Project Canterbury

The Middle Way
Suggestions for a Practicable Ceremonial

By the Reverend Latta Griswold, M.A.

Milwaukee: Morehouse, 1928.

Chapter IV. The Litany

THE LITANY should not be habitually disused, as is the case in many parishes. It is a beautiful form of prayer, and many devout people are particularly edified by it. It may well be used at least once a month in con junction with Morning Prayer and oftener on Sundays in Advent and Lent. When used with Matins it should begin after the Collect for Grace, preferably with a verse or two of a Litany hymn sung while the minister goes from his stall in the choir to the Litany desk. The portion permissible to omit should not be said except on occasions when the Litany is used alone or when it is sung in procession. It may well be ended after the prayer We humbly beseech thee. It is often asserted that the Litany is a desirable preface for a late Eucharist. However appropriate it maybe at such a time, it prolongs the service unduly. It is difficult to perceive why any additional office should be used in conjunction with the Holy Communion.

The Litany was designed to be sung in procession, and it is very effective when so rendered, particularly in place of a processional hymn on Sundays in Advent and Lent both at Matins and Evensong. The traditional rules for the singing of the Litany in procession are needlessly complicated. It should suffice, and it will certainly better suit unaccustomed congregations, if it is begun in the vestry and if the procession follows the route about the Church to which it is likely accustomed on such days as Christmas and Easter. As the choir goes to their places in the chancel, the minister pauses at the Litany desk. When the versicle Let us pray is sung, it is the signal for all to kneel. The Gloria is the signal for rising, and Let us pray the signal for kneeling again.

The Litany is particularly appropriate for services of intercession on week-days and in Advent and Lent, the Ember and Rogation Days. It would be interesting to have it sung in out-of-door processions in country parishes.

In churches where the late Eucharist is the rule every Sunday, the Litany might be sung in procession before it in Advent and Lent, and similarly at Evensong

Project Canterbury