put first like this: this means that you “have to know” where the right worship service starts in the book, increasing the necessary page-flipping.  But in another sense, giving the Psalms place of preference is a theological statement: this is where our worship begins.  Virtually every worship service in the liturgical tradition utilizes the psalms, and biblically they are our greatest model for faithful prayer.

The Divine Service

The next nearly-60 pages are taken up with five “Settings” of the Divine Service, or Holy Communion.  “They have five different eucharistic texts!?” you ask.  Yes.  But they are all extremely similar to one another.

The primary difference between the order of service here and in the 2019 Prayer Book is that this starts with a confession and absolution, rather than placing it after the Prayers of the People.  Setting One’s confession prayer in particular is clearly based upon our confession in the Daily Office.  For the Creed, both the Nicene and Apostles’ are offered.  Two sequences of Communion Prayers are typically offered, one placing the Words of Institution before the Lord’s Prayer, and the other after.  In general, the style and wording of the prayers – particularly the Communion prayers – progress from traditional to contemporary as you look through from Setting One to Setting Five; the last of which sounds the most like the 1979 Prayer Book.

Another fascinating, and consistent, feature of the Lutheran liturgy is the use of the Canticle Nunc dimittis as a Post-Communion praise, just like how the classical Prayer Books employed the Gloria in excelsis.  This has prompted and encouraged me to explore different Canticle options after the administration of Holy Communion in my own church’s worship services, rather than always simply employing a Communion Hymn.

Another curiosity, perhaps marking the most obvious distinction between the five Settings, is the music.  Settings One through Four each have a particular collection of Service Music printed right into them.  This is useful for those who desire to use them, though a bit odd from my observing perspective, as it ties you to particular combinations of musical settings with the variations of prayers.  I assume it’s permissible for them to mix and match text and music, but it just seems an odd way of printing it.  Whateverso, the range of styles are interesting: different forms of chant (some like plainchant, some like Anglican Chant, including the Old Scottish Chant of the Gloria in Setting Three).  Setting Five has no music printed in it, though, preferring the simplicity of spoken liturgy, and indicating a few hymns to sing in place of the standard Kyrie and GloriaSanctus and Agnus Dei.

The Daily Offices

Where the Daily Offices hold pride of place in Anglican Prayer Books, the Lutheran Service Book starts them on page 219, after the Communion settings.  These, too, include musical settings of various Canticles and Psalms right in the text, as well as other chanted parts for the dialogues and blessings and whatnot.  Five Offices are provided: Matins, Vespers, Morning Prayer, Evening Payer, and Compline.  Again this is a “huh?” moment for Anglicans, as Matins & Vespers are the Morning & Evening Offices.

As it turns out, Matins and Morning Prayer are very similar in this book, containing largely the same elements.  Like the Communion Settings, the music and chant is the most obvious difference between the two,   Matins is the most like the Prayer Books’ Morning Prayer; the Morning Prayer in this book lacks the Te Deum and rearranges the prayers after the Canticle.

None of these offices include Confessions or the Apostles’ Creed, which is another difference between this book and our tradition.

Vespers and Evening Prayer are similar to one another, but start markedly different: Vespers more resembling the Prayer Book tradition, and Evening Prayer starting off with that curious “Service of Lights” thing in the 1979 Prayer Book.

Compline is very similar to as it is found in modern Anglican Prayer Books.  I assume, since it was not taken up in most Protestant liturgical books during the Reformation, that it saw the least amount of editing and change in unofficial use, such that when it started to reappear in the late 20th century it had undergone the least amount of denominational divergence.

Other Services and Resources

From here the book includes a collection of other liturgies that a Prayer Book would be expected to have: Holy Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Matrimony, Funeral Service, Responsive Prayers, a Litany, Corporate and Private Confessions & Absolution, Daily Prayer for Families, a Daily Lectionary, table of Psalms for the Offices (though not covering the whole psalter or the whole year), Occasional Prayers, the Athanasian Creed, and Luther’s Small Catechism.  All this is comparable to what one would expect in an Anglican Prayer Book, and much of its contents are recognizably similar to our own.

The first “Other Service”, however, does not have an Anglican counterpart (unless you delve into England’s controversial Common Worship).  It’s called Service of Prayer and Preaching, and it seems to be a what-to-do-on-a-Sunday-morning-when-the-ordained-minister-is-away sort of service.  Opening Verses, an Old Testament Canticle (known to us as #8 Ecce Deus), Scripture readings, dialogued responses, a congregational reading from part of the catechism, Sermon or Catechetical Instruction, (Offertory) Hymn, several Prayers, a New Testament Canticle (known to us as the Pascha Nostrum), and a closing Blessing.

The Hymns

636 hymns follow, arranged by Church Season, Person & Work of Christ, the Christian Church, the Christian Life, other Times and Seasons, additional Service Music, and National Songs.  Naturally there are quite a lot more German Chorales here than in a typical Anglican hymnal (though the 2017 hymnal has quite a few!), and several hymns well-known to us with different arrangements – occasionally entirely different tune settings.  For example Here, O my Lord, I see Thee face to face is set to FARLEY CASTLE instead of PENITENTIA, and At the Lamb’s high feast we sing is set to SONNE DER GERECHTIGKEIT instead of SALZBURG (ALLE MENSCHEN).

The ratings in short:

Accessibility: 3/5
Page-flipping within a particular worship service (especially the Sunday Communion) is minimal.  The main challenge is making sure you know what service you’re actually doing (five Communion rites, remember).  If you’re trying to use this for the Daily Office then things are rather more complex as you have to hunt for the lectionary and psalms with rather more vigor than a typical Anglican Prayer Book.

Devotional Usefulness: 3/5
This book is not the sum total the LCMS expression of Lutheran worship, but all the basics are here.  As Anglicans we could use this book and find a faithful approximation of our own liturgical tradition.  The Communion Prayers are all significantly shorter than ours (even shorter than what’s in the 1662 Prayer Book), but on the whole theologically compatible with ours.  The lack of clarity regarding daily psalmody would be a loss, however.  This book also has a nice collection of hymns that could supplement our own hymnals.  And to be fair, if I was a Lutheran, I’d rate this as either a or a 5, depending upon what I’d thereby know of the historic liturgies before this book.

Reference Value: 2/5
It’s hard to rate this score.  For most of us, we have no reason to pick up the liturgical text of a different tradition, even one so closely-related as the Lutherans.  The similarities of English-language Lutheran worship with Prayer Book worship also makes it clear that they have taken several queues from us.  As such, this Lutheran Service Book is probably best understood as an expression of historic Lutheran worship using the Anglican Prayer Book as a useful filter from time to time.  If you really want to explore historic Lutheran liturgy, you probably have to pick up the Book of Concord or something to that effect.  But I haven’t done that yet.

Book Review: Shorter Christian Prayer

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.

My first exposure to liturgical worship was when I played piano for Mass at a Roman Catholic church during my undergraduate years.  The beauty and purpose of liturgy didn’t really strike me until after I graduated, but during that time I did gradually get used to the different “style” of prayer involved and got curious enough to join a brief service of Vespers, which is akin to our Evening Prayer service except that it’s all psalmody and prayer with only one few-verse Scripture reading.  We did this ten-minute liturgy from a little red book called Shorter Christian Prayer, which is a compact and simplified version of the four-volume Liturgy of the Hours that forms the full current Roman Breviary (Daily Office).  When I graduated, I bought my own copy and used it sporadically during the summer and into my first year of seminary.

Shorter Christian Prayer was for me a gentle introduction to the discipline of daily prayer.  The Anglican Daily Office is much longer and more robust – definitely a healthier spiritual diet, but there’s a lot more to bite off.  This Roman book was like a stepping-stone on the path toward the real deal.  It features a four-week rotation of psalms, which is close to our Prayer Book period of time, except this doesn’t manage to include all 150 psalms, even with a separate Night Office included.

Functionally, this book is tricky to use; you need to use it with someone who knows what they’re doing with it first, before forging off on your own.  It’s very compact, abbreviating things as much as possible, printing the “Ordinary” (unchanging) elements in one place, the four-week-rotating elements in another section, and the seasonal “propers” in a third section.  The Morning & Evening Gospel Canticles (Benedictus and Magnificat) are printed on the inside front & back covers, respectively, for ease of access.  It all makes sense once you understand the system, but the learning curve is unpleasant.  I don’t think I ever quite used this book right when I actually used it, ca. 2008.

shorter-christian-prayer

Look at the Evening Prayer service start here.  Those opening sentences are short for: “God, come to my assistance.”  “Lord, make haste to help me.”  “Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.”  “As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.  Amen.  Alleluia.”

A hymn follows, and there’s an appendix of hymns in the back (lyrics only).  Then you get the psalms.  To decipher what you see there on pages 208-209, there is an antiphon, followed by the Psalm (123), the “Glory to the Father,” then a psalm-prayer, then you repeat the antiphon.  Then you repeat that sequence with the next psalm (124).

There is often a third psalm or canticle from elsewhere in Scripture, followed by a reading (which is barely ever more than 5 verses long).  A brief responsory follows, which is sort of like an antiphonal prayer, then the Gospel Canticle (of Mary, in Evening Prayer here), with its own antiphon again.  Then follow intercessions which are like our suffrages, wrapped up with the Lord’s Prayer, a concluding prayer, and the concluding blessing.  You can get through all this in ten minutes or less, where the Anglican Daily Office is typically twice that length at least.  And yet, the Roman office manages to be more complicated in a shorter amount of time.

Visibly, this book is attractively bound and its use of red ink for rubrics and black ink for text-to-be-read-aloud is very helpful.  The typeface and artistry smack of 1980’s weirdness, but (being largely unfamiliar with liturgy at the time) I just took it as part of its charm.

On the whole, the daily office that this book gives you is one that is complex but short, varied in its content but frequent in its repetition of said content.  You don’t get all 150 psalms but you do get a nice array of other canticles mixed in.  The liturgical seasons have a much larger impact on the office than we experience in the Anglican tradition.

The ratings in short:

Accessibility: 2/5
Unless you really know your way around liturgy in general, this book is probably too complicated to figure out how to use on your own.  I think it’s meant either 1, for priests who don’t want to have to carry the full Liturgy of the Hours volume with them, or 2, for laymen who are following along the Office in the pews and are being guided through the service.  Or perhaps, 3, for enthusiastic laymen who have already learned the Office and want to pray it on their own.

Devotional Usefulness: 2/5
It’s just the Daily Office, which is only part of your spiritual life.  And given how anemic its treatment of the Scriptures is, you’re not going to get much meat here.  The antiphons and psalm-prayers can really bring the experience of praying the psalms to life, though – it’s what woke me up to the joy and virtue of praying psalms.

Reference Value: 2/5
This is a modern version of what probably used to be a much richer and more complex liturgy in the Roman tradition.  Looking at this book probably won’t give you significant insight into the depths of Papist liturgy, so its reference value is likely pretty low.  That said, its rubrics are pretty specific (once you find them), and comparative study between this and our Prayer Books can be pretty interesting.

As a last word, I should add that apart from the Liturgy of the Hours, Roman liturgy also has an “Office of Readings” which includes more substantial readings from the Bible as well as certain Church Fathers and theologians.  I doubt it still measures up to our Daily Office Lectionary, and the post-biblical readings are undoubtedly going to be unabashedly Papist in doctrine, so we’re not going to have much use for that.  Though the idea of devotional readings from the divines of our tradition is one worth considering, albeit not in our Daily Office itself.

I am thankful for this book.  Once in a blue moon I pick it up and pray the appropriate Office from it, mostly out of nostalgia and gratitude for the role that Roman Catholic chapel played in my Christian growth.  But that’s not reason enough for me to recommend anyone else get a copy.  Only do so if you plan on some comparative-liturgical study.

Readings Review & Planning Propers 8/26/19

One of the things we’re going to do on this blog on Mondays is look back and forth at the Daily Office readings (or lessons) so we can better process together what the Scriptures are saying.  I’m not always going to touch on all four reading tracks, much less give a play-by-play review of the week past or preview of the week to come, but just look more generally at where we’ve been and where we’re going.  The other thing we’re going to do on Mondays starting today is list the recommended Propers for the Communion or Antecommunion service for each day of the week.

Readings Review

Last week: 2 Samuel 6-11, Philippians, Colossians 1:1-20, Joel 2-3, Amos 1-5, John 15:18-19:37
This week: 2 Samuel 12-18, Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians 1:1-14, Amos 6-9, Obadiah, Jonah 1-2, John 19-21:, Matthew 1-3

A nice feature of this late-August point in the daily lectionary is the concurrence of the end of St. John’s Gospel with the epistle to the Colossians.  Colossians is a book that leans heavily on the death and resurrection of Jesus, proclaiming his supremacy and sufficiency for all Christian life and spirituality.  We’ll look at this book further in another post this week, so suffice it to note here that we get to walk through the death and resurrection of Christ just as this epistle gets going.

You might ask why the epistles aren’t being read in canonical order.  After finishing Romans on August 17th we went to Philippians, now Colossians, and soon Philemon and Ephesians.  I’m not 100% sure, but I believe the general idea is to read these books chronologically.  Colossians and Philemon go together, at any rate (Philemon was from Colossae, and several greetings-names are found in both letters), so to read them in sequence can be beneficial for putting the larger picture together.  Having just finished Philippians and moving on to Ephesians after also keeps this group of “prison epistles” together – St. Paul likely wrote all four of these letters at roughly the same time during his imprisonment.

The Minor Prophets of the Old Testament, however, are being read in canonical order, even though that is not quite their chronological order.  Their chronology is a little more disputed, and the benefit gained from rearranging them is not as great.  We finish Amos this week and start into some of the shorter books, which will take us two-thirds of the way through September.  Take care not to skim these books – these are writings that Christian often and easily neglect, only pulling out the choice verse here and there around Christmas.  Let these prophets tell their stories, dole out their warnings, cry out for justice, and convict people of faithlessness.  There is much in there that points to Jesus, but there is also much in there that calls out sin – in any day and age!

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 16 (or Trinity 10 in the traditional calendar), so keep in mind that the historic Prayer Book default is that a mid-week Eucharist will repeat the Collect & Lessons (the propers) for yesterday.  Otherwise, we recommend…

  • Monday 8/26 = Votive (of the Holy Spirit) *
  • Tuesday 8/27 = St. Monica (saint) or Votive (of the Holy Angels)
  • Wednesday 8/28 = St. Augustine of Hippo (teacher of the faith)
  • Thursday 8/29 = Beheading of St. John the Baptist **
  • Friday 8/30 = Votive (of the Cross)
  • Saturday 8/31 = St. Aidan (missionary bishop)

* A Votive is a “Various Occasion” (page 733 in the BCP 2019) and label in parentheses are simply a traditional suggestion.

** You should use the Propers for a Martyr, but change the Gospel lesson to the actual story of the event, like Mark 6:17-29.

Readings Review & Planning Propers 8/19

One of the things we’re going to do on this blog on Mondays is look back and forth at the Daily Office readings (or lessons) so we can better process together what the Scriptures are saying.  I’m not always going to touch on all four reading tracks, much less give a play-by-play review of the week past or preview of the week to come, but just look more generally at where we’ve been and where we’re going.  This plan was introduced at length last Monday.

The other thing we’re going to do on Mondays starting today is list the recommended Propers for the Communion or Antecommunion service for each day of the week.

Readings Review

Last week: 1 Samuel 30-2 Samuel 5, Romans 11-16, Hosea 9-14, Joel 1, John 11:45-15:17
This week: 2 Samuel 6-11, Philippians, Colossians 1:1-20, Joel 2-3, Amos 1-5, John 15:18-19:37
Special lesson for St. Bartholomew (24 Aug.)
= Luke 6:12-16

After spending half a month reading the Epistle to the Romans, the Morning New Testament lessons are going to start feeling a little more fast paced as we get through Philippians in six days, and will jump into a couple more short epistles until the end of the month.

The Old Testament lessons in Evening Prayer are also hopping through a short book right now in between two longer ones.  Joel in particular is going to feel like a throwback to Ash Wednesday, a day which prominently places readings from chapter 2 before us.  This time we’re reading it in its full context (Saturday through tonight), so we get to hear the full scope of the threat Joel foresaw and the repentance demanded by God through him, and the promise fulfilled at Pentecost, providing hope to God’s people.

Also in the Evening, our journey through the Gospel of John has made it to the Upper Room Discourse, in which Jesus gave extended teachings to the twelve at the Last Supper.  In the coming week we’ll finish those and make it to the death of Christ.  On Palm Sunday and Good Friday (and every day in between in the traditional lectionary) we typically hear these passion narratives at break-neck speed in lengthy readings in church, so enjoy the slightly slower pacing this time, and take in the story piece by piece.

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 15 (or Trinity 9 in the traditional calendar), so keep in mind that the historic Prayer Book default is that a mid-week Eucharist will repeat the Collect & Lessons (the propers) for yesterday.  Otherwise, we recommend…

Monday: Votive (of the Holy Spirit) *
Tuesday: St. Bernard of Clairvaux (monastic & teacher of the faith) or Votive (of the Holy Angels) *
Wednesday: Votive (of the Incarnation) * or Jonathan M. Daniels (martyr)
Thursday: Votive (of the Holy Eucharist) *
Friday: Votive (of the Holy Cross) *
Saturday: SAINT BARTHOLOMEW

* A Votive is a “Various Occasion” (page 733 in the BCP 2019) and label in parentheses are simply a traditional suggestion.

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.

The Gospel lesson is in the evening now?

You may have noticed yesterday that the Gospel according to St. John started its second sequential read-through of the year in the evening, even though for most of the year so far the gospel lesson has been in the morning (and epistle in the evening).  You may be wondering why did it switch to the evening?

If you’re familiar with classical prayer books and their various daily lectionaries, this may be especially jarring.  The traditional pattern, with very few exceptions, is that the New Testament lessons in Morning Prayer are from the Gospels and from the Epistles in Evening Prayer.  If all you’ve know is the 1979, then maybe you’re still adapting from its weird daily lectionary and didn’t even notice that this little switch has taken place.

On one hand, the daily office lectionary in the 2019 prayer book represents a huge stride toward the style of the 1549/1552/1559/1662 daily lectionary.  But this treatment of the New Testament lessons is a surprising exception.  So let’s take a look at the logic behind this.  (I should be a good role model and cite my sources, but I don’t remember where I read all this, so you’ll just have to trust me on this.  Or look through the Prayer Book Q&A stuff yourself.)

How the original daily lectionary worked:

  • Most of the Old Testament and about half of the Ecclesiastical Books were read through, continuously, from Office to Office.  This meant you had to read Morning and Evening Prayer daily in order to keep up.
  • The Gospels and Acts were read through three full times in Morning Prayer.
  • The Epistles were read through three full times in Evening Prayer.  (Revelation was omitted.)

How the 2019 daily lectionary works:

  • Most of the books Genesis through Chronicles, plus extracts from three Ecclesiastical Books, is read through the year in Morning Prayer.
  • Most of the rest of the OT, and extracts from the Maccabees, is read through the year in Evening Prayer.
  • The New Testament is read once through the year in Morning Prayer.
  • Most of the New Testament is read once through the year in Evening Prayer.

The idea here is an accommodation to the reality that many individuals, not to mention churches, do not say the daily offices daily.  In the old lectionary, if you only say MP, or only EP, you’ll be reading every other chapter of the OT, and miss half of the NT entirely.  In the new one, basically the whole NT is covered in both offices, but in opposite orders (Gospels together, Epistles together).  That way if an individual or church has a pattern of only saying one office per day, the morning and evening “halves” of the lectionary can be turned into a two-year cycle to ensure that the most Bible coverage is attained.

The only downside to this plan, as far as I can tell, is that those who do read the whole lectionary in a year has to keep track of four continuous books at a time, instead of three.  But then again, if you’re spiritually disciplined enough and mature enough to be saying both offices every day (or almost every day), I guess you can probably handle tracking four books of the Bible in tandem.  I just hope you’ve got enough ribbons on your Bible! 😉

Let’s pray Evening Prayer together!

We’ve got a daily hymnody plan available, an order for using the Occasional Prayers, and some insight on how to sing Simplified Anglican Chant.  Let’s put it all together and see what Evening Prayer can be like. We did this with Morning Prayer last week, but now let’s add some chanting to spruce up this feast day commemorating St. Mary Magdalene.  I should warn you that there are a couple of stumblings, hesitations, and even mistakes as I read, pray, and sing.  That’s life, that’s reality.  I’m not here to perform for anyone, and I just want to encourage you to pray and sing, yourself, too.  Anyway, grab your 2019 Prayer Book, ESV Bible, and 2017 Hymnal, and listen and pray along!

 

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

  1. Opening Sentence (BCP 41)
  2. Confession *
  3. Invitatory Dialogue with Hymn #444 instead of the Phos hilaron **
  4. Psalms 108 (tune #748) and 109 (tunes #747 & 746)
  5. Old Testament: Ezra 10
  6. Magnificat (tune #743)
  7. New Testament: John 1:1-28
  8. Nunc dimittis (tune #750)
  9. The Apostles’ Creed
  10. The Prayers
  11. The Anthem (Hymn #175)
  12. Brief homiletic reflection
  13. Occasional Prayers #11-15
  14. The General Thanksgiving ***
  15. Closing Sentences

* I don’t read either absolution after the general confession when I’m praying the Office alone because there’s no “you” for me to speak to, so I take on the words of the laity in the prayer for forgiveness instead.

** The rubric at the top of page 44 allows for a hymn to replace the Phos hilaron.  Since the Phos hilaron is not a feature of classic prayer books I typically prefer to replace it with an Evening Hymn (or other hymn as in this case).

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

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.

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!

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!