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Nurturing Online Dimensions with Morning Prayer

Steve Yeazell

Mother Kate asked me to write a brief notice about the recently launched on-line Morning Prayer group.  Its inspiration was my realization of how much I missed the St. James community, and it occurred to me that one way of creating a little of that feeling was through a weekly on-line Morning Prayer service. 

The origins of the service go back to Jewish Scripture, especially the Psalms, but the major influence were medieval monks and nuns.  Though we often think of them as clergy, they were not ordained and could therefore not preside over the Eucharist.  So they developed worship that could be entirely conducted by persons not ordained, that focused on the Psalms and Old and New Testament readings, to which they added prayers suitable to the changing liturgical year.  The major shaper of our current version of Morning Prayer was Archbishop Thomas Cramner, the great Reformation figure and one of the great liturgists in the history of Christianity.  Cramner adopted the monastic services for lay use, leading to our current Morning Prayer liturgy.  The service has essentially three parts: an opening confession (so we wipe our slates clean before starting) and then a series of readings from the psalms and Old and New Testaments, followed by prayers, the Thanksgiving, and a benediction that does not require clergy.

I take the psalms, scripture readings, and prayers from Mission St Clare add a hymn–also from St. Clare—cut and paste them into an on-line “bulletin” we can all follow the service together, and assign parts of the worship to the various members of the group in rotation. (We currently have a dozen or so regulars.).

I especially like it that it’s a group project, with six or seven members taking a part in each service. And we have a fine mix of young and old, long-time parishioners and newcomers. It’s also brief—half an hour almost to the minute—so no one has a day deeply disrupted by it. 

If you think you might be interested, be in touch with the parish office, so Lauren Azeltine can get me your email address, and we’ll welcome you to the group.