Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Litany - a Teaching Note for March 9, 2014

Written by me a few years ago, it is reprinted here as a reminder of what we do on the First Sunday in Lent - SJK+
One of the gems of our Anglican Heritage is the Litany.  Having fallen into disuse in most places this “general supplication” has roots in the ancient liturgies of the Church (as far back as the 6th century).  Archbishop Thomas Cranmer included it in the first Book of Common Prayer, and it has been included in every subsequent edition.  However, Archbishop Cranmer removed the first three supplications after the invocation of the Holy Trinity; for St. Mary, the Holy Angels and Archangels, and all the Saints, which were contained in the ancient Western Rite.
The rubrics of the 1662 English Book of Common Prayer (which is still the official prayer book in England) orders that the Litany “ be sung or said after Morning Prayer upon Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and at other times when it shall be commanded by the Ordinary.”
The American Church, until the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, assumed that every Sunday the primary services of the parish church would be Morning Prayer AND the Litany AND the Holy Communion…back-to-back-to-back.  Further proof is that nowhere is there a rubric in Morning Prayer for the preaching of a sermon, since the assumption is that the sermon would be included in the Holy Communion service following Morning Prayer and the Litany.  The 1928 Prayer Book assumes some separation of the services, instructing that the Litany be used “after the Third Collect at Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer; or before the Holy Communion; or separately.”
We will be chanting the Litany, with the altar party and choir solemnly processing about the chancel, on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Sundays in Lent.  The congregation is encouraged to join in the responses while kneeling.  This is the ancient way it was done in the Church, just as we have processions for Palm Sunday, Rogation Day, Corpus Christi, and other festive or intercessory occasions.  The Christian Life is one of forward movement, and a procession is an outward symbolic action representing the movement toward the goal of sanctity here on earth and eternal life with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
~ Fr. Kelly