Tuesday, November 13, 2012


While "Recitation of Morning and Evening Prayer, with the prescribed psalms and readings, as set out in [the] Customary, is a complete celebration of the daily cycle of the Office", yet "Prayer During the Day and Compline are provided for additional use, as required." (Customary, 23) I have detailed Compline according to the Customary already; now, for some discussion of Prayer During the Day.

Firstly, and quite traditionally, Prayer During the Day (that is, any or all of Terce, Sext and None) is provided with psalmody drawn from both the twenty-two portions of Psalm 119 (118 in the Vulgate numbering), that great Psalm of the Law sung daily in the Roman Office down to 1912, and also with Psalms 120 to 128 (Vulg. 119 to 127), the first seven of the Gradual Psalms, used five days a week in the Monastic Office. 

Psalm 119's parts are spread over a week, with the first four sections on Sunday and three each for successive weekdays; if all three Little Hours are read, then just one section is read at each Hour (two at Sunday Terce). It is suggested that Psalm 119 be thus employed on Weeks 1 and 3 (corresponding to those weeks in the modern Roman Office), but not when Psalm 119 is read at Mattins and Evensong (that is, on the 24th to the 26th days of the month, when the Psalter is used in course).  Especially in Weeks 2 and 4 (except on the 27th day of the month, when they are read at Mattins and Evensong), the Gradual Psalms or "Songs of Ascent" are to be used instead: at Terce, or Prayer During the Day on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays, Psalms 120 to 122; at Sext, or Prayer During the Day on Tuesdays and Fridays, Psalms 123 to 125; and at None, or Prayer During the Day on Wednesdays and Saturdays, Psalms 126 to 128.

A rubric notes that the Psalmody is as set out, or as prescribed by the Ordinary (presumably for special occasions and greater feasts, or if some other arrangement of the Psalms is proposed for his approval).

It begins naturally enough with "O God, make speed to save us" (the Anglican version of Deus in adjutorium meum intende), followed by the Lesser Doxology (Gloria Patri) and "Alleluia" (outside Lent). The Office Hymn is then used: at Terce, "Come, Holy Spirit, live in us" (Nunc, Sancte, nobis, Spiritus); at Sext, "O God of truth and Lord of power" (Rector potens, verax Deus); and at None, "Eternal Father, loving God" (Rerum, Deus, tenax vigor). There is a note to the effect that these "or some other" (translation? version?) ought be used.

The Psalms are then sung, with "Glory be" afterward, but without antiphon – as is Anglican practice, and as St Benedict provided in the case of less musically adept groups of monks.

After the psalmody, a short reading follows: through the year, distinct readings are provided for Terce, Sext and None over a two-week cycle; for the seasons, a one-week cycle of readings are given, with one reading per day. Unlike the Roman Office, there is no short responsory (Cranmer famously having purged out all such responds); instead, the "collect or prayer" follows at once, and the Hour concludes with the versicles "The Lord be with you" (if read by one in holy orders) and "Let us bless the Lord" (Benedicamus Domino), with the final blessing "May the divine assistance remain with us always" (Divinum auxilium).

The "collect or prayer" is the most liturgically noteworthy part of Prayer During the Day: either the Collect of the Day may be used, or instead what I term a "quasi-collect" may be read. During the year (outside of the liturgical seasons such as Advent), there are seven such prayers proposed for use on each succeeding day of the week.  They sometimes end "through Jesus Christ our Lord", and sometimes not, which is why, together with their more poetic character, I term them "quasi-collects". Unsurprisingly, they are at least in the main drawn from the Anglican Patrimony – for example, the Saturday prayer is taken from the Sarum Primer, "God be in my head, and in my understanding...".

Herewith, a list of all these prayers, with the page number upon which they occur in the Customary (those marked with an asterisk * end with "through Jesus Christ our Lord" or a like ending):

Quasi-Collects for Prayer during the Day

Sunday: "Christ be with me, Christ within me" (from St Patrick’s Breastplate) 80
Monday: "Eternal Light, shine into our hearts" (Alcuin of York)* 83
Tuesday: "O Eternal God" (cf. St Augustine of Hippo)* 86
Wednesday: "O Lord our God" (St Anselm)* 89
Thursday: "O gracious and holy Father" (St Benedict of Nursia)* 92
Friday: "Thanks be to thee, Lord Jesus Christ" (cf. St Richard of Chichester) 95
Saturday: "God be in my head, and in my understanding" (Sarum Primer) 98

Advent: "Keep us, O Lord" (Richard Baxter)* 177
Christmastide: "Almighty and everlasting God" (cf. Missale Romanum)* 211
Epiphanytide: "O good Jesu" (cf. St Gregory the Great)* 231
Lent: "Teach us, good Lord, to serve thee as thou deservest" (St Ignatius Loyola) 270
Passiontide: "Soul of Christ, sanctify me" (Anima Christi, 14th C.) 293
Eastertide: "Christ yesterday and today" (from the Easter Vigil) 341
Ascensiontide & Pentecost: "O King enthroned on high"  (Byzantine Rite, Pentecost Troparion) 356
All Saints until Advent: "Bring us, O Lord God" (Eric Milner White, cf. John Donne) 448

This system of "quasi-collects" appears to me the most experimental of the various liturgical options within the new Customary.


This new form found in the Customary may be compared to "An Order of Service for Noonday" (or "Noonday Prayer") as found in the Book of Divine Worship. Noonday Prayer begins in the same way; a hymn may be sung just as given above; one or more of Psalms 19, 67, 119 parts I to XXII, and 120 to 133 may be sung (note that this list, not further divided up and ordered, includes several Psalms not used in the Customary's Prayer During the Day – Psalm 19 would if anything be better at Prime if that were used, and Psalm 67 is an alternative Invitatory Psalm for Mattins in the Customary).

By contrast to the Customary's abundant selection of readings, in the BDW but three passages of Scripture are provided for use at Noonday Prayer, albeit with a rubric allowing choice of any other suitable passage; similarly, the BDW simply provides four general collects from which one may be chosen, or else the Collect of the Day ought be used. The BDW does, however, insert before the Collect both the threefold Kyrie and the Lord's Prayer, with "Lord, hear our prayer" (Domine, exaudi) rather strangely inserted between them – this (but for the versicle) could profitably be adopted in the Customary – and ends simply with "Let us bless the Lord". Rubrics note that a silent or spoken meditation may follow the short reading, and that after the Collect, "free intercessions may be offered".

No comments: