Friday, January 30, 2009

The Offices

Mattins and Evensong are the services appointed to be said "daily throughout the year": their public recitation in church is the most obvious of the parson's duties, it is declared to be such over and over again in the Prayer Book. These offices end with the Third Collect, after which is an anthem, with certain prayers, which are either optional or occasional. The priest may use those which are optional, he must use those which are occasional at the appointed times. These are: At Mattins on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday--Prayer for All Conditions, At Mattins or Evensong (or at both) through Ember Week (Sunday to Saturday) - Ember Collect. During Session of Parliament (presumably each day) - Prayer for Parliament.

The Prayer for All Conditions is probably intended only for morning use. At Evensong it is a good practice to use instead the General Thanksgiving, the occasions for which are not fixed. The Prayer of S. Chrysostom and the Grace must be said after the occasional prayers, and therefore conveniently used to conclude Mattins and Evensong on all occasions when the Litany is not appointed to be said.

On Sunday, however, as on Wednesday and Friday, Mattins must end at the Third Collect, because the Litany is "appointed to be said." The Ember Prayer and the Prayer for Parliament are on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, incorporated in the Litany before the Prayer of S. Chrysostom and the Grace.

The Litany must be said on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, and after Mattins, which strictly means before the Holy Communion; (for the intention of the Prayer Book certainly is that Mattins should be said before the Eucharist at "the beginning of this day" and not late in the morning. The inference is that Wednesday and Friday (not Tuesday and Thursday) are the proper days for additional Eucharists in churches where there is a celebration on three days in the week, an inference which is borne out by the First Prayer Book and older Missals. There is much spiritual loss when the Litany is misplaced from its position as a preparation for Communion, and some inconvenience results from such dislocation of the services.

Any clerk may read the Litany as far as the Lord's Prayer, when the priest's part begins. No position is assigned for the reader of this office: the processional use--beautiful though it be--is probably only convenient for a minority of churches as yet. In parish churches where it is not sung in procession, it is best to treat the Litany as a short and quiet prepartory devotion, saying it without note at a reading-desk in the nave.

The above instructions for the offices taken form the Alcuin Club's Illustrations of the Liturgy: Being Thirteen Drawings of the Celebration of the Holy Communion in a Parish Church are based upon the rubrics of the English Prayer Book of 1662 which is one of the traditional Anglican documents which the proposed new Anglican province in North America considers as one of the bases of its theology. Needless to say, you are most unlikely to find anything like this in the practice of any of their dioceses or parishes considering their continual use of the alternative service book of 1979 rather than one of the classical, orthodox Prayer Books. Indeed, such usage will also be rare in the Continuum because they have been lured from any real obedience to the Prayer Book tradition by one party or the other which has never seen fit to give the Book of Common Prayer the obedience they promised at their ordination.

This blog is devoted to the idea of full obedience to the appropriate classical Book of Common prayer and the fullness of the Prayer Book tradition. We believe that only that can truly be called Anglican. We know that many in the Continuum are unable to meet this standard because of a lack of education on the part of both priest and people as well as a lack of a building or space which the parish or mission fully controls.

No comments: