A short note on the Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
“All the deceits of the world, the flesh and the devil.”
“Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.”

Shakespeare? The King James Bible? Close — the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, the liturgical and literary masterpiece that along with the playwright and the landmark Bible helped shape the English language, [marked its 350th anniversary in 2012].

Anglicans Celebrate Book of Common Prayer’s 350th Anniversary by Trevor Grundy for Ecumenical News International and posted by Sojourners on May 2, 2012

From the same article:

The anniversary actually refers to the revised edition that still stands as the official doctrinal standard of the Church of England and most other churches in the worldwide Anglican Communion. After Henry VIII’s break with the Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer set out to replace the Latin missal with a book of liturgical services and prayers in English that would also incorporate theological changes, such as less prominence for saints.

The Prayer Book now appears in many variants in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion and has influenced the liturgical texts of other denominations.

The book’s language — another phrase is “till death us do part” from the marriage service — resonates even today, said Bishop Stephen Platten, chair of the Church of England’s Liturgical Commission. “Even in an apparently secular world, large numbers come to have their children christened or baptized. The cadences of the Prayer Book have become part of a treasury of prayers and reflections that have helped to fashion people’s lives,”

Read the entire post by Trevor Grundy.

Do you have some favorites from the Book of Common Prayer? Share them in the Comments section here. Keep the conversation going …


Photo from the article by Trevor Grundy via Shutterstock

Wind Chimes: 5 Nov 2012

Resting cats on Wikimedia Commons

Ruth said [to Naomi], “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!”

Ruth 1:16-17 NRSV

In our Sunday worship we are reading (in part) from the Book of Ruth. One commentator opens our eyes to a deeper understanding of one of the treasures found in the Book: “Near the end of the book, the Bethlehemite women will articulate to Naomi what has been evident all along, that Ruth’s love is worth more than seven sons. Grace is walking right beside Naomi, unseen, yet refusing to leave her.” Let’s explore grace and “hesed.” ~dan

The wind sets the sounds of the chimes free to come to us. It is amazing. What do you hear?


I believe we can begin to approach an understanding of the grace of God—cosmic as it is—in the ordinary graces of human life. The daily graces in our embodied, incarnate, fleshly existence offer us one way to begin to understand what is ultimately incomprehensible: the grace of God.  Brother Mark Brown SSJE

Br. Mark Brown on Brother Give Us a Word


Ruth, along with Song of Songs and Esther, has become a primary text for feminist theologians and critics who have found in it a corrective to the patriarchy that pervades much of the Bible. These books not only feature women as central figures but—perhaps more important—suggest ways in which the marginalized can act as agents of their own life within and despite patriarchal dominance. Ruth’s generous spirit also demonstrates the capacity of women to mirror and model divine covenantal love (Heb. hesed). From, “Ruth” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible on Oxford Biblical Studies Online. Emphasis is mine.

Love‘ Love here translates “ḥesed,” a frequent attribute of God in the Bible. “Hesed,” a common biblical term, describes the relationship between individuals or groups, and between God and human beings, especially Israel. It expresses both an attitude and actions devolving from that attitude; English “loyalty” best approximates its sense, which combines obligation and kindness or favor. When used of God toward Israel, it may be related to the covenant, and it expresses God’s faithfulness, goodness, and graciousness. Note in the NJPS for Psalm 5:8 (Oxford Biblical Studies Online)

loving-kindness‘ One translation of the Hebrew hesed, an attribute of God, associated with his mercy, and, also of human beings (Ps. 141: 5), sometimes translated ‘great kindness’ (Gen. 19: 19, NRSV; ‘unfailing care’, REB). It is used by Hosea of the care he promises for his wife (Hos. 2: 19). The NT ‘grace’ is an approximate equivalent. From “loving-kindness” in A Dictionary of the Bible on Oxford Biblical Studies Online

mercy‘ In Hebrew the noun hesed (‘mercy’) is also translated ‘loving-kindness’, and implies the loyalty of God to the covenant. In the NT God’s mercy is revealed in the salvation offered through Jesus (Luke 1: 58; Rom. 11: 30–2) and a similar outgoing compassion towards human suffering is shown by Jesus (Luke 17: 13). From “mercy” in A Dictionary of the Bible on Oxford Biblical Studies Online

We continue to pray for others

God, we pray for the recovery of all the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. Continue to strengthen the responders, give hope and comfort to those who are hurting, and provide for those who have lost. Amen.

Prayer of the Day for 10/31/12 on Verse and Voice from Sojourners

Commentary by Patricia Tull A.B. Rhodes Professor Emerita of Old Testament Louisville Presbyterian Seminary (Jeffersonville, IN) on WorkingPreacher.org

Photo: By Tarimo at zh via Wikimedia Commons ~dan

Wind Chimes: 2 Oct 2012

An angel among the flowersHere is today’s sampling of the music made by the Spirit in the Wind Chimes.
What do you hear?

Verse & Voice is a favorite ‘go-to’ site of mine for words of inspiration (verse) and quotes to inspire action (voice) and, the daily post concludes with a prayer. Here is a sample, and I have added a blessing to finish today’s post. ~dan

A verse from Isaiah

The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
—Isaiah 32:17

The voice of C.S. Lewis and a prayer

The rule for us all is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him [or her].” —C.S. Lewis

Lord, you have shown us what love looks like. Help us through acts of forgiveness and reconciliation to so love one another that our neighbors know we are your disciples and know that to be good news. Amen. —from Common Prayer

A blessing

May you find the practices
that offer you a doorway
into the heart of God.

Jan L. Richardson in her book In the Sanctuary of Women

Feast of the Visitation (May 31)

Take a moment, now that you have found this, to consider the visit of Mary to Elizabeth. May 31st is the Feast of the Visitation in the Episcopal Liturgical Calendar.

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” Luke 1:39-45

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee

We have titled Mary’s response to Elizabeth, “the Magnificat” Luke 1:4-55.

Earlier today Sojourners posted this in its “Verse and Voice” blog: “Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee. Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise. Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love. Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee. Amen.”
From the first verse of the hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be” Post: Prayer of the Day: Take My Life and Let It Be

Finally, if you like to listen to different voices speaking on women in the Bible, and Mary on the Feast of the Visitation try this podcast: Lifting up the lowly offered by America: the national Catholic weekly

In what ways do these women model for you what it means to listen to the Spirit, to hear the Spirit, and to act on what you hear the Spirit saying to you? Leave a comment.

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