What is Morning Prayer?
Morning Prayer is a form of worship that follows a structured liturgical format and is typically conducted in the morning, although it can be adapted for other times of the day. It is rooted in the Book of Common Prayer. Morning Prayer, along with Evening Prayer, Holy Communion, and other services, is designed to provide Anglicans with a regular pattern of worship and a framework for daily prayer. However, Morning Prayer can be led by clergy or laypersons in a group, and there, could include Communion from the Reserve Sacrament in certain circumstances. Group services may or may not include a homily (short sermon).
Early in Anglican history, Morning Prayer was the primary Sunday service, with the frequency of the Eucharist varying. However, the Eucharist eventually became the central service on Sundays, with the most notable advancement occurring in the United States in 1979. However, aside from use as a personal devotional aid, Morning Prayer remains an important part of the Anglican tradition with churches often offering it at other times during the week. That does not necessarily exclude Sundays, however, especially in the absence of a bishop or priest.
Here is a brief overview of the typical components of Morning Prayer:
Opening Sentences: The service often begins with a set of sentences or verses from Scripture, emphasizing the call to worship and setting the tone for the prayerful time.
Confession of Sin: Acknowledging human fallibility and seeking God’s forgiveness is a central aspect of Morning Prayer. The congregation collectively confesses their sins, and a declaration of God’s pardon and mercy follows.
The Invitatory: A call to worship, often incorporating verses from the Psalms, invites the congregation to enter into the presence of God with praise and thanksgiving.
Psalms: Several psalms are recited or chanted during Morning Prayer. The Psalter is an integral part of Anglican worship, offering a diverse range of emotions and themes for communal reflection.
Old and New Testament Readings: Scripture readings from the Old and New Testaments are included to provide a foundation for reflection and meditation. The readings are typically prescribed for each day in a systematic manner, allowing for the coverage of significant portions of the Bible over time.
Canticles: These are hymns or songs of praise often drawn from biblical texts. The most well-known of these are the Benedictus (Song of Zechariah) and the Magnificat (Song of Mary), both found in the Gospel of Luke.
The Apostles’ Creed: A statement of Christian faith, the Apostles’ Creed is recited, expressing the core beliefs of the Christian tradition.
The Lord’s Prayer: The congregation joins together in reciting the prayer taught by Jesus to his disciples, emphasizing unity and communal worship.
Collects: Specific prayers for the day or season, known as collects, are offered. These prayers address the needs and concerns of the Church and the world.
Closing Sentences and Blessing: The service concludes with closing sentences and a blessing with a sense of God’s grace and guidance.
Morning Prayer serves as a daily spiritual discipline, providing a framework for individuals and communities to engage with God, Scripture, and one another in a systematic and reverent manner. The Book of Common Prayer remains a key resource and a habit of Morning Prayer for everyone is encouraged.
If you would like to learn more about Morning Prayer, consider coming to our Introduction to the Book of Common Prayer class on Saturday, March 9, 2024. You can learn more and sign up here.