The Daily Office. Leader and Location?
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer asks that daily prayer be well ordered in terms of both location and leader. To this end, it assigns specific and separate authorities to the Bishop, parish ministers, and parish wardens.
Where is Morning and Evening Prayer to be conducted?
- "THE Morning and Evening Prayer shall be used in the accustomed Place of the Church, Chapel, or Chancel; ..."
- "except it shall be otherwise determined by the Ordinary of the Place. "
Having Morning and Evening Prayer is essential for all members of the parish. It may be preferable to conduct it in "the place of the Church."
But if that is not convenient for some members, then it may also be conducted elsewhere, even in homes or places of work, as determined by the parish Minister. Since it is called "Morning and Evening Prayer", the authors (Thomas Cranmer and company) are suggesting that the liturgy is designed for use by households in conjunction with their mealtimes according to the pattern set by Jesus Christ in Luke 24.
Who is to conduct Morning and Evening Prayer?
- "Readers and such other lay persons as may be authorized by the Bishop of the diocese may, at the invitation of the Minister of the parish or, where the Cure is vacant, or the Minister is incapacitated, at the invitation of the Churchwardens, say or sing Morning or Evening Prayer (save for the Absolution);..."
- "and in case of need, where no clerk in Holy Orders or Reader or lay person authorized as aforesaid is available, the Minister or (failing him) the Churchwardens shall arrange for some suitable lay person to say or sing Morning or Evening Prayer (save for the Absolution)."
In the parish, it is preferable for an ordained Minister to conduct Morning and Evening Prayer (because he only may pronounce absolution after the confession of sins. Someone else may be permitted to conduct the parish service provided that he be authorized by the Bishop (because the Bishop has charge over the parish), and there be no Minister available, and the Churchwardens invite him.
Elsewhere, where there are cases of need and where no such person (authorized by the Bishop) is available, the Minister or failing him the Churchwardens shall arrange for "some suitable lay person" to lead Morning and Evening Prayer. This is referring to the provision of prayer and study of God's Word in families and households, or with neighbors as the Lord gives the parish community opportunities to share the love of God.
The Prayerbook provides these flexible rules in respect to both location and leader because it believes that the Church is commissioned of God to enable every member to have daily prayer and thanksgiving, declaration of faith, reading of Scripture, and confession of sin. The use of ordained ministers and consecrated parishes is desirable but is not essential to these ends.