“THE Morning and Evening Prayer shall be used in the accustomed Place of the Church, Chapel, or Chancel; except it shall be otherwise determined by the Ordinary of the Place.” (BCP 1662 The Order for Morning and Evening Prayer).
“All Priests and Deacons are to say daily the Morning and Evening Prayer either privately or openly, not being let by sickness, or some other urgent cause.” (BCP 1662 Concerning the Service of the Church).
This regulation, which continued until the late 20th century to be binding on the Anglican Church in New Zealand, may have been, in some/many places, more honor’d in the breach than the observance.
The response to this neglect by some, was that our church met at General Synod and passed a bill to remove the requirement. That was then sent to all dioceses, who met at diocesan synods and passed their agreement to this being removed. The bill returned to General Synod and was passed there again, and then it was left a year for anyone to make a protestation.
After this, priests and deacons could legally stop praying morning and evening prayer.
Some continue to maintain this discipline of prayer. Some bishops are trying to get their clergy back into praying at least morning prayer.
This story never ceases to astonish me: rather than understanding that sometimes it will not be possible for people and clergy to pray the daily office, and seeing the “rule” as an ideal, this church removed the norm of a daily praying clergy! The Reformation brought the daily office out of the monasteries and presbyteries, and made it an ideal for the whole church, clergy and lay – an ideal of common prayer, a daily discipline of all in God’s presence, all immersed in the biblical worldview. That ideal appears lost.
We are celebrating 350 years of the Book of Common Prayer 1662. Many of its principles and rationales are deeply sound. There is much we can learn from it, embodying its principles into our different time and context. The whole church (clergy and lay) celebrating daily prayer appears to me to be one of those principles which, in this anniversary year, is appropriately renewed. Where was the motion at General Synod Te Hinota Whanui to reinstate and renew a praying church?!
The Ornaments Rubric
As well as this section of the BCP1662 leading to the above reflection, at this point we also find what is termed the “Ornaments Rubric”:
“The Chancels shalt remain as they have done in times past.
And here is to be noted, that such Ornaments of the Church, and of the Ministers thereof, at all Times of their Ministration, shall be retained, and be in use, as were in this Church of England, by the Authority of Parliament, in the Second Year of the Reign of King Edward the Sixth.” (BCP 1662 The Order for Morning and Evening Prayer).
You don’t have to be a genius to realise that in the Second Year of the Reign of King Edward the Sixth the Prayer Book was that of 1549 (The First Prayer Book of Edward VI) which prescribed:
Upon the date and at the tyme appoincted for the ministracion of the holy Communion, the Priest that shal execute the holy ministery, shall put upon hym the vesture appoincted for that ministracion, that is to saye: a white Albe plain, with a vestement or Cope. And where there be many Priestes, or Decons, there so many shalbe ready to helpe the Priest, in the ministracion, as shalbee requisite: And shall have upon them lykewise the vestures appointed for their ministery, that is to saye, Albes with tunacles.
Previous posts in this series
- Book of Common Prayer 350 years
- Book of Common Prayer 350 years (2)
- BCP The Preface
- BCP Concerning the Service of the Church
- BCP Of Ceremonies
- BCP praying Psalms
- BCP reading Holy Scripture
- BCP Tables and Rules