Learning the Daily Office – part 11 of 12

Well, you’re a regular at the Daily Office, now, that’s awesome.  You want to pray more?  Even more awesome!

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

Step Eleven: Supplement it with Occasional Prayers

After reading the three Collects and Prayers, and before the closing sequence of prayers, there is a line where further prayers are invited.  You could add your own prayers, on the spot, if you so choose.  Perhaps you’ve already been doing that.  But you could also be drawing upon a larger collection of Occasional Prayers and Thanksgivings, that start on page 641.  There are 125 prayers in that list, which is a lot to take in.  Most of the classical prayer books provided a smaller list of extra prayers, tacked onto the end of Morning Prayer, but the list has grown so large that it’s been moved to a sort of appendix location where you can draw upon it regardless to the particular Office you may be saying at the time.

If you want to go about using the Occasional Prayers in an orderly manner, feel free to use the outline provided in a previous article.

Turn Antecommunion into a generic “prayer service”

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

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

#1 Start with a music set, of course.

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

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

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

#2 The “liturgical” stuff

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

#3 Praise the Lord

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

#4 The Collect & Lessons

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

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

#5 Preach

The sermon follows.

#6 Pray

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

#7 Confession & Absolution

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

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

#8 The Peace & Dismissal

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

– – What did Fr. Brench just do? – –

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

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

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

Learning the Daily Office – part 10 of 12

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

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

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

Step Ten: Add the Closing Prayers

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

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

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

Summary

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

Prayers in Time of Infectious Disease

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

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

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

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

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

How does this Office work?

Let’s talk about this thing a little bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer Resources in the face of infectious disease

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

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

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

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

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

He also closed the statement with this prayer:

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

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

RESOURCES FOR PRIVATE DEVOTIONS

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

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

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

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

RESOURCES FOR THE DAILY OFFICE

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

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

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

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

RESOURCES FOR THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

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

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

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

BONUS ROUND: from the 1662 Prayer Book

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

In the time of any common Plague or Sickness.

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

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

… and with your spirit

Every now and then I come across people who oppose the response “and with your spirit” or “and with thy spirit“, arguing that it promulgates a Papist doctrine of Ordination.  I actually wrote about this several years ago on my own blog, responding to such a concern.

The interpretation in question that some people happily teach and others fearfully reject is the assertion that “and with your/thy spirit” references the special gift of the Holy Spirit upon the priest, recognizing his indelible ordination character.  Some Anglicans hold to this view quite strongly and happily.  But the Prayer Book liturgy does not require this interpretation – “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” is a powerful phrase indeed, in the ordination, but it’s not a theological point that is explicitly explained to the last detail.

So here is one example of how the phrase “and with your/thy spirit” can be understood without the sacerdotal priesthood assertion.  Picking up the same commentary from John Boys as yesterday, we read

The pastor cannot use to the people a better wish than “The Lord be with you.”  For if God be with them, who can be against them? and the people cannot make a fitter reply than “with thy spirit.”  For (as Plato divinely said) every man’s soul is himself.

Again, forasmuch as “God is a spirit, and ought to be worshiped in spirit;” it is meet we should perform this spiritual service with all earnest contention and intention of spirit….

Blessed spirits in praising God answer one another interchangeably: though unhappy scornful spirits unmannerly abuse this custom.

It is a matter of mutual blessing.  I am pleased to note that this is more or less what I suggested six and a half years ago when wrote that email that became the blog post linked to at the beginning of this.  Whether or not the priest has a recognizable “ordination character” to salute in the liturgy, this exchange is perfectly reasonable and already sufficiently ‘reformed’.  After all, there are offices in which a lay leader “receives” the phrase “and with your spirit“, and there is no fuss over that!

The Lord be with you…

The liturgy is peppered with short prayers and exchanges.  One of the standard dialogues found throughout the Prayer Book begins “The Lord be with you“.  Among his analysis of the Prayer Book in 17th century, the Rev. Dr. John Boys pointed out that

The novelists have censured this, and other like suffrages, as short cuts, or shreddings, rather than wishings, or prayers.

The “novelists” are his word for the Puritans of his day, who sought a new (hence, novel) form of liturgy that relied more upon long extemporaneous prayers said by the minister, rather than the series of short and succinct prayers of the historic liturgy such as in the Prayer Book.  Citing a few scriptural and Early Church examples of short-but-pious prayers, Boys describes them as

as if they were darts thrown out with a kind of sudden quickness, lest that vigilant and erect attention of mind, which in devotion is very requisite, should be wasted and dulled through continuance, if their prayers few, and long.  The same father in the same place [St. Augustine, Epistle 121], “For oftentimes more is accomplished by groans than by speeches, more by weeping, than by blowing.”  Peruse that learned epistle, for it is a sufficient apology, both for the length of our whole service, and also for the shortness of our several prayers.  If Augustine now lived, and were made umpire between the novelists and us, he would rather approve many short prayers in England, than those two long prayers, one before and the other after sermon, in Scotland and Geneva.

“An Exposition of the Several Offices adapted for various occasions of Public Worship…”
by the Rev. Dr. John Boys, 1629; printed by the Rev. Kensey Stewart, 1851 (page 41)

The impatient 21st-century American may look at the Prayer Book and think our Prayers of the People and Prayer of Consecration to be quite long, but just look at some Puritan and other ‘Reformed’ liturgies, such as in this book, and you will discover just what “long” really means!  This is not to say that long prayers are inherently bad, but they are overly demanding upon the attentions, affections, and memory of the hearer.

As for the phrase “the Lord be with you“, Boys comments that it is primarily derived from Ruth 2:4 “as a usual salutation among God’s people“, citing also Judges 6:12 and Luke 1:28.  He considers other salutations like “God speed,” and “God save you”, and “God bless you” as being equivalent in holiness and worthy of Christian discourse.

What’s different in the liturgy now that it’s Lent?

Welcome to Ash Wednesday, the common name for The First Day of Lent.  Occasionally you’ll see today called quadragesima because there are now 40 days left (excluding Sundays) until Easter Day.  Let the 40-day fast begin!

One of the main questions I get from non-liturgical Christians, concerning Lent, is “what do you differently during this time?”  This blog post is aimed at answering that question – partly for the benefit of those who are wondering the same thing, but also as a reminder to my fellow Anglican readers who might need a reminder of some of the changes, or possible changes, in the daily course of our liturgy.

Today’s  differences

For those of us using the 2019 Daily Lectionary, or one of the historic daily lectionaries that uses the regular calendar, we may need the reminder that today’s lessons for Morning and Evening Prayer are interrupted from the regular course.  At the bottom of page 740 in the BCP 2019 you’ll see the following readings appointed for today:

  • Isaiah 58:1-12 & Luke 18:9-14 for the Morning
  • Jonah 3 & 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 for the Evening

To that I would recommend another traditional-for-this-day reading, Hebrews 12:3-17, for Midday Prayer.

At the Holy Communion (or in place of it, if the Communion itself isn’t actually going to be celebrated) we have a special liturgy in the 2019 Book, starting on page 543, and prefaced by a handy introduction to this day (and Lent in general) on page 542.  It’s worth reminding ourselves that the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday is a custom that was removed from Anglican practice during the Reformation, and not formally put into a Prayer Book until 1979, though the Anglo-Catholic movement had provided extra-liturgical material to sneak the practice back into the liturgy before it was embraced by the church as a whole.  You can read last year’s note about Ash-less Wednesday here.

Also, remember that today’s Collect of the Day is now the Collect of the Day for the rest of this week!

Morning Prayer during Lent

There are some extra Opening Sentences of Scripture appropriate for this season on page 27.

The Venite (Psalm 95) should be said in full daily this season, if you don’t normally do so already.  Keep in mind that you can bookend it with a Lenten antiphon from page 30!

The first Canticle, Te Deum laudamus, is recommended in our Prayer Book to be replaced with the Benedictus es, Domine on page 18.  This Customary would recommend retaining the Te Deum on Sundays and other major holy days, however.

If you don’t normally do so, make a point of praying the Great Litany (page 91) after Morning Prayer on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Evening Prayer during Lent

There are some extra Opening Sentences of Scripture appropriate for this season on page 54.

The second canticle, Nunc dimittis, could be replaced by Canticle 3, Kyrie Pantokrator, most evenings.  We’d recommend doing so on Monday through Friday.

The Minor Offices during Lent

The “Alleluia” after the invitatory dialogue is to be omitted now.

For Midday Prayer, it may be a good idea to make use of one the Additional Directions and make more extensive use of Psalm 119 throughout the season.  Consider this two-week rotation of Midday Psalms:

  • <week 1> :day: <week 2>
  • 124, 126 :Sundays: 124, 126
  • 19 :Mondays: 119:81-96
  • 119:1-16 :Tuesdays: 119:97-112
  • 119:17-32 :Wednesdays: 119:113-128
  • 119:33-48 :Thursdays: 119:129-144
  • 119:49-64 :Fridays: 119:145-160
  • 119:65-80 :Saturdays: 119:161-176

Consider making more frequent use of Matthew 11:28-30 as the Lesson at Compline.

The Holy Communion during Lent

There is an Acclamation appropriate for Lent on page 146, and another one for Holy Week.

This is a good season to make weekly use of the Decalogue (page 100) instead of the Summary of the Law if you don’t normally already.

The Gloria in excelsis is traditionally omitted during Lent.  Consider replacing it with a hymn from the Lent section of your hymnal, just to emphasize the season difference in mood.

The First Sunday in Lent is one of the traditional days to read The Exhortation (page 147).

Consider using Offertory Sentences (page 149) that are more pointed about spiritual disciplines, such as Matthew 7:21, 1 John 3:17, and Tobit 4:8-9.  This could be especially effective if you normally use the same one every week, memorized from the list in 1979 Book.

The “alleluia” in the Fraction dialogue (on page 118/135) is to be omitted now.

If you don’t normally prayer the Prayer of Humble Access and the Agnus Dei (page 119/135), this is the season to start.  (Pro-tip: never stop using them!)

In fact, if your congregation normally uses the “Renewed Ancient Text”, I cannot heartily-enough encourage you to switch to the “Anglican Standard Text” at least for Lent.  You’ll get more direct prayers of confession and of consecration (not to mention historically Anglican prayers).

Other Spiritual Practices

The classical Prayer Books appointed the Collect for Ash Wednesday to be used after the Collect of the Day throughout the season of Lent.  I’m not so sure the 2019 Prayer Book intends to allow that, so consider making use of this Collect elsewhere – in the additional prayers at the end of an Office, or after the Prayers of the People at the Communion, or in your private prayers and devotions.

On page 689 our calendar directs The weekdays of Lent and every Friday of the year (outside the 12 Days of Christmas the 50 days of Eastertide) are encouraged as days of fasting.  The classical Prayer Books were more direct about the expectation (not just encouragement) that we should fast.  We’re not Romanists, so we don’t have elaborate standardized definitions of what “counts” as fasting; we have the freedom in Christ to fast according to conscience, as the Bible indicates.  Nevertheless, some advice is helpful, and our calendar provides some: Fasting, in addition to reduced consumption, normally also includes prayer, self-examination, and acts of mercy.  It is popular to “give something up for Lent”, or to “take something on for Lent”, and almost all of those particular expressions of Lenten devotion are summed up in that one sentence.  Consider how you might mark this season in your own lifestyle, and give it a go.

Learning the Daily Office – part 7 of 12

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

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

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

Step Seven: Add some Prayers

Now it’s time to develop your utilization of the Prayer Book.  You’re already reading the Confession, Psalms, Canticles, and Apostles’ Creed from it, now it’s time for some further prayers.  In Morning Prayer pages 21-24 and in Evening Prayer pages 47-51 you will see that the Lord’s Prayer is preceded and followed by a larger sequence of Prayers.  The Kyrie (“Lord have mercy…”) comes first, and after the Lord’s Prayer comes a “Suffrage” (a back-and-forth set of versicles and responses, mostly taken from the Psalms), and after that a pile of “collects” and prayers.

A Collect is a specific form of prayer, and the Prayer Book has tons of them.  The usual structure of a collect is:

  1. an address to God (identifying a name or attribute or work of God)
  2. a specific petition or request
  3. a reason for that petition or request, often linking back to the address
  4. an appeal to the name of Jesus

In the 2019 Prayer Book you’ll the first Collect listed is “The Collect of the Day” – feel free to skip that for now; we’ll add it in later.  For now, we’re focusing on developing your use of the Prayer Book liturgy without adding more page-flips.

Instead, finish your prayer times now with the Kyrie, Lord’s Prayer, a set of Suffrages, the Collect for the Day of the Week, and a Prayer for Mission.  Morning and Evening Prayer provide different lists of prayers for this section, so your experiences of morning and evening are going to start diverging at this point.

You’ll notice that some of these prayers in Morning Prayer draw upon the image and reality of the beginning of the day, and Evening Prayer draws upon the images of darkness and light as pictures of death and life.  Time and nature are explicitly now being drawn into your prayer life, and that’s a beautiful thing!

You’ll see that there are a couple more prayers and lines of other text after the prayers we’ve listed here, but don’t worry about them for now.  Historically, those have been optional, almost thought of in an after-the-liturgy kind of status, so we’re going to save those for later.  You’re welcome to plough ahead and include them now if you like, but don’t feel pressured.

Summary

Your Morning & Evening Offices are now looking like this:

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

At this point you’re almost saying the entire morning and evening offices in the prayer book tradition, congratulations!

Create Your Own Prayers of the People

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On page 140 of the 2019 Prayer Book, the following Additional Direction is found:

In both the Anglican Standard and Renewed Ancient Texts, other forms of the Prayers of the People may be used, provided the following concerns are included:

   The universal Church, the clergy and people
   The mission of the Church
   The nation and all in authority
   The peoples of the world
   The local community
   Those who suffer and those in any need or trouble
   Thankful remembrance of the faithful departed and of all the blessings of our lives.

For the most part this is a clone of the rubric in the 1979 Prayer Book, which also authorized a create-your-own-adventure approach to the Prayers of the People, providing a similar structure of required topics.  I think the wording of ours is a bit more positively specific, but the freedom is basically the same.

Now, this is “Weird Rubric Wednesday”, a new series of posts that I’m running about weird, strange, or surprising things that the 2019 Prayer Book permits.  As the intentionally horrific and obnoxious banner picture at the top of the page indicates, I’m running this partly for the humour, and cautioning against abuse of the system.  But some of these will have serious and positive suggestions, too.  How you deal with the Prayers of the People is going to be one of those mixed entries.

Ideally…

The two Communion rites in our Prayer Book provide their own default Prayers of the People.  Ideally you should just use them as-is.  Tampering with them is permitted, but almost never necessary.  The special occasion once in a while may be well-highlighted by an edited set of Prayers here, but on the whole this is supposed to be a stable piece of the liturgy.  If you always keep the congregation guessing from week to week, then you’re only teaching them to rely on you, or to rely upon their own spontaneity, rather than provide the spiritual formation available in the mature historic prayers.

Try your hand at Puritanism

One of the great practices of the Free Church tradition is the “pastoral prayer”, in which the pastor prays at length for, well, anything and everything.  This can be a train wreck if he’s unprepared, but it can also be a beautiful moment of pastoral love and care for the flock.  The Puritans, in particular, had a thing for insanely long prayers, and this rubric offers them a victory in our 2019 liturgy.

Personally I don’t recommend opting for this, but it may be a positive idea to pray, as a pastor (priest, deacon, or otherwise) for your congregation at the end of the traditional set Prayers.

Shaken, not stirred

Another thing you could try here is to pull out the Occasional Prayers near the back of the Prayer Book and grab a collect or two for each of the required topics to create your own Prayers of the People.  This would result in a very piecemeal set of prayers, with little-to-no sense of flow to them, so I would not recommend that for ordinary Communion services.  But that might be a cool idea to try out in an Antecommunion service on your own!  It’s also worth noting that the list of topics in the rubric above also closely matches the organization of the Occasional Prayers, so this scheme would be easier to fulfill than you might think.

Outsourcing

This rubric also gives you the freedom to grab any other Prayer Book, official or proposed or supplementary, and use their Prayers of the People, assuming they meet the simple required topics.  This could mean the 1979, or England’s Common Worship, or the Kenyan Prayer Book, or another province.  Or, to channel that #broke/#woke/#bespoke meme, you could go all-out #bespoke and use the 1662 or 1928 Prayer Book’s Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church.  How ’bout dat?

For ever and ever, Amen.

Pray the Great Litany as the Prayers of the People.  Pray some or all the Psalms.  Pray all the Occasional Prayers.  This liturgy could last all day, baby!  DON’T STAWP!