Monthly Archives: January 2018

Anglican Breviary Use Case Poll

I have some questions for those interested in the Anglican Breviary.

(For those not familiar, the Anglican Breviary was a revision of the Roman Catholic Breviary subsequent to its 1910 revision; it contains the standard 8 prayer offices with all their attendant liturgical materials, but renders them in accordance with the psalms and prayers of the prayer book tradition. That is, the psalter is the Coverdale and BCP collects are used in some places rather than the Roman Catholic collects. Too, some of the readings at Matins are modified to reflect Anglican theological commitments in the few cases where there are significant points of divergence.)

Those (particularly though not necessarily exclusively Anglicans) who are interested in and choose to use the Anglican Breviary have some decisions with regard to its use. Please indicate where you’d fall. I’m going to leave this poll up for one week to get a sense of where folks are on things currently.

[poll id=”6″]

PC: Thinking about Prayer

After the Introductory Chapter on Benedictine Spirituality and how Cassiodorus fits into it, I need to talk more specifically about prayer and about the psalms. Here’s the section on prayer. I’m building off something I originally posted over at Grow Christians so parts of this may look familiar if you read that piece.

The goal of this book is not to teach you everything you always wanted to know about the psalms—that’s a different book or different class of books. Rather than being a commentary, this is a book about a particular kind of prayer and to do that well, we need to spend some time thinking and talking about prayer.

If you are in and around religious circles for very long, you’ll inevitably hear the question: “Does prayer work?”

I have a hard time with this question. That’s not because of the answer but because the question itself is too broad. This is exactly the same as asking: “Can fish be eaten?” While the question can be answered with a straightforward yes or no answer, that answer is not likely to be helpful to the person asking! Can fish be eaten? Well, yes, generally—if it’s the right kind of fish, and has been taken from a relatively clean environment, and stored and prepared the right way. However, not all fish should be eaten. Not all preparation methods are of equal value in providing a healthy, nutritious meal. Some fish—like the little brightly colored tropical ones—spoil so quickly that they’re not worth trying to prepare. Some possess toxins of their own and others can collect toxins from the environments around them. What starts out as a very basic question cannot be safely answered with a very basic answer.

The same is true of the prayer question.

The best place to start in answering the question and thinking about prayer is to recognize that this question begins with several—usually fairly specific—assumptions. Furthermore, by starting with those assumptions, the question bypasses the central point of the activity.

Let’s unpack the assumptions in the question first, and then take a step back and figure out the right question…

When most modern people hear the word “prayer” or are asked a question like, “does prayer work,” they are considering one aspect of one kind of prayer. But there are lots of different kinds of prayer out there. One way of breaking down the principal kinds of prayer is with this list:

  • Adoration: the lifting up of the soul to God’s presence, resting in the experience of being present with God (this is usually non-verbal)
  • Praise: rejoicing in God because of the nature of God’s being; praise evoked by who God is, not because of any benefits that we might receive from God
  • Thanksgiving: rejoicing in God because of the things that God has done for us and for all creation; rejoicing in the relationship that God has chosen to initiate with creation and for the specific benefits known to us
  • Penitence: confession where we acknowledge our sin and admit specific ways in which our lives, actions, and intentions are at odds with God’s own hopes, dreams, and plans for the redemption of all creation
  • Oblation: an offering and dedication of the whole self to God
  • Intercession: offering before God the needs of others
  • Petition: offering before God our own needs

As you look down this list, you may realize that what a lot of people mean when they use the word “prayer” is a subsection of the last two kinds, intercession or petition. After considering the various kinds of prayer, we start to realize that when people ask, “does prayer work?” what they’re really asking is, “If I ask God for something—either on my behalf or on behalf of someone else—will I get it?”

In fact, if we want to be honest about it, more often than not this tendency to equate prayer with petition, moves discussions about prayer towards how to make it more effective. That is, is there something I can do to make it more likely that I’ll get the response I want? Inevitably, going down this road devolves into an attempt to bargain with God: “O God, if you’ll just do X thing for me, I promise that I’ll do Y…” This Y may involve promises to go to church more frequently or to be a better person or something of that sort; the logic here is that if we sweeten the pot with a promise, perhaps God will be more willing to give in. Here’s the problem: this becomes less an act of prayer as it becomes more an act of negotiation. The root problem is that negotiation involves leverage—where one party has something that the other wants and uses that to get what they need. Negotiating implies that we have some kind of leverage over God—but we don’t! In the grand scheme of things, whether we’re in church more makes no difference to the greatness of God. Any attempt at leverage lacks a certain honesty because it misrepresents the true nature of our relationship with God: there is nothing that God needs from us. There is no leverage that we have over God.

If our conception of prayer is focused around whether or not we receive divine benefits, then we have greatly restricted our understanding of what prayer is for and about. Let’s back up and see if we can ask the right question.

Let’s start with this: “What is prayer?” The best answer is that prayer is the communication that builds and nourishes our relationship with God. Just as there are different ways that we interact with our friends and family, there are a variety of ways of both talking and listening and experiencing the divine in prayer as well.

A few clarifying points here: first, prayer doesn’t begin a relationship with God. Christians believe that there is no need for us to start a relationship: we already have one. God is our creator, our great first-framer, who knows us intimately from before we were even born. God has already initiated the relationship with us and has even gone several steps further. In the incarnation of Christ, in his life, teachings, death, and resurrection, God has already acted in our world on our behalf. In the twin interconnected movements of creation and redemption God has already established a connection with us—and even given us something to talk about!

Second, relationships grow though familiarity. You have to get to know the other person. Sometimes we get to know someone simply by recognizing that we are in their presence. An awareness of presence and a comfort in that presence is an important part of a good relationship, especially a loving relationship. However, as any shy middle-schooler can tell you, simply being in the presence of your beloved doesn’t make a relationship happen! And certainly not one with any sort of mutuality. Just because you sit behind your beloved in English class won’t make her fall in love with you… I believe that simply sitting in the presence of God as the beloved is a key part of prayer. However, just because silent presence is part of it it doesn’t mean that words aren’t important.

Third, words are important, but the volume and direction matter. Have you ever found yourself in a conversation where you can’t get a word in edge-wise? If the other person carries on a stream of words with nary a break, you may start to suspect that you’re less in a conversation and more in a monologue with an audience. What’s the problem with that? Well—a conversation is a relationship. And if the communication is only coming from one side, than the the relationship is not going to be well-developed and well-balanced. It’s got to be a two-way street. We have to listen as much as we talk. People who study prayer sometimes note that the forms and habits of prayer that developed in Latin-speaking Europe are very much focused on words and images. Speaking as an inheritor of that tradition, we like to do a lot of talking to God. Our challenge is to correct the balance with a bit more listening. The relationship has to be well-formed and well-rounded, and that can’t occur without just as much listening as talking. If the flow of the conversation is largely one-way—with us doing all the talking—then we’re going to have some real issues in building the relationship whether we recognize it or not.

Fourth, how does two-way communication happen? We certainly know how to talk, but what do we expect to hear back? How do we listen to and for God? Should I expect to hear the divine voice in my head? Does it mean that prayer is not working if I don’t? You may hear a voice in your head that you recognize as not your own—that has happened to me before—but it is not the usual way that I listen to God. When Christians say that the Bible is the Word of God, one of the things we mean is that the Bible is a center of God’s self-revelation. The stories of Scripture, the description of how God has acted in history the word of God proclaimed by the prophets, the observation of God’s ways and habits by the wise, all of these are means by which God communicates the divine self to us limited humans. We listen to God in the Scriptures and learn how God has acted and interacted with others in the past through their stories and writings. Certainly as Christians we believe that God’s greatest act of self-revelation is in the incarnation of Jesus Christ and that in learning how he lived and loved, we come to the clearest understanding of who God was, is, and will continue to be. Sacramental Christians also believe that another center of God’s revelation is in the sacraments; God gave Baptism and Eucharist and other practices to the church to be means of grace by which we encounter and experience the loving, transforming power and presence of God. Listening happens through the sacraments as well.

So—prayer is about a communication and about building a relationship. A relationship is about two parties interacting with one another. A deep relationship is founded on principles of trust and honesty—and this is what’s hard about prayer. We have to come to know and trust God. However, the really hard part is trusting and being honest with ourselves about ourselves. Praise and thanksgiving can be a lot of fun! We like being joyful and thanking God for the wonders around us and the gifts we have received. Penitence and oblation—not so much. Recognizing our own faults and poor choices and where we have acted contrary to God’s hopes and dreams doesn’t feel good. But we cannot hope to have an honest relationship with our Creator—the One who knit us together in the secret places of the womb—if we cannot be honest with ourselves, if we try to present a false image of ourselves to God in the midst of prayer. We can’t fake our side of the conversation with the One who knows us completely. We may try to fake our way through other relationships, presenting only the best version of ourselves to the public eye, but this can’t work in our most intimate relationships. We may even succeed in fooling ourselves, but those closest to us—spouses or partners or children—will see the truth. And God knows us even more thoroughly than that.

If prayer is about building a true and truthful relationship with our Creator and Redeemer, our central practice must be the pursuit of honesty, honesty about who we see ourselves to be, but also honesty about who God is and is not. If we insist on only seeing God as the great vending machine in the sky where we put in prayers and receive our gifts, we will be disappointed—not by God as God is but by the idols that we have made in place of God, the lies that we have told ourselves about who God is without nurturing a full and truthful relationship with the One who loves us and who, in the person of Jesus, gave himself for us.

Indeed, looking at prayer from our side as a habit or a practice, it is best understood as a process of increasing honesty. We come to better understand the relationship that we have with God in large measure by becoming aware of and stripping away falsehoods, misjudgments, and lies about who we are—but also about who God is. That may sound a little harsh, but it’s not intended to be so: some of these falsehoods are ones that we have inherited from our religious traditions or our spiritual teachers—clergy, parents, or elders—others are ones that we ourselves have created in the process of trying to make sense of our place in the world. We are ignorant of some of these falsehoods; others we are subtly aware of; still others we are so aware of that we create strategies to actively ignore them or to distract ourselves from the truths they contradict. In prayer we gain a far better sense of who we are, who God is, and the true character of the relationship between us: the loving, constructive, redemptive relationship that God yearns to have with every part of creation.

What, then, does this have to do with the psalms? Just this—while the whole Scriptures can be a center of God’s self-revelation to us, Jewish and Christian teachers and saints have recognized for centuries that the psalms are especially fruitful tools for nurturing the relationship. They are models of prayer and examples for us of our words to God. They tell us of God and of the experiences of God that people have had in the past. They also function as mirrors; we can learn truthfulness in prayer by interacting with them, by noticing what things make us uncomfortable, and pondering why. And that is where we will turn next: to consider the psalms—how we see them through the piety of the ages but also through the lens of modern biblical scholarship—all with an eye to how they can improve and purify our practices of prayer.

Come See Me in SC!

The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina has invited me down for a one-day conference entitled “The Book of Common Prayer: A Pathway to Spirituality” in Florence, South Carolina at St. Luke Lutheran Church on Saturday, February 3rd, 2018. The cost is a very reasonable $35 that includes lunch. My portion runs from 9AM until 1 PM; after lunch will be an instructed Eucharist and we’ll wrap up by 3:30.

The presentation will be based on Inwardly Digest, but tilted with an eye towards evangelism.

Y’all come!

PC: Benedict and Cassiodorus

If you’ve been following along with the Psalming Christ snippets, then you’ll have figured out that we’re heading here. Essentially, I’ve established that Benedictine spirituality is “a thing,” but that as important, useful, and helpful as Benedict’s rule is, it’s not enough—and was never intended to be. Rather, it is part of a living and lived tradition and we need some supplementation to figure out what Benedict was intending with his regulation. Here is where I make the connection between Benedict and Cassiodorus and why understanding Cassiodorus—or at least his concepts—is important for getting at the heart of a robust Benedictine spirituality…

The only source of information that we have about the life of St. Benedict is that found in Book 2 of the Dialogues by St. Gregory the Great (d. 604). A monastic admirer of Benedict, Gregory features Benedict as an example of spiritual wisdom and grace amongst a host of vignettes of other holy men who earn less space within the treatise. While the whole of the Dialogues makes for great reading, I want to direct our attention to how Gregory starts his discussion of Benedict. Classical canons suggest that a writer describing the life of a famous individual must start with his parentage and education. As a trained rhetorician, Gregory follows this pattern, and writes this of Benedict:

“He was born into a free-man’ family in the district of Nursia and was sent to Rome to study the liberal arts. But he saw that many of the students there had fallen into vice. So, hardly had he entered the world than he recoiled from it, fearing that the worldly knowledge he had just begun to acquire would suck him down entirely into its bottomless whirlpool. He renounced study, put aside his father’s residence and fortune and, desiring to please God alone, he went in search of the monastic habit in order to live a holy life. Thus he quitted his studies, learnedly ignorant and wisely unskilled.”

The key things here are that Benedict turned his back on the learning that could be got at Rome and did so for a very particular reason—that he had seen it cause many students to “[fall] into vice.” As a result, he forsook Rome and its schools, going into the wilderness “learnedly ignorant” and “wisely unskilled,” a neat set of parallel phrases that Gregory as an author no doubt took delight in. I imagine Gregory also had in mind an important turn of phrase at the end of the Rule’s prologue where Benedict lays out his purpose: “Therefore we intend to establish a school (schola) for the Lord’s service” (RB Prol.45). The unlearned holy man becomes the schoolmaster of souls.

Gregory’s introductory passage accomplishes two things. First, it recalls the Life of St. Antony. In that work, penned by the learned Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria (d. 373), he too takes pains to point out that the Antony (d. 356)—regarded as the true founder of monasticism—was unlearned. Thus, Gregory portrays Benedict in the same way: untutored but in spite of that—or indeed even because of it—much wiser in the ways of God than the ways of humanity.

Second, Gregory acknowledges the existence of an important cultural gap. There was no such thing as secular learning in the Italian 6th century. All learning was pagan learning. That is, the ways that students were taught to read, write, and speak were based in the great epics of pagan Greece and Rome and attendant literature: Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, Ovid’s Metamorpheses. There was no comparable Christian educational literature. Even the great Christian rhetoricians like Augustine and Jerome made embarrassed apologies for the Christian Scriptures—that its grammar and styling seemed rude and barbarous in comparison to its pagan counterparts, that its rhetorical faults highlighted the unlearned wisdom of its authors (pointing back to the description of Peter and John in Acts 4:13). As Christianity spread and made inroads among the learned classes, this problem came to a head. Some authors, like the North African Tertullian (d. 240), the father of Latin-language theology, famously thundered “What hath Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Other authors like Origen (d. 253) and St. Augustine of Hippo (d. 430), borrowed a passage of Exodus to speak of the “despoiling of the Egyptians,” arguing that if the Children of Israel could take wealth from their pagan neighbors for their own benefit, so too Christians could borrow Greco-Roman learning, strip it of its pagan character, and repurpose it for the instruction of Christian readers and thinkers.

Indeed, this educational gap was weaponized by Julian the Apostate (d. 363), the first and last Roman emperor after Constantine (d. 337) to try and restore paganism in the empire and displace Christianity. He issued an edict that all teachers had to believe what they taught. That is, those who taught higher education from the pagan epics had to be believers in them and in the gods they proclaimed, effectively barring Christians from educational roles and forcing the upper classes back into the thought-world of pagan antiquity. As Julian only remained in power for less than a year, this edict failed to have the long term effect he was looking for as it was swiftly repealed upon his death.

So—where was learning to be found for monks in the days of Benedict and beyond? As we have seen, Benedict himself was no help because none of the books he recommends assists their readers in the arts of reading itself. How should Christians read the Scriptures? What are the necessary tools for unpacking Scripture? What are the essential techniques for wringing spiritual meaning for monastics out of texts that appear to be speaking about history that happened centuries ago in an alien place and culture?

Jerome’s translations of Origen’s biblical commentaries provided a starting place but were not enough. Later monks would address this lack and the two best known would be Gregory the Great (d. 604) and the Venerable Bede (d. 725). Gregory’s Forty Gospel Homilies would become a staple of monastic libraries for centuries to come and would find their ways into sermon collections and breviaries to enrich the Church throughout the Middle Ages. Likewise, his Homilies on Ezekiel and his monumental Morals in Job would become standard works for interpreting the Old Testament. Bede would follow in his footsteps, pulling together commentaries on the New Testament Epistles, the Gospels of Mark and Luke, the Book of Revelation and parts of the Old Testament. However, sermons and commentaries alone did not suffice to teach the arts of reading. The solution to this problem penned by one of Benedict’s own 6th century Italian contemporaries, Cassiodorus.

In the first half of his life, Cassiodorus (d. 585) served the Gothic kings who ruled Italy throughout the first half of the 6th century, notably Theoderic the Great (d. 526). His family had held high positions for the previous two generations and Cassiodorus was no exception, rising to the highest civil position in the imperial bureaucracy of the West until the Eastern Emperor Justinian and his savage wars of reconquest brought an end to Gothic rule. During a time of exile in Constantinople and for the rest of his long life, Cassiodorus became a monk and—fired by the example of a school of Christian studies in the East—turned his considerable literary and intellectual talents to the creation of a Christian curriculum for educating his fellow monks.

He is best known in scholarly circles for a work called The Institutes of Divine and Human Learning which has long been considered his great contribution to keeping scholarly wisdom alive in the West. This work is divided into two books. The first is a survey of theological practice and literature—talking about the importance of Scripture, how it can be divided up, and identifying important commentaries and orthodox thinkers on each section. The second book is a crash course in the seven liberal arts: the trivium which are the initial three arts of reading (grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic) and the quadrivium which are the four applied arts of mathematics (arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy). This work has long been considered his greatest contribution to intellectual history in the West as it passed down these seven arts to later ages, most notably through the Etymologies of Isidore of Seville (d. 636) who took this idea and expanded it into the first known Christian encyclopedia.

The Institutes are a great work, but—from the standpoint of the arts of reading, theology, and the spirituality of the West—lag in second place behind his most circulated and impactful work: The Explanation of the Psalms.

Benedict and the rest of the monastic movement saw the psalter as the heart of monastic spirituality. Every monastic rule devoted space to prescribing how the psalms should become a central text in monastic lives, though their singing and as models for all other forms of Christian prayer. Cassiodorus taught how to read them. He split the Gordian knot of the uncomfortable relationship between classical learning and Christian spirituality with a bold assertion: that the seeds of all seven liberal arts lay within the Psalms if one just knew how to look for them and find them. His Explanation of the Psalms in three volumes provided monastic learners with a complete road map to understanding the psalms, the arts of reading necessary to profitably interpret them, and the spiritual tools to turn the act of reading into a practice of prayer.

Because Cassiodorus’s legacy has been seen for centuries in the Institutes, Cassiodorus has long been considered a competitor of Benedict, an author advancing a more secular understanding of wisdom over and against monastic spirituality. Certainly this is the way the great monastic historian Jean Leclercq (d. 1993) saw the two—as rivals, each promoting a different aim for the unfolding of monastic life. When Cassiodorus’s key work is correctly identified as the Explanation of the Psalms rather than the Institutes, the true relationship between the two men becomes evident.

Rather than competitors, Benedict and Cassiodorus are the perfect complements to one another. Benedict provides the rules and structures that create the framework of a monastic life, a life focused on immersion in Scripture—the Psalms holding pride of place. Cassiodorus provides a invaluable guide that explains how the Psalms are read and understood from a Christian perspective with the help of the classical arts. Furthermore, he models what spiritual reading and praying look and sound like. Benedict brings the structure; Cassiodorus brings the method. Together they provide a foundation for a Scripture-shaped life in the monastic tradition.

History reveals that this is the way the relationship worked. When we compare the numbers of copies of the various manuscripts that have survived to the present day, when we hunt through the booklists of ancient monastic libraries, we find the confirmation that we are after. Judging by manuscripts, the Institutes made hardly a ripple in the early medieval world. Only XX copies of the Institutes survive. This is doubtless due in large measure to Isidore taking up the theme and running with it. He incorporated whole sections cribbed directly from the Institutes in his Etymologies and thereby made the Institutes redundant in the face of his much larger work.

The Explanation of the Psalms, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. Its nearest competitor, St. Augustine of Hippo’s Narrations on the Psalms survive in sixty-six medieval copies; almost twice that many editions of all or part of Cassiodorus’s Explanations survive! In addition to these 106 copies of the Explanations, material from the Explanations became a standard feature of the Carolingian glossed psalters. These books, used for both study and prayer, contained the psalms written in large letters in the middle of the page with explanations drawn from Cassiodorus, Jerome, Augustine, and other teachers written in small letters between the lines and around the margins of the page.  These glossed psalters were one of the teaching tools by which young monastics who were in the process of memorizing their psalms would learn to read and, as they grew more advanced, how to analyze and interpret the Scriptures.

Looking back at the editions of Cassiodorus’s Explanations that scholars can firmly date, almost half were written in either the 9th century or the 12th century. These spikes represent the 9th century Carolingian reform and the 12th century Monastic Reformation. The generations that renewed monastic vitality identified and copied Cassiodorus’s Explanations as a companion to a renewed focus on Benedict’s Rule and the principles at the heart of Western monasticism. When those reforming monks looked back, they identified Cassiodorus as a central resource for monastic learning.

So—what about us? As we stand at our own point in history, as many of us are drawn to the world of monastic spirituality, its rhythms and habits and patterns, is there something that Cassiodorus can teach us? However, we must approach him with a certain caution in mind. We live in a different time. Literacy and the arts of reading are deeply embedded within our societies. Our outlook on prayer is different from earlier periods. Modern biblical studies, drawing upon technological, archaeological, and theoretical advances, is vastly different in our day than those of Benedict and Cassiodorus. Many things they thought were true we now know to be false; many beliefs they treasured, we question. Nevertheless, the medieval world understood Cassiodorus and his teachings on the psalms to be an essential compliment to Benedict’s world. Does Cassiodorus still have something to teach us about reading and praying the psalms with renewed eyes and hearts?

Episcopalians: Please comment on the Budget!

I’m head down in book writing and class prep for the upcoming semester and can’t draft a suitable post at the moment, so I’ll give you two links and a plea…

Two of my very knowledgeable friends, Scott Gunn and Nurya Love Parish, have written great posts on the problem with the budget that has currently been proposed for review at General Convention this summer.

If you want the long versions, read Scott’s post here to see what someone who has been involved in church politics for a long time thinks about this. Nurya has a different perspective since she is in the midst of trying to plant (in two different ways…) a ministry right now.

tl;dr:  The budget proposed for the next triennium reduces Evangelism spending from 4% to 2%. This is ridiculous!! We say evangelism is important and we lay down numbers like this? Really?We have until Wednesday, January 10th to go to the survey and leave comments about this. I’ve already done so—I hope you will too.


Evensong Handout, Rite I for Lent

Over on the Rubric Facebook page there was a question about whether any churches do Evensong from the prayer book any more. The answer is, yes, they do…

Just to distinguish, there are three main kinds of evening prayer services:

  • Evening Prayer where the service is prayer from the Book of Common Prayer,
  • (Congregational) Evensong where the officiant and the people sing the service together (the appointed psalms may either be read or sung—I’ve seen it both ways), or
  • Choral Evensong where the service is sung between the officiant and the choir. The congregation may chime in on the canticles or hymns—or not. Usually everything is sung and it uses either the 1928 or the 1662 format.

M’s church has been doing a congregational evensong during Lent and Advent. Attendance varies, sometimes it’s as high as 15, sometimes it’s just been 3 or 4. Usually it’s in the 10 or 11 range, but numbers aren’t the driving goal—offering Evensong is.

For several of the participants over the last couple of seasons, it was the first time they’d ever been to an Evensong. Too, sometimes M invited others to lead—once a priest from another congregation, and once our younger daughter H wanted to give it a try.  It worked because we used a format that was pretty easy. My preference is always to use the book, but I don’t find that practical in this instance because you have to know when and what to sing and when to move from hymnal to prayer book. Instead, we worked up a 1-page front-and-back sheet that contained the main body of the Office without hymns, psalms, or canticles. This allowed us to make one run of sheets that we could laminate and use over and over throughout the season.

Also, when you get into hymns and such you start running afoul of copyright regulations. Virtually all of the hymns and much of the composed service music is under copyright.  Both the text and tunes found in the hymnal for the specific service texts for Evening Prayer are in the public domain because, in the case of the prayer book, the texts are explicitly in the public domain. In the case of the tunes, they are traditional and have been used for hundreds of years. What *is* copyrighted is the typesetting of them in the hymnal. That’s why you can’t copy-and-paste from the hymnal without a license: the image of the contents are copyrighted even if the contents are not.

While M’s church does have one of the big rubber-stamp music licenses because they livestream and YouTube their service (which you can watch here), I opted to dispense with the issue altogether by setting the music myself with a basic music notation font and judicious use of the Paint utility.

So—what you’ll find here is a Rite I Evensong for Lenten congregational use that fits on a one-pager. [Now, with all the notes in the Dismissal!] Officiants will need their prayer books as some of their texts are partial or missing to save space and, of course, no propers are included.

The Confession is included and there’s a reason for that… When M first started this, she was doing it with a clergy colleague. We handed out the sheets, and he began with the Confession—which wasn’t on the sheets. This caused unintentional chaos, so I added it and it’s been on since. (As a basic rule, if you’ve given a handout for an unfamiliar service, you’d be advised to go with what’s on the handout even if it’s not the way you’d normally do it. Finish the service, then address the handout; don’t deviate in the middle [or beginning] and confuse everybody…)

Learning Paleography Site!

As more and more digital manuscript libraries come on line, I find myself doing more and more work with period (8th through 13th century) manuscripts. I used and mentioned a number of manuscripts and manuscript images in Honey of Souls because I felt it was necessary to give readers a sense of the feel of medieval psalters, commentaries, and other books. Thanks to a smart classroom, I used at least one (and usually more) manuscript images every class period in my Church History class last semester. However, as your typical New Testament PhD full-time IT guy who teaches early/medieval church history and writes on liturgical spirituality—I haven’t actually had a lot of formal training in codicology…

I’ve picked up quite a bit along the way, of course, from NT text criticism classes and Old English courses, but I feel a deficiency there. I do have on the To Read Next section of my bookshelf a nice line-up:

However, since I’m trying to finish up Psalming Christ and prep for a Spring semester seminar, it’ll be a while before I get around to them.

But—I’ve just found on Medieval Twitter what looks to be a great new resource to keep my eye on: Teaching the Codex: Pedagogical Approaches to Palaeography and Codicology

I haven’t explored it in depth yet, but it looks like a helpful hands-on way for people with the interest to learn how to use digital libraries and their manuscripts in a better and more sophisticated way!

Year B Gospel Canticle Antiphons for the Daily Office

I had a post in the works that got into discussions of the Anglican Missal and Breviary* and such that got long and windy and such so I’ll just keep this brief and cut to the chase…

Of course, I like the Anglican Missal and Breviary but there’s one obvious problem with using them as direct supplements to the ’79 BCP: our current use is grounded in a three-year Eucharistic lectionary. These venerable resources are grounded in a one-year lectionary.

One of the key elements of continuity between the Mass and Office in Western liturgy was the use of bits and pieces of the Gospel and Epistle for the nearby feasts in successive days of the Office and chief among these is the Gospel Canticle Antiphon which was typically taken from the Gospel lection. I have two different cycles of Gospel Canticle Antiphons in the St. Bede’s Breviary, but this is a post to alert you to another…

Friend-of-the-blog Charlie Heeley has put up a set for use with Year B of the Revised Common lectionary that also includes some appropriate Chapter passages for use with Noon Prayer as well. It’s a compact, six-page (printed front & back) booklet that puts these texts right at your fingers. It’s in a Google Doc that can be found here.

Let me know what you think!