Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Divine Hours

Dru of Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity first lent me a book in the Divine Hours: A Manual for Prayer series (three books: Spring, Summer, and Fall/Winter) this spring, and I fell in love with it. Then she gave me the entire series, all in hardcover, when she cleaned out her bookshelves. What riches!

This series of prayers is ecumenical in spirit, for as the prayers for each day rely strongly on Catholic Liturgy of the Hours, many prayers are based on those found in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer while some of the hymns are definitely not out of place in evangelical churches.

Phyllis Tickle's series of prayer books lay out prayers for each day of the year: Morning Office (6 AM - 9 AM), Midday Office (11 AM - 2 PM), and Vespers Office (5 PM - 8 PM). For each month, Compline (bedtime) or Night Office prayers are included for each day of the week, Sunday through Saturday, so those prayers are prayed four times each or so until a new month occurs.

Here is yesterday's Morning Office:

The Call to Prayer
Let us give thanks to the LORD for his mercy and the wonders he does for his children.
For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
based on Psalm 107:8-9

The Request for Presence
Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my meditation.
Hearken to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I make my prayer to you.
In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you.
Psalm 5:1-3

The Greeting
Out of the mouths of infants and children, O LORD, your majesty is praised above the heavens.
based on Psalm 8:2

The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
I am small and of little account yet I do not forget your commandments.
Psalm 119:141

A Reading
At this time the disciples came to Jesus and said, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' So he called a little child to him whom he set among them. Then he said, 'In truth I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'
Matthew 18:1-4

The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
I am small and of little account yet I do not forget your commandments.
Psalm 119:141

The Morning Psalm
The span of our life is seventy years, perhaps in strength even eighty; yet the sum of them is but labor and sorrow, for they pass away quickly and we are gone.
Who regards the power of your wrath? Who rightly fears your indignation?
So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
Psalm 90: 10-12

The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
I am small and of little account yet I do not forget your commandments.
Psalm 119:141

The Cry of the Church
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

The Lord's Prayer

The Prayer Appointed for the Week
O God, you have taught me to keep all your commandments by loving you and my neighbor: Grant me the grace of your Holy Spirit, that I may be devoted to you with my whole heart, and united to others with pure affection: through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. +

The Concluding Prayer of the Church
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me in the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. +

The two "+" signs at the end of the final two prayers signify making the Sign of the Cross. The Prayer of the Week is prayed at each prayer, Morning, Midday, and Vespers, from one Sunday through the following Saturday. The Concluding Prayers are usually the same for Morning Prayer each day, and another Concluding Prayer is used for Midday and another for Vespers, and they are based on prayers in the Book of Common Prayer. Other than the above repetitions, the Scriptures are different for every Office every day so one receives lots of Psalms and other Scriptures to pray and read four times a day.

Weather permitting, I pray and read The Divine Hours on my front porch where I can enjoy fresh mountain air and the cool of the morning, the heat of midday, the sunset of Vespers, and the crisp evening air of Compline (Night Office). I enjoy praying as I look across the golden meadow, spy stellar jays swoop into the treetops, and watch the stars come out in the deep midnight-blue sky at night. And it's quiet on my porch -- I'm away from the noise of the house, just me and my Lord for a few minutes several times a day. It's lovely.

Quite often The Gloria is listed to pray in the Midday and Vespers Offices: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. In the Vespers Office a hymn is usually written out to pray through, and if I know the tune, I'll sing it softly as the sun disappears behind the western hills that surround our little mountain valley.

I've found these books to be tremendously helpful for my private prayers and Scripture readings. They are far from the only resources I use, and praying each Office four times during day doesn't happen as often as I would like. But The Divine Hours: A Manual for Prayer is an excellent series of devotional books that brings me out of myself and puts me at the feet of my Lord more often than I would normally be. Dru purchased the set at Costco, but they are also available through as well. I don't know if I can thank her enough for giving me these lovely three volumes of prayer and Scripture. Thank you SO MUCH, Dru!!!!!

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