This morning we continue our examination of the 2019 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) turning from the service of Holy Eucharist to the service of daily Morning Prayer.
When Archbishop Thomas Cranmer called for the development of a Book of Common Prayer, it was a brilliant idea and absolutely essential to the formation of what would become the Anglican Church worldwide.
You see, so many of the reformers desired such radical change from the Roman Catholic Church that, in my opinion, they “threw the baby out with the bath water.” Specifically, they wanted to move away from monasteries and any semblance of monastic life. Archbishop Cranmer knew, however, that the daily discipline of prayer and scripture study could literally transform the church and the world by making individual disciples.
I have long argued that the BCP, and specifically the Daily Offices, transformed England by helping to make a nation literate using the Holy Scriptures and the prayers found in the BCP. The phrase Lex Orandi Lex Credendi (the law of prayer is the law of belief, which means as we pray so we believe,) is apt as the BCP taught a nation to pray and believe.
The Daily Offices find their roots in the monastic tradition with the practice of regular daily prayer - Morning, Noon, Evening and Late Evening - corresponding to Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline.
Let’s begin with a look at Morning Prayer. The opening rubrics (liturgical directions found italicized) speak of an “officiant” leading the “office.” Merrimack Webster defines “office” as “a prescribed form or service of worship.” Therefore, the Officiant is the one (clergy or laity) who leads the Office.