Archive for the ‘Liturgy’ Category

Catholic ChurchIs public worship dreary obligation or joyful obedience?

The obligation to worship God arises naturally from the relation in which we stand to Him. We have been created, redeemed, and regenerated by God, and therefore we naturally owe Him worship as well as obedience.

We are also members of Christ, and therefore children of God and also, inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. This relation in which we stand to God is a gift from God alone, and all these hopes are built on God. It is both natural and reasonable that we should offer unto God the homage of our grateful hearts.

When we are gathered together in His House of prayer for this purpose, He is present to receive this worship, and to grant His blessing. He was thus present in the tabernacle and in the temple of Israel.

In the bright, radiant glory which rested on the mercy-seat, between the cherubim, in the Holy of Holies, was the presence of God. None of the Israelites had seen it, except only the high priest, and he only on one day in each year; but they believed that it was there. They were glad, therefore, to go up to the house of the Lord.

In like manner the same Presence, though also invisible, has been promised to us, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” So that every church, whether it be mean and poor, or beautiful and stately in outward appearance, is to the earnest Christian “the House of God and the gate of Heaven.”

The value of public worship to us arises chiefly from this fact. But it is often forgotten, for if it were believed and remembered many would necessarily behave with more awe and reverence in church than they do. As they worship God the holy angels veil their faces.

But how is it with me? Am I glad to go up to the house of the Lord? When there, am I attentive and reverent because I believe that I am in God’s presence?


O God, who art present everywhere, help me, I beseech Thee, by Thy Holy Spirit to worship Thee in spirit and in truth, and to draw near unto Thee at all times with reverence and godly fear, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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Ash Wednesday is fast approaching.  Here at St. Alban’s there will be no Bible study that morning, as there will be Confessions starting at 10:30 a.m.  In addition, there will be Confessions heard from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.  Clergy will be here the previous day, Shrove Tuesday for those wishing to make their Confession before Lent actually begins.

There will be two Masses with Imposition of Ashes-Noon and 6:30 p.m.  Matins will take place as usual at 8:00 a.m.

If you are looking for a particular discipline to take on this Lent, I suggest coming to Matins daily on weekdays.  There are some differences during the penitential season, notably the use of the Lenten Prose in the sung service.   You can hear a version of it much like we chant on the YouTube here:  Lenten Prose

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Sexagesima 2018


I have had a number of requests to post the order of the Mass for the upcoming Sunday so that folks can practice the hymns.  Given scheduling, this may appear earlier or later in the week, but I hope to have it here on the blog in sufficient time for folks to warm up those vocal cords.

HOLY EUCHARIST- February 4, 2018

Hymnal (11:00 am)  

315   Processional Hymn (Kremser)
Introit (Insert)
Collect for Purity
701   Decalogue (Merbecke)
702   Kyrie eleison (Merbecke)
Epistle (II Corinthians xi.19)
Gradual (see insert)
Gospel (St. Luke viii.4)
Nicene Creed
401   Sermon Hymn (Weymouth)
Sermon—The Rev. Canon Charles H. Nalls
Offertory (see insert)
298   Offertory Hymn (Tallis Ordinal)
560   Doxology (Pentecost)
Intercessions of the Faithful
General Confession 75
Absolution & Comfortable Words 76
Sursum Corda
706/796 Sanctus & Benedictus (Merbecke)
Canon of Consecration
Lord’s Prayer
Peace of the Lord
706 Agnus Dei (Merbecke)
Prayer of Humble Access
211 Communion Hymn (Jesu, Joy); 212 (Bread of Heaven)
Post-communion Thanksgiving
Communio (Insert)
Dismissal & Blessing
The Last Gospel (Response: “Thanks be to God!)
287 Recessional Hymn (Elbing)

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With the evening hours coming earlier and the darkness of the world that seems encroach at an ever-increasing degree, I thought a word or two about light, or lights in the church might be appropriate. Light is something that most people take granted. Absent the effects of a storm, we hardly give it a second thought. The need for light is fundamental, and there can be no life without light. Indeed images of light and darkness recur throughout the Bible.

In the beginning “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep.” The very first action of God in creation was to say, “‘Let there be light’; and there was light and God saw that the light was good.” (Genesis 1:2-3)

In the New Testament, light is a key image particularly in the Gospel according to St. John where he describes Our Lord as “the light.” Not the light created by God, but the Creator Himself! Our Lord, too, uses the image of light to teach His disciples, when He says that we should shine as lights exposed on hilltops, and not hide our faith under buckets.  So it is appropriate that light, or lights, forma a significant part of our liturgy in the Church in accordance with Holy Scripture.

Candles in Church

Let’s begin with the Pascal Candle which can be found in most churches, and it is easy to identify. It is likely to be taller and of greater circumference than  any other candle in the church, but it the only candle to be decorated either with a decal or by being painted. From Easter to Pentecost, or Whitsunday, it will be in a prominent position in the Sanctuary near the High Altar.

The Pascal Candle is named after the PASCH, the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord. The candle is blessed at the Easter Vigil, and represents Christ the light of the world. The Easter Vigil includes the first Eucharist of Easter, and is a dramatic re- presentation of the mysteries of creation and redemption. It begins in total darkness, but ends in a flood of candle-lit glory!

Two of the Vigil ceremonies are of particular interest. First, immediately after lighting, the Pascal Candle is carried in procession through the darkened church. As the Pascal Candle approaches the Choir, the priests and congregation in turn light candles they are holding from the Pascal Candle, and, in turn, from each other. This is a powerful image of evangelism-the way in which we come to share in the living light of Christ, and also fulfill our commission to spread that light throughout the world.

Secondly, the Pascal Candle is taken in procession to the font, where, using the candle as a symbol of Christ, waters of Baptism are blessed as the candle is dipped three times into the font. This reminds us that in Baptism we enter into the tomb of death with Christ, only to rise again with Him, whose Resurrection we are about to celebrate.

After Pentecost the Pascal Candle is generally is set aside in the Baptistry for use during Baptism.  It will make another appearance in the Sanctuary from Christmas Vigil through the Epiphany.

Altar Candles and Processional Lights.

The number of candles used to decorate altars varies, but traditionally they are in combinations of two, four and six. A useful rule of thumb is that the more candles, the more important the altar is likely to be. Side, chapel and Lady Chapel altars normally have two, or sometimes four candles (two being lit for low mass, all four only being lit on high feast days). The High Altar would have anything up to six candles.  A seventh candle appears when a bishop is present.

The obvious symbolism is that the altar represents the throne of God, from which the light of Christ shines upon His gathered people. You may also find it helpful to meditate upon what the number and arrangement of the candles might suggest.

Candles carried in procession are a simple, but effective way of honoring both the cross which they accompany, and also the priest as he represents the person of Christ. Their use adds both dignity and color to the Church’s worship.

Baptism Candles

Many priests in the Anglican Catholic Church present a lighted candle to the newly baptized person or their God parents at a certain point during the rite.  The baptismal candle is lit from the Pascal Candle symbolizing that, through Holy Baptism, the newly baptized person shares in the life of the Risen Lord, represented by the Pascal Candle. The words which accompany the giving of the candle can also point out an important meaning: “Receive the light of Christ, that when the bridegroom cometh thou mayest go forth with all the Saints to meet Him … ”

Sanctus Light, or Presence Lamp

 This is a light that burns when there is any “reserved sacrament” near the altar in the Tabernacle, which is located in the center of the Altar at St. Alban’s.  The presence light is near to the Altar at the left or Gospel side. The presence light is extinguished on Good Friday after the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified as there is no reserved Sacrament in the Tabernacle.

 Prayer or Votive Candles

Many parishes have a stand for holding votive or prayer. If you do, or when you go into a church that does, one will usually be found near a statue/shrine of a Saint or near to the Reserved Sacrament. Lighting a candle in prayer is a powerful symbol, full of meanings.

Here are some “bright” ideas:

  • The lit candle reminds us of our Baptism, and the way that we share in the life of Christ by sharing in the life of the Church. When we depart from the place leaving the burning candle behind, we are reminded that our souls never leave the presence of God, in company with His Saints.
  • Prayer is not self-centered, it is God centered, and an important element is prayer for other people and causes. When lighting your candle, it is a good idea to light a candle for those others you want to pray for.

The candle is absolutely not a substitute for the prayer of your heart, but an accompaniment. It is a small offering which, in honoring a Saint and giving glory to God, speaks both from the heart and to the heart. Lighting votive candles in church, when asking the prayers of the Saints and thereby to the greater glory of God, is growing in popularity in the Anglican Catholic Church.

It is a devotional practice in which many millions of Christians the world over have found inspiration.

-with thanks to All Saints (ACC) Janesville, WI


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We precede the Triduum with Tenebrae (Latin for “shadows” or “darkness”) which is a religious service celebrated in Holy Week on the evening before or early morning of  Maundy Thursday.   Rich in symbolism, the service of Tenebrae incorporates the use of light and darkness to invoke the spiritual reality recalled within the prayer. For instance, as the service is celebrated (on the morning of Good Friday in its earliest days), the candles used for lighting are successively extinguished so that by the end only one candle is left burning. While the church found itself in darkness, the lone candle, the light of the one who would sacrifice himself for the life of the world, would remain and be seen as the light in darkness. Hope was restored for God’s faithful ones.

Tenebrae will begin at 6:30 pm.  At St. Alban’s, we use a somewhat shorter version as included below which you may feel free to use.  For chants from the Psalter, we use the notation from the Sarum Psalter Noted.  I have set the people’s portion of the antiphons in bold.

Blessings of Holy Week,

Canon Nalls

Tenebrae of Wednesday Evening

(Mattins & Lauds of Maundy Thursday)

The following are said by each worshiper in silence:

O Lord, open thou my mouth that I may bless thy holy Name;  cleanse also my heart from all vain, evil and wandering thoughts;  enlighten my understanding, enkindle my affections that I may be able worthily, attentively and devoutly to recite these Offices, and may be meet to be heard in the presence of thy divine Majesty;  through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

O Lord, in union with that divine intention with which thou thyself on earth didst render praise to God, I offer to thee these Hours.

The Lord’s Prayer

The Hail Mary

The Apostles Creed (page 15)

 The antiphons are said in unison; the psalms are read responsively.  One candle on the stand is extinguished at the end of each psalm.


Nocturn I.

[Antiphon 1]  The zeal of thine house hath even eaten me:  and the rebukes of them that rebuked thee are fallen upon me.

Psalm 69 (page 421)

[Antiphon 1The zeal of thine house hath even eaten me:  and the rebukes of them that rebuked thee are fallen upon me.

[Antiphon 2]  Let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that wish me evil.

Psalm 70 (page 424)

[Antiphon 2Let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that wish me evil.

[Antiphon 3]  Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the ungodly.

Psalm 71 (page 425)

[Antiphon 3Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the ungodly.

 Lesson 1:  Lamentations of Jeremiah 1.1

Nocturn II.

[Antiphon 1]  He shall deliver the poor when he crieth:  the needy also, and him that hath no helper.

Psalm 72 (page 426)

[Antiphon 1He shall deliver the poor when he crieth:  the needy also, and him that hath no helper.

[Antiphon 2]  They speak of wicked blasphemy:  their talking is against the Most High.

Psalm 73 (page 428)

[Antiphon 2They speak of wicked blasphemy:  their talking is against the most High.

[Antiphon 3]  Arise, O God:  and maintain my cause.

Psalm 74 (page 430)

[Antiphon 3Arise, O God:  and maintain my cause.

 Lesson 2:  From the Treatise on the Psalms  by St. Augustine the Bishop

 Nocturn III.

[Antiphon 1]  I said unto the fools, Deal not so madlyspeak not with a stiff neck.

Psalm 75 (page 431)

[Antiphon 1I said unto the fools, Deal not so madlyspeak not with a stiff neck.

[Antiphon 2]  The earth trembled, and was still:  when God arose to judgement.

Psalm 76 (page 432)

[Antiphon 2The earth trembled, and was still:  when God arose to judgement.

[Antiphon 3]  In the time of my trouble:  I sought the Lord.

Psalm 77 (page 433)

[Antiphon 3In the time of my trouble:  I sought the Lord.

Lesson 3: I Corinthians 11.17


[Antiphon 1]  Mayest thou be justified in thy saying:  and clear when thou art judged.

Psalm 51 (page 403)

[Antiphon 1Mayest thou be justified in thy saying:  and clear when thou art judged.

[Antiphon 2]  The Lord as a lamb, is led to the slaughter, and he opened not his mouth.

Psalm 90 (page 453)

[Antiphon 2The Lord as a lamb, is led to the slaughter, and he opened not his mouth.

[Antiphon 3]  My heart within me is broken:  all my bones shake.

Psalm 36 (page 383)

[Antiphon 3My heart within me is broken:  all my bones shake.

[Antiphon 4]  Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power, who didst admonish us today to refresh ourselves in remembrance of thee.

The Song of Moses.  Exodus 15.1

I WILL sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

[2] The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

[3] The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.

[4] Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.

[5] The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.

[6] Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.

[7] And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.

[8] And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.

[9] The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.

[10] Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.

[11] Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

[12] Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.

[13] Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.

[14] The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestine.

[15] Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.

[16] Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.

[17] Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.

[18] The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.

[19] For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them.

[20] But the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.

[Antiphon 4Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power, who didst admonish us today to refresh ourselves in remembrance of thee.

[Antiphon 5]  He offered up himself because he did will it, who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the Tree.

Psalm 147 (page 522)

[Antiphon 5He offered up himself because he did will it, who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the Tree.

[Antiphon to Benedictus]  Now he that betrayed him gave him a sign, saying:  Whom I shall kiss, that same is he;  hold him fast.

            Benedictus(page 14)

One candle on the altar is extinguished at the end of every other verse.

[Antiphon to BenedictusNow he that betrayed him gave him a sign, saying:  Whom I shall kiss, that same is he;  hold him fast.

All:  Christ for our sake became obedient unto death.

The last remaining lit candle on the stand is hidden.


Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the Cross;  who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.  AMEN.

The hidden candle is shown, and all leave in silence.

For your cnvenience

A Reading from the Treatise of Saint Augustine the Bishop on the Psalms

“Hear my prayer, O God; do not hide yourself from my petition. Listen to me and answer me. I mourn in my trial and am troubled.”

These are the words of one disquieted, in trouble and anxiety. He prays under much suffering, desiring to be delivered from evil. Let us now see under what evil he lies; and when he begins to speak, let us place ourselves beside him, that, by sharing his tribulation, we may also join in his prayer.

“I mourn in my trial,” he says, “and am troubled.”

When does he mourn? When is he troubled? He says, “In my trial.” He has in mind the wicked who cause him suffering, and he calls this suffering his “trial.” Do not think that the evil are in the world for no purpose, and that God makes no good use of them. Every wicked person lives either that he may be corrected, or that through him the righteous may be tried and tested.

Would that those who now test us were converted and tried with us; yet though they continue to try us, let us not hate them, for we do not know whether any of them will persist to the end in their evil ways. And most of the time, when you think you are hating your enemy, you are hating your brother without knowing it.

Only the devil and his angels are shown to us in the Holy Scriptures as doomed to eternal fire. It is only their amendment that is hopeless, and against them we wage a hidden battle. For this battle the Apostle arms us, saying, “We are not contending against flesh and blood,” that is, not against human beings whom we see, “but against the principalities, against the powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.” So that you may not think that demons are the rulers of heaven and earth, he says, “of the darkness of this world.”

He says, “of the world,” meaning the lovers of the world — of the “world,” meaning the ungodly and wicked — the “world” of which the Gospel says, “And the world knew him not.”

“For I have seen unrighteousness and strife in the city.”

See the glory of the cross itself. On the brow of kings that cross is now placed, the cross which enemies once mocked. Its power is shown in the result. He has conquered the world, not by steel, but by wood. The wood of the cross seemed a fitting object of scorn to his enemies, and standing before that wood they wagged their heads, saying, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” He stretched out his hands to an unbelieving and rebellious people. If one is just who lives by faith, one who does not have faith is unrighteous. Therefore when he says “unrighteousness,” understand that it is unbelief. The Lord then saw unrighteousness and strife in the city, and stretched out his hands to an unbelieving and rebellious people. And yet, looking upon them, he said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

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Church Behavior

Now and again I am asked about “proper” behavior in Church.  There is, I believe, a  balance between the respect necessary in attendance at the Liturgy and the potential for an impression of “stuffiness” that can result in “negative evangelism.”   I’d like to share some thoughts this morning from the priest’s perspective on church behavior. These are not to meant as inclusive, and if you have questions, please ask.

Church is a special place of God’s presence on earth.  We should behave ourselves reverently in church, so as not to offend the dignity of the sacred place and not to disrespect our Lord and bring condemnation on ourselves.

We  should arrive at least  5-10 minutes before the service begins. On entering a church, men are to remove their headwear. We  must be dressed appropriately and neatly. We should not speak loudly or chew the gum in church. We should not wander around needlessly in the sanctuary.

Any conversation should be restricted to the very minimum as people are praying in preparation for the liturgy. You can greet your acquaintances briefly and quietly but postpone talking to them until after services are concluded.

If you come to church with children you must prevent them from running and misbehaving. A crying child is the voice of the future of the Church, and we should not worry over a bit of noise.  However, if a crying child cannot be calmed down, they should be taken out of church by the parent until they have quieted.

If all the praying people kneel, you should join them. Likewise, if they stand, please stand.  No walking or talking is allowed during Gospel, as well as during the Sermon and particularly during the Eucharistic Canon (from “The Offertory” to the “Administration”) unless one has an urgent need to leave the church for health reasons. If one is sufficiently late so as to have missed the Gospel reading, they should refrain from Communion and ask a blessing at the Communion rail.

Please do not smoke on a church-porch, but, if you must, please do so in the parking lot or in your own vehicle.

Other than helper dogs or assistance dogs in training, animals or birds are not allowed in church.

One may correct a fellow parishioner only in a soft and delicate manner. It would be better not to make any remarks unless a person behaves like an “hooligan”. The ushers are the usual persons to address unruly behavior.

Finally we should stay in church till the end of service. You may, of course, leave earlier due to bad health condition or if a very serious matter requires it.

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Running to Prayer

It was not light yet when I set out this morning.  The temperature stood at about 27 degrees at 6:45 am when I pulled on my watch cap and wind jacket.  A snow storm was on the way and the sun seemed very far off when I hit the pavement on my prayer walk/jog.  Somewhere out there some others were setting out in the same direction for the same purpose-sung Morning Prayer at Saint Alban’s during Advent. You see it is the custom of this parish to share the morining offices weekdays during penitential seasons, and this Advent we have begun to chant the first prayerbook service of the day.

I find myself hurrying to the church each day.  It’s not because of the cold, although I’ll admit that mornings like today make for a faster pace.  I hurry because there is something so very good about prayer said in community.  In the quiet of the church up in choir, one can take a deep breath before the whirl of the day.  In the warmth and darkness near the tabernacle His Presence is very close to His people and His people spiritually close to one another as the prayers begin.  Even those who are just rising or who are already at the work of the day know that they are ro be prayed for, to be joined in this most ancient practice of the Church.

We know from the Acts of the Apostles that from the very beginning those who were baptized “devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the community, to the breaking of the bread, and to
prayer.”    Christ personally teaches the lesson of his own prayer throughout the Gospels. For example,

when his mission is revealed by the Father; before he calls the apostles; when he blesses God at the multiplication of the loaves; when he is transfigured on the mountain; when he heals the deaf-mute; when he raises Lazarus; before he asks for Peter’s confession of faith; when he teaches the disciples how to pray; when the disciples return from their mission; when he blesses the little children; when he prays for Peter.The prayers of Christ were closely bound up with the work of each day.

Indeed, we hear that he would retire into the desert or into the hills to pray, rise very early or spend the night up to the fourth watch in prayer to God. Our Lord’s prayers were both public and private, and ranged from the traditional blessings of God at meals, as was the case in the multiplication of the loaves which foretold the  last supper and the meal at Emmaus. In the agony in Gethsemane and on the Cross, prayer was at the center of Christ’s ministry and precious death. “In the days of his life on earth he offered up prayers and entreaties with loud cries and tears to the one who could deliver him from death and because of his reverence his prayer was heard.”

Christ-like prayer seems to elude us more and more The pace of modem life is a tremendous force that impacts on basic understandings of self, family, work, faith, and religious practice. There is a growing divorce between the life of faith and life “in the world.” Indeed, such is the pace of life that people need to be reminded to do what ought to come naturally, that is, to “take time” for themselves, for God, and for family and friends. Our daily offices and their attention to the consecration of time is one way to counter this prevailing trend and to restore a sense of balance to daily life. By consecrating time to God, the human person acts as a subject, cooperating with God in the unfolding of redeemed time, rather than being reduced to a mere object, suffering under the burden of a lived time that seems to go nowhere.

Being swept away by the rush of time will inevitably lead to dissatisfaction, alienation, and loneliness. Christians need not resign themselves to becoming so swept away, however. The integration of prayer into one’s daily schedule is key. Without this integration, the Christian risks losing a sense of identity in God and the realization of one’s need to be drawn into life-giving relationships with others. Consecrating the moments of one’s day means turning the day over to the transforming power of the Resurrection. The vehicle of the daily offices prompts the believer to encounter God in the concrete moment so that the love of God in Christ becomes the cord that holds the day together. “Do time or time will do you,” is the wisdom which speaks eloquently of the situation of the modem world.

And so this Advent we are paying special attention to the consecration of the day to Christ in daily prayer, beginning each of those days with the “voice of the Church”, the canticles and collects, the affirmation of faith, and the offering of our petitions and thanksgivings. This is reason to run hurry to Church even in the dark and cold of the year’s shortest days-to claim those days for our Incarnate Christ from their very first hours.

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“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, o Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalms 5:3)”

A Gread Way to Start (and End) the Day

This Advent start the day off with Morning Prayer at Saint Alban’s. The office will be said at 7:30 a.m. every weekday during this holy season.  Experience the gift of prayer in the still of the day.

The service presents an inevitable process, and a satisfying progress, in accordance with what is, as it were, a natural history of worship. The great steps of the progress are five. Coming into the Presence, entering expectant into God the Father’s house, the worshiper’s first instinct of un-worthiness finds expression in the confession of sin, led up to by exhortation, and culminating in the declaration of absolution, and the Lord’s Prayer, to which the Absolution serves as a bidding. The second inevitable and natural instinct is to give thanks to the Father for his manifold gifts, and this finds expression in repeated songs of praise, in Venite or Psalms, in first and second canticles. A third instinct, or desire, upon entering the Presence is to hear the word of the Lord, and the listening soul is satisfied by the lections from Old and New Testaments which alternate with the expressions of praise. The worshipers then come, united as they are in and through their corporate experiences of confession, praise and listening, to the climax of the service, the great gateway of the Creed, the symbol of their common faith, the pledge of their unswerving loyalty, through which they enter the final part of the service, the enjoyment of communion, the untrammeled outpouring of their souls in petition, intercession and thanksgiving to the Father of all.

It is this unfaltering rightness of the order, this genius of the service, which furnishes the answer to the question which every user of the Prayer Book must ask himself–What is it which makes this service, which commands my admiration and my love, a great service? For that it is great we instinctively feel, and of this excellence which makes the service a great expression of worship we are even ready to boast. We know that it is not merely because the form is ancient, or contains much Scripture, or chances to meet our habitual moods. We see the ground of its beauty and power in the unity and progress of its structure, and in its worshipful reasonableness.

The People’s Book of Worship A Study of the Book of Common Prayer, By John Wallace Suter and Charles Morris Addison (New York: Macmillan, 1919)

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On Saturday, October 30th, the Saint Alban’s Lay Readers held their annual retreat who were joined by readers from Ss. Andrew and Margaret (Alexandria, Virginia), St. David’s (Charlottesville, Virgina); Saint Athanasius/St. Luke’s (Glen Allen, Virginia and re-opening in Goochland, Virginia, respectively) and Saint Matthews (Newport News, Virginia).  The retreatants explored improving their technical skills to improve their ministry, including those “trouble spots” in the Prayer Book rubrics and techniques for improved presentation pf pre-prepared lay readers’ sermons. (Thanks here to Canon john Hollister and Fr. Warren Shaw for providing the grist for the mil!)  As well, the program offered meditations on the deep human need for corporate worship in Christ’s Holy Catholic Church and the functions of prayer, as well as the theological underpinnings of the Daily Offices.

Because many lay readers also serve as adult acolytes, the retreatants reviewed serving basics and altar service at the Low Mass.  Copies of Some Notes on the Conduct of Corporate Worship, and Ritual Notes were on hand for purchase for those who wished to add these useful references to their personal libraries. (A few copies remain for those unable to attend.)

The readers also shared fellowship and compared notes over an excellent breakfast and lunch in the dining room of the Masonic Home of Virginia, and, most importantly, the participants joined in Morning and Evening Prayer and the Holy Communion.  The next retreat will again be open to all diocesan lay readers and, tentatively, will include training for prospective readers, serving basics at High Mass, singing and chant, and meditations on spiritual and theological themes.

Our thanks to Mr. Ed Owen of St. Alban’s and the staff of the Home for the use of the beautiful chapel, arranging a private dining room and for the warm hospitality shown the retreatants.

Pictured:  Some of the lay readers at the conclusion of the conference.

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As we aproach Advent and the relicensing of lay readers, it is the custom of the parish to sponsor an off-site lay reader’s retreat.  This year St. Alban’s will open the retreat to all interested lay readers from throughout the diocese. 

The tentative schedule is as follows:

0730 Morning Prayer

0800 Breakfast and Fellowship

0830 A Brief Meditation

0900 Conducting the Morning Prayer Service-a refresher

1000 Break

1015 Reading and assisting at Mass-including a review of serving basisc and the role of the subdeacon

1130 Break and preparation for Mass

1145 Mass

1215 Lunch and Fellowship

1300 A Brief Meditation

1330 Sermon Delivery-Techniques and Critique

1415 Break

1430 Conducting Evening Prayer/Evensong (“Fear of Chant Overcome”)

1545 Evensong


Copies of “Serving Basics” and “Ritual Notes” will be ordered for those who wish at cost.  Please place orders no later than 20 October to insure delivery. 

This year, the retreat will take place in the Chapel of the Masonic Home of Virginia 4101 Nine Mile Road, Richmond, Virginia 23223-4999 http://www.mahova.com/  Breakfast and lunch will be provided at a cost of $16.00, and attendees wishing to arrive the previous evening should contact St. Alban’s at 804-262-6100.

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