Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vespers

As some of you will recall, one major and public aspect of my mission at Georgetown College is to help the community enrich it's corporate prayer life by engaging the Daily Office. Each weekday at 4:30, I walk to the student lounge below the chapel to lead evening prayers.

I'd decided that using actual prayer books could be needlessly complicated in a context where regular public prayers are an odd occurrence, so I adapted the Office readings from Celebrating Common Prayer, an abbreviated Anglican Franciscan Office. The office begins with an opening sentence from Scripture that introduces a few moments of silent reflection in the Lord's presence. With the invitatory, we invite the Lord to enable us to speak his praises:
Lord, open our lips
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise
Then we say the Phos Hilaron together. This is the oldest hymn in continual use in the Christian Church, and I used the 1979 BCP version. Chris Tomlin has done an excellent interpretation as well, which we'll use from time to time when I can snag a guitarist.

Then we continue our praises by offering a Psalm, spoken in unison.

This is followed by an Old Testament Canticle, or song. We often say this antiphonally. Traditionally it would be chanted, but hey, I want people to come back. This selection varies according to the day of the week, and I've got it in a 5-day cycle. This is followed by a short reading of Scripture that I invite students to hear rather than read, in a meditative fashion. Then we spend several minutes in silent and spoken intercessory prayer for the campus community, Christ's Church, our own needs, and those of the world God loves.

This is always followed by the Song of Mary (Magnificat), often spoken in unison. We conclude with the prayer the Lord taught us, and by giving thanks to God.

There are a few students who regularly attend prayers, and their friendship and participation is a great encouragement. I know it will take a long time to develop a culture of prayer and meditating on the Scriptures here, but I'm ready. I've also been encouraged by the friendships the Lord has given me with a number of students; I was afraid I'd be too isolated back here in my cubicle with my cataloging, but that's not been the case at all.

4 comments:

Peter+ said...

You are doing good work my friend!

JHearne said...

I agree with Peter.

Rev'd Chris Larimer said...

For our EP service after Bible Study, I print a double-sided tri-fold. I'm able to get two Psalms, the gospel citation (not text), a canticle (either Nunc Dimittis or Magnificat), suffrages, 2-3 collects, confession, etc. (Not in that order.)

The one thing we leave out is Phos Hilarion. Thanks for the Tomlin suggestion. I may have that playing as we light the candles from now on!

02continuum said...

Wonderful!
Vespers became the center of corporate life for my Canterbury group when I was a college chaplain.