Morning Prayer – called Daily Morning Prayer in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer – has its roots way back in the Great Exile inflicted upon our Jewish ancestors about 582 BC. The form in the present Book of Common Prayer found its origin in the Daily Office established by St. Benedict in the sixth century A.D. Benedict’s Office had seven parts – see verse 164 in Psalm 119. In the First English Book of Common Prayer, 1549, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer reduced the number of parts to two: Morning Prayer, and Evening Prayer. These two Offices were – and are – directed to be said “Daily in the church” by the Parish Clergy. Because of the shortage of clergy in the new United States of America in 1789, the absolute requirement to be read by the parish clergy in the church was removed – but the name, “Daily” Morning or Evening Prayer has never changed. It is interesting to note that in our present Book of Common Prayer, which has 1001 pages, almost exactly half of those pages are devoted to the Daily Office.
Morning Prayer, as a regular service in the church, began here at St. Peter’s last Lent. A devoted group, but a very small one, has continued Morning Prayer every day, except one snow day. Why?
Because as members of the Church Catholic our primary task is to give praise to God: – the God who made us; the God who made the planet on which we live; the God who made everything that exists anywhere. Our primary task is to praise God by thanking God for all that God has done for – not only for us; not only for other people on this planet; not even for other living beings in some other part of the entire universe. Just because God IS.
Yes, indeed, we need to say “Thank you,” for all the acts God has done for us within this universe. But – above all else – through God’s own image placed in us, God has asked us to share in bringing the entire universe to an ultimate enrichment, and final fulfillment. And we, through our little Office of Morning Prayer, have our own part to play – here, in downtown Lewes!
Come and join us – 8:30 each morning. Maybe – as is happening in many other parishes in The Episcopal Church – Morning Prayer can be an act of praise provided by the ordinary people of St. Peter’s parish. Perhaps even adding other parts of the Daily Office as time marches on. So, come; read Psalms; listen to Readings; say Biblical hymns of praise; and pray for the living and for the dead. (You don’t need to wait for Lent – tomorrow at 8:30 would be a wonderful time to commence.)