Livestream amidst hiatus

Hello again, the hiatus continues.  Moving house is a slow process of settling in.  But next week I’ll have one child in preschool and we will be just about finished with the last bits of moving, so hopefully next week is when I’ll resume writing here again!  It probably won’t be five posts a week immediately, though.

In the meantime, though, I have been experimenting with livestream Evening Prayer services.  Sunday and Monday evening of this week I held them, and plan another one tonight: Wednesday 19 August at 8pm EST.  It will be streamed via YouTube, though the link will also be shared on this Customary’s Facebook Page about an hour in advance.

Until then!

Evening Prayer on the Day of Pentecost

Here’s a little surprise, or bonus, for this evening: I’ve recorded the Daily Office of Evening Prayer for Pentecost evening!

Outline so you can have your books (2019 Prayer Book, ESV Bible, and a Hymnal) ready and follow along:

  • Opening Sentence (BCP 55)
  • Confession of Sin (BCP 41)
  • The Invitatory (BCP 43)
  • Abide with me (Hymnal)
  • Psalm 145 (BCP 461)
  • First Lesson: Acts 2
  • Canticle: Magnificat (BCP 45)
  • Second Lesson: Acts 10:34-end
  • Canticle: Nunc dimittis (BCP 46)
  • Apostles’ Creed (BCP 46)
  • The Prayers (BCP 47)
    • Collect for the Day of Pentecost #1 (BCP 614)
    • Collect for Resurrection Hope (BCP 49)
    • Prayer for Mission #1 (BCP 51)
  • Anthem: Hail thee, festival day (Hymnal)
  • One-minute Reflection
  • Additional Prayers (BCP 675-680)
    • #98 For the Acceptance of Prayer
    • #99 For the Acceptance of Prayer
    • #100 For the Answering of Prayer
    • #108 After Public Worship
    • #115 For the Coming of God’s Kingdom
  • The Great Thanksgiving (BCP 51)
  • Closing Prayers (BCP 52)

Ascension Day – Antecommunion

For Ascension Day under the COVID-19 closure, I thought it would be nice to try something different.  Please forgive the box of kid’s toys in the background, and my hair’s a bit of a mess (I’m taking advantage of social distancing to regrow my hair into a ponytail while nobody has to look at it).  This is a reflection of the simple reality that worshiping at home can be difficult.  Nevertheless, whatever the challenges, the prayers of the Church never cease!

If you want a generic outline for Antecommunion, you can view or download one here: Antecommunion leaflet

The hymn I sang after the Peace (in the place of the Offertory) is See the conqueror mounts in triumph, #151 in the Book of Common Praise 2017.

Evening Prayer Audio: Eve of the Ascension

For a special treat I decided to prepare an audio recording of Evening Prayer today

To follow along, here’s the outline:

  • Opening Sentence: Hebrews 9:24 (BCP 55)
  • Confession through Invitatory (BCP 41-43)
  • Evening Hymn: O blest Creator of the light (2017 hymnal #240)
  • Psalm 104 (BCP 403)
  • OT Lesson: Ecclesiastes 6
  • Canticle: Magnificat (BCP 45)
  • NT Lesson: 3 John
  • Canticle: Nunc Dimittis (BCP 46)
  • The Apostles’ Creed (BCP 46)
  • The Prayers (BCP 47)
    • The Collect of the Day: Ascension Day (BCP 613)
    • Collect for Protection (BCP 50)
    • The 2nd Prayer for Mission (BCP 51)
  • The Anthem: O Jesus, crowned with all reknown (2017 hymnal #148)
  • Homily: Being Rich Is Pointless?
  • Occasional Prayers #48-51 (BCP 660)
  • The General Thanksgiving (BCP 51)
  • The Grace (BCP 53)

Isolated Worship

So now that most of the country is under heavy restrictions of social distancing to slow the spread of this latest disease, churches everywhere are having to reinvent their approach to public worship.

As Anglicans, I cannot repeat this enough – we have a built-in feature of our tradition that SHOULD make this incredibly easy: the Daily Office.  The Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer don’t require a priest to lead them, they don’t require a sermon, they can be observed alone or in a group.  If we had bothered teaching our congregation the Office beforehand, they would be in excellent shape to keep up those disciplines on their own right now at home.  All we’d have to do is send them sermons, homilies, and reflections to aid their reading of the Scriptures in the meantime, and make the occasional plan for distributing communion, house to house.

Many of us have not taught them to pray the Office, however, partly because too many of us clergymen don’t pray the Office ourselves.  But thankfully, in this internet age, there are excellent resources to help people.

The best is “Daily Office 2019” which beautifully and accurately puts together the Morning and Evening Offices for you.  It even has the little Family Prayer devotions on a separate page.

The second-best options are the livestreams that many churches are offering now.  This approach is a two-edged sword.  On one hand, people get to see their (or another) church location, hear familiar music, and their favorite preacher(s).  But the downside is that it makes worship even more of a spectator sport than usual.  Our culture already has a problem with treating worship as a commodity, rather than an activity or discipline or offering in which each one participates, and livestreaming the liturgy (in part or in whole) will very easily play into that misconception and problem.

So, please, for the love of your congregation, or fellow laity, depending upon who you are reading this, teach others to pray the Daily Office so they can learn how to feed themselves.  Worship via livestream can be a great-tasting experience, but it’s mere spoonfeeding compared to what people can receive in praying the Offices alone or in small groups!

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.


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


  • 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


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

GOSPEL LESSON: John 1:47-51



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

THE SURSUM CORDA, leading to the Preface for Trinity Sunday




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


CLOSING HYMN: Ye watchers and ye holy ones


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)