St. Paul’s, Milwaukee is offering a short course in Officiating the Daily Office. The course will consist of three one-hour Saturday morning online sessions. An in-person practicum will follow, in which each class member will officiate Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer and receive feedback from classmates. The three one-hour online sessions will be offered on Zoom at 9 a.m., on Saturday, February 12, 19, and 26. I will teach the first two, and will be joined for the third session by the Rev. Miranda Hassett, rector of St. Dunstan’s in Madison.
The course will be offered to all congregations in the diocese, and possibly in Eau Claire and Fond du Lac dioceses. Bishop Jeffrey Lee has agreed that where requested by clergy heads of congregations, he will license course participants as Worship Leaders under Canon III.4 of the Episcopal Church. At St. Paul’s, participants will be invited to lead worship during weekday Morning and Evening Prayer.
The Daily Office is the Anglican version of the medieval Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office, prayed throughout the day by monastics. Morning and Evening Prayer are the contemporary Anglican expressions of the monastic liturgies of Matins and Vespers. The monasteries worked their way through systematic singing of psalms using Gregorian chant, remembering St. Paul’s direction to the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing.” Prior to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer’s return to the centrality of the Eucharist as the normative mode of Sunday worship, many Episcopal churches offered Morning Prayer as the primary service of Sunday worship.
The first session will focus on the history, purpose, and usage of the Daily Office, including the use of the daily office lectionary and the selection of psalms, readings, prayers, and antiphons. The second session will focus on resources beyond the Book of Common Prayer that can adapt its rites to the needs of specific worshiping congregations. The third session will discuss the spiritual aspects of worship leadership, and how a good officiant’s prayerful presence can enhance the worship experience of the congregation.