This is a continuing series providing answers to the question posed here.
How to pray the Daily Offices, part 2
Turn to the Daily Office Lectionary you printed yesterday. On the first page is a table of Psalms separated by day. Since today is the 12th day of the month, we would read Psalms 62, 63, and 64 for Morning Prayer.
This is pretty straightforward. If you are doing Morning Prayer with someone else, this is normally said responsively with the Officiant saying the first line and the people saying the rest. The Psalms also may be said in a number of ways when with a group, the easiest being to alternate verses.
Now, we need to find the rest of our readings for this morning. Since today is the Saturday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent,¹ we must turn to page 6 of the lectionary.
This morning, we would read Leviticus 19² and the first 21 verses of John 10.
If you are alone, saying both lines given serves as a short prayer of thanksgiving to God for the gift of the Scriptures. The alternate is given, at least in part, for those times when a reading is from the Apocrypha, in order to distinguish it from the core canon of the Scriptures.
A canticle is a hymn or song whose words are generally taken straight from scripture. Normally, you would read the Old Testament passage, then read (or sing) a canticle, then read the New Testament passage, and then another canticle. There are alternates listed and you can change them each day or read the same two for an extended period. The canticles also have Latin nicknames as we observed yesterday.
The Apostle’s Creed is now recited in unison by all present and then we move back to prayer. We prayed up through the Psalms and between the Scripture readings in the form of canticles before we paused to recite the Creed as a declaration of faith. The rest of the office continues in prayer.
In a group, follow the rubrics, but if you are alone, pray every line yourself. You may use either rendering of the Lord’s Prayer, though if you pray the Lord’s Prayer in your church service each Sunday, I would advise using the same translation they use.
A collect (kah-lect) is a short, focused prayer. The Collect of the Day is a particular collect, normally from the preceding Sunday and used throughout the week. At the bottom of page 5 of Collects of the Christian Year we find the Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, so at this point in Morning Prayer, we would pray this collect as well as at least one of the others listed on pages 11-13. The rubrics explain ways this can be done. I pray the Collects for Peace and Grace daily as well as the one listed for the day of the week.
Here, you choose one of the three prayers for mission to pray. I rotate through them.
If you want more music in your Daily Offices, you may sing a song here. This is also where you can “pray your own words,” covering specific supplications and thanksgivings.
Then we pray The General Thanksgiving and A Prayer of St. John Chrysostom.3 I encourage the use of both, though I can understand some misgiving at Chrysostom’s prayer when praying the office alone. If you remember that Christians around the world are praying these same prayers each day, “when two or three are gathered” becomes about more than our immediate surroundings.
The Graces, just as with the Prayers for Mission, may be rotated however you see fit. With the final “amen” you have completed Morning Prayer. Evening Prayer is very similar with the only significant changes being the invitatory, canticles, readings, prayers for mission, and collects.
¹ If the church calendar is unfamiliar to you, there are many websites to aid you. The biggest confusion is that Easter is a movable feast which does not occur on the same date each year (like Christmas is always on December 25th). Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and goes until Easter. If you can mind those two dates, most other movable dates take their cues from Easter.
² It only lists part of the chapter, but you are always free to read more than what is stated. I plan to review this lectionary soon to discuss how this works in greater detail.
3 John Chrysostom was a Bishop in Constantinople in the 4th century who had a significant impact on the liturgy of the church. I mentioned a few days ago that we would pray the words of Augustine and Chrysostom in the daily offices. The second Prayer for Mission in Evening Prayer is a prayer by Augustine of Hippo.