Project Canterbury




Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral


Fond du Lac, Wis.



Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2012


History of Worship

Next to the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer is the most widely used and circulated book in the English tongue. It is the supreme classic of our literature, and antedates the felicitous King James Version of the Scriptures itself. Taine in his English Literature pronounces the "Prayer of St. Chrysostom" the finest specimen of English that has even been written. Because it is so generally used, quoted, and imitated, all professing culture in English language and literature should be familiar with its context. To the Churchman, however, the Prayer Book is not primarily a specimen of literature, but a book of devotion that is dearer to him than thousands of gold and silver, and therefore his study is in it day and night. To those who use the Prayer Book as a book of devotion these talks are addressed, that they may have a more intelligent idea of the Book which is so dear to them.

The Prayer Book is not the work of one age, or of a single individual. At the Savoy Conference in 1661 Richard Baxter brought in a substitute prayer book which he had composed over night, and which the Puritans thought far superior [1/2] to the old Book. It did not however so appeal to Churchmen and Baxter's book has been long since forgotten. The Prayer Book is not a compilation, but a growth through many centuries, as was Holy Scripture itself, and only such forms as have stood the test of centuries of use are included in it. In order to understand it we must know something of the history of Christian worship.


The first and great commandment of Christ is "Thou shalt love the Lord Thy God with all thy heart and mind and soul and strength." This love of God has always found expression first of all in Worship. This assumes that God is our Father, that mutual communion and speech is possible, and that prayer and adoration are pleasing to Him, and profitable for ourselves. Worship is not as it is sometimes ignorantly supposed to be, "the flattery of God." The Infinite and Eternal is not flattered by any of our praises. When we say "Thou only art Holy, Thou only art the Lord," we are presenting a very dim and inadequate expression of reality, but it is a striving after reality, and therefore it is pleasing to Him who is the infinite reality. The worship of God in spirit and in truth strengthens and develops our knowledge of Him whom we worship, and in knowledge of Him standeth our eternal life.

[3] The Hebrew people above all others believed in one, spiritual and holy God, and developed a ritual of worship that is the basis of our Common Prayer today. The center of their worship was the Temple in Jerusalem where God especially manifested His presence, and where daily sacrifices were offered to Him, by a chosen priesthood, with an elaborate ceremonial accompaniment of vestments, music, lights, incense, etc., minutely prescribed in the sacred writing of the law. This sacrificial worship was for the purpose of continually renewing the covenant between Jehovah and His people, and of cleansing them from sins which they continually committed and which, without such cleansing would have nullified their covenant, and lost for them the blessings which were based upon it.

In addition to the Temple worship, there were local places of prayer in every community called Synagogues, where all Jews resorted on the Sabbath day. There was no sacrifice offered in the Synagogue. It was not necessary. The sacrifices in the Temple at Jerusalem were sufficient for the whole nation, and because of them the people everywhere were free to gather together as a holy people for prayer and praise and instruction, and the reading of the Word of God. You may go in any of our American cities to a Jewish Synagogue and hear the same service which was common in Palestine in the days of Christ and [3/4] which He habitually participated in during His earthly life. There is one thing that will strike the Churchman who attends the Jewish Synagogue as familiar. In spite of the fact that there are no readings of the New Testament or references to Christ or the Holy Trinity, nevertheless, the reading or chanting of the psalms, the lessons from the Old Testament, the chanting of the responses, and the use of forms of prayer, make it seem very similar to the services in the Prayer Book, and indeed they are, for our services of Morning and Evening Prayer are derived from the worship of the Synagogue, with very little change, save in the addition of the New Testament readings, the creed, and the prayers and references to Christ and the Holy Trinity.

We must not suppose, however, that the Morning and Evening Prayer came to us directly from the Synagogue. In the early Christian centuries this worship had developed into a form of devotion which was divided into seven parts or offices, which were said at intervals of three hours throughout the day, and even the night, and took their name from the hour of the day at which they were used. Thus these offices came to be called Matins, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline, extending from 3 a.m. to 9 p.m. These offices were used in the Western Church in the Latin tongue prior to the Reformation. They are used in the English tongue in [4/5] Religious orders of both men and women in the Anglican Church today, and are still used in Latin in the Roman Church. It was the custom for most of the clergy to say the offices one after another, at some convenient time in the morning and in the afternoon, and so when the Prayer Book was translated into English, the seven offices were condensed into two, our present Morning and Evening Prayer, or Matins and Evensong as they are called in the English book. The chief improvement in the offices of Morning and Evening Prayer over the Latin Breviary is that the fabulous legends of the Saints are eliminated, the Scripture lessons of both New and Old Testaments have been enlarged to include, in the course of the year, all of the important passages of the Bible, and most of all, the services have been put into the English tongue, so that the whole congregation may not only understand but take part with the priest in the Common Prayer of the Church. There is no other Church or sect in Christendom in which there is such active and mutual participation in public worship as in those forms provided in our Prayer Book. There is no other form of public worship which contains so large a part of Holy Scripture itself, and there is none other which is so filled with the spirit of the Bible and of all past ages of Christianity. This book is the Common Prayer Book not only of all who speak the English tongue today, [5/6] but it enshrines the spirit of the Saints of all past ages, so that it is the Common Prayer of all Christendom.


We have said that the Morning and Evening Prayers of the Church were inherited from the Jewish Synagogue. The question may be asked, What became of the Temple with its elaborate sacrifices and ceremonial? This question is very fully and carefully answered in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The author of that book explains that all of the Jewish sacrificial system was symbolic of Jesus Christ Who is both the only true Priest and the only true Sacrifice, and that having died upon the Cross as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world He entered into the Holy of Holies of Heaven itself, there to act as our eternal High Priest and to present Himself as a living sacrifice unto God, and to plead the merits of His death upon the Cross. This sacrifice is perpetually commemorated in the Eucharist or Christian Passover, which Christ instituted on the night of His betrayal, and which became the most important and sacred of all Christian forms of worship.

All of the symbolism of the Jewish Temple worship was not only focused in the Christian Eucharist, but made real, significant, and eternal, by the new truth brought into it by the sacrifice of Christ. It is no longer an earthly tabernacle but a heavenly one in which we join with Angels and Archangels and all the heavenly Host in the [6/7] worship of the blessed Trinity.

Whatever values there were in the Jewish ritual, received a new meaning in the Christian Eucharist. They are the realities of which the temple was but the shadow, they are heavenly not earthly, and Christ Who is eternally present both in heaven and with us is alone the true Priest and the true Sacrifice.

The form of celebrating the Eucharist at once became central in Christian worship, and was called the Liturgy. The first Liturgies were in the Greek tongue, that being the language of the first Christians, as it is of the New Testament. They were long and elaborate, as the liturgies of the Greek Church are today, occupying about three hours in their performance. The Liturgy in each metropolis was distinct, so we have the Liturgies of St. Mark of Alexandria, of St. James of Jerusalem, of St. John of Ephesus, etc. The chief Latin Liturgy was that of SS. Peter and Paul of Rome, though there were other local Liturgies in the West such as the Gallican rite in France, the Mozarabic rite in Spain, the Ambrosian rite in northern Italy, etc. The most famous of the rites in England was the Sarum rite of Salisbury, which formed the foundation of our English Prayer Book. (The Roman rite did not become universal in Churches of the Roman Communion until after the Reformation.) Our Prayer Book was not translated from the Roman Liturgy [7/8] but from the Sarum. However all the Liturgies had much the same structure. They consisted of the same features, but with varying order and some parts more or less elaborated. These features are, a litany or responsive cry for mercy (Kyrie), Introit, Collect, Epistle, and Gospel, Creed, Offertory, Prayers for the living and the dead, Sursum Corda, Sanctus, Consecration, Communion, Thanksgiving, Blessing. The Collects, Epistles and Gospels which are used throughout the Western Church today, by Anglicans, Lutherans and Roman Catholics, were arranged by St. Jerome in the 5th Century. Although there are variations between the Liturgies used in different branches of the Church, the Eucharist is substantially the same service everywhere, and Christian worship with its altar and ornaments, its symbols and vestments, its priests and attendants, commemorating the death of Christ until He comes again, make the Eucharist unmistakable. As Phillips Brooks says, whatever may be the language or the nationality we know where the Bread is broken and the Cup blessed that Christians are gathered together in Christ's name and He is in the midst of them.

The English Liturgy is above all others one which is intelligible and in which all may participate. The variable portions have been reduced to a minimum, so that the service is the more [8/9] readily followed by the congregation. The Roman Liturgy has many more variable parts which are of interest to the clergy, but would make it more difficult for the Laity to follow, even if they understood the Latin tongue. There are also in the Latin rite infelicitous comparisons of the sacrifice of the Cross with that of Noah and Abraham which indicate the very ancient origin of the service, but are not in accord with modern ideas of devotion. An important difference between the Anglican and the Latin rite is that in the former the Gloria in Excelsis comes at the end, and in the Latin, at the beginning of the service.

The first English Prayer Book was used on Whitsunday 1549. On this day for the first time in history, people went to Church carrying prayer books the same as the priest used at the altar, and joined with him in their own tongue, in the service of Holy Communion, "commonly called the masse". That was the most outstanding event in the history of public worship that has ever occurred. In no other way, save by the use of the same book, and in the language understood by all the people, could common worship reach its full expression, and that has been the peculiar privilege and glory of the Anglican Church since Whitsunday, 1549.

Everyman heard in his own tongue wherein he was born. It was a second Pentecost!


The Ecclesiastical Year

[10] When we open our Prayer Books, we find the title page worthy of examination. It reads,

And Administration of the Sacraments and other
Rites and Ceremonies of the Church.
(This means of the Holy Catholic Church throughout the world)
According to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America."

The term "use" is technical. It refers to the special forms provided in our own National Church. The "use" of the Church of England differs only slightly from our own, while the "use" of the Latin and Greek Churches differ in some points very widely. Nevertheless whatever the "use", the Sacraments and rites of the Church are the same everywhere, as is explained in the "Preface" which follows the title page and which should be read carefully, and we might add, frequently, in times of discussion and debate. The first paragraph reads as follows: "It is a most invaluable part of that blessed liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, that in His worship different forms and usages may without offense be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith [10/11] be kept entire; and that, in every Church, what cannot be clearly determined to belong to Doctrine must be referred to Discipline; and therefore, by common consent and authority, may be altered, abridged, enlarged, amended, or otherwise disposed of, as may seem most convenient for the edification of the people, "according to the various exigencies of times and occasions."

After the preface come the Lectionary and the Calendar by which you can quickly find out not only the date of Easter in any year, but the day of the week of any date whatsoever, past, present or future. This use of the Calendar, however, requires somewhat careful study.

Of greater importance than the discovery of dates, is the division of the Church Year into its various Seasons, and the sequence of Festivals and Feasts, of Saints Days, and Sundays, Red Letter Days and in the English Prayer Book Black Letter Days, which give constant change and variety to the Church's worship, so that it is never twice the same.

As the highest civilization is found in the temperate zones where there is a constant change of season, so Christian life flourishes best with a change and variety in the Ecclesiastical Year, which in itself is the most potent preacher of the Gospel and witness to Christ. He is the Sun of Righteousness around which the Church's year revolves.

[12] The first season is that of Advent, beginning four Sundays before Christmas. It is a season of devotional preparation for the celebration of Christmas and brings before us God's preparation of the Jewish people for the coming of the Messiah. The season also brings to mind the Second coming of Christ, and the serious lessons of judgment, reward, and punishment, which will follow the Second Advent.

Christmas, the Birthday of Christ is the first of the three great Feasts of the Christian year. It is an unwritten law of the Church that all Communicants receive Holy Communion without fail on Christmas Day, Easter Day and Whitsunday. No loyal Churchman would think of omitting his Christmas communion. The very word Christmass means nothing else, so no one has a true Christmas who fails in this act of loyalty to his Master and his Church. It is an unfortunate thing when the social festivities of a holy day make Christians forget its primary significance. In case it is physically impossible to receive Holy Communion on Christmas Day, it is esteemed a Christmas Communion if made at the earliest possible opportunity following.

January 6 is the Feast of the Epiphany, continuing the Christmas celebration and commemorating the coming of the Wise Men. As they were Gentiles, the key note of Epiphany is the Missionary spirit manifesting the light of the [12/13] Gospel to all the world and especially to the Gentiles. With the close of the Epiphany season there is an abrupt change and we come to Septuagesima, the pre-lenten season. The color changes from green to purple, as we now no longer look back to Christmas but prepare for Lent. Ash Wednesday, a strict fast, forty week-days before Easter, ushers in the Lenten season. This season is a time of penitence and self denial. It commemorates both the forty days of fasting in the wilderness at the beginning of our Lord's ministry, and also the last week of His life, culminating in His death on Good Friday.

Lent is to be "kept" by all good Churchmen. Social gatherings and parties, theatres, operas, etc., should be eschewed. The Churchman has an opportunity of choosing between Christ and the world. It is a testing time.

In former days, Protestant churches regarded theatres, dancing, etc., as sinful and inconsistent with the Christian life. The Church has never forbidden social amusement in its proper place. But it does expect its children to deny themselves of these pleasures during Lent. Now Protestantism has lost its Puritan prejudice against worldly amusements, and it has no season of denial at all. Hence it requires character and determination on the part of the Churchman to keep Lent. But nothing worth while comes to us without toil and self sacrifice, [13/14] and that is why religion stresses the lesson. Its purpose is to teach us how to live.

The closing days of Lent are the most sacred in the whole year. The Fifth Sunday is called Passion Sunday, and marks the turning of our eyes toward the Cross. Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. It is the day of the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Palms are carried in procession, and used to decorate the Church on this day. The days of Holy Week give us in their Gospels the fourfold story of the passion, as told by each of the Evangelists. Maundy Thursday is the day of the Institution of the Lord's Supper, and of the New Commandment (Mandatum, mandate) Good Friday, the day of the Crucifixion is the most sacred day in the whole year. It is a strict fast. Business and school and social duties should be set aside and the day spent in Church and in quiet devotional reading and meditation. In addition to the services provided in the Prayer Book, there has developed an observance of the Three Hours from noon to three P. M., the hours which our Lord hung upon the cross. This time is divided into seven periods of prayer, silent meditation and preaching, based on the Seven Words, or sayings of Christ from the Cross. This service is extra-liturgical. It makes a very strong appeal to all Christian people, and many Protestants attend this service in our Churches who do not go at other times. In fact [14/15] they are beginning to observe it themselves. Holy Saturday, the day of our Lord's burial is often used for the administration of Baptism, as in Baptism we are "buried with Christ."

A well kept Lent leads to a joyful Easter, the greatest festival of the Christian year, commemorating the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. It is the greatest festival, because it commemorates the greatest event in human history, and the observance of the Sabbath Day or seventh day of the week, enshrined in the Ten Commandments, was changed by the Christians to the First Day of the week, to perpetuate the memory of the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. Thus every Sunday in the year is a festival and a little Easter because it is the day of the Lord, His Day, the day on which He rose. Like Christmas, it is to be observed by receiving Holy Communion. Christ is the true Paschal Lamb and we are to keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. The Resurrection of Christ is as we have said, the greatest historic fact. It also establishes the great spiritual truth of human immortality in Christ, and hence has the greatest moral dynamic.

The forty days after Easter are called the Great Forty Days, during which the Risen Christ was on earth with His Apostles, showing Himself alive by many infallible proofs and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. [15/16] On the 40th day after the Resurrection (which is always Thursday,) Christ ascended into Heaven. This is the beginning of His Heavenly Priesthood, and is a great festival which should be more generally observed.

Ten days after the Ascension or fifty days after Easter is Pentecost, or Whitsunday, third great day of obligation. It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and is the birthday of the Holy Catholic Church. The Lutheran and Roman Catholic Churches count all the rest of the Sundays of the Church year as Sundays after Pentecost, but the Anglican Church has one more great feast, Trinity Sunday, in honor of the revelation of the Triune God, and the remaining Sundays of the year with us are numbered as Sundays after Trinity. This divides the year into two equal portions, during the first of which our attention is centered on the great outstanding events in the life of Christ which concern our salvation, and the Trinity Season is given to the study of His teaching and the practical duties of the Christian life.

Fixed and Movable Feasts

The first part of the Church year, Christmas, Epiphany, and all the Saints Days are on fixed dates; irrespective of the day of the week, Christmas is always on the 25th of December. On the other hand, Easter Day is always on Sunday, and [16/17] on the first Sunday that comes after the first full moon that occurs on or after the 21st of March. It may thus vary from the 22nd day of March to the 23rd day of April. Now as Septuagesima, Ash Wednesday, and Lent are a certain number of days before Easter, and Ascension Day, Whitsunday, and Trinity Sunday are a certain number of days after Easter, it is evident that they all shift as Easter is early or late. Hence they are called movable feasts. When Easter is early there are fewer Sundays after Epiphany and more after Trinity. When Easter is late, there are more after Epiphany and fewer after Trinity, but Advent always begins with the fourth Sunday before Christmas.

Saints Days

The observance of Saints Days is for the very practical purpose of keeping before our minds their good examples, and deriving from them the inspiration of their devotion and self denial.

Before the Reformation there were so many Saints Days and so many uncertain legends connected with them, that when the Prayer Book was put into English, all Saints Days were divided into Red Letter Saints and Black Letter Saints. The Red Letter Saints were those of the New Testament and had a special Collect, Epistle and Gospel in the Prayer Book. The Black Letter Saints which appear in the English Calendar [17/18] are Saints of later days, such as St. George, or St. Agnes, or St. Chrysostom and these do not have any special Collect, Epistle and Gospel. However, a new Collect, Epistle and Gospel has now been provided in our Prayer Book with a blank space where the name of any Saint may be inserted. This is called the "Common" of the Saints. It is well for us to remember that the Saints form a part of that great cloud of witnesses which surrounds us as we run our race, and their prayers and intercessions are constantly going up on our behalf. Religion is not purely an individual affair. It is a communion and fellowship. It depends on common prayer. Its key word is Our Father, and we are of one Church with the Apostles and Prophets and all the Saints of every age and nation. "Like a mighty army moves the Church of God; Brothers we are treading, where the Saints have trod."


The Daily Offices and Litany

[19] The first services in the Prayer Book are the Offices of Daily Morning and Evening Prayer. It will be seen by their titles that they are not for exclusive use on Sundays, but are to be used daily throughout the week. In fact the English Prayer Book requires that the offices be said by the Clergy as an act of daily private devotion if it is not possible to say them in Church. For this reason a large proportion of English Country Churches are open for the daily prayers.

The directions for using the service, printed before, after or between the vocal parts of the service are called Rubrics because they were formerly printed in red (rubor) and sometimes are now. They should be carefully studied. It is important to distinguish those which are mandatory, and use the word "shall" and those which are permissive, and use the word "may"; also those which are alternative, using the form "or this".

Morning Prayer when there is a choir is introduced by a hymn, often sung while the Choir are entering the Church. At the conclusion of the hymn, the congregation remains standing and the [19/20] minister begins the office by reading one or more of the Opening Sentences, using on certain days those especially appointed. He immediately goes on to say the "Dearly beloved etc.," or omitting this he says "Let us humbly confess our sins unto Almighty God." Whereupon both minister and congregation kneel, and say together the General Confession. Then the priest stands and pronounces the Absolution, which explicitly declares that God has given commandment to his ministers to declare and pronounce to his people being penitent the Absolution and Remission of their sins. (See Gospel for First Sunday after Easter, also Ordination of Priests.) When a deacon or Lay Reader reads the daily offices, he omits the Declaration of Absolution. The Minister and People then repeat the Lord's Prayer here and wherever else it occurs in the Prayer Book. Then, following the verse and response, all rise and say the Gloria Patri, "Glory be to the Father, etc." It is customary to bow the head slightly when the Gloria Patri is said or sung.

Now follows the Venite prefaced on certain days by a sentence called an "invitatory". The Venite is a modification of Psalm 95 which ends with a more serious note of warning not inappropriate for penitential seasons. The Psalm may be used as an alternative form, and the Venite entirely omitted on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Immediately after the Venite, which is sung, [20/21] the Psalter follows, appointed for the day. The rubric allows wide discretion, and a single psalm may be substituted in place of the psalter for the day. The psalms are the oldest hymns of worship, expressing every variety of praise and petition, joy and sorrow, confession and thanksgiving. They form the heart of the Daily offices and were formerly always sung or chanted. The custom of chanting the psalter by the congregation as well as the choir is a very common one in England and Ireland. For some unaccountable reason the chanting of the psalms and of other parts of the service is regarded as a "ritualistic" custom in America, whereas in England and Ireland you will hear beautiful choral services including the chanting of the psalter where "ritualism" is abhorred. The probable reason is that Englishmen and Irishmen as a rule have better voices than we have and they like to sing. We might add that the United Presbyterians and some other sects make a great point of singing the psalms in metrical version and no other hymns whatsoever.

After the Psalms comes the First Lesson, which is from the Old Testament. The table in the Prayer Book appointing the Lessons is called the "Lectionary" and is changed from time to time, without being regarded as a revision of the Prayer Book itself. There are three tables of Lessons: 1. For all Sundays and week days in [21/22] the Church Year. 2. For all Holy Days not included in the first list. 3. For special occasions.

After the First Lesson is sung the Te Deum, the most beautiful and majestic hymn of the Christian Church. It is divided into three sections, the first being a tribute of praise to the Blessed Trinity. The middle section is a hymn of praise to Christ in his humiliation and exultation, and the last section is a petition of God's people ending with the very individual and personal note, "O Lord, in thee have I trusted, Let me never be confounded." There are many elaborate musical settings to which the choir sings the Te Deum, but more simple chants should not be altogether excluded, so that the people may participate in this most glorious hymn of worship.

There are two alternative canticles that may be used in place of the Te Deum, The Benedictus Es and the Benedicite, both taken from the Song of the Three Children in the Fiery Furnace. (See Bible, Apochrypha). Both of these have a common refrain which makes them well adapted for chanting. Formerly the Benedicite was generally substituted for the Te Deum during Advent and Lent, but Benedictus Es is taking its place as a substitute being less jubilant and prolonged. Note the exceptional form of the Gloria now used with the Benedicite, "Let us bless the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, praise him and magnify him for ever."

[23] Now comes the Second Lesson from the New Testament. There is much leeway in the choice of the Second Lesson, as is evident in the rubrics governing the Lectionary. After the Second Lesson is said or sung the Benedictus. This is the Song of Zacharius which he sang at the birth of his son John the Baptist, and has specific reference to the mission of St. John as the fore-runner of the Lord. It may be abridged, (except in Advent) though there is no good reason for doing so at any time, and the latter verses have particular reference to Christ. The Jubilate or 100th Psalm is an alternative chant.

Then is said the Creed, all standing. The recitation of the creed is like the soldier's salute to his flag, and should be said with great attention and care. The rubric preceding the creed permits a substitute phrase for the article "He descended into Hell." We have never heard the substitute used, but it is very valuable nevertheless as explaining the true meaning of the creed. (The Calvinistic doctrine being that Christ descended into the abode of the wicked and suffered the torment of the damned.) Those who use the sign of the cross in their devotions make it at the end of the creed in token that they are not ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified. The Nicene Creed, which though printed as an alternative form is rarely used at Morning Prayer, will be [23/24] discussed in the Chapter on the Communion Service.

After the creed come versicles and responses taken with some modifications from the Psalms. Here the Lord's Prayer is said, if omitted at the beginning of the service, and then come the Collects and Prayers. "Collect" is a name for a short prayer, perhaps because the priest collects the petitions of all the people and offers them vocally, the people responding "Amen" (so may it be). In ancient times we are told that the Amens rang out like thunder in Christian worship. Some of the ancient zeal is desirable in our present services.

First comes the Collect for the Day. This means the special day in the Church Calendar, whether it be a Sunday or Holy Day. If it is a week day, the Collect for the Day is the Collect for the preceding Sunday, (or Saints Day if the octave is observed.) The Collects for the Sundays and Holy Days throughout the year will be found, together with the Epistles and Gospels following the Communion Service.

After the Collect for the Day, there invariably follows the Collect for Peace, and a Collect for Grace. Here the service of Morning Prayer ends if the Litany is said, or the Communion Service follows. Otherwise the minister proceeds to read the remaining prayers or as many as he desires. There is an alternative form of Prayer for the [24/25] President of the United States, a prayer for the Clergy and People, a prayer for all Conditions of Men, a General Thanksgiving, the Prayer of St. Chrysostom, and the "Grace".

The Prayer for all Conditions of Men has a place for the use of a special petition when desired, as has also the General Thanksgiving. It is the privilege of the people to ask for the prayers of the congregation, and in addition to these general petitions there are a large number of special prayers that may be used on request. In times of sickness and trouble the minister is always glad to use these special intercessions, and members of the congregation should never hesitate to ask for them. Birthday and Wedding Anniversaries are also appropriate times to return public thanksgiving.

The Order for Daily Evening Prayer follows exactly the same plan of structure as does Morning Prayer, save that there is no canticle before the Psalter, corresponding to the Venite. In place of the Te Deum and the Benedictus after the first and second lessons, are sung the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis. The Magnificat was the Song of Mary the mother of our Lord which she sang on the occasion of her Visitation to her cousin Elisabeth, and Nunc Dimittis was the song of Simeon the aged priest who held the holy child in his arms on the occasion of his presentation in the Temple. As these two hymns are shorter than [25/26] those used at Morning Prayer, and there is nothing that corresponds to the Venite, the Evening Prayer is somewhat shorter than Morning Prayer. It is called Evensong in the English Prayer Book and the term is common among ourselves.

There are many beautiful musical settings for the evening Canticles and the evening Hymns in the Hymnal are among the most beautiful that have ever been written. It is a great pity that Sunday Evensong has so largely fallen into desuetude. The devout Christian will find the Evening Prayers and Hymns of the Church far more peaceful than the movie theatre or the Sunday card game.


"I exhort therefore that supplications, prayers, intercessions, be made for all men."

Florence Nightingale tells us that as a child she used to take great delight in joining in the Litany in Church as she felt that her prayers were going out and bringing down blessings on all kinds and conditions of men throughout the world. The Litany was the first part of the Prayer Book to be used in the English tongue. In its present form it is the work of Archbishop Cranmer, and has been used from the time of King Henry VIII. However the Litany goes back many years before the Reformation.

[27] The Liturgy of St. Chrysostom, used today in the Greek Orthodox Church comes from the fifth century, and at every part of the service a litany is introduced, that is, short petitions and intercessions to which the people make the uniform response, "Kyrie Eleison." While the priest within the holy doors is saying silent prayers at the altar, the deacon without the gates leads the devotions of the congregation in this familiar form of supplication. In the western liturgies we have the trace of this Greek use in the recitation of the nine-fold Kyrie eleison, "Lord have mercy upon us" at the beginning of the service. In the English Prayer Book these responses follow the first nine Commandments, with a variation after the tenth, and in the American Book, if the Commandments are omitted, nevertheless the Kyrie eleison is to be said. The liturgical tradition would suggest the three-fold repetition of each clause, thus preserving the nine-fold form, though the Commandments are omitted.

Litanies are used in the West, however, as distinct services, quite apart from the Liturgy. They were first introduced as processions by Mamertus, Bishop of Vienna in 467, during a terrible succession of earthquakes that devastated the city. The time happened to be the three days preceeding Ascension Day, and after the calamity passed these three days were still used for processions and were called "Rogation Days," as [27/28] they still are and prayers are provided for them in the Prayer Book. They are however no longer days of abstinence, by action of the General Convention of 1928. In England and in rural districts of America it is still the custom to "beat the bounds" of the parish; that is for the clergy and people to go in procession through the fields, with litanies and intercessions for God's blessing on the labors of the husbandmen.

When St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury came to England in 596, he approached the king and queen, chanting a Litany, with his forty missionaries. In the 10th century, the Litany was enlarged by the introduction of the names of Saints, with the response, "Ora pro nobis," (Pray for us). The number of saints invoked varied with the length of the procession, and however long it might be, there was an inexhaustable supply of Saints. The modern Roman Litany invokes 52 Saints. The first English Litany reduced this number to four, and soon they entirely disappeared. It however contained the new petition, "From the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome, and all of his detestable enormities, Good Lord deliver us." This petition was omitted in the time of Elizabeth against the protests of the Puritans who wished to have it retained. However the Puritans objected to the Litany as a whole, calling it a "vain repetition."

The Litany was invariably sung in ancient [28/29] times, and often is now. We are told that two bishops sang the Litany at the coronation of George the IV. The Commission on Church Music of the General Convention has issued an arrangement of music for chanting the Litany, after the ancient mode.

Turning to the New Prayer Book, we note the change in the four opening intercessions. They have been abridged, and have lost their former rythmic cadence, and instead of being repeated by the people, the response is a simple "Have mercy upon us," as in the old Sarum form. In the petition "From lightning and tempest," we find inserted, "From earthquake, fire, and flood, from plague, pestilence and famine, etc., Good Lord, deliver us." Before the prayer for civil rulers, we find a new suffrage, "That it may please thee so to rule the heart of thy servant, the President of the United States, that he may above all things seek thy honor and glory."

In the suffrage for travelers we pray for those who travel "by air" as well as "by land or water." The rubric permitting the omission of the latter part of the Litany now is placed after the Lord's Prayer, thus requiring the recitation of the "Lord have mercy upon us, etc." and the Lord's Prayer, whenever the Litany is used. There are one or two other slight verbal changes in the latter part of the office. The part, beginning with the words, "O Christ hear us" to the end is called [29/30] the "minor litany" and is sometimes used by itself. The rubric now provides that the Litany may be used after Evening Prayer, as well as after Morning Prayer, or as a service by itself. Not only in England and America, but all over Europe, the Litany in the vernacular is a popular form of evening devotion during the Lenten season.


The English Prayer Book contains a service for Ash Wednesday called "A Commination or Denouncing God's Anger and Judgment against Sinners." It begins with a short introduction, and then follow ten curses, to each of which the people respond "Amen". The first three are as follows:

"Cursed is the man that maketh any carved or molten image to worship it."
"Cursed is he that curseth his father or mother."
"Cursed is he that removeth his neighbor's landmark."

This is followed by a long discourse on the certain judgment of God against sinners, and then is concluded with a number of penitential responses and prayers. This service, with the omission of the curses and the homily, was restored to the American Prayer Book in 1892, and forms a helpful and fitting devotion for the beginning of Lent. [30/31] In the recent revision the last two verses have been dropped from the psalm, and the expression "vile earth and miserable sinners," from the confession. It is generally customary to repeat the psalm in concert with the minister, rather than to read alternate verses. This psalm is called the "Penitential Psalm," and there are six others that are also included in this title, viz. 6, 32, 38, 102, 130, 138. They are all read on Ash Wednesday, 51 in the Penitential office, and the other six as the proper psalms at Morning and Evening Prayer.

In addition to the other days of prayer and abstinence, there are twelve Ember Days, three for each of the four seasons of the year, on which prayer is said for those entering the sacred ministry, and for all the clergy. A special Collect, Epistle and Gospel has been inserted in the Prayer Book for Ember Days. The clergy pray for the people, every day in the year. It is fitting that on twelve days, at least, the people should pray for their clergy.


The Holy Communion with Epistles and Gospels

[32] The Holy Communion or as St. Paul calls it the Eucharist is the one service that Christ instituted as an act of common worship among his followers, and therefore is the most sacred, and the most universal form of Christian devotion. Like the Daily Offices, the Prayer Book provides for its daily use, (see rubric page 90). Churches that have a daily celebration of the Holy Communion generally have it at an early hour of the day, and on Red Letter days there is often a communion at a later hour.

But Sunday is the chief day for Christian worship, and from the time of the Apostles, all devout Christians came together on the first day of the week for the Breaking of the Bread. So in all of our Churches provision is made for the faithful to receive the Communion every Sunday. This service is usually at 7:30 or 8 a.m. and is called the early service. There is no music or sermon, though often an offering. The service lasts half an hour and is purely devotional. The advantage of the early hour is that of consecrating the first thoughts of the day to God. "Early in the morning will I praise Thee." [32/33] Then it permits the reception of the Bread of Life before our bodily food is taken. First things first. Fasting communion has been pronounced by the Bishops of the Church of England to be an ancient and good custom. (The Prayer Book provides that grown people are to prepare themselves with prayer and fasting for baptism: why not also for Holy Communion which is an equally important sacrament.)

The second service of the day is usually at from 10 to 11 a.m. and is sometimes preceded by Morning Prayer shortened as permitted by the rubrics, sometimes by the Litany and sometimes the Communion Service alone is used. The service by itself requires half an hour but this is lengthened by the sermon and music.

The priest may have one or two servers or acolytes, or a deacon or priest may assist.

The priest usually says a silent prayer at the foot of the Altar and then goes up to the top foot-pace and begins the service with the Lord's Prayer, or if he has said this silently, he begins audibly the Collect for Purity.

Then, turning to the people, he rehearses the Ten Commandments which may be used in either longer or shorter form, and the people say or sing the Kyrie. But the Decalogue may be omitted provided it is said on one Sunday in the month, and in this case the priest says the Summary of the Law introduced by the words [33/34] "Hear what Our Lord Jesus Christ saith." Then is said or sung the Kyrie, often in its nine-fold form, each of the three phrases being repeated three times. Then the priest says the Collect, introducing it with the salutation to the people and their response, "The Lord be with you. And with thy spirit."

The Collect "O Almighty and Everlasting God" may be omitted in which case the priest says at once the Collect for the Day, after "The Lord be with you." Note carefully the distinction between those rubrics which say "shall" and those which say "may".

Immediately after the Collect for the Day, the congregation sits and listens to the reading of the Epistle for the Day. Following the Epistle may be sung a hymn or anthem called the Sequence. Whether a hymn is sung or not, the congregation should stand promptly when the priest announces "Here endeth the Epistle." When the Gospel is announced the people bow their heads and say or sing "Glory be to Thee O Lord." At the end of the Gospel they may say or sing "Praise be to Thee O Christ." Following the Gospel is the Nicene Creed which is the one universal creed of Christendom, used at the Liturgy of every branch of the Catholic Church, and recognized even by the Lausanne Conference as being the true and sufficient statement of the Christian faith.

[35] The creed should be sung or said by all the congregation. It is a universal custom to bow the head at the name of Jesus Christ when it occurs in the creed and elsewhere, Phil. II. And also to bow at the confession of faith in the Incarnation during the words, "And was Incarnate . . . and was made man." In some Churches it is customary for the congregation to kneel at these words. Follow the custom of the Church. (See preface of the Prayer Book).

After the Creed come the announcements, if any; then the Sermon. The priest usually begins his sermon with a prayer or invocation (In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost) during which the congregation remains standing. He closes his sermon with a similar prayer or ascription to God at which the congregation also stands. This is to remind the people that the preacher does not speak in his own name but brings us a message from God.

Following the sermon is the Offertory at which the priest offers and places upon the Holy Table the Bread and the Wine. At the same time the offerings of the congregation are collected by the Church Wardens and brought to the priest who places them upon the Holy Table. They are then usually placed upon the credence table which adjoins the Altar, and upon which the Bread and Wine are kept until the Offertory. During the Offertory the people sing a hymn, [35/36] or the Choir an anthem. A new rubric provides that "Here the Priest may ask the secret intercessions of the Congregation for any who have desired the prayers of the Church."

Then comes the Prayer for the whole state of Christ's Church. (The word militant has been dropped because there is now a commemoration of the departed as well as the living, militant means "fighting" and refers to the Church on earth.)

The faithful departed are the Church Expectant, and the saints and angels in heaven the Church Triumphant.

In some ill instructed congregations people leave the Church because they do not intend to make their communions at this service. This is as unnecessary as to go out in the midst of a funeral service because they are not being buried at the time. The whole congregation should remain until after the blessing, and the clergy have retired. If you do not receive communion, nevertheless join in the devotions with those who do, and worship Christ who comes to His Church in a special manner in the "Breaking of Bread."

Now the Priest turns to the congregation and says the Short Exhortation to those who are come to receive Holy Communion. This indicates very clearly the three elements in the necessary preparation. 1. True repentance of your sins. 2. "In love and Charity with your neighbors." 3. "Intending to lead a new life, following the commandments of God and walking from henceforth in His holy ways." [36/37] Of course this does not abrogate the necessity of being baptized and confirmed before coming to Communion, as required in other places of the Prayer Book. See rubric following the Confirmation Service.

Then follows the Confession in which all should join. If some of its expressions seem exaggerated, let us remember that sin is a common inheritance as well as an individual concern and that the thought of the sin of humanity is indeed grievous, and its burden intolerable. The phrases each begin with a capital letter, contrary to the usual rules of punctuation, to facilitate the manner in which they are to be said in concert.

The Absolution follows the Confession. It is to be made by the priest, standing, or by the Bishop if he is present. Here we should bow our heads and remember that God has given to his ministers power and commandment to pronounce to His people being penitent, the Absolution and Remission of their sins.

Next come the Comfortable Words which are to stir up our love and faith in Christ, followed by the Sursum Corda. These responses are found in every Liturgy in every part of the Church, and lead up to the Preface "It is very meet, right etc." Here on special days is inserted the Proper Preface. Formerly there were five days specially [37/38] designated, but five more have been added so that there are now ten days that have a Special Preface. In some instances these are used on the Day only, and in other cases through the octave, or for seven days after.

The Preface leads up to the Sanctus. This is the Song of Heaven itself, heard by the Prophet Isaiah and by St. John the Divine. The Sanctus in its ancient form ends in the Benedictus Qui Venit and this brings us to the most solemn moment of the service, the Prayer of Consecration, which begins with the same high strain of praise and adoration with which the Sanctus ends. It rehearses the purpose of Christ's sacrifice upon the Cross, and then the priest, speaking the words of the great High Priest Himself, blesses the Bread and the Wine, making them to be in a heavenly and spiritual manner, but none the less truly and indeed, the Body and the Blood of Christ. These are now offered to God as Holy Gifts, in remembrance of the passion of Christ, in the prayer of Oblation. Then in the Invocation which follows, the Blessing of the Holy Spirit is invoked upon the sacrifice that it may be the Body and Blood. To some people this seems an illogical prayer after the words of Consecration. It is said, "should they not precede the words of Consecration?" It may be replied that the element of time does not enter in, it is all one devotion, and the order in which the prayers [38/39] come in our Liturgy is that in the most ancient liturgies of the Church.

Then we offer ourselves to God, and pray for ourselves and the whole Church that we may be filled with grace and Heavenly Benediction and be made one body with Him that he may dwell in us and we in Him. The whole prayer of Consecration ends with a double climax, that is, with an exalted expression of praise and adoration to the blessed Trinity suited to such a supremely significant devotional action, and with the Lord's Prayer.

A slight pause of silence fittingly follows, during which priest and people turn their minds to preparation for receiving the holy food of Christ's Body and Blood. Then the priest kneels and says The Prayer of Humble Access, which is the climax of the preparation, and is at once followed by the Communion of priest and people. During the Communion a hymn is sung. Often the Agnus Dei, O Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy upon us, (twice repeated) O Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the World, Grant us thy peace.

Then the people come to communion. The Body and the Blood of Christ are given by the priest and taken and received by the people. In other words the doctrine of the Prayer Book is that Christ is first present objectively in the sacrament and is then given to the faithful recipient, [39/40] who feeds upon Him in his heart, by faith, with thanksgiving.

On returning to his seat in the Church, the communicant kneels and says private prayers of thanksgiving, or reads the communion hymns in the Hymnal. It is one of the impressive features of the communion service that there is generally a short period of silence for private devotion during the communion of the people. It is most unfortunate for people to walk out of Church after communion without waiting for the Blessing. We would not do this at the table of any friend. Why at the table of the Lord?

When all have received the priest says the Thanksgiving. This should be followed closely, and as soon as it is completed, all stand for the Gloria in Excelsis. This is an elaboration of the Angels' Hymn on Christmas Day, and has been always one of the great hymns of the Church.

Sometimes the priest says a closing Collect just before the blessing, sometimes he passes at once to the blessing. In either case all kneel immediately after the Gloria in Excelsis, so as to be in the proper posture for the benediction. There are two parts to this, the Peace and the Blessing. The Peace was once accompanied by a kiss which was passed from one minister to another, and from one member of the congregation to another. In the Latin Mass this still occurs in a modified [40/41] form on certain occasions, but in our Prayer Book it survives only in the words of the Peace.


The Collects, Epistles and Gospels form the only variable part of the Communion service, except the Proper Prefaces. There is a proper Collect, Epistle and Gospel for each day in the year which is inserted into the fixed form of the order for Holy Communion between the Kyrie and the Creed. They are read in the order named, though the Prayer Book now permits the singing of a hymn between the Epistle and the Gospel, called the Sequence. If used, it should set forth the same thought as contained in the Epistle and Gospel. At a solemn, ceremonial service, the Epistle and Gospel are read by assisting ministers, called the Deacon and Subdeacon, or sometimes the Epistoler and Gospeler. The Prayer Book contains a Collect, Epistle and Gospel for each Sunday in the year, and with it a provision that the same are to be used for each day in the week following until the next Sunday, unless some other Holy Day falls within the week, for which a special Collect, Epistle and Gospel is provided. A study of the calendar will show the way in which the collects, etc., are to be used. During some seasons, the collect for the first day of the season, as in Advent and Lent, [41/42] is also the collect for the season and is used daily throughout the season after the Collect for the day.

The word Collect is obvious in its derivation though just what "collect" means in connection with a prayer is not so plain. Perhaps the best explanation is that the priest collects the petitions of many people and offers it up for all of them. The book of Acts contains two New Testament Collects, in the first and fourth chapters. The first of these is short and a model of all that have been used in later times. It contains three parts, first an invocation to God, mentioning some attribute, for which reason the appeal is made. 2. A single petition. 3. The reason for the petition, or the blessing that will come from it.

"(1) Thou Lord which knowest the hearts of all men, (2) show whether of these two thou hast chosen, (3) That he take part of this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell." A collect always ends with a mediation ("Through Jesus Christ, etc.") Most of the collects are very ancient in their origin, though some were composed at the time of the Reformation, and others are entirely new, such as those for the week days of Holy Week.

The Epistles and Gospels with a few variations are used throughout Christendom, east and west. They were originally arranged by St. Jerome in the fifth century, and have never been [42/43] substantially altered. Thus the Lutherans and Romans use the same Epistles and Gospels that the Anglicans do, and where they vary, we have usually adhered to the original arrangement.

When we examine our present Prayer Book, we see that it has been enriched by the addition of many new Collects, Epistles and Gospels. There are now special Collects for each day that has a proper Epistle and Gospel. This means that new Collects have been added for all of the days of Holy Week, for Monday and Tuesday in Easter week and Whitsun week. A new Collect has been substituted for the third for Good Friday (which is unique in having three Collects), and a second Collect, Epistle and Gospel has been provided for the first Eucharist on Whitsunday. Christmas and Easter are also similarly provided for. A new Epistle has been provided for the Feast of Circumcision, (New Year's Day) and for St. Simon and St. Jude's Day.

New Gospels are provided for St. Thomas Day and Ascension Day, and for the second Sunday after Epiphany, and entirely new Collects, Epistles and Gospels have been provided for the Second Sunday after Christmas, for the first Communion of Whitsunday, for Ember Days, Rogation Days, Minor Saints Days, Independence Day, and for Marriages and Funerals, thus indicating the growth of the use of the Holy Eucharist not only on occasions of public worship, [43/44] but for private occasions also. It is a Churchly custom to receive Holy Communion on the anniversary of birthdays, marriages, funerals and other anniversaries, or upon the Sunday following.


Holy Baptism and Confirmation

In our old Prayer Books there were three separate Baptismal services, the Public Baptism of Infants, the Private Baptism of Infants, and the Baptism of those of Riper Years. These have now been united into one service of Holy Baptism with alternative lections, and questions and answers, for Infants and Adults. It is a great improvement.

First the Rubric provides that the time of baptism should not be delayed, but the Sacrament be administered promptly, as soon as the child is old enough to be brought to the Church. This may depend somewhat on the weather and the season of the year, but with our modern conveyances, the child may safely be brought to the Church within a month of its birth at any season of the year. The Baptism is to be at the Church, and on a Sunday or Holy Day, and preferably at a public service, though for good cause, exception may be [44/45] made to all of these rules. The giving of elaborate christening parties is to be deprecated if it interferes with a solemn Baptism in the Church.

There are to be three God parents, two of which are men in the case of a boy, and two women in the case of a girl. Parents may act as sponsors, though this deprives the child of two God parents, in addition to its natural parents. As they promise to bring the child to the Bishop, to be confirmed, it is fitting that they should be Communicants of the Church, themselves. Sometimes exception is made in the case of near relatives or intimate friends of the family, though we believe it is always a spiritual loss to the child if the God parents are not themselves devout Churchmen. It is customary to permit a proxy in case of an absent God parent.

With the baptism of adults, preparation is necessary both in the way of instruction, and penitence, as provided in the answer of the Catechism, "What is required of those to be baptized?"

The service begins with the question "Hath this child already been baptized?" because children are sometimes baptized at the time of their birth by a parent or nurse, in which case the baptism is not to be repeated, but the child is received into the congregation and signed with the cross. The exhortation now omits the old statement that all men are conceived and born in sin, [45/46] which was misunderstood, and begins at once with the words of Christ, "None can enter into the Kingdom of God except he be regenerate, and born anew of water and of the Holy Ghost."

Then follows a beautiful prayer in which it is asserted that we receive remission of our sins by spiritual regeneration in Baptism. Next follow three lessons, the first with special reference to the baptism of Infants, the second more appropriate for the baptism of Adults, and the third applying equally to both, so that the first will be used with infants, the second with adults, and the third when both infants and adults are baptized at the same time. Then all present are devoutly and faithfully to join audibly with the minister in a prayer for those to be baptized. Following the prayer the minister asks the sponsors certain questions of great importance which they are to answer in a clear voice. The sponsors, and everyone else for that matter, should be provided with Prayer Books and say all of the responses and Amens throughout the service, but they are to be particularly careful to answer the special questions that are made to them as sponsors.

The threefold vow of baptism is:

First, to renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world and all the sinful lusts of the flesh.

Second, [46/47] to believe all the articles of the Christian faith.

Third, to keep God's holy will and commandments and to walk in the same all the days of my life.

There are now added two other questions of much import, first in regard to instruction which includes Church School attendance, and second in regard to Confirmation. Sometimes parents think that they should wait until children want to be confirmed. The Prayer Book says they are to be brought to the Bishop at a certain time.

If there are adults to be baptized, the minister now asks them questions which vary from those asked the sponsors of infants. Two new questions are inserted here, "Dost thou believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God?" "Dost thou accept Him and desire to follow Him as thy Saviour and Lord?" The purpose of these questions is to make Baptism more clearly a public confession of Christ, and a promise of personal loyalty to Him, rather than simply a general acceptance of all the articles of the Christian Faith, and a promise to keep all of God's holy will and commandments. Then come four short prayers and all are to answer "Amen" at the end of each of them, followed by a familiar series of verses and responses taken from the Communion Office, "The Lord be with you—Lift up your hearts, etc.," and the words "It is very meet, right and our bounden duty," introduce the prayer for the blessing of the water of the font.

[48] Now comes the baptism itself. The minister takes the child in his arms, and having first asked its name, discreetly dips the child in the water, or pours the water upon him. Greeks, Syrians, and other members of the Eastern Church generally require to have their infants immersed, in which case the minister places the palm of his hand over the infant's mouth, and closes his nostrils, eyes, and ears, with his finger tips and discreetly immerses the child thrice. If adults are immersed they kneel in the water and the minister bows the head forward until it is immersed. If the water is poured on the head of an adult it is proper that he should kneel beside the font. The Sign of the Cross is made on the brow of the person baptized in token that he is not ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified. This is also the meaning of the symbol if used at the end of the creed, or otherwise in private devotions.

Now all say together the Lord's Prayer. The priest says a further prayer of thanksgiving, and then gives a blessing.

The rubric following provides that adults baptized should be promptly confirmed and admitted to Holy Communion.

Provision is made for Baptism in the case of [48/49] danger or sickness, and that a lay person, man or woman, may lawfully administer Baptism under such circumstances. In such cases the person is not rebaptized if he survives the danger, but is admitted with the Sign of the Cross into the Congregation of Christ's Church by the priest.

Where there is doubt as to the validity or fact of a prior baptism, a conditional form is used, as provided.

We may now sum up the teaching of the Prayer Book in regard to Baptism. It imposes three obligations – Repentance, Faith, and Obedience and bestows seven blessings:

1. Remission of Sins.
2. Regeneration or a New Birth.
3. The Gift of the Holy Spirit.
4. Union with Christ.
5. Membership in the Church.
6. Inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven.
7. The beginning of Salvation.


Following the Baptismal service are the Offices of Instruction which supplement the Catechism, (although the Catechism in its old form is printed in the back of the Prayer Book.) They contain the Catechism itself, together with very valuable additional instruction on the Church, and its four marks, (One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic,) [49/50] on Confirmation, and on the three-fold order of the Sacred Ministry. The whole has been cast into the form of two services with verses, responses and prayers, so that the children in using them as services of devotion will soon become familiar with their doctrinal content, and masters of the Catechism, before they know it. The principle is a sound psychological one and much is to be hoped from the regular use of these Offices of Instruction in our Church Schools.

Turning now to the content of the Catechism, it divides itself into five parts which explain respectively the Christian Covenant, the Faith, Duty, Prayer, and Sacraments. With the additional matter in the Office of Instruction, it contains in epitome what a Christian ought to know to his soul's health. The Catechism is to be learned by children before they are confirmed. This fixes the age of Confirmation according to the intelligence of the child, at from eight to twelve years.


Confirmation is the rite of laying on of hands, as found in the New Testament, which was accompanied with the gift of the Holy Spirit. It followed immediately after baptism, and indicates progress, growth and strengthening in the spiritual life. Canon Mason thought that no one [50/51] receives the Holy Spirit until he is confirmed, but the general teaching is that the Holy Spirit is given first in Baptism, when one is born again of water and of the Spirit, and a fuller gift is given at Confirmation for the greater tasks of the Christian life, just as in Ordination a special gift of the Spirit is given for a special office in the ministry. There are diversities of Gifts, but it is one and the Self-same Spirit.

The word confirm is used in two senses: of something that the candidate does and more strictly something that is done to him. As the condition of his being confirmed by the Holy Spirit, in view of the modern delay of Confirmation and in order to remind the candidate of its close connection with Baptism, he must first confirm his baptismal vows, and renew his promises of penitence, faith and obedience to Christ until his life's end. The Prayer Book adds the specific question, "Do you promise to follow Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?" and everyone shall answer "I do". This is an open confession of Christ before men. Such as make it truly, Christ himself will confess before His Father.

After the Candidates have renewed their vows, three verses and responses are said, the Candidates kneel, a prayer is said for them, and kneeling before the Bishop, each receives the Laying on of Hands, with its accompanying spiritual gift. [51/52] In some Dioceses the candidates kneel at the altar rail and the Bishop goes from one to another, as in administering Holy Communion. Other Bishops sit in a chair at the chancel gate, and the candidates kneel before him one by one. Diocesan customs differ. In ancient times, (and the custom is sometimes still observed) the Bishop anointed the candidate with consecrated oil on his forehead, symbolizing the unction of the Holy Ghost, and then struck him lightly on the cheek, to remind him that he is to endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ.

The Lord's Prayer is then said as an act of thanksgiving with two following prayers and the Benediction.

Two rubrics follow the Confirmation office. One urges those confirmed to come to Holy Communion without delay, and the other provides that no one shall be admitted to Holy Communion, unless he is confirmed or desires to be.

Confirmation brings before us the whole relationship of the Holy Spirit to our Christian life. We should read carefully and often Chapter VIII of St. Paul's epistle to the Romans, for our spiritual instruction and encouragement.


Holy Matrimony – Visitation – Burial

[53] Christian marriage is the union of two baptized Christians, which is like unto the union betwixt Christ and His Church. It is a sacred and indissoluble relationship, spiritual as well as physical, and its permanence is the basis of all civilization and religion. The family is older than any church or government, or any other institution, and is the foundation of them all. This is set forth in the exhortation with which the marriage service begins. This is followed by a warning that an impediment may make the marriage void. Such impediments may be relationship or consanguinity, former marriage, withholding of consent, etc., which would make the marriage null from the beginning. Then come the espousals or promises which are now made in identical words. This part of the ceremony is called also the betrothal, and anciently often formed a ceremony by itself, which preceded the actual marriage ceremony sometimes by a space of months or years. The bride's father or near relative stands behind her and to the left until the priest asks the question, "Who giveth this woman [53/54] to be married to this man?" He then steps forward and places the bride's hand in that of the minister, and immediately retires to the front pew of the Church where he takes his place with the other relatives. The minister places the bride's hand in that of the groom, and turns and proceeds to the altar steps, where he again turns and faces the congregation. The groom leads his bride to the altar, still holding her by the hand, and followed by such of the bridal party as may conveniently find place in the chancel. Taught by the priest he speaks the marriage vows. The bride follows in the same manner. The ring is given by the groom to the bride, by her to the minister, who puts it upon the book and blesses it with the following words, "Bless O Lord this ring that he who gives it and she who wears it may abide in thy peace and continue in thy favor until their life's end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." All then say the Lord's Prayer, standing, and the minister adds other prayers, joins their hands and pronounces them man and wife, and then, the man and wife kneeling, he gives the Wedding Blessing.

Laws governing licenses differ in various states, and some dioceses require the publication of the banns. Before announcing a marriage the priest should always be consulted to ascertain whether the church building is free at the day and hour desired. The wedding ceremony is [54/55] never rehearsed, but often the wedding march is. It is desirable that each participant should know where he or she is to stand and how to get into and out of the church. However on such occasions strict decorum should be observed in the sacred building, women should wear hats, and all unnecessary conversation avoided. The church organist should be paid for services at a wedding, and it is well to give a fee to the sexton.

At the ceremony itself, all women present should be covered, wearing either hats or veils. The bride herself is no exception, hence the wedding veil. We are happy to say that the artificially slow and painful method of marching at weddings is no longer in vogue.

Because the laws of the Church differ sharply with the laws of many of the States, the Canon Law regulating the marriage of Churchmen is here appended.

It is usually customary for the bridal party, preceded by the ushers, and bridesmaids to enter the front door of the Church, while the groom and his attendant enter from a side door or from the sacristy, and meet the bride at the chancel steps.

Provision is now made in the Prayer Book for the celebration of the Holy Communion which follows immediately the marriage proper. In this case the man and wife alone receive the Communion. This is most appropriate in the marriage of Christian people. [55/56] If however, it is not expedient to have the Communion at the ceremony itself, it is fitting that both should receive the Sacrament at any early hour, on the day of the marriage.


Of the solemnization of Matrimony

§ I. Ministers of this Church shall be careful to secure the observance of the law of the State governing the civil contract of marriage in the place where the service shall be performed.

§ II. (i.) No Minister shall solemnize a marriage except in the presence of at least two witnesses.

(ii.) Every Minister shall without delay formally record in the proper register the name, age and residence of each party. Such record shall be signed by the Minister who solemnizes the marriage, and, if practicable, by the married parties, and by at least two witnesses of the marriage.

§ III. No Minister, knowingly after due inquiry, shall solemnize the marriage of any person who has been or is the husband or the wife of any other person then living, from whom he or she has been divorced for any cause arising after marriage. Nor shall it be lawful for any member of this Church to enter upon a marriage when either of the contracting parties is the husband or the wife of any other person then living from whom he or she has been divorced for any cause arising after marriage. But this Canon shall not be held to apply to the innocent party in a divorce for adultery; Provided, that before the application for such remarriage [56/57] a period of not less than one year shall have elapsed, after the granting of such divorce; and that satisfactory evidence touching the facts in the case, including a copy of the Court's Decree, and Record, if practicable, with proof that the defendant was personally served or appeared in the action, be laid before the Ecclesiastical Authority, and such Ecclesiastical Authority, having taken legal advice thereon, shall have declared in writing that in his judgment the case of the applicant conforms to the requirements of this Canon; and Provided, further, that it shall be within the discretion of any Minister to decline to solemnize any marriage.

§ IV. If any Minister of this Church shall have cause to think that a person desirous of being admitted to Holy Baptism, or to Confirmation, or to the Holy Communion, has been married otherwise than as the Word of God and discipline of this Church allow, such Minister, before receiving such person to these ordinances, shall refer the case to the Bishop for his godly judgment thereupon; Provided, however, that no Minister, shall in any case refuse these ordinances to a penitent person in imminent danger of death.


When any person is sick notice thereof shall be given to the Minister of the parish, who regards it as one of his most important duties to call upon, and offer prayer on behalf of the sick. The office provided in the Prayer Book consists of a number of psalms, prayers, and responses, from which a selection may be made, as seems appropriate to the needs of the sick person. [57/58] The tone of the prayers is more helpful and encouraging that those of the old Prayer Book. There the thought was strongly stressed that sickness is a visitation from God that probably is sent as a punishment for sin. In the present book there is a more hopeful tone, and the expression of the thought that God Himself is the only source of healing and that it is His will that we should be well and strong, rather than suffer weakness and pain.

Among the ministrations to the sick there is none more appropriate nor more helpful than Holy Communion, which preserves our soul and body unto everlasting life. It is no longer required that visitors should come in to join in the service, in fact it is rather desirable that they should not do so. The service is much abridged, and all of the prayers required may be said in ten minutes or even less time. Where the Bishop of the Diocese permits reservation for the sick, the administration is much simplified, and in fact, no table or sacred vessels are required, which in a hospital ward, or in some homes, is fortunate. It is much to be desired that people should understand that the prayers of the priest and the Holy Communion are not a sign that all earthly hope is abandoned, but that rather the grace of God is given to fortify the soul and to promote bodily recovery, and wherever this view prevails, the patient is always glad to see a priest, [58/59] and to be benefitted by his ministrations. The family should leave the patient alone with the priest at least a few moments, as the patient may have something confidential to disclose.


Provision is now made in the Prayer Book for anointing, or the laying on of hands. These ceremonies are very ancient and scriptural in the ministration to the sick, and many find health and comfort in this touch of the hands of the priest. Unction is spoken of in the Articles of Religion as one of the lesser sacraments, though the postponement of it until the hour of death is called a corrupt following of the Apostles. Now, however, that its ancient and scriptural use has been restored to the Prayer Book, many will find it a source of comfort and health. Unction has been called the "Lost Pleiad" of the Anglican firmament, and is now happily restored in the new Revision.


In the Litany of the dying we have a very great addition to the Prayer Book. When it is apparent that the sick person is approaching his end, the priest should be sent for at once. If however, he does not arrive in time, one of the Christians present should kneel, and say the Litany of the Dying, [59/60] omitting only An Absolution, which is appropriate for the priest only to say. These prayers of the Church have been consecrated by centuries of use. They will fortify and cheer the soul at the last moment of earthly life, and also bring comfort to the bereaved ones who are left behind. At such a moment, when all other things are fruitless, prayer alone is availing, and it is of the highest importance that these prayers be said, at the passing of a Christian soul, by either priest or layman.

The Advice of the Prayer Book, that people should make bequests to religious and charitable uses, is unfortunately, all too often overlooked.


The Order for the Burial of the Dead, when read in Church is probably heard by more people than any other Prayer Book office, and always makes a profound impression on those who are unfamiliar with it, as well as upon those long accustomed to its use. The Prayer Book does not provide for the minister going to the house and accompanying the remains to the Church. He meets the funeral procession at the Church door. Here if it be the custom, a pall is spread over the coffin [60/61] before it is brought into Church. As the priest proceeds up the aisle, he speaks the three opening sentences of the Burial Office. The first is the voice of Christ, the second, the voice of the Believer who is not really dead, and the third, the voice of the mourners and the Church. Then follow the Old Testament Psalms, which properly should be chanted, but this is somewhat difficult, so they are usually read.

The Psalms are followed by the long Lesson, I Cor. XV which tells of the Christian hope of the resurrection, with two shorter alternative lessons. Provision is then made for Hymn, Anthem, Creed and closing Prayers. The remaining part of the service is said at the grave. The opening of this part of the service, "Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live and is full of misery", is an ancient Dirge, most impressive, and once largely used on other occasions. However the words are somewhat ominous to us, and an alternative form has been provided in a more hopeful vein. The ancient form of commital has been restored to the Prayer Book, in which the soul is committed to God as well as the body to the earth. Then follows a beautiful anthem, "I heard a voice from heaven," and the Prayers and Benediction. There are three prayers in the burial office which are direct intercessions for the soul of the departed. [61/62] There are three of similar import in the Visitation of the Sick, one in the prayer for Memorial Days, and one among the Family Prayers in the back of the book for the Anniversary of one Departed. There is also a special prayer for the departed in the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church. And also the provision for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist for the Departed. Whatever else has been accomplished in the recent revision, the Church clearly wished to go on record as favoring the use of such prayers. Her people have found that they need them, and that they are of great comfort.

If the Holy Communion is celebrated at a funeral, it follows immediately after the lesson. The Holy Eucharist is essentially a sacrificial act, offered up for the departed as well as for the living. In the prayer of oblation we say, "Humbly beseeching thee to grant that by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we and all thy whole Church, may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion." It is quite evident that when the word "Militant" was deleted from the prayer for the Church it was enlarged to include both the living and the departed as well. The purpose of the funeral eucharist is first an offering on behalf of the person departed, that he may obtain remission of his sins and all other benefits of the Lord's passion. Second, it is an act of communion with him, for tho departed this life, he is alive in Christ and the Church still holds him in her communion and fellowship. [62/63] Third, it is a comfort to the mourners, who in communion with Christ will find themselves united again to their dear ones.

It is sometimes expedient to have the Communion at an earlier hour than the funeral itself, at which time the bereaved family find it easier to come to the Church for the highest spiritual solace that it can offer or that men can receive. Christ is our only comfort at such times as this and happy is the family that in their hour of sorrow turn to Him.

The priest is glad to celebrate the Holy Eucharist on the anniversaries of the deaths of those who are remembered by their friends, at God's altar.

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