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The Daily Office Tutorial, part II – Morning Prayer Conclusion

October 18, 2010

The Daily Office Tutorial, part II
Morning Prayer – The Lessons through the Concluding Blessing

In this tutorial, I am going to pick up right where we left off in part I.  Last time I took you through the beginning of Daily Morning Prayer, Rite II, from the Opening Sentences through the Psalter.  Part II will cover the Lessons through the end with the Concluding Blessing.  The Psalter, the Lessons, and their responsory Canticles form the core of the Daily Office, and if you pray the Daily Office straight through the two year cycle of readings, you’ll have prayed most of the Psalter several times, and read a vast majority of Holy Scripture.

1.  The First Lesson So, after you pray the assigned psalm, you come to a section entitled “The Lessons” on p. 84.  The first rubric says you may choose to read either one or two of the appointed lessons.  We’ll choose to read two so you may see the pattern better.  You’ll find the appointed lessons in the same place you found the appointed psalm.  Today is still Monday, in the week of Proper 24, Year 2, so we’ll turn to the back of the book to the Daily Office Lectionary, to p. 989.  Remember, the entry looks something like this:


Monday 25         *          9, 15
Ecclus. 4:20 – 5:7          Rev. 7:1-8          Luke 9: 51-62


We already know that the numbers on the top lines refer to the appointed psalms, first for Morning Prayer and second for Evening Prayer.  The three scripture references on the second line are the appointed lessons for Morning and Evening Prayer together.  You can choose to read them in any pattern you want.  For our purposes here, we’ll read the Old Testament selection first and the Gospel selection second.  You do have to get used to how the books of the Bible are abbreviated, but usually it’s pretty easy.  Today, of course, the Old Testament lesson is from the Apocrypha and the abbreviated book is more unfamiliar.  It is the Book of Ecclesiasticus, chapter 4, verse 20 through chapter 5, verse 7.

The Reading can be introduced as “A Reading from the Book of Ecclesiasticus.”  You may optionally choose to include the chapter and verse references.  Following the reading there should be a distinct pause to allow the reading to end and then is said, “The Word of the Lord.”  To which is said “Thanks be to God,” as a response.  Sometimes you’ll read a lesson that is unsettling in some way for which you don’t necessarily know if you want to thank the Lord for it or not!  But remember, it is not for that specific reading that we thank the Lord, but for the reading of Scripture in general.

2.  The First Canticle After each reading is said a Canticle.  The reading may be heard sitting, but the Canticle should be said standing – again, you may sit throughout if you’re by yourself or in a public place and standing up, sitting down, kneeling down, what have you, would be awkward.  Canticles are generally pieces of Scripture which are poetic in some way, or even songs.  The suggested Canticles for Morning Prayer begin on p. 85 and go through p. 96.  Turning to p. 86, the first thing you’ll note is that the first canticle is labeled as being number 8!  What?!  The first seven canticles are found in the Rite I service and are repeated in Rite II but in contemporary language.  Some canticles are more appropriate for different seasons and you’ll see those labeled as such.

Canticles 8-14 are from Old Testament or Apocryphal books and thus are best suited to be said following the Old Testament reading.  Canticles 9-21 are from the New Testament or church tradition and thus are best suited to follow New Testament readings.  Of course, this is a suggestion and not a rule.  If the amount of choice is overwhelming, there is a helpful table on p. 144 that gives a selection for each day for both the Old and New Testament readings.


3.  The Second Reading We opted to read the Gospel lesson for our second reading.  So we turn back to p. 989 and remind ourselves that the Gospel lesson is Luke 9: 51-62.  It is introduced and concluded the same way as the First Reading.  (Even though this is a Gospel reading and you may be familiar to hearing those introduced as “The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. Luke,” and responded to with, “Glory to you, Lord Christ,” because this is not a Eucharistic service, you can introduce the reading with the simple introduction above.)


4.  The Second Canticle Following the second reading, another canticle is prayed.  This canticle is selected from the same set, either on your own, or following the guide on p. 144.  Canticle 16, the Benedictus Dominus Deus (the Song of Zechariah) is the traditional morning canticle, and it is nice to pray it at least once a week, if not more.  Canticles 20 and 21 are not pieces of scripture, but are songs from the church traditions.  Both are especially appropriate on Feast Days.


5.  The Apostles’ Creed After the second canticle is properly said the Apostles’ Creed.  This appears at the end of the set of canticles, on p. 96.  In church, this is said standing, and you may choose to turn to face the Cross.


6.  The Salutation, Lord’s Prayer, and Suffrages We are now on p. 97 and into the third and final section of Morning Prayer – the Prayers.  In church, we remain standing from now through the end of the service.  The Salutation (“The Lord be with you.  And also with you.  Let us pray.) is said, followed by the Lord’s Prayer.  After the Lord’s Prayer, you will pray one of two sets of suffrages.  Suffrages are a set of short, intercessory prayers.  The two sets are labeled “A” and “B.”  Each set of suffrages has letters in front of them – “V.” and “R.” – these are shorthand for “Versicle” and “Response” where the Officiant says the Versicle and the people say the Response.  Of course, if you’re by yourself, you say both.  Interestingly, Suffrages set “B” is the end of the Te Deum (Canticle 21) that has been chopped off and included here as a set of suffrages.  So, if you’re using Canticle 21, Suffrages “B” can be a nice choice.


7.  The Collects After the suffrages comes the Collects beginning on p. 98.  Collects are traditional, and in many cases ancient, prayers.  At Morning Prayer, 3 collects should be said: The Collect for the Day, one of the “named” collects, and a Collect for Mission.

The Collect of the Day is always the Collect from the previous Sunday, unless it is a Feast Day, in which case the Collect of the Day is the Collect for that Feast Day.  But again, we’ll discuss feast days in a later tutorial and for today we’ll pretend it isn’t St. Luke’s Feast Day (sorry St. Luke).  So, how do you find the Collect from the previous Sunday?  They are located in a section of the BCP, beginning on p. 211.  Our Collect of the Day for today is on p. 235 and is helpfully labeled “Proper 24.”

One of the “Named Collects” is said second.  I call them the “Named Collects” because they all have a name, like “A Collect for Fridays,” or “A Collect for Peace.”  Obviously, the ones named for days of the week are for those days.  The others can be used on any day, but here’s a hint: there are three collects named after a day of the week, and four named for a particular petition.  So, an easy way to use these is to take the first one not named for a day of the week, the “Collect for the Renewal of Life,” and nickname it “A Collect for Mondays.”  Since there are four of these, you’d have one each for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then you’d be into the ones named for the days of the week.  If that’s too much structure for you, no worries, do which ever one feels right to you that day!

Finally, the Collects for Mission begin on the bottom of p. 100.  Somewhat unhelpfully, they are not clearly labeled as such, but are only called “Collects for Mission” in the rubrics which appear right above them.  There are three to pick from, so select whichever one you want.  The third one is especially appropriate for Fridays.


9.  The Concluding Prayers The first thing you’ll see after the Collects for Mission on the top of p. 101 are two easily overlooked rubrics.  One says a hymn or anthem may be sung here and the second says, “Authorized intercessions and thanksgivings may follow.”  This is an important part of Morning Prayer where “unscripted prayers” may be prayed.  Here, for example, you could pray for someone who is sick, or give thanks to God for a particular blessing He’s given you recently.  When saying Morning Prayer corporately, I like to introduce this section by saying, “Let us offer our own prayers of intercession or thanksgiving, either silently or aloud.”  Anything like that could be said to introduce this section of prayer.

Then a rubric instructs us to pray “one or both of the following prayers,” where the following prayers are “The General Thanksgiving,” and “The Prayer of St. Chrysostom.”  You can choose to do one or the other, or both.


10.  The Concluding Blessings After one or both of those two prayers is said, the concluding blessing is said, found in the middle of p. 102.  If it is Eastertide, you may add the Alleluias like this:

Alleluia!  Alleluia! Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

Then, to conclude, you may add one of the final blessings from scripture, found on the bottom of p.102.


Congratulations!  That’s it!  You’ve made it to the end!!


Once you get the hang of it, spoken Morning Prayer takes around 15 to 20 minutes depending on the length of the readings.  As you can see from the number of different page numbers I’ve referenced, book ribbons or tabs are very helpful!  God bless you as you join with thousands and thousands of others who pray the Daily Office and mark the day as sacred time. 

Fr. Ryan+

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2013 8:54 pm

    Fr. Ryan,

    I stumbled across this tutorial this morning and just browsed through your piece on the instructed Eucharist as well — I’m quite new to the Episcopal church and thank you for these helpful resources and the gentle clarity with which they’re given.

  2. January 14, 2013 10:59 am

    Dear Marcy,

    Welcome to the Episcopal Church! I am glad you’ve found this site helpful and if you should ever have any questions on the Daily Office or the Eucharist, please don’t hesitate to ask! God bless you as you continue your spiritual journey.

    Fr. Ryan+

  3. Jeremy permalink
    March 13, 2014 9:07 pm

    If there is no music, should the canticles be read by the lector, read responsively, or read in unison? Or is it up to the discretion of the leader?

    • April 2, 2014 9:31 am

      Dear Jeremy,

      Canticles are intended to be sung or said by all. So, my feeling is if there is no music, they should be read in unison. I don’t think I would ever read canticles responsively.

      Thanks for asking!

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