Some Observations on the Daily Offices

Some Observations on the Daily Offices

A Paper Delivered at Okenagan University, August 8, 1995

The Rt. Rev’d Anthony Burton

My talk this afternoon is essentially a plea that Anglicans should have serious second look at the classical offices of Morning and Evening Prayer. Particularly I am going point out that they are not, as is commonly believed, a happy accumulation of liturgical accidents but that they contain a logic invaluable to growing as a Christian in the modern world.

The daily offices, as an integral part of the Book of Common Prayer, are a key element in a system of piety which keeps us oriented to Christ. They are useful in helping us to understand our relation to the body of Christ, the Church, which is particularly valuable at the moment as we live in a time in which many people are not sure what institutions are and how we relate to them.

In particular I hope also to highlight two matters of concern to liturgical discussions in our time that our offices illuminate: the relation between corporate and private prayer, and the relation between edification and adoration.

There is at the moment an enormous interest in spirituality of all kinds, and a new seriousness about the care of the soul, and prayer as a means of spiritual fulfillment. Lay people and clergy alike are pursuing all manner of spiritual activities and disciplines, and, despite the popular view that spirituality is to be found in any tradition but one’s own, much of this interest is in the Christian tradition.

Retreat centres are overbooked. CDs of Gregorian chant are best sellers. Julian of Norwich and Hildegaard of Bingen are figures in pop culture. Other medieval spiritual writers are more read today than they were in their own lifetimes. And yet there seems to be little interest in the prayer disciplines of the Anglican tradition.

This is easy to understand. There is still in the public mind the view that Anglicanism is, in Bouyer’s words, “the island religion of a handful of erudite people practicing an aristocratic piety”[1]

Within the Church itself, many people, particularly the older clergy, harbour a residual antagonism to Morning Prayer, which was long viewed as an obstacle to recovering the Eucharist as the principle service of the week. In some circles Morning Prayer is still quite unfairly looked upon as a reactionary excess of the Reformation, the sooner buried the better.

Moreover Sung Mattins came to be regarded as a symbol of the spiritual deadness of the Anglican Church, an aesthetic exercise in nostalgia for half-Christian members of the establishment. In the last ten years the offices, with the rest of the Prayer Book, have come under fire by feminists for their language and association with patriarchy.

Moreover in Canada the spiritual disciplines of the Anglican Church, like Western Christianity generally, suffers from familiarity. People who have had some peripheral contact with the church imagine that they have examined it and found it wanting. In fact they have yet to examine it.

Evensong has, except on special occasions disappeared as a public office in most of our churches, and Mattins is on the endangered list, often a fifth Sunday crumb tossed to Prayer Book supporters who are increasingly disposed to be grateful for small mercies.

It reminds of the story of the William Howley, Archbishop of Canterbury. He is the same man who, in that famous painting of Queen Victoria, kneels to announce her accession to the throne. During the riots over Great Reform Bill of 1832, he was driving through a mob when somebody lobbed a dead cat into his coach, striking his chaplain on the face. When the chaplain complained, the Archbishop replied simply, “Be thankful is wasn’t a live one.”

The historical roots of the offices

The offices have deep roots. In the Temple at Jerusalem, morning and evening sacrifices were offered, and there were services of psalms and prayers at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Devout lay people prayed at home morning and evening as well. On the Sabbath, synagogue services consisted of prayers and the reading and exposition of the Scriptures. By Christ’s lifetime, synagogues celebrated a liturgy of the word on at least some weekdays. [2]

The earliest Christian worship services were Sunday eucharists, involving the reading of scriptures, prayer, and the breaking of bread, but as early as the second century two forms of daily offices grew up independently in the same period. The ‘congregational’ or ‘cathedral’ form of office developed in different places as people met daily together during the week for morning and evening services which consisted of psalms, canticles, prayers, and, in some places, scripture reading and instruction.

Clergy and laity were expected to attend these services, and those who could not were expected to study the Scriptures and to pray at home at these times. [3] The Jewish practice of private prayer at the third, sixth, and ninth hours (9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m.) was retained and linked to events of the Passion. These two public offices came to be known as Lauds and Vespers.[4]

Simultaneously, the monastic or ‘choir’ offices were developing in various forms in different parts of the world. They consisted of Scripture readings and the reading of the entire Book of Psalms – in some places daily, in others weekly or fortnightly. Hymns and prayers concluded the offices.

As the monks established communities in cities in the fourth century, the two forms of offices influenced one another. In time the number of daily offices grew to eight. [5] Both religious and secular Clergy were required to pray all of them, and lay people were invited to join the monks for two of the daily services, one in the morning, the other in the evening. [6]

As this way of praying became formalized in institutions, lay people, most of whom did not in any case read, became guests of the religious orders. But the services were in latin, which most lay people did not understand, and their availability depended on the local presence of monastic institution which most parishes did not have. Moreover, as time went on the services had become increasingly elaborate and complex.

Not only were the services hard to follow but much of the elaboration was at the expense of the reading of Scripture, which became increasingly fragmentary. It was this marginalization of the Scriptures in the worship of the laity that concerned the Reformers. As the Prayer Book itself puts it, the

“…godly and decent order of the ancient Fathers hath been so altered, broken, and neglected, by planting in uncertain Stories, and Legends, with multitudes of Responds, Verses, and Repetitions, Commemorations, and Synodals; that commonly when any Book of the Bible was begun, after three or four Chapters were read out, all the rest were unread….Moreover, the number and hardness of the Rules…, and the manifold changings of the Service, was the cause, that to turn the Book only was so hard and intricate a matter, that many times there was more business to find out what should be read, than to read it when it was found out….”[7]

This was the situation Cranmer sought to reform. He sought to give daily prayer, and the Bible, back to the laity by establishing two simplified public daily offices in English in every parish in the land. The parish clergy were required to say the daily offices in church, ringing the bell first. [8]

Cranmer drew upon elements of the eight daily offices (chiefly the versions used at Salisbury Cathedral) but the project was more than a simplifying of what was already there. He believed strongly that holiness involved entering into the Gospel. So he set about to create offices at which people could drink deeply and systematically from the Bible. At the same time he also fashioned these offices so that people would worship God according to principles of worship he found in the Bible itself. While Cranmer possessed a vast patristic scholarship, he was more concerned with the substance of apostolic worship than its forms.

I do not, however, want to speak this afternoon on Cranmer and what may or may not have been in his mind in 1549 and 1552. It is mistaken to look upon the Prayer Book as we have it as simply the work of one person. It is the work of many hands.

The Prayer Book belongs to the Church, has been developed and tested over centuries, has stood up not just in Oxford and Cambridge but in Stanley Mission in Northern Saskatchewan and Aipo Rongo in Papua New Guinea. Hooker would go so far as to say, “no doubt from God it hath proceeded, and by us it must be acknowledged a work of his singular care and providence….” [9]

And while it has rightly never has been above criticism, it is fruitful to examine its text only secondarily as an historical document. It is a living liturgy, and we should evaluate it, as we should evaluate all things, against the Scriptures as they have been understood by the universal church.

Dean Inge dismissed liturgists along with philatelists, and there is an antiquarian streak in much liturgical discourse of which I hope this afternoon to steer clear.

The Offices and the priesthood of all believers

So what does the Prayer Book itself say about the life of prayer? We need first to look not to the offices, but that which precedes them, the service of Holy Baptism. In our Prayer Book, we have this duty read to the Sponsors and Parents,

“Use all diligence therefore to see that he be virtuously brought up to lead a godly and a Christian life; and to that end you should teach him to pray, and bring him to take his part in public worship.”

Prayer is a participation in the priestly ministry of Christ and is not a consequence of some external rule but springs from the very nature of our vocation as Christians. It is not the preserve of the clergy but is a vocation common to clergy and laity alike. [10] This is a Biblical teaching which the Reformers understood well: it underlies Cranmer’s insistence that the daily work of prayer be taken out of the monastery and placed in the parish church.

Its daily character also underscores this high view of the priesthood of all believers. Time itself is ordered, sanctified and offered through Christ to the Father. [11] Hooker had this to say:

“Now as nature bringeth forth time with motion, so we by motion have learned how to divide time, and by the smaller parts of time both to measure the greater and to know how long all things else endure.”
(Laws, V, lxix.2)

The whole Prayer Book is designed to enable the laity to fulfil their priestly vocation of prayer: the responses are to be returned by the people and not by the choir only; the prayers are generally short and contain one thought; they are in a language that all can understand; the laity are exhorted to receive their communion; the rubrics demand audibility and visible ceremonial. [12]

Common Prayer and Private Devotions

The Church prays through its one Head, and the Prayer Book images this by insisting that it pray publicly with one voice. In praying set prayers the individual learns to conform his individuality to the good of the Kingdom of God. [13]

This has never been more important than today when the intellectual climate of our time predisposes us to think that there is no given truth, no objectivity even metaphysically conceived, no coherent revelation, no argument in the Scriptures – only endless subjective apprehensions, only what I as an individual will to believe. There are not texts, the deconstructionists argue, only pretexts. The Church, from this point of view can have no mind. ‘Whose understanding?’ is the answer to every attempt to articulate it.

In this climate, the Prayer Book has enormous importance for post-modern people. Through its liturgies, the individual can be liberated to some extent from self-consciousness, deny himself and follow Christ in prayer for the world.

As Von Balthasar puts it:

“The liturgy is the service of prayer rendered by the Church of God, whereby, in utter self-oblivion, she seeks only to glorify God in adoration, praise and thanksgiving.”[14]The Prayer Book was very carefully composed to help us ‘understand’ the Creed. It is, in Professor Crouse’s memorable phrase, “the fullest expression of the consensus fidelium for Anglicans.” So the “one voice” with which we pray in the offices is the voice of Christ, with which the liturgy helps us to harmonize our voices. In is form and content, it is a splendid vehicle for prayer which is, as George Herbert put it, “a kind of tune” (Poem ‘Prayer’).

Much of Anglican history of course has involved disagreements over the virtue of set prayers in public worship, mostly over the question of whether having an established form gives opportunity to the Holy Spirit to operate, and whether set prayers quicken or deaden the souls of the worshippers. It is a question which has long been with us, and one with which the new rites still struggle. At the time of the Protectorate, not only was the Prayer Book abolished but the Lord’s Prayer, as a set prayer, was expressly forbidden. [15]

The new rites attempt to strike a compromise between uniformity and local invention. The enormous variety of options in these rites are to encourage the priest or, better, the worship committee to create a liturgy to suit the occasion as they see it. It is an interesting accommodation of private prayer, community self-expression, and acknowledgment of catholicity which poses countless questions about the nature of the Church, what corporate worship is and place of the individual within it.

Liturgy books become in effect books of liturgical resources rather than books of liturgies which seem to imply that the worship of the Church is something communities create rather than enter into.

And while I wouldn’t want to press the point too hard, the focus shifts then from a participation in the eternal worship with the whole company of heaven to a local enterprise. And again, I say this with great qualification: the emphasis in the new rites on ‘community’ as an aggregation of those present could be taken to imply that the basis of our unity is not our baptism, not our faith, not Christ, but the fact that we have chosen to come together.

In this regard the recent pleas in the United States that the unbaptized be admitted to communion is significant. [16] This implication is very much plainer in the eucharistic rites of the BAS, which begin with a section prominently entitled ‘The Gathering of the Community.’ [17] With this message being proclaimed liturgically week by week, it is hardly surprising that the supreme principle of Anglicanism in the eyes of many is an abstract ‘inclusivity.’

The intention of the new rites here is in many ways admirable. It hopes to create a sense of fellowship and family, and to make prayer concrete by making it particular. This is done at the expense of the universal, however, and, by collapsing the particular and private into the universal, natural distinctions, such as the estate of the family, are obscured.

The Prayer Book on the other hand is very clear that those who pray the liturgies of the Church do so because they are in Christ, and that to be baptized is to have a corporate life. This is not to say that worshippers’ individuality in prayer is to be denied. But it is to be exercised within the private and domestic sphere of life – as Jesus puts it, “when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to the Father which is in secret…“(Mt. 6:6).

So the Prayer Book makes sharp distinction between the corporate prayer of the Christian and his private prayer. Both stem from his baptism, and neither is a substitute for the other. Corporate prayer is something that is best exercised in church but what is essential is not that it be public but that it be common. [18] Hence the expectation that the clergy and laity both will pray the offices at home if they are not able to come to church. Hooker makes the distinction between the public and private prayer lives of the individual this way:

The holy and religious duty of service towards God concerneth us one way in that we are men, and another way in that we are joined as parts to that visible mystical body which is his Church. As men, we are at our own choice, both for time, and place, and form, according to the exigence of our own occasions in private; but the service, which we do a members of a public body, is public, and for that cause must needs be accounted by so much worthier than the other, as a whole society of such condition exceedeth the worth of any one. [19]

Jeremy Taylor points out that there is a distinction between corporate and private prayer since Churches have “special necessities in a distinct capacity” [20] And Lancelot Andrews says that we should distinguish between, ‘the Liturgy and the public service of God in Church’ from our own private devotions.” [21]

Adoration and Edification

The Prayer Book stresses understanding because the purpose of the worship is to adore and to edify at the same time. The Prayer Book’s emphasis on edification has been much criticized by scholars who view the two things as mutually incompatible.

One leading liturgical authority, Prof. Paul Bradshaw, argues that the fundamental elements of authentic Christian prayer are praise and intercession, and sees the Prayer Book’s emphasis on hearing the Scriptures as misguided. It is significant that the only modern Anglican offices of which he approves are those of the Canadian Book of Alternative Services.[22, 23]

The classical liturgists of Anglicanism never treated edification apart from the end of liturgy, the glory of God. In 1676 Thomas Comber, with an acknowledgment to St. Augustine, wrote of public prayer as doing two things, expressing and advancing God’s glory and tending to man’s good. [24, 25]

Comber’s contemporaries often wrote that it was wrong to limit edification to mental improvement or moral uplift but that edification is a nothing less that sanctification, the making holy of the worshippers until they come, in St. Paul’s words, “unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13).

This is nothing other than a Trinitarian understanding of prayer as less something that we do than something that the Holy Spirit does in us. We offer not simply our words in proclamation, praise, and prayer but ourselves, our souls, and bodies.

The shape of the liturgy

I do not intend this afternoon to give you a line-by-line commentary on the offices but allow me to sketch the logic of the two services, which is essentially the same.

Keep in mind that the offices are principally about adoration and edification which, as we have already seen, were reciprocal: adoration edifies, edification adores. Both begin and end with God the Holy Trinity.

The offices of Morning and Evening Prayer both fall into three parts. The first is a preparation to meet God in worship. The second part (which is the heart and centre of the office) is the recitation of the Psalter, and the reading of the scripture in regular course. The service concludes with the third part, petition and thanksgiving.

The first part begins with penitential sentences. Beginning the service with the confession is often decried as too penitential or an undue emphasis on sin. [26] A contemporary Swiss scholar points out that the Prayer Book understands sin as designating the separation of humans from God, and that it would be mistaken to understand the confession here in as primarily moralistic. [27] To speak of mood or tone here is to miss the point.

Then follows the Exhortation, which tells us what we are about to do. It states that we should confess our sins as we approach the “heavenly grace” which is fitting “when we assemble and meet together to render thanks for the great benefits that we have received at his hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear his most hold Word, and to ask those things which are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as the soul.” [28] Then follows the confession and absolution.

Dean Comber says of this preparatory beginning to the offices that we are like ducks:

“as those Fowls whose wings are not proportionable to the weight of their Bodies do usually run some Paces before they can rise from the Earth to begin their flight; so the Church directeth us first to purpose our hearts before we begin to pray.”[29]Then follows the first of the two times the Lord’s Prayer is said. The serve as parentheses around the central, second section of the service. The comprehensive character of the Lord’s Prayer – it involves both a petition for forgiveness, praise, and petition – make it ideal at both points to be a transitional elements from one section to the next.

We then move to the principle part of the office in which God is praised, the Gospel proclaimed, and the worshippers edified – all at the same time. Here we alternate between the praise of the psalms and canticles, and the Scripture lessons themselves. Both Hooker and L’Estrange suggested that this was to provide variety and to prevent congregational weariness. [30] The lessons, proclaiming God’s actions in history, both glorify God and inspire praise in those who hear them.

Following the Old Testament lesson which anticipates in the broadest sense the incarnation, we have in the Te Deum, the Benedicite, or the Magnificat, in each of which we see, as Comber puts it, “all those types verified, all those predictions completed, and all those promises made good, which are contained in the law and the prophets concerning Christ.” [31] In the New Testament lesson we then contemplate the Incarnation and work of Christ. We respond with thanksgiving in the Benedictus or, at Evensong, the Nunc Dimittis. [32]

We continue to enter into Christ as well as to proclaim Him as we say the Creed, putting our seal on the lessons which preceeded. The mutual salutation which follows implies that the preceding Creed, and the faith it embodies, is the symbol and bond of peace. [33]

Now the offices enter their third part, we ask for God’s mercy, participating in the priestly prayer of our Head, by saying first the Lord’s Prayer, then praying for the nation, the Church and “all Conditions of men”. This section, which is meant to be subordinate to the central section is attenuated in Evening Prayer.

In the concluding Collects of the Morning Prayer, we pray for “outward peace in converse with the world and for preservation from the dangers and temptations which beset it; in the evening for that help which comes from a good conscience and for help against the terrors of darkness.” [34]

Future and practical considerations

If you will indulge me, I should like to ruminate on the future of the classical offices in our Church.

It is no secret that Cranmer’s hope to turn the nation into a community of prayer was never realized, and we would be mistaken to imagine that there was ever a golden age from which we have declined. The Prayer Book as a devotional system reached was most fully realized not in the sixteenth but in the seventeenth century when it was commonly believed that the divine worship on Sunday should consist of Mattins and the Litany, followed by a break of two or three hours for the priest to give spiritual advice to those who intended to receive communion, and, later in the morning, Holy Communion. The day would be of course rounded out with Evensong.

While some urban parishes have had quite remarkable success with a lively Sunday Evensong, I am doubtful that this service is likely to become generally popular again in my lifetime simply because the commitment to the Sabbath itself is in steep decline. Even if their work schedules permit it, few families are willing to come to church twice.

But I think those who are committed to classical Anglican spirituality would do well to pray this office corporately even if the incumbent himself does not wish to preside. While there are many clergy who cannot be bothered with Evening Prayer, I can scarcely imagine that there are any who would object to the service being conducted by the laity. It is not enough to argue in favour of these classical disciplines: we must lead by example.

Many parishes which otherwise use the Prayer Book do not conduct Mattins on Sundays when the principal service of the day is Communion. A good custom to prepare for the Eucharist is to say Mattins publicly before the service, often beginning a half hour earlier.

The 1962 book contains a rubric (p. lvi) which states that “When Morning Prayer is combined with the Holy Communion, the Service may begin with O Lord, open thou our lips; and all that follows the Te Deum may be omitted.” It is a bad rubric which suggests that the revisers failed to grasp the essential structure of the Prayer Book, and like a good number of the revisions of that edition, needs to be reappraised.

Even Mattins in that reduced form, however, would at least be a powerful reminder to those who trickle in during the middle of it, that there is a system of spiritual discipline in the Prayer Book, and that is more than a resource book.

Some parishes incorporate extemporary prayer into the prayers and Thanksgivings of the offices, and I think that this is a helpful practice in parishes which welcome it as long as it is not allowed to undermine the logic of the service. Like sermons at funerals, which even the 1962 Prayer Book does not make explicit allowance for, it meets a pastoral need, particularly in charismatic parishes.

Like the revisers of 1662 we do well to maintain “the mean between the two extremes, of too much stiffness in refusing, and of too much easiness in admitting any variation from it.” One thing that is certainly undermining the corporate use of the Prayer Book at the moment is the complete lack of new music for it. Most of what is now composed is for the ICET texts. A living liturgy needs a living musical tradition.

I think also that the church would also do well to put more energy into helping people with their private prayers. If we do admit, as the Prayer Book insists, a distinction between the offices and private prayers, we address this. At the moment individuals mostly pick up whatever prayer manuals and devotional literature they stumble on.

Many of those in the past who took the Prayer Book as a system most seriously put much energy into materials for private devotions. Under Edward VI and Elizabeth, primers for private use were common, and the 1559 and 1604 editions of the Prayer Book often had bound with them a series of ‘Godly Prayers’ for private or family use. John Cousin who was a leader of the 1662 revision published A Collection of Private Devotions (1627) on this model. The private prayers of Jeremy Taylor, Lancelot Andrews, Dr. Johnson, Cardinal Newman, and many others are still in use.

The family prayer section at the 1962 book is a good place to start: it is excellent for those with young children, and yet it is largely unknown. I wonder if we shouldn’t put more effort into drawing people’s attention to it? Compline is a jewel and very much more widely used by the laity in their bedtime devotions than is commonly recognized. The more the Prayer Book can be keep in people’s hands, the more they are likely to rediscover what is there.


The offices of the Prayer Book proceed from the belief that baptism issues in a vocation to pray in two ways. As a member of the Church, the body of Christ, we are to pray the prayers of the whole Church, publicly if possible, otherwise privately.

We are not members of the Body only at “The Gathering of the Community”. As an individual Christians, we should also have a domestic prayer life, which pertains to the particular needs and circumstances of our life as individuals and, if we have one, as part of a family. No amount of extemporary petition, barked from the back of the Church on Sundays can substitute for this. The distinction between public and private is a problem for the modern world generally. The Prayer Book tradition can help us recover the distinction.

The Prayer Book as a system of spiritual discipline is invaluable in helping us to grow to maturity in Christ. It continually reminds us that the good of the Kingdom of Heaven lies not in the devices and desires of our own hearts but in living in and by the Word of God. And it helps us to grow in community in the Body of Christ by enabling us to pray and adore in the Gospel in common.

Charles Simeon wrote that “The finest sight short of heaven would be a whole congregation using the prayers of the liturgy in the true spirit of them.” [35] The recovery of that spirit has never been needed more than today, and yet if conferences like these are any indication, we have reason to hope that the golden age of Anglican spirituality lies not in the past but in, God willing, His the future.

© Anthony Burton, 1996.


1. William Purcell, Anglican Spirituality: A Continuing Tradition, (Mowbray, London) 1988 quoting Bouyer, p.6.

2. Marion Hatchett, Commentary on the American Prayer Book (Minneapolis: Seabury), 1980, p. 89.

3. Hippolytus, Apostolic Tradition, 41.

4. Hatchett, Op Cit., p. 89f.

5. Though as two were prayed at one sitting they were counted as seven – which practice was related to Ps. 119: 164, “Seven times a day do I praise thee”, cf. Massey Shepherd, The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary(New York: Oxford University Press), 1950, p. 1.

6. These services, which came to be known as ‘choir offices’ were Mattins (midnight devotions), Lauds (the public morning service), Prime (said at the beginning of daily duties), Terce (the third hour), Sext (the sixth hour), None (the ninth hour), and Vespers (the public evening service), and Compline (said in the dormitories at bedtime). Hatchett, Op Cit., p. 90.

7. Book of Common Prayer 1962, Concerning the Service of the Church.

8. BCP 1962 p. 716f.

9. Hooker, Laws, V.xxv.4.

10. Paul Bradshaw in Kenneth Stevenson and Bryan Spinks eds., The Identity of Anglican Worship, (Morehouse, Harrisburg) 1991, pp. 69-70.

11. It is interesting to observe that in the 1662 book, except for the greater festivals, no proper lessons were provided for Sunday Mattins or Evensong. Keble regarded this as a testimony to the fact that the Prayer Book was constructed around the daily services, of which those on Sunday were but a continuation and expansion- which is something that those of us who are used to thinking of the offices as orbiting around the sun of the Eucharist do well to ponder.

12. G.W.O Addleshaw, The High Church Tradition, (Faber & Faber, London) 1941, p. 43.

13. Common Prayer I, (St. Peter Publications: Charlottetown), introduction.

14. Von Balthasar, Hans (trans. A.V. Littledale), Prayer (SPCK: London), 1961 p. 38.

15. Addleshaw, Op. Cit.,p. 20.

16. This issue will likely be complicated if those inclusive language baptismal formula, which exclude the name of the Father and the Son, are permitted. For those who regard them as invalid, it will be unclear as to whether those coming to communion who claim to have been baptized are baptized or not.

17. There is also the unintended– but real– suggestion in this emphasis on creating community and tailoring its worship to suit it that those who worship together are constituted not primarily by virtue of their baptism but by their identity as worshippers together.

18. Hooker, Laws, V. xxv.2. The Prayer Book itself is concerned with the uniformity of the content of the prayers of the liturgy rather than a literal uniformity of words – it says that when individuals pray the offices at home, they may do in any language they understand; for centuries following the reformation, it was the Latin Book of Common Prayer that was used in university chapels.

19. Hooker, Laws, V.xxiv.1.

20. Works, ed. 1849, V, p. 299, quoted by Addleshaw, Op. Cit. p. 39.

21. Sermons, Lib. of A.C. Theol., V, p. 357, quoted by Addleshaw, Op. Cit. p. 39.

22. Paul Bradshaw in Stevenson Op. Cit. , p. 75.

23. His is far from a received view however, either within Anglican circles or outside them. Take for example Robert Taft, a leading historian of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox liturgies of the hours. He describes the Office as: “a novitiate in which she [the Church] teachers her age-old ways of how to glorify God in Christ as Church, together as one body, in union with and after the example of her head. No other form of prayer is so rooted in the mysteries of salvation history as they are unfolded day by day in the he Church’s annual cycle. Through this constant diet of Sacred Scripture not only does God speak in his Word to us, not only do we contemplate over and over again the central mysteries of salvation, but our own lives are gradually attuned to this rhythm, and we meditate again and again on the history of Israel, recapitulated in Jesus, that is also the saga of our own spiritual odyssey.” The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West, Minnesota, The Liturgical Press, 1986, p. 368, quoted by Brook, p. 15.

24. Addleshaw, Op. Cit., p. 73.

25. Elsewhere he writes:”Nothing by us can be added to make his Perfections more glorious in themselves, but by such incomparable testimonies of Grace and Mercy his Goodness will be more clearly manifested to us and all men; for we consider that his delivering us from Death to Life, retrieving us from Fears of Hell to Hopes of Heaven, his changing us from Sin to grace, and doing all this for rebellious Wretches that he could easily destroy; this will be a great Manifesto of his Glory to all the Word. “In J. Robert Wright, ed., Prayer Book Spirituality, (Church Hymnal Corporation: New York), 1989 p. 150.

26. The B.A.S. states that we may “want to omit or abbreviate some of these elements: e.g. the penitential rite and affirmation of faith are hardly necessary twice a day….” The Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada (ABC: Toronto), 1985 p. 39.

27. Leuenberger, Samuel, Archbishop Cranmer’s Immortal Bequest, (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids) 1990, p. 98.

28. BCP 1962 p. 4.

29. Excerpted in J. Robert Wright, Prayer Book Spirituality, op. cit., p. 147. The logic of the office of Morning Prayer in the Canadian Prayer Book was obscured in the 1918 revision by placing a number of ‘seasonal sentences’ at the beginning of the service, following the precedent of the American revision of 1789. See W.J. Armitage, The Story of the Canadian Revision of the Prayer Book, (Cambridge, Toronto) 1922.

30. Addleshaw, Op. Cit. p. 90.

31. Quoted by Addleshaw, Op. Cit. p. 92.

32. Ibid., p. 93.

33. Comber in J.R. Wright Op. Cit., p. 158

34. Addleshaw, Op. Cit. p. 95.

35. Addleshaw, Op. Cit. p. 58.

Some Observations on the Daily Offices