Happy Michaelmas!

On this special occasion of celebrating the feast of St. Michael and All Angels with the whole congregation on a Sunday morning, I thought it would be fun to share our liturgy here.  The Communion rite we’re using is the Anglican Standard Text, as usual.

OPENING HYMN: Christ the fair glory of the holy angels

ACCLAMATION: Worthy is the Lord our God: / To receive glory and honor and power.

COLLECT FOR PURITY, SUMMARY OF THE LAW, KYRIE,

GLORIA IN EXCELSIS sung to the setting #784 in the Book of Common Praise 2017

CHILDREN’S MINISTRY MOMENT

  • Revelation 12:7-12, followed by a 1-minute Children’s sermon
  • explanation: my church has two children, ages 2 and 4, so they spend most of the liturgy playing in a separate room.  I’m a big believer in including young children in the liturgy, but sometimes they need space to move around, and our context is so small that it wouldn’t work so well at the moment.  Soon the older will be able to sit/draw/play/read quietly in the worship space with the adults, and this addition to the liturgy will be removed.
    Normally, this ministry moment includes a few-verse Bible reading followed by a one-minute teaching, but on this occasion the short reading is actually the same as the Epistle Lesson, so it’s just being moved up here wholesale.  Yes it’s a strange way to tinker with the liturgy, and no I’m not crazy about it, but I’ve got to minister to everyone I can with the very limited resources and manpower available.

HYMN: Ye holy angels bright

COLLECT OF THE DAY, OLD TESTAMENT LESSON: Genesis 28:10-17

PSALM: 103, SEQUENCE HYMN: Life and strength of all thy servants

GOSPEL LESSON: John 1:47-51

THE SERMON, THE NICENE CREED, THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

THE CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION OF SIN, THE PEACE

OFFERTORY HYMN: Bread of heav’n on thee we feed

THE SURSUM CORDA, leading to the Preface for Trinity Sunday

THE SANCTUS, THE PRAYER OF CONSECRATION, THE LORD’S PRAYER

THE FRACTION, THE PRAYER OF HUMBLE ACCESS, THE AGNUS DEI

THE MINISTRATION OF COMMUNION

POST-COMMUNION CANTICLE: #6 Dignus es (from page 84)

THE POST-COMMUNION PRAYER, THE BLESSING

CLOSING HYMN: Ye watchers and ye holy ones

THE DISMISSAL

Let’s pray Compline together tonight!

We’ve sampled every other major office in the new prayer book; it’s time for Compline.  Like Midday Prayer, Compline is a very static, or stable, piece of liturgy; it has very little about it that changes.  It does have a few options to choose from (roughly 4 psalms, 4 lessons, and 4 collects), and there are additional lessons offered as well, but on the whole this is a devotion that sees little variation.  It’s supposed to be short and simple.  In that spirit, I didn’t even chant any of the psalms this time, so you can hear (and participate in) this office in all its simplicity.

Index: Compline starts on page 57 of the 2019 Prayer Book (online text here)

  • Opening Blessing & Confession & Prayer for Forgiveness (p. 57-58)
  • Invitatory Dialogue (p. 58)
  • Psalms 31:1-6 & 91 (p. 59-60)
  • Lesson: 1 Peter 5:8-9 (p. 61)
  • The Prayers (p. 62-64)
  • Nunc Dimittis with Antiphon (p. 64-65)
  • Blessing (p. 65)

Let’s pray Antecommunion together!

Now that we’ve had an introduction to the Service of Antecommunion, let’s take 23 minutes to pray it together!  I’ve chosen the optional commemoration of St. Bernard of Clairvaux for today’s liturgy.  Grab your 2019 prayer book, ESV Bible, and 2017 hymnal, and let’s go…

Order of Service, so you can get your books ready:

  • Trinity Acclamation (BCP 105)
  • Collect for Purity, Summary of the Law, Kyrie, Gloria (BCP106-7)
  • Collect of the Day: of a Monastic (BCP 639)
  • Lessons: of a Monastic (BCP 732)
    • OT: Lamentations 3:22-33
    • Psalm 1 (Simplified Anglican Chant Tune #744)
    • for the Epistle: Acts 2:42-47
    • Gospel: Mark 10:23-31
  • Reflection on the life of St. Bernard
  • the Creed is omitted because it’s neither a Sunday nor a Major Holy Day
  • Prayers of the People (BCP 110)
  • Confession & modified absolution (BCP 112)
  • modified Peace (BCP 114)
  • The Lord’s Prayer (BCP 118)
  • Occasional Prayers #76, 98, 100, 108 (BCP 669-77)
  • Prayer #106 for Spiritual Communion (BCP 677)
  • Dismissal (BCP 122)

Collect for Proper 13

With the Transfiguration over, the Collect of the Day in the Daily Office returns to this past Sunday’s Collect – for Proper 13.

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your grace that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

What we see at work in prayer is a biblical principle from verses like 1 Corinthians 4:7 – “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”  This humbling reality, that all good things that we’ve got come from God, applies even to our worship and service.

This reality is a balance between two extremes.  On one hand is an error more often made by Roman Catholics: the assumption that ordinary Christians are just too sinful and ignorant to offer God any “laudable service”, and so we entrust the clergy and the ‘religious’ to offer God more perfect praise on our behalf.  Go to church, hear Father celebrate mass, and we can say that we vicariously offered something to God too.  On the other hand is an error more often made by evangelicals: the assumption that if we just worship God with heart-felt enthusiasm that he will be truly honored, and so we dive in to a string of worship songs with the mad assertion that our feelings of sincerity are more significant to God than the actual content of our words and actions.

Countering both these extremes is the biblical reality: we can offer worthy worship to God, but only by his grace.  Grace then precedes worship and works.  Because of grace, we offer laudable service to God and strive to “run without stumbling” to attain to God’s heavenly promises.  As the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews put it, “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (6:11-12).

So when you sit down to pray (or kneel, or whatever), remember not to be overconfident in your own worthiness, verbosity, or sincerity; and remember not to be embarrassed, discouraged by your bumbling ways.  God gives you grace to approach his throne with boldness.  We find that grace in confessing our sins to a merciful Lord; we find that grace in praying prayers that God himself provided us to pray (especially the Lord’s Prayer and the Psalms); we find that grace in an order, a liturgy, provided by his Church, to assist us not only to form our prayers into coherent sentences but also to unite our prayers with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

And underlying all of that, of course, is the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.  Every baptized person has God the Spirit within, it’s not a matter of elitism or ordination status or what-have-you.  Be not afraid, when your prayers are bumbling and crude, the Spirit will “translate” your intentions to the Father; and when you think you’ve got it just right and perfect on your own wit, the Spirit will ask the Father for the mercy and humility you omitted.  Let us learn from one another how to pray, how to worship.  Think of the Prayer Book as the compilation of centuries of insight in this matter!  Rather than asking advice in prayer from one or two friends or pastors, why not turn to the collective wisdom of millions as represented in the Common Prayer book.

Let’s pray Midday Prayer together!

One of the nice additions of modern prayer books like the 1979 or the 2019 is the recovery of two minor offices – Midday Prayer and Compline.  These are not parts of traditional prayer book liturgy, but they (or at least Compline) have been popular devotions continued by many Anglicans since the earliest times of the Reformation.  They are regarded as “extra” devotions, which is why they aren’t part of our official historical tradition, and so when we see them in modern prayer books we should understand the liturgies for Midday Prayer and Compline as offerings for standardization, not as binding liturgical mandates the way Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Holy Communion are.  In other words, as you’re building a faithfully Anglican life and parish, MP & EP plus the Communion on Sundays and other red-letter days are what’s required; Midday Prayer and Compline are the optional extras.

That said, let’s take a look at what Midday Prayer can sound like.  If you keep it simple you can zip through it in two minutes tops.  If you take your time, it’s still short.  Here’s today’s service in under 12 minutes:

Order of Service so you can have your books ready:

  • Midday Prayer begins on page 33 of BCP 2019.
  • Psalm: 124 (page 35) set to chant tune #739 (in the 2017 hymnal)
  • Reading: Ezekiel 32 (according to our supplemental lectionary)
  • Brief reflection
  • The Prayers (page 37-39)

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.

Book Review: Liturgical Theology

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.

Let’s start with a confession: I didn’t read all of the books in seminary that I was supposed to read.  But I did start catching up immediately after I graduated.  One of those books was Liturgical Theology by Simon Chan.  I was already a confirmed Anglican and in the discernment process for Holy Orders, and it was only then, in reading this book, that I began my deep love for the liturgy which has continued with me to this day.  I was so impressed by this book (and still in a note-taking mode like a seminary student) that I actually made outline notes of each chapter of the book.  So if you want to go into greater depth you can look at those notes here:

As you can see there, the first four chapters lay the foundation for a liturgical theology, and the last three set out concrete practices by which that liturgical theology can be expressed.  This is very helpful for those who are not familiar with liturgical worship, and need to see “why liturgy matters” before they can be bothered to learn about liturgy itself.  And even if you are familiar with liturgical worship, sometimes it’s helpful to go back to examine the foundational purposes for this way of life we share.

It should be noted, too, that Simon Chan is not an Anglican.  He’s not even from a liturgical tradition himself; he’s an Assemblies of God Pastor.  This has the disadvantage that this book doesn’t really deal with particularly Anglican liturgical practices, but it does have the advantage of a common-ground approach to liturgical worship that highlights the similarities across several particular traditions.  When he does give a walk-through of the Communion service, it is largely identical to the shape of the 1979 Prayer Book and the modern Roman Mass, not the Tridentine Mass or the classical prayer book tradition.  This may be a let-down for the traditionalist reader, but more relatable to the modern-liturgy fan.

I’ve noticed that the website for an ACNA diocese actually has a review of this book, which you may find useful for reflection on the nature of the Church.  There’s also a review of this book on the well-known The Gospel Coalition blog which makes a number of unfounded criticisms (such as that Simon Chan does away with sola scriptura and promulgates the doctrine of transubstantiation!) which I can only tell you to disregard.  I think that reviewer either had a chip on his shoulder against the liturgical tradition, or didn’t read the book very carefully.

On the whole, I would still recommend this book quite happily.  It won’t give you an Anglican education, but its principles are sound and its commentary is insightful.  In fact, the fact that this is a pentecostal author arguing for historic liturgy makes his exhortation all the more earnest and significant.  This is no patronizing Anglo-Catholic telling the evangelical world how to fix their problems, as we often imagine liturgical theologians to be!

The ratings in short:

Accessibility: 4/5
Although this book was an assigned text for one of my seminary courses, it is not a dense scholarly read.  It is intended, I think, for pastors, worship leaders, and interested laymen who do not necessarily have any higher education.  It’s clearly organized, logically written, and peppered with citations for further reference.  (Except they’re endnotes, yuck!)

Devotional Usefulness: N/A
This is a book to read, not pray.

Reference Value: 3/5
If you’ve never read a book about liturgy and liturgical worship before, this is probably the best place to start.  It’s informative, covers a lot of ground, and gets you connected with plenty of biblical and Early Church quotations.  It won’t really improve your knowledge and understanding of the Prayer Book tradition, or English spirituality, but you can save that for another book.  From analyzing the Creed to outlining the three-year catechumenate, this is a great place to begin your foray into liturgical studies.

Why liturgy in the first place?

If you’re following this blog on Facebook, or directly, or via email subscription, chances are you’re already committed to the Anglican way of liturgical worship.  You may or may not have much to say about why you like or prefer liturgy over the free church tradition.  But you’ve probably been asked before by other Christians why you and/or your church worships the way it does.

Liturgy is not our “style”.  It is not our “flavor”.  It’s actually a part of who we are as Christians; it’s how we’re Christians.  Don’t fall into the trap of assuming or pretending that it’s a simple matter of preference.  No, it’s a principle.

For more on this, here’s a new video:

Subject Index:

  • 0:00 The challenge of understanding liturgy
  • 2:44 Why (and not why) we’re committed to liturgical worship
  • 6:15 Look at the whole, not the individual
  • 8:04 Many of us today struggle with liturgy

Three-fold Rule of Worship

Typically on this daily blog we look at specific pieces of advice or insight into some aspect or ingredient of the liturgy of the Anglican tradition.  Sometimes we’ve stepped back here to look at an entire season, but even that is still a fairly specific subject in the broad scheme of things.  Today we’re going very broad indeed: the “three-fold rule of Christian worship.”

Summarized briefly, the 3-fold rule, or Regula, is the balanced diet of Common Prayer (Daily Office), Sacramental Rites, and Private Prayer & Devotion.  The Anglican tradition, historically, has arguably the most ingenious execution of this three-fold rule, though it is a concept as old as the Bible itself.  Anyway, this is a model for understanding the total life of worship as a Christian; it was revolutionary for me in my own spiritual growth, and I hope it will be of value and insight for you as well.  So, without further ado:

Please bear with me, as I am new to the art and science of making videos.  Making eye contact from the pulpit with a congregation is quite different from making eye contact with a computer camera!  Don’t worry, I won’t inundate this blog or your inbox with videos now; but this is a new skill I’m looking into learning.  Hopefully my learning process won’t be too distracting for you.