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Church Year

Seasonal cards

Church YearI promised recently that I would explain one way for helping people at worship with the responses, and prayers prayed aloud together. This is the way I used when I was parish priest of a multi-centre parish.

New Zealand Prayer Books were readily available.

I produced very simple, clearly-laid-out service outlines on 4xA5. An A4 sheet/card was folded, and on it were the cues and their responses and the prayers we said aloud together (eg. the confession). There was also the cue that led into what was proclaimed together. Eg:

…for ever praising you and saying/singing:           [422]
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Next to each response, prayer, or section there was a Prayer Book page number (I’ve given one way of doing that in the example above this paragraph) so that, if you wanted to, you could find the full information in the Prayer Book.

This folded card/sheet was lightly coloured according to the church’s season. And the responses and prayers were selected to give a particular seasonal feel. Ordinary Time after Epiphany felt different to Lent which felt different to the Easter Season and so on…

Many people, regulars, would know the responses and prayers by heart – and respond and pray without reference to anything. These responses and prayers were used week by week at least for the season – people became familiar with them during that season.

Others picked up the card and could easily follow the full service from the card. Visitors and new people immediately knew where they were, and had an outline in front of them of the shape of the service.

Others wanted to follow the full texts and could easily do so – the page numbers of the Prayer Book were before them. Some, of course, were familiar with the Prayer Book and didn’t need the card to find their way in it.

There was never an incessant announcing of page numbers as if this was a rehearsal, or some sort of incessant housie/bingo game, or lottery result announcements.

You will notice that these ideas undergird some of the approaches and suggestions in my book Celebrating Eucharist.

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10 thoughts on “Seasonal cards”

  1. Thanks Bosco
    Was an intresting reflection after the first Kilnpro gathering discussed liturgy yesterday with Peter. I would be helpful to the reflective nature of the service having a set service sheet- but allowing for seasonal changes- and less waste of paper than printing these every week.

    Its intresting you felt to heighlight the multi-centre nature of the parish in which you first used this; was this a major factor in its sucess or would it highlight a natural varience withing congregations?

    1. Thanks, Hugh, for your comment and reflection. Which Peter were you reflecting with?

      You are right to point out the saving of paper – these were fine to re-use week by week, year by year. There are obviously “green” benefits of this. And financial benefits.

      Why did I mention it was a multi-centre parish? Financial: multi-centre parishes are generally not wealthy ones – this kept costs down. Many think that liturgical “theory” only works in large, single-centre communities. That is false. Small communities can have a full liturgical life, and ideas on this site apply from small to huge communities. I hope. And they work in multi-centre communities. Including your point: my ideas are about being flexible, appropriate to the context. The card idea, the same card in fact, can be used in the large centre with a sung Eucharist etc. and the same card can be used at a quiet, small-congregation 8am service with no music… The card allows for great flexibility, as it is essentially presenting a framework.


  2. Kilnpro had Peter Carol with us at Laidlaw. This is Spankys project with those of us studying Theology locally.

  3. I like the idea of using the same prayers throughout the season. I can see that would help the prayers to be able to sink into the heart as well as the mind.

  4. Bosco,

    Great idea. I want to know why I haven’t seen any other churches do it yet.

    One slight difference to the random number calling I have seen, is that page numbers (including the psalm) were announced before the service began with the suggestion that people place the ribbons in those pages.


    1. Thanks, Dave. Yes, I’ve seen the approach of announcing page numbers prior to a service and getting people to put in the ribbons on those pages. Two comments spring to mind.

      This is effectively a rehearsal/preparation at the beginning. Although that can work and is helpful/appropriate from time to time, as a general rule I prefer a strong start to a service: greeting, welcome, strong song/hymn, silence, prayer. I think many a service that begins with instructions (and many I see do) struggle to recover.

      The NZ Prayer Book only has three ribbons. Within the text there are generally a lot of options provided after each other. You need more than three ribbons if you were placing them at each option. Soon, especially for newer people, we are going to have to be announcing “the green ribbon” instead of the page number. Tragically, the most common alternative is services in which all the alternatives are read just one after another. That is appalling! It is no wonder that “liturgical” worship is abandoned and denigrated!

      The announcing of ribbon-placing works fine in a small group praying the daily office.


  5. Steve Benjamin

    Knowing the responses by heart and being set free from worrying about page numbers so you can actually pray the Liturgy is highly desirable. The BCP responses and texts, of course, were second-nature to previous generations of worshippers.

    During celebrations where the structure and dialogues are lodged in the memory, you can let the liturgical texts and Scripture readings speak and enjoy the unfolding of the drama of worship without being stuck in a book.

    The APBA HC Order Two would be the most established in Australia (outside Sydney) and in most gatherings – especially midweek celebrations – worshippers don’t usually bother with books.

    Kiwis worshipping here unfortunately tend to trespass on the celebrant’s words at the fraction as the Australians give less for the people to say at this point. And I’m still trying to get the APBA general confession into my memory as for some reason, it does not easily take.

    I’m currently worshipping at a Parish where the 1970’s Roman Rite has been used but which is now moving towards APBA texts and responses. I get the sense that the celebrant will still use Roman or Common Worship Eucharistic Prayers but the structure will be APBA. A very positive move in view of the emergence of the 2011 Missal and its eccentricities.

    The seasonal cards are a superb idea. I’ve only seen them once in Australia where the worship card bore no resemblance to any authorized liturgy I’d ever seen but seemed to be eclectically concocted from various sources by the Hillsong-loving Pastor…

    1. Thanks, Steve. One of the NZ Prayer Book issues is that it embodies an addiction to variety. It has a variety of orders/rites with different responses to the same cues so that while an individual community might be committed to one set – there is no such unity provincially or within a diocese. There is sufficient variety possible within the p404ff options IMO. I’m sure you understand there was nothing eclectically concocted on my seasonal cards – the page numbers directed individuals to the page in the Prayer Book. I do not think that aspect was part of the example you saw? Blessings.

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