Thursday, May 19, 2016

Early in the Morning Our Songs Shall Rise to Thee: The Music and Conduct of Morning Prayer, Part 2

By Robin G. Jordan

Before the Service. There is no obligation to have a hymn before or after a service of Morning Prayer. The rubrics of the 1928 Prayer Book are permissive. (The rubrics of 1979 Prayer Book go a step further and withdraw permission to sing a hymn before or after the service.) As the Venite is the initial song of praise in the service of Morning Prayer, an opening hymn is not really desirable. In A Guide to the Practice of Church Music (1989)  Marion J. Hatchett offers this helpful advice on the use of music before the services of Morning and Evening Prayer.
“Congregational participation can be greatly enhanced if the time immediately before the Office is devoted to familiarizing the people with the music. The music of the Office itself may be used or preludes based on it…. In addition to music used for teaching purposes, other instrumental music is often excellent at this point.”
Consideration should be given to the singing of a hymn after the Venite and before the Psalms. It is the logical place for a hymn. As well as being itself a song of praise, the Venite is a call to worship that invites the congregation to sing God’s praise: “O come, let us sing unto the Lord.”

In The Church Portrait Journal Church Vol. VII. No., September 1886, Church of England Canon M A Whitaker notes that a much needed restoration to The Book of Common Prayer is that of the office hymn to its proper place at Mattins after the Venite and before the Psalms. He writes, “It is well known that its omission at the Reformation was entirely a matter of necessity, owing to the impossibility of obtaining adequate translations.”

Three years earlier in The Musical Times, Vol. XXXIV, September 1, 1893 C. Thomas in a letter to the editor maintains that the place of the office hymn is between the Venite and the Psalms and not after the Third Collect as another contributor to the magazine mistakenly supposed. He writes, “Were the Venite once more separated from the other Psalms by a hymn intervening, its proper character, in that place, as a Canticle, would again be recognized.” He further notes that the character of the Venite has been lost sight of since the Restoration.

C. J. Ridsdale in The New Office Hymn Book, Parts I and II (1908) notes that the ancient place for a hymn at Mattins was between the Venite and the Psalms and at Lauds before the Benedictus.  He goes on to conclude, “There is no valid reasons why these positions, for which there is precedent, should not be adopted.” He further reasons, “This will give a choice of two constantly varying Hymns for our Morning Service….”

In The Parson’s Handbook (1928), in his discussion of Mattins and Evensong, Percy Dearmer identifies “before the Psalms” as an appropriate place to sing a hymn at Morning Prayer. Dearmer goes on to write:
"There will, of course, be no procession before the service, and the choir and ministers will enter without cross or hymn-singing. The office hymn may be sung as soon as they are in their seats, or after the Venite."
Earlier in The Parson’s Handbook (1928), in his discussion of hymns, Dearmer writes:
“… office hymns are meant to be sung at an early part of the service, and thus give keynote to what follows. The best position is that occupied by the hymn at Mattins in the Breviary, viz. between the Venite and the Psalms for the day.”
In Everyman’s History of the Prayer Book (1912) Dearmer elucidates upon the ancient precedence for having a hymn after the Venite.  He explains that in Sarum Mattins, one of the two monastic offices that Archbishop Thomas Cranmer conflated to create the Anglican service of Morning Prayer, a metrical hymn was sung after the Venite.

Cranmer, while he was a master of English prose, had no talent for versification, and he omitted the hymn for that reason. Cardinal Quignon upon whose reform of the monastic offices Cranmer based his own reform of the offices retained the hymn. Quignon, unlike Cranmer, did not undertake the translation of the offices from Latin into the vernacular.

Ritual Notes ... Edited and largely re-written by E. C. R. Lamburn. Eleventh edition. With plates (1964) suggests that the office hymn should be placed after the Venite and before the Psalms at Morning Prayer.

Lionel Dakers who was organist and master of choristers at Rippon and Exeter Cathedrals and director of the Royal Academy of Church Music makes reference to the practice of singing the office hymn after the Venite in his discussion of the proper place to sing the office hymn in Choosing – and using – hymns (1985):
“Percy Dearmier, in his Short Handbook of Public Worship, published in 1931, suggested the earlier the better so to remind the people almost at the outset of the service. As it is liturgically incorrect to sing a hymn at the beginning of an office, the earliest feasible moment was before the psalms.”
At Exeter Cathedral the office hymn was sung in one of two places in the service—after the Venite or before the third canticle—the Benedictus at Morning Prayer and the Magnificat at Evensong. There is, as has been noted, ancient precedence for both practices in the Sarum Breviary—the first in Mattins and the second in Lauds and Vespers.

Robert Fielding in MODULE 10 Morning and Evening Prayer in the Diocese of Salisbury’s Diocesan Certificate in Church Music course provides further documentation of the historic practice of the singing a metrical hymn after the Venite at Matins in the Sarum Breviary. The Anglican Breviary website in “Lesson Nine: Matins – The ‘Parent’ Office also provides documentation of the practice.

Church of Ireland Canon M. C. Kennedy in The Study of Liturgy: Morning and Evening Prayer and the Litany in The Book of Common Prayer 2004 notes that there is no obligation to have a hymn before the service of Morning Prayer and a hymn may be sung after the Venite and before the Psalm.

Michael Gray, a priest with the English province of the Traditional Anglican Church in his 2010 article, “The Use of Hymns,” published on The Anglo-Catholic website, writes, “In morning prayer, it makes sense to place the office hymn after the ‘Venite’ (as formerly in Matins).”

The rubrics of Anglican Book of Common Prayer: Liturgy in the Anglican Tradition (2012) permits the singing or recitation of an office hymn after the Venite and before the Psalms at Morning Prayer. This service book is the work of Richard L. Bugyi-Sutter, a priest of the Society of St Michael, “a fraternity of Anglican clergy dedicated to the Catholic faith and practice in its Anglican tradition.”

There is not only ancient precedent for the singing of the first hymn of Morning Prayer after the Venite and before the Psalms but also a consensus of informed opinion over a period of more than 125 years that between the Venite and the Psalms is the appropriate place to sing the first hymn of the service.

Among the hymns that are particularly suitable for use between the Venite and the Psalms and whose tunes are listed in the Gulbransen Digital Hymnal DH-100 CP’s Master Index are the following hymns. The tunes for these hymns are also listed in the Gulbransen Digital Hymnal DH 200’s Master Index.
Alleluia, Alleluia! Give Thanks ALLELUIA #1

All Things Bright and Beautiful ROYAL OAK, SALSBURY, VLEUGEL, SPOHR

All Creatures of Our God and King LASST UNS ERFREUEN

Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies LUX PRIMA, RATISBON, DIX

Come, Christians, Join to Sing MADRID

Come, Let Us with Our Lord Arise SUSSEX CAROL

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing NETTLETON, WARRENTON

Crown Him with Many Crowns DIADEMATA

Father, We Praise Thee CHRISTE SANCTORUM

From All Who Dwell below the Skies OLD HUNDRETH, LASST UNS ERFREUEN

Glory Be to God on High GWALCHMAI

God Is My Great Desire LEONI

The God of Abraham Praise LEONI

The God of Heaven GLORY

God of the Ages BUNESSAN

Great Is the Lord GREAT IS THE LORD

Holy Father, Great Creator REGENT SQUARE

Holy, Holy, Holy NICAEA

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise ST. DENIO

I Lift My Eyes to the Quiet Hills UPLIFTED EYES

This hymn is metrical version of Psalm 121. As well as being sung between the Venite and the Psalm of the Day, it may be sung as a sequence hymn or offertory hymn at a celebration of Holy Communion. Psalms are traditionally sung or said in the order that they are printed in the Psalter. When this hymn is sung after the Venite and before the Psalm of the Day, it would be appropriate on a Sunday for which the Psalm appointed is a Psalm printed after Psalm 121 in the Psalter. It might also be sung on a Sunday on which the Psalm appointed is Psalm 121, in which case one the laudate Psalms should be recited after it. The laudate Psalms are Psalms 145-150.


This hymn is based upon St. Patrick’s prayer (c. 372 – c. 461). William B. Jones adapted the text for the hymn tune O WALY WALY/THE WATER IS WIDE. The meter is L.M. (

I sing as I arise today,
I call on my Creator’s might
Wisdom of God to be my guide
the eye of God to be my sight.

The word of God to be my speech
the hand of God to be my stay
the shield of God to be my strength
the path of God to be my way.

Splendor of fire, swiftness of wind
firmness of earth, depth of the sea
light of the sun, radiance of moon
all heaven’s strength be given me.

Christ with me here, Christ with me now
when I arise or go to sleep
Christ in the heart of ev’ryone
who hears or speaks a word of me.

I sing as I arise today” may also be sung to SEED OF LIFE (Rowan) and ROCKINGHAM (Miller). O WALY WALY/THE WATER IS WIDE and ROCKINGHAM (Miller) are listed in the Gulbransen Digital Hymnal DH-100 CP’s Master Index.

I Sing the Almighty Power of God FOREST GREEN, ELLACOMBE

Join All the Glorious Names DARWALL/DARWALL’S 148TH

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee HYMN TO JOY

Let All Things Now Living ASH GROVE

Let the Whole Creation Cry SALZBURG, LLANFAIR


Lord, as I Awake I Turn to You DANIEL (Irish), MELCOMBE (Webbe)

Lord, as the Day Begins LITTLE CORNARD, CROFT’S 136TH

LITTLE CORNARD is not in the Gulbransen Digital Hymnal DH-100 CP’s Master Index. However, MP3 files of the tune played on the organ and the piano may be downloaded from the website. “Lord, as the day begins” may also be sung to CROFT’S 136TH, which is in the Master Index. LITTLE CORNARD is the preferred tune.
Lord of All Hopefulness SLANE

Lord of Creation, All Powerful, All Wise SLANE

May Jesus Christ Be Praised LAUDES DOMINI

Morning Has Broken BUNESSAN

Name of All Majesty MAJESTAS

New Songs of Celebration Render RENDEZ A DIEU

Now that the Daylight Fills the Sky LAUREL, HERR JESU CHRIST

O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing AZMON

Of The Father's Love Begotten DIVINUM MYSTERIUM

O God, You Are My God ST. BRIDE

This hymn is a metrical version of Psalm 63. See my notes for “I Lift My Eyes to the Quiet Hills.” The same principles are applicable when a metrical psalm is sung between the Venite and the Psalm or Psalms of the Day. Psalm 63 has a long association with the dawn office. It was a fixed element of the ancient cathedral office of Lauds.

O Worship the King HANOVER

Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven LAUDA ANIMA

Praise the Lord and Bless His Name DIX

Praise the Lord, His Glories Show LLANFAIR

Praise The Lord, The Almighty LOBE DEN HERREN

Praise to the Living God! LEONI


Shout for Joy, Loud and Long PERSONENT HODIE


This Day God Gives Me BUNESSAN


Thou, Whose Almighty Word MOSCOW

Thy Strong Word Didst Cleave the Darkness EBENEZER/TON-Y-BOTEL


We Will Extol You OLD 124TH

What Wondrous Love Is This WONDROUS LOVE

When Morning Gilds the Skies LAUDES DOMINI

Ye Holy Angels Bright DARWALL'S 148TH/DARWALL

Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones LASST UNS ERFREUEN

This list is only a representative selection of hymns that may be used at this point.

If a hymn is sung before the beginning of the service, it should not be sung as what is erroneously called a “processional.” The ministers should go quietly to their places and not begin singing until they are there.

The ceremonial entrance of the ministers before the beginning of a service, while it may be sometimes called a procession, is not actually a procession in the strict liturgical sense. A procession is a short service before a choral service of Holy Communion or after Solemn Evensong in which two hymns are sung while the choir and ministers proceed from the chancel, around the church and back to the chancel again. The two hymns are separated by a station at which a versicle, response, and collect are sung or said.

A procession is either festal or penitential and involves the singing or chanting of hymns, psalms, or litanies. The four principal occasions on which a small church with a choir might have a procession are Christmas Eve, Palm Sunday, Easter, and Rogation Sunday.

Two ministers, one walking behind the other, is not a procession by any stretch of the imagination.

The formal entrance of the ministers with cross and lights and in some churches incense is historically connected with the service of Holy Communion. It is not one of the ceremonies associated with the services of Morning and Evening Prayer.

Also See
Early in the Morning Our Songs Shall Rise to Thee: The Music and Conduct of Morning Prayer, Part 1

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