What is it?
A major revision was published in 1662 (Church of England 1662). That edition has remained the official prayer book of the Church of England, although in the 21st century, an alternative book called Common Worship has largely displaced the Book of Common Prayer at the main Sunday worship service of most English parish churches.
Where to find it?
Thanks to the era of internet and electronics it is no longer necessary to feverishly browse through and old dusty book to get to the right pages — although dusty can have its charm too — but you can easily find it on the web neatly arranged per day, divided between morning, evening and night-prayer. Just click on the link and you’re ready to go!
On the site mentioned above you can choose between the old The Book of Common Prayer (1662)-text that has a literary beauty of its own and the Common Worship: Daily Prayer-version that is more accessible to our postmodern race.
What are its contents?
For example today is the fourth Sunday of Lent. The prayers for today consist of:
- prayer of thanksgiving
- a suitable hymn
- opening prayer
Word of God:
- Psalmody (psalms)
- Scripture reading of the day
- Gospel Canticle e.g. the Benedictus
- intercession: for the day and its tasks; the world and its needs; the Church and her life.
- the Collect of the day
- the Lord’s prayer
The evening prayer rite is quite similar in length and composition but consists of some different elements.
The night rite is quite short in comparison. It is also called the ancient office of the Compline. It is above all a service of quietness before rest at the end of the day.
Here are a few beautiful excerpts from today’s Night prayer as an example:
An Order for Night Prayer (Compline)
Sunday, 14 March 2010
The Fourth Sunday of Lent
The Lord almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end.
A period of silence for reflection on the past day may follow.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
The following or other suitable hymn may be sung.
Before the ending of the day,
Creator of the world, we pray
That you, with steadfast love, would keep
Your watch around us while we sleep.
From evil dreams defend our sight,
From fears and terrors of the night;
Tread underfoot our deadly foe
That we no sinful thought may know.
O Father, that we ask be done
Through Jesus Christ, your only Son;
And Holy Spirit, by whose breath
Our souls are raised to life from death.
Intercessions and thanksgivings may be offered here.
Silence may be kept.
In peace we will lie down and sleep;
for you alone, Lord, make us dwell in safety.
Abide with us, Lord Jesus,
for the night is at hand and the day is now past.
As the night watch looks for the morning,
so do we look for you, O Christ.
[Come with the dawning of the day
and make yourself known in the breaking of the bread.]
May God bless us,
that in us may be found love and humility,
obedience and thanksgiving,
discipline, gentleness and peace.
© The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005
All of the official Common Worship publications are being published by Church House Publishing.
How do I use the Daily Prayers in my devotional time?
Since I already listen to the Bible every day for 20 minutes @ Daily Audio Bible, I skip most of the Scripture readings and Psalms and stick to the beautiful prayers as mentioned above.
I don’t pray from the Book of Common Prayer every day but I alternate with the prayers I described in Spiritual Toolbox part 1: the Daily prayer. In addition I also pray ‘freestyle’ to God as well 😉
But if you haven’t yet established a daily Bible reading routine then the Book of Common prayer can be just perfect for you to immerse yourself in Scripture and pray the prayers of the ages daily.
I encourage you all to give it a go!
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