Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 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 160 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

Monday, March 21, 2022

"We beseech thee to hear us..." - Rector's Rambling for March 20, 2022

     Today we begin our Sunday Morning Worship with the recitation of The Litany, found on page 54 in the Book of Common Prayer.  On the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Sundays of Lent we pray this wonderful form of intercession to remind us of our deep need for repentance and amendment of life, as well as to be reminded of our Lord’s merciful love in taking human flesh and dying for our sins.

The Great Litany was the first English Language liturgy published by Archbishop Cramner during the Reformation.  Much of the worship in the Church of England, our mother church, remained in Latin throughout King Henry VIII reign.  The first Book of Common Prayer was published in 1549, two years after King Henry VIII’s death.

The original expectation in Anglican Churches is that the Litany would be prayed EVERY SUNDAY.  The formula for gathering for worship in church was to pray Morning Prayer AND the Litany AND the Holy Communion Service (or at least the first half of it) as one gathering.  Done fully and completely that would mean the reading of 4 lessons, recitation of one to four psalms, and lots of collects and praying.  Receiving Communion might happen weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly depending on the availability of the priest and the preferred churchmanship (high church or low church) of the congregation.

By the  publication of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer the instructions on page 54 says it is to be used after the Third Collect at Morning or Evening Prayer, or before ethe Holy Communion, or separately, in recognition of the fac that this how the Litany was being used in parishes in the United States by that time.  Only a few parishes use it with any regularity any more.