ABOUT MORNING PRAYER THIS WEEK
You will notice some variations in the liturgy this morning, and for the next several weeks. The familiar structure we have been using is a Service of the Word—also known as ante-communion—and follows our familiar Sunday morning pattern when we have Eucharist. Since we are continuing to fast from Holy Communion, we are shifting to Morning Prayer and actually taking a step back in time.
The earliest Christians followed the Jewish pattern of prayers at sunrise and sunset, which eventually evolved into the pattern of seven monastic offices or “hours.” One of Thomas Cranmer’s innovations in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer was establishing a pattern of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer that simplified and combined these seven offices. For centuries, Morning Prayer was the chief service in most Anglican churches.
The elements of Morning Prayer should all be familiar, but the order is different. We begin with a period of preparation and confession which leads directly into a psalm. The Psalter was, and remains, an important part of monastic life. Its importance is highlighted by having it come first. The readings are punctuated by canticles rather than congregational hymns, and many canticles come directly from the monastic offices. An affirmation of faith, typically the Apostle’s Creed, is followed by prayers for the church and the world, and a dismissal.
Within this familiar frame, Morning Prayer offers great flexibility, allowing us greater leeway to experiment with pre-recorded elements (canticles, for example), and revisit rarely heard recordings from our choral archive. Because a priest is not required to lead Morning Prayer—any baptized Christian may lead it—we imagined this form could also be used if Richard or Stephan needed to be away from the service. We had planned to introduce this form this summer, but we decided to deploy it this week, in part because Stephan’s roommate tested positive for covid-19. The rest of the house, including Stephan, has been tested, and all are negative. However, out of an abundance of caution, and following the recommended protocols for this situation, we will begin using this form now, with pre-recorded elements, so that Stephan can be away from church for the required amount of time.
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The Rev. Tammy Hobbs Miracky
will join us this Sunday.
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