By Robin G. Jordan
The Penitential Introduction. The rubrics of the 1928 Prayer Book permit the omission of the Exhortation, the General Confession, the Absolution, and the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of Morning Prayer, allowing the restoration of the Lord’s Prayer to its original place before the Suffrages. (In the 1979 Prayer Book the use of the penitential introduction is optional.) There is no need to begin the service with the penitential introduction except on a Day of Fasting or Abstinence or during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent. After the Sentence of Scripture the minister may go directly to the Opening Preces, “O Lord, open thou, our lips….”.
As Massey H. Shepherd Jr. points out in his discussion of Evening Prayer in The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary (1950), the use of the penitential introduction is more spiritually advantageous at the end of the day. If a bidding prayer is used before the sermon at Morning Prayer, a brief exhortation to confess one’s sins and seek God’s pardon may be added to the bidding prayer. The members of the congregation can also be encouraged to adopt the spiritual discipline of reading Evening Prayer at home on Sunday evenings and at other times and to examine their consciences and behavior and to confess their particular errors and misdeeds to God before reading the General Confession.
When the penitential introduction is used in the service of Morning Prayer, the short Bidding to confession should be substituted for the Exhortation. This short bidding was introduced as an alternative to the long Exhortation in the 1892 Prayer Book “to avoid the tedious of overmuch repetition,” as Massey J. Shepherd Jr. also notes in his discussion of Evening Prayer in The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary (1950). It is one of a number of provisions for shortening the services of Morning and Evening Prayer in the 1928 Prayer Book and making these services more usable in the mission field. In the twenty-first century the mission field encompasses all of North America and the rest of the world.
When a deacon or lay reader is officiating at a service of Morning Prayer and the penitential introduction is used, the Absolution is omitted. In a number of more recent Anglican service books such as the Anglican Church of Australia’s An Australian Prayer Book (1978) and the Anglican Mission in Americas and The Prayer Book Society of the USA’s An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) a deacon or a lay reader may read the Collect for the Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity in place of the Absolution, or Declaration of Forgiveness. The rubrics of An Australian Prayer Book also permit a deacon or lay reader to read 1 John 2:1, 2 in place of the Absolution, or Declaration of Forgiveness.
The First Canticle. Those who recite the Office alone, with someone else or with a small group are apt to lose sight of the fact that the Venite, the Psalm (or Psalms) appointed for the day, and the canticles are songs. They are meant to be sung. The chanting of the Venite, the Psalm (or Psalms) of the Day, and the canticles require strong musical leadership and good acoustics. Both are typically in short supply in small churches. On the other hand, the congregation of most small churches can handle the singing of metrical versions of these liturgical songs.
To help parishioners to sing the services of Morning and Evening Prayer hymn-writers have produced a wealth of metrical settings of the Venite, the Easter Anthems, the Te Deum laudamus, the Benedicite, the Benedictus es, Domine, the Benedictus Dominus Deus, the Jubilate Deo, and the other canticles over the past forty odd years. The older metrical psalters, Archbishop Matthew Parker’s The Whole Psalter Translated into English Metre, Sternhold and Hopkins’ Old Version, and Tate and Brady’s New Version also contain metrical versions of the Prayer Book canticles.
The singing of metrical psalms and canticles has a long history in the Anglican Church. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I crowds would gather at King’s Cross in London to sing metrical psalms for hours on end. The rubrics permitting the singing of a hymn before and after a service and before and after a sermon originated in Elizabeth’s reign and at first permitted the singing of a metrical psalm before and after a service and before and after a sermon. Metrical psalms and canticles were a prominent feature of the repertoire of the band of village musicians and singers that led the congregational singing in English parish churches well into the mid-nineteenth century.
A wide selection of metrical canticles is available and Gulbransen Digital Hymnal DH-100 CP, the Gulbransen Digital Hymnal DH 200, and similar digital hymnal players contains tunes to which most of them may be sung. I have listed a a representative selection of them below:
Come, Let Us Praise the Lord DARWALL’S 148TH/DARWALL
Come Let Us Sing with Joy OLD 124TH/GENEVA 124
Come Sound His Praise Abroad SILVER STREET, ST. THOMAS (Williams), RICHMOND (Everett), ST. BRIDE
Come with All Joy to Sing to God CANONBURY, ERHALT UNS HERR, OLD HUNDRETH
Stanzas 5, 6, and 7 may be omitted.
Come Worship God Who Is Worthy of Honour O QUANTA QUALIA [MORNING STAR, STAR IN THE EAST
O Come and Sing Unto the Lord IRISH, [DUNDEE/FRENCH]
O Come and Sing to God, the Lord ST. PETER, [MORNING SONG, DUNDEE, IRISH, DOVE OF PEACE]
“O come and sing to God, the Lord” may also be sung to DOVE OF PEACE, a Southern Harmony shape note hymn tune, repeating the last line after each verse.
O Come Loud Anthems Let Us Sing OLD HUNDRETH, DUKE STREET, WINCHESTER NEW, TRURO, HERR JESU CHRIST
Sing Together All God’s People ABBOT’S LEIGH, WESTMINSTER ABBEY, CHRIST CHURCH SYDNOR, BLAENWERN, AUSTRIAN HYMN/AUSTRIA, HYFRYDOL, BEECHER
To God with Gladness Sing DARWALL’S 148TH/DARWALL
The Easter Anthems
God’s Paschal Lamb Is Sacrificed ENGELBERG, SINE NOMINE
Now Lives the Lamb of God CROFT’S 136TH, GOPSAL
Paschal Feast! Upon the Cross ST. ALBINUS
Te Deum laudamus
God, We Praise You! NETTLETON, RUSTINGTON [BEECHER, AUSTRIAN HYMN, HYMN TO JOY]
Great Is the Lord We Now Acclaim OLD HUNDRETH
Holy God, we praise thy name GROSSER GOTT/TE DEUM
O God, We Praise Thee and Confess MANCHESTER, DUNDEE
We Praise You and Acknowledge You, O God THAXTED
An MP3 file of the organ accompaniment to THAXTED may be downloaded from the SmallChurchMusic.com website.
We Praise You, O God, and Acclaim You as Lord CHRISTE SANCTORUM, ISTE CONFESSOR (Poitier)
Benedictus es, Domine
Bless Now Your Fathers’ God CHRISTCHURCH (Steggal) DARWALL’S 148TH/DARWALL, CROFT’S 136TH, GOPSAL, LAUS DEO, RHOSYMEDRE, ST. JOHN (Parish)
The tune to which this metrical version of the Benedictus es, Domine is set in Sing Together: Bible Songs and Canticles is CHRISTCHURCH, which is not listed in the digital hymnal’s Master Index. MP3 files of the organ and piano accompaniment to CHRISTCHURCH (Steggal) may be downloaded from the SmallChurchMusic.com website. A MIDI file of the piano accompaniment may also be down loaded from that website. An MIDI file of the melody played on the piano may be downloaded from the hymnary.org website. The other tunes are listed in the digital hymnal’s Master Index.
If it is sung to RHOSYMEDRE, the last line of each verse is repeated.
Bless the Lord, Our Fathers’ God HEINLEIN, INNOCENTS, MONKLAND
Come, Bless the Lord, God of Our Forebears EARTH AND ALL STARS
A MIDI file of the melody of EARTH AND ALL STARS played on the piano may be downloaded from the hymnary.org website. The hymn tune was not included in the Gulbransen Digital Hymnal DH 100 CP. It is included in the Gulbransen Digital Hymnal DH-200.
Glory to You, Our faithful God OLD HUNDRETH
Benedicte, omnia opera Domini
All Created Things, Bless the Lord KUM BA YAH, DESMOND
All You Works of God Bless the Lord LINSTEAD
O All Ye Works of God, Now Come IRISH
Bless the Lord, Creation Sings HARTS (Milgrove), HUMILITY (Goss), MONKLAND, DELIVERANCE, HOLLINGSIDE, GEORGE’S WINDSOR
This hymn may be shortened by omitting stanzas 2 through 6. To a 188.8.131.52. D. tune such as DELIVERANCE, HOLLINGSIDE, or ST GEORGE’S WINDSOR, the hymn may be sung as four eight-line stanzas.
Bless the Lord, Created Things ORIENTIS PARTIBUS, INNOCENTS, MONKLAND
Let All Creation Bless the Lord MIT FREUDEN ZART/BOHEMIAN BRETHREN
Laudate Dominum (Psalm 148)
Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise Him NICAEA
Praise the Lord of Heaven UNE VAINE CRAINTE
This hymn may also be sung to CUDDESDON and EVELYNS, which are not in the digital hymnal’s Master Index. SmallChurch.com has a downloadable MP3 file of CUDDESDON played on the organ for small churches. Worshipworkshop.org.uk has a downloadable MP3 accompaniment track of EVELYNS played on the organ for the use of schools.
Praise the Lord, Our God KUM BA YAH
Praise The Lord! Ye Heavens, Adore Him AUSTRIAN HYMN, HYFRYDOL FABEN
Benedictus Dominus Deus
Blessed Be the God of Israel (Quinn) FOREST GREEN
Blessed Be the God of Israel (Daw) FOREST GREEN, KINGSFOLD
Blessed Be the God of Israel (Perry)MERLE’S TUNE, KING’S LYNN, ELLACOMBE
Blessed Be the God of Israel (Mowbray) CONSOLATION/MORNING SONG, DETROIT, DOVE OF PEACE, LAND OF REST, NEW BRITAIN, PROMISED LAND, RESIGNATION
If this text is sung to DOVE OF PEACE, the last line of each verse is repeated.
Blest Be the God Of Israel (Perry) MERLE'S TUNE, KING’S LYNN, ELLACOMBE
Gospel Canticle (Quinn) FOREST GREEN
Now Bless the God of Israel (Duck) FOREST GREEN
Song of Zechariah (Quinn) KINGSFOLD
Jubilate Deo (Psalm 100)
Before Jehovah's Awesome Throne OLD HUNDREDTH
Before the Lord's Eternal Throne WINCHESTER NEW
Before the Lord Jehovah’s Throne WINCHESTER NEW
Be Joyful in the Lord LEONI
Come, Rejoice before Your Maker BEACH SPRING, RESTORATION/ARISE, ST. ANDREW, CROSS OF JESUS
Sing All Creation ISTE CONFESSOR
A larger selection of metrical psalms and canticle is lsited in the companion article series, Texts of Metrical Versions of the Invitatory Psalms, Canticles, and Anthems.
Metrical psalms and canticles are a useful addition to a congregation’s repertoire. They not only can be used on Morning Prayer Sundays but also Communion Sundays. Depending upon their tempo, mood, and word content, they make excellent introit hymns, sequences between the epistle and the gospel, and offertory hymns, and on occasion may be sung in place of the Gloria in excelsis or after the communion service.