Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Advocating the Daily Office

Here is something interesting from Rev. J.P. Russell (p.14); I agree with what he says here, and would go further to give it a "high theological" reading:

"The prayers, canticles, collects and readings walk with us through our lives. The words take on flesh as we find ourselves identifying with them in our own lives. Our own personal words and actions begin, almost imperceptibly, to take on the power and impact of those words given us by Christ and remembered in every generation by the Church: 'And you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered in his Name you will be in the midst of them...' [BCP 102]"

That is, becoming a practiced Christian may involve becoming disposed to give way in one's life, indeed in one's self, to Christ. Cultivating theological virtues in God's grace, one living the Daily Office can achieve mimesis or imitation of Christ, becoming literally in the being of one's very person a participant in his thinking, his deliberation. That is not to say one's very thought is identical to Christ's, but is so related to it in Platonic terms as imitation to model, derived to original.


At 9:14 AM, Blogger bls said...

We couldn't agree more, of course. We're pushing Morning and Evening Prayer all over the web, at every opportunity.


I advocate singing prayers, too, when possible. Praying twice, you know, so there's more practice. You can get a CD of Compline - "Guard Us Sleeping" - from the Brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist. They used to have one on the Daily Office, too, but I can't find it anywhere - I think it's out of print. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff, too. But in any case we can listen to streaming media on BBC3 anytime for a service of Choral Evensong. You need the old Psalter for that one.

Either way is good. But if you sing them, you get to know some of the ancient Gregorian chant psalm tones, and also some of the more recent Anglican chant tunes. This adds a dimension for me.

At 2:53 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


I would prefer to sing rather than say, but have to actually learn how to do it. Despite owning the 82 Hymnal, I haven't been around services with singing in the liturgy long enough to have a sense for it.

At 3:01 PM, Blogger Derek the ├ćnglican said...

That's a shame. And the kind of thing that we want to change... People *should* have access to a church in their area where the offices are done regularly. Barring that, maybe it is time to take a look at some of the emerging technology. Actually, this desrves a post of its own. Really short version pod-cast offices. Take a walk on the reactionary side and check out what IRNS is up to...

At 3:38 PM, Blogger Caelius said...

It's very easy to make podcasts, too. I have a handy-dandy device that can be attached to my iPod. And if one were to enter Hymnal stuff into GarageBand, imagine the possibilities.

At 10:27 PM, Blogger bls said...

Scotist, just go ahead and start listening to the BBC3 Evensongs. Use the old Psalter (most of the Anglican Chant Psalms on those broadcasts use it) and just start singing along with the tune when they do the Psalms. It's just the same melody repeated over and over on alternate verses.

And the Compline CD is pretty good, too. That one uses Gregorian psalms. I'll come back another time and post a link to a Chant site where you can get the basics of how it's done. It's not hard.

At 10:53 PM, Blogger bls said...

Here is a gathering of different psalters at Mission St. Clare. I think you can actually use the 1662 version for this purpose!

Alternatively, here's the 1928 psalter.

Derek, do you know: are these two Psalters actually equivalent? They look to be - can you believe it?

It's super-duper Rite I, baby!

At 11:09 PM, Blogger Caelius said...

Garage Band is very annoying, I'm afraid. I tried. It can be done but it sounds less ethereal than I would wish, but certainly anyone with knowledge of the chants and a decent voice could do some podcasts.

bls's suggestions sound rather sensible to me. bls, do they archive the BBC evensongs anywhere?

At 11:12 PM, Blogger Caelius said...

Nevermind... Here's the link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/choralevensong/index.shtml

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Derek the ├ćnglican said...

Coverdale all the way...not even KJV psalms--naw, for the hardcore Anglicans it's gotta be the Coverdale.

[The Coverdale translation, that is. That or versions thereof is traditionally what has been used in BCPs despite the changes in biblical versions. That's why if you look at your Daily Office volumes the official readings are in KJV/RSV/NRSV, the Psalms are never from that version but are slightly different.

The origin of this comes from the first authorized English translation, the Bishop's Bible which--basically--sucked. If I remember right off the top of my head, Coverdale did a revision of it. The KJV came later.]

At 10:59 AM, Blogger bls said...

Thanks, Derek. I'm just amazed that you can actually still use the 1662 for something!

Scotist, it seems to be ridiculously hard to find a decent chant tutorial on the web. Here's a little thing that seems to be the best one out there: Dan's Gregorian Chant Tutorial. But it still doesn't tell you much. I've decided I'm going to write something up myself - which will include something on Anglican Chant, too.

That's a different thing. Just keep in mind that each Anglican Chant tune is made up - sort of - of 4 parts: the odd-numbered verses are composed of two musical sections, one before and one after the asterisk; the even-numbered verses use two other sections, again one before and one after the asterisk. The fourth section resolves the whole phrase, and then you start again. Once you sing verses 1 and 2, for instance, you just go back and sing the same music for 3 and 4, etc.

Rest assured, one can learn this by doing it! Gregorian is actually harder, in that there are more tunes and tones and flexes and mediants, and solemn tones for feasts, etc. But it's the same general principle, actually.

Anglican Chant uses harmony, Gregorian doesn't. I don't know if any of the ANglican Chants you hear on BBC are in our hymnal or not; you'd just have to search by composer and read along to see. It's not hard to sing by ear, though, and it's really very helpful to have the Coverdale translatino to read from. It all makes sense when you look at that.

HTH. Someday I'll get my own tutorial online!

At 11:05 AM, Blogger bls said...

If any parishes near you offer Evensong, even occasionally, I would definitely suggest going. It helps to have the whole thing printed out in the leaflet, too, or to have the service music from the hymnal right there.

My favorite is sung Morning Prayer, but it is very rare. We're trying to get some of these things going again, because there is just a ton of music available that's totally going to waste right now. And it's our heritage. St. Thomas in New York offers sung Morning Prayer combined with Eucharist every now and then, and some other parishes offer it once a month, or occasionally, by itself. I think it's exquisitely beautiful, and that the Venite by itself is worth going for!

But it would also be great to have said MP and EP in more places. We're talking it up.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger bls said...

Also, Scotist, we like the St. Dunstan's Plainsong Psalter for singing Psalms - although Derek has a problem with its politics that he won't talk about.


If he lets you in on that, and you don't like it, either, there are other plainsong Psalters. This one, for instance. (There's even an Anglican Chant Psalter on that site.)

The Full Homely Divinity folks think that a said Psalm is an oxymoron. And I sort of agree - I really like singing 'em, even at home by myself. The tunes stick with you, too, and you find yourself humming them at other times, even without words.


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