The Essence of the Office

This post follows on the other on the Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving to complete my thoughts on the Essence of the Office.

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The essence of the Daily Office must be found on one hand in Paul’s exhortation for Christians “with gratitude in your hearts [to] sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God” (Col 3:12), and, on the other hand, to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17). The two central themes here that we must keep before our eyes are the idea of the use of songs and poetic praises of God and also continuous prayer springing from deliberate acts of periodic prayer. As we consider the Daily Office and its various parts and acts, we will return time and time again to these two basic principles that form its foundation.

Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

The Anglican mystic Evelyn Underhill (†1941) in her book Worship reinforces the poetic character of the Daily Office and the significance of that quality:

Liturgical worship shares with all ritual action the character of a work of art. Entering upon it, we leave the lower realism of daily life for the higher realism of a successive action which expresses and interprets eternal truth by the deliberate use of poetic and symbolic material. A liturgical service should therefore possess a structural unity; its general form and movement, and each of its parts, being determined by the significance of the whole. By its successive presentation of all the phases of the soul’s response to the Holy, its alternative use of history and oratory, drama and rhythm, its appeals to feeling, thought, and will, the individual is educated and gathered into the great movement of the Church. . . . Nevertheless since its main function is to suggest the Supernatural and lead men out to communion with the supernatural, it is by the methods of poetry that its chief work will be done. . . . [P]oetry still remains a chief element at least in the Daily Office, which is mainly an arrangement of psalms, canticles, and Scripture readings. (Worship, p. 119)

 She goes on to remind us of the interpretive errors that occur when we attempt to read poetry literally and miss its deeper sense and direction. As she sees it, poetry in the liturgy has three main purposes:

(1)    It is the carrying-medium of something which otherwise wholly eludes representation: the soul’s deep and awestruck apprehension of the numinous. . . .

(2)    It can universalize particulars; giving an eternal reference to those things of time in and through which God speaks to men. . . .

(3)    It is a powerful stimulant of the transcendental sense . . .

All these characters of poetry are active in good liturgy, and indeed constitute an important part of its religious value. Moreover, poetry both enchants and informs, addressing its rhythmic and symbolic speech to regions of the mind which are inaccessible to argument, and evoking movements of awe and love which no exhortation can obtain. It has meaning at many levels, and welds together all those who use it; overriding their personal moods and subduing them with a grave loveliness. (Worship, p. 120)

Great art—great poetry—is that which can capture our minds and hearts, and suffuse reality with a new light, a new perspective. It helps us see our ordinary, everyday world as not so ordinary, and cracks open everyday reality to help us see the beauty, the glory, and the wonder that is concealed therein. It helps us see new possibilities; it helps us see grander movements.

This is my best perspective on Scripture: it invites us into a different way of seeing the world and our relationships within it. It invites us to experience the whole cosmos arrayed around the throne of God as portrayed in the heavenly throne-room depicted in Revelation 4-6, and leads us to speculate about what it means to live in a world where justice, mercy, and loving-kindness are fundamental guiding principles. We are invited to recognize our own world transformed and suffused with the light of God and to function as mirrors, lenses, and crystals, reflecting—focusing—diffusing—the divine light, casting it through our facets upon the world and people around us.

The Office with its language of poetry reminds us and orients us to this level of understanding and reflection. Too, it can help us get beyond a literalism and dogmatism that can either frustrate or limit our sense of the holy and the divine. The Athanasian Creed can be a hard pill for many to swallow. On one hand, it’s chalk full of complicated and philosophical technical terms. On the other, it ends with a declaration of damnation containing a certainty that seems to arrogate to itself a judgment properly left with God alone.   The Episcopal Church has never been comfortable with it; Bishop Seabury (†1796), the first American Episcopal bishop, wrote that he was never convinced of the propriety of reading it in church, yet did want to include it along the same lines as the articles of faith to show that we hold the common faith of the West. Indeed, the 1979 revision is the only American prayer book to include it. Especially as modern people, we don’t know what to do with it—but the monks did! They sang it as a canticle complete with antiphons at Sunday Prime, the poetic and musical setting potentially subverting its dogmatism and softening its philosophical formality in song.

After speaking of the eight individual hours that formed the Daily Office in the West, Underhill draws them together and unites them with their purpose:

The complete Divine Office, then, . . . is best understood when regarded as a spiritual and artistic unity; so devised, that the various elements of praise, prayer, and reading, and the predominately poetic and historic material from which it is built up, contribute to one single movement of the corporate soul, and form together one single act of solemn yet exultant worship. This act of worship is designed to give enduring and impersonal expression to eternal truths; and unite the here and now earthly action of the Church with the eternal response of creation to its origin. It is her “Sacred Chant,” and loses some of its quality and meaning when its choral character is suppressed: for in it, the demands of a superficial realism are set aside, in favour of those deeper realities which can only be expressed under poetic and musical forms. (Worship, 124-5)

The more we sing of the Office, the more in touch we are with these melodies, harmonies, and rhythms of which she speaks. Yet, even if we are reading it alone in our rooms, we can still find the cadences there.

On a purely literary level, we can go through the Office step by step and note the presence of the poetry and music at every step. The psalms form the heart of the office. We respond to the Scripture readings with canticles, most of which are infused and inspired by the psalms—or songs like them. The suffrages themselves are verses of psalms recombined and related to one another in new ways. The collects and prayers speak in the language of the psalms and Scriptures.

As we pray the Office and sing it—whether aloud or in our hearts—we are incarnating the Pauline injunction to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God and to one another. As its poetry becomes more deeply a part of us, as these songs become more fully implanted within our hearts, they leads us to a more beautiful lens for locating God at work in our world.

To Pray Without Ceasing

This notion of having the songs and psalms implanted in our hearts and consciousness leads us in to the second principle, to pray without ceasing. If we wish to learning the meaning of this phrase, we must turn our eyes to the Desert Fathers and Mothers for it was they who devoted their entire efforts to live its meaning.

The fourth century was a tumultuous time for the Church as Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 313 meant an end to persecution and brought with it a tacit sign of imperial favor. (Christianity wouldn’t actually become the official religion of the empire until 380 under Theodosius.) While the easing of restrictions against Christianity brought in a wave of converts—some no doubt embracing it for political gain—this same easing equally triggered a crisis of spirituality. For decades, Christian authenticity had been bound up with martyrdom; fidelity to the way of the cross was identified with the willingness to die a martyr’s death. With martyrdom at the hands of the authorities no longer an option, where was an earnest Christian to turn?

The answer came in the form of the desert. Christians who sought to embody the commands of Scripture sold their possessions, renounced family life, and sought lives of prayer and austerity in the deserts, either on their own or in the company of like-minded souls. This way of life, which would flower into monasticism and feed the church spiritually for centuries to come, was popularized by bishops and theologians who wrote inspiring accounts of the lives of simple men and the spiritual riches they uncovered. The great bishop Athanasius (†373) penned the Life of Antony which chronicled the life and spirituality of one of the earliest desert saints and spread word of the movement across the Greek-speaking world. Not to be outdone, the ascetic and scholar Jerome (†367), living in a monastery in Jerusalem, wrote a number of lives that sought to supplement (or replace) the Life of Antony, bringing knowledge of the desert life to the Latin-speaking church. The first great systematic works of Western Christian spirituality, John Cassian’s (†435) Institutes and Conferences, were written for the benefit of his monastery in Gaul, containing remembrances of his youthful spiritual dialogues with heroes of the Egyptian and Palestinian deserts.

As we sift through the literature of the early monastic movement and the desert saints who founded it, we come back time and time again to this injunction to “pray without ceasing,” to praying of some form of the Daily Office, and a fundamental belief that the use of the Office was the key to praying without ceasing. The characteristic pattern of desert life is captured in a brief description of how Antony lived:

The money he earned from his work he gave to the poor, apart from what he needed to buy bread, and he prayed often, for he learned that one should pray to the Lord without ceasing. He also listened attentively to the Scriptures so that nothing should slip from his mind. He preserved all the Lord’s commandments, keeping them safe in his memory rather than in books. (Life of Antony 3, Early Christian Lives, p. 10)

Note the way that work, prayer, and memorization of the Scriptures are interconnected here. This way of life is further clarified by an episode where a desert hermit was disputing with a group of uber-pietists called the Euchites or Messalians concerning prayer without ceasing:

Some of the monks who are called Euchites went to Enaton to see Abba Lucius. The old man asked them, ‘What is your manual work?’ They said, ‘We do not touch manual work but as the Apostle says, we pray without ceasing.’ The old man asked them if they did not eat and they replied they did. So he said to them, ‘When you are eating, who prays for you then?’ Again he asked them if they did not sleep and they replied they did. And he said to them, ‘When you are asleep, who prays for you then?’ They could not find any answer to give him. He said to them, ‘Forgive me, but you do not act as you speak. I will show you how, while doing my manual work, I pray without interruption. I sit down with God, soaking my reeds and plaiting my ropes, and I say, “God have mercy on me; according to your great goodness and according to the multitude of your mercies, save me from my sins [Ps 51:1,2].”’ So he asked them if this were not prayer and they replied it was. Then he said to them, ‘So when I have spent the whole day working and praying, making thirteen pieces of money more or less, I put two pieces of money outside the door and I pay for my food with the rest of the money. He who takes the two pieces of money prays for me when I am eating and sleeping; so, by the grace of God, I fulfill the precept to pray without ceasing.’ (Sayings of the Desert Fathers, p. 120-1)

This blend of piety and practicality is found throughout this early literature. The life described is one filled with basic manual labor—weaving ropes or baskets made from the leaves of the desert palms or scratching out subsistence gardens from the rocky soil—suffused with constant prayer. Indeed, the Egyptian monks in particular were famous for prayers that were “brief but frequent.”

The prayer recited by Abba Lucius is an adaptation of the start of Psalm 51. Reading through the Life of Antony and the description that Athanasius gives of Antony’s struggles in spiritual travail, a pattern emerges. At a great turning point in Antony’s life, during a struggle with demons that left him both physically and spiritually battered he retained his faith and focus by ceaselessly chanting, “If they place an encampment against me, my heart will not fear” (Ps 27:3). When people came from the cities, hoping to find him dead, he would pray verses from Ps 68:1-2 and Ps 118:10. Throughout the literature, the words of the psalms are constantly appearing through their prayers and discussions. In truth their whole conversations are shot through with Scripture, but consistently the psalms predominate. In fact, the Egyptian “brief but frequent” prayers that appear in the corpus are almost always drawn from Scripture and the psalms. One of the works of Evagrius of Pontus (†399) consists entirely of one-liners from Scripture to be used for prayer in a host of situations organized in relation to the eight vices identified by the desert monks.

For these monks—many of whom were illiterate—Scripture came through hearing. Preeminently, Scripture was heard and memorized in the Daily Offices. The foundation of the Office gave them the words they needed to meditate in the midst of their work and to truly pray without ceasing no matter what they were doing.

Perhaps the preeminent connection between the Scriptures, the psalms, and praying without ceasing comes from the second conference on prayer recorded by John Cassian. Abba Isaac says that the whole goal of the monastic way of life can be summed up like this: “This, I say, is the end [goal] of all perfection–that the mind purged of every carnal desire may daily be elevated to spiritual things, until one’s whole way of life and all the yearnings of one’s heart become and single and continuous prayer” (Conferences 10.7.3). Cassian’s companion Germanus asks how this sort of focus can be achieved. The reply from Abba Isaac is that there is one particular formula for meditation that can secure this result:

The formula for this discipline and prayer that you are seeking, then, shall be presented to you. Every monk who longs for the continual awareness of God should be in the habit of meditating on it ceaselessly in his heart, after having driven out every kind of thought, because he will be unable to hold fast to it in any other way than by being freed from all bodily cares and concerns. Just as this was handed down to us by a few of the oldest fathers who were left, so also we pass it on to none but the most exceptional, who truly desire it. This, then, is the devotional formula proposed to you as absolutely necessary for possessing the perpetual awareness of God: ‘O God, make speed to save me; O Lord, make haste to help me’ [Ps 70:1]. (Conferences 10.10.2)

Yes, this is the line that is used as a verse and response to open each of the prayer offices. No, that’s not an accident.

John Cassian makes the explicit connection between the Daily Office and the continuous prayer of the Egyptian monks in his other big book, the Institutes, but he does so by framing it in the midst of one of the disputes about monastic practice. By the end of the fourth century, there were two major centers of monastic practice—the deserts of Egypt and the deserts of Palestine. They had different ways of praying the Daily Office. The Egyptian model was the same in format as what appears to have been done in many of the early cathedrals of the period—one public service in the morning and another in the evening. Twelve psalms were sung, then there was a reading from the Old Testament, then one from the New Testament. That was it for the day. The Palestinian model was to gather more frequently. Jerome, writing from his monastery in Bethlehem, advises this:

Further, although the apostle bids us to ‘pray without ceasing,’ and although to the saints their very sleep is a supplication, we ought to have fixed hours of prayer, that if we are detained by work, the time may remind us of our duty. Prayers, as everyone knows, ought to be said at the third, sixth, and ninth hours, at dawn and at evening. . . . We should rise two or three times in the night and go over the parts of Scripture which we know by heart. (Letter 22. 37)

and instructs the parents of a young virgin dedicated to the church to train her in the same way: “She ought to rise at night to recite prayers and psalms; to sing hymns in the morning; at the third, sixth, and ninth hours to take her place in the line to do battle for Christ; and lastly to kindle her lamp and to offer her evening sacrifice” (Letter 107.9).

The Egyptians responded rather harshly. One characteristic response comes from the Egyptian-trained Epiphanius:

The Blessed Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus, was told this by the abbot of a monastery he had in Palestine, ‘By your prayers we do not neglect our appointed round of psalmody, but we are very careful to recite [the prayer offices of] Terce, Sext and None.’ Then Epiphanius corrected them with the following comment, ‘It is clear you do not trouble about the other hours of the day, if you cease from prayer. The true monk should have prayer and psalmody continuously in his heart.’ (Sayings of the Desert Fathers, p. 57)

Thus, he suggested that by having more set hours of the day, the monks were neglecting this continual prayer of the heart and instead were satisfied only to pray when the clock told them it was time to do so. Frankly, this is kind of a cheap shot. An argument could equally be made that since the Palestinian monks were hearing the psalms more, they had better opportunity to memorize them and keep them always in their hearts—but the (Egyptian) sayings don’t see fit to give us the Palestinian abbot’s response!

In light of this argument between the two parties, John Cassian tries to take a middle path. After explaining the Egyptian system, and before talking about how to pray the day hours, he says this:

For, among [the Egyptians as opposed to the monasteries of Palestine and Mesopotamia] the offices that we are obliged to render to the Lord at different hours and at intervals of time [i.e., the day offices of Terce, Sext, and None] to the call of the summoner, are celebrated continuously and spontaneously throughout the course of the whole day, in tandem with their work. For they are constantly doing manual labor alone in their cells in such a way that they almost never omit meditating on the psalms and on other parts of Scripture, and to this they add entreaties and prayers at every moment, taking up the whole day in offices that we celebrate at fixed times. Hence, apart from the evening and

Morning Prayer for 7/15/2024

Monday after Proper 10

(Commemoration of Swithun, Bishop of Winchester, c.862)

Pre-Office Angelus [+][-]

V. The Angel of the Lord announced to Mary
R. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord
R. Be it unto me according to your word

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelled among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

R. The angel of the Lord announced unto Mary;
V. And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

R. Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
V. Be it unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

R. And the Word was made flesh:
V. And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
We beseech Thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts, that we who have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of His resurrection, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Phillipians 1:2

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Phillipians 1:2

Confession of Sin [+][-]

Dearly beloved, we have come together in the presence of Almighty God our heavenly Father, to render thanks for the great benefits that we have received at his hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear this holy Word, and to ask, for ourselves and on behalf of others, those things that are necessary for our life and our salvation. And so that we may prepare ourselves in heart and mind to worship him, let us kneel in silence, and with penitent and obedient hearts confess our sins, that we may obtain forgiveness by his infinite goodness and mercy.

Silence may be kept.

Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep, we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, we have offended against thy holy laws, we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, spare thou those who confess their faults, restore thou those who are penitent, according to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord; and grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, to the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

The Almighty and merciful Lord grant us absolution and remission of all our sins, true repentance, amendment of life, and the grace and consolation of his Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dearly beloved, we have come together in the presence of Almighty God our heavenly Father, to set forth his praise, to hear his holy Word, and to ask, for ourselves and on behalf of others, those things that are necessary for our life and our salvation. And so that we may prepare ourselves in heart and mind to worship him, let us kneel in silence, and with penitent and obedient hearts confess our sins, that we may obtain forgiveness by his infinite goodness and mercy.

Silence may be kept.

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life. Amen.

The Invitatory and Psalter

V. Lord, open our lips.
R. And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:*
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

V. O Lord, open thou our lips.
R. And our mouth shall show forth thy praise.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: *
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Alleluia.

Venite Psalm 95:1-7; 96:9, 13

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: O come, let us adore him.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: O come, let us adore him.

O come, let us sing unto the Lord; *
      let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving *
      and show ourselves glad in him with psalms.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: O come, let us adore him.[+][-]

For the Lord is a great God, *
      and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are all the corners of the earth, *
      and the strength of the hills is his also.
The sea is his, and he made it, *
      and his hands prepared the dry land.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: O come, let us adore him.

O come, let us worship and fall down *
      and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is the Lord our God, *
      and we are the people of his pasture
      and the sheep of his hand.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: O come, let us adore him.

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; *
      let the whole earth stand in awe of him.
For he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth, *
      and with righteousness to judge the world
      and the peoples with his truth.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: O come, let us adore him.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: *
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: O come, let us adore him.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: O come, let us adore him.

Venite Psalm 95:1-7

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: Come let us adore him.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: Come let us adore him.

Come, let us sing to the Lord; *
      let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving *
      and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: Come let us adore him.[+][-]

For the Lord is a great God, *
      and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the caverns of the earth, *
      and the heights of the hills are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, *
      and his hands have molded the dry land.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: Come let us adore him.

Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, *
      and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. *
      Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: Come let us adore him.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:*
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: Come let us adore him.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: Come let us adore him.

The Psalm or Psalms Appointed


Psalm 75 Confitebimur tibi

But I will talk of the God of Jacob and praise him for ever.

  UNTO thee, O God, do we give thanks; *
      yea, unto thee do we give thanks.
   Thy Name also is so nigh; *
      and that do thy wondrous works declare.
   In the appointed time, saith God, *
      I shall judge according unto right.
   The earth is weak, and all the inhabiters thereof: *
      I bear up the pillars of it.
   I said unto the fools, Deal not so madly; *
      and to the ungodly, Set not up your horn.
   Set not up your horn on high, *
      and speak not with a stiff neck.
   For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, *
      nor yet from the south.
   And why? God is the Judge; *
      he putteth down one, and setteth up another.
   For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; *
      it is full mixt, and he poureth out of the same.
10    As for the dregs thereof, *
      all the ungodly of the earth shall drink them, and suck them out.
11    But I will talk of the God of Jacob, *
      and praise him for ever.
12    All the horns of the ungodly also will I break, *
      and the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: *
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

But I will talk of the God of Jacob and praise him for ever.

Psalm 76 Notus in Judæa

God arose to judgement and to help all the meek upon earth.

  IN Judah is God known; *
      his Name is great in Israel.
   At Salem is his tabernacle, *
      and his dwelling in Sion.
   There brake he the arrows of the bow, *
      the shield, the sword, and the battle.
   Thou art glorious in might, *
      when thou comest from the hills of the robbers.
   The proud are robbed, they have slept their sleep; *
      and all the men whose hands were mighty have found nothing.
   At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, *
      both the chariot and horse are fallen.
   Thou, even thou art to be feared; *
      and who may stand in thy sight when thou art angry?
   Thou didst cause thy judgment to be heard from heaven; *
      the earth trembled, and was still,
   When God arose to judgment, *
      and to help all the meek upon earth.
10    The fierceness of man shall turn to thy praise; *
      and the fierceness of them shalt thou refrain.
11    Promise unto the LORD your God, and keep it, all ye that are round about him; *
      bring presents unto him that ought to be feared.
12    He shall refrain the spirit of princes, *
      and is wonderful among the kings of the earth.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: *
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

God arose to judgement and to help all the meek upon earth.

Psalm 77 Voce mea ad Dominum

In the time of my trouble, I sought the LORD.

  I WILL cry unto God with my voice; *
      even unto God will I cry with my voice, and he shall hearken unto me.
   In the time of my trouble I sought the Lord: *
      I stretched forth my hands unto him, and ceased not in the night season; my soul refused comfort.
   When I am in heaviness, I will think upon God; *
      when my heart is vexed, I will complain.
   Thou holdest mine eyes waking: *
      I am so feeble that I cannot speak.
   I have considered the days of old, *
      and the years that are past.
   I call to remembrance my song, *
      and in the night I commune with mine own heart, and search out my spirit.
   Will the Lord absent himself for ever? *
      and will he be no more intreated?
   Is his mercy clean gone for ever? *
      and is his promise come utterly to an end for evermore?
   Hath God forgotten to be gracious? *
      and will he shut up his loving-kindness in displeasure?
10    And I said, It is mine own infirmity; *
      but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most Highest.
11    I will remember the works of the LORD, *
      and call to mind thy wonders of old time.
12    I will think also of all thy works, *
      and my talking shall be of thy doings.
13    Thy way, O God, is holy: *
      who is so great a God as our God?
14    Thou art the God that doest wonders, *
      and hast declared thy power among the peoples.
15    Thou hast mightily delivered thy people, *
      even the sons of Jacob and Joseph.
16    The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee, and were afraid; *
      the depths also were troubled.
17    The clouds poured out water, the air thundered, *
      and thine arrows went abroad.
18    The voice of thy thunder was heard round about: *
      the lightnings shone upon the ground; the earth was moved, and shook withal.
19    Thy way is in the sea, and thy paths in the great waters, *
      and thy footsteps are not known.
20    Thou leddest thy people like sheep, *
      by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: *
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

In the time of my trouble, I sought the LORD.

Psalm 75 Confitebimur tibi

But I will rejoice for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.

  We give you thanks, O God, we give you thanks, *
      calling upon your Name and declaring all your wonderful deeds.
  I will appoint a time, says God; *
      I will judge with equity.
  Though the earth and all its inhabitants are quaking, *
      I will make its pillars fast.
  I will say to the boasters, 'Boast no more, ' *
      and to the wicked, 'Do not toss your horns;
  Do not toss your horns so high, *
      nor speak with a proud neck.'"
  For judgment is neither from the east nor from the west, *
      nor yet from the wilderness or the mountains.
  It is God who judges; *
      he puts down one and lifts up another.
  For in the LORD'S hand there is a cup, full of spiced and foaming wine, which he pours out, *
      and all the wicked of the earth shall drink and drain the dregs.
  But I will rejoice for ever; *
      I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
10   He shall break off all the horns of the wicked; *
      but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: *
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:*
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

But I will rejoice for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.

Psalm 76 Notus in Judæa

God rose up to judgment and to save all the oppressed of the earth.

  In Judah is God known; *
      his Name is great in Israel.
  At Salem is his tabernacle, *
      and his dwelling is in Zion.
  There he broke the flashing arrows, *
      the shield, the sword, and the weapons of battle.
  How glorious you are! *
      more splendid than the everlasting mountains!
  The strong of heart have been despoiled; they sink into sleep; *
      none of the warriors can lift a hand.
  At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, *
      both horse and rider lie stunned.
  What terror you inspire! *
      who can stand before you when you are angry?
  From heaven you pronounced judgment; *
      the earth was afraid and was still;
  When God rose up to judgment *
      and to save all the oppressed of the earth.
10   Truly, wrathful Edom will give you thanks, *
      and the remnant of Hamath will keep your feasts.
11   Make a vow to the LORD your God and keep it; *
      let all around him bring gifts to him who is worthy to be feared.
12   He breaks the spirit of princes, *
      and strikes terror in the kings of the earth.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: *
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:*
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

God rose up to judgment and to save all the oppressed of the earth.

Psalm 77 Voce mea ad Dominum

In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord.

  I will cry aloud to God; *
      I will cry aloud, and he will hear me.
  In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; *
      my hands were stretched out by night and did not tire; I refused to be comforted.
  I think of God, I am restless, *
      I ponder, and my spirit faints.
  You will not let my eyelids close; *
      I am troubled and I cannot speak.
  I consider the days of old; *
      I remember the years long past;
  I commune with my heart in the night; *
      I ponder and search my mind.
  Will the Lord cast me off for ever? *
      will he no more show his favor?
  Has his loving-kindness come to an end for ever? *
      has his promise failed for evermore?
  Has God forgotten to be gracious? *
      has he, in his anger, withheld his compassion?
10   And I said, "My grief is this: *
      the right hand of the Most High has lost its power."
11   I will remember the works of the LORD, *
      and call to mind your wonders of old time.
12   I will meditate on all your acts *
      and ponder your mighty deeds.
13   Your way, O God, is holy; *
      who is so great a god as our God?
14   You are the God who works wonders *
      and have declared your power among the peoples.
15   By your strength you have redeemed your people, *
      the children of Jacob and Joseph.
16   The waters saw you, O God; the waters saw you and trembled; *
      the very depths were shaken.
17   The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; *
      your arrows flashed to and fro;
18   The sound of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lit up the world; *
      the earth trembled and shook.
19   Your way was in the sea, and your paths in the great waters, *
      yet your footsteps were not seen.
20   You led your people like a flock *
      by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: *
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:*
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord.

Psalm 25 Ad te, Domine, levavi

Lead me forth in thy truth and learn me, for thou art the God of my salvation.

  UNTO thee, O LORD, will I lift up my soul; my God, I have put my trust in thee: *
      O let me not be confounded, neither let mine enemies triumph over me.
   For all they that hope in thee shall not be ashamed; *
      but such as transgress without a cause shall be put to confusion.
   Show me thy ways, O LORD, *
      and teach me thy paths.
   Lead me forth in thy truth, and learn me: *
      for thou art the God of my salvation; in thee hath been my hope all the day long.
   Call to remembrance, O LORD, thy tender mercies, *
      and thy loving-kindnesses, which have been ever of old.
   O remember not the sins and offences of my youth; *
      but according to thy mercy think thou upon me, O LORD, for thy goodness.
   Gracious and righteous is the LORD; *
      therefore, will he teach sinners in the way.
   Them that are meek shall he guide in judgment; *
      and such as are gentle, them shall he learn his way.
   All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, *
      unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
10    For thy Name's sake, O LORD, *
      be merciful unto my sin; for it is great.
11    What man is he that feareth the LORD? *
      him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.
12    His soul shall dwell at ease, *
      and his seed shall inherit the land.
13    The secret of the LORD is among them that fear him; *
      and he will show them his covenant.
14    Mine eyes are ever looking unto the LORD; *
      for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.
15    Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; *
      for I am desolate, and in misery.
16    The sorrows of my heart are enlarged: *
      O bring thou me out of my troubles.
17    Look upon my adversity and misery, *
      and forgive me all my sin.
18    Consider mine enemies, how many they are; *
      and they bear a tyrannous hate against me.
19    O keep my soul, and deliver me: *
      let me not be confounded, for I have put my trust in thee.
20    Let perfectness and righteous dealing wait upon me; *
      for my hope hath been in thee.
21    Deliver Israel, O God, *
      out of all his troubles.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: *
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Lead me forth in thy truth and learn me, for thou art the God of my salvation.

Psalm 25 Ad te, Domine, levavi

Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation.

  To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; my God, I put my trust in you; *
      let me not be humiliated, nor let my enemies triumph over me.
  Let none who look to you be put to shame; *
      let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.
  Show me your ways, O LORD, *
      and teach me your paths.
  Lead me in your truth and teach me, *
      for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long.
  Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love, *
      for they are from everlasting.
  Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; *
      remember me according to your love and for the sake of your goodness, O LORD.
  Gracious and upright is the LORD; *
      therefore he teaches sinners in his way.
  He guides the humble in doing right *
      and teaches his way to the lowly.
  All the paths of the LORD are love and faithfulness *
      to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
10   For your Name's sake, O LORD, *
      forgive my sin, for it is great.
11   Who are they who fear the LORD? *
      he will teach them the way that they should choose.
12   They shall dwell in prosperity, *
      and their offspring shall inherit the land.
13   The LORD is a friend to those who fear him *
      and will show them his covenant.
14   My eyes are ever looking to the LORD, *
      for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.
15   Turn to me and have pity on me, *
      for I am left alone and in misery.
16   The sorrows of my heart have increased; *
      bring me out of my troubles.
17   Look upon my adversity and misery *
      and forgive me all my sin.
18   Look upon my enemies, for they are many, *
      and they bear a violent hatred against me.
19   Protect my life and deliver me; *
      let me not be put to shame, for I have trusted in you.
20   Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, *
      for my hope has been in you.
21   Deliver Israel, O God, *
      out of all his troubles.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: *
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:*
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation.

The Lessons

A Reading from Joshua 2:1-14


And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate. And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have showed you kindness, that ye will also show kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token: And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.

And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, "Go, view the land, especially Jericho." And they went, and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, "Behold, certain men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land." Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, "Bring forth the men that have come to you, who entered your house; for they have come to search out all the land." But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them; and she said, "True, men came to me, but I did not know where they came from; and when the gate was to be closed, at dark, the men went out; where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them." But she had brought them up to the roof, and hid them with the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords; and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut. Before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men, "I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any man, because of you; for the LORD your God is he who is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now then, swear to me by the LORD that as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father's house, and give me a sure sign, and save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death." And the men said to her, "Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the LORD gives us the land."

Then Joshua son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, "Go, view the land, especially Jericho." So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and spent the night there. The king of Jericho was told, "Some Israelites have come here tonight to search out the land." Then the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab, "Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come only to search out the whole land." But the woman took the two men and hid them. Then she said, "True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they came from. And when it was time to close the gate at dark, the men went out. Where the men went I do not know. Pursue them quickly, for you can overtake them." She had, however, brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax that she had laid out on the roof. So the men pursued them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. As soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut. Before they went to sleep, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men: "I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. As soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any of us because of you. The LORD your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below. Now then, since I have dealt kindly with you, swear to me by the LORD that you in turn will deal kindly with my family. Give me a sign of good faith that you will spare my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death." The men said to her, "Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the LORD gives us the land."

Here ends the Reading.


The First Song of Isaiah Ecce, Deus
Isaiah 12:2-6

Behold, God is my salvation; *
I will trust and not be afraid:
For the Lord God is my strength and my song; *
he also is become my salvation.
Therefore with joy shall ye draw water *
out of the wells of salvation.
And in that day shall ye say, *
Praise the Lord, call upon his Name;
Declare his doings among the people; *
make mention that his Name is exalted.
Sing unto the Lord, for he hath done excellent things, *
this is known in all the earth.
Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion; *
for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: *
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The First Song of Isaiah Ecce, Deus
Isaiah 12:2-6

Surely, it is God who saves me; *
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, *
and he will be my Savior.
Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing *
from the springs of salvation.
And on that day you shall say, *
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;
Make his deeds known among the peoples; *
see that they remember that his Name is exalted.
Sing praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, *
and this is known in all the world.
Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, *
for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:*
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The First Song of Isaiah Ecce, Deus
Isaiah 12:2-6

Behold, God is my salvation; *
I will trust and not be afraid:
For the Lord God is my strength and my song; *
he also is become my salvation.
Therefore with joy shall ye draw water *
out of the wells of salvation.
And in that day shall ye say, *
Praise the Lord, call upon his Name;
Declare his doings among the people; *
make mention that his Name is exalted.
Sing unto the Lord, for he hath done excellent things, *
this is known in all the earth.
Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion; *
for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: *
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The First Song of Isaiah Ecce, Deus
Isaiah 12:2-6

Surely, it is God who saves me; *
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, *
and he will be my Savior.
Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing *
from the springs of salvation.
And on that day you shall say, *
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;
Make his deeds known among the peoples; *
see that they remember that his Name is exalted.
Sing praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, *
and this is known in all the world.
Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, *
for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:*
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

A Reading from Romans 11:1-12

I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Eli'jah, how he pleads with God against Israel? "Lord, they have killed thy prophets, they have demolished thy altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life." But what is God's reply to him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Ba'al." So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. What then? Israel failed to obtain what it sought. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear, down to this very day." And David says, "Let their table become a snare and a trap, a pitfall and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs for ever." So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? "Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life." But what is the divine reply to him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal." So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, "God gave them a sluggish spirit, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day." And David says, "Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and keep their backs forever bent." So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

Here ends the Reading.

If any place will not receive you shake its dust from your feet as you leave.

The Song of the Redeemed Magna et mirabilia
Revelation 15:3-4

Great and marvellous are thy works, *
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are thy ways, *
Thou King of saints.

Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy Name? *
For thou only art holy
For all nations shall come and worship before thee; *
for thy judgments are made manifest.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: *
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

If any place will not receive you shake its dust from your feet as you leave.

If any place will not receive you shake its dust from your feet as you leave.

The Song of the Redeemed Magna et mirabilia
Revelation 15:3-4

O ruler of the universe, Lord God,
great deeds are they that you have done, *
surpassing human understanding.
Your ways are ways of righteousness and truth, *
O King of all the ages.

Who can fail to do you homage, Lord,
and sing the praises of your Name? *
for you only are the Holy One.
All nations will draw near and fall down before you, *
because your just and holy works have been revealed.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:*
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

If any place will not receive you shake its dust from your feet as you leave.

If any place will not receive you shake its dust from your feet as you leave.

The Song of Zechariah Benedictus Dominus Deus
Luke 1:68-79

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, *
for he hath visited and redeemed his people;
And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us *
in the house of his servant David,
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, *
which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies, *
and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our forefathers, *
and to remember his holy covenant;
To perform the oath which he sware to our forefather Abraham, *
that he would give us,
That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies *
might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, *
all the days of our life.

And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest, *
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord
to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people *
for the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God, *
whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: *
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

If any place will not receive you shake its dust from your feet as you leave.

If any place will not receive you shake its dust from your feet as you leave.

The Song of Zechariah Benedictus Dominus Deus
Luke 1: 68-79

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; *
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old,
that he would save us from our enemies, *
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers *
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, *
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear, *
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.

You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, *
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation *
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God *
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the
shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:*
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

If any place will not receive you shake its dust from your feet as you leave.

The Apostles' Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord.
    He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
       and born of the Virgin Mary.
    He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
       was crucified, died, and was buried.
    He descended to the dead.
    On the third day he rose again.
    He ascended into heaven,
       and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting. Amen.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord;
    who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, dead, and buried.
    He descended into hell.
    The third day he rose again from the dead.
    He ascended into heaven,
    and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty.
    From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Prayers

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And also with you.And with thy spirit.
Let us pray.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy Name,
    thy kingdom come,
    thy will be done,
       on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
    for ever and ever. Amen.

Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your Name,
    your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
       on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
    as we forgive those
       who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
    and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
    and the glory are yours,
    now and for ever. Amen.


Suffrages A

V. Show us your mercy, O Lord;
R. And grant us your salvation.
V. Clothe your ministers with righteousness;
R. Let your people sing with joy.
V. Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
R. For only in you can we live in safety.
V. Lord, keep this nation under your care;
R. And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
V. Let your way be known upon earth;
R. Your saving health among all nations.
V. Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
R. Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
V. Create in us clean hearts, O God;
R. And sustain us with your Holy Spirit.

V. O Lord, show thy mercy upon us;
R. And grant us thy salvation.
V. Endue thy ministers with righteousness;
R. And make thy chosen people joyful.
V. Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
R. For only in thee can we live in safety.
V. Lord, keep this nation under thy care;
R. And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
V. Let thy way be known upon earth;
R. Thy saving health among all nations.
V. Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
R. Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
V. Create in us clean hearts, O God;
R. And sustain us with thy Holy Spirit.

Suffrages B

V. Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
R. Govern and uphold them, now and always.
V. Day by day we bless you;
R. We praise your name for ever.
V. Lord, keep us from all sin today;
R. Have mercy upon us, Lord, have mercy.
V. Lord, show us your love and mercy;
R. For we put our trust in you.
V. In you, Lord, is our hope;
R. And we shall never hope in vain.

V. O Lord, save thy people and bless thine heritage;
R. Govern them and lift them up for ever.
V. Day by day we magnify thee;
R. And we worship thy name ever, world without end.
V. Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin;
R. O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
V. O Lord, let thy mercy be upon us;
R. As our trust is in thee.
V. O Lord, in thee have I trusted;
R. Let me never be confounded.

Collect of the Day

O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people who call upon thee, and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfill the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Commemoration of Swithun, Bishop of Winchester, c.862

Well done, good and faithful servant, * because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things, saith the Lord.

V. The Lord guided the righteous in right paths.
R. And showed him the kingdom of God.

O God, our heavenly Father, who didst raise up thy faithful servant Swithun to be a bishop and pastor in thy Church and to feed thy flock: Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of thy Holy Spirit, that they may minister in thy household as true servants of Christ and stewards of thy divine mysteries; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Well done, my good and faithful servant; since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.

V. The Lord guided the righteous in right paths.
R. And showed him the kingdom of God.

O God, our heavenly Father, who didst raise up thy faithful servant Swithun to be a bishop and pastor in thy Church and to feed thy flock: Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of thy Holy Spirit, that they may minister in thy household as true servants of Christ and stewards of thy divine mysteries; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Collect for the Renewal of Life

O God, the King eternal, who dividest the day from the night and turnest the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep thy law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done thy will with cheerfulness while it was day, we may, when night cometh, rejoice to give thee thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then, unless the Eucharist or a form of general intercession is to follow, one of these prayers for mission is added.

Prayer for Mission

O God, who hast made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and didst send thy blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after thee and find thee; bring the nations into thy fold; pour out thy Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of thy kingdom; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Collect for the Renewal of Life

O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then, unless the Eucharist or a form of general intercession is to follow, one of these prayers for mission is added.

Prayer for Mission

O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here may be sung a hymn or anthem. [+][-]

Hymn: Immense Caeli Conditor

Meter: LM 82H: 32

O boundless Wisdom, God most high,
O Maker of the earth and sky,
Who bid'st the parted waters flow
In heaven above, on earth below.

The streams on earth, the clouds in heaven,
By Thee their ordered bounds were given,
Lest 'neath the untempered fires of day
The parched soil should waste away.

E'en so on us who seek thy face
Pour forth the waters of thy grace;
Renew the fount of life within,
And quench the wasting fires of sin.

Let faith discern the eternal Light
Beyond the darkness of the night,
And through the mists of falsehood see
The path of truth revealed by Thee.

O Father, that we ask be done,
Through Jesus Christ, Thine only Son;
Who, with the Holy Ghost and Thee,
Doth live and reign eternally.

V. O satisfy us early with thy mercy.
R. That we may rejoice and be glad.

Hymn: Immense Caeli Conditor

Meter: LM 82H: 32

O boundless Wisdom, God most high,
O Maker of the earth and sky,
Who bid'st the parted waters flow
In heaven above, on earth below.

The streams on earth, the clouds in heaven,
By Thee their ordered bounds were given,
Lest 'neath the untempered fires of day
The parched soil should waste away.

E'en so on us who seek thy face
Pour forth the waters of thy grace;
Renew the fount of life within,
And quench the wasting fires of sin.

Let faith discern the eternal Light
Beyond the darkness of the night,
And through the mists of falsehood see
The path of truth revealed by Thee.

O Father, that we ask be done,
Through Jesus Christ, Thine only Son;
Who, with the Holy Ghost and Thee,
Doth live and reign eternally.

V. Satisfy us early with your mercy.
R. That we may rejoice and be glad.

Authorized intercessions and thanksgivings may follow.

For All Sorts and Conditions [A form of general intercession] [+][-]

O God, the creator and preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for thy holy Church universal; that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally, we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those who are in any ways afflicted or distressed, in mind, body, or estate; [especially those for whom our prayers are desired]; that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions. And this we beg for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

O God, the creator and preserver of all humanity, we humbly beseech you on behalf of all sorts and conditions of people; that you would be pleased to make your ways known to them, your saving health to all nations. Especially, we pray for your holy Church across the world; that it may be guided and governed by your good Spirit, so that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally, we commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are in any ways afflicted or distressed, in mind, body, or estate; [especially those for whom our prayers are desired]; that it may please you to comfort and relieve them according to their various needs, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions. And this we ask for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

The General Thanksgiving [+][-]

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we thine unworthy servants
do give thee most humble and hearty thanks
for all thy goodness and loving kindness
to us and to all men.
We bless thee for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for thine inestimable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ,
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.

And, we beseech thee,
give us that due sense of all thy mercies,
that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful;
and that we show forth thy praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to thy service,
and by walking before thee
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost,
be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.

And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

A Prayer of St. Chrysostom [+][-]

Almighty God, who hast given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication unto thee, and hast promised through thy well beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name thou wilt be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of thy servants as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen.

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Amen.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14

Post-Office Marian Antiphon [+][-]

Salve Regina

Hail holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness,
and our hope.To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this
valley of tears.Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of
mercy toward us. And after this our exile show unto us
the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement
O loving
O sweet Virgin Mary

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R.That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Almighty, everlasting God, who by the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, didst prepare the body and soul of the glorious Virgin-Mother Mary to become a worthy dwelling for Thy Son; grant that we who rejoice in her commemoration may, by her loving intercession, be delivered from present evils and from the everlasting death. Amen.

V. May the divine help remain with us always.
R. And with our absent brothers and sisters. Amen.

Salve Regina

Mary, we hail you, Mother and Queen compassionate;
Mary, most humble, great and pure, we hail you.
To you we exiles, children of Eve lift our voices.
To you we sing praises, because by the Spirit, you brought
forth to us the Savior.
Turn now, therefore, O our intercessor, your eyes of pity and lovingkindness upon us sinners.
Then at the last, when our earthly journey has been ended, show us Jesus, the blessed fruit of your womb.
O gentle
O tender
O gracious Virgin Mary

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R.That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Almighty and everlasting God, who by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, prepared the body and soul of the glorious Virgin Mary to become a habitation for your Son: Grant that, as we rejoice in her obedience, we may have the support of her loving intercession, and may be delivered from our present evils and eternal death; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

V. May the divine help remain with us always.
R. And with our absent brothers and sisters. Amen.

gatherings, they celebrate no public service during the day except on Saturday and Sunday, when they gather at the third hour for Holy Communion. For what is offered [freely] is greater than what is rendered at particular moments, and a voluntary service is more pleasing than functions that are carried out by canonical obligation. This is why David himself rejoices somewhat boastfully when he says: ‘Willingly shall I sacrifice to you.’ And: ‘May the free offerings of my mouth be pleasing to you, Lord.’

 So, John Cassian is, in essence, admitting that the Egyptians have a more perfect practice: the two Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer give the stern Egyptian monks all they need in order to pray without ceasing for the rest of the day. But then he goes right ahead and tells his monks to do the three day hours in Palestinian fashion! The Egyptian way may be better, but the Palestinian is easier—and is likely better training for those still needing to learn their psalms.

In essence, we can say that these two groups show us two different ways of using the Daily Office to learn how to pray without ceasing. The “Egyptian” model is to only have two long Offices with psalms and readings at both. The “Palestinian” model is to have shorter and more frequent Offices with psalmody, leaving the reading of Scripture for the long Office at night. The Palestinian model wins decisively in the West; Benedict expresses in his Rule what has become normative in the West: eight liturgical services of prayer with an additional monastic business meeting—Chapter—that itself acquires liturgical material. Indeed, this pattern of frequency in corporate recitation of the Offices gets taken to its extreme in the monasteries of Cluny to the point that up to a full eight hours of the day were spent singing liturgies!

With the creation of the Book of Common Prayer at the Reformation, Archbishop Cranmer put the Anglican churches onto the other path. Whereas for centuries the Western Church had followed the Palestinian model, Cranmer turned us back to the Egyptian model. Up until our present book, our Offices had consisted of just what the Egyptian Office had: psalms, a reading from the Old Testament, a reading from the New Testament and prayers, all done twice a day. (The 1979 book gives a “Palestinian” nod with the introduction of Noon Prayer and Compline.)

If prayer without ceasing is our goal (and why shouldn’t it be?) we must recall that the Egyptian model is the harder path. In order to fulfill the call, we would be wise to take their advice. Pray the long Offices as they’re appointed, but then—throughout the day—make our private prayers “brief but frequent.” Take a verse that strikes you in the morning. Ponder it through the day; make it your prayer. Repeat it to yourself as you sit in silence. Whisper it to yourself as you work. Roll it in your mind while you eat. Make it part of your prayer without ceasing.

This, then, is the essence of the Office—to make our spiritual sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. By speaking in “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God” our hearts are lifted and our minds expanded to see a world imbued with God. As we take the words of the psalms and the Scriptures into ourselves, we provide ourselves with the basic resources to “pray without ceasing.” The practice of the Office—whether together or alone—builds up in us the pattern of praise and points us in the way of the habitual recollection of God.

3 thoughts on “The Essence of the Office

  1. Barbara (bls)

    Moreover, poetry both enchants and informs, addressing its rhythmic and symbolic speech to regions of the mind which are inaccessible to argument, and evoking movements of awe and love which no exhortation can obtain. It has meaning at many levels, and welds together all those who use it; overriding their personal moods and subduing them with a grave loveliness. (Worship, p. 120)

    Ahhhhh…..

    So wonderful to see Evelyn Underhill make an appearance here; this is a great quote. Very interesting to see a concise enumeration of the various ways human beings perceive, learn, and understand – and how the “poetic” in particular can speak to people in ways the others can’t. “Worship” was one of the first books I ever read about Christianity, and I still think about it and remember parts of it. Fascinating, too, about the Egyptian and Palestinian schools of the office! That’s completely new to me.

    Fantastic article!

  2. Derek Olsen

    Yeah, I’m on an Underhill kick… I didn’t think there was any way I could write this book properly without sitting at her feet for a while so I’m re-reading Worship and The Life of the Spirit and the Life of To-day. This section was just too good not to use.

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