Tag Archives: Lectionary

Daily Office Basics – Lessons and Canticles

Today’s video is number four in the Daily Office Basics series.

We have looked at the origins of daily prayer in the Christian church, spent a few minutes finding our place, and begun praying the office by reciting Psalms.

Here we turn to the second part of the office, the Lessons and Canticles.

In the Episcopal Church, the schedule of readings for the Daily Office has you do a lot of course reading. That is, you will often read a “chapter” (a short selection) of the same book in the Bible day after day until you’re through with that book.

Over the two-year lectionary cycle, you basically read the majority of the Old Testament once, the whole New Testament twice, and the Psalms every seven weeks.

Separate from any other studying I’ve done, that means that by praying the Daily Office for just over 23 years now I have read the Old Testament about 23 times, the New Testament 46 times, and each of the Psalms about 171 times.

Today we try to demystify the Daily Office lectionary and this middle portion of the office so that you feel more comfortable soaking yourself in Scripture in the context of daily prayer.

The last video in this series will look at the specific Prayers that conclude the office.

All of the videos, as well as the downloadable resources, will make their home at dailyofficebasics.graceabounds.online.



Daily Office Basics – Finding Your Place

In this installment of Daily Office Basics, we get down to specifics:

How do I know what page I’m supposed to be on in the Book of Common Prayer?

What Bible lesson am I supposed to read this morning? This evening?

How do I remember where I am when I keep flipping back and forth in the book?

All of these questions (and more) will be answered here.

As you watch the video, you’ll see that we are preparing you to start praying the offices next week, starting on the Monday after the First Sunday in Lent.

Also, we have provided nifty bookmarks for your prayer book and Bible, as well as a guide called “Praying the Daily Offices.”

All of them are free to download at dailyofficebasics.graceabounds.online.

Praying the Daily Office is simple, but it’s not self-explanatory. I hope this video will help you find your place and feel more ready to begin.


Finding your place



Saying the Daily Office is relatively simple, but it’s certainly not self-explanatory.

So as the new church year begins on this First Sunday of Advent, here are a few hints to help you find your place.

First, you will find it easier to pray the Office if you mark your Book of Common Prayer and your Bible ahead of time. Use the bookmarks on the Resources page of this blog or your own bookmarks, ribbons, or whatever else you like.

Start with a bookmark for the Daily Office Lectionary, which begins on BCP 937 — today, we begin Year Two of the lectionary, so you’ll be reading down the right-hand page.  The entries look like this:

Sunday          146, 147          *          111, 112, 113
Amos 1:1-5, 13–2:8          1 Thess. 5:1-11          Luke 21:5-19

Place a bookmark at Psalm 146, or BCP 803. The psalms for Morning Prayer are listed first, then those for Evening Prayer.

Place bookmarks in your Bible for the Old Testament (OT) reading from Amos, the Epistle (NT) reading from 1 Thessalonians, and the Gospel reading from Luke.

Place a bookmark at BCP 211, where the Collect of the Day for the First Sunday of Advent is located.

Place bookmarks at the beginning of Morning Prayer (BCP 75) and Evening Prayer (BCP 115).

Finally, print out the two Tables of Canticles from the Resource page; place the Morning Prayer Table at BCP 84 and the Evening Prayer Table at BCP 118.

Pro tips:

I have found it helpful to tape the Tables of Canticles into the BCP at the pages above, as they are small and have a habit of falling out. See the picture above for an example.

Also, after I say the Opening Sentences on BCP 80 and the Invitatory on BCP 82-83, I move the Morning Prayer bookmark (in my case, a ribbon) to the Canticle which will follow the Psalms and OT lesson. Today, for example, that would be for Sunday, in Advent (A), so Canticle 11. That way, after I flip forward to the Psalms and then read the passage from the OT, I can simply flip back to the Morning Prayer bookmark and continue with the canticle. You will certainly work out your own rhythm.

Lastly, you may find it helpful to refer to the document called “Praying the Daily Offices,” also found on the Resources page. It will remind  you what to do next as you move through the three sections of the Daily Office — Invitatory and Psalms, Lessons and Canticles, Prayers — and the bookmarks will already be where you need them when the time comes.

Whether you are beginning the Daily Office in Advent (or beginning again), I hope these few pointers will help you not only to find your place in the prayer book, but to claim your place in God’s kingdom.


Ordinary Time

Summer Offices

Now it’s finally summer, so to speak, in the Church Year.

After yesterday’s glorious Feast of Pentecost at St. Thomas — a gracious Rite I service of Holy Eucharist at 8 am, the final class of Episcopal 101 at 9 am, a Spirit-filled Rite II service of Holy Eucharist at 10 am, a “Bake Auction” where we raised $400 for camp scholarships (rhubarb pie is the clear favorite), followed by a double session of EfM and a Choral Evensong at All Saints’ and topped off by a quiet evening on patio and back porch — it felt really good this morning to keep it simple.

We’re back in Ordinary Time.

What this means in the Daily Office — Morning Prayer, especially — is that we pare back the Alleluias a bit, we switch from the Christ our Passover invitatory back to Venite or Jubilate, we turn in the lectionary to BCP 966 (Proper 2 — Week of the Sunday closest to May 18), and we begin the readings in the long, slow “green” season of the Church Year. There will be only a couple of interruptions to this steady flow until late November, about 26 weeks from now.

Half of the Church Year is filled with the seasonal feasts and fasts of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.

The other half, thank God, is Ordinary Time.

+ + + + +

O God, in the course of this busy life give us times of refreshment and peace; and grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 825)

Praying the Psalms

St. Gregory's Abbey Church, Three Rivers MI

St. Gregory’s Abbey Church, Three Rivers MI

From Fr. Steve Rice’s post yesterday, entitled “Who cares about the Kings of Tarshish and Saba?”:

You can’t really explain praying the psalter, you just have to do it. You have to listen to it, observe it, it needs to wash over you as the antiphonal recitation crashes again and again like waves on the beach. And you have to know it will be hard.

Whether you follow Thomas Cranmer’s 30-day outline for praying the Psalms (as Fr. Steve’s parish does), the Daily Office lectionary’s seven-week cycle, the Bible Challenge’s daily passages, or whether you use the Daily Prayer app from Forward Movement on your iPhone, the Psalms form the heart of the Church’s daily prayer.

The seeming randomness by which Psalms are assigned to any given day, no matter what method you use, can cause newcomers to the Office no little confusion.

Br. Abraham of St. Gregory’s Abbey, the Benedictine order in Three Rivers, Michigan, writes this about praying the Psalms in the Easter 2007 Abbey Letter:

This schedule causes us to recite seemingly inappropriate psalms sometimes: happy ones on solemn fasts, and sad ones on happy feasts. It also means that at any time of day, a particular monk might be reciting a psalm that does not match his mood at the time. While that can be distressing for someone not used to it, it has become a great comfort for many people throughout history. It reminds us that our situations and feelings are not permanent; the psalms sung at Friday Sext might not fit a particular monk’s concerns this week, but they might perfectly meet the needs of the monk next to him or of one of the guests in the church, and they might coincide with his own next week. It also reminds us that the prayer is not all about the individual. Corporate prayer is corporate prayer – not private prayer (there are times of day set aside for private prayer).

Psalm 102, appointed for this morning, highlights one of my favorites reasons for praying the Psalms — they give voice to our human concerns, especially our complaints. The psalms are not “pious”:

I lie awake and groan;
I am like a sparrow, lonely on a house-top.
My enemies revile me all day long,
and those who scoff at me have taken an oath against me. (Psalm 102:7-8)

So give yourself permission to plunge into the psalms and take them as they come. Let them speak to you and give voice to your concerns — or to the concerns of those around you if their mood does not match yours. And let the psalms, day by day, week by week, lift you from your concerns to contemplate God’s goodness.

In the beginning, O LORD, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
They shall perish, but you will endure; they all shall wear out like a garment;
as clothing you will change them,  and they shall be changed;
But you are always the same,
and your years will never end.
The children of your servants shall continue,
and their offspring shall stand fast in your sight. (Psalm 102:25-28)

Daily Office Challenge

2012-08-06 13.03.01

The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval.
Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding
(Romans 14:18-19).

Two days ago I responded to a tweet by Marek Zabriskie of the Bible Challenge which seemed to me to be making a false opposition between the lectionary and “reading all the Scriptures.” I was hasty and abrupt in my reply — a failing of mine exacerbated by Twitter’s 140-character limit.

The Bible Challenge is an approach to reading the entire Bible in the course of a year rather than just hearing the selections read in worship on Sundays. In that sense, it is a very important project — one I have embarked on several times before, as have many members of the congregations I have belonged to. Reading the whole Bible gives you a sense of the sweep of salvation history and the relationship between parts of Scripture that you might not otherwise get on Sunday mornings.

For myself, I have benefited the most over the years from the Bible-reading plan outlined in The Illustrated Bible Handbook by Edward P. Blair (Abingdon 1985). Blair’s book is long out of print, unfortunately, though you can still find a few copies around.

My initial point, however, is that there’s more than one lectionary in the Book of Common Prayer.

The lectionary for the Daily Office — for Morning and Evening Prayer — provides for the praying of the Psalms and the course reading of Scripture. The Psalms are prayed over a seven-week cycle, the bulk of the New Testament each year, and the bulk of the Old Testament over the course of two years (see BCP 934 and following).

Because Morning and Evening Prayer are part of the public worship of the Church (with the Holy Eucharist on Sundays), the readings in the Daily Office lectionary are organized to reflect the seasons of the Church Year, unlike the Bible Challenge’s approach of reading through the Old Testament in order, supplemented by New Testament passages and Psalms each day.

Marek observes in a subsequent tweet that “Episcopalians excel on Sunday. Our weakness is Monday to Saturday. Helping folks engage Scripture and pray each day is critical.” I couldn’t agree more.

The practice of the Daily Office puts the reading of Scripture in the context of prayer, and the canticles and collects appointed for the Sundays and weekdays of the Church Year help us to understand and interpret Scripture in the way that Christians throughout the centuries have done.

The Bible Challenge and the practice of the Daily Office complement each other, though they are designed with different purposes in mind.

“Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”

The more we soak ourselves in Scripture, the more we begin and end each day in prayer and Scripture reading (no matter which method we prefer to use), the more readily we will recognize Jesus’ voice and his call for our lives.

On that we can all agree.

The Christmastide Lectionary

ChristmastideI know it’s still Thursday in the Third Week of Advent, but I want to give you all a jump on the complicated lectionary for the days after Christmas so that you can enjoy the holiday with minimal frustration.

Because Christmas Day occurs on a fixed date and several Major Feasts fall on the next few days after it, the Daily Office lectionary has to supply several options for the days between Christmas and the Epiphany, which also falls on a fixed date.

Here’s the crib sheet for the offices during Christmastide this year. You may wish to print it out and fold it into your prayer book for easy reference.

(The abbreviations MP and EP, as you might expect, stand for Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer; BCP for the page number in the Book of Common Prayer):

Dec. 23 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
MP and EP as on BCP 938
Collect on BCP 212

Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve
MP as on BCP 938 “Dec. 24”
MP Collect on BCP 212 (4 Advent)
EP as on BCP 938 “Christmas Eve”
EP Collect on BCP 212 (Christmas Day – second option)

Dec. 25 – Christmas Day
MP and EP as on BCP 940
Collect on BCP 212-13

Dec. 26 – Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr
MP and EP as on BCP 996
Collect on BCP 237

Dec. 27 – Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist
MP and EP as on BCP 996
Collect on BCP 238

Dec. 28 – The Holy Innocents
MP and EP as on BCP 996
Collect on BCP 238

Dec. 29 – Saturday after Christmas Day
MP and EP as on BCP 940 “Dec. 29”
Collect of a Martyr on BCP 246 (Thomas Becket)

Dec. 30 – First Sunday after Christmas Day
MP and EP as on BCP 940
Collect on BCP 213

Dec. 31 – Monday after 1 Christmas
MP as on BCP 940 “Dec. 31”
MP Collect on BCP 213 (1 Christmas)
EP as on BCP 940 “Eve of Holy Name”
EP Collect on BCP 213 (Holy Name)

Jan. 1 – The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ
MP and EP as on BCP 940
Collect on BCP 213

Jan. 2-4 – Weekdays after 1 Christmas
MP and EP as on dated days on BCP 940
Collect on BCP 213 (1 Christmas)

Jan. 5 – Saturday after 1 Christmas
MP as on BCP 940 “Jan. 5”
MP Collect on BCP 213 (1 Christmas)
EP as on BCP 940 “Eve of Epiphany”
EP Collect on BCP 214 (Epiphany)

Jan. 6 – The Epiphany
MP and EP as on BCP 942
Collect on BCP 214