December 13, 2010

What Is the Daily Office? (Part IV)

Editor's Note: Our mini-series about the structure and content of the Daily Office continues. Many thanks to the Reverend Joshua W. Hale (@expatminister) for taking this on during Advent, no small feat in a household with three littles (small feet) and both parents in active ministry. Our thanks to the Reverend Christie Hale (@christiehale) as well!

You’ve probably noticed there are many different forms of prayer represented throughout the Daily Office. Now let's examine the most common types.

A collect is a brief prayer that follows a specific order: naming God; remembering a divine act or characteristic; petitioning God; the desired outcome from the request; and closing with a brief doxology. Collects generally have a theme that guides and connects each piece of the prayer. The Collect for Purity is well-known in the Anglican tradition:

“Almighty God, to You all hearts are open, all desires known, and from You no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love You, and worthily magnify Your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

You’ll also find a litany or group of prayers for those in need. This series of intercessions are said responsively: alternating between the prayer leader and the community. Or, half the assembly might alternate with the other.

Either way, the response is usually marked by an asterisk (*). For example: “O God, make speed to save us *O Lord, make haste to help us.” You’re invited to participate in our prayers by responding, when appropriate, with “Amen” or “Thanks be to God.”

Different prayers may be said standing or kneeling. If you see a + on your screen (or in a breviary), it’s there to indicate that the sign of the cross may be made.

Time for silent prayer and meditation generally follows Scripture readings. And the Lord's Prayer is commonly found towards the end of each Office.

The numerous ways prayer is used throughout the Daily Office adds to its richness and beauty. Next week, we'll wrap up our series by reflecting on how this rhythm of prayer shapes our interior life.

Want to learn more?

+ More detailed information about Collects on Wikipedia and in this article, "Liturgical writing 101: the collect prayer form."

+ Collects by Thomas Cranmer collected in The Collects of Thomas Cranmer.

So, what do you want to know about the Daily Office?

Image: Rossdhu Book of Hours (15th c.)

No comments: