Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shut up and pray the daily office

Often times I am struck by how the prayers and readings of the daily office get right to the heart of the Christian faith. 

While praying today's midday prayer office, the importance of the reality of the resurrection really hit home.  The Scripture reading was from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 - "We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, to make sure that you do not grieve for them, as others do who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that in the same way God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus." Later on during midday prayer, the cry of the Church proclaimed the mystery of faith: "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again."

Those words mean nothing, and there is no hope, if Jesus was not raised from the dead. And yet, during Holy Week this year, certain leaders in the church once again cast doubt upon the reality of the crucifixion and the resurrection, with one bishop going so far as saying that "we don't know what happened to Jesus after his death." If that is the case, then what is the point of Christianity, anyway? Where is the hope that is spoken of in the reading from 1 Thessalonians? Or in the Church's proclamation that Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again?

Perhaps those leaders of the Church should just pray the office and let those words speak for themselves.


  1. What might you suggest to a newly minted lay-member of the ELCA who would like to try, at least, saying vespers on a more regular basis?

    I tried formatting my own text edition of the ELW offices in a word document since I can't read musical notation, but that just left feeling as though the offices there are a "mess".. (No Preces in Vespers, inconsistent use of the Gloria Patri etc..)

    Is the LBW a better option, or maybe I should just use the Book of Common Prayer?


  2. Hello Brett - I am partial to the daily office found in the LBW, as I prefer the translation of the offices and psalms there. I also like how the LBW has two sets of prayers called "suffrages" which can serve as mid-morning prayer (terce), noonday prayer (sext) and mid-afternoon prayer(none).

    If money is no object, get the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau's "For All the Saints" four-volume breviary, which has the basic offices, plus all the psalms and daily lectionary readings. Pfatteicher's "Daily Prayer of the Church" is another great resource. But, those volumes aren't cheap.

    If I am correctly understanding what you are trying to do, though, the best option for you might be to pray the daily offices as found in the Book of Common Prayer. You can pray the offices of the BCP, complete with psalms and readings, online at St. Bede's Breviary -

    And, of course, if you're on the run and need an abbreviated version of the office, I have to put in another plug for the @Virtual_Abbey on Twitter, where I do Morning Prayer and Compline (generally using the BCP, LBW, a Catholic site called, or the online prayers found at the Northumbria Community website).

    Hope that helps.

    1. Wow. I just found your site this AM. I need to be more disciplined and start saying prayers more often and more consistently. I became a member of a Lutheran church 3 years ago and have been attemding for @ 4 years or so. This post has given me good ideas of how to pray the offices/hours. I do have a BCP and need the other books. I'll look for a LBW. Thanks.

    2. Hello TK, sorry I am just now responding to your post. As you can see, I have not done much with it recently - glad you found it. Welcome to Lutheranism and the world of Benedictine spirituality! Peace be with you.

  3. I'm wondering if my Parish has any old copys of LBW packed away that they might let me have. I didn't see any in the library, I hear alot of parishes just let the congregation take copies home when it was replaced with ELW.

    That or the BCP, I also understand that they both use the same translation of the psalter. I really don't like the ELW psalter at all.. the gender gymnastics are frankly bizarre, in my opinion.

  4. There are lots of used LBWs floating around, and I suspect most churches would be glad to give you one for free if your congregation no longer has any copies. If not, you can get a used copy on amazon for less than $1 (plus shipping).

  5. Got a used copy of the LBW this afternoon for a small donation. The rubrics are considerably less vague, no heavy-handed political correctness, and it has additional office canticles as well. This seems like a much better option. The older translations are just more poetic in general. Quite refreshing. Even a section with seasonal propers.

    I'm a brand new member, and I already prefer the "older Hymnal".. I guess I'm officially Lutheran now. LOL!

  6. Glad you like the LBW! I have often thought that the language and content of the LBW strikes a proper balance between modern language versus the need to adhere to the traditions of the liturgy.