Tag Archives: collects

Daily Office Basics – The Prayers

In the final video in the series, we look at the various prayers which conclude the offices of Morning or Evening Prayer. (If you’re like Fr. Ralph Osborne, the rector of my parish, you’ll also be glad to know you can now binge-watch the whole series.)

For Christians, the Lord’s Prayer holds pride of place as the prayer that Jesus himself taught his disciples, so the third section of the office starts there.

Suffrages, which are sort of like miniature Prayers of the People, remind us to pray for “the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world.”

Then a series of three collects forms the most distinctive part of this section — a Collect of the Day (the Sunday or feast day we celebrate), a Collect of the Day of the Week, and a Prayer for Mission.

The collects, like the sentences at the beginning of the office and the antiphons for the Invitatory Psalm, also serve to give a seasonal flavor to the office, which is otherwise very much the same every day.

The Daily Office is the public prayer of the Church, so the suffrages and collects are a bit formal, but they give us language to speak to God day by day, week by week, season by season.

Finally, we give voice to our own personal intercessions and thanksgivings, and we can choose from a number of lovely prayers and closing sentences to use at the end of the office.

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I hope this series of Daily Office Basics videos has been helpful to you, and I welcome your comments and suggestions if there are things you’d like to learn more about in future offerings.

The series will reside at dailyofficebasics.graceabounds.online, where you will also find the downloadable resources mentioned in the second video.

I am grateful to the Ven. Michele Whitford, content manager of Grace Abounds, and to Zachary and Nicholas Whitford, who filmed and edited the videos. I also commend the Theodicy Jazz Collective for their lovely album Vespers; their music is a prayer in itself.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be wth us all evermore. Amen.

 

Daily Office Basics – Daily Prayer Origins

I’m delighted to announce that my series of posts called Daily Office Basics is now available in video form!

This first video introduces you to the origins of daily prayer in the Christian church, tracing how daily prayer has changed over time and how we came to have the form of Morning and Evening Prayer that we use in the Episcopal Church today.

Over the next four days, videos will cover finding your place in the Book of Common Prayer and the Bible and then will look at the three parts of the Daily Office — Psalms, Lessons and Canticles, and Prayers — in turn.

I am particularly grateful to Grace Abounds, the online ministry of Grace Episcopal Church in Sheboygan, for filming and producing these videos. The Ven. MIchele Whitford is content manager, and Zachary and Nicholas Whitford filmed and edited the videos.

The series will reside at dailyofficebasics.graceabounds.online — in addition to the videos, that landing page includes some resources for you to download and use as you prepare to pray the Daily Office.

Thanks also to Andy Barnett and the Theodicy Jazz Collective for permission to use music from their album Vespers. You can listen and buy online from their website.

Pattern and strength

Choir of King's College, Cambridge

Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

Wherever the service is heard and however it is adapted, whether the music is provided by choir or congregation, the pattern and strength of the service, as Dean Milner-White pointed out, derive from the lessons and not the music. ‘The main theme is the development of the loving purposes of God …’ seen ‘through the windows and the words of the Bible’. Local interests appear, as they do here, in the Bidding Prayer; and personal circumstances give point to different parts of the service. Many of those who took part in the first service must have recalled those killed in the Great War when it came to the famous passage ‘all those who rejoice with us, but on another shore and in a greater light’. The centre of the service is still found by those who ‘go in heart and mind’ and who consent to follow where the story leads. (From the program of the 2013 service)

Pattern

Let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by this Holy Child; and let us make this Chapel, dedicated to Mary, his most blessèd Mother, glad with our carols of praise. (From the program for the 2013 service)

Though the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols as celebrated at King’s College, Cambridge is an elaborate feast of sight and sound, its pattern is clear to anyone familiar with the Daily Office.

After an opening prayer, the main body of the Lessons and Carols service consists of nine readings from Scripture carefully chosen to tell “the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious redemption brought us by the Holy Child.”

Interspersed between the lessons are musical responses — carols and hymns — in place of the canticles we use in the Offices day by day.

The service of Lessons and Carols, like the Daily Offices, concludes with collects appropriate for the season.

Though the Festival of Lessons and Carols was planned in 1918 out of Dean Eric Milner-White’s felt need for “more imaginative worship,” its roots in the Prayer Book pattern of Morning and Evening Prayer are deep and nourishing.

Strength

The collects which conclude the service of Lessons and Carols, like the collects in the Daily Office, rehearse our “sure and certain hope” in the resurrection:

O God, who makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of thy only son, Jesus Christ: Grant that as we joyfully receive him for our redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold him, when he shall come to be our judge; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

O God, who by his incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, grant you the fullness of inward peace and goodwill, and make you partakers of the divine nature; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.

In the strength of Christ we find not only rest but nourishment for service.

I’m weary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest awhile:
Under the shadow I will be
Of Jesus Christ, the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ, the apple tree. 

Not only with our lips, but in our lives

New Yorker pic

 

The Prayers

This morning we look at the third and final section of the Daily Office.

Having “opened our lips,” prayed the Invitatory and other Psalms, read Lessons and responded with Canticles, and said the Apostles’ Creed, we conclude the Office with various Prayers.

Because the Daily Office is the public worship of the Church, the prayers in this section are more formal, like the Prayers of the People on Sunday morning. They serve the same purpose of reminding us to pray for people and concerns we might not otherwise remember.

There is certainly also room here for your own personal prayers of intercession and thanksgiving.

Let’s take each portion in turn.

The Lord’s Prayer

If you’re praying the Office alone, you can omit the opening sentence and response (BCP 97).

The Lord’s Prayer is offered in traditional and contemporary language. Since every parish I have served uses the traditional form in worship, I like to use the contemporary form when I pray the Office; it helps keep the words fresh for me.

Suffrages

These are like miniature Prayers of the People, with versicles and responses touching on the major topics of our intercessory prayer.

Say Suffrages A most mornings; according to liturgical scholar Derek Olsen, Suffrages B were traditionally attached to the Te Deum (Canticle 21) and are most appropriately used when you have used that Canticle at Morning Prayer.

When I say Evening Prayer, I like to use Suffrages B, which in that Office take the form of a litany “that this evening may be holy, good, and peaceful” (BCP 122).

The Collect of the Day

It is customary to pray three collects at each office: The Collect of the Day, the Collect of the Day of the Week, and a Prayer for Mission.

The Collect of the Day is usually the collect from the Sunday before; so this week it would be the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent (BCP 211). Basically, you use Sunday’s collect all through the week here.

Exceptions to that rule are on Major Feasts, when you use the Collect appointed for that particular feast instead. For example, on Saturday, December 21 — the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle — you would use the Collect for that day (BCP 237) instead of the Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent. See the Calendar of the Church Year (BCP 15-33) for all the details of Major Feasts and other observances.

On days like today, when a saint (St. John of Damascus) is simply commemorated on the calendar (BCP 30), you might say the Collect of the Day from Sunday, and then add an appropriate collect from the Common of Saints (BCP 245 and following).

Many more exceptions abound, and we don’t need to belabor that point here. The Collect of the Day — the first of the three at the Office — is usually from the Sunday before, and it helps carry the “theme” or flavor of the Sunday throughout the week.

Collect of the Day of the Week

On BCP 98-100 you will notice seven Collects printed. Three are labeled for Sundays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The remaining four are labeled by topic, such as “For Peace” or “For Renewal of Life.” It is customary to use these four on the other days of the week, like this:

Sunday – A Collect for Sundays
Monday – A Collect for the Renewal of Life
Tuesday – A Collect for Peace
Wednesday – A Collect for Grace
Thursday – A Collect for Guidance
Friday – A Collect for Fridays
Saturday – A Collect for Saturdays

The Sunday, Friday, and Saturday collects clearly bring the themes of Resurrection, Crucifixion, and Creation/Sabbath to our prayers on those days. Just as every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection, a little Easter, so every Friday is a Good Friday, and every Saturday a chance to rest from our work and “put away all earthly anxieties” (BCP 99).

The same pattern for Collects of the Day of the Week occurs in Evening Prayer.

Prayer for Mission

The rubrics allow for the Daily Office to serve as the opening portion of the Eucharist (like the Liturgy of the Word in a typical Sunday service). They also allow for the use of one of the forms of Prayers of the People, like those on BCP 383 and following.

If you aren’t doing either of those things, then the third collect at the Office is one of the Prayers for Mission. The prayer at the top of BCP 101 is especially suitable for use on Friday mornings, of course. In Evening Prayer, there are three different Prayers for Mission, too.

After the three collects — the Collect of the Day, the Collect of the Day of the Week, and the Prayer for Mission — you may take time to add your own prayers.

Many people use cycles of prayer, like the Anglican Cycle of Prayer or a diocesan cycle, to help them remember to pray for other members of our church family. Many also take some time for silent prayer or meditation here.

The General Thanksgiving

This prayer of thanksgiving has one of the longest pedigrees in our prayer book history, having been composed in 1596. Then, as now, cultivating an attitude of humility and being mindful of God’s blessings is central to our spiritual growth.

We pray that our gratitude will be “not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to [God’s] service” (BCP 101).

A Prayer of St. Chrysostom

Even if you say the Office alone, you are joining in the Church’s unceasing praise and taking your part in the communion of saints.

The Prayer of St. Chrysostom is a beautiful reminder that when we gather for prayer, Christ is in our midst.

Dismissal

 

If you’re saying the Office alone, you may omit the dismissal.

Closing Sentences

The Office ends, as it began and as it has been filled throughout, with the words of Scripture.

There are three verses here that you may use to conclude your prayer.

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I hope you have found these last four blog posts helpful, whether you are beginning to pray the Offices or have been using this part of the Church’s pattern for prayer for some time already.

Like many things in life, it takes a lot longer to explain the Daily Office that it does simply to do it. Many people find that they need only 20-30 minutes to pray the Office — the Invitatory and Psalter, the Lessons, and the Prayers. Twenty minutes, once or twice a day, is not a lot of time — but it can be an oasis of grace and peace in our otherwise busy lives.

My hope is that understanding how the Office is put together will help you feel more comfortable using it.

Every blessing!

 

So teach us to number our days

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So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. 
(Psalm 90:12)

In the context of Psalm 90, and in popular usage, this verse recalls us to a sense of our mortality. “Numbering our days” means understanding that we don’t have long to live and we should make every day count.

“Numbering our days” has stuck with me this week for a different reason, though.

In the context of the Daily Office, the ancient Jewish and Christian pattern of prayer in the morning and evening, we “number our days” in a very particular way.

I’ve been reflecting (especially since a great conversation over coffee on Wednesday with a clergy colleague) on how the Daily Office builds an awareness in us of a different “numbering,” a different way of organizing time.

The rhythm of morning and evening prayer includes collects (BCP 98-99, 123) that give shape to our weekly reflections, especially on Fridays (Jesus’ passion and death), Saturdays (God’s creative activity and our Sabbath rest), and Sundays (Christ’s victory over death and sin).

The offices also help attune us to the seasons of the Church Year, which have their own emphases and lead us through regular cycles of reflecting on Christ’s incarnation (Christmas) and his resurrection (Easter). There’s also a good long stretch of plain old “ordinary time” all summer long.

I sometimes wonder whether we Christians can regain a sense of our own sacred calendar in the face of the advertising onslaught of Back to School, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Memorial Day and July 4th.

“Numbering our days” according to the Christian calendar might be one gentle witness to the countercultural Gospel we proclaim and to the Son of Man, Lord even of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8), whom we follow.