Saturday, July 14, 2007

Anglican Moment: Morning Prayer

Morning Prayer has long been one of my favorite aspects of Anglican worship. Even before I stepped foot in an Anglican church, I had discovered at the bookstore in which I worked an English 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) illustrated with illuminated manuscripts, and immediately I felt myself drawn to the Morning Office. The Te Deum Laudamus has long been a favorite, as has been the Collect for Grace. If you opened up a BCP and looked at the Morning Prayer Office, you may feel more than a little overwhelmed. But not ALL the prayers are used every week. So I will outline the order of service in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer as practiced each Friday morning before the Healing and Communion Service at Victoria Chapel, the weekday meeting place for the Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity:

-- The Minister reads one of the many introductory sentences of Scripture to start the service, such as Psalm 43:3, John 4:23, Psalm 19:14, or the verses designated for certain holy days.

Then we open with praying Scripture:
The Minister prays: "O Lord, open thou our lips."
The Congregation replies: "And our mouth shall show forth thy praise."

Then we pray the Gloria Patri:
Minister prays: "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost."
Congregation replies with him: "As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, amen."

Then Minister prays: "Praise ye the Lord."
Congregation replies: "The Lord's Name be praised."

Then in unison all pray the Venite, which is a combination of Psalms 95 and 96 (Ps 95:1-7; Ps 96:9,13).

Then the appointed Psalm(s) from the Psalter are prayed. The Psalter is within the 1928 and 1979 BCP, with the entire book of Psalms divided into morning and evening selections for thirty days. Thus one can read the whole of the book of Psalms each month in one's morning and evening devotions. I absolutely love becoming so familiar with the Psalms by reading such a goodly chunk of them each day.

At the end of the reading of the appointed psalm(s), then the Gloria Patri is prayed again (see above).

Then, according to the "Psalms and Lessons of the Christian Year" near the beginning of the BCP, a member of the congregation reads aloud the Old Testament reading for the week and day of the service. For instance, today we would read the Scriptures for Morning Prayer for the Saturday after the Fifth Sunday after Trinity, where both an Old Testament and a New Testament reading are listed.

After the Old Testament reading, we pray the Benedictus es, Domine:
Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers: praised and exalted above all forever.
Blessed art thou for the Name of thy Majesty: praised and exalted above all forever.
Blessed art thou in the temple of thy holiness: praised and exalted above all forever.
Blessed art thou that beholdest the depths, and dwellest between the Cherubim: praised and exalted above all forever.
Blessed art thou on the glorious throne of thy kingdom: praised and exalted above all forever.
Blessed art thou in the firmament of heaven: praised and exalted above all forever.

If the day of our corporate Morning Prayer is a holy day, then we pray the Te Deum Laudamus (in English, "We Praise You This Day, O Lord") instead of the Benedictus es, Domine above. The Te Deum is far too long to type out here but is my favorite prayer in the entire BCP. I'll type it out on another day -- it was the first prayer that really drew me into Anglican worship.

Then we read the New Testament reading from the "Psalms and Lessons" list from the front of the BCP. We follow the Scriptures with the Benedictus which consists of Luke 1:69-79 (Zechariah's song).

Then the Minister states: "The Lord be with you."
The Congregation replies: "And with thy spirit."
Minister: "Let us pray."
Then together we pray the Lord's Prayer aloud.

Then the Minister prays: "O Lord, show thy mercy upon us."
Congregation prays: "And grant us thy salvation."
Minister prays: "O God, make clean our hearts within us."
Congregation prays: "And take not thy Holy Spirit from us."
(The above are all from the Psalms.)

Then the Minister prays the Collect for the Day, which is listed in the "Collects, Epistles, and Gospels" section of the BCP which change with each succeeding Sunday in the Church Year and may also be special on certain holy days besides Sundays.

Then the Minister prays the Collect for Peace:
O God, who art the author of peace and the lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom; Defend us, thy humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in thy defence, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. [All say:] Amen.

The Minister then prays the Collect for Grace:
O Lord, our heavenly father, Almighty and everlasting God, who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day; Defend us in the same by thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings, being ordered by thy governance, may be righteous in thy sight; through Christ Jesus our Lord. [All say:] Amen.

[Then follow other Collects that I tend to use on my own, but we don't use corporately in services: "Prayer for the President of the United States and All in Civil Authority," "Prayer for the Clergy and People," "Prayer for all Conditions of Men," and "A General Thanksgiving."]

Then the Morning Office of Prayer is concluded with the Minister praying from the Thirteenth Chapter of the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, the Fourteenth verse, over the Congregation:
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. [Then all say:] Amen.

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