Posted on in Saints Are Us by The Rev. David Marshall
As we continue reflect on our roots in Judaism (see Part 1 of this series), we can move forward into the prayer known as the Daily Office and how it developed in Christianity. This form has had several names over time: The Divine Office; The Hours; the Breviary; Daily Prayer among others.
The Office is a part of the daily public worship of the church known as the Liturgy (liturgy is a word that means “the work of the People”, this is an important definition, as we shall see). The development of the Hours of the Office under Constantine (274-337 c.e.) in which developed Morning and Evening Prayer, these services were known as Lauds (morning) and Vespers (evening) prayed in the local cathedral by the laity and clergy together. As time went on the development of Western Monasticism the monks and nuns expanded the Hours to eight times a day, to mark the daily schedule of the communities, this holds true today as well within monastic communities. Consequently, these Hours of the Office became the prayer life of the monastics and clergy, leaving the laity shut out. The laity were encouraged to pray “their beads”, as most could not read or write. This extended to Laity who were members of monastic communities!
The Anglican Reformation under Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), reduced the eight monastic Offices to two, Morning and Evening Prayer. These were then printed in the common language of all of the members of the church and prayed in the cathedrals as well as the local parish churches.
Thus – this expression of the Liturgy, was once again “the work of the People” as it was originally developed under Constantine. This in conjunction with the celebration of the Eucharist by all gathered Christians comprises the public worship of the Church.
In part 3 we will explore the Daily Office as we now have it in the current Book of Common Prayer, in the Episcopal Church. In other denominations, and well as Prayer books in the Anglican Communion there are a variety of daily prayer expressions.
Remember, keep adding to your GRATITUDE JOURNAL, see you next week.
I am your bro.