The Extra Directions for the Daily Office

Those who used the 1979 Prayer Book might know or recall that there were a couple of pages of “Additional Directions” for the Daily Offices. Perhaps the traditionalists scoffed at this – the increase in complexity and variation both distances the liturgy from the average person in the pews and distances parish from parish, as customs could diverge more and more.

So it is, perhaps, a relief to see that the 2019 Prayer Book only has a short list of Additional Directions. And most of them are rubrics that the 1928 Book had in-line with the liturgy itself; we simply have them moved to the end of the service to reduce clutter.

Nevertheless, some may question why additional directions are necessary for what should be a simple liturgy. Let’s check them out briefly.

The Confession and Apostles’ Creed may be omitted,
provided each is said at least once during the course of the day.

The 1928 Prayer Book afforded flexibility to the saying of the Creed in Morning Prayer, allowing its omission when the Eucharist was to follow. The 1979 Prayer Book’s Additional Directions standardized the Creed’s omission under those circumstances, and also permitted the dropping of the Confession and Absolution of Sin. It is worth noting that neither the Confession nor the Apostles’ Creed were used in the Daily Office until 1559.

So this isn’t a license for laziness, but an accommodation for pre-existing tradition. After all, if you only read through the liturgy, you’ll never even know that this is an option!

The Gloria Patri (Glory be…) in the opening versicles may be said in unison.
The following form of the Gloria Patri may alternatively be used:
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Due to widespread popularity, the 1979 translation of the Gloria Patri is permitted. Would it be better if everyone just used the common text? Yes. This rubric allows congregations that are used to the 1979 version to continue on for a while without having to be bludgeoned with the new text. It also gives a break to the singers who have Psalm and Canticle settings from the past 40 years that they still want to use. But, again, this is an additional direction; the default text is what most people will see, and it will eventually win the day.

The Officiant and People may join in saying “Alleluia” (except in Lent) as an alternative to the versicles “Praise the Lord. The Lord’s Name be praised.”

The saying of “Alleluia” at the end of the Invitatory dialogue was appointed in the 1549 Prayer Book from Easter until Trinity Sunday.

If an offering is to be received, it is appropriate to do so during the hymn or anthem following the Collects.

When weekly Communion was not yet normal, it was common practice in many parishes for the offering to follow the hymn or anthem, after the Collects.

A sermon may be preached after the lessons, after the hymn or anthem following the Collects, or after the conclusion of the Office.

The sermon, when added to the Daily Office, would traditionally be preached after the anthem and the offertory. This rubric also authorizes “after the lessons” to parallel the position of the sermon in the Communion service, and after the conclusion of the Office to allow for the integrity of the Office as it stands and freeing the preaching to follow on its own terms.

Ending the Daily Office

Although optional in 1979, the Daily Office in the 2019 Prayer Book ends with a pair of sentences. “Let us bless the Lord. / Thanks be to God.” is a final doxology, our last word of praise offered to God. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ… be with us all evermore” is a final benediction, God’s last word to us. Together, they form a “goodbye” in both directions between the congregation and our Lord, much like the Blessing and Dismissal at the end of the Communion liturgy. The option of Ephesians 3:20-21, however, tips the closing balance in favor of doxology.

Officiant: Let us bless the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God.

The dialogue (or versicle and response) was added in the 1979 Prayer Book, drawn from ancient Gelasian and Roman Office liturgies. It functions in the same way as the Dismissal at the end of the Communion service, which was also first introduced to the Prayer Book tradition in 1979. Both were optional in that edition, but now this dialogue has been fully adopted as a standard part of the the Daily Office liturgy.

What follows is “the grace” taken from 2 Corinthians 13:14. This is functionally like a blessing, or a benediction, used to close the Daily Office since 1662, and the Litany since 1559. Like the 1979 Book, however, our Prayer Book offers Romans 15:13 and Ephesians 3:20-21 as alternatives. The first is also a benediction, but not explicitly trinitarian; the latter is a doxology, rather than a benediction.

A de-revision: A Prayer of St. John Chrysostom

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time,
with one accord to make our common supplications to you;
and you have promised through your well-beloved Son
that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will grant their requests:
Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us;
granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting.

As the name indicates, this prayer’s earliest-known appearance is in the Eastern Orthodoxy Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and Saint Basil, at the end of their Entrance Rites. It first came to Anglican liturgy at the end of Archbishop Cranmer’s Litany of 1544, before the first Prayer Book was compiled. It was removed from the Litany in the American Prayer Books of 1928 and 1979, and the 2019 Prayer Book has followed suit. This prayer was added to the Daily Office in the Scottish Prayer Book of 1637, and then the English Book of 1662, where it has remained all subsequent Prayer Books, albeit rendered as optional starting in 1892.

In 1979 several wording changes were introduced. In part this was to align the text with the primary Scriptural reference (Matthew 18:19-20), as well as to conform more closely to the Eastern liturgy from which Cranmer originally drew this prayer. This revised phrase, “you will be in the midst of them” has been rolled back in our present version: “you will grant their requests.” Although the 1979 revision matches the biblical text, the historic Prayer Book wording matches the liturgical purpose of the prayer in its specific context. At the end of a worship service or liturgy, assurance of God’s answering of prayer is more appropriate than assurance of the presence of the Lord.

This ancient prayer draws together two sayings of Jesus: Matthew 18:19-20 (“where two or three are gathered”) and John 14:13-14 (“if you ask me anything in my name, I will do it”). Functionally, this prayer is akin to the shorter Occasional Prayers #98, 99, and 100, though its specific appeal to the prayers of the church gathered makes it particularly appropriate for the public liturgy of the Church. In that light, the rubric rendering it optional in American Prayer Books since 1928 is probably a concession for instances where the Office is said by an individual in private.

To offer God “our common supplications” is described here as a gift of grace – liturgy and worship are not so much the efforts of man as they are the power of God in us. And even the power of prayer itself is based on the promises of Christ. In short, this prayer both humbles us and encourages us, as we rehearse the basic theology of prayer: God commands it, God empowers it, God fulfills it. And even when we get it wrong, we simply hope that God will answer “as may be best for us”, which is spelled out as knowledge of his truth and life everlasting. If we come away from the Daily Office remembering nothing else, that desire for divine knowledge and life will be enough.

Prayers at the end of the week

Modern Prayer Books have given us some pretty neat prayers related to the passage and sanctity of time, and how we the liturgical tradition helps us encompass time into our very spirituality. I’ve written about a few of them already, and now we’re looking at two more from the Office of Daily Morning Prayer in the 2019 Prayer Book.

Collect for Endurance (Friday Morning)

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain,
and entered not into glory before he was crucified:
Mercifully grant that we,
walking in the way of the Cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

This prayer was written by Bishop Huntington and proposed for the 1892 Prayer Book, but not adopted until 1928 where it became the Collect for Monday in Holy Week. (Before 1928, Monday through Wednesday in Holy Week did not have unique collects.) This prayer continues in that role in the 1979 and the present Prayer Books, but was adopted in 1979 for Fridays in Morning Prayer, as continues to be the recommendation here.

The theology of the cross is the major biblical background for this prayer, drawing especially from the language of Romans 8. That our Lord had to suffer before he was glorified is a major theme in the Gospel according to Saint John and famous Holy Week texts such as Philippians 2, and the application of that “way of the cross” has been an enduring element in Christian spirituality ever since. Although there are victories to celebrate, as the Collect for Strength to Await Christ’s Return indicates, we still must also take up our cross and follow him. Though we have much to endure, we can find following Christ to be “the way of life and peace.”

Collect for Sabbath Rest (Saturday Morning)

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works
and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures:
Grant that we,
putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary,
and that our rest here on earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest
promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This is another 19th century prayer, written by Edward Benson, the 94th Archbishop of Canterbury. His original used the word “sabbath” instead of “rest” in the body of the text. Its first entry into the Prayer Book tradition seems to be in 1979, labelled a “Collect for Saturdays”, where it remains here.

This prayer reads as a brief summary of a theology of rest, drawing primarily from Hebrews 4:1-9. The rest that God appointed for all his creatures on the Sabbath day is both an acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty in the old creation, and an anticipation of his completion of the new creation yet to be revealed. Our day of rest is to be a time to “put away earthly anxieties” and prepare for the divine work of worship.

Two Morning Collects: for the Renewal of Life & for Guidance

After the Collect of the Day in Morning Prayer the 2019 Prayer Book gives us a list of seven prayers, each recommended for the seven days of the week. Here are two more of them.

A COLLECT FOR THE RENEWAL OF LIFE

O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night
and turns the shadow of death into the morning:
Drive far from us all wrong desires,
incline our hearts to keep your law,
and guide our feet into the way of peace;
that, having done your will with cheerfulness during the day,
we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This collect was written by Bishop William Reed Huntington and proposed for the 1892 Prayer Book, but was not adopted until 1928, where it serves as one of the additional collects for Family Prayer on page 594. In 1979 it moved to its current position in the Morning Prayer Office. It references several Old and New Testament verses, perhaps most obviously the Benedictus (Luke 1:79).

If there a single prayer that summarizes a “theology of Mornings” it is this collect. The primary liturgical use of night and day is as a picture of death and resurrection, and this prayer explores several variations on that theme. It’s almost a list, carrying at least five verses of Scripture in mind and alluding to others also. Ultimately, in this prayer we acknowledge the works and victories of God, and look ahead to our own participation in that (by giving thanks) at the end of the day.

A COLLECT FOR GUIDANCE

Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being:
We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit,
that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you,
but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The exact age of this collet is difficult to identify. This version is identical in content and position to that of the 1979 Prayer Book, which in turn was adopted from the Canadian 1922 Prayer Book where it was among the Family Prayer devotions. It was drawn from the 1913 book A Chain of Prayer Across the Ages, which has since gone through subsequent revisions, and is labeled as ancient.

This prayer is particularly appropriate for the morning as it implies a day ahead in which we need to remember God amidst all the busy distractions. Indeed, part of the purpose of the Daily Office (and other hours-based offices like Midday and Compline) is to help us remember God throughout the day. Drawing primarily from Acts 17:28, in which St. Paul quotes from known Greek philosophers to affirm the truth that all of reality is grounded upon the existence and will of God, this collect contrasts the doctrine of God with the sort of experience found in the story of Mary and Martha of Bethany in Luke 10, such that we pray for continual awareness of that reality: may the ever-present Spirit guide and govern us in such a way that we don’t succumb to the world’s distractions and end up living as practical atheists.

A Collect for Strength to Await Christ’s Return

If there is a single prayer that summarizes a “theology of Sundays” it is this collect.  The Lord’s Day is associated with many things – God’s reign over all creation, the resurrection of Jesus, and the many spoils and great redemption wrought through that victory.  It is from that resurrection power that Christian derive courage, boldness, and obedience to live for him both today and in anticipation of the last great Day.  The worship on this day therefore leads to the works throughout the week, and in so doing we sanctify time itself (cf. Question 298 in the Catechism, To Be A Christian).

Among this list of collects, this one is the only one that is not the same in the 1979 Prayer Book.  That prayer for Sundays in Morning Prayer was short both in length and in theological and devotional content.  Ironically, the prayer we have appointed instead was written originally for the 1979 Prayer Book, where it was found as Occasional Prayer #69.

O God our King,
by the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ on the first day of the week,
you conquered sin, put death to flight, and gave us the hope of everlasting life:
Redeem all our days by this victory;
forgive our sins, banish our fears, make us bold to praise you and to do your will;
and steel us to wait for the consummation of your kingdom on the last great Day;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect for Peace at Morning Prayer

This prayer, like its counterpart in Evening Prayer, addresses the trouble of enemies. Perhaps the first question is who are our enemies? As in several of the Psalms, this is a nebulous concept, a fill-in-the-blank opportunity, and we should take care how we treat it, even in the silence of our hearts. The scriptures teach us that the enemies of the Christian are the world, the flesh, and the devil. Those are the forces that turn us away from God; those are the real threats against whom we need protection, and against whom we must fight. We must fight because peace is not found in avoidance of conflict, but in steadfastness despite conflict. Through “the might of Jesus” we pray for God’s defense “in all assaults”, not from all assaults. The goal or purpose of these prayers is that we “may not fear.” That is where our peace is found.

This Collect for Peace is one of the standard Morning Prayer Collects, appointed daily in the classical Prayer Books. Derived especially from the Psalms and the Gospel of John, and from the meditation of St. Augustine of Hippo, this prayer was used in the Gelasian and Gregorian Sacramentaries as a post-communion prayer. In the Sarum Rite it was also appointed for the end of Lauds, whence Archbishop Cranmer carried it over to our Morning Prayer liturgy.

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord,
to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom:
Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies;
that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries,
through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Why the Collect of the Day in the Daily Office?

The first collect after the Suffrages has always been the Collect of the Day. The 1979 Prayer Book made this optional, but ours restores its requirement. The use of the Collect of the Day outside of the Communion liturgy seems to have originated with Archbishop Cranmer himself. This is, in a sense, a Reformation answer to the tradition of Daily Mass: rather than expecting the people to watch the priest celebrate the Sacrifice of the Altar throughout the week, the primary concern was that the people would come and hear the Word of God read throughout the week. The inclusion of the Collect of the Day was therefore an acknowledge of prior tradition both by acknowledging the liturgical calendar in the daily services and by bringing to peoples’ minds the previous Sunday’s prayers and lessons miniaturized in its Collect.

The purpose of using the Collect of the Day here in the Daily Office is either to bring to mind the Communion service on the previous Sunday or the present holy day. The majority of the Office is quite static, unmoved by liturgical season or other occasion; this Collect is its primary link to the sacramental life of the Church.

Although the Collect of the Day no longer relates directly to the readings in the modern Communion lectionary, its repetition from the previous Sunday or present holy day still serves as a tangible link between the Daily Office and the Holy Communion.

The Collects at Morning Prayer

After the short call-and-response prayers of the Suffrages, the worshiper comes to a set of collects: first the Collect of the Day, then at least one from a list of seven, and a Prayer for Mission. The devotional aim is to move from shorter to longer prayers; where the Suffrages summarize, the Collects dig deeper.

So, traditionally, there are three Collects in a row: the Collect of the Day followed by two set Collects according to the time of day (in the Morning it’s for Peace and for Grace, as the rubrics note). By 1662 additional prayers were added to these, though not required in the rubrics. In the 1979 and 2019 Prayer Books those two Collects got expanded to the seven choices we have today, plus a choice from three Prayers for Mission.

The Suffrages in brief

The Suffrages have also been known as the Lesser Litany or the Preces & Responses. The seven pairs in our Prayer Book are adapted from Psalms 85:7, 20:9, 132:9, 28:10, Leviticus 26:6, Psalms 9:18, and 51:10-11. Thanks to the many choir settings for Choral Evensong, the English Suffrages are very well known. But there have been changes in the American Prayer Books. The first in 1790 reduced these only to the first and last pairs. By 1928 all the original six were restored in Evening Prayer. The suffrage “save the King/Queen” was rendered “save the State.” The 1979 Book brought them to Mornign Prayer as well as Evening, substantially edited the translation of some, and inserted the suffrage for the the needy. Our edition retains the addition of 1979 and has a mix of old- and new-style translations of the original six.

I’ve got a lot more detail here: https://saint-aelfric-customary.org/2019/02/20/the-suffrage-in-the-daily-office/

Short responsory prayers like these (and like the Great Litany) were not favored by the radical reformers. They argued that prayers should have longer phrases and sentences; whole psalms are more appropriate than recombined clusters of individual verses like these. And yet, some of these litanies and suffrages have survived. There is a time for longer expressions of prayer and intercession – the Psalms Appointed for Daily Morning and Evening Prayer give us opportunity to pray those in their entirety throughout the month, and the Prayers of the People in the Communion service contain prose prayers based on scripture of more substantial length than these Suffrages. But, just as the worshiper is free to use extemporaneous prayer in private and non-biblical yet biblically-inspired prayers in the liturgy, so too is the worshiper free to use biblically-sampled prayers like the Suffrages.

These are, in a way, like the Prayers of the People in miniature. We pray for mercy and salvation, for our earthly governors and church ministers, for all Christians, for peace, the needy, and for sanctification. The full “Great” Litany is traditionally prayed three times a week, so this “Lesser Litany” can indeed be considered its simplified form for daily use.