The Old Days

Do any seasoned Episcopalians out there in Blogland still remember the old Morning Prayer days?

As some friends will remember, I migrated into the Episcopal Church during my grad school days, after Book of Common Prayer revision in 1979 and during the introduction of The Hymnal 1982 in 1985.

Even in the mid-1980's, I would occasionally hear from parishioners, "Why do we no longer regularly sing the old Venite or the Jubilate?

For about the first 175 years of the Anglicanism in this country, known as the Episcopal Church, the Sunday norm in most places was Communion on the first Sunday of the month, with Morning Prayer with Sermon being held for Sunday morning worship for the remaining Sundays.

The opening liturgical rite for Morning Prayer, called the Invitatory and Psalter, includes seasonal opening sentences, an optional Confession of Sin and Absolution, a song of praise (one of the canticles, Venite, Jubilate, or Pascha nostrum during Easter season), and the psalm appointed for the day. 

Between the reading of the appointed lessons for the day, other canticles were sung: Benedictus (one of three different texts), Magnificat, Nunc dimittis, Gloria, Te Deum. 

These canticles are unique in liturgical Christian worship traditions and are among the most beautiful biblical texts that we have in our Prayer Book.

Our appointed Eucharistic psalm for this Sunday (March 15) just happens to be the old Venite.

Score one for Morning Prayer in the midst of the Holy Eucharist.

Indeed, the Venite canticle does not consist of the entirety of Psalm 95, as we will sing the psalm this Sunday.

Though we will sing Psalm 95 (Venite) to our regular Lenten plainsong chant this Sunday, multiple settings of the canticle are found (#S-2 through S-7) in the Service Music section in the front of our hymnal The Hymnal 1982. 

While parish traditions greatly vary by region, I imagine that Morning Prayer devotees would recognize #S-4, the Anglican chant by Edwin George Monk (1819-1900).

Psalm 95
Venite, exultemus

Come, let us sing to the Lord; *
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving *
and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God, *
and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the caverns of the earth, *
and the heights of the hills are his also.

The sea is his, for he made it, *
and his hands have molded the dry land.

Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, *
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.

For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. *
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!

Harden not your hearts, as your forebears did in the wilderness, *
at Meribah, and on that day at Massah, when they tempted me.

They put me to the test, *
though they had seen my works.

Forty years long I detested that generation and said, *
"This people are wayward in their hearts; they do not know my ways."

So I swore in my wrath, *
"They shall not enter into my rest."

Photo credit: Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Adoration of the Magi (1504). Oil on wood. Uffizi, Florence, Italy. Public Domain.

Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at 8:36 PM
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